Question #1: This was stated by a friend of mine:
We read in Gen. 22 you have Abraham (the Father) offering up Issac (the Son), which is a picture of Christ offering up himself for the sins of the world. Then we find in chap. 23 no mention of Isaac (the Son on a "long journey" during the church age). But in chapter 24 you have the unnamed servant (the Holy Spirit which speaks not of himself) wooing Rebecca (the church or bride of Christ) and bringing her to Isaac who is waiting for her (the rapture).
Does this make sense?
Response #1: This is an allegorical interpretation and one always has to be very careful with these. A good rule of thumb is that unless there is some indication from scripture itself that an allegory is to be understood in the events described, we should be reluctant to see the Bible teaching one, even if one occurs to us. It is true that Isaac is indeed a type of Christ, but there are a host of indications that God means us to see that, not only from all the deliberate and close parallels between Genesis 22 where we are comparing a sacrifice to a sacrifice (and, after all, all animal sacrifice is a divinely structured analogy that looks forward to the cross, but also from elsewhere in scripture. For example, the attempted sacrifice of Isaac took place on Mt. Moriah, the very place where our Lord would be sacrificed for our sins on the cross (2Chron.3:1); and see also especially Heb.11:17-19 where the words translated "figuratively" are a Greek phrase indicating that we are supposed to understand this near sacrifice as a God-given "type" of the ultimate "antitype", namely, our Lord's true sacrifice of Himself on our behalf on the cross (for typology see the link: "Typology and Sequence in Old Testament Prophecy" in CT 1).
However, one needs to be careful about getting carried away with allegorical interpretation which is not suggests directly by the Bible. Immediately after the passing of the apostles, the early Church got away from the Bible very quickly (the "Ephesus Age" is rebuked by our Lord for "abandoning your first love" = the scriptures [see the link: in CT 2A, "Ephesus, the Era of Transition"]). By the late third century, allegorical interpretation of the Bible became the dominant form of studying scripture (Origen and his school being key to this), and this development in my view had much to do with the degeneration of the church visible as the middle ages progressed. Not that it is unacceptable to use passages as parallels or illustrations in one's teachings, but that is very different from saying outright that the Bible teaches something it does not. It is very dangerous to find an allegory which is not actually presented by the scriptures themselves and then to build doctrine backwards from the allegory that one has "found". That seems to be what is happening in terms of the "rapture" supposedly found in Genesis 22-24.
This interpretation seems also to depend heavily on the fact that there is a "chapter" without Isaac. But you should know that the chapter and verse divisions of both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament are very recent. The Hebrew chapter divisions we use date to the 14th century A.D., and are based on the divisions used in the Latin Vulgate (ca. 5th cent. A.D.). They are not part of the original text of the Word of God but merely a helpful reference tool that was invented much later (like study notes or cross-references). So the fact that Isaac is missing in "a chapter" can't possible have any spiritual significance. Finally, you know my position on the pre-millennial rapture-theory and the danger it poses to the Church (see the link: The Origin and Danger of the Pre-Millennial Rapture Theory), especially since the end times are close upon us and so many evangelicals are not making any particular effort to prepare spiritually since they are (wrongly) convinced that the Tribulation has nothing to do with them. However, even if one were to accept the pre-trib rapture theory which has no biblical support, I still don't see how Rebecca being chosen for Isaac through the medium of Abraham's servant could bear the meaning suggested here.
I admire your dedication to the Word of God and your obvious efforts to learn the truth.
In Him who is our truth, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Below is an email I received where an 'alleged' Hebrew scholar is suggesting that the MT, seemingly LXX as well, regarding the 7 Weeks and the 62 Weeks stated in Dan. 9:26 can be grammatically reversed to read 62 Weeks fulfilled first and then the 7 Weeks afterwards. Is this correct? Regarding the use of the 'vav consecutive' I found that in Dan. 9:25 the 7 Weeks and the 62 Weeks are indeed joined by the 'vav consecutive' and NOT the 'vav regular' as the Hebrew scholar suggests.
After studying the passages in Dan 9:24-26, and applying the Hebrew rules of grammar, here is what I think: Verse 24 states the "project list". It is not sequential and it uses the "regular vav". We know it is not sequential because some of the events happen simultaneously. It also gives the total length of time decreed for said "project." Verse 25 gives the signs which indicate the time this project will begin, (from the WORD to restore and rebuild Jerusalem) and end, (until messiah prince), and gives two of the three divisions of time which stand within the total. V. 25, literally: "And* you will know, and then* you will be caused to understand, from issuing word to restore and* to rebuild Jerusalem to Messiah Prince "weeks seven and weeks sixty and two." If "weeks seven and weeks sixty and two." were meant to be a sequence it would need to be worded differently. For example; the verb "to be" (verb of existence=I AM) were to be included, to say: "and will be weeks seven and then will be weeks sixty and two", that would denote a sequence of the weeks. V. 25 continued; "again shall be built street and wall even in times of affliction" (regular vav "conversive"). Also, there is no definite article on either street or wall, but in the next verse the definite article IS on THE 62 weeks!) Verse 26 gives the Sequence of events using the "vav consecutive": 1) "AND THEN" after THE 62 weeks, messiah is cut off. 2) "AND THEN" THE City, 3) "AND THEN" THE Sanctuary, (Hachodesh, The Holy Place) they shall cause to be destroyed people of a coming princeÖ INSERT INTERVAL 4) "AND THEN" (still in the future) its end (finality, end of time or extremity) shall be with flood (of water). (We see this in the Book of Revelation) In the verse above, each "and" is "vav consecutive" (determined by the Hebrew "spelling") The HEBREW READS in the order above! Notice that WE ARE TOLD WHAT HAPPENS "AFTER" "THE" 62 WEEKSóBUTówe are given NO SPECIFIC INFORMATION about what takes place during or after the other "7 weeks/49 years", and notice also that nothing is said about rebuilding the "Sanctuary/temple itself", only it's DESTRUCTION! Did the City and Wall take 7 weeks of years to complete? And then was Jesus crucified exactly 62 weeks of years after the city and wall was completed? Do we have any conclusive proof? CONCLUSION: I propose that the reason for the division of the 69 weeks into 7 and 62 is BECAUSE the 62 came first! If the 62 weeks was at the trailing end of the 69 weeks, the prophesy to Daniel would have just said that after 69 weeks Messiah will be cut off. But, after the 62 weeks, there was another 7 weeks to pass which include the prophesied "cutting off of Messiah" and the destruction of the city and the sanctuary. This would complete the prophesy of the first 69 weeks.
