Question #1: Hi Bob, Not clear on this verse. In Rev. 17:8 it says whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. But you say in Coming Tribulation part 5 under vs. 8 that they were written down then erased or blotted out, explain please.
Response #1: This is a commonly misunderstood point about the book of life, based largely on the mistranslation of Revelation 17:8 in most versions. Hers is how I translate the verse in CT 5:
(8) The beast, which you saw, was (i.e., "existed"), and is
not (i.e., came "not to exist"), and is going to rise from the
Abyss (i.e., the revival of Rome on the one hand and apparent
resuscitation of antichrist on the other), and is going to its
destruction. And the inhabitants of the earth, [those] whose
names have not remained written in the book of life [where they
were written] from the beginning of the world, will be in awe
when they see the beast, because he was (i.e., "existed"), and
is not (i.e., came "not to exist"), and will again be present on
the scene (i.e., return to life in the case of antichrist, and
be reestablished in respect to the empire).
Salvation is not a matter of works, but of grace. There is nothing we could ever do good enough to be "put in the book", for God is completely fair and just. Blessedly, however, Christ died for all human beings, therefore the sins of us all have been forgiven through His blood. As a result, there is no impediment to any human being receiving the precious gift of salvation, no matter what their sins may be. Thus everyone is written in the book of life – or was originally based upon what Christ would do. This is why our Lord tells those who are still believers in the era of Sardis not "I will write your name in the book", but "I will surely not erase your name from the book of life" (Rev.3:5). It is only by personal willfulness in either refusing to accept the gift of Jesus Christ (i.e., delaying one's whole life through) or overtly rejecting it (as in the case for example of those who enlist in the religion of Satan by taking the mark of the beast) that a person's name is "blotted out". If we had our names entered at salvation, it would seem as if we were meriting that salvation. But in fact all are entered in the book (or rather were before time began) based upon the sure and certain coming sacrifice of Jesus to propitiate the sins of all and open the gate to eternal life for all (cf. Rom.3:25-26). Those who fail to accept, or willfully reject Christ "merit" eternal damnation and "forfeit the grace which could have been theirs" (Jonah 2:8), and by their own choice have their names blotted out of the book. Thus the proper understanding of precisely how the book of life "works" is critical also to a proper appreciation of the mechanics of salvation, the justice of God, and the means by which those who are not saved are in fact lost: by their own free will choice. Here are some links pointing to where this topic is discussed in greater detail:
"I will surely not erase your name" (in CT 2A)
The Book of Life: Revelation 13:8 (in CT 4)
Tithing and the Book of Life
Yours in Jesus,
Question #2: Dear Bob, Hi there. I wrote before about Moses striking the rock. This time I have a few questions about Tribulation. If I sound skeptical at all, it's for the reason that I would like a clearer understanding of the End Times. I want to make sure that I have my facts straight and since I have a journalism background, I tend to ask more pointed questions than most people and when discovering discrepancies, I have to address them. Thus, I apologize in advance but I hope you understand that this is all in my quest in trying to better understand the Word. I am very eager, as you can probably tell, to understanding our Father better. I am humbled by the knowledge God has given you, but I would like to pick your brain on some matters. As Christians, I think it's important to question, especially if it leads us in the right direction. As Proverbs 27:17 states, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Amen?
Firstly, I would like to ask about your take on the "1/2 hr of silence" as stated in Rev. 8:1 (When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. NIV). On your website you state, "The half hour of silence in heaven at the breaking of the seventh seal (Rev.8:1) signifies a half year grace period that shifts the start point [of the Tribulation] from spring to fall." My question is - how did you come up with half a year? I read what you wrote, but I would like more clarification. If we look at 2 Peter 3:8 (NIV), we know that to God, a thousand years is one day; one day, a thousand years. "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." So if we do the math, the 1/2 hour of silence should technically equal 20.83333 years by God's timetable. Now I'm not claiming to know anything, but I'm just trying to apply my reading from the Word and use that as my only source in trying to understand other hidden secrets in the Word. If we read Isaiah 34:16, we know that we have to search the Scriptures to understand the Bible and interpret correctly to get the right meaning. The Word can only be revealed through God's spirit and a consecrated search of the Scriptures.
"Look in the scroll of the LORD and read:
None of these will be missing,
not one will lack her mate.
For it is his mouth that has given the order,
and his Spirit will gather them together." (Isaiah 34:16)
Thus, if we look at the Creation, we see how each day symbolizes the different eras (i.e. from Adam to the Second Coming Lord) with 2 Peter 3:8 as a reference for this parallel. Then why does it not apply to the 1/2 hour of silence in heaven?
