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The 144,000 and the Two Witnesses of the Tribulation

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Question #1: 

Dear Mr. Luginbill,

Where does the idea that the 144,000 thousand males from all the tribes of Israel become witnesses for Jesus Christ during the tribulation? I cannot find anything in the book of Revelations to support that. I read of their separation or marking and then I read that they are in the heavenly realm serving the Lord singing a song that only they know. I also read that they are virgins and innocent.

Some writers state that those in this group are 'spiritual virgins'. Others state that the tribes names are wrong so this 144,000 is a symbolic number of people and not necessarily Jewish. The scriptures state that they are of the first fruits of the redeemed out of the earth. In chapter 14 this group is seen with Christ whom they follow where ever He goes.

At first glance, it seems that the 144,000 must be male children or at least young males that have not reached marriageable age and are so orthodox as to have not engaged in sexual activity. That they are said to be without guile also seems to indicates that they are young. I personally like to think that the Lord removes 144,000 of the male children for His own (which also would keep them from persecution or harm during the last days) but that's just me thinking how perfect that would be in light of historical attempts to get rid of Jewish male children.

During Jewish history male children have been the focus of infanticide at least twice. Once during the Egyptian period of Jewish slavery and once when Herod ordered the murder of all male children under the age of two. If there are other times then I am still unaware of them. The holocaust brought about the murder of hundreds of thousands innocent Jewish children of any age regardless of gender. This is also true during historical times of war involving Jewish cities or the nations of Israel and Judah. Russia is also responsible for the murder of countless Jewish children, babies and pregnant women.

I mention that because the count of murdered Jewish children of both genders would be far greater then 144,000 but the count of Jewish male children specifically murdered by degree would probably be less then 144,000. (The scriptures tell us that the Jewish midwives refused to kill the male children when they helped to deliver them.) Bethlehem was too small at the time of Jesus's birth to support a considerable amount of male children under the age of two. So my thinking on this subject is probably whimsical to say the least. Throughout history has any other people seen the slaughter of so many of their unborn babies, newborns, infants, young children and teenagers?!

Back to my original question then ... in every single Christian church that I have attended, the 144,000 were viewed as witnesses to the Gospel during the tribulation. The popular fiction book series 'Left Behind' also views this group as witnesses for the Gospel. However, I cannot find anything biblically to support this viewpoint. As I read Revelations it seems that these are clearly males who are sealed by God, are virgins, are without guile and are taken out of the earth to be with the Lord in his temple and follow the Lord where ever He goes. That the tribes named are different for two names does not seem to change who they are ... in other words, they are Jewish.

This all said, I'd like to hear your opinion on this. Thanks for your fascinating website and excellent answers to so many people. My favorite answer concerns the meaning of 'the desire of women' in Daniel. Your answer is the most logical one I've ever read.

Response #1:  

Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words.

To answer your question, first, yes, the 144,000 are all Jewish males as you rightly discern. The information about them in the book of Revelation is literal and not symbolic: they are men, as it says, they are virgins, as it says, they are Jewish (12,000 from every tribe except the tribe of Dan), as it says, and there are 144,000 of them in toto, as it says. Your observation that this is what it looks like "at first glance" is spot on – this is what it looks like at second glance too. Only by adopting some very questionable hermeneutic approaches can these direct biblical statements be swept under the rug. They shouldn't be.

There is plenty of incorrect information out there in the ether about the Bible and its correct interpretation, but perhaps a greater volume of falsity for this book than any other. One reason for that is surely that we are rapidly approaching the end, and Satan is deeply desirous of having Christians as misinformed as possible about every aspect of the Tribulation. That mission has been accomplished pretty well: most within evangelicaldom don't even believe it's possible that they will even be around for the Tribulation (mistakenly; see the links: "No Rapture" and "When is the Rapture?").

The 144,000 are special, and they are "removed" specially, but by way of martyrdom. They constitute the first wave of the Great Persecution (see the link). And they are also special in terms of their role in bringing it about that a remnant of Jewish believers will be protected through the Great Tribulation in safety all the way to the resurrection at Christ's return. The 144,000 are instrumental in the revival of Israel which is evident from chapter twelve of Revelation. Revelation chapter twelve details the beast's attempt to destroy the believing remnant of Israel which flees to the place of safety in the desert prepared by the Lord for them. But where does this remnant come from? Obviously, there is no such remnant in the secular state of Israel today. Revelation chapter eleven details the ministry of the two witnesses who direct the revival, but clearly they cannot do all the evangelizing themselves. Revelation 11:1 gives us a picture of a restored temple wherein the worship is truly the worship of the Lord, and there are numerous worshipers present – this is the Jewish remnant, but where have they come from? The answer is that they have come from the four corners of the world in response to the worldwide ministry empowered by the Lord, orchestrated by the two witnesses, and carried out by the 144,000. Since the remnant we are talking about here is Jewish, it is important in a world-wide operation of this sort destined to have such wonderful results in so short a time that those who evangelize them be Jewish as well (for reasons that anyone familiar with the Jewish culture will understand well enough). All the details supporting this interpretation are to be found at the following links:

Characteristics of the 144,000 and their Ministry

The Martyrdom of the 144,000

The 144,000 are literal, not symbolic

The 144,000: God's Seal vs. the Mark of the Beast

The Two Witnesses

Part of the picture here is the reinstitution of Israel in a leadership role in the plan of God during the Tribulation (which is a joint era shared by the Ages of the Church and Israel). As such, a resurgence of the remnant of believing Jews as well as the evangelist network and leadership in Jerusalem to bring this about are essential parts.

Please have a look at the links above, and do feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hello,

I really enjoy your website and quote your articles in bible studies. Thank you for all your work.

I have a question, more like a comment on your article about "The Martyrdom of the 144,000".

I've studied prophecy for many years and I try to keep to the common sense of scripture, however I just don't see that Revelation 14:1-5 states that the 144,000 witnesses are martyred. I know that the Antichrist will persecute the Jews (pogrom) and given the hostile environment it is possible that they will. The passage states that the Apostle John first notices: "having His (Christ) Name and the Name of His Father written upon their foreheads." I have always assumed that Revelation 7:3 signifies the seal is God's supernatural protection, it makes sense given the prophetic timeline that the witnesses would need to be protected in order for the first group of saints, Revelation 6:9-11 and Revelation 7 to be saved. I know that the two witnesses will be killed and left where they fell, only to have God resurrect them in great glory and taken into Heaven on a cloud.

It does make sense that when the two witnesses are killed that the Antichrist would turn his attention to the witnesses, or vice versa, but scripture isn't clear on this. I guess it's more of a heart thing with me. The seal is Gods protection, they still have the seal on their heads as well as Christ. Can't they rapture these witnesses as easily as the church that remained alive and taken to meet Jesus in the air? It's obvious that the witnesses have fulfilled their task and paved the way for other prophecies to be fulfilled. I just don't see that the witnesses are martyred (at this time,) since I cannot find any other companion scriptures that explain help clarify Revelation 14:1-5.

Thank you for all your hard work, it's very obvious that you are very gifted in interpretation and posses great writing skills. With respect. God bless you.

Response #2: 

Good to hear from you again, and thanks much for your good words.

