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The Coming Tribulation and the Kingdom of God

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Question #1:  

Hey Bob,

I was thinking, the speculating type, about the Tribulation and why Christians would find antichrist so appealing. Some of it may be a sense of revenge masked as "righteous anger" for the failures of the human rulers and society excesses in the period leading up to the beginning of the Trib. If we look at the religious wars in Europe for the 16th and 17th centuries, a lot of cruelty took place in the name of Christianity. People will persecute others thinking they're obeying God just like Saul (Paul) did before he was confronted on the Damascus road. There were missionaries who thought the ChiComs closing of the brothels and opium dens and talk of land reform was a good thing until the reality of that evil hit them.

I was watching a program on the History channel about ancient religions and how their priests would fake sounds coming from statues, i.e. idols, to awe the worshipers and make them think the gods were speaking. I thought it sounded like the antichrist idol in Jerusalem during the Tribulation. It may be more sophisticated than air being blown thru pipes but it still isn't God. Nothing new under the sun.

Response #1: 

These are excellent precedents indeed. They demonstrate that one gift of history, for those who care to take advantage of it, is an illumination of present and future events in a way that ought to allow us to avoid the mistakes of the past, at least in part. Of course, it is a common assumption nowadays that people of the past were "stupid" and we are "smart" (not put in such gross terms, but the attitude is ubiquitous if only in the assumption that history is not really important). The irony of course is that the smarter a person assumes they are, the more likely they are to be taken in.

Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Proverbs 26:12 NIV

It really is amazing to contemplate how many people – and how many Christians – are prophesied to get taken in by the beast and his false prophet.

Your pal in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Hi Doc!

Have you heard about the mass amount of dead birds falling from the sky in Arkansas? and the mass amount of dead fish? I've heard numerous explanations for these occurrences and one explanation given to me from a Christian friend is that this is a sign of the end times and the near return of Jesus. Is this taking it a little too far? I think it is, and I think that some people take the issue of the end times too far in the sense that they relate anything that is out of the ordinary to something biblical. I eagerly await the return of the Love of my Life, but I won't go as far as to say that these occurrences are of biblical proportions. Although I could be wrong. What do you think?

Response #2: 

When it comes to contemporary events, on the one hand, there are no biblical prophecies to be fulfilled before the Tribulation actually begins. When it does begin, the heavenly signs and wonders prophesied to occur will make it immediately obvious beyond dispute, but there are no special signs that either make its coming unmistakable or give us a time-table for it – beyond what scripture has to say about the "clock". For the former, please see the link "Signs of the Tribulation", and "signs of the Tribulation?"; for the latter, the link "2026". On the other hand, it is hard to know whether or not the upheavals in the world are "signs of the times" (and it is true that it is wise to pay attention to trends abroad in the world), or whether it is just that we live in such a media rich world that we now hear about things that otherwise would never have come to our attention. Any way one slices it, however, I believe it is pretty clear that we are getting close to the end.

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #3:  

Good morning, Bob,

How nice of you to respond to my email. I am glad that you are willing to take correspondence because I did have a comment/question for you:

First, I was surprised that you made no mention of Chernobyl (aka "Wormwood") in regard to the third trumpet judgment. Back in 1986, when that happened, I was startled and motivated to start watching closer. Because of the wormwood connection, I had always expected that the third trumpet judgment would be radioactive.

Secondly, I am wondering what you think about the Gulf Oil Spill disaster and its obvious similarity with the second trumpet judgment. A burning oil platform would seem very similar to a mountain burning with fire. In addition to many descriptions of the oil appearing red (as blood), you may also have heard that the dispersant has caused bleeding (actual blood) in clean-up workers, fishermen and unsuspecting beach-goers. There is no question that virtually all sea life in the Gulf is dead or in mortal danger. (We do have a friend in Biloxi who continues to fish within the barrier islands and eat. Another friend who used to be head of the Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, says he wouldn't think of eating that fish). We suspected that the build-up of methane in the Gulf would result in the loss of actual ships (as in the Bermuda Triangle) but haven't heard any reports regarding that. News coming out of that area is so controlled, it is difficult to learn much. Economically, the life-blood of fisherman (with their ships) has been destroyed.

I would have been convinced that this was the second trumpet judgment except I could see no first trumpet event. Now I wonder if the Gulf Oil disaster was either a presaging event to keep us vigilant, or a counterfeit of Satan. Do you have thoughts on this?

Thank you again for your wonderful work, an oasis in a dry land for me.

