Tuesday, March 31, 2015



    The battle of Armageddon begins with complete siege of the fortress Jerusalem. The armies represent all the nations of the world (Zech. 12:2-3; 14:2; Zeph. 3:8). The kings of the east march their armies to the siege (Rev. 16:12). The southern confederacy furnishes its quota of soldiers. The northern federation of nations joins likewise in furnishing men for the campaign. And the Roman confederation is present in power with all the other nations organ­ized under the direction of the Antichrist (Rev. 17:14; 19:19). These armies are gathered for one purpose, namely, to destroy Israel and her Messiah (Ps. 83:3-5; Zech. 12:3; Ps. 2:1-3; Rev. 17:14; 19:19).

    The battle of Armageddon results in the wholesale destruction of Israel. The city of Jerusalem is captured, but there is no surrender on the part of the Jews (Zech. 14:2). The wealth of the city is confiscated, and the houses are left in ruins. The women are subjected to horrors of sexual infamy and reduced to shame. Half the people are carried away into captivity. But the remaining half continue to resist the invasion of the Gentile legions, contest­ing every inch, street by street, building by building, foot by foot. With a tenacity characteristic of Jews, and in this case strengthened by hope for the coming of the Messiah, they endure as seeing Him who is visible.

    The battle of Armageddon is the scene of supernatural invasion from outer space. The source of this invasion is heaven (Rev. 19:11-14; 2 Thess. 1:7; Joel 3:11, 15-16; Zech. 9:14-16). It opens and Christ rides forth on a white charger. The armies of heaven accompany Him. There is the glorified Church (Rev. 19:14) and the angelic hosts (Matt. 24:31). Accompanying this invasion there are uncanny manifestations in the heaven. The sun becomes dark, the moon gives forth no light, and there is meteorite display (Matt. 24:29); then the whole heavens from one horizon to another, is lightened with the brilliance of the coming of the Son of man (Matt. 24:27; 2 Thess. 2:8). As His feet come to rest upon the Mount of Olives, an earthquake divides it in two (Zech. 14:4).

    The battle of Armageddon is marked by divine operation against the nations. The battle arrangement is significant. The general, the Lord Jesus Christ, leads the way into battle, and the armies of Church saints accompany Him (Rev, 19:11, 14). So far as it is possible to see, Christ does all the fighting, and the angels are present to clean up (Matt. 13:39, 41; Rev. 19:17-18). The battle technique is vested in the attributes of Christ (Rev. 19:11-13, 16). And the weapons of offense are the essential qualities of Christ (Rev. 19:12-13, 15). The chief weapon is the sword which issues from His mouth. This is His almighty word, and with it He consumes the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:8), and destroys the armies of the nations (Rev. 19:21).

   The battle of Armageddon results in wholesale carnage among the legions of the Beast. The brilliance of Christ's appear­ing will produce a trembling and demoralization in the soldiers (Zech. 12:2; 14:13). The result of this demoralization and trembling will be desertion from the Antichrist and the rendering of him in‑operative (2 Thess. 2:8). This tremendous light from heaven will produce astonishment and blindness in animals and madness in men (Zech. 12:4). A plague will sweep through the armies from this light and men will rot right where they stand (Zech. 14:12, 15). The blood of animals and men will form a lake 200 miles long and bridle deep (Rev. 14:19-20). The stench of this rotting mass of flesh and blood will fill the entire region (Isa. 34:1-3). The mangled forms of men and the rotting flesh of men and beasts provide a feast for the carrion birds (Rev. 19:17-18, 21). The beast and the false prophet are then cast alive into the lake of fire forever (Rev. 19:20).

   The battle of Armageddon at Christ's coming provides needed encouragement for the people of Israel. In the hour of des­peration, Israel then brought to her knees, will cry out for the coming of her Messiah (Matt. 23:37-39). The Lord, sensitive to the cry of His people, hears and rushes from the heavens to her defense (Zech. 14:3; 9:14-16). As the defense of Jerusalem proceeds, Israel takes new hope, and determines to resist the siege to the very end. Though fallen, forlorn, and feeble, the individual Jew becomes like David of old when he fought the giant (Zech. 12:8), and the house of David stands as surrounded by the angel of the Lord (Ps. 34:7; Isa. 63:9). In this hour they witness the complete destruction of the enemy at the hands of their own Messiah.

