ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND APPRECIATION
At HEAVENLY REMNANT MINISTRIES, we have decided to write a book on End Time Prophecies and proper biblical eschatology. SAMANTHA KELLEY at GRACE THRU FAITH MINISTRY has granted us permission to use their material for research and incorporation, upon agreed terms and conditions, for which we are extremely grateful.
Samantha’s late husband, JACK KELLEY, published over 9,000 Bible Study resources on their website from 1999, until the Lord called him home in the fall of 2015. His teachings made the Bible clear and easy to understand, and impacted millions of lives. Samantha maintains their site as well as their missionary outreaches.
The storms, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, wars and rumours of war and diseases dominating our news, the signs are clear that we are living in the latter days. It is therefore surprising how little most Christians actually know about prophecy, especially since by some accounts it comprises approximately 35% of the Bible’s content, more than any other topic.
The purpose of this article is to provide a solid foundation for further study and will serve as the basis for the book, planned by HEAVENLY REMNANT MINISTRIES. With a solid foundation, powerful arguments from scoffers and unbelievers cannot shake us or weaken our faith.
This article mainly contains extractions from JACK KELLEY’S excellent book, called “SEVEN THINGS YOU HAVE TO KNOW TO UNDERSTAND END TIME PROPHECY.”
SEVEN THINGS YOU HAVE TO KNOW
There are seven pieces of information that are essential to understanding End Times Prophecy. These seven things are the building blocks for the strong foundation we want.
They are, 1) The Sequence of Major End Time Events, 2) The Destiny of the Three Components of Humanity, 3) The Purpose and Length of the Great Tribulation, 4) The Purpose of the Rapture, 5) The Conditions Surrounding the 2nd Coming, 6) The Purpose and Length of the Millennium, and 7) Eternity.
This combination of facts will give you the ability to put all the prophetic verses in the Bible into their proper context.
1) THE SEQUENCE OF MAJOR END TIME EVENTS
The sequence in which major End Times events will occur is very logical. The best way to figure it out is to perform a back scheduling exercise. It involves going to the very end of a process and identifying the final outcome. Then you list all the things that have to happen to produce that outcome. Then you put them in reverse order, backing into the present. First, we will list the major events then we will organize them.
There are 9 major events, namely the 2nd Coming , Eternity, the Rapture of the Church, the Great Tribulation, the Millennial Kingdom, Daniel’s 70th Week, the Battles of Ezekiel 38-39, Psalm 83and Isaiah 17. Now let’s organize them, beginning with the obvious ones first.
THE ORDER OF EVENTS
Eternity is the final outcome, so we begin there. But the last major event described in detail in the Bible is the Kingdom Age or Millennium, when Jesus will reign on earth for a 1000 years. Eternity cannot happen utill the Millennium is over.
The Millennium obviously can only begin after the Second Coming. And according to Matt. 24:29-30 the Second Coming would not happen until the end of the Great Tribulation. And that cannot happen till the Antichrist stands in the Temple in Israel declaring himself to be God (2 Thes. 2:4). That is the event Jesus warned Israel to look for as the Great Tribulation’s starts. He called it “The Abomination of Desolation” in Matt. 24:15-21. Daniel 9:27 indicates it will happen in the middle of the last seven-year period, which scholars call Daniel’s 70th Week. But the Abomination cannot happen until there is a Temple.
The 70th Week cannot begin until the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 is won because God will use that battle to awaken Israel and reinstate His covenant with them. In Romans 11:25 Paul said Israel has been hardened in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in, a reference to the rapture of the Church, after which Israel will be saved. That means the rapture has to happen before the Battle of Ezekiel 38.
When we put the Sequence of Major Events in its proper order, it looks like this:
1. The Rapture of the Church,
2. The Battle of Ezekiel 38,
3. Daniel’s 70th week begins,
4. The Great Tribulation,
5. The 2nd Coming,
6. The Millennium,
RAPTURE OR EZEKIEL 38 WAR – WHICH ONE FIRST?
