For a condensed easily understood presentation of this end time chart go to: End Time Prophecy Made Simple
"FOR THE EYES OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING"
Volume 1 - THE BEGINNING - A Foreshadow of the Christian's Birth
Volume 2 - NEW BEGINNING AND NEW WORLD ENVIRONMENT
Volume 3 - JOSEPH, EPHRAIM AND MANASSEH - A Foreshadow of God's Agenda for Jew and Gentile
Volume 4 - CROSSING THE JORDAN RIVER - A Foreshadow of Salvation for Jew and Gentile
Volume 5 - THE BOOK OF REVELATION - God's Agenda for the End Time
Volume 6 - THE SEVEN LETTERS TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES
Volume 7 - CHRIST IN THE TABERNACLE - A Foreshadow of Redemption
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Zola Levitt - Messianic Jew - Zola Levitt is the most beloved and well known Messianic Jewish Bible teacher and Middle East commentator of his day.
The Hal Lindsey Report - Today's watchman.
Prophecy Central - Topics with relevant Scripture References, Current Events and Links, and an excerpt from The Prophecy Puzzle.
© 1999 - Donald P. Moss
THE BOOK OF REVELATION -
GOD'S AGENDA FOR THE ENDTIME
By Donald P. Moss
Today, more than ever before, globalization is the center of attention of world nations. Recent economic failures in these nations have created an environment for unification of the world economies in order to prevent reoccurrence of global economic failure. This desire for globalization is a sign of the very beginning of the end time formation of a one world government. As the world economies unite other factors will arise to ensure the stability of the one world economic agreement, such as, a one world currency to standardize monetary value, military alliance for the protection of the unified countries and finally religious tolerance between all religions to ensure total world peace and prosperity by eliminating social unrest.
As these events progressively come together, many people will perceive these events as signs of approaching the end times. More and more people will become interested in what the Bible has to say about the end time. The book of Revelation is given to Christians by Christ Jesus to give them a picture of end time events and His end time agenda for Christians. So, more than ever before, there will be many lessons and sermons taught by scholars, preachers and teachers to help unravel the contents of Revelation. But, lessons and sermons will vary because interpreting prophetic symbols, people types and metaphors will vary from scholar to scholar. Interpreting Revelation's scriptures has always been a difficult task for scholars because they do not have a complete prophetic picture of the end time. Even the most popular authors of end time books do not have a common perception or presentation of God's end time agenda.
Why are there so many varying precepts being taught concerning the end time? Shouldn't there be a common understanding about the end time? Is the book of Revelation that difficult to understand? Surely, not! But, confusion stills hinders one from hearing (understanding) the words of the prophecy mentioned in Revelation 1:3, therefore missing an end time blessing.
Christ's presentation of the end time to the apostle John was specific - Revelation 1:1 (KJV) - The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him" - Christ dictated the book of Revelation to John, making the book unique from all the other books in the New Testament gospel. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are recorded accounts of what the apostles witnessed and heard during Christ's three year ministry. Apostle John was not a witness of the things Christ gave him for the book of Revelation, rather a scribe of what the angel revealed to him. Therefore, the book was a dictation from God to Christ and to John through the angel. Revelation was authored by Christ himself. The dictation is in red font in the KJV - Revelation 1:8; 11; 17-20; 2:1 thru 3:22; and 22:7, 12-13; 16, 20. Majority of the dictation is associated with the seven letters to the seven churches. After the seven letter dictation, John was given a vision of the throne room in heaven and the seven year tribulation period of time. Christ's dictation gives special emphasis on the seven letters, which ends with 3:22. At which time God's agenda shifts to the tribulation period. This is a shift from pre-tribulation to tribulation matters. Therefore, Christ's dictation to the seven churches is pre-trib agenda.
The thrust of all New Testament books, except for Revelation, seed the Word of God in the hearts of believers, brings salvation, sanctifies believers, develops faith through perseverance and reveals Jesus as the promised Old Testament Messiah. The thrust of the book of Revelation is solely prophetic and reveals the second coming of Christ; closure of the age of the gospel; harvest of believers; a brief description of the millennium age; judgment of unbelievers; and the New Jerusalem city of God coming to the earth.
Note: The book of Revelation was written after the death of all the apostles, except for John. Therefore, they did not know any thing about God's end time agenda, including the harvest / rapture of those who are saved and alive when the end time arrives. The parable of the sower mentions the harvest is the end of the age and the reapers are angels - Matthew 13:39-40 (KJV). But, the pre-trib, mid-trib and post trib harvests are not described. The Apostles knew about the resurrection of the dead because it was told to the prophet Daniel when he wrote the scroll, which was sealed until it is opened in the end time - Daniel 12:9. Christ spoke using the words "the kingdom of heaven is like" nineteen times in the book of Matthew, but spoke not of end time agenda. So, prior to John's writing of the book of Revelation, little was revealed about end time agenda. All matters concerning end time agenda is contained in the book of Revelation. No other New Testament book should be consulted for the purpose of understanding end time agenda. Likewise, no other New Testament book should be consulted for interpreting Revelation's scriptures. Revelation stands on it's own content and provides a complete understanding of the end time.
"Signified" (Strong's Concordance / Greek) - #4591 semaino (say-mah'-ee-no); from sema (a mark; of uncertain derivation); to indicate.
The angel's presentation to John was a specific signification (a mark to indicate authenticity of the revelation). Christians should approach the study of Revelation realizing it is authentic dictation from God through Christ.
The Blessing in the Book of Revelation -
Even when called by God, it is a daunting quest to undertake teaching the book of Revelation. However, the book must be taught to the church so the blessing of the Revelation prophecy will be revealed to the corporate church and to each Christian - Revelation 1:3 (KJV) - Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
The blessing is for those who read and those who hear and those who keep those things revealed within the book. If you read and don't hear (understand), then what you read cannot be kept. Understanding what is written in the book of Revelation is paramount to being blessed. The blessing is for the corporate church (seven Gentile churches in Revelation) of his time, as well as the future corporate church of our time. We see the perpetuity of John's prophecy when Christ closes out His vision given to John around 90 AD - Revelation 22:10 (KJV) - And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
Once Christians understand those things written in the book of Revelation, they will be inspired to be watchful and ready for the return of Christ Jesus, our King and gracious Lord. But, is today's corporate church watchful, ready and prepared for the end time pre-trib judgment of the House of God?
The Warning -
Christ closes out the book of Revelation with this warning, Revelation 22:18-19 (NIV) - I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. (19) And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
This scripture warns and challenges each preacher and teacher to be assured by the Holy Spirit that lessons and sermons are in agreement with the prophetic message of Revelation. Otherwise, the penalty for anyone adding or taking anything away from Christ's dictation and revelation of God's end time agenda is a great consequence!
Carefully, the writing of this study was done considering these two scriptures - the blessing and the warning.
I believe Christ placed a warning in the book as a caution for scholars to avoid creating confusion concerning the end time. Scholars should read the book exactly as presented (as is). A preacher or teacher of this book should be very careful to not add anything or rearrange anything when preparing messages to the church. Personally, I believe the book is to be read "as is", without re-arranging the verses of Revelation's scriptures. Therefore, it is prudent to first seek out the end time message without pre-conceived ideas or notions taught by preachers and scholars. Study the book of Revelation in it's sequential narrative order as dictated by Christ, including the seven letters, then the seals, then the trumpets and then the vials of wrath and then the return of Christ with all the saints.
Since the blessing and the warning were strongly emphasized by Christ to the apostle John, I believe He would unfold the vision given to John in an orderly manner, sequentially (narrative order) and chronologically (timely order). As we know, in today's business world all dictation is recorded by stenographers and written in the order dictated. It is the same for the Apostle John's recording of what was told to him and what was revealed to him in his vision. Otherwise, confusion would be the result and no one could understand end time agenda.
If a scholar uses scriptures in the rest of the Bible to frame pre-conceived ideas, through which he interprets the scriptures in Revelation, he invariably has to rearrange verses to fit within his pre-conceived perspective of the end time, particularly the harvest of the corporate church. His narrative approach to understanding the book of Revelation gives priority to scriptures outside the narrative of Revelation. This could cause end time perceptions to be out of sync with Revelation's prophetic message, contained within the specific presentation of Revelation. Prudently, the book of Revelation should be first understood through it's own narrative and chronological structure. Then what we understand about Revelation needs validation by the rest of the Bible in order to maintain scriptural integrity. This how we obtain and maintain clarity in our study of the end time. The prophecy of Revelation stands on its own chronological format and the sequential narrative presentation, containing all the information required for understanding the end time agenda of God. Since the warning is specific to this book, I believe the book contains all the data we need for the proper perception of the end times.
I believe Christ placed a warning in the book so scholars would study the book exactly as presented, revealing an undeniable chronological format.
Note: For many years many preachers, teachers and other Christians are mostly interested the book of Revelation to see the end time rapture of the church and when it will occur. A debate exists between those (post-tribulation believers) who believe the church will endure end time tribulation events and those (pre-tribulation believers) who believe the church will be saved from the end time tribulation events. Both groups have scriptural support (outside the book of Revelation) for their perception of the end time. So, those in the body of Christ who are interested in end time truth must choose which point-of-view is correct! When will the harvest / rapture of the church occur; at pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation or post tribulation?
To shut the door to confusion, I believe the prudent approach is to first understand the book of Revelation (as is) and then validate that understanding using harvest / rapture scriptures contained in the other books of the New Testament. This approach gives priority to the scriptures in Revelation. Thus, clarifying the end time rapture of the church and salvation of the Jews.
Christ desires that all scholars, who are called to preach and teach, know and teach the Revelation prophetic message in a uniform manner.
Author's personal note: This study is a pragmatic presentation of the end time considering the book of Revelation exactly as it is recorded. Hopefully, the following narratives and the forming of an end time agenda chart will provide the reader with sensible clarity in understanding the end time. If so, my task will be successful! I am burden with the task of revealing proper end time manna to the church. Amen!
Having said this, I have prayed and contemplated the contents of this book until I am convinced by the Spirit of God, again and again, that the following revelation is true and synchronized with the will and purpose of Christ.
So, You think You are Rapture Ready? Think again!
The Corporate Church Sleeps
The Bible tells us there are many in the church that are not ready or prepared for the coming of the church's Bridegroom -
Matthew 25:1-5 (NIV) - "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. (2) Five of them were foolish and five were wise. (3) The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. (4) The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. (5) The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
"At that time" - Jesus' parable of the ten virgins is concerned with the end time.
"Ten virgins" - This metaphorically represents today's corporate church.
"Lamps" - Christians are lamps of God to carry the light of the gospel to those who sit in darkness.
John 8:12 (NIV) - When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Matthew 5:14-16 (KJV) - "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (16) In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Christians are the lamps of Christ shining before men.
Jesus is the lamp of God - Revelation 21:22-23 (NIV) - I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (23) The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
"Oil" - Symbolically represents the continual presence of the Holy Spirit's influence and power in Christians' lives and endeavors to witness to those in need.
"Five of them were foolish and five were wise" - Some in the church are foolish (not ready or prepared). Some are wise (ready and prepared).
"Bridegroom was a long time in coming" - The return of Christ for His church was a long time from the time of His ascension.
"They all became drowsy and fell asleep" - Both the wise and foolish became drowsy and fell asleep. This verse in the KJV - While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. As the church became drowsy, the oil for their light began to diminish.
Slumber and sleep have synonymous meanings.
Spiritual Sleep and Slumber - A Place of Complacency
"Complacency" - (Strong's Concordance - Hebrew) #7599 sha'an (shaw-an'); a primitive root; to loll, i.e. be peaceful.
Complacency is a subtle result of resting in one's Christian life, failing to be watchful and prepared for the day Christ judges the House of God. Today the corporate church is in spiritual slumber. Most Christians are doing the church thing, but are not being watchful and preparing themselves for judgment of the House of God. The church peacefully lolls because the bridegroom tarries. Many Christians have reached a plateau (settled in) and do not serve in the ministry of grace and love to those in need. They like their comfortable church (Christian) routine and will resist any thing that could upset their Christian comfort zone. Unwittingly, they are spiritually asleep. They are still Christians, but they have lost their spiritual fervor. Their light has grown dim. The greatest effect of their complacency is they do not obey Christ's command to take the gospel to the world and make disciples of men.
"Sleep" (Thayer's - Greek Lexicon) #2518 katheudoo - (1) to fall asleep, to drop off to sleep: Matthew 25:5; (2) properly - to sleep; (3) euphemistically - to be dead; (4) metaphorically, to yield to sloth and sin, and be indifferent to one's salvation - Ephesians 5:14.
Sleep is much akin to complacency as it means "to yield to spiritual sloth and sin, to be indifferent to one's salvation". Anytime carnal desires or issues of this world influence one to take salvation for granted, unwittingly he sleeps.
"Slumber" (Thayer's - Greek Lexicon) #2659 katanuxis, katanuxeoos, hee; (1) a pricking, piercing; (2) severe sorrow, extreme grief; (3) insensibility or apathy of mind, Romans 11:8.
Slumber is much akin to sleep and complacency, as it means to be "insensitive or have apathy of mind". To be insensitive to spiritual things is a result of apathy - (1) a dislocation from the things of God caused by prolonged extreme sorrow or grief, (2) a waning of faith due to worldly influences, (3) getting caught up in the cravings and desires of the carnal nature, (4) ommission of intentionally and continually seeking a closer relationship with Christ.
Adam fell into mortality and mortality became his default way of thinking and living. When God made the covenant with Abraham, He started a new thing by making a covenant with mankind, promising to lead us back to Him through Christ Jesus - a light for the Gentiles and Jews. Jesus is God's immortal light shining in a mortal world. If man fails to make the decision to accept Christ Jesus as God's messenger of immortal truth, then man will die as a mortal. He will not become an immortal. Here's the deal - When a man accepts Christ Jesus, he does so intentionally and begins the process of transforming his mind or his way of thinking to be like Christ. If he stops his progressive intentional endeavors to follow Christ then his light will begin to dim. Then prolonged apathy of mind will cause him to default into his old mortal values, behavioral programs and patterns of life. He does not have to decide to return to old things because it's his default program.
To avoid defaulting Christians must continually be diligent and intentional; seeking to grow in knowledge and wisdom; diligent in continual daily prayer (aware of God's presence at all times); serve in the ministry of grace and love to those in need; in order to keep their light of the Holy Spirit burning bright. There are many Christians who wholeheartedly serve the Lord in the great commission, but there are a much greater number who are in a state of slumber, as passion for the ministry of grace and love descends into a complacent place of church routine.
Apathy Towards the Book of Revelation
Complacent Christianity has created apathy towards the book of Revelation and understanding end time agenda. Failing to hear common understandable, sensible teachings about the end time agenda of God, many stop seeking to understand. They believe the book is beyond simple understanding (too much symbolism and mystical imagery), unlike most of the other New Testament books which are easier to understand. So, complacent Christians fall back on the common belief that all Christians are under the blood covering of Christ and will be taken off the earth at the same time in a single event, escaping the wrath to come. Therefore, there's no need to be concerned with end time agenda. They're covered and protected! Thus, apathy of the mind towards the end time exists.
The most influential obstacle to the formation of a common perception and teaching concerning the end time is this - there remains different opinions amongst scholars, preachers and teachers concerning the timing of the rapture of Christians. Will the rapture occur at pre-tribulation, mid-trib or at post-tribulation? If scholars have no common understanding, then their student followers will have no common understanding.
Preachers, teachers and scholars believe they must choose when the church is harvested. Else, they have no end time message to preach or teach to their congregations and satisfy their inquisitive desires. Therefore, believers who rely on hearing scholars teach end time truth (rather than study the Bible for themselves) are following what is preached and taught. This presents a dilemma to believers who desire to hear a common message on the end times, regardless of their denomination affiliation. This dilemma (lack of a common message) causes believers to be apathetic towards personal study of the book of Revelation.
The first thing scholars need to teach to the corporate church concerning the end time is a message(s) concerning the end time judgment of the house of God. The end time begins with judgment of Christians (the church) - 1 Peter 4:17 (KJV) - For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? This is a judgment purposed for distributing rewards according to each man's own labor of building on the foundation that was laid by Christ Jesus. It's not a judgment of condemnation, but one for separating servants in the church from non-servants. Servants will receive the pre-trib reward and non-servants will moved into the seven year tribulation for additional refinement. (More on this subject will follow.)
