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Question #1: 

Dr. L, So I was using your website as I was preparing for a lesson, and I came across your beliefs on the return of Christ. Do you really think that Christ will return in 2033? I have never been one to ask particular beliefs or denominational affiliation, but this is something I felt like asking about. I mean, everyone is entitled to their interpretation of scripture, but isn't it written that no one but the Father is to know the time of His return? I am not disputing the logic behind what you presented, but I am disputing the theology. This seems like something fundamentally wrong. I was actually kind of crushed when I read all of this. I suppose it is God showing me not to put too much stock in one human theologian. I have loved learning from you, and wouldn't trade it for the world, and regardless of differing theologies. I just am trying to make sense of all of this I suppose.

Response #1:   

You are certainly not alone in your resistance to this point. Before getting to the question itself, let me repeat here what I have often said before about this projected date in contexts where it is discussed (pasted from SR 5):

"The most potentially controversial piece of information developed below, that is, the projected date for the commencement of the Tribulation, is based upon the following suppositions (all of which are treated within the context of this study):

1. The seven millennial day interpretation is taught in scripture and meant to be understood and applied.

2. The Church Age will last for two millennial days or 2000 years.

3. The Church Age commences following the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

4. These events took place in 33 A.D.

5. The Tribulation belongs to both the Church and Jewish Ages and is therefore to be subtracted from the 2000 year total when calculating the start of the Tribulation.

6. The half hour of silence in heaven at the breaking of the seventh seal (Rev.8:1) signifies a half year grace period that shifts the start point from spring to fall.

7. Scripture gives no indication of either shortening or lengthening of this time-line, and therefore no such change of schedule is anticipated.

The above points are all presented here as true, and the analysis upon which they are based is set forth below. Clearly, deviation from any of the above will alter the entire scheme. It is also true, as we have already said, that alteration of the schema presented below is certainly within the power and authority of the Almighty. The very end of the Tribulation, for example, will be shortened by some undisclosed amount of time (Mk.13:20). Rather than undermining the theory advanced in this study, however, Mark 13:20 in actuality supports the importance of paying heed to the Bible's chronological information. For if "the days are shortened", then surely this means that there was a definite heavenly timetable in the first place. Secondly, Mark 13:20 indicates that the shortening mentioned is a matter of days, weeks at the most (i.e., not enough to change the general time-line given below). This is certainly in line with the very specific tally of days and months given in Daniel and Revelation (Dan.7:25; 8:14; 12:7; 12:11-12; Rev.11:2-3; 12:6; 12:14; 13:5)."

The seven days of the reconstruction of the heavens and earth following the devil's revolt invite us (and, I would say, require us) to see human history as a divine construct of seven thousand-day periods analogous to those seven days of re-creation. That is because the ultimate or seventh day of rest is the Millennium, a literal thousand-year period which ought then to be the final "day" to a prior six thousand years of human history. Careful examination of what the Bible has to say about the chronology of the past (covered in detail in SR 5 at the link: "Specific Chronology of the Seven Days of Human History"), does indeed support the exact figure of some four thousand years of human history from the fall to the birth of the Messiah (in ca. 2 B.C. in terms of our present calendar). Positing two millennial days for the Church, the second advent would then indeed occur precisely two thousand years after our Lord's death, resurrection and ascension (in 33 A.D.). There is much to recommend this interpretation (which goes back to the earliest days of the Church – it is not unique to me, by any means), and only a bare synopsis is given here.

I am aware of your objection, but there are several problems with it. In the first place, it assumes that "we are not meant to know" things which are actually recorded in scripture. That is of course an incorrect position, and one that has done much damage in the history of the Church. We may not in fact correctly "know" everything in the Bible, but we are certainly meant to: "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom.15:4 NIV). The Bible is not a "closed book", in whole or even in part, so that anytime we must profess ignorance on a given passage, it is because we haven't (or haven't bothered) to figure it out adequately, not because God has given us a pass to overlook the wonderful truths He has so graciously provided us in His Word. Furthermore, Jesus told the apostles before His death on the cross that He would send them the Holy Spirit precisely so that they might "understand" all the truth of scripture:

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
John 16:13-15  NIV

Finally, anyone who reads the book of Revelation and/or the other prophetic passages which deal with these matters knows that Christ will return at the end of the Tribulation, the final seven year period before His millennial reign of 1000 years (and these most definitely are "times and dates" which we are meant to know). So we do, in fact, know when Christ returns. What is really at issue is the question of when the Tribulation begins (so as to be able to date the second advent with relative precision). For these reasons, it would be odd beyond passing if the verse to which you allude, Acts 1:7, actually said and meant, as you report, "no one but the Father is to know the time of His return". What does the verse actually say? Here is a standard translation of the verse and most of the versions give something comparable.

He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority."
Acts 1:7 NIV

However, as pointed out above, if this were true (as translated), we would have to doubt the precise eschatological information on all of the prophetic "dates and times" with which scripture actually does give us throughout the Old Testament and the New. Interpretation is another matter of course, but how could we not be meant to "know" what scripture says so explicitly, in the case of the seven years of the Tribulation and the 1000 years of the Millennium, just to give two example out of many? Using our basic "spiritual common sense", then, it should register that there is some sort of contradiction here, since the Bible tells us for example that the Millennium will last a thousand years and since Jesus has told us elsewhere that His sending of the Spirit is so that we might know (which flies in the face of "not being meant to know). As anyone who has ever studied another language is well aware, translation is a delicate business, and will never be accurate if the translator does not understand precisely what it is that he/she is translating actually means. Small details in an ancient text in particular often influence the meaning in subtle ways so that this principle is doubly true when it comes to biblical translation. This is in fact what is going on in Acts 1:7, namely, a small misunderstanding of the meaning of a particular verb resulting in a completely misleading translation. Here is what I have written about the verse elsewhere:

Acts 1:7 is often mistranslated "It is not for you to know", but should be rendered "It is not for you to decide the times and the seasons". The Greek verb gignosko commonly has this meaning of "decide" especially when it is in the aorist as it is here. The context strongly supports this revised translation since our Lord immediately adds "which the Father has ordained by His authority". That is to say, Jesus' point is that it is the Father who has decided these matters; they are not to be decided by your wishes. For our Lord's disciples had just very clearly expressed the wish through their question in the preceding verse six for Him to establish the Kingdom immediately. Therefore our Lord's reproof in verse seven is not a commendation of complete ignorance about the Father's timetable, but rather a reminder to them that it is His will in these matters that counts, not theirs; they would have to remain patient, even though from their perspective the time seemed ripe for the commencement of the Messiah's kingdom. We must also take into consideration the fact that this statement was given to the apostles prior to the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. The Spirit is the agent of inspiration, chronology included, who, as Jesus had already made clear, would be the One to relate to them "the things to come" (Jn.16:13; cf. 2Pet.1:16-21). Since they will later come to understand the "things to come", verse seven must also be understood in conjunction with verse eight: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you . . .", a statement that clearly includes the previously promised further revelation of the Spirit (not excluding information about the end times). This is why, a few short years later, Paul can tell the Thessalonians the exact opposite of Acts 1:7 (that is, as it is generally misconstrued): "concerning the times and the seasons, you have no need that anyone write you, for you know very well . . ." (1Thes.5:1-2).

So Acts 1:7 is really a response to a particular question wherein Jesus disabuses the apostles of the idea that the kingdom should begin immediately: it is not theirs to decide that. It was, however, most definitely "theirs" to learn about such details after Pentecost, and to teach the Church what they had learned (as they do throughout the epistles, and in Revelation in particular). So while "no man knows the [precise] day or the hour" (Matt.25:13), the idea that therefore we are not to have a good grounding in what the scriptures do say about the end times, including in those instances where we are given specific information about the chronological layout of things to come (the seven years and the thousand years again serving as essential examples), is not what Acts 1:7 is saying at all.

I can certainly understand and appreciate how that many are not going to accept the somewhat precise dating I believe to be indicated by scripture. If only because of the legion of loonies in the past who have pulled dates out of the air, I would certainly entertain a high degree of skepticism myself. For me, the important thing is not the date per se but the method by which it was calculated. It doesn't take a theologian to see that the seven days of Genesis track/foreshadow the seven days of human history (please see the links: "The Seven Days of Human History", and "Summary of the Seven Genesis Days compared to the Seven Millennial Days"), and that by adding the remaining two millennial days (i.e., 2,000 years) to the year of the crucifixion-resurrection-ascension (i.e., 33 A.D.), we arrive at a time not too far away now for Christ's return (i.e., ca. 2033, with the Tribulation then beginning seven years earlier in 2026).

Objections based on scripture are always appreciated. Giving heed to skepticism independent of biblical evidence, however, is to follow the secular path. It seems that all Christians have "trouble" with some of the things the Bible has to say. Some have trouble with the idea of creation ex nihilo; some have trouble with the ark and worldwide flood; some have trouble with the parting of the Red Sea; some have trouble with Jonah and the fish; some have trouble with the sun standing still at Gibeon; etc. etc. But what the Bible says is true, so that if the method and consideration of the evidence is correct, my policy has always been to accept what scripture teaches and to teach in turn what I have been blessed to discover, even if it makes me a pariah. Truth is the only way forward, and it is better to go forward alone than backward in the best of company.

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi Doc!

My pastor said that Satan is bound now according to Mark 3:27 and use Revelation 20:1's "great chain" as an allegorical reference of Christ entering our heart's as the one who binds the strongman (Satan). So he denies the literal 1,000 yr reign of Christ on earth. Is Satan really bound now?

Response #2: 

Clearly, the Millennium is literal, and so is Satan's removal from the world for those thousand years. Allegories are particular literary devices wherein reference "A" represents reality "B", as in Galatians 4:25 where Paul tells us that "Hagar stands for (i.e., allegorically represents) Mount Sinai". There are allegories in Revelation, but they are all very clearly marked out as such: in each such case we have a vision or a sign or a symbol, and in each case the vision, sign or symbol is said to represent one of the key characters in Revelation. So for example, the Great Prostitute represents Babylon, the Great Dragon represents Satan, the Beast represents antichrist, and the Woman represents Israel. Satan is always Satan – he can't possibly represent someone else. In the history of the Church many have sought to explain away the book of Revelation as "all allegory", but that is only laziness, and a very terrible thing too, since there is so much wonderful information therein if only teachers would take the time to study before they teach. It is a time consuming process to get to the bottom of these things – I have been working on it for decades – but as in all study of the Word, genuine effort engaged in in a spiritually acceptable way always yields wonderful results.

As to Mark 3:26-27, here Jesus is using an analogy and makes that clear by using a condition. Little words are often important in English and in Greek. If I say to you "If I give you a million dollars ...", that is much different from saying "I am giving you a million dollars". When Jesus says in verse 26, "If Satan opposes himself ...", it is clear that Satan is in reality not opposing himself. That is the whole point of Jesus' analogy. The Pharisees and Sadducees were claiming that the only reason Jesus was able to cast out demons was because He was in league with Satan – utter blasphemy! Our Lord is refuting that claim by hanging them with their own faulty logic. Satan and his followers put a high priority on possessing human beings so as to do their will; if the devil were casting out demons, he would be working at cross purposes to his own objectives. Nothing in this passage suggests that Satan is bound, then or now! He will not be until our Lord's return. After all, a little latter in time from Mark chapter three, the devil enters into Judas to empower his betrayal of our Lord (Lk.22:3; Jn.13:27) – a neat trick if you're tied and bound in the Abyss! And of course there are multiple references to the devil and his operations throughout the New Testament, showing that he is certainly not bound at present. For example:

Be sober and alert. Our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, looking for someone he can devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, remembering that your fellow believers in this world are undergoing the exact same sort of suffering.
1st Peter 5:8

Would that Satan were bound now. Unfortunately for the world, not only is he not (as a quick perusal of the headlines of any newspaper will demonstrate that fact clearly enough), in very short order his time of greatest influence and control of the world will begin, under his son, antichrist when the Tribulation commences.

In anticipation of our deliverance in Jesus Christ, now, and if it be His will, from the conflagration of the Tribulation as well.

Bob L.

Question #3:  

Hi Doc!

