Eschatology

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Almost all the churches in my area have climbed in the handbasket of LaHaye's LEFT BEHIND series, even as far as weekly studies to prove it's true, and sermons quoting verbatim passages of those books while the Holy Bible is left behind.

I sincerely believe this pre-trib rapture theory, taught as Truth, is part of the end-times apostacy, deceiving "even the elect." It is also the only eschalogical teachings I've heard in the last 10 years or so, at least various parts of that interpretation of Revelation.

Okay, so I don't believe any of the pre-trib rapture theories in circulation today. I decided to pursue studies on the other eschalogical theories and prophecies.

First, I found Steve Wohlburg's TRUTH LEFT BEHIND (www.truthleftbehind.com) This book made a huge impact on me! It starts with historical fulfillment of Daniel's prophecies then lays out prophecies of Revelation that eerily match today's current events. In this book, his matching of people places and times are an EXACT fit, not current events and handy politicians twisted to fit into prophecy. All of a sudden, several books are jumping off my bookshelf in support of Mr. Wohlburg's belief of the Mark of the Beast, but it also left me feeling that this is just a small part of it.

I did a websearch on this subject, End-time Prophecy, and came up with a whole herd of horses of different colors! From incomprehensible babble with no biblical support to those claiming to refute Steve Wohlburg's book, to the same teachings of LEFT BEHIND without the pre-trib rapture and many political dissertations.

I would like to discuss with mature Christians the interpretations of biblical prophecies, current prophetic messages and the end-times churches. Can we do that?

-- Anonymous, December 03, 2001

Answers

Laura, sure we can, even though my time is fairly limited. I'm gonna invite a good friend of mine to also join in. I'd like to recommend one book that is very helpful. It's brief, but it's the very best treatment I've seen of the book of Revelation, The Lamb and His Enemies, by Dr. Rubel Shelly. Published by 21st Century Christian.

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2001

Dear Laura,

Thanks so much for your interest in spiritual matters. The LaHaye/Jenkins books are best sellers and can be found all over the country. They espouse so much error, and I am glad that you see that.

I want to make a few points about the end times:

When Jesus Comes Again: 1. Jesus will find wickedness and unfaithfulness on earth (Lk. 17:26- 30; 18:8). 2. The dead will hear his voice and be raisedXboth the righteous and the unrighteous. (John 5:25-29; 1 Thess. 4:13-17). 3. This will be the end of death (1 Cor. 15:26,55; Rev. 20:14). 4. Living Christians will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye to have an immortal body (1 Cor. 15:51ff.) 5. Then Christians will be caught up to be with the Lord in the air and ever be with Him there (1 Thess. 4:16-17). 6. God will take vengeance in flaming fire upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel (2 Thess. 1:7-9). 7. The earth and its works will be burned up (2 Pet. 3:10-12; Matt. 24:35; Rev. 20:11.). 8. The devils work will end, and his torment will begin (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10). 9. Christ will be glorified in his saints (2 Thess. 1:10-12). 10. All people will be gathered before the great white throne and separatedXthe righteous from the unrighteous (Rev. 20:11-15; Matt. 25:31-46; John 5:22; 2 Tim. 4:1). The "day of salvation" will have passed (2 Cor. 6:1,2). 11. Each person will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and be judged according to his works (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:12- 15). 12. Christ will deliver up the kingdom to God (1 Cor. 15:23-24). 13. The unrighteous will be cast into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 20:14,15; 21:8; 22:15). 14. The righteous, whose names are in the Lambs book of life, whose robes are washed, will enter the city and have a right to eat of the tree of life (John 5:29; Rev. 22:14; cf. 1 Pet. 1:3-5; John 14:1-3). We will enter the place he has prepared for us. Christians should be: h looking for His coming and preparing ourselves (2 Pet. 3:12). h eagerly waiting His coming for His coming (1 Cor. 1:7; 1 Thess. 1:10; James 5:7). h continuing to endure until it happens (Matt. 25:1-13). h doing what is necessary to prepare for His coming (Matt. 24:44; 25:14-30). h love His appearing (2 Tim. 4:8); rejoice at His coming (1 Pet. 4:13). h those who refuse to obey will be afraid and mourn (Heb. 10:31; Rev. 1:7; 6:15-17). The Second Coming of Christ Acts 1:6-11 Godet said the history of the world in its essential character is summed up in three sayings: He is coming; He has come; and He is coming again. We live between two visits of the Lord. The first is history; the second is prophecy. (Heb. 9:27,28) The Certainty of His Coining h John 14:1-3 "If it were not so, I would have told you" h Acts 1:6-11 He will come in the same manner as you see Him ascending h 1 Cor 11:26 our supper proclaims His death "until He comes" The Manner of His Coming h Personal "this Jesus" (Acts 1:6-11) "I will come again" (John 14:1- 3) h Audible (1 Thess. 4:16) h Visible (Rev. 1:7; 1 John 3:2) h In the clouds (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:16-18) h Jesus will not set foot on the earth (2 Pet. 3:7) h In the glory of God and the angels and fire (Matt. 16:27; 25:31; 2 Thess. 1:5-9; Tit 2:11-14; Heb. 9:27,28) The Time of His Coming h Malt 24:35-25:13 Jesus himself does not know the day nor hour h 1 Thess. 5:1-5 "like a thief in the night" (no one knows when a thief comes) h 2 Pet. 3:3-10 "like a thief in the night" (unexpected) What He Will Do h Sound the Trumpet: 1 Thess. 4:16; 1 Cor. 15:52 h Christ will appear in Glory with His angels: Acts 1:9-11; Rev. 1:7 h Christ will bring back with Him those who have Died: 1 Thess 4:13- 17 h The Dead will be raised: John 5:28,29; 1 Car. 15:20-23; 1 These. 4:13-18 h Resurrected Saints and changed, living Christians will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air: 1 Thess. 4:15-17; Malt. 24:40,41; 1 Cor. 15:52 h Judgment: 1 Tim. 4:1; Matt. 25:3146; Rev. 20:11-15; Malt. 7:21- 23. h The Earth and Its Works to Be Burned up 2 Pet. 3:10-15; Heb. 1:10,1 1; Malt. 24:34, 35. h Christ will Deliver His Kingdom to the Father: 1 Cor. 15:23-28 h Christians will receive their inheritance: 1 Car. 15:50; 1 Pet. 1:3- 5 h Those whose names are not written in the Lambs Book of Life will be cast in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone: Rev. 20:11-15 The Judgment By What Will We Be Judged h By the Word of God John 12:48;Rom.2:16; Rev. 20:12;James2:12 h By our words Matt. 12:32-37; Jude 15 h By our thoughts Matt. 5:22,28; Eccl. 12:14; Jer. 17:10; Rev. 2:23 h By our actions Malt. 10:43; Rom. 2:5-11; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:llff.; Eccl. 12:13; Rev. 1l:18;22:12;Matt. 25:31-46;Matt. 16:27; Gal. 6:7,8 h By our secrets Rom. 2:16; 1 Cor. 4:5; Mk. 4:22 h By sins of omission James 4:13-17 h By the use of talents Malt. 25:14-30; Lk. 19:12-27; John 15:5-8 All People Will Be Judged h The dead and the living 2 Tim. 4:1; 1 Pet. 4:5; Rev. 20:12 h All will be gathered Malt. 25:31-33; Heb. 9:27; 12:23; Eccl. 3:17 h Those who do not believe Mark 16:16; John 3:18; John 8:24 h Those who do not believe the truth 2 Thess. 