Babies, Children, and the Rapture of the Church

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 19:14)

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One of the most common questions about the rapture of the church is if babies and young children will be taken with us. (The second most common question is if pets will come with us too!)

First of all, I DO believe that babies, young children, and mentally handicapped children of a BELIEVER will be raptured. However, contrary to what some people teach, I do NOT believe that the babies, children, and mentally handicapped offspring of UNBELIEVERS will be raptured. I do not believe there is scripture to support this position, and while we can hope it is true, I think it is wrong to teach it as a likely occurrence.

(Before you throw stones, remember that this is an entirely different question than if these young ones’ souls go to heaven upon death!)

Why Does it Matter?

Well, if we go around telling people to watch for all babies and children to disappear, as a sign of the rapture, and then not all children disappear… wouldn’t that cause people to wrongly believe the rapture didn’t occur? Wouldn’t that make them more susceptible to believing the deception instead of the truth? We must be careful what we teach as fact!

Children of a Believer

I believe that those under a certain comprehension level that fall under the care of a believer will be raptured. I base this on the teaching of 1 Corinthians 7:

“To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.  If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.  For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.  But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.  For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?”  (1 Corinthians 7:12-16)

We cannot *save* our spouses or children; they will have to make a decision for or against Christ for themselves. However, our godly influence and prayers can move the hand of God to open their eyes, ears, and hearts to the gospel. I believe the phrase “otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy” represents this godly influence of one believing parent, and would apply to those who are under a certain comprehension level for rapture purposes. It’s not clear, but this is as clear as scripture gets on this matter.

I also base my understanding that a believer’s young or mentally handicapped children will be raptured on the fact that Noah’s children were physically spared from the global flood, and Lot’s children were physically spared from destruction, based on the faith of their fathers.  (As far as eternal salvation, their children would have had to choose who to follow for themselves).  The upcoming end times are compared to “as in the days of Noah” and “as in the days of Lot”, and I would suggest that believers’ children will be spared based on these two scriptural models.

Children of an Unbeliever

I believe that those under a comprehension level that do NOT fall under the care of a believer will NOT be raptured. I again base this on 1 Corinthians 7, which would suggest that the children of unbelievers are “unclean” without the godly influence of a believing parent.

Now before you go all psycho on me, I *do* believe that when they die they will go to heaven.  So although they may face a difficult time on earth, they will be eternally spared if they are under a certain comprehension level – which is different for each person.

I base this understanding also on the days of Noah and Lot, which is what we are to compare the end times to. The babies, children, and mentally handicapped in Noah’s day and in Lot’s day were NOT spared earthly destruction. They drowned or were pulverized by fire and brimstone, along with their parents (but again I would suggest they would have been spared ETERNAL destruction!!!).

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)

Comprehension Level

Those who cannot comprehend the Law, cannot comprehend that they are breaking it (are sinners) and that they have a responsibility for that (need a Savior). Paul describes it this way:

“For apart from the law, sin lies dead.  I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.  The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.” (Romans 7:8-10)

This passage suggests that Paul, like all of us, was at one point alive apart from the law – where sin lies dead. This would seem to apply to those who are very young or mentally disabled. I do not believe that there is a certain age (or mental age) that applies here, but rather each person will be individually evaluated by God.

What we can trust in, with 100% certainty, is that God is GOOD. ALL the time. His judgment is righteous and holy. Jesus, who is the examiner of hearts, knows the comprehension and heart of every man, woman, and child. He will do what is FAIR and RIGHT, regarding each human being who has ever, and will ever, live. These things are in His hands alone.

“I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:10)

God is Good – ALL the Time

I understand that it is difficult to cope with the thought of babies and children suffering. It is difficult to cope with the thought of any humans suffering en masse to the extent that they are going to – SOON! I do believe that we need to step outside our own feelings on the matter, though, and look at what scripture actually says, and not what we want it to say (not just on this matter but on every matter!).

My sweet friends, we would ALL be “left behind” if it weren’t for God’s amazing grace. NONE of us are “worthy” to escape what is to come, apart from the blood of the Lamb. We ALL deserve God’s judgment and wrath!!! Oh the glorious and tender mercies of our Father in heaven who saves us from the wrath to come! Be on your knees, saints, and plead for the salvation of loved ones while it is still day.

“While it is daytime, we must do the works of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” (John 9:4)

What we can know is that God loves and cares about babies, children, and the hearts of ALL humans, far more than we do!   In the end, all we can know for certain is our heart alone.  Are YOU ready?  If you have any doubts I encourage you to read Blessed Assurance – A Guide to Rapture Readiness.


Further Resources:

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

Chasing Pentecost 2019

Hello fellow watchmen/women!

Pentecost, or the “Feast of Weeks”, is only a few weeks away and is the highest watch date of the year in my opinion!  In my article series on Pentecost, I discussed how this feast, like Feast of Trumpets, is one where we do not know the exact “day or hour” it is to be celebrated.  This is because instead of God placing it on a certain date, it is based on a calculation.  Fascinating, huh?  Its name as the “feast of weeks” stems from how it is to be calculated:  seven weeks after the waving of the Omer (Firstfruits sheaf of grain offering).

In Deuteronomy, the Israelites are told to “count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain” (Deut 16:9 ESV).

Pentecost came exactly 7 weeks after the first harvest of barley, waved as a Firstfruits offering to God during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

“You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:15 ESV)

So, when is Pentecost 2019?  Well, once we know the first day of the year (Nisan 1), it should be easy to calculate, shouldn’t it?  You’d think so… but the different Jewish sects developed their own ways of doing things.  Which sect is most accurate?  Which one does God go by?  We cannot know for sure, so I will calculate them all!  Fortunately, this year the leap year was agreed upon by all and this makes our calculations easier.

Pentecost 2019

Sadduccees:  June 9, 2019 (6 Sivan)

Pharisees:  June 9, 2019 (6 Sivan)

Essenes:  June 16, 2019 (13 Sivan)

Karaites: June 9, 2019 (6 Sivan)

I personally believe the Karaites’ method is likely most accurate, and will be high watching June 9, 2019 for Pentecost.

How did I get to these calculations?  Keep reading….

New Moon or First Sliver?

For all of you who have been following “high watch dates”, you are aware that there are calendar discrepancies.  Not only between the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars, but within the Hebrew calendar itself.  We have discussed the “missing years” in other posts, but for our purpose here – finding Pentecost – we need to look at establishing the correct months so we can start adding in our feasts.

As we learned from the Fall Feasts, the Hebrew calendar is heavily tied into the moon phases. The start of each month is determined by the new moon. It seems there is some uncertainty as to whether the start of the month was determined by the New Moon itself or by the First Sliver of Crescent Moon, and may have differed between Jewish sects. The viewing of the first sliver of crescent seems to be the most heavily referenced and documented. The teaching that the Hebrew months went by full moons instead of new moons seems to stem from Seventh Day Adventist teachings and is incorrect as far as I can determine.

From Chabad (Orthodox Jewish website):

The Jewish calendar is based on lunar cycles. Towards the beginning of the moon’s cycle, it appears as a thin crescent. That is the signal for a new Jewish month. The moon grows until it is full, the middle of the month, and then it begins to wane until it cannot be seen. It remains invisible for approximately two day—and then the thin crescent reappears, and the cycle begins again.

“The L‑rd spoke to Moses and to Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, ‘This chodesh shall be to you the head of months.’” (Exodus 12:1–2)

From the wording of this verse, “shall be to you,” the sages deduced that the responsibility of pinpointing and consecrating the chodesh, the crescent new moon, was entrusted to the leaders of our nation, the Sanhedrin, the rabbinical supreme court of every generation.

Originally, there was no fixed calendar. There was no way to determine in advance the exact day of a coming holiday or bar mitzvah, because there was no way to determine in advance when the month would begin. Each month anew, the Sanhedrin would determine whether the month would be 29 or 30 days long—depending on when the following month’s new moon was first sighted—and would sanctify the new month.

In the 4th century CE, the sage Hillel II foresaw the disbandment of the Sanhedrin, and understood that we would no longer be able to follow a Sanhedrin-based calendar. So Hillel and his rabbinical court established the perpetual calendar which is followed today.

When Hillel established the perpetual calendar, he sanctified every Rosh Chodesh until Moshiach will come and reestablish the Sanhedrin.

Source: https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/526874/jewish/The-Jewish-Month.htm

What I have referenced in this post is the first sighting of crescent sliver as I believe this to be most accurate, but I will place dark new moon dates in brackets in case you are interested. The first sliver was determined by 2 witnesses visually sighting the first sliver of moon after the new moon by the unaided eye. I have estimated this at around 1% illumination, although some sources state it might be closer to 2.5%. Of course there are many factors other than illumination, including moonset and moonrise times, glare, humidity, fog, clouds, dust, etc that can affect first sighting.

[T]he new moon began when the thin crescent of the new moon was first visible at sunset. (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol 1, p. 266)

[T]he ancient Jewish calendar depended not on mathematical calculations and arrangements, but was set from month to month according to the physical appearance of the new moon. Witnesses who had seen the first sign of the crescent on the horizon after sunset were expected to report the fact to the authorities, who thereupon published throughout the country the fact that the new month had begun. (The Pharisees, by Louis Finkelstein, p. 601, Jewish Publication Society, 1938, Philadelphia., based on talmudic literature)

Until Hillel II instituted a permanent calendar based on calculations (ca. 360), the fixing of the new moon was determined by observation and the evidence of witnesses. During the earlier period, the practice of adding a second day to festivals … was introduced for communities lying at a distance from Palestine, because it was doubtful on precisely which of the two days the new moon occurred.” (Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion, p. 78; Massada-P.E.C. Press Ltd, 1965., based on talmudic tradition)

In old Israel the new moon—the day after the crescent was first sighted in the sky—was celebrated by sacrifices and feasting…” (Judaism, by George Foot Moore, professor of the history of religion, Harvard, vol 2, p. 22, based on talmudic literature)

[T]he ancient Jewish calendar depended not on mathematical calculations and arrangements, but was set from month to month according the physical appearance of the new moon. Witnesses who had seen the first sign of the crescent on the horizon after sunset were expected to report the fact to the authorities, who there upon published throughout the country the fact that a new month had begun. The year consisted of 12 months whose limits were determined by these observations. But, since the lunar year consists of only 354 days, eleven less than the solar year, it was necessary from time to time to “intercalate” a thirteenth month before the Passover, to prevent its being moved back into the winter. This intercalary month was a “second Adar” and was added whenever a consideration of the sun’s position in the heavens, the state of the crops, or the newborn lambs, made it appear necessary.” (The Pharisees, pp. 601–602, by Louis Finkelstein, professor of theology at Jewish Theological Seminary of America; Jewish Publication Society of America, 1938., based on talmudic literature)

“The phases of the moon could easily be recognized by everybody. The new moon indicated the beginning of the month.… Though the ‘new moon’ could be observed by every individual, to prevent any mistake or doubt the duty of fixing the new month was assigned to a rabbinical council in Jerusalem. Their decision was subject to the testimony of two reliable witnesses. As soon as their reports have been received and checked by astronomical calculation, an official message was sent out by chains of fire signals” (The Judaic Heritage, by Rabbi Dr. R. Brasch, pp. 22, 24, based on talmudic literature)

“The sighting of the lunar crescent within one day of New Moon is usually difficult. The crescent at this time is quite thin, has a low surface brightness, and can easily be lost in the twilight. Generally, the lunar crescent will become visible to suitably-located, experienced observers with good sky conditions about one day after New Moon. However, the time that the crescent actually becomes visible varies quite a bit from one month to another. Naked-eye sightings as early as 15.5 hours after New Moon have been reliably reported while observers with telescopes have made reliable reports as early as 12.1 hours after New Moon. Because these observations are exceptional, crescent sightings this early in the lunar month should not be expected as the norm.” (Source: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/crescent.php)

How Do We Find Pentecost?

My goal this morning is to figure out the possible dates for Pentecost 2019 – what I believe is our highest watch day of the year. All dates listed here start at sunset Jerusalem time, which is the night before on the Gregorian calendar.

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First, we need to find Nisan 1 and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover).

Nisan 1 – Sighting of The New Moon in Jerusalem:
April 6, 2019 (April 5 calculated 0.2% illumination; April 6 calculated 1.3% illumination) – Source (TimeandDate)

This result was confirmed visually on April 6, 2019 by Renewed Moon.

For these reasons I will base 1 Nisan as April 6, 2019.  This year, there is no secondary calculation required, as there is agreement that Adar II (leap month) was required.  Thus, all the Jewish date calculators are in agreement (for once!).  Screenshot below, Hebcal, Chabad, and AISH confirm Renewed Moon’s dates above.

Ok, so we have our head of the year (Rosh Chodesh) established.  Now let’s work to determine Passover and Pentecost!

In my article on Pentecost Part 5 – The Counting of the Omer – Day and Hour Unknown?, I discussed how the Jewish sects determine the date of Pentecost differently.  So we’re going to calculate all of them here!

“Unlike the other mo’edim given in the Torah, however, Shavuot has no explicit date but must be inferred from Leviticus 23:11 and 23:15: “And from the day on which you bring the omer offering – the day after the Sabbath – you shall count off seven weeks”. The key phrase is “the day after the Sabbath”. Does this phrase refer to Sunday or perhaps to the Sabbath of Passover?”

(Source: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Shavuot/shavuot.html)

Sadducees

The Tzaddukim (Sadducees) believed that the word “Sabbath” was used in its regular sense, as the seventh day of the week, and therefore began the countdown on the first Sunday after Passover (Talmud: Menachot 65). Now since Shavuot occurs 7 weeks later to this day, this implies that it also fell on a Sunday. Moreover, since the day of the week for Passover varies over the year, the date of Shavuot would likewise vary.

Source: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Shavuot/shavuot.html

 

The third faction, the Sadducees, agreed with the Essenes that Shavuot must be counted from a weekly Sabbath, but disagreed as to which one. The Sadducees believed the 50-day count must begin on the weekly Sabbath that falls out during the seven-days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. According to their reckoning, the counting towards Shavuot could begin anywhere from the 15th to the 21st day of the month, depending on what day of the week the Feast of Unleavened Bread began. If Unleavened Bread began on a Sunday, the count would begin on the 15th day of the month. If Unleavened Bread began on a Saturday, the count would begin on the 16th day of the month, and so on. Based on this counting, Shavuot could fall out from the 4th to the 12th of the Third Hebrew Month. Karaite Jews have accepted the Sadducee reckoning as the only one to be consistent with the plain meaning of the biblical text.

Source: https://www.nehemiaswall.com/truth-shavuot

If we use the Sadducees method of calculating Pentecost:

April 6, 2019 – 1 Nisan [April 5 if New Moon used]

April 19, 2019 – 14 Nisan, Passover [April 18 if New Moon used]

April 20 – 26, 2019 – 15-21 Nisan, Unleavened Bread [April 19-April 25 if New Moon used]

April 21, 2019 – 16 Nisan, Firstfruits (Sunday) [unchanged]

June 9, 2019 – 6 Sivan, Pentecost [unchanged if New Moon used]

Pharisees

The Perushim (Pharisees), on the other hand, believed that “the day after the Shabbat” referred to not the weekly Sabbath but to the first day of Passover (which is a shabbaton or day of work restrictions), and therefore began counting the following day, that is, the day after Passover (which is also the second day of Unleavened Bread). This is supported in Joshua 5:11-12 when Israel first entered the land and ate of its firstfruits. Now since Passover always occurs on Nisan 15, this established a fixed date for Shavuot 49 days later on Sivan 6.

Historically, the Pharisee’s position prevailed in the Jewish tradition, and the modern Rabbinical calendar marks Shavuot on the fixed date of Sivan 6 (in May/June), exactly 49 days after the second day of Passover (Nisan 16). This accords with the testimony of first century historians Josephus and Philo, who both state that the “day after the Sabbath” meant the day after the holiday Sabbath.”

Source: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Shavuot/shavuot.html

Note that Passover is Nisan 14 (not a No Work Day) and Unleavened Bread starts Nisan 15 (a No Work Day), so I disagree with Hebrew4Christians above. However, the end result is the same in that Pentecost / Shavuot always occurs on Sivan 6 per the Pharisees.

The Pharisees argued that Shavuot is to be counted from the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which they designated a “Sabbath.” According to the Pharisees, “morrow of the Sabbath” means the “morrow of the 1st day of Unleavened Bread.” The ancient Pharisees and their modern day successor the Orthodox rabbis begin the 50-day count to Shavuot on the second day of Unleavened Bread, which is always the 16th day of the First Hebrew Month. As a result, the Pharisee Shavuot always fell out in ancient times from the 5th to the 7th day of the Third Hebrew Month (Sivan). After the destruction of the Temple, the Pharisees became the predominant surviving faction among the Jewish leadership and their interpretation is followed by most Jews until this very day. In 359 CE, the Pharisee leader Hillel II established a pre-calculated calendar and ever since the Pharisee Shavuot has always been observed on the 6th of Sivan.

Source: https://www.nehemiaswall.com/truth-shavuot

If we use the Pharisees method of calculating Pentecost:

April 6, 2019 – 1 Nisan

April 20, 2019 – 15 Nisan, Passover, considered a Sabbath

April 20 – 26, 2019 – 15-21 Nisan, Unleavened Bread

April 20, 2019 – 15 Nisan, Firstfruits OR April 21, 2019 – 16 Nisan if ancient count used

June 9, 2019 – 6 Sivan, Pentecost OR June 10, 2019 – 7 Sivan if ancient count used

**Since 359AD, the Pharisees have always observed 6 Sivan as Pentecost regardless of the day of the week it falls on.

Essenes

The Essenes, who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, began the 50-day count to Shavuot on a different Sabbath from the Pharisees. In their reckoning, the Omer offering was to be brought on the morrow of the weekly Sabbath, in modern terms: “Sunday.” The Essenes began their count on the Sunday after the seven-days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As a result, they always began their count on the 26th day of the First Hebrew Month. The Essenes had a 364-day solar calendar, which began every year on a Wednesday and had fixed lengths for each month. Based on the Essene calendar, Shavuot always fell out on the 15th day of the Third Hebrew Month. The Essenes are presumed to have been wiped out when the Romans invaded Judea in 66-74 CE and only their documents survive today.

Source: https://www.nehemiaswall.com/truth-shavuot

If we use the Essenes method of calculating Pentecost:

April 6, 2019 – 1 Nisan

April 19, 2019 – 14 Nisan, Passover

April 20 – 26, 2019 – 15-21 Nisan, Unleavened Bread

April 28, 2019 – 23 Nisan, Firstfruits (first Sunday AFTER Unleavened Bread)

June 16 – 13 Sivan, Pentecost

Karaites

The Karaites rejected both these methods but instead relied upon the sighting of the new moon (Rosh Chodesh) and the appearance of the first sheaves of barley to determine the month of Aviv and the festival of Firstfruits, respectively. After these observations, the wave offering of the firstfruits would then be presented at the temple on the day after the weekly Sabbath, and only then would the 49 day countdown to Shavuot begin. Therefore, since the appearance of the first barley sheaves is not constant, the date of Shavuot could not be foreknown with any certainty.

Source: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Shavuot/shavuot.html

The Karaites agreed with the Sadducees that the Sabbath in question for the Feast of Weeks was the weekly Sabbath that fell within the feast of Unleavened Bread.  The Karaites took into account the barley ripeness to determine if it was to be a leap year or not.  This year (2019) it was clear the barley was not abib (ripe) in March and thus Adar II was added (the leap month).  The barley was clearly abib (ripe) in April.  This makes our calculation a little easier.

If we use the Karaites method of calculating Pentecost:

April 6, 2019 – 1 Nisan

April 19, 2019 – 14 Nisan, Passover

April 20 – 26, 2019 – 15-21 Nisan, Unleavened Bread

April 21, 2019 – 16 Nisan, Firstfruits (Sunday)

June 9, 2019 – 6 Sivan, Pentecost

 

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Further Resources:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

Moon Phase / Calendar Resources:

https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/israel/jerusalem
http://renewedmoon.com/

Jewish Calculation Reckoning Resources:

Calculating FirstFruits and Shavuot (Teshuva Ministries)

The Truth About Shavuot (NehemiahsWall)

_____

Everything You Need to Know About Pentecost, the Feast that Ties It All Together For The Church

Shavuot – Revelation and the Fruit of the Spirit (Hebrew4Christians)

The Rapture of the Church – Our Blessed Hope

Main Menu

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details, some of which I think might need to be adjusted slightly.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

Revelation Chapter 12 – A Grand Synopsis of the Rapture and Daniel’s 70th Week

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(Note: This is an update from previous articles Revelation 12 – Rapture and Tribulation Overview and Revelation 12 – A Visual Rearrangment)

Ooooh, you guys!  I just love Revelation 12 so much.

Over the last few years we have had SO much excitement over this little chapter – particularly with verses one through five.  You know you’re a watchman when your point of reference for events is “pre-Rev12” and “post-Rev12” – referencing the Revelation 12 sign that occurred on September 23, 2017.  If you are just joining us here, you just have to read through these amazing articles – you just HAVE to!!!!

Revelation 12 is a fascinating chapter.  Up to this point in the book of Revelation, we have seen views of end time events in the throne room of God in heaven (the “third heaven”, where God dwells).  We have also seen views on earth and in the atmosphere (the “first heaven”).  Now, in chapter 12, we are privileged to see a view of end time events as they appear in the universe/space (the “second heaven”), as well as in the first and third heavens.

Revelation 12 uniquely gives an overview of the entire Tribulation Week (Time of Jacob’s Trouble) from all 3 vantage points – the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd heavens.

An overview of the entire tribulation period, you say?  Well, I want you to consider the structure of the book of Revelation itself.  It seems that in his visions, John is first given a sweeping overview, followed by what I call “detail pop-outs”.  These details are given in separate parts of his visions, after the overview.  I believe this is the structure of Revelation chapter 12 as well.  I suggest to you that verses 1-6 give an overview, and the rest of the chapter fills in the details.

In this post I hope to visually demonstrate what I mean by rearranging the verses in what I suggest is chronological order.  Some of this may challenge what you currently believe.  I don’t want to be dogmatic about it, I just want to see what you think!

Visual Rearrangement – Revelation 12

1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.  3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems.  4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.  And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.  7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon.  And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,  10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.  [Chapter 7: 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”]

12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.  6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.  14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.  15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.

17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.  13:1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads… 13:5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 13:6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 13:7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 13:8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

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Verse-By-Verse Commentary – Revelation 12

Verse 1 – And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

  • There is no reason to believe anything other than that this is a literal alignment that appears in the heavens (constellations – second heaven – space).  God placed the sun, moon, and the stars deliberately, and He controls their movements (Genesis 1:14).
  • The only woman constellation is Virgo.  While “Virgo” is the corrupted astrological name for the constellation, in the Mazzaroth (God’s redemption plan in the heavens) Virgo is generally considered to represent Israel.  At this point in time, the woman is in unbelief (believing Jews are instead considered part of the church).
  • This vision of John’s is reminiscent of Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:9-11.
  • This sign, in its completion, seems to appear in the heavens in one time only in human history – September 23, 2017.

Verse 2 – She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.

  • The heavens obviously can’t be pregnant, but the theme of labor pains and birth is used to describe the “discomfort” of the end of the age in multiple places in scripture. (Isaiah 26; Matthew 24).  It’s interesting that the woman is described as already in birth pains and in the agony of giving birth here, before the dragon is described.
  • It’s possible the crying out in verse 2 illustrates the early fulfillment of Ezekiel’s vision of the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37), where Israel is restored nationally and physically before she is restored spiritually.  This is described in Isaiah 26 as Israel laboring by herself (without God) to attempt to obtain deliverance.  The woman is clearly Israel, and it is her who is in pain.
  • God is not about to bring to the point of birth without delivery (Isaiah 66:9).  Israel is about to enter TRUE birth pains, and receive TRUE deliverance.