You are absolutely correct – the above is just so much gobbledegook. This person has gotten his/her grammar completely confused (i.e., by failing to recognize a future sequence and by incorrectly analyzing as a past sequence). There is no grammatical justification for reversing 7/62 to 62/7. Nor does the verbal sequence occurring in these verses suggest or even admit of such a thing as this email claims. Hebrew verbal sequence is not nearly so simple a thing as is being assumed here: this is a prophetic context where we are told what will happen rather than what has happened and so not the place where you would expect or need or could easily work in the consecutive/conversive waw – but the absence of that detail does not imply the absence of a sequence, and we do have a future or prophetic sequence here (rather than a past / historical one).
The significance of Daniel's splitting up of the weeks of years into 7-62-1 is highly significant, and the text invites us to take these time periods in exactly that sequence (and on the other hand gives us no indication that we should do otherwise). The "1" at the end is the Tribulation (seven years). The 7-62 is the remaining time for the Jewish Age. The giving of the 7 separately is to show the period of abeyance in the rebuilding of Jerusalem (i.e., it would recommence in 49 years). That is a key idea throughout this passage. The 62 weeks (or 434 years) takes events down to the crucifixion (in 33 A.D.; for a detailed explanation, please see the link: The Decree of Cyrus and Daniel's Prophecy of the Weeks). Here is my translation of the passage with explanations inserted:
(24) Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your
holy city, to complete the rebellion and consummate sins (i.e.,
to bring apostasy to the full), to atone for iniquity and bring
in everlasting righteousness (i.e., the saving work of Christ),
and to seal up vision and prophecy and anoint the holy of holies
(i.e., the coming of the Kingdom). (25) So know and understand
that from the issuing of a decree to desist [from rebuilding
Jerusalem] (in ca. 485 B.C.: Ezra 4:6-23), and for the
rebuilding of Jerusalem
(decreed forty-two years later
in ca. 443 B.C.: cf. Ezra 7:11-28; Neh. chap.1-6; taking a further seven years
until Messiah the prince there
will be seven weeks (i.e., between the decree and the
rebuilding) and sixty-two weeks (i.e., between the rebuilding
and the birth of Christ in ca. 2 B.C.). [Jerusalem] will be
repopulated and rebuilt with streets (i.e., residential
reconstruction) and fortifications (i.e., military
reconstruction) [and will remain so] even during difficult times
(e.g., the occupation of Antiochus Epiphanes). (26) And after
the sixty two weeks, Messiah will be cut off and have nothing
(cf. Is.53:8), and the people of the prince who is coming (i.e.,
the Romans, the "people" of antichrist's future revived Roman
empire) will destroy both the city and the holy place.
This whole passage is thus indicative of a prophetic progression of events as we should expect and, indeed, without that feature it would be impossible in the absence of tangible textual signs to the contrary to make heads or tails of it. Your "scholar" gives no convincing rationale for why we would even wish to reverse 62/7 to 7/62, let alone any real evidence that this is what the text indicates. But as to his claim "If weeks seven and weeks sixty and two were meant to be a sequence it would need to be worded differently", that is patently false. Language is flexible, and Hebrew is no exception. It is true that some things are impossible but also that there is inevitably more than one way to express an idea. Generations of scholars, translators and interpreters have had no problems with the Hebrew here, and have taken this part of the passage at face value with the implication of a progression and an underlying reason behind the split which would be indicate a sequence of events. Your correspondent is the first one to see a problem requiring "reversal". That may not logically mean he is wrong, but it does certainly throw cold water on the idea that everyone else has not only misinterpreted the passage's meaning but has also incorrectly understood the grammar. Finally on this point, if it is "impossible" for there to be a progression of events as the passage stands for 7/62, how in the world could there be a "reverse progression", which is what he is in effect claiming. If the former is understood to be "impossible", I would think that would make the latter at least doubly so.
In Rev. 17:18 we have the Greek 'definite article' (genitive plural
masculine) The used before the plural 'noun' Kings.
Rev. 17:18: And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the Kings of the earth.
Can the definite article 'The' used here also be translated as 'Those' Kings? Meanwhile, below is a bit of other info I have uncovered and found interesting. Here is the original Greek of Rev. 17:9 from the Greek Textus Recptus:
Rev 17:9: ωδε5602 ADV ο3588 T-NSM νους3563 N-NSM ο3588 T-NSM εχων2192 V-PAP-NSM σοφιαν4678 N-ASF αι3588 T-NPF επτα2033 A-NUI κεφαλαι2776 N-NPF ορη3735 N-NPN εισιν1510 V-PAI-3P επτα2033 A-NUI οπου3699 ADV η3588 T-NSF γυνη1135 N-NSF (WOMAN) καθηται2521 V-PNI-3S (SITS) επ1909 PREP (UPON) αυτων846 P-GPN (THEM)
Rev. 17:9: Here the mind having wisdom. The Seven Heads Mountains are Seven, where the Woman sits upon THEM. αυτων846 P-GPN The greek word 'autos' used here for where the Woman sits (MOUNTAINS) is a - pronoun PLURAL genitive neuter.