Response #3: 

It's my pleasure. On your questions, I am very leery of seeing prophetic implications in current events. That is because 1) in my reading of scripture there is no unfulfilled prophecy between the close of the canon in ca. 68 A.D. and the commencement of the Tribulation (circa 2026; see the link). We will most definitely know when the Tribulation has started, since the commencement will be accompanied by "thunderous voices and flashes of lightning and an earthquake" which will be perceptible worldwide (Rev.8:5). Also, the trumpet judgments of warning will likewise be unmistakable. The first burns up a third of the world's vegetation – literally; the second turns a third of the sea into literal blood; the third poisons a third of all fresh water; the fourth reduces the light of the sun et al. by a literal third. These and the other trends and prophecies of the Tribulation will be impossible to miss or to misconstrue. They are going to be far worse than any natural disaster of which we presently have experience. Besides the length of the Church Age (two millennia) and its proportion of believers in Christ's assembly (the lion's share), the only thing scripture has to say in a prophetic way about the events of this period are the trends of the seven Church eras following the apostles (i.e., the seven churches of Revelation 2-3; see the link). So if we were in the midst of the Tribulation, we would definitely know it, but we have no specific prophetic "map" to follow until it begins. Once it begins, of course, we shall have a wealth of detail not only regarding the time-line but also in respect to all the major trends and developments that will take place (including the Great Apostasy and the Great Persecution; see the links). The purpose of the Coming Tribulation series is to lay all of this out in full detail, along with the evidence.

I think you make a very good point about "counterfeits". The evil one is always looking to lead Christians astray from the truth. Getting them to find their "spiritual food" on television instead of in the Bible is a very effective means of destroying true spiritual growth.

On the particulars in question, you might want to start with the following links:

Things to Come

Signs of the Coming Tribulation (in CT 2B)

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus for whose return we so anxiously wait.

Bob L.

Question #4:  

Dear Robert,

I have been a Christian all of my adult life. I found your website recently when I was looking for a timeline relating to archeology. The timeline you have for the time of the Tribulation is compelling. It makes sense to me, and it scares me too. I want to know what kind of accommodations will you make as the time approaches. Will you quit your job, move to a more rural area, stockpile foods? Or are we meant to live as we do now, as believers, but with no extra preparation?

Thank you,

Response #4: 

Very good to make your acquaintance. It's an excellent question. I plan to take it up in detail in the final installment of Coming Tribulation (part 7), but have already addressed the issue several times before. Personally, I believe that the two most commonly considered options, namely, "fight and flight", will both be inappropriate during the unique circumstances of the Tribulation. That is because 1) there is no way to beat antichrist until Jesus does so; 2) there is no place to run from antichrist since he will come to control the entire world. There are exceptions to these two rules of thumb but in each case they involve Israel. Those who respond to the ministry of the 144,000 will be a special target of the devil and his son, but will be brought to sanctuary in the desert to await the second advent (see the link: in CT 4 "The Dragon's Persecution of Believing Israel: Revelation 12:13-17"). Also, Israel will fight antichrist prior to the second advent, but this will be a secular undertaking and will only be rescued from utter defeat by the return of Christ.

For believers who enter the Tribulation, it seems to me that our main function will be one of the witness we are to bear to the truth, regardless of the opposition or persecution we will face. Many will be called upon to be martyred for Jesus during the Great Persecution. It seems to me that knowing ahead of time all these things, it little behooves us as Christians to plan to run away (as that is pointless) or to plan to wage some sort of a guerrilla war (also doomed to failure). If it were not the Tribulation we were talking about but the occupation of our country by some foreign power, then of course we would seek to leave for a better place or to fight in a godly way. But the fact that there will no more independent nations and that antichrist will be "the law" on earth seems to obviate either course of action and instead to put us as believers into the situation of having to continue to do what is right with courage and suffer the consequences. That is to say, our situation will be more like that of Daniel and his friends than of, say, David and his men.

The Tribulation is, I suppose, a potentially terrifying prospect – or at least it should be for all Christians who are not spiritually prepared. It has been a major concern of (and motivation for) this ministry to do what can be done ahead of time to help to alleviate that overall lack of preparedness. If we are ready to follow Jesus to the end, then whatever dark times we face can be the making of our spiritual growth and of our eternal reward. If we are not ready, then we stand not only to have a very difficult time of things to no particular good purpose, but also to fall away in the Great Apostasy. No amount of material preparation will be able to really anticipate or reasonably cope with the tremendously difficult circumstances to come. That is why spiritual preparation is the only preparation that makes sense – and it more than makes sense: it is the only way that those who face those times are likely be in a position to honor our Lord through noble and sanctified conduct. If we are grumbling, whining, complaining with the tests we have now, what of the Tribulation? And woe to us if we are not using our time wisely to stock up on truth in our hearts, understood, believed, and tested in the crucible of life. For once the darkness falls, not only will it be very late in the game to begin to do anything about it, but it will also be that much more difficult to find a good source of truth as antichrist begins to eradicate all such offensive elements from his kingdom.

