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!

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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!

 

The Spirit-Bride Pair Says Come, Lord Jesus!

To the praise of His glorious grace!  Thanking God for the provision of brothers and sisters in Christ to faithfully watch for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with.  Brother Rohit and I had this most soul-touching conversation the other night (for me, anyways) and I would like to share it with you!  In the raw, here’s a fly-on-the-wall perspective:

Steph – The Spirit and the Bride say, come.
Steph – Hey wait a sec. The Spirit and the Bride. The Spirit in the Bride. The Restrainer.
Steph – The Restrainer is the Spirit in the bride, and we cry “come”!  The Spirit-filled Bride is most certainly crying “Come!!!!!  Oh please oh please oh please oh please COME LORD JESUS!!!”
Rohit – 😍
Steph – Hmmmm. Wonder if the Greek specifies whether it is “and” or “in” or if it leaves it blank. Gotta go look!
Rohit – 😆
Steph – It’s a coupler:
Steph – A Coupler connects two things.  The word is actually copulative, which is an intimate connection…  Isn’t that FASCINATING…
Steph – The Spirit-Bride pair says “Come”
17 “And behold, I am coming soon. (Jesus)
12 “Behold, I am coming soon (Jesus)
17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” – TO JESUS

Rohit – Why have thou forsaken me? And at the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud voice, “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is the only saying that appears in more than one Gospel, and is a quote from Psalms 22:1. This saying is taken by some as an abandonment of the Son by the Father. What if.. The Triune God craves to be with himself.

Steph – 😮

Rohit – So that all comes to pass, And his kingdom come, His will be done 🙂

Steph – Mind blown.
Steph – I don’t think the Spirit-Bride Restrainer pair is saying “come” to the people, although an invitation for all to come to Jesus follows. I think the Spirit-filled Bride is saying come to JESUS, as in “Come Lord Jesus”. Maranatha. Isn’t it usually taught that they are saying to come to salvation? Maybe I’ve never thought about it this much before.
Steph – “I am coming” (Jesus)  “Yes please come!” (Spirit-filled Bride).  Isn’t that what the Spirit in us cries and cries and cries for????
Rohit – We crave his glory, His coming – All creation awaits.
Steph – Come! Please come!!! Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Rohit – Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.
Rohit – Holy spirit + Bride Crave God so all can be fulfilled.  Genesis – Beginning; Revelation – End.  That’s why all Creation groans and awaits.

Steph – Still sitting here kinda stunned, digesting.

Rohit – 😆
Rohit – The Lord’s prayer.  Jesus prays for His kingdom to come, for His will to be done.  Jesus told us “Pray like this after I’m gone”.
Steph – UNTIL HE COMES
Rohit – It’s what Jesus wants.  What the Father wants.

Steph – What the Holy Spirit wants.  The Holy Spirit wants to go back to the Father.  He was sent as a DEPOSIT.  So we can be rescued.

Rohit – His love for us…
Steph – 😍

Rohit – He was craving Himself when He prayed, so that all comes to pass and he can take his beloved home to be with him (triune).

Rohit – That’s the whole bible.

Steph – I know the Holy Spirit is a person. But… it NEVER occurred to me that He wants to go back to God as much as we do. Thus… He prays WITH us “Come, Lord Jesus”.  Sometimes with a groaning so deep that words cannot express.

Rohit – The end of all things.  God with us Eternal.

Steph – Let’s see how to word this. It is God’s Spirit within us that cries “Come” in order to CALL Jesus.  The Holy Spirit within us forms the Restrainer… the Spirit-Bride pair. So….one would do well to examine if one is crying “Come” would one not?  Since the Holy Spirit is the one compelling us to cry “Come” to Jesus.  Like if you aren’t crying come…. Maybe ya better examine your heart. Are you pair-bonded with the Spirit…

Rohit – Bingo.  His love… We are his beloved… Come….
Steph – I read a blog one time, stuck with me. It paired belief in a pretribulation rapture with salvation in that… If you don’t really believe Jesus is coming back… If you don’t believe he will rescue you… Do you truly believe he will save you?  I mean, rapture (earthly rescue) is surely “easier” than salvation (eternal rescue) truly (salvation).  I don’t think I’d go that far but it made me think, that’s all.  Anyways that’s all just speculation.  Salvation is a heart issue.  I believe all believers will be raptured regardless of rapture beliefs.

Rohit -Sadly rapture is not being taught. Born again don’t know rapture is close.

Steph – The Spirit in believers should surely be quickening. Calling “Come”.
Steph  The cry of my heart is for everyone to call in unison – Come.
Rohit – God is holy. Love. How can it be mid or post trib. We are his beloved.  He died for us.  Ultimate sacrifice.

Steph – He brought me to His banqueting table, His banner over me is love.

Steph – The big picture is just overwhelming.
Rohit – 😍

Rohit – My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [why art thou] far from my salvation, from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22:1 Darby Translation (DARBY) In the original Hebrew translation, read this… רָח֥וֹק why are You so] me? Far מִֽ֝ישׁוּעָתִ֗י from my deliverance Psalm 22.:1 Hebrew translation.

Rohit – I also think it means Jesus was craving, begging, crying out to The Father, His Beloved, hopelessly in love with Him…..how long more of this tribulation till we are together as one…..? The agony of separation from his LOVE. In everything, Love God, the most … no matter what tribulation one is going through. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. Matthew 22:37-38 (KJV)

Rohit – Consider this. Imagine being totally in love with your beloved. You get separated for some reason. Won’t you be crying out, lamenting, craving to be with your beloved? Why aren’t we together? I’m suffering… Why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far away from me?