Secondly, while the 144,000 may signify a literal group of 144,000 chosen elect, I believe we must understand this from a more spiritual point of view. As God is a spirit (John 4:24), so, too, is His Word. "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints," Ephesians 1:17-18. From reading the Bible, we know that numbers have a great symbolic significance - especially to the writer of Revelation. According to my NIV Study Bible, the authors write, "The 12 tribes of Israel in the Old Testament and the 12 apostles in the New Testament indicate that the number 12 stands for the church, or God's redeemed people from both covenants. A number multiplied by 10s, such as 144,000 (12x12x10x10x10x), suggests an indefinite but very large figure. Therefore 144,000 may stand for the entire church throughout history." How can you be sure that they're Jewish? How do you not know that he is speaking of the "spiritual Israel" - the firstborn of the firstborn? Everyone who believes in Christ are the firstborn (James 1:18, Romans 8:23). If you are right, then you have a very specific, too specific (I believe) requirement for everyone who is part of this group. As the Bible is hidden with parables and symbols, we can't claim to know everything that's written b/c we only have a partial understanding of God's Word.
1 Corinthians 13:9-10: For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
When the Second Coming Lord comes, he will speak plainly (John 16:25) and reveal all the secrets and mysteries of the Bible b/c only He is worthy to break the 7 seals. Everything in the Bible, as we know now, points to Christ's first and second coming. If we read the Bible too literally, we fall into the trap that the Pharisees fell into. They completely missed the Messiah by focusing on the letter of the Law, not the Spirit of the Law. God had to thwart Satan from interfering with Christ's first coming, death and resurrection in order to save His people by binding up the testimony (Isaiah 8:16) so that Satan couldn't understand. Anyone can pick up the bible and read it literally, but since it was inspired by the Holy Spirit, it is a spiritual book that only those whose spiritual eyes are open can understand. I believe God has given you incredible spiritual discernment and I hope you do not think that I am comparing you to the Pharisees at all. This is a danger that ALL Christians face. Thus, this is why I had a bit of a problem with your definition of the 144,000. I am willing to hear your response.
I hope I have not offended you at all by my questions. I pray that our search in seeking His Word, His truth will overcome any barriers.
Response #2: These are good questions and fair questions and I certainly don't take offense. On the contrary, it is very important for Christians to question what they are taught and do what the Bereans did (and what you are doing), namely to check things out in scripture to find out "whether they are so". I also think that the manner in which you are approaching it is entirely correct, namely, with a certain amount of respect. As fellow members of the body, we all ought to give each other this modicum of respect and "benefit of the doubt" where our respective ministries are concerned (and we all have need of one another as fellow members of Christ's Body after all), yet without ceding our intellect, common sense, or spiritual responsibility. So rather than taking offense, I am very encouraged whenever I run into someone who can be both questioning and respectful at the same time – not an easy line to walk but a necessary one if mutual spiritual growth is to take place. I have benefitted much over the years from the comments, observations, questions and loving criticisms of my brothers and sisters in Jesus.
To get to your first specific question on the half hour, I have to admit from the outset that this is an interpretation just as the Seven Millennial Days is an interpretation. I believe it to be correct, and in fact the more I read and study on the issue the more convinced I am of its correctness – but it is an interpretation. The background for this interpretation is mostly provided in part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series, and it is to critical portions of that series (spec. section II.8) which the footnotes which support the interpretation given in loco at Revelation 8:1 point (see the link: "Evidence for the Seven Days Interpretation"). So if you have not already done so, it would be helpful for the purposes of this discussion to read over the rather extensive development of chronology provided there. As I say in that study, the projection given about the putative start of the Tribulation "is based upon [certain] suppositions", among which is the one about which you ask, namely, that by the half hour referred to in Rev.8:1 is meant half a year. What support do have I have for this claim?
First of all, it seems clear enough for anyone who takes Revelation seriously and has any experience with biblical hermeneutics and prophecy that the "half hour" is not meant to be a literal thirty minutes, but instead is meant to represent some longer period of time. The thrust of my comments in CT 3A are primarily directed towards this issue since the average reader accessing this study (especially if it is not being done in the sequence of the series with the benefit of the hermeneutical explanation in part 1 etc.) is likely to be most put off by the idea of smaller time periods representing longer ones unless that concept is explained and backed up (thus the first footnote). Since with your question you make the same assumption as I do on this issue, we can agree that the half hour here must refer to some longer period of time. Therefore the only true question remaining is "how long a time?". It is true, at least I firmly believe it to be true, that the seven days of creation symbolize the seven millennia of human history. But it is also true that in biblical symbolism days can represent single years as well as millennia, most famously in Daniel chapter nine where in the "seventy sevens" or "seventy weeks", each "week" or "seven" or "group of seven days" stands for seven years, and I don't know of any interpreters who take Daniel and Revelation to be more than mere allegories who haven't understood the last "seven" to be the seven years of the Tribulation. Clearly then, a day in this prophecy must be equal to a single year, not a thousand years, and given the other passages which deal with the measurement of the Tribulation, I would say that there is no question but that this is the standard metric used by the Bible for measuring the Tribulation.
