Lord Teach Me About Hell-Part 1 (Rich Man & Lazarus)

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Luke 16: 19-31 (NIV)

 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.  At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores  and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.  So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them,so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

 “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”


Much argument has taken place over whether the words of Jesus in Luke 16:19-31 were intended to be understood literally or as a parable. Some Christians feel that in this story, Jesus was offering His hearers a glimpse of what existence in the afterlife is like.

Others, citing numerous passages of Scripture that seem to contradict the portrayal of heaven and hell contained in this passage, feel that Jesus was teaching an altogether different kind of lesson. Unfortunately, many modern religious teachers have isolated the story from its original context and used it as a device for scaring people. Religious “conversions” resulting from a fear of hell as it is depicted in this passage have indeed occurred, but are based on a foundation sorely in need of the strength that comes only from a genuine appreciation of God’s character and a proper understanding of Scripture. To begin this study, we’ll take a closer look at just what a parable really is, and then examine the setting in which Jesus told this story. Perhaps then we will better understand what lessons there are for us in the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

The Random House College Dictionary describes a parable as “a short, allegorical story designed to convey a truth or moral lesson.” Cruden’s Complete Concordance further expands this concept, saying that parables in the Bible were used “more generally than elsewhere.” We know that the Bible writers used situations both imaginary—as in the trees asking the bramble to be king over them (Judges 9:8-15)—and realistic in parables. Whatever form the parable took, it was only a vehicle for the moral lesson being taught.

Jesus recognized the value of parables in teaching the people. He desired to stimulate their deepest thought and contemplation, and He knew that if He spoke too literally, certain of His hearers would quickly forget His words. Not only that, but others, for whom certain of His parables contained stern rebuke, would be so angered by straight speaking that they would attempt to silence Him by violence. Wise as a serpent but harmless as a dove, Jesus recalled the words of Isaiah 6:9 and told His disciples,

“Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”

Luke 8:10.

Cruden’s Concordance explains: “Our Saviour in the gospels often speaks to the people in parables. He made use of them to veil the truth from those who were not willing to see it. Those who really desired to know would not rest till they had found out the meaning.”

It was Jesus custom to talk to the people with parables.

It is appropriate here to ask to whom Jesus was speaking in Luke 16:19-31. Which category of people was He dealing with? The last verse before Jesus’ voice begins in this passage tells us.

  “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.” 

Luke 16: 14

Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, a class of men who were notorious all through the Gospels for their refusal to deal honestly with Him and the truths He taught.

We can be sure that of all the people Jesus taught, none were handled more guardedly than the wily Pharisees. They dealt in deception and subterfuge, but Jesus dealt with them wisely and truthfully. The safest way for Him to do this was by parable and allegory. Evidence that they did not understand many of His teachings can be found in Jesus’ prayer:

“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hath revealed them unto babes.”

Luke 10:21,

Mark 4:33, 34 clearly shows that Jesus’ lessons were almost invariably couched in parables:

“And with many such parables spake he the word unto them: as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake he not unto them; and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.”

Mark 4: 33, 34

The rich man and Lazarus is at the end of a long list of parables that start in Luke chapter 14:7 before he turns to the disciples and begins to speak to them plainly.


Now we are ready to examine the story of the rich man and Lazarus itself, and try to ascertain the real message Jesus was seeking to convey through it.

“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.”

Luke 16:19-21.

Who was the symbolic rich man? The Jews had been blessed above measure by a knowledge of God and his plan of salvation for all mankind. They had received

“the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.”

Romans 9:4.

Only a Jew would pray to “Father Abraham,” as we find the rich man doing later in the story. The Jewish nation was clearly represented by this character.

By contrast, Lazarus symbolized all those people in spiritual poverty—the Gentiles—with whom the Israelites were to share their heritage. The words of Isaiah were well known to the Jews.

“I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”

Isaiah 49:6.

Unfortunately, the Jews had not shared their spiritual wealth with the Gentiles at all. Instead, they considered them as “dogs” that would have to be satisfied with the spiritual crumbs falling from their masters’ tables. The metaphor was known. Jesus had used it before in testing the faith of the Canaanite woman.

“It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” She responded accordingly: “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ tables.”

Matthew 15:26, 27.

The rich Jews had hoarded the truth, and in so doing, they had corrupted themselves. Only moments before relating this parable, Jesus had rebuked the Pharisees for their spiritual conceit.

“Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”

Luke 16:15.

What was to be the result of this terrible conceit?

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”

Luke 16:22-26.

The Jews had enjoyed “the good life” while on earth but had done nothing to bless or enrich their neighbors. No further reward was due.

“Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger.”

Luke 6:24, 25.

Conversely, the poor in spirit, symbolized by Lazarus, would inherit the kingdom of heaven. The Gentiles who hungered and thirsted after righteousness would be filled. The “dogs” and sinners, so despised by the self-righteous Pharisees, would enter heaven before they would.

“Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”

Matthew 21:31.

The parable concludes with the rich man begging for his brethren to be warned against sharing his fate. Asking Abraham to send Lazarus on this mission, he alleges

“if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.” Abraham replies,

Luke 16:30.

“If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

Verse 31.

Jesus thus rebuked the Pharisees for their disregard of the Scriptures, foreseeing that even a supernatural event would not change the hearts of those who persistently rejected the teachings of “Moses and the prophets.”

The miracle of raising the real-life Lazarus from the dead soon afterward confirmed the accuracy of Jesus’ conclusion. One did rise from the dead, yet the brothers of the “rich man” did not repent. In fact, the Pharisees even plotted to kill Lazarus after his resurrection. His very life was a reminder to them of their own hypocrisy.

Today many Christians believe that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is a historical account of two individuals’ literal experiences in the afterlife. Based on this belief, some people teach that those who are consigned to the fiery torments of hell will never stop burning throughout all eternity. As with the parable of the trees and the bramble (Judges 9:8-15), however, serious problems arise with a literal interpretation of the story elements.

Can we believe that all the saints are even now gathered in Abraham’s bosom? If they are, in whose bosom does Abraham rest? And if there is really a great gulf fixed between heaven and hell, how could the rich man possibly have been heard by Abraham? Perhaps more disturbing, how could the saints enjoy the comforts of heaven while enduring the cries of the wicked being tormented?

Another dilemma that arises with a literal interpretation of this story could be called “the mystery of the empty graves.” If this is taken literally, apparently neither of the two leading characters spent very long in the grave—both being whisked away rather quickly to their respective places of reward. Their bodies obviously came along, for we find the rich man lifting up his eyes, and desiring to have his tongue cooled by a drop of water from the finger of Lazarus who was resting, as we have seen, in Abraham’s bosom. Enough graves have been exhumed in recent years to know that the bodies of the deceased are carried neither to heaven or hell after burial. They finally turn to dust and await the resurrection.

From these few examples, we begin to see that in this parable, Jesus was not trying to explain the physical realities of the afterlife. Instead, He was referring to the unfaithfulness of the Jews regarding their assigned responsibility. As stewards of the special message of truth, they utterly failed to share it with the Gentiles, who were eager to hear it. In fact, the entire chapter of Luke 16 is devoted to the subject of stewardship.