As to your question about the 144,000, they are indeed sealed for protection – but then all believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit (2Cor.1:20-21; Eph.1:13-14; 4:30). On the one hand, I cannot imagine a better measure of protection; on the other hand this present sealing does not mean that Christians today do not suffer from the predations of other human beings, the assaults of the evil one and his minions, or the general vicissitudes of life. The sealing of the Spirit does mean that nothing will happen to us outside of the will of God and that we will be protected to be able to carry out the mission Christ has for us in this life – even if the road gets rocky, and even if it leads to martyrdom (as it sometimes does, even though the Tribulation has yet to commence).

I fully expect that the road to be very rocky for the 144,000, but also that the protection symbolized by the seal will be sufficient in order for them to carry out every last detail of the missions they are given (e.g., Lk.21:18 compared with Lk.21:16). What I do not see is any guarantee – from their sealing or ours – of protection from trouble (in fact in their case it is special help because of anticipated exceptional trouble). In the end, the will of God will be carried out for us all, if only we are willing to accept that will. And if so wills the will of God for us to give our lives as the ultimate witness of faith in the dear Lord who died for us, that is something we need to learn to accept with joy – on account of His glorification and our resultant great reward (not the stuff of spiritual immaturity, obviously). So my first observation here would be that since there have been throughout the Old Testament many special individuals who have been under God's protection and were yet martyred (cf. Heb.11:36-40), and since all Church Age believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit yet that has not meant any such guarantee of deliverance from martyrdom when that has been God's will, that therefore we cannot suppose that the sealing of the 144,000 releases them from this possibility – after they have run their full course and at just the proper moment.

Secondly, the termination of the ministry of the 144,000 coincides with the beast's attack on Moses and Elijah and the commencement of the Great Tribulation, wherein one third of the Church will be martyred (the Great Persecution; see the link). Since these leaders of the Jewish revival will be put to death by antichrist (albeit revived by the Lord to demonstrate His power and ultimate victory), and since the rank and file of believers at this time will be martyred in great numbers, it would seem a bit odd if this group of evangelists standing between the two in rank were to be exempted; the highest ears of grain are more likely to be lopped off, and these are the highest after the two witnesses. Revelation 14:14-16 which speaks of the harvest of the martyrs certainly does not exempt anyone, so that the argument from silence I think tends to support the alternative – wouldn't they be noted as exempt if they were? I think you have seen this problem since in your email you are searching for ways they might be exempt. However, from my point of view this is even less likely because 1) the Church is not resurrected until the return of our Lord (i.e., there is no "pre-Tribulation rapture" prior to His parousia at the Second Advent; see the link); and therefore 2) believers sealed by the Spirit will populate the Tribulation, with many of them being martyred even so – all of which makes any special exemption for the 144,000 even more remote (rather it would seem to indicate that they are martyred as part of their prominence).

Scripture only has to say something once for it to be true, and with the background above, Revelation 14:1-5 becomes, for me at least, crystal clear. Verse one describes the 144,000 in heaven with the Lamb at this point – even though the Great Tribulation has just begun. The natural conclusion we are going to make in this context then without evidence to the contrary is that they have all arrived there nearly simultaneously through martyrdom – even Moses and Elijah were put to death before being resuscitated (not resurrected as will be the case when we "meet the Lord in the air") and taken to heaven. When in verse three we are told that the 144K have been "redeemed from the earth", since they are already believers, how are we to take this phrase except as a reference to sacrifice? That assumption is then confirmed in the next verse where we are told that they are "first" in being so "redeemed" – indicating that others will follow (the rest of the martyrs of the Great Persecution).

Finally, in my view the passages in the synoptic gospels which speak of the proper conduct of the 12 and the 72 whom our Lord sends out to evangelize most definitely do apply to the 144,000 as well (please see the link: in CT 2B: "The 144,000"); many of the things mentioned by our Lord in these passages do not even seem to be directly applicable in the first place at the time of His earthly ministry so that seeing many of these things as only completely fulfilled in the case of the 144,000 is even more certain, and we do know that death by martyrdom was prophesied by Him in this context (e.g., Matt.10:22; Mk.13:12; Lk.21:16) – something that did not happen to the 12 or the 72 (at least not during this period of special evangelism).

Taken together, I have no doubt about the matter. We are likely to find out all the details (and many more as well) first hand and very soon.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hello, Bob.

Thanks for your timely reply.

You make a good argument that the witnesses will, in fact be martyred during the antichrist's campaign. And I thank you for your insights and interpretation.

Whether the witnesses are martyred or not is irrelevant to the magnitude of their work and the harvest of new believers (saints) they will produce, not to mention the great Praise and Glory, both for the Father and Son. Nothing can impede the will of God and Christ, and nothing will stop the prophetic timeline from being fulfilled, regardless of anyone's interpretation. As Christians we don't need to know everything. The more we seek His knowledge, greater understanding will follow. I take comfort in this.

I am a little surprised, (and I say this with respectfully) that you don't believe in a pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church. To me personally there are many scriptures that indicate (in my walk and belief and hope) that support a pre-wrath rapture. In my heart I can't see Christ leaving His church at the beginning of the worst possible time in all history.

All though I like a good debate, events will pass regardless of our interpretation, like I've said above, everything will come about by God's will and His appointed time.

And again, I gain comfort and hope in His word.

Than you for all your insights.

In His Name.

Response #3:  

You are very welcome.

As to your remarks about the "rapture", I find them very interesting. I was indoctrinated in this view when I was younger as well (by an otherwise quite solid Bible teaching ministry). I find your comment about the "many verses" which prove it confusing, however, since it was only in the process of trying to defend the idea of a pre-Tribulation resurrection that I was forced to abandon that dearly loved (false) doctrine – for lack of any biblical evidence whatsoever. This is a theory that only "works" if a person believes in it and then goes to the scriptures looking for it; it is not a view that a person would ever come up with by reading the Bible absent already believing it. That is probably why I have since bumped into very many believers who, on their own and merely through reading scripture, have abandoned that view, but I have never met a single person who did not believe in a pre-Trib rapture but who, through reading scripture, was persuaded of it.

It does make a difference. The Tribulation is close at hand. We live in the lukewarm era of Laodicea, and the rapture theory greatly contributes to the false sense of lukewarm security many of our entertainment-oriented fellow Christians share. This will mean that many will be going into the Tribulation completely unprepared spiritually – not because on this one point they are misinformed, but because misinformation on this point has contributed to a lackadaisical attitude toward spiritual growth in general.

As far as "Christ leaving His Church", I do not find that to be the case at all. In this world He has predicted we will have tribulation (Jn.16:33), and if we are properly prepared those entering the Tribulation will have untold opportunities to glorify Him through our faith and faithfulness (harder to do if totally unprepared spiritually, however). He will be with us . . . if we are with Him.

If interested, I invite you to look at the Greek word parousia in the NT and its usage. A fair assessment, in my view, is that there is only one "second advent", and that it is to this event that the word parousia always applies when used eschatologically. Here are some links on this:

Parousia

The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory

No Rapture

Three False Doctrines that Threaten Faith

Misplaced Faith in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

When is the Rapture?

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hi again,

I hope you and yours are doing well. Keep us in your prayers.

My question is what did Jesus mean in Mark 13:30 when He said, "Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done." Some teach that this is about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. I would like your thoughts on it.

Response #4: 

I am continuing to keep you and yours in my prayers.

As to "this generation", unlike the English word, the Greek word in its usage can also refer to a general type of person as well as to a twenty year or so physical generation, and the former is our Lord's meaning here: the "hardness in part" talked about by Paul (Rom.11:25) will continue to be the dominant feature of Israel in general until the second advent – "and thus all Israel shall be saved". Here are a couple of links where I give more details on this point:

What did Jesus mean by "this generation"?