2:12 h Angels will be judged 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; 1 Cor. 6:3 h Fornicators and adulterers Heb. 13:4 h Judgment will begin with the house of God 1 Pet. 4:17 h Satan was judged by the death of Jesus John 12:31; 16:8-11 h Against all ungodliness and unrighteousness Rom. 1:18; John 3:19,36 How God Will Judge Various People h Teachers will receive a stricter judgment James 3:1; Mk. 12:38-40 h Those who know the will of God will receive greater punishment Lk. 12:42-48 h Those who neglect advantages increase condemnation Mt. 11:20-24; Lk. 11:29-32 h Those who turn from God will be punished worse than unbelievers 2 Pet. 2:20-22 h God judges impartially Rom. 2:11; Acts 10:34; Col. 3:25 h God judges righteously 1 Pet. 2:23; Rev. 16:17; 19:2; 2 Tim. 4:8; Ps. 98:9; Acts 17:3 1 h God rewards the righteous 2 Tim. 4:8; Heb. 10:35-38 h God will punish the wicked Malt. 13:40-42; 25:46; Heb. 10:26-31 h How God will punish heathens Rom. 2:12-15 h How God will judge the Jews Rom. 2:15 h The religiously deceived and deceiving Matt. 7:21-27; Tit. 3:10,11; 1 Pet. 2:7,8; 2 Pet. 2:1-10 The Place of Christ in the Judgment h God gave judgment into the hands of Christ John 5:22; Acts 10:42; 17:31. h Jesus first came not to judge but to save John 3:17; 12:47 h But his coming separates the good from the evil and thereby judges Mt. 10:34; Jn. 9:39 h The work of Christ prior to Judgment Heb. 7:24; 1 Tim. 2:3-6; 1 John 2:1,2 The Day of Judgment is called h Day of God 2 Pet. 3:12 h Day of the Lord 2 Pet. 3:10; 1 Thess. 5:2 Lord Jesus 1 Cor. 5:5; 1:8 h Day of Christ Phil. 2:16 h That Day 2Thess. 1:10 h The last day Jn. 12:48 h The great day Jude 6 h Day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God Rom. 2:5 h Great day of their wrath Rev. 6:17 h Great day of Almighty God Rev. 16:14 h Day of Judgment 1 John 4:17; Matt. 10:15; 11:22,24; 12:36; Mk. 6:11; 2 Pet. 2:9; 3:7 h Day of visitation 1 Pet. 2:12 Who will be in the Judgment? Acts 17:30,31 Man's most urgent task is to prepare to meet God. Judgment day is the great day of all; it is the culmination and consummation of the Christian system and the eternal purpose of God. The thought of such a day is often vague and "far off"; we are too prone to live for today. Eccl. 8:11 says, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil." The certainty of just such a day is proven by the resurrection; that day truly is the "last day." John 6:44 says we will be raised on the "last day." John 12:48 says the words of Jesus will judge men at the "last day." Who will be In the Judgment? h Rev. 20:11-15 every person great and small of all ages h Jude 14,15 the ungodly will be judged h Matt. 7:21-23 religious people who practice lawlessness h 1 Cor. 4:5 secret sins will be brought to light h Luke 10:13-15 those who have lived beneath their opportunities; some have had many opportunities but never grasped them. h Matt. 13:41 those who are in the church (cf. 1 Pet. 4:17,18; Rom. 14:10-12) h Matt. 5:7; James 2:13 the merciful and the unmerciful h Matt. 25:31-46 those who have done good and those who have neglected to do good h 2 Thess. 1:7-9 those who know not God and those who do not obey the gospel Christ Will Be There As Our Savior and Our Judge 1. We can rejoice in the fact that He knows and loves us 2. What will matter is if we are in His kingdom, the church, if we have been washed by His blood, if we have been faithful, and if our name is written in the Lamb's book of Life 3. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:6-11) 4. Gen. 18:25 "Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Favoritism or emotional outcries will not sway God. Each one will receive according to his works (Rom. 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-15). Laura, the idea that some will be raptured and others left behind simply contradicts the Scripture (John 5:28-29).

