AN OVERVIEW OF THE END TIMES
As suggested in the title, this paper is not intended to be a comprehensive study of the end times. The reader will note that I have suggested the reading of a few papers on this web-site that prove some of the issues raised. I have done this so as to not get bogged down in too many details. But for a more thorough study of some of the topics raised in this paper, the reader is encouraged to read the papers suggested.
In order to understand the end times, we must understand that Israel is at the very center of them. Because Israel is at the center of end time prophecies, those prophecies cannot be fulfilled until Israel is taken back as God’s chosen nation.
I believe that the end time prophecies will be fulfilled in the following order:
THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM
THE EVENTS OF DANIEL 11:1-20
THE BEGINNING OF THE SEVENTIETH WEEK
THE COSMIC SIGNS, i.e. THE SIGN OF THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST
THE APPEARING OF CHRIST IN THE CLOUDS:THE DAY OF THE LORD:THE RESURRECTION AND RAPTURE
THE MILLENNIAL REIGN
THE GATHERING OF ISRAEL
THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT
THE NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH
THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM
Because the end times are Israel centered, the prophetic clock stopped when Israel was put aside. That clock will begin when Israel is taken back. How can we know when God takes Israel back as His chosen people and the prophetic clock begins? I believe that the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem will be the first sign that God is preparing to, or has, taken back His people to Himself. Let me offer the Scriptural reasons for that belief.
In Exodus 25:21-22 we read, “Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony which I will give you. There above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all My commands for the Israelites”. And in Deut. 12:11 we read, “Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for His Name …there you are to bring everything I command you”. It is clear that God told Israel that He would dwell and meet with them from wherever the ark of the Testimony was. And the ark of the testimony was placed, of course, in the temple. Therefore, in order for God to dwell once again with Israel, the temple must be rebuilt.
Now we need to ask ourselves if we have the Scriptural evidence to prove that the temple will be rebuilt for the end times. The answer is, yes, we do. The KJV of Dan. 9:27 reads, “….and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate….”. The note in the Companion Bible on the phrase, “for the overspreading of” reads, “on the wing or battlement of”. The NIV translates 9:27, “And one who causes desolation will place abominations on a wing of the temple until the end that is decreed is poured out on him”. The fact that the temple will have been rebuilt by the time of the tribulation is further proven in II Thess. 2:4, “Who (the antichrist -see verse 3) opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the Temple of God, shewing himself that he is God”. We know from this that the temple will have been rebuilt by the time of the tribulation. (For the Scriptural evidence that Israel will be God’s people in the tribulation please see the paper on this web-site Will Israel Be God’s People in the Tribulation?).
In short, I believe that the building of the Temple in Jerusalem will be the sign that God has taken back His chosen People and the end times will begin. ( For a more complete consideration of how we can know when the end times will begin please see the paper on that subject).
THE EVENTS OF DANIEL 11:1-20
Most believe that the prophetic clock will begin with the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel’s 70 weeks. However, as the paper on this web-site Have Any Of The Prophecies Of Daniel Eleven Been Fulfilled? will show from Scripture, the events of Dan. 11:1-20 are end time events and must occur just before the beginning of the 70th week. The reason they must occur before the beginning of the 70th week is that the verses before Dan. 11:21 speak of those who will come before the antichrist. The last of the 70 weeks will begin when the antichrist makes a seven year covenant (see Dan. 9:27a). So the 70th week could not start before the antichrist comes on the scene.
I believe that the first prophecies to be fulfilled once the prophetic clock begins are the events of Dan. 11:1-20. Most see those events as having been fulfilled by such as Alexander the Great and Ptolemy Soer of Egypt. But Alexander and Ptolemy have never been mentioned in God’s Word, which means that these Scriptures of Dan. 11:1-20 were, in the minds of most, fulfilled by the writings of secular historians. I will not digress to the point of proving my point, i.e. that the events of Dan. 11:1-20 are end time events, but the reader is encouraged to read the above mentioned paper on Daniel eleven which will, I believe, prove the point by comparing Scripture with Scripture.
THE BEGINNING OF THE SEVENTIETH WEEK
As mentioned above, the events of Dan. 11:1-20 will be, in my opinion, the first prophecies to be fulfilled when the prophetic clock begins to tick. Those events will lead to the appearance on the scene of the antichrist. But it is not the appearance of the antichrist on the scene that begins the 70th week, it is when “he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” (Dan. 9:27a). How do we know that Dan. 11:21 is about the antichrist? We read in Dan. 11:21-30 the following things concerning this one who is called in verse 21, ” a vile person”. Note in verse 28, “his heart shall be against the holy covenant“. And verse 30, he shall be grieved and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant“. The phrase, “holy covenant” takes us back to Dan. 9:27 where we read of the antichrist that “he shall confirm the covenant …for one week”, but that “in the midst of the week” he will break that covenant.
What is the “holy covenant”? I believe Dan. 11:30-31 gives us conclusive proof that the “holy covenant” is the law of Moses. “……he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do: he shall even return and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant. And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifices, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate”.
What will the antichrist do when he turns against the holy covenant? He will pollute the sanctuary, he will put an end to sacrifices and he will set up the abomination. These all point to the degrading of the Mosaic Law. I believe therefore, that the antichrist will, at first, seem to strengthen the Mosaic law, and then turn against it.
In Dan. 11:36 we have further proof that the “vile person” is indeed the antichrist. We read of him that “he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every God, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods…..”. The phrase “he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every God” is quoted in II Thess. 2:4 where he is defined as “the man of sin, the man of perdition”, i.e. the antichrist.
We have learned thus far that the events of Dan. 11:1-20 will be the first end times prophecies to be fulfilled, and that those events will lead to the beginning of the 70th week. The sign of the beginning of the 70th week will be when the antichrist confirms a covenant with Israel for seven years.
We are now ready to consider the first half of the seven year agreement. The events of Matt. 24:5-8 will occur before the beginning of the tribulation. Note verse 8 of Matt. 24, “All these are the beginning of sorrows” What are the events of the “beginning of sorrows”, i.e. the first half of the last seven years of the 70 weeks?
“many shall come in My name….and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:5).
“Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matt. 24:6).
“Nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes” Matt. 24:7).*
We know from several passages in Revelation that the tribulation itself will last, not seven, but three and one half years. See Rev. 11:2 “(forty two months”),11:3 (“a thousand, three hundred and three score days”) and 12:14 (“a time and times and a half of time”). The context of all these passages will show that they refer to the time of the tribulation. Let us consider the following categories having to do with the tribulation:
The Purpose Of The Tribulation
How Wide Spread, Geographically, Will The Tribulation Be?
From What Country Will The Antichrist Come?
What Will The Antichrist Do?