As I say, I have written some things about this before. You will find them salted away in the Satanic Rebellion series and in the Coming Tribulation series, but please see also the following specific links:

A Brief Christian Code of Conduct for the Tribulation (in CT 4)

Preparing for the Great Tribulation

Survivalism (in Things to Come II)

The End Times and Motivation (in CT 1)

More on "Code of Conduct" in the Tribulation

I do hope this is some help to you. Please feel free to write me back about any of this.

In anticipation of the glorious light on the other side of that dark day, the return of dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

Question #5:  

Dear Robert,

Thank you for your reply to my question and I have been thinking a lot about what you have told me. I understand that storing extra food, etc. will not change what is to happen during the tribulation, (i.e. many believers will die) but many believers who don't take the mark will survive to see Jesus return. I believe God has allowed believers to realize what is going to happen in order to plan for it-so that some may survive. As the time of the tribulation comes closer believers will need some kind of network to be able to survive. Is there a plan for this yet?

Response #5: 

It's a good question, and a hard one to answer beyond what I have already said, but I will give it a try. It is true that I cannot state dogmatically that it would be wrong for believers to "plan to survive" the Tribulation, but in my considered personal view of the matter it would indeed be a bad idea to make such a plan, let alone to act on it (except, that is, for the plan of preparing spiritually to face anything that may transpire). There are a number of reasons for this:

1) The unpredictable nature of the Tribulation. While we do have an awful lot of information about the end times in scripture (and the Coming Tribulation series has/is attempting to bring all such data together in one place in order to lay out the history of the apocalypse as scripture describes it), when it comes to the specific details of much of what will be happening in places like the US during that time we are largely in the dark. We know about the big events; we know about the major trends; we do not know about precisely how the beast will gain control of this country, or who he will be, or what his political and religious program will entail in its specifics. I have speculated on some of these matters as far as scripture allows me to do so, but suffice it to say there is so much we don't know that making any sort of judgment now about future organization (essentially = politics) or material preparations is almost certainly going to miss the mark. We do know, however, that the Tribulation will try the hearts and minds of earth's inhabitants as at no time before or since (Matt.24:21; Mk.13:19). That being the case, an ounce of spiritual preparation will surely prove to be of more value than a pound of hypothesizing or stockpiling. Since fully one third of believers are prophesied to fall away during the pressures of that trying time (see the link: "The Great Apostasy"), we can be sure that the spiritual pressures will outweigh the material ones, as great as the latter may be. We cannot predict the precise threats to our faith that the beast's religious and political activities will entail, but we do know that if we are personally ill-prepared in a spiritual sense, no social support or personal hoard will save us from falling away.

2) God's purpose for us in the Tribulation: God tells us at Revelation 13:10: "If it is necessary for anyone to be put to death by the sword, by the sword he must be put to death. Herein lies the perseverance and the faithfulness of the holy ones." While it is true that some believers will survive the Tribulation, it is also true that God's express purpose for others during that time of testing will be martyrdom. The entire complement of the 144,000 will be martyred along with the two witnesses, Moses and Elijah. Thus we may be sure that martyrdom will be a great compliment from God to those who are chosen to endure it. Naturally, none of us want (or should want) to be put to death; but as Christians we should all be willing to die for the Lord who died for us – should that be His will for us. We cannot know at present how these things will turn out during the Tribulation, but I think it is fair to say that if we have committed ourselves to a course of "survival" ahead of time, we will at least be leaning in the wrong direction if it should be our Lord's will to make use of us in this unique way. The tribulational martyrs will be witnesses to the entire world of men and angels both that the power of God's truth is greater to them than their own lives – and will be rewarded accordingly for all eternity. Planning is often necessary, although scripture is very clear that we are to be wary of putting too much stock in plans (Jas.4:13-17), and if this planning is ever the result of worry (Matt.6:25-34), or if it should ever occasion greed in keeping our stockpiles to ourselves, then we are definitely out of line . The Tribulation will be a unique time wherein there will be no safe-haven in the world to which a sagacious person might otherwise repair; there will be no place to hide and no way to resist in any effective way the beast's gaining of control of the entire world. Since scripture is clear on that point, actions which are taken under the "old rules" of how things work now before the Tribulation will be largely missing the point, and such a mind-set could lead a person into doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. In my view, believers should steel themselves ahead of time to continue as before as law-abiding citizens in whatever country they find themselves, drawing the line on spiritual matters only: preferring death to taking the mark or worshiping the beast.