"O Faithless generation!"

"This generation" (Q#1)

"This generation" (Q#7)

Which generation is "this generation"?

The generation of hardness

P.s., as to the phrasing, our Lord may have had Jeremiah 2:31 in mind.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hi Bob,

I was wondering if you could look at one little section of the below video where the man is talking about where the Bible refers to things like "the powers of heaven shaken", "stars falling", "the sun darkened", "the sky rolled up like a scroll" etc. He says that stars of course cannot literally fall to the earth for if they did of course the earth would be destroyed and that most of this is "apocalyptic language" and "Hebrew idioms" that deal with God's judgment and that the Hebrew people would be very familiar with this type of language. Thanks. I don't agree with this man's eschatology views of course even though at one time I thought they made more sense than the futurist views until I found your website. But the biggest alerts that I later discovered that made me know that this man is not a trustworthy teacher is because I later learned that he is into all the tongues type things, he has a book about mysticism I believe, and he seems to not believe in hell fully. (He has a book about it, but I don't remember his exact beliefs). But anyway, here is that video and thanks for checking into it when you get a few minutes.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=5dEAbYqoANk

Also I was wondering if when the Bible speaks about Leviathan, and Behemoth if these are referring to some types of dinosaurs. Thank you.

It's always a joy to hear from you and you are always deeply appreciated for your kind and faithful service.

Your friend in Christ Jesus our dear Lord,

Response #5:  

I had a look at the video. This is typical of what happens when someone without the gift, without the languages, and without the dedication to look deeply into scripture feels the need to expound on things they don't understand. What a surprise to learn that this person has a book out for which he charges money.

A couple of quick points:

1) The word "star" in Greek and Hebrew does not have the specialized meaning it has for us today. For obvious reasons, the ancients had no idea of distinguishing between what today we call a star, a planet, an asteroid, a meteor or even a meteorite. Though these words connote vastly different things to us today and they are all celestial bodies (the last of which has fallen to earth), they are all the same thing to the ancients without regard to size. The Bible didn't say "the meteorites will fall to earth" because that is word of modern invention to make such distinctions. Clearly, Alpha Centauri (e.g.) will not be falling to earth during the Tribulation in the run up to the second advent – but there will be all manner of serious celestial disturbances unprecedented in human history (e.g., Rev.16:21). Part of that includes the falling from the heavens of meteorites – as in Revelation 6:13, quoting Isaiah 34:4 – but in Greek, the word remains aster, only because there was no convention to distinguish "scientifically" between enormously large and relatively much smaller celestial objects. So this is an English problem – or, better put, a problem of English speakers of the 21st century not understanding Greek and Hebrew and the conventions of the day in which scripture was written.

2) Youtube person does not seem to realize that there is a big difference between the sun and the moon and the stars being darkened on the one hand and the stars falling from the heavens on the other. He conflates the two ideas and two sets of passages as if they were saying the same thing and as if they meant they same thing – which they clearly do not, even in English. The sun is never said to fall to earth. And the moon is never said to fall to earth. Only the stars (meteorites) are said to fall to earth "like ripe figs" (relatively small objects in the comparison) "before the great and terrible day of the Lord". The supernatural darkness is one harbinger of Christ's return, and the shower of meteorites is another – as well as other astounding events such as earthquakes and tsunamis and immense hail – but they remain different harbingers, and it is unacceptable to conflate or equate them because they are simply not the same.

"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."
Luke 21:25-27 NIV

3) The "rolling up" of the sky/heavens refers to something else again entirely, namely, the destruction of the old heavens and earth in preparation for the creation of the new heavens and the earth, the place of New Jerusalem where only the righteous will dwell with the Lord forever, everything old and evil have been burned away forevermore:

By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 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. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed [lit., be eager for] its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
2nd Peter 3:7-13 NIV

Failure to understand the essential outline of future eschatology as taught in scripture leads to all manner of misinterpretations, and that is what we have in this video (in spades). These things are treated in more detail at the following links:

The Earthquake: Divine Judgment and the Second Advent (The Sixth Seal) - where "stars" are discussed.

The Supernatural Darkness at the Second Advent

The New Heavens and the New Earth.

Such dumbing-down of biblical prophecy to explain away statements that "modern, scientific reasonable people" find uncomfortable (through lack of faith) is in part a result of failing to realize how the prophets of old used the paradigm of future judgment to express the reality of impending contemporary judgment (aka, "the Day of the Lord Paradigm" [see the link]). This person, however, takes the modern skepticism about what prophecy says to new heights to explain away the power of God and the truth of all that is coming. This is typical of people who explain away Jesus and His work: "Well (they blasphemously say), of course he was not really God, but merely a good man; and of course he did not really bear all of our sins; these are just analogies/illustrations" – denying the clear truth of scripture is the quickest route to compromising our faith, because very soon we will not know what to believe with the result that soon thereafter we will believe nothing at all.

Finally, in Job, Leviathan is apparently the crocodile and Behemoth the hippopotamus (they can't be dinosaurs in Job because Job is asked to consider their characteristics so that they had to be around to be observed in his day). Leviathan also occurs at Psalm 74:14 where the name is used symbolically for the Egyptian hordes destroyed by the Lord in the Red Sea. That name also seems to have been used in a more general sense of "great sea creature", for we find it used at Isaiah 27:1 where it refers to the defeat of the devil at Christ's return (and the name is paralleled by tanniyn, a Hebrew word meaning the same and sometimes translated "dragon", albeit erroneously; see the link). Finally, we also find Leviathan at Psalm 104:26 where it also has the generic "large sea creature" meaning. Since even today scientists often find that some variation in species is actually a separate species, it is certainly understandable how the ancients would not necessarily be able to distinguish between denizens of the deep, especially in the case of a non-seafaring mostly land-locked people like the Hebrews who had probably only heard reports of them. The Bible is not for that reason any less "correct"; as in the case of "stars", we have to understand the word "Leviathan" having a more generalized meaning than we would use today in contemporary marine biology.

Thanks so much for your prayers.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Dear Dr. Robert Luginbill:

I shared to my family, children, grandchildren, my sisters, nephews and nieces, about the "Seven Days" of Human History which I copied from your website. Please take note of my comments and reword or correct it before I will send and or forward it to my email buddies all around the world. I consider your website the ultimate source of Biblical truths and verities before Jesus returns and I am cautious not to "cast pearls before swine" lest they might only trample and malign it.

Since I came across your website in 1996, I never stop reading and I recommended it to fellow Christians but it seems that they are not ready for it or that they might have been blinded by the devil lest they might come to know the glorious light of the gospel.

Praise The Lord for your anointing in sharing the Word of God in clear and valid terms. My wife and I will pray for your continuous work until Jesus comes down to rule the earth. More power to you and God bless you and your loved ones.

Timeline of the Seven Millennial Days according to God's Plan for Human History

"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Matthew 24:36

For this purpose finite man should be prepared at all times because we do not know the time, the place, and the manner of death when God takes us home. But we can know the year when the Lord comes during the SEVEN YEARS TRIBULATION [2026-2033] at the end of which the Lord Jesus appears to start His 1000 years rule of the earth – the Millennium in a perfect environment. As believers in Jesus Christ we are children of God indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit since the day of our redemption. Dr. Luginbill came up with his timeline from the known – the Life of Christ and 1000 years equals one day. We are now in the Age of the Church 2014, 12 more years before the start of the Tribulation Period. This is not something to be dreaded or to be afraid of. We only have to be prepared at all times. God knows how to protect His children (John 1:12). We are now living in the threshold of the end times.

