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Issues of Biblical Eschatology II:

Angelic bodies, heaven and hell, Satan and the Nephilim,
the pre-Trib Rapture fallacy and the Great Apostasy.

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Question #1:  Hi Bob,

1.When Satan is cast into the lake of fire with the false prophet and the beast, they have bodies; what about Satan does he get a body to suffer in or just spirit?

2. Was Abel the first person in sheol?

3. Since Jesus has a glorified body does He have a physical throne in a spiritual heaven?

Response #1:  These are interesting questions – I will do my best.

1) Angels are "spirits" alright, but not in the sense that they have no "corporeality" or any objective presence in the material universe whatsoever. They are not God; they have a tangible existence in the universe just as we do. So the traditional philosophical and theological categories on this subject are at least misleading. We human beings are not totally material (i.e., we have a human spirit), and the angels are not totally spiritual in the sense that God is. That is, they have some sort of "quasi-material" shell which limits them to a particular space and time, and requires them to move physically from point A to point B. It is indeed true that they will never have truly "corporeal" bodies as we have, but they clearly do have something (even if it's only 1% material as compared to the 100% material human body). The best analogy I can give on this is the fact that the human body in resurrection will be a true body, but will be more in tune with our spiritual side and less subject to material limitation (if that is even the right way to put it; cf. 1Cor.15:42-49). Scripture certainly seems to indicate (Rev.20:10) that the devil will thrown into the lake of fire "as is", that is, without any changes to his original angelic "spirit-body"; whereas the rest of the dead (human unbelievers) will indeed be resurrected into new bodies first before being cast into perdition (Matt.25:41-46; Rev.20:11-15; cf. Dan.12:2; Jn.5:29). There is much more on all this at the following link: Bible Basics 2A: Angelology.

2) As far as scripture suggests, it would seem that Abel was the first human being to experience death and thus would have been the first in Sheol (and he did not go to torments or "hell", of course, but to the Paradise to which Jesus descended for the three days following the cross). The only caveat I have here is that we are not told this specifically, and it is clear from Genesis 4:17ff. that the population of earth proceeded at a very rapid rate after the fall. It is certainly conceivable (and possibly probable) that Cain and Abel had many brothers and sisters by the time Abel was killed; thus there could have been a rather sizable population already by the time of the murder and it is not inconceivable that someone else (or a number of people) had already died (from any number of potential causes). I would say that the way scripture frames things we are pretty safe in assuming that Abel was the first murder victim, however.

3) At the present there is only one divine throne, the throne of God in His heavenly temple (see the link: Is Jesus literally seated on the throne at God's right hand?). In the future, that will also be the case in the New Jerusalem (cf. Rev.22:1). In between, we have the Millennium, and during this time there will be an earthly throne for Jesus (i.e., the judgment seat of Christ, the throne from which Messiah will reign), even as the Father still resides in heaven – His advent does not come until "all enemies have been put" under the Messiah's feet when the new heavens and earth replace the present corrupted ones (Rev.21-22).

In Jesus,

Bob L.


Question #2: 

Hello Brother Bob,

Somewhere I remembered hearing that Angels are somehow empowered or reinforced by the prayers of God's people, perhaps to focus on a specific situation?

Gods Love to You -

 

Response #2: 

I think that the passage your wife may have in mind is Daniel 10:12-14. In that passage, Daniel has been praying for the relief of Jerusalem and the angel who comes to communicate with him in response says that Daniel's prayers were heard "since the first day", but that he was hindered from coming until "Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me". This passage shows that there is much that goes on in the angelic realm (especially in the area of conflict between the forces of God and the forces of Satan) of which we human beings are unaware and uninformed. The power of prayer is the power of God, and it is safe to say that when we pray we are asking God to exert His power in our behalf. He may choose to do this through angelic agency. If so, we are likely going to be unaware of His use of this method until we are face to face with Him on that great day. Clearly, direct visual and verbal contact with angels is extremely unusual (and I would argue virtually non-existent at the present time). Since the Bible deliberately keeps us in the dark about the vast bulk of human-angelic interaction (we know that it is going on but we don't know the details and can't perceive the activities), my policy has always been "not to go beyond what is written", so I will leave it at this except to say that, as you probably already know, there is much related information (if not specifically directed to your question) available in the study: Bible Basics 2A: Angelology (see the link).

