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Eschatology Issues XIV:

The coming Tribulation and its date, the pre-Tribulation 'rapture',
the mark of the beast.

Word RTF

Question #1:

I feel like the Internet died when Facebook became "big" around 2009, and not only that, but I have science to back up my intuition: kids who are entering adolescence now are worse with technology than kids who entered adolescence in the mid 2000s.

I cannot over emphasize how much the Internet has turned for the worst since then. In the mid 2000s, there was this amazing empowerment that came with the Internet, because back then the Internet treated its users like co-creators. This is why YouTube started in 2005, because back then, there was a feeling that users could generate meaningful content and displace consumer-driven media. GNU/Linux, which is a computer operating system made entirely by a community of programmers, gained traction and started to be marketed for the layperson. People actually learned programming... just by playing around! People created something called "blogs," and they actually developed, wrote, and shared ideas (even though most of those ideas were bad)... but they were interested in thinking for thinking's sake!

For one brief, glorious moment, it was possible to actually believe that people were basically good, and that if we all learned to love each other and be tolerant of one another, we could achieve a wonderful sphere of ideas that would be a billion times better than academia.

And then everything changed, just as suddenly and dramatically as the USA changed after 9/11, and the Internet stopped becoming a place for co-creators and instead became another source for consumers. It became Idiot Box #2. Only now, the powers that be can manipulate said idiot box to achieve as much political control as desired.

I want the Millennium to be a divinely-supervised version of the mid-2000s (preferably with the same optimism of the mid-90s) without copyright laws. That is how good the feeling was, and I know for a fact that this is not nostalgia; you just don't remember it because you were in a different crowd from me.

Sincerely,

Response #1:

Things have always been bad and getting worse. It's necessary preparation for the Tribulation. The Millennium will take care of itself. Let's focus on being prepared for what comes first.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

I've been praying for your continued health and happiness and strength. Your most recent email posting got me worried about you. You said you were "not long on time" and I don't know if you meant because you're busy or what, but if it is God's will to take you home "before the flood" then I look forward to meeting you and all my other fellow believers when Christ returns. That is one of the rewards I look forward to the most: fellowship with Christ and with those who love Him.

I'm still working my way through your satanic rebellion series and your coming tribulation series. I've been apprehensive of the tribulation. I know that He will never leave me or forsake me; I'm just not looking forward to how awful it's going to get. I think the reason my life has been so uneventful so far is because this is just the calm before the storm. Already, I've noticed that we used to be able to afford more when I was younger, and circumstances in America are getting worse and worse. I had people I spent time with when I was a child who were nominal Christians, and now they don't even pretend anymore. When I was little, I used to believe we were a Christian nation, and now that I am older, I realize that it is not. I want to earn rewards in heaven through whatever trials necessary, but I'm cracking under just the waiting part.

I'm not working and I'm not in school right now, which has been driving me crazy. I've been spending most of my time reading the Bible and reading from your website. I've been praying for time to spend studying God's Word, so this is an answer to prayer.

When I first found your website, I was afraid that you were a false prophet. So I read your FAQ and some other articles you wrote and found that you believe in the "Gap Theory." I almost immediately clicked away because I had been trained to believe that this "theory" is wrong. But I stayed and read what you had to say, because I was curious. I kept reading, and found that you believe a lot of the same things that I do that I had been "treasuring in my heart" till I found your website. Furthermore, you encourage all your readers to read the Bible and you boldly declare that Jesus Christ is Lord with everything you write. So if you are a false prophet, you're not doing your job right! But I am 100% sure that you aren't one.

You've convinced me on the gap theory, by the way.

I can't thank you enough for all your encouragement.

Hope you're doing well,

Response #2:

Very good to hear from you! Hope your are enjoying your fleeting days of freedom. If you are on a semester system as we are here at U of L, I'm sure you only have a couple of weeks left.

I would dearly love to "hang in there" until our Lord returns, but we don't make that decision. At this point there are three ways a believer may finish his/her course 1) natural causes (cf. Is.57:1-2); 2) Martyrdom (probably in the Great Persecution of the Tribulation's second half), 3) the resurrection of living believers which occurs at the second advent. We will all just have to wait and see what the Lord has for us – but I have no plans on that score nor indications that my departure is imminent.

Waiting is what the Christian life is all about, and more particularly what passing whatever the tests the Lord has for us is all about. If we prayed and, "Bang!", the Lord answered us right away, where would be the place for faith? I do sympathize. In one way or another this is the biggest thing that growing Christians have to contend with. Times are getting "interesting", but much more is in store. Blessedly, we can have confidence that, just like the Israelites in escaping Egypt, we will be protected by the Lord Himself even if it be or lot to walk through the "valley of the death shadow". Our part is to remember that He is with us and rejoice in His protection in spite of the gathering gloom. Whatever happens, we have the right and the duty to be at peace and to be constantly rejoicing in all the wonderful blessing that are ours as children of God and heirs of the kingdom about to come.

Thanks for your good words about this ministry, and also for your own positive attitude to the Word of God. It is so true that if we keep knocking, the Lord will open up a door for us to the truth, and more than we could ever imagine. It's a question of will and desire.

Keep running a good race to the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord!

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Bob,

Do you think that cults such as The People's Temple used mind control on its adherents to get them to commit mass suicide? I was thinking about hypnotism recently, and what it implies for the ability for organizations to control the minds of its adherents. If you've read George Orwell's 1984, you might recall that the protagonist was completely brainwashed into not only acquiescence, but actually loving big brother, through the usage of mind control.

I find such a prospect to be rather horrifying. While I cannot prove that I have free will, I believe that if there is any probability that I do, then it is necessary for me to believe and act as if I do. Or rather, following Immanuel Kant's school of thought, free will can only be assumed, not proven.

However, I do not think that the Antichrist will use any such mind control to build up his base of supporters, as the entire reason why his presence will be allowed is to show a support for him which stems from the free will of his followers. To allow hypnosis or brainwashing would defeat the purpose of his movement.

Sincerely,

Response #3:

I agree with our conclusion absolutely: people will want to get the mark because of its political and economic advantages (as well as to avoid the negatives of ostracism and persecution). Conversely, it would not be a sin to take the mark if it's being forced not "taken" willingly. This is why it seems to me no children will be marked (i.e., those not yet accountable for their actions so not eligible to make the decision) . . . so that a good deal of the population of the world to survive both the Tribulation and the baptism of fire judgment thereafter on those marked will be children.

As to mind control, I have seen and read a number of things on Jonestown, and I think that you have come up with a fine parallel. I don't think there was any hypnotism or any such thing going on. By making one bone-headed decision after another, people often get themselves into great positions of weakness where circumstances and patterns of behavior limit their options and make change unlikely. An SS guard at Auschwitz who has been there for a year is probably unlikely to get up one morning and protest – if he was stupid enough to join up in the first place, endured the previous indoctrination without changing his mind, and did not react to the horror on the first day, after a while there is no going back, especially if being thrown in the gas chamber oneself is the likely outcome of demurring. Similarly in Jonestown those who did have second thoughts had by that late date the necessity of worrying about their families, the men with the guns, the fact that they were out in the jungle in the middle of nowhere and completely dependent upon the powers that were for their food and clothing – and could have been killed if they were too open in their disagreement. And to make it worse, they had had previous "drills" in drinking the Kool-Aid, so that when it was poisoned many may not have even realized it was real this time and probably didn't feel they could take the risk of resisting even if they suspected it was (there's a great Max Frisch play on such gradualism called "Biedermann und die Brandstifter" or "Firebugs" in English).

This is a great example believers should keep in mind heading into the Tribulation. Anyone who thinks he/she can stand a little compromise to avoid unpleasantness – of which there will be much in the Great Persecution – should think twice. Like the frog boiled gradually in the pot, it comes to a point where there is no longer the strength or inclination to jump out.

Rest assured, my friend, you have the image of God within you (free will). I am confident that you will continue to use it for good, spiritual growth and everything else Christ desires, with effectiveness until the end.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Bob,

This phraseology in II Peter 3:12a is hard to understand: "waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God." How do you interpret the word "hastening"?