It would appear that the Woman 'Sits Upon' ALL 7 Heads of the Beast and NOT any other part of its anatomy – back, one head, etc.
The Greek definite article is indeed more closely akin to a demonstrative than the English equivalent, but on the other hand Greek generally tends to be much more specific than English when it comes to making clear such things as antecedents (i.e., there are a variety of ways to avoid ambiguity, what with case, gender, number et al.). My own view is that if the kings of Rev.17:18 were the seven kings of Rev.17:9 we would indeed have the demonstrative pronoun touton here to make that clear. On the other hand, the qualifying phrase here "of the earth" would make little sense unless what John means is that the woman, Babylon, has dominion over all of the earth's kings and kingdoms in some way. Your second question elucidates this same point where we see that the antecedent of "them" is not the kings but the mountains. The woman sits on the beast who represents the confederation of revived Rome. The European confederation is her (i.e., Babylon's) and the beast's primary power-center in the drive for world dominion against the southern alliance in the Tribulation's first half. So it is true that there is a special relationship between Babylon and revived Rome, but it is also true that Babylon has a type dominance over the entire world (military, political, economic and cultural) which will be the cause of much resentment not only by the ten kings, but also by the entire rest of the world and its kings and kingdoms.
(15) Then he said to me, "These [waters] which you saw upon
which the prostitute sits are peoples and multitudes and nations
and languages. (16) Now as for the ten horns (i.e., the original
seven and the conquered three) which you saw and the beast,
these will come to hate the harlot [Babylon] and will render her
desolate and naked, and they will eat her flesh and will burn
her up with fire. (17) For God put it into their hearts to carry
out His purpose and to be of one accord and to give their
kingdoms to the beast until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
(18) And the woman whom you saw is the great city which has
dominion over the kings of the earth."
Please see the following links:
In CT 3B: "The Kingdom of the Beast"
The Seven Kings of Revelation
In our dear Lord Jesus,
I have a question about the seeming escalation of events leading to Our Lord's return. As you know, I come to the site daily as part of my Bible study and have read the Tribulation series several times. I have never taken your studies or time-lines to be a "prediction" of our Lord's return but I use the time-line to gauge world events. Recently, things seem to be taking a "fast track". Famine - the price of rice - even food altogether, has been compared to gold! Gas prices & the costs of living go up each day - and the scripture from Revelation 6:5-6 "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!" - replays every time I hear someone complain about the high price of "living".
It's disturbing to me because I know from my studies this is just the beginning. I have had several conversations with Christians (people I know to be Christians on a personal level) and have been shocked at the look of disbelief when I mention the fact that surely these are signs of Christ's imminent return. They mention the election being over and gas prices "returning to normal". I disagree. I see no correlation between the election and Christ's return. If people are having difficulties holding up under this minor pressure what will they do if they are here when things step up to the point of the mark of the beast? I have only touched on economic issues....there are many other things that tell me the time is growing closer. The economic issues seem to be enough to pull people away from Christ. Which brings to mind Christ's story about rich men having such trouble entering His Kingdom.
I would like to hear your thoughts on the recent surge in prices and the decline of the dollar...and any other current events that the Lord has told us to look for as signs of His return.
In our Lord Jesus
I think you have really hit the nail on the head. It's not just that things really do seem to be aligning in a way that allows of the possibility of a rather near-term apocalypse (something I certainly expect from scripture); but perhaps the even more shocking thing is the way that most contemporary Christians do not really allow for the possibility. They seem to think that somehow there is the Bible which is revered on a somewhat intellectual level, and then there is "reality". I also think you are exactly right about one of the major reasons for this spiritual blind spot, namely, the lukewarmness of spirituality that comes with a focus on "living the good life", however that be specifically defined (even if one is not rich, wanting to be rich or enjoying the world to the detriment of one's Christian walk can be just as bad: 1Tim.6:8-10; cf. 1Cor.7:29-31). There is often only a very subtle difference to all outward appearance between merely making necessary use of the world to live a life for Jesus Christ and being in love with the world. On the inside, of course, the difference is profound, and our Lord most definitely knows "who's who". There is something about the way in which contemporary Christianity especially but not exclusively in this country has melded with "the American dream" and "the pursuit of happiness" as if it were God's intention that all Christians who were following Him should have a life of material bounty free from cares, and that their lives should consist of enjoying that prosperity (with an occasional nod to Him).
Certainly, God does bless, and, certainly, we all desire the end of pain and trouble. However, this is not the garden of Eden, and it is not heaven. We are here to serve our Lord Jesus, and that service to be of maximum effect has to include spiritual growth – and spiritual growth in turn requires that we be tested and tempered to grow in our faith. All such growth and service is vigorously opposed by the evil one. In fact, of course, the whole notion of the "prosperity gospel" is a cruel hoax at best; at worst, if swallowed whole, it can rob a Christian of any real possibility of achieving with their life what Christ really wants them to achieve. And of course what we lust for with our flesh or with our eyes or what we wish to boast about achieving "is not of the Father but of the world".
Don't be a lover of this world, nor of what is in this world.
If anyone is a lover of this world, a [genuine] love for the
Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of
the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life,
is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world and its
lust are passing away, but whoever does God's will is [going] to
stay [alive with God] forever.