My pastor responded to your email. He stated that the 1,000 is symbolic and wrote:

"If we turn to the whole of Scripture, we will soon discover first that the number one thousand is often if not always used as a full number, to indicate something that is complete: "a thousand generations" (Deut 7:9; Ps 105:8) , "a thousand hills" (Ps 50:10), "a thousand days" (Ps 84: 10), "a thousand shields" (Song 4:4). Second, we will find out that outside Revelation 20, there are only three texts that mention a thousand years. Ecclesiastes 6:6 says that a stillborn has more rest than man, "even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity". The obvious meaning is that an ungrateful man will be always restless, no matter how long he lives. Psalm 90:4 reads, "For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night". Finally, there is 2 Peter 3:8f, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance". In these three and only instances outside Revelation 20, the expression "a thousand years" is uniformly used of a very long period as reckoned by man's standards. The latter two texts also say that it is actually a short time as measured by God's standard. Given the use of the expression "a thousand years" outside Revelation, I can see no reason for assuming that John is talking about a precisely defined time span. As the beginning of the thousand years is started by the binding of Satan, this long period finishes with his unleashing. As the binding implied a restraint of his freedom of action, the loosing means that this restraint is removed. The fact that Satan has to be unbound to wage war against the saints implies that he can perform his evil deeds only when and to the degree that God allows him to do so. We are not told who looses the Devil, nor exactly why he must be loosed; but this event indicates that the day of salvation approaches its end as the time of God's patience draws to its close. All the "inhabitants of the earth" have had the opportunity of taking heed to the witness of the faithful overcomers. Now the consumation is quickly approaching, and evil must be definitively destroyed before the kingdom of God is made manifest in all its glory in the new heavens and the new earth. So what you wrote is just your opinion. "

Is this just his opinion? Thanks in advance!

Response #3:    

I would agree with everything your pastor said . . . right up until he says "I can see no reason for assuming that John is talking about a precisely defined time span". Simply put, this personal conclusion is not supported by the prior analysis he gives here. The fact that the number 1000 is sometimes used in a metaphorical way (four examples are given) does not mean that it is always used in that way. A quick check of any concordance will show that the vast majority of the time 1000 means 1000 in the Bible. The passages given as examples are all cases of poetic language used in poetic passages, therefore that explains the metaphorical usage in the four examples given. But Revelation is prose, not poetry, and John goes out of its way to tell us when he is seeing "a sign" that is not to be taken literally, meaning that the burden of proof is upon those who would take anything else in Revelation as a mere metaphor.

Generally speaking, the word which more often used for an unlimited or large number is not 1000 but "ten thousand", or "myriad" in Greek. Moreover, John is not at all shy about saying "forever" – so why not say "forever" here, if that is what is meant?

One of the key pieces of evidence generally overlooked by those who have their doubts about the literal Millennium is that of the seven days of re-construction in Genesis and the parallel to them of the seven days of human history to follow (see the link: "The Seven Days of Human History"). The seventh day of rest would invite us to conjecture a thousand year end to history under Christ's rule even if we did not have the testimony of Moses, Peter, and John about this. But of course we do, and nothing about the passages where this testimony is given suggests that they are not talking about a literal thousand years. What they say is clear. That's not an opinion – unless believing what the Bible clearly and straightforwardly says is opinionated.

As to the title of your email and the tone of the second paragraph, I am at the disadvantage of coming into this conversation in the middle, but if what you are asking and if what this person is saying is that the devil is currently "bound", nothing could be further from the truth. On the one hand, it would be very difficult to read the newspaper or listen to the news and see how quickly and rapidly human society is degenerating into gross evil not to understand as a Christian that the devil is very much at work in all this. On the other hand, Revelation 20:7 follows Revelation 20:6 where we are told that Christ has been ruling with His saints on earth. So regardless of how long this reign of glory lasts (even if a person wants to resist the truth of a literal Millennium), it is nevertheless very clearly the case that the release of Satan follows that period; it doesn't precede it. It certainly makes sense for the Son of God to remove the devil while He is removing all other stumbling blocks out of His kingdom, and that is certainly what scripture teaches. That day to come will be glorious beyond compare, but we have a long stretch of "bad road" between here and the Second Advent, and as bad as things are now, they will get worse once the Tribulation commences and the Restrainer ceases His ministry of restraint, allowing the evil one and his son the beast full rein during those dark seven years (see the link: "The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit"). Our part is to hold to the truth, not dismiss it, so that Jesus' question to us on this point will receive a resounding affirmative reply on that day of days when He returns for us.

However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth
Luke 18:8 TNIV

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

Hello Brother Bob,

I hope all is well with you and your ministry! My question concerns the Red Heifer and the rebuilding of the temple. Since Jesus Christ is the final once and for all sacrifice (It is Finished), what is the purpose of reinstating temple sacrifices, and when would these be done. It seems to me that would infer that Christ's work on the cross was not sufficient, or at least this act would demean it. How would Christ be involved in all this?

Response #4:     

Timing is everything in the application of Christian doctrine to life situations. When Jesus told His disciples, "sell your cloak and buy a sword", He was indicating that a different standard of behavior would apply after Pentecost than had applied during His three and half year earthly ministry. In Eden, the eating of meat was not permissible; after the flood, it is overtly authorized. Under the dispensation of Israel, all males were required to gather at Jerusalem for the great festivals three times a year; that is not possible nor authorized today. One could go on. Today, during the age of the Church, temple sacrifice is indeed unauthorized for the very reason you state, for it is "crucifying the Son of God afresh" (Heb.6:6). Since there is no temple at present, such violation of God's commands is not presently possible, but it was until 70 A.D., and the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem did in fact fall into the trap of going back to the old which had been invalidated by the new (explaining this is a large part of the purpose and content of the book of Hebrews).

We do know that there will be animal sacrifice during the Millennium (cf. the description of the millennial temple in Ezek.40). However, the purpose of those sacrifices will be different. No longer will they look forward to a Messiah who has not yet come and suffered and died for sin (as was the case under the law, so that continuation in the temple rite by Jewish Christians was utter blasphemy, insinuating that Christ had not really come or that His sacrifice had been insufficient). The purpose of millennial temple rite and millennial sacrifices will instead be to memorialize what Jesus has already done in dying for the sins of the world. The key is not the sacrifices themselves but what they represent – and this will no doubt be very clearly taught at that time when "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab.2:14). Please see the link: "Animal sacrifice during the Millennium".