Beginning in verse one, Christ gave another parable about stewardship of money or property. “There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.” After dealing with the principle of being entrusted with material goods, Jesus opened up the issue of being entrusted with the truth. By the parable of another rich man, He graphically illustrated how they had proven just as unfaithful with spiritual riches as the steward had been unfaithful with physical wealth.

To attempt to stretch the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to cover the doctrine of hellfire is to miss the point Jesus intended to convey. The Bible speaks with unmistakable clarity on the subject of hell in many other places. Nowhere do the Scriptures teach that the wicked will continue to suffer in the fires of hell through the ceaseless ages of eternity. Rather, they will be utterly destroyed. Jesus never would have compromised the integrity of the Holy Scriptures by teaching a doctrine contrary to its own overwhelming testimony on the subject.

The truth about hell may be ascertained by examining even a few of the many Bible texts that speak directly on the subject. Before examining these, however, we must remember that

“the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life.”

Romans 6:23.

There are only two alternatives for every soul. Those who accept Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice will live forever; those who do not accept Jesus will die. If the wicked suffered without end, eternal life—however painful—would be theirs. But we know that eternal life is available only to those who accept Jesus.

Consider these clear texts of Scripture that speak of the reward of the wicked:

“But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.”

Psalm 37:20.

“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.”

Malachi 4:1.

“And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 4:3.

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28.

“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 heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

2 Peter 3:10.

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Revelation 21:8.

Many other texts could be cited, but these clearly illustrate that the ultimate fate of the wicked is death. Notice that the Scriptures choose the strongest possible words to describe the complete annihilation of the wicked. In no way should these clear words be misunderstood by one who honestly desires to know truth. There is a fire reserved for the wicked, but a fire so hot it will utterly destroy all who are engulfed by it. When the fire has done its work, it will go out. Eternally burning fire is not taught anywhere in the Bible—not even in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. (Some people have wondered what the expression “for ever” means in the usage of Revelation 20:10. Other similar passages demonstrate this merely to mean as long as a person lives. See Exodus 21:6; 1 Samuel 1:22; Jonah 2:6, etc. Also, the expression “eternal fire” may be understood in terms of consequences rather than duration, as in the example of Sodom and Gomorrha in Jude 7).

(We will talk more about this next time.)

It would be tragic to miss the actual point of the parable by removing it from the setting in which Jesus gave it. Let’s accept the lesson He was trying to teach and apply it to our own lives. Are we doing all we can to spread the message of salvation to others? Do we have a genuine love for those around us, and have we invited them to share our spiritual inheritance? If we hoard our riches, like the Jews of old, we will become self-righteous and corrupt. In contrast, by active, loving service, our relationship with Christ as well as with others will become stronger and more meaningful.

Let us not make scary stories the basis of our Christian experience. Instead, let us understand that

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16.

_________________________________________________

After all of this, the pivotal question must be asked,

Do you know God enough to know that He is a God of mercy and not a God who tortures his creation for rejecting Jesus? …even though He  gave man the freedom to choose.

Choose this day whom you will follow.

Joshua 24:15

Sin comes with its own penalty….eternal and non-ending death. This is in itself mercy. The sinner gives in to the carnal nature and chooses a life of pleasurable sin and its ultimate penalty of death rather than a born-again life of service in Christ that brings satisfaction and real joy.  The rebel to God’s Spirit will one day cease to exist in the lake of fire.  They choose this world and its temporary pleasures rather than Jesus and His eternal riches of life and discovery.

It is not what your choose, but rather who.  If you choose Jesus, then eternal life is yours.  Will you choose Him today?

I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

Deuteronomy 30:19

Much thanks to Doug Batchelor with Amazing Facts

Did Jesus Really Teach More About Hell Than Heaven?

Introduction

Have you ever heard someone say:

“Jesus taught more about hell than heaven.”

Here in the southern United States, I hear it often.  I have always wondered if it was true or not.

Did Jesus teach more about hell than Heaven?  The implication by those who make this statement is:  Jesus considered “hell” a more important topic than Heaven or the Kingdom of God.

But, let’s consider the truthfulness of the statement regarding the number of times Jesus taught on Heaven compared to “hell.”

Resources Used In  My Research

 Shouldn’t we be like the noble Christians from Berea who searched the scriptures to see if what Paul and Barnabas were telling them was true or not?

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”  Acts 17:11

I put the often-used statement to the test. In today’s world of the computer, it is fairly easy for anyone to determine if this assertion is true or not.

 All that is needed are a few simple search tools to help with this topic or any topic in the Bible for that matter.  Of course, you need a Bible.   Bibles are plentiful in today’s world.  They are in many different translations and paraphrases, not to mention the many different languages.

For this study, I stayed with the  translation of King James and New King James, Translations are generally more accurate with the original languages and the precept being communicated from the writer.

 If you want to do it the hard way,  you can use paper Lexicons and exhaustive concordances

There are good exhaustive concordance, which contains every word of the Bible.  They will be thick and intimidating until you learn how to use them.  I prefer either Strong’s or Young’s Analytical Concordance.   You could go to Christian Book store and purchase a copy.  But, they can be expensive.  A better choice is to find them and use them online for free!  Anyway, the automation makes the process of research much easier.   One of my favorite tools is called the

http://www.blueletterbible.org/search.cfm

Think of how far we have come since the days of the reformers.  Men like Martin Luther (part of the 15th and 16th century) were forced to go to a Latin Bible chained to a monastery wall to read God’s word! Those reformers who lived before and after Luther such as Jerome, Huss, Wycliff, Calvin, Knox, Zwingli, and many others spent years struggling under threat of death from a very powerful and corrupt political church to translate, print, and distribute God’s word to the common person. They would never have dreamed of a day when the common non-cleric person would be able to slice and dice every sentence of God’s word in multiple languages and various translations from their own home. With some elementary instructions, anyone can easily look up the original Hebrew or Greek word from a Lexicon that is included with Strong’s, Young’s, Blue Bible Search concordances online for free!

For this  “little” project, I used a very useful and simple website called Bible Gateway (www.biblegateway.com)and Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Lexicon online (www.eliyah.com/lexicon.html.)
Bible Gateway is like having a computerized Bible and allows me to search the scripture quickly based on a phrase, passage, or even a word or two.  For example, I might want to find the phrase, “Jesus wept.”  I simply type in the phrase and press “Enter.”  This phrase is quickly found in John 11:35

To start, I went to  www.biblegateway.com and simply typed in the English word “hell” and limited the search to the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) since this is where Jesus’ teachings are recorded. I did the same with the word “Heaven” and used the King James Version for each word. I kept up with my findings on an Excel Spreadsheet.  I soon found out that the English word “hell” is also expressed using the word “Fire” in some places. Here are a few examples:

1) “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Matthew 3:10

“As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

Matthew 13:40 “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

Luke 17:29, 30

These verses are obviously an indirect reference to the fate of the lost and a description of “hell” with its fire. So I used that word in my search as well.