Steph -The cry of Christ on the cross, the cry of the Holy Spirit within us…. A deep anguished gutteral cry to be united with our beloved. I cannot fathom Christ’s suffering on the cross, at His separation from the Father. But I would agree that the feeling in my heart of hearts is a “grunts and groans that words cannot express” longing for deliverance…. How long, oh Lord (why are you so far from my deliverance)?

The Spirit-Bride pair says COME!!!!!  Come Lord Jesus!!!!

 


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!

Holy Spirit filled Bride

 

Lesson 6 – Dispensations and Dominions Part II

In Part I of this lesson, we discussed the alternatives to Dispensation Theology – Replacement Theology (Kingdom Now) and Covenant Theology (Dominionism).  In this lesson, we will give an overview of the dispensational understanding of scripture.

Dispensational Theology

God’s revelation and dealings with humanity can be broadly separated into “ages”.  This is the basis for Dispensational Theology.  It’s not perfect, but it helps us grasp how God has progressively revealed Himself and His redemption plan to humanity.  Dispensational theology is the most common method of Bible prophecy interpretation in evangelical Christian circles.  It is the only 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 can watch in the headlines.  It explains the current social and political climate.  It is the method most consistent with a literal, cultural, historical, contextual study of scripture.

Dispensational theology sees the Church and Israel as distinct entities, and understands that God has separate plans for each.

From Gotquestions:

Dispensationalism has two primary distinctives: 1) a consistently literal interpretation of Scripture, especially Bible prophecy, and 2) a view of the uniqueness of Israel as separate from the Church in God’s program.

Dispensational theology teaches that there are two distinct peoples of God: Israel and the Church. Dispensationalists believe that salvation has always been by grace through faith alone—in God in the Old Testament and specifically in God the Son in the New Testament. Dispensationalists hold that the Church has not replaced Israel in God’s program and that the Old Testament promises to Israel have not been transferred to the Church. Dispensationalism teaches that the promises God made to Israel in the Old Testament (for land, many descendants, and blessings) will be ultimately fulfilled in the 1000-year period spoken of in Revelation 20. Dispensationalists believe that, just as God is in this age focusing His attention on the Church, He will again in the future focus His attention on Israel (see Romans 9–11 and Daniel 9:24).

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/dispensationalism.html

Generally, dispensationalism sees the age of man as divided into seven time periods, called “dispensations”.

DispensationsRlatest.png

I’m not going to re-invent the wheel here, so I will let Gotquestions explain the seven dispensations in more detail:

The first dispensation is called the Dispensation of Innocence (Genesis 1:28-30 and 2:15-17). This dispensation covered the period of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In this dispensation God’s commands were to (1) replenish the earth with children, (2) subdue the earth, (3) have dominion over the animals, (4) care for the garden, and (5) abstain from eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God warned of the punishment of physical and spiritual death for disobedience. This dispensation was short-lived and was brought to an end by Adam and Eve’s disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit and their expulsion from the garden.

The second dispensation is called the Dispensation of Conscience, and it lasted about 1,656 years from the time of Adam and Eve’s eviction from the garden until the flood (Genesis 3:8–8:22). This dispensation demonstrates what mankind will do if left to his own will and conscience, which have been tainted by the inherited sin nature. The five major aspects of this dispensation are 1) a curse on the serpent, 2) a change in womanhood and childbearing, 3) a curse on nature, 4) the imposing of difficult work on mankind to produce food, and 5) the promise of Christ as the seed who will bruise the serpent’s head (Satan).

The third dispensation is the Dispensation of Human Government, which began in Genesis 8. God had destroyed life on earth with a flood, saving just one family to restart the human race. God made the following promises and commands to Noah and his family:

1. God will not curse the earth again.
2. Noah and family are to replenish the earth with people.
3. They shall have dominion over the animal creation.
4. They are allowed to eat meat.
5. The law of capital punishment is established.
6. There never will be another worldwide flood.
7. The sign of God’s promise will be the rainbow.

Noah’s descendants did not scatter and fill the earth as God had commanded, thus failing in their responsibility in this dispensation. About 325 years after the flood, the earth’s inhabitants began building a tower, a great monument to their solidarity and pride (Genesis 11:7-9). God brought the construction to a halt, creating different languages and enforcing His command to fill the earth. The result was the rise of different nations and cultures. From that point on, human governments have been a reality.

The fourth dispensation, called the Dispensation of Promise, started with the call of Abraham, continued through the lives of the patriarchs, and ended with the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, a period of about 430 years. During this dispensation God developed a great nation that He had chosen as His people (Genesis 12:1Exodus 19:25).

The basic promise during the Dispensation of Promise was the Abrahamic Covenant. Here are some of the key points of that unconditional covenant:

1. From Abraham would come a great nation that God would bless with natural and spiritual prosperity.
2. God would make Abraham’s name great.
3. God would bless those that blessed Abraham’s descendants and curse those that cursed them.
4. In Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed. This is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His work of salvation.
5. The sign of the covenant is circumcision.
6. This covenant, which was repeated to Isaac and Jacob, is confined to the Hebrew people and the 12 tribes of Israel.

The fifth dispensation is called the Dispensation of Law. It lasted almost 1,500 years, from the Exodus until it was suspended after Jesus Christ’s death. This dispensation will continue during the Millennium, with some modifications. During the Dispensation of Law, God dealt specifically with the Jewish nation through the Mosaic Covenant, or the Law, found in Exodus 19–23. The dispensation involved temple worship directed by priests, with further direction spoken through God’s mouthpieces, the prophets. Eventually, due to the people’s disobedience to the covenant, the tribes of Israel lost the Promised Land and were subjected to bondage.

