Lightening, Voices, and Thunder
Revelation 11:19 ESV Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
What is the context behind what John sees? Allow me to refresh your memory.
Revelation 11:17-18 ESV (17) saying, "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. (18) The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth."
I believe what we see here is the end of all things.
What do I base that assessment on? “Now is the time for the dead to be judged. It is time to reward your servants, the prophets, and to reward your holy people, the people, great and small, who respect you.”
If you have read Revelation all the way through then, you have a general idea of how things fall into place.
I have done some thinking and I need to clarify some things.
I have come to a point in life where I need to make something very clear. We the church have caused ourselves great harm and misunderstanding because we have attributed the terminology "tribulation" to the seven year period that begins in Revelation chapter 4, when it is a defined time of wrath and judgment from God being poured out upon the earth, the nations, and Israel for their rejection of Him.
Jesus, the Messiah that came as a lamb and offered himself up as our sacrifice, told us that in this world we would have tribulation. While that may come in many forms, such as illness, discomfort, or finance, the real tribulation seems to come from religious folk, and if Jesus, Paul or Stephen (of the New Testament) are our example, then beatings and death at the hands of these zealots are a possibility. Take the time to read 2Corinthians chapter 11. In it, Paul gives much detail about the things that happened to him, and takes pride in the fact that he could bear the marks of Christ.
Tribulation, many of you are buried up to your necks in it, and I pray for your strength and courage. But know this, as followers of the risen one we have a unquenchable hope, and that is eternity in the arms of Love himself, God the Father. I long for that day, but until then, I attempt to explain what is coming upon the earth, perhaps to warn those that will listen to avoid the horror that is yet to come. Others, I believe will come to know and understand the love and mercy of the Father. 7/11/2014
The general timing of things should look something like this:
1. Rapture of the church. - Sure, there are several schools of thought on this, but I lean heavily on a pre-tribulation rapture. I am also aware that you have to define tribulation, for without the raptures arrival tribulation is already running rampant in Muslim controlled nations. (1Thessalonians 4:17; Romans 5:9; 1Thessalonians 5:9; 1Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 3:10)
2. Immediately after the church being removed, the judgment begins. Jesus never said, this period in which the things that happen will be bad, migrating rapidly to worse is called the tribulation. What he did say was that it will be bad, and at the mid-point shall be a great tribulation. It is non-stop horror during the seven years, and Jesus said it would be so intense that unless God shortens time no one would survive it. (Revelation 4:1; Matthew 24: 21, 22)
Revelation 7:14 KJV 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.
If you notice, in Revelation 7:14, the speaker uses the phrase great tribulation, but it does not classify the seven year event as “The Great Tribulation.” It is merely pointing out a time of severity.
3. This seven-year period is also clearly established as a time of God's wrath and anger against the nations and Israel. As you read the Revelation, the things that begin to happen are categorized as being a part of the seals; the trumpets; the bowls and the vials. Needless to say, there is a tremendous amount of death, shaking, fire, and destruction.
· First seal judgment - Revelation 6:2 ESV And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.
· Second seal – Peace is taken from the earth. Rev 6:4
· Third seal – Widespread famine. Rev 6:6
· Fourth seal – Massive casualties over a fourth of the earth: from the famine, pestilence and predatory wild beasts. Rev 6:8
· Fifth seal – Tremendous numbers of God followers will be merciless martyred.
· Sixth seal – A devastating earthquake, accompanied by severe cosmic disturbances. People everywhere try to hide. Rev 6:12-17
· Seventh seal – Results in the unleashing of the trumpet judgments, which are even more catastrophic.
4. There is a mid-point to this seven-year period called the tribulation. Precisely what happens leading up to that point is not clear. A man that scripture calls: the anti-Christ, the beast, the Assyrian, and number of other things, will show up. He will be charismatic and well spoken (I believe that he will be Islamic). Islam calls this man the Mahdi, a long awaited prophet of Allah. He will bring Israel into a seven-year peace treaty. (Why would Israel sign a peace treaty unless there is a major issue with peace. Currently, January of 2013, and all seems quiet for Israel. Yes, there are the pending threats from Iran, Syria, Hamas, PLO, and others, but Israel acts like they are well defended and secure. Something drastic is going to change all that. Ezekiel 38,39 describes armies amassed against Israel, and a firestorm from the God wiping those armies out. Where exactly this fits into the seven-year scene, I am not sure. Joel Rosenberg portrays this happening [You can read a descriptive of this in his book The Copper Scroll] as right before the rapture of the church. If his scenario is true then this may happen any day.)