To those who read Scripture as it is written, only two of the events in this sequence are subject to debate as to timing. These are the Rapture of the Church and the Battle of Ezekiel 38, the first two on our list.
So let’s find out why they have to be where we have placed them in the sequence. We start with Ezekiel’s battle and work back to the Rapture.
“And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. The house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God, from that day forward.
Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, because I sent them into exile among the nations and then assembled them into their own land. I will leave none of them remaining among the nations anymore. And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezek 39:21-22, 28-29)
The Lord has declared in no uncertain terms that He’s going to use Ezekiel’s battle to spiritually awaken His people and call them to Israel from all over the world. This will result in the reinstatement of their Old Covenant relationship, reviving Daniel’s long-dormant “70-Weeks” prophecy for its final seven years and requiring that a Temple be constructed. Both the Old and New Testaments refer to a Temple in Israel at the End of the Age. Without one there’s no way for them to keep His covenant.
This was proven once before in history during the Babylonian captivity. When Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the 1st Temple, Israel ceased to exist. But as soon as Cyrus the Persian defeated Babylon and freed the Jews, they returned to Israel and began building a Temple before they did anything else. Without a Temple there’s no sacrifice for sin, and without that sacrifice, Jews cannot approach God.
But this means that their Muslim neighbours should be out of the way. Ezekiel’s battle results in both a Jewish nation re-awakened to the presence of God in their national life and an utterly defeated Muslim attack force in no position to resist. For these reasons, Ezekiel’s battle has to take place on the threshold of Daniel’s 70th week. Now why does the Rapture of the Church have to precede Ezekiel’s battle?
Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)
According to Ezek. 37:7-10, Israel would be reborn first in unbelief. Paul said they will remain partially estranged from God until the Gentile Church reaches its full complement (predetermined number) and arrives at its destination. (The Greek words translated “come in” in Romans 11:25 means to arrive at a designated place.)
God will use Ezekiel’s battle to begin His work with the Jews by renewing the Old Covenant with them, later transitioning Israel from the Old Covenant to the New toward the end of the Great Tribulation (Zech 12:10). He is picking them up where they left off.
After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,
‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’ (Acts 15:13-18)
After He had taken this “people for His name” (Christians) from among the Gentiles he would return and rebuild His Temple. The Greek words translated taken means to carry something away or remove it from its place, so the passage implies that He would take the Church somewhere and then come back to rebuild the Temple, restore Israel, and give what’s left of mankind one final chance to seek Him.
These three Bible prophecies make it clear that as the End of the Age approaches, God will begin preparing Israel to be His once more. But He won’t be exclusively focused on them until He has finished building the Church and has taken us to our appointed place. And where is that? In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3) (He didn’t promise to come back to be with us here where we are, but to take us there, where He is.) After that, He would see to Israel’s reawakening and the construction of their Temple.
Those seven years, called the 70th Week of Daniel, have to be fulfilled to complete the Old Covenant. The Old and New covenants, as practiced in Israel and the Church, are theologically incompatible, and therefore the two can only be on Earth at the same time while Israel is out of covenant. For Israel to return to the Lord, the Church has to be gone.
For this reason, the rebirth of Israel in 1948 and the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 are seen as the most important signs of all that the End of the Age is upon us.
PSALM 83 AND ISAIAH 17
There are two events we haven’t put into the sequence yet, because they are not easy to locate there. These are the battles of Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17. When Israel wins these two battles all their next door enemies will be defeated and they will enter into a brief period of peace that sets the stage for Ezekiel’s Battle (Ezekiel 38:11). They’re called battles instead of wars which means they’ll be of short duration and can happen within a fairly short span of time. They can come either before or after the Rapture but do have to happen before the Battle of Ezekiel 38 takes place.
2) THE DESTINY OF THE COMPONENTS OF HUMANITY
It is of utmost importance to consider whom the Lord, or one of His prophets, is addressing. Just because something is in the Gospels does not necessarily mean that it is for the Church, or being in Isaiah that it is only for Israel.
