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Eschatology Issues XXIV: the 'Rapture' et al.

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Question #1:

Hello Bob,

First I want to thank you for your ministry it has provided me a lot of spiritual growth and has given me insight I do not often get in the local churches. I grew up Pre Trib like many without really studying it often. Through the word your ministry and others I have now moved away from this doctrine and agree it will play a factor in the great apostasy. I still however, struggle to fully understand my final view. I land back and forth in a form of pre-wrath and 2nd Advent only.

My most recent question is around the millennial kingdom and who will populate the earth. I know your study points to unbelievers who did not take the beast being left alive. I struggle to see that many of the other versus you quote just show a universal judgement on those who do not believe. See Isaiah 13:6-9 and Zephaniah 1:14-18. It seems like a universal judgement on the earth. I am thinking maybe young children or a remnant of Jews who did not take the mark could be spared but I wrestle with this concept.

I also struggle with the passage in Luke 17 about two being in the field and in the bed and one being gone. Is this the 2nd advent. It seems like at that point believers and unbelievers will struggle to be in such close relationship and proximity to each other based on the persecution of God's people. I know you do not believe in a pre advent rapture but can you speak to the position of those who think the rapture will occur after the 5th seals when the multitude shows up in heaven having come out of the tribulation. It does not say having been martyred so I wonder if the first group seen by John are those who where part of 5th seal and they have to wait for the 2nd group who are raptured prior to Gods Judgement or Day of the Lord. This would still leave those who accept him and Jews he brings back to him to populate the earth. I keep going back and forth between these views and see good points both ways.

Thanks Your Brother in Christ

Response #1:

Very good to make your acquaintance, my friend. Your experience is very typical of what I have heard many, many times: a Christian in a pre-Trib environment starts reading and studying the Bible and finds out on his/her own pretty rapidly afterwards that the position is inconsistent with scripture. In an abundance of caution, I'm going to give you a list of links here where this issue is discussed at Ichthys (in case you missed any) and then do my best to answer your specific questions (there are many other places where the issue is discussed but these will lead you to most of the other major links):

The pre-Trib 'Rapture': so called 'imminence' and other false proofs refuted

Dangers of the Pre-Trib Rapture False Teaching

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)

Tribulational Security (i.e., why belief in a pre-trib rapture gives a false sense of security; in Peter #27)

The Resurrection (explains the timing of all of the echelons of the resurrection; in Peter #20)

As to Isaiah 13:6-9 and Zephaniah 1:14-18, these passages do speak about the Tribulation generally and do not address the issue we're discussing. As mentioned above, this issue is addressed at many places at Ichthys; if you could point me to where you found these verses as support for a surviving population of unbelievers who did not take the mark of the beast, I would appreciate it. Scripture is very clear that the Tribulation will pare down the earth's population considerably (e.g., "I will make men more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir.": Is.13:12 RSV). But we also know that there will be a large number of Jewish unbelievers who survive the Tribulation because of all the passages which describe their regathering and return to the land of Israel (those who are believers are resurrected at Christ's return along with the rest of the Church). So it would be difficult to argue – since such a large number of a minority population had not done so – that there will not also be a considerable number of gentile unbelievers who likewise found taking the mark repugnant or who had not yet bowed to the pressure to do so when the Tribulation comes to an end (after all, "unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved": Matt.24:22 NKJV).

As I also like to point out, even if only several million survived out of seven billion (a very small percentage), within a few year under the blessed conditions of the Millennium we can expect the population to have rebounded dramatically. After all, only eight came out of the ark and within a few generations the population of the earth had expanded markedly. Part of that had to do with the (still) long life-spans. But during the Millennium these will be lengthened again to an even greater degree due to the divinely restored conditions (cf. Is.65:20). That part is somewhat speculative, admittedly, but we do know that scripture teaches the resurrection at the second advent; how the Lord accomplishes the other things that are prophesied may not be something we have all the details on just yet, but we have confidence even so because His Word is the truth.

Finally on this point, I don't see how a "pre-Trib rapture" affects the "problem" of the millennial population one way or another (see also below). Regardless of when the resurrection takes place, in any case the Church will find itself in the Millennium in resurrection bodies and will not be part of the re-population of the earth that occurs during the 1,000 years.

As to Luke 17:34-37, the passage clearly teaches the resurrection at the second advent because 1) the unbelievers are "left behind" while the believers are "taken"; on the one hand, it's not good to be "left behind, and on the other hand where would those taken be "taken" except up to the Lord in resurrection (just as e.g., 1Thes.4:13ff. teaches)?; and 2) if there were any doubt about that we find the ones taken gathered to the Lord in verse thirty-seven (and we know that this is what the passage means from the other place our Lord mentions this: Matt.24:27-28).

Also, I don't find the objection about "close relationships difficult" of any particular moment: believers and unbelievers find themselves in work relationships today (cf. "threshing" together) and in family relationships today (cf. shared living quarters), and there is nothing about the Tribulation that is going to change that since in both cases this proximity often has nothing to do with a believer's choice: if you take a job – and you need a job – coworkers are likely to be unbelievers; if you believe in Christ – and you need to believe in Christ – there will usually be some family members who do not. I don't find any teachings about the Tribulation in scripture which would allow a believer not to work or to dissolve all family bonds, no matter that both things will undoubtedly be complicated by the Tribulation; in short, there is nothing in our Lord's description which is of necessity inconsistent with speaking about the Tribulation (or the other matters we've been discussing). In fact, in both the Matthew context and the Luke context He clearly is describing just that.

As to the fifth seal, the first thing to notice about the seven seals is that they are sealing up the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and it is no small thing to break the seals and open the book – John cried when no one could do it, but the Lamb could do it. So the revelation of Christ, the initiation of the seven year period wherein Christ is revealed to the world at its end, the second advent, is described INSIDE the book. So what are the seals? The seals prevent these events from happening until the time (the Spirit who is known for sealing and restraining doing the sealing and restraining here as well), but also describe in general terms what is inside without needing to open the book.

So the seals are not representing unique events not covered elsewhere in Revelation or in other prophecy. Rather, they are analogous to blurbs on the back of any book jacket you would see in a store today, giving an overview of what is inside of the book. The first four represent trends of the first half of the Tribulation; five and six represent the major events (the Great Persecution and the battle of Armageddon respectively) of the second half, the Great Tribulation, and opening the last seal, the seventh seal, begins the Tribulation and the process of Christ's revelation to the world at its end. That is why there is no special event or specific symbolism given to us which is connected with the seventh seal.

As to the fifth seal in particular, none of these individuals we see has been resurrected; they are given instead a "white robe" (an interim body not a resurrected body; see the link) and told to be patient and wait on their vindication [and resurrection] (Rev.6:11). Furthermore, we are told quite clearly that all these were "slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held" (Rev.6:9 NKJV) – and I don't know of a clearer way to describe martyrdom. That is completely inconsistent with being "raptured" before the trouble even starts. But it is a clear description of the Great Persecution. Why are there "more to come"? Because this seal looks at the commencement of the event, and that process will continue for a long time, the whole second half of the Tribulation. Also, there will be a large "first installment" of the Great Persecution, the martyrdom of the 144,000. So it makes perfect sense to describe things as is done in this passage. In any case, please note that in terms of those martyrs still to come, that they too are described as "[those] (group #2) who would be killed as they (group #1) were": so everyone accounted for under this seal is put to death for Jesus Christ: martyred in the Great Persecution – not "raptured".

I'm not sure what you mean by "This would still leave those who accept him and Jews he brings back to him to populate the earth": if there is a resurrection or "rapture", then all believers would be resurrected (or "raptured") whenever that would take place. I don't know of any verse in the Bible which even hints at anything partial (e.g., the fifth seal has all concerned put to death). On the other hand, scripture is very clear that there are only three phases of the resurrection of the living (1Cor.15:23-24): 1) Jesus Christ (already resurrected); 2) "those who are His at His (2nd advent) coming" (i.e., the Church); 3) "then the end" (millennial believers).

So in my opinion, these matters are all very clearly laid out in scripture. Do have a look at the links provided, and do also please feel free to write me back about any of the above.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:

Bob,

Sorry for the slow response things have been very busy lately. Thanks you very much for the very thoughtful and detailed response. Its hard to explain these topic over email so I think we lost some things in translation. You wrote: "I'm not sure what you mean by "This would still leave those who accept him and Jews he brings back to him to populate the earth": if there is a resurrection or "rapture", then all believers would be resurrected (or "raptured") whenever that would take place. I don't know of any verse in the Bible which even hints at anything partial."

I did not mean that some of those who did believe would not be resurrected. I was speaking of those who come to faith after his appearing much like you describe in your section the process of purging. Also in my email I did not mean to indicate that your study showed Isaiah 13:6-9 and Zephaniah 1:14-18 as indicating that some survive I was saying these read to me as showing a total destruction of all peoples who did not believe prior to his return. However, after reading more in your study the I am starting to see where at least a remnant of the house of David who will cry out and be allowed to go into the final day.

Behold! He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all the peoples of the earth will grieve on account of Him.
Revelation 1:7

And I will pour out on the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem a Spirit of grace and repentance. For they will look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they will grieve for Him like the grieving for an only son, and they will [weep] bitterly for Him like the bitter [weeping] for a firstborn son.
Zechariah 12:10

Thanks very much for your work it is a blessing to me. I first heard of the 7 day 7000 on your site and have started to see where it lays out perfect as God's plan. With the things going on in Israel now I see that time drawing near.

Thanks again.

Your Brother in Christ Jesus

Response #2:

No apology necessary, my friend! Thanks for clearing this up. We seem to see eye to on this on all points.

Thanks also for your very kind words.

Do feel free to write me back any time.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Came across this paragraph on your site:

“.. Rev.3:10: Much ink has been spilled debating whether the Greek word ek here means "out of the midst of" or "out before contact with". The word is not inherently so specific (any more than our English word "from" is) and it really doesn't matter much in any case. Christ is telling the Philadelphians that they will not experience the tribulation. We are not the Philadelphians; they passed on to be with the Lord hundreds of years ago and so these words have been fulfilled in their immediate, literal sense (please see the link in Coming Tribulation part 2A: "Philadelphia: the Era of Revival"). It is true that scripture, especially prophecy, often also has a future or more general interpretation. In the case of the seven churches, the broader interpretation is that of the seven ages of the church. Philadelphia is the penultimate generation of the Church; that is, the one before the last one. The era of reformation and reform (terminating, I believe, in the late 19th century) was indeed a great epoch in the history of the Church of Christ, and it can be rightly said of these great believers that they "kept My command to endure patiently" NIV. Like the historical Philadelphians, these "Philadelphia-era" believers have been spared the trauma of the tribulation.“

I know you come from the view/opinion that the Church will go through the Tribulation and you are explaining this verse away from contrary view. While I personally share your viewpoint, I find your explanation as quite logically unsound. You are essentially saying that Jesus kept Philadelphia (both the original Asian Minor congregation, and your supposed Philadelphia church age) from the Great Tribulation by bringing/permitting/allowing the tribulation well after Philadelphia exited the earth by death/passage of time. If this is the case, then every believer of every age before the Great Tribulation(GT) was equally kept from the same by the virtue of their death before the Tribulation. Since God spared all believers and not merely Philadelphia, why promise Philadelphia and not any other church? You appear to anticipate this and you suggest that the reason is because of proximity of Philadelphia to the Great Tribulation. Jesus speaks with certainty of the GT, and of his delivering Philadelphia from GT. A dead Philadelphian is not better spared from GT than a dead Ephesian. To use an analogy of the Holocaust, does it make any sense claiming that God spared all the Jews who died immediately before 1944-47 the Holocaust? To me, keeping them implies God does something without which Philadelphia (literal/symbolic) would be subjected to the GT. That it is widely drawn upon by those who hold contrary views to yours makes you dismiss it offhand without sound reasons. I may not have an explanation for this verse, but that is not to mean that I can’t tell a terrible argument. I know you are well read and perhaps spent more time on these matters, my request is you prayerfully revisit this verse.

Kind Regards,

Response #3:

A couple of points:

1) It's not an argument. It's an interpretation of the passage. You are certainly free to reject it. However, I believe it to be true. My purpose is not to convince pre-Tribbers that they are wrong – even though their purpose in "ink spilling" on this passage is to convince themselves and others that they are right – but to explain what the passage means. That is a big difference, even if it may seem a subtle one.

2) ek tes horas tou peirasmou has to mean something. It might mean some contemporary trial. But I take the seven churches to be trends of the seven post-apostolic eras of the Church Age, and not for no reason (see the list of indications at the beginning at the link). If that is the case – and I firmly believe it is – then it would seem to be the case that whatever this phrase means it no long applies specifically to our Laodicean age.

Not that there are not general applications to be made from all these seven messages to all of us – indeed there are. But in terms of deliverance "from" or "through" or "out of" the Tribulation for the believers themselves, that ship will have sailed if the era of Philadelphia is over (and it is). Now, if the seven churches are seven eras (and they are), then your quibble would be equally applicable to any of the statements about any of the churches being wrongly exclusive of all the others. I don't think that is the case because of the point of universal application in general terms, but for example we couldn't then say in that case that Philadelphia abandoned her first love as Ephesus did (and indeed Philadelphia loved the Word of God like no other era).

So it seems to me that your objection is really founded upon a rejection of the church-era interpretation (one that is not unique to me, by the way, although my breakdown of the eras is different as well as other aspects of what I teach about this). Again, I do not advance this interpretation because of a desire to refute the pre-Trib "rapture" theory thereby. Rather, I am firmly convinced that this is the correct meaning. Given that it is, it is true that Philadelphia has indeed been kept from the Tribulation. Not so Laodicea, however.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Robert,

You wrote: "'interpretations' are arguments." You can't possibly purport to speak for pre-tribbers or any other alternative interpretation of the passage. They too may claim that all you are doing is convincing yourself and others that you are right, and not trying to explain the passage. There is a tinge of circularity in your reasoning/interpretation of the passage; you are outside its scope so you will indeed go through the Great Tribulation, you will go through the Great Tribulation because you are outside its scope. While one is at liberty to paint their perceived church ages with all the colors they wish to, including fixing GT in any or a few of them, my focus was on your specific claim that a church age was kept from GT because GT comes after them. Jesus therefore kept all the church ages except Laodecia from GT and not just Philadelphia. Given the promises to the churches are partly based on their character, it seems Philadelphia's character was quite irrelevant as a factor in keeping them from GT.