Sincerely,

Response #4:

The Greek verb speudo used there is comparable to the Latin studeo, both of which mean to be eager or enthusiastic for something (even though the former can mean "hasten" and the latter can mean "study"). One could better translate, "looking forward with enthusiasm to . . .". Obviously, we can't do anything to change the divine time-table (nor should we try), but we ought to be looking forward to the wonderful things ahead, even though there is a dark valley of testing to be endured between this side and that.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hello Bob,

Hope all is going well up there. I read and hear the non mainstream media and it looks like things are rapidly deteriorating in the economic, political and social fronts. As a trained economist, I truly cannot understand how things haven’t imploded yet. With the amount of QEs running into almost two quadrillions, I don't see things rosy. Additionally, the neocons in DC seem intent on letting hell break loose in Ukraine. It looks and feels like they want to provoke a war that will justify the collapse of the financial system, and rusher us into a non cash reality. There seems to be attend of people being led out of the US into other attitudes as well. Additionally, without sounding conspiratorial, it seems odd this visit of the Pope in September, while at the same time Kerry and Fabius Laurent, the French Foreign Minister, talk about an impending climate chaos, by Sept 23-24…Lately the Lord has been directing me to learn more about the qualities inherent in the Philadelphia church. What could this be? I feel as if He has something in His sleeve! :)

I have a pressing worry that I would like you to clear for me, as I trust your opinion and good wishes. I smoke (have been for the last 40 years) and I know that it is bad for my health. Can this be an impediment for my salvation? If there happens to be some kind of protection or partial removal for the everyday more evident tribulation, will I be left behind? Is smoking a deal breaker? I would do whatever it is the Lord’s will, but I must know for certain that this is not a legalistic thing, if you know what I mean.

Well, I look forward anxiously to your reply, as is usual, and will keep you in my prayers. Please tell me where are we in the timeline.

Best wishes and blessing to you and your family, from the sunny Caribbean,

Response #5:

It would be great if you could give up smoking – and I'm sure it would be great if I could be consistent enough on my diet to get my weight back down to where it used to be years ago. And we both could do it and should do it. In the scheme of things, however, this is not the most important thing by far. It's more of a personal self-improvement thing for the sake of our health. We should all be careful stewards of our bodies, but if we are not engaged in grossly sinful behavior with them (merely some self-indulgent habits that are hard to kick entirely), then – although it's clear what we should and shouldn't do in terms of health – we shouldn't let such minor things throw us off our "game" of walking with Jesus through learning and applying His truth, and helping others do the same. It certainly doesn't have anything whatsoever to do with salvation! And by the way it probably more spiritually dangerous to assume some sort of superior spirituality on the basis of such things: a strict dietary regime and/or strict code of behavior which is extra-biblical has always been a source of legalism, and antichrist will make use of this human tendency to associate diet and non-essential behavior patterns with spirituality or the lack thereof in the process of building his religion.

Yes, the world is in sour shape, but what can you expect of a world controlled by the evil one where the most powerful country is in the process of abandoning the concern for Him and His Word it once had? In truth, it was never this country God blessed but always a "remnant of grace". But the remnant is declining both numerically and in terms of its quality. The salt is losing its savor, and the negative trends sure to accompany that sad situation are well in train. These are all sure signs of the impending Tribulation (we are in the waning days of Laodicea, to answer your question; see the link). All the more reason for those of us who see what is happening to redouble our efforts of spiritual growth, progress and production – for our own spiritual safety in what is coming and also for the benefit of Christ's Church. Therein lies great eternal reward.

I have been keeping you in prayer.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Many Happy Returns and may God bless you for many decades to come.

Response #6:

Thanks!

I appreciate that very much, my friend!

But two decades from now I expect the Lord to have returned.

Yours in Jesus Christ whose return is our blessed hope.

Bob L.

Question #7:

Yes you may be right. But how do you predict in within two decades Christ would have returned?

Response #7:

I don't make predictions (I don't have any such gift), but I do read the Bible. To reprise the main points in a nutshell, the millennium will last a thousand years and it corresponds to the first Sabbath of the week when the Lord reconstructed the world for human beings. There are six other days and they correspond to the other six millennia of human history. There were 2,000 from the fall to Abraham's circumcision, and 2,000 from that point to the birth of Christ (minus seven). Christ paid for our sins on the cross and was resurrected in 33 A.D., which would make the Church Age run out in 2033 A.D. Seven years before that, the Tribulation (a joint period of Israel's missing seven and the last seven of the Church) would begin. This is all explained in the Satanic Rebellion and the Coming Tribulation series (at the links), but for a more manageable and yet somewhat more detailed treatment than above see the link: "The chronology of the date 2026.".

All the more reason for us to make the most of the time remaining.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hi Bob,

Recently, I have been filled with much anxiety, but after I went back to believing in the 2033 timetable, that anxiety dissipated.

Those with the gift of teaching will be held to a much higher standard than those without. It is possible that God wanted me to come back to understanding His timetable of Heaven and Earth.

Did you get this email?

Response #8:

I did – apologies for the delay. I learned a couple of days ago that Google has begun to de-list all websites which are not "mobile friendly", and it turns out that all the work I did a few years back putting in frames on all the pages with ease-of-use navigation buttons made my site hard to see on cell phones, at least in Google's opinion. So I have been running behind while I fixed the site (it's come at a busy time as well).

I'm happy to hear that find validity in the interpretation advanced at Ichthys on this score. It's a bit intimidating to recognize that the Tribulation is getting so close, but on the other hand pressure of that sort can be our friend, if we trust the Lord, don't panic, and merely use these truths as more motivation to put spiritual growth through hearing, believing and applying the Word of God in first place.

Hope things are going well!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Bob,

Hope you are doing well. I have been reading a lot on the coming tribulation and wanted to ask a couple questions as I'm just not understanding it through what I have read.

Will we endure the whole 7years of tribulation? I have read your writings on rapture and you definitely helped me understand that there is not a pre-tribulation one. However I'm so confused as to if we are to go through all of tribulation or just 3.5yrs of it before the great tribulation?

Also, You said by timelines Christ return to be in 2026? Is that when he returns and the tribulation starts in 2019? Or tribulation starts 2026 and He will return in 2033?

I hope I'm not too confused just been doing a lot of reading in revelation and using you coming tribulation and satan's rebellion writings to learn more.

Thank you so much for all your work you do. It truly keeps me seeking for more daily.

Response #9:

It's good to hear from you. I pray for your comfort and peace daily.

As to your question, the resurrection of the Church occurs at the second advent. So there are no doubt many of us who will not "taste death" – but to get to that point will necessitate navigating the entire Tribulation with all of its trials, including in particular the Great Apostasy and the Great Persecution.

As to dates, the interpretation which I have published at Ichthys (note: it depends upon how the passages are read and applied – I believe it to be correct but please see the important caveats below) finds the Tribulation beginning in 2026, with the second advent occurring seven years later in the fall of 2033 – that is when the resurrection of the Church will occur. Our Lord's crucifixion and resurrection took place in 33 A.D. Two thousand years later would mark the conclusion of the two millennia long Church Age. The last seven years is the Tribulation (a joint period between Israel and the Church). You can find out the details many places at Ichthys but here is one handy link: "When will the Tribulation Begin?" Here are those caveats with commentary from SR 5 (please do feel free to write me back about any of this):

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

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

The Church Age commenced following the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

These events took place in 33 A.D.

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.

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.

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).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hello Dr. Robert!

Have a good day in Christ's Mighty Name!

I haven't been able to ask things from you very lately. But I have been reading your writings particularly about the Coming Tribulation, Bible Reading and Study as any Christian's primary responsibility, and the Situation of our current church visible which you referred as Laodicean Church Era.

Really. I thank you so much for your spiritual outputs guided by the Holy Spirit. They are of great help. You know I have been on the belief of Pre-trib since the beginning of my Christian walk. And almost all of the church visible now here believes that doctrine. Yet, as I search the scriptures and the history of the rapture, things are on the contrary and gradually the truth is being revealed to me. I think 99% here believes the rapture and that the church will not experience the Great Tribulation. This then brings me to the point that I should really read the Bible and as you mentioned it must be everyday for spiritual growth and fighting deceptions. Thank God, unlike before, despite how busy my teaching work schedule is, I have been able to read portions of the Bible almost everyday now. Hopefully I will be able to make it a consistent habit doc.

With all the false doctrines and beliefs nowadays, I have been questioning why do Christians particularly in the present time were consistently caught with up with all these lies when they are supposed to be in the right path. Thanks to your writing about the Laodicean Church Era and I am able to understand now that this is really supposed to happen in our present church age.

I haven been looking also readings from other sites. You are not alone in the Post Trib view on the internet as some others are also supporting it (pre trib is a majority though as far as I read), and I want to tell you something I realized as a pattern: People who support Eternal Security also support Pre-trib view, and people who do not support or even hate Eternal Security support Post-trib. what can you say about this pattern sir? The two opposing groups can't both be correct and for me it seems that Satan is making his moves on the other side, making doctrines to deceive Christians and even using the popular ones to propagate his scheme. I do not want to judge people, and I understand differences among Christians, but it still struck me that our sisters and brothers in Christ just listen to pastors and teachers and immediately treat their teachings as true, without personal verification and reading from the Bible, searching history and the desire to know more of the truth. I was really on the same boat, but thank God I cannot be easily deceived now, and won't accept anything immediately even if it is taught by the popular ones or pastors or seasoned Sunday school teachers.