The sixth dispensation, the one in which we now live, is the Dispensation of Grace. It began with the New Covenant in Christ’s blood (Luke 22:20). This “Age of Grace” or “Church Age” occurs between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel 9:24. It starts with the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and ends with the Rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4). This dispensation is worldwide and includes both Jews and the Gentiles. Man’s responsibility during the Dispensation of Grace is to believe in Jesus, the Son of God (John 3:18). In this dispensation the Holy Spirit indwells believers as the Comforter (John 14:16-26). This dispensation has lasted for almost 2,000 years, and no one knows when it will end. We do know that it will end with the Rapture of all born-again believers from the earth to go to heaven with Christ. Following the Rapture will be the judgments of God lasting for seven years.

The seventh dispensation is called the Millennial Kingdom of Christ and will last for 1,000 years as Christ Himself rules on earth. This Kingdom will fulfill the prophecy to the Jewish nation that Christ will return and be their King. The only people allowed to enter the Kingdom are the born-again believers from the Age of Grace and righteous survivors of the seven years of tribulation. No unsaved person is allowed access into this kingdom. Satan is bound during the 1,000 years. This period ends with the final judgment (Revelation 20:11-14). The old world is destroyed by fire, and the New Heaven and New Earth of Revelation 21 and 22 will begin.

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/seven-dispensations.html

We are currently in the 6th dispensation, the one of Grace.  This is commonly called the “Church Age”.  This age will end (soon!) and Jesus will usher in His millennial kingdom.  The dispensational view agrees well with the 7000 Years Appointed to Humanity.

The 7-year period of wrath or tribulation, consisting of the 70th Week of Daniel / The Day of the Lord, isn’t part of the Age of Grace, nor is it part of the Millennial Kingdom.  Some view it as the completion of the Dispensation of Law, which was paused for the church age.  The difference is that Jesus *has* already fulfilled the Law, so I tend to view the 70th week as being a separate dispensational entity.  The sacrifices that occur during the tribulation (and also in the Millennial Kingdom) won’t atone for sin – that price has been paid by the Lamb of God.

It is this relatively short period that is the focus of much Bible Prophecy.  While it is short, it is incredibly significant.  We will spend much time on this “mini-dispensation” in the coming lessons!  Within the dispensational interpretation method, there are different rapture timing positions, and it is these we will dive into next.

Conclusion

I believe the dispensational view is most consistent with a literal, cultural, historical, and contextual study of scripture.  Israel’s rebirth as a nation in 1948, after almost 2000 years of not being a nation, would seem to strongly support the view that God still has plans for her.  I encourage you to explore each of the positions on the church and Israel for yourself, to see if you agree with me!


This lesson series is a brief walk through the studies I have undertaken to get to my current understanding of End Times prophecy.  This isn’t meant to be all-inclusive so I provide links for you to explore further!  What I post here is my best insight from Scripture, but I’m only human 🙂  Thus, I urge you to search the Scripture for yourself to see if these things are so!


Further Resources:

Main Menu – Bible Prophecy Lessons

What Are the 7 Dispensations?  (GraceThruFaith)

What is Dispensationalism?  (CARM)

What is Dispensational Premillennialism?  (Gotquestions)

What is the dispensation of Innocence? (Gotquestions)

What is the dispensation of Conscience?  (Gotquestions)

What is the dispensation of Human Government? (Gotquestions)

What is the dispensation of Promise? (Gotquestions)

What is the dispensation of Law? (Gotquestions)

What is the dispensation of Grace? (Gotquestions)

What is the dispensation of the Millennial Kingdom? (Gotquestions)

What is Ultra-Dispensationalism (Post-Acts)?  (Gotquestions)

What is Mid-Acts Dispensationalism?  (Gotquestions)

What is Progressive Dispensationalism?  (Gotquestions)

Prophecies Fulfilled of Israel’s Scattering

Prophecies of Israel’s Regathering – Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones

Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus at His First Coming

How to Interpret the Bible – Grace Thru Faith

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.

israelinthelight

Lesson 5 – Dispensations and Dominions Part I

In our last lesson on millennial views, I suggested that the pretribulation premillennial view was the view most consistent with a literal interpretation of scripture.  This view is also often known as “Dispensationalism”.  Before we study rapture positions, I thought we should maybe spend some time discussing what dispensationalism is and how it differs from other interpretation methods.  The main distinction between these interpretation methods is how they see the relationship between the church and Israel.

Replacement Theology teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God’s mind.  Covenant Theology suggests that the church is an expansion of Israel, and that they exist side by side.  Dispensationalism teaches that the church is a separate entity, apart from Israel, and that God has distinct plans for each.  Let’s briefly discuss replacement theology and covenant theology before providing an overview of dispensationalism.

Replacement Theology

Replacement theology suggests that the church has completely replaced Israel in God’s plans.  The promises God made to Israel can now be claimed by the church.  The main issue I have with this view is that Biblical Prophecy must be treated allegorically instead of literally.  From lesson 2, we learned that scripture is to be taken literally unless clearly indicated otherwise.  We have the example of Jesus literally fulfilling hundreds of prophecies in His first coming.  We also have the example of Israel being reborn as a nation and Jews returning to that nation over the last 70 years.  Gotquestions describes replacement theology like this:

Replacement theology (also known as supersessionism) essentially teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. Adherents of replacement theology believe the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel.