On the other hand, there are many more references to the simple word of “Heaven,” but as with the English word “hell” there are indirect references to words like “Kingdom of God”, “Kingdom of Heaven” or simply “Kingdom” Here are a few examples:

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3

 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God J

John 3:3

“That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Luke 22:30

Following are the unfiltered results:

Unfiltered Conclusion: In the gospels, Heaven/Kingdom is used about 7 times more than hell/Fire.

Let’s Get Technical

Now to be fair, I had to start trimming the count (particularly Heaven) because sometimes gospel writers are writing about the same teaching, so you have duplication. Also, the word “Heaven” is often used to refer to the “sky” (atmosphere) where the birds fly or (outer space) where the sun, the moon, and stars reside.  Further, the use of the word “Heaven” may be used by someone other than Jesus, so technically He is not teaching about it. Those references are also pulled out. So, let’s filter a bit before we move on.

Filtered Results:

Elimination Summary:

• Mark has three (3) “hell” verses that repeat what Matthew had already described.
• The verses regarding “Heaven” had many repeats among all the gospel writers. Matthew is the most prolific in writing about “Heaven,” particularly the kingdom of “Heaven.” There were 45 verses that had to be pulled out.

  • It is Interesting that John (Gospel) does not show any usage of the word “hell.”

Following are the revised results:

Revised Results Conclusion:

Jesus taught 5.39 times more about Heaven/Kingdom than hell/Fire.

The same consideration was given for indirect references to hell i.e., “Fire.” Example:

“And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”

Matthew 3:10

Interesting Notes: Only Mathew uses the term “Kingdom of Heaven.” But the other gospel writers (Mostly Luke) use the term “Kingdom of God” to refer to the same thing.
Note: John The Baptist’s message was

“Repent ye for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 3:2

After Jesus was baptized, his primary message was the same thing!

“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

Mark 1:15.

See how Matthew and Mark use Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God respectively?

Conclusion:

Jesus teaches more about Heaven than hell!!!

It is opposite from what we have been told!

From my study, it seems Jesus especially liked to teach on “Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God.” He speaks about the Kingdom of Heaven 35 times in Matthew alone! The other gospel writers recorded 54 verses of His teachings about the “Kingdom of God” (which is basically the same precept.) This is 89 times in the Gospels just on these two phrases (2.78 times more than hell)!

Overall, Jesus taught on Heaven or some form of it at least 167 times compared to 32 times for hell. This is a significant variance. What is the implication? There is much more Jesus wants us to know about His Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven/God.  His warnings have more to do with loosing life or the Kingdom than going to hell.

There is one beautiful verse spoken my Jesus that we all know. He never uses the word “Heaven,” but we know He is talking about it because it is in the context of His 2nd Coming:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” 

John 14:22

Whatever words are used by Jesus to describe Heaven (e.g.. Heaven, Kingdom of Heaven, Kingdom of God, Father’s house, or simply the Kingdom.), it is obvious Jesus wants us to know more about it than the other place. This was a large part of his preaching and teaching. Could it be we don’t know enough about this important topic?

I learned so much by simply reading the 250 plus verses. What exactly does God want us to know about the Kingdom? More importantly,  how does it affect our knowledge of God and his character?  Do we come to him because we are fearful of hell or because we are drawn by what He has done for us on the cross and what He does for us every day. Here is a hint:

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”

John 12:32

When the sacrifice of the cross is understood, it will draw people to Jesus.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

 Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

Jeremiah 31:3

The way to salvation is not through horror, but through the drawing power of the love of God and the cross.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sin so that a person will repent and turn, in faith, to Jesus.

I have heard preachers say that if I don’t have a hot hell to preach, people will not come to Jesus.  How wrong! Do people make friends by scaring you or by loving you and doing things for you?

What I Learned About Hell

 Our English word for “hell” is used by many preachers in only one way i.e., the place of eternal torment, but among the Greek and Hebrew words, hell can mean different things such as the grave.  On the next writing, I will share what I have found.

I discovered there is definitely a “hell” with fire.  But it hotter than anyone imagined before.  It’s work is eternal, but its duration is but for a moment.  It is not a place of torture,  but a place that does a work of cleansing the universe of sin and its effects.

Of this I am certain:   God is merciful and longsuffering.  He is not willing that any should “perish” but that all would come to repentance.  Repentance is very important in the response of the lost. Repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart bringing conviction of sin and a view of Jesus paying for those sins.  It is a critical step toward Jesus and away from death.  This is why He waits regarding the 2nd coming.  This part of God’s character helps us understand the doctrine concerning the fate of the lost and the home of the saved.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  

2 Peter 3:9

Notice Peter did not say he is not willing that any should live in hell forever.  He used the word “perish.” The second coming of Christ is both a liberating and a destructive event as we will see in future studies.

The most famous verse of all time warns that unbelief results in “perishing.”  It tells us that eternal life is reserved only for the believers.  The lost perish.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

1 John 5:12

Eternal life is reserved only for the saved, not the lost.

Next time, we will study more about God’s plan to bring an end to the last enemy-death.  Let’s ask God to teach us about hell.  Click here for the next study on hell:

Lord Teach Me About Hell-Part 1-Rich Man and Lazarus

How we view this topic affects how we view the great Creator and His claim to love so much that He gives rather than tortures.

Until then, may the Lord bless you and your family as you consider the truth of the Bible and not the word of man.

What says the Bible?

The Blessed Bible

This my only question be.

Men’s teachings so often mislead us.

What says the Bible to me?

The 1,000 Years of Revelation. What is it?

This is part three in a series called “What the Rapture Is Not.

In our last  two studies, we explained, from the Bible alone, the  mistakes of Bible fiction found in the Left Behind books and subsequent movies. We spent most of our time explaining from clear multiple passages about the second coming. You can read them by clicking on the links below:

What the Rapture Is Not

7 Years of Tribulation-Biblical?

Now we turn our attention to the truth about the 1,000 years.

Many are tempted to view this topic as not necessary in their experience.  They will ask, “Why study the 1,000 years?  What does that have to do with my salvation?”

No doubt, there are many people who have a saving relationship with Jesus that know very little (if anything) about this topic as well as other end-time events.  But, as shown in the scripture below,  all scripture is good for several things.  The 1,000 years is good to contemplate, otherwise the Lord would not have inspired John to see it and write it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Wouldn’t you agree?

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  2

Timothy 3:16

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

Romans 15:4

Pondering whether the 1,000 years is literal or symbolic is of little consequences because of the many facets brought forth about the nature of God contained in the topic.

A study of the 1,000 years is important study for a couple of main reasons.  First it reveals further teachings about the 2nd coming and it provides clarity to things that are not clear in other passages.  Secondly, it demonstrates how God deals with the sin problem, judgment, and justice.

For the purpose of this study, we will look at events only.  We will assume the period is a literal 1,000 years.  unless we find something that would lead us to a different conclusion.

There are clear related passages that let us know with certainty the start of this period; events in the middle; and finally, events when the 1,000 years have passed and eternity begins.

If you are ready, let’s prayerfully begin.

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*Much thanks to Steve Wohlberg for the following format.