Also, honestly I am not that of a fan of Christian conventions. I really would like to talk or share or go with other Christians but as far as I can tell, Christian conventions now seem to be more of entertainment than the Word of God. As I see it, no one would like to sit for 5 hours discussing the truths about the Bible because I think that may put them to sleep, but everyone wants to experience even for the whole day listening to songs that can make you cry or cry out loud, preaching which should touch the heart, remarkable stories, lights off and while someone is singing everyone cries and shouts and speak in tongues and fall down and so on. Some would even tell they saw the gates of heaven opened and saw Jesus crying. In other words, they want heavenly experiences during these conventions and thus more of entertainment. Again. I do not want to judge people but the substantive teaching of the Word of God nowadays is really rare which even honestly discouraged me to go to church anymore. Seriously doc, what can you say about these claims that some people saw heavens are opened and Jesus is crying? That sometimes disturbs me. It is true that Jesus did cry when he was here on earth, but is it possible that at some point He can cry now?

To tell you the truth, I had the desire to experience heavenly things and even some mentioned above, but reading more of the Bible has been gradually removing that desire in my heart and I realize I should not walk by sight or experience, but rather walk by faith in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen.

Thank you so much for your prompt responses considering your busy schedule and all. Thank you also for your encouragement of consistent Bible reading for greater spiritual growth. I appreciate what you have been doing for the Body of Christ. Hoping to get some comments from you sir! God bless you!

Writing in Jesus Mighty Name,

Response #10:

Hello my friend!

It's very good to hear from you. It's a very interesting nexus you mention. I would add one more, namely, the idea that just by belonging to "the right church" or denomination a person is automatically spiritually safe. I conjoin these three false doctrines and discuss them by comparing them to their true spiritual counterparts at the following link:

Peter's Epistles #27: Three False Doctrines that Threaten Faith

If I assume that I am safe from the Tribulation (because of the "rapture), and that because of "eternal security" I am safe from falling away into apostasy (which will be a worse problem in the Tribulation than ever before), and that I have security in my church because we are all born again believers here who have been water-baptized, and tithe, and speak in tongues, and get emotional (and commit whatever other emotional or legalistic or ritualistic offenses one may be familiar with) – little knowing that such churches will be among antichrist's first group of converts and supporters during the Tribulation – then I am vulnerable by a multiple of three once the Tribulation does arrive on time, and the Great Apostasy does begin, and antichrist does manage to convince most of the world (including traditional, legalistic and emotion-driven churches) that he is "the Christ".

The Great Persecution will put a tremendous amount of pressure even on believers who have been walking closely with their Lord and who have been taking the time to learn and believe and grow in the truth (on these and all issues of Bible's true doctrines) – so how much more so will those who have been surprised by the Tribulation, bamboozled by antichrist, wrongly assuming that they were safe no matter what they did, not be at risk to lose faith and apostatize under such horrific conditions?

No doubt the evil one is hard at work preparing the ground, so to speak, for the incipient Tribulation. It seems, in fact, that he is currently deploying all manner of previously carefully husbanded resources and taking ever increasing risks in going beyond the bounds set for him, in order to attack key truths here on the cusp of the end. Once the Tribulation does begin, therefore, because in large part of this "trifecta" of lies, he is prophesied to have great success in subverting many believers to his cause. Those believers he cannot "flip" with the help of this terrific preparatory barrage of lies which even evangelicaldom has bought into here in the waning days of Laodicea, he plans to destroy in the Great Persecution.

The Tribulation will quickly reveal who is really "of Christ" and who is merely a pretend believer. Then the pressures of the Tribulation will cause fully one third of the true Church to fall away. Of those who remain, one half of the remnant will be martyred in the Great Persecution. And those who survive the double challenge to faith and life brought about by the events of those days will no doubt not have it easy. Even for those believers who find themselves in the (relatively speaking) safe haven of Babylon, even assuming that for this reason they may not be as terribly persecuted or disadvantaged for their faith, will, at the end, have to give up everything to "flee Babylon", lest they share in her fiery end.

Thank you for your powerful testimony about your experiences and how the Lord has led you to rise above them all through love of Him and His truth! I know it will be an encouragement to many others (when they read and realize "it's not just me"). For everything you have related here has paralleled my own experiences and those of many others whom I hear from all the time.

Stay strong in the faith, my friend, and continue to make the truth of the Word of God more important than your daily bread.

In anticipation of your continued spiritual success and great reward before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Your friend in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Thank you so much Dr. Robert!

I will continue to read more of your postings and will further ask more very soon. My family is solid Catholic and it's difficult for me to get them out of the chain because no matter what you say about Catholic doctrines and issues they don't care. Seems that I will just trust Him in this area, hoping and praying that there will come a time they will accept Jesus Christ genuinely in their hearts and quit those idolatrous scenes.

May our Lord Jesus Christ guide us in His Light so we can triumph the battle. Amen

Truly yours in Christ's Name,

Response #11:

You're very welcome. I know that the Lord knows your heart on this and that He has made plans – from eternity past – to work this all out together for the good.

But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
1st Timothy 6:11 KJV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Bob,

We know and believe that without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.

We also know and believe that there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of discrete moments in history wherein genuine believers in Christ have tried to predict the date of His return.

We also know and believe that God our Father is so good that He will always give His children whatever they need, if only they ask.

Finally, we know and believe that the activity of predicting the return of Jesus Christ has had a 100% failure rate so far.

If God wants people to predict the year of His return, then why hasn't He ever given believers who sought this information the correct year once so far in all of human history?

You have previously written in your email that the main reason why people do not to believe in a precise date of His coming is because people want to be lazy. But what if Jesus meant in the parable of the lazy steward that He could come back at any time whatsoever?

If the Bible really teaches that Jesus will return in 20XY, then the Bible must also teach that it is impossible for Jesus to return before 20XY. Is this the correct perspective for a mature believer to have about God?

Response #12:

I'm not sure I've ever put things quite this way. Most people aren't interested in the Word to any great or deep degree. Is that lazy? It's not "good", but the attitude is not unique to our day, even if it is characteristic of our day. The adjective the Lord uses is "lukewarm".

There are reasons for everything in the plan of God. If they don't occur to us regarding any given topic, theological or personal, that doesn't mean they don't exist, nor does it mean that our present lack of understanding is a reasonable basis for resisting or rejecting what the Bible says about the question at hand.

I've never predicted anything in my life. A good thing too, because my "life motto" is "it didn't turn out the way I expected".

What I have done is "crunch the numbers", something anyone who reads the Bible is free to do. Follow me here. There are seven days of re-creating the earth, and the seventh one is a day of rest. We also know that the last act of history will be the Millennium, a thousand year period of rest. No Bible student would be doing due diligence, these facts alone considered, not to at least posit and test a theory that there are six millennial days preceding the last millennial day. In fact, if one does investigate this possibility, everything in scripture, in my opinion, seems to support it.

Once we are at the point of at least being willing to entertain that the seven millennial day layout is indeed how God has ordered human history, it is an easy enough matter to read through the Old Testament and figure out that, however calculated, there are indeed approximately 4,000 years from Eden to the birth of Christ. After that, it doesn't take a math major to figure out that 2,000 years from the crucifixion is not too far away. Most scholars agree with the 33 A.D. date for the events of the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord. If so, adding 2,000 and backing up seven should give us the date of the Tribulation which precedes Christ's return. In case you haven't come across these before, here are the caveats I always append to this interpretation of scripture (everyone, after all, is entitled to their own interpretation – but not everyone will be right):

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

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

The Church Age commenced following the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

These events took place in 33 A.D.

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.

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.

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).

For what it is worth, "here I stand". Could I be wrong in my interpretation? Certainly. Do I think I am? No way. For me, the biblical data are very clear and cannot be explained away – and I haven't yet heard any alternative interpretation which satisfactorily explains them.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

I think it is very important to study what happens during "the end"... it's just that finding the time to place "the end" in the chaos that is human history is something that I have to take with a great degree of skepticism, even from an extraordinary teacher and philologist. Most importantly, the absolutely worst thing that could happen is for someone to read the date and, for whatever divine reason, if the end times were not to commence, lose faith.

Before, I could say that I could privately believe this, but the interpretation of scripture is never a private matter; we have to be ready to share whatever interpretation we hold, because such interpretation comes from the Holy Spirit.

There's also this: "At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it." If Laodecia "wakes up" from her lukewarmness, which is always possible, God may decide to postpone disaster (which is the Tribulation) out of His great love and mercy.