Now these 'days' are also called "times" elsewhere in Daniel (Dan.7:25; 12:7). This "times" terminology is repeated at Revelation 12:14, although elsewhere in Revelation the same idea is expressed in literal months (but also tied to the idea of three and half years; i.e., 11:2; 12:6; 13:5). Given that an hour is a basic unit of time, half an hour equaling half a "time" in the sense of a year in Revelation 8:1 is not a great interpretative stretch, especially since the "hour" has to refer to some very specific unit of time whose interpretation will easily occur to anyone familiar with prophecy and the context. Indeed, "hour = year" may not be a dogmatic certainty, but since years/times are the most important unit of delineation scripture uses for measuring the Tribulation, it would seem to me that the onus is on an interpretation that favors another metric. Secondly, the point that the half year shift is something we might have anticipated even without this passage is one I believe not to be insignificant. Our Lord was crucified in the spring, for Passover is in the spring; but the Jewish ceremonial calendar virtually demands that He return in the fall, for all the festivals which represent the events of the second advent (before, during and after) occur in the fall cycle of festivals. Therefore whatever the exact year of the beginning (and ending) of the Tribulation, it seems inconceivable based upon this evidence that there would not be a half year hiatus. Finally the word "half" used in our context is very significant. In in my experience with biblical prophecy and symbolism, the exact splitting of something into two parts is unlikely to represent anything fractional or difficult to apply or insignificant, but the pause of half a year to line the calendar up perfectly with the Old Testament cycle which was itself, of course, predictive and prophetic, seems to me to fit the interpretive bill precisely, and to do so in a way that no other interpretation I have ever seen or heard can do. As I say, I freely admit that it is an interpretation, but I do firmly believe in the truth of it based upon the foregoing.
As to the 144,000, it is certainly true that since the Bible does express some things symbolically, it would be a mistake to take absolutely everything in the Bible "literally" (whatever that really means). Indeed, all translations are of necessity interpretations because no substantive content in one language is capable of being transferred word for word into another language without loss or corruption of meaning. Translation is an art just as biblical interpretation is an art. That does not mean we should not work hard at it and try with might and main in the power of the Spirit to get it exactly right as you are doing and as I trust you understand I am also trying to do. So absolute "literality" is a mistake. But of course hyper-allegorization is also a mistake. The early church wasted centuries allegorizing everything to the point that nothing meant what it actually said. This is an argument that anyone who wants to devalue a particular interpretation can make, namely that interpretation X is wrong because it is allegorical and not a "plain reading of the text", or that interpretation Y is wrong because it is literal and does not take into account the truth behind the words. In fact, virtually all correct interpretations of the Bible generally contain a mix of the two, because the truth of scripture nearly always does combine both. One can err too far in either direction, and the "mix" is never exactly the same in any two different contexts. What we strive for is being correct. That correctness is difficult to measure sometimes, especially if only one particular passage is in view.
An important aside here: for most Christians, rather than using a single, individual passage as a litmus test, the source of the teaching ought to be judged by the totality of that teaching rather than on the one single point – generally speaking. For while it is true that some issues are so important as to trump this rule (i.e., the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ and the necessity for faith in Him and His saving work for salvation), it is very unlikely that a truly good source will be heretically apostate on any truly critical point of doctrine or that a truly bad source will ever be able to say enough that is true to make up for the error that dominates. So my policy, and the advice I always give, is that people should seek out a good source of truth, and if pastor Z is "very good, biblical, and generally right on the money" most of the time and often enough to provide a good source of spiritual food, then that is to be treasured; if he "gets it wrong" on a particular point, then try to put that point aside rather than breaking fellowship over something relatively small and thus being deprived of the good as a result. Obviously, what the mix really is and where to draw the line is something that only the individual believer informed by scripture, through prayer and meditation in the power of the Spirit can decide.
Sometimes numbers are symbolic in scripture; sometimes they are representative (like days = years); often (in fact more often than not) they are literal. Generally speaking, when we are meant to take something purely symbolically there is often some sort of a cue that points us in that direction. I don't find any such "cue" or "key" to suggest a symbolic meaning in the case of the 144,000. It is not as if we are told they are "ten thousand times ten thousand", a phrase which might mean "innumerable"; rather we are given a definite number, and a very conceivable one at that: 12,000 for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. On the other hand, these 144,000 are clearly martyred in the Tribulation (Rev.14:1-5). Therefore they cannot represent the entire Church. Their martyrdom argues for their lives and ministries progressing along the lines I have suggested (at the links: "The 144,000", and "The Martyrdom of the 144,000").
Part of the reason I believe many want to "spiritualize" this passage stems from two sources 1) a desire to be part potentially of this wonderful company; and 2) a desire to understand the Church as the New Israel. On the first point, I do understand it, but it is not really an argument for not taking these verses at face value. After all, quite a lot of space is devoted here to spelling out the precise twelve tribes included in this ministry – a strange thing to do also if the Church in its ideal, homogenized unity is meant. Scripture spends a lot of time on genealogies, and while they may not be exciting they are always important. This is not a genealogy, but it is making a similar point in both quantifying and lending real substantiality to this group. So quite in contrast to suggesting that this is a company to be understood in a spiritual sense, the great detail given here argues – in keeping with biblical practice since Genesis – that these are a definite group of Jewish men just as the verses say they are. Off hand, I can't think of any passage in scripture which would provide a parallel for such definite language about a distinctly divided group of people being meant in a spiritual sense; on the other hand as I say wherever else scripture lists people or groups of people it means it in a "literal" sense. And as I say, when the Church is viewed spiritually, it is always as a unified group irrespective or race, gender or social status. The other side of the hill also has the problem that there is really nothing here to suggest taking these 144,000 as, say "the Church throughout history". I have heard that sort of interpretation, but I don't see any foundation for it at all either in context or elsewhere in the New Testament. On the issue of the Church as Israel, I will just say that in my reading of scripture there is no support for the idea that we are "spiritually Israel" in the sense of replacing Israel (although I do understand that this is a very popular and, to my view, potentially dangerous idea). We gentiles have been grafted into the root stock of Israel, and together, Jews and gentiles, we form Christ's Church. I am happy to discuss this further with you if you wish, but in the meantime you might check out these links: "Who is true Israel?", "Are the Celts the Lost Tribes?", and "Lost Tribes".
