But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (Matthew 24:36, ESV; also, Mark 13:32)
So, the problem is not with those who are watching, comparing events with scripture, forming an opinion, and making charts. This group is clearly awake, alert and watching. This group is centered. They are the balanced group. They are living in the world, but still watching and waiting.
The problem comes when someone in that group of watchers and waiters becomes overconfident and in their arrogance begins to reject others who are also watching. In other words, a group of watchers can fellowship together, but once one of the watchers becomes a “knower” and establishes his model as “authoritative”, then we begin to have a conflict.
“Knowers” do not like “watchers.” Watchers are alert and studying, but they are not drunk on the world or on a particular eschatological model. You can be committed to your idea, but you cannot be dogmatic.
Because these events have not happened yet. These events are mysteries. Jesus even told his own disciples they would be surprised when it all came together. And, most importantly, even Daniel, the great prophet whose prophecies are always used by both prophecy “watchers” and prophecy “knowers” was still asking questions at the end of his vision. Even after seeing the vision that many of us study, Daniel himself said, “I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, ‘My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” (Daniel 12:8). If Daniel, who wrote the book, was still confused and asking questions at the end of the book, then I had better be smart enough to know when to stop saying, “I know the answer”.
Even Daniel didn’t know all the answers. And, when Daniel asked the angel for more information he was told, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end…As for you, go your way till the end” (Daniel 12:9-13). So, I need to teach what I can, diagram what I understand, but be willing to tolerate other watchers, encourage the students and not get drunk on my own teaching! And, when I speculate on the things that are not clear or diagram the mystery, I need to have enough courage to say, “I do not know, but here is my speculation. Here is my model. Use it if it is useful, but make corrections when you have more insight.”
Jesus even begins his eschatological teaching in Matthew 24 by saying, “Watch out that no one deceives you!”. Likewise Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 saya, concerning the Lord’s return: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way.”
Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since the fathers died everything goes on as it has since the beginning. (2 Peter 3:4)
They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
I am not so miserable a fellow, Trypho, as to say one thing and think another. I admitted to you formerly, that I and many others are of this opinion, and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware; but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise. Moreover, I pointed out to you that some who are called Christians, but are godless, impious heretics, teach doctrines that are in every way blasphemous, atheistical, and foolish. But that you may know that I do not say this before you alone, I shall draw up a statement, so far as I can, of all the arguments which have passed between us; in which I shall record myself as admitting the very same things which I admit to you. For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians, even as one, if he would rightly consider it, would not admit that the Sadducees, or similar sects of Genistæ, Meristæ, Galilæans, Hellenists, Pharisees, Baptists, are Jews (do not hear me impatiently when I tell you what I think), but are [only] called Jews and children of Abraham, worshipping God with the lips, as God Himself declared, but the heart was far from Him. But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.’
The resurrection is a resurrection of the flesh which died…The Savior in the whole Gospel shows that there is salvation for the flesh, why do we any longer endure those unbelieving and dangerous arguments, and fail to see that we are retrograding when we listen to such an argument as this: that the soul is immortal, but the body mortal, and incapable of being revived? For this we used to hear from Pythagoras and Plato, even before we learned the truth.
Abraham, called "the friend," was found faithful, inasmuch as he obeyed the words of God. He, in the exercise of obedience, went out from his own country, and from his kindred, and from his father's house, in order that, by forsaking a small territory, and a weak family, and an insignificant house, he might inherit the promises of God. For God said to him, "Leave your country, and your kindred, and your father's house, and go into the land which I shall show you. And I will make you a great nation, and will bless you, and make your name great, and you shall be blessed. And I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you; and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed." And again, on his departing from Lot, God said to him. "Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you now are, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever (1 Clement to the Corinthians, chapter 10) … “Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished, as the Scripture also bears witness, saying, "Speedily will He come, and will not tarry;" and, "The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Holy One, for whom you look. (1 Clement, chapter 23)
Since, again, some who are reckoned among the orthodox go beyond the pre-arranged plan for the exaltation of the just, and are ignorant of the methods by which they are disciplined beforehand for incorruption, they thus entertain heretical opinions. For the heretics, despising the handiwork of God, and not admitting the salvation of their flesh, while they also treat the promise of God contemptuously, and pass beyond God altogether in the sentiments they form, affirm that immediately upon their death they shall pass above the heavens and the Demiurge, and go to the Mother or to that Father whom they have feigned. Those persons, therefore, who disallow a resurrection affecting the whole man, and as far as in them lies remove it from the midst [of the Christian scheme], how can they be wondered at, if again they know nothing as to the plan of the resurrection? For they do not choose to understand, that if these things are as they say, the Lord Himself, in whom they profess to believe, did not rise again upon the third day; but immediately upon His expiring on the cross, undoubtedly departed on high, leaving His body to the earth. But the case was, that for three days He dwelt in the place where the dead were. (Irenaeus, Against Heretics, Book V, Chapter XXXI, 1)