The Purpose Of The Tribulation
Let us consider the purpose of the tribulation in relation to God’s plans. We read in Jer. 30:7, “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble“. How do we know that this verse is in reference to the tribulation? We know because we read in Matt. 24:21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be”. Jeremiah tells us that there will be none like this period of Jacob’s trouble, and Matthew tells us that there never was or will be a time like the “great tribulation”. By comparing Scripture with Scripture we may conclude that Jeremiah speaks of the great tribulation which he refers to as “Jacob’s trouble”.
Matt. 24:21 is a quote from Dan. 12:1, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy People: and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy People shall be delivered every one that shall be found written in the book”. The phrase “a time of trouble such as never was” tells us that this verse is about the tribulation. . And from the phrase, “thy People” (i.e. Daniel’s People, Israel), we learn that the tribulation will be very Israel centered
This limited scope of the tribulation to Israel is explained even further with the correct translation of Rev. 3:10. The paper on this web-site The Tribulation Will Not Be World Wide gives the reasons for this translation and the reader is encouraged to look into those reasons, but it would take us too far afield to consider them here. “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, which shall come upon all the inhabited world, to test them that dwell in the land“. The above mentioned paper will prove that the Holy Spirit uses the Greek word “oikoumenee” translated above “inhabited world” to refer to the territory of Israel and surrounding nations.
I believe that the purpose of the tribulation is very clearly stated. It is to test Israel to determine who will be true to God and who will worship the antichrist.*
How Wide Spread, Geographically, Will The Tribulation Be?
As the paper on the geographic scope of the tribulation mentioned above proves, the tribulation will not be world wide, it will cover the land of Israel and surrounding nations. The three Greek words translated “world” in Revelation are “kosmos”, “oikoumenee“and “ge“. As the above mentioned paper will prove from Scripture “oikoumenee” means “inhabited land” and refers to the territory of the first century Roman Empire. The Greek word “ge” can refer to one of three things: 1) land as opposed to water, 2) the earth as opposed to heaven and 3) the land of Israel. The context will always make it clear which the Holy Spirit intends us to understand. For example, when we read in Rev. 3:10 that the hour of trial will “come upon” them that dwell in the territory of the first century Roman Empire, it makes no sense to say that it will test those of the entire world. In fact it cannot mean that because the tribulation cannot test those upon whom it will not come.
Consider also Rev. 6:15, “And the kings of the earth (Gr. ge), and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondsmen and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains”. Not every country in the world has caves or rocks or mountains. We cannot conclude that Rev. 6:15 was incorrect, we must conclude with the help of the evidence presented in the paper on the limited geographical scope of the tribulation, that “ge” in this verse refers to Israel.*
From What Country Will The Antichrist Come?
It is clear from Daniel two and other prophecies that the kingdom of the antichrist will immediately precede and be replaced by, the kingdom of God. Dan. 2:4 reads, “And in the days of these kings (the kings represented by the toes of iron and clay spoken of in verses 41-43) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand for ever”. Rev. 19:11-20 gives further proof that the kingdom of Heaven will replace the kingdom of the antichrist. “and I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He That sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war……..and His name is called the Word of God….and the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses…..and I saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army…..”
Further proof that the kingdom of the antichrist will be replaced by the kingdom of God is given in Dan. 8:23-24 . “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences shall stand up. and his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand“. This is an obvious reference to the antichrist. The phrase “broken without hand” takes us back to Dan. 2:34, “….a stone was cut out without hands to smote the image…”. A comparison of these two passages clearly tells us that the kingdom of the antichrist will be destroyed “without hands” and be replaced by the kingdom of God.
In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream the fourth kingdom is represented by the legs of iron. But note that the kingdom represented by the toes of mixed iron and clay is not spoken of as a “fifth” kingdom. I believe that fact, plus the fact that the toes are mixed iron and clay, points to the conclusion that the kingdom represented by the toes comes from the kingdom represented by the legs of iron. In other words, the fourth kingdom, i.e. the kingdom of iron gives rise to the kingdom of the antichrist. (The paper on this web-site Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream: The Greek Antichrist will give a more complete argument for this view). This view is substantiated by Daniel’s vision recorded in chapter eight.
In chapter eight Daniel records the vision of a ram with two horns which, we are told in the interpretation represents Medo-Persia. “The ram that thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia” (verse 20). While it is true that the kingdom of brass in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was also the kingdom of Media-Persia, that kingdom should not be confused with the Media-Persian kingdom of Daniel 8, as we are very specifically told that this entire vision of Dan. 8 is an end time prophecy (Dan. 8:17b, “at the time of the end shall be the vision”). But the Media-Persian Empire of chapter two came right after the Babylonian Empire, i.e. it was not an end time empire.
The vision of Daniel eight is a prophecy of end times, and in the end times the Medo-Persian kingdom will, as we will see, be replaced by Greece. In his visions Daniel also saw a goat, which we are told in verse 21 represents the king of Greece. “and the rough goat is the king of Grecia.….”. Verse 22 describes the breaking up of Greece into four kingdoms. And verse 22 describes the appearance of the antichrist. Let me quote verses 22-23 for the sake of clarity so that there is no confusion as to the kingdom from which the antichrist will come. “And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up”. Who is this king “of fierce countenance”? He is described in verses 24-25 as one who will “destroy the mighty and the holy people. He will “magnify himself”. And he shall “stand up against the Prince of princes“. This king is one of the four kings of Greece. We learn from both Daniel two and Daniel eight that Greece will give rise to the antichrist.
I believe that Scripture teaches that the kingdom of the antichrist will be replaced by the kingdom of God. When we add to that the fact that Scriptures teach that Greece is the Empire that will give rise to the kingdom which will immediately precede the kingdom of God, we are left with the Scriptural evidence that the antichrist will come from Greece. It may not look like that today, but we must not substitute current events for the teachings of the Word of God.*
What Will The Antichrist Do?
If we are to consider what the antichrist will do in chronological order, we must first consider Dan. 11:21, “In his estate shall stand up a vile person to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom; but he shall come in peaceably and obtain the kingdom by flatteries”. Verse 22 tells us how he will take the kingdom, “with the arms of a flood”. Verses 22-23 tell us that this “vile person” will make a covenant with a prince but later “he shall work deceitfully; for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people”. Verses 25-29 describe battles between him and the king of the south. Verses 21-29 tell of what the antichrist will do just as he appears on the scene.
We read in verse 30, “….he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant“. This is the covenant of Dan. 9:27 which the antichrist will make for one week (seven years) and then break after 3 and 1/2 years when he disallows the sacrifices and places the abomination of desolation on the wing of the temple. This is proved by verse 31 where we read, “and arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate”. Verse 32, “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries, but the people that do know their God shall be strong…..”. But they “shall fall by the sword and by flame, by captivity and by spoil many days” (Dan. 11:33).
Verse 36 reads, “and the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every God, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done”.