1st John 2:15-17
As one new Christian put it to me once in a way that made me wince, "I believe God wants everyone to have a good life". On one level, that is certainly true, but, God's "good" is likely not to be precisely what we assume is good, especially if we are conforming to the world's thinking about such things instead of what we should be doing, namely, revising our thinking day by day, "transforming our minds" through the truth of the Word to make our thinking conform more and more day by day with God's thinking. Becoming spiritually mature is really a matter of learning more precisely what God's will really is and embracing that truth even when it runs counter to the way the world sees things (and to the way we previously saw them). That in turn often means glorifying Him through perseverance in suffering, through faith in times of testing, through steadfast service in spite of severe satanic opposition (e.g., we don't admire Daniel for driving his Mercedes to the golf course daily and saying a short prayer before teeing off; we admire him for continuing to serve the Lord even when it meant being thrown into the lions' den, and for continuing to trust Him even when the unthinkable seemed to be happening: Dan.6:23: "And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God." NIV
Therefore I entreat you by God's mercy, brothers, to dedicate
your bodies as a living sacrifice, well-pleasing to God –
is] your "priestly-service" spiritually performed. Do not be
conformed to this world, but be transformed by this renewal of
your thinking, so that you may discern what God's will for you
is, namely what it is good, well-pleasing, and correct [for you
There is no question but that for those who are not growing in Jesus through the pure milk of the truth day by day, the tug and pull of this world tends to dominate, and if they serve Jesus, they are likely also to serve Mammon, a state of affairs that will not abide serious pressure. That is why so many fall away under pressure, feeling that "God has let me down" because things didn't work out in the way they saw as "good". This is the essence of failing to really trust the Lord, and it is necessary for just such testing to come into the lives of most of us, although of course it takes many different forms. The unnerving thing as you notice is the high percentage of putative believers who are straddling the fence like this in our day. We can account for those in groups who are Christian in name only, but when we see so many who really ought to be (and probably are) genuine believers in Jesus Christ manifesting this worldly set of attitudes, the prophecy of the Great Apostasy to come certainly rings true (2Thes.2:1-3; 1Tim.4:1).
And he who was sown on the rocky places, this is the one who
hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy. He [i.e.
his faith; cf. Lk.8:13] has no roots, however, but lasts only a
short time. So when tribulation or persecution occurs on account
of the Word, he is immediately tripped up [Lk.8:13: "becomes
Now of course none of us wants to suffer, and all of us want to prosper. But we have to put our lives in their entirety into Jesus' hands and seek first the kingdom. If we are serving Him the way He wants us to, then everything we really need will be added to this. Growing up as a Christian is a lot like growing up as a human being generally, learning to put away the false perspectives of childhood and relate to things as they really are (1Cor.13:11). And "reality" to true Christians is all about the spiritual truths which cannot be seen but which are accessed, appropriated and applied by faith.
It is faith [in the Living and written Word], moreover, that
substantiates what we hope for. [Faith] provides proof of things
[Let us] not [be] having [any] regard for what can be seen,
but [instead] for what cannot be seen. For the things which can
be seen are ephemeral. But the things which cannot be seen are
2nd Corinthians 4:18
For we are walking [our Christian walk] through faith [in the
Living and written Word], not through appearance.
2nd Corinthians 5:7
This sort of transformation of our thinking is what is generally lacking out there in contemporary Christianity in my view, and the reason is pretty obvious: a general lack of interest in and attention to the teaching of the Word of God from both the pulpit and the pew. But if we are ever going to please our Savior, we have to start thinking like Him so that we may be able to deal with this world as it truly is from the spiritual point of view.
Therefore since you have been resurrected [positionally] with
Christ, be seeking after the things above, where Christ is,
seated at the right hand of God. Set your hearts (lit., minds)
on the things above, not the things on earth.
Our ambition [as Christians], therefore, whether in this body
or out of it, is be pleasing to our Lord.
2nd Corinthians 5:9
Finally, to return to specifics of world events, I believe your analysis is as good as any I could provide. On the one hand, none of these things guarantees the apocalypse is at hand; on the other hand, we are told to be watchful and as I say things really do seem to be aligning in a way that makes that possibility something even the spiritually disinterested should take note of (please see the link: "Signs of the Tribulation"). And yet, even when there is "interest" there seems to be this disconnect between material and spiritual reality. For many it is as if the possibility of the Tribulation actually occurring in the near future is little more than a curiosity. As to the reasons for this, beyond the problems just discussed, to wit, spiritual immaturity and the fact that the uncomfortable nature of life in the Tribulation is something that dissuades its contemplation as a serious possibility, there is also the problem that many Christians have been taught and honestly believe that if it comes to that, they don't have to worry because they won't be here. This is one of the reasons why the pre-Tribulation "rapture" interpretation is so potentially devastating. For the belief that one will be spared from all serious eschatological trouble really does encourage the mind-set that we are free to "enjoy life" in the meantime. As I have inveighed against this false doctrine and its potential consequences on many occasions, I will leave you with just a link here: The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory.
It certainly does my heart a world of good to be able to correspond with Christians like yourself who are truly dedicated to drawing closer to the Lord through the time-tested and orthodox process of learning, believing, and applying the truth of the Word to our lives.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful spring and summer in Jesus Christ our Lord.
I just wanted to say thank you for keeping me on your e-mailing list. One thing that has really been bothering me for a long time is regarding the Tribulation. It is my understanding that God never caused the righteous to suffer with the unrighteous when He punishes the wicked. Case in point: the flood and Sodom. You've mentioned that persons believing that saints will be "raptured" before the Tribulation should discontinue this belief as this line of thinking and/or belief will catch many of those who believe in the "rapture" to become complacent and won't be prepared for the coming Tribulation. I find it very difficult that God will allow His saints to experience the Tribulation before His coming. It won't be fair for those who have died without ever experiencing the Tribulation and those who will live to see and be on the receiving end of the Tribulation. For example, if I was to die 2 years from now, and you happened to live on and to witness the Tribulation, we meet in heaven one day; won't you feel that it isn't fair for you to have suffered 7 years and my suffering none?