It's true that if you are saved, you will be in heaven, but not all who are saved are taken in a single event! God has purposed the end time, not only for harvesting, but also for the purification of carnal Christians. He has arranged times for repentance and refinement of those in the church who are left behind because their work did not pass the pre-tribulation judgment of the House of God - 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. Therefore the end time is structured for multiple harvests of Jews and Christians. Although multiple harvests is a point of great contention in the corporate church, Christians need to consider the validity of multiple harvests. If Christians believe in multiple harvests, then the next thoughts that come to their minds will direct them to evaluate themselves and seek out a more productive Christian life, so they can receive the best reward - desiring to be a part of the first harvest by doing the will of God, serving those who are in need of love and grace - to be more like Christ! 1 Corinthians 3:7-8 (KJV) - So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. (8) Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
"Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour" - The realization of multiple harvests will awaken the church from spiritual slumber today! Judgment for the purpose of distributing rewards begins at pre-tribulation when Christ judges the house of God. The work of some servants will be rewarded because their work is in sync with the will and heart of Christ through the Spirit of truth. Other servants whose work is not in sync with the will and heart of Christ will lose the pre-tribulation reward. Once believers see this distinction Christ makes in the church, carnal believers will awaken from spiritual slumber because no one wants to be left behind for further refinement. Receiving the best reward is the end time blessing mentioned in Revelation 1:3! The church will be revived! The church will live to glorify Christ and make Him known to the nations now! Amen!!
Who has the right end time perspective for the rapture of the corporate church? The pre-tribulation believers, the mid-trib believers or the post-trib believers? Christ admonishes preachers and teachers, whom He has put in charge of the church (called), to be faithful and wise when giving end time messages, so that it will be good for them when He returns - Matthew 24:45-46 (NIV) - "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? (46) It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.
What is the proper time in the above scripture?
(NIV) "Proper time" - #2540 (Thayer's Greek Lexicon) airos, kairou, ho
due measure of time
(KJV) "Due Season" (Strong's Concordance / Greek) #2540 kairos (kahee-ros'); of uncertain affinity; an occasion, i.e. set or proper time:
The proper time is a season of time, a fixed or set time associated with the return of Christ Jesus. When He judges the House of God, it will be good for those who are serving Him in the ministry of grace and love through the gospel (food for nourishment).
I personally believe the book of Revelation is about God providing Christians with His end time agenda in order to clarify end time prophecy, so the blessing can be obtained. If His agenda is first seen and understood, a prophetic big picture of the end time is formed. The end time is revealed in a clear perspective of all events up to the return of Christ Jesus at the conclusion of the end time period. After God's agenda is seen, the interpretative meanings of the letters, seals, trumpets, bowls of wrath, the mark of the beast, the woman with twelve crowns, the woman who sits upon the beast, the accomplishment of the mystery of God, measuring of the temple, the great multitude, etc., is more easily understood because they fit beneath the agenda of God in a cohesive manner. God's agenda is a prophetic big picture of the end time. Understanding His agenda is a blessing in itself, because end time clarity is established. But, this is not the totality of the blessing revealed in Revelation 1:3. The blessing becomes apparent once God's agenda is seen. The Revelation blessing will awaken the church to receive the best reward!
End Time Agenda Chart - Topical Format Noted by Vertical Time Segments
At this point, forming a time line will help build continuity in understanding end time agenda. When finished this time line will form an overview chart concerning the ministry of the gospel in the end time. The time line of the chart will be formatted by vertical time segments starting with the crucifixion of Jesus. The next time segment is at the beginning of the great tribulation. The next time segment is at mid-tribulation. The next time segment is at the end of the great tribulation period. The next time segment is at the end of the time of wrath. These time segments organize end-time agenda events under the letters, seals, trumpets and vials of wrath without changing or altering the "as is" format of Revelation.
Note: The time chart will be expanded as this study progresses and topics are discussed. When this study is complete, the finished time chart will provide a complete and thorough understanding of God's agenda for the end times. God's timing for the salvation of Israel and the Gentiles will be revealed.
As previously mentioned, Jewish agenda began when God proclaimed the covenant promised to Abraham - "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" - Genesis 12:3 (KJV). Then the covenant structure was established when Jesus spoke the words "it is finished" on the cross. So, the crucifixion of Jesus was a milestone, inaugurating the agenda time for the ministry of the gospel - the seeding of faith in things unseen.
Jewish agenda will end after Israel accepts the sacrifice of Messiah and God's wrath is poured out upon unrepentant mankind.
Agenda Time Chart Continued;
To open this chart in a pop up window for continuous viewing while reading (click here)
Vertical Time Segment of Chart - End of the Daniel's Sixty-ninth Week, Messiah is Cut Off (Crucifixion)
Jesus was crucified in 30 AD. Shortly after His resurrection, the disciples were persecuted and scattered into the Gentile areas with the gospel. This began the agenda time for the ministry of the gospel to the Gentiles (engrafting them into the covenant blessing), after the closing of this agenda time, the seven year tribulation begins.
Daniel's Seventy Week Prophecy for Salvation of the Jews
A very important understanding in the format of Revelation is to see the seven year tribulation as the fulfillment of Daniel's seventieth week - Daniel 9:24 (KJV) - 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.
Important Note: There is no other place in the bible where God gives a specific prophetic time for the salvation of Israel.
For an indepth understanding of Daniel's Seventy Week prophecy go to A Prophecy of Time for Israel's Salvation.
This seventy-week time period has been fulfilled through the 69th week when the Messiah was cut off (crucified). Daniel 9:25-26a (KJV) - 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, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (26) And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself....
"Not for himself" - The phrase means Jesus' death was not for Himself, but for others. It was for the sins of men that He died on the cross. His resurrection was to apportion unto men spiritual power for a new life, to become men of God in Christ.
At the end of the sixty ninth week (three score and two weeks) Messiah was cut off (crucified). The seventieth week remains to be fulfilled because the Jews have yet to finish transgression, put an end to sin, make reconciliation for iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness or anoint the Most Holy (accept Christ as God's covenant sacrifice).
Vertical Time Segment of Chart - Beginning of the Seven Year Tribulation
The seven year tribulation is structured to fulfill Daniel's seventieth week of his prophecy for the salvation of Israel. The seventieth week will not begin until God's gospel agenda for the Gentiles is complete.
Vertical Time Segment of Chart - Mid-Tribulation
The seven year tribulation is divided into two halves, described in Revelation as "42 months" in - Revelation 11:2 (KJV) - But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
Daniel also divided the seventieth week into two halves in - Daniel 9:27 (KJV) - 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.
So, the time chart will use the terms "first half" and "last half" to describe specific vertical time segments of the seven year tribulation.
Vertical Time Segment of Chart - The Wrath of God
After the "mystery of God" (ministry of the gospel) is closed in Revelation 10:7, God's agenda time for wrath against unrepentant mankind is inaugurated for a time period of 45 days. This time extends beyond the seven year tribulation of 1290 days - Daniel 12:11-12 (NIV) - "From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days (last half of tribulation). (12) Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days (45 days beyond the last half).
"Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end" - At the end of the 45 days, Jesus arrives with the armies of heaven and defeats satan, anti-christ and the false prophet. During the 45 days there will be a remnant of Jews that will be divinely protected by the Lord to welcome Him upon His arrival back into Jerusalem, as it was at the first advent (His first arrival).
John 12:12-13 (NIV) - The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. (13) They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!"
Matthew 23:38-39 (NIV) - Look, your house is left to you desolate. (39) For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. '"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" is a phrase that links the first and second advent together. All Jews will be saved and say "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" before they see Him arrived back on the earth.
Between the Cross and Israel's Salvation
A Space of Time Between the Sixty-Ninth and Seventieth Week of Daniel's Prophecy of Seventy Weeks for Israel's Salvation
The seventieth week wasn't fulfilled immediately following the sixty-ninth week. God created a space of time for the engrafting of the Gentiles.
When Messiah was cut off the sixty-ninth week was complete. Soon afterward, the apostles preached the gospel to Israel in Acts 2:14-21 (NIV) - Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. (15) These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! (16) No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: (17) "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy; your young men will see visions; your old men will dream dreams. (18) Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. (19) I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. (20) The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. (21) And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
The gospel was first preached to the Jews. But, only a few of the Jews responded to the preaching and testimonial witness of the disciples. The much larger part of the nation refused preaching and teaching of Christ's testimony (gospel) and began to persecute the apostles and the disciples.
Acts 8:1-4 (NIV) - And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. (2) Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. (3) But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. (4) Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
Through Israel's rejection of the gospel and persecution of the disciples, the gospel was directed towards the Gentiles (those nations outside Israel) immediately following the sixty-ninth week. This began the time for the Gentiles' engrafting into the covenant. Between the 69th and 70th week God interjects agenda time for the salvation of the rest of the world (Gentiles). Then, when the "full number of Gentiles have come in" - Romans 11:25, God will turn back to the Jews with the New Testament gospel and fulfill the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy.
As can be seen in the time chart above, Gentile agenda is under Jewish agenda because it is part of the covenant God made with Israel. The Gentiles were grafted into the covenant - Romans 11:13-21 (NIV).
Through Israel's rejection of Christ and His gospel, all other nations were grafted into the covenant blessings to fulfill the promise God made to Abraham - Genesis 17:4-5 (KJV) - As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. (5) Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. Israel is only one nation, but Abraham is the father of many nations (nations outside Israel). Therefore, agenda time must be established for the engrafting of other nations (Gentiles). This is why there's a gap of time between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel's prophecy.
To continue a progressive fulfillment of Daniel's seventieth week, the temple and temple worship will be set up in the same manner as the sixty-ninth week was structured when Messiah was cut off. The temple will be rebuilt, the sacrifice of animals will be reinstated as a part of temple worship and Israel will be under a one world government, as it was under Rome. The temple must be re-built because the anti-christ puts an end to temple sacrifice and oblation in the middle of the seventieth week, as prophesied in Daniel 9:27.
It is prudent to perceive and overview Israel's salvation under the seals before continued study of the book of Revelation. Much confusion can be avoided when studying begins with this understanding. To have a complete perspective of the book of Revelation, the reader must first consider Israel's part in this great event. The seven year tribulation period is primarily about Jewish agenda, which includes their salvation.
Note: One of the most important precepts to use in filtering through various teachings concerning the book of Revelation is Israel's salvation under the seals. Although the Jews' salvation is not specifically described in the seven year tribulation, their salvation is implied by the 144,000 sealed servants of Christ (ministers of the gospel) and the great multitude (harvest of the gospel that came out of tribulation) who are standing before the throne. Both of these groups are mentioned in Chapter 7, scriptures between the completion of the sixth seal and the opening of the seventh seal in Chapter 8:1. Since the age of the gospel (mystery of God) ends just prior to the sounding of the seventh trumpet (three and one-half years after the opening of the seventh seal), Israel must be saved prior to that time because faith comes from hearing the gospel and believing the gospel before Jesus returns. It is by faith that one believes Jesus is Messiah. The blessing of redemption is by faith in the blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sin. Remember again, the age of the gospel is based on faith in unseen things of God, because we walk by faith - not by sight. Remember the words Jesus spoke to Thomas at His re-appearance after His resurrection, "Thomas you believe because you have seen, but blessed is he who believes and has not seen". Faith based on things seen will not bring the blessings of God.
Note: Do not be quick to accept teachings which state the Jews will not be saved until the millennium reign of Christ, after He returns to the earth and can be seen by all Jews. The spiritual nature of man cannot be changed (made new) apart from faith in the unseen. If it could Jesus would never have left earth.
Breaking down the book of Revelation forms an outline which edifies the work of the gospel. While Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, God's work in the earth is accomplished through the gospel, as ministered by the church under the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is the most basic resource for all Christians. It's administration by the church is the work of God.
The promise of God made to Abraham cannot be fulfilled until all nations of the earth are blessed with hearing the gospel. Why? Because "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word". A person cannot gain access to God's grace and covenant promise apart from hearing God's Word. The central message of the gospel states both Jew and Gentile are brought together into complete unity into one body (body of Christ) - Ephesians 3:6 (NIV) - This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. Therefore, as one studies the book of Revelation, Ephesians 3:6 should be the New Testament scriptural window through which one forms an overview of the end times. Considering this scripture, the theme of the book of Revelation is one of uniting Jew and Gentile into the kingdom of God through the preaching and teaching of the gospel. Thus, the book of Revelation closes out the time of the Gentiles and gives insight into the great tribulation period and the salvation of the Jew.
Romans 11:25-27 (NIV) - ...Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles have come in. (26) And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. (27) And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."
Verse 25 is concerned with the end of Gentile agenda and verses 26 & 27 are concerned with the beginning of Jewish gospel agenda. During the "time of the Gentiles" (between the 60th and 70th week) Israel is in a place of desolation. This time desolation ends with Christ's opening of the first seal of Daniel's scroll. Christ spoke of this desolation in - Luke 13:34-35 (NIV) - "O 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, but you were not willing! (35) Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."
Verse 34 (Con't) - "Stone those sent to you" - This phrase reflects the stoning of the apostles and disciples after Christ's resurrection and after the Sabbath day of Pentecost (Acts 7:58, Acts 14:19). Also, the Jews tried to stone Christ in Luke 10: 31-33.
Verse 34 (Con't) - "Gather your children together";"Gathers, under her wings" - Jesus desires to bring the nation of Israel under His covering of the New Blood Covenant. But during His three years of spreading the good news (the year of God's favor upon Israel), only a few listened and believed Him. Not many were willing.
Verse 34 (Con't) - "But" - The Jews refused him as the Messiah sent by God.
Verse 35 (Con't) - "Your house is left to you desolate" - Due to Israel's unwillingness to accept Jesus as Messiah, the nation is left in a desolated spiritual position until Jesus resends the gospel to Israel through the 144,000 Jewish undefiled, virgin evangelists. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, and the nation of Israel is left desolate, without a sovereign land until 1948 AD. Still, to this day their house (temple) has not been rebuilt. Israel's desolation continues.
"Desolate" - (Strong's Concordance - Greek) #2048 eremos (er'-ay-mos); of uncertain affinity; lonesome, i.e. (by implication) waste (usually as a noun, #5561 being implied).
Use in KJV-- desert, desolate, solitary, wilderness.
#5561 chora (kho'-rah); feminine of a derivative of the base of #5490 through the idea of empty expanse; room, i.e. a space of territory (more or less extensive; often including its inhabitants).
Use in KJV-- coast, county, fields, ground, land, region.
#5490 chasma (khas'-mah); to "gape" or "yawn"; a "chasm" or vacancy (impassable interval).
Use in KJV-- gulf.
The Greek word for desolate means to be lonesome and is akin to the word "chasma". Both words depict a separation from God as a result of Israel's rejection of Messiah.
Note: In the middle of the seven year tribulation this desolation will be increased when the anti-christ sets up the abomination (idol) that causes desolation on the wing of the temple - Daniel 9:27. Desolation is increased as the anti-christ employs economic leverages to get Jews and Christians to deny the name of Christ by accepting the mark of the beast.
Verse 35 (Con't) - "Will not see me again until you say `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." - The Jews will not see Jesus again until they receive him as the Messiah - the one who came in the name of the Lord. This means the salvation of Israel will happen prior to the second arrival of Christ. "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" speaks of the arrival of Messiah - Matthew 21:9, John 12:13 and Luke 13:35. This scripture validates the salvation of Israel during the end time ministry of the gospel.
Important theological point: It will be no different for the Jew than it is for the Gentiles. Christ must be accepted as Savior and Lord by faith before He returns to the earth. One of the most important precepts to use in filtering through various teachings concerning the book of Revelation is Israel's salvation under the seals. As previously mentioned, the age of the gospel ends just prior to the sounding of the seventh trumpet. Therefore, Israel must be saved prior to that time - Revelation 10:6-7 (NIV) - But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets." Israel must be saved by hearing the preached and taught Word of God because it is the mystery of God. Israel must believe and accept the gospel by faith (in things unseen) prior to Christ's Second Advent.
Additionally, all harvesting from gospel ministries must take place prior to closing out the time of the gospel. Harvesting is an integral part of the ministry of the gospel. Once harvesting is complete, the era of the gospel is fulfilled and closed. All sowing and reaping from the gospel is completed prior to Jesus' return to the earth.
Narrative Format of the Book of Revelation
There are four main symbols that define the end time agenda of God up to the arrival of Christ;
To open this chart in a pop up window for continuous viewing while reading (click here)
The Letters to the Gentile Churches The Letters to the Gentile Churches are beneath Gentile agenda in the chart. (For an indepth study of the pre-tribulation judgment, go to Volume 6 - For the Eyes of Your Understanding).
The Seven Seals - Seals 1-6 are beneath the first half of the seven year tribulation in the chart. The seventh seal covers the last half of the tribulation, the rule of the anti-christ, the seven trumpets, and the time of wrath.
The Seven Trumpets are beneath the second half of the seven year tribulation. Trumpets 1-6 are beneath the last half of tribulation and trumpet seven covers the bowls of wrath.
The Seven Bowls of Wrath are beneath the seventh seventh seal, the rule of the anti-christ and the seventh trumpet.
Review: As can be seen seals 1-6 are first half tribulation events. The seventh seal is not an event seal, rather it is a covering seal which covers the trumpets. Trumpets 1-6 are last half tribulation events. The seventh trumpet is not an event trumpet, rather it covers the seven bowls of wrath, after which Christ returns to the earth for the battle of Armageddon. The seventh seal is opened at mid-tribulation and covers all remaining events up to the arrival of Christ with all the saints of heaven. Therefore, the seventh seal cannot be completed until the trumpets and bowls are completed. Easily seen is the chronological order of events under the seventh seal.
