Tag Archives: Second Coming

Daniel and Revelation-Part 2-The Image and the Beasts

The image of Daniel 2 unlocks the Prophecy of Daniel 7 & Revelation 13

 “I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.  I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things:

Daniel 7: 15:16

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Daniel 2 Review:

In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that he did not understand and it troubled him greatly.  None of the wise men, I call the “Fakers,” could help the King! But, God worked through Daniel and his three companions to remind the king of his dream and also give him the interpretation.

This interpretation comes straight from God to Daniel and needs “no private interpretation.”

Quite simply, Daniel told the king that four (4) great powers would arise.  He identified the first two in scripture as Babylon, then the dual kingdom of the Medes and Persians.  After Daniel’s time, the other two powers appear on the scene as history tells us: Greece (Belly and thighs of brass) and finally Rome (Legs of iron).

Rome was the ruling power when Jesus was on the earth teaching and dying for our sins.  It was a Roman decree and a Roman cross upon which our Lord died.  Rome continued to rule as the disciples went forth with the power of the Holy Spirit and built up the church.

Also, during this time, the church began to receive persecution as we will see later.

The king’s dream does not stop here.  The legs of iron were followed  by the feet and toes of iron and  clay.  These symbols identifie the fall of Rome and breaking into 10 divisions. Some of these countries are strong and some are weak just as clay is weak and iron is strong.   Three countries (powers) were annihilated  and there are no current countries that have roots in these three tribes:  The Heruli, Vandals, and Ostrogoths were the 3 countries (tribes) eliminated by Rome.

The prophecy ends with these startling words:

 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. 

And in the days of these kings  (The divisions of Rome or what we now call Europe) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”

Daniel 2: 43-45

Never again will the old divisions of Rome (Europe) be joined together. Many have tried and failed, either through wars or marriage.

Over and over, the Bible talks of the 2nd coming as a time of destruction from the Lord.  More specifically, it is described as a time of surprise to the lost and utter destruction to planet earth.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

2 Peter 3:10

It also includes the unsaved. Their fate is symbolized by what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah.:

…turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly;

2 Peter 2:6

“For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
That will leave them neither root nor branch.

Malachi 4:1

So when all the kingdoms of the earth are destroyed, God will create a new heaven and a new earth.  The”Rock” and God’s kingdom will fill the whole earth.  God will be our God and we will be his people.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.”

Isaiah 65:17

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

Revelation 21: 3

“The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.” History has proved the dream is “certain” and we can rest in the knowledge the interpretation is correct.

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Daniel 7-Introduction

In Daniel 7, another dream or vision is given.  But, this time, it is given directly to Daniel.  Like king Nebuchadnezzar, the dream troubles Daniel and he does not know what it means. This time, it is interpreted by the attending angels.

Like Daniel 2, we will let the Bible interpret itself and then we will check it out through history.

In this vision of Daniel, we will see that God has a way of revealing the truth and the future in a way as to prepare the heart to receive it.

In Daniel 7 God uses the principle of repeating and expanding about the meaning of the prophecies.  We will see the same four powers of Daniel 2, but with more detail about the nature of the beast powers and we will see the addition of a terrible and strong entity arise that comes up (not from the sea) but from one of the powers described in Daniel 2.  It does not get its power from conquering wars over people and multitudes (illustrated by the symbol of the sea)

This vision of Daniel 7 is like meat and not milk.  It will be new to many who read this and you might not be ready to receive it or digest it.  But, the words are certain and are supported by the Bible and history.  As we begin, let’s pray for the Spirit of Truth and let the story reveal itself to us.  Truth from God’s word is always meant for good, for life, and for comfort.  Keep in mind, we have a loving and forgiving Savior who desires us to find peace and assurance in Him and his revelation.

OK?  Let’s begin.

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Daniel 7-Part 1

The book of Daniel 7 is about 4 animals (kingdoms) that give fear and wonder to Daniel.  Daniel 2 was about four metals (kingdoms). But, in Daniel 7, Daniel is particularly interested in  the fourth beast and the little horn power.  This is the first time we see this “little horn power” in scripture.  The interpretation is given to Daniel and it goes far beyond the time he is living even until the coming judgment of planet earth.

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.

Daniel 7:1

This first verse is important because it gives the time and Daniel’s dream.  The first year of Belshazzar would be 540 BC.

Here is what Daniel saw that year:

“I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great SeaAnd four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.”