His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. (Ephes. 2:15-16)
Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks (Gentiles) or the church of God. (1 Cor. 10:32)
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28)
In the 4,000 or so years from the Creation to the Cross, the human race came to be divided into three distinct components from God’s perspective. From the Creation there was one race of Humans, the family of man, later called Gentiles. Then in Genesis 12, God called Abraham to build a great nation. He and his descendants were first called Hebrews (Genesis 14:13), and later Jews (Ezra 4:12). From that time on, the world’s population was either Jew or Gentile. But at the cross God created the Church, taken from among both Jews and Gentiles. Now there were three, and everyone on Earth belongs to of one of them. In his epistles, Paul always took pains to distinguish the Church from both Jews and Gentiles, in effect calling the Church a new race of Human in the passages cited above. I’ll describe each group’s destiny so you can see how different they are.
DESTINY OF THE GENTILES
According to Isaiah 56:6-8, Gentiles who converted to Judaism before the cross became part of Israel and share its destiny as long as they died in faith of a coming Redeemer. Gentiles who are born again during the Church Age become part of the church and after the Rapture/Resurrection will populate the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:27). Many of us were taught to call it Heaven, but heaven is a separate entity. (More on this in our discussion of the Millennium, item 6 on our list of 7 things.)
Gentiles who meet the Lord after the rapture are called tribulation saints. If they are martyred for their faith, their spirits will go to serve God in His Temple (Rev 7:13-17) and will be joined with resurrection bodies at the time of the 2nd Coming (Rev. 20:4). If they survive the Great Tribulation, they will help re-populate the nations of Earth in the Kingdom age (Millennium).
DESTINY OF THE JEWS (REFUTING REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY)
The spirits of Jews who died in faith of a coming redeemer before Jesus went to the cross were taken into Heaven with Him after His resurrection (Matt. 27:52-53). They will also receive resurrection bodies at the Second Coming (Daniel 12:1-3). Jews who are born again during the Church age become part of the Church and after the Rapture/Resurrection will also populate the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:27). Jews who receive Jesus as their Messiah after the rapture will be hidden in the Jordanian desert (Petra) during the Great Tribulation (Rev. 12:14). Along with their Old Testament counterparts, they will dwell in Israel during the Millennium (Ezekiel 43:6-7).
Whether Jew or Gentile, those who don’t do any of the above during their lifetimes will be tormented in Hell until they’re brought back to life to stand trial at the Great White Throne judgment of Revelation 20:11-15. It takes place at the end of the Millennium. At that time, they’ll be sentenced to eternal suffering in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:14).
In the Old Testament, God promised Israel that He would return one day to dwell among them in their land on Earth forever (Ezekiel 43:6-7). In the New Testament, Jesus promised the Church that He would come back and take us to be with Him in His Father’s House (John 14:1-3). Both promises come true. Israel is not the Church nor is the Church Israel, and both groups are distinct from the Gentile nations. Much of the confusion surrounding End Times prophecy results either from the failure to understand, or the refusal to accept, this truth.
For instance, many Christians today believe that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s plan and has inherited all of Israel’s blessings. Israel no longer serves any purpose in the world, they think, so when God talks about Israel in the New Testament, He really means the Church. Therefore, they misunderstand the Doctrine of Election, the Olivet Discourse, the Great Tribulation, and other New Testament teachings having to do with Israel.
Also, many Gentiles sit in pews on Sundays and think they’re in the church even though they’re not born again. They think they’re saved because they try to live a good life, or give money, or belong to a particular denomination. They’re wrongly convinced that the Church’s blessings are theirs.
