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nChrist
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« Reply #30 on: August 22, 2008, 11:43:01 PM »

The End Times According To Paul ... Part 3
2nd Thessalonians
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
      


Between the two letters we call 1st and 2nd Thessalonians something happened that nearly scared the recipients right out of their socks! They received a letter that appeared to be from Paul but was in fact a forgery. Confused and frightened, they dashed off a hurried request for clarification since this new letter contradicted what he had taught them.

"God is just," Paul responded, "He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you." (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10)

Explaining that someone had obviously played a mean trick on them and that the Lord would punish whoever it was for it, he then chided them for being so easily taken in.

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)

Here we get an extraordinary insight into the sequence of End Times events that Paul had taught them. Receiving word that the Day of the Lord had come would have upset them only if they'd been led to believe that the Rapture of the Church would precede the Great Tribulation. Think about it. From any other view, this kind of news would have been greeted with a certain amount of joyous anticipation. Sure the next few years would really be rough, but whether by martyrdom or survival they would soon be in the presence of the Lord forever. But from the pre-trib perspective, hearing that the Day of the Lord had come would be horrifying, because it would mean that they had missed the rapture. And that would mean that they weren't saved. No wonder they wrote Paul for clarification!

It's important to understand that they had asked Paul two questions. The first concerned the Day of the Lord and the second was about our being gathered to Him, the Rapture. Paul answered the 2 questions in that order using verses 3-5 to describe conditions that would bring about the Day of the Lord and verses 6-8 to explain when the rapture would occur in relation to them.

Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:3-5)

Confirming and amplifying Daniel's 70 weeks prophecy (Daniel 9:27) and the Lord's own words in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:15), Paul pegged the beginning of the Great Tribulation to the moment the antichrist stands in the Temple in Jerusalem proclaiming himself to be God.

And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 )

Before the antichrist can be officially revealed, One who is currently limiting the power of lawlessness has to be taken out of the way. The phrase "out of the way" literally means out of the midst, or from amongst. Some force that restrains (literally: holds back, or hinders) the power of evil within certain predetermined limits (for this power is already evident on Earth) has to be removed.
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« Reply #31 on: August 22, 2008, 11:47:50 PM »

The End Times According To Paul ... Part 3
2nd Thessalonians
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Scholars who read the passage literally identify this force as the Holy Spirit. And since the Holy Spirit is sealed within us, if He's taken out from amongst the people of Earth, we have to go too. You can't take the Restrainer without taking the container, as someone has said. This is the Rapture of the Church, and once we’re gone the power of evil will be free from restraint and all Hell will break loose on Earth until the Lord returns at the end of the Great Tribulation to put a stop to it.

Here then is the sequence. Before the Day of the Lord can come, the antichrist has to be revealed, and before he can be revealed the church has to be raptured. So according to Paul the next prophetic event concerning believers will be our own disappearance. No prior notice, no precedent condition to fulfill; a clear presentation of the Doctrine of Imminence. (We're primarily interested in prophetic events concerning Israel and the End times to try and judge how close we are to our own next event.)

Now, just to further inform them, Paul added detail to the antichrist's revealing. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Nicodemus once said that he believed Jesus was the Messiah because no one could perform miracles such as His unless God was with him. (John 3:2) In a sense he was right. No one in Israel had ever seen sight given to a man born blind, for example. (John 10:32-33) But don't believe in Jesus because of His miracles. As the passage above makes clear, miracles can be used to deceive people. Believe in Jesus because every important detail about Him was foretold in prophecy before being fulfilled in His life.

It's important to note that the reason people will perish in those days is not because they never heard the truth. No, they'll perish because they refused to embrace it. Having hardened their hearts against the truth of the Gospel, they’ll be fair game for the lies of the devil. And as He often does the Lord will actually orchestrate events so that those who've rejected Him can experience the full consequences of their choices. There will be no gray area, no middle ground to hide in. The power of evil will be free to deceive people in ways we haven’t even begun to imagine.

According to tradition, Paul had poor eyesight. Some think it was a consequence of being struck blind on the Damascus Road, while others blame a disease he contracted. To make his life easier and his letters more legible, he often dictated them to an assistant who wrote them down. One consequence of this was that it made the earlier forgery easier to pull off. To make sure the Thessalonians knew this letter was authentic and not another forgery, after some closing instructions on living the Victorious Christian Life, he signed it with his own hand.

And so in these two letters Paul showed the church what's going to happen to us in the latter days, allowing us to add these things to the Lord's briefing to Israel in Matt. 24 for a complete picture of End Times events. Also, for the first time it could now be clearly demonstrated how the Lord would fulfill His promises to Israel AND the Church.

Sometime before the antichrist is revealed, triggering The Great Tribulation, the Lord will make a surprise visit here and secretly whisk the Church off to Heaven to be hidden from this awful time. After He's defeated His enemies He'll complete His promised 2nd Coming to begin His Millennial reign, bringing us back with Him. He'll make Israel the world's pre-imminent nation once again, capital of His Kingdom and center of world government (Isaiah 2:1-5). And as God returns to dwell in the Temple there, the Church will inhabit the New Jerusalem in fulfillment of all that's been promised both groups.

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isaiah 46:9-10) If you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 07-04-04
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« Reply #32 on: August 22, 2008, 11:56:59 PM »

The End Times According To Peter
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
   


Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. (2 Peter 3:1-2)

Peter wrote this letter, his final one, around 65 AD. He was probably in Rome by now, since he was crucified in 68, though he may have still been in Babylon, where he'd written letter number one five years earlier.