Verse 2 and 3

As the beasts are described, they look something like below.  Very strange!  Wouldn’t you agree?  They are animals with something unusual about each.

When we read and study the Bible, we should read it as literal unless there is some overall reason to apply symbolism.  Here we have good reason to apply the rule of symbolism because of the unusual and unimaginable description of the beasts. Even more compelling is the fact that there is an interpretation of the beasts given by the attending angels. To think in literal terms would lose the message God is giving. Is that a fair statement?  I will explain as we go along.

To help us with the beginning of this prophecy, let’s look at some passages that unlock the symbolic meaning of this prophecy and others.  In Daniel’s vision, he is seeing “the four winds stir up the Great Sea.” 

What does the four winds and the Great Sea represent? We can get our answer from Revelation where these same beasts appear.  Daniel explains Revelation and vice versa.  Perhaps, this is why the book of Daniel ends with these words,

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end.”

Daniel 12: 4

The book of Revelation had to be written and its message understood in the light of Daniel and history before these books could be “opened” 

Revelation describes the four winds in this passage:

After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree…”Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

Revelation 7:1, 3

Here is a picture of 4 angels symbolically holding back winds that would harm the earth, sea, or trees. What does that sound like? Revelation does not leave any doubt

From this passage in Revelation, we can see that the 4 winds represent turmoil, strife, war, and destruction.  Another passage supports this interpretation:

 Thus says the Lord of hosts:

“Behold, disaster shall go forth
From nation to nation,
And a great whirlwind shall be raised up
From the farthest parts of the earth.”

Jeremiah 25:32

Even more important is the self-interpretation from this chapter about the beasts.  In its interpretation we can see that logically the winds and sea would indeed represent nations arising out of turmoil and wars:

What are the four beasts?  Let’s let the angel of Daniel 7 tell us:

“Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth.”

Daniel 7:17

If four kings or kingdoms arise, where do they come from?  The sea of people and the winds of war.

So early in this prophecy, we can conclude that Daniel is seeing four kingdoms arise from the many people and the results of conquering wars.  King Nebuchadnezzar also saw these four kingdoms:  Babylon, Medes/Persia, Greece, and Rome.  Then Rome is divided into 10 kingdoms (toes in Daniel 2 and heads in Daniel 7).  It is in the days of these 10 kingdoms (countries) that our Lord returns. Never in history could mankind see how close the 2nd coming is until these books were opened.

Image result for Comparison of Daniel 2 and daniel 7

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Daniel 7 goes on to describe the four beasts in more detail. They correspond to the four metals of Daniel 2, but God is adding more detail and explanation.

 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.

Daniel 7: 4

2347-1st-Beastx220

The wings on the lion represent the rapidity by which Babylon conquered its foes under king Nebuchadnezzar.  But, the wings are plucked and a man’s heart is given to it.  The boldness of the Lion wanes as it comes to a close of its earthly domination.  The man’s heart compared to the Lion illustrates the weakness that came about as it lay dormant and exposed caused by wealth and luxury.

Image result for images of ancient babylon and the lion

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It is now a perfect target for the next power to arise and take its place.  This power is the dual kingdom of the Medes and the Persians and is represented by the bear that raised itself up on one side and had three ribs between its teeth.

And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.

Daniel 7:5

1198-2ndBeastx94

Eventually, the Persians dominated the kingdom and became stronger than the  Medes.  Like a bear putting his weight on his strong side, the Persians came up “last” as we will see in the prophecy in the 8th Chapter.  The Persians also become the dominant power.  The command to devour much flesh was obeyed and it left nothing but three bones.  These represent the three conquests of the Medes and Persians:  Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt

This power represented by the bear ruled from the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus in 538 BC to the battle of Arbela in 331 BC.  A time span of  207 years.  It fell to the next kingdom represented by the four-headed leopard with four wings of a fowl,

After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.

Daniel 7:6

1200-3rdBeastx94

If two wings represent speed, then 4 wings on the quick-footed leopard must represent an extremely rapid course of conquests for the next kingdom of Greece under Alexander the Great.  This corresponds with the Daniel 2 prophecy and history.

Alexander has no parallel in historical annals for suddenness and rapidity.

