THE VERY BASICS OF END TIME PROPHECY PART 13

BASIC PROPHECY

THE FINAL BATTLE AND THE WHITE THRONE JUDGEMENT

At the end of the Millennium, Satan will be released for a brief period of time to lead a final rebellion against Christ. Then he will be defeated and cast into the lake of fire for eternity.

After the Millennium and Satan’s final rebellion, Christ will sit upon a great white throne, and all unbelievers from every age will be resurrected and assembled before Him to be judged. This will be the final resurrection. Those who refused to trust in the Lord will be judged according to their deeds. Since their names will not be found written in the Book of Life, which contains the names of the redeemed, they will be consigned to the lake of fire forever.

SATAN RELEASED

At the end of the one thousand years, Satan is released for a brief period of time for his last stand (Revelation 20:3). God allows Satan one last shot at world dominion. But why would God release Satan from the abyss?

God’s Word clearly teaches that man is sinful both by nature and by practice. Man has been tested in every way and will always fail apart from God and His grace. The millennial kingdom and the second “coming” of Satan will conclusively prove this. During the messianic kingdom, people who haven’t yet been glorified will still have sinful natures, but the perfect world around them will offer no enticement to sin, nor will Satan and his demons be around to tempt them either. Satan will be bound for one thousand years, and the Lord Jesus Himself will be personally present, ruling and reigning on the restored earth.

In spite of these perfect conditions, a host of people born and raised during the Millennium will still reject the Lord. Only believers will survive the Tribulation to enter the kingdom, and they will all know the Lord and trust in Him, but they will have children during the Millennium, and many of those children will not repent and believe in Christ as their Savior. They may outwardly conform to avoid judgment, but inwardly they will harbour a rebellious heart against the King of kings.

When Satan is released at the end of the Millennium, Satan will gather so many people after his release that “the number of them is like the sand of the seashore” (Revelation 20:8, NASB).

SATAN DEFEATED

The gathering of rebels and the war that defeats them are called “Gog and Magog” in Revelation 20:8. This title has confused many people and led them to equate this battle of Gog and Magog with the one in Ezekiel 38–39. There are two key differences between these two battles that indicate they are not the same.

Ezekiel 38–39 occurs shortly before, or early in the Tribulation, and specific nations will be involved. Gog and Magog in Revelation 20:8 occurs after the Millennium in Revelation 20:1-6 and involves all the nations

As this massive mob of rebels gathers on the broad plain of the earth and surrounds Jerusalem, God sends fire down from heaven to destroy them. Immediately, Satan is cast into the lake of fire forever, to join the other two members of the false trinity, the Antichrist and the false prophet (Revelation 20:10).

JUDGEMENT DAY – REVELATION 20:11-15

This final day of judgment is called the Great White Throne Judgment. The court date for the Great White Throne Judgement is set on God’s docket to occur after the millennial kingdom has ended and Satan has been cast into the lake of fire.

It is called white because it is absolutely pure, holy, and righteous. Jesus Christ is the final judge before whom the unbelieving world will stand. As John 5:22 reminds us, “Not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son” (NASB, see also Acts 17:31). In 2 Timothy 4:1 Jesus Christ is called the one who will “judge the living and the dead.”

When the Day of Judgment comes, there will be no place to hide. “The books” will be opened (Revelation 20:12). God is keeping a precise account of every person’s life in His books (Daniel 7:10). “And all were judged according to their deeds” (Revelation 20:13).

The Book of Life contains the names of everyone who has ever been saved by God’s grace. “Anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). “The purpose of the Great White Throne Judgment is not to determine if a person is saved but to judge the unsaved.

The condemned will die a second time; that is, they will be separated eternally from God in the lake of fire (2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 20:14). Hell Is a place of conscious physical, mental, and spiritual torment. (Matthew 13:41-42, Mark 9:47-49, Luke 16:28).

ISLAM’S INVASION OF THE WESTERN WORLD – PART 4 (FINAL PART)

0 ISLAM INVATION

In 2018, Robert Spencer published a remarkable book, called “The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.” In one of the chapters (chapter 10), he discussed the matter of how the Western world caved into Islam’s demands. In this series, we look at some highlights from this chapter.

THE WEST LOSES THE
WILL TO LIVE

The Islamic State

The Islamic State (commonly but erroneously known as ISIS, an acronym for its former and rejected name, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [the Levant]) is best known for its audacious attempt from 2014 to 2017 to restore the caliphate. It declared its caliphate in the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria on June 29, 2014, the same day it issued an explanatory document entitled “This is the Promise of Allah.”

The declaration asserted that the caliphate frees human beings from oppression and subjugation: it is meant “for the purpose of compelling the people to do what the Sharia (Allah’s law) requires of them concerning their interests in the hereafter and worldly life, which can only be achieved by carrying out the command of Allah, establishing His religion, and referring to His law for judgment.”

Before Islam, according to “This is the Promise of Allah,” the Arabs were weak and disunited; once they accepted Islam, Allah granted them unity and power… The God of this ummah (—the best of peoples—) yesterday is the same God of the ummah today, and the One who gave it victory yesterday is the One who will give it victory today.” Accordingly, “The time has come for those generations that were drowning in oceans of disgrace, being nursed on the milk of humiliation, and being ruled by the vilest of all people, after their long slumber in the darkness of neglect—the time has come for them to rise.” The “vilest of all people” is a Qur’anic epithet for the “unbelievers among the People of the Book”—that is, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians who do not become Muslims (98:6).

The Islamic State exhorted all Muslims to join in the caliphate and give it allegiance, as the Mahdi in Sudan and so many other Muslim revivalists had throughout Islamic history:

“So rush O Muslims and gather around your khalifah, so that you may return as you once were for ages, kings of the earth and knights of war.… By Allah, if you disbelieve in democracy, secularism, nationalism, as well as all the other garbage and ideas from the west, and rush to your religion and creed, then by Allah, you will own the earth, and the east and west will submit to you. This is the promise of Allah to you. This is the promise of Allah to you.”

Less than a week after declaring itself the caliphate, the Islamic State gave the world a look at the new caliphate, releasing a video on July 5, 2014, of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi speaking in the twelfth-century Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul.

He said that after the fall of the last caliphate, “the disbelievers were able to weaken and humiliate the Muslims, dominate them in every region, plunder their wealth and resources, and rob them of their rights.” They did this by “attacking and occupying their lands, placing their treacherous agents in power to rule the Muslims with an iron fist, and spreading dazzling and deceptive slogans such as: civilization, peace, co-existence, freedom, democracy, secularism, nationalism, and patriotism, among other false slogans. Those rulers continue striving to enslave the Muslims, pulling them away from their religion with those slogans.”

The warriors of jihad should not worry about the formidable military might of the infidels, because success would come through obedience to Allah, not by means of weapons:

“O soldiers of the Islamic State, do not be awestruck by the great numbers of your enemy, for Allah is with you. I do not fear for you the numbers of your opponents, nor do I fear your neediness and poverty, for Allah (the Exalted) has promised your Prophet (peace be upon him) that you will not be wiped out by famine, and your enemy will not himself conquer you and violate your land. Allah placed your provision under the shades of your spears.”

He called upon them also to “persevere in reciting the Quran with comprehension of its meanings and practice of its teachings. This is my advice to you. If you hold to it, you will conquer Rome and own the world, if Allah wills.”

 The Islamic State is Not Islamic

U.S. and Western European leaders immediately denied that the Islamic State had anything to do with Islam. “ISIL does not operate in the name of any religion,” said Deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf in August 2014. “The president has been very clear about that, and the more we can underscore that, the better.” CIA director John Brennan said in March 2015: “They are terrorists, they’re criminals. Most—many—of them are psychopathic thugs, murderers who use a religious concept and masquerade and mask themselves in that religious construct. Let’s make it very clear that the people who carry out acts of terrorism—whether it be al-Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant—are doing it because they believe it is consistent with what their view of Islam is. It is totally inconsistent with what the overwhelming majority of Muslims throughout the world [believe].” In September 2014, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius announced: “This is a terrorist group and not a state. I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists.”