Inasmuch, therefore, as the opinions of certain [orthodox persons] are derived from heretical discourses, they are both ignorant of God's dispensations, and of the mystery of the resurrection of the just, and of the [earthly] kingdom which is the commencement of incorruption, by means of which kingdom those who shall be worthy are accustomed gradually to partake of the divine nature; and it is necessary to tell them respecting those things, that it behoves the righteous first to receive the promise of the inheritance which God promised to the fathers, and to reign in it, when they rise again to behold God in this creation which is renovated, and that the judgment should take place afterwards. For it is just that in that very creation in which they toiled or were afflicted, being proved in every way by suffering, they should receive the reward of their suffering; and that in the creation in which they were slain because of their love to God, in that they should be revived again; and that in the creation in which they endured servitude, in that they should reign. For God is rich in all things, and all things are His. It is fitting, therefore, that the creation itself, being restored to its primeval condition, should without restraint be under the dominion of the righteous; and the apostle has made this plain in the Epistle to the Romans, when he thus speaks: ‘For the expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature has been subjected to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope; since the creature itself shall also be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.’ Thus, then, the promise of God, which He gave to Abraham, remains steadfast. For thus He said: ‘Lift up thine eyes, and look from this place where now thou art, towards the north and south, and east and west. For all the earth which thou seest, I will give to thee and to thy seed, even forever.’ And again He says, ‘Arise, and go through the length and breadth of the land, since I will give it unto thee; ‘ and [yet] he did not receive an inheritance in it, not even a footstep, but was always a stranger and a pilgrim therein. And upon the death of Sarah his wife, when the Hittites were willing to bestow upon him a place where he might bury her, he declined it as a gift, but bought the burying-place (giving for it four hundred talents of silver) from Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite. Thus did he await patiently the promise of God, and was unwilling to appear to receive from men, what God had promised to give him, when He said again to him as follows: ‘I will give this land to thy seed, from the river of Egypt even unto the great river Euphrates.’ If, then, God promised him the inheritance of the land, yet he did not receive it during all the time of his sojourn there, it must be, that together with his seed, that is, those who fear God and believe in Him, he shall receive it at the resurrection of the just. For his seed is the Church, which receives the adoption to God through the Lord…Thus, then, they who are of faith shall be blessed with faithful Abraham, and these are the children of Abraham. Now God made promise of the earth to Abraham and his seed; yet neither Abraham nor his seed, that is, those who are justified by faith, do now receive any inheritance in it; but they shall receive it at the resurrection of the just. For God is true and faithful; and on this account He said, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’ (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book V, Chapter XXXII, 1,2)
"Millenarianism, or the theory that the returned Christ would reign on earth for a thousand years came to find increasing support among Christian teachers...This millenarian, or 'chiliastic' doctrine was widely popular at this time…The great theologians who followed the apologists lrenaeus, Tertullian and Hippolytus, were primarily concerned to defend the traditional eschatological scheme against Gnosticism…They are all exponents of millenarianism." (J. N. D. Kelly. Early Christian Doctrines (San Francisco Harper & Row, 1978). p.465, 467, 469.)
"The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millenarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the Church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius." (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, VIII vols., Grand Rapids. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973, vol. II, p. 614)
"First in point of time came the faith in the nearness of Christ's second advent and the establishing of His reign of glory on the earth. Indeed it appears so early that it might be questioned whether it ought not to be regarded as an essential part of the Christian religion." (Adolph Hamack, "Millennium," The Encyclopedia Britannica, 9th edition (New York Charles Scribner's Sons. 1883), vol. XVI p. 314 cited in Ronald E. Showers. There Really ls a Difference, (Bellmawr, NJ, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1990), p. 117)
They assert that those who then rise again shall enjoy the leisure of immoderate carnal banquets, furnished with an amount of meat and drink such as not only to shock the feelings of the temperate, but even to surpass the measure of credulity itself; such assertions can be believed only by the carnal.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? (1 Corinthians 6:2-3, ESV)
The kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. (Daniel 7:27, ESV)
Who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:21, ESV)
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it. (Isaiah 2:2, ESV)
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29-30, ESV)
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flames of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses… Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. … When the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them. (Revelation 19:11-20:9)
n that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one. Whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft on its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. And it shall be inhabited, for there shall never again be a decree of utter destruction. Jerusalem shall dwell in security. (Zechariah 14:4-11, ESV)
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. The kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’ (Revelation 6:12-17)
For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thes. 4:15-18, ESV)
John, who testifies to everything he saw – that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ…The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.’ … ‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the Churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Mornings Star.’ (Revelation 1: 1-2; 22:6, 16)
This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom Or the strong man boast of his strength Or the rich man boast of his riches, But let him who boasts boast about this: That he understands and knows me, That I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, Justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.’
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? …we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles…For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength…He chose the lowly things of this world and the despise things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’ (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)
Prevent your love from growing cold,Stabilize you so you do not lose your faith,Strengthen you so you do not betray other believers, andKeep you from believing the great delusion.(Matthew 24:10-12, 24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)
This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another, And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increase, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:9-13)
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:19-22)
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place... (Matthew 24:14-15)
When you see standing in the holy place [the Temple] “the abomination that causes desolation…”
While disagreement remains as to what form the abomination took, Scripture makes it clear that it occurred soon after Jerusalem was surrounded by armies. As history attests, Jerusalem was surrounded just prior to the temple’s destruction in the fall of A.D. 70. The abomination brought desolation.
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5), ESV
This word means a ‘defection, revolt, apostasy’ and is used in the NT of religious apostasy; (1) in Acts 21:21, it is translated “to forsake,” literally, ‘thou teachest apostasy from Moses.’ (2) In 2 The. 2:3 ‘the falling away’ signifies apostasy from the faith. (3) In papyri documents it as used politically of rebels. (James Strong, The New Strongs’ Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2001, page 981).