As to the red heifer and the millennial temple. I know there is a theory making the rounds (the so-called "red heifer prophecy") that the temple rite cannot be re-instituted unless and until the red heifer is "found" in order to make proper purification according to the Law. However, I do not find such a technical necessity spelled out in the Bible; I note that the original tabernacle did not require it; I also note that we do not find this specific procedure outlined as having been used when the temple was purified on several occasions under the kings of Judah (please see the link: "The Red Heifer and the Future Temple"). More importantly than any of this, my reading of Revelation indicates very clearly to me that it will be Moses and Elijah who rebuild the temple (or at least finish it), and that this will happen only once the Tribulation has begun (see the link: in CT 3A, "The Two Witnesses"). Finally, the procedures for the inauguration of the tribulational-millennial temple are actually outlined in Ezekiel 40:18ff., and there is no mention there of the red heifer or the water of purification.

The Tribulation will bring many important changes of situation that will alter what is proper biblical practice. Key among these will be self-defense and military resistance yielding to non-violence and martyrdom as the standard by which believers must live during the Great Persecution (to be covered specifically in part 7 of Coming Tribulation, but for now please see in CT 4, "The Worldwide Anti-Christian Religion", and "The Great Persecution"). One other such change will be the re-institution of sacrifices which, as in the Millennium, will be memorials rather than shadows of things to come. This will be a clear sign to the worldwide Jewish community of the truth of Jesus Christ and will be part and parcel of the great awakening of Israel from unbelief. And with Moses and Elijah in charge of the entire operation, there is no chance of the meaning being misunderstood.

In anticipation of all these things and the resurrection which follows for all who love Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Dear Bob,

I've been hearing a lot about the post-tribulation rapture for some time. My questions are as follows:

1. What is the difference between the groups of believers that comprise the Bride, and the guests at the marriage supper? John the Baptist considered himself a friend of the Bridegroom, this would make him a GUEST at the marriage supper!

2. In a post-trib rapture scenario, when and where will the Bride of Christ be arrayed in fine linen, and relative to that event, when will the guests arrive at the marriage supper?

I believe that the Bride can be arrayed in only one place after arriving at the Father's mansion -- HEAVEN!

So, when is she taken by the Bridegroom prior to the guests arriving at the wedding feast in Heaven?

It is logical to assume that the bride would be arrayed before the wedding reception, and before any guests arrive. In my view the parable of the marriage supper implies that the marriage had already been consummated (Rev 19:14). It stands to reason that the arraying of the Bride, and the guests arriving at the supper would not occur simultaneously as in the case of a post-tribulation rapture. How can they be reconciled in that same last-day time frame?

My understanding is that both the pre-trib rapture and the last-day raising of all saints constitute the first resurrection. Believers who have devoted their entire lives to Christ during this Church age will become his body, and those who fall short of this endeavor will be the guests at the marriage supper, which include Trib-saints and O.T. saints. Your comments are welcome. Thank you.

Response #5:   

First let me say that the chronology for all this is laid out in some detail at the following link: The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride (in CT 5). At 1st Corinthians 15:23-24, Paul tells us that the resurrection occurs in three echelons: 1) Christ; 2) "those who are His at His coming"; 3) "the end". "The end" clearly refers to the end of human history, and this group of individuals consists of all who believe in Jesus from the point of time immediately following the post-trib rapture at Christ's return until the final moment of the Millennium. As "His coming" is a clear reference to the second advent, this is the next and middle echelon, the resurrection of all believers from Adam and Eve until the point of Jesus' return at the end of the Tribulation. The wedding supper will take place in Jesus' millennial kingdom, not immediately upon His return, but following the seven judgments that accompany that return (this subject will be covered in the forthcoming installment of "Coming Tribulation"; for a discussion see the link: The "Seven Thunders" of Revelation 10:3-4.). These judgments are:

1. Babylon

2. The Armies of Armageddon

3. The Beast and the False Prophet

4. Fire upon Magog and the Coastlands

5. The Incarceration of Satan and his Demons

6. The Regathering and Purging of Israel

7. The Judgment of the Church (where we are rewarded; this is already posted at the link)

Clearly, the wedding supper must follow the rewarding of the Church (among other things, our places at the banquet are rank-related), and the celebration generally must follow on the heels of all the "cleaning up" judgments that constitute the preliminary establishment of Christ's millennial kingdom.

The "friends of the Bride" are those who believe but who are not yet resurrected, that is, all those many individuals, especially in Israel, who would not believe until they saw with their own eyes Jesus return as the Messiah. As to John the baptist, he is speaking in first advent terms wherein Jesus is the true focus of attention and he, John, is merely the forerunner (that is the force and the purpose of his analogy; he certainly does not have resurrection in view when he says this). The only way John could be around for the banquet is to be resurrected, and he will certainly be there along with the other Old Testament saints:

There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.
Luke 13:28 NIV

No offense, but I think you may be attempting to push John's words too far here. In the analogy, he is the "official" friend of the bridegroom, akin to the best man. If we take these words "literally" to that extreme degree, we will have to exclude any one else from friendship (i.e., John is "the friend who attends the bridegroom"). However, please note that in Revelation chapter nineteen we are talking about the friends (plural) of the Bride (the Church), and not the friend (singular) of the Bridegroom. John plays a very special first advent role, but I don't think there is any basis here for assuming that he is shut out of the second advent resurrection as a consequence.

Please note also that none of these things occurs in the third heaven. It is a common misconception based upon medieval Roman catholic theology that "heaven" is ultimate destination God has designed for us; in reality, heaven is a temporary abode for God and also therefore temporary for us. God originally dwelt with the angels on earth, and originally fellowshiped with the first man and woman on earth; and earth will be the place for the temporal penultimate "Eden" (i.e., the millennial Jerusalem) as well as for the ultimate seventh Eden (i.e., the New Jerusalem, which of course "descends from heaven" onto the new earth at the end of time; cf. Rev.21-22). Please see the link: "The Seven Edens". There is no indication from scripture that those of us who survive to be resurrected at Christ's return will ever set eyes on the third heaven at all. It is possible, but, clearly, the focal point of our eternal future is here on earth (the NEW earth, that is) and not in the place where God has voluntarily sequestered Himself to avoid having to bring the currently corrupt creation into immediate, terminal judgment.