The Islamic State professed contempt and amusement over all this confusion and denial. In his September 21, 2014, address calling for jihad strikes in the U.S. and Europe, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad Adnani ridiculed John Kerry (“that uncircumcised old geezer”) and Barack Obama for declaring that the Islamic State was not Islamic, as if they were Islamic authorities.

And indeed, everything the Islamic State did was clearly based on Islamic texts and teachings. Its public beheadings applied the Qur’an’s directive: “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks.” (47:4)

Similar calculations hold true regarding the Islamic State’s practice of kidnapping Yazidi and Christian women and pressing them into sex slavery. The Qur’an says straightforwardly that in addition to wives (“two or three or four”), Muslim men may enjoy the “captives of the right hand” (4:3, 4:24). These are specified as being women who have been seized as the spoils of war (33:50) and are to be used specifically for sexual purposes, as men are to “guard their private parts except from their wives or those their right hands possess.” (23:5–6).

If these women are already married, no problem. Islamic law directs that “when a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman’s previous marriage is immediately annulled.”

On December 15, 2014, the Islamic State released a document entitled “Clarification [regarding] the Hudud”—that is, punishments Allah specifies in the Qur’an. Blasphemy against Islam was punishable by death. Adulterers were to be stoned to death; fornicators would be given one hundred lashes and exile. Sodomy (homosexuality) was also to be punished by death, as per Muhammad’s reported words: “If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.”

The Islamic State’s rapid success was partly attributable to its fidelity to Islam and partly also to its financial backing, which came, predictably enough, in great part from Saudi Arabia. In August 2014, Hillary Clinton wrote to John Podesta, an adviser to President Barack Obama: “We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL [Isis] and other radical Sunni groups in the region. This effort will be enhanced by the stepped-up commitment in the [Kurdish Regional Government]. The Qataris and Saudis will be put in a position of balancing policy between their ongoing competition to dominate the Sunni world and the consequences of serious US pressure.”

But nothing was done.

At its height, the Islamic State controlled a territory larger than Great Britain and attracted thirty thousand foreign fighters from a hundred countries to travel to Iraq and Syria to join the caliphate. It gained the allegiance of other jihad groups in Libya, Nigeria, the Philippines, and elsewhere. Muslims took its apparent success as a sign of Allah’s favor: the caliphate had indeed returned.

It didn’t last long, however. When Donald Trump replaced Barack Obama as president of the United States, Iraqi forces and others began rolling up Islamic State strongholds, such that within a year of the beginning of the Trump presidency, the Islamic State had lost ninety-eight percent of its territory. The jihad threat posed by the Islamic State did not lessen, however, as those foreign fighters who survived returned to their home countries, often welcomed back by Western leaders who were convinced that kind treatment would compel them to turn away from jihad.

The Jihad Continues

In any case, the Islamic State was gone from Iraq and Syria, but the dream of the caliphate and the obligation to jihad remained, and other Muslims were quite willing, even eager, to take up arms in service of both.

The early twenty-first century saw a sharp rise in jihad massacres perpetrated all over the West by individuals or small groups of Muslims: in London, Manchester, Paris, Toulouse, Nice, Amsterdam, Madrid, Brussels, Berlin, Munich, Copenhagen, Malmö, Stockholm, Turku (in Finland), Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Beslan, among other places. Filmmaker Theo van Gogh was massacred on an Amsterdam street in 2004 for offending Islam; as mentioned previously, the cartoonists of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were murdered in Paris in January 2015 for the same offense. In July 2016, Islamic jihadists murdered a French priest, Father Jacques Hamel, at the altar of his church for the crime of being Christian.

After each one of these atrocities, the local and national authorities called for prayer vigils and vowed their resolve against the “terrorists” of unspecified ideology, but they did nothing to address the immigration and appeasement policies that had led to these attacks in the first place.

As crime rates skyrocketed and jihad terror attacks became an increasingly common feature of the landscape in Europe, authorities all over the West seemed more concerned with making sure their people did not think negatively about Islam than defending them against the jihad onslaught.

The End

The failure of today’s leadership and the international media to inform the public about what was really going on was an abdication of responsibility unparalleled in history, and one that rebuked the leaders throughout history who died to defend their people from the advancing jihad.

ISLAM’S INVASION OF THE WESTERN WORLD – PART 2

0 ISLAM INVATION

In 2018, Robert Spencer published a remarkable book, called “The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.” In one of the chapters (chapter 10), he discussed the matter of how the Western world caved into Islam’s demands. In this series, we look at some highlights from this chapter.

THE WEST LOSES THE
WILL TO LIVE

Obama in Cairo

It is no surprise that when President Barack Obama made his outreach speech to the Muslim world from Cairo on June 4, 2009, he included fulsome praise of Islam that played fast and loose with the historical record:

“As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam…, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story… American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses, they have taught at our universities, they’ve excelled in our sports arenas, they’ve won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers—Thomas Jefferson—kept in his personal library…

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

Where this executive duty to defend Islam appeared in the Constitution, he did not explain.

In September 2012 at the United Nations, in the wake of the jihad massacre of four Americans by al-Qaeda operatives in Benghazi in Libya, which key members of his administration falsely and repeatedly attributed to a spontaneous demonstration arising over a video criticizing Muhammad on YouTube, Obama went even farther, saying: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” The specter of the leader of the free world vowing to enforce Islamic blasphemy laws was not just rhetoric. The idea that Islam in America was beset by negative stereotypes that same year helped to defeat an attempt to investigate Muslim Brotherhood influence within the United States government.

Efforts to Investigate Infiltration

In 2012, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) tried to call attention to this influence, asking for an investigation into Muslim Brotherhood infiltration into the U.S. government. She accused the first Muslim member of Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) of having a “long record of being associated” with CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood.

In response, Ellison accused Bachmann of religious bigotry. Yet he really did have a “long record of being associated” with Hamas-linked CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood. As long ago as 2006, Ellison’s closeness to CAIR’s cofounder and National Executive Director Nihad Awad was a matter of public record. Awad, who notoriously said in 1994 that he was “in support of the Hamas movement,” spoke at fundraisers for Ellison, raising considerable sums for his first congressional race. Ellison has appeared frequently at CAIR events since then.

Multiple statements made by federal prosecutors identify Awad as one of the attendees at a 1993 meeting of US Muslim Brotherhood Palestine Committee leaders in Philadelphia that was wiretapped by the FBI under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant. The topic of discussion during that 1993 meeting was how to help Hamas by working in the U.S. to help sabotage the Oslo Peace Accords. But none of that fazed Ellison. Nor has he ever expressed any concern over the fact that CAIR is also linked to the Muslim Brotherhood through its parent group, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP).

Ellison’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood were also more direct. In 2008, Ellison accepted 13,350 dollars from the Muslim American Society (MAS) to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. As we have seen, the Muslim American Society is the principal arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States.