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed…that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed… (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3)
The verses in Matthew 24:16-26 are not on the chart above and have no parallel in Paul’s writings, because they are addressed specifically to the Jews. The Jews will be able to enjoy a time of “peace and safety” early under the Antichrist’s reign while the Church is hunted down and slaughtered. The Jews’ covenant with the world leader (antichrist) also gives them access to the Temple Mount for the restoration of their daily sacrifices. But, in verse 24:15 of Matthew that “peace and safety” for the Jews comes to an end and they are told to flee Judea (into the lands of modern Jordan and Saudi Arabia just as Daniel 11:41 and Luke 21:21 indicate). In these verses the Jews are also warned to stop looking for a great political leader (“Look, he is in the inner rooms,” supposedly signing peace treaties and political alignments) or a great military leader (“Look, he is in the wilderness,” supposedly assembling his troops and preparing to invade Judea and reconquer Jerusalem).
So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea [Jews only] flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you [the Jews], ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
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. Therefore encourage each other with these words…For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him,..Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thes. 4:17-18; 5:9-11)
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, …and to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom...his dominion is an everlasting dominion… (Daniel 7:13-14, ESV)
I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven. (Mark 14:62, ESV)
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. (Daniel 7:2)
In 1981, Father Seraphim Rose gave a lecture [as viewed from the Greek Orthodox position of eschatology] at the University of California at Santa Cruz in which he said, ‘Another sign that the times of the end are approaching is the present state of the Jews in Israel, in the city of Jerusalem. According to the prophecies of the Scriptures and the Holy Fathers, Jerusalem will be the world capital of Antichrist, and there he will rebuild the temple of Solomon where he will be worshipped as God…Of course, it is very significant that only since 1948 has Jerusalem been once more in the hands of the Jews, and only since 1967 has the place where the temple was, the Mosque of Omar, been in their hands, since this had been in the part held by the Moslems…If you were to ask anyone who’s aware at all of political events in the world a question, ‘What would be the ideal city to have as the world capital if there was going to be a world empire?’ – it’s obvious what the answer would be in most people’s minds. It can’t be New York because that’s the capital of capitalism; it can’t be Moscow because that’s the center of Communism. It can’t even be Rome, because Roman Catholicism is still some kind of limited division. The logical place is Jerusalem, because there three religions come together, three continents come together. It’s the most logical place where there could be peace, brotherhood, harmony: all those things which look good, but unless they have a solid Christian foundations are not God-pleasing. These things will be used by Antichrist.’ Significant preparations are presently underway in Israel to restore the actual worship ceremonies formerly conducted within Solomon’s temple. Sacred vessels have been formed, priestly garments sewn. As Ice and Price report in their 1992 book, Ready to Rebuild, ‘The Temple Institute, then, is preparing vessels and garments for the Temple service, and seeking to produce a valid red heifer in Israel for the future purification of the priests and worshipers in the Temple. The leaders of this organization firmly believe that we are in the achari ha-yamim (‘last days’) which include the coming of the Messiah. They expect the building of the Temple to begin shortly.’ The Messiah whom the Jews anticipate, however, bears little resemblance to the Jesus Christ who voluntarily died to save sinners. They look for a world leader to rule all the nations from his capital of Jerusalem, to initiate a political regime of ‘peace’ and ‘prosperity,’ and to vindicate Israel for her centuries of suffering at Gentile hands. ‘They do not want Christ as He is,’ cries contemporary writer Alexander Kalomiros. ‘They do not want the Christ Who refused to submit to the devil’s temptations in the desert…They want a Christ Who desires the kingdoms of the earth, a Christ Who will turn the stones into bread so that men may be satiated, a Christ who will overwhelm the world with miracles that inspire awe and constrain men to submit…a Christ Who will talk about his life and not the other, a Christ Who will offer the pleasures of this life and not of the next…They do not want Him as ruler of the future age, but of the present one.’ In a word, after two centuries of incredible suffering for their blindness, the Jews as a whole have not changed. Myopically, they still want what they wanted two thousand years ago. And this time, they will get it! (From reference source B, pages 54-56)
Halfway through the treaty period the Antichrist will end the treaty, end the sacrifices, and enter the Temple proclaiming himself to be God. This treachery is revealed by Daniel, Jesus and Paul:
Daniel: He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator. (Daniel 9:27, ESV)
Jesus: So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak…For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no , and never will be. (Matthew 24:15-21)
Paul: While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ (a reference to the treaty between the Jews and the Antichrist) then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3, ESV) and Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, ESV)
When the Jews realize they have been betrayed by what they thought was the Messiah - or at least the man who would lead them to the Age of the Messiah - they will not know where to turn. The Jews will be out of options. The persecution that the believing Church has faced for three and a half years will now expand and begin to afflict Jews all around the world. As the Jews cry out for help to a savior they do not know and have rejected, the Sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and every eye will see him. Those who pierced him, the Jews, will see him as well:
Zechariah: when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10)
John: Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. (Revelation 1:7, ESV)
The Jews will see their deliverer appear in the sky, but the deliverer will be the pierced one, the crucified one, the lamb that had been slain! This time when the Lord appears it is actually his re-appearing, or Second Coming. What is more, when the Lord appears in his wrath he first brings deliverance and salvation to his church, not to the Jewish people. The Lord will gather his church from the four winds of heaven to meet him in the air at the time of his coming. The Jews will witness the Lord’s deliverance of a people who are not even a nation. On that day it will be the believers in the crucified Messiah, Jesus Christ, who will be delivered. It will not be the chosen nation who stand in the presence of the Lord in his glory “when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (2 Thess. 1:10).