In my reading of scripture, the arraying to which you refer (cf. Rev.19:8) has to do with the rewards we are given based upon our service in time. I agree that this will occur before the wedding supper, which is celebratory, but after the resurrection, which is the wedding per se. This will all happen on earth, in the millennial Jerusalem.

Finally, I don't know of any scripture that suggests that resurrection is based upon merit. Quite the contrary, while merit is rewarded (crowns et al.), all who are truly believers are saved, and a key part of that salvation is our resurrection (at our own proper time). This is in fact "our Christian hope". Those who refused to believe during the Tribulation and prior are the ones who are not resurrected.

In any case, I think this touches upon all aspects of your questions and observations. But do feel free to write back about any of this.

In eager anticipation of that wonderful day to come!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

I have never understood why God would allow Satan to be released from his prison after 1,000 years instead of just leaving him there forever. Someone told me that God is testing man to see if they would still rebel under His rulership, but if this is so, then why wait until the 1,000 years are over? Thanks in advance!

Response #6:    

Scripture doesn't say why, of course, so that we are left with speculation. It is indeed the case that God could leave Satan in the Abyss – or He could throw him directly into the lake of fire as He will do with the beast and his false prophet. Of course God could do that right now, could have done it after Satan's testing of Christ (or before), could have done it immediately after his rebellion (or even before). I do think that the reason why the devil and his angels are allowed such latitude in human history is for the sake of all of God's creatures, human and angelic alike. As I explain in the five part Satanic Rebellion series (see the link), the issue of free-will faith in coming to God, obeying and serving God, is absolutely critical in everything God has done in creating us and in directing human history. If our faith is not tested, it will remain unclear as to whether it is genuine or not. In the parable of the Sower, the faith-plant which dies withers under the heat of testing – proving that it was not a deep-rooted and sincere faith. Had there been testing, that would never have become clear. Had Adam and Eve never been tempted, they probably would never have fallen, and if there were no testing of those who grow up in the perfect conditions of the Millennium, many of these individuals likewise will not be making a true choice. We have to have a fair choice and a fair test of our faith if we do choose for the Lord. The fact that most of the millennial population will remain peaceful and sedate under the Messiah's perfect rule for a thousand years, but will then almost instantaneously grab at the chance to dethrone Jesus when Satan is released speaks volumes about the human heart. These people have to have their chance and their fair test as we all do, and this is the way scripture tells us that God will provide it: by giving them an opportunity to openly reject the perfect King for the age-old usurper. Waiting for 1000 years allows God to fulfill all the promises to Israel, all the promises about the Millennium (which would not be as grand and wonderful with the devil and his cohorts loose), all the promises about the Messiah's reign, and all without the hindrance of an outside force. It also demonstrates quite clearly how ungrateful most people are to God in their heart of hearts, and also that perfect environment is not the solution to evil; i.e., the fallacy that "if only there weren't poverty, disease and oppression", people would be better. In fact, the only reason that these rebels are quiet before Satan's release is because the King will tolerate no disorder until this time when the true colors of the remaining population of the earth will be revealed.

In service to our King Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hi Bob,

How are you doing? Once again thank you for all the series that you continue to post on your website. Your assistance here, I haven't found independent historic sources to verify the prophecy that Ezekiel made saying Babylon would conquer Egypt. Ezekiel predicted that Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon would conquer Egypt utterly destroying it, slaying and scattering it's people, and that it would stay uninhabited for 40 years. Here is what I got:

In 568 BCE Nebuchadnezzar tried to conquer Egypt and Egypt survived with no apparent damage.

Aahmes ruled for another generation over a prosperous Egypt and lived to see Nebuchadrezzar die. No Egyptians were scattered or dispersed.

(Ezek 29:10 NRSV) therefore, I am against you, and against your channels, and I will make the land of Egypt an utter waste and desolation, from Migdol to Syene, as far as the border of Ethiopia.

(Ezek 29:11 NRSV) No human foot shall pass through it, and no animal foot shall pass through it; it shall be uninhabited forty years.

(Ezek 29:12 NRSV) I will make the land of Egypt a desolation among desolated countries; and her cities shall be a desolation forty years among cities that are laid waste. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries.

(Ezek 30:10 NRSV) Thus says the Lord GOD: I will put an end to the hordes of Egypt, by the hand of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon.

(Ezek 30:11 NRSV) He and his people with him, the most terrible of the nations, shall be brought in to destroy the land; and they shall draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with the slain.

Was Ezekiel wrong?

Response #7:   

I think rather that that the fragmentary, extra-biblical historical record is inaccurate. I am not an expert on this, but I do know that our understanding of the history of Egypt is particularly troubled throughout the Old Testament time-frame, and there is still disagreement over exactly what the Babylonian empire did and did not accomplish (and under which king). Suffice it to say that I would not be willing to throw out the biblical testimony on the basis of very spotty and very unsure secular sources, most of which are much later than the actual events. That said, what I do know about the secular and biblical details seems to me to be not irreconcilable. I would question your contemporary source. For example, how could we possibly know now, over 2,500 years after the fact, whether or not Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Egypt produced "no apparent damage". Archeology, a very suspect source, would be our only source for this bit of negative proof. 

Here is what C.L. Fineberg says in The Prophecy of Ezekiel: "The period between Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Egypt and Cyrus' victory was about forty years, so the forty years are understood as the period when Babylon was supreme over Egypt . . . As already indicated, though the monuments and relics of that land indicate nothing of this period, a fulfillment in the past is not thereby ruled out" (p.169). This is fine way of saying that at this late date we cannot say for certain that Egypt was not indeed devastated. Japan, for example, was hit with two nuclear bombs and the rest of her cities fire-bombed into oblivion during WWII, but less than forty years later she had made a remarkable recovery to the point where I think future archeology would be hard-pressed to discover the truth without a written account.