In verses 37-39 we read, “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers….for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honour the god of forces…..and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain” The NIV and the note in the Companion Bible has instead of “for gain”, “for a price”. In my opinion, that price is given in Rev. 13:17, “And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name”. In other words, the price of being able to “divide the land” was receiving the mark of the beast.
Then in verses 40-42 we read of his end, “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him……he shall also enter into the glorious land (Israel, see 8:9), and many countries shall be overthrown”. The rest of chapter 11 tell of his last battles and in verse 45b we read, “yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him”.
Basically we have learned that the antichrist will be a man of lies and deceit, a man of battles and a man who exalts himself even above God.
We read in Dan. 7:25, “And he shall speak great words against the Most High and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and the shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of times”. The phrase “time and times and the dividing of times” is obviously three and one half years. This is the last half of the 70th week. The phrase is also used in chapter 12 of Daniel. Verse 7, “…..it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished”.
This phrase also takes us to the book of Revelation where we read of three and one half years in Rev. 11:2 (42 months) and as Rev. 11:3 (1,260 days). By using these key phrases we can know that when we find them in all parts of God’s Word, they are referring to the same time and the context of each occurrence will prove that. The occurrences in Revelation will add to what we have already discovered about the tribulation from the Old Testament.
Rev. 11:2, “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (three and one half years) . The Greek word translated “tread” is used in Luke 21:24 and is translated “”trodden”, “and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nation: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”. (The paper on this web-site When Will The Times Of The Gentiles Be Fulfilled? proves from Scripture that the “times of the Gentiles” will begin with the tribulation and end at the end of the tribulation).
Now that we have learned from the Old Testament passages that speak of what the antichrist will do, we are armed with the Scriptural background so that we may understand more fully Rev. 13:5-10. Because this passage sums up and adds to what we already know, I will quote all six verses, “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth (Gr. “ge”, i.e. land of Israel) shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints”.
Note the four times we read that the antichrist was given power. I believe that that power will be given him by Satan. The reason for that belief comes, in part, from Rev. 13:12 where we read that the beast had suffered a fatal wound but lived. Certainly God would not have delivered the beast from his fatal wound. Satan is the only one that could have done that apart from God. My conclusion is that Satan delivered the antichrist from his fatal wound and that Satan will be the power behind the antichrist.
It is important to see that the tribulation is allowed by God to test Israel, but is entirely driven by Satan. (Please see the paper on the differences between the tribulation and the day of the Lord for the Scriptural evidence of that statement). As we shall see in the sections below, the day of the Lord which follows the tribulation, will be entirely driven by God.*
Other Notable Persons In The Tribulation
The False Prophet
One notable person of the tribulation is the “false prophet”. We read of him in Rev. 13. Verse 12 tells us that he will have all the power of the first beast” (i.e. the antichrist) and “causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast……”. We learn from verses 13-14 that he will do great miracles and many will be deceived by them and worship the antichrist. Verse 16, “And he causeth all both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” But in Rev. 19:20 we read, “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire with brimstone”.*
Elijah will be sent, we are told, before the day of the Lord. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5).
Elijah’s mission will help us to determine when he will come. His mission is very clearly stated in Mal. 4:4-5. “……. he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers……..”. Note the very limited ministry assigned to Elijah. He will be sent to turn the children to their fathers and fathers to their children. In Mark 13:12 we read of the terrible relationships between fathers and children brought on by the “beginning of sorrows”, “Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death”.
I suggest that Elijah will be sent to Israel to reverse the tragic relationships between fathers and their children that will exist “before the day of the Lord”. Because Elijah’s mission is to reverse the relationships that are described in the 70th week of Daniel’s 70 weeks, I believe he will be sent at that time. I have included him as a notable person of the tribulation, but, of course, the 70th week begins three and one half years before the tribulation but includes the tribulation.
Seeing that Elijah’s mission is so limited, how are we to understand Mark 9:12 where we read, “.. He answered and told them, ‘Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things…..”. Let us first consider what we mean specifically by the phrase “restoreth all things”. In my opinion, we must put this phrase in the context of what Scripture tells us Elijah will be sent to accomplish. Elijah will not restore the kingdom to Israel, Christ will do that at His coming. (Please see the paper on this web-site Will The Kingdom Of Heaven Be Established Before The Second Coming Of Christ? for the Scriptural evidence that the kingdom of Heaven will be established after our Lord returns, not before). And Elijah will not restore the temple, Christ will (Zech. 6:12). In short, there is no Scriptural evidence to conclude that Elijah will be sent to accomplish anything other than what we are told, i.e. to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers”.
Unfortunately, some think of the “day of the Lord” and the “the Lord’s day” as the same event. That has led to what is, in my opinion, great error in terms of Elijah’s mission in particular and in regard to end time prophecies in general. So it is necessary to understand what the scriptures say about “the day of the Lord” and what they say about “the Lord’s day”. We will address that issue in the section on the day of the Lord.*
We should also consider the 144,000 of Rev. 7. Much has been written of who these 144,000 might be, but Scripture is very clear. They are 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel (see Rev. 7:4-8).
What was the purpose of their being sealed? Let us consider each occurrence of where these 144,000 are mentioned so as to take our answer from Scripture.
Rev. 7:3-4, “Saying ‘Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads’. And I heard the number of them which were sealed, and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel”. Let us go back to verse one, “and after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, and holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth nor on the sea, nor on any tree”. In my opinion, the 144,000 were sealed to protect them. In this passage it was to protect them from the winds that were about to be released on the earth and sea. This view is substantiated by Rev. 9:4, “And it was commanded them (the locusts from the bottomless pit, verses 2-3 whose king was “Abaddon”, i.e. the destroyer, vs. 11) that they should hurt not the grass of the earth…..but only those men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads”.
The next passages in which we read of the 144,000 are in Rev. 14:1 and 3, “and I looked and lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads”. “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth”.
I believe that having looked at each of the passages that speak of these 144,000 we may answer our question: why were they sealed? May I respectfully remind the reader that we read in Matt. 24: 22 “…. but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened”. In my opinion, the “elect” refers to the 144,000. This plus the fact that they were sealed in order to protect them, tells me that God had determined to not allow Satan to totally have his way with Israel, i.e. that God will have (as He always had) a remnant of believers that would remain faithful to Him. Therefore, I believe that the 144,000 were sealed to protect them, so that God would always have a faithful remnant.*
The Two Witnesses
We read in Rev. 11:3-13 of “two witnesses”. “And I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days (three and one half years), clothed in sackcloth. …….if any man hurteth them he must in this manner be killed. These have the power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they have finished their testimony the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them and shall overcome them, and kill them. Their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, and they of the people…..shall see their dead bodies three days and an half and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. …..and after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and …….they ascended up to heaven in a cloud……”.