3) THE PURPOSE AND LENGTH OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION
How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it. I am with you and will save you,’ declares the LORD. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’ (Jeremiah 30:7,11)
Jesus said that the Great Tribulation would be the most intense period of judgment the world has ever seen, greater than the World Wars, and even greater than the Flood of Noah. He said that if it was left to run its course, not a single human being would survive. But for the sake of His people, He would stop it at its appointed time. (Matt. 24:22)
The purpose of the Great Tribulation is two-fold. It is explained in the Jeremiah passage above, where it is called by its Old Testament name, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. God will use it to completely destroy the nations among whom His people, Israel, have been scattered, and to discipline Israel, purifying them to dwell with Him in the Promised Land. The Church, being purified at the cross, requires neither destruction nor discipline and has no business in the Great Tribulation.
The length of the Great Tribulation is variously given as 3 1/2 years (Daniel 12:7), 42 months (Rev. 11:2), or 1260 days (Rev. 12:6). If you use a 12 month 30-day calendar for a total of 360 days in a year, these three measurements all turn out to be the same length. Daniel 12 was written several hundred years before the Lord spoke on the matter, John wrote Revelation 60 years after the resurrection. So it’s length was made clear in testimony given both before the Lord’s time and after it. Matt. 24:22 is to explain that if the Lord doesn’t return to put an end to the Great Tribulation at the appointed time, no one would survive it, but for the sake of His elect He will return to put an end to it.
Also, Daniel 9:27 warns that an Abomination That Causes Desolation will occur in the middle of the last seven years, or 3 1/2 years from the end. In Matt. 24:21 Jesus identified this event as the official beginning of the Great Tribulation. Paul confirms this and adds detail by describing the Antichrist standing in the Temple proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thes. 2:4) This confirms the length of the Great Tribulation as being 3 1/2 years.
The Abomination That Causes Desolation is a particular defilement of the Temple that has happened only once in history. In 168 BC. Syrian King Antiochus Epiphanes captured the Temple and converted it into a pagan worship center. He erected a statue of Zeus with his own face on it in the Holy Place, thereby proclaiming himself to be God, and demanded the Jews worship it on pain of death. It was called the Abomination That Causes Desolation because it made the Temple unfit for use and triggered the 3 1/2 year Maccabean Revolt. The Jewish re-capture and cleansing of the Temple in 165 BC is celebrated in the eight-day Feast of Hanukkah.
To summarize, Daniel spoke of an Abomination That Causes Desolation that would mark the middle of the last 7 years. An event called the Abomination That Causes Desolation in 1st Maccabees took place in 168 BC, over 300 years later. But 200 years after that, Jesus told His Disciples that the people of Israel should watch for a future Abomination That Causes Desolation and referred to Daniel’s prophecy in doing so (Matt. 24:15-21). He said it would kick off the Great Tribulation. Paul also described a future event similar to the one in 168BC saying the “Day of the Lord” could not precede it (2 Thes. 2:3-4).
People know to look for a man standing in the Temple calling himself God and demanding that his image be worshiped. Jesus told those living in Judea (Israel) that when they see it to flee into hiding immediately, for the Great Tribulation then have begun.
4) THE PURPOSE OF THE RAPTURE
They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thes. 1:9-10)
The Greek word translated from in the above passage is apo. Literally it means to keep the subject (us) away from the time, place, or any relation to the event being referenced, in this case the coming wrath. This verse is one of several that explain the purpose of the Rapture of the Church.
After Revelation 3 the church is not seen on Earth again until we come back with the Lord in Rev. 21:2, as predicted in Rev. 17:14. In Rev. 4 John sees a door standing open in heaven and is told to “Come up here!” Instantly he finds himself in the spirit, standing before the throne of God at the end of the age. He has been transported to the time of the Rapture.
He sees 24 elders there, seated on thrones of their own around the throne of God. They are all dressed in white with crowns of gold on their heads. They bow down before the Lord and place their crowns at his feet giving honour and glory to him. In chapter 5 they call themselves Kings and Priests as they sing praises to God. By their titles, clothing, crowns, thrones, and activities it is clear that they represent the raptured church.