On the exiles et al., here is what I have posted elsewhere on that passage (see the link: Ezekiel 29:12):

On Ezek.29:12, Nebuchadnezzar did indeed conquer and subdue Egypt. The secular records of this period are not particularly helpful vis- -vis the biblical comment here about the exiles, but this was in the ancient world and still continues to be in the modern world a very typical phenomenon when a nation is conquered (a flood of expatriates who only return, if ever, when political conditions change). The Babylonian captivity of Israel lasted seventy years, beginning in 570 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Egypt in ca. 568. Cyrus the Great and the Persian empire conquered Babylon in ca. 538, and Egypt came under their control sometime thereafter. Following its fall to Babylon, Egypt of the Pharaoh's never did again assert itself. It was conquered by Alexander the Great in the fourth century and became a great kingdom under the Ptolemies, but that was really a Greek kingdom. Today, Egypt is an Arabic speaking nation of Islamic culture. So on the one hand, this prophecy of forty years will fit nicely into what we know of the contemporary historical situation of that early time. This verse does also have end-times application, for the Egypt of the future will be the focal point of the southern alliance which opposes antichrist during the first half of the Tribulation. It too will be humbled at that time, and be a "lowly nation" at the beginning of the Millennium (cf. Is.19).

It is true that Ezekiel puts this in very absolute terms So I will go with Ezekiel. Happy to discuss this further.

May the grace of Christ be with you.

Bob L.

Question #8:  

Hi Bob

Thanks for your response which has gone a long way in showing me 'the other side'. What I find disturbing though is fact that Ezekiel predicted an outright destruction; why is it not in secular history? The destruction of Jerusalem in 60AD is - this is the kind of destruction Ezekiel predicted, and all history College departments would agree with the Bible on this one. Personally I don't think the prophecy did not come to pass, but then what could have happened?

Response #8:    

You are certainly welcome. A part of the issue here may that of translation in dealing with the ancient Hebrew language and culture. Hebrew prophecy (and OT Hebrew generally) is very emphatic. Our western culture, on the other hand, is (or rather likes to think of itself as being) very precise. Therefore in order to render passages of this sort in a proper way one usually has to turn down the volume a bit. For example, "all" in Hebrew prophecy often means "an incredibly large amount" rather than "every last single thing in this category". Our mindset is to see it the latter way and pronounce scripture "wrong" if our linguistic conventions and expectations are not precisely met, failing to take into account the original audience, along with its language and culture. You would think with all of the complications this has caused and continues to cause in the world today (I think of all the misunderstandings between Arabic and English, and between Middle Eastern cultures and US culture going both ways), that people would understand that going back in time 2 to 3 thousand years does not make this less of an issue! So instead of making what I would call proper adjustments of volume downward in Hebrew prophecy, some translations (like the one you reference) have at times failed to do so or even gone the opposite way.

For example, in the quote from Ezekiel 29:10, the Hebrew may actually say (with what I would consider a likely vocalization; cf. the LXX version) "desolated by the sword, a devastation". In any case, the words "utter" and "desolation" when placed together lend credence to this (probably erroneous) idea of 100% complete depopulation, certainly a likelihood but not necessarily demanded by the language (i.e., it is possible that Germany/Japan after WWII would fit the bill at least for parts of the descriptions in biblical terms).

But there is another related and even more important issue here. Clearly, this prophecy is designed to encourage the Israelite believers and, if they will, to bring about a change of heart in the Egyptians. This is the purpose of prophecy – it is not meant just to give information about the future without any present purpose. So to that extent it had to be expansive and present the "worst case scenario". Bringing about repentance always requires "tough talk", and God is certainly within His rights to change such prophecy in response to a change of heart:

If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.
Jeremiah 18:7-8 NIV

I will be the first to admit, that these passages you quote do suggest complete devastation, one that seems unlikely given the historical record. But in addition to 1) the fact that our understanding of that record is woefully incomplete, and 2) the fact that the prophecies themselves do potentially allow in the common usage of that medium something short of a 100% devastation on the scale of the "surface of Mars", there is also the fact to consider that God is not bound by prophecies of cursing or blessing because these depend upon the human behavior they are designed to influence as well. After all, a large part of the reason to prophecy blessing is to reinforce the good behavior of the audience, whereas a large part of the reason to prophecy cursing is to change the bad behavior of the audience.

We have an unmistakable example of the former in the case of Nineveh and Jonah's preaching about their coming destruction. That "destruction" is likewise not visible for his time period, because the people of Nineveh repented and the prophecy was withdrawn (cf. the Lord's similar "relenting" in regard to the prophecy of Micah of Moreseth: Jer.26:18-19). We have an an example of the opposite situation in the case of Israel which was destined to be blessed beyond all the nations but disciplined with partial (Assyria) and then total (Babylon) devastation on account her faithlessness. It is possible that Egypt or the small Jewish community therein exhibited a level of repentance sufficient to ward off the total devastation that these verses seem to suggest. The pattern we see in the actions of our gracious and compassionate Lord in scripture is, rather than to destroy the righteous with the wicked, to deliver the righteous, either through or from the disaster. This was Abraham's understanding of things as well in Genesis 18-19 where God told him "for the sake of ten [righteous] I will not destroy [Sodom]" (Gen.18:32). Since there were not even close to ten righteous in Sodom, God did destroy the place, but not before delivering Lot and his daughters from the disaster. This principle is also seen when God tells Ezekiel that not even "Noah, Daniel or Job" could save a country which sins against the Lord by being "unfaithful" and that they could in such a circumstance "only save themselves by their righteousness" (Ezk.14:14-20). It is possible that as a result of this prophecy there developed in Egypt a small "remnant of the faithful", whether Egyptian or Jewish or a combination of both, sufficient to bring about a merciful reprieve from the desolation threatened by these verses.

So I would say that while there is much that we do not know about the archaeological record, there is also much we do not know about the spiritual record. What we do know by faith is that God is consistent and truthful, and that therefore this prophecy was either fully carried out according to what it actually says and means (and according to what actually happened in that distant time and place), or that – if it was lessened to any degree – there was a good and holy reason for it.

Hope this is helpful.