Thank you for your continuing interest in this ministry. You make an interesting point. Indeed, I do think that it is most likely in large part the desire to avoid the horrible nature of the Tribulation that many believers have been only too happy to accept the rapture theory uncritically. The first thing I would say about that is that as believers we always have to put scripture first no matter how we may feel about it. Not wanting to go through the Tribulation or experience its considerable suffering is a valid desire, but that desire itself is not evidence. So the first place to start with all this is with what the Bible actually has to say on the subject. I won't repeat my exegesis for this here (see the links in Peter #27: "The False Doctrine of Tribulational Security [a.k.a. "the rapture"; and "The Origin and Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory"), but suffice it say that there is only one (badly misinterpreted) verse in scripture which might even suggest a rapture prima facie (and only if it is approached with that pre-disposition – after a closer examination, 1Thes.4 is also talking about the Second Advent), whereas we have an entire book of the Bible (Revelation) and major parts of others (e.g., Daniel) which are devoted exclusively to the Tribulation (one only needs to look at all the verses consulted and quoted in the Coming Tribulation series to see this). That would be a strange sort of emphasis if what the Bible has to say about the Tribulation is "just informational".
Once one accepts from scripture that there is no such thing as a rapture, then one should also acknowledge the importance of being prepared for the Tribulation, even if the prospect is uncomfortable (in my view, the prospect is supposed to be uncomfortable). That said, I am happy to address your points. I do agree that God always looks out for His own. Everything that has ever happened in the history of the world or ever will has been decreed by God, and could not happen without His approval. This especially so in the case of believers who are His very own children. Noah and Lot were delivered – but they each had a heavy burden to bear. Noah spent, I would imagine, hundreds of years of hard and meticulous labor on the ark, and lived to see the world of that time destroyed – everyone he knew, everything he knew, apart from who and what went into the ark. That seems to me very much like the case of those who will survive the Tribulation. They will get through with their skin alone and that alone is a cause to praise God. After all, we are only here for Him and to please Him, not to please ourselves. If we start thinking too much about losing our "stuff" or worrying too much about how much it might hurt (and we are only human after all), we are in danger of getting our priorities mixed up. Noah didn't let such thoughts plague him – he prepared (the ark et al.). Lot, on the other hand, suffered in large part because he had mistakenly allowed himself to become too closely allied to a culture that was clearly anti-God. Why wasn't he camped outside Sodom in his tent, minding his herds? Why did he decide instead to become a city-dweller, especially in Sodom? No doubt comfort, pleasure, and a warped sense of security (God is our true fortress) were the decisive factors, and here again we see a close comparison with the Laodicean church of our day. All too many of our fellow Christians are in truth much more concerned about their material welfare and creature comforts than about God's purpose for their lives. Whereas if they were making spiritual growth (through Bible reading, Bible instruction, and Bible application) their top priority (then helping others to do likewise), they would as a matter of course be in the process of being prepared for whatever is coming. They would be more like Abraham and less like Lot. God did deliver Lot, but it was not a pretty picture, and I don't really have to say much about his later end (you can read it for yourself: Gen.19:30ff.). Peter tells us that he was a righteous man, but also that by taking up residence in Sodom he was "tormenting his own inner person (i.e., spiritual life)". So Lot is a good example for us all of what can happen if we make the mistake of putting material considerations over spiritual priorities, even if we do achieve a sort of deliverance in the end through God's infinite mercy.
As to fairness, life often seems unfair. One need not go to the Tribulation to find examples of this. It very often seems that one believer is getting a free pass when it comes to suffering while another believer seems never ever to catch a break. There a lot of reasons for the differences between the experiences of believers, and it is always best not to try and delve too deeply into them inasmuch as we cannot know the answer to this age-old fundamental question this side of our Lord's return. However what we can do is to trust Him that the way He is treating each of us is not only completely just and fair (He could not possibly treat us any other way) but is also always for our first, best good. Maybe I will be delivered from having to go through the Tribulation because I won't be able to take it. Maybe you will go through it because you can and will acquit yourself well. We are Jesus' soldiers, and we are here to please our Commander in Chief. If I were back in the Marines and sent A company up a hill and left B company in reserve, the men in A company might blame me for any casualties they took. But someone has to make such decisions, and, hopefully, I would have chosen one over the other for very good and solid reasons. As believers we can be absolutely sure that our Commander has chosen just exactly the right battlefield for us, and that any failure to exploit the situation or carry out the mission must fall to us and to us alone, not to Him.