Much has been written about who these two witnesses may be. But the plain fact of the matter is that we are not told. Where Scripture is silent, we too, in my opinion, should be silent. And much has been written as to what they will do. We are told quite specifically what they will do, i.e they will “prophesy”, i.e. teach. We are not told specifically what they will teach, but we may conclude from the powers they will use that they will be teaching truth to those who are enemies of the truth.*
Escape From the Tribulation
It is important to note, because it impacts on the question of when believers will be raptured, that there will be a place to which one may escape the tribulation. We begin with the statement of our Lord in Matt. 24:16, “Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains”. The word “then” follows, of course, the previous verse which tells of the abomination of desolation. That means that after they see the abomination then they should flee. The paper on the numbered days of Daniel 12 gives the Scriptural reasons for my belief that the abomination will appear on the temple wing 30 days before the tribulation begins. That means that they are warned to flee just before the beginning of the tribulation.
Obviously, if the rapture will take place before the tribulation, there will be no need to flee. From that fact alone, we must conclude that the rapture cannot be before the tribulation. (The Scriptural evidence of when the rapture will take place is given in the two sections below). But let us continue with the subject of this escape from the tribulation.
We read in Jer. 31:2, “Thus saith the Lord, ‘The People which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest“. And Jer. 30:7 speaks of “Jacob’s’ trouble” “but he shall be saved out of it“. Then in Rev. 12:13-17 we have the New Testament account of the escape of Israel from the tribulation. “…..and to the woman (Israel, vs. 1-2) were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water….that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth…..opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood…..and the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ”.
The point is that there is no evidence to conclude that the rapture will save Israel from the tribulation. But there is evidence to conclude that God has a plan of escape from the tribulation into the wilderness.*
THE COSMIC SIGNS, i.e. THE SIGN OF THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST
Thus far I have tried to show from Scripture that the order of events are as follows: the events of Dan. 11:1-20, followed by the first half of the 70th of Daniel’s 70 weeks, followed by the tribulation (the last half of the 70th week). We come now to the sign of the coming of the Christ. Matt. 24: 29-30 reads, “Immediately after the tribulation…….shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven”. The sign cannot be the same as His coming, as His coming is what the sign announces. The sign obviously will be seen before His appearing in the clouds.
As we consider Hosea 5:15-6:2 we will see the Scriptural evidence that the sign must precede Christ’s appearing in the clouds. Hosea 5:15-16 reads, “I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face…….”. (The paper on this web-site on Hosea 5:15-6:2 will prove from Scripture that this is an end time prophecy). Given that this verse speaks of Christ’s return to heaven we must conclude that He had first left heaven. That, of course, points to the earthly ministry of our Lord at His first coming. We can, therefore conclude that the offence Israel must acknowledge before Christ leaves heaven is the crucifixion. What is important to note is that Christ will remain in heaven until Israel acknowledges their sin. That is to say, He will not be seen in the clouds until after Israel acknowledges their offence.
In fact, we do read of Israel acknowledging that offence in Zech. 12:10-12, “…..and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem…..and the land shall mourn, every family apart….”. Before we continue we must understand that the Hebrew word translated “upon” in the phrase “look upon” is not translated correctly in the KJV. The note in the Companion Bible on that word reads, “upon=unto“. There is a big difference between looking upon and looking unto. In Zech. 12:10 looking upon implies they are looking at Christ. Looking unto implies that they are looking for Christ. Because there are no contradictions in the Word of God, we must, in my opinion, accept the Companion Bible note and conclude that Israel was looking unto (for) the coming of Christ. If we say otherwise we have Christ being seen before Israel mourns what they had done which contradicts Hosea 5:15-6:2 which tells us that Christ will appear in the clouds after Israel acknowledges their offence . We must conclude therefore, that Israel was looking at the sign and after seeing that sign and acknowledging their offence, then they will see the Son of man in the clouds.
What is the sign of His coming? We read in Matt. 24:29-30, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken”. The next verse, i.e. verse 30, begins with the Greek word “kai” translated “and” in the phrase “and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man….”. The Greek “kai” can, and is, often translated “even” and in my opinion, should be so translated here. The reason I believe it should be is because we are never told, apart from this passage, what the sign of His coming will be. Surely because we are told that there will be a sign, the sign is given in Scripture. Also, the cosmic events mentioned in verse 29 are appropriate signs for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially when we remember that He will come in vengeance. So, in my opinion, the sign of His coming appearance in the clouds is that the sun and moon will be darkened and the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of heaven shall shake.
I have tried to show that Israel must acknowledge their offence before Christ leaves heaven. Obviously, He will not appear in the clouds until after He leaves heaven. Therefore, in accordance with Matt. 24:29-30 and Hosea 5:15-6:2 I suggest that the order of events is as follows: The tribulation, followed by the cosmic events which will serve as the sign of the coming of Christ. This will be followed by the appearing of Jesus Christ in the clouds.*
THE APPEARING OF CHRIST IN THE CLOUDS: THE DAY OF THE LORD: THE RESURRECTION AND RAPTURE
THE APPEARING OF CHRIST IN THE CLOUDS
After the tribulation, and after the cosmic signs (the sign of His coming), and after Israel acknowledges their offence, Jesus Christ will appear in the clouds. How do we know that? We know that from Matt. 24:29-30.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; Even then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven:
and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn,
and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”.
THE RESURRECTION AND THE RAPTURE
Once we understand when, in the scheme of things, the Lord will be seen in the clouds, there can be no question as to when the rapture and the resurrection of believers will take place. We read in I Thess. 4:16-17, “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive, and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air….”. In other words, the rapture and resurrection of believers will be when the Lord appears in the clouds.
As we have seen above, the rapture will be after the tribulation. We must conclude therefore, that the rapture will rescue believers, not from the Satan driven tribulation, which will be allowed by God, but the rapture will rescue believers from the day of God’s wrath and vengeance upon those who drove the tribulation. We read in I Thess. 1:10, “And to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, Which delivered us from the wrath to come“. The Companion Bible note on the word translated “delivered” reads, “delivered = rescueth”. In any case, it is clear that this wrath is yet future when Paul wrote this because of the phrase “to come”. This tells us that believers will be rescued from God’s wrath. At what point will God’s wrath be meted out, i.e. when will believers be rescued? I would like to offer the scriptural evidence that will prove that God’s wrath will be meted out in the day of the Lord. That would mean that the rapture and resurrection will occur at the very beginning of the day of the Lord.
Rev. 6:17 tells us of God’s future wrath. “For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Verses 12-13 tell of the signs of this wrath to come. “And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth…..”. As we compare the signs of the wrath of God to come with the signs of the day of the Lord, we shall see that they are the same signs, proving, of course, that the day of the Lord begins with the day of God’s wrath. We read in Joel 3:14-16, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake….”.
Let us tie these prophecies together:
1) We know from I Thess. 1:10 that the rapture will rescue believers from the wrath of God.