Egypt’s Rose El-Youssef magazine asserted in a December 2012 article that six highly placed Muslim Brotherhood infiltrators within the Obama Administration had transformed the United States “from a position hostile to Islamic groups and organizations in the world to the largest and most important supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The article said that “the six named people include: Arif Alikhan, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for policy development; Mohammed Elibiary, a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council; Rashad Hussain, the U.S. special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC]; Salam al-Marayati, co-founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); and Eboo Patel, a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.”75

And so the Egyptian article stood as vindication of Bachmann’s concerns, and showed that her request for an investigation to be opened of the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration was entirely reasonable and not a manifestation of “bigotry,” “racism,” or “McCarthyism”—contrary to the hysterical (and formulaic) claims of her leftist detractors. Bachmann’s concerns were justified, as the Muslim Brotherhood had indeed penetrated the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Gehad El-Haddad, a top Muslim Brotherhood official in Egypt, was for five years employed with the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation, of course, is not a government agency, but his involvement with it afforded El-Haddad access to a former president of the United States and his associates, including present and former government officials. In September 2013, Egypt’s military government arrested El-Haddad for his Muslim Brotherhood activities.

For all of the furor over Bachmann’s call for an investigation of Muslim Brotherhood influence in Washington, nothing caused as much controversy as her naming Huma Abedin, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s closest personal assistant and adviser. Abedin is an observant Muslim who lived in Saudi Arabia as a child; her brother Hassan works “as a fellow and partner with a number of Muslim Brotherhood members.” Her mother, Saleha Mahmoud Abedin, is a professor in Saudi Arabia and a member of the Brotherhood’s woman’s division, the Muslim Sisterhood.80 Her father, Syed Z. Abedin, was a professor in Saudi Arabia who founded the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs, an organization supported by the Muslim World League, a Brotherhood organization.81

Despite this evidence, there was no investigation. Yet, former U.S. prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy listed a great many strange collaborations between the State Department of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Muslim Brotherhood organizations, of which some including:

  • Secretary Clinton personally intervened to reverse a Bush-administration ruling that barred Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the Brotherhood’s founder and son of one of its most influential early leaders, from entering the United States.
  • The State Department collaborated with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of governments heavily influenced by the Brotherhood, in seeking to restrict American free-speech rights in deference to Sharia proscriptions against negative criticism of Islam.
  • The State Department excluded Israel, the world’s leading target of terrorism, from its “Global Counterterrorism Forum,” a group that brings the United States together with several Islamist governments. At the forum’s kickoff, Secretary Clinton decried various terrorist attacks and groups, but she did not mention Hamas or attacks against Israel—in transparent deference to the Islamist governments, which echo the Brotherhood’s position that Hamas is not a terrorist organization and that attacks against Israel are not terrorism.
  • The State Department and the Obama administration waived congressional restrictions in order to transfer millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian territories, notwithstanding that Gaza is ruled by the terrorist organization Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch.

During the Bush and Obama administrations, it became socially and politically unacceptable even to raise questions about Muslim Brotherhood influence, or to express any skepticism about the politically correct dogmas regarding Islam and jihad. For in Abedin’s case, it certainly was not that the evidence was lacking. It was that the political elites had forbidden any examination or discussion of it.

Stigmatizing Resistance to Jihad

The crowning victory in the effort to stigmatize resistance to jihad terror and Islamic supremacism came in February 2012, when the Obama administration purged more than a thousand documents and presentations from counterterror training materials for the FBI and other agencies. This material was discarded at the demand of Muslim groups, which had deemed it inaccurate (by their own account) or offensive to Muslims.

This triumph was several years in the making. The movement towards it began in earnest in August 2010, when a presentation on Islam and jihad was given to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. The far-left journalist Spencer Ackerman took the FBI to task for training material that spoke forthrightly and truthfully about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat. Ackerman reported that “the FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that ‘main stream’ [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a ‘cult leader’; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a ‘funding mechanism for combat.’

Unfortunately for Ackerman, there was considerable evidence that what this FBI training material asserted was true. Nonetheless, in the face of Ackerman’s reports, the FBI went into full retreat: in September 2011, it announced that it was dropping one of the programs that Ackerman had zeroed in on.

The Islamic supremacists didn’t rest on their laurels. On October 19, 2011, Salam al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) took this campaign to the mainstream media, writing in the Los Angeles Times that “a disturbing string of training material used by the FBI and a U.S. attorney’s office came to light beginning in late July that reveals a deep anti-Muslim sentiment within the U.S. government.” Al-Marayati warned that “if this matter is not immediately addressed, it will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community.”

The same day that al-Marayati’s op-ed was published, Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates, who had complained for years about supposed Muslim profiling and entrapment, wrote a letter to John Brennan, who was then the assistant to the president on national security for homeland security and counterterrorism. The letter was signed not just by Khera but by the leaders of virtually all the significant Islamic groups in the United States: fifty-seven Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations, including many with ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, including CAIR, ISNA, MAS, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Relief USA, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

The letter denounced what it characterized as U.S. government agencies’ “use of biased, false and highly offensive training materials about Muslims and Islam,” and emphasized that they regarded this as an issue of the utmost importance: “The seriousness of this issue cannot be overstated, and we request that the White House immediately create an interagency task force to address this problem, with a fair and transparent mechanism for input from the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, including civil rights lawyers, religious leaders, and law enforcement experts.”

This was needed because “while recent news reports have highlighted the FBI’s use of biased experts and training materials, we have learned that this problem extends far beyond the FBI and has infected other government agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Councils, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Army. Furthermore, by the FBI’s own admission, the use of bigoted and distorted materials in its trainings has not been an isolated occurrence. Since last year, reports have surfaced that the FBI, and other federal agencies, are using or supporting the use of biased trainers and materials in presentations to law enforcement officials.”

In a November 3, 2011, response to Khera, that was written on White House stationery, John O. Brennan, assistant to the president for Homeland Security accepted Khera’s criticisms without a murmur of protest and assured her of his readiness to comply.

Brennan assured Khera that all her demands would be met: “Your letter requests that ‘the White House immediately create an interagency task force to address this problem,’ and we agree that this is necessary.” He then detailed the specific actions being undertaken to ensure this, including “collecting all training materials that contain cultural or religious content, including information related to Islam or Muslims.”93 This material wouldn’t just be “collected”; it would be purged of anything that Farhana Khera and others like her found offensive—that is, any honest discussion of how Islamic jihadists used Islamic teachings to justify violence.

Not only were numerous books and presentations that presented a perfectly accurate view of Islam and jihad purged, but Brennan was complying with demands from quarters that could hardly be considered authentically moderate. America was going to war against jihadists while forbidding itself to understand jihad.

Brennan also attempted to distance Islam and the concept of jihad from contemporary Islamic terrorism long before he told Farhana Khera that he would give her everything she wanted. On May 26, 2010, in an address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies he said: “Nor do we describe our enemies as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself or one’s community.” In a press release the next day, CAIR “expressed appreciation” for Brennan’s remarks.

Brennan was instrumental in the Obama administration’s recasting of the defense against terror as a localized struggle against al-Qaeda.

THE VERY BASICS OF END TIME PROPHECY PART 11

BASIC PROPHECY

END OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Two great events will bring the Tribulation to a close—the War of Armageddon and the second coming of Christ. As the Antichrist leads the armies of the world against Israel with genocidal intent, Jesus Christ will return to earth, accompanied by the armies of heaven.

Jesus will seize the Antichrist and the false prophet and cast them alive into the lake of fire. At the Second Coming, the Old Testament saints and believers who died during the Tribulation will be resurrected.

After the Tribulation, in Matthew 24:29, the second coming of Christ is presented. He describes the signs in the heavens that will indicate that the Son of Man is coming, and finally the gathering of His chosen ones from around the world.

THE WAR OF ARMAGEDDON

The word Armageddon is found only one time in the Bible (Revelation 16:16), yet this one word is probably the most familiar biblical term from end times prophecy.

The word Armageddon is made up of two words in Hebrew: Har (mountain) and Megiddo (a city in the northern part of ancient Israel). The ancient city of Megiddo was built on a hill, and it is therefore called the mountain of Megiddo—Armageddon. The city of Megiddo overlooks a beautiful, large valley known as the Plain of Esdraelon. The armies of the earth will gather here in the last days and face total defeat by the returning King from heaven (Revelation 16:12-16; 19:19-21).