Verse 3 – And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems.

  • This is “another sign”, separate and distinct from the “great sign” in verses 1-2.  This sign has prompted a whole host of speculations as to what it might be!
  • The dragon constellations include Draco, Serpens, and Hydra.  Will any or all of these be involved in the sign of the red dragon?  What about the yearly Draconid meteor showers in the fall?  What about Planet X?  Some people suspect a mysterious planet or planetary system could be involved.
  • Maybe the dragon sign won’t be in the sun, moon, and stars at all – maybe it’s a separate kind of sign from the “great sign”.  As of the time of this post, no one is truly sure how the dragon sign will play out, although it will likely become clear as the time of its fulfillment is imminent.  I am inclined to agree that we probably won’t physically see a sign.
  • The seven-headed, ten-horned dragon, however the sign plays out, is clearly a reference to satan.  (We are explicitly told this in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2)
  • Elsewhere, we see a seven-headed, ten-horned Beast (Daniel & Revelation), which is also satan, or the human kings he controls.  The heads are wearing diadems (like crowns); we are told they are kings.

Verse 4 – His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.  And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.

  • The Bible refers to angels as “stars of heaven” multiple times, such as in Job 38:7.  It seems that this third of the stars of heaven is quite possibly referring to the portion of the angelic host that joined satan/Lucifer in his initial rebellion (Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:12-17).  When they fell, they were cast to the earth, where they are now the powers, principalities, and rulers of this present world (Ephesians 6:12).
  • If verse 4 is giving an overview of the “war in heaven”, then this casting down of stars to the earth would suggest the fallen angelic host will no longer have access to the third heaven, where God dwells.  While satan has this privilege currently, we are not told if his horde does or not.
  • There may be a connection between this event and Seal 6, in which “stars fall from the sky” (Revelation 6:13).  If this connection is valid, then it seems that the fallen angels will somehow be involved in the fulfillment of the so-called dragon sign.  (“alien invasion” anyone?)
  • Note that the dragon isn’t actually devouring the woman or her child, but is anticipating devouring her child.  He wants to, but the child hasn’t been born yet.
  • One might say the dragon is being restrained from devouring the child (wink, wink).


Verse 7 – Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon.  And the dragon and his angels fought back,

  • “Now” brings us to a different part of the vision, referencing back to the dragon of verse 3-4.  This seems to lend credence to the view that verses 1-6 are an overview, and we are about to be filled in with the details, starting with the dragon.
  • Is the war in heaven when the child is snatched?  Is it when the woman flees?  We are not told what causes the battle, but the most likely scenario in my opinion would be the rapture of the Church.  John MacArthur makes the interesting suggestion that the prince of the power of the air and his demon hosts may try to hinder the passage of the raptured believers as they pass through their realm (Rev 12:3-4), which would trigger the battle with Michael and the holy angels (Rev 12:7-8).  I believe this has strong merit, as the dragon is poised to devour the child as it is being born.
  • This is a monumental war, guys.  It’s not like war erupts in heaven every day, like it does on earth.  This war is over something BIG.

Verse 8 – but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.

  • There is no longer any place for Satan and his demons in heaven.  Now listen, until this moment, there apparently WAS a place for them in heaven.
  • “Place” here doesn’t so much refer to space or room, but to purpose (Strong’s 5117, topos).  Biblehub describes this as “the condition or station held by one in any company or assembly” or “opportunity, power, occasion for acting”.
  • What was satan’s purpose in heaven?  Satan, after his initial fall, retained access to God’s throne in order to accuse believers before Him (remember the book of Job?).
  • There’s no longer any purpose/place for him to do so all of a sudden.  Why?
  • I would suggest there is momentarily no longer any believers left to accuse on earth – as they have all just been raptured.  Think about it…  Big event, big war, no purpose for satan in heaven anymore…

Verse 9 – And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

  • As we learned in verse 8, since there is no longer purpose for them in heaven, they are cast to the earth.  There is still purpose for them there, which is a “woe” for the inhabitants of earth.  Note that verse 12 is coincident with this event.
  • I see possible connection between the casting down of Satan and his horde in verse nine with Seal 6, where the “stars” fall from heaven to the earth (Rev 6:13 – “and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind“).   In v4 we have already been introduced to the fallen angels as being “stars”, and we know Satan and the demons are cast down to the earth.  Are the figs dropping as part of the “fig tree generation”?  Is the strong wind the Holy Spirit ascending to heaven with us – the reverse of the Holy Spirit descending as a strong wind from heaven on Pentecost, detailed in the book of Acts?  What do you think?

Verse 5 – She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,

  • Rapture time!!!
  • Using an interlinear translation, we see the woman give birth to a male huion arsen (Strong’s 5207 and 730).  This male child is to shepherd the nations with a rod of iron.  The woman is  identified as Israel (the corporate entity), who brings forth Jesus (the male child – huion arsen).  A child, teknon (Strong’s 5043), is then caught up to God and to His throne.
  • When Jesus ascended to heaven, He was not seized suddenly with great force, nor was He in any danger from the dragon.  In Acts 1:9, Jesus is lifted up (eperthe – Strong’s 1869) until He is hidden from view.  We see this word in 19 other instances in scripture, and it means “exalts;  lifts itself; lifting up voice or eyes; lifting up; turning gaze“.
  • The child in Rev 12:5 is “caught up” – herpasthe (Strong’s 726), not eperthe .  Where else do we see Strong’s Greek 726?  1 Thessalonians 4:17 – Those who are alive and remain will be caught up together…; 2 Cor. 12:2, 4 Paul is caught up to the third heaven; Acts 23:10 – take him away from them by force; Acts 8:39 – Philip is snatched by the Spirit of the Lord.  There are 14 instances of this word in scripture and it means “plucked; seized; snatched suddenly and forcefully“.  There is quite a difference between being lifted or raised and being snatched or seized, isn’t there?
  • Let’s take a look at the child who is snatched.  Is it the same child as the male child – huion arsen?  Well, no, in fact, it isn’t.  This child that is snatched is a teknon (Strong’s 5043).  This is a commonly used word to mean children, child, descendant (gender neutral).
  • If Israel represents the corporate entity of Israel, the child (neutral gender) represents the corporate entity of the church – Jew and Gentile made one in Christ.  It is the church that is snatched up, suddenly and forcefully.  It is the church to whom Jesus has promised to share His iron-rod rule with (Revelation 2:26-27).
  • The woman, currently unbelieving, is left behind.
  • Are you stunned?  From Isaiah 66 we know that “before she was in labor she gave birth”.  This is entirely consistent with Jesus telling us that when we BEGIN to see all these things (the beginning of birth pains sign He describes on the Mount of Olives), that our redemption draws near.  As Israel enters her birth pains, the time of Jacob’s Trouble, the body of Christ will be delivered.  The nation that is born in one day is the body of Christ (1 Peter 2:9).
  • Listen folks – the rapture IS equivalent to salvation at this one moment in human existence – there is no partial birth, no partial rapture!
  • Still not convinced:  Please see these amazing articles on Unsealed:

Verse 10 – And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

  • Woohoo!  Celebration in heaven as the accuser has been cast down.  Note that this is coincident with verse 12 – heaven is rejoicing.
  • Salvation has come through the power of Christ – the power of resurrection and eternal life – our blessed hope, the rapture!

Verse 11 – And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

  • Who is the “they” that have conquered the accuser?
  • Okay guys, I’m going to have to do some fast talking here not to lose you.  I realize this but please, hear me out!
  • Who is it that conquers satan by the blood of the Lamb?  Don’t we all, as believers?  I mean, we don’t conquer satan by our own strength.  It is the blood of the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world, that gives us victory over sin and death.
  • Who is it that conquers satan by the word of their testimony?  Don’t we all, as believers?  The word of our testimony is that we confess that Jesus is Lord.
  • Check out the comparison with Romans 10:9-10 – “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”  Is not this conquering by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony?
  • Those who persisted in faith until the end (death for those who died, the moment of the rapture for those yet living) are the overcomers!  The conquerors!  “For everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only the one who believers that Jesus is the Son of God.”  1 John 5:4-5
  • I do believe that the reference to not loving their lives even unto death is reference to the martyrs in Christ, but that is a topic for another post!

[Chapter 7:9-10 – After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”]

  • Just dropping this bomb here… note the close association with verse 10 – singing about salvation…
  • Vast multitude… largest group ever seen in heaven by far… from every nation, tribe, people, and language… clothed in white and singing about salvation… immediately post-birth event… pre-tribulation… as Israel is about to enter her true birth pains…
  • Big event, war in heaven, no purpose for the accuser anymore…
  • Just chew on it.

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Verse 12 – Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

  • This verse is coincident with verses 9 (dragon cast down – woe to the earth) and 10 (salvation celebrated with the accuser having been thrown down – rejoicing in heaven).
  • We see here the extremes of rejoicing in heaven contrasted with the woes on earth.  This is a theme throughout the book of Revelation.
  • With the Restrainer removed (the Holy Spirit indwelling in the body of Christ), satan will now unleash his deception upon the remainder of humanity – who refused to be saved. (note yet another connection between salvation/rapture).   “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)
  • God will use satan for His purposes, to fulfill the time of Jacob’s Trouble and the Day of the Lord.

Verse 13 – And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.

  • Satan immediately starts pursuing Israel.  I want you to note that the word is pursuing, not devouring or attacking.
  • Let’s go to the interlinear, because I’m not quite sure you believe me!  Pursued is Strong’s 1377 – dioko.  While Strong’s lists the definition as “to put to flight, pursue, by implication to persecute”, HELPS Word-studies has a different take – “1377 diṓkō – properly, aggressively chase, like a hunter pursuing a catch (prize). 1377 (diṓkō) is used positively (“earnestly pursue”) and negatively (“zealously persecute, hunt down”). In each case, 1377 (diṓkō) means pursue with all haste (“chasing” after), earnestly desiring to overtake (apprehend).”
  • Satan will aggressively and zealously pursue Israel, earnestly desiring to overtake her.  Instead of viewing the pursuing as open and hostile aggression, though, I tend to view it as manipulative and cunning.  Think of it as deceptive infiltration.
  • I would suggest in the first half of Daniel’s 70th week, satan will try to make this pursuing look positive.  Imagine satan trying to woo Israel as her long-awaited Messiah.  Israel is expecting a Messiah and I believe that satan will have his antichrist attempt to step into that role.

Verse 6 – and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

  •  Admittedly, the placement of verse 6 can cause some consternation.  Without viewing verses 1-6 as an overview, with details following, it can seem that the rapture might not be until mid-tribulation.  But is that what the rest of scripture tells us?  Clearly, a literal interpretation of scripture describes a pretribulation rapture.  So what gives?  There is a gap in the overview between verses 5 and 6.
  • In verse 6 we skip forward to view the fate of the woman, at some point (approximately 1260 days, or 3.5 years) after her child has been snatched.
  • John Abent in his book “Signs in the Heavens” suggests that the 144,000 sealed Jews flee to the wilderness right away after the rapture event.  He sees the 2 witnesses as instructing them there in the wilderness, teaching them as Jesus taught His disciples for 3.5 years.  If this is correct, it would give an amazing key to the timeline in Revelation – defining two consecutive 1260 day time periods.  After the initial 1260 days, the abomination of desolation would occur, and the watching faithful Jews would join these in the wilderness for the last 1260 days  of “Greatest Tribulation” described in Matthew 24.  I’m not sure that I agree with this view, but I thought that it was worth considering.
  • Because we are viewing a grand panorama, I believe that verse 6 is more than likely an identification marker.  It is used to positively identify the woman as the elect remnant – faithful, believing Israelites – by clearly connecting her identity to later verses.
  • Verse 6 positively identifies the woman, and tells us what will become of her.
  • [Totally unrelated, but I have heard speculated that God will again provide manna for the people of Israel in the wilderness – wouldn’t that be so wonderful!]

Verse 14 – But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

  • Here we have the detail of how the woman (faithful Israel) will flee to the wilderness.
  • When the abomination of desolation is placed in the Third Temple, and the antichrist claims to be “god”, observing Jews will recognize the warning of Jesus from Matthew 24/Daniel 9 and flee to the wilderness.
  • The wings of the eagle and flight here refer to the speed with which she flees.  There is also connection to being sheltered under the wings of the Lord (for further discussion please see: The Woman Flees to a Place Prepared).
  • I would suggest that this is when Michael stands up (Daniel 12:1), to defend and protect Israel in the wilderness for the duration of the 1260 days of Beast rule.  Guys, it makes sense.  Michael is Israel’s angelic prince.  He’s not relieved of his duties for the worst time of her life.  Instead, he gets an extra-special assignment!
  • Verse 14 confirms what verse 6 stated – believing Israel will be securely protected by God in the wilderness throughout the time of “greatest tribulation”.
  • This verse also gives us confirmation that time, times, and half a time is equivalent to 1260 days, when related back to verse 6.

Verse 15 – The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood.

  • Will this be literal water?  Possibly, but I don’t think so.
  • I think a more likely explanation might be armed troops, as the same word for water (Strong’s 5204) is used in Revelation 17 to represent many peoples.  “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters… And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.” (Revelation 17:1,15)  So the serpent (dragon) could send forth many peoples after Israel, to try to drown her out before she reaches safety.
  • Another possibility for the water that the serpent sends forth might be demonic entities that chase elect Israel as she flees. Why demonic entities?  I base this interpretation from a similar description during the 6th Bowl judgment, where impure spirits flow from the mouths of the dragon, beast, and false prophet –  “Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet.  They are demonic spirits that perform signs” (Revelation 16:13-14).  Note the similarities of pouring out of the mouths of the serpent versus the unholy trinity (dragon, beast, false prophet).  This is not the SAME event, as verse 15 is at the midpoint of the 7 year period, and Bowl 6 is near the very end of the 7 year period.

Verse 16 – But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.

  • I don’t see why this couldn’t refer to the earth literally opening its mouth, with sinkholes or an earthquake.
  • Whatever this “earth opening its mouth” is, God saves the fleeing Jews from the serpent/dragon/satan in this way.

Verse 17 – Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

  • In this chapter, we have already seen the woman (believing Israel) and the Church (gender neutral child/descendant).  Who then are the “rest of her offspring”?  Here we see the woman’s other offspring (spermatos – gender neutral – Strong’s 4690), that have come after the baby that was snatched up to heaven.  Since the woman is securely hiding in the wilderness at this point, these offspring must be the post-rapture gentile followers of Christ – the “tribulation saints”.
  • We find out in Revelation chapter 13 that these saints will be given into satan’s hand.  Most will become “tribulation martyrs” during the “greatest tribulation” period – the last half of Daniel’s 70th week.

Chapter 13:1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads… 13:5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 13:6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 13:7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 13:8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

  • Throughout the duration of the last half of Daniel’s 7th week (3.5 years, or 1260 days), the antichrist has global rule, blasphemes the one true God and His followers, and slaughters the tribulation saints.  He is not allowed to touch the believing remnant of Israel, who is hiding in the wilderness under God’s hand of protection.

And thus concludes our study on Revelation chapter 12, with a little sneak peek at chapter 13.  I hope I’ve given you some food for thought!

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Further Resources:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

Jewish Rabbis: “Messiah is Coming This Year – We Need to Prepare”

in case of moshiach

“HARAV, WHEN IS MOSHIACH COMING?! WHEN?”

Rav Berland responded:

“IMMEDIATELY AFTER SEDER NIGHT.”

Rav Badani clarified:

“THIS YEAR? THIS YEAR?”

Rav Berland replied:

“YES. 5779. THIS IS EXACTLY THE GEMATRIA OF ‘ובביאת משיח’ (AND IN THE COMING OF MOSHIACH.)”

Rav Badani continued:

“SO, WE NEED TO BE PREPARED FOR THIS. WE NEED TO PREPARE.”

(Source)

 

The Messiah is coming!  The Messiah is coming!  We need to prepare!

This announcement reminds me of the watchman’s midnight cry – “Here is the bridegroom!  Come out to meet him!”  (Matthew 25:6).  While I wholeheartedly agree that the Messiah is coming and that we need to prepare our hearts and sound the alarm, I’m not quite sure that we are talking about the SAME Messiah.  Let’s examine who, exactly, the Jewish Rabbis are anticipating to come “this year”.  Do they have some secret knowledge we should pay attention to?

Jewish Messianic Date-Setting

While there have been rumors of the imminent coming of the “Messiah” (Moshiach in Hebrew) for a few years now in Orthodox Jewish circles, what’s interesting to me is that this winter has brought with it a rash of Messianic date-setting.  Date-setting as in, right away, date-setting.

The above quoted conversation comes from a discussion between two well-respected and high positioned Jewish rabbis – Rabbi (Rav) Badani and Rabbi Berland – on January 30, 2019.  It occurred during a traditional blessing upon Rabbi Badani’s grandchild.  The conversation turned to questions about the coming redemption of Israel.  During this discussion on redemption, Rabbi Berland made the claim that the Messiah will come immediately after Seder (Passover) night, this year.

It would be one thing if Rabbi Berland were the only one making this claim.  Even well-respected people sometimes go off on tangents and claim all sorts of things.  However, prominent Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky has also claimed that the Messiah will come this spring – prior to the upcoming Israeli elections.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the most prominent rabbis of this generation, made a shocking statement, claiming that the Messiah will precede the upcoming Israeli elections. Several rabbis noted that the writing is on the wall and the signs that the process leading up to the Messiah has already begun…for those who have the eyes to see it.

Rabbi Yekutiel Fish, an expert in Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) gave a lesson this week in which he discussed how the Messiah was imminent. Rabbi Fish cited Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the most prominent Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) rabbis of this generation, who began foretelling the arrival of the Messiah just a few years ago.

“It is written that in the days leading up to the Messiah, tzaddikim (righteous men) will begin to announce his arrival but some people, those who have not prepared for His arrival, will laugh at the righteous and the learned,” Rabbi Fish said, warning that it is forbidden to mock the righteous.”

Rabbi Fish related a story that is just now being told within Haredi circles in Israel. A young Torah scholar from outside of Israel was hosted for the Sabbath a few weeks ago at the house of a follower of Rabbi Kanievsky. The young man visited Kanievsky during the Sabbath. He asked the rabbi if he should apply for Israeli citizenship in order to vote for the Haredi party in the Israeli elections being held on April 9.

“There is no need,” Rabbi Kanievsky answered. “The  Messiah will already be here before the elections.”

The young man was unsure that he had heard the rabbi correctly so after he departed from the house, he asked Kanievsky’s grandson, a venerated rabbi in his own right, to confirm the answer. The grandson entered the rabbi’s chamber and asked again: ‘Should the young man apply for citizenship before the elections?’

Rabbi Kanievsky responded, “I already told him that there is no need. The Messiah will be here before the elections.”

 (Source)

Breaking Israel News, an Israeli news source, describes Rabbi Kanievsky as “one of the most learned and righteous Jews alive today”.  These are highly regarded, senior-level, Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis making these claims.

Rabbi Matityahu Glazerson has also verified that the year 5779 appears to be significant concerning the coming Messiah.  Rabbi Glazerson is most known for his work in Torah codes.

Using a Torah program that searches for equidistant letter sequences in the Bible, Rabbi Glazerson did a search for relevant expressions concerning Kanievsky’s announcement. He noted that the term “יבוא משיח” (the Messiah will come) appears once in Leviticus 23 adjacent to the letters “תשעט” signifying the current Hebrew year, 5779.

  (Source)

such a time

At this point, I want to mention that Rabbi Kanievsky has been speaking about the imminent coming of the Messiah for a few years now.  In April 2016, he stated that the Messiah would arrive prior to Rosh Hashana 2016.  That prediction was based on the shmittah (sabbatical), and was obviously a failed prediction.  (Source)

In November 2017, a well-known mystical Rabbi, Nir Ben Artzi, claimed that the identity of the Messiah would be revealed in the “very near future”.  He stated:

“The Holy One, Blessed be He, will come to the rabbis in a dream with a vision and inform them of whom He has chosen for the King Messiah,” predicted Rabbi Ben Artzi. “The Creator will write to them exactly, whom He has chosen as King Messiah.”

This singular revelation was accompanied by details.

“There will be a yellow card and holy letters inscribed on a parchment like a Torah scroll, where they will be told in Aramaic who is King Messiah,” the rabbi continued. Aramaic is no longer spoken, but it is the language of the Talmud (oral law). “Then, they will have no choice and they will recognize the King Messiah.

“From above they will be told, ‘The choice is in your hands. Either you reveal him or the Creator of the world will cause you great trouble and will not let go until you reveal this and tell it to the people of Israel’,” Rabbi Ben Artzi said. “Then they will follow the instructions laid out in the dream and acknowledge who the Messiah King is.”

(Source

Let us be clear that these high-ranking Rabbis, learned as they may be, have no special revelation from God – despite what they might believe.  It appears that through their vigorous study of the scriptures (Torah + Tankh), plus a few “prophetic dreams and visions” (which I suggest did NOT come from God), they have come to the same conclusion that watching Christian believers have – the state of the world today is strongly indicative of the imminent coming of the Messiah.  Have no doubt, satan is also WELL aware that the Messiah is near.

Relevant Dates and Times

I know you’re chomping at the bit to ask WHEN???  What are the dates we are looking at here???  (Do I know you or what – ha!)

Purim (14th of Adar/Adar II):

Purim is the Jewish celebration which recalls the saving of the Jewish people from annihilation at the hands of Haman.  This redemption is recorded in the book of Esther.  Purim is celebrated each year on the 14th of Adar (or Adar II in leap years – which this year has been confirmed).

Hebcal:  March 21 (Source)

Chabad: March 20 (Source)

AISH: March 20 (Source)

Passover Seder (14th of Nisan):

The Passover Seder is the traditional ritual which retells the story of Israel’s redemption from slavery in Egypt.  It occurs on the first night of Passover, as the 14th transitions to the 15th of Nisan.  Since this is confirmed to be a leap year, Passover will be in April.

Renewed Moon: April 19th @ sundown (Source)

Hebcal: April 20 (Source)

Chabad: April 19 (Source)

AISH:  April 19 (Source)

Israeli Elections

The Israeli elections are scheduled, and will not flux with the Hebrew calendar.  These are set to occur April 9, 2019.  Interestingly, the recent news of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s indictment has placed the upcoming election in turmoil.  Will it be rescheduled?

Date Summary

Rabbi Berland states that the Messiah will come immediately after Seder night (April 19-20).  Rabbi Kanievsky states that the Messiah will come before the Israeli elections (April 9, unless postponed).  There are also rumors circulating that the Messiah will come on Purim, I think from the title of Israel National News Article – “Rabbi: Messiah Began on Sunday, Will Appear on Purim, and Will Finish With Israeli Elections“.  When reading the article, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky states the Messiah will come after Seder night, so I personally suspect the article was mis-titled.  Regardless of the title and the quotation, it does seem that there is some expectation of Purim as a possible “high watch date”.

The Expected Messiah

Instead of focusing on the actual dates predicted, and whether or not they hold special “high watch status” to us as watchmen, I think what is more relevant is the overall atmosphere within the orthodox Jewish community.  The “watching” Jewish community is electrically charged with anticipation of the imminent arrival of their Messiah.  Fascinating, right?

Let’s talk about exactly WHO these ultra-orthodox Jewish rabbis are expecting to imminently appear.

Hint:  It’s not Jesus.  


As Christians, we longingly await for Jesus Christ to call us up in the harpazo of the church, prior to the 70th week of Daniel playing out on earth.

Orthodox Jews await for the first (and only) coming of a Messiah, who I suggest to you is the anti-Messiah – the anti-Christ.

Remember that the Jewish people, for the most part, rejected Jesus as Messiah approximately 2000 years ago.  Thus, they are still watching, and waiting, for a Messiah.  I think we will learn a lot if we examine how they believe they will identify him.