Continue breaking down the format of the book of Revelation -
The first categorization of data concerning the end times is a narrative topical division between pre-tribulation and tribulation events. Pre-tribulation agenda began at Jesus' death and resurrection and will end when Gentile agenda is closed. Seven year tribulation agenda (Daniel's seventieth week) does not begin until the first seal is opened in Revelation Chapter 6. Therefore Chapters 1 through 5 are concerned with pre-tribulation matters; i.e., an introduction of Jesus, as Alpha and Omega, the First and Last, the Beginning and the End; the seven letters to the corporate church; and introduction of Jesus as the Lamb who was slain. Distinguishing between pre-tribulation and tribulation agenda is an important factor in the total presentation of the book of Revelation.
The next categorization of data is a topical division is between the sixth seal and the seventh seal. Seals 1-6 are events of the first half of the tribulation. Then at mid-tribulation, the seventh seal is opened which covers the last half of tribulation and the time of wrath, after which Jesus comes back to the earth. All events under the seventh have something in common. They are events of wrath, first for the Jews (trumpets 1-6, the rule of the anti-christ) and then for the Gentiles (trumpet seven) under the bowls of wrath.
Note: Look at the chart and review what has been revealed prior to continuing this study. The continuing study will take a deeper look into the time segments and data categorization as discussed above.
The two topics to be studied at this point, the pre-tribulation "time of the Gentiles" (Chapters 1-5) and the great tribulation (Chapters 6-14).
Pre-tribulation Gentile Agenda - The Seven Letters
The Seven Letters are the main pre-tribulation topics of the book of Revelation. The letters are unique and stand apart from the seven year tribulation. Although they are not a part of the seven year tribulation, they are Important because they are a part of God's end time agenda. That's why the Lord told the apostle John to write them and include them in the book of Revelation. The trumpets and bowls are linked together under the seventh seal, but the letters stand alone - there is no link to the seals, trumpets or bowls. The absence of a link indicates a shift in agenda, as agenda shifts from Gentiles to Jews for salvation. I believe, the letters are concerned with pre-tribulation agenda for judging the House of God. Go to Volume 6 for a very important indepth study of each letter, as they provide a most meaningful lesson for the corporate church today.
The Seven Seals cover the entire tribulation agenda time period. The opening of the first seal begins the ministry of the New Testament gospel to Israel . The first seal describes the four horsemen who are released to begin establishing the environment of the tribulation period. While the four horsemen are at work, the thrust of the gospel ministry to Israel begins and will be conducted by the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, servants anointed by Christ for ministry.
As one reads and evaluates the seven seals, another interesting point is noticed. Narratively speaking, the scriptures for seals one through six progresses from the first seal through the sixth seal uninterrupted - Revelation 6: 1-17. The opening of the seventh seal does not take place until Revelation 8:1. The scriptures in between are not tribulation events.
As previously mentioned, the scriptures between Revelation 6:17 and 8:1 (between the 6th and 7th seal) give a detailed narrative insight to those who minister the gospel (144,000) and insight to the harvest (fruit) of the gospel (great multitude) under the first six seals - Revelation 7:1-8. Christ takes the gospel to the Jew under the ministry of the 144,000. The great multitude are saved and then harvested or raptured from the earth - Revelation 7: 9-17. Christ reserves the opening of the seventh seal until after the great multitude is taken off the earth. This is another important insight to Revelation's scriptural sequence and chronological format.
Validation note for mid-trib rapture: The harvest time for the great multitude occurs between the sixth and seventh seal. This harvest time of the gospel under seals one through six cannot be changed, as many post-trib and pre-trib scholars have taught. To move the time of harvest requires discounting the chronological format of Revelation. Revelation 7:13-14 (NIV) - Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes-who are they, and where did they come from?" (14) I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. The great multitude is saved and comes out of the great tribulation. This is the mid-tribulation harvest of completed Jews and not part of the pre-tribulation or the post tribulation harvests. Remember the foreshadow in Volume IV when Joshua set a memorial of stones in the midst of the waters of the Jordan River when the river was at flood stage (intense tribulation)? Did you remember the word "midst" from the start of this study?. Those stones in the book of Joshua foreshadow the harvest / rapture of the Great Multitude at mid-trib under Jewish salvation agenda.
Validation of foreshadow for salvation of Jews at mid-tribulation - A quick Hebrew word validation of the Jordan waters:
"Water" - (Brown-Driver-Brigg's Concordance - Hebrew Lexicon) #4325 mayim - water, waters, figuratively used of danger, violence, transitory things)
"Danger, violence and transitory things" figuratively represents tribulation, affliction, etc. Waters is often used to represent the troubled issues of life and the testing of our faith when obtaining the promises of God - Isaiah 43:2 (KJV) - When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
"Passing through the waters" - God parted the waters of the Red Sea and the Jordan River so His people could possess the blessing awaiting them on the other side of the waters. This is a metaphor to teach us the way of faith - Isaiah 30:20-21 (KJV) - Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.
For the Jews in the end time, when they are passing through the waters of tribulation they will be delivered in the midst of tribulation from the time of wrath because they believe and accept Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord. So, we can plainly "see with our own eyes" agenda difference between the first six seals and the seventh seal.
Well, Jesus is taking stones out of the midst of tribulation when the Great Multitude is taken out of tribulation. Again, the time for this harvest is validated by the chronological and sequential order of scriptures, because this occurs just prior to opening the seven seal (the time of wrath against the Jews under the rule of the anti-christ during the second half of tribulation).
Look at the End Time Chart and follow along using the following review. This will help form an important part for understanding the big picture of God's end time agenda. If you don't have the chart opened in another window for quick reference (click here).
What is the difference between the seventh seal and the other six seals?
Seals 1 thru 6 are tribulation events. Seal 7 is not an event. The seventh seal is a covering seal, as it covers the seven trumpets. The most important perception about the seventh seal is to realize the seventh seal cannot be fulfilled or completed until the seven trumpets are completed because the trumpets are covered by the seventh seal. The seventh seal is chronologically set in place and so are the trumpets.
Additionally, the seventh trumpet covers seven bowls of wrath. This also means the seventh trumpet cannot be fulfilled until the seven bowls of wrath are completed, because the bowls are covered by the seventh trumpet.
Note: At this point in the study, it is prudent to stop at this point and think about the seventh seal covering the trumpets and the seventh trumpet covering the bowls of wrath. Thus, the seventh seal covers all trumpets and all bowls of wrath. This is definitely a chronological structure.
Therefore, the seventh seal cannot be fulfilled or completed until all the seven trumpets and all the seven bowls of wrath are completed. Since Christ returns to the earth during the seventh bowl of wrath, for the final Battle of Armageddon at the end of the seven year tribulation, the seventh seal covers the entire last half of the tribulation period and ends with the arrival of Christ and all the saints.
Important note 1: The seventh seal establishes an undeniable chronological format for Revelation and God's end-time agenda. Discounting the importance of the chronological order of the book of Revelation causes a great diversity of opinion concerning a sensible presentation of the contents of the book. Bible scholars need to understand that the chronological order cannot be denied. All sermons and teachings on the book of Revelation must be chronologically structured in order to avoid scrambling the sequence and timing of prophetic end time events.
I am convinced this is the reason Christ warned the teacher and preacher of the book of Revelation that adding to or taking away from the scriptures would have consequences as described in the book. Christ desires that all students study the scriptures of the book or Revelation in an "as is" format (as they are presented).
To teach the book of Revelation as a hodgepodge of mystical imagery with no chronological and sequential order will limit the believer's perception of end time prophetic messages and contribute to confusion of the prophetic message. It is wise for scholars, preachers and teachers to remember the warning! - Revelation 22:18-19 (NIV) - I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. (19) And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Important note 2: The seventh seal covers all parts of the seven year tribulation other than seals 1 through 6. All events, from mid-tribulation to the second coming of Christ, are under the seventh seal and have one thing in common. They are events of wrath.
This is another important format factor and topical categorization of the great tribulation period. Seals 1-6 cover the ministry of the gospel to Israel and seal 7 covers the time of wrath (the trumpets cover events of wrath to Israel and the bowls cover the time of wrath to nations outside of Israel).
During the time of the trumpets, Israel is offered the opportunity to deny the mark of the beast and be saved under the first six trumpet events of wrath. The trumpets are concerned with both salvation and wrath in the last half of tribulation. Even though descriptions of seal and trumpet events are very similar, trumpet agenda is very different from seal agenda. Understanding this agenda difference provides a much less confusing interpretation of scriptures. Primarily, the first half of the tribulation period is ministry of the gospel under grace (seals), and the last half of tribulation is ministry of the gospel under wrath (trumpets).
Remember the "mystery of God" (ministry of the gospel) is on-going through the first six trumpets of wrath - Revelation 10:7 (KJV) - But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
The trumpets and bowls represent two phases of God's wrath - First for the Jew under the trumpets and then for the Gentiles under the bowls. These separate time periods for wrath are validated by the following scripture -
Romans 2: 5-9 (NIV) - But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. (6) God "will give to each person according to what he has done." (7) To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. (8) But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (9) There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil; FIRST for the Jew, THEN for the Gentile.
While Israel is the first to receive wrath, the gospel is working at full throttle. Then under the bowls, wrath covers the rest of the planet outside Israel.
The Apostle John, who wrote the book of Revelation, recorded his documentation of the sixth seal in -
Revelation 6:12-17 (KJV) - And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; (13) And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. (14) And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. (15) And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; (16) And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: (17) For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
An Old Testament prophecy concerning this event - Isaiah 2:17-22 (NIV) - The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day, (18) and the idols will totally disappear. (19) Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. (20) In that day men will throw away to the rodents and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made to worship. (21) They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanging crags from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. (22) Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?
The event of the sixth seal is exceedingly great and the inhabitants fled to the mountains and the rocks, seeking refuge from the coming wrath of God. This is spoken prior to opening the seventh seal. The sixth seal is not only an event of a great earthquake, but also ushers in the time of God's wrath - For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Clearly seen, the time of God's wrath against Jews begins with the opening of the seventh seal and the sounding of the first trumpet. The total end time wrath of God ends with the seventh bowl of wrath against the Gentiles - Revelation 15:1 (NIV) - I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues - last, because with them God's wrath is completed.
The seven year tribulation is a time of great distress that shakes the earth. Distress that brings separation between the things of men and the things of God. God will remove what can be shaken (things created by men) from what can't be removed or shaken (unshakable faith) - Hebrews 12:26-27 (NIV) - At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." (27) The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken - that is, created things - so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Unshakable faith in Christ rescues men from wrath.
The last half of the tribulation period is unlike any other, prior to this time. God has appointed this time of greatest distress for the rule of the anti-christ under the seventh seal (trumpets and bowls). The rule of the anti-christ is established by God as a time of great distress (wrath) for those who did not repent of their sin during the ministry of the gospel in the first half of tribulation (seals 1 - 6). Everyone who repented and were saved (great multitude harvest) are delivered from this wrath. The unrepentant will endure the wrath under the trumpets, but will hear the gospel preached by the 144,000, two witnesses and three angels. At the end of the time of Israel's wrath and when the gospel mystery is closed, the martyred saints whose names are added to the Lamb's Book of Life during the trumpets (1-6) will then be delivered.
The antichrist is given power to continue his authority for the last half of the tribulation period (trumpets and bowls) - Revelation 13:5 (KJV) - And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
"Continue" - Anti-christ's authority will be extended beyond the first half of tribulation through the time of wrath.
Daniel 7:25 (NIV) - He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time (forty two months).
Daniel 11:36 (NIV) - "The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place.
God's purpose for establishing the rule of the anti-christ was foreshadowed in - Exodus 9:16 (KJV) - And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. Pharaoh was raised up by God so God could show His power in the Israelites' deliverance from the stronghold of Egypt. The same holds true for the end time when believers are delivered from the stronghold of anti-christ's rule.
From the mid-tribulation time until the end of tribulation, the antichrist will be successful in his reign over the land and over the people. His time to reign is dependent on the power and authority of the holy people being broken or removed. Daniel 12:7 (NIV) - The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed."
This is a most unique event, as this has never been done previous to this time. If the great multitude is left on the earth during the last half of the tribulation period, their spiritual power and authority would not allow the anti-christ to reign over them. So, they had to be taken off the earth. But, Christ still has the anointed 144,000, two witnesses and three angels preaching until the time for the gospel is closed. During the three and one half years the Holy Spirit is not on the earth and anyone who repents and refuses the mark of the beast will do so by the strength of his own will and determination; even so, God will honor him. He will be a part of the post tribulation harvest of martyred souls, those who willingly die before they deny Christ again.
Prior to the rule of the anti-christ, the Great Multitude must be harvested (raptured) -
The power of the holy people, those who are saved as they accept Messiah as Lord and Savior and whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, have power over all the demonic forces of darkness.
Certainly, those who are saved would have the power to stand against anti-christ's programs and his followers. This would be a great hindrance to anti-christ's success as ruler; even as the two prophets resist anti-christ's rule during the last half of tribulation. Those who are saved under the seals (if left on the earth under the trumpets) would have the same authority and power because it is a gift of the Holy Spirit for those who believe.
The power of God for those who are saved was made available by the death of His Son on the cross - Colossians 2:15 (NIV) - And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Hebrews 2:14 (NIV) - Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil.
Those who belong to God were given power and authority after His resurrection from the dead - Luke 10:19 (KJV) - Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Note: Not only does this precept apply to the tribulation saints, but it also applies the the pre-tribulation holy and true servants in the Church of Philadelphia. For the same reason, the Church of Philadelphia had to be taken from the earth, prior to the revealing of the anti-christ at the beginning of tribulation, so anti-christ could begin establishing his presence as a prince of peace representing the world alliance of nations. (More on this event to follow later in this study).
The rule of the antichrist depends on Christ's rapture of the Great Multitude. Otherwise, if the Great Multitude were left on the earth, the power of God at work in the saints will be strongest in the weakness time of the tribulation period and the anti-christ will be bound and not able to rule. God told Paul this when was praying for relief from the thorn in his side - 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) - But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
There would be great praying, binding of the enemy and taking authority over all his works. How then could the antichrist be successful if God did not take His covenant holy people from the earth? Both groups of saints, the Philadelphia Church and the Great Multitude, must be taken at their scheduled time.
Note: The following theological statement is a personal opinion of the author. Spiritual discernment is required by the reader for acceptance.
Not only does the removal of the Great Multitude from the earth allow a time for the rule of anti-christ, God also takes His Holy Spirit from the earth at mid-tribulation - Revelation 8:1 (KJV) - And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. This scripture presents a most unusual thought for those who read it. What could possible happen, resulting in all of heaven being silent for half an hour? Is the time for the wrath of God enough to cause heaven to be silent?
"Opened the seventh seal" - The seventh seal inaugurates the rule of the anti-christ and begins the time of God's wrath. During the time of wrath under the seventh seal there will be silence in heaven. Remember in Daniel 12:7 (NIV) - ....and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed." If the power of the holy people was not broken during the time of the seventh seal (last half of tribulation), could the anti-christ have his way, unimpeded? Does Daniel's prophecy imply the Holy Spirit was removed from the earth? Remember, in the midst of Daniel's seventieth week, the anti-christ stops Jewish sacrifice and offerings to God in the temple and sets up an overspreading abomination that causes desolation from God. Could this desolation from God (under wrath) occur if the Holy Spirit remained on the earth?
"Silence in heaven about the space of half an hour" - The tribulation period of time is referred to as an "hour of trial" in the letter to the pre-tribulation Church of Philadelphia - Revelation 3:10 (NIV) - Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. When John the apostle was writing the book of Revelation, he used an hour to parallel the time of the seven year trial on the earth. Therefore, when he used "half an hour", he was referring to the time of the trumpets, one half of the seven year tribulation period. There will be silence in heaven for three and one half years. Those (Jew and Gentile) who are on the earth during the trumpets were also on the earth when the pre-tribulation judgment occurred and when the mid-tribulation judgment occurred. So, they are not without knowledge of past events! Twice, they failed to repent and turn towards Christ. Then they find themselves with one last chance to respond to the preaching of the 144,000, two witnesses and three angles. The author believes that during the time of the trumpets, anyone who refuses the mark of the beast they must do so without the power of the Holy Spirit. Meaning, they will only have the power of their own strength and will to face death and honor God. God will honor those who are willing to die rather than turn from the gospel again! These are truly martyred saints.
For the first time in the history, the covenant people of the holy covenant will not have the spiritual power to resist the attacks of the enemy - Daniel 12:7 (NIV) - The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed."
"Power" (Strong's Concordance / Hebrew) #3027 - yad (yawd); a primitive word; a hand (the open one [indicating power, means, direction, etc.].
"Yad" reveals the power of the holy people is the hand of God providing the means and the guidance to saints.
"Broken" (Strong's Concordance / Hebrew) #5310 naphats (naw-fats'); a primitive root; to dash to pieces, or scatter.
Use in KJV - be beaten in sunder, break (in pieces), broken, dash (in pieces), cause to be discharged, dispersed, be overspread, scatter.