Thanks again for your positive words, positive attitude, and desire to know the whole truth of the Word of God. As you say, may His truth remove all barriers and lead us where He will have us to go.
In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Do you have any comments about when 2 Peter chapter 3 is referring to? Is it not speaking about the end of the Millennium, but the beginning (and the tribulation period)?
2nd Peter chapter three covers quite a lot of ground. The "last days" to which Peter is referring would include today and stretch into the Tribulation. However, verses five and six are talking about the reconstruction of the earth during the seven days of Genesis 1:2 ff. (v.5), as well as the great flood (v.6). Then, beginning in verse seven, Peter casts his eschatological gaze further out in order to make his point. Verses seven through thirteen, the destruction of the present universe followed by the new heavens and the new earth, are post-millennial events.
What often confuses people here is the phrase "the Day of the Lord". This "day" is both the specific day of Christ's return in its own right which begins the Millennium, and the entire "day" of a thousand years (i.e., vv.8-9: "a day is like 1000 years") wherein our Lord brings in the kingdom to include the entire kingdom period and its end. This "Day of the Lord" can also sometimes include the events which precede Christ's return and the actually "dawning" of "that day". So the phrase "the Day of the Lord" may refer to the actual moment of the Second Advent, may anticipate that day (i.e., the Tribulation is the prelude to that "day" and sometimes included therein in Old Testament prophecy), as well as the entire unique period of time which "that day" begins, namely, the Millennium to the end of human history.
There is much to say about this, and I invite you to read the following link: "The Day of the Lord paradigm (in CT 1)". Peter is operating entirely within normal biblical patterns in referring to several aspects of the future eschatological "Day" in one synoptic view. He does so because he wants to impress his readers with two important facts: 1) the Day will come as a complete surprise to those who doubt and scoff (cf. Matt.24:36ff.), and 2) when it does, in the course of that "Day", everything these scoffers think has been around forever and will last forever (verse 4) will in fact be melted away as the universe is purged of its evil by fire at the end of the Millennium to be replaced by the new heavens and new earth "where righteousness dwells" (2Pet.3:13; cf. Is.65:17; 66:22). So scoffers who claim that the world has always been like it is are wrong (vv.5-7), just as they are dead wrong in their assumption that things will always continue to be as they are now (vv.10-13). They are so wrong – what is to come is not some minor change, or even "merely" the wonders of the Millennium, but afterwards an entirely new universe without evil where only the resurrected will live in eternal life with our Lord forever.
(3) Keep this foremost in your mind: in the end times cynics
will ridicule [the truth], acting out of their own selfish lusts
(4) and saying, "Where is that 'return' He promised? Everything
is the same now as it was since the beginning of the world,
since the time our forefathers passed on." (5) But it escapes
their notice in asserting this, namely, that there were heavens
long ago too, and an earth, which was [re-]established
(Gen.1:2ff.) out from under water (i.e., the "waters below") and
through [the midst of] water (i.e., the "waters above") by the
Word of God –
(6) [and that it was also] through these two [sets
of waters] that the world of that time (i.e., in Noah's day) was
deluged by water [from above and below] and destroyed. (7) Now
the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire by
that same Word (of God), preserved for the day of judgment and
the destruction of godless men (i.e., at the end of history).
(8) Let not this one fact escape your attention then, beloved,
namely that one day is like a thousand years in the Lord's eyes,
and a thousand years like one day (i.e., the final "day" will
span a millennium). (9) The Lord is not delaying in the
fulfillment of His promise (as some think); rather He is
exercising patience for your sake, being unwilling for anyone to
perish, but desiring all instead to come to repentance. (10) For
the Day of the Lord will come like a thief, a day in (i.e., over
the course of) which the heavens will depart with a roar (i.e.,
at the end of the Millennium), the very elements will ignite and
dissolve, and the earth and everything which has been done upon
it will be laid bare [for the Lord's inspection] (i.e., the last
judgment). (11) Since all these things are destined to
disintegrate in this way, [consider] what sort of [Christians]
we ought to be, [devoted to] holy and godly conduct, (12) as we
wait with eager expectation and apprehension the advent of the
Day of God (i.e., the 2nd Advent). For on that day (i.e., at the
end of it) the heavens will burst into flame and dissolve, and
the elements will catch fire and melt. (13) But we are awaiting
new heavens and a new earth just as He promised - [a world]
where [only] righteousness dwells.