Response #13:

I think it is very wise to be skeptical about anything not proven. When it comes to spiritual growth, however, this does present believers with an apparent dilemma. On the one hand, we don't want to be deceived. On the other hand, we can only grow by believing the truth, so that even if we have found the right ministry for us, to the degree that we reserve judgment, for whatever reason, to that degree we will not grow. Outside of cult-adherents, there have probably never been more than a handful of Christians who have agreed with absolutely everything a teaching ministry – even a superior one – was offering them. So I don't think you have to beat yourself up if this is something you are just not able to accept. At least yours is a reasonable and well-reasoned objection. Almost every Christian I have ever met has had trouble accepting something or other the Bible says or teaches. For whatever reason, person X just has a hard time believing the report about Jonah and the "great fish" (KJV) – even though believing that God created the entire universe in the blink of an eye presents no problems for him/her at all (e.g.). So I always recommend what my old Bible teacher Col. Thieme always recommended, namely, if you have found a good place, even "the right place", when one of these "difficult to digest" teachings comes along, if you can't swallow it, put it aside for the time being. If the place/person has proven itself/himself to you over time as being worthy of your trust, give the benefit of the doubt, at least to the point of not breaking fellowship over one thing with which you do not agree (a plethora of "things" on the other hand is an indication that you may be in the wrong place).

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James 3:1 NIV

While I respect your point of view on this question, the verse above – which it might be thought ought to push me in the direction of "caution" – warns me to keep faith with the truth as I have been able to discover it regardless of consequences. I am very well aware of the idiocy of predicting the precise day of the Lord's return as said idiocy has played out many times over the last hundred years or so in particular in one cult or cult-like or merely hare-brained ministry. As a result, it was with no little reluctance that I went ahead and published this information, things I genuinely believe to be taught in scripture for the reasons already mentioned and based on the data contained in the links provided. Knowing what I know, and, more importantly, believing the truth of it, I would have been remiss not to do so:

You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.
Acts 20:20 NIV

For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.
Acts 20:27 NIV

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?
Proverbs 24:11-12 NIV

In my position, knowing and believing something yet "holding it back" would be unconscionable – especially something so vitally important.

As to potential damage, I think that it is beyond doubt that being unprepared for something as terrible as the Tribulation is worse than being prepared and being spared. The disappointment of the latter (if indeed that were to happen) may challenge the faith of some – but even then it should not if those in question realize it is a case of a divine reprieve. However, we know that one third of genuine believers will be lost in the Great Apostasy, no doubt in large measure because of their spiritual immaturity and lack of spiritual preparation.

I didn't publish this information to bring attention to myself or this ministry. I put this out in spite of the negative reaction I was pretty sure it would evoke from many quarters. And I understand the reaction. No doubt I would have had it myself to any similar claim, unless and until I was personally convinced of the truth of it. But this is so important, it can't be held back – at least I can't do so and still sleep at night.

As to Jeremiah 18:7ff., it is admitted in the set of caveats included that "alteration of the schema presented . . . is certainly within the power and authority of the Almighty". And of course it is always within the power of any individual, nation, or other grouping (Laodicea – the entire Church militant at present) to repent. These things are true. And yet I see no indication of this (within scripture or without), and no biblical leeway to deviate from the truth as scripture presents it.

Anyone can be wrong. For a Bible teacher, however, not teaching what he knows to be true is just as bad if not worse than getting something wrong through honest error. This projection was not carelessly derived nor put out without much introspection and careful consideration. I respect your right not to believe it. But I do think it is true, and, as with all truth, it is always better to believe it than not.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ who is the truth.

Bob L.

Question #14:

Don't worry: I do not plain to break fellowship with this ministry, especially not over one small point in an overall framework. And I always delight in your explanation of the connection between the gates of the New Jerusalem and the gemstones and your Godly approach to textual criticism, among other things. The latter is especially important in these days, considering that the majority of believers still continue to invest divine inspiration in man-made fables such as pericope adulterae. You cannot use the Sword of the Spirit very well if it is forged out of pig iron, after all.

I also understand the importance of not just knowing but believing the truth. Even in the secular world we understand this: it's no use teaching a child about the toxicity of playing with mercury if he refuses to believe any of it is true. We even see this today with so many parents knowing quite a bit about MMR vaccinations, but refusing to believe any of said knowledge, to their tragedy.

I think it bespeaks a lot about your charitable nature* that you do not demand 100% compliance in order to enjoy fellowship with believers, which in turn only inspires more faith in the God-led nature of your ministry.

(*) I'm starting to think that the proper understanding of Greek is very difficult without the understanding of Latin; the Greek word agape, which has been made a big hullabaloo out of by many Christians, seems to correspond very closely to the Latin word charitas, which means having good humor and a disposition of good-will toward others (Eg: giving a charitable reading of an essay), as opposed to an accusatory or fault-finding nature (which is the Devil's modus operandi). Yet very few evangelicals have made this connection, presumably because Latin is considered to be a "dead white man's" language.

Response #14:

Thanks for this.

Yes, even at seminaries nowadays Greek and Hebrew are not taught at a very deep level, and often ignored altogether in terms of requirements (unless there is a denominational requirement to be superficially fulfilled).

As to agapao, the Latin charitas (a Greek loan word) is an interesting way around the fact the phileo with its cognates is much more commonly used for all manner of love in secular (even contemporary) Greek. I think you are in the ballpark by seeing this sort of love as a blanket love rather than a personal love. We are to love people we don't like and even those we don't know. That's not phileo ("love" in the normal sense) but agapao, a verb which is used of customary activity, is the perfect fit to get across the point that Christian love is not about normal human emotions nor is it about the object of love, but it is rather all about the subject, the one giving the love – and about the true Subject who inspires us with His love, the One who died for us (and for "them" whoever "them" is). I can get emotional about that.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

COMING TO AMERICA: ISLAMIC STATE

Lets recap in case some haven't followed the latest information. New York city has been identified as the Mystery Babylon and America is the land of the Chaldeans. Our shepherds have misled us. Most Christians believe terrible things will happen to the nation of Israel in the end times. They forget where we came from. They forget the house of Judah that crossed the caucus mountains, settled in Europe and eventually America. God didn't forget Jacob.

Isaiah 10:20-23 (KJV)
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption (extermination), even determined, in the midst of all the land.

This is not happening to the Nation of Israel. This is happening to the forgotten house.

NEW YORK: New York is the headquarters of the United Nations, or one world government. Wall Street is the financial nerve center of the world and the pride of Mystery Babylon.

Revelation 18:11-18
And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!

Jeremiah 50:16King James Version (KJV)
Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land.

The many waters she sits upon are nations and tongues. The seven heads or seven mountains where the woman sits atop is the seven mountain mandate on which Mystery Babylon is built. They are arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media and religion.

Revelation 18:4 (KJV)
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

Revelation 17:8 (KJV)
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into destruction: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

This beast is the King of the North, Apolloyon, Abaddon or the destroyer. He is here now preparing for war against the house of Israel. This is about Judah and Jacob who have turned their backs on God and forgotten from whence they came. We have separated God from our politics, schools and government supported facilities. We have openly embraced overt sexuality and homosexuality. Our shepherds preach prosperity instead of repentance. Jacob has become wicked.

Jeremiah 50:40 (KJV)
40 As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the Lord; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein.

This is coming soon! In future posts I will discuss, the beast in detail as well as the fate of Jacob. God Bless!

Response #15:

In fact, the rise of a unified Muslim world under a Mahdi will be what electrifies the west and leads to antichrist's rise to power. He will name this Mahdi as "the beast" and will style himself as "Christ". False teaching (of the sort included in this email of yours) will only result in believers being confused and more apt to believe they are joining the fight against antichrist when in reality they are working for him.

If you really want to know all of the important details, I recommend studying the following two series:

The Satanic Rebellion: Prelude to the Tribulation

The Coming Tribulation

Question #16:

Dr. Luginbill,

In asking you questions about the Bible, I may have already formed an opinion about what I think the passage may mean. I would; however, very much like to know your beliefs and opinions on scripture, due to your extensive knowledge and experience. I hope you won't find this tiring.

In Revelation 6:2 it states that the Lamb opened the first seal and a white horse appears, and its rider was given a bow and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest (NIV). Some people have interpreted this white horse as the Christian gospel going forth as a coqueror into the world.

The next three seals that are opened; however, involve tremendous sufferring and death over large parts of the earth.

Also, the riding of a white horse, historically, was ridden only when a returning army celebrated a triumph over a defeated enemy. The rider of this white horse is riding out to battle - to conquer and was bent on conquest. His riding of a white horse into battle seems to indicate an absolute assurance of victory and purpose.

Dr. Luginbill, what is your take on Revelation 6:2 and the rider on the white hose?

Dr. Luginbill, I like many, many other believers think that we are just steps away from the return of the Lord. There seems to be; however, one major thing that stands in the way of this happening in the very near term. This is the tremendous military power of the United States (currently) across the globe. Many of the end time prophecies indicate that Israel (in the very last days) will be invaded by a huge army from the north.

(The Time of Jacob's Trouble).

Given the current military power of the U.S. (around the world) this scenario does not seem very likely. The U.S. has given its pledge, militarily to defend the State of Israel should it ever be faced with extinction.