Moshiach is not identified by his ability to perform earth-shattering miracles. In fact, he isn’t required to perform any miracles at all (although the performance of miracles doesn’t disqualify him either).

The following are the criteria for identifying the Moshiach, as written by Maimonides:

If we see a Jewish leader who (a) toils in the study of Torah and is meticulous about the observance of the mitzvot, (b) influences the Jews to follow the ways of the Torah and (c) wages the “battles of G‑d”—such a person is the “presumptive Moshiach.”

If the person succeeded in all these endeavors, and then rebuilds the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and facilitates the ingathering of the Jews to the Land of Israel—then we are certain that he is the Moshiach.

(Source

 

According to Jewish writings, the Messiah will:

  • study the Torah and observe its commandments fastidiously
  • influence other Jews to follow the Torah
  • wage the “battles of God” (I would suggest, fight battles for Israel)
  • rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem
  • facilitate ingathering of Jews to Israel (aliyah)

Is this sending big-time chills up your spine?  Red flashing lights?

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How about this?

One of the principles of Jewish faith enumerated by Maimonides is that one day there will arise a dynamic Jewish leader, a direct descendant of the Davidic dynasty, who will rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, and gather Jews from all over the world and bring them back to the Land of Israel.

Any potential Moshiach must be a direct descendant of King David, as well as erudite in Torah learning. It should be noted that many people living today can trace their lineage back to King David. The chief rabbi of Prague in the late 16th century, Rabbi Yehuda Loew (the Maharal), had a family tree that traced him back to the Davidic dynasty. Consequently, any direct descendant of the Maharal is of Davidic descent.

Maimonides states in his Mishneh Torah—a compendium of the entire halachic tradition—that Moshiach will first rebuild the Temple and then gather in the exiles. Jerusalem and the Temple will be the focus of divine worship, and “from Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the L‑rd from Jerusalem.”

According to some traditions, G‑d Himself will rebuild the third Temple. According to others, it will be rebuilt by Moshiach; still others suggest a combination of the two opinions. Some suggest that there will be two distinct periods in the messianic era: first a non-miraculous period, leading into a second, miraculous period.

The Sanhedrin—the supreme Jewish law court of 71 sages—will be re-established, and will decide on all matters of law. At this time, all Jews will return to full Torah observance and practice.

Initially, there will be no change in the world order, other than its readiness to accept messianic rule. All the nations of the world will strive to create a new world order, in which there will be no more wars or conflicts. Jealousy, hatred, greed and political strife (of the negative kind) will disappear, and all human beings will strive only for goodness, kindness and peace.

All the nations of the world will recognize Moshiach to be a world leader, and will accept his dominion. In the messianic era there will be world peace, no more wars nor famine, and, in general, a high standard of living.

All mankind will worship one G‑d, and live a more spiritual and moral way of life. The Jewish nation will be preoccupied with learning Torah and fathoming its secrets.

The coming of Moshiach will complete G‑d’s purpose in creation: for man to make an abode for G‑d in the lower worlds—that is, to reveal the inherent spirituality in the material world.

Our prophets speak of the advent of a human leader, of a magnitude that the world has not yet experienced. His unique example and leadership will inspire mankind to change direction.

Moshiach will be a man who possesses extraordinary qualities. He will be proficient in both the written and oral Torah traditions. He will incessantly campaign for Torah observance among Jews, and observance of the seven universal Noahide laws by non-Jews. He will be scrupulously observant, and encourage the highest standards from others. He will defend religious principles and repair breaches in their observance.

Jews anticipate the arrival of Moshiach every day. Our prayers are full of requests to G‑d to usher in the messianic era. Even at the gates of the gas chambers, many Jews sang “Ani Maamin”—I believe in the coming of Moshiach!

However, the Talmud states that there is a predestined time when Moshiach will come. If we are meritorious, he may come even before that predestined time. This “end of time” remains a mystery, yet the Talmud states that it will be before the Hebrew year 6000. (The Hebrew year at the date of this publication is 5772.)

In every generation there is a person who potentially could be the Moshiach. When G‑d decides that the time has arrived, He will bestow upon that individual the necessary powers for him to precipitate that redemption.

The Talmud describes the period immediately prior to the advent of Moshiach as one of great travail and turmoil. There will be a world recession, and governments will be controlled by despots. It is in this troubled setting that Moshiach will arrive.

There is a tradition that a great war will take place, called the war of Gog and Magog, and there is much speculation as to the precise timing of this war in relation to Moshiach’s arrival.

There is a tradition that Elijah the Prophet will come to the world and announce the imminent arrival of Moshiach. However, according to other opinions, Moshiach may arrive unannounced. Elijah would then arrive to assist in the peace process. Some suggest that if the Moshiach arrives in his predestined time, then Elijah will announce his arrival; but if Moshiach comes suddenly, then Elijah will appear after Moshiach has come.

(Source

I know.

Seriously.

Speechless.


Let’s summarize the Orthodox Jewish beliefs above:

  • The Messiah will arrive sometime before the Hebrew year 6000, whenever the Jews “merit it” – he could come any time
  • Elijah the Prophet will arrive and announce the imminent coming of the Messiah  (Or, the Messiah may just arrive unannounced with Elijah appearing after)
  • Immediately before the Messiah appears, there will be “great turmoil” – including a world recession and government take-overs
  • A great war will take place, the Gog-Magog war
  • Wage “battles of God” for Israel
  • The Messiah will by a dynamic leader who will achieve world dominion
  • Initially there will be no change in the world, other than a readiness to strive to create a “new world order”
  • Miracles may or may not happen when the Messiah first appears
  • The Messiah will be a direct descendant of King David
  • The Messiah will rebuild the Third Temple, as an abode for God “in the lower worlds”
  • Israel will return to Torah law; Gentiles will be held to the Noahide laws
  • The Messiah will call all all tribes to return to Israel (gather in the exiles)
  • All mankind will worship one God

If someone doesn’t meet every single one of these qualifications, he cannot be the Messiah.

Why Did Israel Reject Jesus as Messiah?

Have you ever wondered why the bulk of Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah?  Although Jesus literally fulfilled hundreds of Messianic prophecies, some remain to be fulfilled – the ones related to the Messianic Kingdom.  Israel was expecting their Messiah to come in, fight off all their enemies, raise Israel up as head of the world, and establish his kingdom of peace ruled by Torah law.  Basically, they were expecting the Millennial Kingdom to be put into place.

My purpose here isn’t to give a full treatise on why Israel rejected Jesus as Messiah and what the Christian rebuttal is.  There are those who have done much more extensive research on that and I would refer you here:

Jewish Expectations – Messiah or Anti-Messiah?

The coming time of tribulation and wrath is about Daniel’s people (Israel) and his holy city (Jerusalem).  All end times prophecy is focused there.

Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.  (Daniel 9:24)

I am fully convinced that the Antichrist will attempt to present himself as the long-awaited Jewish Messiah.  Remember that satan knows the Biblical prophecies, and will try to duplicate them well enough to fool even the elect – if it were possible (Matthew 24:24).

I have come in My Father’s name, and you have not received Me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will receive him.  (John 5:43)

Let’s examine the Jewish expectations we noted above, and compare them to what we know is about to occur prophetically.

Worthy of Messiah

According to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will arrive at some point before year 6000.  Currently, it is year 5779 on the Hebrew calendar, although there is much speculation about “missing years“.  Regardless of the exact year we are in, rabbis seem to believe that we are now “close enough” – that the “time is suited”.

“Tshuva and belief are what bring the Messiah,” Rabbi Glazerson said. “Even in the times that are suited for the Messiah to come, without tshuva, there can be no Messiah. And faith is what leads to Israel being redeemed.”   (Source)

To be worthy for the Messiah to come, Teshuvah, or repentance (returning to the path of righteousness), plus faith, will bring the “Messiah”.  Orthodox rabbis are thus pleading with the Jewish people to repent and have faith.  I don’t think it would be difficult to convince them that they did a “great job” and so the “Messiah was well-pleased and came”.

Elijah the Prophet

Some messianic expectations suggest Elijah will prepare the way for the “Messiah”; others suggest he might appear after the “Messiah” comes.  Whenever he arrives, Elijah is expected to appear before the Day of the Lord begins.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.  (Malachi 4:5)

Whether Elijah will literally appear, or there will be one who “comes in the spirit of Elijah” (like John the Baptist), is unknown.  Elijah figures into many Jewish traditions including:

  • Brit Milah (Elijah’s Chair) – baby boys are placed on the Chair of Elijah at the beginning of circumcision rituals
  • Cup of Elijah – a cup of wine is poured for Elijah at the Passover Seder
  • Opening the Door for Elijah – Elijah is invited to the Passover Seder to “testify” that everyone present is circumcised and worthy to participate in the Seder.

Did you note the obvious connection between Elijah and the Passover Seder?  Interesting, since one of the rabbis claims that the Messiah will appear right after the Seder this year.

While Jewish tradition anticipates Elijah appearing once more, this passage may have already been completely fulfilled through John the Baptist.  Another consideration is that Elijah (the real one) might be one of God’s Two Witnesses, as described in Revelation 11.  Yet another consideration, will the false prophet claim to be Elijah?

Great Turmoil in the World

The belief that immediately prior to the Messiah appearing there will be “great turmoil”, reminds me of what Jesus said in the Olivet Discourse:

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.  (Matthew 24:7-8)

Jesus describes a specific set of signs as marking the “beginning of birth pains”, which announces the “time of the end”.   This collection of signs includes:  nation rising against nation, kingdom rising against kingdom, famines, earthquakes in various places, terrors, and great signs from heaven (Matthew 24; Luke 21).   Individually, these signs don’t signify the end.  When the end DOES arrive, it will be very obviously marked by this collection of signs occurring all at once. The end will come like a flood, or a trap, indeed, and it will be obvious to all.  [A little assignment for you – note the parallels of these signs to Seals 2,3,4,6 in Revelation 6 and the Gog-Magog war in Ezekiel 38-39].

The “Messiah” will arise out of this mess, at the very beginning of Israel’s “birth pains”.  Surely it will happen just as Jesus said.

The Gog-Magog War

Now here’s an interesting expectation.  Jewish tradition suggests that the Messiah will arrive in coordination with the Gog-Magog war.  Let’s review what this war is all about (for your own study, please read Ezekiel 38-39).

“Gog” and the many nations intend to plunder Israel.  At least, they think they do.  In actuality, it’s God who will raise Israel’s enemies up against her in such a way as to guarantee her destruction.  Why?  Specifically, so that He can prevent her from being annihilated.  Are you confused?

It’s impossible to overemphasize the significance that God Himself is arranging this war exactly according to His schedule.  The sole purpose of the war is to provide an avenue for God to intervene supernaturally to save Israel for the sake of His own name.  God breaks His silence with Israel for the purpose of announcing to an unbelieving world that  He intends to fulfill His covenant promises!  He will reclaim Israel as His people and His land.  God mentions this purpose 70 times in the book of Ezekiel; four times in these two chapters alone to ensure He gets His point across.

It seems that God will use Gog / Magog as a set-up for both Israel and the nations.  It seems to be deliberately presented so that it can be interpreted by Israel as the final war (Battle of Armageddon).  When God intervenes, Israel will look for the Messiah to inaugurate the Messianic Kingdom.  A “messiah” will most certainly appear.  Since I believe that the Gog-Magog war is at the very beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, I would suggest that the antichrist will rise out of this war, claiming victory for Israel’s salvation.  This is the ultimate test for Israel – who will they accept as their “Messiah”?

Battles of God

I would suggest, based on Jewish Messianic expectation, that the antichrist will be fighting FOR Israel, not against her.  I would suggest he will be DEFEATING her enemies (likely, neighboring Islamic nations, plus anyone else who would dare attack her).  Perhaps he will claim to be the victor of the Psalm 83 / Isaiah 17 / Ezekiel 38-39 wars.

Jews are anticipating the Messiah to establish universal peace, with Israel at the head.  I mean, we are too, but not until after the coming time of “tribulation”.  

 

For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction shall come upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.  (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

Following the rapture of the invisible body of Christ, the restraint on the antichrist’s rise to power will be released.  I would suggest that the antichrist works to establish peace for ISRAEL, and for those who COOPERATE with her… but that the process will involve wars for those who OPPOSE her.

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.  (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8)

There are a lot of different interpretations of how exactly the antichrist rises to power, which we won’t get into here.  Suffice it to say, that it appears the antichrist will most definitely rise to power within the first half of Daniel’s 70th week (1260 days).  This strong leader speaks “great things” and is “greater than his companions” (Daniel 7:19-20).  At the midpoint of the “week”, he achieves a global rule. 

World Domination

I want you to note that if you take the beasts in Daniel 7 – a lion with wings, a bear, a four-headed leopard, and a ten-horned beast – and combine them all together, you get a seven-headed, ten-horned beast with lion, bear, and leopard characteristics.  And, this just happens to be exactly what we see when the antichrist declares to be “god”:

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.  And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth.  (Revelation 13:1-2)

The antichrist’s power will come from satan:

And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.  One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.  And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” (Revelation 13:2-4)

It seems that the world will marvel after and follow the beast because of his apparent resurrection from the dead as well as his miltary prowess.  The antichrist’s 1260 days of rule (the last half of Daniel’s 70th week) is described further in Revelation 13:

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.  Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.  If anyone has an ear, let him hear: If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.  (Revelation 13:5-10)

The antichrist’s rule will be worldwide.  It is also described in the book of Daniel:

“As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them,  until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.  “Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces.  As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.”  (Daniel 7:21-25)

Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.  (Revelation 12:17)

This is the time of “greatest tribulation” for followers of Jesus Christ.  (Matthew 24:15-16, 21-22)  It will be a period of intense persecution and martyrdom for the tribulation saints.

In Jewish end times study, once the Millennial Kingdom is established, they expect that unrepentant gentiles will be killed.  All will be expected to submit to their messiah as “god”.  Does this period of “greatest tribulation” start from within the Jewish community that has embraced the antichrist?  Check this out:

But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them.  (Mark 13:9)

Did you catch that the beating of followers of Jesus Christ will be in synagogues, the Jewish places of worship?  We understand from prophecy that 2/3 of the Hebrew people will perish, and 1/3 will be saved and enter the Millennial Kingdom.

And in all the land,” declares the LORD, “two-thirds will be cut off and perish, but a third will be left in it.  (Zechariah 13:8)

Do the two thirds that perish commit the ultimate blasphemy against God and embrace the anti-Messiah?

Desire for a New World Order

I think we are all familiar with the term “new world order” by now.  The world’s elites don’t even try to keep this goal a secret any more.  It reminds me of 2 Thessalonians 2:7 we just mentioned above – the mystery of lawlessness is already at work (being set up).  The “new world order” that the antichrist will establish will try to mimic the “millennial kingdom” expectations of the Messiah.

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.  And it shall come to pass in the last of the days or times, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be confirmed as the head of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills; and all the Gentiles shall flow unto it.  And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  And he shall judge among the Gentiles and shall rebuke many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isaiah 2:1-4)

I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. (Ezekiel 37:26)

(Additionally, reference Isaiah 32:15-18, 60:15-18; Zephaniah 3:9; Hosea 2:20-22; Amos 9:13-15; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23, 14:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34)

These verses reference the “covenant of peace”, which seems to feature heavily into the antichrist’s political and religious platforms.

Miracles or No Miracles?

Well here’s an easy one.  The Jews don’t seem clear, and neither do they seem to care, whether or not miracles will accompany the Messiah.  I find this rather surprising, actually!  However, we know from scripture, that the antichrist will come in with “signs and wonders”.

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)

These signs and wonders, permitted by God, will contribute to the overall atmosphere of excitement and awe surrounding the anti-Messiah.

A Descendant of David

According to the Hebrew scriptures, the Messiah will be descended from King David on his father’s side:

 

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until tribute comes to him;

    and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.  (Genesis 49:10)

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,

    and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.  (Isaiah 11:1)

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  (Jeremiah 23:5)

For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel… (Jeremiah 33:17)

And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.  And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.  (Ezekiel 34:23-24)

It is difficult to imagine that Israel would accept anyone as Messiah that doesn’t have this Davidic bloodline.  I understand that people like to speculate possible identities of the future anti-Christ; this heredity should be one of the considerations.  The Jews are anticipating a fully human Messiah, descended from King David.

The Third Temple

Although He taught there, Jesus didn’t set Himself up in the Jewish Temple to rule.  Not only did Jesus not rule from their Temple, He prophesied its’ destruction.  How curiously “un-Messiah-like” of Him, according to the Jews.

 

“Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”  (Matthew 24:1-2)

A description of the anticipated Temple is found in Ezekiel chapters 40-48.  That this rule from the Temple will take place through the anti-christ, before it comes through Jesus, we are clearly foretold:

“Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there,  but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.  And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”  (Revelation 11:1-3)

And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”  (Daniel 9:27)

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.  (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

John sees and measures a future temple which will exist during the times of the end.  In the books of Daniel and Matthew (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15), we are told that during the yet future 70th week of Daniel, an event known as the “abomination of desolation” will occur to desecrate the Temple/altar.  For this to occur, a Jewish Temple needs to be in place, or at the very least, an altar of sacrifice.  We also know from Daniel that there will be Jews in Old Covenant relationship with God, and that they will be offering daily sacrifices.  At some point during the 70th week of Daniel (likely at the abomination of desolation), a strong ruler (the lawless one, the antichrist) will cause the sacrifices to cease (Daniel 9:27).  So thus, we know the sacrifices will be restarted before this stopping can occur.  In 2 Thessalonians 2:4, we are told the man of lawlessness will “set himself up in the temple and proclaim to be god”.  For this to be possible, there must be a Third Temple in place.

The closer the Third Temple comes to being a reality, the closer we must be to other end-time events, including the rapture of the church.

A Return to Torah

The Jews are anticipating a Torah rule from the Temple.  As Christians, we also are expecting an iron-rod rule from the Temple, but not until after the upcoming time of “tribulation”.

“My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes.  They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever.  I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore.  My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”  (Ezekiel 37:24-28)

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. 

(Psalm 2:7-12)

The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of ironas when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.  (Revelation 2:26-27)

It seems very clear that the Jews will seek to return to Torah Law, with its system of sacrifices and offerings.  Whether or not these sacrifices will be pleasing to God or not depends on the heart – are they doing it out of remembrance of what Jesus has done, or out of rejection of Christ to attempt to atone for their own sins?  I appeal to your memory that there will be sacrifices during the Millennial Kingdom.  An iron-rod-rule sounds pretty Torah-like to me as well.  It seems that God is not opposed to rules or sacrifices; but these things have never saved and will never save.  Salvation is only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His blood atonement for our sins.

Aliyah (the Ingathering)

After the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD, the Jews were scattered all over the world exactly as prophesied.  In all of human history, no “dead” nation has ever been rebirthed.  However, God’s word and promises stand eternal.  In the 1800’s AD, the first whisperings of Zionism were heard.  In the late 1880’s the first Aliyahs were made – the return of the Jews to their God-covenanted homeland.  Return to Israel (then called Palestine) trickled in slowly but steadily.

And then, WWII.

God, knowing the end from the beginning, brought beauty out of the ashes of the Jewish Holocaust.  Israel was rebirthed in a day on May 14, 1948… after not existing for approximately 2,900 years.

 

Following independence, Aliyah began in earnest.  The return of the people of Israel to the Promised Land is foretold in many places in scripture:

And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul,  then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.  If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you.  And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. (Deuteronomy 30:1-5)

He will raise a signal for the nations
and will assemble the banished of Israel,
and gather the dispersed of Judah
from the four corners of the earth.

(Isaiah 11:12)

Current population statistics (2017) show that Israel has the highest Jewish population, at 44.4% of the world’s Jewry.  Why is Jewish Aliyah interesting in light of end times prophecies?  Perhaps the Orthodox Jews state it best:

Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry, a situation which has not existed since 300 BCE. During the time of Ezra, when the majority of Jews remained in Babylon, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets – Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. (Source)

Orthodox rabbinic tradition suggests that prophecy can only exist in Israel when it contains the majority of the world’s Jews (over 50%).  Note that this is NOT stipulated in the Scriptures, but seems to be a tradition of man.  Regardless, the coming anti-Messiah will most certainly be looking to fulfill this expectation as he gathers the people of Israel home.

 

In Law of Kings, Maimonides writes:
1. The Messianic King will arise in the future and restore the Davidic Kingdom to its former state and original sovereignty. He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel. All the laws will be re-instituted in his days as they had been aforetimes; sacrifices will be offered, and the Sabbatical years and Jubilee years will be observed fully as ordained by the Torah.
2. Anyone who does not believe in him, or whoever does not look forward to his coming, denies not only the other prophets but also the Torah and of Moses our Teacher.
For the Torah attested to him, as it is said:”then, the Lord, your God, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations… Even if your exiles are at the end of the heavens, the Lord, your God, will gather you from there, and He will take you from there. And the Lord, your God, will bring you… (Deuteronomy 30:3-5).
These words, explicitly stated in the Torah, include all the statements made by all the prophets.
— Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Law of Kings 11:1-2[8]

 

It is critical for any messiah figure to focus on ingathering of the exiles to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

One World Religion

We have discussed that during the first half of Daniel’s 70th week the anti-messiah seems to be busy gathering the Jews, building the Temple, fighting skirmishes, rising to power, and establishing his kingdom.   Around the 3.5 year mark, this messiah figure will set up his headquarters (“palatial tents”) in Jerusalem and declare it to be the capital city of the world.  This is again what Jews are expecting from the “messianic kingdom age”.  But first, just as all prophecies indicate, this messiah figure is about to die:

“And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the glorious holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with none to help him.” (Daniel 11:45)

 

Then, the anti-messiah will be miraculously resurrected from the dead:

“One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.  And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”  (Revelation 13:3-4)

 

The resurrection will be through God’s power (only God has the power to give and take life), to fulfill His plans and purposes.  It is at this point that he will claim to be “god”.

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worshipso that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

I would suggest that the antichrist’s claim to deity, and the subsequent demand of worship, will be a huge turning point for the inhabitants of earth – the Israelites in particular.  Where once this man appeared to support the reinstitution of Torah and the Temple, he will now take over, cause sacrifices to cease, set up an abomination, and blaspheme God.  Wait a sec…

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The antichrist’s religious domination is further described in Revelation 13:

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.  It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.  Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation,  and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.  (Revelation 13:5-8)

Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.  It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.  And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.  (Revelation 13:11-15)

 

This antichrist religion is bad news for the tribulation saints, who are about to become tribulation martyrs in vast numbers.  This calls for the patient endurance of the saints indeed.

Messiah 5779?

It is both fascinating and devastating to watch Orthodox Jewish messianic date-setting.  Fascinating, because there is a true longing to be reconciled to God.  Devastating, because they are so prepared to accept the WRONG MESSIAH.

Jesus is most certainly near, even at the doors. This year?  Definitely a strong possibility.  This month?  Also definitely possible.  We Might Be Closer Than You Think.  Check out these Major Prophetic Milestones!

Immediately following the rapture of the true church, it seems that the “false messiah” (antichrist) will arise and:

  • fight and win wars for Israel (these may include Psalm 83, Isaiah 17, Ezekiel 38-39 – which technically GOD wins for Israel, but the antichrist may CLAIM the victory?)
  • allow / encourage building of the Third Temple
  • attempt to gather all Jews back to Israel
  • promise to usher in an age of world peace / perfection with Israel at the head
  • unite humanity in religion
  • be descended on Father’s side from King David
  • allow, or possibly lead, full Torah observance
  • gain worldwide dominion

I believe that the anti-messiah will attempt to parallel what Jesus did at His first coming, in addition to appearing to fulfill what Jesus will do at His second coming.  The Jews did not foresee the two-part role of the messiah (Suffering Servant / Conquering King), and were legitimately baffled when the Messianic Kingdom wasn’t inaugurated at Jesus’ first coming.  In this way, the anti-messiah will appear to clear up the confusion and will be received.