What is the truth about the thousand years?

What happens during this period?  Has it already started?  Is it here on earth? When does it end? Does Jesus rule on earth during this period?

To discover the answer, we must carefully examine the only authoritative source where it’s taught, the Bible, especially chapter 20 in the book of Revelation. Let’s see what Revelation 20 actually says, and doesn’t say.

Here’s Revelation 20 in its entirety:

“1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. 7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 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. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 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. 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20, King James Version.

Following is a brief summary of each verse.

vs. 1 – An angel descends from heaven with a key and a chain.
vs. 2 – He binds Satan for 1000 years.
vs. 3 – During the 1000 years Satan cannot deceive the nations any more.
vs. 4 – Martyrs are resurrected to reign with Jesus Christ for 1000 years.
vs. 5a – The rest of the dead will be raised at the end of the 1000 years.
vs. 6 – Those in the first resurrection will reign with Jesus for 1000 years.
vs. 7 – Satan will be loosed at the end of the 1000 years.
vs. 8 – After the rest of the dead are raised, Satan deceives them again. There will be billions – like the sand of the sea. They are called Gog and Magog. Satan gathers them for a final battle.
vs. 9 – Satan and this host surround God’s City. Fire comes down and devours them.
vs. 10 – Satan, the Beast, and the False Prophet end up in this lake of fire.
vs. 11 – Before this fire falls, a final judgment occurs.
vs. 12 – All the resurrected lost are judged.
vs. 13 – Another description of the resurrected lost being judged.
vs. 14 – Death and Hell [Hades-Grave] are cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death.
vs. 15 – All the resurrected lost are cast into the lake of fire.

To break it down even further: there is a ‘good resurrection’ (called “the first resurrection”) at the beginning of the 1000 years (vs. 4-6), whereas “the rest of the dead” are resurrected at the end of the 1000 years (vs. 5a). Satan is bound during the 1000 years (vs. 3), but is loosed “when the thousand years are expired” and “the rest of the dead” are raised (compare verses 5a and 7). Satan gathers the lost for a final battle against God’s City (vs. 8). A final judgment occurs, and then the lost are punished in the lake of fire (verses 9, 14-15). Then the old earth passes, and the new earth comes (Revelation 21:1).

The above points are undeniable, for this is exactly what Revelation 20 says. Two significant facts should be noted:

  1. Revelation 20 doesn’t say there will be peace on earth during the 1000 years.
  2. Revelation 20 doesn’t say Jesus Christ will rule during the 1000 years from the present city of Jerusalem.

These common doctrines are being taught worldwide but are not found in Revelation 20,the only place in God’s Word that specifically mentions the 1000-year period. Now let’s go deeper.

The Two Resurrections

There are two defining ‘bookends’ marking the beginning and the end of the thousand years, the two resurrections (vs. 4-6). Let’s see what else the Bible says about them.

Jesus Christ taught two resurrections.

“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation”

John 5:29.

The apostle Paul did too.

“There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust”

Acts 24:15.

Thus, both Jesus Christ and Paul taught two resurrections, the first being “the resurrection of life” for the saved, the second being “the resurrection of damnation” for the lost.

Revelation 20 revolves around these two resurrections. As we’ve already seen, verses 4-6 reveal that one takes place at the beginning of the 1000 years, the other at the end. The Word says,

“Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years”

(vs. 6)

This is the good, or “first resurrection,” at the start of the 1000 years. Those in it need not fear the second death.

“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years where finished”

(vs. 5a).

This is the bad or second resurrection, at the conclusion of the 1000 years. Jesus Christ called it

the resurrection of damnation”

John 5:29

Thus it is plain that there are two resurrections – one at the beginning of the Millennium, in which true believers in Christ are raised to eternal life; and one at the opposite end of the Millennium, in which the “unjust” awake to something else entirely.

The Second Coming

If the thousand years begins with the resurrection of the just, the question is, When does this good resurrection take place? When we find the answer, then we’ll understand what initiates the thousand years.

Scripture teaches that the return of Jesus Christ results in the resurrection of His saints. Paul tells us plainly that it is at “His coming,” when “the trumpet sounds,” that “the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

“But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming”

1 Corinthians 15:23:

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

1 Corinthians 15: 51-55,

Paul also wrote,

“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: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

According to Paul, “the dead in Christ shall rise first.” This is the same as “the first resurrection” depicted in Revelation 20:6.

In summary, Revelation 20:4-6 begins the 1000 years with the resurrection of the saints. 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 teach that the resurrection of the saints, who are called “the dead in Christ,” occurs when Jesus Christ returns. Thus it is the return of Jesus Christ, when His saints are resurrected, that marks the beginning of the Millennium.

Left Behind

In What the Rapture Is Not  we studied about who was taken, who was left. We saw that those who are “left” are actually the saved who remain alive and those who are “taken” are the lost taken in death.   Here is further Biblical support.

Jesus returns, the righteous dead are raised, and along with the righteous living they all are “caught up” to meet the Saviour in the air. This is great news for true believers!

But what about those who are not “caught up,” those who are left behind? Popular teaching says they will have a second chance during a “seven-year Tribulation,” an idea heavily promoted in the wildly popular Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Though those books have sold by the millions, the important question for us should be, Is that theology truly biblical?

Immediately after Paul describes true believers being “caught up,” he then declares,

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. For when they shall say Peace and Safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them … and they shall not escape”

1 Thessalonians 5:2-3

Thus, according to Paul, those who are not “caught up” will reap “sudden destruction” and “not escape.”

Does this sound like ‘the second chance’ so graphically depicted in Left Behind novels and films? Hardly.

It gets worse. How widespread is this “sudden destruction”? Jesus Himself explained it. Note the comparison between the lost of Noah’s day and Lot’s day.  Those left are those not destroyed.  They remain alive.  Those taken are those destroyed.

As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed”

Luke 17:26 -30

In Noah’s day, all who refused to enter the ark were  destroyed in the deluge. In Lot’s day, everyone except Lot and his family were consumed by falling fire. Jesus Christ said,

Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

Luke 17:30

Other texts make it clear that when Jesus returns, the lost will be destroyed, and they are not given another chance during some hypothetical “seven-year Tribulation” (which, by the way, is nowhere specifically referred to in the Bible). Here are just a few texts describing the global desolation that follows Jesus’ return.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 – When Jesus returns in flaming fire, the lost will be destroyed.
Revelation 16:17-18 – At Armageddon, cities crumble around the world.
Revelation 6:14; 16:20 – Every island sinks, and all the mountains disappear.
Jeremiah 4:23-26 – Planet Earth is totally devastated, with “no man” left alive.
Jeremiah 25:30-33 – Those slain by the Lord lie dead, unburied, all around the world.
Revelation 19:17-18, 21 – The birds eat the flesh of every human being worldwide.

These verses teach that those not “caught up” when Christ returns will be destroyed, and the destruction will encompass all the earth, as it did during Noah’s flood. Jesus Himself taught this.

“The flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the son of man be”

Matthew 24:39

From this verse, it is clear who got “took away” or who was taken.