Thank you

Response #4:

The point was that the interpretation was NOT introduced as an argument as if the reason for saying all this was purely to defeat the pre-Trib "rapture" position. That is not my method nor my purpose. This is a Bible teaching ministry, not an apologetic one. This is what the passage teaches; therefore this is what I teach.

Focusing this blessing on Philadelphia makes all the sense in the world. Without Laodicea, Philadelphia WOULD have been the last era of the Church and WOULD have gone into the Tribulation. But they are spared because of their love for the Lord and His Word, while Laodicea, lukewarm in all things, is inserted in Philadelphia's place.

Think about it. This blessing given to a chronological sequence of eras would only make sense given to the penultimate group since the previous ones are not liable to the danger and since the ultimate group does end in the Tribulation by definition. If one man, the next man in line, will be hanged in a sequence of men, that next man is the only one in immediate danger – and he is given a reprieve if another is put into line in front of him.

The only reasonable objection there can be to this interpretation is if a person does not accept that this is what the seven churches are meant to teach, namely, presenting the seven Church eras and their trends. Here is that list of indications to which the previous link pointed:

In our preliminary discussion of the seven churches in the previous installment of this series it was explained that, in addition to being seven literal and historical local churches existing in John's day, these seven are also representative of the seven eras of the Church Age that had only just begun at the time Revelation was written. These indications include:

John's apostolic authority (especially as the last apostle) extended to the entire Church, not just these seven (1Cor.9:1-5; 12:28; Gal.2:7-9). This is not a message designed by him to address specific issues in particular churches (as 1-3 John), but a message given by God to the seven "churches" (Rev.1:11: the definite article is significant here, because there were clearly more than seven local churches at the time of writing).

Our Lord Jesus Christ is and was concerned for His entire Church, not just for these seven local churches. This revelation of His Person is clearly meant to be for His entire bride, the whole Church universal, and not merely for a very small portion of it.

The book of Revelation is the heritage of the entire Church. It is meant to bless all who read it (Rev.1:3), and meant to show all who consider it (Rev.22:7) what will happen in the end times.

Revelation, after beginning with the messages to the seven churches in chapters two and three moves immediately to the history of the end times on the far side of the Church Age's two millennial days. The book is indisputably focused on the conclusion of the Church Age, so that the preceding messages to the seven churches only make structural sense as an overview of the intervening two millennia.

The seven lampstands cannot well be understood as only these seven local churches, for they are seen alone in the presence of Christ in chapter one (Rev.1:12-13), and again alone in the presence of the Father's throne in chapter four (Rev.4:5). The lampstands, light-giving bodies which represent the role of the Church universal in reflecting the truth of Christ in this dark world, and doing so as a totality in both instances, must therefore represent more than seven local churches in the first century.

The description of Jesus Christ as "in the midst" of the seven lampstands, holding the seven stars, the angels of these churches (Rev.1:12-16), is symbolism which strongly suggests His authority over the Church, and the entire Church at that, and would be very hard to apply exclusively to seven local churches. The number seven, the number of perfection in the Bible, also argues for these seven "churches" to be a symbolic representation of one complete Church (cf. the seven spirits of Is.11:1-2 and Rev.4:5 standing symbolically for the one and only Holy Spirit).

The text of Revelation 4:1 "what (i.e. the Tribulation) must take place [immediately] after these things (i.e., the "events" of the seven churches)" only makes good sense if the seven churches be taken as the aggregate period of time between John's penning of these words and the commencement of the Tribulation (see section II below).

Finally, it is appropriate for the last book of the Bible to be addressed to Christ's entire Church (rather than merely to seven local ones).

This interpretation helps to explain other apparent anomalies in the messages to the seven churches. Why, for example, should the church at Colossae, a mere dozen miles distant from that of Laodicea and the recipient of a canonical epistle from the apostle Paul less than a decade before, be omitted in favor of Laodicea, if not for the fact that the situation at Laodicea was symbolically more applicable to later developments in the Church universal? And there were, of course, many other local churches at time of writing beyond Asia Minor as well as within it. It is, in fact, only because of the symbolic importance these churches bear for the historical eras of the Church which they respectively represent that they have been included in the list. In addition to these considerations, the interpretation of the messages to these seven churches will be seen to reinforce what has been suggested above: the seven churches are, in addition to being seven actual local churches ministered to by the apostle John nearly two thousand years ago, representative of seven distinct periods in the history of the Church Age which is only now in its final phase.

See the link above for the additional context and details. Here are some additional links where subject is discussed:

More questions on Church Age eras

Length of the Church Age eras

Dating the Church Age eras

The Church Age eras

What era are we in?

I'm sorry to hear that you find the teaching of this ministry deficient (1Cor.4:3-5). But you are certainly not obligated to learn from it.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Thank you Rob,

This is quite detailed and I certainly will look at them further. Two quick points.

"...Without Laodicea, Philadelphia WOULD have been the last era of the Church and WOULD have gone into the Tribulation. But they are spared because of their love for the Lord and His Word and Laodicea, lukewarm in all things, is inserted in Philadelphia's place. ...."

So No Laodicea, then GT befalls the immediate next 'age'. By this you seem to suggest that the GT is experienced by the last 'age' by the virtue of being last regardless of their character, while at the same time you contradict this by saying that Philadelphia is spared from GT for their love. Which is it? If Philadelphia is spared because of their Love then it would not matter if they were second last or last; they had 'earned' immunity from GT so to speak in a figure.

"...Think about it. This blessing given to a chronological sequence of eras would only make sense given to the penultimate group since the previous ones are not liable to the danger and since the ultimate group does end in the Tribulation by definition. If one man, the next man in line, will be hanged in a sequence of men, that next man is the only one in immediate danger -- and he is given a reprieve if another is put into line in front of him...."

Your analogy suggests GT is tied to chronology as opposed to character. Whoever is last has it coming. Possible, but then we need to stop pretending that Philly escaped it for her character. But my reading of the letters suggest that the warning, exhortation and blessings etc are directly related to the character of the churches. Again, if Philadelphia is spared from GT because of its character then it does not matter how chronologically close they were to GT as they were always safe.

"...The only reasonable objection there can be to this interpretation is if a person does not accept that this is what the seven churches are doing, namely, presenting the seven Church eras and their trends..."

That's a false dilemma. The churches represent all possible states of churches, and are to be found in each and every 'age' or throughout Christian history. So one does not have to stick to strict literal interpretation of the letters, or subscribe to your or any other version of the 'ages' theory.

Thank you, and keep up the good work

Response #5:

On Q #1: Each era has trends. Philadelphia's were mostly positive and so they are delivered from entering the Tribulation. Laodicea is the opposite, and so we are not promised deliverance from having to go through the Tribulation. Hypothetical situations do not exist. We know that this is "it" because this is what is written in the book of Revelation.

On Q #2: The analogy was meant to explain only. In fact, there are seven eras. In fact they are sequential. In fact, Philadelphia is spared and Laodicea is not – and the reason for each does have to do with the general character of the believers in each era. It is impossible to read these two descriptions and not see that the Lord is addressing their character. Therefore the only question germane to the interpretation is whether or not they are indeed chronologically sequential – they are (see previous email for reasoning in links).

On final comment: When you say, "The churches represent all possible states of churches, and are to be found in each and every 'age' or throughout Christian history", that is the majority interpretation, and I would not disagree that there are elements of the "problems" seen in each era (as well as the rarer good points) to be found in individual believers and churches in every era. But that does not even on its face discredit the view that the main interpretation of these seven churches is as overall trends that apply in the history of the Church sequentially, era by era. It's hard to look, for example, at the history of the Roman Catholic church in the late middle ages and not identify what was going on with the picture of spiritually dead Sardis. Likewise, it's pretty hard to look around at the church visible today and not see Laodicea everywhere. No one is forcing you to accept this interpretation, but I would wish to point out that if the interpretation is accepted then there is nothing inconsistent or contradictory with the teaching advanced at Ichthys in this regard. Finally, while you may not wish to accept that the seven churches are seven chronologically sequential eras (that is certainly your right), nothing said so far undermines the workability (and in my view "necessity") of this view based on what was shared in the previous emails.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi Rob,

You may want to spend more time reading your replies before sending them. You are the one who brought hypothesis by claiming that IF there was no Laodicea then GT would have visited Philadelphia. You brought you hypothesis and when I corrected you, you now dismiss hypothesis. Wow. Yes the analogy was meant to ilustrate but analogies are as valid as your comprehension of the subject matter. Your analogy implied that GT is fixed in time (of the last 'age') as opposed to being pegged on character. All I did was to point out this error. Nobody is trying to undermine your theory. You claimed that not to hold to your theory one would be forced to cleave to a strict literal interpretation of the letters, and you went to lengths showing why this strict literalism is deficient. As I said this is a false dilemma. One can discard your theory without the strict literalism. In fact what you call 'majority interpretation' stands on its own, and is much more tidy as opposed to arbitrarily splitting history into 'ages'. And isn't it quite obvious that if you split any length of time into several 'ages' the 'ages' would be sequential? The 'ages' theory is highly fanciful rendering of what are obvious messages to know literal congregations. It's more than amusing coming from strict literalists such as those who claim the 144,000 are exactly that and reject any other rendering.

Thank you

Kind regards,

Response #6:

1) It was an analogy, not a hypothesis (the eras are what they are).

2) I don't know what you mean by "error". The eras are what they are, just as it says in Revelation. I was trying to help you understand by explaining things to you by way of an analogy. You're free to discard it if it only confused you (as seems to be the case from what you've written here).

3) It's not a theory. This is what the Bible teaches. You are free to believe it or not. However, anytime we fail to accept the truth or instead accept as true something that is not true, it stunts our spiritual growth.

4) I think if you actually read all this material I guided you to you will realize that your supposition about messages to "known congregations" being the main purpose of this section of Revelation is inaccurate – at least I would hope so. As I say, that is the majority view. But as is often the case, the majority view is incorrect. It's not that a) there weren't local congregations which could benefit from the messages, or b) that the content of the messages is not valuable for all believers throughout the entire Church Age. But it is the case that the messages to these seven churches have as their primary function as guided by the Spirit the laying out of the trends of the Church Age as they would occur between time of writing and the Tribulation: "after these things" in Revelation 4:1 – that is to say, the Tribulation (beginning to be discussed in chapter four) is what occurs "after these things", "these things" being the Church Age as represented by the seven church eras of Revelation chapters two and three.

As I say, I have been trying to help you understand all this. You did come to me, after all, and it is the purpose of this teaching ministry to help any and all who want to learn and understand the Bible to do so. To that end, I do my best to answer legitimate questions from Christians who are sincerely concerned about some aspect of this ministry's teaching. However, as I also mentioned, this is not an apologetic ministry, and so I have limited time and energy to fence with readers who "already know" what they think and are merely looking for an argument. In any case, if you really do consider the teaching of this ministry "highly fanciful", it would behoove you, it seems to me, to find some place where you can accept the teaching so as to be able to grow. No one ever grew a single spiritual inch through an intellectual understanding of one or multiple interpretations of some principle of scripture. To grow, the teaching has to actually be true and the Christian has to actually accept the teaching by faith; he/she actually has to believe it for it to become epignosis in the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is the only way knowledge becomes the "full knowledge" that leads to growth, progress and production. So I would counsel you to find a place where you can accept the authority of the teacher. Without that, progress will be impossible, regardless of how many things you may think you "know".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I was studying the Book of Romans Chapter 13 today in preparation for Bible Study with a believer in Missouri and Verse 12 caught my eye; I had not previously realized what this verse was saying. Here are my observations that I had gathered from this Verse that I wanted to share with you to get your kind input into these thoughts to see if I am thinking correctly. I would greatly appreciate your response as I believe I received an insight that I never had before.

Romans 13:11-14
" 11Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

When Paul says "the night is almost gone", God is saying that "evil is about to end", darkness (equated to night) is speaking of "evil". "The day is near", that is "the Day of the Lord" is near, the day being the start of the 7th millennial day of 1,000 is about to begin. Because of these events which are about to take place, we must lay aside the deeds of darkness (evil) and put on the armor of light (Jesus) outlined in Ephesians chapter 6, beginning in verse 10.

This interpretation that I came to is in agreement with the following verses in John Chapter 1 and Chapter 3.

John 1:5
"5The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."

John 3:19-21.
19“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

So, I am thinking that " The day" referred to Romans 13:12 is pointing to the "Last Day" the seventh of mankind. remembering your study on the "Seven millennial days of human history".

Please let me know if I am thoroughly confused or whether I am thinking correctly or am way off. Always appreciate your great input.

Till "that day",

Your friend,

Response #7:

If you are saying that you think this passage means that the present darkness will soon end in light – which light is the coming of the Light Himself, the Son of God our Lord Jesus Christ at the second advent so that the Day begins, namely, the Millennium which is the final Day and the blessed backside of the eschatological Day of the Lord, then I agree completely. This is yet another passage that makes little sense if one has been hoodwinked by the pre-Trib "rapture" theory which would make it impossible for any believer to be here on earth and see the night turn into day at Christ's return.

I came across another one recently as well, also in Romans:

(19) For all creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God. (20) For the created world is now subject to futility – not of its own choosing, but because of Him who subjected it [as a consequence of Adam's sin] – but not without hope. (21) For [at the 2nd Advent] the created world will be liberated from its enslavement to decay at the glorious liberation of the sons of God (i.e. our resurrection).
Romans 8:19-21

This is my translation, expanded a bit to make it more clear. But in any translation (and in the Greek) it is clear enough that the end of the curse on the creation as part of the judgment on Adam for eating the fruit of the tree of knowing good and evil will end precisely when we, the children of God, are our "glorious liberation", that is, at the resurrection. But if the resurrection were to take place BEFORE the Tribulation, well, we certainly understand that the curse is not going to be removed during the time of most intense cursing in human history. That removal awaits the Millennium . . . which commences at our Lord's return and NOT seven years earlier.