His purpose in writing was three-fold: to stimulate spiritual growth among Christians, to combat the false teaching that was coming into the Church, and to emphasize the certainty of the Lord's return. We'll focus on this third purpose, which Peter addressed in chapter 3.

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."(2 Peter 3:3-4)

Peter's first burden was to warn us about the false teaching that would come to be known as Religious Uniformitarianism. This view holds that God does not periodically intervene in the affairs of man but is content just to observe us as we experience a linear series of events over an extended period of time. Its proponents sometimes describe God as "the Great Watchmaker" Who constructed His universe like a master craftsman assembles a precision timepiece. Having "wound it up" and set it in motion, He's now engaged in watching it run, apart from any subsequent involvement by Him. Galaxies, worlds and even civilizations appear as if by chance as bits and pieces randomly come together to form them, and as species evolve into higher life forms. And as the enormous amount of time that's passed demonstrates, we really shouldn't expect anything more from Him. (An offshoot of this, called process theology, actually teaches that God is learning as He goes and is as curious to see how everything will work out as we are.) As Peter implied, the emergence of this false teaching would in fact be a sign that the last days are upon us.

But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.(2 Peter 3:5-7)

These false teachers will have made conscious decisions to ignore three indisputable facts; 1) The Earth didn't come into being by chance. It was created. 2) The One Who created it does intervene in the affairs of man, at one time bringing a judgment so great that the entire world was destroyed. 3) And what's more, He's promised to do it again, because man didn't learn from the first one.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.(2 Peter 3:8-9)

I don't believe this passage can be used to justify the "one day equals 1000 years" theory that some students of prophecy promote. Granted there are places like Hosea 6:2 where this theory seems to apply, and in Ezekiel 4 the Lord used a day to represent one year, and then informed us that He was doing so. There are also passages mentioning the Day of the Lord that in some cases seem to cover a span of time as long as 2000 years and in others one as short as 24 hours.

But here I think Peter was simply trying to emphasize that God is not governed by time as we are, and so what we perceive to be a long time would not necessarily be so for Him. His point is this. The length of time that's passed is no indication of a wavering intent. Instead it should be seen a measure of His patience in giving us as much time as possible to come to Him for forgiveness.
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« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2008, 12:04:35 AM »

The End Times According To Peter
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.(2 Peter 3:10)

Make no mistake, Peter warns us, the Day of the Lord will come, and when it does everything will be made new. Due to the popularity of the false teaching it will catch a lot of people by surprise. And this is exactly the case today. Most mainline churches reject the notion of a literal return by the Lord (this is called the a-millennial view), and abandoned the Biblical creation account long ago. And even some conservatives deny a Coming Kingdom (the post-millennial or preterist view). Remember, Peter wasn't warning about non-believers promoting these ideas. He saw this teaching coming from within the church.

Some scholars have speculated that in verse 10 Peter was describing an instantaneous conversion of matter to pure energy and back to matter again in a "cleansing by fire." Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:1 both reference this event. Isaiah used the Hebrew word "bara" in his account, the same one used in Genesis One, to show that it's a direct work of God. In Rev. 21 the Greek word means newly made or fresh, unused. This final cleansing completes the work of restoration begun in the last series of Tribulation judgments.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.(2 Peter 3:11-13)

Can we really hasten the Day of the Lord? In Romans 11:25 Paul wrote that Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. Apparently the Church will contain a pre-determined number of members, and when that number is complete, we'll all disappear in the Rapture. Maybe that's one reason why we won't know the Rapture's timing in advance. It depends on the Church achieving a pre-determined number, not on reaching a pre-determined date. By living Holy and Godly lives, we can influence others to respond more favorably when we talk to them about Jesus. That would make the Church grow faster, bring the Rapture sooner, and hasten the Day of the Lord.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.(2 Peter 3:14-16)

Some believe Peter was referring specifically to the Epistle to the Hebrews here, which many in the early church believed Paul had written. Since Hebrews was written about the same time, there may be some merit to the assumption. In any case his statement that the Lord's patience means salvation underlines his earlier one that the longer the Lord tarries, the more people can be saved before He comes. Where would you be, for example, if the Lord had come 30 years ago? Still saved? How about 50? Get the point?

Peter and Paul were in Rome together at the end of their lives, and both were incarcerated in the Mamertime prison while awaiting execution. Peter was manacled upright to a post for 9 months before being crucified upside down. Paul, being a Roman citizen, was beheaded. Between them 47 prisoners and an untold number of guards and jailers were converted to Christianity. It was their final tribute to the Lord while on Earth and they labored at it till the day they died.

Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3: 17-18 )

Peter isn't implying that listening to false teachers could cost us our salvation. The phrase "fall from your secure position" describes a state of mind rather than a state of being. He's warning us not to let false teaching confuse us about the certainty of the Lord's return, thereby depriving ourselves of our hope in the coming Kingdom and the sense of security this hope brings us.

The Lord's return was as real to Peter as His first coming had been. Remember, Peter was an eyewitness on the Mount of Transfiguration, and watched as Moses and Elijah spoke with the Lord about it. But he believed that the words of the prophets provided even greater certainty, since they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Take Peter's advice and do your homework. Know what you believe and why. It's your only protection against false teaching. And when you see all these things begin to take place stand up and lift up your heads, for your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:28 ) If you listen closely you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 06-18-05
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« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2008, 11:36:02 PM »

The End Times According To Zechariah - Part One
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley


Zechariah assumed his role as a prophet in 520 BC, a few years after Israel's return from the 70 year Babylonian captivity. The first half of his book describes eight visions that all came to him on a single night, February 15, 519 BC. Then there's a short interlude where he relates the Lord's answers to questions the Jews had about their current situation. Chapters 9-14 were written nearly 40 years later. 9-11 deal mostly with prophecies for the times leading up to and including the Lord's first coming, and 12-14 focus on the End of the Age. These final three chapters are the object of our interest because they describe the End Times According to Zechariah.