If you are going to be honest, as you look through these events, there has to be things that bother you. One of those issues is that Israel, for seven years, burns the weapons they pick up after this firestorm. I recently picked up a book called, “The End Times in Chronological Order” by Ron Rhodes. I think that my reading just brought about more confusion. If we take many of these things literal, as I think God wants us to, then how do we justify the seven-year burning of weapons? I cannot see Israel as having the freedom to do this under the reign of the anti-Christ, and he breaks the treaty with Israel at the three and one half year mark. Does not this tend to imply that the coming Gog/Magog war happens before the rapture? Since the players are rapidly falling into place, I cannot imagine why this does not happen any day now.
Many might ask at this point, why is this relevant, as we Christians are to be living in a position of expectancy. Look at Matthew 25 and you will find ten virgins all going to the same wedding. Five of those virgins did not bring enough oil. After demanding that the others give them of theirs they have to go out in the middle of the night and try to buy more (good luck with that.) When they came back, they found themselves locked out.
Great questions to ask right now would be – What is the oil, where can you get some, and if they were all going to the same wedding, aside from the obvious, why did they get locked out, and how can you prevent that from happening to you? I only posted a small portion of the judgments that Revelation says will be poured out upon the nations, and this stuff lasts for seven years. I, for one, do not want to be here.
In the book, “The End Times in Chronological Order” author Ron Rhodes takes the traditional, opposing approach, insisting that the anti-Christ must come from the Revised Roman Empire, and therefore be a European. What this says to me is that he chooses to ignore historical evidence, and refuses to consider the nations that were once the Roman Empire. Look at the nations that Muslim controlled in the Mid-East and you just about got your revised Roman Empire. Indulge yourself and read the Mideast Beast by Joel Richardson and you will find this all spelled out for you. Mr. Richardson does a fine job of refuting these traditional arguments.
At the mid-point of the seven years, this “world leader” will break the treaty with Israel, and another man will step into the scene with him. This man will be a Jew, a Muslim, of the priestly lineage, quite possibly a high priest, and the enforcer of Sharia law. Because something extraordinary will have given Israel the opportunity to rebuild the temple. This new personage, known as the false-prophet, will desecrate the new temple, set up an image of the beast (This will be an image of the Mahdi or this world leader), and will cause this image to talk. People will be forced to worship the beast, and to take a mark (something that clearly identifies you as a loyal convert to Islam).
All the while God is raining down wrath and judgment upon the earth.
4. Another thing that happens during the seven-year period will be the entrance of the two witnesses (they are witnesses to God's power and Word.) They will come from heaven, but may merely appear. I do not know how this will work. They are men that lived on the earth many years ago, but history records that they were taken to be with God without having to die. There is much discussion about who they are. The consensus is that Elijah the prophet will be one of them and Enoch may be the other, as neither of them died.
The two-witnesses stand in the streets of Jerusalem declaring the power and mercy of God. Should anyone try to kill them, and they will try, they have the power kill those who come against them with flames. Islam will see them as a great abhorrence to Allah and the teachings of Mohammad, and they will make every effort to kill these two.
The two-witnesses stand in the street for three and one half years preaching. As they do, they also shut off the rain wherever they choose for 1260 days, and inflict plagues upon people. One of the aspects that will jump out in the Jewish mind is the word plagues. This was is what happened at Moses hand, as God was working toward gaining Israel’s freedom from Egypt. Egypt fought against God and the plague aspect got worse with each refusal. I would like to think that what the two-witnesses do is not so dissimilar, as God tries to drive people toward him.
5. This seven-year period ends with the return of Jesus Christ. He will come with the armies of heaven and they will all be armed with swords. Jesus will destroy anything that chooses to fight against him. Once the fighting is over he will set up his new kingdom here on earth and the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven. The New Jerusalem is a real physical place because every nation remaining on the earth will be required to come and partake in the yearly feast of tabernacles, and they will be required to bow before him as they offer sacrifices.
Those that were slaughtered/martyred because they chose to follow Jesus Christ instead of worshiping the beast and taking his mark will reign over those that are left here. Yes, there will be plenty of people left here to merely live out their lives, free to come before God in humility at any time. Not sure how that works, but again, God is merciful beyond measure.
People cry out constantly that they want peace. I think that means that for the most part, they merely want to be able to do their thing without obstruction. Regardless this earth will live under a thousand-year reign of peace. Again, I am not sure how that plays out, but I do know that Satan, the one who created this fiasco, will be locked up for a thousand years. Therefore, if anyone chooses to raise a ruckus it will be by his or her own free will and I assume dealt with swiftly.