Rollin, Ancient History, b.15, sec.2, gives the following brief synopsis of Alexander’s marches:-

“From Macedonia to the Ganges, which river Alexander nearly approached, is computed at least eleven hundred leagues. Add to this the various turnings in Alexander’s marches; first, from the extremity of Cilicia, where the battle of Issus was fought, to the temple of Jupiter Ammon in Libya; and his returning from thence to Tyre, a journey of three hundred leagues at least, and as much space at least for the windings of his route in different places; we shall find that Alexander, in less then eight years, marched his army upward of seventeen hundred leagues [or more than fifty-one hundred miles], without including his return to Babylon”

Alexander the Great succeeded his father Philip II at age 20 and lived to reign only about 11 1/2 years more.  He died at age 32.  His life spent in the fast lane of wars and debauchery.

The four heads of the leopard represent  the division of Alexander’s empire among his four leading generals:

Cassander (Macedon and Greece in the west)

Lysimachus (Thrace and parts of Asia on the Hellespont and Bosphorus in the North

Ptolemy (Egypt, Lydia, Arabia, Palestine, and Coele Syria in the south)

Seleucus (Syria and all the rest of Alexander’s dominions in the east.)

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Next to arise on the world scene is Rome illustrated as the “dreadful” and terrible beast.”  It was different from the other powers in a way that is more than mere appearances.

After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

Daniel 7: 7

There is not a beast in nature that Daniel can use to describe this fourth beast and how “dreadful and terrible” it is.  It’s great teeth devour and “brakes” to pieces the other countries.  It has  10 horns that correspond to the 10 toes of part iron and part clay of Daniel 2.

fourth beast

The nature of Rome was cruel.  They perfected the tortuous death of crucifixion believed to have been invented by the Persians.  Death by crucifixion could last up to 6 days!  Rome merciless stamped on and conquered all that would oppose it.

It was on a cruel Roman cross that Jesus took the shamefulness of our sins upon himself.  This act by the Creator was the ultimate demonstration of the sacrificial love for His creation.  It was part of the good news.  But, the fact that Jesus arose a victor over the death of the cross that the good news message is most nearly complete.  The other part of the good news is that Jesus will one day return to change us and to rescue us forever from the pull and presence of sin.  The good news cannot be captured by a list of events in the life of Jesus.   it is an experience initiated and propelled by the Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Like Daniel, let’s turn our attention to the little horn that arose:

And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.

Daniel 7:20

Who was this power that captured the attention of Daniel?  This horn had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things and was more stout than the others.

This horn displaces three horns and speaks great things.  Like the 10 toes of Daniel’s image, it is in the day’s of these kings, that God will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.  His kingdom will consume the entire earth.  This is the second coming of Jesus!

Revelation 13 is a composite of the beasts found in Daniel 7:

Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.  Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion

Revelation 13: 1,2

Image result for image of Revelation 13

This little horn power that speaks great things exists today! It will bring the final deception of many people on this earth.  It is the beast of Revelation 13. In the next post, we will discover the identity of the little horn and how it is described in Revelation 13 as the Beast that the “whole world wonders after.”

Despite the little horn’s power, we can trust in the One who is greater.  Terrible times will come, but we can find peace in our Lord both day and night.

“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.”

Psalm 42:8

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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?

 

The Teacher-Hypocrisy, Parables, and Warnings

Hypocrisy

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:  “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

Matthew 23: 1-3

Parables

“And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.”

Mark 4:33, 34

Day 4

The following is based on: Matthew 23-25,  Micah 4:2, Luke 21

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Last night, in our “Jesus meeting,” the religious leaders determined that the only way to rid the city of Jesus was to hire false witnesses.  As I reported to them, we are unable to catch Him in his words, so they have resorted to developing a plan to lie and make up false reports about what He has said, so as to present Him as a threat to the nation and the people in Jerusalem.  They can see how the people love Him, so it is going to be tricky arresting Him and eliminating His influence from the minds of the people.

My constituents do not know that I am becoming a secret follower and I desire  save Jesus from His fate. My inside position as a trusted Sadducee is valuable to Jesus and His disciples.   I want to warn Him and I will as I have the opportunity to talk with Him alone.

Last evening before I retired, I read the following from Micah in the book of prophets,

Many nations will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
    so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
    the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

I am watching the fulfillment of this before my very eyes!  Jesus speaks with authority, but it is mixed with pitiful emotion for everyone, even the Scribes and Pharisees.

Today we are just a few days before the Passover and it seems Jesus’ intensity in teaching has accelerated….as if He knows His time is short.