"Naphats" reveals the power of the holy people (Holy Spirit) is broken off (dashed to pieces) from the holy people. Without the Holy Spirit the holy people are cut off from God's hand, not His heart. There will be no power for the holy people to overcome the anti-christ's programs and persecutions. This is truly a time of great overspreading desolation as prophesied in - Daniel 9:27(KJV) - 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, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
"Desolate" (Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon) #8074 shamem - (1) to be desolated, to be deflowered, to be deserted (2) to be appalled, to be awestruck (3) to be made desolate (4) to be stunned (5) causing horror (participle); a horror-causer.
Desolation is separation from God caused by His removing the Holy Spirit from the earth (deflowered, deserted, stunned and causing horror). Facing the enemy under the power of the Holy Spirit is one thing, but facing the enemy after removal of the Holy Spirit is horrific!
If God does not remove the Holy Spirit, the anti-christ's rule or reign over the Israelites could not take place. With power, the holy people could overcome the efforts of the anti-christ to take over their sacred temple and blaspheme God by claiming to be Messiah. The anti-christ could not take over the temple of God; he could not set up the overspreading abomination that caused desolation between God and the nation of Israel; nor could He perform miraculous wonders to deceive the people into believing he is God's Messiah.
Surely, this is the time of silence in heaven. Never before this time has God taken the Holy Spirit from His people. It is a time when every observer in heaven is silent, observing this time of the anti-christ's reign. Think about it!
The nation is in a state of defeat as the temple has been overrun by the anti-christ and an idol that causes desolation between Israel and God is erected on the wing of the temple. Daniel 9:27 (NIV) - He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him."
In the middle of seventieth week, the antichrist will abolish sacrifice and offering as a part of temple worship, as he seeks to eliminate tumultuous religious differences between the Jew and Arab (descendents of Ishmael and Esau) and establish permanent peace. His efforts to enforce peace during the first half of tribulation will not be successful. He reaches a point in time when he will exert even greater force against the Jews and Arabs, backed by the world alliance of nations. With great miraculous signs and wonders he will declare himself to be messiah and take over temple worship. Many will believe in the miracles he performs and accept him as messiah. (His deception of the Jews will be greatly enhanced if he or the false prophet turns out to be a Jew). This will be his last act to eliminate social unrest and enforce religious tolerance between nations during the first half of tribulation. But, tolerance is overcome by bitterness and at mid -tribulation anti-christ forcefully imposes a single religious order for everyone to follow. Those who follow after the antichrist will believe he is messiah and the golden age of peace and prosperity is at hand. His orderly system of worship, fashioned by the hands of men (world alliance of nations), is accepted by many. He will state, that since all religions worship the same god, then this new system also worships the same god, of which he is god's messiah. But, this devised system of worship will cause desolation or separation from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Those who desire peace and prosperity offered by the world alliance of nations are distinguished by a mark from those who follow after Christ alone. Without the mark, a person is considered anti-establishment; one outside the law and deemed undesirable and expendable.
Why would a person not repent and give himself to God wholeheartedly during the first half of tribulation? Certainly, there will be great natural distress (disastrous events; wars, natural disasters, famine and pestilence) which disrupt the lives of every person on earth. there is a great multitude who did repent and give their souls and lives to God through Christ, but the distress was not intense enough to reach those who had the means to survive the distress of the first half of the tribulation period, prior to the time of the mark of the beast.
The great spiritual distress of the anti-christ's reign is the key to understanding the time of wrath. Survival needs are increased greatly as tribulation events under the trumpets are intensified. The time is perfect for anti-christ's offering a way of salvation and escaping economic distress. This economic distress causes many to be led astray from God Word by the promised of economic security and provisional welfare. The social-economic system will require that anyone who wishes to buy or sell (participate in the economy) to accept a mark. Many will choose to accept the anti-christ's mark. This mark will identify him as a person who willingly follows the national religious system and will be entitled to peace and security. The price he will pay for accepting this mark of prosperity will be his soul - Mark 8:35-36 (NIV) - What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
Additional Comments on anti-christ's Establishment of the End Time Religious System
How will this religious system come about at the beginning of the seven tribulation period? How can such a system ever get by all the members of the world alliance of nations in operation at that time?
To gain some understanding, we need to see the things that are paramount to nations' agreeing to be a member of a unified international governmental system. There are three things that establish a nation. A nation's strength is based in its state of peaceful welfare provided to its citizens through (1) economic health, (2) military might and (3) tolerance of religious systems. To get nations to unite, these three things must be structured to ensure harmony between the nations. The world economy must provide for all nations fairly. The militaries of the nations must be brought together through a treaty alliance for the preservation of the alliance. There must be religious harmony and tolerance. If all these elements of alliance structure are common among the nations, then the one world system of government will be strong and peace will endure .....supposedly.
At the time of the beginning of the tribulation period, it appears there is unity of the nations economically and militarily, but there is great unrest due to religious intolerance. The objective of the government will be to eliminate religious unrest, in the best interest of world unity and peace. The government of nations will structure a peace plan to force religious tolerance upon all religions that are warring against each other.
Daniel 9:27 (KJV) - 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, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
"Confirm" (Strong's Concordance - Hebrew) #1396 gabar (gaw-bar'); a primitive root; to be strong; by implication, to prevail, act insolently.
The representative (anti-christ) from the government of nations will not come to negotiate a peace treaty between Israel and other nations. Rather, he will act with power and insolence (rudeness) and force the treaty upon all nations. Israel and Arab nations will have no say in the peace structure.
Many years prior to this event, the alliance of nations will extend great efforts to establish negotiated peaceful solutions between Israel and other nations. However, as time passes, there will be many violations of peace agreements and cease fires because the enemies of Israel have indoctrinated their children since childhood with a single objective in life - the annihilation of Israel. There will never be a lasting negotiated peace in the middle east. Given enough time the patience of the world alliance of nations will wear thin and a forceful solution to bring peace will be enforced on Israel and all other nations at odds with Israel.
Personal opinion: At first, the peace plan calls for religious tolerance, which includes allowing Israel to occupy the temple mount and rebuild the temple. Building the temple is integral to any final peace plan for the Jews. The Dome of the Rock and the Jewish temple will attempt to share the Temple Mount during the first half of the tribulation period. But, tolerance changes to imperative demands when anti-christ takes over the temple mount at mid-tribulation.
Most all religions believe they worships the one true god, but in different ways. This will be the center piece of creating a common religious format (tolerance of other religions) for all to follow when worshipping god during the first half of tribulation. But, tolerance will not survive religious differences. The Jews sacrifice of animals (bleating of animals and the stench of blood) on the temple mount for the atonement of sin is an abomination to Islamic believers and revolts will occur against the Jews. Then anti-christ will stop the Jews from making sacrifices and offerings to God and set up an abomination on the wing of the temple and establish a single religious order for everyone to follow. Everyone who wishes to be part of the new world order and live in economic prosperity and peace must worship under this religious system and bow to the god (anti-christ) of this new religious order. Economic prosperity is a leverage used to institute the international religion.
Near the end of anti-christ's reign I believe God will make a distinction between true and false worship by dividing between the Dome of the Rock and the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount with an earthquake . It will be a final statement to all religions, that Jehovah is God Almighty. God is a jealous God and He will not share His glory with another, much less His Temple Mount - Exodus 34:14-15 (NIV) - Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (15) "Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land.....
Zechariah 14:3-4 (NIV) - Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. (4) On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. When Christ returns to the earth He will fight against the enemies of Israel. Personally, I believe He will stand on the Mount of Olives, opposite the Temple Mount, and split the Mount of Olives, the Temple Mount in two, forming a great valley. This great valley will extend down the heart of the Temple Mount between the temple and the Dome of the Rock and through the great city.
I believe Christ will once again divide between Isaac and Ishmael and between Jacob and Esau by dividing between the Dome of the Rock and the Temple using a great earthquake.
Daniel 12:1 (NIV) - "At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people-- everyone whose name is found written in the book -- will be delivered. This was prophesied in Daniel and fulfilled in Revelation 11:1-3.
Revelation 11:1-3 (NIV) - I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. (2) But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. (3) And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth."
"Measure" - (Strong's Greek Dictionary) #3354 metreo (met-reh'-o) which means by implication "to admeasure" - "allot by rule". is taken from the Greek root word #3358 metron (met'-ron) which means by implication "a limited portion".
"Admeasure" (Webster's Collegiate Dictionary) - To determine the proper share of; apportion.
"Measure" is an important word that reveals God counting or tallying those in the temple worshipping Him. "Allot by rule" means these worshippers are a "limited portion". God is separating those who worship Him from those who do not worship Him. This is a limited portion because not all of Israel is a part of the Great Multitude.
Verse 2 - "Count the worshipers there" - This implies that the worshipers are counted for a specific reason. These worshippers form a limited portion, an "allotment by rule" or an appropriate share of God's people according to God's worship criteria. This portion does not include all Jews, but as Daniel prophesied - "everyone whose name is found written in the book will be delivered". These Jews are those who accepted the gospel of Christ and worship God filled with the Holy Spirit. Their names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. God is separating this group from those in the outer court, those Jews who have refused the gospel of Christ. These unsaved Jews are given over to endure the Gentiles trampling of the holy city during the last half of tribulation. Again, as in the pre-tribulation judgment of the house of God, God is making a distinction between those who serve him and those who do not.
The purpose of this separation is to form the body of the Great Multitude.
THE THREE MINISTRIES OF THE GOSPEL
The rest of this study is concerned with looking at other scriptures (outside the book of Revelation) to validate the chronological order and narrative sequential presentation of Revelation.
The precept of three ministries of the gospel to the Gentiles and three ministries of the gospel to the Jews is a fresh revelation of God's agenda. This precept will be revealed for the first time to most who read this book. However, seeing these three ministries will provide insight to other scriptures which give a better overview of New Testament agenda. The most important understanding will occur as one sees a harvest at the end of each gospel ministry. Each ministry sows the Word of God, produces a crop and then comes the harvest. This precept of the three ministries of the gospel is an important validation in understanding the book of Revelation and in understanding the hidden insight to the mark of the beast. Of which, Christ refers to as wisdom when counting the number of the beast - Revelation 13:18 (NIV) - This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666. How are the three ministries of the gospel connected to the mark of the beast? (This question is answered in the section bookmark"Mark of the Beast". See Table of Contents at top of page in left column.)
First this study establishes the ministries and then in a later part looks at the harvests. When this agenda is understood then it opens the door to understanding more about end time events and the harvest of each ministry.
THE JEW WAS THE FIRST TO RECEIVE THE GOSPEL
Romans 1:16 (NIV) - I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; FIRST for the Jew, THEN for the Gentile. (17) For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first (Jew) to last (Gentile), just as it is written; "The righteous will live by faith."
The gospel was first preached to the Jew.
Romans 1:16 (KJV) - For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Romans 2:10 (KJV) - But glory, honour, and peace, to every man who worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.
Romans 2:9 (KJV) - Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man who doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.
The gospel, the tribulation and the glory are first for the Jew and then for the Gentile. God's agenda for the end times will reflect this format of Israel rejection of the gospel and God turning back to the Jews with the gospel under the seals.
Jesus equipped the twelve disciples with spiritual power to do the work of the gospel in ministry.
Matthew 10:1 (NIV) - He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Matthew 10:5-8 (NIV) - These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions; "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. (6) Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. (7) As you go, preach this message: `The kingdom of heaven is near. (8) Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."
Christ instructed his apostles to go only to the nation of Israel. Do not go to the Gentiles. Why? Because this is agenda time for the Jews. It does not mean that Christ will refuse the faith of any Gentile or Samaritan. In fact, Jesus ministered to any who had faith to believe during this time, i.e., the faith of the Canaanite (Gentile) woman in Matthew 15: 24-28, the Samaritan woman in John 4: 7-30, 39. Jesus' statements in these scriptures reflects Jewish agenda and confirmed in Matthew 15:24, as he spoke to the Canaanite woman he said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."
The first ministry of the gospel to the Jews was under the Law and under the ministry of the twelve apostles - Matthew 10:5-8. Jesus was on the earth during this ministry and was seen by the disciples. This ministry ended when He was crucified and resurrected.
This ministry began with the one hundred and twenty disciples who tarried in the Upper Room under the direction of Jesus (Acts 1:2) so they could be endued with power by the Holy Spirit for ministry (Acts 2: 1-4).
Then in Acts 2:14-41 Peter preached the gospel in Jerusalem to Jews from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5). Three thousand were saved under his preaching that day (Acts 2:41). The first church and fellowship of believers was formed out of those three thousand new converts (Messianic Jews) - Acts 2:42-47.
What is the difference between this ministry to the Jew and the first ministry when Jesus sent twelve in Matthew 10:5-8?
The first ministry went forth when Christ was on the earth as the Son of Man under the Abrahamic Covenant and under the Law. During this ministry Jesus made atonement for sin, seeded the gospel and called the apostles and disciples to action. This was disciple boot camp, so to speak. It was fitting for Jesus to begin the preaching of the gospel under the Law, calling Jews to repentance and salvation and then to die for their remission of sin. He was their Messiah!
The second ministry went forth after Christ died and was raised from the dead. This occurred under the New Blood Covenant while Christ is seated at the right of God in heaven. He is not on the earth. The agenda time for this second ministry will end at pre-tribulation after the "full number of Gentiles have come in" - Romans 11:25.
Note: This is the time when God inaugurated the second phase of the Abrahamic Covenant, the New Blood covenant for the forgiveness of sins (salvation). Israel missed this milestone in the spiritual provision of the covenant. Thus, God engrafted the Gentiles into the covenant to receive the gospel of salvation during this time of ministry.
Under this second ministry of the gospel to the Jews, the Abrahamic Covenant promise is spread to all nations outside Israel. The promise that "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" - Genesis 12:3. Thus, the engrafting of the Gentiles (all peoples on earth) into the Abrahamic covenant is discussed in Romans 11:11-21.
The gospel was sent to the Gentiles when the disciples were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria because of persecution from the Jews - Acts 8:1. Additionally, this is when Peter was sent to Cornelius' house by the Holy Spirit in Acts 10. Peter's vision (repeated to him three times) is a foreshadow of the three ministry gospel agenda to the Gentiles.
The second ministry of the gospel to the Jews is a time of building faith in things not seen. Thus, Christ is seated in heaven because faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the gospel, not by sight.
The third ministry of the gospel to the Jew will go forth under the 144,000 to fulfill the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy - God's agenda time established for Israel's salvation.
In summary, God's agenda provides time for three specific ministries of the gospel to the nation of Israel, in which the engrafting of all the nations outside Israel occurs during the second ministry.
As previously mentioned, the first ministry of the gospel to the Gentiles was launched by the Jew's rejection of the gospel. Stephen was stoned to death and on the same day the Jews began persecuting the disciples in Jerusalem, scattering them into the Gentile area of Samaria and beyond.
Acts 8:1 (NIV) - On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
This began the fulfillment of Christ's commission to the 120 disciples in the upper room in Acts 1:8 (NIV) - "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth"
The Jews' persecution of the church occurred because their offence with Christ's testimony (gospel). So, Christ turned to the "ends of the earth" with the gospel, which grafted Gentile agenda into Jewish agenda time. Although this is the first ministry of the gospel to the Gentiles, it occurs during the second ministry of the gospel to Israel and shares that agenda time period. It is apparent the Jews are one ministry ahead of the Gentiles for receiving the gospel. Literally speaking, the gospel was first for the Jew and then for the Gentile.
Note: This ministry is one of greater works than the first ministry to the Jews because it is the time for the ministry of the gospel to the world - John 14:12 (KJV) - Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. The best preaching and working of miracles are done after Jesus ascended into heaven. Why?
John 16:7-11 (NIV) - But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (8) When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: (9) in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
The work of this ministry will be greater than the work of the previous ministry because Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to empower His disciples to do His work in the earth. This will be the ministry which will be performed based on faith in things unseen, so He must go away so the Holy Spirit will come. Each Christian receives the Holy Spirit by faith in the unseen. When Jesus stated the Holy Spirit "will not come" to the disciples, He was saying the disciples could not receive the Holy Spirit by faith as long as Jesus was on the earth and could be seen.
Remember, when Jesus ascended into heaven He left the disciples with two things through which He will complete His work in the life of each believer while He is in heaven and cannot be seen - the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.
John 6:27-29 (NIV) - Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." (28) Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" (29) Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
"Believe in the one he has sent" - Jesus states the Christian's work is to do one thing, believe in Him as the Messiah, Savior, Lord and to believe His testimony. Then He will send the Holy Spirit to empower the Christian to represent Him in the earth. So, faith in Him when He can't be seen is paramount to receiving the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, Christians should not doubt the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit just because He cannot be sensed physically. Do not allow the fact you cannot sense the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit cause you to doubt what Paul the apostle said in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NIV) - Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, (22) set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Do you remember Moses when he came down from the mountain after a 40 day visitation with God?
Exodus 34:29-30 (NIV) - When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. (30) When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.
Moses having been in the presence of God returned to the camp where all the Israelites saw the radiance of his face. They were afraid to come near him. The important thing to remember about this event is Moses was not aware that his countenance was so radiant. Why? Because God created man to be inhabited by the Holy Spirit. If so, then man will feel mostly normal when he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Christians should not expect some abnormal sensation when he receives the Holy Spirit by faith. God created us to be filled with His presence, continually. Do not doubt His indwelling presence!