Hope you are doing well, my friend. Keeping you and your ministry in my prayers daily.

In Jesus our dear Savior for whose return we breathless wait.

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Yes, this is exactly what I meant when I wrote about this passage in Romans. At first I thought I might be way off in my thinking, but I believe that the Holy Spirit revealed it's meaning to me the moment that I read it. I was amazed indeed. Yes, this is another among many which refute this false doctrine of a pre-trib rapture. My thought is that there are those that still hold to this false hope who will be ill prepared to face the tribulation, all because they felt very comfortable in what they were taught, not will to take the time to really meditate and study God's Word.

Thanks so much for your kindness and excellent help. I am truly blessed by God to have found this Website. Abundant blessings to you my friend,

Looking for "the day", when we will see Him as He really is.

Your friend,

Response #8:

You're very welcome,

I thank God for your positive attitude towards the truth and for your determination to learn it and teach it. I have no doubt that this is the formula for a great eternal reward.

Keeping you and your family and your ministry in my prayers daily.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Dear Brother Luginbill,

As a student of eschatology, I find it very frustrating to discuss this important subject with the brethren of today in the churches of America. As a result, I find it encouraging to find a scholar, as yourself, who embraces biblical truth over popular sentiments. (I have only begun to read your works.) You are busy. I’ll try to be brief. (Not so easy for me.)  In my journey through this important school of study (eschatology), I have come to the conclusion that the timing of the thing called “rapture” of the living saints upon the Lord’s glorious and terrifying return will occur during the Lord’s Wrath*. This conclusion squarely denies the other 4 main positions, namely: Pretrib; Midtrib; Prewrath; and no Rapture. It is a type of Posttrib belief that says the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the catching up of the living will occur while He is meting out His vengeance upon the rebellious planet. I have not come across this teaching anywhere else to date and hope that you can direct me toward such. I am calling it a “Mid-Wrath” rapture position. But this does not necessarily imply that the rapture will occur directly in the middle, chronologically speaking, of His wrath events. It means that it will occur sometime during His wrath. What say you of this position?

Isaiah 26
20 Go home, my people, and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the Lord’s anger has passed. 21 Look! The Lord is coming from heaven to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will no longer hide those who have been killed. They will be brought out for all to see.

Matthew 24
29 “Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

* Regarding God’s Wrath, I have read of no one who makes the distinction between His eternal wrath and His temporary wrath. I feel as if I am alone in making this important and obvious distinction. To be clear, ETERNAL WRATH occurs at the final judgment at the very end of earth’s full 7,000-year history. TEMPORARY WRATH refers to all other acts of wrath delivered by our Creator upon His creation, whether deemed His children or not. Temporary wrath offers the recipient(s) the opportunity for repentance. Eternal wrath does not. Eternal wrath is personal; it is between the Lord and the one receiving it. Temporary wrath may be against an individual, a group or nation, or the entire world at once. Thoughts?

I left you a voicemail.

Your servant in Christ,

Response #9:

Good to make your acquaintance. FYI, I keep work and work and the ministry at home, so I handle all inquiries via email.

Here are some passages to consider:

and [they] said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath (orge) of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath (orge) has come, and who is able to stand?”
Revelation 6:16-17 NKJV

“The nations were angry, and Your wrath (orge) has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth.”
Revelation 11:18 NKJV

So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath (thymos) of God.
Revelation 14:19 NKJV

Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath (thymos) of God is complete.
Revelation 15:1 NKJV

Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath (thymos) of God who lives forever and ever.
Revelation 15:7 NKJV

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath (thymos) of God on the earth.”
Revelation 16:1 NKJV

Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness (thymos) and wrath (orge) of Almighty God.
Revelation 19:15 NKJV

These are not all of the places where the word/concept of wrath occurs in Revelation, but these are the main ones where we are talking about God's anger. Notice that there are two different Greek words used to represent this concept, orge and thymos. The Septuagint uses orge for the Hebrew za'am found in Isaiah 26:20, but that translation is often not helpful in fact. The two Greek words are synonyms but John does seem to be using them differently in the Spirit, if only slightly so. If we were to try to distinguish the two from usage elsewhere in Greek, the word thymos is more transitory (an outburst of anger, often), whereas orge is usually more deep-seated: a predisposition to it for whatever reason. Best not to push that too far (as I say, they are virtual synonyms), but that distinction will work if we see orge as not merely confined to the Tribulation and the bowl judgments but running into the final disposition of the wicked at Armageddon and anticipating the last judgment (see passages above: the combination of the two at Rev.19:15 would then make sense too we have the seventh bowl and the end of the Tribulation overlapping; see the link).

The larger point is explained by Revelation 15:1 which makes it clear (see prior link) that the bowl judgments are not warnings (as were the seven trumpets; link), but punitive, specifically, the Lord's punishment upon the earth for the Great Persecution of believers which is prophesied to martyr one third of the Church. So this "wrath" (thymos) will be over with once the Tribulation ends (but that does not mean that there will not be orge against unbelievers at the last judgment, e.g.: Rom.1:18; 2:5; 5:9; 9:22; n.b., Paul combines orge and thymos at Rom.2:8).

In terms of your conclusion, it seems to be consistent with what I teach, namely, that the resurrection (which includes all the at-that-time-living believers and the rest of the departed Church) takes place at the second advent, that is to say, as the sign of the cross appears in the sky at the end of the Tribulation and Christ appears in glory, assembling His Church to Himself before the battle of Armageddon commences. If you haven't already done so, you can find all this written up in part 5 of Coming Tribulation:  Armageddon and the Second Advent.

Do feel free to write back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, in whom we have been delivered from the wrath to come (1Thes.1:10; cf. Rom.5:9).

Bob Luginbill

Question #10:

Brother Bob,

Many thanks for the quick and thorough response. I am honored. Of course I will respect your delineation of work and ministry correspondence methods. Thanks for the reminders of wrath passages, always good to get into the Word. I also appreciate the primer on the relevant Greek and Hebrew words. It is my understanding that if we were to combine both the Greek and Hebrew languages we would have only a fraction of the English language. And yet it is good to have further affirmation of the relativity of these verbal concepts. Indeed, my position is less one of original lingual roots, and more one of context. In my simple brain, we have anger, wrath, vengeance, judgment and however many more synonyms which convey the same concept. Further, in my position it does not matter how the words, or even context or concept, may vary in magnitude. There is the effect of the anger, regardless of its volume or scope (as in area or people affected). My simple question is, “Do we have a consistent teaching platform or mentor who routinely makes the delineation between God’s ETERNAL, final act of wrath upon individuals at the Great White Throne of Judgment in the very end versus all of His other TEMPORARY acts of anger upon humanity (or even the angelic race)?” Have you ever made (or do you make) this distinction and/or do you know of anyone who does? I’ve never heard it before and have a difficult time in believing that puny little me would be the first.  Also, am I wrong in placing any significance to this thought? The reason I even go there is in response to the pretribbers’ abuse of 1 Thessalonians 5:9 in an attempt to take the Church out of the picture during God’s wrath (which they routinely conflate with the tribulation).

1Thess 5:9 NLT: For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.

I have searched and searched and have come up empty-handed in my attempt to find another who teaches something akin to my “Mid-Wrath” position. It sounds as though we are in accord, and forgive me for contacting you without thoroughly examining your work, but are you saying that you also teach something along these lines? If so, what do you think is the likelihood of making this position more prominent in eschatological circles - however steep the grade may be or however strong the opposing current?

Your servant in Christ,

Response #10:

You're most welcome.

Language is language and each one is different (the vocabulary of ancient Greek was the largest in the world before the explosion of English scientific terms in the last century – most of which additions come from Greek and Latin). Sometimes related words are nearly interchangeable synonyms; sometimes there are important differences; sometimes words are used in a technical way. It all depends. When you read the newspaper, if there has been a typo, you can usually spot it. Why? Because you understand English thoroughly and you know "what it means". To interpret the Bible one has to know "what it means", and that is really not possible beyond a certain point if a person does not thoroughly understand Greek and Hebrew; otherwise, he'll not only miss the typos but often the whole point of a passage. There are some very good English translations, but no translation can ever do justice to even a simple text taken from another language (as anyone who has studied any foreign language should know) – and the Bible is often not simple (for many reasons). So "it is what it is" and it "means what it means", and we only know that from what we read in the Bible.

Theology is important, but it is a trap and a mistake to focus on theology exclusive of the Bible. Worse yet is developing a theological system and using that to back-interpret the Bible from said system. That is the source of many if not most theological errors (ironically enough), and all too common in our day.

Anger. It is a human emotion. God is not human. He does not have human emotions. We can feel and express love. He is love. Quite a difference! And one we really cannot understand this side of heaven. Similarly, He is not angry at anyone, but He does act in complete justice. Jesus died for everyone. That is love! But not everyone is willing to accept the gift. If I did something special for someone and they threw it back in my face with contempt, I'd be pretty angry. God the Father did "the most" in sacrificing His Son, and Jesus died for every sin, paying a price in dying for the least sin greater than all that is or ever will be. Not something you do if you're angry – and it's not as if He and the Father didn't know that most people would reject the Gift of Gifts. But expressing God's attitude toward the rejection as "rage" communicates, and that is important since people have to understand the serious eternal consequences of their rejection of Christ.

God's anger / wrath is what is called (in theology) an anthropopathism (see the link). It lets us finite human beings know in a very visceral way about God's displeasure and the negative consequences of incurring it. As you rightly infer, this displeasure can be temporary, long lasting, or eternal. In each and every case, it represents the just and righteous actions of God in response to human misbehavior, on believers in time (divine discipline), on unbelievers in time (recompense for abuse of believers in particular – e.g., the seven bowls), and on unbelievers in eternity (instead of being recipients of the grace of God they are the recipients of His justice . . . in necessary condemnation).

1st Thessalonians 5:9 fits the above hand in glove: it is talking about eternal life in resurrection for believers versus unbelievers facing God's displeasure at the last judgment.

(9) Because God has not appointed us for wrath, but for [taking] possession (peripoiesis / περιποίησις) of [our] salvation (i.e., full gained at the resurrection) through our Lord Jesus Christ, (10) the One who died on our behalf, that, whether we stay awake or sleep (i.e., pass on to heaven), we will be alive together with Him [on that day of resurrection].
1st Thessalonians 5:9-10

The contrast is between salvation (believers) and wrath (upon unbelievers = their just condemnation). That is what the language says, that is what the context says, that is what any believer reading the passage naturally would take from it – unless they are twisting it through a false theological prism. There is no limit to the abuse people put scripture to when they are arguing for positions instead of seeking the truth, the whole truth of the whole Word of God.

So as to your final question, I've written what I've written and honestly don't see any reason to define it or categorize it any more than I have already done. In general terms, I have found that as soon as a believer begins to take the Bible seriously and starts reading it – as opposed to merely relying on theological positions they've been superficially taught, the fact that there will be no early release from the Tribulation (before or during) is always seen clearly. That is what happened to me too, and that is why I teach what I do.

I certainly am willing answer any questions you have about this issue.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Brother Bob.

It’s a very simple question. I haven’t seen it answered by you yet. If you prefer not to answer, then please state so in a plain fashion. I would rather have a direct dismissal over any other drawn out discussion on anything but the question at hand. You say you’ve written what you’ve written but this is confusing to me since I don’t know if you mean the volumes on your website or in this thread. And I still do not know what you’ve written on this topic anyway.

Have you ever heard of or considered a Mid-Wrath rapture of the living saints? And yes, the resurrection of the dead saints is immediately prior to the resurrection, if you like, of the living saints. And yes, these occur post trib, upon the Lord’s second advent. But so does His wrath. Therefore, it is my studied position that the resurrection/rapture of the saints occurs during His acts of vengeance upon His return. Do you concur? Have you ever heard this position before? Please provide a direct answer or bid me goodbye.

Thank you sir,

Ever your servant in the Lord.

Response #11:

Didn't mean to upset you.

As to your "simple question", it would all depend upon what specifically you mean by your definition – and I have not had that explained to me yet or, more to the point, how your position differs from what I teach. At what point, precisely, do you see the resurrection taking place?

So when you say, "the resurrection/rapture of the saints occurs during His acts of vengeance upon His return", my position is that He returns at the end of the Tribulation with the battle of Armageddon being the last of the seven bowl judgments (see previously given link). Incidentally, there are also the "seven thunder judgments" to consider (and these overlap into the Millennium; see the link).

Finally, I don't see this terminology, "mid-wrath rapture", as scripturally based, nor does it seem to head off any false teaching even if accepted. If I were a pre-Tribber, I would say that mid-wrath couldn't be right in terms of 1st Thessalonians 5:9 because we are promised to be delivered from "all wrath", not some partial deliverance.