He started the day talking directly to the people and His disciples about the Hypocrisy of the religious leaders and ended by instructing His own disciples in a private meeting…of sorts .  Of course, there were some of religious leaders on the fringes of the crowd looking for an opportunity to catch Him in His words.

 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”

 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;  they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;  they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

He is being exact. It is as if He has observed them from their youth.  They  are like this!  Sadly, so am I. I feel conviction moving inside me as I listen to his words. They show my true heart and hurt it. But, somehow, I feel hope also. He just wants me to hear and respond to Him as an acknowledged sinner.

He advises us to call no man teacher or instructor. He is the only instructor. Then He talked of being humble and putting others ahead of yourself.  A hard thing for me to understand or to do for I have been taught differently.

 The greatest among you will be your servant.  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

_____________________________________________________

He then began to use the phrase:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!

I counted 7 times he used it!  Those teachers of the law and Pharisees who were there heard it, well most of them.  Their faces turned red as if Jesus was revealing their minds to the crowd.  It embarrassed them and several left, but some stayed to hear more. I watched the faces of the religious leaders as they heard these 7 warnings. Many were angry, but some seemed to be melting under the truth of His words and judgment.

As he continued, He spoke directly at the haters….those who were determined to do away with Him.  He read their mind and left the most intense words for the last:

“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”

With this judgment came some light of mercy, for He said,

Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages (wise men) and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town…Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

Jesus is now prophesying, but despite the fact He knows their future actions, He sends more prophets, teachers, and wise men to appeal to them, knowing they will treat them badly

In the most pitiful way and with tears in his eyes, Jesus ends His talk with them.  Jesus reveals his love for them, despite their terrible sins. In his voice I hear disappointment and a mixture of mercy and judgment….He knows He is going away and they won’t see him again.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.  For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

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Jesus leaves the temple with His disciples.  I follow from a distance.  Suddenly, Jesus looks back directly at me.  Those eyes penetrate my soul and I am compelled forward to follow.  I want to hear more and to be with Him.

We seem to be headed towards the Mount of Olives.  The disciples seemed to be stunned by Jesus’ remark,

“your house is left to you desolate”

In response, they bring to His attention  the grandeur and beauty of the temple and all the buildings. The sun is setting and the temple is glowing.  What He says next stops me and the disciples in our tracks.  Our mouths open to speak, but we can’t say anything,

 “Do you see all these things?” Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

The image in my mind of a flattened Jerusalem seems impossible! What strange even would cause this? Who or what could do this?

After our short walk from the city to the Mount of Olives, the disciples finally speak and ask Jesus,

“Tell us, when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Since I am a new follower of Jesus, there is much I don’t know. What do they mean by  His “coming?” He is already here!  What is the “end of age?” Despite my limited understanding, Jesus begins to teach me things I had never heard in all my years as a “religious teacher.”   I draw close, forgetting my position in the community as a religious leader.  At this point, I feel like a little child who is learning how to speak.

“Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

This seems easy to understand.  He is going away and while He is away, many people are going to be deceived by false Messiahs! Then there will be plenty of wars!  Not very good news, but it is followed by comforting words.  We are not to be troubled as we see these wars happening.

There will be plenty of unrest among the nations as they take up arms against each other. Perhaps because of these wars, people will be starving and conditions will lead to diseases and plagues! But even then, there will be more sorrow to come.

Then He turns to tell the disciples of their fate after Jesus leaves to wherever He is going.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  But he who endures to the end shall be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Things do not look good for His followers. They will be killed and hated by everyone!  I can understand about “many will be offended” because it seems people are so sensitive about their traditions and their personal lives.  It is all about themselves and not the people around them. So if Jesus comes with words that warn of judgment, they will not hear His words of mercy and redemption.  Indeed, it seems that people can not think any higher than themselves.

Despite all this trouble, they will be successful in giving the “gospel of the kingdom” to the entire world.  That is a lot of people to cover. The end He spoke of earlier will come after everyone has opportunity to hear and respond!

________________________________________

Next He talked of a warning especially for them and those who are living in Jerusalem

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.  For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.  But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.  And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

(See Author’s note on the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD at the end of this writing.)

As I hear the urgency in His voice and His desire for me to understand, I believe Him and desire to warn others.

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I learn more as Jesus continues to speak.  I feel fortunate to be hearing His words.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, 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. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 

This is what I understand…Right after the tribulation He speaks of, He will return.  Since He is returning on the clouds from heaven, that is where He is going for a time…heaven!