3) The counter-intuitive nature of prior tribulational preparation: The Tribulation will be a unique period of history in many ways. The fact of world-wide satanic control with no safe-haven will mean that for any idea of a "resistance movement" in particular there will be no comparable prior experience to use as a model. In the past, individuals who were opposed to national religious policies were able to flee to sympathetic countries or to uninhabited quadrants of the globe – or at least to make common cause with a large plurality of their fellow countrymen (with usually some region of a polity experiencing religious revolution holding to the previous views and being willing to defend them). None of these conditions will obtain in the Tribulation. There will be no place on earth not controlled by the beast, and the descriptions in Revelation make it very clear that the vast majority of the world's population in every nation will be very supportive of him and his policies, political and religious, even going so far as to worship him and his father the devil:

And [the population of the world] worshiped the dragon because he had given his authority to the beast. And they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? And who is able to make war with him?".
Revelation 13:3-4

The only place in the world where there will be any (temporarily) effective opposition to antichrist will be in Israel, and without the timely return of our Lord, the final campaign to destroy the Jewish nation would certainly have succeeded. Because of the prior events in the middle east, however, removing oneself to Israel before the proper and appropriate time (i.e., before the heavenly command to "flee Babylon" in the months before Armageddon; see the link), will not only be impractical but will also be fraught with material and spiritual danger. From what I can garner from scripture, Babylon, the tribulational US, may be the one place where there is any possibility of safety for believers (not absence of persecution or trouble, but possibly the opportunity of surviving until the command to flee). For we know that many Jews will survive the Tribulation to be regathered into Israel at our Lord's return (cf. Jer.46:28); they have to come from somewhere, and the US is a very likely guess for a variety of reasons. Staying put and enduring whatever comes by going about our business without spiritual compromise will no doubt lead to martyrdom in some cases but will also most probably lead to survival in many more. However, active political and/or armed opposition to antichrist will surely lead to destruction, and it seems certain to me from my reading of the scriptures that such individuals will not be genuine martyrs since they will have chosen their own ways instead of trusting in the Lord and allowing Him to choose their path during this unprecedented time.

4) Deception: We should be careful not to underestimate the incredibly large role that clever deception will play in antichrist's ascension to power. It is likely that just as Satan has a role in many political movements on both sides of the ideological spectrum (e.g., who can doubt that both Hitler and Stalin were his "boys"?), so during the run up to the beast's conquest of the world he will be moving all the pieces on the board for his own ends. By hitching our wagon to a political movement, we Christians always run the risk of being spiritually compromised. If that is true today (and it most assuredly is), then how much more will that not be the case after the removal of the Holy Spirit's restraint on lawlessness in the time when the devil has more direct control over human affairs than ever before? There is not a trace in scripture of any positive group effort that takes political or military action against the beast . . . except for our Lord personally destroying him and his forces at the battle of Armageddon. It seems clear to me that group action of any sort by believers – outside of communion for spiritual growth and ministry – will not only be a waste of time, but also potentially a deadly mistake that may prove fatal to spirituality and even salvation. Many of the "contra" groups are likely to be co-opted by the beast (or controlled by the devil), and at this point our dim understanding of the precise course of the political events of that future day is more likely to result in our making just such mistakes, allying ourselves to groups whose leaders are really in antichrist's camp, than it is to result in our survival. There is of course a reason why the Bible has much to say about the "big picture" events and little to say about the political specifics: we definitely need to know the former, but attention to the latter is only going to get us into trouble most of the time.

5) Time, effort and true preparation: Finally and perhaps most importantly, everything I have been able to learn about the Tribulation indicates to me that when that dark final day arrives, five minutes of prior spiritual preparation will likely be of more value to individual believers than five years of material preparation (and five millennia of political preparation). This being the case, do we really want to waste our precious time and energy now on something that due to the nature of the situation will be largely if not entirely useless then (and possibly even counterproductive in the extreme)? For my part, I would wish all believers to focus on the place God has put the emphasis in the Bible, namely, preparing our inner-man through spiritual growth. In that way, we shall be ready for absolutely anything, come what may. But if we compromise spiritual preparation for material preparation geared to a particular set of circumstances that does not transpire the way we suppose, we shall be sorely disappointed, and so much the more so if we have missed out on the spiritual preparations we should have been making in the process.