There are four Old Testament views of the Throne of God. Those in Isaiah 6:1-4 and Ezekiel 1 and 10 do not include these 24 elders. The one in Daniel 7:9-10, an end of the age vision, hints at multiple thrones but offers no detail. But in the Book of Revelation, the 24 elders are mentioned 12 times. Some group has arrived in Heaven that was not there in Old Testament times, and 12 is the number of government. It is the Church, come to rule and reign with Christ.
So the Church is Raptured in chapter 4, and is shown in heaven in chapter 5, while on Earth God’s wrath is loosed in chapter 6 as the passage above clearly states. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians was written in 51AD and contains the very first clear mention of a Rapture ever given.
So if the Rapture is so important for us, then why did Jesus never mention it? 1 Cor. 2:6-10 gives us the answer. “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.”
The phrase “rulers of this age” refers to Satan & Co. Had they known the astonishing abundance of blessings the Lord would shower down upon those who accept His death as payment for their sins, they would have done everything in their power to prevent the crucifixion. “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15).
Now read two of Paul’s most popular Rapture disclosures. “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thes 4:15-17).
“Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (1 Thes. 5:1-5). “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Chris”. (1 Thes. 5:9).
Rapture is a word of Latin origin, not Hebrew or Greek, the languages of the Bible. (The earliest translation of the Bible was into Latin, and the term rapture comes from there.) Its Greek equivalent is harpazo, which is found in the Greek text of 1 Thes. 4:15-17. When translated into English, both words mean “to be caught up, or snatched away.”
5) CONDITIONS SURROUNDING THE 2ND COMING
A couple of days before He was arrested, Jesus had a private conversation with four of His disciples, His inner circle. They were Peter and Andrew, and James and John, two pairs of brothers. The purpose of the conversation was to answer questions they had asked Him about the 2nd Coming and the End of the Age. They were confused because according to the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 these events were only seven years away, and yet Jesus had just told them the Temple and all the surrounding buildings would be torn down so completely that not one stone would be left standing on another. He had told the crowds the same thing on Palm Sunday and said it was going to happen because the nation hadn’t recognized the time of His coming to them (Luke 19:44).
His response to the disciples’ questions is contained in Matt. 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Theologians call it the Olivet Discourse because the conversation took place on the Mount of Olives.
His answer to their questions begins in Matt. 24:4 with a general overview. He said false Messiahs would deceive many and that there would be wars and rumours of war, but they wouldn’t be signalling the end. He characterized them, along with famines and earthquakes in various places, as the beginning of birth pangs. Birth pangs tell an expectant mother the labour and delivery are coming, but do not say exactly when they will take place.
He said they (the Jews) would be persecuted and put to death and hated by all nations, causing many to turn away from the faith and even betray each other, but those who stand firm to the end would be saved. Then He finished His summary in Matt. 24:14, saying the gospel would be preached in all nations, and then the end would come. (According to Rev. 14:6-7, this prophecy will be fulfilled by an angel shortly after the Great Tribulation begins.)
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24:15-16).
These two verses give us the first specific clues as to both the intended audience and the timing of His answer. The Holy Place is the Jewish Temple, and the abomination that causes desolation is a specific defilement that makes it unfit for further use. The last Temple to stand in Israel was destroyed in 70 AD before this prophecy could be fulfilled. The nation itself ceased to exist about 135 AD and did not reappear until 1948. But because there is still no Temple there, the prophecy remains unfulfilled. In addition, it’s directed to those who are in Judea, the Biblical name for Israel. The Lord was warning people in Israel who will be alive when a Temple is being built there to watch for this, and when they see it to flee immediately.
“Pray that your flight will not take place in Winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will” (Matt. 24:20-21).
The mountains of Judea are treacherous in the winter, and Jews are forbidden under the Law to travel more than 1000 paces on the Sabbath for any reason. This confirms that the warning is intended for latter-day Israel, back in its Old Covenant relationship at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, 3½ years from the Second Coming. The Church will already be gone.