Chapter 12 … Jerusalem's Enemies to Be Destroyed

An Oracle


This is the word of the LORD concerning Israel. The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares: "I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness," declares the LORD. "I will keep a watchful eye over the house of Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations. Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts, 'The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the LORD Almighty is their God.' (Zechariah 12:1-5)

Is case there's any doubt about Who's speaking, the Writer identifies Himself as the One Who stretches out the Heavens, lays the foundation of Earth, and forms the spirit of man. The fact that these verbs are all in the present tense indicates that this is an ongoing effort. As far as the timing is concerned, we know it's at the end of the age because all the nations of the Earth are lined up against Jerusalem. The Battle of Armageddon is at hand and as everyone will soon realize, the Lord has come to fight for Jerusalem.

"On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place. "The LORD will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem's inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah. On that day the LORD will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the LORD going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. (Zechariah 12:6-9)

Jerusalem will not fall completely and the surrounding areas of Judah will be spared as well, but by the time it's over Jerusalem will be rescued and the attacking nations destroyed.

Mourning for the One They Pierced

"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives. (Zechariah 12:10-14)

But before the final battle begins, the Lord will send His Spirit of Grace, and the eyes of the spiritually blind will be opened, and they'll behold their Messiah, Jesus, the One they crucified. They'll all grieve bitterly, as if for a firstborn son, from the royal line of David, to the rest of Judah, represented by Solomon's brother Nathan, to the priests of Levi and the other Levite families under Shimei, and to all the tribes and clans of Israel. It's the National Awakening into a New Covenant relationship as foretold in Jeremiah 31:31, and both civil and religious authorities will lead the way.

By the way, there are two un-translated letters in the Hebrew text following the phrase "look upon me" in Zechariah 12:10. The two letters are the aleph and the tau, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Their better-known equivalents are the alpha and the omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, used to describe the Father in Revelation 1:8 and 21:6 and the Son in Revelation 22:13. The same two un-translated letters appear in the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1 following the phrase "In the beginning God …". Are these clues that God placed there to identify Jesus as the Messiah, and to confirm His role as our Creator as well as our Redeemer? Does the use of the phrase "alpha and omega" at opposite ends of The Revelation and attributed first to the Father and then to the Son mean that they are One as Jesus claimed in John 10:30? It certainly seems so.
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« Reply #35 on: August 27, 2008, 11:38:21 PM »

The End Times According To Zechariah - Part One
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Zechariah 13 … Cleansing From Sin

"On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. "On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more," declares the LORD Almighty. "I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. And if anyone still prophesies, his father and mother, to whom he was born, will say to him, 'You must die, because you have told lies in the LORD's name.' When he prophesies, his own parents will stab him. "On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his prophetic vision. He will not put on a prophet's garment of hair in order to deceive. He will say, 'I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth.' If someone asks him, 'What are these wounds on your body?' he will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.'(Zechariah 13:1-6)

As they finally see and accept Jesus as their Messiah, the blood He shed on the cross will wash them clean, and the life He gave will ransom them, just as it has us. The Angel Gabriel told Daniel that six things would be accomplished during Israel's final 490 years, and one of them, sealing up vision and prophecy, is accomplished here. (Daniel 9:24) No longer will God use prophets to communicate with man, He'll soon be dwelling among them again, and will deliver His Word personally. Anyone claiming to be a prophet will be executed by his own friends and family if necessary, to avoid offending the Lord.

The Shepherd Struck, the Sheep Scattered

"Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!" declares the LORD Almighty. "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. In the whole land," declares the LORD, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.' "(Zechariah 13:7-9)

Here's an overview connecting the Lord's first and second coming. He quoted from this passage on the night of his betrayal. (Matthew 26:31) Today many well meaning but Scripturally inept Christians go running through Israel telling people that they'd better come to Jesus because two thirds of them are about to die in the coming Great Tribulation. As far as I know, not one convert has resulted from this misuse of Scripture. Even a casual reading shows that two thirds are struck down first and it's the remaining third that the Lord brings into the refining fire, a euphemism for the Great Tribulation.

By most accounts, there were 9 million Jews alive in the days before World War 2. Six million, two thirds, perished in Hitler's extermination programs. Many of those left alive at the end of the war came to the newly re-born Nation of Israel and became its first residents. After the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39, the Lord will gather the rest of them, not leaving any behind. This is the remaining third that will experience the Great Tribulation and upon whom He will pour out His Spirit. (Ezekiel 39:28-29) It is this remaining third, the remnant of Israel, who will call on His name and be saved.

"And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.(Joel 2:28-32)

Next time we'll cover chapter 14, the day the Lord arrives. See you then. 6-25-05
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« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2008, 11:41:03 PM »

The End Times According To Zechariah ... Part 2, Conclusion
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley


Zechariah 14 ... The LORD Comes and Reigns

A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. (Zechariah 14:1-2)

As the final battle begins, the armies of the anti-Christ will attack and for a little while control the Holy City. It will be a terrible time for those who have not heeded the Lord's earlier warning to flee into the desert. Their belongings will be taken from them and distributed to their enemies right before their eyes.

Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. (Zechariah 14:3-5)

When it looks as if all is lost, the Lord will descend to the Mount of Olives, to the place He left from nearly 2000 years ago. As He does, an earthquake will cause the Mount of Olives to split in half forming a deep valley that runs to the Mediterranean in the west and to the Dead Sea in the east. I've been told that on a geological survey map you can see the fault line and trace the path of the coming earthquake. It will run straight through the current Temple Mount just west of the Mt. Of Olives, causing it, the Dome of the Rock, the Al Aksa Mosque and much of the Old City to disappear into the bottom of this valley.

The Lord's return will cause the immediate defeat of His enemies, after which He'll make His triumphal entry into the city followed by His legions of Holy Warriors.

On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime - a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (Zechariah 14:6-9)

According to Ezekiel, the water that will fill this newly formed valley to create a mighty river originates under the Coming Temple, located a few miles to the north. Connecting Ezekiel 47 to this passage, a growing number of scholars have come to believe that the next Temple will be built just north of Jerusalem, and not on the current Temple Mount. (I've held this view for almost 10 years and have documented my reasons in an article called "The Coming Temple".)

In his vision, Ezekiel saw the water flowing from beneath the south side of the Temple and Zechariah shows it doing so on the day of the Lord's return. Since the earthquake will have buried the current Temple Mount earlier in the same day, it's easy to see how this all fits together. In any case, when the cascading water reaches this valley, half flows east into the Dead Sea and half flows west into the Mediterranean, forever drowning the rubble from the current Temple mount.

In the idiom of the day, flowing water was said to be living because it had a voice (as in a babbling brook) and because it nurtured life, whereas a pool of still water became stagnant and caused everything in it to eventually die. The bath of purification (mikvah) had to be taken in living water. Immersion in the mikvah brought ceremonial cleansing from sin and symbolized new life. Christian baptism originated from this Jewish tradition. Jesus compared the Holy Spirit to living water in John 7:37, in that He's the source of our new life, cleansing and nurturing us, and in Ezekiel 47 this living water from beneath the Temple freshens the Dead Sea allowing fish to thrive there again, and fruit trees to grow along its banks.

This will also be the day of fulfillment for Philippians 2:9-11; Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

But that's not all. Psalms 2 and 110 will also be fulfilled along with a host of other prophecies, as the Messiah-King takes possession of that which He's paid for, Planet Earth. In the process the topography of the land surrounding Jerusalem will be forever changed.
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« Reply #37 on: August 27, 2008, 11:43:31 PM »

The End Times According To Zechariah ... Part 2, Conclusion
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure. (Zechariah 14:10-11)

The Arabah contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea and continues to the Red Sea. It's the lowest place on Earth, over 1300 feet below sea level at the Dead Sea. The area south of Jerusalem will be lowered to match it, while the city itself will be elevated. And finally, for the first time in thousands of years, it will be secure, a City of Peace at last.

This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. On that day men will be stricken by the LORD with great panic. Each man will seize the hand of another, and they will attack each other. Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected - great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps. (Zechariah 14:12-14)

Shades of Raiders of The Lost Ark! A Neutron bomb liquefies flesh while leaving solid structures like buildings, and apparently skeletons, intact. Some have estimated that as many as 400 million combatants will be assembled for the Battle of Armageddon not counting animals. Perhaps this is what produces the volume of liquid necessary to form a river of blood 175 miles long and 4.5 feet deep as mentioned in Revelation 14:20.

Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 14:16-21)

We also learn from Ezekiel 45:21-25 that three of the 7 Levitical Feasts will still be celebrated in the Millennium; Passover (but no lamb), Unleavened Bread, and Tabernacles. All the nations on Earth, having been repopulated by Tribulation Believers who were too late for the rapture but survived the Great Tribulation, will be required to observe these feasts. The Lord will dwell among His people, and His city will be the Holy City once again. And finally the commandment He gave to Joshua to destroy every trace of the Canaanites will have been fulfilled.

In this brief view of the End Times, Zechariah has revealed an enormous amount of information. These three chapters have given us glimpses of:

1. A World Confederation aligned against Israel
2. The Time of Jacob's Trouble (The Great Tribulation)
3. The National Conviction of Israel
4. The presentation and acceptance of Jesus as their rejected Messiah
5. A National Day of Atonement
6. The Cleansing of Their Hearts
7. Purging the land of idols and false prophets
8. The partial success of the invasion of Jerusalem
9. The appearance of the Messiah with the Saints
10. The Victory of God's People
11. A changed and renovated Holy Land
12. The establishment of the Messianic Kingdom
13. The punishment of the Nations
14. The Celebration of the Kingdom Feasts
15. The complete restoration of the people of God to a Holy Nation

No other Old Testament Prophet gives us as much detail about the End of the Age in such a brief description. Not until the Revelation, written nearly 600 years later, would such a clear presentation be made. If you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 07-03-05
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« Reply #38 on: August 27, 2008, 11:47:35 PM »

The End Times According to Jesus ... Part 1
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley


The Olivet Discourse is the name scholars have conferred on a private prophecy briefing our Lord gave to Peter, James, John and Andrew on the Mount of Olives. It's recorded in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13-14, and Luke 21. John, while present at the briefing, did not include it in his gospel preferring instead to focus on the time Jesus spent with His disciples in the Upper Room on the night He was betrayed. In reviewing the Olivet Discourse, we'll rely mainly on Matthew's account, it being the most detailed, adding excerpts from Mark and Luke where they add to or clarify the message. And we'll try to stay as close to the Lord's own words as possible to avoid reading any false conclusions into the passage.

As Matthew 24 opens, Jesus had left the Temple area and was headed for Bethany, where He and the disciples were staying at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. It was two days before the crucifixion.