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels."
Mark 8:35-38 NIV

Please also see the following links for related information:

Preparing for Tribulation

How to Prepare for the Tribulation

Code of Conduct for the Tribulation

The End Times and Motivation

A Brief Christian Code of Conduct for the Great Persecution

Martyrdom in the Tribulation.

The Pattern of Future Persecution in the Tribulation.

The persuasiveness of the tribulational false religion.

The Anti-Christian Religion and its Worldwide Expansion.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whose return we so eagerly anticipate,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

Hello,

Thank you so much for always responding so promptly and always with great info and advice. I am now looking for info related to the "Kingdom".I am having confusion as to what is being taught as I am not sure if it is coming across as setting up a "Kingdom" now? Any advice? I do know Christ will return and His Kingdom will be here on earth, but I get the impression that some are talking about us setting up the "Kingdom" now physically. I am not sure I am coming across clear? If not let me know. I have read and looked at several commentaries and different versions of the Bible and I feel more confused now.

Thanks,

In Christ,

Response #6: 

Most often in scripture, the Kingdom is the Messiah's Kingdom to be set up at Christ's return (the Kingdom of the Father in the parable of the wheat and the tares is the Eternal Kingdom in the New Heavens and the New Earth). The Kingdom was "among you" when Jesus was present on earth during the first advent, because He is the King, after all, but Israel rejected Him. We are part of His Kingdom even now, a "Kingdom of Priests" (Rev.1:6), but our Kingdom is not yet "of this world" (Jn.18:36); we are interlopers in the devil's kingdom, having been positionally transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light (Col.1:12-13). Physically, we are here; spiritually, we belong to the King and are looking forward in great anticipation to the time when we shall share His rule once the Kingdom is physically established on earth after the second advent (Rev.2:27; 3:21).

Our role as Christians at present is to advance the mission of the King like soldiers in hostile territory (cf. Matt.16:18 where the "gates of Hades" are defenses which cannot stop our attack if we proceed in the power of the Spirit). We "attack" through 1) personal spiritual growth, learning the truth of scripture through personal Bible reading and study and through orthodox teaching . . . and believing the truth to which we are exposed; 2) by applying that truth to our lives, including the issue of passing tests of faith, large and small, and 3) by helping our brothers and sisters in Christ do the same through the exercise of the spiritual gift(s) we have been given in the ministries to which we have been severally called.

Our job, however, is not to become involved in satanic schemes to "fix the world". The world cannot be fixed by human beings, no matter how well-intentioned. Only God can fix the world. This sinful and corrupt world will come as close as possible to being fixed only when Jesus returns and sets things right by ruling it with "a rod of iron"; and once His thousand year reign has run its course, when Satan is released for only a short season, the majority of mankind will nevertheless seize the "opportunity" to rebel against the Perfect Ruler (Rev.20:7-10; this is also what Psalm 2 is talking about). Involving oneself in social action or politics of any sort is always playing the devil's game; it never amounts to true good in God's eyes, but always produces some sort of evil. Many "do-good" operations are in truth evil, because, for one thing, they are operating in the energy of the flesh and the power of Satan rather than according to God's will and in the power of the Spirit. God does not will us to solve problems through the coercion of others; God's solutions are almost always personal, almost never corporate. Personal ministry by individuals is God's way. Trying to "bring in the kingdom" is not of God in any way.

I have written quite a lot about these matters (the above is merely a very quick synopsis of some of the key points). Please have a look at the following links to get the full story:

Satan's World System (part 4 of the Satanic Rebellion series; covers the issues of the devil's plans and his coopting of human beings for schemes that appear "good" to them)

The Gospel and the Kingdom of God

What does the Bible say about War, History, and Politics?

Political Action versus Biblical Christianity.

More on Antichrist and his Kingdom

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

Hello Robert...

I have been reading your article on the internet titled "The Gospel and The Kingdom of God". This is a topic that have been doing much study and research on. Is there a book or resource that includes the arguments for both sides? Are there any other resources that you can suggest that I use in my study and research on this topic? What do you suggest for the study and research of the issue of the ' already/not ' yet view of the Kingdom of God, with both a present and future fulfillment and the view of those hold strictly to literal physical rule and reign of Christ during the Millennium?