I hope these studies help. Please write if you have some specific questions. Phil@God-answers.org

God bless, Phil

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2001


Thank you all!!! Laura for telling me about this, Randal for the board, and Phil for the study....I feel very much as Laura does and my church and family all believe in pre trib. Having studied it with them I see there is a lot that may make you think that, but there seems to be a preponderance of scripture that strongly opposes the position as well.

Thanks again and God bless all of you!

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2001


Hey Laura! I appreciate your interest in truth. I too have wondered about what the end of this age will be like, and I still have many unanswered questions. But what we need to know, I believe God has revealed in His Word.

I would enjoy participating in this discussion with the others. Could you narrow your question down a bit -- or maybe put out two or three specific questions? Then we could all be on the same page in the discussion.

I'll be waiting... and thinking and praying in the meantime.

Mike Eaton Tennessee

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2001


Okay here are my questions. I really want to explore the valid options and the reasoning behind them.

Do all or most Christians believe that the 1st beast is the Roman Catholic church or the Papacy, Office of Pope and is a fulfillment of Daniel's prophecies?

Who is the second beast who conforms to "the image of the first beast"? Is this Protestant America? Such as Christian Coalition trying to legislate morality?

What is the "mark of the beast?" A physical mark such as the obviously popular tatoo or microchip, or a spiritual mark from our thought (forehead)and our doing(right hand)

-- Anonymous, December 06, 2001



I'd like to join the discussion with saying that I believe that the book of Revelation is a sort of continuation of the book of Daniel. God told Daniel to close the book then told John to open the book. Also that the prophesies in Revelation were fulfilled in 70 A.D. at the destruction of Jerusalem. Throughout the books of the Old Testament Prohets, God warned the Jews over and over that He was going to destroy that system of things. How can we switch over from that to Revelation pointing to Rome or the Catholic church? The widest held theory is that John wrote Revelation AFTER 70 A.D. but my study has led me to believe that he wrote it prior to that. I fought this belief for quite a while, but after 3 years studying Revelation in Bible class, I found that it made so much sense. I don't claim to have all the answers about it, just a different way of looking at it.

-- Anonymous, December 06, 2001

I don't know what most Christians believe about the 1st beast in Revelation. My guess is that most Christians would say they don't know who or what the first beast is. That's because they haven't really studied it, maybe because it seems too difficult to understand.

For those who have studied Revelation, their interpretation of the 1st beast as well as other images in the book is usually consistent with their own view of Revelation overall. Some for example believe The Book of Revelation to be a revealing of the entire future, covering all events from the time John wrote until the end of time as we know it. I do not subscribe to this theory.

In order to interpretet Revelation correctly, I believe we have to start with Chapter 1, the first few verses. John made three significant statements that give the keys to intepreting the whole book: These things are shortly to come to pass; the time for them is at hand; they are sent and signified. These sign-ified (emphasis on sign) images, visions, symbols, signs, are to be interpreted symbolically or figuratively. Maybe most significant here are the other two statements. The events prophesied in Revelation were to happen shortly, their time was at hand or very near. It is difficult for me to imagine how a Roman Catholic vision or a Protestant America interpretation could be encorporated into a series of visions about things that were about to start happening in John's era.

Revelation was about things soon to happen, thus most of the visions have already been fufilled. Revelation was not written TO 21-century readers. Watch it now! Revelation was written FOR us in this modern century. It has been preserved for our benefit. But it was not written TO us. It was written TO the early Christians, specifically the churches of Asia Minor, about their specific problems. Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, modern-day warfare and all the other modern interpretations of Revelation were completely foreign to the early Christians. We must put on 1st-century eye glasses and seek to understand Revelation the way its first readers understood it in order to get the correct interpretation.

More to follow...

Mike Eaton

-- Anonymous, December 07, 2001


Who are the two beasts in the Book of Revelation?

I believe the 1st, the beast from the sea (13:1) represents Imperial Rome as personified in its emporers. I believe the 2nd, the beast form the earth (13:11-12) represents the body of priests which guided and enforced emperor worship throughout the Roman Empire. These interpretations make sense if we read Revelation through first- century eyeglasses.

The Roman government was persecuting the church terribly. The emporer Domitian had statues of himself produced and placed throughout various cities. He ploclaimed himself "God" and demanded that his stature be worshipped as "God." The 1st-century Christians could have have easily seen the fist beast as representing Rome and the second beast representing the cultic priests who mandated and orchestrated the worship of the emporer.