It is at this time that Moses’ words spoken to Israel in 1400 BC will be fulfilled:
I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding. (Deuteronomy 32:21)
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. (Romans 11:13-14)
This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. (Acts 2:23, ESV)
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ (Acts 2:7)
On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land shall mourn, each family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of teahouse of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves; and all the families that are left each by itself, and their wives by themselves. On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. (Zechariah 12:11-13:1, ESV)
‘Woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!’ And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child… (Revelation 12:12-13)
And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. (Joel 2:30-31, ESV)
The earth quakes before them; the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The LORD utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it? (Joel 2:10-11, ESV)
… it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:35-36, ESV)
For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints.
But it may be worthwhile to ask, If antichrist comes, and Elijah comes, how is it ‘when they say peace and safety’, that then a sudden destruction comes upon them? For these things do not permit the day to come upon them unawares, being signs of its coming. But he [Paul] does not mean this to be the time of antichrist, and the whole day, because that will be a sign of the coming of Christ, but Himself will not have a sign, but will come suddenly and unexpectedly. For travail, indeed, you say, does not come upon the pregnant woman unexpectedly: for she knows that after nine months the birth will take place. And yet it is very uncertain. For some bring forth at the seventh month, and others at the ninth. And at any rate the day and the hour is uncertain. With respect to this therefore, Paul speaks thus [in 1 Thessalonians 5:3]. And the image is exact. For there are not many sure signs of travail; many indeed have brought forth in the high roads, or when out of their houses and abroad, not foreseeing it. And he has not only glanced here at the uncertainty, but also at the bitterness of the pain. For as she while sporting, laughing, not looking for anything at all, being suddenly seized with unspeakable pains, is pierced through with the pangs of labor – so will it be with those souls, when the Day comes upon them. (Thessalonians, Homily 9 on 1 Thessalonians 5:3)
In connection with [the last] judgment the following events shall come to pass, as we have learned: Elijah the Tishbite will come; the Jews will believe; Antichrist will persecute’ Christ will judge; the dead will rise; the good and the wicked will be separated; the world will be burned and renewed. All these things, we believe, will come to pass; but how, or in what order, human understanding cannot perfectly teach us, but only the experience of the events themselves. My opinion, however, is, that they will happen in the order in which I have related them.
For as lawlessness increases, they will hate and persecute and betray one another. And then the deceiver of the world [Antichrist] will appear as a son of God and “will perform signs and wonders,” and the earth will be delivered into his hands, and he will commit abominations the likes of which have never happened before [great tribulation]. Then all humankind will come to the fiery test, and “many will fall away” and perish; but “those who endure” in their faith “will be saved” [delivered from the day of the Lord] by the accursed one himself. And “then there will appear the signs” of the truth: first the sign of an opening in heaven, then the sign of the sound of a trumpet, and third, the resurrection of the dead [resurrection] — but not of all; rather, as it has been said, “The Lord will come, and all his saints with him.” Then the world “will see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.
The last chapter is devoted to exhortations in view of the woes expected at the end of the world. The author urges an attitude of watching in view of the uncertainty of the time of the end….This language, however, cannot be taken to mean an ‘any-moment rapture,’ for the author proceeds to sketch the consummation of the age in which he warns the Church against the peril of falling away from the faith when Antichrist appears…The Didachist looks forward to the appearance of Antichrist who will rule the world and inflict men with severe persecution. The many who are to be offended and be lost are professing Christians who do not stand true; for only those who endure in their faith shall be saved…The purpose of the Didachist in writing this exhortation was to prepare the Church for the Great Tribulation and the sufferings to be inflicted by the Antichrist. (F, 20-21)
The author of this little tract is looking not only for the second coming of Christ but also for the last time of trouble. He warns believers to seek out earnestly those things which are able to save them, and to flee from all the works of lawlessness and to hate the era of to his present time that they might be loved in that which is to come…for ‘the final stumbling block is at hand’…This means that the Antichrist is at hand…According to this, Barnabas expected the Church to go through the Tribulation and Christ to return only at its termination. This is again asserted in 15:5:‘When his Son comes, he will destroy the time of the wicked one and will judge the godless, and will change the sun and moon and the stars, and then he will truly rest on the seventh day.’…That Barnabas could not have looked for an any-moment return of Christ is proven by his expectation that the end would not come until the Roman empire should fall….Antichrist would arise after the Roman empire had broken down into ten kingdoms. This obviously could not occur at once, for in the first century Rome’s might and stability was at its apex.
Blessed are you, as many as will endure patiently the great tribulation that is coming, and as many as shall not deny their life. For the Lord has sworn concerning His Son, that those who denied their Lord should be rejected from their life, even they that are now about to deny Him in the coming days; but to those who will never deny Him, to them mercy was given of His great loving kindness.
He shall come from heaven with glory, when the man of apostasy, who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us Christians, who, having learned the true worship of God from the law, and the word which went forth from Jerusalem by means of the apostles of Jesus, have fled for safety to the God of Jacob and the God of Israel…Now it is evident that no one can terrify or subdue us who have believed in Jesus over all the world. For it is plain that, though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, and chains, and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our confession; but the more such things happen, the more do others and in larger numbers become faithful, and worshippers of God through the name of Jesus.