I see that you got your MABS from Talbot Theological Seminary.

Robert what is your theology? What are your theological beliefs?

Thanks for your article and for your help with this.

GOD BLESS YOU!

Response #7: 

Very good to make your acquaintance, and thank you for your emails. Yes, I attended Talbot back in the early 80's in between my second B.A. and my M.A./Ph.D. work in Classics. I benefitted greatly from the experience, though probably more from the contact and theological discussions I had with a group of close friends I met there than from the actual course work. From what I can tell, Talbot has gotten much more "theologicalistic" and far less biblical since my days there (and I had my issues with it at the time).

As to my own theology, as I say at the link: "About Ichthys":

"Although the Bible study materials found here are in the Protestant, Evangelical tradition, this site has no denominational affiliation – the Bible studies at Ichthys are intended to speak for themselves. It is my profound hope that these lessons will contribute to the spiritual growth and progress in the Christian life of those who make use of them."

I have also posted some things to the site about my personal background:

Luginbill Biography FAQs

Colonel Thieme and the Origin of the Ichthys Ministry

Thieme and Talbot

Regarding Ichthys.

ICHTHYS and the role of traditional Christianity.

Frequently Asked Questions

The issue of the future kingdom of heaven / kingdom of God (which in my view is the Millennial Kingdom of Christ in contrast to the Kingdom of the Father which is the eternal state) versus some present "kingdom" is a subject not much worked over at Ichthys on account of the fact that, as you can see from the article you reference, I do not find any particular biblical support for any currently functioning kingdom. It is certainly true that God is the Ruler over all things; He always has been and always will be. In terms of the actual dispossessing of the devil and the establishment of God's kingdom on earth, first under the rulership of the Son, then under the joint rulership of Father and Son, those events are most definitely future. That is why we pray "[May] thy Kingdom come!"

The notion of a present "kingdom", as I say, seems to me to be an erroneous theological construct based largely upon a misunderstanding of Jesus' words at Luke 17:21. "Among you" rather than "within you" is the correct translation in my view, with our Lord referring to Himself as Israel's true king (who is now "among them), rather than to any spiritualized kingdom (after all, there was nothing good "in them" as unbelievers in any case). The kingdom is most definitely a tangible and visible entity – albeit one which has not yet appeared (although we are citizens of it now and yearn for it). And when it does appear, it will do so in an instantaneous and dramatic way at the Second Advent. That is to say, it won't "evolve" or "develop" or be capable of being seen from a distance (that is the meaning of Jesus' words in verse 20 that it won't come "by watching for it": KJV: "with observation"; Gk. meta paratereseos / μετὰ παρατηρήσεως). Rather, the Kingdom of Christ will come "as lightning which lights up the sky from one end of the heavens to the other" (Lk.17:24). That is why no one will say "Here it is! There it is!", because it will be unmistakable and impossible not to notice and thus will not require anyone to point it out.

It is certainly true that we belong to the King and that we are indeed part of His Kingdom and anticipate those glorious days to come when we will rule with Him; but we do not now rule with Him now (would that we did: 1Cor.4:8), because He has not yet taken up His rule. Therefore to place a present emphasis on this point of our membership in the future Kingdom to come beyond anything scripture comes close to placing is an invitation to misinterpretation. As I mentioned in the posting you cite, the next thing a group which adopts such a position or emphasis will do is to start trying to "bring in the kingdom" or "work for the establishment of the kingdom" – precisely the opposite of what our Lord is communicating in Luke 17:20-24, since His words actually mean that He will set it up; it will not "evolve or develop". Activities which ignore this truth and try to remake eschatology are not only misguided but actually play right into Satan's hands. This world cannot be improved by human effort. We are here to serve the King, and we know (or should know) very well how to do so: through personal spiritual growth and progress, and through helping others do the same through the proper function of our individual spiritual gifts – not by "trying to make the world a better place". We cannot remake the devil's world into the kingdom of God. Trying to do so only enlists us unawares into the ranks of the evil one (please see the link: in BB 2A, "Satan's System of Propaganda").

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world."
John 18:36 KJV

For the reasons above I have not spent much time on any imagined present kingdom or evolving kingdom. The Kingdom is indeed a very important theme in scripture, the gospels and Acts in particular (cf. Acts 1:3ff), but in the rule of the Son to which we look forward in a literal sense, and at present only "present" in the metaphorical sense of how we, members of that coming Kingdom who ought to be focused on it and not on this present world, should live until it does.