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.


Question #3:
 

We are doing a study on Revelation, and someone asked about the old prophets and others that went to be with the Lord. Where are they at now until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Where in scripture does it talk or describe that place. Thank you


Response #3:
 

Before Christ's ascension, all Old Testament believers went to sheol after death, but specifically to the "paradise" or "Abraham's bosom" compartment (Lk.16:22), while in contrast unbelievers went to sheol as well, but to a different part of it altogether, namely "torments" or "hell" (Lk.16:23). The word sheol is itself often translated "hell" in English versions of the Bible, as is its New Testament Greek counterpart, "Hades". Jesus' recounting of Lazarus and the rich man further notes that there is a "great chasm" between these places preventing anyone crossing between the two areas occupied by saved and lost departed human beings (Lk.16:26). Finally, the third "compartment" of sheol-hell-Hades is called "Tartarus" by Peter (2Pet.2:4), and is also referred to as "the Abyss" (cf. Lk.8:31; Rom.10:7; Rev.9:1ff; etc.), the place where certain fallen angels are currently being detained pending final judgment (though a great number will be temporarily released during the Tribulation: cf. Rev.9). So whenever we find sheol or hell or Hades or the like in scripture, we have to understand from our context which of the three particular subdivisions is meant.

Unbelievers are still "in hell" today, and fallen angels who have been incarcerated for one reason or another are still located "in the Abyss". As I say, some fallen angels will be temporarily released during the Tribulation, but all unbelievers are going to remain where they are until the Last Judgment at the end of which they and all the fallen angels will be cast into the "lake of fire" (Matt.25:41; Rev.20:11-15; the beast, the false prophet, and the devil uniquely end up there earlier than anyone else: Rev.19:20; 20:10). This explains what it means when we are told that Jesus "descended into hell", that is, He went to paradise beneath the earth for the three days between the cross and resurrection and proclaimed His victory to all below (Lk.23:43; 1Pet.3:19).

After Christ's ascension, all believers are with Him in heaven after death (cf. Jn.14:1-4). No person, even believers, could enter into the presence of the Father until Christ came before Him in victory, presenting Himself in glory after accomplishing eternal redemption (Heb.9:12; cf. Heb.1:3b). This victory entitled Him to "lead captivity captive and give gifts to men" (Eph.4:7-10; cf. Col.2:15; Rev.5:5 with Rev.5:9-10). Thus, along with the wonders of salvation, two of the other notable results of our Lord's victory at the cross are 1) the spiritual gifts associated with the baptism of the Spirit beginning on the day of Pentecost and now universal for all who believe (Rom.8:9), and 2) the bringing into the presence of the Father on high those believers who had previously waited for this moment (cf. Rev.7:9-10). For Christ has now won us "access" into the Father's presence (Jn.14:6; Eph.2:18; 3:12; 1Pet.3:18-19), with the result that all who die in the Lord since the ascension enter directly into Jesus' presence upon physical death. That company surrounding the heavenly throne also includes the prophets about whom you ask, as well as all who put their faith in the Lord from Adam to Christ:

(22) But you have come to [the heavenly] Mount Zion and to the city of the Living God (i.e., the Father's throne room in the third heaven), to the heavenly Jerusalem and myriads of angels all assembled (cf. Rev.5:11-12), (23) and to the Church of the firstborn whose [names] are written in heaven (i.e., all believers: Lk.10:20; cf. Ps.69:28; Rev.3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 20:15), and to God [the] judge all [people], and to the spirits of righteous men [and women now] made perfect, (24) and to Jesus (i.e., all believers are now with Him), [the] Mediator of a better covenant, and to the blood He [figuratively] sprinkled (i.e., presented to the Father the fact of His death on the cross), [blood] which conveys a [much] more powerful message than Abel['s sacrifice] (i.e., because Jesus' "blood" is His actual death for our sins, whereas the blood of animal sacrifice merely represents His work on the cross). Hebrews 12:22-24