I'm happy to correspond with you further about this.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Brother Bob,

The terminology is not designed to head off false teaching, but to identify the position. We use these terms as a kind of shorthand in our doctrine so that we don’t have to be so verbose in every communique. However, the notion does fly squarely in the face of the pretrib debacle. They are at odds. I cannot yet speak to how my position differs from your own position (certainly not completely; partially, at best). I figured that would be your own deductive exercise. As to being more precise, the balance of this message will attempt to explain my position better for you. But first, I’lll say that it was only through an exegetical reading of the Holy Script that I arrived at it. Therefore your judgment of its not being scripturally based will also be addressed. And while at it, I’ve determined that at least one of your own conclusions is in question for me. First, I think we are best served by a bit of restraint from the temptation to have a "laser focus" to the point of counting the gnat’s eyelashes. The Bible is rather vague in nearly all of its treatment on these events and so it does not seem prudent to this student to drill down more precisely than the Word has allowed us to do. However, with that said, we do have sufficient clues so as to rough out a rudimentary timeline. Here is the one that I have gleaned from the relevant passages of our Lord’s Word (take the headings as a broad - since some events are commingled - sequential timeline): Ezekiel’s War EZE 38 & 39 should be the next (first) prophetic event to be seen in these last days. Since we know that it corresponds with Daniel 11:21-45 and all other accounts of antichrist’s violence (and demise), we can begin to sketch out the major events of his activities. The war is all about the advances of Gog (antichrist) against the Jews, other nations, and the other children of God (those who call upon the name of Christ) REV 12:17. From Ezekiel 38 and 39, as well as Daniel 11, we see that Gog must raise an army to go against Israel. This takes time (some, not much). Therefore, these passages begin just prior to what we call the Tribulation. According to Daniel 9:27, antichrist will make a treaty with the leader of Israel (see also Daniel 11:27). This treaty is seen to be the beginning marker for our seven-year period for the resultant tribulation. Also, because Ezekiel shows us that the Gog invasions continue through God’s wrath EZE 38:18-20, the return of Christ EZE 38:20, and Armageddon EZE 39:4, we can deduce that Ezekiel’s War will last until the very beginning of the millennial reign of our Savior. This makes Ezekiel’s War the preeminent event during these last days in terms of its duration and scope. It includes all of the following events. Tribulation begins with deception (the signing of a pact) and continues for a period of one seven (Dan 9:27). It is a time of warfare, invasion, and power seizure by the antichrist and his false prophet. Of the numerous biblical references for this I recommend Matthew 24. By the way, I have found Mathew 24 to be a parallel passage with Revelation 6 and 8, the breaking of the seals by the Lamb. Great Tribulation (GT) is the term for the last 3 1/2 years of the 7-year tribulation. According to Revelation 12, this is the time when Satan and his demons are finally cast from, and forbidden reentry into, the heavenly realm. Revelation 12 shows us that this time is one of Satan’s wrath and that he attacks both Jews and Christians among others. It also lets us know that this time will last for 1,260 days, or "time, times and half a time". According to Daniel, this GT can be seen to have begun upon the Abomination of Desolation occurring in the temple in Jerusalem. Therefore, the GT is a time of Satan’s wrath, meted out by antichrist and his false prophet. According to Jesus, this period of destruction and persecution will precede the Wrath of God MT 24:29. Wrath of God begins immediately following the tribulation (MT 24:29). In square contradiction to what I have read of your own observations on this matter, there is no biblical reference to a conflation of Satan’s wrath (the tribulation) and God’s wrath. The Lord is clear in stating that His wrath begins "Immediately after" the tribulation. I’m sure that you would agree that “after" means “after”. Matthew 24:22 has the Lord saying that unless those days are shortened, no one would survive, but He does not say whether the full seven years includes the shortening or not. It could be surmised that unless checked at that time, Satan would continue his tirade for much longer. And while it is not made clear by the Lord on the Mount of Olives that this 7-year tribulation is cut short or not (less than 7 years), it is made plain by Him to John on Patmos that the time is completed (as shown above in Revelation 12) only after its full duration. Speaking only of the Great Tribulation, not only does John state this timeframe in days (1,260), and years (time, times, and half a time), he goes on to express it in months in Revelation 13:5 (42 months). Such emphasis should not be ignored. The marker placed by Christ delineating the tribulation and God’s wrath should not be ignored. Therefore, God’s Wrath stands as a separate event from the tribulation. Again, I see the tribulation as Satan’s wrath, which is separate and distinct from God’s wrath. Hopefully, I have demonstrated my biblical basis for this observation. The scripture disallows concurrency. Return of Jesus is shown multiple times to coincide with His wrath. MT 24, MK 13, LK 21, REV 19, ZECH 19, HAB 3, NAH 3, MIC 1, EZE 38, and various verses in Isaiah, including 26:20. They all show that the Lord’s wrath is concurrent/commensurate with his return. And again, the Lord has placed His divider (MT 24:29) between the tribulation and His wrath, making His return to be occurring during His wrath (not Satan’s). We know from the many references that He will be visibly in the air while doling out His vengeance. How long this wrath of His lasts is anyone’s guess. But we know that it will be short, based on Isaiah 26:20. We know that it will last at least 5 months, according to Revelation 5, where the locusts of the 5th Trumpet have the power to inflict pain for that period of time. No other wrath event has a timeframe attached to it that I have found. Does this mean that the Lord will orbit His planet for 5 months or more prior to taking possession of it? I don’t know. Perhaps. Personally, I think that the capture of Jericho may serve as a foreshadow of this retaking of God’s holy land. Jericho was encircled 7 times. Perhaps this grand arrival of the Lord with His angels and saints will include Him circling His land 7 times as well. (?) Resurrection/Rapture of the saints is most certainly coincidental with the Lord’s triumphant, turbulent, and terror inflicting return. 1 THESS 4, 1 COR 15, JOHN 6, MT 24, MK 13, LK 21, and ISA 26 all show this. And as we have seen, since His wrath is also coincidental with his return, then the resurrection/rapture must be as well. I used to think that the resurrection/rapture would be post wrath, but the Bible has led me to see it otherwise (as laid out here). Armageddon is merely the last battle of Ezekiel’s war. It occurs during the Lord’s wrath (EZE 38:18) and includes the death of antichrist and his false prophet (EZE 39, REV 19, et al). Christ’s Millennial Reign then commences. Normally, I would not go into such specifics for a learned scholar as yourself, but you made it clear that you needed more detail. If the above is insufficient for you to see the biblical nature of my conclusions, then I’m not certain that I can make it any more emphatic. Still, I will gladly debate the matter with you in regard to your own conclusions if you wish. I have not come to my conclusions quickly or eisegetically, but through much careful study and deliberation. (Dare I add prayer.) Now, I acknowledge that your own conclusions came to you in the same manner. Please do not take my statements as some sort of air of superiority; I’m simply letting you know that I‘ve done the work and am ready to discuss it further. As to my simple question, I’ll take your responses to be in the negative - you’ve not come across my “Mid-Wrath” position before now. I apologize for the lengthy discourse; I’d rather not present such verbosity when we have such busy lives. If we can be pithy, yet communicative, that would be best, don’t you think? Perhaps we can only concentrate on the issues at odds? Now that I’ve given you the crux of my position, you are in the best position to delineate such distinctives.

Ever your servant in Christ,

Response #12:

The Bible teaches very clearly that at the end of the Tribulation the Lord will return and will gather together all living believers in resurrection following the resurrection of those who have gone before (e.g., *Matt.24:1ff.; Mk.13:1ff.; Lk.21:1ff.); this will be followed immediately by the battle of Armageddon. That is what I believe and that is what I teach.

The source of my confusion with your terminology and discussion has to do with the word "wrath". Wrath is an emotion / motivation (an anthropopathism in God's case; see prior links), and also the results of that motivation in terms of God's judgment. The Day of the Lord (which includes the Tribulation) is sometimes characterized as a period of wrath (e.g., Dan.8:19; 11:36), but that is a characterization rather than a chronology, precisely the same sort of thing as describing the bowls as containing "the seven last plagues—last, because with them God's wrath is completed" (Rev.15:1). God's indignation against His enemies – and perhaps more to the point the manifestations of His indignation against His enemies – is over when these seven plagues are over, the last one being Armageddon which occurs at the second advent.

I don't find the word "wrath" in Matthew 24:29, nor do I find it in Matthew 24:22; rather I find the word "tribulation" (thlipsis).

So I don't think that one can consider "wrath" a time period; there is no scriptural evidence for that. Rather, "wrath" characterizes an entire period of time: the Tribulation.  Because the Day of the Lord is all about payback for His enemies, the final installment occurring at Armageddon (cf. "wrath" in Rev.6:16-17; 11:18; 14:19; 19:15). That does not mean, however, that there is no orge against all unbelievers at the last judgment (or other judgments prior to it, as in the those which follow the second advent or the Gog-Magog rebellion at the end of the Millennium) – there certainly is (these are not mutually exclusive things).

It is important to note that whatever wrath is forthcoming from God during the Tribulation – and there will be a good deal of it – will NOT be directed at believers. Just as the children of Israel were protected during the plagues that befell the Egyptians, so we may sure that God will be protecting us as well, should it be our lot to have to live through that terrible period. So we do not have to be at all concerned with needing to be delivered from God's wrath since we are NOT "children of wrath" (Eph.2:3). The only "wrath" that will vex us is that which is forthcoming from the devil and the beast (Rev.12:12). Even here, however, we can be confident that the Lord has it all in hand, and that whether it is our lot to be martyred or to suffer through, all will be to the glory of God and our deliverance, if we but stay faithful to Him.

He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
Revelation 13:10 KJV

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
Revelation 14:13 KJV

If that is understood, then 1st Thessalonians 5:9 is not a problem for the correct understanding of the timing of the resurrection: wrath is for unbelievers; that is true during the Tribulation, that is true at the last judgment, and believers will be delivered in respect of both, one way or another ("through" in the first case; "from" in the second).

It is part and parcel of the lukewarmness of Laodicea to imagine that this verse means "no trouble" for believers. There will be no divine wrath on believers, even though we may find ourselves in the Tribulation. There WILL be tribulation in the Tribulation – but suffering for Christ is a very different thing than being subject to the wrath of God. Praise the Lord!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

My Dear Brother Bob,

This is the kind of stuff I really can sink my teeth into. Well written, to the point, full of meat… well done, sir. A joy to read. There’s just one problem my brother, well loved in the Lord: Alas, you too have fallen into the trap of conflating the tribulation (Satan’s deeds) with the wrath of God (Jesus’ deeds). I'll show you why. I’ll begin with your first four words, "The Bible teaches very clearly…” I like this kind of talk. It starts with something we can really depend upon; something that is solid, unwavering and steadfast. Unfortunately, you left out the most important part: the references. Now, I too will not put in every reference for a particular teaching. When there are many, just a couple will sometimes suffice. But you didn’t provide a single one. This is either unfortunate or very telling. Personally, I think it is telling in this instance. I have been postulating that the tribulation - specifically, the Great Tribulation - is Satan’s work. And Revelation 12 tells us that this is on account of his final expulsion from the heavenly realm. Still, we know that the Lord is ever working and certainly He does act at all times - to deny this would be folly. I am not saying that the Lord ceases to act during the full seven years of the tribulation; only that the bulk of what will happen will be due to Satan’s influence. Indeed, God is the one Who initiates Ezekiel’s War ("I will put hooks in your jaws…”). Also, demons have their part in God’s wrath as well ("I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs...they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.” REV 16:13-14 The 6th Bowl). All of this is to say that there is some commingling of the work of Satan (or demons) and the Lord, but there are definitely things that are not the direct work of God nor Satan, but one or the other. I’m glad that you believe what you teach; I appreciate your conviction in such, as well. And perhaps this is a matter of semantics, but I don’t think so. What you are saying, if I understand you, is that during the time period we identify as the tribulation God unleashes His Trump and Bowl events upon the world. If I am correct, then I am pushing back on this teaching. And here’s why:

Matthew 24:29-31 (I’ll use the ESV)
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Your assessment is correct: the word “Wrath” is not found in the above quote from our Lord. But is this argument not paramount to that of the premies (pretribbers) who say, “the Church is not mentioned in Revelation after the 4th chapter”? What do we actually have in verse 29? We have a very familiar phrase that is repeated in the Old Testament prophets.

Isaiah 13:9 Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
cruel, with wrath and fierce anger,
to make the land a desolation
and to destroy its sinners from it.
10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light;
the sun will be dark at its rising,
and the moon will not shed its light.

Joel 2:2 Blow a trumpet in Zion;
sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,
...
10 The earth quakes before them;
the heavens tremble.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
11 The Lord utters his voice
before his army,
for his camp is exceedingly great;
he who executes his word is powerful.
For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome;
who can endure it?

Joel 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes,
in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near
in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.

As you know, the Day of the Lord includes His wrath - on this we agree. This phrase by our Lord is a nod to the prophets Joel and Isaiah. It speaks to His awesome and powerful wrath upon the earth. This is why I say that Immediately following the tribulation we have God’s wrath. Let us put semantics aside for a moment. Wrath can certainly be an emotion, but like love it is only significant when expressed in action. Therefore, what matters to us is the action of God’s wrath, just as the cross is an action of His love. Now you can drop the confusion of my words. I speak of God’s acts of vengeance, not His emotions. In the same way, Jesus, on the Mount of Olives, was speaking of His great and terrible acts of vengeance on the Day of the Lord. At the same time, because He is the Master of words, He conveys that this Day of the Lord, i.e. His WRATH begins, not during the tribulation, but what did He say? “Immediately after the tribulation”. This i why I emphatically deny that the wrath of God (along with the commensurate return of Christ, the resurrection of living and dead saints, Armageddon, etc.) can occur during the tribulation. This is not semantics. It is rightly handling the Word of truth that comes from our Lord on the Mount of Olives. This understanding, if you will accept it, opens our eyes to the big picture of what is happening during the last days. It allows us to make statements like “the tribulation is Satan’s wrath, while God’s wrath follows” (showing that the two are separate and distinct from each other). And this concept is supported by other scripture. Matthew 24:29-31 is the dividing point, the wall that separates the tribulation from all that follows - immediately follows. Other verses can be found in Revelation 6 (which is parallel to Matthew 24). In the accounts of the Cry of the Martyrs and God’s Wrath, we see that it is the Cry of the Martyrs (5th seal) that is shown to inspire, at least in part, the Vengeance of God (the 6th seal). If you believe that God’s wrath, meaning His ACTS contained in the Trumps and Bowls of Revelation, occur during the tribulation (and not “immediately after” it); if you believe that the Return of Christ, which He has said will be after the tribulation (MT 24:29-31), occurs during the tribulation ("at the end”, as you said in your first sentence) and not after it; If you believe that the gathering of His elect (chosen ones, faithful ones, etc.) will occur during the tribulation and not after it (even though this clearly is after the tribulation according to Christ (v 31)), then you are at odds with the Lord’s teaching. If you have any scripture at all that squarely contradicts the Lord’s divider (MT 24:29-31), then let’s see it. Show me the verse that has any of the following events occurring during the Tribulation/Great Tribulation:

The Trumpets of God’s wrath
The Bowls of God’s wrath
The return of Christ
The resurrection of the dead elect
The rapture of the living elect
Armageddon

And please don’t waste time with verses that merely present those events. Focus on the teaching that shows the events occurring DURING the tribulation. And good luck, my brother. You’re not going to find even one. I know, because I’ve looked intensely for it. This is what I call the conflation of the tribulation and God’s wrath. Pretribbers make much of the tribulation being God’s wrath. I fight them regularly on this. We can discuss 1st Thessalonians 5:9 separately, since it is not a huge point of contention for us. So, your homework, professor, should you accept it, is to show any of the above bullet point events occurring in the 7-year tribulation. And I’ll wager that you’ll come up empty. Such verses must be clear in their timing. And have fun with it, in the joy of the Lord, as you sift through His wonderful Word.