And when He comes, it is going to be magnificent and glorious! Even the sun, moon, and stars will be affected! There will be the loud sound of a trumpet and the work of the angels will be seen as they gather His people from everywhere under the son! But for some, they will mourn as they see Jesus coming in the clouds!

He really makes it clear! He goes on to use another parable of the fig tree. When the leaves begin to come forth, we know that summer is near….Same way when Jesus comes…There are signs we know that His coming is near.

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!

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As I hear more, His coming is made more clear.  He uses more comparisons from the Tanakh to explain His coming. He compares what happened to those who did not go into the ark with His second coming.  Those that did not go in the boat drowned or were “destroyed.”

 “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, 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.”

In Noah’s day, the people are going about their normal routines. Then it begins to rain lightly at first, then a down pour! Soon the water begins to rise and the water under the earth breaks to the surface. But, it continued to rain for 40 days! Those who were left alive were only 8 souls. A small number in comparison!

Then He uses another story from the Tanakh. The story of Lot!

“Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.”

Both stories are similar: There are people caught up with the normal routines of life, but lose it when they are caught unaware. Their opportunity to get in the boat or out of the city came and went. Then, sadly, they were destroyed.  One group by water, the other by fire.Those who were left were only a few people in comparison.

These two stories tie in with Jesus’ second coming and His warning to get out of Jerusalem when the armies surround the city and finally destroy it.  It seems there will be many so caught up in their earthly life, that the warning  and signs are ignored. The end result is eternal destruction.

But, Jesus takes the warnings one step further.  He provides warning to His servants that forget who they are and the times they are living.

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?  It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.”

Good for them but, not good for those who do the opposite!

But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’  and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Even though this group were God’s servants at one time, they move to the same class of those in Noah’s day and Lot’s day who ignored the Lord and were destroyed. They did not endure to the end and were put in the category of hypocrites.

This is where we started.  Hypocrisy is a dangerous place to be according to Jesus.  This time with Jesus has been good.  I’ve had learned and unlearned many things.

As I stand to leave, he begins with more parables, but then He stops and looks at me. He calls for me by name.  I didn’t know He knew my name!  This will be my opportunity to warn Him!  As I walk over to Him, He walks towards me and a new chapter opens up in my life.

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Extra Material to read:

The Destruction of Jerusalem

In 70 AD, the Roman armies guided by Titus surrounded Jerusalem. The lives of those who remembered and obeyed the words of Jesus were spared. The followers of Christ who would later be called Christians left the city and soon it was attacked and leveled.

Below is a small portion of Chapter 1 from a book called “The Great Controversy” which describes the circumstances of the city’s demise.  The scope of the horror and ruin are hard to imagine. This event forever changed the culture of the Jewish people. If you want to read the entire Chapter, click here.

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Chapter 1-The Destruction of Jerusalem

“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Luke 19:42-44.

“The hour of hope and pardon was fast passing; the cup of God’s long-deferred wrath was almost full. The cloud that had been gathering through ages of apostasy and rebellion, now black with woe, was about to burst upon a guilty people;and He who alone could save them from their impending fate had been slighted, abused, rejected, and was soon to be crucified. When Christ should hang upon the cross of Calvary, Israel’s day as a nation favored and blessed of God would be ended. The loss of even one soul is a calamity infinitely outweighing the gains and treasures of a world; but as Christ looked upon Jerusalem, the doom of a whole city, a whole nation, was before Him–that city, that nation, which had once been the chosen of God, His peculiar treasure.”

“Prophets had wept over the apostasy of Israel and the terrible desolations by which their sins were visited. Jeremiah wished that his eyes were a fountain of tears, that he might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of his people, for the Lord’s flock that was carried away captive. Jeremiah 9:1; 13:17. What, then, was the grief of Him whose prophetic glance took in, not years, but ages! He beheld the destroying angel with sword uplifted against the city which had so long been Jehovah’s dwelling place. From the ridge of Olivet, the very spot afterward occupied by Titus and his army, He looked across the valley upon the sacred courts and porticoes, and with tear-dimmed eyes He saw, in awful perspective, the walls surrounded by alien hosts. He heard the tread of armies marshaling for war. He heard the voice of mothers and children crying for bread in the besieged city. He saw her holy and beautiful house, her palaces and towers, given to the flames, and where once they stood, only a heap of smoldering ruins.”

Saved From What? The 3rd and 4th “P” of Salvation

We have seen that Jesus can save us to the uttermost or as the great Evangelist Ron Halverson said, “He saves us from the guttermost to the uttermost.”