Along with the corporate title, "the Church", the phrase emphasizing all individuals who are saved, "the spirits of the righteous" highlighted above, includes all believers of the past. For the words "made perfect" refer to salvation, that is, those who have completed their course, exiting this life with our faith still intact (cf. Heb.2:10 and 10:14 compared with Heb.9:9 and 10:1). Therefore when we go to be with the Lord, we will find ourselves face to face with all believers who have ever lived and passed on, and even more blessedly, with the One who bought us with His blood, our dear Lord Jesus.

For more on different aspects of this question, please see the following links:

"Waiting for the Ascension"

What does the Bible say about Heaven and Hell?

Will those in Hades be able to see Christ's return?

Yours in the one with whom we shall all enjoy eternal life together forevermore, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.


Question #4:
 

I'm curious. I've been taught my whole life about a pre-trib rapture. it's just something I blindly believed in. Not necessarily something I totally bought into, more like one of those things I've never looked into to so I'll take the stance that I've been told. Anyway, I'm curious about this largely held belief of pretrib rapture and the apostasy. I'm wondering where this huge apostasy comes from? (I'm also not sure where it falls in the timeline of endtimes) are people falling away because the tribulation is going and they are experiencing difficult times? Or do you think that perhaps this pretrib rapture belief could play a large part in the apostasy? I mean, I see tons of people banking on this belief and then wondering on the validity of God when it doesn't happen.

I've heard it taught that 2 Thess 2.7 refers to the Holy Spirit and that antichrist comes up when the Holy Spirit removes his restraints. Then on top of that, I've also heard this in defense of a pretrib rapture. They say, 'how else could the Holy Spirit remove his restraint except that the church is taken away.' Now I say that the Holy Spirit can do whatever he wants and that it doesn't mean we, the church, are no longer here. Do you have any views on this?

Another thing, you describe the flood as killing off all those angel-human hybrids. and it seems as if you were suggesting that it would never happen again. (and perhaps i'm wrong.) but how are there Nephilim in the book of Numbers? Where'd they come from?

I also looked for some kind of timeline or something but couldn't find it. I'm curious to the exact order of people raising from the dead and from what system they're from. i.e., it seems I remember something about old testament saints rising, and then the people before the tribulation, and some other group of people or something like that.


Response #4:

These are all good questions, and, as it happens, all subjects about which you can find extensive material at Ichthys (though I will at least give you my basic "take" here in response). Although raised in a tradition which didn't put much emphasis on eschatology, when I got really interested in the Bible the group I was associated with also put huge stock in the (false) pre-Trib rapture theory. In fact, it was in the process of trying to defend it beginning in seminary that I came to the necessary conclusion that it doesn't exist in scripture. Please read the following e-mail response as this will fill you in on all the essentials as well as linking to some more in-depth studies as well: The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory. As to the Great Apostasy, as the above link affirms I do indeed think that the crushing of the hopes of those who have bought into this false doctrine of a rapture that will ensure they never have to face the Tribulation and invested so much of their faith in it will greatly contribute to the apostatizing of many under the pressures of that terrible time and the exceptional deceptions of antichrist. The series, "Coming Tribulation" deals with all of these issues in great detail; you can find the discussion of the Great Apostasy at the following link: "The Great Apostasy" (in CT 3A). So your instincts are right on: a combination of defeated expectations, tribulational pressures and satanic deceptions coupled with the extraordinary situation of the removal of Holy Spirit restraint brings about this apostasy. I should hasten to add that the fact that we live in the "lukewarm" era of the Church as is obvious from everything that is happening in contemporary Christianity will contribute to a very great degree to the ease with which so many believers fall away (see the link in CT 2A: Laodicea: the Era of Degeneration). The fact that few Christians today have a deep faith which is based upon understanding, testing and being tested in, and applying the truth of scripture makes our era very vulnerable once things "go south", so to speak. Most Christians today are happy with extremely superficial Christian "experiences" and are not particularly interested in doing much serious personal Bible study or putting themselves under the teaching authority of anyone who might be of help to them in this regard.