The Rest of the Dead

The last sentence in Revelation 19 describes birds feasting upon “the flesh of all men” (vs. 21). Immediately following is Revelation 20, which depicts the binding of Satan so that he can “deceive the nations no more” during the 1000 years (Revelation 20:1-3). Why not? The answer’s easy–there’s nobody left alive on earth to deceive. Those in the first resurrection were “caught up” to be with Jesus, and the rest, those taken, were slain.

This helps explain what follows (Read carefully):

“that he [Satan] should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years should be fulfilled”

(Revelation 20:3).

Notice these three words “no more until.” What do they tell us? They teach that those “nations” are entirely Satan’s nations. Satan is deceiving them now, but can’t continue deceiving them during the Millennium, “until” a certain time.

What time is that? When the 1000 years are over, obviously. Now put two and two together. At the end of the Millennium, “the rest of the dead” (who missed “the first resurrection”) are raised back to life. Then Satan deceives them again. Look again, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise:

 “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished”

Verse 5a 

“When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison”

Verse 7 

At the end of the 1000 years, “the rest of the dead” are raised, and Satan is “loosed.” Therefore the raising of the “rest of the dead” is what “looses” the devil. Satan then swoops into these resurrected nations (now alive in the four corners of the earth), deceives them again, and then gathers them for the grand finale (verses 8-9).

What does all this mean? The answer will come shortly after we examine a few more crucial points. What should be clear so far however, that the common notion of the Millennium, reflected in Left Behind, leaves much to be desired. In fact, it’s completely bogus.

The Bottomless Pit

Crucial to understanding the Millennium are the first texts of Revelation 20, verses 1 and 2. According to these texts, Satan is bound with “a great chain” and confined to “the bottomless pit” for 1000 years. The expression, “a great chain,” doesn’t mean a literal chain. Even today, all of “the angels that sinned” with Lucifer are described as being in “chains of darkness” (2 Peter 2:4). These words do not refer to actual clinking and clanging metal, but to circumstances of darkness that these angels find themselves in after having been booted out of heaven.

During the 1000 years, Satan is represented as being bound with a chain because his new circumstances prevent him from deceiving the nations during the Millennium (Revelation 20:2). Again, what are those circumstances? Everyone left on earth is dead.

What’s this “bottomless pit”? In the Old Testament the word “pit” often refers to a grave, a cemetery, or to the place of the dead.

Psalms 55:23 – Evil men will go “down into the pit of destruction.”
Numbers 16:32-33 – “the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up … into the pit.”
Ezekiel 32:22-23 – “his graves are about him … in the sides of the pit … all of them slain.”
Psalms 28:1 – David prayed not to “become like them that go down to the pit.”
Psalms 69:15 – “Let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.”

Isaiah 14 contains one of the Old Testaments clearest prophecies about Lucifer. He was cast out of heaven (vs. 12) for exalting himself (vs. 13). Yet he is to be brought down “to the sides of the pit” (vs. 15). Isaiah 14:18-21 perfectly parallels the prophecy in Revelation 20:1-3.

“All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house [the grave]. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet. Thou shall not be joined with them in burial”

Isaiah 14:18-21

These verses predict a time when all the nations are slain and lie in their graves, yet Satan will not join them in burial. He will be left, instead, to wander among earth’s ruins. Notice carefully:

“Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, thou inhabitant of the earth … The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be moved like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in prison, and after many days shall they be visited”

Isaiah 24:17-22

This is a prediction of a destroyed and devastated earth. Its inhabitants are gathered as prisoners in the pit [the grave]. When Revelation 20:1-3 describes Satan as bound with a chain for 1000 years, this means that a chain of circumstances will prevent him from deceiving the nations. The major circumstance is the return of Jesus Christ in “flaming fire” (2 Thessalonians 2:8), the “sudden destruction” of sinners (1 Thessalonians 5:3), the largest earthquake in history (Revelation 16:18), the global crumbling of cities (Revelation 16:19), the disappearing of mountains and islands (Revelation 16:20), and the total depopulation of planet Earth just like “it was in the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37-39). This “great day of the Lord” will come “as a destruction from the Almighty” (Joel 1:15).

“And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be as dung upon the ground”

Jeremiah 25:33

Earth will then be like one gigantic bottomless pit, a huge cemetery. Jeremiah predicted:

“I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger”

(Jeremiah 4:23 -26).

As Satan and his angels behold their kingdom in ruins, they can only wonder about, counsel together, and contemplate with trembling the final events to occur at the end of the 1000 years.

Yet it doesn’t end here. We mustn’t forget the last section of Isaiah 24:17-22, which predicts that those who lie dead in their graves “shall be visited” (Isaiah 24:22). What could that possibly mean other than what we have seen in Revelation 20:5?

“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” It’s what Jesus was talking about when He warned about the “the resurrection of damnation”

John 5:29

This occurs at the end of the Millennium.

Far, then, from being a time of earthly glory when Jesus reigns from Jerusalem, the Millennium is a time when earth lies waste, in desolate ruins, a prison house for Satan and his demons.

The Saints in Heaven

If this doesn’t sound inviting, it’s because it isn’t supposed to be inviting. It’s a time of chaos, desolation, and ruin, a time when sin takes another step toward its horrific ending. The Millennium is not some idyllic era of peace and goodness upon this old earth, with Jesus ruling from Jerusalem, but a time of utter devastation and judgment.

What about God’s people? What about those who participated in “the first resurrection,” who were “caught up” with Jesus as opposed to being left behind? What happens to them during the Millennium?

Near the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus told His followers that He was going to heaven, where He would be preparing mansions for His children (John 14:1-2). When He returns, He will take us to Himself, “that where I am, there you shall be also” (vs. 3). When He comes, Jesus will take us to the place where He is now, in heaven in the New Jerusalem (see Revelation 3:12; 21:10). As we saw earlier, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 tells us that at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ we shall be “caught up.” Thus we are going up to glory. In perfect agreement with this is Revelation 19:1-2, which teaches that immediately after the destruction of Babylon (Revelation 18:8-24), John beheld God’s saints in heaven.

“And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand”

Revelation 19:1-2

According to Revelation 20:4, 6, the saints will “reign” with Jesus for 1000 years. Contrary to popular opinion, Revelation 20 does not say they will reign on earth during that time. Why would Jesus and His people rule over a devastated and ruined world anyway? The Bible says we will soar upward when Christ returns (1 Thessalonians 4:17), that He will take us to the New Jerusalem (John 14:1-3), and that we will then be in heaven praising God (Revelation 19:1-2).

Some might ask, How can we “reign” for 1000 years if we’re in heaven? Don’t we have to be on earth to “reign” over others during this time? Not necessarily. The Bible also says the saints will “reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). Thus this “reign” idea implies we will be in some position of authority, just as Adam originally exercised dominion over the earth, that’s all.