God will equip Christians to do His work in the earth. Indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Christians will sense a tenderness of heart (burden) for the lost and for those in need. This is the heart of Christ and the nature of the Holy Spirit active in each Christian. Each Christian is called into ministry of grace and love. Love will create a burden in the heart of each Christian for those who do not know the love of God. But, there will also be times when God anoints Christians whom He chooses with increased power and gifts of the Holy Spirit to call and equip disciples into special areas of ministry. Again, there will be times of special anointing (unction) to inspire a Christian to be responsive to another person in need.
The church will do greater things in this ministry because of the Holy Spirit and faith in God's spoken testimony through Christ (things unseen).
The second ministry of the gospel to the Gentiles overlays the third ministry of the gospel to the Jews during the first half of the seven year tribulation under seals 1-6. This is validated by the fact that the great multitude that is raptured at the end of this ministry consists of "every nation, tribe, people and language" (Revelation 7:9), which includes some Gentiles.
The Gentiles in the great multitude means that the gospel is going forth to the "ends of the earth" during the first half of the great tribulation under the preaching of the 144,000, as Jews and Gentiles are united into one body. For this reason Christ seals a number as large as 144,000. It does not take 144,000 to preach the gospel to the nation of Israel. But, it will take 144,000 to preach the gospel to the "ends of the earth".
The agenda time for this ministry ends at mid-tribulation after the sixth seal is fulfilled in Revelation 6:14 and prior to the opening of the seventh seal in Revelation 8:1.
The agenda time for the third ministry of the gospel to the Gentiles overlays the time of wrath for the nation of Israel, the last half of the seven year tribulation under trumpets 1-6. While Israel is under wrath the gospel is going forth to the "ends of the earth" under the ministry of the 144,000.
Additionally, Christ has added three angels and two witnesses along with the 144,000 preaching of the gospel to all nations on the earth.
Revelation 14:6-10 (KJV) - And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them who dwell on the earth, and to EVERY NATION, AND KINDRED, AND TONGUE, AND PEOPLE (7) Saying with a loud voice, "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (8) And there followed another angel, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." (9) And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand (10) The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb."
These three angels are preaching to Israel and to the "ends of the earth", while Israel is under wrath.
Salvation is still available to Israel during their time of wrath because the mystery of God (gospel) is not closed until Revelation 10:7 (KJV) - But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
The two witnesses are prophesying for 1,290 days (last half of the tribulation) in the streets of a great city (Jerusalem) where also their Lord was crucified (Revelation 11: 3, 8). Their ministry places emphasis on prophesying against all nations of the earth which give consent to the implementation of the mark of the beast, during the time of the rule of the antichrist.
The one world government has installed a national religious system on the wing of the temple. This may be the reason these two prophets stand in Jerusalem, rather than any other place, since the new religious system is headquartered in Jerusalem. Even today, Jerusalem is the central focal point of religion. These prophets have authority and power to prophesy against this one world government. They have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time of their prophesying and they have power to turn the water into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they deem necessary - Revelation 11:6.
After three and one half years of prophesying, their testimony was completed, and they were killed by the beast from the Abyss. For three and one half days they lay in the streets and they were refused burial. The inhabitants of the earth celebrated their death which ended the torment from their prophesying. But, then three days later the prophets were resurrected from the dead. Those who witness this miracle were terrified. At that very hour, an earthquake collapsed a tenth of the city and seven thousand people were killed. The survivors of the earthquake were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven - Revelation 11: 7-13. Christ will show himself to be awesome during the time of the rule of the anti-christ - Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV) - Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, (10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The followers of the new religious system realize their international god has no power over Christ. This scripture does not state that they repented and were saved, but the verse does indicate their recognition of Christ as Lord, not the antichrist as Lord. So, Christ is using these two witnesses to reveal to the world that the God of Israel is the one and only true sovereign God Almighty. It appears that God is teaching the same lesson as He taught to the nation of Egypt when Moses brought the Israelites out of bondage. If so, then the exodus of the Israelites under Moses is, in fact, a foreshadow of the end time deliverance of the nation of Israel from the rule of the anti-christ and the powers of darkness. Even as God used the plaques to set the Israelites free from Egyptian bondage, He uses plaques, famines and natural disasters to set the Jews free from the bondage of darkness. When the Jew (Christian also) is in a place of needing God to survive, he repents and cries out to God for help.
The trumpets are not only agenda time allotted for wrath against Israel for unrepentance, but it also agenda time for gospel ministry to the Gentiles. After the third ministry is complete the Gentiles will enter a time of wrath under the bowls (NIV) or vials (KJV).
Scriptures are included in this study as additional scriptural validation in the form of foreshadows for the three ministries of the gospel to the Gentiles are available by clicking on Foreshadows for Three Ministries of Gospel
Daniel 12:11-12 (KJV) - And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. (12) Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.
The thousand two hundred and ninety days (1290) establishes the end of the time for the administration of the gospel - Revelation 10:7 (KJV) - But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
The thousand three hundred and five and thirty days (1,335 days) extends beyond the end of the gospel era (1290 days) and includes the time of wrath (45 days), of which, at the end is Christ's return. (12) Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the end of the thousand three hundred and five and thirty. Those of whom this scripture speaks are a remnant of Jews God preserves to welcome Christ and the saints to the earth for the Battle of Armageddon under the seventh bowl of wrath at the end of the 1,335 days.
Who Are the Remnant of Jews Waiting for the Return of Christ?
There's another place in the Bible that reveals a symbolic representation of this remnant - the pattern of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Go to Volume 7 - Christ in the Tabernacle - Chapter 5 "Goat's Hair Curtain". The "the curtain made of goat hair" in the pattern of the tabernacle is a complete revelation of the redemptive work of Christ, which includes the remnant left on the earth to welcome Him and be saved.
In the Old Testament times wrath was immediate much of the time. Throughout the Old Testament, God's reaction to sin was forthright and swift. The wages of sin is death. It is a spiritual law of heaven.
When Christ died at Calvary and his blood remitted the sins of man, the dispensation of grace began. This is a period of time allocated to the ministry of the gospel. During this time God has reserved his wrath against sin, until after the end of gospel agenda.
The time of wrath is first for the Jew and then for the Gentile. Romans 2: 8-9 (NIV) - But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (9) There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil; FIRST for the Jew, THEN for the Gentile.
"Those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth" - Anyone who rejects the gospel of the truth of God will experience the wrath and anger of God.
The dispensation of grace provides an opportunity for all to hear the gospel and repent of their sinful ways and accept Christ as Lord and Savior. Then the blood of Christ will cover him and he is under grace. He will be saved. If his name is not found in the Book of the Lamb he will enter into the time of God's wrath and anger against unrepentant mankind.
The rebellion of Korah in Numbers Chapter 16 is a good example of God's immediate retribution against sin. However, when the believer lives under the dispensation of grace (under the blood of Christ), he does not see the immediate wrath of God. Under grace, God has reserved His wrath against sin until the end of the administration of grace (gospel). First for the Jew in the last half of the seven year tribulation under the trumpets and then for the Gentiles under the vials (bowls) of wrath.
God's agenda is structured to allocate three ministries of the gospel to the Jews and three to the Gentiles, followed by a time of wrath. This perception of God's agenda for the gospel makes a good contribution to understanding New Testament agenda, including the book of Revelation.
THE WRATH OF GOD AT SODOM AND GOMORRAH - Reveals the justice and mercy of God. The end time is about the justice and mercy of Christ.
Genesis 18:20-26 (NIV) - Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous (21) that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know." (22) The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. (23) Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? (24) What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? (25) Far be it from you to do such a thing-- to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (26) The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
Genesis 18:32 (NIV) - Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?" He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it."
The wrath of God against sin will not be executed against the righteous, not even one! If God spared Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of just one righteous man, He will not bring wrath in the end time if there is one righteous man on the earth (not in the remnant of Jews) exposed to the distress that is to come.
The scriptures above is contrary to the post-trib scholars who believe that the church will be on the earth during the time of wrath under the bowls or vials. The scripture below specifically states that God knows how to rescue godly men from trials and at the same time hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.
2 Peter 2:4-9 (NIV) - For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; (5) if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; (6) if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; (7) and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (8) (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)-- (9) if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.
1Thessalonians 1:10 (KJV) - And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
During the time of wrath no one repented of their sins. Revelation 16:8-11 (NIV) - The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. (9) They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. (10) The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony (11) and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.
All the scriptures above reveal a very important part of God's end time agenda - all that could be saved were saved prior to the time of wrath, prior to Christ's return. Not one Christian will be left on the earth to endure the wrath of God under the bowls, saving the remnant that is divinely protected by God.
THE HARVESTS OF THE GOSPEL
HARVESTS OF THE GOSPEL
This study segment is important presentation because it validates there's a harvest with a unique reward for each ministry of the gospel. Different rewards are awarded to the corporate body of Christ based on each man's application of the Word in his own life, as well as the ministry of grace and love to others.
The ministry of the gospel is liken to a seed in Luke 8:11 (KJV) - Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
Of course when the seed is sown, it is sown by the church. Jesus sowed the first seed and the seed took root in the hearts of the apostles. The apostles and new disciples then sowed the seed again and again. After Jesus' death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit of Truth draws men unto God by sowing the gospel seed. The kingdom grows and increases, eventually advancing the ministry of the gospel to all parts of the globe.
As the seed grows in the heart of the believer, faith increases and becomes steadfast, as he applies faith in life's circumstances. The Word begins to produce a crop. When the crop is fully grown, the harvest takes place. Galatians 6:9 (KJV) - And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Each Christian reaps in due season. Does he re-sow what is reaped or does he hoard the seed? When God blesses Christians shouldn't they be a witness of God's goodness to others? Does God intend that His followers hoard His truth?
Sowing and reaping is the basic principle of the agenda for the ministry of the gospel, the growth of the kingdom of God. The act of sowing stands incomplete, apart from harvesting. Therefore, the harvest of the gospel is paramount for the end time gospel agenda of God because the gospel era is brought to a close. When the season for the gospel ends, it is time to harvest. So, when looking at the gospel both sowing and harvesting must be complete prior to closing the gospel era.
Mark 4:26-29 (KJV) - And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; (27) And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. (28) for the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. (29) But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.
Having completed the harvest of the gospel, the agenda of God under the bowls of wrath arrives and calls for the annihilation of things that offend God and those who do iniquity.
Matthew 13:37-41 (KJV) - He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; (38) The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; (39) The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. (40) As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. (41) The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.
Verses 39 - 41 state that the harvest occurs at the end of this world order. The children of God are harvested and the children of the wicked one are gathered and thrown into the fire of destruction. There will no longer be things that offend and there will no longer be those who sin against God. Not only is the end time a time of sowing and harvesting, but it is a time of judgment.
This judgment begins with the house of God because it is a judgment of all believers. This is referred to the Judgment Seat of Christ. At a later time, there will be a judgment for unbelievers. It is referred to as the White Throne Judgment at the end of the millennium.
What is the purpose of judging the house of God? This judgment's purpose is not to condemn or punish believers, but to separate some in the church from others in the church in order to distribute rewards according to their participation in the ministry of love (mercy) and grace to those in need.
1 Peter 4:13-19 (NIV) - But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (14) If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (15) If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. (16) However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (17) For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (18) And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" (19) So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
The exegesis of this scripture links suffering as a Christian to judgment of the house of God. In the same sentence Peter asks the question, "if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" Peter's thoughts concerning judgment of the house of God are concerned with those who suffer as a Christian and those in the church that do not obey the gospel of God. If suffering as a Christian is a difficult thing for the righteous, but not as difficult as the outcome for the ungodly and sinners. So, he encourages Christians to endure hardship for the sake of the gospel and continue to do good. Judgment of the house of God will seek out those who suffer according to God's will in the ministry of love and grace.
Judgment of the House of God makes a distinction between those who serve God and those who do not.
Malachi 3:17-18 (NIV) - "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. (18) And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
Peter saw the judgment of the church linked to suffering as a Christian, persecution for the sake of the gospel. The end time judgment is needed in order to make a distinction (Malachi 3:18) between Christians with deeds of gold, silver and precious stones and Christians with deeds of wood, hay and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). Simply stated, judgment is between those who serve in the ministry of love and grace and those who do not because they are not involved. Those who suffer according to God's will are encouraged to continue to do good (ministry of grace and love to those who are in need).
Personal longsuffering -
Acts 5:41 (KJV) - And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
Acts 9:16 (KJV) - For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
Matthew 13:20-21 (NIV) - The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. (21) But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
2 Timothy 3:12 (NIV) - In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
In the Bible there are two types of suffering for each Christian. First, there is personal growth through longsuffering in tribulation that divide us asunder (separate us unto Christ) and trials that come during the perfecting of faith. Secondly, there is the suffering and persecution that comes because of the Word, as one is involved in the ministry of the gospel. Pagans will persecute the believer because he speaks against sin and a life of iniquity.
James 1:2-4 (NIV) - Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
As a believer takes his stand upon the Word of God during circumstantial trials, his perseverance develops faith which makes him complete, not lacking anything. Trials and tribulations are then considered a blessing from God because the outcome is the development of a character of faith, leading to maturity and completeness. Many Christians seek the blessings of God, but many are not willing to endure hardships or persecution and fall away - Matthew 13:20-21.
The apostle Paul spoke of this principle of hardships as a blessing in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV) - To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (8) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. (9) But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (10) That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Truly, Paul rejoiced in his hardships because he was made strong by the Holy Spirit. This was his greatest blessing from God, a visitation of the Holy Spirit.
Since faith saves a person by accessing the grace of God, then the tribulation of the end time should not be discounted as a viable event in the development of believers' character, even as it is today. Perseverance and tribulation are irrevocably tied to each other in building faith in God, trusting in God's promises during troubled issues of life. God's promises are made manifest through faith and perseverance. A separation occurs between the believer's old pattern of believing in the things seen and the new pattern of believing in things unseen. Through steadfast faith God confirms His Word to each believer by signs and wonders, empowered by the Holy Spirit. A Christian can see God by seeing His miracles and wonders, which appear when his season is due. Therefore, the end time tribulation should be seen as a time of perfecting faith and character. Then he will see Christ.
Acts 4:29-31 (NIV) - Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. (30) Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." (31) After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
The manifestation of faith through answered prayer affirms our communion with God in a time of need. This principle will not be discounted when studying the book of Revelation. Tribulation places those in the earth in a place of needing Him. When they cry out to God, He answers and their faith will soar. Tribulation sanctifies men and glorifies God. Then harvests occur.
The end time tribulation is most certainly about the harvest of the gospel. The harvest of the gospel is most certainly about the sanctification process of believers. Multiple harvests allow opportunities for additional repentance and growth. I believe a single harvest preception often misguides some Christians to believe all who are under the blood covering of Christ are enternally secure and that's all that is required to be a part of the rapture of the corporate church. So, why should they be concerned with salvation of the lost, feeding the hungry, encouraging those weak in the faith, etc.? This is fertile ground for for spiritual slumber and complacency. But, when they see multiple end time harvests for the purpose of distributing different rewards, then they will awaken and be concerned with Christ's command to take the gospel (ministry of love and grace) to those who do not know Him.
Comparing pre-trib, mid-trib and post-trib end time harvest precepts of the of the church; the precept of pre-trib harvest is best revealed by overlaying biblical precepts. However, the precept of multiple harvests is the least believed because most of the church believes the church is taken in a single harvest, not in multiple harvests. This is the single biggest obstacle to understanding the book of Revelation and causes many to cast aside the chronological order of end time events in order to fit single rapture precepts. If a single rapture, then there is no additional opportunity for sanctification of some in the the corporate church through tribulation. However, considering the grace of God in perfecting Christians, one could say gospel harvest agenda is a single harvest in three phases, providing additional opportunities for repentance.
The single harvest in multiple phases is a precept mentioned in the book of Revelation as the first resurrection - The book of Revelation refers to the rapture and resurrection of the dead (anyone that enters heaven prior to the return of Christ) as the first resurrection - Revelation 20:6 (KJV) - 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. The resurrection of the lost occurs after the millennium reign - Revelation 20:5 (KJV) - But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.
First resurrection validation - All those saved prior to Jesus' return to the earth are considered the first resurrection. The first resurrection includes multiple times God performed harvests or raptures. God took Enoch in Genesis 5:24; Elijah went into heaven in a whirlwind in 2 Kings 2:11; Old Testament saints were release from their tombs in Matthew 27:52-53; resurrection of the dead in Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; the Philadelphia Christians in Revelation 3:10; the Great Multitude in Revelation 7:9 and the martyred saints in Revelation 14:16. All of these are a part of the first resurrection.