The first “P” talks about Penalty.  Jesus saves us from the Penalty of the sin (death).  Then He saves us from the Power of the sin and we walk with a new mind overcoming sin in Christ.  The 3rd and 4th “P” is Jesus will one day save us from the Presence of sin and the Propensity to sin.  He does this when he comes in the clouds the 2nd time.  When this happens sin will be no more.  I like the way this author describes it:

“The death of Christ upon the cross made sure the destruction of him who has the power of death, who was the originator of sin. When Satan is destroyed, there will be none to tempt to evil; the atonement will never need to be repeated; and there will be no danger of another rebellion in the universe of God. That which alone can effectually restrain from sin in this world of darkness, will prevent sin in heaven.”

EGW-Signs of the Times, December 30, 1889

It is the meaning of the cross that will be forever remembered by the redeemed and the unfallen angels that will prevent sin from raising its ugly head again.

Sin and its consequences are destroyed when the Lord makes the earth new:

“And death and hell (grave) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

Revelation 20:4

This second death is complete and utter destruction.  Not only is death and the grave a thing of the past, but also so is Satan and his fallen angels who started sin in the first place.

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire

Revelation 20:10

He is reduced to ashes:

“You defiled your sanctuaries By the multitude of your iniquities, By the iniquity of your trading; Therefore I brought fire from your midst; It devoured you, And I turned you to ashes upon the earth In the sight of all who saw you.

Ezekiel 28:18

Then those who have rejected the offer of eternal life through Jesus will sadly be destroyed as well.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:15

They too are reduced to ashes:

For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
That will leave them neither root nor branch…

You shall trample the wicked,
For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet
On the day that I do this,”
Says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 4:1, 3

Sin and its Presence will never be again.

Sin and sinners are forever destroyed by what God calls His “strangel act.”  It is strange because God is a Creator and takes no pleasure in the death (destruction) in the death of the sinner.  It is against his nature that He must wipe his creation off the face of the earth and create a new earth.

 For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.

Isaiah 28:21 KJ

In the next verse, we are told what is his “strange work” and “strange act”

“Now therefore, do not be mockers,
Lest your bonds be made strong;
For I have heard from the Lord God of hosts,
A destruction determined even upon the whole earth.

Isaiah 28:22 NKJ

Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!

Isaiah 33:11

It is the enemy who is the author of death.   it is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all live.  The whole Bible is God’s appeal for man to turn from His sin and find life in Him.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

The context of this statement is the in regards to those who scoff at the idea of Christ’s return. as shown in the previous verses:

... knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation

2 Peter 3: 3-4

Peter opens our eyes to several things in these few verses:

1.) The mind set of the world is that all things have continued the same day in and day out.  The sun rises and it sets.  Nothing has changed since Jesus left this earth.

2.)  God is “long-suffering” with us.  He is patient.  Why?  Because when Jesus returns, it is the end of those who failed to respond to his call to repentance.  What awaits them?  They will perish when Jesus returns.  It doesn’t say they will live in hell….they will perish.

Perish is used in the most famous verse of all.  John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

Notice the contrast of destinies of the saved and the lost.  If it is true that the saved have everlasting life, it is true as the opposite that the lost will perish…they do not have everlasting life.

Some would have us believe that the wages of sin is not death (perish), but living in hell. (For more on the teaching of hell, see Lord Tell Me about Hell-Part 1)

All through the Bible, the theme of destruction trumps any twisted interpretation of scripture to make it sound like God will torture the sinner throughout the dim lights of eternity.

Those who have the attitude of mocking the second coming of Christ as described in 2 Peter are not only caught off guard when He comes, but they are destroyed:

For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.

1 Thessalonians 5:3

The fate of this first earth is destruction as are those who choose sin and rebellion against God:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

2 Peter 3:10

There are some who would have us believe that the 2nd coming of Christ is secret…it is quite like a thief. But, when He comes, it is like a thief in this sense.  A thief is one who surprises the owners of the home.  They are not prepared for the thief.

Ask anyone who has come home to find their belongings gone and they will tell you of the shock of surprise.

We are told that the followers of Christ are prepared and the Second Coming is not like a thief to them.  They are not surprised.  They have seen the signs and know that Jesus’ promises are coming to past.  As they are looking for him, they are preparing their hearts and minds to embrace Him.  The others are more interested in their day to day activities.

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.