Jesus warned that many would come claiming to be the Christ. These numerous lesser antichrists who were already in the world, as the Apostle John explained in 1 John:2:18, would prepare the way for the real Antichrist who would appear in the last of the “last days.” Behold the ultimate deception: Satan posing as God, Antichrist masquerading as the true Christ, and not just the world but an apostate church as well totally taken in by the bold fraud. Instead of a frontal assault on Christianity, the evil one will pervert the church from within by posing as its founder. He will cunningly misrepresent Christ while pretending to be Christ. And by that process of substitution, he will undermine and pervert all that Christ truly is. Anything less than such a diabolically malevolent strategy would be unworthy of Satan’s foul genius.

—Excerpt taken from Countdown to the Second Coming by Dave Hunt

Have no fear – the ultimate endpoint is that Jesus will overthrow all the kingdoms of the world and set up His kingdom that can never be shaken:

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest  and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.  For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.”  Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.  At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”  This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,  for our God is a consuming fire.
(Hebrews 12:18-29)

God will use all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).  All things includes the antichrist, his false religion, and the time of tribulation!  Jesus Christ will reign victorious!

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Further Resources:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

Blessed Assurance – A Guide to Rapture Readiness

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Are you ready to meet Jesus?  TODAY?  

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.  (1 John 2:28)

There is a once-in-human-history opportunity to bypass death, coming SOON.  It is the ONLY opportunity to ESCAPE what is going to come upon this earth. Global earthquakes. Famine. Infectious disease. Asteroids. Toxic water. Volcanic eruptions. Starvation. Wars. Economic collapse.  Governmental controls on steroids.

Many people who study Bible prophecy (including us in this ministry) believe that a number of prophetic events will be fulfilled in the very near future.  This includes Jesus Christ calling all His true followers up into heaven.  Many of you are eagerly watching and waiting for this event!

What about you? Do you KNOW you will be called?  

We don’t have much time left!  Alarmist?  I don’t believe so. We Might Be Closer Than You Think.  Check out these Major Prophetic Milestones!  As far as what’s going to happen on earth, here’s an Overview of Things to Come (it’s worse than you think).

Everyone who confesses with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in their heart that God raised Him from the dead – these will be saved.  The true Church – the invisible body of Christ, all who are born again and sealed by the Holy Spirit – will escape all these things!

For everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.  (1 John 5:4-5)

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The God who made you, the God who loves you more than you can comprehend, is calling to your heart.  


Brothers and sisters in Christ – dear family – please hear me.  I speak to each of you out of a heart of love!  Please bear with me on the length of this article, but it is heavily upon my heart to write.  It is so, so important to me that each one of you are secure in your salvation and rapture-readiness.  It is out of deep care and concern that I pour forth my heart to you.  The question I must ask you is this – are you confident that if Jesus called His church home today, you would not be left behind?  I don’t want you to just say “of course I’m sure!”, but to really examine your heart.  Test yourself!

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!  (2 Corinthians 13:5)

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.  (Matthew 10:32-33)

But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36)

Do your head and heart agree?  Has your belief in Jesus changed you, from the inside out?  Are you being transformed into Christlikeness?  Are you abiding in Christ?  Examine your own heart, not anyone else’s.  Other people’s hearts are between them and God.

Let me be clear upfront that we can’t earn or maintain our salvation in any way.  There is nothing – nothing at all – that we can do to “deserve”salvation.  It is the same with the rapture.  We don’t deserve it, and we can’t earn it!  We deserve God’s wrath, both now and forevermore!

Sometimes people don’t like that helpless feeling of not being able to earn or maintain their own salvation, so they add traditions and works in an attempt to “measure up”.  They want to feel as if they have some control over the process (if I do X and Y, then I’m “good enough”; conversely, if I do NOT do X and Y, I am NOT “good enough”).  Similarly, some people don’t feel that they are worthy to escape what is to come (the time of “tribulation”) – they don’t feel “good enough” (or they don’t think we are “good enough”!).  Thus, they think we need to suffer a little bit – or maybe a lot – before we are worthy of “rescue”.  There may be a deep-seated unconscious desire to pay for one’s badness.  This felt need for punishment often has its’ roots in childhood.

What about you?  Can you understand that God saves you and will rapture you *in spite* of your badness?  Can you comprehend His mercy through the blood of Christ, which withholds punishment upon you both during His earthly wrath and His eternal wrath?

My loves, we have no control.  We are completely, utterly, totally, helplessly dependent upon Jesus for salvation and rapture-worthiness.  No amount of suffering, trials, tribulation, or even a martyr’s death, would make us worthy for either!  We have the strength to escape all these things only through the blood of Jesus, which enrobes us with His righteousness!

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  (Isaiah 61:10)

…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.   (Romans 5:8-9)

My sweet friend, have you internalized that God’s love for you, unlike human love, is truly unconditional – independent of what you do or do not do?  If not, please consider reading I Have Loved You With an Everlasting Love.  We are only able to love God because He loved us first.

We love because he first loved us.  (1 John 4:19)

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Jesus paid the price of your death penalty.  He didn’t just pay part of the tab – He paid the full tab.  All that remains is whether or not you accept that payment to be applied to your account.  If you keep trying to pay part of it, you don’t truly understand the grace of God!  Nor do you understand your total depravity – your complete and utter unworthiness.  You do not have anything to offer God that remotely compares to what Jesus has done for you.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Salvation is the escape from God’s eternal wrath.  Rapture is the escape from God’s earthly wrath, for those who are alive at the time it will occur.  Neither are merited.  They are gifts of God given by grace, through faith.  God’s mercy withholds the punishment we do deserve; God’s grace gifts the salvation we do not deserve.

So why am I bringing this up?  

If we’ve established that it is by God’s grace that we are saved, and it is through His grace that we are confident we will be raptured, why write yet another salvation post?  We have many already.  (Check out this one on The Law, or The Everlasting Gospel: The Mystery of the Bread of Life. A solid post on the gospel is The Five-Part Gospel).

While the gospel is unchanging, God uses our individual hearts and testimonies to touch different lives.  I write my story because I can’t be the only one who has gone through the agony of wrestling with faith.  Struggling with doubt – not doubt of the truth, but doubt of my own salvation.  Maybe there is one person here who needs to hear this message.  Maybe there is one heart that God will touch for eternity through these words!

Blessed Assurance – I Wish It Was Mine

I was personally confident in the “facts” of Christianity.  I had a loving earthly father and didn’t struggle with the concept of God’s grace. Nonetheless, there was a disturbing disconnect that nagged at my soul.  It is this deep-seated, lingering doubt that I hope to expose in your heart today, if it is there.  I do not want ANYONE reading this article to be left behind on rapture day.

 “I believe; help my unbelief!”  (Mark 9:24)

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Do you “pass the test”?

Not everyone goes through a vigorous head/heart struggle of faith, and far be it from me to cause anyone to stumble!  But if this is you, if you have been struggling over and over again, I believe you can feel these words burning into your heart at this moment.  I am praying for you.  I believe God’s Spirit has led you here.  If you have doubt in your salvation and rapture-readiness, God wants you to press on until He gives you assurance!

Examining yourself to see if you are in the faith is an act of obedience!  It is part of “working out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).  So here’s what I want to you to do.  It doesn’t matter about the past.  Are you trusting in Jesus for salvation, right now?  Do you have peace in your heart that you are saved, right now?  If we heard that glorious call home, right now, do you know you would be snatched from this earth?  If you have momentary doubt, because I have shaken you in spirit, but then find that you are in the faith, that is “passing the test”.  If you get a gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach, your mouth goes dry, and you are filled with fear, that’s not passing the test.

I did not used to “pass the test”.  When I truly examined myself I knew deep down that something was wrong.  I didn’t want to die, I didn’t want the rapture to occur, because I wasn’t sure where I would go.  What about you?  In your heart of hearts do you have peace or dread?   Test yourself before God, right now!  Approach Him in prayer with a seeking heart.

Talking the talk, walking the walk

I believed in Jesus (in my head), all my cognizant life.  I was fortunate to be raised in a God-fearing home, although God wasn’t actively talked about much on a daily basis.  We attended church regularly, and many in my family participated in church ministry.  I consider my family to have been very “typical North American Christian”.

I made a decision to follow Christ in my own backyard at Bible club, at the age of 4, because the picture card of people engulfed in flames seared terror into my wee heart.  While I believe it’s necessary to teach about the reality of hell, threatening children with intense suffering won’t help them understand what Jesus has done for us…

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I wanted to go to heaven.  Desperately.  My main focus was, “will I go to heaven when I die?”.

This passage literally terrified me:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  (Matthew 7:21-23)

I would pray the “Sinner’s Prayer”, “sign the salvation card”, follow the “4-step plan”, and read through the “Romans Road” many times over the next few decades.  I prayed along with Billy Graham at one of his crusades.  I was baptized as an adult.  I was *IN*, wasn’t I???

I had intellectual Bible knowledge.  I looked the part, I said the right words.  I was moral, felt guilty about the “right things”, hung around the “right people”.  I went to Bible college, went on several missions trips, told others about Christ.  I just couldn’t seem to get close to God, other than a few sentimental experiences here and there.  Don’t get me wrong – I genuinely believed at the time that I was seeking God.  No one would have ever guessed I might not have been saved.  But in my heart of hearts I struggled – waning from enthusiastic, to wandering, to doubting, to indifferent.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16)

If this is God’s job, I realized, surely He is good at His job.  Why then, did I feel such unease in my spirit?  Why did I not have assurance of salvation?  Why did I doubt?  Well meaning people assured me that it was just the enemy’s attacks, trying to rob me of joy and peace. Was it?  Or was it God’s Spirit Himself, nudging me, telling me to examine myself?

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Can’t you see for yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you–unless you actually fail the test?  (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Was I failing the test?  Was Jesus Christ not in my heart?

Was I seeking warm & fuzzy feelings / spiritual encounters, or was I seeking God Himself?

Was I pursuing the gifts (blessings, answers to prayer, healing, spiritual gifts), or the Giver???

When God didn’t answer prayer “how I wanted”, did I get angry, or did I trust Him?

Did I want self-affirmation, or did I want to find my identity in Christ?

When facing hardships, did I blame God, or did I cling to faith?

Did I read the Bible because I wanted to tick off all the chapters and feel like I had done the right thing, or because I loved God and wanted to hear from Him?

Did I pray because I knew I should, or because I genuinely believed that God hears and answers prayer?

Did I obey a strong moral code to avoid punishment / consequences, or to please Jesus?

Did I want spirituality, or did I want my life to be engulfed by the eternal, living God?

Did I want heaven, or did I want Jesus?

Was I doing “mighty works in Jesus’ Name”, without ever truly knowing Him?!?

With God, it always comes down to the heart.  

It comes down to the WHY, not the WHAT.  You guys.  I wanted to be saved from hell, not from my sins.  My focus was on getting to heaven, not on loving Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I was doing good to prove I was saved to myself, not because I wanted to show my love for God.

I was following Jesus with my head, but not my heart.  

I didn’t have a passion for Christ.  I was …. lukewarm. 😬😬😬

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I couldn’t maintain a commitment to Jesus over the long haul, because I was doing “Christian” by my own efforts.  I would try for awhile (sprout), and then give up.  My focus would drift to the things of this world (wither/choke out).  Things such as entertainment, work, possessions, and hobbies – but these could really be anything other than Christ.  My prayers were repetitive and void of feeling.  While I found the Bible somewhat interesting to read, it didn’t “come alive” to me.  Church was about religious duty.  Tragedy struck in my family and I directed my anger towards God. I struggled with not having boldness to share my faith.  I was embarrassed to admit I even had faith most of the time.

And then I finally wondered, *DO* I have faith?  Could I be a “Christian” all my life and yet not be a Christian???

Guys, Jesus was knocking at the door of my heart and I was keeping Him out on the porch.  Sure, I talked to Him through the screen door.  But I was holding back. I didn’t really want Him to come in and take over.  I was comfortable with ME being in charge.  What if He asked me to do something I didn’t want to do?  What if He told me to give up something I didn’t want to give up?  And the worst – what if He asked me to go somewhere I didn’t want to go?

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My dear ones, there’s going to come a point in your life when God will prick your heart.  Maybe He has done so already.  Maybe He’s doing it now.  Maybe He will do it in the future.  It might be through a friend, a stranger, a random note, a book, a funeral, a wedding, a sermon, a blog post.  I don’t know.  But when you feel that dagger to your heart, RESPOND.  Do not pause, do not put it off, do not ignore it.

For me, the Holy Spirit pricked my heart when I read 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper.  Regardless of the story’s truth (I am aware there is debate, along with the similar, but opposite, 23 Minutes in Hell), the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to consider that heaven *IS TRULY REAL*.  Surely, I believed this on an intellectual level.  But for the first time, my heart caught a glimpse of the significance of that statement.  I finally realized that if heaven, and all that goes along with it, is ACTUALLY REAL, there are huge implications to my life.

I pleaded with God for a fresh start – a time of spiritual awakening.  And in His grace and mercy, He helped me wrestle it through.  By no means did it *feel* like He was helping.  But, looking back, it is certain that I could not have gotten to the foot of the cross by my own strength.  Now let me tell you, it wasn’t a fast or an easy process.  It was very much ongoing – day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year.  I like quick fixes as much as anyone else!   But I had to struggle through these issues of faith.  Why, when others seem to “get it” so easily?  I’m not sure.  Maybe it’s my personality, or maybe it’s just God’s chosen path for me. Instead of focusing on why, I am trusting that God has a purpose and plan for what I went through.  Maybe it’s to help YOU.

Long story short, I finally ended up in the bathroom, in the dark, crying.  Pleading with God – “I’ve done everything I can think of!  Nothing is working!  I believe in Jesus.  I know I’ve sinned.  I believe in the Bible – it’s the only reality that makes sense.  I’ve tried to live out the fruit of the Spirit.  I’ve prayed and prayed.  I just can’t get it!  My heart just won’t cooperate and I don’t know why!!!”

And God told me – “Stop.”

And with a flood of understanding, I heard all the “I’s” in my prayer.  I’ve tried everything.  I’ve done this.  I’ve done that.  I’ve prayed.

Salvation isn’t about what I’ve done – at all.  Salvation is about what Jesus has done.

It is finished.

Stop.

Stop striving, stop trying, stop proving, stop asking, stop reasoning, stop worrying, stop doing.

Just Rest.

Rest in what Jesus has done.

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And at that moment, I stopped.  I gave up “me”.  I rested in what Jesus has done.

And God gave me assurance.

After decades of asking, and trying, and crying, and begging – all I had to do was stop ME and rest in HIM.  It’s been about five years now, and assurance remains strong.  I’ve had a few passing whiffs of doubt where I’ve had to examine myself, but I was able to quickly take those doubts captive and submit them to Christ.

This assurance is what I desire for each one of you.

Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;

Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God,

Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long.

This is my story, this is my song,

 Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,

Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;

Angels descending, bring from above

Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,

I in my Savior am happy and blest;

Watching and waiting, looking above,

Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

There are generally two reasons why someone doesn’t have assurance of salvation:

  1. They aren’t truly in the faith.
  2. There is weakness in their armor of God and the enemy is attacking

I hope that in reading my own account above, you will be able to clearly recognize whether or not you are truly in the faith.  Are you seeking after Jesus, or something else (gifts, encounters, heaven, answered prayers, spirituality, religion, traditions, friends)?  Have you let Jesus all the way into your heart, or are you holding a part of your life back?  Is Jesus the “main course” in your life, or are “Christian things” a side dish?  The answer, of course, if you aren’t truly in the faith, is to fully surrender your heart to Jesus NOW.

out of time

Now, because I don’t know where you are at, I believe it’s a good idea at this point to review how to be saved.  This might be your first time hearing the gospel fully laid out, or this may be something you’ve heard many times before.  Even if it’s a repeat, if you are struggling with assurance of salvation, consider opening your heart to going through it again.  We will discuss weakness in the armor of God afterwards.

The Purpose of This Life is Knowing God

We pursue, pursue, pursue, and when we accomplish it is exciting but also empty – now what?    The rich never have enough money, the mighty never have enough power, the beautiful always have some flaw.  We move from one thing to the next, never satisfied.  Why?

There is something (someone) missing.

God.

God made humanity for his pleasure, and it was always supposed to be a mutual relationship.  We messed it up, on our end.  So now the whole point of our lives is finding God and being reconciled to Him in relationship.  If we miss this, we miss the entire point of our existence.

We are like lost sheep – wandering around aimlessly.  Sure, there are some “good things” and distractions in this world.  But when it really counts, if we lost it all, if we faced a car crash or a terminal illness – what is this life about?  We were meant to live in harmony with God, our Father.  His Spirit is meant to comfort us, to guide us, to bring us love, joy, peace, and hope.  Apart from Him, everything is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

We are born into this world as spiritual orphans.  We remain that way unless we listen to God’s call and find our way home.  God wants to restore relationship with you.  But you have to want to restore the relationship too.  Relationships go both ways.

If you do not know Him personally, then right now, God is calling you.  He has chosen you for this time, and for this purpose.   Your soul is never going to die.  While your body lives, you have the free will to choose your eternal destiny.   God is offering you salvation by His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.  The price has already been paid; the gift has been purchased.  God is offering it to you – will you take it?

Satan will soon be handed the reins of the earth and will be permitted to unleash his ultimate deception upon it.  Make no mistake, he’s been planning this for thousands of years and it’s going to be quite the show.  But satan is evil to the core – he is the father of lies.  He hates you, and he particularly hates any interest you show in Jesus Christ.  He wants nothing more than to see your eternal torment.  Don’t let satan control your eternal destiny.

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.  (Matthew 12:30)

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There is no walking the fence.  You are either fully FOR Jesus, or you are fully AGAINST Him.

Know How God Sees You

God loves you, and has known you from before the creation of the world.  He knew there would be a “you”.  You were created specifically to be in His family, in relationship with Him.  So, what’s wrong?  Why does it feel like God doesn’t care – that He is absent?

The answer is sin.  Sin separates us from God.  Sin is anything we think, say, or do that goes against God’s laws.  This world is broken because people are trapped in sin.  Our sinful choices affect ourselves, each other, and even entire generations and societies.  God has given us free will to choose to do as we please, and many times, people choose sin.

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What are the laws of God?  In the Bible, God has given many instructions for living right before Him. These include the 10 Commandments among others. But apart from the Bible, God has written His commands on human hearts, which we refer to as “conscience”.  Our conscience is what tells us that murder is wrong.  It is what makes us angry at injustices, abuses, and crime.  We know we violate our consciences.  The telltale signs are lying about it, hiding it (doing it in secret), or covering it up.  This is how God can hold us as being without excuse (Romans 2:14-16).

Above all, God tells us to love Him with all our soul, heart, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  If you love anything in your life more than you love God (or a fellow human being), you have broken this command.  Whenever you do anything you know you shouldn’t (lying, gossiping, pornography, stealing, cheating, sleeping around, saying “Oh my God”, disobeying your parents, etc), it is “sin”.  We hold ourselves up to God’s standards and see that we fall hopelessly short.  We’ve blown it, many times.  And we know it.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

You may ask – “What if people choose to be good?”   There are many non-religious and religious people who are “good” and kind, by human standards.  But no matter how “good” we are, we aren’t perfect.  God’s holiness requires us to be perfect (Matthew 5:48).  (Here is a wonderful article that explains God’s holy requirements).

God’s laws are a mirror, to reflect back to us where we have failed.

Know Where You’re Headed

You know you’ve sinned, you’ve broken God’s laws.  So what does that mean?

Our physical bodies die someday.  However, God created humans to be eternal.  That means the part of you that’s “you” – your spirit – is going to live on forever.  God says that He has “placed eternity in the hearts of men” – deep down, we know that physical death is not the end (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  When you die, you will stand before God and give an account of EVERYTHING you have done while alive (2 Corinthians 5:10).  Everything done in the darkness and secret will be brought to light before Him (and perhaps before the angels and the rest of humanity as well – Luke 8:17).

According to God, breaking even one of His laws, once, results in the death penalty.

“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

Death?? Isn’t that extreme?  God, as a supreme holy and righteous being, cannot tolerate any sin (breaking of the law) in His presence. God sees one sin as the same as being guilty of all sins.  That’s how high His standard is.  Unless we repair our relationship with God we will “die” for eternity.  Eternal “death” is eternal separation from God and others, in the “lake of fire” – a place of torment and suffering.

eternal death.jpg

While your physical body is alive, you can choose the eternal destiny of your spirit.  Once your physical body dies, there are no second chances (Hebrews 9:27).

There’s Only One Way Out

A change of heart, seeing ourselves as utterly lost/sinful and wanting to do something about it, is called repentance.  Just recognizing that we do bad things (as defined by God), but not having a desire to stop, is not true repentance.  We must truly want to be changed, to be restored to right relationship with God, to be saved.  Are you wanting to go to heaven, to be raptured, or are you wanting to be saved from your sins?

Following Jesus isn’t about religion.  Being a true Christian comes down to a heart transformation.  We can never be worthy of a “heart transplant” from God.  In fact, all our works are as “filthy rags” in trying to earn it.  Going to church,  reading through the Bible, acting morally, these count as nothing – even worse, they are as soiled menstrual garments (what filthy rags means).

There is nothing *we* can do to fix our “wrongness” – no good work, no sacrament, no penance.  But because God our Father loves us, He has provided a way to restore the relationship.

Jesus says “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6)

God does not want you to be separated from Him for eternity.  He created hell and the eternal Lake of Fire for satan and the fallen angels, NOT for humans (Matthew 25:41).  But you will go there if you reject God’s rescue plan. He wants you to come back to His family.  So He sent a part of Himself, Jesus Christ, to die for you. The Bible makes it clear that every sin has to be punished by death and paid by the penalty of innocent blood.  Jesus lived a perfect life on Earth – though He lived as a man under God’s Law, He never broke the Law.  This qualified Him to take our sins upon Himself to become a perfect sacrifice.  Jesus died on the cross to take our punishment for us.  His blood paid the price required by God for our sins.

But God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

the cross.jpg

It doesn’t end there, though.  On the third day, Jesus was raised to life, to a new eternal body.  When we join God’s spiritual family, we, too, will get a new eternal body someday.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…  (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

“the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Romans 3:23)

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.  (Philippians 3:20-21)

Turn From Yourself Towards God and Believe

We chose to sin and Jesus chose to be a “sin-bearer” and take God’s wrath for us.  God offers an all-inclusive “forgiveness slip” to every human on earth.  If we believe what God has said about us (we are totally lost and have no hope of saving ourselves), and what He has done to fix it (Jesus is the only way as a Savior), we can obtain this “forgiveness slip”.  We can ask God for Jesus’ payment to be applied to our account.  This allows us to be declared innocent and sin-free in God’s eyes – the debt we owed for our crimes is paid.  Salvation is a change in legal standing before God – from “guilty” to “not guilty”.  Jesus didn’t just pay PART of our debt, or even MOST of it, leaving some on the tab for us.  He paid our ENTIRE debt.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  (Romans 10:9-10)

When you say Jesus is Lord, this means you believe He is God and He deserves to be Lord of your life.  When you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you accept that what the Bible teaches about Jesus is true and that His death paid the price for your wrongdoings.

For many years I didn’t “get” the simplicity of salvation and tried to “earn” it, be “worthy of it”, and “prove it to myself” by repeating the sinner’s prayer, trying to live morally, reading the Bible, and doing other good works.  My dear ones, salvation is not about anything we DO, but about what Jesus has already DONE.  We must truly rest in faith.  Faith in Jesus’ provision.  Faith in His completed work for us on the cross.  That’s the beauty of God’s grace – “It is finished”.