  The battle of Armageddon issues in the complete salvation of the nation of Israel. There is poured out upon them the spirit of grace and supplication (Zech. 12:9-10a). This brings about their recognition of Christ, and they fall into deep mourning as they realize their own guilt in relation to him (Zech. 12:10b; 13:6). Then they break out into prolonged confession of sin, long before prophesied by Isaiah (Isa. 53). "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all". This brings about their regeneration when a whole nation is born at once (Isa. 66:8).

Monday, March 30, 2015



   Preparation for this battle is under the complete domina­tion of the eternal God. This battle is one of those things which God works after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11). He puts it into the heart of the beast and the ten kings to fulfill His will (Rev. 17:17). It is therefore proper to refer to this event as "the battle of that great day of God Almighty" (Rev. 16:14). In the ulti­mate sense it is God who assembles the armies of the world against Jerusalem (Joel 3:1-2; Zech. 14:1-2). There God intends to judge the Gentiles for their treatment of His people (Joel 3:2, 12-14).

    The preparation for this battle is under the immediate direction of satanic forces. Antichrist is the prominent figure throughout the entire period of seven years. He is energized by Satan (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:2). He begins small but rises swiftly to power (Dan. 7:8, 24; Rev. 17:12-13) until at last he is the king of the entire world (Rev. 13:7), and he will prosper to the very end (Dan. 11:36). But the Devil operates behind the scenes controlling the movements of the nations. After being cast into the earth in the middle of the tribulation period (Rev. 12:7-9), he turns in wrath upon the people of earth (Rev. 12:12), but especially against Israel (Rev. 12:13). He it is, from behind the scenes, who maneuvers the nations to perform his will (Rev. 12:15-17). The false prophet (Rev. 16:13) as the third member of this triumvirate organizes the world on a gigantic scale. He promotes the religious unification of mankind (Rev. 13:12). He performs miraculous demonstrations to attract the allegiance of men (Rev. 13:13-15). And he commands loyalty to the Antichrist by means of commercial sanctions (Rev. 13: 16-17).

    The preparation for this battle is the result of strategic operations over seven years. The foreign policy of Antichrist is designed to maneuver himself into the place of power. And in this he is successful (Dan. 11:36). Successively, three great world powers are brought into submission to him during the first three and one half years (Dan. 11:40, 44), though one of these is defeated by supernatural judgment (Ezek. 39:2-6). At last he is in complete control of the world, and moves his capital to the pleasant land, Jerusalem (Dan. 11:45). It could be that this has special reference to the abomina­tion of desolation (Dan. 11:31; 12:11) and the seating of himself in the temple (2 Thess. 2:4). But from this point on he exercises a despotic and tyrannical power over the whole world with special refer­ence to the Jews (Rev. 13:3, 5, 7-8).

    The preparation for this battle is incited by worldwide evangelization of mankind. The ministry of the two witnesses produces an enlarging insurrection among the Jews with whom he has made a treaty (Rev. 11:3-6; Rev. 7:1-8; Rev. 14:1-5; Dan. 9:27). Evangelization reaches that point where he feels compelled to execute the two witnesses and launch a war against the saints (Rev. 11:7; 13:7). But this does not end the problem. A sizable segment of Jews flee to the wilderness (Rev. 12:6, 13-14). In spite of his efforts to destroy them he is thwarted by acts of God (Rev. 12:15-16). To add to his miseries, countless numbers of the Gentiles embrace the gospel and turn against him (Rev. 7:9-17), as the 144,000 saved and sealed Jews prosecute their ministry to the ends of the earth. Efficiently organized persecution disposes of a vast concourse of saved Gentiles, but there are others he is not able to reach (Matt. 25:31-34). At last the situation becomes intolerable and he organizes his legions to move against Jerusalem (Rev. 12:17; Zech. 12:2-3).

