Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

QUESTIONS ON ESCHATOLOGY

How do we know that the rapture takes place before the seventieth week (a pre-trib rapture)?

The following are some arguments:-

Simultaneous imminence and non-imminence: According to Mark 13:35-37, the return of the Lord is imminent - we do not know when it will occur and so we ought to be ready at all times. Of all the many things to happen in the future, it is the one that we ought to wait for (1 Thessalonians 1:10) as a "blessed hope (Titus 2:13). On the other hand, in Matthew 24, the most noticeable signs, including one with a known time frame (Matthew 24:15, Daniel 9:27) will precede the coming of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24:30.

How can both the above be applicable? Answer: there are two comings. The imminent one has to occur first - this is the rapture. The other coming is the more public, visible appearing, that I call the second advent. The imminence of the rapture makes it the very first event in our eschatological timetable. 

The hour of trial: The Lord Jesus promised the church at Philadelphia that he would keep them from the hour of trial that was coming (Revelation 3:10). This can be extended to the whole church (Revelation 3:13). Therefore, the church must be raptured away before the seventieth week (the hour of trial).

Wrath: The church is not appointed to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9) but to salvation. Why then should God make us go through the seventieth week, which is specifically, the period when God pours His wrath on the earth (Revelation 6:16-17)? It follows that some even should get the church out of the earth before the seventieth week. That event is the rapture.

Israel versus the Church: The seventy weeks were determined for Daniel's people (the Jews). The seventy weeks do not concern the church. God started the church in the interval between the 69th and 70th weeks. Therefore, there is no reason for us to be on earth during the seventieth week, when God is purifying Israel.

The Thessalonian Christians: They were concerned that "the day of the Lord/Christ" had already come (2 Thessalonians 2:2) - that is, the tribulation had already started. This consternation proves that they had been believing that the rapture would take place before the seventieth week and millennium (the day of the Lord). Paul tells the Thessalonians that the "day of the Lord" had not yet come - it will be preceded by three things:-

  1. Apostasy - "a falling away" (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
  2. The unveiling of the man of sin (the Antichrist) (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
  3. The departure of the restrainer of evil (2 Thessalonians 2:7)
But the restrainer of evil can only be the Holy Spirit (who else is mightier than Satan, the controller of the man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2:9)?). But how can the omnipresent, divine Spirit depart from the earth? Only in the special sense in which he once came to the earth. When was that? When the church was formed (Acts 2:1 onwards). The Holy Spirit came to indwell each member of the church (a privilege that was unavailable to the OT saints). So the departure of the Holy Spirit means that the church will depart.

We thus have a sequence:-
  1. The departure of the church and the Holy Spirit (the rapture)
  2. The "day of the Lord" (the seventieth week, Armageddon, the second advent, and the millennium)

Conclusion: The departure of the church (the rapture of 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4) precedes the return of Christ to earth mentioned in Matthew 24:30, Zechariah 12, etc.

Also see: Differences between the rapture and the second advent

Did the seventieth week (tribulation) get over in the first century?

No. The following are some arguments offered for this idea and my responses:-
 
The seventieth week has to be in the first century for Revelation to make sense to its original audience, namely, Christians from the first century. If by "make sense" you mean identify every symbol completely and have all the jigsaw pieces in place, scripture was never written with the intention that the original audience would "make sense" of it in this sense. For example, David writes in Psalm 22:16 about his hands and feet being pierced long before crucifixion was invented. No one in the original audience would "make sense" of that passage. In Psalm 45:10-11 a young woman is asked to forget her family background and marry her husband who she should also worship. It is easy for us to see the church being foreshadowed here, but the original audience had no clue about the church. Leaven was forbidden for all the Levitical offerings but at Pentecost, two loaves were to be offered with leaven. Why?! We who have seen Jew and Gentile come together in the church at Pentecost can understand, but there was no way the original audience would understand it. Examples could be multiplied. In the same way, Revelation does not have to "make sense" to the original audience. Therefore, Revelation and the Seventieth Week it describes can be in the future.
 
The Jewish war with Rome lasted 42 months (3.5 years). According to historian Josephus, the war started with the land dispute at Caesarea. This was in May, 66 AD. In August, the Jews began massacring the Roman garrisons. Roman general Cestius invaded Israel in October (he had to retreat though). General Vespasian invaded Israel in April, 67 AD. General Titus burnt down Jerusalem in September, 70 AD. The Romans destroyed Masada, the last remaining Jewish stronghold, in May, 73 AD. We thus have 4 starting dates and 2 end dates, giving 8 possible durations, none of which are 42 months.