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God;  it is not from works, so that no one can boast.  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Asking for Jesus’ sacrifice in our stead results in immediate salvation and sealing of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).  That’s what being “Born Again” means (1 Peter 1:23).  We are forgiven (1 John 1:9).  We can’t accidentally lose our salvation, and God will never remove it from us (John 6:39).  We cannot be kicked out of the sheep fold.

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[I don’t wish to be dogmatic about it, nor start any Calvinist / Arminian debates, but I want to acknowledge that there is some Biblical evidence that suggests we may retain free will to reject our salvation (not lose it) and leave the faith by our own choice.  On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that those who appear to do so were never truly in the faith (1 John 2:19).  Regardless of your beliefs on this issue, it doesn’t really matter about the past – what about today?  Are you trusting Jesus for salvation today?]

Salvation Prayer

Repeating certain words or saying a specific prayer won’t save you.  There is no formula for salvation – it’s a heart change!  You don’t even need to say any words at all!   Maybe you have reached this point and your heart’s desire is truly in agreement that you want to fully surrender your life to Christ.  Maybe you’ve never heard anyone pray (talk to God) before.  If this is you, here is an example of what you can say to God in your own words:

“Heavenly Father, I have broken your rules and I’m so, so sorry.  You are right, I am lost!  Please forgive me through the blood of Jesus Christ and wash away my sins. Come into my heart and seal me with Your Holy Spirit. Change me and make me new.  I want to be alive in Christ!  Help me to walk with You until my very last breath.  Amen.”

Allow your heart to open towards God, mentally and emotionally releasing all that you are to Him.  I really want to emphasize that it’s the desire and authenticity of your heart that matters, far more than any specific words you use.  Jesus tells a story about that here:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  (Luke 18:9-14)

Take My Life and Let It Be

Take my life and let it be

Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

Take my moments and my days,

Let them flow in endless praise.

Take my hands and let them move

At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet and let them be

Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing,

Always, only for my King.

Take my lips and let them be

Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold,

Not a mite would I withhold.

Take my intellect and use

Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,

It shall be no longer mine.

Take my heart, it is Thine own,

It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour

At Thy feet its treasure store.

Take myself and I will be

Ever, only, all for Thee.

A Word For the Unsure

My dear ones struggling with assurance of salvation, I continue to pray that God speaks to you through these words.  My heart’s desire is that you be freed of doubt.

The “heart” is comprised of our emotions/feelings, our mind/intellect, and our will/actions.  We have feelings about God, we think through the facts about Jesus and the Bible, and our actions demonstrate what we believe.  In each of these areas, we must rely on GOD to provide the faith.  We can’t make ourselves believe – we can’t force feelings, we can’t understand if our spiritual eyes are closed, and actions done on our own effort will consistently fizzle over time.  Examine if all three aspects of your heart are in alignment.  If not, confess that to God and pray for HIM to provide you with saving faith.

You want to be secure! You want to know you are going to heaven! You want to know you will be raptured!  You are desperate for that assurance. But, my sweet friends, your motivation cannot be heaven, nor the rapture – for that would be an idol. Your motivation cannot be in fear of hell, nor in being left behind – acting in fear doesn’t come from your heart.

“But I’m not worthy!”

Of course you’re not.  None of us are.

“I can’t do it! I’ve tried to be good, I’ve tried to do the right things.  I’ve tried everything I can think of!  I’ve done everything I can do!”

STOP.  Give that all up.  Come to the end of yourself.

“Have mercy upon me, Lord, a sinner.”

Fall on your face before the foot of the cross.  Allow the blood of Jesus to wash away your sin.  Yield your heart – it’s all you have to give.  Release all the darkness.  Allow God’s light to shine in.

“Change me, Lord. I give it all to You – my heart, my life, my all.”

Rest in what Jesus has done for you.  Be still.  Allow God to minister to you. Don’t hold back.  Don’t resist the Holy Spirit.  Allow Him to work in your heart.  Be still.  Listen.  Rest.

“I surrender, Lord.”

Allow Him to come in, to set up residence.  Allow the Holy Spirit to possess you as His temple, as His own.

“I believe, Lord, help my unbelief”!

Allow God to fully transform your heart into a new creation.  Choose to believe in His promises.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.  (John 6:37)

Treasure this moment and write it down in your Bible. Start your journey with Christ anew. Allow this to be a defining moment, from which you will never, ever turn back.  Make the decision today to follow Jesus from this day forward – no turning back.

i-have-decided-to-follow-jesus

All To Jesus I Surrender

All to Jesus I surrender,

All to Him I freely give;

I will ever love and trust Him,

In His presence daily live.

I surrender all,

I surrender all.

All to Thee, my blessed Savior,

I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,

Humbly at His feet I bow,

Worldly pleasures all forsaken;

Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender,

Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;

Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit,

Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender,

Lord, I give myself to Thee;

Fill me with Thy love and power,

Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender,

Now I feel the sacred flame.

Oh, the joy of full salvation!

Glory, glory to His name

 

What Next?

If you asked God to forgive you, and have chosen to follow Him, you are now part of His family.    It’s time to learn more about Him, grow your relationship with Him, and choose to obey Him.   It’s like any relationship – it takes time and dedication!

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

First, talk to God.  This can seem awkward at first, but talk to Him as you would to a best friend.  Nothing fancy, no complicated words or phrases, just talk to Him.  Tell Him how you feel, what you’re doing, what questions you have, what you need.  God’s not a magic genie – he doesn’t give us things for our selfish purposes.  He wants you to see yourself in His bigger picture.  He wants you to grow in holiness, to become more like Him.  If you ask God to help you know Him better, to help you understand His word and how He wants you to live, he always answers those prayers!

Second, read the Bible.  The Bible is more precious than gold – find one and keep it safe!  Try hard to read it every day.  A suggestion might be to start in the book of John, then Romans, and then read the rest of the New Testament.  Each time you read, ask God to help you understand.

Third, try to obey God.  Ask Him to help you.  As you read the Bible, He will teach you what He wants you to do. Deliberately choose to stop doing things He doesn’t like and commands against.  Deliberately choose to allow Him to help you be more like Him – patient, kind, forgiving, joyful, serving, gentle, self-controlled, honest.  You will still struggle with doing what you don’t want to do, and not doing what you want to do.  When you sin, ask God to forgive you, then don’t dwell on it.  Get right back up and keep on going.  Jesus wants you to keep your eyes on HIM, not on yourself (neither your failures nor your successes!).

Fourth, be baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  This can be done in any body of water and can be performed by any true follower of Jesus Christ.  It should be done by full immersion (under the water) if possible.  Baptism isn’t necessary for salvation, but it is an important act of faith and obedience.  If you have an opportunity to do so, you should take it.  Through baptism, you symbolize your spiritual death and resurrection, and publicly declare your decision to follow Christ.

Fifth, find other Christians to spend your time with.  Our friends can influence our attitudes and behaviors.  Trying to find a local church is a good idea.  (There are so many and it’s difficult to know where to start.  Not all churches have sound teaching about the Bible and salvation.  I would personally recommend choosing a conservative evangelical church.)  You are also welcome to join us for fellowship on FaceBook (Group for WomenGroup for Everyone)!

Sixth, teach others what you know.  As a follower of Christ, your eyes are opened and you can see!  Tell others of the spiritual battle that is going on and help deliver them from deception.  In this way you will literally pull them out of the flames of eternal fire!  Encourage others in the faith!  All we can do is plant seeds of the gospel and water sprouts of growth in other believers – God gives all the increase.  Never stop planting, watering, and praying!

Seventh, pray specifically.   God’s Spirit works where the gospel of Jesus is being preached and where people are desperately seeking Him.  He WANTS to help you.  Pray for healing, protection, and deliverance.  With that said, trials of faith will most certainly be on your path.  Trust God in both the little and the big things in life.  Put your faith in Him.

Eighth, read up!  Apart from the Bible, there are books and articles and sermons online you can learn from.  Several websites I would recommend for growth in sound doctrine, besides our very own Unsealed, include GraceThruFaithGotquestionsCARMCompelling Truth, and Middletown Bible Church.

What if I Still Struggle With Sin?

Of course you will still struggle with sin.  Even the godliest people struggle with sin – doing what we don’t want to do, or not doing what we want to do (Romans 7:15-20).  However, our hearts and minds are freed from being enslaved to it.  If we call for help, God will provide a way out – even if it’s hard.  The trick is identifying temptation early, and halting it before we are sucked into full blown sin.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  (1 Corinthians 10:13)

You can be sure you will be tempted – often!

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

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Predators look for weakness.  Our enemy looks for ANY opening he can find to pull us away from God.  He tells us there are “little sins” that are “no big deal”.  He tempts us, saying “surely this one time won’t make a difference”.  And if we fall, he hisses in our ears that we are guilty, shameful.  We are “too bad” for God to save.  He tells us the Bible is “boring” and that it “doesn’t matter if we miss one day”.  He says God doesn’t care and doesn’t answer.  My friend, what makes you question your faith?  What makes you turn away from Jesus and towards the world?  You can be sure that the enemy will sink his teeth into those specific weaknesses.   Have you already been targeted?  Think again if you have put something down to “chance”, “bad luck”, or “accidents”.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  (Ephesians 6:12)

Coming to Christ, and abiding in Christ, puts a huge spiritual target on your back.  God won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear, but He certainly allows us to be tempted.  While no weapon formed against us will succeed, weapons will most certainly be formed against us (Isaiah 54:17)!

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  (James 4:7)

While you will still do wrong things, you should have a desire to get back on track.  If you don’t, examine your heart as to why.  Are you desiring to hold back a part of your life from God?  Have you surrendered to Jesus fully, or only partly?  Is there anything in your life that is worth more to you than God?  Remember that Jesus frequently turned half-hearted followers away and finds lukewarmness repulsive (John 6:53-66, Revelation 3:16).  That is incredibly sobering!  If you can continue in habitual sin without feeling remorse and guilt (even common sins like sex outside of marriage, gossip, lying, cheating, pride…) then you should be very concerned and take up the matter before God.

Although individual sins won’t take away your salvation, they will put you out of fellowship with God.  Sinning “grieves” and “quenches” the Holy Spirit who lives in your heart (1 Thessalonians 5:19, Ephesians 4:30) .  When the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, it is your job to listen to Him and follow His lead.  Apologize to God with a sincere heart, and determine to practice taking sinful thoughts captive before they bloom into action.

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  

(Psalm 19:12-14)

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

(Psalm 51:1-12)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

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Maintaining a pure heart before God will cause you to progress in holiness (sanctification), and become more like Jesus.  It will also ripen His fruit in your life (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control – Galatians 5:22-23).

What if I STILL Don’t “Feel” Saved?

Let’s say you’ve gone through the steps to salvation above.  You agree with them all.  You’re not holding back from God, and you truly desire to follow Him with all your heart.  It’s not about heaven for you – it’s about Jesus.  You’ve examined yourself, have found that you have faith, but you still doubt.  Listen, there’s a difference between being plagued by doubts and never having had assurance of faith at all.  Do you find you sometimes have assurance, and sometimes not?  Have you ever had a moment where you KNOW you’ve turned your life over to God?  If you’ve had a “light bulb moment”, where everything has clicked, and you surrendered your heart to Jesus, it’s time to consider that the enemy is attacking you through fear and confusion.

Far be it from me to give anyone false assurance in this ear-tickling generation – that’s why this section is at the bottom.  However, there is biblical precedence that there are some who are truly in the faith, who doubt.

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  (John 20:29)

My dear ones, Jesus wants you to have faith and not doubt.  For you, we are going to prescribe several exercises:

  1. Stand on the Promises of God
  2. Take Thoughts Captive
  3. Put on the Armor of God

Stand on the Promises of God

At this point I’m going to tell you to stand on the promises of God, which (if you were paying attention) is precisely what I told you NOT to rely on if you had a lack of assurance.  Hehe, you love me anyways, right?  The whole point is I wanted you to genuinely, sincerely, truly examine yourself for anything that was holding you back from God, before assuming your doubts were “just” a spiritual attack.

I want you to print out these verses and memorize them.  Read and repeat them over and over, whenever you doubt your salvation.

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  (Jeremiah 29:13)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.  (John 1:12)

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  (John 10:28-29)

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.  (John 6:37)

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  (Revelation 3:20)

True assurance of salvation comes from the objective truth of God’s word, not from our subjective experiences.  God promises that we will find Him if we seek Him with all our hearts.  He promises that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.  He promises that ALL who receive Him will become His children.  He promises to reward those who seek Him (I would suggest the greatest reward is Himself).  He promises that NO ONE can snatch us out of His hand.  ALL who come to Jesus, He will never cast out.  Jesus will come in to ALL who open the door of their hearts to Him.  The Holy Spirit seals believers until the day of redemption.  These are promises God has made and He MUST honor them, for He is Truth.

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Take Thoughts Captive

In addition to keeping in mind the promises of God, you will need to take every thought captive that opposes these promises.  When we focus on our doubts, we have taken our eyes off of Jesus.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.  (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Practically speaking, whenever doubts of salvation or rapture-readiness enter your mind, you are going to acknowledge them and reject them.  It’s more effective to do it out loud, even if just a whisper, because then you hear yourself saying it.

“Doubt, I command you to STOP in the Name of Jesus.”

“I will NOT fear.  I gave my fear to Jesus.”

“Jesus will NOT lose me.  He has promised.”

“I WILL find God, because I’m seeking Him with all my heart.”

“No, I will not entertain doubt.  Be gone in Jesus’ Name.”

 

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Once you have commanded the thought to leave, recite the scriptures you have memorized above.  Repeat until the thought has left.  In my experience, it sometimes takes three or more repetitions.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46:1-3)

When you take your thoughts captive, you make them submit to God in the Name of Jesus.  You use the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, to do battle.  Which brings us to our next exercise – examining the Armor of God.

 

Put on the Armor of God

If you have a sincere heart that is seeking God, but you continually struggle with assurance of salvation, you need to consider the very real possibility that you are prone to doubts and worries.  Satan’s forces recognize this weakness, and will use it to seize your attention – tearing your eyes off of Jesus, and placing them on your own fears and insufficiency.  The remedy for this is to stand strong in the armor of God.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.   (Ephesians 6:10-18)

He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.  (Isaiah 59:17)

Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist.  (Isaiah 11:5)

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Helmet of Salvation – When we are sure of our salvation, this belief protects our mind.  We use the helmet to keep out ungodly thoughts and lies from the enemy.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes… (Romans 1:16)

“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  (Revelation 7:10)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  (Philippians 4:8)

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.  (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Breastplate of Righteousness – When Jesus comes into our hearts, He clothes us with His righteousness.  We use the breastplate when we guard our hearts.

Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life.  (Proverbs 4:23)

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  (Isaiah 61:10)

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.  (Romans 6:18)

Belt of Truth – Wrapping ourselves with the Truth of God’s word enables to spot the enemy’s lies.

We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. That is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.  (1 John 4:6)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  (John 14:6)

Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.  (John 17:17)

However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.  (John 16:13)

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:31-32)

Sword of the Spirit – Hiding God’s word in our hearts makes it accessible when we need to wield counter attacks against the enemy.  Reciting scripture during an attack is how we use this offensive weapon.  Remember that this is how Jesus battled satan in the wilderness?

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  (Hebrews 4:12)

I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.  (Psalm 119:11)

Shield of Faith – Holding unswervingly to the hope we profess is how we use the shield to ward off attacks from the enemy.  We choose to stubbornly, resolutely cling to faith – no matter what.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  (Hebrews 11:1)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  (Hebrews 10:23)

According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  (1 Peter 1:3-5)

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”  (Matthew 17:20)

Feet of Peace – Staying in a state of attentive readiness is how we use the shoes of the armor.  We flee from sin, we are ready to share the gospel, we wait on the Lord actively.

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)

…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect… (1 Peter 3:15)

Wait patiently for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the LORD.  (Psalm 27:14)

No matter what – do not give up!  Do not despair!  Cling to God with all your might, no matter how you feel.  Hold on firmly and stubbornly to your faith until death.  Refuse to allow thoughts of giving up to creep into your mind.

Assurance Prayer

Consider praying along with me, in your own words:

Jesus, I want to love you, more than anyone and anything else!!!  I believe I am a sinner and that You are my Savior.  Help my unbelief!  Help me, Holy Spirit!  Intercede for me now I pray!  I plead with You for the assurance of salvation that I so deeply crave.  Give me wisdom and understanding of the scriptures!  Open my eyes to see you!  Open my ears to hear you!  Open my heart to receive you.  Flow through me!  Flood my heart with Your peace, and confirm in my soul that I am a child of God!  From this day forward, I choose to stubbornly cling to faith.  When I have doubt, I will choose to stand on the Truth of Your Word.  Give me a burning, passionate love for you!   Make me like You, Jesus!  Take away my desires for the things of this world that don’t please You.  I acknowledge that they cannot satisfy.   Lead me and guide me.  I surrender my heart, my life, my love to you!

In Jesus’ Name I pray,

Amen


If you have gone through all the above, and are still struggling, please message me.  I can be reached in the comments below, via the contact section, or most quickly on Facebook (Even at the Doors: Pre-trib Rapture Watchers group, Group for WomenGroup for Everyone).

Love in Christ,

Your sister, Stephanie Dawn


Further Resources:

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

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This article was written for Unsealed, link here: Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

“Right Division”

It breaks my heart to see these two words tearing the prophecy watching community apart. I genuinely feel a heaviness deep within my spirit. Tears spring forth to my eyes as friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, face off in literal division over this phrase. The body of Christ is being torn apart, limb by limb.

Now guys, I love theology. I love studying the bible, I love sound doctrine, I love prophecy, and I love “right division”. What I do not love is debate and conflict. Some are gifted in this area, but I am not. I try my best to “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks [me] for a reason for the hope that is in [me]; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15). But I am not a master with words. They do not come quickly to me; I must ponder and digest and write and edit. And often, I must apologize – as sometimes my intentions are misunderstood. There are many in this so-called “right division” debate who could beat me with their pinkie finger in a war with words. But is this what we want? A war with our brothers and sisters?

Our true battle is the one with the spiritual realm.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:12-18)

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What’s This All About?

Let me back up a few steps. In the post-Revelation12-sign-days, I have noticed a shifted focus in the prophecy watching community to what has been termed “Right Division”. Now, I would like to think that all followers of Christ try to understand the Bible correctly. It is, after all, the very Word of God. According to 2 Timothy 2, we are indeed to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

For those who study the scriptures, there are different interpretation methods. I personally believe that a literal, cultural, historical, grammatical approach produces the most reliably correct interpretation of any given verse/passage. It is the method most commonly used in conservative evangelical circles, and is the one that results in a dispensational view of prophecy. It also leads to a literal pretribulation, premillennial rapture view. An excellent summary on this Bible interpretation method can be found here – How to Interpret the Bible.

“When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.” Dr. D.L. Cooper

So far, so good, right? Noble motives, reliable methods. Well, what seems to have occurred is that there are now clusters of believers who call themselves “Right Dividers” as a label, or title. I will refer to it as the “RD Doctrine” here, to distinguish it from believers who “rightly divide” but do not agree with the conclusions of this doctrine. There are a few variations within the view, but I will highlight what I see as some of the main features that distinguish it from other denominations:

  • There are two gospels – one revealed by Jesus/Peter; another revealed by Paul. The church age is to follow “Paul’s Gospel of Grace”.
  • Repentance is a “work”, so we are not to repent, as that would be trying to add “works” to salvation.
  • Water baptism is not an ordinance for believers in the church age.
  • They are dispensational. Classical dispensationalism places the division of law/grace at Acts 2, at the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. RD Doctrine disagrees with this placement of the start of the age of grace (church age). Some place the division of the church age at Acts 9 (Paul’s conversion), some at Acts 13 (Paul’s first missionary journey) – both of these views are termed Mid-Acts Dispensationalism. Some place the division of the church age at Acts 28 – this is called Post-Acts Dispensationalism, Ultradispensationalism, or Hyperdispensationalism. (I have noted they vehemently disagree with these labels, but that is what the views are called).
  • There is a strong focus on the Pauline epistles. Most suggest these are the only books of the Bible applicable to believers today.
    • The Gospels, and the Old Testament, were written for, and are applicable to, Jews only. Some concede that the gospel of Luke was written for Gentiles.
    • There is disagreement upon whether the following books were written for, and are applicable to, both Jewish and Gentile believers: Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation. All would agree they are for Jewish believers; most would state they do NOT apply to Gentiles.
    • The following books were written for, and are applicable to, the Jew first and then the Gentiles: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians.
    • The following books were written for, and are applicable to, all believers: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon.

There are a few troublesome aspects of this doctrine that I wish to discuss below. One of the most alarming features is that while this doctrine focuses heavily on preaching “grace”, it is incredibly divisive and offers little to no grace towards those who dissent. Those who call themselves “Right Dividers” as a title, by definition accuse anyone who disagrees with them as a “wrong divider”. Frequently, those who disagree (including such prophecy giants as Chuck Missler, John MacArthur, Jack Kelley, Thomas Ice, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Clarence Larkin -!?!) are called “in the milk stage”, “unwilling to open their eyes”, “blindly following denominations”, and “refusing truth”. I have seen this with my own eyes and have personally been called an unbeliever and unsaved, multiple times, for suggesting there are serious concerns with this view.

I am not here to sway you with wise words or convincing speech. There are many wiser than I, more studied, more eloquent. However, I am here because this phrase – “right division” – keeps coming up again and again in our community, bringing further division within the body of Christ each time. It wrenches my heart and grieves me deeply. Thus, I am here to speak from my heart to yours on this matter, and ask only for your consideration.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

The view is indeed very divisive, but is it right?

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The Gospel of Grace

Oh, you guys. It’s all about Jesus. There is nothing on earth that can compare. He is our hope, our strength, our joy, our light, our song, our salvation. Jesus is our everything. Let’s keep Jesus at the forefront of this discussion.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17).

I hope one thing we can all agree upon is that it’s critical to get the gospel right. The first thing to ask when disagreements in doctrine come up – is this a salvation issue?

Let’s start where we agree, using Paul’s books alone:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

“But God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9-10).

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

“…the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 ESV).

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Can we agree that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, completely apart from human works, lest any man should boast? How are we saved, if not by the grace of God? How are we saved if not by the blood of the Lamb, and bearing the word of His testimony? We confess with our mouths Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead – then we are saved.

“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29).

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So what’s the big deal?

Well, as I mentioned above, I am frequently called an unbeliever for disagreeing not with right division, but with “Right Division”. Clearly, those who ascribe to this doctrine see it as a salvation issue. I cannot and will not judge anyone’s salvation – this is a heart issue between each individual and God. What I can judge is that the gospel is being divided, and this seems very serious to me indeed.

One Gospel, Not Two

In his article, A Different Gospel?, Jack Kelley addresses the two-gospel view much better than I could:

Did Peter and Paul teach the same gospel, or was the message Peter preached to Israel different from the one that Paul carried to the Gentiles?

This “Two Gospel” view, like several other opinions critical of the Bible’s authenticity, originally came from Germany through the writings of Ferdinand Baur of the Tubingen School of Theology. Mr. Baur couldn’t find very much at all to accept in the New Testament as it was written, even disputing the authorship of several of Paul’s letters, accepting only Galatians, 1&2 Corinthians, and Romans as genuine. He also claimed that the Paul of Acts was a different person than the one who wrote these Epistles.

As it was explained to me in one of the eMails I received,

“the 12 taught that Jesus was the Messiah and to repent and be baptized. Everything they taught was under the law, and all of this is true (for the Jews.)

Paul, however, taught the Grace of God and revelation that the ascended Lord gave him, which says we are saved by grace through faith, not of works. If you read the bible carefully you will see that the gospels and the letters written by the 12 are written to and for Jews, not that we can’t learn from them, but our doctrine comes from the Apostle Paul (given by The Ascended Lord) to Jews & Gentiles.”