Replacement theology teaches that the church is the replacement for Israel and that the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian church, not in Israel. The prophecies in Scripture concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are spiritualized or allegorized into promises of God’s blessing for the church. Major problems exist with this view, such as the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries and especially with the revival of the modern state of Israel. If Israel has been condemned by God and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the supernatural survival of the Jewish people over the past 2,000 years despite the many attempts to destroy them? How do we explain why and how Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for 1,900 years?

The view that Israel and the church are different is clearly taught in the New Testament. Biblically speaking, the church is distinct from Israel, and the terms church and Israel are never to be confused or used interchangeably. We are taught from Scripture that the church is an entirely new creation that came into being on the day of Pentecost and will continue until it is taken to heaven at the rapture (Ephesians 1:9–111 Thessalonians 4:13–17). The church has no relationship to the curses and blessings for Israel. The covenants, promises, and warnings of the Mosaic Covenant were valid only for Israel. Israel has been temporarily set aside in God’s program during these past 2,000 years of dispersion (see Romans 11).

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/replacement-theology.html

Replacement theology would seem to generally teach a postmillennial, or possibly amillennial, view.

Kingdom Now Theology

Kingdom Now theology is generally taught in Charismatic / Pentecostal denominations.  It falls under the umbrella of Replacement theology.  Gotquestions describes Kingdom Now interpretation as such:

Kingdom Now theology, most popular among Charismatic and Pentecostal groups, focuses on taking dominion of the earth by way of spiritual battle. Kingdom Now adherents believe that long ago Satan stole the “keys of spiritual dominion” when he deceived Adam and Eve. Then, when Christ gave the “keys of the kingdom” to Peter in Matthew 16:19, it was a sign that dominion had been returned to man. Now it is our job to “take back” what is rightfully ours – that is, to claim dominion over the earth and spiritually subdue it for Christ. Proponents of Kingdom Now theology believe that the capturing of this dominion includes having Christians in political office, plus a return of spiritual power, manifested by signs, miracles and healing.

The belief is that, since believers are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit that indwelt Jesus, we have all authority in heaven and on the earth; we have the power to believe for and speak into existence things that are not, and thus we can bring about the Kingdom Age.

Proponents of Kingdom Now teaching also don’t believe in the rapture, which is explained away as a feeling of rapture or excitement when the Lord returns to receive the kingdom from our hands. In other words, everyone will be “caught up” emotionally when He returns. Also among the unbiblical beliefs is the idea that all prophecies regarding future Israel—both in the Old and New Testaments—actually apply to the church.

Kingdom Now theology sees the second coming of Jesus in two stages: first through the flesh of the believers (and in particular the flesh of today’s apostles and prophets), and then in person to take over the kingdom handed to Him by those who have been victorious (the “overcomers”). Prior to the second coming, overcomers must purge the earth of all evil influences. Kingdom Now claims that Jesus cannot return until all His enemies have been put under the feet of the church (including death, presumably).

Although there are people who only partially hold to Kingdom Now teachings, they still share the beliefs outlined above, all of which are outside of mainstream Christianity and all of which deny Scripture. First, the idea that God has “lost control” of anything is ludicrous, especially coupled with the idea that He needs human beings to help Him regain that control. He is the sovereign Lord of the universe, complete and holy, perfect in all His attributes. He has complete control over all things—past, present and future—and nothing happens outside His command. Everything is proceeding according to His divine plan and purpose, and not one molecule is moving on its own accord. “For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:27). As for men having “the power to believe for and speak into existence things that are not,” that power belongs to God alone, who doesn’t take kindly to those who would attempt to usurp it from Him.

In a way, the disciples were of a “kingdom now” mindset. They thought that Jesus was going to immediately usher in the kingdom and wipe out Roman rule (see Luke 19:11). But that wasn’t what Jesus was about then, and it isn’t what He is about now. We belong to a heavenly kingdom that is not of this world (John 8:23). We are seeking another home, a city “with foundations” (Hebrews 11:101413:14). The world is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:311 John 2:17Colossians 3:2-5).

It is right and good to want to see justice done and biblical principles upheld (Psalm 33:5Amos 5:15Micah 6:8). And we are to do everything as unto the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31). We are salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), and it is perfectly reasonable for Christians to hold jobs in government and all other areas of society. But “bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth” is not our commission. Our commission is to tell people about the wonderful news that, despite the sick, sinful condition of our souls, God has provided salvation by sacrificing His own Son on our behalf (Romans 5:6-8). By grace, through faith, we become citizens of a perfect world that will last eternally (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our job is to “rescue those who are perishing; to hold back those stumbling towards slaughter” (Proverbs 24:11). Christian Dominionism seeks to perfect this world by political clout, but it is the Spirit who must bring change (Zechariah 4:6). One day, Jesus will bring His kingdom to earth, in justice and true righteousness, and it will signify the end of this world’s system.

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-dominionism.html, https://www.gotquestions.org/kingdom-now.html

Kingdom Now theology would seem to generally teach a postmillennial, or possibly amillennial, view.

Covenant Theology

Covenant theology is a method of scripture interpretation that is held by a large part of the protestant (Reformed / Calvinist) community.  It expands on the covenant idea put forth in Dominion Theology, and views Bible prophecy through the lens of three covenants: works, grace, and redemption.  Gotquestions defines covenant theology in this way:

Covenant Theology defines two overriding covenants: the covenant of works (CW) and the covenant of grace (CG). A third covenant is sometimes mentioned; namely, the covenant of redemption (CR). We will discuss these covenants in turn. The important thing to keep in mind is that all of the various covenants described in Scripture (e.g., the covenants made with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and the New Covenant) are outworkings of either the covenant of works or the covenant of grace.