2nd Peter 3:3-13
In anticipation of that great future day.
I thank God for you because you are always there to provide scriptural answers for those with questions. I hope you can shed some light on my issue. I know that I am saved because I have trusted Jesus as my Lord, my Savior and my Redeemer. I study his Word and pray daily (especially for Him to lead, guide, and use me for His glory) and cannot even begin to tell you what the Lord has done for me. But while He has done great things for me, I don't feel that I've done very much to be rewarded for. I've tried to live as Jesus would want but feel that I fail much more often than I succeed. I look at people like you who have probably led many souls to Christ (just through your website alone) and think to myself - who have I led to Christ? What have I done to be rewarded for? In our resurrection bodies, I doubt that jealousy will be an issue, but if it were, I believe there are many of whom I would be jealous. I found your writing on Peter's Epistles #18, Production and Eternal Rewards, and this answers some of my question on this subject; I'm still reading it. God bless you.
I'm glad you found something on the site that's helpful for this question. In the future, I hope to have much more on this subject (in Basics 2B Eschatology - but I'm trying to get done with the Coming Tribulation series first).
I believe that it is a mark of genuine humility and spiritual safety to have your attitude. Jesus told us that those who want to be the greatest have to be the least (Lk.22:25-30), and the greatest apostle who also came last called himself "Paul" (Greek for "small"), and was very circumspect about his own potential reward, even though it will doubtless be in the "top ten" at least (cf. 1Cor.9:27; 15:9; Phil.3:10-13).
I think it is always important to remember on this score that we really are very limited in our understanding about how the Lord is "keeping score" in these matters. That is why we are told not to pass judgment on such matters "before the time" of judgment arrives (1Cor.4:5), for it is to the Lord that our efforts will stand or fall, not what human opinion may judge (Rom.14:4; 1Cor.3:10-15). We are all spiritual farmers here in this world, working our fields for the Lord. We have different plots, different soils, different tools – and what we reap in this life will be greatly dependent upon what we are working with. If our plot is small, soil poor, and tools dull, most if not all of which factors may be in God's plan and out of our control, then the visible results may be less than we would hope. But it is Jesus who will rate the crop on that great day of days, and there will be many surprises. One thing we can count on is that if we are truly working for Him in the way He desires, then regardless of what our eyes see now, we will receive a wonderful reward – as long as we keep it up. Farming takes patience, especially this sort of farming, but in due time we will reap according as we are sowing by the grace of God (Gal.6:9; cf. Matt.13:23; 25:14ff.).
We have all been assigned different spiritual gifts, different ministries, and different effects for those ministries (1Cor.12:4-6). The Lord in His justice will certainly take all of these things into account. What will matter the most, I would imagine, is how well we have made use of what we have been given, especially the time we have here on earth (Eph.5:16; Col.4:5; cf. Matt.6:34). Perfect efficiency is impossible in these bodies of sin, and many things which are necessities in life compete with the good we wish to do – no matter how willing our spirits, our flesh has limitations (if we try to work at things 24 hours a day with no sleep it will not do anyone any good for we will collapse). Also we are going to make mistakes and we are going to fail. Abraham failed a number of times as we are given to know, but in the end he accomplished the Lord's will for his life in a most spectacular way. We are not all called upon to do the same things (only Abraham was ever called to sacrifice his son in that unique way). We are not all eyes, or ears, or hands or feet in the Body of Christ; we all have different roles, and it is a mistake to yearn for roles other than the ones the Lord has given (rather we should be content with the ones we have, embrace them, and seek to make the most of them). In the history of the Church, especially in the last several centuries, a premium seems to have been placed on the giving of the gospel, and I certainly would not wish to denigrate this important work in any way. However, this is but one part of the service to the Body of Christ that we are collectively called to do. In my opinion, there is a spiritual famine of the words of God abroad in the land, and that is an indication at least in part of that misplaced emphasis (or better "over-emphasis"). For it ultimately can do little good if a person is brought to the point of confessing Christ but later falls away from want of spiritual food, for example.
Do not underestimate your value to the Body and to the Lord in the work that you are doing. Prayer is an incredibly important part of our collective effort here in the devil's world. Spiritual growth and the witness it provides is also a wonderful and important "work" in and of itself (cf. Heb.11:6), especially in this day and age when true spiritual growth through the milk of the Word is becoming so very rare. After all, the Lord only uses prepared people for truly important things (even if they don't end up on television, e.g.). I am not asking you to back off on your desire to share Christ with others – far from it. But I am asking you to appreciate that everything positive you do in response to Jesus will be rewarded (2Cor.5:10). The gist of all I find in scripture about rewards is not that this wonderful subject should be a basis for depression but for the greatest encouragement. Just as we know from experience that our Lord Jesus is loving, merciful, and fair, so also we can have complete confidence that we will not be put to shame or disappointed for the work we are doing here on earth when we stand before Him, even it happens to be the case that the results we are presently reaping do not seem to measure up to all the glitter and glamor of the "production" of others (and in my experience where there is earthly glitter and glamor the true value of the production is suspect). For whether it turns out that our talent earns ten, or five, or two more – or only interest on the capital, we will nonetheless have a complete and full share of Jesus Christ for all eternity (Matt.20:1-16), and that will be the greatest reward of all.