Now, if planet Earth is depopulated, with no survivors (except Satan and his angels), and the saints are in heaven, then what is the purpose of the 1000 years? A few possibilities exist:

1) It gives the loyal universe an opportunity to behold the terrible results of Satan’s rule;
2) It gives the saints in heaven an opportunity to go through heaven’s records and to have all their questions answered about why some of their loved ones are there and some are not;
3) It provides a period of time when Jesus and the saints together can make decisions about the just punishments to be carried out upon the lost at the end of the 1000 years (see 1 Corinthians 6:2-3);
4) It also gives the saints a period of time to prepare mentally for the events at the end of the 1000 years, at which time many of their loved ones will be resurrected, judged, and sentenced to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:5a, 11-15).

The Resurrection of Damnation

Okay, we have seen that at the Second Coming, Jesus returns, the saved (both the resurrected dead and those alive at His return) are taken to heaven where they “reign” for a thousand years, the earth is destroyed–and Satan remains captive there for the allotted thousand years. What then happens at the end of the thousand years?

Revelation 20 (as we’ve already seen) is clear that two events occur:

1) The “rest of the dead” are raised to life (vs. 5a).
2) Satan is “loosed” (verses 3, 7).

Both events occur simultaneously. When the lost are resurrected, Satan now has people once again to deceive; thus he is, in effect, “loosed” from his chains. Satan then

“will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea”

(vs. 8).

The “sand of the sea” means myriads of people (all the lost–from the days of Adam down to the last person who experienced “sudden destruction” at Christ’s return). During the 1000 years, they remain in their graves; now, they are raised to life in “the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29).

Immediately after the lost are resurrected, Satan gathers “them together to battle.” What Hollywood movie producer could even envision such a scene: billions of lost people, including (no doubt) great military commanders, gathered together in one final burst of rebellion?

The next question is, Who will this terrible army attempt to fight? The Bible makes it plain: “They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city…” (vs. 9). This is the New Jerusalem, the home of the saved (Revelation 3:12; 21:10), which descends from heaven to the earth (Revelation 3:12; 21:2) right before the second resurrection. Then Satan and his macabre army surround the “camp of the saints” in a last-ditch effort to conquer God’s fortress.

Picture this scene: all the world’s lost and all the world’s saved are together for the first time–the saved inside the city, the lost outside. The lost will behold the reward of the righteous, the saved the doom of the damned.

This is Satan’s last stand, his final opportunity to conquer Jesus Christ, His New Jerusalem, and the redeemed of all ages. But he can never defeat the King of the Universe. He failed miserably when Jesus was a lowly carpenter in human flesh. What chance does he have against Him now as King of the New Jerusalem? None whatsoever!

Fire from Heaven

After Lucifer’s legions gather round God’s holy city to make war against it, what happens next? The Bible explains explicitly:

“[Satan] shall go out to deceive the [resurrected]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, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them”

Revelation 20:8-9

Notice, “fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” That’s their fate!

Before the fire falls, a vast cosmic judgment scene unfolds.

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it … And I saw the [resurrected] dead standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it [another description of the resurrection of the lost], and Death and Hades [the grave] delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged each one according to their works”

Revelation 20:11 -13

This judgment occurs while Satan’s army is gathered around the city; it concerns only the lost, who are then judged “according to their works.” As books are opened above them, they are allowed to see the complete record of their lives. They are shown why they are lost, why they are outside God’s City, why they have forfeited eternal life with Jesus. As the Book of Life is opened, they discover their names are missing. Then Jesus will undoubtedly show them how much He loved them, how He tried hard to save them, and yet how by their own persistent efforts they resisted His tender appeals. Yes, they will see that Jesus Christ died for them, that on the cross He paid the full penalty for all their sins, and that they could have been inside the city with His saints; but now they are outside with another master, the master of their own choosing. They will see that, though Jesus willingly took upon Himself the punishment that was theirs, they spurned Him, and now they are forced to stand before His holy majesty in the shame of their spiritual nakedness, with every wrong thought, every wrong word, and every wrong deed bearing down upon their consciences to condemn them, and there is no longer any Mediator to represent them and intercede for them.

After sentence is pronounced, the fire of God brings final retribution upon the lost. By this time, all the unsaved understand why they are lost. This destruction is an act of justice, not cruelty. The book of Revelation is very clear about God’s uprightness. “Just and true are your ways, O King of the saints” (Revelation 15:3); “You are righteous, O Lord … Because you have judged these things” (Revelation 16:5); and “For true and righteous are His judgments” (Revelation 19:2).

The judgment at the close of the Millennium will be perfectly just, without any taint of imperfection chargeable upon God. By rejecting His love and mercy, and by a life of continued sinning, the lost have earned their just reward. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, holy angels, and the saints will all weep over the unsaved. But nothing more can be done. Now it’s too late.

Revelation 20:8 says the lost will march across “the four quarters of the earth” right before the fire falls upon them. Thus we conclude that God’s fire will descend all over planet Earth. This unquenchable downpour will become a “lake of fire” (14-15) boiling everywhere. Malachi 4:1, 3 says that entire fateful day will “burn as an oven.” 2 Peter 3:10 adds “…the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” Thus God will totally purify and cleanse our sin-polluted earth with flames. In fact, 2 Peter 3 parallels the destruction of the world by water in Noah’s day with the purification of the earth by fire at the end of the 1000 years (2 Peter 3:5-7). In Noah’s day, the whole earth was under ‘a lake of water’; at the end of the 1000 years, this planet will be wrapped in “a lake of fire.” In Noah’s day, God’s people floated in the midst of the water but were protected inside the ark; at the end of the Millennium, when a lake of fire envelops our planet, God’s saved “saints” will be right there, riding the storm safely inside the New Jerusalem.

The New Heaven and New Earth

Revelation 20 concludes with these solemn words, “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. The next verse reads: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Revelation 21:1).

New heaven (sky), new earth! What happened to the old ones? We just saw. The lake of fire consumed them. When the Bible says, “…the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,” this must include the lake of fire! After God’s fire completely purifies this planet and its atmosphere, He will recreate the earth and sky, so long under the contaminating effects of sin. God will make “a new heaven and a new earth.” Eventually the cleansing fire will disappear, after purifying this earth from every trace of sin, sinners, Satan, and demons, and in place of smoggy sky and a polluted earth the Lord will create new ones.

“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells”

2 Peter 3:13

Revelation 21 also adds,

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful’”

Revelation 21:4-5

“Write, for these words are true,” says God Almighty. When this finally happens, the lake of fire, death, sin, sorrow, crying, and pain will “have passed away.” There will be no more terrorists, no more tears over the World Trade Center, nor crying over a million other things like natural disasters, sickness, divorce, child abuse, or graveside services. These will all have “passed away.

As Noah and his family finally walked out of the ark onto a cleansed world, so will God’s faithful saints finally step out of the New Jerusalem into a brand new world.

Conclusion

Contrary to popular opinion, the biblical Millennium is a time of desolation and ruin, followed by more rebellion, then judgment, and finally, re-creation–when the Lord who first spoke heaven and earth into existence (Genesis 1) repeats His creativity, “His wonders to perform”!