For a better and broader precept of gospel harvests, it is good to remember that sanctification by faith continues until the end of the gospel era just prior to the sounding of the seventh trumpet which begins the time of wrath. Therefore, until that time arrives, at the end of each gospel ministry the corporate church is judged and some Christians (not requiring additional sanctification) will be harvested. Other Christians (requiring further sanctification) will be moved into the next ministry of the gospel for additional growth in the fires of refinement. Sowing the gospel and harvesting of the faithful will continue until all are taken prior to the time of wrath under the bowls. Some Christians will be taken at pre-trib; some will be taken at mid-trib and the rest will be taken at post-trib. Then the gospel era will close.
The following study will provide a scriptural validation and defense for this precept of moving Christians requiring additional sanctification from one ministry into the next ministry.
"Judgment begins with the House of God" is referred to by bible scholars as the judgment seat of Christ. The judgment seat of Christ begins at the beginning of the end time. I believe the judgment seat functions throughout the end time. Judgment criteria is spelled out in the book of Revelation in the form of seven letters to the churches. Why is judgment necessary at the beginning of the end time? Is it needed in order to make up the pre-tribulation reward and harvest of the corporate church?
Note: Single harvest precepts (either pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib) make it difficult to tie together all harvest scriptures in the book of Revelation into a cohesive understanding of what the Bible has to say about the end time agenda of God. The Bible does not state that there will be only one harvest of the church. The single harvest precept is assumed by many scholars to be the plan of God for the end time. Some scholars believe the pre-trib harvest is the only harvest. Other scholars believe the post-trib harvest is the only harvest. Still a few scholars believe the mid-trib harvest is the only harvest. So, most all Christians are faced with the dilemma of choosing which one to believe. This single harvest precept has created much controversy and confusion about the rapture of the church. If the book of Revelation was properly interpreted then there would be no controversy because the Word of God (truth) is not controversial or confusing. So, why isn't there a common opinion about the timing of the harvest of the church? Hopefully, the following scriptures will help the reader to have a better understanding of the end time harvests.
Remember the time allotted for the ministry of the gospel (mystery of God) does not end until after the 6th trumpet is fulfilled - Revelation 10:7. Until this time the mystery of the gospel is operating in full power; including repentance, forgiveness and the full grace of God. Since the gospel always prods fallen men to salvation and Christians to greater spiritual growth, why should the Bible scholar believe that Christ will not move Christians from one ministry into the next ministry for additional sanctification and spiritual growth prior to harvesting them?
Malachi 3:14-18 - God Making Up His Pre-tribulation Treasured Possession
The pre-tribulation separation is revealed in the book of Malachi. There are two groups of believers discussed in the following verses -
Malachi 3:14-15 (NIV) - "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? (15) But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape."
(1) Verse 14 (above) is concerned with self-centered Christians who see their service to God through eyes of selfishness - motivated by selfish gain.
(2) Verse 15 - (above) - Those who believe their service to God was futile. They believe prosperity was an entitlement. Those who did not serve God (arrogant, evildoers and those who challenge God) should not prosper. God considered their sayings as harsh.
(3) Verse 16 (below) is concerned the the other group who served the Lord wholeheartedly (feared the Lord and honored his name).
Malachi 3:16-18 (NIV) Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. (17) "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. (18) And yo u will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
This distinction between those in verse 14 and verse 16 is made known publicly by first harvesting those who serve God.
"In the day when I make up my treasured possession" - This is the day of the end time harvest.
"See the distinction" - Publicly, God reveals a distinction between those who serve God and those who do not. Those who are left behind will see this pre-tribulation distinction.
"Serve"- (Strong's Concordance - Hebrew) - #5647 `abad (aw-bad'); a primitive root; to work (in any sense); by implication, to serve, till, (causatively) enslave, etc.
Use in KJV-- be, keep in bondage, be bondmen, bond-service, compel, do, dress, execute, husbandman, keep, labour, serve, (be, become) servant, do service, till (-er), work, be wrought, worshipper.
Those who serve God are defined in verses 16-18. These are Christians who fear the Lord and honor His name. They serve the Lord only because they love the Lord and love those whom God loves. They are not motivated by any other influence. They are bonded to the Lord as a slave is bonded to his master, according to the Hebrew word `abad. Meaning, they are devoted and committed servants. These are spared from the coming end time tribulation.
Those who do not serve God are defined in verses 14-15. These are Christians who have the attitude that "It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners." Their service to God is for self-serving purposes. They are focused on what God and do for them, not what they can do to serve God. They are seeking to gain. They perceive their service to God as only a prerequisite to obtaining His blessings. Then there are Christians in the church who do not serve God at all because they believe it won't make any difference to their standing before God. Little do they realize this is disobedience to God's command to take the gospel of grace and love who are in need. So they do not obey the gospel of God.
Pre-Tribulation Judgment A Place of Distinction
The pre-tribulation harvest of the gospel is the distinction that is made in the family of God. A separation in the body of Christ occurs because those who do not serve God need additional work.
This pre-tribulation judgment of the House of God will become a distinction made known by the pre-tribulation harvest / rapture (to those left behind) and will also be apparent in the millennium as these will serve others in the government of Christ, sitting on twelve thrones ruling and serving those who are harvested at a later time, out of the tribulation gospel ministries.
The Revelation prophetic blessing for today's corporate church is this - Realizing all Christians will not be taken at the pre-tribulation rapture, each Christian can choose to repent from the things Christ finds wrong in the corporate church, as listed in six of the seven letters, and become a Philadelphia Christian. He will hear "His lord say unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord". - Matthew 25:21 (KJV).
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (NIV) - For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, (13) his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. (14) If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. (15) If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Verse 11 (Con't) - "No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid "- Many believers are tempted to build their lives on other foundations other than the true gospel of Christ, but it cannot be done. There can be only one foundation - the foundation laid by the testimony of God through Jesus and recorded by the apostles. The foundation mentioned in this scripture applies to the body of Christ - the temple of God.
Note: This foundation laid by the testimony of Christ through the apostles is seen in following scripture concerning the foundation of the New Jerusalem - Revelation 21:14 (NIV) - The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV) - Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, (20) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (21) In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. (22) And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
This is not a personally defined foundation of truth, but a foundation laid by the Word of God. The testimony of Jesus must not be compromised in order to establish a more acceptable place in the world for the believer. Else, the foundation will be built on sand, not on solid rock.
To compromise the gospel is an attempt to spiritually justify theologies or precepts which lessen the accountability or impact of the gospel as it applies to each Christian. This will result in carnal indifference to the full gospel message. As previously mentioned, carnal indifference to the Word is spiritual slumber.
See Foreshadows for Three Ministries of Gospel for a discussion on spiritual slumber. Go to bookmark "Christ and the Disciples in Gethsemane - Spiritual slumber".
1 Corinthians 3:12 (Con't) - "Gold, silver, costly stones" - Stones and precious metals were formed by the refinement of minerals in the earth's furnace. Also, this group of servants have gone through the refinement process. They will receive their reward at the pre-tribulation judgment of the House of God. Symbolically, these elements represent a number of factors concerning the transformation of a Christian:
See End Time Judgment Precepts for comments on Christians who are part of the gold, silver and costly stones group.
1 Corinthians 3:12 (Con't) - "Wood, hay or straw" - This is a metaphor for the many things which Christians allow to enter their lives and change their focus and perspective of what it means to follow Christ and serve Him in the ministry of the gospel through grace and love. They build upon the foundation of Christ using a skewed perception of the gospel.
The carnal mind (flesh) does not want to endure transformation that requires dying to self (old behavioral habits and self-serving motives) or entails persecution or tribulation because of the gospel. There's a tendency to interpret the gospel in a way as to justify the status quo or settle into a place that is comfortable. These complacent Christians are not willing to venture outside their comfort zone to do the work of personal transformation or ministry. They serve the Lord only when it is convenient. But, a compromised, watered down truth in the heart of a non-zealous Christian will not survive the pre-tribulation judgment fire of Christ.
Apart from being a yielded vessel used by the Lord in ministry, Christian zeal will wane away. Love for the Lord is an emotion that must be exercised to maintain its zeal. But, some Christians are motivated by works of self-sacrifice and are serving in the church, but have lost their compassion for serving God, resulting in legalistic ministry. There are many things that make up works of "wood, hay or straw". Too many to list or discuss in this short writing. However, all "wood, hay or straw" topics are covered in six of the seven letters to the churches.
What is the work of wood, hay and straw? The believer is building with material that is not compatible with the Spirit and foundation of the true gospel of Jesus. Allowing personal intellect (reasoning and understanding) to enter into interpreting the gospel of Christ and compromise it for personal gain or other self-serving motives, makes the gospel unfruitful. For the minister's edification, he must see the fruit of his minstry. Fruit energizes his heart and he keeps his zeal for the gospel. God's truth is anointed to edify good works. But, a perverted gospel (wood, hay and straw) will hinder the growth of the Christian and rob him of the better reward - to hear Christ say "Well done thy good and faithful servant".
This link between "wood, hay and straw" type of works and destruction of God's temple (body of Christ) is seen in the following passage of scripture -
1 Corinthians 3:16-19 (NIV) - Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? (17) If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (18) Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. (19) For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness".
"Catches the wise", "craftiness" - This phrase is a statement that God's judgment catches those in the church who blend the wisdom of this world and standards of this age with the gospel (craftiness), resulting in a perverted truth. There will be some Christians who build upon their salvation using theologies, doctrines and teaching of scriptures that are laced with wisdom from this age. This is a crafty attempt to keep one foot in the world and one foot in the church, in order to preserve self and make it holy. Not only will those who teach and preach a compromised gospel suffer loss, but also those who believe and follow their teachings.
Note: To perceive Christians losing the pre-tribulation reward burdens the hearts of God's servants. False doctrines and teachings that compromise the gospel has a far reaching effect on the corporate church. Christ has warned the church to be alert and attentive to recognize false teachings when they are preached and taught. The seven letters to the corporate church topically categorize the things He finds wrong in the church at the pre-tribulation judgment. All Christians need to study the letters, so they can be found without spot or blemish. The letters will weed out many false beliefs and teachings.
1 Corinthians 3:13 (Con't) - "Work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light" - This phrase is unmistakably a statement of evaluating each Christian's works, building on the foundation of Jesus. When their work is shown for what it is, the truth of Christ will illuminate in the heart of those who lose the reward.
"Day will bring it to light" - This scriptural phrase is concerned with judgment by the Day (Christ) and implies judgment of each Christian's works of service is illuminated by the light of the gospel. The illumination is for both groups who are saved, the group who builds using "gold, silver and costly stones" and the group who builds using "wood, hay and stubble". Therefore, this judgment is not between the saved and the lost, but a judgment between the saved and the saved, the corporate church. When foundation work is shown for what it is, this illumination will awaken wood, hay and stubble Christians to repentance.
1 Corinthians 3:14-15 (Con't) - "If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. (15) If it is burned up, he will suffer loss" - Some works pass the judgment of Christ and other works of service do not. One will receive a reward and the other will not. Any Christian's work not compatible with the Spirit of Truth and contrasts with the light of the gospel will suffer loss. Those who build using wood, hay and stubble, their work will not survive the flames and their reward is lost. This is a simple declaration that the pre-tribulation judgment of the church is for this purpose. Christ is making a distinction between those who serve him and those who do not.
Note: It's important to mention at this point, many "gold, silver and costly stone" Christians have lived and passed on since Paul wrote the epistle to the Corinthians. This growth in the Lord is an on-going dynamic for as long as Christ remains in heaven. The Word of God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Therefore, the scripture also applies to the Day of judgment of the House of God at pre-tribulation. As previously discussed in Malachi 3:17-18 (KJV) -"They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. (18) And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. God apparently visually displays this distinction to the corporate church through the reward given to those who serve Him with a whole heart. This distinction is also revealed and seen by those who are left behind.
Does receiving a crown reward (Philadelphia Church) mean they are harvested and taken into heaven because they serve God with a whole heart? Does this harvest fulfill Malachi 3:17-18 (KJV)? I believe it does. Why? If these Philadelphia Christians (filled with the Holy Spirit) are on the earth during the seven year tribulation, they would be exercising their authority (binding and loosening the powers of darkness). The anti-christ would not be able to perform his work. These Holy Spirit anointed Christians must be taken out of the way so the anti-christ can be revealed.
2 Thessalonians 2:5-9 (NIV) - Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? (6) And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. (7) For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. (8) And then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.
"Then the lawless one will be revealed" - Prior to revealing the identity of the anti-christ, these Christians must be taken out of the way. Daniel states the lawless one will be revealed at the beginning of the seventieth week - Daniel 9:26-27 (NIV) - He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. Therefore, the "one who now holds it back" is taken out of the way at pre-tribulation (Gentile agenda time) and again at mid-tribulation (Jewish agenda time). "One" in this scripture refers to the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ.
Only the Holy Spirit working through the body of Christ can restrain the anti-christ.
It is apparent that Christians operating under the power of the Holy Spirit have the authority to impede the operations of satan. The Philadelphia Christian and the Great Multitude have that power and authority through faith and must be taken off the earth before the anti-christ can establish his reign during the second half of the seven year tribulation. The Philadelphia Christian is taken at pre-trib and the Great Multitude is taken at mid-trib.
1 Corinthians 3:12 (Con't) - "Saved, but only as one escaping through the flames" - Although wood, hay, stubble Christians will not receive the pre-tribulation reward they will not lose their souls. They will not be condemned to death. They will be saved. However, their salvation is made complete as they escape through the flames. The flames through which they escape are the refining fire of the first half of the seven year tribulation. Their escape is possible as they are given additional time by God's mercy to repent and turn to Christ wholeheartedly (sanctification). God is a God of another chance!
Note: Scholars should seen this scripture concerning the Day of judgment of the House of God as pre-tribulation agenda. It would then be apparent that not all of the corporate church is taken at the same time. All are saved, but not all receive the pre-tribulation reward! So, the question for each Christian is "Do I desire to repent with a whole heart or risk disappointing the Lord and lose the best reward"? To which harvested group do I desire to belong"? Pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib? If your answer is the first pre-trib rapture, then begin to study the seven letters to the seven churches for guidance in your desire to grow and be like Christ. Go to Volume 6 for help in understanding the letters.
Since the seven letters in Revelation are concerned with pre-tribulation agenda, it is apparent that Christ is removing holy and true Philadelphia Christians out of the way prior to the tribulation period and moving carnal Christians into the tribulation period for additional refinement. This scenario emphasizes the need for today's church to repent from the things outlined in the six letters, which call for repentance or change of heart. Apart from repentance, "wood, hay and straw" Christians will miss out on the reward. I believe the pre-trib reward reflects how Philadelphia Christians will be used by Christ in the millennium reign. As defined in the letter to the Philadelphia church, Philadelphia Christians are encouraged to hold onto their crowns. Crowns are symbols of ruling authority. The Philadelphian Christian will sit on the throne with the King of Kings. These kings will bring their splendor into the New Jerusalem - Revelation 21:23-24 (NIV) - The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. (24) The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.
The Philadelphia Church, the only church not to be rebuked by Christ, is used as pillars in the temple of God - Revelation 3:12 (KJV) - Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
The Christian who sits in the Philadelphia Church is distinguished from other Christians in the other six churches by the names which is written upon him - the name of God, the name of the New Jerusalem and the name of Christ. This Christian is in complete unity with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and has a pass to enter the city of God - Revelation 21:27 (KJV) - And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. The Philadelphia Christian is Christ-like. Since Christ identifies Himself to this church as "he that is holy and he that is true". I believe this is a good perception of Christ-likeness, Christians with Christ-like characters of a holy and true witness - Revelation 3:7 (KJV) - And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.
Verse 15 (Con't) - "Survives, he will receive his reward" - When deeds of gold, silver and precious stones survive the judgment of Christ, then those Christians will receive a just reward. They receive their inheritance as the harvest takes place and they are taken into heaven.
Matthew 18:1-4 (NIV) - At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (2) He called a little child and had him stand among them. (3) And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (4) Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 23:11-12(NIV) - The greatest among you will be your servant. (12) For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Luke 22:24-26(NIV) - Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. (25) Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. (26) But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.
"Like the youngest" implies humbleness as described in Matthew 18:4.
"One who rules" implies people in high positions should serve with humbleness. Meaning, his decisions should be in the best interests of those under his authority.
Mark 9:33-35(NIV) - But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. (35) Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."
There are four important words in these scriptures - first, greatest, humbleness and servant of all. The first and greatest in the kingdom of heaven will be the humble servants of all. I believe the implication in the above scriptures distinguishes a group of Christians that will be set apart because they are humble servants who offer themselves to God for the good of others, as Jesus offered Himself for the good of others. They always see themselves as last when relating to others. These Christians think like Christ.
I believe these are humble Philadelphia servants who have the crown reward. True servants of God will make up the pre-tribulation harvest / rapture of the church.
Revelation 7:9-14 (KJV) - After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; (10) And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. (11) And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, (12) Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. (13) And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? (14) And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
This multitude was saved under the blood of the Lamb and the preaching of the 144,000 during the first half of the great tribulation. Obviously, this is the second harvest of the end time. Within this multitude are people from every nation, kindred, people and tongues - Jew and Gentile. The end time harvests unite Jew and Gentile into one body as heirs of God through the blood of Christ (Ephesians 3:6).