Your enthusiastic desire for the Word of God, your faithful prayer support, and your genuine humility are definitely encouragements to me.
In the Name of the One we serve in anticipation of a good report on that day of days, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Why aren't gentiles included in the escape to the desert sanctuary in Revelation 12?
It is true that in Jesus Christ, there is now no "Jew or gentile" in terms of our positional relationship to Him. However, the events of the Tribulation constitute what may seem to be an exception in some respects, and the example you cite is one of those exceptions (see the link: In CT 4, "the Dragon's Persecution of Believing Israel"). The special distinction made for Jewish believers during the Tribulation obtains 1) because the seven years of the Tribulation are an overlap of both the Church Age and the conclusion of the [suspended] Age of Israel, and 2) making a distinction between Jews and gentiles, despite the fact that both are believers equally "in Christ" will be necessary in some tribulational situations in order to fulfill God's promises specifically made to Israel. This is why, for example, the 144,000 are taken from Jewish lineage alone, and have as their primary ministry the return of a large remnant to the Lord in preparation for His return (similar to the ministry of John the baptist) in fulfillment of Malachi 3-4.
Please see the following link:
The Uniqueness of Israel
In anticipation of our Lord's return,
Hi Dr Luginbill,
I'm still reading your Revelation study, I'm in 3A, about the Great Apostasy, and, you may have already developed this more elsewhere, you have so much on your site, it will take a while to read it all, but I was thinking, about that great apostasy....it reminds me of the Jews, in that, for these two thousand years they have been in apostasy with our Lord, but at the last will turn their hearts to Him in great sorrow. This is just like Joseph's brothers, who were first rebellious, then fearful, and then fully repentant and loving to Joseph when they realized what they had done and to whom they had done it. Well, all the apostles turned and fell away from Jesus, just before He was crucified, but they all returned to Him, except Judas, of course.....do you see a parallel with the great falling away, and the apostles falling away and most returning to Him? I personally believe the church for the most part, is making a show of religion, but they do not really know Jesus, just as the apostles, prior to the crucifixion had no idea in reality what all this was really about. I believe they too thought Jesus was going to set up an earthly kingdom in their time, and had everything pretty much backwards. But they went through this trauma of rejecting Him when things got very intense, and then afterwards they came to Him (except for Judas), and became true and solid, which beforehand, they were not, this most exemplified with Peter, but Jesus said they all turned away, Peter's example was the most exposed.
I'm not finished with reading your thoughts in that section, and maybe you expand more on these types of things elsewhere in your writings....but I just wanted to get these thoughts down and to you, before I forget them....and I certainly do not belittle the fact that we must persevere through trials and sufferings, and the Lord will direct our way, but, He also recognizes our weaknesses, just as the apostles had these same weaknesses revealed in them, and they faltered and fell, but God caused them to turn back to Him by His strength through them. They could not through their own strength, He infused His Spirit into them, to strengthen them and bring them the boldness to endure what they would suffer for Him later as martyrs for the truth.
But I'm thinking that during this great future falling away that many will undergo, there will be those included in this falling, that the Lord will catch, just as He caught most of the apostles, with the exception of Judas, and those, like the apostles, will in the end die martyrs deaths during this time of great sorrow and tribulation....
In the Lord Jesus,
Thanks for the parallels of Joseph's brothers and the apostles. These are certainly good examples for all believers to remember who may stray away from the Lord but not entirely lose faith. However, the Greek word apostasia and the descriptions of its process generally and the event of the Great Apostasy particularly as we have it in scripture suggests that in the Tribulation's first half it will be a question of a total loss of faith on the part of those involved. I certainly can't answer the question of whether or not it is possible for someone who was, then is not a believer to ever become one again. At the very least, I would think it unlikely. Peter describes the state of the believer reverted to unbelief as "the end is worse than the beginning" and "it would have been better" not to have been saved in the first place than "to have turned their backs" on Jesus (2Pet.2:21). Two things I have learned not to underestimate are the great mercy of our Lord on the one hand, and the potential in the human heart to resist and reject the truth on the other. What happens to marginal believers in the Tribulation lies between these two extremes and depends upon the specifics of the individual situations and decisions of the believers involved. As I observe in several places in CT, I imagine it is entirely likely that the pressures of the Tribulation and/or the evil of antichrist will awaken and alert some large number of marginal and lukewarm believers into lives of growth and service. But the fact itself that this falling away will include an entire third of the Church indicates that there are many who will go the other way. The fact that two thirds will not fall away speaks to your point and your concern, for I would imagine that a great many in this two-thirds will have some serious ups and downs in the process (even if not technically falling into complete apostasy and the total death of their faith). What should not be overlooked in this regard is that there are very many in the church visible even today who are not really Christians at all, and these almost certainly constitute the majority of those worldwide who are generally identified as "Christians". We can expect this group to support antichrist and his new religion with zeal.