"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." Matthew 10:22, KJV

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Remember God is in control of human history.

Click the hyper-linked The Satanic Rebellion: Part 5 to study the details of this study. Learn more about the author in his Curriculum Vitae. Learn any subject and he has an answer all for free.

In Christ,

Response #6: 

Good to hear from you, my friend. I certainly very much appreciate your good words and your solid vote of confidence in this ministry. We are all just flesh and blood – anything true we find and teach from scripture is a result of the Spirit's ministering to us from the Word. As to the synopsis you include here, it's quite good. I would only add one caveat – or set of caveats, really – namely, the same caveats I always put in whenever the timeline is discussed (duplicated here as taken 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):

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).

From my point of view, it's important to make clear that this (i.e., the future timeline) is not any sort of prediction (I don't have that power); rather it is an interpretation, and the "how did you get that from the Bible?" is explained in the details of the studies that talk about this issue (SR 5 primarily, but elsewhere too).

Thanks again for your "evangelizing" for this ministry and, much more importantly, on behalf of God's truth. As you point out, the time is short, and if we are not spiritually prepared for what is coming, the going will be very rough indeed. It is out of such concern that this ministry was launched in the first place, and I very much appreciate your love and concern for your own friends and family in this regard as well.

Here's wishing (and praying) for your success in this matter.

Yours in our (soon to return) Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hello man of God! Thank you for your information and quick responses. I would like to know from your information if you have ever considered this; Matt 16:27-28; Mark 8:38- 9:1; and Luke 9:26-27; where ... "some who are standing here will not taste death (till/before) they see the son of man coming in his kingdom/kingdom of God coming with power and/or seeing the kingdom of God." From our standpoint in history, I know that the 'some' standing there with him are dead, if the translation for "until/before" was correct, in what sense did the 'some' SEE? Zambia

Response #7:  

Our Lord was referring to the vision soon to be witnessed by the three disciples accompanying Him on the Mount of Transfiguration (related immediately afterwards in all three gospels). This vision was a "preview" of the second advent, and thus was the prophecy fulfilled for Peter, James and John (as Peter himself also says: 2Pet.1:16-18). Here is a link on this: in CT 3A: "The Transfiguration".

Yours in Jesus Christ whose return we so eagerly await,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hi Bob,

I am puzzled by the following:

"He answered, "Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist." (Matthew 17:11-13)

What does - "he will restore all things...Elijah has already come"- mean?

What were the things that were restored?

Response #8: 

The restoration that takes place during the 1st advent is the preparation for the coming of the Messiah (John's ministry), preparing the hearts of the willing for our Lord's own ministry (Lk.1:17); the restoration during the Tribulation in preparation for the 2nd advent is in principle the same, but it is carried out by Moses and Elijah, the two witnesses (see the link). Also, just as John's ministry was augmented by disciples and Jesus' final coming to Jerusalem was preceded by the ministries of the 12 and the 72, so the two witnesses' ministry will be disseminated worldwide by the 144,000. Thus the proper interpretation of this passage (Matt.17:11-13) has to do with the mystery of the two advents – or perhaps better put the near universal failure of our Lord's contemporaries to distinguish between the cross (as in v.12: "so also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands") and the crown in spite of our Lord's teaching:

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
John 1:11 NKJV

"But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation."
Luke 17:25 NASB

And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"
Luke 24:25-26 NASB

See also: "The Restoration Ministries"

In Jesus our Savior in whom alone is life eternal.

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

In our Bible study group, we discussed the death of Moses and the fact that God buried him. In Jude 1:9 it states that Michael the Archangel disputed with the Devil over Moses' body. I read once that Satan has something to do with the human body once it has died. Do you think that is true?

Thanks for your time and effort.

Response #9:  

Good to hear from you again.

God's burial of Moses was a "burial" in heaven, so to speak; He took Moses' spirit out of his physical body and directed that said physical body to be preserved (as Elijah's is as well) for later resuscitation. It was at that point that the battle for the body took place (as Satan tried to hinder Michael's efforts in this regard). Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses of the Tribulation – that is why they appear with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (in interim body; see the link) which is a preview of the second advent. Both great men have "unfinished business", so to speak (Moses struck the rock and did not enter the land; Elijah ran away after his great victory at Mt. Carmel, and had to hand over his ministry to Elisha before the time). But in spite of failures, they are two of the greatest believers – and two of the (if not the) greatest Jewish prophets and leaders for the Lord who ever lived. For these reasons they are the ones the Lord commissions to lead the spiritual revival of Israel during the first half of the last seven years before Christ's return. They are restored to life as Lazarus was (and as others were), but the lapse of time between death and resuscitation is so great that special measures were necessary for the preservation of their first, physical bodies. Please see the links for more about all this:

The Two Witnesses

Moses and Elijah are the Two Witnesses

The Restoration Ministries of Moses and Elijah

Transmutation, Resuscitation, and Resurrection

The Bodies of Moses and Elijah

Enoch's Walk with God

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Bob,

I have enjoyed reading your information very much. In reading, I realize how much time and effort went into its preparation. Thank you for sharing it with us. I have studied the Bible for many years but you have provided new insights for many subjects. I don't agree with all your beliefs but am studying to see if scripture substantiates what you say.

You won't believe what impresses me the most. It was your patience shown in the 12 questions and answers on Acts 2:38. I wish I had your endurance, patience and tolerance. 1st Peter 2:30 is a favorite of mine and I have memorized it and repeated it many times during times of stress.

I read with interest in "The Two Witnesses and the Ministry of the 144,000" where you say that Moses and Elijah will be the two witnesses.

I believe it is going to be Enoch and Elijah because of Hebrews 9:27: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment". Moses died and although his burial place was not known, it is mentioned several times that he died. If Moses is one of the two witnesses, won't he die twice? Lazarus and certain others died twice but it wasn't the final death. Is there something I'm missing? I like your ending on your answers to questions so I decided I should end my letters likewise.

In God who is my Father, Jesus who is my Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit who is my guide and counselor,

Response #10: 

Good to hear back from you, and thanks for all your positive and encouraging comments.

You are certainly not alone in wondering about the identification of the two witnesses. For some reason this is a "hot button" issue for a large number of people out there in the ether – oddly too, since it doesn't seem as if the difference should be profound enough to warrant all that interest . . . however, a false identification may lead to further confusion about the details of the Tribulation and the ministry of the 144,000.

If you have not already done so, in addition to the place where this is put forward systematically (in the CT series which you quote from here), please also see the posting "The Two Witnesses of the Tribulation: Moses and Elijah", wherein the reasons for this identification, Moses and Elijah, are presented a bit more forcefully, including demonstrating why other potential identifications are problematic. To mention just one thing here, Moses' "death" really involved being "taken" by the Lord, at least in terms of his body (so that his departure is more along the lines of that of Elijah than is sometimes understood; cf. Jude 1:9).

You have hit the nail on the head, so to speak, when you mention Lazarus as a real "fly in the ointment" for the objection that Moses' death is any sort of impediment based upon Hebrews 9:27. There are numerous others who fall into the same category too, e.g., the son of the widow of Nain, the young girl our Lord raised, the boy Paul brought back to life, etc. – and these are just of few of the named instances of what I call resuscitation (to distinguish from permanent, eternal resurrection). There were apparently also many who "came out of the tombs" after our Lord's death on the cross (Matt.27:53). So a fair number "died twice", if a person wishes to get technical about it.