Armageddon is also often equated with the last battle or war on earth, but this is not the case. The last war in history will be the final revolt of Satan in Revelation 20:7-11 called Gog and Magog (not to be confused with the Gog and Magog invasion at the beginning of the tribulation). This war occurs one thousand years after Armageddon.

Armageddon is the climactic war of the Great Tribulation when all the armies of the earth gather to attack Israel and attempt to finally eradicate the Jewish people. They will capture Jerusalem, but then Jesus Christ will return to destroy the invading armies and deliver the faithful Jewish remnant.

The War of Armageddon is the subject of many biblical passages. Here are ten key Scriptures:

  1. Psalm 2
  2. Isaiah 34:1-16
  3. Isaiah 63:1-6
  4. Joel 3:1-17
  5. Zechariah 12:1-9
  6. Zechariah 14:1-15
  7. Malachi 4:1-5
  8. Revelation 14:14-20
  9. Revelation 16:12-16
  10. Revelation 19:19-21

The most vivid description of the severity and brutality of Armageddon is found in Revelation 14:17-20. The Lord is saying that at Armageddon He is going to throw all the nations into His great winepress and that His intense, blood-splattering judgment will extend throughout Israel from Megiddo to Bozrah.

Some believe they will gather from all over the world to challenge the Antichrist. After all, by the end of the Tribulation, with all God’s judgments pouring forth, the world will be in terrible shape. The nations may view the Antichrist as the source of the trouble and want to destroy him. Others believe that the armies are gathered to finally eradicate the Jewish people. The latter makes more sense because Revelation 16:13-16 indicates that the unclean spirits (demons) that gather the armies together will emanate from Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet. It doesn’t make sense that the Antichrist would gather the armies together to destroy himself.

Phase 1 – The Euphrates River dries up, preparing the way for the kings of the east (Revelation 16:12).

Phase 2 – The Antichrist’s allies assemble (Revelation 16:12-16). The armies assemble to annihilate the Jews once and for all.

Phase 3 – The armies attack Jerusalem, and it falls (Zechariah 14:1-3).

Phase 4 – Jesus Christ returns personally to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).

Phase 5 – Christ and the armies of the Lord destroy the armies gathered against Jerusalem in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:9-17; Zechariah 12:1-9; Zechariah 14:3).

Phase 6 – Christ descends upon Bozrah/Edom—in modern Jordan—to destroy its inhabitants and to deliver the Jewish remnant (Isaiah 34:1-7; 63:1-5; Joel 3:19). Earlier, when the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel and sets up the abomination of desolation, one-third of the Jewish people will flee into the hills and the wilderness, where they will be supernaturally protected by God for 3½ years from the ravages of the Antichrist and Satan (Revelation 12:6, 14). The Scriptures seem to indicate that they will hide in the rock city of Petra in the southern part of modern Jordan (Micah 2:12-13; Daniel 11:41).

Phase 7 – The armies at Armageddon are destroyed (Revelation 16:16; 19:19-21). At Armageddon, the Antichrist will rally the remaining troops to fight against the Lord Jesus and His army (Revelation 19:19). Jesus won’t have to lift a finger. The sword of His word will smite the nations (Revelation 19:15).

First is the great bird supper (Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37; Revelation 19:17-21): carcasses will fill the entire region; the birds of the air will gather to feed on the carnage. Second, the Antichrist and the false prophet will be cast alive into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 19:20). These two pawns of Satan will be the first two occupants of the lake of fire. Thus ends the campaign of Armageddon. There will be no more war on earth for one thousand years.

THE SECOND COMING – REVELATION 19:11-13 MATTHEW 24:27-30

Jesus will return to the earth from the same place He left—the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). He will be accompanied by a great crowd. This crowd will follow in His entourage as He splits the clouds riding on a white stallion. This crowd will be made up of both angels and redeemed human beings. All believers in Christ have a roundtrip ticket. All who have been raptured will return to the earth with Jesus at His second coming, the climax of the Tribulation. (Zechariah 14:5, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, Jude 1:14, Revelation 19:11, 14)

The coming of Christ to earth will fulfill the numerous promises that He will come again (Zechariah 14:4; Matthew 25:31; Acts 1:9-11). Christ Is Coming to defeat the Antichrist and his armies (Revelation 19:19-21). Christ is also coming to regather and restore faithful Israel and to judge the living.

When Christ returns, all the Gentiles who survived the Tribulation will appear before Him. He will determine if they can enter His Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46). This judgment is called the judgment of the “sheep and the goats.”

After the Second Coming (Revelation 19:11-21), one of the next events is the resurrection of Old Testament and Tribulation believers to reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4-6; Daniel 12:1-4).

Lastly, Christ is coming to bind the devil (Revelation 20:1-3) and to establish Himself as King (Revelation 19:16). He will return as King of kings and Lord of lords! He will sit on His glorious throne and reign over the earth (Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 2:44; Matthew 19:28; Luke 1:32-33).

Acts 1:11 says, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (NASB).

His coming will not be hidden but will be visible to all the world. Matthew 24:23-27 describes His coming.

Suddenly As the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 24:27, Revelation 3:3)

Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. (Matthew 24:29)

Gloriously (Matthew 24:30) Jesus will return as King of kings and Lord of lords. Every creature will bow before Him and be subject to His authority (Philippians 2:11).

SEVENTY-FIVE DAYS TO GLORY

There seems to be an interval of time between the second coming of Christ and the official inauguration of the millennial kingdom. Daniel 12:1-3 describes the time of coming Tribulation for Israel and then the resurrection of Old Testament saints. The Tribulation for Israel will last 1,260 days, which is 3½ years (Daniel 12:7). This is the latter half of the seven-year Tribulation. Then, after these great events we read the enigmatic words in Daniel 12:11-12: “From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days!”

The 1,260 days is not too difficult since this time period is frequently set forth in Daniel and Revelation as the final 3½ years of the Tribulation. The 1,290 days is thirty days beyond the end of the Tribulation, and the 1,335 days is another forty-five days beyond that. These time periods describe an interval of time between the end of the Tribulation and Christ’s second coming and the beginning of the Millennium.

While we cannot be certain about everything that will transpire during this time, it is safe to say that during this time period Christ will remove the abomination of desolation, cast the Antichrist and the false prophet into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20), throw Satan into the abyss (Revelation 20:1-3), judge those living on the earth (Matthew 25:31-46), resurrect and reward Old Testament and Tribulation saints (Daniel 12:1-3), and assign responsibilities for the administration of His Kingdom. During this interval, the celebration of the marriage supper will begin on the earth (Revelation 19:7-10), and possibly the construction of the millennial Temple will commence as well (Ezekiel 40–48).

The fact that those who make it to the 1,335 days are blessed means that they have made it to the beginning of the millennial kingdom (Daniel 12:12). They have come through the judgments and are allowed to enter the kingdom.

IMPRISONMENT OF SATAN

Both amillennialists and postmillennialists contend that the binding of Satan occurred at the first coming of Christ and that Satan is bound right now during this present age. They often view the casting of Satan from heaven in Revelation 12:7-9 as parallel with Luke 10:18-19. They point to Mark 3:27 and Matthew 12:25-29 as the fulfillment of the binding of Satan during the earthly ministry of Christ. For them, Satan’s activity and power are restricted during this present age. However, this contradicts the way Satan is pictured in the New Testament. Satan is called “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30), “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), “the commander of the powers in the unseen world” (Ephesians 2:2), and he is “like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil schemes against believers (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11), hinders us (1 Thessalonians 2:18), accuses us (Revelation 12:10), and blinds the minds of the lost (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan is anything but bound today. He is aggressively opposing the work of God. As someone once said, “If Satan is bound today he must have an awfully long chain.” Satan is characterized as the arch-deceiver in the New Testament. Yet, Revelation 20:3 says that when he is bound Satan will “not deceive the nations anymore.” This does not fit the current situation. It demands a later time after the Lord’s coming.