Thanks for your continuing interest in this ministry. Please feel free to write me back on any of this, especially if I haven't addressed your concern entirely.
In our Lord Jesus.
In Rev. 13:2 we have the following:
Rev. 13:2: And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
My question is this, "does the dragon Satan literally 'transfer' his own personal Kingdom (7 Headed 10 Horned Beast) to this new Beast John describes?"
I just want to add that you have been an enormous help in the maturation of my Biblical understanding – Thank You!
You are certainly welcome, and thanks for your good words as well. The devil's kingdom is "of this world", but of course limited in its control (see the link in SR 4, "The Kingdom of God vs. the Kingdom of Satan"), and Satan never really "gives" anything. Therefore I take this sentence to mean that the beast will operate in the power of Satan and in response to his will. Here is what I have written about it in CT 4:
It is an open question whether the beast, ever of one mind with his father the devil as far as we can tell, will at this point also be possessed by him. Scripture does not say for certain, but it is clear enough that Satan, now expelled from heaven and consigned to the earth, does at this point empower the beast and his kingdom as never before, even going so far as to "give to him his power and his throne and great authority" (Rev.13:2b), with the picture given by scripture going forward emphasizing the complete unanimity of purpose between the devil and his antichrist (cf. Rev.16:13-14). Furthermore, the "summoning" of the beast out of the sea by the dragon seems to indicate a large degree of control.(*Note) In any case, the unbelieving world will certainly see no great distinction between the two, worshiping antichrist as the Messiah and the devil as God (2Thes.2:4; Rev.13:4; 13:11-17; cf. Dan.11:38-39). The amazement and awe in which the beast will be held by the world at large will in no small measure account for the rapidity with which he will consolidate his rulership over the world following his astounding defeat of the southern alliance. Whatever charisma and success antichrist had before is now exponentially expanded as all resistance melts away. For in the eyes of unbelievers everywhere, resistance to this "divine" individual will seem folly, making antichrist's occupation of the remaining kingdoms of the world child's play.
*Note: Compare the fact that Gen.49:17, which speaks of antichrist, recalls Gen.3:15, which speaks of Satan. Consider also the scriptural parallel noted in part 3B between antichrist and Judas (who was possessed by the devil).
In our Lord Jesus,
Hi again Doc!
In 2 Thessalonians 2 it mentions a great lie. According to 2 Thess 2, none of the people who have
heard or understood and rejected the Gospel prior to the rapture will be able to be saved. They will be caused to believe a lie. You have stated before that it is referring to apostate Christianity.
I find it very interesting to note that there are many Christian authors today who are promoting the theory of the partial rapture in their books. I had read the first book of spin-off from the
"Left Behind" series from Mel Odom called "Apocalypse Dawn," and he clearly teaches that in his book. Which is kinda weird because he also teaches that about 1/3 of the world's population goes up in the rapture! So according to him, you have one third of the world as true Christians who are faithful, then you have even more of the world's population that is saved, but not living right at the time of the rapture. When I saw how wacky this author was when it came to exactly what salvation was, I did a search online for him - and he is the author of many occult books, books dealing with magic, with fantasy (in a series where characters become gods), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sabrina The Teenage Witch. No wonder he is off on his theology if he is dabbling in the occult! Do you think this is part of apostate Christianity? Or am I getting my facts confused. Thanks in advance!
2nd Thessalonians 2:10 is indeed talking about unbelievers – it doesn't specify whether they were ever believers first or for how long. In verse three of the same chapter Paul does talk about the Great Apostasy, telling us that it is one of the unmistakable things that "must take place" during the Tribulation before Christ's return (the revelation of antichrist being the other). You can find all this discussed in great detail at the following link: "The Great Apostasy".
It never ceases to amaze how much false information is out there. As you rightly point out, this particular "wacky" theory is so silly as to make no sense at all on the face of it. But somehow commercial success and putting such things in a cultural medium (as opposed to straightforward Bible teaching) seems to gain these people a hearing anyway. I think we can easily stipulate that "Christians" who are dabbling in the occult in any way are, if not already apostate, well into the process of becoming so.
On the seven kings in Rev 17:10, does the greek word 'eisi' mean 'they are'? If so, then it would seem that not ONLY are the 7 Heads of the Scarlet Abyss Beast symbolic of 7 Mountains (Kingdoms) but they ALSO symbolize 7 Kings as well. Therefore, the 7 Heads have a double symbolic meaning. Meanwhile, I have always viewed the 7 Heads as 7 literal Kingdoms with the 7 Kings corresponding to and being the respective Kings of those 7 Kingdoms/Mountains. Nonetheless, here is my question, "If 5 of the stated Kings had already fallen before John's day then, had their respective 5 Kingdoms fallen as well, seeing that the Passage would appear to suggest that both the Mountains and the Kingdoms are somewhat inseparable?"
Until His Trumpet Sounds,
On your questions: 1) Greek verbs have pronouns embedded (unlike English verbs); so whenever there is no expressed subject, one translates the embedded pronoun; in this case, since there is an expressed subject (i.e., the kings), one would never translate the "they"; this is a big difference between our two languages and it causes trouble for all my Greek students for the first year or so.