Let’s begin to examine the various covenants detailed in Covenant Theology, beginning with the covenant of redemption, which logically precedes the other two covenants. According to Covenant Theology, the CR is a covenant made among the three Persons of the Trinity to elect, atone for, and save a select group of individuals unto salvation and eternal life.

From a redemptive historical perspective, the covenant of works is the first covenant we see in Scripture. When God created man, He placed him in the Garden of Eden and gave him one simple command: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). We can see the covenantal language implied in this command. God sets Adam in the Garden and promises eternal life to him and his posterity as long as he is obedient to God’s commands. Life is the reward for obedience, and death is the punishment for disobedience.

When Adam failed in keeping the covenant of works, God instituted the third covenant, called the covenant of grace. In the CG, God freely offers to sinners (those who fail to live up to the CW) eternal life and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. We see the provision for the CG right after the fall when God prophesies the “seed of the woman” in Genesis 3:15. Whereas the covenant of works is conditional and promises blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience, the covenant of grace is unconditional and is given freely on the basis of God’s grace.

Unlike Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology does not see a sharp distinction between Israel and the Church. Israel constituted the people of the God in the OT, and the Church (which is made up of Jew and Gentile) constitutes the people of God in the NT; both just make up one people of God (Ephesians 2:11-20). The Church doesn’t replace Israel; the Church is Israel and Israel is the Church (Galatians 6:16). All people who exercise the same faith as Abraham are part of the covenant people of God (Galatians 3:25-29).

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/covenant-theology.html

Covenant theology does not state that the church replaces Israel, but that it envelops it.  Because the lines between Israel and the church are blurred, covenant theology has some similarities between replacement theology and some with what is known as “progressive dispensationalism“.  Progressive dispensationalism teaches that Christ is currently already ruling on David’s throne, and is often called “already but not yet”.  This involves some departure from literal scripture interpretation.

Dominion Theology

Dominion theology, similar to Covenant Theology, does not see a role for Israel in end times prophecy.  It differs somewhat from replacement theology as defined above, in that it focuses specifically on the church bringing in a worldwide kingdom patterned after the Laws of Moses.  Gotquestions describes Dominion Theology this way:

Those who hold these views believe that it is the duty of Christians to create a worldwide kingdom patterned after the Mosaic Law. They believe that Christ will not return to earth until such a kingdom has been established. The principal goal, then, of dominion theology and Christian reconstructionism is political and religious domination of the world through the implementation of the moral laws, and subsequent punishments, of the Old Testament (the sacrificial and ceremonial laws having been fulfilled in the New Testament). This is not a government system ruled by the church, but rather a government conformed to the Law of God.

Dominion theology / Christian reconstructionism is largely based upon a post-millennial view of covenantalism. Post-millennialism is the belief that Christ will return to earth after the thousand-year reign of God’s kingdom, and covenantalism refers to the belief that biblical history is divided into three major covenants supposedly described in Scripture—of redemption, of works, and of grace. Adherents believe that we currently exist under the covenant of grace, that the church and Israel are the same, and we are now in the millennial Kingdom of God. Man, under the covenant of grace, is responsible to rule the world, to hold dominion over it in obedience to the laws of God.

The problem with these beliefs is that they rest upon a distorted view of Scripture. Scripture clearly teaches a premillennial view of the Kingdom of God (Zechariah 14:4-9Matthew 25:31-34), the “covenant of grace” is an extra-biblical construct, Israel and the Church are distinct throughout biblical history and prophecy, and God never commanded the Church to revamp society. Instead, believers are commanded to preach the Gospel as in Matthew 28:1920, but God clearly intends to implement worldwide reform Himself (Revelation 19:11-20:4).

Dominion theology’s beliefs are based on Genesis 1:28, which says, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (emphasis added).

This verse is taken by Christian Dominionists as a divine mandate to claim dominion over the earth, physically, spiritually and politically. However, this is taking a large step away from the text, which only says to have dominion over the creatures of earth, and to “subdue” the earth. It is likely that this verse simply means for humanity to a) multiply and expand over the face of the earth instead of staying in one place and b) keep and take care of all other living things. There were no political entities in Genesis 1.

However, dominion theology goes even further with this verse, leading to two other philosophies: Christian Reconstructionism and Kingdom Now theology. Christian Reconstructionism is an intellectually high-minded worldview, most popular among the more conservative branches of Christian faith. Reconstructionism says that dominion will be achieved by each Christian excelling in his or her individual field (Christian artists taking dominion of the art world, Christian musicians taking dominion of the music world, Christian businessmen taking dominion of the business world, etc., until all systems and fields are “subdued”).

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/dominion-theology.html,  https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-dominionism.html

Dominion theology would seem to generally teach a postmillennial, or possibly amillennial, view.

Discussion

I believe the above methods of interpretation (Replacement Theology, Kingdom Now, Covenant Theology, and Dominionism) are not consistent with a literal, cultural, historical, and contextual study of scripture.  They all teach a postmillennial, or amillennial, view of the millennial kingdom and allegorize the prophesies describing Jesus’ Second Coming.

Israel’s rebirth as a nation in 1948, after almost 2000 years of not being a nation, would seem to strongly support the view that God still has plans for her.  Millions of literal bloodline-Jews have returned to this specific land against huge odds.  It strongly appears that God is gathering His chosen people and land of Israel back to Himself according to His eternal covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Their scattering, and latter days regathering, is prophesied many times in the Old Testament.