Nero's persecution of the church lasted for 42 months. Nero started persecuting the church after the fire of 18th July 64. He lost control of the Roman Empire in March 68 and died in June 68. So the duration of his persecution of the church is either 44 or 47 months.

Nero is the Beast. Nero could NOT be the beast because he was the sixth Roman Emperor whereas the beast is eighth in a series of kings/kingdoms (Revelation 17:11). On the Seventieth Week page, I have listed several things the Bible mentions the Beast doing. Nero did not do most of these things.

Revelation 6-19 records a large number of cataclysmic events that simply did not take place in the first century. Besides, the current age does not match the features of the Millennium which should follow the seventieth week.

Will the world be Christianized for Christ to come and reign?

No. Here are some reasons:–

Christ forces Himself on the earth: In Revelation 19:1 onwards, we see Christ coming down to rule on the earth. The entire narrative makes it clear that He will set up His kingdom by force. Rather than welcome him, the world will "mourn" (Matthew 24:30) because they don't want him!

Who is making what ready for whom? The Lord Jesus told his disciples that he was going to prepare a place for them, so that "where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:3). The belief expressed in the question is a reversal of what the Lord Jesus said. -We- are supposedly preparing a place for -Him-, here on this earth instead of in His Father's house!

The first century Christians: They showed no evidence of such a belief. Paul and others ignored the government and went about preaching the gospel - in the process, - individuals- got saved.

Things will get worse, not better: In the church context, the Bible says that the end times will be characterized by great apostasy and rebellion (2 Timothy 3:1). Similarly, Jesus raised the issue of whether he will find any faith when he comes (Luke 18:8). We conclude that things will get worse, not better while the church is here on earth. The last days revival of Joel 2:28 pertains to Israel, not the church, and will take place after Jesus forces his way on earth.

Why does Revelation 20:4-5 use the term "First resurrection" if it takes place after the rapture?

Revelation 20:4,5 which mentions “the first resurrection” occurs in the account of our Lord’s second coming to the earth (Rev 19 and 20). Let me make some observations:-

  1. The people mentioned as resurrected in 20:4 are only the martyrs of the Great Tribulation. Rev 20:4 says nothing about the believers since Pentecost.
  2. The mention of “the first resurrection” occurs after the marriage of the Lamb (Rev 19:7-9).
  3. The bride is mentioned as being made of “saints” – her garments are the righteousness of the saints.
  4. The bride wears “fine linen” (19:8)
  5. After the marriage, John sees the Lord Jesus on his way to the earth. He is accompanied by armies dressed in “fine linen”.
  6. This suggests that the armies are the saints themselves, the bride.
  7. But the bride of Christ is the church (Ephesians 5:31-32)
  8. Thus, Christ already has his bride (church) with him before the mention of the first resurrection in Rev 20:4.
  9. Thus, the church (bride) must have been raptured to Christ as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 before the events in Rev 20:4.

However, this “rapture” would be a resurrection. How then, is the event in Rev 20:4 called the FIRST resurrection? Actually it's not: the verse says: "This: the first resurrection" [The word "is" is in italics and thus is not part of the original]. Thus, Rev 20:4 cannot be taken to mean: "This, and this alone is the first resurrection". Then what is the meaning? Verses 5 and 6 give us a clue: in these verses, the first resurrection is mentioned as belonging to those who do not experience the second death. It thus refers to the resurrection of all God’s people up to the commencement of the millennium. This includes:-

  1. The New Testament believers – resurrected before the 70th week starts: 1 Thessalonians 4:17; We meet our Lord in the air.
  2. The Old Testament saints – resurrected at the end of the seventieth week – Daniel 12; These people will see the Lord Jesus upon the earth [Job 19:25-26].
  3. The tribulation martyrs – resurrected at the end of the seventieth week, on the earth with Christ: Rev 20:4

It seems like TWO resurrections chronologically, but it is ONE resurrection in terms of the common feature that binds all that attain it – they are people of God by faith. This ONE resurrection (the FIRST resurrection) is contrasted with the second in Rev 20:5 – which is for “the rest of the dead” – these are the unbelievers who only face judgment and God’s wrath.

When will the temple be rebuilt?