Your servant in Christ,

Response #13:

The Trumpets and Bowls do not occur after the Tribulation. They occur in chapters 8-9 of Revelation (see the link: trumpets) and chapters 15-17 of Revelation (see the link: bowls), preceding events that mark the end of the Tribulation (chapters 18-22 in particular). The book of Revelation is chronological from beginning to end (there are some flash-backs and asides but for the purpose of allowing focused narrative and the overall narrative to coexist, as is true in any telling of any story), beginning with the appearance of Christ in chapter 1, the trends of the Church Age in chapters 2-3, the contemporaneous scene in heaven in chapter 4, the scroll in chapter 5 (this is the book of Revelation), the seals which given the synopsis of the end times in chapter 6-7, the opening of the book with the seventh seal in chapter 8 which commences the Tribulation – then the Trumpets in chapters 8-9 which are the warning judgments of the first half of the Tribulation (that is what trumpets do: warn of things about to happen; they also call assembly – that is what the single trumpet of Matt.24:31 and 1Thes.4:16 does; cf. Zech.9:14), then the foreshadowing of the Great Tribulation and its conclusion in chapter 10, then the flashback of the two witnesses in chapter 11 (first half divine action), and the commencement of the Great Tribulation in the second half of chapter 11, then the machinations of the devil in chapter 12 (satanic action commencing in the first half and flowering in the second), then the beast in chapter 13 (satanic rule in the second half), then the resultant Great Persecution in chapter 14-15, then the bowl judgments – a direct divine response to the persecution of believers in chapters 15-17, then the description and destruction of Babylon, the leading nation empowering the beast and enabling the Great Persecution in chapters 17-18, then second advent in chapter 19; the Millennium and the last judgment in chapter 20; the eternal state in chapters 21-22.

The seven seals are also instructive on this count. Seal 7 opens the book and commences the Tribulation; seals 1-4 give us trends for the Tribulation which are seen from the start (so they represent the first half of the Tribulation); whereas seals 5-6 give the two most prominent events of the Great Tribulation, the persecution of the martyrs and the events of Armageddon which conclude God's response to the devil's rule respectively – chronological.

Matthew 24:22ff. also doesn't say anything about the execution of wrath in the prior judgments or at Armageddon – or anywhere at all. So this would not seem to me to be a very persuasive argument to overturn everything else in the chapter and in the entire book of Revelation. When you quote Matthew 24:29 and stake your position on “Immediately after the tribulation”, you are not taking into account what the passage actually relates as happening "after the Tribulation". It doesn't say anything about trumpet or bowl judgments or the wrath of God; what it does do is to describe the events of the second advent, including the unique day of return and the events prophesied to occur along with it, and the resurrection. In other words, there is certainly nothing here even on the face of it which would cause me to reconsider the clear outline Revelation gives for the sequence of events. Indeed, Matthew 24 (and the companion pieces in Mk. and Lk.) and every other description in the Bible is consonant with this exact same picture.

I think if you would spend some time reading the entire Coming Tribulation series, you would come to see that interpretation offered is "greater than the sum of its parts" in that everything fits.

Rather than getting any deeper in the weeds on this particular interpretation you are offering, therefore, I would ask you to consider the above suggestion. Barring that, if you have a particular objection about a specific passage interpreted or particular point made in the teaching offered at this ministry, I would be happy to defend it (not ad nauseum but to a reasonable point at least).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

I’m guessing that you are at least as old as I am; you’re in your 50’s or 60’s? You’ve been teaching your view for a while now, are committed to it and know in your heart that it is the right thing; it’s the truth, straight from the Bible? After all, you’re at least above average in your intellect, are extremely well trained and studied in these things and love the Lord and His Word deeply? And to allow for a different view (which is at odds with a good deal of what you’ve been teaching) would be a huge setback. I mean, just changing the website alone would take an enormous amount of time and energy, not to mention the possible hit on your reputation as a scholar. (?) So what I have to say to you in this email is going to be extremely difficult for you to accept. I’ll try to be as gentle as possible with you - no snarky comments or smarty-pants fake personality… just brother to brother in His love. Okay? Please try to step back and see what it is that I’m going to tell you. Again, it won’t be easy, but if you have the right attitude (one of humility) and the right mindset (open honesty), then with the help of the Lord, you just might get it. I’m praying for you. Here we go. What seems to be tripping you up is the book of Revelation. While you are looking at it logically and your approach makes sense, it is off just enough that you are missing something. Your timing is off - just a smidgen (in the grand scheme of things). You believe that, "The book of Revelation is chronological from beginning to end”. For the moment, I’ll not argue that. But let me ask you this: Is it possible for an account to be chronological and still leave something out of the timeline? Or, more to the point in this case, is it possible that the timeline begins later than expected, or that one or more of the flashbacks and asides contain some of the timeline? Let me present an outline that does not necessarily violate your approach but tweaks it just enough that it allows for the Lord’s words in Matthew 24:29-31 to be spot on and exact. After all, we want his words to be just that, right? The beginning part of Revelation is timeless. Yes, it addresses churches that existed in John’s day but we can see that the message is for us all and is truly for all time. That’s the first 3 chapters. Chapter 4 is a glimpse into the throne room of God and is a vision. A vision is like a dream. It may be a perfect representation of a moment in time, or it may be images that have never occurred (and never will) but still correctly represent a spiritual truth. We must be very careful attaching a timeline to a vision. In this particular account, all we have that is connected to time (in a tangible sense) is the phrase, “…I will show you what must happen after this.” (4:1 NLT) Do we really know what reference point is meant by “this”? Is it after John’s day of receiving the visions (in the first or second century)? Is it after the timeframe of the previous vision (whenever that may be - if an actual event at all)? Caution in assigning a timeline at this point requires much restraint and care. In fact, it is prudent to not even try. Not in a concrete sense anyway. So, let’s not place chapter 4 into the timeline yet. We are still in the 1st or 2nd century. Chapter 5 is interesting. We could talk about the imagery of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the elders and the other living beings, but that isn’t what we are discussing right now. We are looking for a timeline. The fact that the 24 elders are all there should not be a sticking point for us at this stage. 1) They may all be men who had already died by the time John penned the Holy Book, and are therefore present in the throne room in their intermediate state; 2) We are seeing a vision of completion before its actual fruition. Either way, or even if it is something else entirely, this chapter is not one where a timeline is presented, so we should not attempt to force one into its content. That would be poor hermeneutics, and we don’t use poor hermeneutics. Chapter 6 begins the timeline for us. In fact, it presents perhaps one of the best timelines in the Bible on eschatology. But it only takes us up to the 6th Seal. We’ll have to wait for chapter 8 to see the 7th Seal. And we can easily agree that the end of chapter 6 shows us events of God’s Wrath. So with the end of the timeline in view and certain, we must ask, “When do the events of the Seals begin?” At what time in earth’s history does the first Seal take place? The text itself does not say. It doesn’t even give us a hint. This is frustrating in the least for us in our quest for a timeline. Not one clue at this point. As I have mentioned in our thread here before, I believe Matthew 24 and Revelation 6 and 8 to be parallel passages. While this is not readily apparent in this first paragraph of Revelation 6, it does become more obvious as we progress through the parallel passages. So, to answer our question of when the first Seal occurs, we may possibly find the answer in the Olivet Discourse (which is the Lord’s other great synopsis (timeline) of the end times). And I personally think that the answer is in the question of the four apostles (Peter, James, John and Andrew) to Jesus on the Mount of Olives: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Now, many expositors have posited that Matthew 24 begins with their time, the first century, but I contend that the Lord’s answer begins with the beginning of the tribulation period, or very close to it. After all, if Matthew 24 and Revelation 6 are parallel, and I can show that they are, then it only makes sense for the Olivet Discourse to begin where I have said. But so far, like your assertion that Revelation is chronological from beginning to end, this assertion is speculative. The truth is, we don’t know yet when the 1st Seal occurs. Therefore, either option is open for credibility or denial. For now, we may ask, whose activity are we viewing in these chapter 6 visions? Well, the Lamb breaks the Seals; each of the four living beings makes a command (“Come!”) at the breaking of the first four Seals; and for the first four Seals, there is a “rider” on each horse, with the fourth having a come-along attendant. As we know that the 6th Seal is the beginning of God’s wrath, we can say that these first four events are not God’s wrath; they are prior to it. Yes, God initiates the events but He does not carry them out; they are someone else’s actions. I believe that the first three represent the tribulation and the fourth represents the Great Tribulation. More specifically, I see the first three being antichrist’s rise to power and fame through Conquest (1st Seal) and War (2n Seal), which result in Famine (3rd Seal). The fourth Seal represents, in my understanding, the Great Tribulation. Seal 5 seems to be the cry of the martyrs who die in the Great Tribulation at the hands of the 4th rider and his accomplice (dare I say antichrist and false prophet?). And then we have the wrath of the Lamb and the Father (the One Who sits on the throne), which must be the following Trumps and Bowls. Even here, we can make an argument for the tribulation occurring prior to and separately from God’s wrath. Chapter 7 is one of your asides. It need not fit into the timeline in a strict sense. It is a vision of God dealing with his faithful, both Jew and gentile. However, it is obvious that the multitude, which is too great to be numbered, is comprised of His elect who have perished in the Great Tribulation. The timing of the 144,000 Jews is not as precise. Chapter 8 gives us the breaking of the 7th Seal, which really introduces the seven angels with the seven Trumps and shows that the wrath of God is being hurled upon the earth (in the form of a censer) in the name of, in the power of, certainly connected to the prayers of the Martyrs, which we just saw in the 5th Seal. This chapter is beginning, then, just prior to the 6th Seal, with a prologue to the Trumpets of God’s Wrath. The rest of the chapter shows the actual events of God’s first four Trumpets. Chapter 9 continues the Trumps with numbers 5 and 6. Chapter 10 gives us another aside. Is the bitter scroll that tastes sweet - a warning of false teaching (which goes down good but brings suffering)? Who knows. Chapter 11 shows us the immensely honorable and fascinating Two Witnesses, whom I believe to be on the scene in the temple during the Great Tribulation. However, they are for us an aside and not a part of the timeline. The second half of chapter 11 gives us the final Trumpet. Going back briefly to chapter 10, we read that when this 7th and final Trumpet is blown, God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled. And indeed, the account of the 7th Trump shows the world becoming the Lord’s own again. Surely, the 7th Trump proclaims that this is the time (roughly speaking) of Christ’s return to earth and his assumption of direct control over the men He has fashioned. The NLT puts it this way: "The nations were filled with wrath, but now the time of your wrath has come.” (v. 18) Does this mean that God’s wrath is only now commencing? After already seeing six other Trumps of wrath? I don’t think so, for in the very next sentence we read, “It is time to judge the dead and reward your servants the prophets...” (v. 18) Well, we know that the Great White Throne of Judgment will not occur for another 1,000 years! So to allow this sign to serve as a marker in our timeline would be folly. It seems to be more of a formal proclamation and a broad-view synopsis of the very end. Prudence tells us to not use precision in placement of this Trump into the timeline. Rather, we should lay it at the end of the other Trumps and allow it to overflow up to the judgment. In other words, it’s too big to fit neatly into the timeline at this point. So who are we to squeeze it in in a strictly chronological fashion? Chapter 12 can be very confounding if we are not keeping our wits. It’s one of your asides. It’s literally all over the place. It’s highly spiritual in its imagery; highly precise in some of its timing; and extremely broad in its scope. There is much to be gleaned from this fascinating chapter and many snares for the unwary. I’ve already made mention of this chapter in this thread where it counts. For now, I’ll just reiterate that it’s too broad and far-reaching to fit into to our timeline. However, we must note that Mother Israel is cared for for 1,260 days, and "a time, and times, and half a time”. Chapter 13 is just like chapter 12 in that it gives us a lot of detail into certain characters, namely the antichrist and his false prophet, and is useful for learning more about their persecution and dominion. That’s about it. It isn’t any good to us in filling out our timeline; not really, other than reinforcing the term of antichrist’s rule, being "allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months” (v. 5). If the tribulation is about antichrist’s abomination of desolation and resulting dominion then he is here allowed to carry it out for a full 42 months. There is certainly no hint of antichrist exercising his will and the Lord Jesus being present at the same time. Chapter 14, likewise is extremely useful in learning certain details. And although it proclaims “the time of harvest has come” (v. 15), it doesn’t really do much for our timeline construction. Chapter 15 is a kind of prologue to the issuance of the 7 Bowls of God’s Wrath, but it really does not provide a decent beginning marker for WHEN these things begin to take place. John begins the chapter with “Then I saw”, but all this does is show when he received the vision; not when the events of the vision occur. Chapter 16 is where we see the Bowls of God’s Wrath begin poured out onto the earth. And while they are most likely sequential among themselves, it is not clear WHEN they occur in relation to anything else, like the Trumps for example. But, I believe that they are so near in description to the Trumps that they are likely occurring commensurate with the Trumps. This is speculation, however, as is any other attempt to place them into our timeline, other than the final Bowl (the great earthquake and thunderstorm) being the final act of God’s Wrath. This is God’s Wrath and we can attach these details to the broad, not-so-detailed account of the Seals, which is really where we need to go for our timeline. Chapter 16 is insufficient for showing how these events fit into the overall timeline, except as already described. Chapter 17: again, very helpful in many ways but not in forming a timeline; merely putting meat on the bones of our already fashioned timeline from the Seals. Chapter 18 holds the same value: much to learn about the details, but nothing insofar as shaping our timeline. Chapter 19 gives us Armageddon, which we can see is at the Lord’s return to earth. But we already know when the Lord returns based on our timeline assembled from Matthew 24 and Revelation 6 and 8. Chapter 20 is nothing but good news for the faithful in Christ. We see Satan defeated and incarcerated; we see the millennium and the judgment of the wicked. Clearly, at the end of all the other things seen so far. Chapter 21 takes us even further into the future, with the new heavens and the new earth. Chapter 22 wraps it up with a message of beauty and hope. In conclusion, the overwhelming bulk of Revelation is detail, not timeline. The only timeline in Revelation, per se, is in chapters 6 and 8. These are parallel and in concert with the other end times timeline; the Olivet Discourse. Please do not make the mistake of missing the overall picture presented in these synopses by being blinded by the details in the other accounts. The order of the presentation of the details in no way alters the overall timeline presented in Revelation 6 and 8 and Matthew 24. In the actual timeline presentations by our Lord (just mentioned), we see that the tribulation precedes God’s Wrath. In the Revelation accounts of those events (the details), there is nothing to counteract His two timeline presentations. And this is further supported by the very scriptures that you have referred to. Revelation 12 and 13 are in concert with Daniel. Daniel gave us a period of one seven, broken into halves; John recorded the same antichrist having power given to him for 1,260 days, time, times, and half a time, and 42 months. Jesus’ timeline in Mathew tells us that after this time of tribulation mentioned by Daniel we will see the sun, moon and stars in the same condition as that presented by Joel and Isaiah in their prophecies of the Day of the Lord, which includes His acts of wrath. And then, still after the tribulation, we will see His glorious return and His faithful ones resurrected (MT 24:31 and ISA 26:20-21). To attempt to counteract this with a broad-brush suppositional statement of the chronological nature of Revelation is nowhere nearly as forceful as the Lord’s own words, supported by His prophets. I have seen this type of argument before. Those who expect the imminent return of Christ, with no other prophecy fulfillment needed, are quick to say that there is a plethora of scriptures that speak of the expectancy of the saints and the quickness of His coming. Well, two millennia later, we can see that such hopeful thinking does not square with the simple prophecies of Christ, Paul and others about what must really happen before the Lord is seen coming on the clouds. So I can boldly put 2nd Thessalonians 2 (along with Matthew 24:29-31) on one side of the scale and all of the other scriptures that speak of our watchfulness, eagerness and whatever else gives one the feeling that the Lord could come at any moment on the other and watch the scale of truth prevail. We do not determine the veracity of scripture based upon how many verses tell us what we want to hear. We test the scriptures on what they actually say. And since you have so far been unable to provide a single scripture that squarely contradicts the Lord’s timing account, I will continue to say that you are wrong and He is right. Find one single verse that speaks directly to the timing of the events foretold. And only the timing of the events foretold. I will wager that such a verse will agree with or be neutral to what the Lord has said. You must succeed in this if you are to declare any kind of force in your position. On a personal note, it is not easy for us older gentlemen to reexamine our ways and beliefs. I get this. That is why I am praying for you, Bob, that you will allow the Lord’s own words to speak clearly to your heart, soul and mind. Realize that Matthew 24 and Revelation 6 are parallel synopses of these end times events, and are our best model of a timeline. The rest is filler and detail that adheres to the two accounts of the timeline. Do not let your pride get in your way, my brother. Listen only to the Lord, and Praise him.