I have written quite a bit about the actual Millennial Kingdom and the Eternal State which follows. Please see the link: Coming Tribulation Part 6: The Millennium and New Jerusalem.

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying, "The world Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ has [now] come, and He will rule forever and ever. Amen".
Revelation 11:15

Because of Handel's Messiah, this verse has little chance of ever being correctly translated in a published version, but the point – however translated – is that the Kingdom of Christ comes at the Second Advent, not before.

As to other sources for this sort of study, I cite as helpful (without necessarily agreeing with their conclusions on this topic) the following:

Lewis S. Chafer, Systematic Theology v.7 "Doctrinal Summarization", pp.223ff.

Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom

J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come

Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology

Please feel free to write me back about any of this.

In breathless anticipation of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in deep gratitude to the Father who has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of His own beloved son,

Bob Luginbill

Question #8:  

Hey Bob,

My friend has passed some your helpful emails on to me. Thank you for being available to the Body of Christ. I would like clarity on the on-going Middle East strife, chaos, hatred. Is there a simple outline explaining the origins of the people groups and where those groups now reside? Do you have an existing link that you can send me to? Thanks so much, Bob L.

Response #8: 

Good to make your acquaintance. If you are referring to biblical nations and their present-day equivalents, I would need to address that on a one for one basis. Generally speaking, the actual peoples of antiquity have changed dramatically over the course of the past three millennia, so that in most cases all we are meant to get from such biblical designations are geographical equivalents (however, "Egypt", for example, is still "Egypt", even though the demography and language has changed substantially since biblical times). For example, I recently sent your friend such a list regarding the groups named in Psalm 83:

Lot’s descendants: Moab, Ammon = Jordan

Edom = Jordan

Ishmaelites, Hagrites = Saudi Arabia

Byblos, Tyre = Lebanon

Amalek = ?Egypt?

Assyria = Syria, Iraq, et al.

This is all detailed at the following link:

"The Ten Horns of the Beast" (in part 3B of Coming Tribulation)

Please feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #9:  

Hi Bob,

This links to a Bible study I wanted to ask you about. By the looks of it, it is one that is trying to, with love, show that there is no pre-trib 'rapture'. It really is a different way of looking at the 'fleeing' during the Tribulation and to whom and what it refers. I am wondering if it has any merit with you and would love to hear your thoughts. Not only for my own personal learning, but if it does, it is another way of assuring those of the pre-trib view that the Lord will indeed take care of them.

"The Flight of the Watching Ones" by Tim Warner, Answers in Revelation

http://www.oasischristianchurch.org/air/eagles_wings.pdf

In Christ,

Response #9: 

I had a look at the link. I'm always a bit reluctant to comment on other people's work unless they are using it to challenge this ministry (which is not the case here). I wouldn't want to leave the impression that I have analyzed this piece jot and tittle, but I will say that, other than the post-Tribulation resurrection part, I do not agree with most of what I see in it.

My main points of disagreement are:

1) The Woman in Revelation 12 is Israel (not believers generally as this study suggests).

2) The place of refuge (meant for the Jewish converts of the 144K) is not in central Israel as this study suggests but in the desert far to the east.

3) While I do agree that the time of the flight described in Revelation 12 occurs mid-Tribulation, the phrase in scripture, "gathering of eagles", refers not to this event (of believing Jews fleeing from antichrist), but to the post-Tribulation resurrection. For one thing, in Luke 17:34 Jesus switches from mid to post-Tribulation with the phrase "in that night"; note also that two are in a bed and one "is taken" and the other "left behind" – this clearly does not refer to any personal flight but to a divine "taking up" (cf. 1Thes.4:14-18).

I have a lot of problems with the methodology of this study as well (e.g., when the Masoretic Hebrew text is called "later in time and inferior to the LXX and the Syriac versions"?!), but I will leave that. I think the major problem with advancing the thesis in this study you have linked is that it will encourage those gentile Christians who read and believe it to migrate to Israel during the early days of the Tribulation – which will be exactly the wrong timing (as explained in CT 5 at the link: "Flee Babylon").

Hope you are doing well!

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:  

Hi again Doc!

At Jesus' 2nd Advent return, does He return with His saints or with His saints and the angels. I know the bible says in Jude that the Lord will return with His saints, but in another passage it says that He will return with His angels (I believe Jesus said this).

Another question is where would the innumerable amount of saints or saints and angels dwell during the Millennial reign? this seems like a lot of people for such a small planet. Will some dwell in the Father's mansion before it comes down to earth?

Another question that came to mind is who lives my Christian life?