1 Thessalonians 5: 4-6

The element of surprise feeling life is peaceful and things continue as they always have…sun rise….sun set, but Jesus returns and “takes them all away.”

 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be

Matthew 24: 38-39

Luke says the same as Matthew about those caught by surprise, but uses clearer language when he comes to the part about the flood taking away those in Noah’s day and what it means.

They ate, 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.

Luke 17:27

By comparing these two inspired writers, there is no doubt that those who are more interested in this life on earth and put their souls into everyday living without God are destroyed when Jesus returns.

Some teach and refer to Matthew without comparing to Luke to make this say that the “taking” is the rapture, but that is to go against the plain teaching of scripture.

As one compares scripture with scripture, the fate of this earth without Jesus is destruction.  When he comes, it is compared to flaming fire.

when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,  in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power

2 Thessalonians 1: 7-9

Notice that the fate of the lost is destruction.  In fact, even the Anti-Christ is destroyed at the brightness of His coming:

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

2 Thessalonians 2: 8-10

God will save us from destruction.  It is His desire to give us eternal life and to separate us from anything related to sin.  This is why both sin and sinner must be destroyed.  To believe that God has reserved this earth or a place of the universe where the reminder of sin exists is to go against not only plain scripture, but also a correct understand of the character and nature of our great Creator.

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Jesus will rescue us from the Presence of sin (the 3rd P of salvation) when He comes to take us where he is:

 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

John 14:3

When Jesus returns he takes us to where he is now at this very moment.  Where is he?

 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,

Hebrews 10:12

Now this is the main point of the things we are saying:  We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,

Hebrews 8:1

Jesus has not only made it possible for us to live forever, but also to enjoy the gift of life by seeing and doing things we never imagined.

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

2 Corinthians 2:9

Jesus takes us to a beautiful city in a different place in the universe where God the Father is located. When we are rescued from this planet of sin, all heaven is emptied. This includes the angels, God the Father, and of course Jesus.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.

Matthew 25:31

…. He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

Matthew 8:28

(For more on the 2nd coming of Christ, See

Part 1 Second Coming

 Part 2 Second Coming,

Part 3 Second Coming)

The place that Jesus has prepared for us is called the New Jerusalem in Revelation chapter 9.  Here is a small section of its description:

….the great city, the holy[Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,  having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

Revelation 9:10-13

This great gated city has a tree and a river that runs through it.

 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:2

Hard for us to image the beauty of this city.  Did you notice that the tree of life is in the city and it has the special task of “healing the nations?”  This same tree was in the garden of Eden at the beginning and it is there at the end.  Perhaps as all the nations eat from the tree of life again, all differences are resolved and it perpetuates eternal life literally.

But, this new Jerusalem in heaven stays there for only 1,000 years before God moves it to our little planet.

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.  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.”

Revelation 21: 2-4

(For more on the 1,000 years, see Part 4-Second Coming-1,000 Years?)

Finally, this meek inherit the earth when the New Jerusalem sits down on the New earth:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
And her people a joy.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
And joy in My people;
The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her,
Nor the voice of crying.

Isaiah 65: 17-19

This passage sounds a lot like Revelation 21:2-4  doesn’t it?

We will be busy on the new earth as described by Isaiah:

They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit….And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

Isaiah 65: 21-22 (partial)

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The Lord is “preparing us a place”  by his ministry not his carpentry work.  It is not about the mansions, it is about preparing us (you and me)  that we might be able to be there.  It is a work of completely changing our hearts through the ministry of Jesus as our High Priest.  Our experience with sin, death, salvation, resurrection and glorification will assure that sin never occurs again in God’s kingdom.

Indeed Jesus is able to save us to the uttermost.  We have seen that He saves us from the Penalty of Sin (death), the Power of sin (rebirth), the Presence of sin (Second coming), and finally the Propensity to sin (sin is eradicated).

The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.

Great Controversy, p.678

Dear reader,  if you have felt the pull and convicting power of the Holy Spirit to consider letting Jesus come into your heart, your mind, your way of thinking; I encourage you to yield to His pull.  Now is the time to repent of your sins and ask Jesus to give you eternal life. He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you.  Then walk in the power of the new life you have in Christ.  Don’t neglect the daily opportunity to read His word and grow.  Then one day, He will come and deliver us all from the presence of sin and never will we experience any tears or crying again.

His work in us will then be complete. We are saved to the uttermost by our Great Creator-Jesus