Question: Do you believe that something may happen to the U.S. that might (temporarily) prevent it from responding to this invasion of Israel? Something like another 9/11 except on a bigger scale, or some kind of unexpected natural disaster?

After reading your C.V. I feel very honored that you've responded to my emails so soon.

You must have a great deal on your plate and many people doing Q/A with you.

Dr. Luginbill, do you have a basic set of rules or procedures for conducting Q/A?

Things such as how many Q/A's can be submitted per day or week and type of questions asked? Also, do you notify those you do Q/A with not to expect a response due to your having to travel, etc.?

Over the years I've been following political, economic and military news that I've thought may play a role in bringing various threads of prophecy together in the very last days. An example of this (which you may already be aware of) is the "Strategic Energy Ellipse." This term was used by Geoffrey Kemp and Robert Harkavy in their study, " Strategic Geography and the Changing Middle East" (1997). In this study they present evidence that " over 70% of the worlds proven oil and over 40% of natural gas reserves are concentrated in and around the Persian Gulf states and the Caspian Sea basin. The map of the "Energy Ellipse" is at www.Energeopolitics.com/2008/08/19/ the-strategic-energy-ellipse-map/.

There is a passage in Ezekiel 38:13 which says, " Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish, with all their young lions, shall say to you, ' art thou come to take a spoil?, hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey?'

This question is stated to this huge northern army that has invaded the land of Israel. In both Ezekiel 38 and 39 this northern army is recorded as slain by the Lord at his return from heaven. The statement is odd because at the time of Ezekiel's writing (around 500 B.C.) this is what armies usually did - invade other countries to take plunder and spoil. It's as if the question were posed in the context of, we thought those days were over with, and needs to be asked if that is what the motive is. With the huge amount of energy wealth in the Middle East (as a potential prize) and the control of the Suez Canal (Daniel 11: 41 - 43) it isn't hard to see that if a door ("in that day") is opened for a potential, successful invasion of this region (by a large army from the north), which would occur (of course) under the guise of a humanitarian and altruistic purpose, that they would grab it.

Response #16:

Good to hear from you, and my apologies for this taking a bit longer than usual. Saturday is my posting day, and we are also about to start a new semester tomorrow (so rather busy here).

1) You can write me any time about anything, and I will get to your email as soon as I can (please be patient if at sometimes I answer the same day but sometimes you have to wait several days or more).

2) The rider on the white horse is antichrist (cf. Ezek.39:3). The seals are the "cover illustrations" of the book of Revelation and represent its major trends (except for the seventh which begins the Tribulation when opened). Antichrist and his rise to power is the first major trend of the Tribulation (see the link).

3) In my estimation of things, given the late date, the US will most likely be the Babylon of the Tribulation. It is not so now, and many things can happen, even in the short time remaining, but this is the most likely scenario. Most interpretations of Revelation and eschatology fail to distinguish between Babylon and revived Rome, but there is a big distinction. Please see the link: Probable identification of mystery Babylon. So, no, I don't think that the US is going to be removed or rendered impotent before the end times begin, but that is merely informed speculation on my part.

4) Oil: it seems likely, given current events, that oil may play a role in the happenings leading up to the two major campaigns of antichrist in the mid-east (see the link). However, what with the shale revolution, that seems less likely today than it did five years ago. Then again, as I say, a lot can change between now and then. We can't know about the specifics that are not actually given in scripture. Please do read part 3B of Coming Tribulation (link); I believe that will resolve many of these questions for you.

Again, thanks for your patience.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello, I have been studying for several weeks The Coming Tribulation. It is amazing! Thank you for your devotion to the truth of God's Word. Please let me know how I can get a physical print copy of these works so that I can share with others, many who still believe the lie about the rapture. Thank you! God Bless!

Response #17:

Very good to make your acquaintance, and thanks so much for your good words about this ministry.

As to the question about printed copies, this is probably the most frequently asked question I get, and I am afraid that I am going to have to disappoint you here. For a variety of reasons, these materials are only available in "E" form (although through a variety of formats). Readers are authorized to print them out themselves if they so desire. I understand that this can be a somewhat expensive and time-consuming process, so I do apologize for that. However, this is the way it has to be; please see the link: FAQ #1: Books: Are these studies available in printed format?

If you haven't already done so, you might want to check out these other links which also deal with the pre-Trib "rapture":

When is the Rapture?

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

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hi, thank you for answering my last e-mail. I am currently reading and enjoying your Satanic Rebellion series, getting ready to start part #3.

Do you believe in a pre, mid., or post tribulation rapture, and briefly , tell me why. What series of yours is this in?

Thank You and Yours in Christ,

Response #18:

You're very welcome.

Although I cut my theological teeth on "pre-Trib" and went to a "pre-Trib" seminary, studying to defend that "doctrine" I was led by the truth of scripture to see that it is not the case. There is only one resurrection of the Church, and that takes place at the parousia or the only return of our Lord, namely, His second advent. While there is no definitively "pre-Trib" passage in the Bible – that is, all of the verses which supposedly teach it work perfectly well as post-Trib and would have been understood that way without further explanation because throughout the OT the "day of the Lord" commences with the end of the Tribulation not its beginning (e.g., 1Thes.4:15-17) – there is a great volume of scripture which can only be understood as the Church rising to meet the Lord when He returns at the second advent (e.g., Acts 1:11; Matt.24:26-28; 1Cor.15:23-26; Heb.1:6). I have written a great deal about this and will give you the major links here (please do feel free to write back with any questions):

When is the Rapture?

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

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Where in the Bible does it talk about the Rapture or is this something John Nelson Darby made up?

Response #19:

Hello again,

There is no place in the Bible where the (pre-Tribulation) "rapture" is discussed because that is a false doctrine. When our Lord returns at the second advent, we who remain alive on earth as believers will indeed be "caught up together in clouds" (1Thes.4:17), and thus will we ever be with the Lord. But that living resurrection happens only once, when our Lord returns to rule the world after the seven years of Tribulation, not before, not in the middle, not twice (or whatever the false theory de jour may be). Whether Darby is completely responsible for the popularity of the false belief or whether he got the theory from someone else is a matter of historical curiosity but of no spiritual moment. I have information about all this at the following links:

When is the Rapture?

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

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

Please have a look at the links and do feel free to write me back with any questions you may have.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

I do not believe in the rapture but I have a relative that believes in the Mid-Trib rapture who asked me where in the Bible it says that after the tribulation begins people can't repent and be saved. I believe that God's Grace will cease when the tribulation begins and at that point it will be too late to repent and be saved. Am I correct? If so I need your help to convince.

Thank you so much for your help.

Blessings,

Response #20:

Good to hear from you. I would certainly not say that people can't repent and be saved in the middle of the Tribulation (or its beginning or its end) – I would hope some will be. But that time will be a time of such great pressure and deception that all the odds are against it, so to speak. In a time where one third of believers fall away into apostasy and one third are killed by antichrist, when the world at large (its majority population for certain) will "believe" that antichrist is Christ, one can see why not to many will come to Christ at that time. However, there is one group who will, namely, those Jews who respond to the ministry of Moses and Elijah evangelized by the 144,000. They will believe during the Tribulation and will be safely protected through its worse second half (see the discussion of Revelation chapter twelve at the link).

As to grace, that means favor or good will, namely, all the goodness God shares with those who love Him (and even with those who don't). It is by the grace of God that the universe continues to hold together (cf. Col.1:17), so there will never be a time when we believers in particular are without His grace. God's grace is limited only by human beings who are unwilling to respond to it, and, unfortunately, that "unwillingness" will be at a very high level during the Tribulation for the reasons indicated above. But just as the Israelites were protected from His judgments and from Pharaoh's wrath during the exodus, so I fully expect for God's special provision to believers to shelter us not only from the judgments whose targets are unbelievers but also from the worst of what the evil one is planning – even if it be our lot to suffer martyrdom for the glory of Jesus Christ (Rev.13:10).

The "mid-Tribulation" theory is without any scriptural support, but it does give an indication of the problems with the Pre-Trib theory: if it is easy to go from one to the other without any scripture in the way, that shows how little evidence the Pre-Trib theory was based on in the first place. Let's hope (and pray) for you relative that "mid" is merely a stage on the way to "post" – and the truth.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Thank you so very much, Bob! I really appreciate your explanation and, as usual, it makes perfect sense. I realize that God's grace is His favor but I had read somewhere that when the tribulation begins God's mercy will cease toward those who had rejected him prior to the beginning of the tribulation. I really believe the people who put so much faith in the rapture will completely lose their faith when they're not taken away and will be lost. A Satanic plan I'm sure.

I can't tell you how much I wish you were here in Texas and could teach a fellowship group here. That would be wonderful.

I'll forward your message.

Blessings,

Response #21:

You're very welcome.