2) We know from a comparison of Rev. 6:12-17 with Joel 3:14-16 that God’s wrath will be meted out in the day of the Lord, i.e. the beginning of which believers will be rescued.
3) We know from I Thess. 4:16-17 this rescue will take place when Christ appears in the clouds.
4) We know from Matt. 24:29-30 that Jesus Christ will appear in the clouds after the tribulation, and after the cosmic signs of His coming, and after Israel mourns Him Whom they had pierced .*
The Day Of The Lord
There is some confusion as to whether the day of the Lord is the same as the Lord’s day. I believe therefore, that a discussion of the two is warranted. It is clear from Rev. 1:10 and 19 that everything that is recorded in the book of Revelation is what John saw while in the spirit in the “Lord’s day”. Those verses read, “I was in the spirit in the Lord’s day….”. And “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter”. In other words, John recorded in Revelation all that he had seen while he was by the spirit in the Lord’s day .
Unfortunately the note in the Companion Bible on the term “Lord’s day” in Rev. 1:10 is not helpful in dispelling the misconception that the “Lord’s day” is the same event as “the day of the Lord”. That note reads, “The Lord’s day = the day of the Lord (Is. 2:12&c.), the Heb. terms for which are equivalent to the Greek he kuriake hemera, the Lord’s day. Occ. I Thess. 5:2, II Thess. 2:2 (with texts) II Peter 3:10….”. But the Greek term in Rev. 1:10 is not exactly the same as the term found in I Thess. or II Thess. or in II Peter. Those verses have the Greek term that is correctly translated “the day of the Lord”. The term “the Lord’s day” is slightly different in the Greek, as it is in English, than the term “the day of the Lord”. In my opinion, where the Holy Spirit uses a different term (even if only slightly different) , that difference must be considered and accounted for. We will do that as we continue in this study.
The reason I do not agree that the day of the Lord is the same as the Lord’s day is because John wrote in Revelation of the day of the Lord and of the millennium and of the new heavens and new earth. As we shall see, the day of the Lord is characterized as a day of darkness, a day of vengeance and a day of judgment. The millennium is never characterized as such. And certainly the new heavens and new earth are never characterized as such. Therefore, because the character of the millennium and the new heavens and new earth are exactly opposite from the character of the day of the Lord, the millennium and the new heavens and new earth cannot, in my opinion, be included in the term “day of the Lord”. But it can be, and is, included in the term “Lord’s day”.
Let us search the Scripture for a correct understanding of the character of the day of the Lord. The following are all the Old Testament passages that speak of the day of the Lord. I will quote only the passages in which the Hebrew reads, “yom Jehovah”, i.e. the day of the Lord. There are four passages in which the Hebrew has “l” as a prefix which, according to the Companion Bible, means “for” or “to” Jehovah. Those four passages are: Is. 2:12, Ezek. 30:3, Zech. 14:1 and 17. I will quote the verses which read in the Hebrew, “the day of the Lord” in order to prove from Scripture that the day of the Lord is not a time of restoration and it does not include the millennial reign or the new heavens and new earth, it is a time of judgment and of destruction.
Is. 13:6 and 9, “Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand, it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty“.
Ezek. 13:5, “Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord”.
Joel 1:15, “Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come”.
Joel 2:1-2, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains…..”
Joel 2:11, “And the Lord shall utter His voice before His army: for His camp is very great: for He is strong that executeth His word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?”
Joel 2:31, “The sun shall be turned unto darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come”.
Joel 3:14-16, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake….”.
Amos 5:18, “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light”.
Amos 5:20, “Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light: even very dark, and no brightness in it”
Obadiah 15, “For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head”.
Zeph. 1:7-8, “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, He hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel”.
Zeph. 1:14-15, “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, and day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness”.
Mal. 4:5, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord”.
The New Testament does not contradict the picture of the day of the Lord given in the Old Testament. The phrase is used four times in the New Testament.
Acts 2:20 is a quote from Joel 2:31, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come”.
I Thess. 5:2, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night”
II Thess. 2:2, “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by a letter, as from us, as that the day of (the texts read) Lord is at hand”.
II Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heart, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up“.
We have learned that the day of the Lord will be a day of destruction and a day of the Lord’s wrath and vengeance. And that it will come as a thief in the night. Another truth we have learned about the day of the Lord is that it is never spoken of as a time of restoration or as a time of peace.*
The Lord’s Day
John includes the millennium and new heavens and new earth in the revelation of what he saw while by the spirit in the Lord’s day. The millennium is a time of restoration. The new heavens and new earth is a time of peace and tranquility: a time when God will dwell with man on earth. The day of the Lord has no such characterizations. In fact, it is characterized in the exact opposite terms. We cannot assume with no Scriptural evidence that the day of the Lord will be a day of peace, when, as we have seen, all the scriptures that speak of the day of the Lord are described in opposite terms. But because the day of the Lord is included in what John saw while in the “Lord’s day” we may conclude that the day of the Lord is included in the term “Lord’s day” but that they are not one and the same event.*
THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF CHRIST
The Character Of The Millennium In and Outside The Land Of Israel
We read in Ezek. 20:38 that some Israelites will not be allowed entrance into the land for the millennial reign, “I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel……”. It is those who will be judged rebellious and transgressors who will be denied entrance. There are several Old Testament passages that tell us the same thing.
Ps. 37:9, “For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land“. It is very true that the phrase “cut off” may refer to being killed, but it is often used to mean cut off from Israel. Note for example I Samuel 28:9, “But the woman said to him, ‘Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land ‘”. Consider also, Prov. 2:21-22, “For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it, but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the blameless will live in it”. Note the contrast is not between life and death, but between entrance and the denial of entrance into the Land.
Ps. 37:34 reads, “Wait for the Lord and keep His way. He will exalt you to possess the land: when the wicked are cut off, you will see it”. Once again, note the contrast is not between life and death, but between entrance and the denial of entrance into the land.
Ps. 37:22, “Those the Lord blesses will inherit the land, but those He curses will be cut off”. Note the same contrast as is found in verse 34.
The New Testament confirms the fact that only the righteous will live in the Land of Israel for the millennial reign. Matt. 13:41-43, “The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father…..”.
How are we to understand the phrase “a furnace of fire” where there shall be “wailing and gnashing of teeth”? Obviously, the furnace of fire is not to be understood literally, i.e. there will not be a huge literal furnace somewhere. The answer to our question lies in the character of the millennium outside the Land of Israel. Let me explain.