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:1-3)

Based on His prediction that the Temple would soon be destroyed, the four disciples had three questions for the Lord.

1) When will this (Temple destruction) happen?

2) What will be the sign of your (2nd) coming?

3) What will be the sign of the coming of the End of the Age?


Before we go on, their mindset in asking these questions is critical to our understanding. While the Jews were in Babylon during the 70 year captivity, the angel Gabriel had told Daniel that Israel would be given 490 years from the date they received authorization to rebuild Jerusalem to wrap everything up. (Daniel 9:24-27) 483 of those years had past. The Temple had been under construction for nearly 40 years and wasn't finished yet. They were thinking they were nearing the end of the age and now Jesus tells them that everything will be torn down. There had never been any talk of a Church Age or a Rapture or of the disciples evangelizing the world. We know about all these things from hindsight, but they were probably in a state of great distress when they came to Him.

Even afterward they still didn't understand. This is confirmed by the question they asked Jesus on the Mount of Olives after the resurrection. "Lord, are you now going to restore the Kingdom?" (Acts 1:6)

Back to our study. In the Matthew account the Lord ignored the first question and went straight to question 2. For His answer to question 1 we'll go to Luke 21. Having begun like Matthew with an account of the End Times in verses 10-12, Luke backtracks to their first question in verses 12-24.

"But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life." (Luke 21:12-19)

Having told them what the rest of their lives would be like, and that their eternal destiny with Him was assured, the Lord finally answered their question about the Temple destruction.
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« Reply #39 on: August 27, 2008, 11:49:29 PM »

The End Times According to Jesus ... Part 1
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24)

In what appears to be poor advice, He told them to get out of town when they saw the city being surrounded by enemy troops, an event that took place nearly 40 years later. The objective of a besieging army was to trap everyone inside so the plight of starving women and children would have a discouraging influence on the leadership. Non-combatants were not allowed free passage through enemy lines for this reason.

But a strange thing happened in the siege of Jerusalem. After surrounding the city, the Roman army was suddenly told to abandon their position and prepare for an immediate departure to Rome. General Titus, who commanded the army, was the son of Vespasian, a man striving to become the Roman Emperor. Fearing he would need extra help in consolidating his power, Vespasian ordered Titus to bring the army home to assist. But before they could depart, another message arrived saying that all was in order and to resume the siege of Jerusalem. For one week the siege lines had been abandoned, and during this time Christians who heeded the Lord's earlier warning escaped. Although 1.2 million Jews died in Rome's defeat of Israel, according to the historian Josephus not one Christian perished in the siege of Jerusalem. The Lord's advice had been sound and even strategically clever.

Roman soldiers were paid from the valuables they confiscated in battle, and the Temple was a huge prize. Titus wanted to preserve it, which would have deprived the soldiers of a tremendous bonus. Defending the Temple entrance with his sword raised against his own troops, he watched helplessly as a flaming torch was thrown over his head into the Temple starting a fire. The ensuing blaze generated such heat that the gold plating covering the wooden plank ceiling began to melt and run down the stone walls, seeping into the cracks between the stones. When the blaze was finally extinguished, the soldiers dismantled the ruined walls to get the gold. By the time they had finished, not one stone was left standing on another, graphically fulfilling the Lord's prophecy to His disciples.

The Lord's prophecy concerning the duration of Jerusalem's captivity bears another look as well. Jerusalem either ceased to exist or was under Gentile authority from Roman times until June of 1967, when for the first time the Star of David flew over a unified city. This marked the end of Gentile Dominion, and a return to Israel as the focus of Biblical Prophecy, a clear sign that we're fast approaching the End of the Age.

Now, let's go back to Matthew 24 for the Lord's answers to their other questions, picking up the narrative in verse 4.

Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:4-9)

The coming Church Age would be characterized by the appearance of false messiahs, conflict between nations, natural disasters, and famine. Luke adds pestilence and great signs from heaven to the mix (Luke 21:11), as does the King James Version of Matthew. The comparison to birth pains reveals that while these events would occur all through the Church Age, they would be more and more frequent and more intense as the end comes nearer.

Next time we'll look at the clear signs marking the beginning and duration of the Great Tribulation. Until then, if you listen carefully, you can almost hear the Footsteps of the Messiah. 05-23-04
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« Reply #40 on: August 27, 2008, 11:55:21 PM »

The End Times According to Jesus ... Part 2
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
      



"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:9-14)

The words here are very similar to those in Luke 21:20-24 covered in Part 1, but in Matthew the focus is clearly the End Times. Believers will be severely persecuted at the End of the Age (Matthew's version) just like they were at the beginning (Luke's version). Just before the Lord's return, the Good News will be preached in every nation to prepare the people of Earth for His coming and to deny them a plausible excuse for rejecting Him, or pleading ignorance.

"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand--then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. (Matthew 24:15-21)

This portion pinpoints the beginning of the Great Tribulation, a time of judgment whose very name comes from here (translated in the NIV as great distress), one that will surpass anything the world has ever seen. The Prophet Daniel had written of a time in the future when the Temple would be desecrated by an event he called "the Abomination that causes Desolation" (Daniel 9:24-27) and the Lord was now informing them that this event would trigger the Great Tribulation.

Since Daniel's time something like it had only happened once. In 168 BC the Syrian Ruler Antiochus Epiphanes (the name means God made manifest), after muscling his way into Israel, seized the Temple and converted it to pagan worship. He erected a statue of Zeus in the Holy Place in his own likeness, requiring everyone to bow down before it on pain of death. The Jews called this desecration the Abomination that causes Desolation, borrowing language from Daniel 9:27. It so angered them that they rose up in arms against the Syrian invaders. The 3 1/2 year long Maccabean Revolt, as it was called, resulted in the Syrians' expulsion from Israel and a Temple cleansing and re-dedication ceremony that's still memorialized annually in the Feast of Chanukkah.