In a still clearer light has John, in the Apocalypse, indicated to the Lord's disciples what shall happen in the last times, and concerning the ten kings who shall then arise, among whom the empire which now rules [the earth] shall be partitioned. He teaches us what the ten horns shall be which were seen by Daniel, telling us that thus it had been said to him:‘And the ten horns which thou saw are ten kings, who have received no kingdom as yet, but shall receive power as if kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and give their strength and power to the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, because He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings.’It is manifest, therefore, that of these [potentates], he who is to come shall slay three, and subject the remainder to his power, and that he shall be himself the eighth among them. And they shall lay Babylon waste, and burn her with fire, and shall give their kingdom to the beast, and put the Church to flight. After that they shall be destroyed by the coming of our Lord. For that the kingdom must be divided, and thus come to ruin, the Lord [declares when He] says: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." It must be, therefore, that the kingdom, the city, and the house be divided into ten; and for this reason He has already foreshadowed the partition and division [which shall take place].
For the apostle makes a distinction, when he goes on to say,‘For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven, if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked,’which means, before we put off the garment of the flesh, we wish to be clothed with the celestial glory of immortality. Now the privilege of this favor awaits those who shall at the coming of the Lord be found in the flesh, and who shall, owing to the oppressions of the time of Antichrist, deserve by an instantaneous death, which is accomplished by a sudden change, to become qualified to join the rising saints; as he writes to the Thessalonians: ‘For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.’(Chapter 41, “The Dissolution of Our Tabernacle Consistent with the Resurrection of Our Bodies”)
Tertullian believed that the end could not come at any moment but would be heralded by signs of warning…The object of Tertullian’s hope and prayers is not a secret any-moment coming of the Lord to rapture the Church; it is the hope of standing before the Son of man after a series of cosmic signs have appeared and ‘all of these things have taken place.’(F, p27-28)
Preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
On the Last Times, the Anti-Christ, and the End of the World
A Sermon by Pseudo-Ephraem
The Last Trumpet - Pseudo-Ephraem
Dearly beloved brothers, believe the Holy Spirit who speaks in us. We have already told you that the end of the world is near, the consummation remains. Has not faith withered away among mankind? How many foolish things are seen among youths, how many crimes among prelates, how many lies among priests, how many perjuries among deacons! There are evil deeds among the ministers, adulteries in the aged, wantonness in the youths--in mature women false faces, in virgins’ dangerous traces! In the midst of all this there are the wars with the Persians, and we see struggles with diverse nations threatening and "kingdom rising against kingdom." When the Roman Empire begins to be consumed by the sword, the coming of the Evil One is at hand. It is necessary that the world come to an end at the completion of the Roman Empire. In those days two brothers will come to the Roman Empire who will rule with one mind; but because one will surpass the other, there will be a schism between them. And so the Adversary will be loosed and will stir up hatred between the Persian and Roman empires.
In those days many will rise up against Rome; the Jewish people will be her adversaries. There will be stirrings of nations and evil reports, pestilences, famines, and earth quakes in various places. All nations will receive captives; there will be wars and rumors of wars. From the rising to the setting of the sun the sword will devour much. The times will be so dangerous that in fear and trembling they will not permit thought of better things, because many will be the oppressions and desolations of regions that are to come.
We ought to understand thoroughly therefore, my brothers, what is imminent or overhanging. Already there have been hunger and plagues, violent movements of nations and signs, which have been predicted by the Lord, they have already been fulfilled (consummated), and there is no other which remains, except the advent of the wicked one in the completion of the Roman kingdom. Why therefore are we occupied with worldly business, and why is our mind held fixed on the lusts of the world or on the anxieties of the ages? Why therefore do we not reject every care of worldly business, and why is our mind held fixed on the lusts of the world or on the anxieties of the ages? Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms all the world? Believe you me, dearest brother, because the coming (advent) of the Lord is nigh, believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand, believe me, because it is the very last time. Or do you not believe unless you see with your eyes? See to it that this sentence be not fulfilled among you of the prophet who declares: "Woe to those who desire to see the day of the Lord!" For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins. And so, brothers most dear to me, it is the eleventh hour, and the end of the world comes to the harvest, and angels, armed and prepared, hold sickles in their hands, awaiting the empire of the Lord. And we think that the earth exists with blind infidelity, arriving at its downfall early. Commotions are brought forth, wars of diverse peoples and battles and incursions of the barbarians threaten, and our regions shall be desolated, and we neither become very much afraid of the report nor of the appearance, in order that we may at least do penance; because they hurl fear at us, and we do not wish to be changed, although we at least stand in need of penance for our actions!
When therefore the end of the world comes, there arise diverse wars, commotions on all sides, horrible earthquakes, perturbations of nations, tempests throughout the lands, plagues, famine, drought throughout the thoroughfares, great danger throughout the sea and dry land, constant persecutions, slaughters and massacres everywhere, fear in the homes, panic in the cities, quaking in the thoroughfares, suspicions in the male, anxiety in the streets. In the desert people become senseless, spirits melt in the cities. A friend will not be grieved over a friend, neither a brother for a brother, nor parents for their children, nor a faithful servant for his master, but one inevitability shall overwhelm them all; neither is anyone able to be recovered in that time, who has not been made completely aware of the coming danger, but all people, who have been constricted by fear, are consumed because of the overhanging evils.