I totally agree with you on the issue of removal of Holy Spirit restraint. You can find the details of my views on that subject at this link: "The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit" (in CT 2B)

The Nephilim were the off-spring of fallen angels and human beings. It seems they became very numerous in the days before the flood since through procreation their genes began to spread throughout the human gene pool, to such a degree in fact that it seems that no other completely pure human beings were left by the time Noah and his family got on the ark (that is the point in Genesis six calling Noah "perfect in his generations", not sinless, but without this fatal genetic taint). As these demons who fathered the Nephilim violated God's ground rules for the invisible conflict, i.e., "abandoned their first estate" in cohabiting with human women (Jude 1:6), they have since been confined in the Abyss (2Pet.2:4; Jude 1:6), something terrifying to these quondam creatures of light, and an example which has apparently acted as a powerful restraint to this sort of activity ever since (cf. the demons begging Jesus not to send them there in Lk.8:31). The details are written up in Part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series (see the link), and in part 2A of Bible Basics, Angelology (see the link), but cf. also the following files: EM, and EM. There will be at least a partial resurgence of this activity in the future (Satan is the father of the beast, and that is at least some evidence for the "ten kings" being similarly sired by his top lieutenants; see the link: "The Seizure of Revived Rome" in CT 3B). The "nephilim" in Numbers are not true hybrids; the cowardly spies merely characterize the inhabitants of the Land of Promise in this way in a (sadly successful) attempt to dissuade the people from seeking to enter the land (see the link: footnote #87 from part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion).

Finally, as to the resurrection, 1st Corinthians 15:23-24 gives us the order; there will be three echelons: 1) Christ (already complete); 2) "those who are His at His coming" = the Church (i.e., all believers from Adam and Eve to the last person saved in the Tribulation); 3) "then the end" when all those saved after the point of Jesus' 2nd Advent return will be resurrected at the creation of the new heavens and the new earth and the beginning of the eternal state. This is very important, by the way, because it clears up another major misconception, namely that there is some how a big difference between the "Old and New Testament saints", whereas in truth all from Adam to the last saved before our Lord's sign appears in the sky are part of His Body, the Church (we gentiles are grafted into the stock of Israel; cf. Rom.11). Please check out these links for more information:

The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride (in CT 5)

The Resurrection (in Peter #20)

Aspects of the Resurrection

Thanks again for your interest and your questions – feel free to write me back about any of this.

In the One who is the truth, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.


Question #5:
 

I have a question about this passage, Genesis 6:4

"The Nephilim were on the earth in those days and afterwards as well (i.e., both before and after the start of the 120 grace period before the flood). For when the sons of God went in to the daughters of men, they bore to them those "mighty-ones" (i.e., the Nephilim) whose names are famous from ancient times."

After reading your passages on the Nephilim and the responses to others questions, I figured I would ask one more on this subject. In light of this verse you reference, it would seem they no longer existed after the flood and that this verse simply points out they were still around right up until the flood occurred. However, I have always been perplexed when it comes to understanding this point because of the nature of the men seen by the scouts in Numbers 13:33.

In the NKJV it says,

"There we saw the giants[a] (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.""

If indeed these men did no longer exist, then to whom is this passage referring? Was Goliath from the same "tree"? How is this all explained?