In the One who mercifully forgives us all of our sins whenever we call upon Him to do so on the basis of the blood of our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Should we trust any so-called prophecy by a Roman Catholic? I find it odd how some evangelical Christians back up this prophecy made by St. Malacy:

St. Malachy's Prophecy - Hal Lindsey

"As I studied the many Biblical prophecies of the last days, I found a most unusual extra-Biblical prophecy made by an Irish Catholic Bishop in the 12th Century. His name is St. Malachy. According to his biographer St. Bernard of Clairvaux, in his book Life of St. Malachy, St Malachy was known to have the gift of prophecy and even predicted the exact day and hour of his own death. St. Malachy was canonized in 1190 by Pope Clement 111. According to his biographer, St. Malachy visited Rome in 1139 when he went into a trance and received a vision. Malachy wrote down this extraordinary vision in which he claims to have foreseen all the Popes from the death of Innocent 11, until the destruction of the Church and the return of Christ. He named exactly 112 Popes from the time until the end. St. Malachy wrote a few prophetically descriptive words in Latin about each one of the Popes. He then gave the manuscript to Pope Innocent 11 and it was deposited in the Vatican Archives where it was forgotten for several centuries. Then in 1590, it was rediscovered and published. The interesting thing is that scholars have matched 110 descriptive predictions with each of the 110 Popes and anti-Popes that there have been since Innocent 11. Though they are a bit obscure, they have fit the general profile of each of the Popes. Here are a few examples;

Pope No. 108 - Paul V1 (1968-78). The prophecy for the 108th Pope, was "Flos Florum," which means, 'Flower of flowers'. Paul's V1's coat of arms contained three fleurs-de-lis (Isis blossoms).

Pope No. 109 - John Paul 1 (1978). The prophecy for the 109th Pope was "De Medietate Lunae", which means 'the half moon.' John Paul 1 was born in the diocese of Belluno (beautiful moon) and was baptized by Albino Luciani (white light). He became Pope when there was a half moon (August 26,1978). He died the next month after an eclipse of the moon.

Pope No. 110 - John Paul 11 (1978-2005). The prophesy for the 110th Pope was "De Labore Solis" which means 'from the labor of the sun." John Paul 11 was born during an eclipse of the sun on May 8, 1920. As the sun rises in the east, so he came to the Vatican from the east. Wherever the sun shines, he visited.

Pope John Paul 11 was aware of these prophesies and at least once referred to them with great concern.

But it is the prophecy of the 112th and last Pope that is fascinating. St Malachy predicts "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign 'Petrus Romanus' (Peter the Roman), who will feed his flock amid many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful judge will judge the people."

I find it odd how Hal Lindsey supports a Roman Catholic's prophecy, unless God somehow used him. Could this be true? Thanks in advance!

Response #9:   

I feel sorry for Hal Lindsey. There has been no active gift of prophecy since the apostles departed from the scene. The Roman catholic church is in my view not even a Christian institution, so that whoever is its "pope" makes little difference to me (and no difference to prophecy or the course of the end times). I don't know the details of this so called prophecy beyond the fact that it is most likely fictitious, that is, not even by the person in question, having surfaced only half a millennium after the death of this so-called saint. I also don't have time to run down a detailed correlation of popes, but it is also my understanding that the lists only match up if one follows the made-up list of popes following Peter (no one was really a "pope" per se until Gregory the Great, then they went backwards to establish a mythology), and that one also has to count some of the anti-popes in the days when the papal see was divided in order to get the list to work. Finally, the monikers which the prophecy puts on the individual popes are extremely general, leaving lots of leeway for anyone who wants to allow their imaginations to run riot. Just like astrology and Chinese fortune cookies which are so general as to be able to apply to almost anyone, this sort of thing has always appealed to the weak-minded. We who are of Christ look to the scriptures, and we know that salvation comes by grace through faith – making anything Roman catholic highly suspect since they pursue salvation by works and membership. St. Malachy might indeed have been a good man and a Christian. But the person who wrote the "prophecies" was an attention seeker; and the people who pay attention to them are, as one old professor of mine once quipped, "either liars, fools, or charlatans".

Thanks for the reference! It's always good to be apprised of the latest snares that the devil is laying down for the truly faithful.

In our Lord Jesus for whose return we so anxiously wait.

Bob L.

Question #10:  

In Revelation 10:3,4 it mentions 7 thunders and tells John to write them not. What are the 7 thunders? Also, in Revelation 22:8,9, how can John who wrote a few books in the bible and was filled with the spirit fall down at the feet to worship an angel? Wouldn't he have known better that only God is to be worshiped? Thanks in advance!

Response #10:    

Thunder is the echo of lightning, the fire of God, and is indicative of judgment. The seven thunders represent the seven judgments associated with the Second Advent and occurring just prior to it, contemporaneously with it, and just after it. These judgments are:

1. Babylon destroyed (Rev.18).

2. The Armies of Armageddon destroyed (Rev.19:1-21).

3. The Beast and the False Prophet consigned to the lake of fire (Rev.19:20).

4. The Incarceration of Satan and his Demons (Rev.20:1-3).

5. Fire upon Magog and the Coastlands (Ezek.39:6; cf. Rev.20:9).

6. The Regathering and Purging of Israel (Ezek.20:34-38; cf. Rev.21-22).

7. The Judgment of the Church (Rom.2:16; 2Cor.5:10; cf. Rev.2:26-27; 3:21; 20:4-6; now posted at the link).

Just as the first half of the Tribulation is begun with seven judgments of warning (the trumpet judgments), and the Second Advent is preceded by seven judgments of punishment (the bowl judgments), so the actual return of Christ is accompanied by these seven "thunder" judgments. I will have more about this all in the forthcoming part 6 of Coming Tribulation: Last Things, but until that is available please see these two links:

The Seven Thunders predict Judgment

The Seven Thunders of Revelation 10

Your point about John "knowing better" is quite apropos of the circumstances – and remember he did this twice (Rev.19:10 and Rev.22:8-9). This only goes to show that the glory of heavenly things is far beyond anything we can presently imagine if even John, who had seen our resurrected Lord in person before He was glorified, could be so overcome by the glory of angelic visions to be moved to do this. On this please see the link where I treat this passage in its sequence in Revelation:

The Testimony about Jesus (Rev.19:10)

There I write in conclusion:

John is not to be found fault with here for being overcome emotionally in this way. Certainly, he well understood that the worshiping of any created thing was wrong, even angels in their glory in the midst of an overwhelming revelation of this sort. The fact that John was not able to help himself was of divine design, in order that we might see this scene (and the one in Revelation chapter 22), and learn an important lesson. No matter how great the wonders we may anticipate, no matter how great the wonders our eyes may behold in the future, and no matter how impressive the false wonders antichrist may display on earth, the real power, the real glory, the real wonder, the truth is in Jesus Christ and His Word, the Bible.