Galatians 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Paul says that he lives his life and yet Christ lives in him. John MacArthur said that this is a biblical paradox and these paradoxes demonstrate that the bible was written by God because finite man can't comprehend the knowledge of God and His infinite mind. He gave another example about Jesus being 100% man and 100% God and not 200% of man and God. He said this is a paradox that cannot be reconciled by the finite mind. However, I heard a Christian apologist (William Lane Craig) supposedly reconcile this passage using the example found in the movie (avatar) where the main protagonist was a human being but could transfer his will and decisions to an created alien body while strapped to a computer like device. So he was 100% human and 100% alien. He would have his full human faculties when not under the device that controlled the created alien body, and have full alien faculties when under the control of the device that gave him access to the alien body.

What are your thoughts on these questions? Thanks in advance!

Response #10: 

As to the second advent, indeed, Jesus returns with all the holy angels and with all the just recently resurrected believers. It is very frequently the case in scripture that one passage will give a more comprehensive view of something than another passage which is focusing more on one particular aspect of a biblical teaching. That is the case here, and, clearly, the fact of angels not being mentioned in every reference to the second advent is not an argument for them being absent when other passages do teach their participation. See the link: "The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride".

As to the Millennium, the world is really a pretty large place, and sufficient for all of God's purposes, including the massive millennial population which will come to inhabit it. For one thing, the Millennium will start off with a rather small number of non-resurrected individuals (maybe 10% or even less of the number on the planet when the Tribulation begins). Resurrected believers, moreover, are not subject to the same sorts of restrictions which we now experience in these limited, corrupt bodies. As I suggest in part 6 of Coming Tribulation, the judgment of the Church will likely take place in a very small space and in a very small time (by present earthly standards; see the link), yet the place must accommodate the entire Church (and most likely the holy angels too) and must furnish sufficient time for every believer to receive a detailed examination and evaluation by our Lord. So a convocation that ought to require an auditorium as big as the moon and last tens of thousands of years will be able to convene in Jerusalem and will be over in a very short time (in order for us to take up our roles of millennial administrators of the Lord's kingdom, among other things). The point is that God's control over time and space are complete and beyond our present comprehension. I do think and have said before that such accommodations as you suggest might be necessary in order for the world of non-resurrected human beings to face their own issues of free-will choice without undue influence from the large population of the resurrected. We will be "here" to serve as Christ's agents, sharing His rule; our "enjoyment" of eternity beyond that promised blessing will really begin at the end of history, in the New Jerusalem.

As to Galatians 2:20, I am astounded by these two quotes. I had thought better of MacArthur's skills as an exegete (I am not familiar with Craig). The Bible is written to be understood (pace MacArthur); we are here on earth to make choices (pace Craig). In this passage Paul does what he (and John too for that matter throughout 1st John) often does: he describes himself as a model for us to follow. The perfect state of any Christian is to be so Christ-like and so well-attuned to the will of God that there is no difference or distinction between what he/she is thinking, saying and doing and what our Lord would have him/her do, say or think. Paul was not perfect, of course, and expresses this perfect state as a Christian profession rather than an experiential reality (though Paul was doubtless closer to achieving a perfect walk than any other person in the history of the world save for our Lord who always practiced it). Paul is saying, in effect, that all his previous and prior selfish behavior availed him nothing and that he now considers all worldliness to be vanity; only Jesus Christ matters, learning about Him and serving Him. Everything else in this life has for him dissolved into the Person, the work, the issue of Jesus Christ. Paul is saying, "Jesus is my life", and doing so in the most emphatic way possible. So much is this true for Him that his own life has been extinguished in his eyes by the brilliant light of the dear Savior who bought him – and us. This is how we all ought to think as well. But make no mistake: this is not an automatic state but a very mature status which can only be achieved by constant good-decision-making, and one which has to be defended every moment. We most certainly ought to think of ourselves as extensions of Jesus Christ so that our lives consist entirely of what He wills and not what we want. That is easy to say but very difficult to achieve. Paul has come so close to achieving it that he can make the statement "I am not really even alive as a separate individual anymore, so fully and completely am I occupied with the Lord I love and dedicated to doing only what He would have me to do". This is not something impossible to understand (MacArthur); it is rather something very difficult to do. This is not something achieved by having no further will of one's own (Craig); it is rather something that can only be achieved by an iron discipline over will constantly and consistently applied in the service of the One who died for us.

In the hopes of achieving some measure of that same selfless dedication – and maintaining it to the glory of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

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