Unfortunately, most understand the millennium to be a time of universal blessings and a time of universal honoring of Christ. But there are hints that that is not correct. For example Ps. 2:8-9 is a millennial prophecy and reads, “Ask of me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance. and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel”. The fact that Christ will rule with a rod of iron and words such as “dash them to pieces” are used of the millennium leads one to think that not every nation outside of Israel will willingly give honor to Christ. This is substantiated by Is. 60:12, “For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined”. Consider also Zech. 14:17, “And it shall come to be that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain“. In my opinion, there would be no need of a threat to withhold rain if all nations were to come willingly to worship the King. I believe that it is clear that many nations will come unwillingly to worship Christ in Jerusalem. They will do so only to avoid the punishment promised to the nation that does not come.
My point is that what is commonly thought of to be the character of the millennium is true only in the land of Israel.
Let me quote just a few scriptures that tell us of the character of the millennium inside the Land and then we will consider passages that tell us of the millennial character outside the Land.
Is. 60:14, “The sons of your oppressors will come bowing before you (Israel); all who despise you will bow down at your feet and will call you The City of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel”.
Is. 60:18, “No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise”.
Now let us consider a few of the passages that describe the character outside the land.
Is. 60:2, “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you“.
Is. 33:24,”No one living in Zion will say, ‘I am ill’; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven”.
Is. 32:18-20,”My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your oxen and donkeys range free”. Note some catastrophes will occur, but not in Israel.
Isaiah 60:3, “Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn”.
Is. 60:5, “Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth of the seas will be brought to you, to you riches of the nations will come”
Is. 60:10, “Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you“.
Is. 60:11-12, “Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations- For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined”.
Is. 61:5-6, “Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast”.
Is. 62:2, “The nations will see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory“.
Is. 49:22, “See I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up My banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders. Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord”.
Is it any wonder that when Satan is released after the millennium that the nations shall come up against Jerusalem?*
Other Things Of Importance In The Millennium
The Fulfillment Of The New Covenant
One of the most notable things about the millennium is that the new covenant will be put into effect. We read of the new covenant in Jer. 31:31-34, “‘Behold, the days come’, saith the Lord, ‘that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt: which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them’, saith the Lord; ‘But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those day’, saith the Lord, ‘I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in the their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My People. and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them’, saith the Lord;’ for I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more'”.
Some believe that the new covenant will save all of Israel. One of the reasons I disagree with that is because the new covenant will be given only to those who are allowed entrance into the land, and unbelievers of Israel will not be allowed entrance. Let us search the Word of God for proof of that statement.
Ezek. 20:38 has been quoted above. “I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel……”. Now let’s look at Ezek. 36:24-28, “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle water upon you, and ye shall be clean: ……a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them. and ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers……”.
There is no question that the” new spirit” is the spirit of the new covenant. But note the two times that we read that those to whom this new spirit will be given are those who will enter the land of Israel. But unbelievers will not enter the land, therefore, unbelievers will not be given the spirit of the new covenant. If they will not be given the spirit of the new covenant obviously, they will not be saved by it.
For a more complete study of the question of if the the new covenant will save Israel please see the paper on this web-site Was The New Covenant In Effect In The Acts Period?.*
The Sacrificial Law In The Millennium
Another point of misunderstanding about the millennium is that the Law of Moses will no longer be observed by Israel in the millennium. We learn from several scriptures that indeed the Law of Moses will be observed in the millennium.
To begin with, the new covenant says that God will put “the law” into the hearts of Israel. There is only one law mentioned in the Bible in connection to Israel, i.e. the Mosaic Law. We may not manufacture a law that is never mentioned to be the subject of the new covenant. Also, the new covenant is contrasted with the old covenant in that Israel could not be faithful to the old because it was done in the flesh. The very contrast between the old covenant observed in the flesh and the new covenant observed in the spirit suggests that it is the same law, (the Law of Moses) that is the subject of both the old and the new covenants. But let us consider the passages that speak more directly of Israel observing the Law of Moses in the millennium.
Is. 56:7, “Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar…….”.
Ezek. 36: 27, we read, “And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them”.
Ezek. 20:40, “‘For in Mine holy mountain’…..saith the Lord God, ‘there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve Me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things'”.
Zech. 14:22, “Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them and seethe therein……”.
Mal. 3:3b-4, “that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years“.*
Other Old Testament Millennial Prophecies
Ps. 2:6-12, Ps. 8:6, Ps. 9:7-12, Ps. 10:16, Ps. 14:7, Ps. 15, Ps. 16:3-6, Ps. 22:27-28, Ps. 37:27-31, Ps. 46:8-10, Ps. 48:2-7, Ps. 51:18-19, Ps. 69:34-36, Ps. 86:9, Ps. 96:3-13, Ps. 98:1, Ps. 103:19-22, Ps. 125:1-4, Ps. 144:9-15, Is. 2:1-4, Is. 4:2-6, Is. 9:6-7, Is. 11:1-16, Is. 12:1-6, Is. 26:1-13, Is. 30:19, Is. 31:5-6, Is. 32:14-20, Is. 33:20-24, Is. 34:16, Is. 35, Is. 40:1-11, Is. 42, 16a, Is. 43: 5-7, Is. 44:3, Is. 49:8-13, Is. 51:3-5, Is. 52:1-2, Is. 52:7, Is. 54:1-17, Is. 55:5, and 12-13, Is. 56:4-8, Is. 60:1-22, Is. 61:1-9, Is. 62:4-12, Jer. 23:3-7, Jer. 30:8-10, Jer. 30:18-22, Jer.31:4-14, 16-17, 23, 27-34, Jer. 33:6-9 and 15-18. Ezek. 20:33-44, Ezek. 34:23-31, Ezek. 36:8-15, 23-38, Ezek. 37:20-28, Ezek. 39:21-29, Ezek. chapters 40-48 . Dan. 2:44, Dan. 7:13-14. Hosea 3:5. Joel 2:18-3:21 (with the exception of a few intermittent verses throughout). Micah 2:12, 4:1-13, Micah 5:4-5a. Zeph. 3:9-20. Zech. 1:16-17, Zech. 2:4-5, 8-12, Zech. 6:12, Zech. 8:3-8, 20-23, Zech. 9:16-10:1, Zech. 10:6-12, Zech. 12:10-13:6, Mal. 3:3, Mal. 4:2.
THE GATHERING OF ISRAEL
Because Israel is now a nation and many Jews are returning to that nation, some have concluded that the modern day return is a fulfillment of prophecy. As we examine the scriptures which speak of the return of Israel to the land, we will see that these prophecies refer to the end times, and cannot be fulfilled before the return of Jesus Christ.
For example, let us consider Ezek. 20:36-38, “I will bring you out from the people, and I will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered….and I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you fact to face…..and I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge out from among you the rebellious and them that transgress against Me; I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel……”.