Revelation 20:1-3 is very precise and specific in its description of Satan’s binding. It describes four distinct actions by the angel who binds him. Satan is “laid hold of,” “bound,” “[thrown] into the abyss,” and the abyss is “shut and sealed over him” (NASB). The language is very compelling and clear. Nothing even similar to this happened at the first coming of Christ. But it will happen when Christ returns, after which Christ will reign for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6).

Amillennialists and postmillennialists have a serious problem explaining Satan’s release at the end of the one thousand years, which they take to be the present age. Revelation 20:1-7 specifically mentions “a thousand years” six times. Whenever John mentions a time period that is general or nonspecific, he identifies it as such by phrases like “a little longer” (Revelation 6:11) or “little time” (12:12). Revelation 20:3 says that at the end of the one thousand years Satan will be released for “a little while.”

RESURRECTION IN REVELATION 20:1-6

Premillennialists maintain that the resurrection in Revelation 20:5 refers to physical, bodily resurrection at the end of history. The Millennium must occur after the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead.

ON A NEW ROAD CALLED 2020

Empty asphalt road and New year 2020. Two thousand and twenty.

A new year always brings a sense of hope, doesn’t it?  The previous year with all its tragedies, problems, disappointments, failures, and sadness is now behind us, and a clean slate lies ahead.

The old has passed away; the new has come.       With whistles and horns and parties, and probably more to eat and drink than they should, most people usher in the new year. Yet, beneath the gaiety and laughter, there’s a gnawing feeling with many – it’s all still the same; nothing’s really changed.  If anything, passing from the season of lights and glitter and carols to the season of hard realities, only makes the emptiness worse, the depression deeper.

For sure there has been plenty in the news to make anyone depressed.  As one commentator wrote in a local newspaper: “Reality seems to crush [hope] at every turn: the Ebola epidemic, the ruthless terror of the Islamic State, crushing economic disparities, the pernicious scourge of racism, homelessness in our own ‘backyard’ and also the plague of illicit drugs, rampant gun violence, etc., etc.

Also, many of us are feeling personal pains or anxieties this new year.  Some of us are wrestling with important decisions regarding a primary relationship or a task to be done; some know first-hand the powerful effects of disabling disease or worry about health issues in the upcoming months; some have had to deal recently with a major loss; some wonder if we can make it in the coming year without the presence of one who meant so much; some of us are feeling very lonely, in spite of people all around us; some of us fear growing older, or fear what the future may hold; some wonder if dreams will ever be realized, or whether the new year will be even more frustrating and filled with feelings of futility than the last.  Many of us are feeling pain or anxiety this new year.  What is this pain or anxiety like for you?

When we feel this way, the temptation is to stay with the familiar and the comfortable, to crawl back into bed and pull up the covers, or to sneak into the manger with Jesus, where it’s warm, safe, and secure.  The temptation is to stay where we are – in the dark crevices of depression or defeat, of fear or foreboding, in the deep ruts of sameness, boredom, or lethargy.

But there is always a light in the hearts of the true believers, shining in the darkness, reminding us that life continues on, that revelation and growth and new beginnings loom on the horizon, that new roads appear up ahead, new roads that will take us, if we choose to let them, into new adventures, new challenges, new opportunities to be the persons God wants us to be.  The light in our hearts remind us that life continues on, even as one year ends and another begins, one season following another.

As we embark on this new year, embodied so well in the reality of life moving on, a fair question for us to ask is, “how can we move on?”  The answer may be found in the refrain from an old church camp song many of you remember: “Rise and Shine.” Isaiah tells the people of Israel to “Arise, shine; for your light has come…”  They no longer have to live in darkness – nor do we.  Rise and shine, get up, begin again – there is more to come!  There are new roads to travel upon in this new year.  But there are also powerful forces working against this directive.  Apathy, lack of confidence, our physical or mental state, extreme caution or timidity – all these tend to hold us back.  Worse than any of these is fear –disabling, crippling, immobilizing fear.

Fear, by whatever name we call it, can prevent us from doing so much.  Cautiously, timidly, tremblingly, we venture forth upon God’s promises, as though the lightness of our step might make the promises more secure, yet at the same time, we doubt that they are true.  God has promised to be with us – believe this promise!

God has promised to uphold us no matter what – believe this promise!  God has promised to grant us victory over all our spiritual enemies – believe this promise!  God has promised to grant us full and free forgiveness of our sins through and because of Jesus Christ, our Savior – believe this promise!  Don’t creep upon these promises as though they were too fragile to hold you up.  Stand upon them, confident that God is as good as God’s word, and that our living, loving Lord will deliver them as promised. Maybe you’ve heard the expression: “even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there!”  It’s true!  So, in this new year, let’s get up and get going.  Let us rise and shine, knowing that it is God’s light that empowers the light within us.

This sounds like a great New Year’s resolution, doesn’t it?  But it won’t be complete until we finish the old camp song’s refrain, and “give God the glory.”  We do this by living thankful lives, thanking God for the blessings we’ve received, and by sharing the Good News with others.  We do this individually and together as the church.  The mission of the church, as Paul implies to the Ephesians, is to reflect the light of Christ, to point to Christ’s work in the world, to declare Christ’s redemption, to reveal the mystery, to make known God’s wisdom, but perhaps most important, to mirror and imitate Christ’s love and deeds of mercy.  And this is our individual mission as well. 

Rose Crawford was blind the first fifty years of her life, until one day she found out that there was an operation that could restore her sight.  And so she had the operation.  You can imagine her awe and joy at seeing light and colours, images of people, and the beauties of nature, none of which she had ever seen before.  Sadly, Rose could have had the surgery twenty years earlier.  She was unnecessarily blind for twenty years, because she didn’t know about the operation and assumed she was doomed to live in darkness.  Nobody told her about the sight-restoring surgery.  Nobody told her she no longer had to continue living in darkness.  Millions of people today live in spiritual darkness because nobody has told them they no longer have to live there anymore. Part of giving God the glory is sharing the light of Christ’s glory with others.

Each of us has a new road ahead of us in the new year.  It’s another road, a different road than any we’ve traveled on before.  As we step off down that road, not knowing what we may find, not knowing exactly where we’re going, we can be comforted in knowing that for sure, the light goes with us, leading us, guiding us, showing us the way.  God will be with us on our journeys down that new road ahead.  Even now God is calling to each of us, whoever we are, whatever our circumstance, calling us to get up, to stop creeping, and rise and shine, and continue on the journey, giving God our praise, and sharing the Good News with others along the way.

A New Year’s Eve poem concludes with these words: “With courage we face the future, with warm memory we sing the old year out.  With hope in our hearts and voices we face the sunrise of God’s new dawn.” So, let’s sing the new year in by singing together the refrain of that old song:  “Rise, and shine, and give God the glory, glory, Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory, Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory, Children of the Lord.” May hope dwell in our hearts and voices, and may that sunrise, the light of Christ, shine brightly on each of us as we journey on the new road we’ll be traveling upon in this new year.  Amen.

(Based on a sermon by: http://www.firstchurchofharwich.org/sermon-new-road-new-year/ )

WAKE UP – THE IMMINENT COMING OF CHRIST

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The Cambridge Dictionary describes the word “Imminent” as “coming or likely to happen very soon.”