Today, students of the End Times see a frighteningly clear model of the Great Tribulation in the Maccabean Revolt, with a foreign invader calling himself God and demanding worship, a Temple desecration, and unbelievable persecution ending in a 3 1/2-year war of liberation. As we'll see that's just what the Lord intended in mentioning Daniel's Prophecy.

193 years after the Maccabean Revolt, Jesus spoke of the Abomination that causes Desolation as something still in the future. And a careful reading of his 70 weeks prophecy shows that Daniel placed it in the middle of the 70th week, long after both the Messiah's arrival and rejection, and the destruction of the city and sanctuary. Since nothing like this has happened since the Lord gave His warning, it means that one day soon another foreign invader will muscle his way into Israel, calling himself God and demanding worship. There'll be another Temple desecration, and more unbelievable persecution ending in another war of liberation, only this time the entire planet will be affected, not just Israel. According to Daniel, it will begin half way through the last 7 years of human history establishing its duration as 3 1/2 years just like it's earlier model. In 2 Thessalonians 2:4 Paul expanded Daniel's account, connecting it to the antichrist at the End of the Age. These things confirm that the sacrilege that kicked off the Maccabean Revolt serves as a preview to help people recognize the sacrilege that will kick off the Great Tribulation. (See also Revelation 13:14-17)

There are three factors here that underscore the "Jewishness" of the Lord's warning. First there will be a desecration of their Temple, second the warning is given specifically to those in Judea, the region of Jerusalem in Israel, and third there's an admonition to pray that it won't happen on the Sabbath, a day when Jewish law forbids traveling. Clearly the Lord was saying that there will be a nation of Jewish people observing His Law in Israel at the End of the Age and they will have rebuilt their Temple prior to His return.
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« Reply #41 on: August 27, 2008, 11:58:08 PM »

The End Times According to Jesus ... Part 2
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. "So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. (Matthew 24:22-28 )

The Great Tribulation is the most specifically documented span of time in all of Scripture. In one place we're told it's 3 1/2 years long (time, times and half a time; one year plus two years plus half a year as in Revelation 12:14), in another 42 months (Revelation 11:2) and in still another 1260 days (Revelation 12:6). Use the original calendar for Earth, 12 months of 30 days each for a 360 day year, and you find all three measurements identical from a time standpoint. Moreover there isn't a single hint anywhere that it will be of a shorter duration. Most scholars who read the passage above literally, conclude that the phrase cut short means that for the sake of His elect the Lord will step in on the 1260th day and put an end to the warfare instead of letting it run to its logical conclusion; the destruction of every human on the planet.

"Immediately after the distress of those days, " 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)

In bringing the Great Tribulation to an end, the Lord cause the Sun and Moon to be darkened. Then His sign will appear in the sky, and finally He Himself will come in power and glory just as He promised Caiaphas, the High Priest, at His trial 2000 years ago (Matthew 26:64). All the nations will mourn because His appearance rings the closing bell for the Age of Grace. Too late, the people of Earth will realize that He is just Who He's always claimed to be, and they've missed their last chance at salvation.

At His signal, His angels will gather His elect (believers) from all over Heaven to return with Him to Earth to establish His Kingdom. This is one of two vague hints in the Olivet Discourse that there'll be a body of believers in Heaven awaiting His 2nd coming. As we'll see next time, it would be nearly 20 years before the identity of this group would be revealed. According to Mark's account, believers on earth will also be summoned (Mark 13:27) to witness His triumphant return.

"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matthew 24:32-36)

The fig tree is the last to bud, so when it does we know Summer's almost here. Through His disciples, the Lord told the people on Earth at the End of the Age that when all these things begin to happen, it means the end is very near. Indeed, of the 6000 year history of Man only 3 1/2 will remain.

The Greek word translated generation also means race, and can be interpreted as the Lord's promise that the Jewish race wouldn't be extinguished before the End comes. And that's remarkably true. The vicious and oft repeated attempts to rid the world of its Jewry have all failed, and Israel has risen from the grave after a 2000-year absence to once again become the focus of world attention.

Yet there's also a sense in which the Lord's promise can be rendered, "I tell you the truth, the generation that sees the beginning of these signs will also see their culmination." In other words, they will all be concluded during the lifetimes of those being born as they begin. There's precedent for this too. All the prophecies concerning the Lord's first visit were fulfilled within the lifespan of the generation into which He was born.

Please note that if this view is the correct one, as I believe it to be, the Lord didn't promise that, once they begin, all End Times prophecies would be fulfilled before the next generation is born, but only that they would be fulfilled during the lifetimes of those being born at their commencement. A Biblical generation is nominally 40 years, but a lifetime is more like 70 (Psalm 90:10). The folks who added 40 years to Israel's 1948 rebirth and predicted the Rapture would happen in 1988 were off on two counts.

1) They should have added a lifetime, not the length of a biblical generation, and

2) It's the 2nd Coming that will happen within a lifetime of the first signs. The Rapture could happen at any time prior to that. In fact one of the most likely days in any year is Pentecost, which happens to be today! Please, Lord!