On cold winter days here in Louisville, I wish I lived in Texas too! But we did have the most wonderful spring day here today.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Thank you Dr for your response and I will follow-up with one other question later but I want your opinion of this video.

https://youtu.be/qXO2MiWYUis

Take your time and view it. It is about an hour long. I believe this teaching on fallacy of pre-trib rapture is accurate and mirror yours. I am sending you the link because I want your opinion. Your site I believe is meant for individuals who want to grow more mature in their walk after they have come to terms with some of the erroneous teachings in mainstream evangelical circles but the issue I see is that your site is extremely exhaustive and only the individual who is really dedicated to growing their walk with Christ will take time to peruse of all your excellent and in-depth materials. It is not for the layman, which I thank Christ I try not to be.

This is the reason why I am looking for something a little less depth but accurate that can guide individuals and then direct them to your site at the same time.

Do you think that is the right approach and if so, would you mind taking a look at the video? I will probably send it out to some individuals I know and append your site as well.

Let me know.

Thank you once again for everything. In Christ our Lord.

Response #22:

I cannot endorse this ministry. There are many Messianic and pseudo-Messianic groups and movements out there these days (including "Hebrew Roots" and "British Israelism") which may have a few doctrines correct where mainline evangelicals are wrong – but the dangerous nature of their false doctrines more than compensates for any good they may be doing. Here is a link to a response about this particular ministry which I have posted in the past: "Blood Moons"

I recognize that many of the writings at Ichthys are dense. Still, there are a variety of different postings which deal with the issue of the pre-Trib rapture, the most recent of which is "When is the Rapture?" (and this will lead to all the prior links). There is a place, certainly, for videos. For example, I highly recommend my friend pastor-teacher Curtis Omo's Bible Academy videos (at the link). But for the most part most other such offerings like this one you link posted on YouTube seem to me to be a substitution of entertainment for content, and the medium itself seems to tend to skew toward the sensational and visual and away from text, principle and content (not the case with pastor Omo's work, I note).

Hope this is some use to you nonetheless – and hoping to hear good news about your situation very shortly.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hi Bob,

I'm not convinced the rider of the white horse in Revelation 6 is a person, while the other three are not, when the description, "I saw a xxx horse, and the one who rode it...." is the same for all. The white horse seems redundant with the red horse considering the popular view that his bow means he will conquer with war. If you look up the word for "bow" here (toxon) in the Septuagint, the first time it is used is Genesis 9, where it used to describe a bow of many colors that appears after a rain, as a sign of the Lord's covenant with the earth. So, it is very possible that the white horse is representative of a covenant, or peace treaty, that will be signed, effectively conquering nations.

(Quoting from another Christian, but effectively voices my concerns)

Sincerely,

Response #23:

Of course, unlike the others, he is also the only rider who wears a crown (and the dress of the others is not described). The fact that this rider is first is also significant. Any interpretation of the horses and their riders has to be integrated into the seals and what these mean for the book of Revelation. This is where most interpretations fall down. The seals are outside of the book and must be broken for the book itself to be opened (i.e., they "release" the apocalypse, the unveiling of Jesus Christ through the end times). As such the seals – like cover art on a modern paperback – preview the Tribulation; seal seven is the last seal and begins the Tribulation since only with its breaking is the book now opened when it is completely unsealed; seals five and six represent the two major events of the second half or 'great' tribulation (martyrdom and the second advent in that order); seals one through four, the first four, thus represent the first half of the Tribulation in the flawless chronological sequence, the very first of which is the trend to military conquest which dominates the early days of the Tribulation as antichrist first takes over Babylon, then revived Rome, then conquers the southern alliance, the three horns which fall before the little horn, and thus becomes master through military means of the entire earth (Rev.13:4-8) – all before the 'great' tribulation begins. Also, Revelation 6:2 actually says in the Greek "a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and did conquer". This not only shows that physical conquest is the point, literally (signing a treaty wouldn't sync), but it is put in a very personal way – "he" the rider is the one who conquers – making the association with antichrist certain in my view (the personal aspect is so clear, in fact, that the other major misinterpretation of this passage is the one which takes the rider as Christ – pretty ironic given that this rider will pretend to be Christ and will deceive even many Christians at that time). That is the first thing that will be notable about the tribulation, namely, the meteoric rise of the beast and his conquest of the world. One might add to this the fact that all other "popular" interpretations run afoul of one or more of the points above or are otherwise unworkable (e.g., in the one included seeing two horsemen as "redundant" clearly has to be misunderstanding scripture which always has a point). Lastly, the word toxon in Greek means literally an arrow-shooting bow (it comes from the verbal root tych which means in its most original form to "hit the mark when shooting"), and it is only used for the celestial rainbow on account of the similarity of shape (and the bow is antichrist's ignoble weapon: Ezek.39:3).

Hope you continue to feel better and improve day by day, my friend!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Do you think it is possible for someone to feel like they've taken the mark of the beast already (like if someone's a Satanist).

Do you have any articles on the hardness of the heart?

Response #24:

The devil is always about the business of hardening people's hearts to the truth so that they will believe his lies instead.

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2nd Corinthians 4:3-4 KJV

The mark will be a visible tattoo (taking four forms) and will constitute an irrevocable declaration of loyalty to the beast – it won't happen by accident (see the link).

People "feel" all kinds of things for all sorts of reasons. The Christian life is about reeducating ourselves on such points. We learn to "know" by faith rather than by what we see or hear, or especially "feel". The emotions are often a terrible guide for just about everything, and can deceive even the most advanced believers. That is why we absolutely need to learn to "go with what we know (by faith)" and not "reel from what we feel" when it doesn't line up with the truth. Eventually, we learn to guide our emotions most of the time, and when they get out of control, we learn to push through the emotional static and flak we may be experiencing in one situation or another, holding course by faith and being confident that eventually our emotions will calm back down, if we are diligent about leading them with the truth. See the links below for more on all this:

Maintaining a Sound Christian Offense in our Spiritual Warfare (Pet.#29)

Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions?

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle

On the Firing Line: Encouragement in Christian Trials

On the issue of hardness of heart, please see these links:

Hardness of Heart overview

The Three Phases of the Hardening of the Heart (in BB 4B)

Exodus 14: Hardening Pharaoh's Heart

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Hello Robert

I know you said the mark would be visible, but I've heard some say the mark is on the spirit of the person instead of the person's body. What is your opinion on this theory?

Response #25:

I think all such should read Revelation instead of speculating:

Revelation 13:16: It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads.

Revelation 14:9: "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand . . ."

Revelation 20:4 NIV: They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Hello Robert

Why do people believe we are in end times and think millions are taking the mark of the beast everyday?

Response #26:

I've never even heard that before. I know a lot of Christians understand (correctly) that the Tribulation is close. But I've never seen anything that looks like it might be "the mark" and I don't know of any world ruler who could be identified as "the beast" – and the Tribulation has definitely not begun.

To whom are you referring?

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #27:

People who say Obama is the antichrist and say that obama care is when they take the mark. Same goes for the pope and George w bush. Plus, wont the second coming of Jesus come before tribulation?

Response #27:

Neither pres. Obama nor pres. Bush nor the pope are the antichrist (who is Jewish on his human side, by the way) – and obviously all three cannot be the beast so at least two thirds of these people are by definition wrong. Obama-care the "mark"? Now I've heard everything. The mark will be a visible tattoo on the head or hand which represents the beast's name or the number of his name. It does not yet exist because the Tribulation has not yet begun. Our Lord only returns at the second advent, and His return marks the end of the Tribulation, not the beginning (i.e., there is no such thing as a "pre-Trib rapture"; see the link). All of these sorts of things are written up profusely at Ichthys, in the Coming Tribulation series in particular (see the link).

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Will believers know when were in end times and know who the antichrist is?

Response #28:

Yes indeed. Even for those who have not been paying the slightest intention (because they were waiting for a "pre-Trib rapture") will not be able to miss the world-wide signs the Lord provides at the very inception of things:

(1) And when He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (2) And I saw the seven angels who stood before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. (3) And another angel with a golden censer came and stood by the altar, and much incense was given to him so that he might offer it for the prayers of the saints on the golden altar in front of the throne. (4) And smoke from the incense went up from the hand of the angel before God for the prayers of the saints. (5) Then the angel took the incense holder and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it to the earth. And there occurred thunderous voices and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
Revelation 8:1-5

These signs will be manifest throughout the world, so that no believer who has the slightest inkling of scripture will fail to realize that what is happening/about to happen comes from the Lord.

As the Tribulation unfolds, the "son of perdition" will be revealed (2Thes.2:3), and any believer who even opens the Bible will be easily able to tell who he is. Finally, when he begins to require the mark (half way through the seven years), the "number of his name" will be the fail-safe litmus test to enable anyone to easily be sure of antichrist's identity, something any believer who has been paying the slightest attention will already know by then anyway. However, the calculation of his name from the number will be easily done at the time so as to remove any possible excuse of ignorance on behalf of anyone who does take the mark: all Christians will have a means of making 100% sure so will be without any excuse if they do abandon Christ for antichrist.