Finally, I don't really think that sending us through the Tribulation is unfair, and here is why. No Christian can grow to the maximum amount or earn the maximum reward God intends for them without suffering. Suffering is an essential part of the true Christian way of life. None of us really want to hear this, and we surely don't want to experience it, but it is nevertheless true (see virtually any lesson in the Peter series, especially #1-6, 18, and 26, and e-mail responses too numerous to cite here). So while believers will, I believe, be spared a certain amount of the trouble unbelievers will go through during the Tribulation (see the discussion of the "Trumpet Judgments"), we shouldn't really put God in a position of having to deal with us expecting too much of a free pass. That time will be "The Tribulation" after all (cf. Jer.45). One of the things that I have tried to bring out in the Coming Tribulation series is that in some ways it is actually a compliment to be a part of that number who are given the mission to show their faith in the midst of that crucible of crucibles (much more on this aspect of the Tribulation coming in CT part 7, quite a ways a way at present; for now please see in the latest posting CT #4 "The Great Tribulation": Section VII, "The Great Persecution"). For those who meet the greatest challenges receive the greatest rewards. God's charge to Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son was certainly one of the most difficult tests any believer has ever faced, but Abraham, because of his great faith and great response to God, earned the title "friend of God" (Jas.2:23; cf. Is.41:8; 2Chron.20:7; Gen.18:17ff.). The apostles who were whipped rejoiced that they had been considered worthy to suffer for the Name of Jesus Christ (Acts 5:41), and that really has to be our attitude today too, and especially if and when the Tribulation befalls us. You write, "won't you feel that it isn't fair for you to have suffered 7 years and my suffering none?" To which I reply, "when we meet in the presence of the Lord, assuming I have honored Him with my behavior during those dark days, it may very well be you who would have wished to have had the opportunity to glorify the Master we both love so much in this special way".
In the sure and certain hope of His deliverance, whether through the fire or from it, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Thank you so much for spending your valuable one responding to my inquires. I'm still researching the information you've provided and I apologize for taking so long to reply. This question has been bothering me for a very long time. Please bear with me as I research further into this on finding the truth. I'm certain that your guidance and the information you've provided will aide me on the continuous search for the truth. I would like to point out that maybe my examples of using Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah weren't necessarily the best examples. However, one of the examples I should have used regarding evidence that during the Tribulation there won't be any Christians on earth succumbing to God's judgment on the wicked is parallel in the book of Exodus. I see similarities of my position being further evidenced (Exodus 9:4); God providing safe passage for Moses during the hail storm (Exodus 9:29); and the many plagues sent on the Egyptians without one Israelite dying or being hurt during the 10 plagues God sent. It is my belief and understanding that Exodus provides so much concrete evidence of a safe passage way similarly to what I believe the Tribulation would be as the "rapture" will provide a safe passage way for God's saints. Do you agree that this is one of the many basis of evidence as mentioned in the book of Exodus that it's very likely that when the end times come, that God will not allow his saints to be succumbed under His furious wrath as He judge the world?
I certainly agree that the "Exodus paradigm" is a good, and indeed, a biblically inspired parallel to the Tribulation. That is to say, we are meant by scripture to see it as such (something that will be covered in part 7 of Coming Tribulation, but that is still several years in the future at this point). In my view, the experience of the Exodus provides a very strong argument for the fact that believers do go through the Tribulation instead of being removed from the experience at the outset. After all, the Exodus generation was actually present in Egypt to see all of the wonders God worked against Pharaoh (who is a clear type of antichrist: see Coming Tribulation part 3B), and they did indeed endure hardship while God is in the process of delivering them. It is true that the Israelites were spared from the effects of the divine judgments, but this will also be so to a large degree in respect to both the trumpet judgments during the Tribulation's first half and also of the bowl judgments at the end of the Great Tribulation. The "end" of their deliverance from Egypt came with the divine destruction of Pharaoh and his hordes at the very point when the believers themselves were about to be destroyed, and this provides a very close parallel to the battle of Armageddon. Rather than being miraculously transported into the Land, therefore, the Israelites saw God's many deliverances of them from very desperate straits and personally so, and this is precisely the pattern of the coming experience of believers during the Tribulation.
Hope this was helpful. Please feel free to write me back about this, and thanks for all your kind words.
In our Lord Jesus,
Dear Dr. Luginbill,
Once again thank you for you wonderful study on the tribulation. I always learn so much from you and do so appreciate the time you spend on educating those who have found your site.
I'll have to admit that it is very scary to read what will happen to those of us who have to go through the great one whether martyred or tortured until our Lord returns. I for one am a survivalist! My husband and I prepare for natural disaster that we experience living here. We frequently have ice storms or after effects from hurricanes that come up from the gulf. We have been though too many not prepared so we now have a generator, camp stove with several bottles of propane, water and canned food. Five or more days in the freezing cold or heat of summer is not fun, therefore life is easier when we have the necessary things for minimal existence. On that note, I feel the same about the end times and will not be waving a flag to those who want to "do me in' but will fight until I have to say "Jesus is my Lord" at which time I'll give up and be taken away. I pray that the Lord sustains me when that time comes to be strong for Him and not take the Mark of the Beast.
I do have a question though. In one of your comments on your email site you said at one time you believed in the pre-trib rapture but later after study of scripture changed that thinking. Why did you at one time believe it, what scripture led you that way and why and what caused the change? After reading your studies I do see how those who believe in the rapture will have a rude awakening when they find themselves still here and not prepared for those times. I have asked friends at work, who believe they will be raptured, if they are prepared if that should not be the case and they say yes but they don't believe they will have to worry about that not giving any real credence to that possibility. I do believe many of the pastors who teach this idea as well as some authors like those who wrote the Left Behind books are leading many down the primrose path of destruction and may be Satin's advocates for that great apostasy that scripture speaks about.
Thank you again for this wonderful ministry to which you have been called and are faithful.
Thanks so much as always for you good words of encouragement. It is, as you say, scary to contemplate some of these things, but they are in the Bible for a reason. Just the fact that scripture says so much about the end times with so many details ought to give pause to people who say that essentially there is no practical point to any of that because "we won't be here". I grew up in a Calvinist tradition that didn't pay much attention to eschatology generally. When later in life I became interesting in the Bible, it was in conjunction with a ministry that was pre-Trib, and so I understandably went along with this teaching because I was learning so much that was clearly right on other subjects. However, what I accepted essentially on the authority of the pastor and the common evangelical understanding of this issue, I later came to doubt and disbelieve based upon what the Bible actually had to say.