As of now, the temple mount (the mountain on which the earlier temples were located) is in Muslim hands. In the present political situation, it is not possible for the Israelis to construct a temple. The seventieth week starts with the treaty that the Antichrist makes with the Israelis, thus bringing an end to the conflict between Israel and the Arabs (Daniel 9:27). After 3.5 years, the Antichrist will go back on his word (Daniel 9:27) and will demand worship, sitting in the "temple of God". Thus there will be a temple during the seventieth week - perhaps part of his treaty with the Jews. However, when the Lord Jesus comes, He certainly won't make do with this temple (perhaps this temple will be destroyed in the battle of Armageddon?). He will himself build (another) temple (Zechariah 6:12).

How close is the rapture? What signs can we expect to see when the end becomes near?

The Bible does not specify the time of the rapture, but some recent events have made our world look more "ripe" for the fulfillment of end time prophecies than before.

Israel is re-established as a nation. Such a development is a prerequisite for some prophecies to be fulfilled, such as the war in Ezekiel 38, the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15), the covenant of Daniel 9:27, etc.

Technology for the beast: If the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:16) is not merely a mark, but involves some identification technology to enforce the financial restrictions mentioned in Revelation 13:17, the technology is ready. Kevin Warwick already has a chip on his forehead with a minor surgery which automatically enables doors to open after reading it for him. He says the most convenient location is the right hand or forehead.

Ecumenism is unifying all counterfeit Christianity, setting the stage for the fulfillment of Revelation 17. 

Itching ears: In the last days, people will hire teachers to teach them their pet false doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3). In all of Christian history, the masses never demanded and determined what the preachers preached. The preachers (whether they were true men of God or "clergy" appointed by a hierarchical system such as the Roman Catholicism) preached whatever God laid upon their heart (or whatever they were told to preach by the higher ups). Today, it is different. There are many preachers who come on TV, or sell books or CDs related to their sermons, music, and so on. Needless to say, the more the sales, the (financially) better for the preacher, and thus a situation prevails today in which many teachers preach a watered down message that has more to do with psychology based pep talk than the word of God

Self-love: In 2 Timothy 3:1, we learn that people in the last days will be lovers of their own selves, heady, high-minded Today, psychologists have made our society obsessed with self - self-esteem, self image, self-perception, self-realization,..., the list goes on. 

Pleasure: In 2 Timothy 3:4, we see that people of the last days will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. The unprecedented obsession with entertainment today fits with the verse.

Despising good: In 2 Timothy 3:3, we are told that people of the last days will be despisers of that which is good. The increasingly anti-Christian nature of popular culture fits this trend. 

Rumors of war: The Lord Jesus said that the last days will be characterized by wars, rumors of wars, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, and so on. The frequency with which these occur today seems quite high, again suggesting that the end is near. 

The trends are visible. What we do not know is how much further these trends will progress before the rapture takes place.

What is the number of the beast? Who will be the Antichrist?

The Bible mentions 666 as the number of the beast. It also says that it is the number of a man (Rev 13:8). However, we can't be sure about who the Antichrist will be, since we do not have the necessary information from the Bible. The one thing we can be sure of is that he has to be a Roman, since it was the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem and the temple (Daniel 9:26)

Could Jerusalem be the harlot of Revelation 17?

No, because:-

The harlot is linked to Babylon. Therefore, the harlot must be located at Babylon itself, or have roots in Babylon. From secular and Biblical history, we read that Babylon was the root of false religion and rebellion against the true God (see Genesis 11, for example). Therefore, the harlot must represent paganism in Christian garb - a paganism that goes back to Babylon. Although the Jews were apostate - substituting rabbinical tradition for God's word (Mark 7:13) and rejecting their Messiah - they did not adopt Babylonian paganism.

She sits on many waters (Rev 17:1) which symbolize nations (Rev 17:15).

The harlot was "filthy rich" (Revelation 17:4). Jerusalem was an impoverished, oppressed city from 600 BC to 70 AD, when it was destroyed.

The ten horns (Revelation 17:16), which represent 10 kings (Revelation 17:12) destroy the harlot. In contrast, Jerusalem was destroyed by general Titus acting under Roman Emperor Vespasian.

The harlot is drunk with the blood of true Christians (Revelation 17:6). Since the Jewish persecution of Christians has been "peanuts" compared to the Roman (pagan plus Catholic) persecution of true Christians, Jerusalem cannot be the harlot.

The harlot has a golden chalice in her hand (Revelation 17:4). Such a symbol is foreign to Jerusalem.