The most important issue, however, isn’t so much our knowledge of millennial details but our knowledge of the God who has revealed the truth about it. What this study shows us, perhaps more than anything else, is that there is no second chance, no middle ground, no neutrality in this Great War between Jesus Christ and Satan. Remember, the devil deceives “nations” (Revelation 20:3) in many areas, including this one. You friend, will be on one side or the other. You will either be inside the city, safe and secure with Jesus, looking down on the hordes outside; or you will be outside, deceived by the Devil, looking up at what might have been yours had you only repented and given yourself fully to Jesus Christ for faithful obedience.

Jesus died for you! He died so that you could have a place with Him in that New Jerusalem and in the new heavens and new earth that are coming. Your final destiny, inside or outside, eternal life or eternal destruction, depends upon your choice. Will you give yourself to the One who gave Himself for you, and thus have eternity with Him, or will you continue resisting His pleadings?

 

7 Years of Tribulation-Biblical?

“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.”

Daniel 12: 1

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

Matthew 24:21

No doubt, there is predicted a “time of trouble” by Daniel and Jesus in these two verses, but how long is it?

There is not a verse in the Bible that has the phrase, “7 years of tribulation”, or “7 years of trouble.”,  The length of the time of trouble in the verses above is not specific about time as are many others we will discuss.  It is just a “time of trouble.”

The attempt to make it 7 years  comes from a fanciful misinterpretation of  Daniel 9: 24-27  prophecy.  Despite this, the Daniel 9 prophecy is powerful when interpreted in its setting.  It has helped  many believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah and the validity of Scripture. I am one of them.

Last post, we explored the topic: What the Rapture Is Not.  Please read this before continuing.  It will help in the understanding of what actually happens when Jesus returns and how the time of trouble fits in the time line.

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  Let’s read the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 and compare it with actual history and  dates supported by the Bible  to see if there is a 7-year tribulation hidden somewhere in it.  In the process, we will discover the power of this prophecy in Daniel written almost 500 years before Jesus!

Please follow closely.  When we are finished, I recommend you verify the dates at your local library or other resources.  Beware of the confusion of the internet.  Also, I have included a chart at the end in the “Appendix” to make these dates easier to see and follow.

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Ready? Here we go.   Be sure to pay special attention to key words and the context.

Daniel 9:24-27

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks (7), and threescore (60) and two weeks (2): the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

 And after threescore (60) and two weeks (2) shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (1): and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

Daniel 9: 24-27

If you count up the number is parenthesis, you will have the 70 weeks mentioned at the start of the prophecy.  There is a reason why they are split up that way.  I will not go into those historical reasons in this writing for the sake of staying on point.

The setting for these verses is important in understanding the prophecy.  Daniel and his people (The Jews) had been taken captive by Babylon and the city of Jerusalem was destroyed and lay desolate as prophesied by Jeremiah.  It was predicted by Jeremiah that they would be in captivity for 70 years!

“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”

Daniel 9:2

As the 70 years of captivity drew near to the end, Daniel began to pray and confess his sins and the sins of the people (Verses 4-20). Then Gabriel (an angel) came and informed Daniel that he had come to

“give thee skill and understanding.” 

Daniel 9:22

Then Gabriel gives the vision as stated in Verses 24-27 above.  This is the skill and understanding Daniel needed to understand the message.  He knew  from Jeremiah’s writings the 70 years of captivity would soon end.

From Daniel 9: 24-27 above, we observe the following:

70 weeks was given to Daniels people (thy people) and the city of Jerusalem to:

  1. Finish the transgression
  2. Make an end of sins
  3. Make reconciliation for iniquity
  4. Bring in everlasting righteousness
  5. Seal up the vision and prophecy
  6. Anoint the most Holy
So God was giving the Jewish people (Daniel’s people in captivity) 70 weeks or 490 days to do all those  things; ending with anointing the most Holy.  We shall see that the anointing of the most Holy is not in regards to the apartment in the sanctuary necessarily, but the Holy One of God-Jesus
The  70 weeks given to the Jews are are calculated in the verses in sections:
three score (60) and
two weeks (2)
7 weeks (7) and
1 week (1)
Quick arithmetic shows this is 70 weeks is 490 days (7 X 70).  But, in Bible prophecy the day = year principle should be used to unlock the timelines for history.  The verses that supports this principle can be found in the passages below:
 “After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.”
Numbers 14:34
  “And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.”
Ezekiel 4:6
So God was giving the Jewish people 490 years for their assignment.  During this time, he sent prophets and others to inspire and help keep them close to him.  But as one reads their story, it is quickly seen that they often went after other gods and forsook the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob…the one and only true Creator God!
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“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city…”
Daniel 9: 24
If we can determine where the 490 years begins (with certainty) we can understand the other events of the prophecy.
The time lines starts here:
“….from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem”
Daniel 9: 25
This command to restore and build Jerusalem can be found in Ezra Chapter 7 when Artaxerxes gave the commandment in 457 BC (See the *notes at the end).
So, now that we have a starting date, let’s see where it takes us:  The first stop is the coming of the Messiah the Prince
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince….
Daniel 9: 25
The Messiah the Prince can refer only to Jesus himself.  He is both the Messiah and a Prince
He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
John 1:41
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
John 1:45
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6
So we know that from the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Jesus would be a certain length of time.  How long?
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks (7), and threescore (60) and two weeks (2): the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
From 457 to Jesus is 69 weeks or 483 days or 483 prophetical years.  Lets do some math:
Starting at 457 BC and moving through history 483 years brings us to the fall of 27 AD
This is the date Jesus was baptized by John (anointed) and He began his ministry as the prophecy predicted. Here is an important verse in connection with Jesus’ baptism:
“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
Matthew  3:16
A dove  represents anointing.
Another interesting passage that makes sense in the light of Jesus beginning his ministry exactly on time according to Daniel’s prophecy some 500 years before Jesus is this one:
“But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son…”
Galatians 4:4
The time was “full.” In other words, Jesus came to this earth and began his ministry right on time.  It may be possible that this quote is in reference to this particular prophecy.  Whatever the case, we know that God knows the future  and will not do anything unless he reveals it by his prophets:
“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
Amos 3:7
69 weeks or 483 years of the 70 weeks or 490 years has been explained.  Isn’t it comforting to know that God, through the prophet Daniel let the world know when Jesus would come on the scene?
 Now let’s look at the last week or 7 years.  This is where Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye and others use the 7 years as a period of tribulation.  They disconnect it from this time line and attempt to run it down to the end of time after Jesus “raptures the church.”  But we are going to  let the verses speak for themselves.  We will keep the last week on the timeline as intended.  If we do, we learn the most interesting part of this prophecy.
Daniel tells us after Jesus began his ministry that Jesus would be cut off:
“Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:….”
Daniel 9: 26
But before He is cutoff he would do the following:
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,
Daniel 9:27″
Jesus was to “confirm the covenant with many for 1 week or 7 days which is 7 years in prophecy. But He is “cut off” in the middle of the week or 3 1/2 days or 3 1/2 years
Jesus ministry was exactly that long (3 1/2 years) before He was “cut off” or crucified on a Roman cross in 31 AD.  He ministered from 27 AD to 31 AD.
As Daniel 9:27 stated, the sacrifices and oblations also ended at the time of Jesus’ death.  The law of ceremonies had served their purpose of teaching the Jewish nation about the price of sin, the sacrifice for it, and the plan of salvation.  Those ceremonial laws were the School Master to bring people to Jesus and help them understand the lesson of sin, forgiveness,  grace and the sacrifice of Jesus!  The School Master died forever the day Jesus died on the cross as the true Lamb of God.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Galatians 3:24, 25

All the festivals, drink and meat offerings and special Sabbath days (Not the weekly Sabbath found in the 10 commandments) were shadows pointing to  the body of Jesus.   All those had served their purpose and were fulfilled in Christ:

“Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”

Colossians 2:17

On the other side of the cross, the people looked forward in faith to Jesus (the Messiah) and what He would do for them (Die for their sins).  All of us on this side of the cross look back in faith at what Jesus has done for us (Die for our sins).