It is clear that all of Israel will be gathered, but some will not be allowed entrance into the land of Israel because they had rebelled or transgressed against God. But there is no such judgment in the modern day return to the land. There is no distinction as to who will be allowed entrance into the land, all Jews are allowed. This proves that the modern day return of Israel to the land is not in fulfillment of Scripture. It is however a necessary step in the fulfillment of end time prophecy. Why? Because in order for the prophetic clock to begin, that is to say, in order for end time prophecy to begin, Israel will need to be taken back as God’s chosen nation, the sign of which, in my opinion, is the building of the temple in Jerusalem. It is clear in order for that to happen Israel must be an independent state and Jews must return in numbers.
May I digress a moment to point out that the end times gathering of Jews from the countries to which they had been scattered points to the truth that it is only those believers living in the limited area of the first century Roman Empire that will be raptured. Let me explain that.
We read in Is. 66:20 “And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to My holy mountain, Jerusalem…..”. This verse speaks of the gathering of Israel for the millennial reign. Note that these are carried to Jerusalem. As discussed above, unbelievers will not be allowed entrance into Jerusalem for the millennial reign, therefore these are Jewish believers being carried into Jerusalem. These believers had obviously not been raptured because if they had been raptured they would not have had to be carried to Jerusalem. So we have Jewish believers living outside the area of where the tribulation occurred not being raptured.
Actually, this makes perfect sense because the tribulation, as we have seen in the sections above, will be over the limited territory of the first century Roman Empire. God’s wrath will be meted out on those who persecuted His people in that same limited area. How do we know that? We read in Rev. 6:9-11, “…..I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord,….dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?’ and ….it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled”.
A few things should be noted about this passage. 1) The Greek word translated “earth” in the phrase, “avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth” is “ge”. Because the tribulation is to test Israel, in this verse “ge” must refer to the land of Israel. 2) The phrase “rest yet a little season” tells us that this avenging is not far off. We must bear in mind, of course, that John was, by the spirit in the Lord’s day, so the phrase “little season” refers to time within the time period of the Lord’s day. So these martyrs are asking how long will it be before the martyrs of the tribulation be avenged. Those who killed these martyrs and those yet to be killed are those in the limited territory of the first century Roman Empire. Obviously then, the avenging of the deaths of the martyrs will be over those in that limited area.
I am suggesting therefore, that like the tribulation, the day of God’s wrath (i.e. the avenging of the blood of the martyrs of the tribulation) is also over the limited territory of the first century Roman Empire.
Because the rapture is to save believers from God’s wrath, and because God’s wrath will be meted out on those who killed those martyrs of the tribulation, it seems clear to me that it is only the believers who will be living in the limited territory of the first century Roman Empire that will be raptured. The believers of Israel outside that territory will be carried to Jerusalem by mule, horses, chariots etc.
Let us now return to the subject of the gathering of Israel for the millennial reign of Christ. Having determined that the modern day return to Israel is not the fulfillment of prophecy we are now ready to ask, “when will Israel be gathered?” As we examine a few of the prophecies that speak of the gathering of Israel, I believe it will be clear that Israel will be gathered at the beginning of the millennium, i.e. at the time that Christ will return to earth.
Zeph. 3:19-20, “Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord”.
Jer. 23:3-4, “and I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, not be dismayed……”. (It can certainly not be said that “they shall fear no more” in present day Israel).
Jer. 33:7-8, “and I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. and I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against Me……and it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all nations of the earth…..”. (This can certainly not be said of present day Israel).
Micah 4:6-8, “In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; and I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever”.
See also Is. 11:16, Is. 43:5, Is. 66:20, Jer. 16:15-16, Jer. 31:10, 16-17, Ezek. 37:20-22, 39:25, Mic. 4:6-8, and Zech. 10:9-12.
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth and compassed the camp of the saints about, the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. and the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:7-10).
As mentioned above, the character of the millennium will be such that the Gentile nations will serve Israel, and their treasures will be brought to Israel. While there will be true peace and security in the land of Israel, such will not be the case outside the land, which is characterized as “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. Is there any wonder therefore, that the nations would be deceived by Satan to go up and make war against Israel? The prophecy recorded in Rev. 20:7-10 is quite clear, i.e. it tells us when it will happen and who the subjects of the prophecy are. The Old Testament also speaks of Gog and Magog in Ezek. 38-39 but that passage is not as clear. I believe therefore it might be useful to discuss Ezek. 38-39.
To begin, I would like to comment on the battle(s) involving Gog and Magog. Many speak of “the battle of Gog and Magog”. But it will become evident as we consider Ezek. chapters 38-39 in the paragraphs below that there is a battle which involves Gog and Magog both before and after the millnnium. In short, there is not “the battle of Gog and Magog”, but two battles between God and those countries included in the term “Gog and Magog”. Let us consider Ezek. chapters 38-39 which, I believe, will prove that point.
Ezek. 38:2 reads, “Son of man, set thy face against Gog the land of Magog……..”. The note in the Companion Bible says this about “Gog and Magog”, “A symbolic name for the nations north and east of Palestine, or the nations as a whole….”. And, “If ‘Gog’ denotes and symbolizes all that is powerful, gigantic and proud, then ‘Magog’ is symbolical of the same lands and peoples….”. I see no reason to disagree with these comments.
The prophecy of Ezek. 38 tells of Gog and Magog. We read in verse 8a, “In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had long been in safety“. It is clear from the phrases “recovered from war” and “had long been in safety” that Gog and Magog will invade after the millennial reign, i.e. after Satan will be released to gather the nations. It is also clear from the phrase “the mountains of Israel” that it will be against Israel that the nations will be gathered.
Other phrases will prove the same. For example we read in verse 11, “You, (Gog and Magog) will say, ‘I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people-all of them living without walls and without gates and bars”. Israel was certainly not living in peace and unsuspecting before the millennium but will be during the millennium. That puts this invasion after the millennium.
I believe however that while the prophecy of Ezek. 38:1-16 is post-millennnial the prophecy of 39:9-17 is pre-millennial. Consider for example Ezek. 39:9, “and they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the the arrows….they shall burn them with fire seven years“. The reason I believe this must refer to the time before the millennium rather than after, is that after the millennium the earth will be burned up (see II Peter 3:7) and there would therefore be no need to burn the weapons for seven years. Let us consider this important difference which proves two battles, i.e. one before and one after the millennium.
Ezek. 39:11-14, “On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel……..Gog and all his hordes will be buried there…… “For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. All the people of the land will bury them……. “Others will bury them that remain on the ground”. But note the contrast as we read in Jer. 25:33, “At that time those slain by the Lord will be everywhere-from one end of the earth to the other. They will not be mourned or gathered up or buried, but will be like refuse lying on the ground”. I believe the prophecy of Jeremiah 25 must refer to the time after the millennium. The context is not particularly helpful in determining when this prophecy will be fulfilled, but common sense tells us that it must be after the millennium because dead bodies will not be left unburied for a thousand years. Surely the reason the dead will not be gathered or buried after the millennium is because the earth will be burned up and replaced by the new heavens and new earth.