EXPECTATIONS OF THE EARLY CHURCH

Christ could come at any moment according to Scripture. From the very earliest days of the church, the apostles and first-generation Christians had an earnest expectation and hope that Christ might suddenly return to gather His church to heaven. The New Testament writers often wrote of Christ’s “appearing,” and they never failed to convey the sense that this could happen imminently. James, probably the earliest of the New Testament epistles, expressly told his readers that the return of Christ was imminent:

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” James 5:7-9

Peter echoed that same expectation when he wrote, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Pet. 4:7). The writer of Hebrews cited the imminent return of Christ as a reason to remain faithful: “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25). He wrote, “Yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (v. 37). And the apostle John made the most confident pronouncement of all: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). John wrote “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28; cf. 3:2; Col. 3:4; 2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 5:4). When John recorded his vision in the book of Revelation, he prefaced it by saying that these things “must shortly take place” (1:1).

When the apostle Paul described the Lord’s coming for the church, he clearly was convinced that he himself might be among those who would be caught up alive to meet the Lord: “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 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 Thess. 4:15, 17). He obviously looked for Christ to return in his lifetime. He furthermore made it plain that a watchful, hopeful expectancy about Christ’s Second Coming is one of the godly attitudes divine grace teaches all believers: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13).

 WILL THE TRIBULATION PRECEDE CHRIST’S COMING FOR THE CHURCH?  

Nonetheless, according to some students of Bible prophecy, “the blessed hope” becomes relevant only after the church has gone through the Tribulation. When Christ outlined the events of the last days, He included many prophecies about tribulation and hardship, and He said these signs would precede and point to His return (Matt. 24:21, 30).

First, they argue that all the general “signs of the times” given in the New Testament either have been fulfilled or are being fulfilled before our eyes. They are, in fact, characteristics of the entire church age. Apostasy and unbelief, self-love, sin, wars, rumors of wars, and natural disasters have all been common throughout the church age. Practically every generation of Christians since the time of Christ has believed they were seeing the end-times signs fulfilled before their very eyes. And the church was already in the last days even before the apostolic era ended. In fact, “last days” is a biblical term for the Christian era itself (Heb. 1:1-2).

Second, those who believe the church must suffer through the hardships of the Tribulation period invariably cite 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 as proof:

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.

If 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 indeed means that Christ’s coming for the church cannot occur until after the Antichrist was revealed and the seven years of Tribulation took place, it nullifies everything the New Testament teaches about the imminence of Christ’s return.

So, on the one hand, the New Testament reflects an eager sense of expectancy and the conviction that the blessed hope of Christ’s return is imminent. On the other hand, we are warned about trouble and affliction that will precede Christ’s return. How can we reconcile these two threads of prophecy? How can we cultivate a daily expectation of Christ’s return if these preliminary signs must yet be fulfilled before He returns?

But look carefully at the context of 2 Thessalonians 2. The Thessalonians had been confused and upset by some false teachers who were teaching that the persecutions and sufferings they experienced were the very judgments associated with the Day of the Lord’s final apocalyptic wrath. They were deeply troubled by this, for in his earlier epistle Paul encouraged them by telling them of the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:14-17). He even instructed them to comfort one another with the promise of Christ’s coming for them (v. 18), so they obviously feared they had missed the Rapture.

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him” (v.1) is a clear reference to the Rapture. But “The day of Christ” mentioned later in verse 2, however refers to the Day of the Lord (in fact, the older manuscripts use the expression “day of the Lord” in this verse). So when Paul says, “that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (v.3), he is talking about the Day of the Lord and its apocalyptic judgment, not the Rapture.

He most certainly was not suggesting that the coming of Christ for the church would be delayed until after the Tribulation events had all played out. If this was what he meant, it would overturn everything the New Testament has to say about Christ’s return being imminent, comforting, and hopeful.

So, the consistent teaching of the New Testament is that Christians should be looking for the imminent coming of Christ for His church, and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 is no exception.

 THE SCOFFERS AND THE MOCKERS  

Some argue that Christ’s coming could not possibly have been imminent for the early church, given the obvious fact that 2,000 years later He has still not returned, even though James, Peter, John, Paul, and the writer of Hebrews all believed Christ’s return was very near—“at the door” (James 5:9); “at hand” (Phil. 4:5; 1 Pet. 4:7); “approaching” (Heb. 10:25); “coming quickly” (Rev. 3:11; 22:7).

Some sceptics even claim that the apostles have been in error about the timing. What shall we make of this charge against the truthfulness of Scripture? Does the passing of 2,000 years indeed prove that Christ’s coming was not imminent in the early church era and that the apostles were mistaken?

Certainly not. Remember the clear statement of Christ in Matthew 24:42: “You do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” The exact time remains hidden from us, as it was from the apostles. There are no other events that must occur on the prophetic calendar before Christ comes to meet us in the air. He could come at any moment. And it is in that sense that Christ’s coming is imminent. In the very same sense, His coming was imminent even in the days of the early church.

It is also possible that Christ could delay His coming another 2,000 years or longer, but given the rapid decline of society, another 2,000 years do not seem possible. That is why Christ taught us to be prepared, whether He comes immediately or delays longer than we think possible (cf. Matt. 24:42—25:13).

Peter anticipated the scoffers who would arise, mocking the promise of Christ’s return (2 Pet. 3:3-4). Peter’s reply to those scoffers? “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (v. 8). The amount of earthly time that passes is certainly irrelevant from God’s timeless point of view. He is not bound by time as we are, and no amount of time can ever nullify His faithfulness. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (v. 9).

In other words, the real reason for the Lord’s delay is simply because He is longsuffering and kind, delaying Christ’s coming and the wrath that will accompany it while He calls people unto salvation. And Christ will not return before the merciful purposes of God are complete.

Therefore, the fact that 2,000 years have elapsed is utterly irrelevant to the doctrine of Christ’s imminent return. The command to be ready and watchful is as applicable to us as it was to the early church. In fact, the return of Christ should be an even more urgent issue for us because it is drawing nearer with the passing of each day. We still do not know when Christ is coming, but we do know that we are 2,000 years closer to that event than James was in those earliest days of the Christian era, when the Holy Spirit moved him to warn the church that the coming of the Lord was “at hand” and the Judge was already standing “at the door.”

 WHY IS CHRIST’S IMMINENT RETURN SO IMPORTANT?

The hope of Christ’s imminent coming has a powerful sanctifying and purifying effect on us. “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). The knowledge that Christ’s coming is drawing closer should motivate us to prepare, to pursue Christlikeness, and to put off all the things that pertain to our former lives without Christ.

The apostle Paul says in Romans 13:11-14: “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

The Lord is coming soon, and the event draws nearer every moment. The time to obey is now. The only time we can take for granted is now. And since there is no guarantee of more time, it is unconscionable to defer our obedience. Paul was stressing the urgency of this commandment in his day, 2,000 years ago. How much more urgent are these things for our time? Rather than despairing because He tarries, we ought to realize that the time is nearer now than it has ever been. Our hope should be growing stronger, not diminishing, as He delays his coming.

Christ rebuked the Pharisees for lacking discernment. “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:1-3).

The society in which we live caters to the flesh, offering many material comforts and earthly amusements. Spiritually many fall asleep and sometimes it seems as if the entire church today is in a state of spiritual drowsiness. Where is the sense of expectation that characterized the early church? Most Christians are far more concerned about the arrival of a new cell phone or a new vehicle than what they are with the arrival of the Millennial King! They have become unresponsive to the things of God. They are like the foolish virgins who “while the bridegroom was delayed . . . all slumbered and slept” (Matt. 25:5). It is high time to awake from that slumber.

Paul sent a similar wake-up call to the church at Ephesus: “‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’ See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:14-16). Never was such an alarm more needed than today. In the words of our Lord Himself, “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping” (Mark 13:35-36).