On top of that, many will not even "die once" – that is, those of us who are alive and resurrected without physical death when our Lord returns (e.g., 1Cor.15:51; 1Thess.4:17). It seems very clear, therefore, that what Hebrews 9:27 is really saying is that no human being can live forever in this mortal body: this earthly life will come to an end, and after that there will be judgment, whether "of the living" for reward, or "of the dead" prior to being cast into the lake of fire – the second death, after all (e.g., Rev.2:11; 20:6; 20:14; 21:8). The fact that most human beings will in fact die one time physically merely makes this point: that is the "appointment" all have (even if in a very few cases the transition takes place somewhat uniquely). Here in Hebrews, Paul is merely saying a different way what he said in 1st Corinthians: " flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable" (1Cor.15:50 NIV).

As I say, please have a look at the link provided above, and do feel free to write back with any questions you may have. As it turns out, it is imperative that the two witnesses – who minister in the temple and to Israel (managing the restoration of the temple and the worldwide witness of the 144,000 Jewish young men) be Jewish – and Enoch was not Jewish. Luke 10:1 and Luke 10:16 both show, in addition to the role of John the baptist (Lk.1:17), that preparation for our Lord's return of His (the Jewish) people to take up His Kingdom rule in Jerusalem as the Greater Son of David is at the root of the mission – hence being Jewish a prerequisite – for both the 144,000 and for those who direct them, Moses and Elijah.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Greetings Sir,

I have some question on the two witness.

1) How do we know they will be Moses and Elijah?

2) Couldn't they be a devoted believer that God will use for the end time?

3) If they are Moses and Elijah, how will come? Like an angel? Would they be given birth to from infant and grow to be adult?

4) Will they be recognized as both?

5) When they are martyred, will the go to heaven like Jesus did or they will be here awaiting resurrection?

Any insight on these questions or appropriate links will be helpful.

Thanks in advance.

Response #11:  

Good to hear from you as always. I am keeping you and your family in prayer for protection and deliverance.

As to your questions, I will give the links at the end to the places at Ichthys where these things are discussed in detail; but I will also give you a brief answer to the precise questions in the text just below:

1) There is a lot in scripture which teaches this. The most clear passages are perhaps the gospel accounts of the Mount of Transfiguration. This event is said by scripture to prefigure our Lord's second advent, and it will be remembered that the two individuals He converses on that occasion with are, indeed, Moses and Elijah.

2) Well, they are Moses and Elijah. God is free to do whatever He wishes to do. We only know about what He will do in the future in terms of specifics if He has told us through prophecy, and this is one instance where He has that they are Moses and Elijah and not someone else. The qualifications for heralding the second advent to a Jewish people which is mostly hardened against the whole idea would seem to require just this sort of miraculous occurrence by individuals who have the highest possible status in Jewish tradition. Even so, and even with the help of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, not all will believe:

But he said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead."
Luke 16:31 NASB

3) The physical bodies of Moses and Elijah were miraculously preserved like no others in human history. God removed Elijah in a fiery chariot (he/his body was never found); Moses was "buried" . . . by God, and we know from the account in Jude 1:9 that his body was also preserved by angelic agency. So they will not need to be physically born a second time (an impossibility in any case); no one ever has or will experience that. Rather, their spirits will be placed back into their perfectly preserved physical bodies and they will be placed back on earth in a manner very similar to the way in which they departed (perhaps even to the same places, but that is not necessary). Revelation chapter eleven is helpful on this score since it shows how their bodies will be revived briefly on yet a second occasion at the very end of their tribulational ministry:

But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them.
Revelation 11:11 NIV

I expect the first resuscitation to be identical this the second one.

4) I would imagine so. After all, Peter and company recognized them as Moses and Elijah on the mount of Transfiguration – even though he and the other disciples had certainly never laid eyes on them before. Scripture doesn't say, but, after all, Jewish tradition is "waiting for Elijah" (they expect him to return). E.g.:

They asked him [John the baptist], "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No."
John 1:21 NIV

I cannot imagine Elijah (or Moses) answering falsely.

5) Revelation 11:12 gives us the details on this: "Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. " (NIV).

Here are the main links at Ichthys where these questions are covered in more detail:

The Two Witnesses (in CT 3A)

*The Two Witnesses of the Tribulation: Moses and Elijah

Is it really Elijah?

Couldn't it be Enoch?

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

FROM your website:

"As this passage {Luke 9:27-31} makes clear, Moses and Elijah are the famous "two witnesses" predicted by Malachi to come before the glorious advent of the Messiah (Mal.4:4-6). "

I would question how the link between Luke and Malachi can be extended to Moses with the elimination of Enoch.

Elijah leaves the earth apparently alive...2 Ki 2:1; 2 Ki 2:11

Enoch leaves the earth apparently alive...Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5

Moses died and his body still lies in the dust of the Moab...Deu 34:5-6; Josh 1:1.

Bringing Moses back would be reincarnation; unacceptable as it would validate other instances of supposed reincarnation

"...nor the case of Moses and Elijah (whose bodies have preserved for their return to earth during the Tribulation)" See above...Moab? Gen 3:19?

Response #12: 

First, these questions are all answered at the link: The Two Witnesses. The part quoted here cannot be overlooked as a preliminary to this discussion: at the Mount of Transfiguration, which is said by scripture to be a preview of the second advent, it is Moses and Elijah who appear (not Enoch). Secondly, Enoch was not Jewish, and the two witnesses direct the 144,000 Jewish witnesses whose purpose it is to evangelize Israel in preparation for the return of her King – a task appropriate to the two premier Jewish prophets (not Enoch who is a gentile, there being no Jews until Abraham). As to your three points:

1) Yes. There's no problem with Elijah.

2) It is nowhere reported, however, that Enoch's physical body was preserved. That is merely an assumption. This is crucial because as you yourself pointed out in a previous exchange without the preservation of the physical body there would need to be a resurrection and not a resuscitation. Absent any scripture to suggest that Enoch's body was, in fact, preserved, we have no basis for concluding that Enoch could even have been a candidate for this resuscitation.

3) Incorrect. Joshua 1:1 says that Moses "died", yes, but we know from our Lord's testimony that believers are only "dead" in the sense of their spirits no longer remaining in their physical bodies (Matt.22:32; Mk.12:26-27) – from God's point of view, they "live"; so Joshua 1:1 applies to Moses from this earthly point of view only (regardless of where his body was) but also to Elijah and also to Enoch equally (since at present they are all in interim bodies, not their first, physical bodies – and that is the definition of physical death). The question in each case then is, where was/is the physical body? Nothing is said of Enoch on this score, but we can assume that Elijah's body is "buried in heaven", since that is where it/he was taken (he is in an interim body now in which he appeared on the Mount of transfiguration). And the same is true of Moses:

But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"
Jude 1:9 NIV

Clearly, Michael won this battle and preserved Moses' body – in heaven. In fact, the intended preservation of Moses' body is the only reason for the evil one to have tried to purloin it. And as to Deuteronomy 34:6, it actually says that "He", i.e., the Lord, "buried" Moses' body (cf. NKJV which correctly capitalizes "He" here to make that clear). So the Lord Himself took care of that great believer's shell until it was preserved by angelic agency, in a similar fashion to the chariot of fire taking away Elijah's body. These two are the only two who have the disposition of their physical bodies mentioned – and mentioned as preserved – in miraculous ways (Enoch does not). The fact that they are also the two who are symbolically connected with our Lord's return on the Mount of Transfiguration is unimpeachable evidence that the Enoch theory is incorrect. Malachi, to close these loop, mentions Moses in connection with the return of Elijah but says nothing of Enoch. Please see the previous link for other related links on this subject.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Hi, Doctor.