I can’t tell you how many times folks who believe differently than I do have advised me to just read the Bible carefully and I’ll embrace their position, but that’s another story.

Supporters of this view point to Peter’s message to the Jews of “repent and be baptized” while the Gentiles were never told such a thing, only that we’re saved by grace through faith. They claim that Paul received this gospel that had been hidden through out the ages by direct revelation from God, using Galatians 1:11-12 as their authority. If true, this would mean that the Jews were given a different path to salvation, one that combined faith and works, rather than the grace through faith path offered to the Gentiles.

When Baur published his opinions, in the 1830’s and 40’s, even his fellow German critics thought it was too big a departure from traditional thinking, by and large rejecting it. But it has gained popularity again in some circles partly due to Hyam Maccoby, a British scholar of Jewish background, whose book, “The Myth Maker, Paul and the Invention of Christianity”, relies heavily on Baur’s work. Surprisingly, Baur’s two-Gospel view has also been embraced by the followers of Islam, who use it to support their view that Jesus was the Messiah for the Jews only. And there is at least one TV preacher that teaches this view, basing it on an interpretation of Galatians 2:7-9 that I think is taken out of context.

But we’re interested in everything the Bible says, not just a couple of verses. Was the doctrine of Salvation by Grace a secret hidden through the ages and revealed only to Paul? Did Peter and Paul preach a different message? Did the Jews receive a different path to salvation than the Gentiles? Were the Gospels and the non-Pauline Epistles written only to them?

Was the doctrine of Grace unknown in Old Testament times? Over 1000 years before Paul began preaching, King David had this to say after sinning with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:1-2 & 16-17)

See how David made no attempt to restore himself to righteousness through his own works. According to the Law both he and Bathsheba should have immediately been put to death. David humbled himself before God, confessed his sin, asked to be forgiven, and was. (2 Samuel 12:13)

7 centuries before Christ, Micah offered two of the most eloquent descriptions of God’s Grace to be found anywhere in the Old Testament.

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:6-8)

These and dozens of other references throughout the Old Testament clearly show that the underlying message was one of God’s Grace right from the beginning. The sacrifices they offered were required as evidence of their faith in the coming redeemer, allowing God to set their sins aside until He came. Offering them in the absence of this faith was actually repulsive to God. (Isaiah 29:13-14 & 66:2-4) Once the Redeemer arrived on the scene, their sacrifices were not only not required, they were considered blasphemy. The entire letter to the Hebrews is devoted to this idea, (Hebrews 4:9-11, 10:1, 4, 14, 18) and was written, by the way, to Jews in Israel.

Speaking of the similarity of his message to that of the other Disciples, Paul had this to say, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.” (1 Cor. 15:3-4,11)

The confusion here lies not in the Bible, but in our misunderstanding of two words; repent and baptize.

The reason that Jews were told to repent and be baptized is that in spite of the passages I cited above, many had been taught that their salvation came from their works of righteousness. The Greek word translated repent applies to the way one thinks, not to the way one acts. It is perhaps the most misunderstood word in the Bible. When Peter told the Jews to repent and be baptized, as in Acts 2:38, he wasn’t telling them to re-double their efforts to behave more like the Law required, he was telling them to change their minds about their need for a Savior, stop relying on their efforts to keep the Law for their salvation, and receive the gift of Grace that had been extended in the Lord’s death on their behalf.

Since Gentiles didn’t have this pre-conceived notion of a works based salvation, there was no need to persuade them from it. That’s why there’s no mention of repentance for Gentiles in the Book of Acts. It certainly isn’t because they weren’t sinners in need of a Savior.

When the people asked Jesus, “What must we do to do the work that God requires?” they gave Him the clearest opportunity of His ministry to hand them a list. Here He was, a Jewish rabbi, standing in Israel speaking primarily to Jewish people who wanted to know what God required of them. He could have referred them to the 10 Commandments, or the Sermon on the Mount, or the 613 laws of the Torah. But how did He respond?

“The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.” (John 6:28-29)

Then He said that it was God’s will that everyone who looked to the Son and believed in Him would have Eternal life. (John 6:40) Their salvation was based on their belief that He had come to save them, not on their behavior. Just like ours.

The idea that the gospels were written only to the Jews and teach a faith plus works gospel won’t stand up to scrutiny. There is but one Gospel and one path to salvation.

(Source: https://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/tough-questions-answered/a-different-gospel/?fbclid=IwAR1u-ez0LjLJMOwIQoYI6Cljq5OqctPNLxbayBXJehiGSldscrTSUGS-4tQ)

For those desiring further study on the Sermon on the Mount and how we can only “be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect” through the imputed righteousness of Christ, I highly recommend Jack Kelley’s article series:  Be Perfect, As Your Heavenly Father is Perfect Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

There’s only one gospel – one redemption plan. It’s all about Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The Old Testament and the Gospels pointed forwards to the cross. The New Testament points backwards to the cross. We would do well to heed the warning given by Jesus through the apostle Paul:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-10)

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Repentance

As Jack Kelley mentioned in the article quoted above, repentance is not about the way we act, but about the way we think. It’s not what we “do” (a work), it’s what we “believe” (not a work). We chose to sin and Jesus chose to be a “sin-bearer” and take God’s wrath for us. God offers an all-inclusive “forgiveness slip” to every human on earth. If we believe what God has said about us (we are totally lost and have no hope of saving ourselves), and what He has done to fix it (Jesus is the only way as a Savior), this is repentance. Seeing yourself as lost and wanting to do something about it, is called “repenting”.

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Repentance is clearly biblical, and was even mentioned by Paul. Thus I must disagree with the RD Doctrine that repentance is not for the body of Christ.

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth…” (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

We can ask God for Jesus’ blood payment to be applied to our account. This allows us to be declared innocent and sin-free in God’s Eyes – the debt we owed for our crimes is paid. Salvation is a change in legal standing before God – from “guilty” to “not guilty”. Jesus didn’t just pay PART of our debt, or even MOST of it, leaving some on the tab for us. He paid our ENTIRE debt. We cannot contribute in any way to our salvation (or to maintaining it). If you are not sure if you are saved, I would encourage you to read through What Must I Do to Be Saved?

The RD Doctrine seems to also teach against daily repentance, calling that a “work” as well. They teach that these verses are NOT for you and I, because they were not penned by Paul:

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3:19).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16).

As followers of Christ, we are saved by grace through faith. We have a change of heart and mind (repent) about who we are (sinners) and who Christ is (a Savior). We experience a heart transformation from spiritually dead in our sins to spiritually alive in Christ, being “born again”. Because we are a new creation, we are changed. The Holy Spirit seals us and dwells within us as His temple. He comforts us, counsels us, and leads us into truth. He also convicts us and prompts us to grow in our relationship with God. For the difference between our salvation (union with God) and our sanctification (fellowship with God), I highly recommend this article: Union and Fellowship.

Dispensations

With the gospel discussed, let’s move on to the topic of dispensations. Once again, let’s start with points of agreement.

I believe that dispensationalism is the closest representative way to understand God’s dynamic revelation to, and dealings with, humanity. As a human construct it’s not going to be perfect, but it helps us grasp how God has progressively revealed Himself and His redemption plan to humanity.

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Dispensationalism is the most common method of Bible prophecy interpretation in conservative evangelical circles. It is the major view which explains the literal rebirth of modern-day Israel and the aliyah, or regathering, of Jews that we can observe and track. It explains the prophetic line up of nations and wars we watch in the headlines. It explains the current social and political climate. It sees the Church and Israel as distinct entities, and understands that God has separate plans for each. It is the prophecy interpretation method most consistent with a literal, cultural, historical, contextual study of scripture.

Many of you are likely familiar with this view, and it’s not my purpose to discuss it fully here. Suffice it to say, I consider dispensationalism to be as close to “rightly dividing the Word of truth” as human interpretations get. The details of how many dispensations, how they overlap, and how rigid their division should be is where there is room for discussion. (I remind you that it is a man-made model, and as such must be continually tested against scripture). What is agreed upon by all, is that we are currently in the Age of Grace, or the “Church Age”.

Where the controversy has come in with RD doctrine, is where to draw dispensational lines, and how thick and black to draw them.

Clarence Larkin is highly regarded as the father of dispensationalism. His work “Dispensational Truth” in 1918 is foundational teaching for this interpretation method, as is the Scofield Reference Bible (published in 1909). Interestingly, Larkin’s dispensation overview chart is entitled “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”. (The whole of this amazing work is available for free online here: Dispensational Truth.)

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Where does Clarence Larkin place “right division”? If you zoom in, and look at his other charts, he clearly places “right division” at Acts 2:1-4, the coming of the Holy Spirit.

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I understand that we must examine all teachings of man with the scriptures, to see if these things are so. Is an Acts 2 division appropriate, or should the line be drawn somewhere else?

Dispensations, Wrongly Divided

While we all easily agree on dispensationalism and the distinction between Israel and the Church, self-proclaimed “Right Dividers” reject Classical Dispensationalism in favor of either a Mid-Acts or Post-Acts view. The Mid-Acts view places a dividing line at Acts 9 or 13, instead of at Acts 2. The Post-Acts, Ultra-Dispensational, Hyper-Dispensational view, places a dividing line at Acts 28, instead of at Acts 2. How much does this matter, or does it matter? I’m going to draw upon GotQuestions as a resource here:

Mid-Acts Dispensationalism:

According to mid-Acts dispensationalism or the Grace Movement, the apostles Peter, James, John, and the rest were still operating under the Old Covenant in Acts 1—8. They were still dutifully keeping the Law and still meeting as a Jewish body in Jerusalem. Peter and the other apostles preached repentance to Israel, but there was no church until Paul. It was Paul, the “apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), to whom the doctrine of the church—and the doctrine of grace—was revealed. It was only after Paul began to minister that the church actually began. Thus, the only parts of the New Testament that are applicable to believers today are the Pauline Epistles. The rest of the Bible was written for Israel.

There are some other problems with mid-Acts dispensationalism. In particular, its views on salvation, water baptism, and the church’s origin are based on misunderstandings of some points of Scripture. Here are some of the difficulties inherent in the teaching that the church began with Paul:

To Paul were revealed the details of the church, which had been a “mystery” in the Old Testament (Colossians 1:25–27). Mid-Acts dispensationalism wrongly assumes that Paul’s revelation about the church equals the beginning of the church itself.

Mid-Acts dispensationalism misinterprets Galatians 2:7, “I [Paul] had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised.” The mid-Acts dispensationalist makes a distinction between a “gospel of circumcision,” taught by Peter, and a “gospel of uncircumcision,” taught by Paul. In reality, Paul is referring to different audiences, not different gospels. The Jews whom Peter ministered to were saved by grace through faith, just as the Gentiles to whom Paul ministered.

Mid-Acts dispensationalism or the Grace Movement denies the need for water baptism for believers, thus ignoring Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19. They exclude water baptism on the basis that the baptism of the Spirit, which occurs at salvation, has replaced water baptism.

Mid-Acts dispensationalism overlooks the fact that Gentiles were part of the early church before Paul was converted. Acts 2:10–11 makes it clear that the crowd listening to Peter preach on the Day of Pentecost included Gentile proselytes to Judaism. And Acts 8 shows how Samaritans and an Ethiopian were baptized into Christ before Paul ever started preaching the doctrine of the church or of grace. Thus there was a joint church body of Jews and Gentiles before Paul began his ministry.

Most importantly, mid-Acts dispensationalism or the Grace Movement claims there are “different gospels,” one taught by Peter and one taught by Paul. But the Old Testament (and the first part of the New Testament) does not teach salvation by works; the Jews in Galilee were not saved a different way from the Gentiles in Achaia.

Mid-Acts dispensationalism is opposed to several elements of orthodoxy. Its downplaying of half of the New Testament, its unwarranted exclusion of early Jewish believers from the body of Christ, its disregard of water baptism, and its allowance for a faith-plus-works gospel make the Grace Movement an unbiblical view.

(Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/mid-Acts-dispensationalism.html)

Ultra-Dispensationalism:

Ultra-dispensationalism, also known as hyper-dispensationalism/hyperdispensationalism (although some theologians draw fine distinctions between these terms), is the teaching that Paul’s message was unique from the other apostles’ and that the church did not begin until Acts 28 or later. For this reason, ultra-dispensationalism is sometimes called “post-Acts dispensationalism.”

Instead of recognizing that the church began in Acts 2 when the disciples received the promised Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the ultra-dispensationalist inserts another dispensation and holds that the church did not begin until Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. Specifically, the seed of the church is found in Acts 28:28 when Paul says to the Jews in Rome who rejected the gospel, “I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” This was the view of one of the first ultra-dispensationalists, Ethelbert W. Bullinger of the Church of England.

Because ultra-dispensationalists believe in a late start to the church, they view the church in Acts as a “Hebrew” or “Jewish” church, separate from the “mystery” church to which Paul wrote his Prison Epistles. They believe that the books of Peter, James, Jude, Hebrews, and the epistles of John are all addressed to the Hebrew church, which is different from the “body of Christ.” This Jewish church, which was built on Kingdom promises, will be reestablished during the millennium and will worship at the rebuilt temple with atoning sacrifices.

According to ultra-dispensationalism, the four Gospels are for Jews only and have no bearing on the church. The book of Acts deals with a different “church” and not the body of Christ. Only the Prison Epistles of Paul are directed to the body of Christ or “mystery” church. Not even the book of Revelation addresses the church—the letters to the seven churches are written to the “Jewish” church of the tribulation. Also, most ultra-dispensationalists reject the ordinances of the church: water baptism and the Lord’s Supper were for the “Hebrew” church.

The greatest problem with ultra-dispensationalism is not its teaching about when the church began but the many other errors that come from its approach to Scripture. For example, at the heart of most forms of ultra-dispensationalism is the belief that Paul preached a different gospel from what the other apostles taught. Other false doctrines common in some forms of ultra-dispensationalism include soul sleep and annihilationism. Still others proclaim a brand of universalism that grants salvation even to Satan himself. Without a doubt, whatever name ultra-dispensationalism goes by, it is a dangerous error that almost always leads to other, even worse errors.

H. A. Ironside, a strong dispensationalist himself, wrote a good booklet outlining some of the dangers of ultra-dispensationalism. In it he says that he has “no hesitancy in saying that [ultra-dispensationalism’s] fruits are evil. It has produced a tremendous crop of heresies throughout the length and breadth of this and other lands; it has divided Christians and wrecked churches and assemblies without number; it has lifted up its votaries in intellectual and spiritual pride to an appalling extent, so that they look with supreme contempt upon Christians who do not accept their peculiar views; and in most instances where it has been long tolerated, it has absolutely throttled Gospel effort at home and sown discord on missionary fields abroad. So true are these things of this system that I have no hesitancy in saying it is an absolutely Satanic perversion of the truth” (Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, chapter 1, Loizeaux Brothers, 1938).

(Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/ultra-dispensationalism.html)

I hope you can see that where the dividing line for the age of grace is positioned affects more than just a flexible start point. It affects the gospel itself.

The Mystery Revealed

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:24-27)

The article from GotQuestions above introduced the concept of the mystery of God which has now been revealed.  Is this mystery a new gospel, revealed by Paul?

Paul M. Elliott writes in his article on dispensationalism:

The Greek word is musterion, from which we obviously get our English word “mystery.” Paul speaks of “the mystery that was hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.”

What is a “mystery” in Scripture? A mystery, according to the Word of God, is some aspect of God’s plan that was hidden at one point in time, but is later revealed. And what is the mystery of which Paul is speaking here? Some commentators try to say that the mystery is that the Gentiles would partake of salvation along with Israel. But that was no mystery. That was never anything hidden. God told Abraham in Genesis chapter 12 that in the Messiah who would come through Abraham’s descendants, “all the nations of the earth will be blessed” – not just Israel. And in Isaiah 49 verse 6, God says of the coming Messiah, through Him I will restore the preserved ones of Israel, and, “I will also give Messiah as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” And although most of God’s Old Testament saints were Jews, we read in the Old Testament record of many occasions of individual Gentiles, and even whole Gentile cities, like Nineveh, repenting and turning to the Redeemer.

So the salvation of the Gentiles itself is not the mystery spoken of here. What, then, is the mystery? We have the answer at the end of verse 27: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The mystery of God’s plan that has now been revealed is that the Messiah not only would come to earth, not only would die, not only would be buried, not only would rise from the dead – the Messiah would actually live in each member of His redeemed people under the New Covenant. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

We find this confirmed in other passages. In John 14:23 Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” In Galatians 2:20 Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; yet it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

“Christ in you, the hope of glory” – or to translate it more directly, “Christ in you, the guaranteed expectation of glory.” That is the mystery that was hidden and is now revealed. In times past, under the Old Covenant, Christ did not dwell within believers. The Holy Spirit did not dwell within believers in the Old Testament, except in specific cases for specific purposes. That is why David prayed in Psalm 51, after his great sin, “Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” That is a prayer that no believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, Jew or Gentile, needs to pray under the New Covenant. Paul says in Ephesians chapter one that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the down-payment, or guarantee, of our final redemption – when we will not only have Christ living within these mortal, sinful bodies, but we will be like Christ forever, when we will have glorified bodies like His for eternity. That is the “hope of glory.”

(Source: http://www.teachingtheword.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=66756&columnid=6211)

The mystery of God revealed in the church age, is the indwelling Holy Spirit – Christ in us.  When did the Holy Spirit come down to indwell believers?  On Pentecost, in Acts 2.  In its fullest sense, the “mystery of God” is God’s complete redemption plan through Jesus Christ.  (For more on this please see: What is the Mystery of God Referred to in the Bible? and Paul’s Mystery)

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

Is that not mind-blowing?????!!!!!! Only God could write hundreds of thousands of words that could carry such pregnant meaning. Not until the revelation after His ascension could they be fully comprehended. What mystery! What majesty!

Pauline Epistles VERSUS Whole Word

If you remember what we talked about above, the RD Denomination has a strong focus on the Pauline epistles. Most would suggest that these are the only books of the Bible applicable to believers today. Let’s review:

  • The Gospels, and the Old Testament, were written for, and are applicable to, Jews only.  Some concede that the gospel of Luke was written for Gentiles.
  • There is disagreement upon whether the following books were written for, and are applicable to, both Jewish and Gentile believers: Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation. All would agree they are for Jewish believers; most would state they do NOT apply to Gentiles.
  • The following books were written for, and are applicable to, the Jew first and then the Gentiles: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians.
  • The following books were written for, and are applicable to, all believers: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon.

While I agree that Paul’s letters are very applicable to the church today, I wholeheartedly disagree that other passages in the Bible do not apply to us. Why?

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

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I can personally testify that the Word of God is living and active. Not all scripture was written to me, but all scripture was written for me and is profitable for me to study and apply to my life.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God'”. (Matthew 4:4)

Do we believe this? We live by EVERY world that proceeds from the mouth of God? Why is there so much resistance to the words in red versus the words in black? Do not the words in red pierce you to your very soul? Do you remember WHO the Word of God is?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-5,9-14)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Here I am in tears again. In this season (despite the fact that Jesus was born in either spring or fall, I know, I know…), we are celebrating Jesus, the Word, becoming flesh and dwelling among us. What greater love than to leave His heavenly home of perfection to come and be persecuted and suffer down here with His groaning creation???? It is unfathomable to me, the love of Christ. To all who receive Him, who believe in His Name, He gives the right to become children of God. This passage is for you, for me.

Children of God. US. Whoever believes in Him. Who can truly comprehend this?!?

We cannot divide the Word, for the Word is God. God’s Word is one cohesive whole, because it was divinely authored from start to finish by one Spirit. The scarlet thread of God’s redemption plan runs from Genesis through Revelation.  A mystery, now revealed.

“…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13)

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)

God is not man, that he should lie,

or a son of man, that he should change his mind.

Has he said, and will he not do it?

Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

(Numbers 23:19)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  (Hebrews 13:8)

What, Then, is “Right Division”?

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I want us to look again at the verse which contains the phrase “right division”. Let us look at it in context of the entire passage:

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene…. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:14-17,22-26)

The interlinear of 2 Timothy 2:15 reads:

“Hasten yourself approved to present to God a workman not ashamed accurately handling the word of truth.”

“Hasten yourself”

Σπούδασον – Strong’s #4704 – to make haste, hence to give diligence. Usage includes “I hasten, am eager, am zealous”.

“approved”

δόκιμον – Strong’s #1384 – approved, acceptable, tried. Helps word studies states that dokimos is an adjective that carries the meaning “to receive, welcome properly, what passes the necessary test (scrutiny); hence acceptable because genuine (validated, verified). Dokimos was used for proving (testing) of coins, i.e. confirming they were genuine (not counterfeit, corrupted).”

“not ashamed”

ἀνεπαίσχυντος, ον – Strong’s #422 – not to be put to shame; having no cause to be ashamed

“accurately handling”

ὀρθοτομέω – Strong’s #3718 – to cut straight; handle correctly; teach rightly

As believers, we are clearly to handle the Word of God rightly. We are to be eager and zealous, in both presenting ourselves to God as proven and tried, and in our handling the Word of Truth. We are to show ourselves as tested and tried, confirmed to be genuine, in our handling of God’s word. Not only are we to handle it correctly, we are to teach the truth rightly.

Paul M. Elliott looks into the original language of 2 Timothy 2:15:

We find that the word that is translated “rightly dividing” in the Old and New King James Bibles, and in several others, is a single word in the Greek. It is a form of the Greek verb orthotomeo. This is a very interesting word.

In New Testament times, orthotomeo was primarily a civil engineering term. It was used, for example, as a road building term. The idea of the word was “to cut straight,” or “to guide on a straight path.” The idea was to cut a roadway in such a manner that people who would travel over that road would arrive at their destination directly, without deviation. Orthotomeo was also used as a mining term. It meant to drill a straight mine shaft so that the miners could get quickly and safely to the “mother lode.”

There is another word in Greek, katatomeo, which means “to cut into sections.” But that is not the word that the Apostle Paul, under divine inspiration, uses in 2nd Timothy 2:15. Paul is not talking about “rightly dividing” in terms of dissecting the Word of God, or cutting it into sections based on Jew and Gentile, or Israel and Church, or any other criterion. It is interesting that the Apostle Paul does use that other word – katatomeo, cutting up – in Philippians 3:2, where he says, literally, “beware of those who would divide you up” – in other words, beware of those who would try to make a difference among believers between Jews and Gentiles.

What, then, is the proper meaning of orthotomeo – “rightly dividing” the Word of truth? What is intended is not the arbitrary dissection of Scripture, but reading, teaching, and preaching Scripture accurately, without being turned aside by false teaching or man-made agendas. This, indeed, is the context of 2 Timothy 2:15. In the verses preceding, Paul emphasizes the unity of all believers, and instructs Timothy to solemnly warn the church “not to strive about words to no profit”.

(Source: http://www.teachingtheword.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=66757&columnid=6211)

What “Rightly Dividing” is NOT

“Rightly dividing the word of truth” does not mean dissecting God’s Word like a cadaver. It does not mean butchering it apart, casting aside anything not written by the apostle Paul. It does not mean tearing apart the body of Christ into the “right dividers” and the “wrong dividers”. Rightly dividing is not proclaiming a “second” gospel. How do we know? Let’s examine the words of Paul himself:

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ”. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (1 Corinthians 1:10-17)

For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:4-11)

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-10)

One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:5-6)

Paul follows Jesus. We are to follow Jesus, as he does. Not just “heavenly Jesus” or “spiritual Jesus”, but the Word of God Himself, who Was, and Is, and Is to Come. The unchanging One.

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Remember, brothers and sisters, it’s all about Jesus.

Conclusion

I hope I have done some justice to this very complicated discussion, and have not introduced further controversy or division. It is my heart to bring peace to the watching community I have grown to love so dearly. This is not a personal attack against any particular individual, nor am I questioning anyone’s salvation or intentions.