Also suggestive of a literal prophetic study model is the fact that Jesus literally fulfilled hundreds of Old Testament prophesies at the time of His first coming.  The pattern is certainly literal fulfillment, and there is no question in my mind that Jesus will literally fulfill what has been written about the latter days.  I encourage you to explore each of the positions on the church and Israel for yourself, to see if you agree with me!

Continue to Part II – Dispensation Theology


This lesson series is a brief walk through the studies I have undertaken to get to my current understanding of End Times prophecy.  This isn’t meant to be all-inclusive so I provide links for you to explore further!  What I post here is my best insight from Scripture, but I’m only human 🙂  Thus, I urge you to search the Scripture for yourself to see if these things are so!


Further Resources:

Main Menu – Bible Prophecy Lessons

What is Replacement Theology?  (Gotquestions)

What is Replacement Theology? (CARM)

What Does it Mean that the Church Has Been Grafted in Israel’s Place? (Gotquestions)

What is Spiritual Israel?  (Gotquestions)

What is Covenant Theology?  (Gotquestions)

What is Christian Dominionism?  (Gotquestions)

What is Dispensational Premillennialism?  (Gotquestions)

Prophecies Fulfilled of Israel’s Scattering

Prophecies of Israel’s Regathering – Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones

Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus at His First Coming

How to Interpret the Bible – Grace Thru Faith

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.

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Lesson 4 – Where is the Millennium?

In our last lesson on the major Bible prophecy interpretations, I suggested that the Futurist view is the one most consistent with a literal interpretation of Scripture.  Within the views that consider the book of Revelation at least partially future there are differing views on when the Millennial Kingdom should be placed.  These views include Post-tribulation (Historical) Premillennialism, Pre-tribulation (Dispensational) Premillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Amillennialism.

Revelation chapter 20 introduces us to what is known as the Millennium, or the Millennial Kingdom:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain.  And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,  and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.  And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Revelation 20:1-10 ESV

This chapter specifically mentions a “thousand year” period six times in seven verses.  From Lesson 2, a discussion of Literalism versus Symbolism in Revelation, I understand that this 1000 years is literal.  There are, however, different interpretations of when this “thousand year” period occurs in relation to where we are now.

These views are a little confusing so I’ve found a handy chart to help us out.  The triangle indicates where we are:

millennial views

All of the views agree that Jesus will return physically, and that only believers will be saved.  They are all futurist, in that all agree that the second coming of Christ and the last judgment are yet to come.  We see the differences in the details, and will discuss these next!

Post-tribulation (Historical) Premillennialism

This view states that Jesus will return AFTER a literal 7-year period of tribulation, BEFORE the literal Millennial Kingdom.  The rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ are seen as one and the same event.  This is the view of post-tribulation rapture adherents.  Thus, followers of Christ (the church) will endure the tribulation period and its’ associated wrath and persecution.  Jesus will return after this tribulation period and reign for 1000 years.  The state of Israel is seen as irrelevant.

Pre-tribulation (Dispensational) Premillennialism

This view states that Jesus will return AFTER a literal 7-year period of tribulation, BEFORE the literal Millennial Kingdom.  The rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ are seen as two separate events.  Within this view, there are different rapture timing suggestions (pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, pre-wrath).  Believers will be spared from the wrath of God through the “rapture”, but this wrath is defined differently in the different rapture views.  The church is either spared from the whole or a part of the 7-year tribulation.  Jesus will return after the tribulation period ends and reign for 1000 years.  This is a popular view in Dispensational denominations.  The state of Israel is seen as significant to end times prophecy.

Postmillennialism

This view states that Jesus will return AFTER the millennium.  The rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ are seen as the same event occurring after the millennium.  This view does not believe in a literal 7-year tribulation.  Instead, tribulation involves the struggle between good and evil for the entire church age, with no separate time of worse persecution defined.  This view does not believe in a literal 1000-year millennium.  Instead, it refers to a time of peace once the gospel has been preached to all the world.  This is a popular view in Charismatic / Pentecostal denominations and is associated with Replacement Theology / Dominionism.  The state of Israel is seen as irrelevant.

Amillennialism

This view states that Satan was bound at the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Jesus could return at any time, there is no detailed time frame given.  The rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ are seen as the same event.  This view does not subscribe to a literal 7-year period of tribulation, but sees the entire church age as involving persecution and conflict.  Amillennialism also does not believe in a literal 1000-year millennium, but sees Christ’s kingdom rule as within the hearts of believers.  This is also a popular view in Charismatic / Pentecostal denominations and is associated with Replacement Theology / Dominionism.  The state of Israel is seen as irrelevant.

Conclusion

I believe in pretribulation (dispensational) premillennialism.  I believe this view is most consistent with a literal, cultural, historical, and contextual scripture study.  I encourage you to explore each of the millennial positions for yourself, to see if you agree with me!


This lesson series is a brief walk through the studies I have undertaken to get to my current understanding of End Times prophecy.  This isn’t meant to be all-inclusive so I provide links for you to explore further!  What I post here is my best insight from Scripture, but I’m only human 🙂  Thus, I urge you to search the Scripture for yourself to see if these things are so!