I'm looking for clarification on a Q&A in "War In Heaven". The question was: why did Satan show up for Moses's body? You said: The devil is well-versed in eschatology and he knows/knew that Moses would be one of the two witnesses who evangelize Israel during the Tribulation. Along with Elijah, Moses' physical body has been divinely preserved so that it may be resuscitated (temporarily, like Lazarus, as opposed to being resurrected like our Lord's body) in order to carry out his last mission. See the links: "the two witnesses" and "who are the two witnesses?" There were no more books that the Pentateuch at that point, correct? What in them describes the two witnesses? I know Isaiah and Ezekiel talk of the "two olive trees", but they wrote long after Moses, right? In that case, how did Satan know at the point of Moses's death what part he would play if there's no reference in Moses's writings? I've probably missed it, but wanted to make sure.

I pray all is well with you, Doctor.

Response #13:  

It's a fair question, and perhaps my speculation about just how much the devil "knew" is put a bit too boldly here. After all, Satan knows much but lacks wisdom on all counts, so that his knowledge, even when correct, is always flawed. We can say that Moses is an obvious "type of Christ", in fact, the most obvious "type of Christ" in all of history. I doubt that this escaped the devil's notice, and Michael's special efforts to preserve his body when he was taken would in any case thus be an obvious target for satanic resistance in my view. Still, it is certainly possible that Satan had not "figured it out" with the specificity indicated in the quote. I have suggested before that the entire Bible has long had a heavenly existence (whether or not the angels had complete access to it before it was written I cannot say), but if I were pressed for a passage from the Pentateuch that would point to making the connection I suggest at the quote, it would be this one:

"The Lord Your God will raise up from your midst, from among your brothers, a Prophet like me (i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom Moses will be analogous in type). You must give heed to Him, just as you requested from the Lord your God at Horeb (i.e., Sinai) on the day of your assembly [there], when you said, 'May I not hear the voice of the Lord My God any longer, nor see this great fire lest I die!' Then the Lord said to me, 'They have done well in what they have said. I will raise up for them from the midst of their brothers a Prophet like you. And I will put My words in His mouth, and He will tell them everything I command Him. And it will come to pass that the person who does not listen to My words which He will speak in My Name, that I will require it of that person' (i.e., hold him responsible).' "
Deuteronomy 18:15-19

This passage is speaking about our Lord, to be sure, but when one takes into account the two advents and the necessity of the second being heralded by two witnesses as the first is by one, well, surely the devil has some interest in the overall strategic plan of God for history, if only with an eye towards combating it (for further discussion of the passage, please see the link: "The Restoration Ministries").

Keeping you in prayer day by day, my friend – and thank you so much for your prayers too!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L. 

Question #14: 

Dear Bob,

I thank you very much for the rich blessing of your presence, sending prayers for ongoing strength, and ask does ICHTHYS has a commentary on these verses, or this passage:

61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. - KJV

Seize the day, with love and blessings,

Response #14: 

The only thing I have on this is from BB 4A: "Christology" under the Life of Christ:

2) The Trial before Caiaphas (Matt.26:57-68; Mk.14:53-65): From comparing the accounts of John and Matthew, it seems likely that Annas' residence shared an inner courtyard with the official residence of the high priest. As in the first interrogation, this trial must have taken place on the portico of the residence, for Peter is able to observe its progress, and our Lord is able to see Peter immediately after his third denial (Lk.22:61). While the first trial seems to have been focused upon gathering intelligence in order to round up all of our Lord's followers, this second trial seems to have served a probouleutic function, having the purpose of concocting an appropriate charge for a death penalty at once acceptable to and persuasive for the Roman governor. None of the witnesses interviewed provided anything convincing, however, and it was only when our Lord affirmed His status as the Messiah under direct questioning that His accusers became satisfied that they had enough evidence to convict Him. In the process of this trial, Jesus was spit upon, slapped, beaten, blindfolded, and mocked.

If you are asking about the statement of our Lord, "sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven", this is a reference to His session and then to His second advent when "every eye shall see Him, even they who have pierced Him" (Rev.1:7; cf. Zech.12:10).

Do free feel to write back in case your underlying question has not been addressed.

Thanks so much for your kind words, my friend, and very much also for your prayers. They are greatly appreciated.

Your good friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Dear Bob,

I thank you very much for "If you are asking about the statement of our Lord, ‘sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven’," but I actually was taken by the "I AM" capitalized in the Zondervan Amplified Bible, feeling this also as Jesus encouraging us to connect ALL:

Seize the day, with love and blessings,

Response #15:  

Thanks for the clarification. Yes, I entirely agree. This statement is indeed another case of our Lord affirming His divinity. Please see the link: "The meaning of Jesus' words 'I AM' ".

Yours in the dear Lord who bought us and who will raise us up on that great day to come,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Matthew 17:10 (NASB)
And His disciples asked Him, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"

Is the reference here to Malachi 4:5?

Response #16: 

Yes indeed! And it foreshadows the two witnesses of the Tribulation as does that passage:

Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him on Horeb (i.e., Sinai) concerning all Israel, [with both its] statutes and judgments – behold, I am about to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the Day of Lord, [that] great and awesome [Day], so that he may restore [to God] the hearts of the fathers along with [their] children and the hearts of the children along with their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with complete devastation.
Malachi 4:4-6

Question #17: 

Matthew 17:11-13 (NASB)
And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things; 12 but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." 13 Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist.

Does our Lord here only means John the Baptist, or is the applicability of this passage double, referring to both John the Baptist as His herald and to Elijah's ministry during the Tribulation?

Response #17:  

The reference here is primarily to John. However, John and Elijah are type/antitype, so that "is coming" refers to Elijah himself. On typology, see the links:

Old Testament Typology

Typology and Sequence in Old Testament Prophecy

Hermeneutics, Typology, Christophany, Theophany
and Anthropopathism

Question #18: 

Matthew 10:23 (NASB)
But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.

Note from the NIV SB:

10:23 Some take Jesus' saying here as a reference to his second coming at the end of the age (see 24:30), but it is hard to reconcile this with the failure of the disciples to "finish going through" (evangelize) the cities of Israel before this happens. It is therefore probably best understood as referring to his coming in judgment on the Jews when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in AD 70.

This interpretation seems quite difficult to accept, I know you interpret the passage differently, by drawing the parallel between the 12 and the 144 000.

Response #18: 

Correct. Complete evangelism of the Jewish nation and the world will not take place until the Tribulation with the ministry of Moses and Elijah and the 144,000 addressing those of Jewish origin, and the worldwide heavenly proclamations of Revelation chapter fourteen:

And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;
Revelation 14:6 NASB

Question #19: 

Matthew 24:20 (NASB)
But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.

What is the meaning of this verse? Why does Jesus say we should pray that the flight might not be on a Sabbath if it's no longer celebrated the way it was?