The harlot's cup is "full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication" (Revelation 17:4). This does not describe first century Jerusalem; it was spiritually dead and hard-hearted, but not filthy with fornication. The word "fornication" could mean literal sexual immorality or, metaphorically, idolatry (worship of false gods). Jerusalem did not have more of either than any other city (in fact, it definitely had less of the latter).

The harlot is "that great city that rules over the kings of the earth" (Revelation 17:18), hardly a description of first century (or 21st century) Jerusalem.

Get to know the real harlot

Is there a connection between the feasts in Leviticus and the end time events?

Absolutely! This connection is one among many features of the Bible that point to its divine inspiration. The following is a listing of the Feasts of Jehovah in Leviticus along with their prophetic significance:

Feast # 1: Passover
It symbolizes the Lord's death: "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" - 1 Co 5: 7. Note that Jesus died exactly on the passover, between 3 pm and 6 pm, when the Passover lambs all across Jerusalem were being slain. The connection is obvious - just as the Israelite households escaped God's wrath because of the blood on their doors, Christ's blood on our hearts is a covering for our sins and we escape the wrath from God the Father.

Feast # 2: Unleavened bread
It was kept for 7 days immediately after the Passover and symbolizes the communion of the saints, and the holiness of the believer, since leaven is a symbol in scripture for sin (1 Co 5:8)

Feast # 3: Firstfruits
This is also in the first month, 3 days after passover. A sheaf of the firstfruits is offered. Needless to say, this was fulfilled when Jesus rose from the dead. Indeed, we read: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept." - 1 Co 15:20

Feast # 4: Pentecost
This was 50 days after Firstfruits (in the 3rd month). The two loaves of leavened bread are offered only on that day. These loaves signify the Gentiles and Israel, both of whom are sinful.  (Romans 1 explains the sinfulness of the Gentiles and chapter 2 that of the Jews. Chapter 3 says all have sinned). This interpretation is suggested by Ephesians 2:11-19. Sure enough, what happened on Pentecost? The Holy Spirit descended and the church was formed. Although not obvious at the start, it soon became evident that the church was to be composed of Jews as well as Gentiles (Acts 11:18, Ephesians 3:4-6)

All males were required to be there at Jerusalem for the Passover, the Pentecost and the Atonement.

The 4, 5 and 6th months are the time of harvest; These months represent the current period - the harvest is ripe (Luke 10:2).

The first 4 feasts were fulfilled on the days on which they occurred! So it is natural to assume that the remaining 3 will also be fulfilled within the time corresponding to their yearly dates. (1 month, for all are in the 7th month)

Feast # 5: Trumpets
This occurs on the 7th month, 1st day and symbolizes the ingathering of Israel. After Jesus lands on Mt Olives, the trumpet is blown - Mt 24:31, and this feast will be fulfilled as the Jewish diaspora returns home.

Feast # 6: The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
This was to be a most solemn day of repentance and cleansing (1 day, the 10th day of the 7th month). This is the day on which the high priest enters the most holy place. The deliverer will come from Sion (Rom 11:26), not Bethlehem. Needless to say, this represents the time shortly after Jesus' landing on Mount Olives (10 minus 1 = 9 days) when God says "I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son]" (Zech 12:10).

Feast # 7: Tabernacles/Booths
This is for 7 days, from the 15th to the 22nd day of the 7th month - the Israelites would dwell in booths. This is symbolic of the millennium - God is staying with us. Thus on the 15th day, the Millenium will be inaugurated. 7 days is symbolic of completeness.

In prophecy, does the sea refer to Gentile nations and land to the land of Israel?

Yes. In Daniel 7 we have a prophetic vision in which four beasts arise out of the sea. The angel tells Daniel that these beasts represent "four kings that shall arise out of the earth". Thus the sea represents the earth, that is the world, with all its people groups, out of which kings and kingdoms arise.

In Daniel 12:2,3, we're told about the resurrection of those (people of Israel, see Daniel 12:1) that sleep in the earth [land] - they will be judged by the Lord Jesus when he touches down in Israel - because he lands on the Mount of Olives in Israel.

Job says: "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth [land]"

This is a remarkable prophecy for a guy as old as Job. Now, we know that the Lord Jesus will stand on Israel.

This establishes that the earth/land represents Israel. This enables us to identify the "another beast" of Rev 13:16 as a renegade Israeli leader. (There's no shortage of renegade Israeli politicians even today!)