Then in Matt 24:29 He said that immediately after the tribulation ends, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” When they see these signs they will know that The Great Tribulation has ended.
Matt 24:30 has people on Earth seeing the Sign of the Son of Man in the sky, and then His visible return to Earth with power and great glory. This will cause all the peoples of the Earth to mourn. It is now too late for them to be saved and they intuitively realize it. This is the Lord’s Second Coming.
Matt 24:36 begins with “No one knows about that day or hour …” The specific timing of the 2nd coming is shrouded in mystery. No less than four times within a span of 27 verses Jesus said the people alive on Earth at the time will not know the day or hour of His coming in advance (Matt. 24:36, 42-44, 50, Matt. 25:13).
Matt 25 begins with the phrase “At that time, …” which is the time immediately following the 2nd Coming, and contains three illustrations the Lord used to describe judgments He will conduct after He returns.
THE PARABLE OF TEN VIRGINS
Matt. 25:1-13 is a story about ten young women waiting for a bridegroom to come. All have oil lamps, but because they have been waiting a long time, five have run out of oil and are trying to buy more when he arrives. Lacking oil, they are denied entry into the Wedding Banquet. This parable is sometimes used to illustrate the precarious position of “backsliders” in the Church, but even if you disregard the problem with timing almost everything about that interpretation is wrong.
First, if oil is being used symbolically here then the principle of Expositional Constancy demands that it represent the Holy Spirit. This principle says that when things are used symbolically in Scripture, the symbolic use is consistent. For example, yeast (leaven) always symbolizes sin, and oil always symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Can the Church lose the Holy Spirit, or exhaust our supply of Him? Ephesians 1:13 and 2 Cor. 1:21-22 both say that the Holy Spirit has been sealed within us as a guarantee of our inheritance, and that it happened solely because we believed the Gospel message. There is nothing anyone anywhere can do to change that.
But no such guarantee is indicated for Tribulation saints. In fact Rev. 16:15 specifically warns them to stay awake and maintain their righteousness, symbolized by keeping their clothes with them. (Clothing is often used to represent righteousness, as in Isaiah 61:10). Rev. 16:15 implies that Tribulation saints are responsible for remaining steadfast in their faith to avoid losing their salvation. Matt. 25:8 agrees, telling us that all ten virgins had oil in their lamps at the beginning, but the five foolish ones did not have enough to carry them through.
Second, these ten women are called virgins or bridesmaids, but never the Bride. Conversely, the Church is the Bride, and is never called a bridesmaid! And when did you ever hear of a bride having to plead with the groom for admission to her own wedding banquet?
Third, it looks like these young women are trying to get into the Seudas Mitzvah (wedding feast), a banquet that follows the wedding ceremony. If so, none of them made it to the actual marriage ceremony, oil or not, so none of them can be the bride. In fact, there is no bride mentioned anywhere in this parable.
These virgins are not the Church. They represent Tribulation saints trying to get into the Millennial Kingdom. Five were saved in the time between the Rapture and the end of the Great Tribulation (signified by the oil), remained steadfast, and are welcomed in. The five without oil when He arrived did not remain steadfast and lost their place.
THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS
In Matt 25:14, at the beginning, the word “again” indicates the same time period as the parable of the 10 Virgins, the Day of His Coming.
A talent was a Greek unit of measure, usually monetary. In this parable, a talent represents something valuable to the Lord that he wished to have invested on His behalf. Upon his return, He asks those to whom he had entrusted it what they have accomplished.
Those who teach that the talents are gifts given to the Church to be used wisely, producing a measurable return, have not read the last verse of the parable. The servant who buried his talent in the ground and produced nothing with it was thrown into the outer darkness, the destiny of unbelievers. Surely, the Lord is not teaching a works-based salvation here or threatening us with the loss of our salvation if we do not produce enough with the gifts He gave us!
Reading the Bible, it is clear that money isn’t important to the Lord. But Psalm 138:2 says that He values His Word above all else. Therefore, the talents represent His Word. Those who sow it into the hearts of others find that it multiplies in new believers. Those who study it find that their own understanding grows, multiplying their faith.