Response #19:  

The request is for "clear sailing" for the actual day of the escape, so that it is legitimate to request 1) no inclement weather (the true meaning of cheimon here), and 2) no religious restrictions on movement. As to the latter, it is true that we gentiles are not under the Law; however, the Tribulation will be a time of joint tenure between the ages of Israel and the Church, and those Jews in Israel who have responded to the revival ministry of Moses and Elijah will indeed be again participating in the temple rites to include observing the Sabbath. For that reason, namely, religious scruple, and also because even today in Israel many things are shut down on the Sabbath (which would make the flight both noticeable in a bad way as well as hindering it), this is a legitimate prayer.

Question #20: 

You wrote:

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).

1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 (NASB)
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.

Since the passage says "the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night", could it not mean "for you yourselves know full well that we cannot know it"?

Response #20: 

I take your point, however, it seems to me that when Paul says directly that these believers have no need of any further information about "the times and seasons", and that the reason why have no need of more information is that they "know accurately that . . . ", that this way of speaking presupposes a detailed knowledge of the end times already possessed on their part. Part of that knowledge is indeed the fact that the precise moment of Christ's return is not known (i.e., no one knows "the day or the hour"), as is clear from other passages; my point is that this does not mean that approximate calculations of the end times are either impossible or being rejected by scripture: we can certainly know the month inasmuch as the scriptures give us in many places the information that the Great Tribulation will last exactly 42 months (or three and a half years) – and it certainly cannot be for no reason that we are told this repeatedly (see the link). I think Paul's way of setting up this comparison supports that too: Even though "the day" will come as a surprise to many, yet he expects the Thessalonians to be prepared for it, and part of that preparation is the knowledge Paul (and the rest of scripture) imparts about these matters (including the information that allows us to project approximate dates, even if not the precise "day or hour" of the second advent).

Question #21: 

Hi Bob,

I'm somewhat reluctant to accept that the Tribulation is poised to occur during 2026. I'm not saying that it's impossible, but I can't ignore the number of people who have interpreted prophecy in the Bible and have gotten much earlier dates, and consequently have made incorrect predictions. The set of all people who perfectly know the truth is equal to the set of all people who are without sin, and you know how many people are in the latter. At this point, no matter how impressive your interpretation is, I can only truly accept it when I see it myself, however, I do incline to the position that it will occur later. We should all prepare for the tribulation, because we don't know whose interpretation is right, but we should keep in mind that nobody's interpretation has to be right.

But thanks for your answer. However, in your 'Judgement on Babylon' sequence, I saw little in the way of Exegesis of Isaiah 13 (except for one passage which references the 'smoke from the north'). Most of it is focused on Revelation, which is very clear in its description of things. By the way, here's another Isaiah passage that is interesting:

'Those who see you [O Lucifer] will gaze at you,
And consider you, saying:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
Who shook kingdoms,
Who made the world as a wilderness
And destroyed its cities,
Who did not open the house of his prisoners?’'

Here, the people are looking at Satan and asking, 'is this /the man/ that...' which leads me to think that the Antichrist will, in fact, be Satan incarnate, not merely a kind of the /nephilim/. Furthermore, in a most interesting manner, Satan is put in sequence with the prophecies of other earthly kings, implying that he will play a similar role. Lastly, as this passage mentions that,

'All the kings of the nations,
All of them, sleep in glory,
Everyone in his own house;
But you are cast out of your grave'

It strongly implies that this occurs after Satan has been cast into the Lake of Fire (his grave).

Response #21:  

On 2026, first, I would be most happy to learn that the Tribulation will not occur in any of our life-times (believe me). However, as a Bible teacher, my job is to lay out what scripture actually says in the most straight-forward way I can. So please understand that this is not a prediction. Rather, it is an interpretation of scripture. The difference is a very large one. I have no insight into world events any greater than anyone else, and I certainly do not claim independent divine inspiration (indeed, I counsel everyone to beware of people who make this claim). Scripture gives us an abundant amount of information about the end times, and the date you reference is the result of paying careful attention to that information. Here is what I say about this issue in part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series:

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):

If the seven millennial day interpretation of human history were erroneous, or if the Church Age were not two millennial days long, or if 33 A.D. were not the correct date of the crucifixion and resurrection, or if the Tribulation were not a common time shared by the Church and Jewish ages, or if there were some correct scriptural interpretation which might allow for a lengthening of the present age or a disregarding of all of the factors above entirely (as amillenialism claims, for example), then the date advanced in the interpretation given would be incorrect. However, I know of no biblical evidence to dissuade me from this interpretation – to the contrary, it seems to me to flow ineluctably from the scriptural facts, correctly understood and applied. In order to see things differently, I would need to be persuaded of the incorrectness of at least one of the points above – or of some entirely different biblical point of view.

As to Isaiah 13, there are two applications of the passage, one contemporary and one eschatological (this is the main use of the "Day of the Lord" paradigm invoked here by Isaiah); since the Coming Tribulation series is about the end times (not past historical events which were also a subject of the prophecy), I'm not sure what the objection is to focusing on how it illuminates the events described in Revelation. If there is anything you feel to be incorrect here, I would be happen to happy to discuss it.

As to Isaiah 14:4ff., this passage actually has triple application: 1) near contemporary (to the historical king of Babylon); 2) far future prophetic (to antichrist via the "Day of the Lord paradigm"); 3) far past to Satan (describing his pre-historic revolt). The essential elements of rebellion from God and divine comeuppance leveled upon these prime rebels are common to all three, but to understand which parts of the chapter are more literal in their application and which are more figurative (when referring to #1 instead of #2 or #2 instead of #3, etc.), some poetic leeway must be granted. For example, "fallen from heaven" is literal for Satan, but only metaphorical for the other two who suffer catastrophic falls from power on earth; "slaughter for his children" is literal for the king of Babylon, but metaphorical for antichrist (referring to his human followers), and even more remotely metaphorical for Satan (referring to the undoing of his demon followers at Christ's return); as to "grave", this is literal for the king of Babylon, even more strongly true of antichrist (since he is hurled alive into the lake of fire), and somewhat metaphorical for Satan (who, as an angel, could never be physically buried). So the passage perfectly applies to all three in the general schema, but the specific details depend upon which adversary of God is meant. Finally, "is this the man who troubled the nations?" is true of the king of Babylon, antichrist and Satan, all in varying degrees and time periods (much, more and most respectively); calling the king of Babylon a man is accurate; and antichrist is half-human; Satan is an angel, not an 'iysh (אִיש) but that word is often used with great flexibility in Hebrew, so that "person" by which we understand Satan is not at all beyond the canons of prophetic interpretation here (cf. 'iysh used of God: Ex.15:3, etc.), and doesn't disqualify him as being one of the subjects of the prophecy (which he most certainly is).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Hi Bob,

My 'beef' with the Coming Tribulation series is that there isn't enough on Isaiah, not that it's incorrect. Isaiah is a hard book for me to understand-- especially due to its length, and most of it is concerned with the Millenium and the reign of the Messiah. This would make it relevant for a topic on the End Times.

Also, Satan in the far past couldn't have troubled the nations, because the nations didn't exist until after the Tower of Babel. I'm also having trouble seeing how this section of chapter 14 has anything to do with the King of Babylon. as Lucifer is being addressed with 'you' and the King of Babylon's prophecy ended with a caesura explaining his final death (Isaiah 14:11). As for being used to describe God in Exodus 15:3, this is literally correct, because the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ was a man (Hebrews 13:8), although one in a pre-incarnate body and not an earthly one or resurrected one. If God wanted to describe Satan as an angel or the Antichrist as a Nephilim, there is no lack of vocabulary for doing so in Hebrew, however, He describes Satan as a man. Furthermore, the image of kings in grave is being used as a direct allusion to the death of the Babylonian king, and is directly juxtaposed with Satan's escape from the lake of Fire (which is his true grave).