Continuing with Ezekiel chapter 39, we read in verses 17-18, “And thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God; ‘Speak unto every feathered fowl and to every beast of the field, assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to My sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you…..ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the kings of the earth, of rams, of lambs…..'”. As we compare this passage with Rev. 19:17-18 we will see that this is in reference to the battle at Christ’s return before the millennium. Rev. 19:11-21 describes the events of Christ’s return. We read in verses 17-18, “and I saw an angel standing in the sun and he cried with a loud voice saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God: that ye may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of captains……'”.*
THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT
The great white throne judgment is mentioned by name only once, i.e. in Rev. 20:11. In my opinion, the fact that it is mentioned by name in the most Israel centered book in the New Testament should send a clue that perhaps that judgment is not for every unbeliever throughout the entire world of every dispensation. But let us consider what the scriptures say as to who will be judged at the great white throne.
Rev. 20: 4-6.”…. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands”. This tells us that John is speaking of those who went through the great tribulation. ( i.e. those who did not receive the mark of the beast), he is not speaking of every person that ever lived from the beginning of time. Let us go on with verse 4, “They (i.e. those who had not worshiped the beast during the great tribulation) came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand year”. We read in this portion of the verse of the reward for those who did not worship the beast, i.e. that they will reign with Christ during His millennial reign. Now let us go to verse 5,”(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended”). To say that the “rest of the dead” in this verse applies to the dead of all ages and dispensations is to take this phrase entirely out of context. The context is clearly contrasting those who did not receive the mark of the beast during the tribulation with those who did.The former will reign with Christ in His millennial reign, the latter will be raised after the millennial reign to be judged. But in both cases, those who did and those who did not receive the mark of the beast, were those who lived through the tribulation. It is clear that we must take the phrase “the rest of the dead” in its context in order to have a correct understanding of who “the rest of the dead” were.
The Greek word translated “rest” in the phrase “rest of the dead” is “loipos“. It is usually translated “others”. If “loipos” had been translated “others” in Rev. 20:5 there would have been no difficulty with the question of who would be judged at the great white throne.”…. I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The others did not come to life until the thousand years were ended)”. The translators chose “rest” instead of “others”, but “others” is certainly more in keeping with the general context of the entire book of Revelation and of this passage in particular. That is to say, if Rev. 20:5 had been translated in the same way as the majority of the other occurrences of “loipos“, we would have understood that the “others” referred to in verse 5 are those who did worship the beast.
*The bold type in the quotations were added.
The paper on this web-site Will Unbelievers Be Raised For Judgment? will prove from Scripture that those who will be judged at the great white throne are those who lived during the tribulation.
THE NEW HEAVENS AND THE NEW EARTH
THE NEW JERUSALEM
There should be no question as to when the new Jerusalem will be seen because Rev. 21:1 tells us exactly, “And I saw a new heaven and new earth…..and I ….saw….the new Jerusalem….”. The new Jerusalem will be seen coming from heaven when the present heavens and earth are replaced by the new heavens and new earth, i.e. after the 1,000 year reign of Christ, and just after the time of the release of Satan and the nations who will gather against Jerusalem are destroyed.
Some think of the new Jerusalem as the calling of the church which is His body. As we will see in the section below on the new heavens, Rev. 21-22 must be considered in the context of the entire book of Revelation. This passage is consistent with that context and, as we shall see, concerns Israel, not the church.
We read in Rev. 21:2, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”. The first thing we must note is that new Jerusalem comes down from heaven. The church which is His body, on the other hand, will be in heaven. That should end all discussion as to whether the new Jerusalem is the calling of the church of the dispensation of the mystery.
As we continue we will see many signs that point to the new Jerusalem as being Israel centered. For example, in Rev. 21:12-14 the new Jerusalem is described as having “twelve gates and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. ……and the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb”. For a more comprehensive study of the calling of the church to heaven please see the paper on that subject.
THE NEW HEAVENS
I have tried to show from Scripture that the new Jerusalem is the hope of Israel after the millennium. The next question one might ask is, “Is the new heaven the calling of the church which is His body?” To answer that question we must consider the new heavens and new earth in its context. Once we do that, I believe the reader will agree that the answer to that question is “no, the new heaven is not the calling of the church”.
We read of the calling of the church in Eph. 2:6, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. If we are seated with Christ, obviously we are where Christ is. Where is Christ? That question is answered in Eph. 4:10, “He that descended is the same also That ascended up far above all heavens….”. To fully understand the phrase “far above all heavens” we must go back to Genesis chapter one.
We read in Gen. 1:1 that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”. We read in Gen. 1:6-8, “And God said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters’. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven“. In Gen. 1:1 we have the creation of a heaven. In Gen. 1:6-8 we have the creation of a different heaven, one that divides the water under it from the waters over it. That means that there is water over the heavens of Gen. 1:6-8. This truth is substantiated by Ps. 148:4, “Praise Him ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens”. So we know that there is a literal place above the firmament (i.e. the heaven of Gen. 1:6-8) and above the waters. I believe that Christ is seated “far above all heavens” in the place described in Gen. 1:1. The paper on this web-site, Is The Church Called To Heaven? proves from Scripture that the church is called to the heaven of Gen. 1:1, i.e. the heaven above the waters.
Is the heaven above the waters included in the “new heavens” of Rev. 21:1? I believe it is not. To begin with, the present heaven will be burnt up because of the sins of heavenly beings. This is proved by II Peter 3:7, “But the heavens and the earth which are now….are kept in store. reserved unto fire against the day of judgment.……”. We read in Eph. 6:12 that “we wrestle……against spiritual wickedness in high places”. The Greek word translated “high” is the same word translated elsewhere in Ephesians as “heavenly”. So these beings against whom we wrestle are in heaven. Are they in the heaven above the waters, where Christ is now seated? I don’t believe that a holy God dwells with “spiritual wickedness”. It is because God cannot live with wickedness that we read in Eph. 1:4 that He chose us that we should be holy. That is to say, God will not only raise believers to resurrection life, He also made us holy so that we may live with Him.
The point is that the new heavens of Rev. 21 will replace the present heavens when they are burnt up because of the sin that dwells therein. But the heaven above the waters, i.e. the dwelling place of God, was never a place wherein was wickedness, there would be no reason to destroy it. Therefore, I believe that the heaven of Gen. 1:1 where the church is figuratively speaking, now seated with Christ, is not included in the “new heaven” of Rev. 21:1. That means that it is not the calling of the church.
Furthermore, the paper on this web-site The Apparent Contradiction In Revelation 21:1 will prove from Scripture that the heaven above the water is alluded to, apart from Gen. 1:1, only in the prison epistles. That means that the new heavens and the new earth of Rev. 21, as the context would indicate, have nothing to do with the calling of the church. They have to do with Israel, as does the entire book of Revelation.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please write to me at: email@example.com