 Something extraordinary occurred at the crucifixion of Christ to demonstrate the truthfulness of the two verses above:

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Matthew 27: 50, 51
Thus ended the rounds of ceremonies and the laws put in place by Moses to teach about Jesus.  Please note:  These laws did not include the 10 commandments as some would assert.  A study for another time.
Jesus told His disciples this:
 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Matthew 15: 24
Jesus was “confirming the covenant” with the children of Israel during His ministry.  With them he spent most of His time.  His plea about the coming Kingdom of God was a message primarily to the Jews.
He also told His disciples to do the same:

“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:

 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 10: 5, 6

This the disciples did for 3 1/2 more years after Jesus was “cut off” or crucified in 31 AD.

This takes us 3  1/2 years forward to the end of the 70 weeks or 490 years.

In the year 34 AD specific and relevant events took place to mark the end of the 490 years “determined” or given unto the Jewish nation:

In this year Stephen was martyred and Paul was converted to be the teacher to the Gentiles

“I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” 

2 Timothy 1:11

Another important passage of scripture also marks the end of 70 weeks given to the Jews to do all those things of the covenant listed in Daniel 9.  It is a point where the burden of carrying the gospel to the entire world is taken off the shoulders of the Jews and given to the Gentiles. It is the point where God reveals who is a real Jew or seed of Abraham.

Paul and Barnabas were preaching to a large group, but were interrupted by the Jews because of the large following of the two disciples.  Those religious leaders who were interrupting contradicted Paul and Barnabas  and actually blasphemed God!  But it is what Paul and Barnabas say that marks the transition and end of the  490 years given to the  Daniel’s people (Israelites)

 “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

Acts 13:  45, 46

The appointed people of God had rebelled continuously and  failed to keep the covenant (agreement).  At this transitional period in history God turned to the Gentiles and made them heir to the promises of God:

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:29

No longer was there a distinction between literal Jew and Gentile if one belongs to Christ. God’s chosen people are simply identified as belonging to Christ:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Romans 2:28, 29

Thus the 70 week prophecy came to an end! There is no room or context in the prophecy for 7 years of tribulation or the Anti Christ. It is simply not there.  To try to force it takes away from a beautiful and important part of the ministry of Christ of keeping the covenant with them while He was on this earth.

While Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye and others has everyone looking at Jerusalem for the rebuilding of the temple to mark the soon return of Jesus, the Anti Christ is at work elsewhere in the world.  This we will see in future studies.  The Hollywood produced Bible fiction  is so deceptive that almost the whole world is taken in.  What a great diversion by the enemy of mankind!  It teaches an incorrect story about Jesus return and gives a false hope of a 2nd chance after Jesus returns.

In conclusion, the 70 week prophecy of Daniel 9 is mishandled to try and support 7 years of tribulation at the end of time and the work of the Anti Christ.  If the prophecy is kept in its context, it becomes a prophecy to support Jesus as the Messiah, his crucifixion, the spread of the gospel, and God’s long suffering with the lost sheep of the house of Israel!

Below is a summary chart of the dates we have discussed above:

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APPENDIX

Below is information (if you want more detail). I hope this prophecy helped you see how God is in control and provided proof of Jesus ministry hundreds of years before He came to pay the price for our sins.

*Notes about the dates described above:

Ezra has three decrees with different dates that could be used.  Nehemiah has a date also.  But the decision as to which one to use, you must keep in mind the key words of the prophecy: “the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.”

The four decrees are :
The decree of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4)
The decree of Darius I (Ezra 6:1-12)
The decree of Artaxerxes I (Longimanuus) (Ezra 7: 12-26)
The decree of Artaxerxes (Nehemiah Chapters 1 and 2)
Let’s eliminate some of the dates  based on the guiding verse of Daniel 9:25
Ezra 1-gave instruction only for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. Said nothing about the whole city.  We can eliminate this date.
Ezra 6-simply the endorsement by Darius of the decree of Cyrus.  Only mentions the building of the “house of God.” We can eliminate this date.
Ezra 7 makes provision for complete restoration of the Jewish state, including the right to appoint magistrates and judges, hold trials, and pass and execute sentence upon violators of the own national laws. This is the date that fits the idea of “restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem.” 
Nehemiah 2-Wording has not been preserved, but was simply a reinstatement of Artaxerxes original authorization to Ezra recorded in Ezra chapter 7.
Determination of the date of the decree: It was in the seventh year of Artaxerxes’ reign (Ezra 7:7,8)
Biblical evidence for the 457 BC start date:
The dates for Artaxerxes reign are well documented in the ancient sources: Greek historians, Ptolemy’s Canon
The Babylonian business tablets
Elephantine papyri from Egypt
From the above documents, we know that Xerxes was killed in late December of 465 B.C. and the reign of Artaxerxes began at the time.

Artaxerxes Reign

Fall to Fall

First year 464/463 B.C.
Second year 463/462 B.C.
Third year 462/461 B.C.
Fourth year 461/460 B.C.
Fifth year 460/459 B.C.
Sixth year 459/458 B.C.
Seventh year 458/457 B.C.

 

Therefore, the seventh year of Artaxerxes, according to Jewish reckoning, extended from the fall of 458 to the fall of 457 B. C.

Note: the references in this prophecy to destruction of the city and temple and desolations:

“….the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined… for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate”

Daniel 9:27

This is not reference to a small historical character called Antiochus or a future Anti-Christ, but to the total destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD as predicted by Jesus himself when he told the disciples.  There has never been a temple since then and never will be!

“Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Matthew 24:2 

“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains,.  Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.  But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not e in the winter or on the Sabbath.   For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”

Matthew 24: 15-22

The total destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman soldiers was horrible.  Many who tried to escape were crucified outside the city.  At one time, the number of crosses outside the city almost made it look like a forest of trees.  Those who heeded the advice of Jesus escaped the city and remained alive.

This was a time of trouble unlike any seen before….But there will be another time of trouble just before the Lord comes.  While the Christians will be here, the plagues will not touch them, just as it didn’t when the plagues fell on Egypt when they were in captivity.  This is a topic we will discuss in the coming weeks.

Until then, may the Lord bless you and your family and keep you under His wings.