There are many things that will be difficult in the Tribulation and about which believers have a right to be concerned (though not afraid – God is with us, after all), but the "when?" and "who?" questions are not among them.

As I say, this is all written up in the Coming Tribulation series (link).

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Hello Dr. Luginbill, Pray all is well with you. I have a few questions on the mark of the beast. I have read the passage in scripture many times about not being able to buy or sell 'save he had the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name.' I had always jumped over the mark part and for some reason was thinking about the name or number. So is the mark all inclusive of what the beast will have people take and refers to the name and number or a third possibility? Also there is a lot of talk about a cashless society, in fact Denmark has just outlawed payment by cash. Is this a precursor to be able to buy and sell unless one has a government authorized form of payment that would play into the One World monetary system? If this is the case that cash is no longer king and one must have a special card to buy or sell would this then be the mark? Lets say that the IMF makes all governments only use a one world currency and only with the use of the card would Christians be taking the mark of the beast if we were to use a special card to purchase things? Is this to simplistic and the truth of scripture is that a literal mark on the forehead or hand must be taken in full knowledge that one is taking it and submitting to the antichrist? So many questions but would value your opinion on this.

Blessings in His name,

Response #29:

There are actually four different iterations of the mark/name, any one of which will demonstrate that the person who takes said mark/name has rejected Christ. The four forms and two locations constitute a hierarchy in the "party", for want of a better name. These will be literal tattoos or the equivalent. There is much speculation abroad at present that wants to see the mark as something different from what scripture says it is, but I can assure you that the Bible is very clear on this matter. It is one of the clearest things the Bible has to say about the end times, and no doubt because the Lord wants there to be not a smidgen of an excuse for any believer taking the mark (and none will – unless they have apostatized so as no longer to be believers). I have written a good deal about the details of this and will give you the links here:

Numbers, Letters, and the Mark of the Beast.

Antichrist:  the Mark, the Number, and the Identification of the Beast

The Mark of the Beast (in CT 4)

The Number of the Beast (in CT 4)

Do Not Take the Mark of the Beast (in CT 7)

The Mark of the Beast

666, the Mark of the Beast

Incorrect theories about the mark

Incorrect theories about the number

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

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #30:

Thanks Dr. Luginbill for that information. I think I finally get it. So to be clear, I/we Christians do not have to be concerned when cash for payments no longer exists and a national or One World payment source is implemented, should that be the case, that is not the mark. Not until the man of perdition, the antichrist, makes a peace agreement with Israel, the beginning of the tribulation, the two witnesses appear on the scene, the third temple is built and then at the 3 1/2 year into the tribulation does the mark get implemented. Have I got it correct? Then the beast with set himself in the temple and be an abomination to the Lord that he will take over control of everything and want everyone to worship him and then he will demand all both great and small in order to buy or sell to take his mark. That will be either his name or number on the forehead or the right hand to show allegiance to him and at that point denying our savior Jesus Christ. At that point those who take the mark will no longer will be able to be with the Lord, EVER!!! So do I finally understand it correctly and should not worry about a cashless society, taking a government ID or credit system and only when the antichrist makes everyone choose for him is it a concern what we do? And no I will, with God's help, never take the mark!!

Would it be a help to you to have a search screen on your sight so I, for example, could just type in the mark of the beast and all the information would come up for me to look at? Just a thought so you would not have to respond to all the emails. I know I have asked about this many times. Always appreciate all your help and patience though : ) big smile!!

Blessings,

Response #30:

That's it; you've got it! We can't control the evil that goes on in the world. Our job as Christians is to set a good example and not participate. We don't have to worry about all the horrifying trends we see around us because God is our fortress, and we know that He has already planned out for us our deliverance through all that is to come.

On navigating Ichthys, that is something to which I have given a good deal of thought, and I do hope that with what I have put in it is easier to find one's way around than with most websites (which are considerably smaller than the close to one thousand separate pages of html Ichthys contains).

First, I do have a search feature that looks for things only on Ichthys along the lines of what you ask for. Link: Search Ichthys

Second, I do have a collection of navigation buttons that lead to the main sections of the site (see the link). These used to occur on side panels at the top of every page, but Google didn't like them for mobile users, and my site was being penalized by them as a result, so I had to make a change to one unified position.

Then there are also indexes, one for topics/subjects and one for verses (see the links).

There are other helps, but I'll let you experiment with the above. And, as always, I'm happy to point you in the right direction if you have trouble finding something.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #31:

Hi Bob,

I was reading a very disturbing comment on a Christian website calling for the death penalty for sodomy. Before, I was certain that the Antichrist was going to arrive with a gang of clueless liberal "we are the world" types, sticking around for the free pot and brownies. However, with the rise of ISIS, and the new coalition between Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt (against ISIS), and the rise of militant Christians who are not much different from ISIS in rhetoric, I think it is entirely possible that the Antichrist will spring from a reactionary movement. After all, Hitler was considered to be "pro-life" (in the sense of anti-abortion) and "for family values."

Also I was reading Apologetics Press, when I found some very disturbing content stating that the authors of the site believe that water baptism is necessary for salvation.

However, these same people believe that Jesus Christ is God and that he was raised from the dead.

How is this possible?

Response #31:

I have long thought that it was equally likely for the beast to be on the right rather than on the left. After all, he will be opposing the Mahdi on the grounds that the Mahdi is "antichrist", and the beast will also proclaim himself the Messiah (though not openly at first no doubt – his "unveiling" only fully occurs when he takes his seat in the rebuilt temple during the middle of the Tribulation). All discerning Christians need to be ready to put aside politics and predetermined political opinions in this regard. As a good friend recently commented, morality will be no guide since it is very much possible to be moral and evil at the same time (he used as his example the communist Chinese who shut down the opium dens and houses of ill-repute . . . then killed all the missionaries).

On believing and defending false doctrine, there is no accounting for this sort of thing. In my experience this happens mainly out of loyalty to tradition. Christians today who do want to follow the Lord the right way and who do want to know the truth often have a hard time of it. For one thing, finding a place where the truth is taught at all is not that easy. Secondly, churches and groups which are correct on most points often have "slivers" like this one you mention. For a person who has been attracted there by the "good", or who came up in the tradition, it's always tempting to go with the narrative even if and when you see it has problems – and this is especially the case when, as things are now, better alternatives do not necessarily present themselves readily. It's not an excuse (there is no excuse for getting it wrong or for going with a group that has got it wrong because the Lord always provides for those who are willing to do what is necessary to get it and to have it "right"), but perhaps it is a partial explanation. I don't know but I would imagine that if you look into their teaching further you may find that this group believes in salvation by grace through faith, but yet they don't worry about the fact that this cannot be reconciled with a perceived necessity for water-baptism – for salvation (!). I have run into variations of this many times. It boils down to a tradition that is so deeply rooted that people are willing to accept it as true and then use whatever gymnastics of exegesis are necessary to "make it fit" – the exact reverse of the proper approach to the Word of God.

I'm very glad to hear that you have a job, even if it's not everything you want and need yet; I'm confident that the Lord will work this all out for you for good. He always does.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #32:

I'm not sure how 'moral' someone could be if they are willing to kill people who are not harming others, which is definitely the case for Chinese missionaries. If we found someone who killed others because they had a taste in music he didn't like, we would consider him to be mad and very immoral. Yet we do not share this indignation with Chinese leaders who kill others because they have a different view on God.

Response #32:

Exactly. "Morality" is always selective in sinful human beings. How much more will that not be true of the beast who has mass murder in mind on a scale beyond present understanding?

Question #33:

I first read Revelation I’ve had this idea that I might be one of the 144,000. Maybe it’s a stupid question, but it’s something I wonder about.

Response #33:

As to your question, I don't think it's stupid at all. Given your background, I would not be in the least bit surprised if it turned out that you became one of the 144K. It seems to me that you fit the profile outlined in scripture precisely. Mind you, the 144K don't exist as such just yet. That is a way off, and it will only be clear to them when they are sealed at the commencement of the Tribulation, and may only become clear to the world once they are organized and commissioned by Moses and Elijah. Still, it's far from impossible, given where we are in the history of the Church, and it's certainly a noble aspiration. Your effective witnessing to the Israeli woman and her husband seems to me to fit precisely the mold of 144K evangelism I've always imagined.

Question #34:

Dear Bob,

I didn’t expect such a quick response! Thank you, as always, for your kind, strong, encouraging words. There are a few things from my previous email I would like to finish covering before moving on. First, on my parents, your optimism is reassuring. I still think it’ll take nothing short of a miracle to convince them. I was reading in Luke yesterday and came to Luke 12:49-53. That prophecy is definitely being fulfilled in my family.