Whenever therefore the earth is agitated by the nations, people will hide themselves from the wars in the mountains and rocks, by caves and caverns of the earth, by graves and memorials of the dead, and there, as they waste away gradually by fear, they draw breath, because there is not any place at all to flee, but there will be concession and intolerable pressure. And those who are in the east will flee to the west, and moreover, those who are in the west shall flee to the east, and there is not a safer place anywhere, because the world shall be overwhelmed by worthless nations, whose aspect appears to be of wild animals more than that of men. Because those very much horrible nations, most profane and most defiled, who do not spare lives, and shall destroy the living from the dead, shall consume the dead, they eat dead flesh, they drink the blood of beasts, they pollute the world, contaminate all things, and the one who is able to resist them is not there. In those days people shall not be buried, neither Christian, nor heretic, neither Jew, nor pagan, because of fear and dread there is not one who buries them; because all people, while they are fleeing, ignore them.
Whenever the days of the times of those nations have been fulfilled, after they have destroyed the earth, it shall rest; and now the kingdom of the Romans is removed from everyday life, and the empire of the Christians is handed down by God and Peter; and then the consummation comes, when the kingdom of the Romans begins to be fulfilled, and all dominions and powers have been fulfilled. Then that worthless and abominable dragon shall appear, he, whom Moses named in Deuteronomy, saying:-Dan is a young lion, reclining and leaping from Basan. Because he reclines in order that he may seize and destroy and slay. Indeed (he is) a young whelp of a lion not as the lion of the tribe of Judah, but roaring because of his wrath, that he may devour. "And he leaps out from Basan." "Basan" certainly is interpreted "confusion." He shall rise up from the confusion of his iniquity. The one who gathers together to himself a partridge the children of confusion, also shall call them, whom he has not brought forth, just as Jeremiah the prophet says. Also in the last day they shall relinquish him just
When therefore the end of the world comes, that abominable, lying and murderous one is born from the tribe of Dan. He is conceived from the seed of a man and from an unclean or most vile virgin, mixed with an evil or worthless spirit. But that abominable corrupter, more of spirits than of bodies, while a youth, the crafty dragon appears under the appearance of righteousness, before he takes the kingdom. Because he will be craftily gentle to all people, not receiving gifts, not placed before another person, loving to all people, quiet to everyone, not desiring gifts, appearing friendly among close friends, so that men may bless him, saying;-he is a just man, not knowing that a wolf lies concealed under the appearance of a lamb, and that a greedy man is inside under the skin of a sheep.
But when the time of the abomination of his desolation begins to approach, having been made legal, he takes the empire, and, just as it is said in the Psalm:-They have been made for the undertaking for the sons of Loth, the Moabites and the Ammanites shall meet him first as their king. Therefore, when he receives the kingdom, he orders the temple of God to be rebuilt for himself, which is in Jerusalem; who, after coming into it, he shall sit as God and order that he be adored by all nations, since he is carnal and filthy and mixed with worthless spirit and flesh. Then that eloquence shall be fulfilled of Daniel the prophet:-And he shall not know the God of their fathers, and he shall not know the desires of women. Because the very wicked serpent shall direct every worship to himself. Because he shall put forth an edict so that people may be circumcised according to the rite of the old law. Then the Jews shall congratulate him, because he gave them again the practice of the first covenant; then all people from everywhere shall flock together to him at the city of Jerusalem, and the holy city shall be trampled on by the nations for forty-two months, just as the holy apostle says in the Apocalypse, which become three and a half years, 1,260 days.
In these three years and a half the heaven shall suspend its dew; because there will be no rain upon the earth, and the clouds shall cease to pass through the air, and the stars shall be seen with difficulty in the sky because of the excessive dryness, which happens in the time of the very fierce dragon. Because all great rivers and very powerful fountains that overflow with themselves shall be dried up, torrents shall dry up their water-courses because of the intolerable age, and there will be a great tribulation, as there has not been, since people began to be upon the earth, and there will be famine and an insufferable thirst. And children shall waste away in the bosom of their mothers, and wives upon the knees of their husbands, by not having victuals to eat. Because there will be in those days lack of bread and water, and no one is able to sell or to buy of the grain of the fall harvest, unless he is one who has the serpentine sign on the forehead or on the hand. Then gold and silver and precious clothing or precious stones shall lie along the streets, and also even every type of pearls along the thoroughfares and streets of the cities, but there is not one who may extend the hand and take or desire them, but they consider all things as good as nothing because of the extreme lack and famine of bread, because the earth is not protected by the rains of heaven, and there will be neither dew nor moisture of the air upon the earth. But those who wander through the deserts, fleeing from the face of the serpent, bend their knees to God, just as lambs to the adders of their mothers, being sustained by the salvation of the Lord, and while wandering in states of desertion, they eat herbs.
Then, when this inevitability has overwhelmed all people, just and unjust, the just, so that they may be found good by their Lord; and indeed the unjust, so that they may be damned forever with their author the Devil, and, as God beholds the human race in danger and being tossed about by the breath of the horrible dragon, he sends to them consolatory proclamation by his attendants, the prophets Enoch and Elijah, who, while not yet tasting death, are the servants for the heralding of the second coming of Christ, and in order to accuse the enemy. And when those just ones have appeared, they confuse indeed the antagonistic serpent with his cleverness and they call back the faithful witnesses to God, in order to (free them) from his seduction ...