The Great Multiple are given palm branches because they welcomed Jesus (by faith in the gospel) as God's Messiah. In the same manner as the "great crowd" of Jews who first welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem were given palm branches in John 12:12-13 (NIV) - The next day the great crowd that had come for the feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. (13) They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel."
"Great crowd that had come for the feast, heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem" - This scripture is describing Jews who came to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, at which time Jesus was crucified the day prior to the Passover Sabbath. Jesus' entry into Jerusalem as the Messiah scripturally marks the first advent of salvation. In the book of Revelation the Apostle John sees the Jews again accepting Christ as Messiah at the time of His second advent to save Israel at mid-tribulation.
The first advent of Christ foreshadows the second advent in a number of ways.
First advent - Jesus arrives in Jerusalem on a foal of a donkey - John 12:15.
Second advent - Jesus arrives in Jerusalem on a white horse - Revelation 19:11.
First advent - Jesus is proclaimed to be the king of Israel - John 12:13.
Second advent - Jesus is proclaimed King of Kings - Revelation 19:16.
First advent - The GREAT CROWD shouts "Hosanna!" - John 12:13. "Hosanna" - (Strong's Concordance - Greek ) #5614 means "to be saved" and also means "an exclamation of adoration". The word "hosanna" also has a Hebrew origin (Strong's Concordance - Hebrew) #3467 and is from the root word "yasha" (yaw-shah'), which means "to be free"; by implication "to be safe" (saved).
Second advent - The GREAT MULTITUDE cries out in a loud voice - Revelation 9:10 (NIV) - "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the LAMB" . Revelation 9:17 (NIV) - "For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd." The word "salvation " and "Lamb" directly reveal the salvation of the great multitude at mid-tribulation.
First advent - The GREAT CROWD is holding palm branches - John 12:13.
Second advent - The GREAT MULTITUDE is holding palm branches - Revelation 7:9.
There is no doubt that the first advent of salvation foreshadows the second advent of salvation at the end time. The GREAT CROWD foreshadows the GREAT MULTITUDE that responds to the preaching of the 144,000 during the first half of the tribulation period because they heard and believed the Messiah is "on His way to Jerusalem." Remember, Jesus told some Pharisees that He would not be seen again until the Jews accepted Him as Messiah through the gospel - Luke 13:35 (NIV) - "Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, 'you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"
The narrative association of the words "palm branches" and the word "hosanna" in John's account of the first advent (John 12:12-13) ties this foreshadow to the salvation of the great multitude who are rewarded with palm branches at the time of the second advent.
When Christ rode into the Jerusalem on a donkey, surely he had on His mind this great day when the nation of Israel would be saved. When Christ returns on a white horse riding into Jerusalem the second time, surely he will recall the first time he came to Jerusalem on a donkey.
Revelation 7:15-17 (NIV) - "....he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. (16) Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. (17) For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water."
Purposely, this end time scripture reflects back to the time of Israel in the desert when God delivered them from Egyptian slavery. God sovereignly provided for their hunger with manna and quail, provided for their thirst with water from the rock at Massah and Meribah (Exodus 17: 1-7), protected them from the scorching heat of the sun with the cloud in the daytime. Last, but not least, provided the tabernacle tent with the covering of the "ram's skin dyed red". The Ram's Skin Dyed Red is a foreshadow of the covenant blood covering of Christ - the New Blood Covenant. Symbolically, this is the tent (covering of "rams' skins dyed red") under which God desires to cover His people. This objective is fulfilled with the rapture of the great multitude at mid-tribulation.
Note: The word "Lamb" is used in the KJV New Testament 31 times; twice in the book of John, once in the book of Acts, once in the book of 1 Peter and 27 times in the book of Revelation. I believe the book of Revelation is purposefully written by Christ to point the Jews to God's covenant sacrifice of an unblemished Lamb for the forgiveness of sin. The word Lamb has a most special meaning to the Jews because of the law's requirement that an unblemished lamb must be offered for the atonement of sin. The Jews were indoctrinated with obedience to the Old Testament law as their righteous standing before God. The Gentiles were never under the law, as they were grafted into the covenant after Jesus' death for the remission of sin. The Gentiles were grafted into the covenant under grace and mercy by the blood of Christ Jesus.
When the Jews hear the word "Lamb" they innately think of the covenant blessing for their salvation. "Lamb" is the best word to use to draw their attention to Christ Jesus as their Savior. Narratively, this is why Revelation uses "Lamb" 27 times. The seven year tribulation is more about the salvation of the Jews then it is about the Gentiles.
The sequential and chronological order of scriptures places the harvest of end time martyrs after the "mystery of God" (gospel) is closed in Revelation 10:7.
Revelation 14:14-19 (KJV) - And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. (15) And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. (16) And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. (17) And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. (18) And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. (19) And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
Verse 14 (Con't) - "Upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man" - As in all harvests, Christ harvests the post-tribulation martyrs prior to His arrival on the earth. He "sits on his throne in heavenly glory" - Mathew 25:31 and oversees the harvesters (angels) as the raptures take place.
Verse 15 (Con't) - "Time is come for thee to reap" - This harvest is at a different time than the harvest of the great multitude in Revelation 7:9-14. This time is at the end of the seven year tribulation, seen as such in the chronological format of Revelation.
Verse 16 (Con't) - "He who sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped" - Christ is still sitting on the cloud of heaven commanding His angels during this harvest, as He was in the pre-trib and mid-trib harvests.
Verse 17 (Con't) - "Also having a sharp sickle" - Another angel also has a sharp sickle with which to perform another act that is unlike the harvesting of the martyred saints. This angel separates those who are not saved from those who are saved.
Verse 18 (Con't) - "......gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe" - The angel gathers the grapes (those who rejected the gospel) and cast them into the winepress of the wrath of God (the bowls of wrath). The grapes being fully ripe indicates the completion of sin has arrived.
Verse 19 (Con't) - "Thrust in His sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God." - After this judgment the time for the wrath of God has arrived, which includes the Battle of Armageddon.
The post-tribulation harvest occurs just prior to the time for the wrath of God. Obviously, this is a different harvest than the one at mid-tribulation. The great multitude is harvested after the sixth seal, and the end time martyrs are harvested after the sixth trumpet. "66" reminds me of the 66 books of the Bible written to open the eyes of the Jews to the identity of their Messiah.
Revelation 15:2-3 (KJV) - And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. (3) And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
This harvested group are martyrs because of their refusal to bow and worship under the international religious system and bow to the idol (image) that was set up on the wing of the temple.
This harvest is the final bringing together of the Jew and the Gentile into one body, implied by the fact that they sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. That is to say, the Law of Moses is fulfilled in Christ. The rapture of this group ends the agenda time for the "mystery" of the gospel (Revelation 10:7).
WHY DOES EACH HARVESTED GROUP RECEIVE DIFFERENT REWARDS?
See an important discussion on Rewards Based in Love (click here)
The book of Revelation reveals a harvest / rapture of believer's at the end of each ministry. First, the gospel is sown, the seed grows and then comes the harvest at the appointed time. With every season (agenda time for gospel ministries) there's a seedtime and harvest.
For all gospel ministries, all harvesting occurs after the death of Christ. So, when was there a harvest at the end of the first ministry of the gospel to the Jews under the Law? This ministry occurred when Jesus was on the earth. He send out the twelve apostles prior to His crucifixion - Mark 6:7-13.
The First Harvest of Jews
Matthew 27:51-53 (KJV) - 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; (52) And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, (53) And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
This group of saints believed in Messiah because of Old Testament prophetic teachings, but they passed away before His arrival - Matthew 13:17 (KJV) - For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
The veil of the temple was torn in two when Christ died on the cross. His blood remitted the sins of the Jews and death no longer had a hold on them. They were set free from their graves. Three days later when Christ arose from the dead, these Old Testament saints left the graves and went into Jerusalem and appeared to many. This act was a harvest of Christ's first ministry of the gospel under the Law. When Christ ascended into heaven, He took this crowd with Him - Ephesians 4:8 (KJV) - Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. The Old Testament saints were held captive by the grave because the blood of animals could not remit their sins. When Jesus' blood was shed for their sins, they were freed from the grave. When Jesus ascended He led these into heaven as His captives. After He led captivity captive, He sent the Holy Spirit to the 120 disciples in the upper room and "gave gifts unto men".
"Captivity" (Strong's Concordance / Greek) #161 aichmalosia (aheekh-mal-o-see'-ah); from #164; captivity.
#164 - aichmalotos (aheekh-mal-o-tos'); from aichme (a spear) and a derivative of the same as #259; properly, a prisoner of war, i.e. (genitive case) a captive:
#259 - halosis (hal'-o-sis); from a collateral form of #138; capture, be taken.
#138 - haireomai (hahee-reh'-om-ahee); probably akin to #142; to take for oneself, i.e. to prefer:
#142 - airo (ah'-ee-ro); a primary root; to lift up; by implication, to take up or away; figuratively, to raise (the voice), keep in suspense (the mind), specially, to sail away (i.e. weigh anchor); by Hebraism - to expiate sin:
Strong's leads us to the root word "airo", attempting to reveal the root of the word "captivity" (aichmalosia) in the referenced scripture. In the Greek "airo" implies "to take up or away". In Hebraism "airo" implies "to expiate sin". The above complete formation of the Greek word "aichmalosia" points to Christ's ascension into heaven leading captive those He prefers (chooses) because their sins are expiated (remitted) under His blood. These are Old Testament righteous Jews who long to see Jesus and longed to hear Jesus (Messiah), but passed away before He arrived into Jerusalem.
Under God's agenda, it is clear there are three distinct ministries of the gospel. First, for the Jew and then for the Gentile. Also, it is clear there three harvests of the gospel. First for the Jew and then for the Gentile.
Romans 1:16 (NIV) - I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (17) For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first (Jew) to last (Gentile), just as it is written; "The righteous will live by faith."
Because of the Jews' refusal to accept Jesus as Messiah, God's gospel agenda called for the thrust of the gospel to be directed towards the Gentiles, all nations outside Israel. At this point in God's gospel agenda (while Christ is seated in heaven), the Jews were the first to receive the New Testament gospel (under grace), but are made last to be harvested at mid-trib. The Gentiles were last to receive the New Testament gospel, but first to be harvested at pre-trib. The Gentiles were put ahead of the Jews to receive the covenant blessings - Matthew 20:28 - .......the first was made last and the last was made first. This is also the fulfillment of the foreshadow of Jacob crossing his hands and putting Ephraim ahead of Manasseh for the covenant blessing, as Manasseh represents God's adopted Jewish sons and Ephraim represents adopted Gentiles sons.
A Good Old Testament account which foreshadows the last being made first is seen in For the Eyes of Your Understanding - Volume 4. See the bookmark "Gap of Time".
Also, see Volume 3 bookmark "Chapter 2" - God making "the first to be last and the last to be first" is the fulfillment of the foreshadow of Jacob crossing his hands and putting Ephraim ahead of Manasseh for the covenant blessing, as Manasseh represents God's adopted Jewish sons and Ephraim represents adopted Gentiles sons.
The book of Revelation offers additional validation for the agenda of the three ministries of the gospel, as seen in understanding the mark of the beast.
MARK OF THE BEAST
The mark of the beast is a most interesting challenge to the Christian. Christ purposefully draws the attention of the reader to this scripture. Christ's challenge to study the mark of the beast is to determine how the mark is formulated. A prophetic message is conveyed to the reader when the mark is calculated or broken down.
We realize the anti-christ uses the mark to make an economic and religious distinction between those who follow his agenda and those who follow the truth of the Word of God. We should see acceptance of the mark of the beast as a person's declaration that he denies God. The mark is an economic tool anti-christ uses to get people to deny the preached Word of God, rather than be cast out of his governing laws for peace and prosperity. But, this does not require wisdom, it is plainly presented to the reader of Revelation.
To begin the endeavor of breaking down the mark of the beast, we should remember, God's end time agenda is concerned with saving all that can be saved through the ministry of the gospel. Therefore, the mark of the beast basically should be seen as directly opposed to Christ's gospel ministry.
The scriptural framework for studying the mark of the beast will be the same as used in studying the entire New Testament - Ephesians 3:5-6 (NIV) - This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. Understanding the mark of the beast needs to be in sync with this agenda. Meaning, the proper interpretation should support this New Testament objective of Christ. This will help us avoid erroneous interpretations which are not in sync with the objective of Christ, else the prophetic blessing mentioned in Revelation 1:3 will be missed.
It is important to understand the end times is not centered on the anti-christ or satan, although they are involved adversaries, even as they are adversaries involved in today's ministry of the gospel. In the end time satan will direct the anti-christ to proclaim he is the messiah of god. He will be given power to perform great signs and wonders in order to deceive many into believing he is the messiah. He will claim to be the Abrahamic Covenant promise, the way to heaven is to obey and follow him. He will be a counterfeit of Jesus Christ. But, countering his lies and deceptions are the 144,000 preaching and teaching the truth of the New Testament gospel. So, satan is still just the adversary to the gospel during the end time, even as he is today. The mark of the beast does not change the true theology of the New Testament. The devil and all his angels are just adversaries. The trust of the gospel is the work of Christ and the overall theme of the end time.
Again, the New Testament gospel is focused on Christ bringing Jew and Gentile together into one body as heirs of God to the promise that is in Christ Jesus. Therefore, the end time ministry of the gospel performs this "bringing together of Jew and Gentile" through the harvests of the gospel.
Now, we are ready to take up the challenge of understanding the mark of the beast, because it is adversity against the gospel. Remember the time for the gospel does not end until Revelation 10:7. Until that time arrives, gospel dynamics will be in effect. The mark of the beast is satan's attempt to dissuade people from accepting Christ as Lord and Savior.
Revelation 13:18 (KJV) - Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
Uncovering this riddle in the book of Revelation will lie beyond the scope of literal interpretation. Otherwise, studying and calculating would not be necessary because the literal mark on the hand or forehead is plainly revealed in Revelation. The correct interpretation will require wisdom beyond understanding the literal mark. The solution will have much to do with the spiritual mark and insight into the ministry of the gospel in the end times. Keep in mind that the anti-christ is a counterfeit of Messiah, therefore he will have a counterfeit message dressed up like the gospel, promising entry into heaven and eternal life in paradise. But, only those who were victorious over the beast, victorious over worshipping his image, victorious over his mark and victorious over the number of his name and having the harps of God will stand before God on the sea of glass.
Revelation 15:2-3 (KJV) - And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. Jesus desires that all who endure the seven year tribulation get victory over the beast's temptation to worship the image, over accepting his mark and over the number of his name. What does his number reveal?
"Number" - (Strong's Concordance - Greek) #706 arithmos (ar-ith-mos'); from #142; a number (as reckoned up): a fixed and definite number; an indefinite number, a multitude
(Strong's Concordance - Greek) #142 airo (ah'-ee-ro) - a primary root; to lift up; by implication, to take up or away; figuratively, to raise, keep in suspense (the mind), by Hebraism to expiate sin.
(Thayer's Expository Dictionary) #142 airo - to raise up, elevate, lift up, to raise from the ground, to take up (stones), to raise upward, elevate, lift up, to draw up (a fish), to carry off, to move from its place, to take from among the living (either by a natural death, or by violence), to cause to cease.
The Greek definition of the word "number" is "arithmos" taken from the root word "airo" which means to "reckon up"; a multitude. Figuratively, it is used to mean "raise" and by Hebraism to "expiate sin" (atone for sin).
"Reckon"- (Strong's Concordance - Greek) #4868 sunairo (soon-ah'-ee-ro); from #4862 and #142; to make up together, i.e. (figuratively) to compute (an account).
#4862 sun (soon); a primary preposition denoting union; with or together, i.e. by association, companionship, process, resemblance, possession, instrumentality, addition, etc.
#142 airo (ah'-ee-ro); a primary root; to lift up; by implication, to take up or away; figuratively, to raise (the voice), keep in suspense (the mind), specially, to sail away (i.e. weigh anchor); by Hebraism to expiate sin.
The Greek word for "reckon" (sunairo) clarifies a complete perspective of the proper definition of the word "number". As a counterfeit of Christ, the anti-christ will offer salvation and entry into the kingdom of heaven for those who follow him. When calculating or counting the number of the beast, it should be seen that the anti-christ will use Hebrew words to convince them he is messiah. Sunairo is configured using two words (#4862 sun & #142 airo) which means to bring together (sun) a group of people for the atonement of sin and for the purpose of taking them up and away into heaven (airo). Anti-christ will appear as an angel of light performing miracles which convince Jews and Gentiles that he is messiah. He will offer forgiveness of sin and entry into heaven.
Of course, the literal and figurative Greek definitions truly reflect God making up the number of His family (a multitude) through Christ Jesus (atonement for sin) and harvesting them from the earth (taking up and away). But, since the anti-christ will proclaim to be messiah, he will also claim to be the way to God and into heaven.
It can be seen the end time is a time of people choosing between the gospel message of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists and the message of the anti-christ. During the last half of tribulation, Christ adds three angels to the preaching ministry of the 144,000. The last half of tribulation is a time for choosing between the miracles and words of anti-christ (who can be seen) and Christ Jesus seen only by faith in the preached word of God. It's the final showdown between Christ and anti-christ, between sense faith and spiritual faith from God.