There is a right time and place for everything. There is a time to carry a sword, and a time to put it aside. If our country fell victim to a foreign invasion, some such resistance, armed struggle, and survival would seem to me to be entirely appropriate. But what about when the entire world is under the control of one man, and when Christians are seen by all "normal" people as sacrilegious for not worshiping him, when a man's enemies will be his only family members? According to the way scripture seems to indicate to me that things will play out during those dark days, I am not sure that the situation will allow for much else besides going directly to the proclamation that "Jesus is my Lord" and letting the chips fly for the consequences. The way in which antichrist's religion will grow (like gangrene) and the wide support it will have everywhere may not allow any reasonable opportunity to "depart", or any reasonable venue to which to depart, or any expectation of any reasonable accomplishment by depart – it also may not be the Lord's will to do so. I anticipate that internally in most countries things will proceed in a somewhat "normal" manner; that is to say, that rather than some catalyst for separation or resistance, the world around us true Christians will just begin to disintegrate spiritually (much like it is doing today, or far more rapidly and profoundly). We will be able to continue our lives in a "normal" way, only with ever greater spiritual resistance – until the day comes when we are told to worship the beast or else. At that point, do we run? Possibly. But I rather imagine that instead the dynamics of the Tribulation will be just as unique in this regard as in its other aspects. I rather suspect that the only thing we can do ahead of time to prepare that will be of any value on that day will be to strengthen our faith.
In the meantime, it sounds like you and your family are ready for pretty much anything, but I commend you most of all for your determination to be spiritually prepared. Ultimately, the only thing we can count on is the Lord.
Thanks again for your support.
In Jesus our Lord,
I have question about the seals of Revelation. I understand that you're saying that the six seals starting in revelation 6 are not necessarily actual events, but rather broad generalities or kind of an overview of what happens to mankind, right? Then the seventh seal is the one that actually begins the specific events of the Tribulation? let me know if I'm wrong. If so, and if the first six seals are supposed to be broad strokes of man's condition, then what about the sixth seal? Doesn't that sound pretty specific? How does the sixth seal fit with the previous five?
The seals are like chapter descriptions on a full-color book-cover today: you look at the cover and from the descriptions chapter by chapter (analogous to the seals), you have a good idea of the content of book even before opening it. In the ancient world, seals were imprints in wax and usually also had pictures (to identify the person who did the sealing), so this analogy is very close between books then and now. Of course in the case of Revelation, the seal has to be opened in order to get the description. Ane when it is, it releases a sort of three-D hologram-like living symbol which portrays the trend for John to view and record. The first four seals give a preview, a look into the as yet unopened book, of the major trends that will take place during the first three years and one half years of the Tribulation, while the next set, seals five and six, give the two major events of the second half of the Tribulation, the "Great Tribulation", namely, the Great Persecution (seal five) and the Second Advent (seal six). All six seals are specific in that they all are revealing for us actual tribulational events. And seal six does correspond to seal five: the ultimate divine response to antichrist's persecution of the Church is the return of Jesus Christ who slays him and all of his minions at Armageddon.
The seventh seal reveals no such trends: when it is opened, the book is finally unlocked and the Tribulation begins in fact (and is then described more or less chronologically in the rest of Revelation, segueing into the Millennium and Eternal State in chapters 20-22).
Here's the link to where this is laid out in full (just in case you missed it: "The Seven Seals" in CT 2B).
Feel free to write me back about any of this.
In our Lord Jesus,
We read in Rev. 21:2 of the new Jerusalem that it was "prepared as a bride adorned for her Husband". And we read in Rev. 21:9, "....come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem.....". The point is that the new Jerusalem represents Christ's bride/wife. We read in such OT passages as Is. 54:3-6 that Israel is the wife of Jehovah. "Vs. 3, ".....and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles......". Obviously, the phrase "thy seed" must refer to Israel as Israel is the only nation that is not "Gentiles". Then verse 5 reads, "For thy Maker is thine Husband.......". The pronoun "thy" in verse 3 refers to Israel and therefore the pronoun ""thy" in verse 5 must also refer to Israel. This tells us that Jehovah is Israel's Husband. And in verse 6 we read, "For the Lord called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth....".
My question is this: Given that the new Jerusalem is Christ's wife and in the OT God's wife is Israel, must we not conclude that the new Jerusalem is Israel?
Thank you again.
The thing of it is, the distinction commonly made between "Israel and the Church" is not biblical (Roman Catholicism has much to do with implanting this notion in our heads, but stop to think if you would ever think of things this way merely from reading scripture). The Church is composed of all believers from Adam and Eve to the last person who believes before Christ's return. At Christ's return, the Church, the "Bride of Christ" (Eph.1:22-23; 5:22-33; Rev.19:7), those who are "Christ's at His Coming" (1Cor.15:23b), will be resurrected (see the link: in CT 5: "The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride"). This is the first half of the resurrection. The second half occurs at the end of history and includes all the Millennial believers, the "friends of the Bride" (Rev.19:9; cf. Ps.45:14-15; 1Cor.15:24). Presently unbelieving Israel does of course have a special role to play during the Tribulation, at the second advent, and during the Millennium, but we should never forget that 1) there have always been Jews in the Body of Christ, 2) that in fact the Church is founded upon the Rock of Christ, Jewish in His humanity, and upon His apostles, all Jews, and the scriptures, all written by Jews. The "Church" is the ekklesia, the "Assembly" of believers from the beginning of human history until our Lord's millennial reign, and Israel is preeminent in this body as the description of the New Jerusalem, our eternal home to come, makes clear. The "hardness in part" which is affecting the vast majority of those at the present time who are Israel by physical birth alone does not change the essential fact that we gentiles have been "grafted in" to Israel rather than the other way around (Rom.11). Please see the following links:
The uniqueness and priority of Israel (in SR #5)
Who is true Israel?