And when the three and a half years have been completed, the time of the Antichrist, through which he will have seduced the world, after the resurrection of the two prophets, in the hour which the world does not know, and on the day which the enemy of son of perdition does not know, will come the sign of the Son of Man, and coming forward the Lord shall appear with great power and much majesty, with the sign of the wood of salvation going before him, and also even with all the powers of the heavens with the whole chorus of the saints, with those who bear the sign of the holy cross upon their shoulders, as the angelic trumpet precedes him, which shall sound and declare: Arise, O sleeping ones, arise, meet Christ, because his hour of judgment has come! Then Christ shall come and the enemy shall be thrown into confusion, and the Lord shall destroy him by the spirit of his mouth. And he shall be bound and shall be plunged into the abyss of everlasting fire alive with his father Satan; and all people, who do his wishes, shall perish with him forever; but the righteous ones shall inherit everlasting life with the Lord forever and ever.
The early nineteenth century was a time of great apocalyptic expectation in America, as we’ve just seen with the movement William Miller so easily started. At the same time, a self-proclaimed prophet named Joseph Smith, Jr., was weaving bizarre fantasies into a book known as the Book of Mormon, published in 1830. Joseph Smith, Jr., gave his group of followers, whom people were calling Mormons, the apocalyptic-sounding name of the Latter Day Saints. Also, 1830 is the year that a man by the name of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) took complete control of a somewhat obscure sect of Protestants in England known as the Plymouth Brethren...According to Floyd Elmore, a modern disciple of Darby, ‘His parting of the ways with the established church [of England] corresponded with his new understanding of the division between Israel and the true church…Darby’s belief in eschatology [the doctrine of future things] grows out of his ecclesiology [the doctrine of the nature of the Church]’…Darby asserted ‘None are more untrustworthy on every fundamental subject than the mass of primitive Fathers.’ In other words, Darby believed he had a clearer insight into the Scriptures than all who came before him, especially the early Church – which had the preaching of the Apostles still ringing in its ears. Darby actually seemed to revel in the novelty of his doctrines, which he frequently characterized as ‘rediscovered truths’…This disdain for Church history, though, was hardly unique to Darby during the nineteenth century. (Reference D, 72-73)
William Miller predicted the end for 1843, gathering thousands of Americans into an apocalyptic frenzy. A contributing factor to this mania was a spectacular meteor shower that filled the skies for several nights in November of 1833. Rural folk, their minds full of Miller’s predictions of Armageddon, remembered Christ’s words in Matthew 24:29 about heavenly phenomena preceding the Second Coming. Surely, they thought, doomsday couldn’t be far off. To add further fuel to the flame, a large comet streaked across the sky in February of 1843, a month before Miller’s March 21, 1843, deadline for the Second Coming. (Reference D, 203)
Evangelicals often cooperated in Bible conferences, beginning in 1875. These conferences, organized to study the Bible and prophecy, were held at Niagara-on-the-Lake, New York, from 1883 to 1898. The so-called five points of fundamentalism were linked with the 1878 conference, but the statement at that conference had fourteen points composed by a Presbyterian minister, James H. Brooks (1830-97). The premillennialism in the conferences was linked to dispensationalism by J. N. Darby (1800-1882), who preached these ideas on his seven trips to the United States and Canada from 1859 to 1874. He said that Christ would come for His church before the Great Tribulation and that the Jewish Millennial kingdom would be set up on earth after the completion of the Tribulation. William E. Blackstone (1841-1935) in his popular Jesus Is Coming (1908) and D. I. Scofield in his Scofield Bible of 1909 popularized these ideas as well as inerrancy. (Reference I, page 480)
Pretribulationism is a teaching which arose in the nineteenth century among the Plymouth Brethren whence it came to America where, for historical reasons which can be discerned, it was warmly received wand widely propagated. However, many devout men who first accepted this teaching were later, upon mature study, compelled to reverse themselves and admit that they could not find this doctrine in the Word of God. (Reference F, 61)
W. G. Moorehead of Xenia Theological Seminary from 1873-1914, appears in the call for the first prophetic conference in 1878 and his name will be found in the Scofield Reference Bible as a consulting editor…has written, ‘There are only two other places in the New Testament where the phrase “to meet” occurs…and in both of them the party met continues to advance still in the direction in which he was moving previously. Augustine perceived this:
“It is as He is coming, not abiding, that we shall go to meet Him.”Christ does not return to heaven with His saints; He comes on with them to the earth. As an ancient writer expresses it,“We shall be caught away to meet Christ, that all may come with the Lord to battle.”Here is a clear rejection by an editor of the Scofield Bible of the Pretribulation rapture of the Church with the two comings of Christ which is found in the Scofield Bible. (Reference F, 50)
The Coming for and the Coming with, the saints, still persists, although it involves a manifest contradiction, viz., two Second Comings which is an absurdity…Everywhere in the New Testament it is taught that to suffer for Christ is one of the highest honors Christians can have bestowed upon them. Desire to shirk suffering for Christ is a sign of degeneracy. At the close of this dispensation, it will still be counted an honor to suffer shame for our adorable Lord.