If we're still here next week, we'll finish up this series and show you why those who're looking for signs of the Rapture of the Church in the Olivet Discourse are looking in the wrong place. Until then, if you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 05-30-04
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« Reply #42 on: August 28, 2008, 12:03:19 AM »

The End Times According to Jesus .. Part 3
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley


"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. (Matthew 24:36-41)

Don't let this passage confuse you like it has so many others. Note that the first sentence reads, "No one knows about that day or hour." Plenty of people on Earth at the End of the Age will know when the Lord is due to return. Remember, both the kick-off event and duration of the Great Tribulation are clearly and unmistakably described. On the day when the antichrist stands in the Temple and declares that he's God they'll just have to count off 1260 days and look up into the sky. First they'll see the Sun and Moon turn dark and stars fall out of the sky. (Matthew 24:29) That's the signal that the Great Tribulation has ended. Then the Lord's sign will appear in the sky (Matthew 24:30) And finally they'll see the Lord Himself coming in the clouds in power and glory. But the period of time required for this sequence to unfold is anybody's guess, and that's what this passage says.

Also the Lord compared the time of His return to the time of Noah, so we should expect to find similar circumstances leading up to these two events. And we do. Both involve worldwide judgments that occur at a time when most people are caught unaware. Although in both cases the people of Earth are given repeated warnings of what's coming, those warnings are ignored by almost everyone. In the case of the Great Flood, judgment came in the form of rain, which fell on the Earth for 40 days and 40 nights. In the case of the Great Tribulation 21 separate judgment events unfold over a 3 ˝ year period. This is why although only 8 people survived the Flood, the Lord warned that the Great Tribulation would be the worst time of judgment in human history.

Here's where the second hint of a body of believers in Heaven awaiting His return appears, and this one's even more vague than the first one, back in Matthew 24:31. You see, both the Great Flood and the Great Tribulation have three components; judgment, preservation through judgment, and escape from judgment. In the Days of Noah, the unbelievers were judged, Noah's family was preserved through the judgment, and Enoch escaped it altogether. At the End of the Age, unbelievers are judged, the remnant of Israel is preserved through the judgment, and the Church escapes from judgment. So if you're looking for a hint of the rapture in the Days of Noah, look at Enoch, who happened to be born and taken live into Heaven on the same date as the Church's birth, Pentecost.

Now let's consider those words "taken" and "left" in Matthew 24:40-41 a little more closely. The Greek word translated taken literally means received, and the one translated left means put away. They refer to the disposition of those remaining alive on Earth when the Lord returns, the Tribulation Survivors. Those who've become believers will be received into the Kingdom, and those who haven't will be put away into the place prepared for the devil and his angels. Folks who try to find the rapture of the church in these words are simply looking in the wrong place.

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:42-44)

This warning is given primarily to those Tribulation Survivors who are not believers. As I stated above, once the Great Tribulation begins, all believers on Earth will know when it will end. The sequence of events that follow is also clear. The only thing they won't know is the exact day and hour of His Coming.

No, this warning is to the undecided, who aren't counting up the prophecies being fulfilled around them, and don't realize that if they waver too long, they'll be taken by surprise and miss their last chance at salvation. Don't get me wrong, they'll be only too aware of the massive disruptions to their lives caused by the End Times judgments. They just won't understand what's behind it all. Remember, confusion and deception will be the order of the day.

Think about the analogy of the thief. As the Lord returns unexpectedly (like a thief) He'll be breaking into a place the enemy thinks belongs to him and his followers. "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Philippians 3:19-20) He won't be coming as a thief in the night as far as believers are concerned, stealthily breaking into their world. They'll be eagerly watching and impatiently waiting, counting the days, praying for His coming, longing for Him to take them home to be with Him forever.
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« Reply #43 on: August 28, 2008, 12:05:43 AM »

The End Times According to Jesus .. Part 3
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:45-51)

The worst punishment is reserved for those in charge, heads of organized religions who, instead of "feeding" their flocks with the Bread of Life and encouraging them with the promise of His return, confuse and deceive them with false doctrines, and deny the validity of God's prophetic Word. By their actions they demonstrate the depravity of their own souls, showing themselves to be devoid of the Holy Spirit and worthy of punishment. Knowingly or not, they're infiltrators from the enemy's camp, like tares among the wheat.

Having forsaken the truth they no longer watch for the Lord's return, ignoring the obvious fulfillment of prophecy all around them and ridiculing those whose child-like faith sustains them. These "Christian Atheists" as they sometimes call themselves, are worse than the enemy because they look and talk like friends. They're like the one John describes as appearing to have the authority of the Lamb but who speaks the words of the Dragon (Revelation 13:11). They will be also be assigned to the place prepared for the devil and his angels.

But the Lord will elevate to a place of authority in His Kingdom those who keep the word of God through the intense hardship and persecution of the times, and teach sound doctrine to the flocks entrusted to them. Just as some among the common folk alive when the Lord returns will be received into the Kingdom with honors, while others are put away in everlasting shame and contempt, so it will be with their leaders.

In chapter 25, Matthew recounts two parables, the Ten Bridesmaids and the Talents, and a warning to Tribulation Survivors, the Sheep and Goat judgment. In all three the emphasis is on separating the faithful from the unfaithful following the Lord's return. The faithful will be received with honors into His Kingdom, while the unfaithful are left out to be judged. Since all three include a reference to time that places them in the aftermath of His 2nd coming, the entire chapter expands on the "taken and left" statement of Matthew 24:40-41.