2) Revelation 17:10 explicitly states that there is a dual application: the 7 mountains are also to be understood as seven kings; the mountains are, in typical biblical symbolism, powers or kingdoms; but as seven kings they represent the rulers of the collective confederacy, Rome-come-revived Rome; at time of writing, Nero, the sixth, was still alive; antichrist is number seven, and "is not yet"; he is also "an eighth" as being not only the head of revived Rome but also the ruler of Babylon, the power center from which he advances to claim the rule of the revived Roman empire. Please see the links: in CT 3B: section III, "The Kingdom of the Beast", and on Nero and the "one of the seven and also an eighth", this link: CT 3B.
Please be so kind as to help clarify this for me.
The information below is a cut and past from your suggested internet article.
The seven heads: The seven heads primarily represent the seven rulers of revived Rome allied with antichrist from the beginning of his rise. In Revelation 17:9-11 we discover that they also have a secondary symbolic meaning, for they also represent the original six emperors of Rome with antichrist being the seventh emperor of revived Rome. In terms of the primary application of the seven heads, antichrist is "the eighth" (Rev.17:11a; i.e., he too is a "head", but a "head" in his own right and the primary "head" at that); in terms of the secondary application of the seven heads, antichrist is "one of the seven" (Rev.17:11b; i.e., he is the next dominant emperor to arise after Nero, the sixth and last of the Julio-Claudians falls from power in 69 A.D.)Ö
Here is my concern, in the above thesis what I see is ONLY 2 Kingdoms and they are the Old Roman Empire and the Revived Roman Empire with the 7 Heads of the Beast being 'double' referenced as the Kings of 'BOTH' of those Empires and, the AC being the 8th Head/King of the Revived Roman Empire while in the order of the 6 former Emperors of the Old Roman Empire the AC is the 7th Emperor of the Revived Roman Empire. Nonetheless, as stated before there are ONLY 2 Kingdoms represented - the Old and the Revived Roman Empires. However, Rev. 17:10 seems to suggest that there is a notable 'distinction' between the 7 Mountains and the 7 Kings.
Rev. 17:9-10: And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.  And they are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
As stated in my previous email, not only are the 7 Heads symbolic of 7 Mountains but they are ALSO 7 Kings. As such it seems that the 7 Mountains are symbolic of Kingdoms while the 7 Kings are just that – 7 Kings but, one is NOT the other. Meanwhile, this brings me back to my original concern regarding your above stated thesis – where are the other 5 Kingdoms? In summary, are you suggesting that the 7 Heads of the Scarlet Abyss Beast ONLY 'represent' 7 Kings and NOT 7 Empires?
Until His Trumpet Sounds,
Revelation 17 tells about both Babylon and revived Rome. Antichrist will rule both. But the double application of Rev.17:10 is explicitly stated to be not kingdoms and kingdoms but kingdoms and kings. It is in this latter respect that there are two ways to view the prophecy in heeding Rev.17:10's directions; in terms of kingdoms, the central core of revived Rome is composed of seven power centers; in terms of rulers or kings, original Rome has six (one of whom, Nero, was still alive when John wrote Revelation), but one of whom is antichrist who has not yet come and will take control not of historical Rome but of revived Rome from his power base ruling Babylon.
Thank you so very much for taking your valuable time to help me with this. Here is why I asked the previous questions I did. See below at what the NASB and the NIV, et. al. state regarding Rev. 17:10.
Rev. 17:10 NASB: and they are seven (A)kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.
Rev. 17:10 NIV: They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while.
Therefore, seeing the 7 Heads are BOTH 7 Mountains and ALSO 7 Kings would seem to suggest the two are 'inseparables', meaning if one fell then so would the other.
Until His Trumpet Sounds,
Part of the mix up has to do with the fact that this sentence is really in Rev.17:9, despite the fact that English versions put it into verse 10 (a small point since the verse divisions are only a few hundred years old, but it led to me misunderstanding what you were referring to as I consulted my Greek NT). Certainly, the "seven heads" are "seven mountains" and are also "seven kings", according to this section of chapter 17, so without any doubt there is a point of commonality between the vision and the two things which the vision represents. However, the fact that scripture goes out of its way to identify the heads as having two points of prophetic application, i.e., as both mountains and kings, should not be overlooked. The point of comparison is that all of this has to do with Rome and revived Rome. On the one hand, the heads represent future kings of the seven constituent kingdoms (mountains) of revived Rome; on the other hand they represent all the (first dynasty) ruling emperors of historical Rome – except for the seventh who has not yet appeared, namely antichrist who will be the ruler of revived Rome. That is why he is both "one of the seven" as in the prophetically considered line of succession and also "an eighth" as ruler of Babylon, the power center that allows him to gain ascendancy and control of revived Rome consisting of seven power spheres. So the two aspects which are brought together by the double application proclaimed in Rev.17:9-10 is the connection between historical Rome and prophetic, revived Rome as one and the same.
Hope this helps – thank you for your great patience, and sorry for any confusion along the way!