In the chronological question concerning the rapture, the dispensational issue centers in the field of ecclesiology. An absolute silence in the OT about the present age, a total disconnection of the Church from the divine program for Israel, and a clean break between dispensations would favor Pretribulationism: the Church would not likely be related to the seventieth week of Daniel, or tribulation, a period of time clearly having to do with Israel. But a partial revelation of the present age in the OT, a connection (not necessarily identification) between Israel and the Church, and a dispensational change involving a transitional period open the door to the presence of the Church during the tribulation. (A, 12)
Not only did the OT predict the present age, but the NT applies OT prophecy to the Church…They affirm at least partial fulfillments of the OT in the Church and the present age. Peter says, ‘This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel…’ (Acts 2:16-21) A stronger equation between OT prophecy and fulfillment in the Church age could NOT be stated. WE do not read, ‘This is like what was spoken,’ but, ‘This is what was spoken.’…If then the main event on the very birthday of the Church was prophesied in an OT passage within an Israelitish context, it should not seem strange that the Church bears a relationship also to end-time events similarly prophesied in the OT, even though they are Israeliteish in cast. In fact, since the beginning of the Church age bears a marked relationship to OT predictions concerning Israel, we are not hindered dispensationally from presuming that the same will be so at the end of the Church age. (15)
A variety of difficulties arises once we begin to set up such a dichotomy between scriptures that speak of Christ’s unexpected and imminent coming and scriptures that speak of Christ’s coming being preceded by signs…[for this] reasoning to have full force…there is an absolute distinction between two sets of scriptures that speak of Christ’s return. The ‘second’ coming, meaning the rapture, cannot be preceded by signs: ‘There will be no signs for the Rapture, no warning that it is about to occur,…Yet, as anyone who peruses the doomsday literature quickly learns, the current belief that the rapture can happen at any moment is not based on a merely generic doctrine of’ imminence,’ but on the signs of Christ’s return supposedly being reported each day on CNN’s ‘Headline News’ and ABC’s ‘World News Tonight.’ …for example, the 1948 restoration of Israel and the talk of ‘peace and safety’ (1 Thess. 5:3) that many believe will occur before the rapture…[Pretrib advocates say] ‘Thus it is not only possible for the Rapture to occur at any moment, as it always has been, but now it is highly probable – certainly more probable than at any time in history!’…In other words, why would Christ leave signs to indicate the nearness of His final return in glory if the Church has been raptured off the planet and there is no one around to watch for them? … the signs Jesus says will precede His return are like birth pangs, slowly growing in intensity until the end arrives: ‘Moreover, it would seem that these signs begin prior to the Rapture. Then how could the Rapture comes as a surprise? Because these signs when they begin, will by their very nature be phenomena which have always been known on the world scene: earthquakes, famines, pestilences, wars.’ In other words, Jesus told us to watch for ‘signs’ so vague as to be virtually meaningless, leaving us without a clue as to the nearness of the rapture. But, according to [advocates of the Pretrib rapture], we know the rapture is near today because of the signs pointing to the Second Coming – but these signs are so vague and general they don’t really count as ‘signs’ of the imminent rapture. (D, 172-174)
For all practical purposes, abandonment of the Pretribulational return of Christ is tantamount to abandonment of the hope of His imminent return.
I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 1:9, ESV)
They returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22, ESV)
if we endure, we will also reign with him;if we deny him, he also will deny us (2 Timothy 2:12, ESV)
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”(2 Timothy 3:12, ESV)
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. (Philippians 1:29, ESV)
For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. (Acts 9:16, ESV)
Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. (Acts 5:41, ESV)
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10, ESV)
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, ESV)
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. (John 15:18-20, ESV)
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (Matthew 16:21, ESV)
He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31, ESV)
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.’ (Luke 24:46, ESV)
What God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. (Acts 3:18, ESV)
When they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. (Acts 5:40, ESV)
With far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27, ESV)
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. (2 Corinthians 1:8, ESV)
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair. (2 Corinthians 4:8, ESV)
THEY WERE ALL RAPTURED BEFORE THEY SUFFERED.
AFTER ALL, THEY WERE THE BRIDE OF CHRIST!
How does that even make sense?
How does someone with that mindset even consider himself to be part of the same Church as the apostles?
Christians of the end times must learn what their brethren of the Church’s earliest years knew well – how to suffer. As Saint Paul reminded young Timothy, ‘All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution’ (2 Timothy 3:12). God’s gift of salvation in heaven does not necessarily improve one’s earthly situation; it merely renders it irrelevant. ‘It is of no consequence where you are in the world – you who are not of it,’ Tertullian pointed out. (Reference B, 224-225)
Leonid Ouspensky described the paradox in these terms: ‘The Cross is then the concrete expression of the Christian mystery, of victory by defeat, of glory by humiliation, of life by death – symbol of an omnipotent God, Who willed to become man and to die as a slave, in order to save His creature.’ The paradoxes of Christianity range from the historical to the doctrinal. The Lord taught that ‘the last will be first, and the first last’ and Saint Paul declared that ‘the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.’…The Church makes no attempt to resolve this spiritual mystery in a material fashion, or according to human logic. Instead, she opens the eyes of her children to faith and wisdom, and bestows a vision which, encompassing more that this earthly domain, reaches into heaven itself. (Reference B, 228-229)
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath (orge) of God. (Romans 5:9, ESV)
…wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath (orge) to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10, ESV)
For God has not destined us for wrath (orge), but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:9, ESV)
Signs are not given so the idle or curious can predict dates and speculate on personalities, but so believers can prepare to do battle against evil.-Dennis Engleman, Ultimate Things, page 28
Christians must guard against assigning interpretations based on fallen human reason, or confidently assuming that ‘Y’ is impossible because ‘X’ has not happened yet. -Dennis Engleman, Ultimate Things, page 45