I have a second question in reference to eschatology. There is a man in our local area who has recently been recognized in many Christian circles. He is a great man to talk to because he knows much about the Jewish side of things when it comes to being a Christian (I mean, since he is a messianic Jew). The gist of his teaching is that there seems to be many things, including astronomical events, that support the event of the Tribulation beginning very, very soon. And of course the more exciting and awesome event of our Lord's return coming soon. Just thought I would pass that on because I'm interested to see what you think. Let me know.

Thank you so much for your time!


Response #5:

On the first question, here is a footnote (#87) from part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series which addresses this question directly:

. . . [for] properly understanding the mention of "Nephilim" in Numbers 13:33, the context is all important. The naming of the Amorites in Canaan "Nephilim" comes from the cowardly scouts sent to spy out the land. Their discouraging and faithless testimony caused the entire congregation to fall into sin and so to die in the desert instead of inheriting the land of promise. In their fear, these malingerers clearly fastened on to the most intimidating name they could imagine to dissuade their countrymen from attacking the land. The statement that the inhabitants they saw were Nephilim was a metaphorical exaggeration (analogous to when we call a tall person a "giant" today), just as when they proclaimed "we are grasshoppers in their eyes" (similar to Deut.2:10-11; cf. Deut.2:20-21). These Amorites may well have been men of stature (cf. Amos 2:9), but they were not Nephilim.

So I would say that whenever one is reading a passage in a historical book, the subject of any quotation needs to be taken into account. Since the subjects of this statement are cowardly apostates, we don't have to imagine that they are telling the truth. It is true that there were strains of very tall individuals in Palestine at the time and later; but height like anything else tends to run in families. And for exceptional height in humans we don't have to look much farther than the NBA today. I don't entirely discount the existence of angelic offspring later on (antichrist will be one, after all, and there is some indication that the ten kings who support him will be as well; see the link: "The Seizure of Revived Rome" in CT 3B). Generally speaking, however, we may expect that after the events of Genesis 6 this sort of thing has been rare indeed if not altogether non-existent up until this point because of the dire consequences to any fallen angel so involved. God has given Satan and his angels a good deal of latitude, but after the Genesis 6 events, all such violations of the rules have apparently landed demons in the Abyss, something which clearly terrorizes them (compare Matt.8:28-34 with 1Pet.3:19-20 and Jude 1:6).

As to the fellow you ask about, his arguments seem to be based upon principles of hermeneutics with which I would vigorously disagree. Here are two examples:

1) Seeing some prophetic significance in the history of the present day state of Israel (spec. the "six day war"). But the entire Church age is a prophetical intercalation; that is to say, there is no unfulfilled prophecy in scripture aside from the events of the end times, and nothing that is happening today or will happen until the commencement of the Tribulation is prophesied about in scripture with the exception of the seven churches of Revelation chapters 1-2 and their description of church age trends (see the link: CT 2A: The Seven Churches of Revelation).

2) Eclipses: This sort of thing is all the rage nowadays, and this individual is certainly not the only one turning to celestial phenomena for guidance. I think that is a huge mistake. The Bible is to be our source of truth, and the Bible alone. In regard to Joel 2:31, that verse does indeed have an important eschatological reference, but it refers to the return of Messiah not to the beginning of the Tribulation. A supernatural darkness wherein we shall experience a "unique day" where there is darkness during the day but at evening "light" (Zech.14:6-7) is clearly not an eclipse but rather a divinely produced set of signs that will be unlike anything that has occurred before in history, and for that reason not predictable on the basis of patterns of the movements of the sun and moon (please see the link: in CT 5, "Signs of the Second Advent").

My apologies in advance if I do not seem to be fair to his argument(s); I am certainly happy to reply to any particular points. But for me, the seven millennial day theory of the divine scheme of chronology is most persuasive (see the link: in SR 5 "Specific Chronology of the Seven Days of Human History"). According to that schema, we are indeed close (just not so close as 2015 suggested by this individual); for a full two thousand years (minus seven) must intervene between the cross and the beginning of the Tribulation for the Church Age to its full complement of years.

Hope this is helpful.

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.


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