But those who ignore His word find that it is like burying it in the ground. Out of sight, out of mind, until what little they began with is lost to them. This proves it never held any value for them, and condemns them as unbelievers, to be cast into the outer darkness. They had heard the truth and ignored it. Now it is too late. In 2 Thes. 2:10 Paul describes them as those who perish because they refused to love the Truth and so be saved. Some will bear the further responsibility of having led their followers astray by their refusal to teach the truth.
In His Word, the Lord laid out every action He would take regarding His plan for Planet Earth. “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets,” He said (Amos 3:7). Again the point is that some who survive the Great Tribulation will be welcomed into the Kingdom and some won not, and faith is the determining factor.
THE SHEEP AND THE GOAT JUDGMENT
Matt. 25:31 leaves no doubt as to its timing. It begins “When the Son of Man comes … ” and goes on to talk about the Lord setting up His throne on Earth after His return for the judgment of the nations, actually a judgment of Gentile tribulation saints. The Lord does not judge nations in the eternal sense, only individuals. The Greek word here is ethnos, and means “people of every kind.” They will be judged by how they treated “His brothers” during the Great Tribulation. It has been called the Sheep and Goat judgment, with the sheep being those who helped His brothers through the horrific times just past and goats being those who did not.
Some say His brothers are believers, whether Jew or Gentile, and others say they are specifically Jews, but the most important point is that these tribulation survivors aren’t being judged by their works. Their works are being cited as evidence of their faith, as in James 2:18. To give aid to a believer, especially a Jew, during the Great Tribulation will take even more courage than it did in Hitler’s Germany, and according to some will be an offense punishable by death. Only a follower of Jesus, certain of His eternal destiny, would dare do it or even want to. Those who helped “His brothers” will have demonstrated their faith by their works and will be ushered live into the Kingdom. Those who refused to help will have condemned themselves to the outer darkness by this evidence of their lack of faith.
All three illustrations teach the same lesson. Surviving believers go live into the Kingdom. Some will have relied exclusively on the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith, as in the Parable of the 10 Virgins. Others will have multiplied their faith by studying and sharing His word, as in the Parable of the Talents. Still others have put their faith into action, risking their lives in the bargain. They are the Sheep of the Sheep and Goat Judgment. But just like it’s been throughout history, all are saved by faith.
The Sheep and Goat judgment is actually an expansion of Matt. 24: 40-41 “One taken and the other left … ” Because of the timing problem, these verses cannot be describing the Rapture. The Greek word translated taken in verses 40 and 41 means “received.” No problem so far, the Lord is taking some but not others.
This passage isn’t describing the Rapture. The timing, the context, and the disposition of the parties are all wrong. It is a summary of the Sheep and Goat judgment. Those taken (received) go live into the Kingdom in their natural bodies and help to re-populate the Earth, while those left (sent away) are put into the Outer Darkness, forever banned from the presence of God.
“As it was in the days of Noah so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:37). In the days of Noah, the people of Earth could be separated into three groups. There were the unbelievers who perished in the Flood, Noah and his family, who were preserved through the Flood, and Enoch who was taken from Earth before the Flood. (Enoch was translated in Genesis 5. That means that God took him alive into Heaven. The Flood came in Genesis 6.)
In The Time Of The 2nd Coming the people of Earth will also fall into three groups. The unbelieving world will perish in the End Times judgments, Israel will be preserved through the judgments, and The Church will be taken from Earth before the judgments.
6) THE DURATION AND PURPOSE OF THE MILLENNIUM
Like rapture and Lucifer, millennium is a word of Latin origin and does not appear anywhere in the Scriptures. We get it from two Latin words, mille, or 1000, and annum, or year, from the Latin translation of Rev. 20:6. Mille annum, millennium, the Lord’s 1000-year reign on Earth, is known to Israel as the Kingdom Age. It is the seventh and final thousand years of the Age of Man, begun with the birth of Adam. It is often confused with Eternity, but as we saw earlier, the two are distinct. A Millennium is obviously a defined span of time, while by definition Eternity is the absence of time as we know it.