Again, I know that there are those that will laugh at this concept, but then why would God have trees planted all along the river that flows out from his throne, that have healing in their leaves for the nations. Clearly, the nations will need healing, and it sounds like that will be going on for the entire thousand-year period. Having finally seen the movie The Hobbit I noticed that the dwarfs were finally living in peace, with everybody just doing their job and life going on. Maybe in some ways earth during the thousand years will be like that; I do not know for sure.
6. At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be released.
For one thousand years the earth will be filled with people just living a peaceful life, having babies, and kids growing up. There is a chance that many will not know God. How that could happen I do not know, but then how is it possible that Satan could deceive these people and have many join with him in a last, foolish attempt to kill God. That of course is impossible and God has one last battle. The armies that come against him are killed in an instant, their fates sealed to eternal torment with the leader they followed.
The battle is over and God sets up a great white throne and from there judges the dead from the beginning of time.
You need to ask who is who?
· Those that are in Christ and caught away in the rapture, are not the dead spoken of here. Even the Apostle Paul said that those who are dead in Christ shall rise first then we, who are alive and remain, shall be caught up to meet him in the air.
· Old testament saints had the gospel preached to them by Jesus himself when he died on the cross. Salvation was made available to every man. Again, I can see that many of you refuse to believe that. The Apostle Paul told us that because of one man's sin death came into the whole world. That was all encompassing and destructive, but Christ's death did it one better, for in that it was just as encompassing, covering every man’s sins, instead of death, he brought life to all men. Merely accepting his life as yours brings you out of death into life.
Another aspect of the Old Testament saints was their obedience to the sacrifices. God had given them a representative way of finding the freedom from sin that he had promised. It really boiled down to their faith in the God they could not see. That act of believing did not seem to bother some people for we have the book of Hebrews, in the New Testament, that speaks of their faith and righteous acts.
· Israel – Though these were God's chosen, they did not choose him back. Sure, they clung to rituals, most of which they created, but refused to see the life in the laws God gave. Those very laws pointed them to the Messiah. He came and they refused him.
· The nations – This is a broad spectrum of people. To the Jew, anyone outside of Judaism would have been of the nations. The word Gentile is one that is commonly used, but Jesus life in us makes one with him. Paul said it this way, “we are flesh of his flesh if we are partakers of his body.” We do that by receiving his life as our own, therefore these that are in Christ are no longer gentiles. (Ephesians 2:15-19; Romans 16:25,26)
In terms of end time’s events, the nations are those that refuse to accept Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives. God is a personal God no matter how many accept him. The primary reference when we get to certain aspects of the Revelation is the Islamic nations.
Understand something here. The Revelation is a revealing of Jesus Christ. For some he will come with joy, for others he will come bringing vengeance.
8. At the last judgment, those that are dead are those that died without accepting Jesus Christ.
We whine about how the Lord cannot come until the last pygmy behind some bush hears of Jesus, but scripture tells us that no man will have an excuse, for God placed his moral law inside every one of us. It is the thing that tells you that killing people just for a whim is not right. What you do in response to that moral law is your responsibility, and a bill you will have to pay.
Standing before the judgment seat, a time that we might see as hopeless, God still shows mercy in that he separates the people into two groups. One group he calls the sheep and invites them into the kingdom. The other he calls goats and sends them off to follow their leader Satan into eternal torment. Those that received mercy seemed stunned for they ask what did we do to deserve this kindness. His response to them is, because when I was hungry you fed me; when I was thirsty you gave me a drink; when I was cold you kept me warm; when I was in prison you came to visit me, and when you saw me in need you came to my aid. For when you have done this unto the least, you have done it unto me. (Read this in Matthew 25)
In my mind, this is definable as people that demonstrated something other than a consistent life of selfishness.
The last aspect of the verse I began with states, “and should destroy them which destroy the earth.” I call it anything other than selflessness. Striving to only take care of me makes me very selfish, and God deems these people destroyers of the earth. I am sure they do not see it that way, but I guess that is the way they are.
Written ahead of time so that you can know, God desires to show mercy, and he is invading the dreams of people all over the globe. Jesus is coming to people in dreams and visions inviting them to follow him. He is even directing them to the appropriate people, people that have an understanding of scripture, in an effort to win their hearts, and they are coming in untold numbers.
How many ways can he say it to you, he loves you with an everlasting love. He already proved his commitment by sending Jesus to die on the cross for you.