Because there's been so much confusion, let's make this perfectly clear. Of all the views on the timing of the Rapture of the Church, none place it after the 2nd coming. But look how clearly that time frame is indicated in each portion of Matthew 25. Backing up a little to establish the order, we read;

"Immediately after the distress of those days," signs in the Heavens after the end of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:29)

"At that time," His appearance in the sky after the end of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:30)

"No one knows about that day," the day of the 2nd Coming, after the Tribulation (Matt: 24:36)

"At that time," connecting the parable of the ten virgins to the 2nd Coming (Matthew 25:1)

"Again," referring to the same time frame in beginning the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14)

"When the Son of Man comes in all His Glory," beginning the Sheep and Goat judgment which describes the judgment of Tribulation Survivors after the 2nd Coming (Matthew 25:31).


As you see, they all occur chronologically after the Tribulation and 2nd Coming, and all describe the situation on Earth following the Lord's return. Therefore none of them can be used to describe the Rapture or any other aspect of the Church. The Church Age ends with the Rapture and that occurs before the 2nd Coming. (I've written commentaries on each of these passages and have included links to them at the end of this article.)

It's clear that the only questions the Lord answered in the Olivet Discourse are the three the disciples asked. "When will these things happen? What will be the sign of your coming and of the End of the Age?" Having chosen to delay the announcement of the Rapture of the Church until nearly 20 years after His resurrection, the Lord neither taught it to His disciples nor, as we've seen, did He address it in the Olivet Discourse. No, the Olivet Discourse was a summary of Jewish Eschatology given to Jews in Israel, before the birth of the Church, and only vaguely hinting at its existence.

So in coming to the end of our commentary we're left with one big unanswered question. Why didn't the Lord teach something as important as the Doctrine of the Rapture to his disciples? Obviously there's a good reason and I'll explain it next time. That way we'll keep something intended exclusively for the Church separate from this very Jewish passage of Scripture we call the Olivet Discourse. In the meantime, if you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 06-06-04
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The End Times According to Jesus ... Part 4
(Why Didn't The Lord Mention The Rapture?)
Ikvot ha'Mashiach (Footsteps of the Messiah)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley


In 51 AD, almost 20 years after the Resurrection, the Apostle Paul became the first to reveal the incredible secret that would become known as the Rapture of the Church. He did this in his earliest written communication, his first letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), repeating it four years later in a letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15:51). In doing so, Paul finally identified the group mentioned in Matthew 24:31 who would be in Heaven waiting to return with the Lord at his 2nd coming.

From Thessalonians we know that, at the Rapture, the dead in Christ will rise first to be followed immediately by believers who are left and still alive. Concerning living believers, Paul's letter to the Corinthians explains that in the twinkling of an eye, we'll be changed from mortal to immortal, bypassing death altogether. Either way, in less than an instant we'll all arrive together in Heaven. Because everyone who believes in the Rapture of the Church agrees it will take place sometime before the 2nd coming, the group in Heaven that the Lord sends His angels to gather up in Matthew 24:31 has to include resurrected and raptured church age believers.

As an aside, those who dispute this doctrine claim that the word rapture doesn't appear in the English translation of either of Paul's letters cited above (nor anywhere else in scripture for that matter) and of course they're correct. The original Greek word Paul used to describe the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is harpazo, usually rendered "caught up" in English translations.

Because of the growing dominance of the Roman Empire in Biblical times, Latin was fast replacing Greek as the world's common language and so about 400 AD the Bible was translated from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. Harpazo became raptus, the Latin root of the English word rapture. It means "the transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven." So it's the Latin version that gave the event its name. Our current English translations are taken directly from the earlier Greek texts, and that's why the word rapture doesn't appear in them.

Why The Delay?

But why didn't the Lord announce the whole issue of salvation for the Gentiles including the Rapture of the Church during his time here? Two reasons. First, Israel had to receive a bona fide offer of the Kingdom. His commitment to them was clear. The first time He sent the disciples out to minister, He told them, "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. (Matthew 10:5) And later when the disciples asked Him to respond to a Gentile woman whose daughter needed healing, He at first declined saying, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." (Matthew 15:23-24) Before He could expand His ministry to the Gentiles, He had to fulfill His promise to Israel.

So just as he had offered reconciliation to the Amorites in Abraham's time, knowing in advance that they would reject Him, (Genesis 15:16) the Lord extended His offer of a Kingdom to Israel. And of course Israel did reject His offer by attributing the power behind His miracles to Satan, (Matthew 12:22-37) and eventually accusing Him of blasphemy (Matthew 26:65). This rejection was confirmed to them in the parable of the tenants (Matthew 21:13-44). But the pre-determined order of first the Jew then the Gentile (Romans 1:16) had to be observed. (Prophetic Scriptures tell us Israel will get another chance, and the next time they'll accept.)

Second, knowing before history began that the Jews would reject Him the first time, the Lord had always planned to extend His offer of salvation to the Gentiles, and that meant something really dramatic had to happen. Gentiles were even worse sinners than Jews, who at least made periodic attempts to obey. But for 4000 years the Lord had demonstrated through His people that no level of excellence in human behavior could ever meet His requirements for salvation. And even with the most complex religious system ever devised, the most expensive house of worship ever built, the most detail conscious people ever created, and the most aggressive sacrifice of innocent blood ever undertaken, the final score at the end of the Dispensation of Law was zero souls saved through religious works. (Romans 3:20)

At Least Somebody's Listening

Well, He didn't convince them but He did convince Satan, who believed that eventually all of humanity would wind up with him in the lost column of the ledger, Jew and Gentile alike. Surely then the Lord would have to rescind his judgment against Satan (Isaiah 14:16-21). After all, was he any worse than sinful mankind? Hadn't they also rebelled, tried to set up their own kingdoms, and even tried to become their own God? The God Who is Love couldn't stand by and let all his precious children go to hell just to punish Satan, could He? And if He bent the rules for them, He'd have to bend for Satan.
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