Your servant in Christ,

Response #14:

You write: "it is not easy for us older gentlemen to reexamine our ways and beliefs".

I hope you can see that this cuts both ways.

I have looked at your arguments with appropriate care, and honestly do not find your skepticism about certain – to me – very obvious things (such as the clear meaning and chronology in Matt.24 or the clear chronological sequence in Revelation) to be sufficient reason to go against what I find to be very convincing biblical evidence on all hands.

If I were to diagnose the main problem here (in addition to the "wrath" problem not readdressed by you here), it would be in not understanding what seals are. Seals close a document in the ancient world. The book of Revelation is sealed – meaning that events therein (the Tribulation) cannot begin until the seals are removed. But seals are NOT book content per se; rather they may give an indication of what is inside – like the blurb or pictures on the cover of a modern book. So the seals do give an overview – chronological – of Revelation.

In any case, we know very well the sequence of end times events from what may be pieced together from elsewhere in scripture, and the sequence in Revelation and the sequence in Olivet discourse in the synoptic gospels are all in complete accord.

Again, I would commend reading the entire Coming Tribulation series (to which the Satanic Rebellion series is important prolegomena). But that is up to you. This ministry is not everyone's "cup of tea".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.
p.s., I got tagged with jury duty beginning tomorrow so email response may be delayed for a couple of weeks.

Question #15:

Hi Bob,

Just thought I’d send a quick email and tell you that the article has had some traffic – when I check Google analytics it shows a percentage of visits are referrals from ichthys of which I am so thankful for. Oddly, when I first posted the article 11 months ago now, no-one commented and all of a sudden there has been 25 comments in less than 10 days. Even though I’m happy about that, all have been negative and I’m not surprised at all – it’s still only early days.

One person asked quite a few questions and at first I didn’t understand his thoughts behind those questions but his belief eventually surfaced which concerned Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy and this is what he said and thinks. He believes the 70 weeks is a whole block of time – to be taken literally without a prophetic gap between the 69th and 70th week, even saying it is Jesus who confirms the covenant with many and then causes the rest of verse 27. I just don’t understand how anyone could come to that conclusion.

A few responses were exchanged before I eventually realised what he was believing and I have to admit, this was the first time I had heard this ‘theory’ as I had never considered that 9: 24 – 27 didn’t have a gap as my thoughts were always that verse 27 could only refer to the anti-Christ and anyone coming to that conclusion would have to believe in a gap of 2000 years. After these exchanges I Googled the question and it would appear he isn’t the only one with these views which is where he probably gets his views from.
Because I believe in a ‘church age gap’ I want to make some changes to my article that proves it, (I know the 7000 year / 7 millennial days prophecy of human history should be enough but people still don’t see it) can you point me to any specific verses that leave no doubt.

In Ephesians 3: 4 – 10 Paul mentions the ‘mystery of Christ’ and in other verses as well, are these verses referring to a prophetic gap?

Please Bob, only when you have time as there is no hurry.

Again and as always dear Bob, with brotherly love,

Response #15:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I'm happy to hear that there has been some success here, though I'm not surprised by the negativity. I get lots of negativity too – and I'm sure I'd get a LOT more if there was an opportunity to drop comments that posted without me being able to vet them. That model has a lot of problems. Ichthys has somewhere around 1-2,000 visits a day. You might think that's a lot, but 90% or so are less than a minute. I'm sure that the vast majority who have visited over lo these many years now have either not liked what they saw or thought little of it. But that is not why we do what we do. We are not involved in a popularity contest as so many churches, denominations and ministries are. As Paul says, "they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown" (1Cor.8:25 NKJV). When the objective is temporal fame, followers, money, power, you can bet that there is little going on that is pleasing to the Lord. But if we help just one person move forward spiritually, that is a "jewel in the crown" for all eternity. The other stuff is just dust and ashes.

The Church Age is the mystery age where the gentiles are brought into the family of God (Eph.3:4-6; 3:8-9; Col.1:26-27), and this was not understood probably by anyone (other than the Lord) until it happened. Peter and company didn't understand it until after Pentecost. But it is there is prophecy, about the gentiles flooding into the family of God (cf. James disquisition at Acts 15:13ff.), and it is there in the incidents of "prophetic foreshortening" of the two advents in the prophets (see the link), and it is there in the great gap in the Jewish ceremonial calendar (see the link), and it is there in the seven millennial days which are taught from the first chapter of Genesis (link). And it's even there in Daniel. What does he say? "There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks" = 69 only (Dan.9:25 NKJV); then in the next verse: "after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off"; and then in the next verse "he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week". There is clearly a gap before the last week. And if those before the cross didn't see it / get it (cf. 1Pet.1:10-12), it is inconceivable that we today would not realize that the final week and all the events connected to it have yet to occur even though "Messiah was cut off" almost 2K years ago. Quite a gap. The Church Age.

Also, if it is any consolation, I am continually having to fend off all manner of individuals with all manner of theories about every doctrinal subject under the sun – end times in particular. It seems some people are teachable; some are not. Some are looking for the truth; many more have developed some pet theory and want to "educate" everyone else about how good it is (meaning, how good THEY are). If it's about ego rather than the Word of God, there is little hope getting through to such individuals unless and until the Lord takes them in hand.

Keep up the good work my friend!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Thank you Bob,

So much good advice and food here as usual and what you say about the volume of visitors compared to time spent, I’m beginning to find out, which only makes me have more empathy for you, however I appreciate your reasons why we both do the things we do – mine albeit in a small way. And I see the negativity in some of your email postings, which makes me annoyed but what can you do – none so blind, none so deaf rings true. Perhaps as the day draws closer some Laodiceans may be shaken out of apathy.

As you say if just one person can be reached and helped to change, it’s worth every bit of persistence.

Looking more closely at Daniel, I see a few things that I can add to my article that may be a help for others understanding.

As always dear Bob, with brotherly love,

Response #16:

You're most welcome, of course. Good comments here!

Apologies if email is erratic for a spell; I got tagged with jury duty and it is making keeping my normal schedule impossible.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

I am sincerely asking for your pastoral guidance. Please respond to this email, and I will obey and listen to any word you speak. When is it appropriate to be angry at injustice? Is it always foolish to get angry at injustice?

Response #17:

I've been on jury duty this week and it is slowing everything down. I read this in scripture:

If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them. Moreover the profit of the land is for all; even the king is served from the field.
Ecclesiastes 5:8-9 NKJV

Meaning, "the system" is concerned with other things than justice. Always has been; always will be.

I think it is a normal human reaction to be "angry at injustice" when it is presented in a rhetorical way. Usually this is very one-sided, like on a TV news report or a docu-drama. Some things are clear cut enough, but if a person spends enough time looking into things, there will be nuances which come out. On jury duty, the judges I've heard have been touting the jury system as "absolutely the best" and "the envy of the world". Maybe so. But a truly honest and unbiased judge with particular skill and the power to get all the facts he/she needs could do a better job than a jury which is necessarily NOT given all the facts. No doubt your father's co-worker was a victim of this.

Anger at "injustice" has, ironically, been one of the great roots of evil in the world, in my view. This emotion is at the root of Nazism, Communism, and most other movements (including world-changing Bible-ignoring Christianity), since the beginning. After all, we are angered by perceived injustice because we identify with those being persecuted or abused – and what greater injustice is there than that which we feel is being directed at our family, our group, our nation – and particularly at ourselves. Whatever we have a stake in, we are likely to get more enraged at more easily. But is the tazing of an American citizen for all the wrong reasons (or so it may seem) really worthy of getting our blood up to the same degree as the brutal torture, dehumanization and starvation of millions of North Korean concentration camp inmates? Ah. But they are not on TV 24/7. If they were, we'd be at war in about two minutes. As it is, we could care less. But we might rally and march and throw back teargas canisters for the tazee . . . "on principle". This is madness, but it is just the sort of thing the devil and his plans thrive on.

Believers have limited time, and limited physical and emotional resources. Everything we do is a choice. One of the many problems with getting politically interested / oriented is that we will definitely be getting upset almost immediately (in this polarized and sensationalized climate in particular). I am happy to proclaim the Nazis wrong. But I am not taking up the red banner of Communism (just as bad or maybe worse). I am happy to proclaim the Republicans wrong. But I am not joining "the resistance" (just as bad or maybe worse). If that makes you angry (in support of either side), then my sincere advice to you is to back it out. Getting emotionally involved in political goings-on is like jumping into a vat of molasses. It is easier to get in than to get out, and it's not so easy to cleanse oneself after the fact.

You have a lot of talents and spiritual gifts. So it is no wonder that the evil one is interested in rendering you hors de combat through this very typical ploy. I'm not telling you how to feel. I am suggesting that you back yourself out of the feelings a degree or two and remind yourself of the divine perspective. This world cannot be fixed. Trying to fix it is playing the devil's game, and he owns both sides of the ball, so to speak. And we know of a certainty that Babylon will be antichrist's vehicle to world power. Nothing is going to stop that. Marching for injustice or getting too wrapped up in it will only make a person vulnerable to supporting antichrist or actively opposing him, and both courses are fraught with dire spiritual peril.

Justice coming. That is one of the great promises of the second advent and the Millennium. Our Lord is going to destroy all those involved in evil of any kind – the Tribulation and the beast's movement will bring them all out of their shells and identify them plainly, marked on the head of the hand. They will be destroyed utterly and replaced by a perfect and perfectly just government in a matter of only a few years now. And we believers will be a part of all that . . . IF we don't allow ourselves to be swept away in some pro or anti movement and caused thereby to lose our spiritual bearing. It's happened before. And in the Tribulation, it will happen to a third of true believers.

Looking at the bright side of this, perhaps this is all for your benefit. Things at present "really get your goat". Learning to get past that is perhaps just the inoculation you need to be safe from the much more virulent strain about to go pandemic in the Tribulation.

Do feel free to write me back about this (and again, apologies for being behind this week and next week too most likely until I get off jury duty).

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Seeing the sorry state of so many churches only reminds me of this verse.

"You lie on beds adorned with ivory / and lounge on your couches. / You dine on choice lambs / and fattened calves. / You strum away on your harps like David / and improvise on musical instruments. / You drink wine by the bowlful / and use the finest lotions.”
(Amos 6:4-6a).

Why is this so offensive to God?

“but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.”
(Amos 6:6b).

Something horrific has happened to their neighbor, and they are yucking it up and having a good time. So God has a solution in store.

“Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; / your feasting and lounging will end.”
(Amos 6:7)

God is telling them that if you will not feel upset over the injustice Joseph is experiencing, I will be sure to give you a reason to feel upset. Because the language of material blessings is one in which you are fluent, I will speak to you in your language by taking away those blessings. If evangelicals said "I don't think people should be upset about Trump because his belief that the neonazis can be fine people is true," I would be less upset and angry at them. They would be honest and non-hypocritical, which is that being a neonazi is just another issue of faith like whether to eat meat or not. I am angry that they are lying to themselves and attacking the truth. They are taking a calf and trying to mold it out of gold. Civilized countries have done worse evil than third-world countries. Germany, a country with noble upstanding white people, did worse things than North Korea is currently doing. We can only say that what Donald Trump is doing is not yet worse than what North Korea is doing. We cannot say that Donald Trump will never do anything worse than what North Korea is doing. That would be presuming before all the data is gathered. There is a greater sin yet than no anger The sin of cowardice. Being a chicken. Baby elephants are tied to trees with chains when they are young to keep them from running away. But, as adults, they’re only tied by ropes because they’ve learned that they can’t escape. You are told by evil authority what your limits are by school, the government, and the military. These are the chains. And once you have learned that you are helpless, then wicked rulers can murder whomever they wish. And don't you ever think that you will be rewarded with respect for sacrificing your freedom and independence. Satan also lies. He whispers, "by cowing to them, you are wise." But no coward is wise.

Response #18:

We are not Israel, God's nation wherein all were supposed to be believers and therefore "neighbors".  We are (in my opinion) mystery Babylon, and the difference couldn't be more profound (so it's a mistake to draw conclusions from the way the Lord relates to Israel).

I read this is scripture:

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15 NIV

And we are to be like Him. And I read this too:

For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James 1:20 NKJV

And:

(26) When you are upset, don't give in to sin; don't let the sun set while you are still upset (i.e., don't brood over this irritation). (27) That will only give the devil an opportunity.
Ephesians 4:26-27

Getting people upset (about things happening in the world) is the devil's way of involving us in his system. Whether it be out of fear or whether it be out of anger, it is most often a big mistake to turn away from our personal lives and our personal walk with the Lord and focus on "the big picture". That is because "the big picture" is the devil's picture. But we know – from the REALLY big picture – that God is in control of everything. So that begs the question. What makes us think that we ought to be fixing things? Is it because God needs our help? Anything done out of fear or out of anger is almost always going to be not only sinful but can also lead us far off the path. And if in that emotional state we're not (subconsciously at least) thinking about a "fix", we soon will be if we stay upset long enough (that is the point behind Eph.4:26-27).

Why are we here on this planet? To glorify Jesus Christ. How do we do that? Certainly not by running for political office or engaging in more violent methods of "regime change". That is worldly stuff. It doesn't help a single believer but has the potential of hurting many innocent people (and all mass movements ALWAYS hurt many innocents and almost always more than the "evil" they are trying to replace). "But we are trying to do GOOD!" That is exactly the problem. Only God is good, and only God knows what is good. We are supposed to be following Jesus Christ by learning the truth, believing it, putting it into practice in our lives, and helping others to do the same . . . not tempting ourselves to get "involved".

I know the Lord has an important ministry for you, my friend. But to the extent that you let yourself get thrown off balance by getting upset with what is happening in the world (whether the reaction is anger or fear, the two poles of the emotions), you are being played by the evil one.

Not saying you can't have opinions. Not saying they aren't correct. But so what? What if all of your opinions were perfect? The only actual spiritual benefit from that – and it would only happen through the Holy Spirit's enlightenment so that there would be no cause to boast about it (1Cor.4:7) – would be in recognizing the extent of Satan's involvement in human affairs and the particular tactics he's employing so as to marvel all the more at the plan of God and be ever more peacefully reliant on the Lord's faithfulness. But if a person gets lets himself become unreasonably upset, that is using the information in precisely the wrong way; that is an indication that he's being played.

Everything you see around you – and everything you see in media – is going to be completely destroyed in a few short years. I'm sure Noah had reason to be very upset about all the rotten things that were taking place around him in the years before the flood. Did he try to change things. No. But he was building an ark so as to be delivered from them. That's what we have to do too. Not a physical boat but a solid superstructure of the truth in our hearts that can resist the flood of trouble to come – and keep the water out now too.

This is about Jesus Christ.

Your friend in Him,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello Bob,

I'm sorry to bother you again but there's something that is on my mind a lot lately. I cannot remember whether you believe in post or pre-tribulation rapture. With regards the mark of the beast, my ten year passport has expired and I am being pestered my family and friends to renew it. All though I love travelling out of the country, I have been really reluctant to renew my passport and didn't know why. I think I do now know why. I am worried that this biometric system of identification will be the mark of the beast. Before I became a Christian, I went through passport control and had to have my passport and face scanned simultaneously. I didn't like this and thought it was really creepy but was told this was the only way in and out of the country. I wasn't a Christian then. Does that mean I already have the mark? I'm really frightened about this and it is stopping me from getting a new one. Do you think the mark will be specifically about money? I already have fingerprint identification on my phone and had a biometric passport and it really worries me! Do you hold fast to the chronology of the bible in that the antichrist will make itself known before we are expected to take his mark or do you believe it is already here? I was reading about them trialling the Aadhaar card in India and people were literally forced to take this or they couldn't eat, go to college, get a job anything. Do you think the mark of the beast is here or do you think we will be aware of the beast first before we are forced to take the mark. Will it be a sneaky under the radar thing like biometrics or will be an acknowledgment of worship of the beast? Bob, do you think these things are close by? Do you think these are end times? Some people believe the mark won't be literal but about what day of the week you will be forced to worship. As it seems that the majority of people aren't religious (especially in my country) this doesn't add up to me and not sure how the supermarket would know what day you worship.

Your thoughts on this will be much appreciated.

Yours in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

Response #19:

It's good to hear back from you, my friend. Do feel free to write any time.

I do believe that the end times are close (see the link: "the coming Tribulation"). The Church Age which we have been in now for roughly two thousand years is technically part of the end times as its threshold, but the actual commencement of the Tribulation is not too far off now as I would estimate it (see the link). So all of these matters are ever more important.

However, let me assure you, you have NOT been "marked". The mark of the beast is said in scripture to be a visible tattoo, received willingly if also under pressure, a tattoo on the forehead or on the hand. It will be obvious for anyone to see, and the way scripture describes this in Revelation chapter thirteen, no one who does so will have any doubt about the fact that they are taking the mark, or that it proclaims their allegiance to antichrist. The beast has not yet been revealed – he will probably not even be prominent enough to be positively identified by believers who know their Bibles until after the Tribulation begins – so there is no possibility that the mark has yet been given to anyone. Indeed, it only is mentioned at the mid-point of the Tribulation after the beast takes his seat in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem (not yet in existence) and proclaims himself to be Christ/God (2Thes.2:1-4). And just to make sure that no one has any illusions about it, the Lord will make a worldwide proclamation at that time heard by everyone on earth to make the matter clear (Rev.14:9ff.). So even though there will be great pressure to take the mark, it will have to accepted individually and somewhat willingly. Those who refuse may be put to death, ostracized, victimized, imprisoned, kept from buying or selling, but the mark will never be an accident and will in no case be placed on someone who would rather face the worldly consequences of not taking the mark versus the divine consequences of taking it.

I get asked variations of this question quite a lot, so here are some links to where various other aspects of your question are discussed:

Do not take the mark!

What is the mark of the beast?

DNA and the mark

Biometry and the mark

RFID chips and the mark

Computer chips and the mark

Numbers, Letters, and the Mark of the Beast

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

[details about fear of doing things under pressure during the Tribulation omitted]

Response #20:

All this would only be a problem if there were no such thing as free will.

Blessedly, it's ALL about free will, or as I often call it "free will faith". This life is about whom and what we choose to believe and trust. I am confident that unlike Judas, who never consented to believe in the Lord, you will hold fast to your faith, true to the end, no matter what pressures are brought to bear.

We don't need to worry. God is in control. He can bring us through safe to the end, even if that end includes glorifying our Lord through intense suffering and martyrdom. It's "merely" a matter of continuing to trust Him no matter what . . . of course it's only the mature believer, the one who continues to grow from the Word and good teaching day by day, growing in application and test passing day by day, who will be fully prepared to defend what he/she believes in his/her heart when the Tribulation begins.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

In your study on Rev. 13 -The false prophet you state the following:

More to the point, will antichrist change his name in some way at the point when he takes his seat in the temple of God in Jerusalem and proclaims himself to be God?

Comment: Here is a clue: One cannot look upon God in their earthly body and survive; they would perish. See Exodus 33:20. A true Bible studying Christian will know that this is not the true God of Heaven.

What do you think about this comment? Thanks for your excellent help as always.

He that is coming will come quickly.

Your friend,

Response #21:

Good to hear from you as always, my friend.

Yes, I think it is very true that all godly Christians who are persevering at this point in the Tribulation will be under no illusion as to the identity of antichrist and the falseness of all his claims. It is those on the cusp of apostasy who will be vulnerable, and that is why scripture provides the "test" of the "number of his name" (link). The point of the comment is to illustrate the futility of trying to figure these things out ahead of time, even during the Tribulation. Many rulers in the history of the world have adopted new names / titles when they acceded to power, and that may be so in the beast's case as well. If so, there would be no way for anyone to compute "the number of his name" before that name is published.

On your second question, I don't believe I've ever proposed any theory / doctrine of "double judgment". The great flood did have a double application of judgment because it wiped out almost all of the human race AND through the massive changes to the earth that ensued resulted in human life spans being greatly reduced. In this case, the "double judgment" corresponds to the "double fulfillment" of the prophecy of 120 years.

On the 120 years, that represents a normal extreme which God is free to overstep whenever and however He wishes, but the principle is clearly valid. Just as when Moses says that the human life span is 70 years or 80 "if by reason of strength", we can also see that this is likewise a solid, general principle, even though a great number of people either live longer or not as long as this median.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hey Bob,

My wife and I are keen to start slow and help lead some small groups through a local church. I think that will be a great way to teach and explore using God's gifts for both of us without having to go to school for an extended amount of time. There is another option that afterwards we may consider: it's a home based church ministry that has very little official organization but focuses on in-home teaching and walking through the Bible each year. I think that is down the road though. Trying to figure out how and where we can serve has been a journey in of itself haha. I really appreciate you asking!

On a separate note I am wondering if I can pick your brain a bit on current events? I know that the 2026 date is an estimation of things and it's based on solid logic and data but I also know that if things start looking right, well I should pay attention at least. One of those things is our current president and middle East events. Putting aside political opinion I see some very interesting trends.

1. The presidential election has been mired in controversy and the current situation is that there is an investigation into those events. This is eerily familiar when compared to the rise of the AC in Babylon. If the president hasn't earned the honor of his position, that is very interesting but perhaps coincidence.

2. The president is incredibly boastful and even perhaps blasphemous, double sided in his words and actions.

3. The president has been documented as lying frequently and profusely.

4. The president is currently pushing very hard for peace in the middle East, moved the US embassy, while also enforcing policies that solidify the lines in the sand of that region.

There are many similarities between the character of the AC and our current president and his rise to power is at least questionable. I would appreciate your thoughts on all of this. I am not asking about it because I have a political preference, as I am well aware of the fallacies of politics. I just want to be watching, and I don't want to miss something because I am convinced it should be later, like 8 years from now, or convinced that the AC would be younger. I hope this makes sense. I would appreciate you insight on these things.

God bless Bob, and stay healthy and safe!

Response #22:

Thanks for the update. I'm sure as you continue to grow closer to the Lord, He will lead you into just the right ministry. Keep growing and preparing – the Lord uses prepared people, of that much I am certain.

As to your question, it is fair to be open minded about contemporary political circumstances, especially as we are getting close to the end no doubt, whatever time the "clock" is actually reading. I also appreciate the way you have put this. It is a real temptation to get fixated on an interpretation of contemporary events and become convinced "this must be the beast!" (e.g.). I have seen that many times before (as often remarked, not for no reason was Hitler thought to be antichrist by many), and it never leads anywhere good. When the Tribulation does begin, with the removal of Holy Spirit restraint (2Thes.2:5-7), the pace of change, already incredibly fast compared to when I was young, will accelerate to its fastest pace in history worldwide (to the point where everything might be turned upside down and inside out in no time at all). And while the Bible gives us many details about the Tribulation, these are not specific enough to be able to judge and appreciate the texture of things before the fact. They are more like a template into which the experience itself will fit when the time comes.

When the Tribulation does begin, the beast will no doubt be obvious very soon if not immediately to believers who have actually studied scripture. Before the fact, however, there is plenty of room for error for the reasons described above. It may be that the beast is indeed some well-known personality or political figure of our day. And it may be that he is as yet a complete unknown. The latter possibility (much more likely, in my view) will not hinder one whit the development of events once the Tribulation begins (rapid pace of change). So we just don't know. Also, even if we "guess right" (and it seems to me it would have to be a guess), what advantage have we gained? Guessing wrong, however, can have all manner of negative effects in direct proportion to how emotionally invested we are in our guess – because if we are convinced to our core that "X is the beast", we are likely to miss the real antichrist and are that much more susceptible to being taken in by him. So you are right to approach this with great circumspection.

I have been at this a long time, and I bumped into people who felt that Obama was antichrist (and some still do), some who felt that Bush was antichrist (and some still do), and some who felt that Clinton was antichrist (and some still do). Clearly, these three and the present president can't all be antichrist. But it is also possible that none of them are. In the twentieth century, there were some pretty good candidates for the beast, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, even Roosevelt to some people's lights. They are all dead, so they were not the beast.

Even though it is mightily foreshadowed in the Bible, there is no direct prophecy in scripture for the mystery age of the Church. So while it is possible that there is some overlap in the descriptions Daniel gives of the beast (along the lines of the overlap of the prophesied destruction of the second temple) which will be clear with hindsight once the Tribulation begins, all prophecy is focused on the Day of the Lord and its prologue, the Tribulation.