Further Resources:

Main Menu – Bible Prophecy Lessons

Life on Earth in the Millennium (GraceThruFaith)

What is Amillennialism? (Gotquestions)

What is Amillennialism?  (RaptureReady)

What is Premillennialism?  (Gotquestions)

What is Historic Premillennialism?  (Gotquestions)

What is Dispensational Premillennialism?  (Gotquestions)

What is Postmillennialism?  (Gotquestions)

What is Postmillennialism? (RaptureReady)

The Unscriptural Theologies of Amillennialism and Postmillennialism (RaptureReady)

Animal Sacrifice in the Millennium (GraceThruFaith)

The Church Against the Rapture (GraceThruFaith)

How to Interpret the Bible – Grace Thru Faith

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.

Lesson 3 – What Are the Major Bible Prophecy Interpretation Methods?

When talking about the study of Bible prophecy specifically, there are 4 major schools of thought – Preterism, Historicism, Futurism, and Idealism.

Biblical-prophecy

In his article Idealists, Preterists, and Futurists, Jack Kelley discusses three major schools of thought regarding Bible prophecy interpretation.  He summarizes – “When you boil it all down there are only three schools of thought for interpreting prophecy. There are idealists, who interpret prophecy symbolically and don’t expect any of it to be fulfilled in the literal sense. Then there are preterists, who see the complete fulfillment of prophecy in past events culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. And there are futurists who see the fulfillment of prophecy in events still to come. All the major views fit under one of these headings.”  An additional view is Historicism, which states that Bible prophecy covers a broad period of time from the early church until an anticipated future state of perfection.

Preterism (Past)

The preterist view sees Revelation as referring mostly to events in the past, particularly in the 1st century AD.  This view suggests that the entire prophecy of Daniel’s 70 Weeks has been fulfilled, and that Revelation is a symbolic picture of first-century struggles in the new church.  Jack Kelley summarizes:

According to the preterist interpretation, after Jesus was crucified, the Romans desecrated the Temple, and the Roman Emperor Nero fulfilled the prophecies of the coming prince, also known as the anti-Christ.

Preterists believe the day of the Lord took place in 68-70 AD with the Roman conquest of Israel. The Millennium was actually only 40 years long and took place from 30-70 AD. The Earth will last forever and there will be no coming judgment and no rapture of the Church. Since there’s no prophecy left to fulfill we’ll simply transition from time into eternity on a future day of the Lord’s choosing.

(Source: https://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/idealists-preterists-and-futurists/)

Preterism is the opposite of futurism; suggesting that all biblical prophecies concerning the “end times” have already been fulfilled.  Thus, they state that Jesus’ second coming was “spiritual” and not physical.  Gotquestions discusses some of the major flaws with this view:

Preterism teaches that the Law was fulfilled in AD 70 and God’s covenant with Israel was ended. The “new heavens and new earth” spoken of in Revelation 21:1 is, to the preterist, a description of the world under the New Covenant. Just as a Christian is made a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), so the world under the New Covenant is a “new earth.” This aspect of preterism can easily lead to a belief in replacement theology.

Preterists usually point to a passage in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse to bolster their argument. After Jesus describes some of the end-times happenings, He says, “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (Matthew 24:34). The preterist takes this to mean that everything Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24 had to have occurred within one generation of His speaking—the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was therefore “Judgment Day.”

The problems with preterism are many. For one thing, God’s covenant with Israel is everlasting (Jeremiah 31:33–36), and there will be a future restoration of Israel (Isaiah 11:12). The apostle Paul warned against those who, like Hymenaeus and Philetus, teach falsely “that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:17–18). And Jesus’ mention of “this generation” should be taken to mean the generation that is alive to see the beginning of the events described in Matthew 24.

Full preterism has some serious flaws in that it denies the physical reality of Christ’s second coming and downplays the dreadful nature of the tribulation by restricting that event to the fall of Jerusalem.

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/preterist.html

John MacArthur contends that “this view conflicts with the book’s own often repeated claim to be prophecy (1:3; 22:7,10,18,19).”

Historicism (Present)

The historicist view sees Revelation as portraying a broad view of history, from the time of the early church until perfection is achieved at some point in the future.  CARM describes historicism:

It is typical that historicists will envision the history of the world as pre-written in apocalyptic language filled with symbols and visions. The Reformers believed that major prophetic writings, such as the Book of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and the Book of Revelation revealed the rise of the Roman Catholic Church and God’s destruction of that entity. The major prophetic writings were also believed to give exhortation to the church that would be purified during the time of the Reformation.

Within historicism, majority agreement on the prophetic fulfillment of the beginning and ending of historical movements cannot be ascertained; rather, Bible prophecy provides the panorama of historical movements throughout the various ages. It equates the current church age with the tribulation based on the day-age theory. Historicists interpret literal numbers like 2,300 days (Dan 8:14) and 1,290 days (Dan 12:11) as years. They also view Bible prophecy as finding continual fulfillment in the present age. The minority view among historicists is that the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was consistent with the breaking of the seals of Revelation. The majority view is that the breaking of the first seal is consistent with the death of Domitian in AD 96. The other six seals are associated with the rise and fall of the Western Roman Empire, which would include the invasion by the German barbarians (Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and Vandals) around the middle of the fifth century.

Source: https://carm.org/scripture-chronology-prophetic-fulfillment

The issues with historicism are similar to those of preterism.

Futurism (Future)

The futurist view sees most of the book of Revelation as describing future events that have yet to be fulfilled.  Revelation 1 (and possibly 4-5) describes what John “has seen”, Revelation 2-3 describes “what is now”, and Revelation 4-22 (or alternately, 6-22) describes “what is to come”.  Futurists believe in a literal, future, prophetic fulfillment of the rapture of the church, the tribulation (70th Week of Daniel), second coming of Christ, and millennial kingdom.  The next prophetic event will be the rapture of the church; care should be taken not to attempt to overlay current events with what will occur after the rapture.