The first angel preaches the gospel throughout the earth - (KJV) - Saying with a loud voice, "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."
The second angel - Revelation 14:8 - And there followed another angel, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."
The third angel - Revelation 14:9-10 - And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand (10) The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.
The last half of the tribulation is focused on the anti-christ's deceiving the people (proclaiming to be messiah) and on Christ's ministry of the gospel through the 144,000, three angels and the two witnesses. All other events are intended to shake the world to bring man to a point that he will seek out a solution to his dilemma by turning to the one with the spiritual solution. The end time is most definitely about Christ harvesting and bringing the ministry of the gospel to a close. How does this play a part in the mark of the beast formula?
Author's note: The first clue I received from the book of Revelation concerning the mark of the beast was when I saw the chronological format revealing the three harvests of the gospel and the preachers of the gospel occurring with the sixth letter (pre-trib), after the sixth seal (mid-trib) and after the sixth trumpet (post-trib) - 666. This began my investigation of the mark of the beast.
The Number of a Man
Revelation 13:18 (KJV) - Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
"A man" as it relates to fallen man
The number of the beast belongs to man because of natural man's fallen characteristics, which makes him susceptible to being deceived by the fallen spirit of satan. So, when the time arrives for accepting the mark and be counted as one of those who will participate in the "buy or sell" economy, many will readily do so to take advantage of peace and prosperity offered by the one-world alliance of nations. Fallen man's sense consciousness will blind him and lure him into believing anti-christ is messiah and into believing economic welfare is the solution to his tribulation and distress.
The anti-christ will promise salvation, peace, prosperity and entry into the kingdom of God. With power given to him by God, ant-christ will perform great miracles and wonders. He uses these miracles and wonders to create a great deception, leading many to follow him, believing him to be the messiah. It will be a great deception intent on preventing those on the earth from responding by faith to the 144,000's preached Word of salvation.
His mark is a declaration and prophetic sign of his efforts in establishing a false program that thwarts the objective of Christ, preaching of the gospel through His servants and angels. Anti-christ's underlying motive is to totally do away with Christianity and Judaism. Since Philadelphia Christians and the Great Multitude (Jews and Gentiles) have been removed from the earth prior to last half of the tribulation, those Jews and Christians converted during this time (last half of tribulation) will be a minority and will stand alone. All other religions will unite and follow the anti-christ.
Satan's objective - The mark of the beast is concerned with opposing the harvest of Christians. It has little to do with prosperity for his followers, because his program of prosperity is short lived. If so, then it is concerned with opposing the ministries of the gospel. It is through the gospel that the harvests are made manifest. Without sowing of the Word (seed of God), there would be no harvest to reap in the end time tribulation.
"A man" as it relates to anti-christ
In the King James Version of Revelation 13:18 (KJV) - Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
Note: The NIV translation of the Bible uses "man's number" when speaking of counting the number of the beast. The Revised Standard Version uses "a human number". The Living Bible uses "Interpret this code: the numerical values of the letters in his name add to 666." So, when other translations fail to agree with each other, I always use the King James Version for word studies.
The King James, as well as most other Bible versions, uses "number of a man" when speaking of counting the number of the beast. This number is the number of a man, a specific man.
"Man" (Strong's Concordance - Greek) #444 anthropos (anth'-ro-pos); from #435 and ops (the countenance; from #3700); man-faced, i.e. a human being.
The anti-christ at the end time period will appear on the scene as a man sent by the world alliance of nations to bring peace to the world, particularly the Middle East. He is man-faced, meaning he is a human being with a spiritual countenance. He is a demonic spirit appearing as a human to bring peace to this religiously trouble area of the world.
He will have power given him by the world alliance to act rudely and with insolence against those nations who are experiencing religious civil unrest.
Daniel 9:27-10:1 (KJV) - 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, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
"Confirm" (Strong's Concordance / Hebrew) #1396 gabar (gaw-bar'); a primitive root; to be strong; by implication, to prevail, act insolently.
He will not be a negotiator of peace. He will impose peace (insolently), as a covenant defined by the world alliance he represents. He will enforce predefined religious tenets that all must observe, in order to establish and maintain peace. After three and one half years, with continued religious unrest he will take over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem at mid-tribulation and put an end to the sacrifice of animals as sin offerings. He will then establish a new religious system on the wing of the temple (outer court) that causes desolation between God and Israel. After the harvest of the great multitude the power of the holy people will be broken, meaning the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth for the last half (three and one half years) of the tribulation period, the time of desolation. Anti-christ will have complete power and authority (given to him by God) to rule during this time. Any who refuse acceptance of the Mark of the Beast will most likely be martyred. Anyone who refuses to worship the idol erected on the wing of the temple will be considered a rebel to the peace plan, an outlaw, and deemed expendable.
Each man will either be marked by God or marked by satan.
Exodus 13:9 (NIV) - This observance will be for you a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead, and the law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For seven days the Jew is to observe the Passover ordinance. This ordinance is a sign that their lives are consecrated to the Lord when they live by the Word of God. Jesus replied to the Pharisees concerning their request for a sign - Matthew 12:38-40 (KJV) - Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. (39) But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: (40) For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The only viable sign for the new blood covenant to each Christian is his faith in Jesus' death and resurrection. This is His mark on the soul of Christians.
The Passover Feast is God's physical sign for the hand and the forehead. It's a sign that the Word of God is to be on their lips. For the Word to be on their lips it must be in their hearts. "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh" - Matthew 15:34 (KJV). Faith in God's spoken word is God's mark on man's soul. God's Word is God's mark and the Holy Spirit is God's seal - Ephesians 1:13.
Even As God's mark is on the hand and forehead, the mark of the Beast is also located on the hand and forehead. Satan's mark is a counterfeit of God's mark. If God's mark is concerned with acceptance and obedience to God's Word, then satan's mark is concerned with defiance and disobedience to God's Word. Satan's mark represents the Jew's and Gentile's denial and rejection of the Word of God.
Note: Each man is either marked by satan or marked by God. There is no situation where man is not marked by either satan or God. If there was such a situation, then man would be sovereign. He would then be a god. This is the greatest of all deceptions upon mankind believing he is accountable only to himself, neither marked by God or satan.
Atheists are those who deny or disbelieve there is a God or gods. They perceive themselves and the life they live as based in self reliance and self achievement, the means and end to their existence. They believe there is no life after death. Life is good or bad as a result of experiencing self-determined truths applied to life's issues. There is no evil or sin against a God or god higher than themselves. They do not fear God or satan because they do not believe in either. They see themselves as sovereign. They believe they are an island unto themselves and the destiny of each man is self determined.
Agnostics believe there is a God, but knowledge of him cannot be known, nor is he knowable by an experience or faith. He denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of spirituality. He is then left with only his perception of self achievement and self reliance as the means and end to his life.
Little do the atheists and agnostics realize that they are marked with a symbolic "6".
Why the Number "666"?
I believe there is a specific purpose for three sixes being used in forming the Mark of the Beast. The Book of Revelation is a chronological presentation of the end time. A very important aspect of the chronological format of Revelation is the three ministries of the gospel with three harvests, which occur in the Sixth Letter, after the Sixth Seal and after the Sixth Trumpet, thus the format of "666". The sixth letter, the sixth seal and the sixth trumpet is a framework for the end time ministry of the gospel.
GOD'S AGENDA APPOINTS THREE DIFFERENT OPPORTUNITIES (ERAS OF TIME) GOD HAS APPOINTED FOR MANKIND TO RESPOND TO THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL AND MAKE A CHOICE TO REPENT AND ACCEPT THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST. THEN HE IS NO LONGER MARKED WITH A "6", HE IS MARKED BY GOD.
Remember, the time between the first and second advent of Christ is a time for the ministry of the gospel under the power of the Holy Spirit. When this time is over, God will close out the gospel and bring an end to evil and evil doers in the book of Revelation. The number of the beast is included in the gospel to reveal to the church God's agenda for the gospel, of which satan opposes. After the three ministries of the gospel are completed, there will be a time of wrath against unrepentant mankind who bear the mark of the beast.
Why Does Christ Want the Church to See this Gospel Agenda?
When the Christian sees the three ministries of the gospel, he will see the common aspects between each ministry, such as; separate tribulation events, separate ministers of the gospel and separate harvests and separate rewards for those harvested under each ministry. The Christian will have insight to God's End Time Agenda. Once he envisions end time agenda, biblical scriptures begin to correlate and edify the work of the gospel through the end time. Then the light of the gospel expands beyond the scope of literal interpretation.
God's three phase AGENDA or PLAN for mankind to choose Christ is represented by "666". If he responds to the preached gospel, he is marked by God. If he rejects the gospel he is marked by satan.
From the beginning mankind has been faced with making a choice to follow God or not to follow God! To refuse to follow God is to choose to stay with the beast. This is the principle, in which the formulation of "666" is based. It is an age-old principle that has not changed since Adam refused to follow God's command to not eat of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve listen to the voice of the serpent and turned from God. From the beginning freewill man has chosen between the ways of darkness or the ways of God. It is the same for mankind today! He hears God's Word and he responds by either accepting or rejecting what he hears in the gospel. The end time is a time for God to bring an end to the ministry of God's Word (His voice) and bring in the harvest of those who accepted His Word. The end time tribulation is a time of dividing between the believers and unbelievers and providing additional time for individual sanctification as believers are moved from one ministry time into the next ministry, as needed.
Three Phases to the Mission of Christ
There are three phases to the mission of Christ, which are seen as; (1) the Son of Man, (2) High Priest of the New Blood Covenant and (3) the Millennium King. As the Son of Man, Christ was on the earth. As the High Priest of the New Blood Covenant, Christ is in heaven at the right hand of God. As the Millennium King, Christ will be on the earth once again.
While Christ is in heaven at the right hand of God (second phase), he left us with two things by which all the redemptive work of God is accomplished; (1) The testimony of the Son (God's testimony because Jesus only spoke what God told Him to speak - the gospel) ministered to mankind and (2) The power of the Holy Spirit (poured out upon the disciples at Pentecost). It is through the ministry of the gospel UNDER THE ANOINTING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT that the kingdom of God increases and the natural man is transformed through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when one is interpreting prophetic scriptures, these facts must be reflected in the interpretation in order to be in sync with the intent of God for the gospel while Christ is in heaven, including the seven year tribulation time. The second phase of Christ's mission is completed with the end of the great tribulation (Daniel's Seventieth Week). In the second phase of Christ's mission the body of Christ is completely formed and then separated from those outside the body. Then the third phase of Christ's mission (Millennium Reign) is inaugurated, the maturation of all harvested saints until they are no longer short of the glory of God. Then God returns to earth with the New Jerusalem.
The Second Phase of Christ's Mission
Second Phase scripture - Ephesians 3:6 (NIV) - This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:9-10 (NIV) - and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. (10) His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.
This is God's intention for the church - To preach the gospel to the four corners of the world during the current second phase of Christ's mission. Each man must hear the gospel before the end can come to God by faith! Man must be given an opportunity to accept or to refuse the gospel. To repent and to choose Christ, then he is no longer bound in darkness!! The captive is set free!! He is born again and he is a new creation in Christ!! His sins are erased and cast into a sea of forgetfulness. He is under the new blood covenant of God. Enmity is placed between him and death!
There are three phases to the mission of Christ - (1) Under the law prior to his death and resurrection, (2) Under the new blood covenant while he is seated in heaven and (3) in the millennium while He is back on the earth as King of Kings.
There are three ministries of the gospel - Three to the Jews and three to the Gentiles.
There are two periods of wrath. First for the Jew and then for the Gentiles - (1) for the Jew under the trumpets and (2) to the Gentiles under the bowls of wrath after gospel agenda is closed.
God's plan for the redemption of mankind centers on Jewish agenda and Gentile agenda. Jewish agenda is set in the book of Daniel (seventy weeks). The sixty-ninth ended when Christ was crucified (cut off) at Calvary. The seventieth week will be fulfilled during the great seven year tribulation, which ends the ministry of the gospel. Then Christ returns.
Between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week, God in-grafts the Gentiles into salvation to fulfill his promise to Abraham that "all nations would be blessed through him".
Note: God foreshadows a time period for the salvation of the Gentiles in the Old Testament account of Israel's crossing the Jordan River into the promise land under the leadership of Joshua. Refer to FOR THE EYES OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING - Volume IV, CROSSING THE JORDAN - THE SALVATION OF ISRAEL.
God is bringing the Jew and Gentile together into one body through the ministry of the gospel under the power of the Holy Spirit. The gospel is sent to the nation of Israel under three different time periods (three ministries of the gospel).
The first ministry of the gospel to the Jews under the first phase of Christ's mission occurred while Jesus was in the earth. This ministry ended when He was crucified.
The second ministry began under the second phase of Christ's mission after the Holy Spirit visited the disciples on Pentecost Sabbath in the upper room, the gospel was first preached to the Jews. But the Jews rejected Christ as the Messiah sent by God to save Israel from her sins and began to persecute the disciples. Persecution of the disciples scattered them into Gentile areas outside Jerusalem. So, Christ turned to the Gentiles with the Gospel. The first ministry of the gospel to the Gentiles overlays the time for the second ministry of the gospel for the Jews. The gospel was first for the Jew and then for the Gentiles.
The second ministry of the Gospel will continue on its current course until God's allotted time for the Gentiles is completed. At the end of this time, Christ will harvest the Gentile church through the pre-tribulation rapture, based on the judgment criteria described in the seven letters to the seven churches. The Philadelphia church will be taken into the kingdom of God with their crowns because they are appointed as the ones to judge over the twelve tribes of Israel during the millennium reign of Christ. Six of the churches will not be taken in this pre-trib harvest. They will be moved into the next third ministry of the gospel under Jewish agenda of the seven year tribulation. The second ministry ends with the opening of the first seal, which begins the great tribulation.
Note: The Revelation prophetic blessing for today's corporate church is awarded to Philadelphia Christians. See Volume 6 - Seven Letters to Seven Churches of this series for an indepth study of Christ's messages to the corporate church. Then your eyes will be opened to areas of personal repentance and change the Lord desires for each Christian.
After closing the gospel agenda time for Gentiles, Christ will inaugurate the third ministry by opening the first seal and turn to the nation of Israel, once again, with the gospel through the preaching of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists. After the tribulation events of the first six seals, Christ will harvest the third ministry of the gospel at mid-tribulation. The great multitude, harvested out of the great tribulation consist of Jews and Gentiles; every nation, tribe and language. The second ministry of the gospel to the Gentiles overlays the time of the third ministry to the Jews.
The great multitude will be rewarded with palm branches. Christ reserves a remnant of Jews who will be on the earth to welcome Him when He returns to the earth in the same way as Jews with palm branches welcomed Him into Jerusalem on His first advent.
Gentiles and Jews who did not repent and turn to Christ during the third ministry of the gospel to the Jews will be moved into the last half of tribulation, a period of wrath against unrepentant Israel (Trumpets 1-6). The third ministry of the gospel to the Gentiles overlays the time for wrath against the Jews. The Holy Spirit is not on the earth during the last half of tribulation, allowing the antichrist to rule over all of Israel and the false prophet to establish a national religious system, intent on consolidating all different religions for the sake of world unity, using economic leverage to implement the mark of the beast. Anti-christ's is given power and authority by God to reign and deceive the people remaining on the earth.
After the sixth trumpet is complete, the martyred saints will be harvested from the earth and the gospel ministry will end. Then the rest of the nations outside Israel will be brought under the wrath of God (Bowls 1-7). At the time the seventh bowl of wrath is poured out on unrepentant mankind, Christ will return to the earth with all the harvested saints and defeat satan and his followers at the Battle of Armageddon.
Then Christ will set up the next millennium when He will be back on the earth to complete the final and total restoration of the saints. During this time the saints of the Philadelphia church will be judges (pillars) in the government of Christ. After the millennium, all saints will have reached full maturation and will no longer be short of the glory of God. Saints will be able to look God in the face and not be overcome by the radiance of His glory. Then God will recreate the heavens and the earth and return, once again to walk with His creation on the earth.
THE REVELATION BLESSING
To the Christian, the question is this "In which harvest will you be taken? Each Christian still has an opportunity to choose how it will turn out for him. Will you be taken with the Church of Philadelphia at pre-tribulation, the Great Multitude at mid-tribulation or with the martyred saints at post-tribulation? This is the most important thing to consider after understanding the chronological message of Revelation. It is the question God wants each Christian to ask of himself, even as God asked Adam after his fall, "Adam where are you?". Each Christian will be encouraged to measure himself by the teachings of the Letters, from which he can become aware of changes needed in his life. All Christians who understand the Letters will begin to change and move out of the six churches and into the Church of Philadelphia. THEY WILL RECEIVE THE CROWN REWARD!
The greatest crown reward is given to the congregation of the Church of Philadelphia (crowns of gold, precious stones and silver). No Christian should be indifferent to loosing the crown reward! Get the crown and ready for His return!!
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