The second beast had the appearance of a lamb, attempting to take the place of the Lamb of God (Christ). He worked deceptive signs (13:13- 14). His mark, 666, is representative of imperfection. Seven is the perfect, complete number of the Bible. Six means falling short of perfection. To repeat it three times (6, 6, 6) is to further emphasize the fact that the second beast was clearly unable to take the place of the true Lamb. He was incomplete, incomplete, incomplete!

I believe these interpretations coincide with John's "keys" to understanding Revelation provided in 1:1ff. These things are signs or symbols to be interpreted figuratively not literally. They were about things shortly to come to pass and thus things that the 1st- century readers would have understood.

Those first readers were putting their lives on the line to practice a "religio illicita," and illegal religion in the Roman Empire. They would have seen in The Book of Revelation hope for a brighter future: Rome will be destroyed, and the church will be victorious over her persecutors!

Mike Eaton

-- Anonymous, December 10, 2001


Laura, et al.

First, let me say I appreciate Phil Sanders response - the scriptures cited should certainly put to rest some of the errors in the left behind series. And I agree with Mike Eaton that what we need to know is in the Bible. I'm gratified by the participation of so many so rapidly. May God bless us all as we study.

The word rapture doesn't even appear in scripture, but refers to the "carrying away" of the saints. This is certainly described in 1 Thessalonians 4, where it is stated that the saints will be "caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air". The statement is also made that those caught up will "ever be with the Lord". There is no valid scriptural statement that the Lord will ever set foot on this earth again, but we are told we'll rise to meet Him in the air. And we're told we'll inhabit new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness (2 Peter 3).

The fifth chapter of 1 Thessalonians continues by reminding us that the Lord's return can't be predicted. It'll come as a thief in the night. This doesn't necessarily mean His return will be at nighttime, but simply that we can't know exactly when it will be. Jesus said not even the angels know the day and hour of His return (Matthew 24:36). It's interesting that this very passage in Matthew is used in support of the rapture doctrine.

The kingdom and the Lord's church are synonymous terms. Paul told the Colossians (Colossians 1:13)that God had translated them into the kingdom of His dear son. That's, translated, past tense. And as the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15:24) were told, when the end comes, Jesus will deliver up the kingdom to the Father, rather than just then establishing it upon the earth. His kingdom was not an earthly kingdom anyway (John 18:36).

Regarding the interpretation of the beasts of the Revelation, I don't think there can be said to be a genuine consensus of opinion on that. Also, just for clarification, I assume the two beasts you're referring to are the "sea beast" and the "land beast" of Revelation 13. One thing that's noteworthy is that the sea beast was given power by the dragon of chapter 12, who is specifically identified as Satan. The second beast exercised all the power of the first beast, thus its power also derived from Satan. I would suggest that you read James Burton Coffman's comments on this chapter and its correlation to Daniel. It seems reasonable to me that the beasts are representative of various agents of Satan throughout history, certainly including, but not limited to, the papacy. And Coffman's view that the 1st beast represents secular agents of Satan while the second represents religious agents seems valid when one considers that the papacy evolved from the secular Roman government. The discussion of the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2 also seems to fit the papacy. However, it should at least be considered that these symbols might have multiple manifestations throughout history. Satan certainly appears differently at different times (2 Corinthians 11:14,15).

Regarding the "mark of the beast". I feel that it's no more literal a mark than the name written in the foreheads of the 144,000 as stated in Revelation 14:1. So I'd certainly concur that it refers to our thought and our doing. But these spiritual marks are no less real than if they were physical! And having one's name written in the book of life is a wonderful reality, regardless of that books physical status.

And Jo, it's also noteworthy that John was told NOT to seal (close) the prophecy of the Revelation. Coffman also prefers the early date for Revelation, and supports his preference with some good data.

Emmett Smith Paragould, AR

-- Anonymous, December 10, 2001


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