That being the case, the only guidance we have is the approximate clock (with caveats well expressed by you in this email), and the "template" of how things will look very early on in the Tribulation. But, again, because of the rapidity of the change of events during that time, we really are not in a position to judge as to just how much will have to be in place before the actual day of commencement. There have been problems, troubles and wars in the middle east before, after all, any one of which might have seemed to some at the time as prefiguring the Tribulation – but so far that has not been the case. Add to that the somewhat plastic details we are given about the beast. Obama pushed for peace in the middle east and got a treaty with Iran which was supposed to solve everything. So did Bush in his own way – conquering Iraq to bring "democracy" which was also supposed to solve everything. And Clinton at Camp David got the Israelis and the PLO together – almost – in an attempt to solve everything. In the end, no one solved anything, but for someone looking to find antichrist, there has always been grist for that mill. Some felt Obama could have qualified as antichrist on the "hasn't earned the honor of his position" point (Dan.11:21) because of citizenship questions. Some felt the same about Bush because of Florida electoral votes, and of Clinton because of impeachment. And it's not as if lying, blasphemous double-talking politicians are anything new in this country!

So it's no harm to speculate. But my advice is to keep the speculation close to the chest and don't invest any emotional capital in it. If my own life experience has taught me anything, it is this: things never seem to turn out the way you expected them to. We know that what the Bible tells us is true – "all others pay cash".

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior – whose return in glory we rightfully expect and hope for 100%!

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Thank you for your responses Bob, I definitely appreciate your encouragement to stay watchful and also cautious about investing emotions into a train of thought or an idea that is uncertain. I also appreciate the encouragement to keep preparing and keep growing! May God use me as He wills!

Response #23:

You're most welcome, and I'm certainly glad to hear this, my friend!

This is a reliable saying: "If anyone desires the office of overseer (i.e., pastor-teacher), he is seeking [to do] an honorable work".
1st Timothy 3:1

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

On the 2nd amendment. I don't see how the antichrist will get rid of so many guns here, in the event he comes soon and we are Babylon (gun behind every blade of grass, etc)

Response #24:

Perhaps he will find a way to get most of the people with the guns on his side. Don't underestimate the beast. I recommend CT 3B: Antichrist and his Kingdom wherein I go into some detail about his likely tactics for assuming power in mystery Babylon.

Question #25:

Hello Bob,

I hope you are doing well! As usual I have been deep in the eschatological studies and I came across something I thought you could clear up for me. Revelation 17 speaks of the beast being ridden by the woman Babylon. This beast has many characteristics including seven heads and ten horns. I have read on your site that the heads are both the Julio Claudian line and also the 7 kingdoms the Antichrist (AC) leads in the tribulation. I have also read that the horns represent the kingdoms the Antichrist rules over. How can the heads represent the kingdoms the Antichrist leads and also the ten horns represent the kingdoms the Antichrist leads? There is clearly a number distinction, but they are also separate attributes of the beast. How is it that we can conclude they are the same entities? Essentially, does the AC lead 7 nations (heads of the beast), or ten nations (horns of the beast)?

I would appreciate any help you can offer, and as always, thank you for your time!

Response #25:

Always good to hear from you, my friend. I hope your preparation for ministry is going well.

As to your question, to put it in a nutshell (links to follow below to where you'll find the details), all of the mentions of sevens refer (with one exception: the 5 who were, one who is, and one who will come who is antichrist) to the kingdom of revived Rome of which antichrist gains control early in the Tribulation's first half. In tandem with mystery Babylon where he first comes to power, this (revived Rome) is the basis of his kingdom. The ten horns refer to the entirety of revived Rome. The three are the three sub-kingdoms / provinces of revived Rome with which antichrist and his alliance make war during the Tribulation's first half. These are the three horns which are uprooted before the little horn in Daniel 7:8. Once this alliance (which I have postulated to be a Muslim coalition under an erstwhile Mahdi, "the southern alliance") is defeated, no further power bloc in the world will be able to withstand the beast and he will set up shop in the temple in Jerusalem to rule the world.

Here are those links:

The ten horns of the beast (in CT 3B)

Heads, horns and kings

Do feel free to write me back about any of this.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Thanks Bob!

So the seven heads are the Claudian line and also the remaining allied kings from Rome II. This makes me wonder about the timing of the destruction of Babylon, as I understand it is supposed to occur towards the end of the tribulation. Revelation 17:16 says that the 10 Kings hate the woman and destroy her, but how would that work if by the time Babylon is destroyed there are only 7 kings and not 10? Shouldn't it read that the 7 kings hate her and destroy her? Thank you again!

Response #26:

As mentioned, the seven heads are said in Revelation to be an exception: antichrist himself is said to be "one of the seven and also an eighth" (Rev.17:11): he is "one of the seven" in that he is the natural heir of the line of Caesars that founded imperial Rome; he is "also an eighth" in that he is a king apart, compared to the seven kings of revived Rome, the alliance which will submit to him and help him conquer the other three parts of historical Rome, ruled by an Islamic confederation. When antichrist conquers the Mahdi, he will do so with the traitorous help of those other three (cf. Dan.11:25-26). So the ten kings of Revelation 17:16 are the rulers of all parts of revived Rome, not just the original seven but also the additional three. This is the beast's final power bloc that comes to rule the whole world, and, once it does, Babylon will then be superfluous – and the object of envy on the part of all ten kings.

It's all in CT 3B.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Thanks Bob, I appreciate the extra explanation. What I am particularly interested in then, is that the verse seems to promote the idea that ALL ten Kings participate in the destruction of Babylon, but there should only be seven that actually participate correct? Apologies if this is already made clear.

Response #27:

No problem. All ten kings participate in Babylon's destruction.

Antichrist only conquers the Mahdi's coalition with the covert help of those three sub-kings. So, since they were really on his side from the beginning, they retain their power once the beast is victorious; antichrist then rules all ten parts of revived Rome through all ten of the original kings (all ten are probably nephilim as is antichrist; see the link).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Hello, Dr Bob,

I hope all is well with you, it is a long way back since we communicated but I keep reading your site and it has really put my understanding of the word of God in a good shape in various areas, thank you so much for this great rewardable effort, may God keep blessing you Bob. I have a few questions though:

The cross over to millennium: Christ comes down with the believers who just met him in the sky to destroy Antichrist's army at Armageddon and I believe every one who received the mark of the beast worldwide, you teach that most of those who will cross over are the young ones, and I think young ones who are not of responsible age will join Christ... let the little ones come to me...,so which group crosses over and who will be preaching to them there?

The eternal state: The revelation given to John in Rev 22 gives the impression of the eternal state, but some of its content doesn't support so! eg, leaves for healing, as if people can get sick in that state, trees bearing fruit every month, (time?), outside there are 'dogs'? water of life to sustain the inhabitants? etc. Anyway, is this eternal state or millennium?

In Jesus Christ our Lord.

PS. I know this is a busy Easter week , you answer any free time.

Response #28:

It's good to hear from you, my friend! I'm still keeping you in my prayers day by day. Thanks so much for your good words about this ministry.

As to your questions, I'm not sure that I'm understanding the first one precisely, so I'll just explain in a nutshell my understanding of the issue: the Millennium begins with a greatly reduced population because of all the great loss of life during the Tribulation. This population is further reduced by a) the resurrection of believers, and b) the "baptism of fire" which destroys those still alive who have taken the mark. There are people left, however. We know that the number of Jewish people worldwide restored to the land will be significant – because their regathering fulfills a plethora of biblical prophecies (link), so we may posit that there are many gentiles too who likewise were neither believers nor took the mark – and even more children since taking the mark will be a choice (and children not yet of an age to be responsible for such a decision will not be allowed to make it).

This question is a matter of proportions. World War II claimed the lives of over twenty million people by some estimates, and yet it did not really even dent the world's population looked at in broad terms. But during the Tribulation, if only one out of a hundred survive to enter the Millennium, that would still leave somewhere around seven million people alive – a considerable stock of humanity when we consider it started with two, and re-started over with eight after the flood – and in both cases produced massive populations in very short order even without millennial conditions. So in terms of supervision for children, there will be adequate numbers of adults surviving. And remember too that we, all believers in Jesus Christ, will be participating in the millennial administration of our Lord Jesus. So in the early going, when these sorts of issues will be the most critical, we are going to outnumber the survivors (almost certainly); whereas by the end of the Millennium, they will outnumber us (almost certainly).

Revelation 21-22 represents the eternal state. "Healing" is an incorrect translation for therapeia in Rev.22:2. Here is my translation:

(1) And He showed me the river of the water of life, sparkling like crystal[s of ice], coming forth from the throne of God and of the Lamb. (2) In the middle of the [New Jerusalem's network of twelve main] streets and on both sides of [this] river [of the water of life which ran through them] was the tree of life, producing twelve crops, offering its fruit every month, month by month. And the leaves of the tree are for the enjoyment of [all] the nations, (3a) so that there will no longer be any division.
Revelation 22:1-3a

So this passage suggests that there will be months in spite of the fact that there will be no day or night (something that cannot happen during the Millennium). The water of life and the tree of life are for our eternal enjoyment. Every indication we have from scripture suggests that the resurrection body will have no need of anything but that doesn't mean it will not be built to enjoy everything (link):

The "dogs" are "outside" in the sense of being "outside" not only of New Jerusalem but of the eternal state / new heavens and new earth entirely:

(22) "For just as the new heavens and new earth which I am about to make are going to continue before Me", says the Lord, "so your seed and its name will continue. (23) And it will come to pass that from month to month and from Sabbath to Sabbath all flesh will come to worship before Me", says the Lord. (24) "And they will go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who rebelled against Me, for their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched and they will be abhorrent to all flesh".
Isaiah 66:22-24

This refers to the "viewing port" outside the city where the lake of fire will be visible – but without access from one place to the other forever and ever.

You can find the details at the link: "New Jerusalem and the Eternal state: Revelation: 21:1 - 22:5"

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Dear Bob,

Thank you for the edifying answers, on the millennium, I understand what you mean concerning the young ones, but I was thinking that Jesus already took these young ones together with the rest of the living believers so that what remains is only a number of old unbelievers who join the millennium. I don't see the reason of him leaving these young ones who are not of age when he said they belong to his kingdom.

I want to start learning the biblical languages, but I'm busy with a job God has blessed me with,so I want to do it at distance if there is any school out there which offers such lessons,what can be your advice, do you know any such schools?

Yours in our Lord Jesus,

Response #29:

You're very welcome, my friend.

As to children, here is what I read in scripture:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
1st Thessalonians 4:16-17 NKJV

"We who are alive" means "we believers" since that is whom Paul is addressing.

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:14 NKJV

When our Lord says "for of such is the kingdom", He means, "you too must come to me with child-like faith" in order to be saved (cf. Mk.10:15; Lk.18:17). Children are automatically saved – if they die before they have a chance to make the decision of all decisions (or if mentally unable to do so); otherwise, they are allowed to grow and face the same issue we all are meant to face: do we want an eternity with the Lord or not?

Children who have reached such an age and who are believers at the second advent will clearly participate in the living resurrection; but for those who have not, Paul's statement addressed to believers would seem not to include those who are not so – even if only "not yet" so. After all, many Jews will finally believe when they see the sign of the cross appear in the heavens and the Lord return in glory – but they will have to wait for the end of the Millennium for their resurrection.

So while I cannot be dogmatic that what you say is NOT the case, scripture would give me no justification for saying that it is.

As to learning Greek and Hebrew (and possibly Aramaic) from a formal school online via "distance education", I would be reluctant to recommend that since I would imagine that it would be prohibitively expensive. At my university, we do have an ever growing body of distance education classes (even in some languages – though not Greek and Hebrew), but 1) we charge even more for these classes than we do for face-to-face classes; and 2) I am personally not sold on the proposition that such classes are even worthwhile – for language study. It seems to me that those who do well and learn well from such classes would do well and learn well on their own without them – from other online resources. I have corresponded with a number of people over the years who have tried this. Some have had great success (though not without immense self-discipline and great sacrifice over many years); some have discovered that they needed face to face instruction to learn this sort of thing; and some have concluded that preparing to teach the Word would for them mean relying on the ministries of others for this aspect of things (the task being in their view essentially impossible given where they are in life). And we are getting ever closer to the end, it is true. All that said, I will give you some links; please look them over and feel free to write me back on this subject:

Ministers, Ministry, and Preparation for Ministry

Greek Language Resources

Hebrew Language Resources

Seminaries and Universities

Ministry and Preparation for Ministry I

Ministry and Preparation for Ministry II

Ministry and Preparation for Ministry III

Ministry and the Ichthys Ministry

Ministry and the Ichthys Ministry II

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #30:

I am so afraid for the Jewish people on account of what is going on today and what is likely to happen during the Tribulation. [details omitted]

Response #30:

During the Tribulation, Antichrist will be at first the "best friend" of Israel . . . and then her worst enemy. It's hard to know ahead of time what his political policy will be in his rise to power, but blatant anti-semitism at the outset would seem to be ruled out by prophesied events – at least until the mid-point of the Tribulation.

In any case, the Lord has it all in hand, and we don't have to worry about anyone or anything, not even ourselves – as He ordered us not to do (Matt.6:25-34; cf. Phil.4:6).

But anti-semitism of any sort is a virulent evil.

I would be loath to generalize about evangelicals or anyone else; one finds this foul evil in all strains of American political discourse, just as notably on the left as well as on the right.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #31:

I was reading the Bowl Judgments and Armageddon part you wrote, where it says 'we would have healed it, but she would not be healed' and it struck me-that it might be kind of a parallel to the original Christians coming over before the country began when they left wherever they were. (Assuming we are Babylon). Maybe it doesn't fit to you; just the attitude they had back then vs maybe the attitude Christians will need at that future point.

Response #31:

It's a nice parallel. The major "operative" difference is that all who left Europe for religious freedom in the new world did so at relative leisure over a longish period of time; we who find ourselves in Babylon at that point in the Tribulation will have to get cracking almost immediately when we hear the command to "flee" so that "you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues" (Rev.18:4 NIV).

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

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