With regard to my Polish friend with whom I’ve been meeting after work, last year when the Israeli-Gaza conflict flared up again, he was amazed when I told him that the interaction between Jews and the Philistines, ancestors of the modern Palestinians, goes back thousands of years and can be seen throughout the Old Testament. He wanted to know all about it, so I prepared a long series of studies going from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (I decided to throw in the origins of the 12 tribes as well—it was a little detour I guess, but at least one of his grandparents was Jewish and he was fascinated), to Samson, to Saul and David. The reason I share this, is that he kept getting tripped up on minor details. For instance, when we read about David slaying Goliath, and I read that Goliath’s coat of armor weighed the equivalent of about 125lbs, he would stop me and say, "That’s impossible. That’s way too heavy. There’s no way that’s true. No one can carry armor that heavy." I replied, "We’re talking about a literal, not-completely-human giant here. Someone 9 or 10 feet tall can easily carry far more weight than a normal human our size. And what about the medieval knights who were regular humans and wore that insanely heavy armor?" He disputed so many little details like that, that I finally had to say, "If the bible says it happened, then it happened—every little detail." One thing that gave him endless, and needless, confusion, was in 1 Samuel 5 and 6 when the Philistines capture the Ark, are afflicted with tumors, and then return the Ark with an offering of gold. In 1 Samuel 6:4-5, the Philistines decide to make gold models of the tumors and rats that are plaguing them. My friend couldn’t understand what was meant by making a "model" of the "tumors." I tried to dig a little deeper, and it seems all of the English translations call them "tumors", "emerods", or "hemorrhoids". The best I could explain to him was that they made five golden amorphous blobs of gold to symbolically represent the growths on their bodies. I made sure to explain that he was missing the forest for the trees here and that the point of the whole passage was that the Philistines recognized that their suffering was coming from disobedience to the true God (who destroyed the idol of their false god), and that they not only needed to return the Ark but to also make an offering to show that they did recognize their guilt and wanted an end to their punishment. I was wondering though, with your knowledge of the Hebrew, is there any more light you can shed on what these gold pieces looked like that represented the tumors?

Also, on the topic of fallen angels/demons, Nephilim, giants, and hybrids, how would you define the Hebrew words "giborim" and "rephaim" (or sons of Rapha) in this context? I know that rephaim is supposed to have something to do with the dead, but I have to admit that those other teachers (I don’t want to call them "false" teachers, but they certainly miss the mark on the truth of scripture a lot) have presented a theology of the relationships between all of these entities and the terms used to describe them from which I’d like to be "deprogramed".

[some details omitted]

One last question for now, since the 144K were brought up, there is a minor (probably insignificant) detail related to their commissioning about which I’m curious. When Moses and Elijah come on the scene again, it will be in Israel and the headquarters of their ministry will be Jerusalem. The 144K will be an international group though, both in their membership and missions. Will they have to travel to Jerusalem for the commissioning? Do Moses and Elijah come to the 144K or do the 144K come to Moses and Elijah for the dispensation of instructions and the special gifts of the spirit entrusted to them? Basically I’m wondering, if I turn out to be one of them, will I have to go to Israel and how will I know when I have to go there? Like I said, probably an insignificant detail, and maybe not even applicable in the sense I’m hoping for, but I was wondering if you had any insight (also, I haven’t finished the whole Coming Tribulation series, so if the answer is in there I apologize).

Thank you again for your time and consideration. I’m hoping to get to the point where I don’t have to write a novella to get to the questions I have, but I feel the background information is essential for understanding where I’m coming from and how I’m looking at things.

In the precious name of the Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #34:

Good to hear back from you!

I know that the Lord knows that you love your parents and are concerned for their eternal future. I think it is certain that this is "part of the picture". Your continued spiritual growth and the witness of the power of truth in your life as you progress will surely be only to the good on this score as well.

It is a very typical defensive mechanism for unbelievers to find fault with minor things in scripture. The fact that your friend did not ultimately consider these issues "make or break" and that you had a ready answer is encouraging on both sides. On the "tumors", the first thing to notice is as you point out that these are the machinations and devices of unbelievers with a pagan mythology. The Bible accurately records what they did, even if this seems bizarre to us. In the museum in Greece near the site of the temple of Asclepius in Epidaurus there are all manner of terra cotta "body parts" which have been discovered, as it was common practice to dedicate to the Greek god of healing votive offerings of the "part" that needed his attention. We don't know the exact form of the tumors since the Bible does not specify, but from the story and the description they would seem to have been uniquely characteristic of this plague and so they were "modeled" in gold. The word used for tumor is 'ophel ( ), and it more commonly means "hill" or "mound". In fact, this is the name of the ridge in Jerusalem which projects southwest from its connection with the temple mount. It's not a symmetrical feature (roughly in the shape of the letter lamedh in the old Hebrew script), and perhaps these tumors weren't either (but scripture doesn't give us any more to work with than this). Suffice it to say that the tumors were unlike anything anyone had seen before, uniform in their odd shape, making it clear that there was a supernatural origin in common, and occasioning the odd "guilt offering" mentioned.

Goliath was human, though very odd indeed. He would have stood out now and how much more so in a time where the average height was apparently significantly less than today. Elite US Marine, Army and Navy (SEAL) units routinely go on punishing marches and maneuvers with in excess of 100 lbs. including weapons. Someone of Goliath's size, as you rightly argue, would have easily been able to manage it – for all the good it did him against David. The Nephilim of Genesis chapter six were halflings, but I don't know of any biblical evidence to suggest that God allowed the practice that led to their genesis to continue after the flood. Indeed, the whole purpose of the flood was to eliminate this abomination. The one exception will be antichrist and the false prophet (and possibly also the beast's ten king cohort – I certainly think so). A gibbor is a "mighty man", that is, a person who by dint of strength and, more particularly courage, is an exceptional warrior (cf. the list of David's "mighty men" in 2Sam.23:8ff. and 1Chron.11:26ff.). The word is used of the Nephilim (at Gen.6:4), but by way of description of their abilities rather than categorization. On the sons of Rapha, they were genetically unique but not part angel. As to the Rephaim, before the Israelites destroyed them, they were a similarly unique people of great proportion living in Bashan (Deut.3:11; cf. Gen.14:5), a race of super-tall men who called to mind the Nephilim – but who were likewise human (just as on the other end of the proportional scale pygmies exist who are likewise unique in their size but still completely human).

On conspiracy theories, having spent some time on these things in the past, I'm reluctant to give them too much credence. The real "conspiracy" is the one we can't see, the machinations of the devil behind the scenes and in the hearts of men. The devil doesn't need all the paraphernalia described to bring someone over to his side and use that person to his ends. Hitler, Stalin and Mao were not spending their time going to conferences and retreats or participating in the rituals of secret organizations where these sorts of things are reputed to take place, yet they certainly all made their evil mark more indelibly than probably all of the people involved in all such contemporary conspiracies put together. Antichrist will be taken for Christ, and no doubt he will project the sort of image and affectations which unbelievers (and sadly not a few Christians) will take to be genuine. He won't need such secret societies – but he will have a cadre of close supporters. One of the things that makes it difficult for me to get too excited about this sort of thing is that in order for a secret demonic cult organization masquerading as a "normal" organization to be effective, it seems to me its members would have to be enthusiastically in on and believing in the weird, evil, dark teachings that are "secretly" at its core. But if most Masons, e.g., either don't know about all this nonsense, or don't take it seriously, or aren't willing to act on it, then the rest of us have little to fear from such an organization, even if being a member may be spiritual detrimental to the individual concerned. The beast's mass-movement will be out in the open and will fire up the passions of the masses in an unprecedented way (which, given the history of the 20th century, is certainly saying something). So while I don't dismiss these things as either completely untrue or absolutely unimportant, it does strike me that people who are overly focused here for the origin of the evil about to arise may miss it simple by looking in the wrong direction entirely.

As to the 144K, yes, it is my hypothesis that they will have to travel to Jerusalem to be trained, instructed, "paired off", and deployed. This is the best I can do from the limited amount of information we are given, so we do need to be flexible enough to let our view of this be expanded by actual events at the time which "fill in the blanks". I am certain of God's ability to let it be known to the individuals in question what to do and when. All manner of more overtly miraculous things will be happening during the Tribulation than is true today (the Church Age being the mystery age where the invisible power of the Spirit working through the Word is the key). Our view of the Tribulation in general as given from scripture is a template with much of the actual texture largely left out – and deliberately so. As with our Lord's use of parables, this allows those who believe to understand and grow, while leaving those who are not really interested in the truth to miss it and dismiss it.

I think I've hit all of your questions here, but do feel free to write back any time. Best wishes for your continued progress in growing closer to our Lord Jesus Christ through faith in His truth.

In Him,

Bob L.

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