When Paul says “our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11), he is speaking, of course, about the consummation of our salvation. He was not suggesting that the Romans were unregenerate or telling them their justification was a yet-future reality. He reminded them that what began at their regeneration was drawing closer by the moment. “Salvation” in this context refers to our glorification, the final goal of God’s saving work (Rom. 8:30). Throughout Scripture this is connected with the appearing of Christ. “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2). We “eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Phil. 3:2021). “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). “He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb. 9:28). Notice that the writer of Hebrews employs the word salvation the same way Paul uses it in Romans 13:11.

In Romans 8:23: “We ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” That is the aspect of our salvation that is nearer than when we first believed, and it only awaits Christ’s coming.

If the Tribulation was going to occur prior to Christ’s return for the church, Paul would have surely urged the Romans to prepare for it. But far from warning them that a dark era of tribulation was in their future, what he told them was virtually the opposite: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (v. 12).

We have no idea how much sand remains in the hourglass of human history. But we ought to realize that a lot of sand has passed through the hourglass since the apostle Paul said the dawning of daylight was already at hand. How much more urgent is this wake-up call for the church today!

The nighttime of Satan’s dominion will soon give way to the dawn of Christ’s coming for His own. The apostle Paul used precisely the same imagery of darkness and dawn when he wrote to the Thessalonians:

“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 THESS. 5:1-9)

God did not appoint us to wrath. The day of wrath that will come in the Tribulation is not what we are to be prepared for. The sudden appearing of Christ to take us to glory is our hope. Wake up. Be sober. Be alert. Your redemption draws nigh.

Throw Off! The approaching of dawn means it’s time for a change of garments. “Let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12). Paul’s imagery evokes the picture of a soldier who has spent the night in a drunken orgy. Still clad in the garments of his sin, he has fallen into a drunken sleep. But dawn is approaching, and now it is time to wake up, throw off the clothes of night, and put on the armor of light.

Put On! There’s another aspect of being prepared for the Lord’s appearing. We’re not fully prepared for the dawn of the new day unless we have put on the appropriate attire: “put on the armor of light . . . put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:12, 14).

“Armor” suggests warfare, and that is fitting. Though the return of Christ is imminent, that is no warrant to forsake the battle. There is never any suggestion in Scripture that His people should sit on a hillside somewhere to await His coming.

In fact, between now and His coming we are locked in a battle “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Now is not the time to slacken our diligence; in fact, the opposite is true. We should engage the battle with new vigor, knowing that the time is short. “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” (v. 13).

The Christian who is not living a holy and obedient life with heavenly priorities is a Christian who does not grasp the significance of the Lord’s imminent return. If we genuinely are expecting our Lord to appear at any time, that blessed hope should move us to be faithful and to walk properly, lest our Lord return to find us walking improperly, disobeying or dishonoring Him.

The hope of Christ’s imminent return is therefore the hinge on which a proper understanding of sanctification turns.

Let’s review some of the key texts that speak of the imminence of Christ’s return, and notice specifically what kind of practical duties this doctrine places on us.

Steadfastness: “Be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jas. 5:8).

Kindness: “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (Jas. 5:9).

Prayer: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Pet. 4:7).

Faithfulness in assembling together and encouraging one another : “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25).

Holy conduct and godliness: “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Pet. 3:11).

Purity and Christlikeness: “When He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

Those cover several broad categories, embracing every aspect of our sanctification. The hope of Christ’s imminent return is a catalyst and an incentive for all these things—every fruit of the Spirit, every Christian virtue, everything that pertains to holiness and Christlikeness, everything that belongs to life and godliness.

That’s why it’s so important to cultivate a watchful expectancy for the imminent coming of Christ. The point is not to make us obsessed with earthly events. In fact, if your interest in the return of Christ becomes a consuming fixation with what is happening in this world, you have utterly missed the point. The knowledge that Christ’s return is imminent should turn our hearts toward heaven, “from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” (2 Pet. 3:14)

(Key Source: John MacArthur – The Second Coming: Signs of Christ’s Return And The End of The Age)

THE VERY BASICS OF END TIME PROPHECY – PART 4

BASIC PROPHECY

  1. THE RAPTURE

FIRST PHASE

The Rapture of the church is the first phase of Christ’s coming and entails two events: the resurrection and transformation of the believers who died in Christ, and the transformation of living believers. In the twinkle of an eye, they will be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and He will escort them to heaven to live with Him forever. This transformation is the “mystery” of the Rapture.

The Rapture includes only believers who lived between the Day of Pentecost and the day of the Rapture. These people are called church-age believers. The last trumpet of the Rapture is the final trumpet of this church age, and it will summon God’s people to the great reunion in the sky.

The signs of the times are indications that the Second Coming of Christ is near. However, no sign is specifically given with regards to the rapture of the church. The Rapture is an imminent, sign-less event. It’s an event that could occur at any moment without warning.

Isaiah 26:16-19 and Daniel 12:1-3 in the Old Testament place the resurrection of Old Testament believers at the end of the Tribulation period.

THE TERM RAPTURE

The term Rapture is derived from the words “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The phrase “caught up” is in Greek harpazo, which means “to snatch, to seize, or to take suddenly and vehemently.” Harpazo appears thirteen times in the New Testament. In those passages, harpazo is variously translated as “take by force,” “snatch,” or “caught up” (NASB). In Revelation 12:5, harpazo refers back to the Ascension of Jesus to heaven (Acts 1:9-11).

Our English word Rapture is derived from Latin. The Greek word harpazo was translated into the Latin word raeptius. The Latin word rapio means “to seize, snatch, or seize away.” This word was eventually brought into English as Rapture.

THREE MAIN RAPTURE PASSAGES

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1-3)

“What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.

O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:50-57)

“Dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

FOUR VIEWS OF THE TIMING OF THE RAPTURE

The timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation is one of the most controversial issues in the church today. First, it is important to understand the purpose of the tribulation. According to Daniel 9:27, there is a seventieth “seven” (seven years) that is still yet to come. Daniel’s entire prophecy of the seventy sevens (Daniel 9:20-27) is speaking of the nation of Israel. It is a time period in which God focuses His attention especially on Israel. Although this does not necessarily indicate that the church could not also be present, it does bring into question why the church would need to be on the earth during that time. There are four main views.

  1. Pre-Tribulation

They believe that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation. Raptured believers will escape the wrath of God poured out during the Tribulation. There are clear statements that He is coming to deliver His people from the coming wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Revelation 3:10). More will be discussed about the pre-tribulation rapture later in our study.

  1. Mid-Tribulation

This view teaches that believers will be caught up to heaven at the midpoint of the Tribulation. Some place it at Revelation 6:12-17, others at Revelation 11:15-17, and still others at Revelation 14:1-4. This inconsistency is a major weakness for this view.

One of the arguments for a mid-tribulation rapture is the belief that the trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52 is the same trumpet mentioned in Revelation 11:15. But the trumpet in Revelation 11 is a trumpet of judgment, declaring doom on the wicked. The trumpet in 1 Corinthians is a call to those elected by God through His Grace. In addition, even though Revelation 11:15 identifies the trumpet as the seventh and final trumpet in that series, chronologically it is not the “last” trumpet. That trumpet is found in Matthew 24:31 when it sounds to commence God’s kingdom.

According to Mid-tribulationists the wrath of God only refers to the second half of the seven-year tribulation period. For the wrath to only refer to the second half would limit the wrath to the bowl judgments, completely ignoring the judgments that took place in the seal and trumpet judgments which, include famine, poisoned waterways, bloodshed, torment, earthquakes, untold numbers being killed and a darkened moon.

This argument falls when one looks at Revelation 6:17 which reads, “For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?” (NLT) Some argue that the wrath prior to Revelation 11 is Satan’s wrath and not God’s. But they completely forget who is directing all the events. Any wrath is clearly coming from God who allows Satan to do his worst evil deeds.