On the Bride, here is something from the BB 4A "Christology" study:
5) Bridegroom: Jesus is the Last Adam, and we, the Church, are, so to speak, His "Eve" (1Cor.15:45; 2Cor.11:2-3; cf. Rom.5:14). Jesus died for us, purchasing us from death with His blood, His sacrificial work in dying for our sins on the cross (1Cor.15:3; 2Cor.5:21; 1Pet.2:24). Having been purchased in this unique way (1Pet.1:18-19), we belong to Him forever and will be "wedded" to Him as His bride forever on His return (Matt.9:15; Matt.25:1-13; Mk.2:19; Lk.5:34; Jn.3:29; 2Cor.11:2-3; Eph.1:22-23; 5:22-33; Rev.21:2-4; 21:9ff.; 22:17; cf. 1Cor.15:23).
"Let us rejoice and be jubilant, and let us give
glory to [God], because the wedding of the Lamb has
come, and His bride has prepared herself. And it has
been given her to wear a pure, resplendent [gown] of the
finest material (now this fine material represents the
righteous acts of His holy ones [believers])." And [the
angel] said to me, "Write this down: Happy are those who
have been called to the wedding of the Lamb".
In the One whose Bride we are, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Thank you - again - for taking the time to write these articles and making them free to the public. I have just finished reading Part V and am looking forward to VI and VII. In the meantime I will re-read Parts I-IV. I do have one question on Babylon. Are you stating that physical Babylon is the U.S and spiritual Babylon is the 10 nation Roman Empire of the Anti-Christ? Have you written a separate article on the identity of the Babylon Empire? Although I am disappointed in some of the cultural aspects of America, it is really no worse than Western Europe and is in many ways more moral. For instance, the church is practically dead in Europe, where in America we have many churches and a strong Christian tradition. We are like the Bible Belt to the world. Do you think Babylon could just be the world system or capitalism in general? Is the signal to leave Babylon a shout?
Any thoughts on the Identity of Babylon would be appreciated. Again- thanks for taking the time and effort to write and provide all the materiel you have on the Bible. BTW,
I am currently stationed very close to the original Babylon. Some people think that the original Babylon will be rebuilt but I don't see it taking on the characteristics of the Babylon in Revelation.
Good to hear from you. Hope you are keeping your head down! I promise to say a prayer for you. As to Babylon, everything said here you will find in more detail at the following link: The Origin, Character and Rise of Antichrist (in BB 3B). This was covered as you can see some time back, and I deliberately treated the matter as "gingerly" as I could without compromising the truth. I too served my country with pride, and I well understand how people could get the wrong idea about this particular teaching, especially among the sizable crowd at home as well as abroad who hate America. And I certainly do agree with you about the present situation, to wit, that as bad as things may be in spiritual terms in our own land, in relative terms to the rest of the world we look pretty good. Two caveats here: 1) using relative standards is always a bad idea, especially where God is concerned; 2) legitimate patriotism is consistent with the Bible and I would argue (and have) that it is biblically commanded (e.g., Rom.13:1-5; 1Pet.2:13-15); however, in tribulational Babylon, the home country of antichrist, patriotism of a perverted sort will lead to following the beast straight to hell (to include a large number of Christians caught up in the Great Apostasy – antichrist will claim to be Christ).
It is certainly the case that many interpreters of the Book of Revelation have sought to explain away Babylon as an idea or a world system or a religion or the like. Years of careful study led me to understand that this was incorrect: Babylon is symbolic only in the sense that this is not the real name for the place (that's the "mystery") – but it is a real place. Babylon, for example, is physically destroyed near the end of the Great Tribulation, and Revelation devotes a good many verses to describing that literal destruction in such a graphic way that any attempt to spiritualize Babylon must run aground on that very large rock. Also, Babylon is the home country of antichrist (Is.14:3-30; cf. Ezek.28). Since, moreover, Babylon is described as being geographically separate from the empire of the beast (cf. the ten kings' hatred of her at Rev.17:16), it has to be outside of Europe. Given the description of Babylon as "the great city (Greek polis = nation) which has dominion over the kings of the earth", and given further the description of Babylon in Rev.18 as an economic as well as political powerhouse, we don't have to look too far to find the best and probably the only possibility for her – if the Tribulation were to begin immediately at any rate. One thing I have taken pains to stress whenever I write about this is that things will be very different during the Tribulation, so that the US (as well as any other possible "Babylon") will be far different under antichrist and the lack of Holy Spirit restraint which will obtain during the Tribulation than is presently the case (think of Weimar Germany vs. Nazi Germany - two very different places, and that was without the beast and with the Spirit!). I certainly remain convinced of both the eschatological time-line and the identification of mystery Babylon as advanced in this series, but of course not everyone will agree. What concerns me most is that many of our fellow Christians – most especially those who believe in the erroneous pre-Tribulation rapture – are making themselves vulnerable to being deceived by taking the doubly dangerous wrong attitude that 1) "it can't happen here!" (i.e., the US cannot be Babylon), and 2) "it can't happen to me!" (i.e., they expect to be raptured ahead of time). This dual misconception I am sure will play right into the beast's hands. From the composite description in part 3B, it seems clear to me that antichrist will be most persuasive, and his representation of himself as the Messiah will be accepted by many of our brothers and sisters who ought to know better.
As I say, the details are in CT 3B. Nevertheless I am certainly happy to continue with this discussion. Please do feel free to write back any time about this issue or anything else.
We certainly appreciate your sacrifice on our behalf – I know I do!
In our Lord who gave up everything for us,