Response #22: 

On Isaiah, please have a look at Coming Tribulation part 1 (in particular to the link where an overview to the eschatological portions of Isaiah are given an overview). The interpretation of Old Testament prophecy, especially for its proper application to all things eschatological, is not an easy lift, but there are several important principles, covered in that study, which open up most of the difficulties (including what we have been talking about).

As to your last paragraph:

1) The initial referent is to the human "king of Babylon" and thus the first application is to him of whom this is literally true. In terms of secondary application, Satan has clearly "troubled human beings" even before there were nations, and certainly after there were nations, and will continue to do so as long as he is free and later after he is freed at the end of the Millennium (Rev.20:7-8). Since the point at which these word are leveled at Satan will be after his final consignment into the lake of fire, at that point these words will be literally true of him in every respect as well. And given the great upheaval and "trouble" during the era of trouble, the Tribulation, caused by antichrist, the triple application of this phrase is not hard to see.

2) The point with the word iysh is that it is often used with flexibility so that even if Satan were being addressed directly, the use of that word would not be sufficient to rule him out as the subject (how much more is that then the case when there is triple application to a man, the king of Babylon, and to a partial human being, antichrist). In interpretation, we often tend use terminology with more specificity than is found in scripture in an attempt to establish clear doctrinal categories. But when reading and exegeting scripture we need to take the literature for what it is, the Word of God wherein the talents and styles and languages and experiences of those who wrote it were not squelched even as God's perfect message was expressed therein. In other words, the writers of scripture were writing real language which was meant to be understood by real people (not just theologians with lexicons). Consider this verse too:

Their wings touched one another. The creatures (i.e., angels) did not turn when they went, but each one (iysh !) went straight forward (אִיש אֶל־עֵבֶר פָּנָיו יֵלֵֽכוּ).
Ezekiel 1:9 NKJV

3) I don't see any caesura, neither linguistic, nor metrical, nor logical, to indicate any sort of break between verses 11 and 12 in Isaiah 14 (if your English Bible has some such thing through punctuation or formatting, that is entirely editorial); verse 19 picks up the final disposition theme of verse 11 in a typical "ring composition" description. What we do have in the actual text of Isaiah is a command for him to record this "taunt" in verse 10, and a declaration of the date of the prophecy in verse 28 (meaning that it ended in verse 27).

4) I don't understand the import of your last two sentences (with which I agree), because they argue for exactly what I have been saying, namely, that this passage has triple application, and that it applies equally to all three referents (correctly understood).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23: 

Hi Bob,

The word אִיש in Ezekiel 1:9 and the אִיש word in Isaiah 14:11 are not the same word. They are homophones, and probably have the same etymology (although Strong's concordance gives the possibility of it being from an unused root meaning 'to be extant'), but they are not the same word. The word אִיש in Ezekiel 1:9 is a universal quantifying pronoun, which serves the same function as the English word 'everyone' (although אִיש has the stipulation that it be used in negative clauses, which the word 'everyone' doesn't have, but that is clearly the case here given the waw disjunctive). On the other hand, אִיש in Isaiah 14:11 is a noun.

Response #23:  

The words are physically indistinguishable (a bigger deal in Hebrew than in English): they are spelled the same, pronounced the same, accented the same, and used in an identical way – or nearly so; plus, this passage and usage appears under the same entry as 'iysh in all my lexicons. I think it'd be a very hard argument to make that readers of Ezekiel wouldn't be thinking 'iysh when they saw and heard 'iysh. In any case, as I say, there's certainly not enough here, given all the evidence, to disqualify the devil as being referred to in the prophecy – which you seem to agree with in any case.

Besides, if 'iysh can be used for God (as we have seen) and is definitely used for Adam and his descendants (as it obviously is), denying that word can mean "person" generally and be applied to angels is a shaky proposition – and it is even less likely, given this evidence, that the word can be used to deny that someone referred to as an iysh therefore cannot be an angel.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #24: 

Hi Bob,

Of course the Devil is being referred into in Isaiah 14! That was never in dispute. However, what I sought to explain is the semantic import of ha'iysh when Satan is equivocated with that word. Because 'iysh always refers to a human, I think this means that the Devil himself may have an incarnation in flesh. This is theologically justifiable: Satan's position as an angel was when he was the morning star and thus the representation of God's relationship with believers. But after he rebelled, he became the avatar of evil. God letting him have an incarnation would make him the embodiment of evil and give a complete rebuttal to the demonic desire for flesh.

As for your grammatical points, the fact that it is spelled the same isn't always relevant. Consider the noun 'set' being used to describe a mathematical collection of things, and the noun 'set' being used to describe a move in volleyball. Same spelling, pronunciation, and accentuation, but yet two completely different words. Also the 'nearly so' is not negligible: /'iysh/ in Ezekiel is a quantifying pronoun, and thus doesn't carry much in the way of semantics. /'iysh/ in Isaiah is a noun, and thus has strong semantic meaning. /'iysh/ as a noun always refers to a human, unless a counterexample is found. I am willing to capitulate if such a counterexample exists, but the first example you brought up confirmed my point, and the second one you brought up (i.e. the one we're disputing now) isn't valid, because it's comparing apples to oranges. Both senses of the noun 'set' appear under the same word in the dictionary, but does that now mean they're the same word? Depending on the etymology of /'iysh/ in Ezekiel, they could be thinking of something else. As of writing, I do not buy that /'iysh/ in Ezekiel is being used as a synecdoche, so as to represent the individual agency of the angels.

Response #24: 

On the first point, I would have to see some additional scriptural basis to be willing to consider that theory (and so I will set aside my theological objections); in my view this verse – actually only one word – can't be used either to launch or to support such a theory, even it were only the devil who were being referred to here. That is all the more the case here since the passage refers also to a real human being (the historical king of Babylon was definitely an 'iysh) and to a half-and-half creature (antichrist).

As to the meaning of 'iysh, you do have a point about "man" being used generically at times (as in English "one"), but doesn't that demonstrate the flexibility of the word in Hebrew? The more the word can be used as an all-purpose term, the less likely it is that someone can be disqualified from a category based only on the occurrence of this word. Without going any deeper into the specifics of your counter-arguments, aren't you undermining your own position? To the extent that 'iysh doesn't really mean man/human being, to that extent it would have even less applicability to the thesis you put forward in the first paragraph.

The main point not to lose sight of here for me is that the passage has a triple application (to the king of Babylon, Satan and antichrist). How the details apply to each is a question of interpretation (which in my view is far from insoluble).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25: 

Exactly, but this would only apply for 'iysh the noun, not 'iysh the pronoun. Again, I do not think that 'iysh the noun is being used as a synecdoche in Ezekiel, but 'iysh the pronoun is being used instead. If I saw 'iysh as a noun not referring to a human being, then I would rescind my thesis.

Response #25:  

I still think you have this backwards (if the word is not literally "man" here then the word cannot be used here to support an idea of an incarnate devil).

How about this passage?

Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male ('iysh) and its mate.
Genesis 7:2

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26: 

(1) The word is literally man in Isaiah 14 because it's a noun, not a pronoun.

(2) Interesting. Perhaps, then, the passage should be insinuating that

Satan is a male, not necessarily a man.

Response #26: 

Agreed.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

 

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