I understand that with prophecy we see dimly, as in a cloudy mirror. There are things we can agree to disagree on. Some details we just aren’t going to know on this side of the rapture, and that’s ok. We just can’t compromise on the gospel. We can’t allow an ultra-division of scripture. It is the enemy who seeks to divide and conquer the body of Christ. He knows his time has just about come to an end, and he is getting desperate.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?” (Matthew 12:25-26)

As Gary wrote in his article This is War,

We spend so much time focusing on ourselves and our shortcomings and wallowing in our self-doubt that we effectively remove ourselves from the fight. That is exactly what the enemy wants. Once you realize that Christ has completely eliminated the penalty for your sin and all you must do is believe then you are freed and empowered to help others. Those stuck in works-righteousness can never see the forest for the trees because they still don’t understand that the Gospel has decisively solved the sin problem. We are free. And now that we are free we can engage in the broader war and help our brothers and sisters in this bloody fight while we try to snatch more from the fire.

God’s grace is found in the fullness of Christ.

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)

I love all you watching brothers and sisters in Christ dearly. I understand it’s exhausting waiting for Jesus to call us home. I’m tired, too. But we must remember to keep our eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We must press on, occupying until He comes.

He will come.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come”.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:22-24)

Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.

 


Further Resources:

Main Menu – Bible Prophecy Lessons

How to Interpret the Bible – Grace Thru Faith

Why is Sound Doctrine so Important?  – Gotquestions

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

What I post here is my best understanding from Scripture, but it is a human understanding, and thus will be flawed in some points.  I am continually pleading with God for truth and clarity, and will update posts as my understanding improves.  I urge you to search the Scripture for yourself to see if these things are so, praying for wisdom and understanding!

Lesson 7 – An Overview of Rapture Positions

In our previous lessons, we discussed the differences between the major prophecy interpretation methods, the millennium timing, and dispensations and dominions.  I have explained why I believe the Futurist, Premillennial, Dispensational teachings fit in best with a literal, cultural, historical, contextual Bible interpretation method.  Within this position, there are 4 different possible timings suggested for the rapture of the church, and that is what we will now start to discuss.  But first, we need to define what the “rapture” of the church is!

I believe the next major prophetic event is going to be the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the transformation of living saints into resurrection bodies. This will be followed by a literal “catching away” of those who believe in Jesus, taking them to heaven.  This is commonly known as the rapture, from the Latin translation of “caught up” – rapiemur (from rapio).  The Greek word is harpazo.  Both mean “we are caught up” or “we are taken away”.  From Gotquestions:

Question: “What is the rapture of the church?”

Answer: The word rapture does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away.” The concept of the “carrying off” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.

The rapture of the church is the event in which God “snatches away” all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. The rapture is described primarily in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50–54. God will resurrect all believers who have died, give them glorified bodies, and take them from the earth, along with all living believers, who will also be given glorified bodies at that time. “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 Thessalonians 4:16–17).

The rapture of the church is a glorious event we should all be longing for. We will finally be free from sin. We will be in God’s presence forever. There is far too much debate over the meaning and scope of the rapture. This is not God’s intent. Rather, the rapture should be a comforting doctrine full of hope; God wants us to “encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/rapture-of-the-church.html

Pretribulation, Midtribulation, Posttribulation, and Prewrath

In the futurist view, there are 4 rapture positions: pretribulation, midtribulation, posttribulation, and prewrath.  In Rapture? Which Rapture?, Jack Kelley briefly compares the differences between these rapture positions.  I was willing to consider each one of these, not caring which was correct, but just wanting to know which was true.  I am fully prepared to die for my faith, so I wasn’t approaching this study from an “escapist mentality” as is sometimes assumed.

I ordered books by the most popular authors from each view, and studied these prayerfully.  Each were compelling in their own ways.  I ended up taking every passage and verse related to end times prophecy, from Genesis to Revelation, printed them out, and pieced them together in different ways over many months as I read each view.

Basically what it came down to for me were a number of what I call “Special Puzzle Keys”.  I knew I was trying to weave together a big picture, that needed to be consistent from Genesis to Revelation.  These keys helped me to rule out several views, and piece together several others.  I encourage you to do the same, and not just take my word for it!  In the meantime I will give a brief overview of each of these views!

chart08.jpg

Pretribulation

The pretribulation rapture position places rapture timing before the start of the 7-year “tribulation” period (the 70th Week of Daniel).  This view generally considers the Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls to be the wrath of God.  There is a small subset within this view that suggests the Seals are not wrath and occur before the “tribulation” begins.

Because the church is not appointed for wrath (Revelation 3:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:9), we must be taken away from the Earth before any of the judgments begin.  A common teaching within this view is that the rapture is “imminent”, in that it could happen at any moment.

Midtribulation

The midtribulation rapture belief places the rapture timing at the Abomination of Desolation event halfway through the 7-year “tribulation” period, right before the beginning of the Great Tribulation.  While there is considerable variation within this view, in general, the midtribulation belief stems from equating the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15 with the last trump blown at the time of the rapture per 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.

They view the Seals and Trumpets as “tribulation” that the Church is specifically meant to suffer, and places these in the first half of Daniel’s 70th week.  The Great Tribulation, or the period of greatest persecution, occurs during the 1260 days of antichrist rule.  They believe church will escape the period of what they call “satan’s wrath”, or the period of “great tribulation”, only.  During this time period of Great Tribulation, the Bowl judgments will also take place.  The midtribulation rapture position defines the Bowls as the wrath we are not appointed to suffer as the church (Revelation 3:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Posttribulation

The posttribulation rapture position states that the trumpet mentioned in Matthew 24:31 is the “last trump” mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.  When the seventh trumpet of the Trumpet Judgments is blown, they believe the Lord will command His angels to gather the Church, the dead in Christ will rise, we will all be transformed, and we will meet Him in the air together.  From the air, we will join Jesus in His return to earth in power and glory.  The posttribulation view sees the resurrection/rapture and the Second Coming as part of the same event.  This view suggests that the Church is meant to undergo tribulation and will not escape any of what is to come on the Earth.

Prewrath

The pre-wrath rapture position is the most variable in its’ rapture timing.  This view sees the rapture as occurring at Seal 6, but then places the opening of Seal 6 at either midtribulation or posttribulation.  Those who place it posttribulation, suggest that Matthew 24:29 (sun darkened, moon not giving its light) is the same event as Revelation 6:12 (sun darkened, blood red moon), similar to the Posttribulation position.  They view the newly raptured Church as pictured in Revelation 7:9-17 between the sixth and seventh seals.  This view overlaps the Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls in order to place Seal 6 later in the sequencing of the book of Revelation.

The prewrath view places the rapture of the Church right before the wrath of God, which it defines as only the Bowls (similar to midtribulation).  It is variable in when it sees the Bowls being opened, from the time of midtribulation during the Greatest Tribulation, to the Second Coming, or even post-second coming.  Some within this view consider the Trumpets to be part of God’s wrath and thus place the timing of their blowing after the rapture.  What seems to be most consistent in this view is that it places the rapture at some point in the Great Tribulation (last half of the “tribulation week”).

Rapture Passages

In considering which rapture timing view is most correct, we need to examine the scriptures for ourselves.

First, passages that promise to spare the saints from wrath:

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 3:10 ESV

“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  Luke 21:36 ESV

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. Romans 5:9 ESV

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,  who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.  1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 ESV

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and 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 delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 ESV

Second, examining the passages talking about our transformation from temporal to eternal:

Listen! I am telling you a mystery:  We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed [allasso], in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.  For this corruptible must beclothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality.  When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place:

Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?

1 Corinthians 15:51-55 ESV

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.  Philippians 3:20-21 ESV

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.  John 5:28-29 ESV

Third, the passages predicting the “harpazo” of the saints:

Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment, so also Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.  Hebrews 9:28 ESV

“She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne”  Revelation 12:5 ESV (see HERE for a thorough discussion of the “birth” and rapture connection. )

“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.”  John 14:1-3 ESV  (Note how Jesus will receive us unto Himself as you read the next passage)

Two men will be in the field; one will be taken [received] and the other left.  Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken [received] and the other left.  Matthew 24:40-41; Mark 13:34-35 ESV  (Interestingly, the word used, paralambanetai, is used elsewhere to represent “received” – as in, the ones taken will be received unto the Lamb)

Fourth, passages containing the transformation, catching up, and sparing from wrath:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. [their souls] For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. [their souls will rejoin with an eternal resurrection body]  Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord Therefore encourage one another with these words.  (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 ESV)  (The trumpet in the Old Testament (shofar) was used to summon for worship or to summon to battle.  To believers, this trumpet blast will mean – Come Up Here!  To angels, this trumpet blast will mean prepare for battle!  This is well described in Revelation 12)

As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pains, so we were before You, Lord. We became pregnant, we writhed in pain; we gave birth to wind. We have won no victories on earth, and the earth’s inhabitants have not fallen.  Your dead will live; their bodies will riseAwake and sing, you who dwell in the dust! For you will be covered with the morning dew, and the earth will bring out the departed spirits.  Go, my people, enter your rooms and close your doors behind you.  Hide for a little while until the wrath has passed. For look, the Lord is coming from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. The earth will reveal the blood shed on it and will no longer conceal her slain.   Isaiah 26:17-21 ESV

Fifth, Other Passages Where People are Harpazo’d:

And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried [harpazo] Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.  Acts 8:39 ESV

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up [harpazo] to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.  And I know that this man was caught up [harpazo] into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—  and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.  2 Cor 12:2-4 ESV

And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force[harpazo] and bring him into the barracks.  Acts 23:10 ESV

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch [harpazo] them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch [harpazo – pluck, seize] them out of the Father’s hand.  John 10:28-29 ESV

Summary

Prayerfully consider the above scriptures.  I truly believe that God has not destined us for wrath, but for salvation.  Church age believers will be snatched up into the Day of Christ, while those left behind on earth will continue on into the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.

We are supposed to encourage one another with the words of our blessed hope – that we will be changed and received (snatched, seized by force, suddenly and without our consent) unto Jesus, to be with Him forever.  We will be worthy to escape all these things that are coming upon the earth, through the blood of the Lamb.  Yes, the church age is one of trials and tribulations.  But I believe that God clearly is not going to pour his time of intense wrath and judgment upon His children.

As far as WHEN?

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  2 Peter 3:9 ESV

We will continue to examine the rapture positions more fully in subsequent lessons.


This lesson series is a brief walk through the studies I have undertaken to get to the understanding of End Times prophecy that I have.  This isn’t meant to be all-inclusive so I provide links for further learning.


Further Resources:

Main Menu – Bible Prophecy Lessons

Rapture, Which Rapture? – Grace Thru Faith

How to Interpret the Bible – Grace Thru Faith

How Should We Interpret the Bible. Part 1: Principles for Understanding God’s Word – Answers in Genesis

Why is Sound Doctrine so Important?  – Gotquestions

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

What I post here is my best understanding from Scripture, but it is a human understanding, and thus will be flawed in some points.  I am continually pleading with God for truth and clarity, and will update posts as my understanding improves.  I urge you to search the Scripture for yourself to see if these things are so, praying for wisdom and understanding!

rapture-not-secret-large

The Blood Moon Prophecy, the Lunar Eclipse on July 27, 2018, and a Picture of the Resurrection-Rapture Event

Hello my watching friends,

I’m getting a lot of questions and comments about the July 27 lunar eclipse so I thought I would do a short post to clarify my position on it.  (ETA: I should have known better.  Nothing I write is ever short! 😉 )

For those of you who don’t know, the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century will occur on the night of July 27 and will last for 1 hour and 43 minutes.  Here are the deets:

From EarthSky:

The July 2018 full moon presents the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century (2001 to 2100) on the night of July 27-28, 2018, lasting for a whopping 1 hour and 43 minutes. (In contrast, the previous total lunar eclipse on January 31, 2018, lasted 1 hour and 16 minutes.) A partial eclipse precedes and follows the century’s longest total lunar eclipse, each time lasting 1 hour and 6 minutes. So, from start to finish, the moon takes nearly 4 hours (3 hours and 55 minutes) to cross the Earth’s dark umbral shadow.

This lunar eclipse is primarily visible from the world’s Eastern Hemisphere (Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand). South America, at least in part, can watch the final stages of the eclipse just after sunset July 27, whereas New Zealand will catch the beginning stages of the eclipse before sunrise July 28.

Source: http://earthsky.org/?p=282841

If you want to know more details and where to view it, go to the earthsky link above.  What I’m more interested in than watching the eclipse (which won’t be visible from North America anyways), is whether or not this eclipse has prophetic significance.

People I have grown to truly love and care about are on the fence about this.  Gary at Unsealed says yes, that it marks the imminent fulfillment of Joel 2 this year (link: https://www.unsealed.org/2018/07/did-key-events-preceding-day-of-lord.html).  Scottie Clarke says no, that it marks the Second Coming (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3OodQzN-Uo).  I am going to weigh in my thoughts, but encourage you to consider other viewpoints as well.

You must know by now that I love the blood moon sign (hence my website name).  I spend a lot of time thinking about it!  The blood moon is a major key in Biblical Prophecy.  There is one and only one prophetic “blood moon” mentioned in the Bible, and it most certainly has not occurred yet.  Will it occur on July 27, 2018?

Well, it could… but I strongly believe that the blood moon of Seal 6 is not an eclipse.  Let me give you a glimpse of how I think the resurrection/rapture event is going to unfold:

Life continues on normally.  People will be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, planting and building, buying and selling, working in the field, grinding grain, and sleeping.  In the city of Jerusalem, sudden alarm!  The mountains of Israel crawl with a vast army.  Blow the trumpet in Zion!  Sound the alarm!  But it is too late – the enemy was cloaked by the hand of God Almighty even as they were hooked and led by the jaws.  Imminent destruction!  

Will God remember?  Does God see?

Awaken oh God of Israel!  Arise from your silence!  

A barrage of missiles, the Iron Dome defeated.  Israel was overconfident and now stands at the brink of annihilation.  The mountains of Israel rumble.  The ground begins to quake.  He who led the enemy to do His will, will rise up and destroy it for the purpose of announcing to an unbelieving world that He intends to fulfill His covenant promises!  

Earthquake in Israel!  The ground heaves and falls, splits and groans.  The army, sure of victory, is thrown into confusion.  Chaos erupts.  Torrential rains blind the soldiers.  The ground continues to tremble.

And then – the dead arise.  From the dawn of creation, those who believed in a coming Messiah, those who believed in the Messiah when He appeared, all those who believed upon the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross… ARISE!  Let the earth bring forth her dead!

Worldwide, graves burst open.  The Earth trembles, shakes, reels on its’ axis.  It sways like a drunk man.  We look up.  Our redemption draws nigh.  In an instant, all the dead and alive in Christ are transformed – in the blink of an eye!  Buildings topple around us.  Bridges collapse.  The earth continues to sway and groan.  This all occurs at lightning fast speed but it feels like slow motion.  We are untouchable, there is no fear.

Another blink of the eye – we are before the throne of God.  The splendor of His majesty is before us.  We are overwhelmed.  We fall on our faces before Him and cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!  Who was, and is, and is to come!  Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!  Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!  Worthy to receive glory and honor and power forever!”

On the earth – terror.  The western coast of North America slips and the Cascadia Subduction zone heaves.  The entire Ring of Fire erupts in earthquake activity of the like never before seen.  Global volcanic activity is triggered.  Back in Israel, hail, fire, and brimstone rain down upon Gog and his army and the nations from which they came.  What begins as divine judgment on the troops surrounding Israel  will expand to include the whole world.  The air is thick with smoke, terror, and gloom.  The atmosphere is filled globally with ash and smoke.  The days are darkened, the moon appears blood red.

In the heavens – war.  It’s possible that Revelation 12:3-4, 6:13, and 12:7-9 are all describing the same event.  Revelation 12:7-9 provides the details of what was introduced in 12:3-4.  Consider the verses together:

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems.  His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. (Revelation 12:3-4 ESV)

…and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.  (Revelation 6:13 ESV)

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back,  but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:7-9 ESV)

There is no longer a place (purpose) for the accuser of the brethren in heaven, as we have all arrived; there is no one left to accuse (momentarily).  

The days of darkness have arrived upon the earth.  Gloom, terror, death, and destruction.  Those who refused to love the truth and so be saved will now experience the judgment of the great and terrible Day of the Lord.  

It has begun.

Reference posts:

The Blood Moon

There will be one singular prophetic blood moon, and I believe it will occur as a consequence of the rapture of the Church (specifically, most likely from the resurrection of the dead in Christ).  As I have previously written in The Prophetic Significance of Blood Moons, the Blood Moon occurs 3 times in scripture.  Once, prophetically in Joel 2, once prophetically in Acts 2, and once, the fulfillment, at Seal 6.   Let’s examine it closely:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Joel 2:28-32 ESV  

Of great interest is the way Peter quoted Joel 2 in Acts 2:16-21.  Through this passage, I believe he announces the beginning and end of the church age.  If Peter is telling us that the church age will end with the signs detailed in Acts 2:19-21, where do we find a match for this in scripture?  There is only one place:

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood,  and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.  The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.  Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains,  calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,  for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”  Revelation 6:12-17 ESV

The prophetic blood moon fulfillment is found in Revelation chapter 6, during Seal 6.  There is no getting around this.  Far from being an eclipse, it will be visible globally.  I anticipate that it will be caused by atmospheric ash and smoke worldwide, as the Joel 2 prophecy describes.

Will it be on July 27, 2018?  Well, the rapture is technically imminent and could happen at any time, so in that sense it is possible.  However, I see strong connections to God’s Appointed Times (moedim) and personally believe God will coordinate the resurrection/rapture event with the Gog/Magog war on either Pentecost or Feast of Trumpets.

 


Further Resources:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

Overview of Coming Prophetic Wars

Connecting Isaiah 17, Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38&39

Everything You Need to Know About Pentecost, the Feast that Ties It All Together For The Church

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

Minor-earthquake-felt-in-northern-Israel-2 (1)

 

Guest Post – Here Comes the Bride! Who Is She?

Today I am pleased to post a guest post by a fellow watch-woman, Kate Engel.  Kate has very keen discernment and is gifted in research and writing.  I encourage you to consider her research on the Bride of Christ!  I find it compelling given the entire book of Hosea and the theme of marriage and divorce throughout books of the prophets.  Before you get your knickers in a knot about the identity of the bride, note that this doesn’t affect rapture or tribulation beliefs or timing 😉


 

Who is the Bride of Christ?   (Hint: it’s not the Church!)

by Kate Engel

To truly understand why the Bride of Christ is not the Church, we must revert back to the very first Shavuot on Mount Sinai, when God made His covenant with the Israelites. The Old Covenant was truly much more than just Yahweh’s divine giving of the Law, as most of us understand it today. It was a marriage covenant in which Yahweh faithfully pledged Himself to, at that point in time, a unified nation of Israel. [For the purpose of this study, we will refer to unified Israel as “Greater Israel.”] How do we know that the Old Covenant was a marriage covenant? We know because of their subsequent divorce where Yahweh stated that Northern Israel “is not My wife, nor am I her Husband!” (Hosea 2:2). In Jeremiah 3:8, Yahweh specifically stated that He gave the Northern Kingdom of Israel a certificate of divorce and put her away:

“And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.”

In order for a divorce to occur, there must first be a marriage. Yahweh could only divorce Israel if He had once been wed to her. When did this marriage take place? It occurred on Mt. Sinai, when the 12 tribes agreed to Yahweh’s terms, thereby entering into a marriage covenant. It was a contract, complete with prenuptial agreements – that is, terms and conditions of what was expected, and what would happen in case of infidelity. The terms and conditions were Yahweh’s ten commandments, and He gave them for her good:

““And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

Greater Israel graciously accepted and agreed to these terms, which was to devote themselves wholly to Yahweh forever, vowing “All that YAHWEH has said we will do, and be obedient.” (Exodus 24:7) All Israel had to do was love her Husband by remaining faithful to Him, to the covenant that was made. Later in the book of Jeremiah, Yahweh stated that the covenant He made with Greater Israel was one where He became her Husband:

“… not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 31:32)

The accord was struck and the vows were ratified with blood-“And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Unfortunately, Israel was unfaithful to her husband from the very beginning (the golden cafe fiasco). After some time, Greater Israel was divided into two kingdoms: the Southern Kingdom-called “Judah”-consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The Northern Kingdom-called “Israel”-was inhabited by the other 10 tribes. I cannot stress enough how crucial this is to understand: After Greater Israel’s division, “Israel” refers only to the inhabitants of Northern Kingdom; “Judah” refers to the inhabitants of the Southern Kingdom (this comes into play later in this study).

Yahweh, in His patient love and sovereignty, waited while Israel (the northern kingdom) committed her adulteries time and again. Yahweh explained this in the book of Ezekiel, speaking of the two daughters of one mother who both practiced harlotry and defiled themselves:

“Son of man, there were two women, The daughters of one mother. They committed harlotry in Egypt, They committed harlotry in their youth…Their names: Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister; They were Mine, And they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah. Oholah played the harlot even though she was Mine; And she lusted for her lovers, the neighboring Assyrians…Thus she committed her harlotry with them, All of them choice men of Assyria; And with all for whom she lusted, With all their idols, she defiled herself.” (Ezek 23:2- 4, 7, 9)

Ultimately, after 700 years of Northern Israel’s backsliding and adultery, Yahweh divorced her:

“And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.” (Jer 3:8)

This truth is also stated in 2 Kings:

“Therefore YAHWEH was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone. (2Kings 17:18)

 As you can see, Yahweh only divorced Northern Israel (who we call the ten “lost” tribes). Why, though? Why did he not write Judah, who was a harlot also, a certificate of divorce? It’s because Yahweh’s unconditional promise to King David, who belonged to the tribe of Judah:

” Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.” (2 Samuel 7:12-13)

Prior to the Kingdom being divided, Yahweh choose David’s bloodline to bring forth the Messiah, the Son Of God. Would God bring forth His son as an illegitimate child born out of wedlock? I think not. Yahweh remained contractually wed to the tribe of Judah for the sole purpose of bringing forth the Messiah at the appointed time. Some people like to say that God can do anything, but that isn’t technically true. God cannot lie. God cannot sin. God cannot be unfaithful to His promises. These things are not within His character.

Yahweh’s divorcement of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) created a seemingly unsolvable dilemma. How could Yahweh fulfill His unconditional promise to Abraham if 10 tribes were now cast out and cut off from the House Of Israel and the promises therein? According to Yahweh’s own laws, a man can divorce an unfaithful wife, but he cannot remarry her or else he commits adultery:

“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.” (Deut 24:1-4)

“If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly defiled? You have played the whore with many lovers; and would you return to me? declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:1)

Yahweh also decrees that anyone who marries a divorced woman period commits adultery:

“he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” (Luke 16:18b)

As you can see, Yahweh Himself can never marry Northern Israel again. It is an abomination to take back a wife who has been cast out for adultery. Doing so would defile the land. Consequently, there was no conceivable hope for Northern Israel to return to a marriage covenant with Yahweh, or for Judah and Israel to ever reunite. Nevertheless, Yahweh passionately calls His wayward wife to return (repent) to him and presumably, He would have to find a way to work things out. He tells us in Ezekiel that He will do just exactly that; the two kingdoms will be united again one day into covenantal standing:

“The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, take a stick and write on it, ‘For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.’ And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. And when your people say to you, ‘Will you not tell us what you mean by these?’ say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (that is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him. And I will join with it the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand.” (Ezekiel 37:15-19)

So how could Israel be brought back into a marriage covenant without Yahweh violating His own law? God’s solution to this divine dilemma was Yeshua! Yeshua Himself said, “I am not sent but only unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” God is not the author of confusion. These words were spoken because, at that time in Yahweh’s prophetic program, Yeshua was sent to accomplish a very important task. Northern Israel, being divorced from Yahweh due to adultery, can only marry another man if her former husband (who divorced her) dies. Yahweh sent Himself to earth as Yeshua (the Word Of God in the flesh) to die, thereby releasing Northern Israel from her fate as a divorced woman. She would be free to marry another, who is none other than the RISEN Yeshua, the NEW MAN! But what about Judah? Was Judah still married to Yahweh? No! Yahweh’s death (as Yeshua) dissolved Judah’s marriage contract as well!