THE MILLENNIUM ON EARTH
During the Millennium, the Lord will be King of Heaven and Earth, Earth being restored to the condition it was in when Adam was created. This will include restoring peace between man and the animals, bringing back Earth’s original garden-like environment with its worldwide sub-tropical climate, eliminating foul weather, killer storms, earthquakes, and extremes of heat and cold. The span of man’s life will begin increasing again to equal those of the Genesis patriarchs. Sickness and disease, those by-products of sin, will be greatly reduced. It appears the population of Earth will be sustained by the return to an agrarian economy, but with all the obstacles Adam faced gone as the curse of Genesis 3 is finally lifted. Man will easily produce enough for his family’s use, and enjoy doing it. None will labour unproductively, or primarily for the benefit of others. Children will grow up without fear and adults will grow old in peace (A summary of Isaiah 2:1-5, 4:2-6, 35, 41:18-20, 60:10-22, 65:17-25, Micah 4:1-8).
Since Earth will be re-populated mostly by Tribulation survivors in their natural bodies, there will still be sin although to a much lesser extent, especially at the beginning. In the so-called Millennial Temple in Israel, priests will conduct daily sacrifices for sin, just like in Old Testament days. But while Old Testament believers observed Temple sacrifices to learn what the Messiah would one day do for them, Millennial believers will observe them to remember, and their children to learn, what He’s already done (Ezek 40-47).
The Lord will reign supreme on Earth as King and High Priest, the head of both a one-world government and a one-world religion. He will brook no threats to His established peace, nor any deviation from His doctrine (Psalm 2).
In the beginning, only believers will inhabit Earth, enjoying the truly utopian environment that mankind has always dreamed about, but only God can create. They will soon begin bearing children who, as they mature, will fall into sin again. By the time Satan is released at the end of the Millennium, there will be so many who’ve rejected the Lord that he’ll quickly find a huge army of recruits for his final attempt to kick the Lord off the planet.
But with fire from Heaven, the Lord will destroy Satan’s army, casting him into the Lake of Fire, where he will be tormented day and night forever. Never again will he or any of his accomplices be free to afflict God’s people (Rev. 20:7-10).
What began as an age of unimagined peace and prosperity will have ended in open warfare against the very King who made it possible.
In the Millennium, Earth dwellers will live in the ideal circumstances that Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden. The curse will be gone, and the Lord will be there among them, everyone is a believer, and Satan will be bound. And yet, there’s enough residual sin in the hearts of unregenerate man that he will rebel the first chance he gets. Sinful man cannot dwell in the presence of a Holy God, being unable to keep His commandments. He needs a Saviour and Redeemer to reconcile him to God, and a heart transplant to cure him of his sin nature. The whole point of the Millennium is to prove once and for all that man’s heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure (Jere. 17:9) making it impossible for him to live in a manner pleasing to God.
The Bible ends at the end of the Millennium, yet teaches us that everyone ever born lives forever. The question is not whether you have eternal life. The question is where you will spend eternity. There are only two possible destinations and we have described them both. Eternal bliss in the presence of God, or eternal shame and punishment banished from the presence of God.
Here then are “Seven Things You Have To Know To Understand End Times Prophecy.” Mastering them will allow you to successfully avoid all the heresy and false teaching that swirls about in these last days. The study of prophecy is not a salvation issue, but the Lord did admonish us on several occasions to understand the signs of the times so we would not be caught off guard. We are to watch with expectation and wait with certainty.
In Revelation 1:3 we are promised blessings for our diligent study, and in 2 Timothy 4:8 a crown for longing for His appearing.
(SOURCE: GRACE THRU FAITH (ORIGINAL BOOK WRITTEN BY JACK KELLEY))