Hope this helps.

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Dr.,

I am attaching a picture of me and an Iraqi Arab translator that works for me at one of the entry control points where I am stationed. I am on a base not far from Balad about 40 miles north of Baghdad. I thought you would like to know how far your work is reaching. It is very dry here with no rain and I wonder if there are spiritual reasons for it. Is God with holding his blessings and will the area once again be green when the blessings return, during the millennium, if the people here will attend the fall festivals in Jerusalem. What do you think happened to the Northern tribes of Israel? What is meant by EZK 37 where the stick of Joseph is combined with the stick of Judah? Did the Church become Israel (Joseph)? If Christians were to flee Babylon and go to Israel would that be a possible explanation for EZK 37?

Thanks for the insights.

Response #11:   

Thanks for the picture! As to the northern tribes, there are a number of statements in the Old Testament that make it clear that while the majority of these tribes were transported into the inner regions of the Assyrian empire, there were members of all tribes who survived in the land of Judah or in some places just to the north. Some of these had moved south previously; some evacuated at the time of the crisis; some were never taken yet survived. All these remained behind and later became in turn part of the Babylonian captivity. The numbers may be small relative to Judah, but just as the Lord rose up the twelve tribes from one man, so He is fully capable of preserving a remnant from every tribe (I think of the case of Benjamin which was almost wiped out in Judg.19-21, but which was preserved and yielded among others the first king, Saul, and the greatest apostle, Paul).

Please see the following links for more on this:

Who are the ten lost tribes of Israel?

Who is true Israel?

Are the Celts the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel?

I appreciate the way you apply God's Word to your life and circumstances. As it says in Psalm 1, "in the Law of the Lord is his delight, and in His teaching he meditates day and night". I take the two sticks in Ezekiel 37 primarily to be demonstrating that during the Millennium there will no longer be any hostility between north and south, between tribe and tribe, but the Messiah will reign over all without brooking any opposition. You do however make a very good point. The message of unity, of "brothers living together in peace" (cf. Ps.133) is certainly the prominent idea, and this passage was written well after the northern exile (when one would assume there was no such north-south hostility left to speak of), and, finally, we read later in Ezekiel 47:22 that aliens who settle among the Israelites in that day are to be considered "as native-born". Couple with all this the fact that the Church, the including of the gentiles and Israel in one Body, the Body of Christ, was still not revealed when Ezekiel wrote this but remained as yet a mystery, and I think it is legitimate to see in this passage at the very least an application of the wedding together of all God's people into one. It may also be the case that this is a prophetic anticipation of the melding together of the great parts of the human family of God in eternity, beginning with Messiah's reign, namely, the Church proper and the "friends of the Bride" or millennial believers who will (indication are) match the Church precisely in number by the time history comes to an end.

Thank you for the observation! I will certainly keep it in mind in my research of CT 6.

O Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, who shields my head in the day of battle.
Psalm 140:7 NIV

Best wishes for a safe and successful tour.

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

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Thanks Dr for the response on the Northern Tribes.

Your view of EZK 37: 15-30 is the most widely accepted. That is, it speaks of a time in the future when all the tribes of Israel will live in peace under one king. Most people believe this is a reference to the millennium period. Although I respect the majority view, I have difficulty with this view. First the prophecy is in the future tense. God says "I will join" not I have joined. When this prophecy was given the Northern tribe had been gone for over 100 years. If some of the NTs migrated south, which they surely did, and became, with Judah, all the was left of 12 tribes, then what other Kingdom is God talking about who will , in the future, join with the stick of Judah?

As to Paul and other members of the NTs who are mentioned in the New Testament. The Benjamites were always part of the the southern kingdom anyway, as was most of Levi, and besides the prophecy itself accounts for migration by some in the NK by stating "Judah and those Israelites associated with him".

Personally, I think the question of the two sticks is intriguing. There are two other possibilities in my mind. One is the Khazar theory. Briefly, the NTs migrated to the area generally in the area of Afghanistan. They became the Khazars, who converted to, or really, returned to Judism. Later they became the Ashkenazi Jews, who with Zionism, and the Holocaust, joined with the Sephardic Jews in Israel, thus fullfilling EZK 37. The other possibility is that the second kingdom that joins with the Jews are Christians. Christians can either be physical or spiritual descendants from Abraham. Paul says that Christians are of the seed of Abraham. Peter, speaking to Christians, albeit, Jewish ones, but Christians still, quotes Hosea in saying that they were not a people but now are a people of a living God.

Thanks for the time and effort you put towards helping Bible students understand the Bible. The above are just some thoughts, thinking out loud, and don't expect for you to have to spend any time answering them. I will continue to seek answers and continue to follow your work.

Response #12:   

Thanks for your e-mail. You make some interesting points. As to the future, well, all prophecy looks forward by definition and the Millennium is certainly still future. As I say, I appreciate the fact that at the time this prophecy was given, the Northern Kingdom had been extinct for centuries. True, Benjamin was not taken away in the first exile, but there are sufficient passages chronicling the survival of a remnant from all of the other tribes as well to allow us to posit a complete 12 + 1 tribe Israel without seeking out the lost tribes in such inventive ways (the links in the previous e-mail deal with these questions). And as I also say, I think there is merit in your seeing the Church included here. The one problem or maybe I should sticking-point for me on that is that Israel is the Church and the Church is Israel (see the link: Israel the ultimate organization of the Church). Several thousand years of inaccurate theology have confused that point so that it is almost universal among Christians to see these as two separate entities, whereas in fact we are all one Body, Christ's Church. However, since at the point of the Messiah's rule the Church will have already been resurrected, we may well see in this prophecy the harmony of all believers, the resurrected Church, along with those who constitute the blessed double portion of the Messiah, the "friends of the Bride" )who will not be resurrected until the end of the Millennium). This second group will be drawn from Jews and gentiles as well. Together all will serve Messiah the King during the Millennium in perfect unity, for which circumstance the joining together of the two sticks is a perfect metaphor.

I will continue to keep this issue in mind for my research on the next part of the CT series (where this topic will be treated).

Thanks again for your service and for your love of the Word of God.

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

 

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