“A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:39)

Yeshua died to dissolve both Judah’s marriage contract with Yahweh, and Israel’s boundaries placed on her from divorce. Yeshua died on the cross as Yahweh in the flesh, and was risen as a new man: Israel’s bridegroom! Yeshua’s blood not only atoned for their wickedness, but it also broke down the confines of marriage for Judah and the divorce for Israel. The two kingdoms were no longer separated by their marital status (and lack thereof) to Yahweh. Both parties were free to marry another (specifically, God) through their newly betrothed bridegroom: The Risen Yeshua! Who, I reiterate, is God! The two houses (sticks) were now spiritually united as one. One bride for one bridegroom: Israel to Yeshua. With the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua, the proverbial plate was completely wiped clean; their unfaithfulness was atoned for, and both houses (Israel and Judah) were now united as one woman. *with this being said, the two leavened loaves of Shavuot (Pentecost) do NOT represent Jews and Gentiles. But that’s a whole different study*

Unfortunately (again), Israel rejected God’s new marriage proposal, this new covenant (a marriage covenant with Yeshua.) They rejected their groom. Only through their marriage to the Lamb can they be united to God once more. No one gets to Yahweh except through Yeshua alone! Upon Israel’s rejection of this new covenant marriage proposal, God’s ultimate plan, which was a mystery until its revelation to Paul, was set into motion: all nations (peoples) could gain entry into this New Covenant by simply having faith in what Yeshua accomplished! With Israel’s rejection, Yahweh put His prophetic program for Israel on hold; The Bridegroom can’t marry an unwilling Bride! In doing so, a new program was ushered in: faith in Yeshua alone would graft all into the New Covenant promise that was meant only for Israel: everlasting life through eternal union (marriage) to God. All those who believe in Yeshua today are instantly cleansed (baptized) by the Holy Spirit the moment they come into faith. By this cleansing, all are wed to God through what Yeshua did. These “believers” are what Paul calls “the Body Of Christ.” You see, those who are part of the body (Christ’s BODY) are ALREADY married to God because we are married (one with) Christ! We are in complete covenant standing through our union with Yeshua!  Paul understood this in Ephesians:

“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.”

Paul declares Christ’s relationship with His Church as that of a husband and wife (not that of a bride and bridegroom). Brides and bridegrooms are promised to marry, but not yet wed. Nothing more is needed to be done by the Body Of Christ to be one with Christ. In fact, we are called Christ’s Body because we are part of Him. How can the Bride be part of the Groomsman? It can’t! Yeshua is already married to the corporate Body Of Christ; The Body has just been growing in number (enlarging) ever since the Holy Spirit took on the role of baptism. The Body will continue to grow until the rapture. How can God marry someone He’s already married to in Christ? Again, He can’t. There is no need. Yeshua is one with the Father, and He with Yeshua. The Body is part of Christ. The Church, therefore, is not who is awaiting spiritual union (redemption) with Christ. Paul states that the Church is already redeemed! This obviously is spiritual redemption. Our souls receive the seal of everlasting life, but our physical bodies still continue to age and die. The Body Of Christ only waits for physical redemption. This physical redemption, our bodily resurrection, is not marriage. We are sealed for physical redemption by the Holy Spirit as a RESULT of our union with God. This is the blessed hope; that we, through our union with Christ, are not appointed to Yahweh’s wrath on those who reject Yeshua!

Paul describes his personal role in leading the church of Corinth in union to Yeshua:

“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2)

Paul likens their acceptance of the Gospel to him officiating their wedding! The original Greek word used here for espoused is harmózō. It means “to join, to fit together, to join oneself i.e. to marry” (Strong’s G718). Paul explains in the verses following the reason why he is jealous:

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”(2 Cor 11:3-4)

False teachers were infiltrating the ranks in Corinth, and Paul was afraid that, in their immaturity and weakness (like Eve), their marriage bed would be defiled by their turning to a false Gospel. Paul presented them as a pure virgin to Christ when they were wed, and Paul wanted to make sure they would remain spiritually pure throughout their marriage.

In Luke, there is an interesting parable:

“And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.” (Luke 12:36)

Without careful scrutiny, Yeshua seems to be telling Israel that they’re not the Bride. How can they be the Bride if He’s returning from the wedding at the 2nd coming? We must look at the original language to understand what is truly being said. The Greek word used for “return” is analýō, which means “ to unloose, undo again, to depart, break up, to depart from life, to return.” analýō is actually used only ONE other time in the Bible. It was used by Paul to describe how he desires to “depart” (to die) to be in the physical presence of Yeshua.

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23)

The original Greek word for “wedding” in this Luke 12 passage is gámos. It means “a wedding festival, or marriage, matrimony.” It’s translated as “marriage” 9 times in scripture, and as “wedding festival” 7 times in scripture. Strong’s says  gámos is of uncertain affinity grammatically speaking, and can mean either a wedding or marriage in general. We see exactly this issue in scripture where gámos is used to describe the institution of marriage rather than a wedding ceremony:

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)

So how should Luke 12 actually be read, given this context? I will use brackets to insert the meaning:

“And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will [unloose, undo, die] from the [marriage]…”

Yeshua was telling Israel to “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning” so that they will be ready to wed after He dissolves their previous dysfunctional marriage with to Yahweh! This same message is given in the Parable Of The 10 virgins. The wise virgins are believing (faithful) Israel, the foolish virgins are unbelieving (lacking in faith) Israel. The wise virgins are who enter the kingdom with the BRIDEGROOM.

In Revelation after mystery Babylon is destroyed, there is rejoicing at the throne of God, saying “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” (Rev 19:7) The bride is then given at this time fine linen and white garments, symbolizing being made clean and “right” in God’s sight for the wedding: “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”

In Rev 21, the Bride is now the “wife” of the lamb. This means the marriage has already taken place. This is further supported by what the angel is describing-the angel calls New Jerusalem the wife, and on the city is inscribed none other than the names 12 Tribes Of Israel. The Wife is identified as the 12 tribes! The 12 tribes are the direct bloodline descendants of Abraham, otherwise known as Israel-

“Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed”

Israel has always been the Wife/Bride. She was married to God in the OT, and will be married to God once more at the appointed time. Nowhere in scripture does God replace His chosen people with the Church. Rather, the Church is grafted in to the covenant promise of eternal life given to Israel. Yahweh will once again turn his full focus to Israel, when He unilaterally initiates the rite of purification for the Bride. This is the whole purpose of the tribulation. Why does He do this? God said so it is written:

“Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not contend with man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” (Genesis 6:3)

Yahweh has appointed 120 years for man to exist on earth in separation from Himself. What did Yahweh mean by 120 years? They are jubilee years. Meaning, 120 jubilee years will pass until the kingdom of heaven is on earth. A jubilee year occurs every 50th year. Therefore mankind is appointed 6000 years before Yeshua returns to marry His bride and set up His kingdom, fulfilling the promise Yahweh made to Abraham and David.

4-theweddingofmydreams.co_.uk-here-comes-the-bride-e1474980504429-360x250

 


Further Resources:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

 

Rapture Timing – Feasts, Events, Wars, Birth Pains, Blood Moons and Eclipses, Day Counts, HELP!!!

With all the proposed “high watch dates”, calculations, and signs flooding the prophecy community, amidst cries of “no one knows the day or the hour!”, what should we be watching for?  Should we be watching?  Are you ready to throw in the towel as the last possible date for Pentecost 2018 passed?

Don’t be discouraged!  We aren’t wrong to watch!  We aren’t wrong to hope!  Jesus wants us to watch and to eagerly anticipate His call.

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Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.  Luke 12:37 ESV

So let’s go through what we are to watch for one by one!

The Feasts of God

God set appointed times on His calendar from the beginning of creation.  Genesis 1:14 declares “And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years”.  (ESV)  The sacred times, or seasons, are the fixed or appointed times when God would meet with His people.  Note that they are the appointed feasts of the Lord, and as such, they transcend Israel.  These appointed times are the “Moedim” and are detailed in Exodus 12-13, Leviticus 23, Numbers 28-29 and Deuteronomy 16.

The appointed times all find their fulfillment in the Messiah – Jesus Christ.  Some of these appointed times have been fulfilled; others await fulfillment until the exact moment that God has decreed from the beginning.  There were 3 times when all Jewish men were required to go to Jerusalem to honor the Feasts: Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.

The first 3 Feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits, are grouped together and were fulfilled at the death and resurrection of Christ.

The middle Feast – Pentecost – stands alone and marked the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell the Church.  I personally believe that Pentecost is the highest watch Feast for the rapture, as I believe the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ (the Restrainer) will quite possibly leave on the day that He came.  I do not believe that this Feast has been fulfilled to completion.  Many would disagree and that’s fine, I’m just stating what I have come to believe.

The last 3 Feasts – Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles, are grouped together and will be fulfilled at the Second Coming of Christ.  While many say that the Feast of Trumpets is the next in line to be fulfilled, remember that the spring feasts were fulfilled in quick succession all in the same year.  I believe the fall feasts will be as well.

With that said, the spring feasts had shadow fulfillment at the time of the Exodus  Thus, the fall feasts may have shadow fulfillment at the time of the rapture and beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week.  The Feast of Trumpets in particular contains symbolism of the rapture.  Thus, I believe Feast of Trumpets is a secondary “high watch feast”.  Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is clearly associated with judgment and as such does not involve the church.  However, it might be associated with the start of the 7-Year-Tribulation period.  Tabernacles is clearly associated with the Millennial Kingdom.  The “8th Day” seems to be associated with the eternal state – when the 7 1000-year-days of humanity are complete and the eternal state (8th day) begins.

I have more articles on the Feasts of God here: The Biblical Feasts – God’s Appointments.

I personally believe that the Feasts of Pentecost and Trumpets are “high watch dates” for the rapture each year, particularly up to 2021.

Events

Are there any events connected with the rapture of the church?  Well, I believe there are  markers that indicate we are “in the season” that the rapture could occur.  These include:

  • The Fig Tree sign – Jesus tells His disciples that when they “see the fig tree leaf out”, they would know that the time of His coming was near.  Many prophecy scholars agree that this sign refers to Israel’s rebirth in May 1948.
  • Israel Reborn – Regardless of whether or not the fig tree refers to Israel, Israel’s rebirth as a nation after 2000 years of not being one is a flashing neon light!  The Kingdom of Heaven is Near!!!
  • Jerusalem Recaptured – Jerusalem features heavily in end times prophecy.  The 6 day war of 1967 was very significant prophetically!  It’s possible that war fulfilled Psalm 83; alternately, the complete fulfillment of Psalm 83 may be yet future.
  • Jewish Aliyah – Along with the re-establishment of Israel as a physical/political nation, God’s chosen people are foretold to return to the Promised Land.  This has been slowly but surely occurring over the last 120 years or so, with approximately 45% of the world’s Jewry living in Israel at this time (2016).  According to Jewish tradition, conditions are set for prophets to appear when at least 50% of the world’s Jewry is located in Israel.
  • The Third Temple – We know from the book of Daniel, the gospels, and Revelation that there will be a functioning Jewish Temple during the “70th Week of Daniel“.  While the Temple has not yet been built, the plans are complete, Levite priests are trained, and Temple equipment/furniture is made.  This indicates the 70th Week is ready to go.
  • Apostasy in the Church – It seems that as we approach Christ’s second coming, churches will fall away from preaching sound doctrine. Instead, they will focus on a social gospel that “tickles men’s ears” (tells them what they want to hear to feel good).
  • Immorality in Society – Society will move further and further away from God and His laws/morals.  We see this most clearly in the last several decades through Abortion (1.5 billion since 1980), Homosexuality (general worldwide acceptance in non-Muslim nations), and Human Euthanasia (legal in some nations, including Canada).
  • As in the Days of Lot – Society will be marked by violence, homosexuality, and sexual immorality.
  • As in the Days of Noah – Society will be marked by violence, DNA manipulation, and sexual immorality.
  • Knowledge Will Increase – In the latter days, people will travel “to and fro” and knowledge will increase.  We are approaching a “technological tower of Babel” situation!
  • The Gospel Will be Preached to All Nations – While there are still unreached people groups within nations, the gospel has been successfully taken to all nations around the globe.  The gospel will continue to be preached during the coming times of tribulation.
  • A Great Sign in the Sun, Moon, and Stars – It appears God may be announcing the imminent rapture of the church and the nearness of His Second Coming through a great sign in the sun, moon, and stars described in Revelation 12:1-2.  This great sign appeared in the sky on September 23, 2017.  Interestingly, satan also seems to think September 23 is an important date.

I personally believe that there are no further events necessary to set up for the rapture of the church or Daniel’s 70th Week.  Being aware of the signs that have aligned over the last seven decades affirms that we are “in rapture season”.

Wars

Wars, and rumors of war, strike black marks along the entire span of human history.  That humans fight with each other is not unique.  Israel, as God’s chosen nation and people, is the central focus of Bible Prophecy.  Throughout the Old Testament we are presented with prophecies and fulfillments of many wars involving Israel as she moves in to occupy and preserve her Promised Land.

When we study what is written in the Bible, there are a few prophetic wars that remain to be fulfilled around the time of the rapture.  These are detailed in Matthew 24/Luke 21/Mark 13, Isaiah 17, Psalm 83, and Ezekiel 38-39.

World War III

One of the first true “Birth Pains” that will indicate that the “time of the end” has finally arrived is Nation Rising Against Nation and Kingdom Rising Against Kingdom.

Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  (Luke 21:10 ESV)
These phrases were a Hebrew idiom meaning war involving the entire known region.  Since the entire world will be involved in the “time of the end”, it would suggest that the “nation rising against nation” mentioned by Jesus would most likely be along the lines of what we would consider World War 3.  It will involve many nations.  World Wars 1&2 did not qualify as fulfilling this sign because they occurred before the rebirth of Israel as a nation (see the Fig Tree Sign) and did not include the accompanying “birth pain signs“.

The Destruction of Damascus – Isaiah 17

Isaiah 17 states that it is a prophecy against Damascus:  Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. (Isaiah 17:1 ESV)
The prophecy in Isaiah 17 points to the complete destruction of Damascus, never to be restored again. This is noteworthy because presently the city is recognized as the world’s longest continually inhabited city.  Other cities (not specifically defined) are affected as well, and will be abandoned and desolated.

The Arab-Israeli Promised Land War of Psalm 83

Psalm 83 is a prayer of the prophet Asaph.  In it, he requests for God to break His silence towards Israel and protect her.  He mentions a specific group of nations wanting to wipe Israel off the face of the map.  The nations include Edom, Ishmaelites, Moab, Hagrites, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, Philistia, Tyre, and Asshur.  Modern day equivalents seem to be Egypt, Jordan/Palestinians, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon.

 

This war appears to have been at least partially fulfilled in the Six-Day War of 1967.  The exact nations described in Psalm 83 issued a coordinated attack against Israel, and Israel was victorious.  It’s also possible that the complete fulfillment, or a dual fulfillment, of this war is yet future.

Gog and Magog War of Ezekiel 38 & 39

Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 detail a very specific war against Israel.  A future leader or supreme commander, Gog (the spiritual entity behind the geographical region of “Magog”), of the land of Magog (Russia?  Turkey?), will oversee a vast military alliance which will be heavily armed.  The alliance appears to be primarily Islamic, and their goal will be to overtake Israel’s resources.  It seems that Russia (Turkey?) will be joined by  Iran and Islamic nations from north and east Africa (Ethiopia, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and others), plus Islamic nations of the Middle East and Central Asia (Turkey, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and others).  There may be mild protest to this invasion from unspecified nations (USA?), but there will be no intervention in support of Israel and Israel may not even have time to defend itself.

God will completely destroy the invading armies and send destruction to their homelands through a global earthquake, internal chaos and infighting, pestilence, torrential rain, hail, fire and brimstone.  What begins as divine judgment on the troops surrounding Israel  will expand to include the whole world.

Basically, God will raise Israel’s enemies up against her in such a way as to guarantee her destruction, just so that He can prevent her from being destroyed.  It’s impossible to overemphasize the significance that God Himself is arranging this war exactly according to His schedule.  God has one final test for Israel.  He will use Gog / Magog as a challenge for both Israel and the nations.  It will be deliberately presented so that it can be interpreted by Israel as the final war (Battle of Armageddon).  Will Israel then turn to Jesus as the true Messiah, or will she embrace the anti-Messiah that satan will raise up?

In watching for signs of war, I am watching for:

  1. Wars and Rumors of Wars – Possible lineup of WW3.
  2. Wars and Rumors of Wars centered around Israel and the Middle East, including a specific interest in Damascus, Syria.
  3.  A lineup of players matching the nations found in Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39.

There is suggestion in Ezekiel 38 that Israel doesn’t see this war coming (is in a state of “Betach” – peace and safety).  Thus, it’s possible that we won’t see this war begin… and I believe it’s safe to say we won’t see it end.

I personally see connection between Isaiah 17, Psalm 83, and Ezekiel 38-39.  I think they may occur concurrently, in connection with the rapture, and lead to global scale war.  

Birth Pain Signs

We seem to be in limbo between “rumors of wars” and “all-out war”, which suggests that “the end is not yet”.  How will we know when “true labor” – the actual time of the end – begins?  The Bible speaks of the “time of the End” as being similar to labor pains and childbirth.  When it hits, there will be no mistaking it.  And true believers get to skip that part through the “early delivery option”.

Now, brothers and sisters, 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 suddenlyas labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 ESV

These are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah:  “Thus says the Lord: We have heard a cry of panic, of terror, and no peace.  Ask now, and see, can a man bear a child? Why then do I see every man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor?  Why has every face turned pale? Alas! That day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it. Jeremiah 30:4-7 ESV

Labor and delivery, for me anyways, involved a lot of screaming, writhing, and pain.  Unmistakable and incomparable.  The “beginning of birth pains” are defined by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse:

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24)  8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Mark 13) 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21) 

When the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (“Tribulation”) arrives, it will be marked all at once by the arrival of widespread war, global earthquakes, famines and pestilences, terrors and great signs from heaven.  Collectively, “all these” are the “beginning” of the birth pains.  What we are currently seeing are still the “Braxton Hicks’ contractions”.  I do believe we may see the *very beginning* of the birth pains; thus, I am scouring for signs of a rapid upsurgence in all of these things at once:

  1. Wars (as discussed above)
  2. Earthquakes and Volcanic Activity
  3. Famines
  4. Pestilences / Plagues
  5. Terrors and Great Signs from heaven (I believe Sept 23/17 fulfilled a singular “great sign”)

I have written more on the Birth Pain Signs here, Braxton Hicks, Labor Pains, and the Time of the End, and here, The End of the Age According to Jesus – Matthew, Mark, Luke.

I believe that if we see war, terrors from heaven, and earthquakes break out on a global scale all at once – it’s the Day!  It’s the Hour! 

Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:28 ESV

Blood Moons and Eclipses

The blood moon is a major key in Biblical Prophecy.  You probably already know this.  What you may not know, is that “blood moons” (plural) and “blood moon tetrads” are NOT found in the Bible.  There is one and only one prophetic “blood moon” mentioned in the Bible, and it most certainly has not occurred yet.  Nor is it going to be an eclipse.  Nor is a blood moon the same as a dark moon (which occurs at the second coming and is described in Matthew 24 and Zechariah 14).

The Blood Moon prophecy occurs 3 times in scripture.  Once, prophetically in Joel 2, once prophetically in Acts 2, and once, the fulfillment, at Seal 6.

I believe that the cause of the global blood moon is the resurrection of the dead and the rapture itself.  There is strong connection in scripture between resurrection of the dead and earthquakes; put this on a global scale and you have global earthquakes.  These would trigger volcanic eruptions worldwide, resulting in atmospheric ash.  Atmospheric ash darkens the sun and makes the moon appear blood red.

There are no eclipses documented in scripture in association with end times prophecy.

I have written more on the Blood Moon Sign here:

I do not believe we will SEE the Blood Moon Sign – it happens after we are gone.  I’m not watching for any eclipses, supermoons, super blood moons, super blue bloodmoons, or anything of that sort.

Day Counts

While God is outside of time, He has allotted humanity 7000 years of existence.  We are on the brink of 6000 years – the last 1000 years will be Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom!  See more about that here –  God’s 7000 Year Calendar When studying calendars and calendar corrections, my best interpretation places us at year 5991 or 5992.  The rapture would theoretically occur at year 5993 with the Second Coming at year 6000.

The books of Daniel and Revelation also provide us with some interesting day counts that deserve serious study.  The periods of time we are introduced to include “1 Week”, “Half a Week”, “Time, Times, and Half a Time”, “42 Months”, “1260 Days”, “1290 Days”, “1335 Days”, “2300 Evenings and Mornings”, “Day”, “Hour”, and “Approximately Half an Hour”.  I believe all these day counts come into play AFTER the rapture of the church, which I believe will cause the Earth to be knocked back into a 360-day-year orbit.  So although I have studied these timelines, I don’t believe they are useful markers for rapture watching.

I believe that the rebirth of Israel as a nation on May 14, 1948 represented the “Fig Tree” leafing out in the Fig Tree ParableEzekiel’s 430 Days of Laying – It appears that the rebirth of Israel, to the very year, was foretold 2500 years ago through the prophet Ezekiel.  This, I believe, started a 70-80 year countdown until the Second Coming of Christ based on the Generation That Won’t Pass Away Parable.  With a pretribulation rapture, the countdown would be 63-73 year countdown.  I believe there is scriptural precedence to possibly applying a 360-day-year correction to these numbers, placing the rapture countdown at 62-72 years from 1948.

From the Revelation 12 Sign of September 23, 2017, I believe we may possibly have been given up to a 3 year window for the rapture.  I believe this based on the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem announcing Jesus’ birth, and the fact that it took the wise men up to 3 years to find Jesus from the appearance of the Great Sign.  Thus, rapture timing of up to 3 years after the Great Sign of Revelation 12 would seem to be reasonable to me.

We seem to have 2-3 witnesses from Scripture that confirm a rapture in the 2017-2020 window.  I personally see no indication in scripture to study other number patterns.

Conclusion

I believe we can know for certain that we are in the rapture “season”.  We seem to have 2-3 witnesses from Scripture that confirm a rapture in the 2017-2020 window.   I personally believe that the Feasts of Pentecost and Trumpets are the most likely “high watch dates” for the rapture in those years.

I also see connection between Isaiah 17, Psalm 83, and Ezekiel 38-39 and think they may occur concurrently in connection with the rapture of the church.  I believe that if we see war, terrors from heaven, and earthquakes break out on a global scale all at once – these are the birthpains – it’s the Day!  It’s the Hour!

Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:28 ESV

Noah was told to enter the ark 7 days prior to the Great Flood beginning – perhaps we will know 7 days in advance of the “great flood of fire” that is to come upon the earth?  We may or may not get advance notice.  Regardless, I believe that on the day and in the hour, we will KNOW that it is TIME.

I have truly been blessed by the watching community this last year.  I can hardly wait to meet all of you in person!  I treasure all the brothers and sisters I have had the pleasure of watching alongside as we wrestle with feelings of excitement, discouragement, insight, defeat, and above all – hope and faith in our coming Redeemer.  He is coming.

The Spirit and the Bride say “Come, Lord Jesus!”

Holy Spirit filled Bride

Further Resources:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!