The futurist interpretation is the most literal view – the other views must allegorize some or all of the visions.  When symbolism is used, futurists look for the literal meaning behind the symbol.

John MacArthur states – “Only this view does justice to Revelation’s claim to be prophecy and interprets the book by the same grammatical-historical method as chaps. 1–3 and the rest of Scripture.” (Source: https://www.gty.org/library/bible-introductions/MSB66/the-revelation-of-jesus-christ).

Idealism (Timeless)

The idealist view sees Revelation as an allegory of the ongoing struggle between good and evil.  Because this view treats Bible prophecy as symbolic, there are many diverse opinions within this category.  Jack Kelley describes these varied interpretations thus –  “the only areas of universal agreement being that none of it will really happen as written, and the “good guys” will eventually win”.  CARM describes idealism:

Bible prophecy is not an actual record of historical events or future events. In other words, there is no single historical fulfillment. As it merely sets forth great principles that are common throughout the age of the world, Bible prophecy is applicable to believers in any age and history is almost completely separate from its fulfillment. Idealism stresses great ethical principles, hidden in symbols and metaphors, of world events that occur. The conflict between good and evil rages, but the triumph of the ages will be the victory of the good. In the idealist view, time and history for Bible prophecy are meaningless.

Source: https://carm.org/scripture-chronology-prophetic-fulfillment

John MacArthur states that the idealist approach reduces the book of Revelation (and thus, Daniel and the other Old Testament prophets as well) to a collection of stories designed to impart varied principles or truths.

Discussion

Because of our previous lesson on Is the Book of Revelation Literal, we understand that the Idealism view cannot be correct as it takes scripture figuratively.  Preterism, Historicism, and Futurism all claim to interpret prophecy literally.  They use the same scriptures in the defense of their views.  How can this be so?

When Jesus was speaking to the disciples about the end times in His olivet discourse, and even up until His ascension, the option was literally open for Israel to accept Him as Messiah.  Old Testament and Gospel prophecies had to be worded in such a way as they could have had either immediate fulfillment or delayed fulfillment.  Truly brilliant.  Jack Kelley discusses this here:

God knows the end from the beginning so He always knew the Israelites would reject the Messiah and open the door for the Gentile Church. But in order to preserve Israel’s first right of refusal regarding God’s Kingdom offer, all end times prophecy had leave Israel’s options open. If Isaiah or Daniel or any of the others had come right out and said that Israel would reject the Messiah and forfeit the Kingdom, the Lord’s instructions for the disciples to preach that “the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matt. 10:7) would not have been legitimate.

But if the prophets had clearly confirmed Israel’s acceptance then there would have been no place for the Church and history would have invalidated prophecy. The prophecies had to be given in such a way that both possibilities could legitimately exist in their fulfillment.

The way Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy reads allows both Preterists and Futurists to defend their interpretation.

I’m convinced that had the Jews accepted Jesus as their Messiah so He could die for their sins like Daniel 9:26 prophesied, there would have been no gap in the 70 weeks prophecy. The 70th Week would have begun immediately after the resurrection and would have culminated in the Risen Lord leading His armies against Rome to restore the Kingdom to Israel and usher in the time we know as the Millennium. All the 2nd Coming prophecies would have been fulfilled at that time. (From Acts 1:6 we know this is how the disciples expected it to happen.)

Their problem with God is not that they put the Messiah to death. Their problem is that they refused to allow His death to pay for their sins, and in so doing rendered His perfect sacrifice as being of even less value to them than the actual lambs that could only temporarily set their sins aside.

Because of this, James announced that Israel was being set aside while the Lord took for Himself a people from the gentiles. When He has finished doing that, He’ll turn His focus again to Israel and fulfill the remaining 70th Week (Acts 15:13-18). This was the first time on earth that a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel’s prophecy had been revealed. This is what gave gave rise to the idea that God is not finished with Israel and there’s a lot of Bible prophecy yet to be fulfilled. Paul confirmed this in Romans 11:25.

If you adhere to a strict literal interpretation of His word a careful study of prophecy will lead you to the inescapable conclusion that there has to be a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 and the Church Age is filling that gap. There’s no other way to make everything fit without having to reinterpret parts of it.

Source: https://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/idealists-preterists-and-futurists/

I personally examined the books of Revelation and Daniel specifically, and was convinced that the Futurist model best represented what I was reading.  This is definitely influenced by my belief that the Bible should be read literally, given cultural, contextual, and historical considerations.  (Jack Kelley’s article “How to Interpret the Bible” explains this well).  However, the main reason why I believe the Futurist model is most accurate is because Jesus literally fulfilled hundreds of prophecies down to minute details at His first coming.  I believe He will do so again, as it is written.

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

I encourage you to explore each of the prophecy interpretation methods for yourself, to see if you agree with me!


This lesson series is a brief walk through the studies I have undertaken to get to my current understanding of End Times prophecy.  This isn’t meant to be all-inclusive so I provide links for you to explore further!  What I post here is my best insight from Scripture, but I’m only human 🙂  Thus, I urge you to search the Scripture for yourself to see if these things are so!


Further Resources:

Main Menu – Bible Prophecy Lessons

How to Interpret the Bible – Grace Thru Faith

Idealists, Preterists, and Futurists – Grace Thru Faith

Does Scripture Indicate a Chronology for Prophetic Fulfillment? – CARM

The Revelation of Jesus Christ – John MacArthur

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.