  1. Post-Tribulation

There are many believers who hold this belief, including Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and many Protestant denominations. This view holds that the Rapture will occur at the end of the Tribulation in conjunction with the second coming of Christ to earth. Revelation 19 constitutes a major problem for post-tribulationists. Revelation 19:11-21 is the most comprehensive and detailed account of the second coming of Christ found anywhere in the Bible. Yet it contains no mention of a resurrection or rapture. If the Rapture were post-tribulational, why would this key feature be totally missing?

They confuse the “saints” being in the tribulation, as mentioned in Revelation 13:7 and 20:9, with the church. They also argue that the reference to the “first resurrection” in Revelation 20:5 provides proof that the rapture cannot occur before after the tribulation. They blindly ignore the fact that those who are in Christ are not under condemnation and will never experience the wrath of God (Romans 8:1.)

  1. Pre-Wrath

The pre-wrath view holds that the Rapture will occur 5½ years into the Tribulation. The calamities up to that point, in this view, result from the wrath of man and the wrath of Satan, not the wrath of God. As with the mid-tribulationists, they forget that it is God who allows Satan to do his evil deeds. The seal judgments in Revelation 6 are opened by the Lamb (Jesus Christ) at the very beginning of the tribulation (Revelation 6:1-2). He is therefore the source of these judgments.

SEVEN REASONS FOR THE PRETRIB RAPTURE

Place of the Church in Revelation

If the church will experience any or all of the Tribulation, then one would expect that Revelation 6–18 would include an account of the church’s role on earth during that time period. But remarkably, Revelation 6–18 is silent about the church. Revelation 1–3 specifically mentions the church nineteen times. In Revelation 4:1 the apostle John is lifted up to heaven and transported into the future, where he sees visions of the end of days.

The church doesn’t appear again until chapter 19, where she is pictured as a bride returning to earth with her glorious Bridegroom. Revelation 22:16 refers to the church again for the final time.

The “twenty-four elders” represent the church in heaven throughout Revelation 4–19, enthroned and crowned, dressed in white, and worshiping the Lamb (Revelation 4:4, 10; 5:5-6, 8, 11, 14; 7:11, 13;11:16; 14:3; 19:4). The elders appear twelve times in these chapters.

Rapture versus Return

The New Testament describes two phases of Christ’s second coming: (1) He will come for His church to take her to His Father’s house (John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16), and (2) He will come with His saints when He descends from heaven to judge His enemies and establish His one-thousand-year Kingdom on earth (Zechariah 14:4-5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13). Between these two stages, the Tribulation happens.

The Rapture is imminent and signless and could occur at any moment (1 Thessalonians 1:10). The Second Coming, on the other hand, will be preceded by all kinds of signs (Matthew 24:1-29).

RAPTURE VS SECOND COMING

Exemption from Divine Wrath

Jesus Himself told His disciples, “In the world you have tribulation” (John 16:33, NASB). The apostle Paul said, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22, NASB). But the wrath during the seven-year Tribulation is wrath in a specific sense.

Part of what salvation in Christ means is that God saves us from the wrath we deserve (Ephesians 2:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). This has been God’s pattern—not to judge the righteous with the wicked. Lot and his family were rescued from Sodom when God poured out His wrath on the cities of the plain (Genesis 18–19). Also, Enoch’s rapture to heaven before the Flood illustrates this biblical principle as well (Genesis 5:23-24). God saves His people from His wrath upon principle as well (Genesis 5:23-24).

The Bible promises that church-age believers will be exempt from the coming wrath of God during the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 5:9; Revelation 3:10). The entire tribulation is made up of consistent judgment from God Himself against a rebellious world.

Evidence for Exemption in 1 Thessalonians

The chronology of 1 Thessalonians 4–5 supports the pre-tribulation position. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 addresses the rapture while 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9 relates to the Day of the Lord (Tribulation). There’s a clear shift from “you” and “we” (the believers) to “they” and “them” (the unbelievers). One group will be raptured and escape the wrath, and the other will remain on earth and face its full force.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 clearly says, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (NASB).”

Evidence for Exemption in Revelation 3:10-11

“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly.” (Revelation 3:10-11)

Time Gap between the Rapture and the Second Coming

Revelation 19:7-10 pictures the church as a bride who has been made ready for marriage to her groom. When Christ returns in his second coming, the bride is dressed and ready to accompany Christ back to the earth (Revelation 19:11-18).

If all saints were caught up in a post-tribulation rapture prior to the Millennium, there would be no people in natural bodies to enter the one-thousand-year reign of Christ. Isaiah 65:20-25 suggests that, during the Millennium, people will carry on ordinary occupations such as farming, planting vineyards, and building houses, and they will bear children, populating the messianic kingdom.

If the Rapture and the Second Coming occur together, as post-tribulationists believe, and all living believers are caught up to meet Jesus and escort Him back to earth, then there won’t be any sheep left on earth when Jesus arrives. All that would be left are goats.

Removal of the Restrainer

2 Thessalonians 2:1, 3-8 describes the revelation of “the man of lawlessness.” The Holy Spirit is omnipresent and cannot be removed from the earth. The Holy Spirit uses the church and its proclamation and portrayal of the gospel as the primary instrument in this age to restrain evil. The rapture will change everything.

Imminency

Verses such as 1 Corinthians 1:7, 1 Corinthians 16:22, Philippians 3:20, Philippians 4:5, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 9:28 and Revelation 22:17, 20 serves as examples. All these Scriptures refer to the Rapture and speak of it as though it could occur at any moment. An imminent event is one that is certain to occur, but the timing of it is uncertain.

The early church adopted a special password to identify themselves and to greet each other: Maranatha (1 Corinthians 16:22).

Blessed Hope

Titus 2:13 says, “We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” After describing the Rapture, Paul concludes with this gentle reminder: “Encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PRETRIB RAPTURE VIEW

One of the key objections to the pre-tribulation rapture view is that it can’t be right because it didn’t arrive on the scene until the 1830s through the ministry and teaching of an Irish preacher named John Nelson Darby.

Pseudo-Ephraem

The earliest extra-biblical evidence of the pre-tribulation rapture position surfaced in the early medieval period in a sermon titled “On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World, or Sermon on the End of the World.” This powerful sermon was written sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries. The sermon is often attributed to Ephraem the Syrian, but most scholars believe it was the product of someone known as Pseudo-Ephraem.

Brother Dolcino

In AD 1260, Gerard Sagarello founded a group known as the Apostolic Brethren in northern Italy. In 1300, Gerard was burned at the stake, and a man named Brother Dolcino took over leadership of the movement. Brother Dolcino died in 1307, and in 1316 an anonymous notary of the diocese of Vercelli in northern Italy wrote a brief treatise in Latin, called The History of Brother Dolcino, in which he addressed the pre-tribulation rapture..

Morgan Edwards

Morgan Edwards (1722–1795) was a Baptist who founded Brown University. Edwards believed in a distinct rapture 3½ years before the start of the Millennium. Edwards first wrote about his pre-tribulation beliefs in 1742 and later published them in 1788.

Others

John Asgill authored a book in 1700 “about the possibility of translation (i.e., rapture) without seeing death.” Peter Jurieu wrote the book Approaching Deliverance of the Church (1687). There were also Philip Doddridge’s commentary on the New Testament (1783) and John Gill’s commentary on the New Testament (1748). James Macknight (1763) and Thomas Scott (1792) followed.

SIX HISTORICAL RAPTURES

Rapture of Enoch (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5)

Rapture of Elijah (2 Kings 2:1, 11)

Rapture of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-3)

Rapture of Jesus (Revelation 12:5)

Rapture of Philip (Acts 8:39-40)

Rapture of Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)