    The preparation for this battle is miraculously intensified by heavenly manifestations. Early in the beast's rise to power uni­versal disturbance runs its course throughout the entire fabric of nature (Rev. 6:12-17). The portents are sufficiently recognizable that all mankind admits that the great day of God's wrath has come. When judgment from heaven is visited upon the various areas of creation: earth, seas, rivers, heavenly bodies, in a mounting toll of life (Rev. 8:7-12; 16:2-9), this further accentuates his concern, When at last God intervenes to thwart his plans (Rev. 11:7-13; 12:15-16), and directs judgment against his throne and his kingdom (Rev. 16:10-11), there can be no recourse but to move against the chief obstacles that stand in his way, the Messiah (Rev. 17:14; 19:19), and His people (Rev. 12:17).

    The preparation for this battle is accentuated by divine retribution upon wicked mankind. Death falls on a major portion of mankind. One fourth of the population is destroyed by the movements of the Antichrist early in this period (Rev. 6:7-8). Then God begins immediate judgment upon the wicked. Pollution of the waters kills many (Rev. 8:11). Wicked spirits from the pit destroy a third of the remaining population (Rev. 9:18). Seven thousand die as the result of an earthquake in Jerusalem (Rev. 11:13). Then the armies of Anti­christ besieging the wilderness fortress are swallowed up in an earthquake (Rev. 12:15-16). Excruciating torture falls upon the wicked from evil spirits (Rev. 9:5-6), from grievous sores (Rev. 16:2), polluted water (Rev. 16:3-7), intense heat (Rev. 16:8-9), infernal darkness (Rev. 16:10-11). Destruction falls upon Babylon (Rev. 16: 17-21; 18) and upon all the cities of the nations.

    The preparation for this battle concludes with universal mobilization in the region of Armageddon. Unhindered movement of troops is provided for by divine intervention. The sixth bowl of wrath is poured out upon the river Euphrates, and it is dried up to make way for the kings of the East (Rev. 16:12). Demonic spirits are commandeered by the satanic trinity for mobilizing the kings of the earth and their armies to the battle of God Almighty (Rev. 16: 13-14). By means of miraculous signs performed by the evil spirits, the kings of the whole world are persuaded to gather in the plains of Armageddon and the surrounding region for this final battle (Rev. 16:14,16; 1 Kings 22:21-23).

    The phenomenal aspect gathers about the Battle of Arma­geddon with which the tribulation period comes to a close. The staggering dimensions of this conflict can scarcely be conceived by man. The battlefield stretches from Megiddo on the north (Zech. 12:11; Rev. 16:16) to Edom on the south (Isa. 34:5-6; 63:1), a dis­tance of 1600 furlongs approximating 200 miles. It reaches from the Mediterranean Sea on the west to the hills of Moab on the east, a distance of almost 100 miles. It includes the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2, 12) and the plains of Esdraelon. And the center of the entire area is the city of Jerusalem (Zech. 14:1-2). Into this area the multiplied millions of men, doubtless approaching 400,000,000, are crowded for the final holocaust of humanity. The kings with their armies come from the north and the south, from the east and from the west. There is an invasion from hell beneath. And enter­ing the scene at the last moment is an invasion from outer space. In the most dramatic sense this is the "valley of decision" for humanity (Joel 3:14) and the great winepress into which is poured the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God (Rev. 19:15).

Sunday, March 29, 2015



   The supernatural aspect gathers about the judgments poured out upon the world during this period. This is the day of the Lord, when Christ, with the seven-sealed title deed to the universe, pro­ceeds to expel the usurpers from His domain. This He does by direct­ing a threefold series of judgments.

   Christ from His place in heaven directs the whole course of events during this period (Rev, 4:2; 5:7; 6:1). There are three series of judgments unloosed upon the earth: the seals, the trumpets, and the vials. Each series follows progressively, from the first until the last (Rev. 15:1). Within each series each judgment is successive, and in order from the first to the last. And there is growing intensity from the first to the last. The judgments begin with those that are providential in character, moving to the semi-providential, and from there to the immediate, and at last to the actual presence of Christ Himself.

    The first series of judgments results from the opening of the seals (Rev. 6:1-16; 8:1). They begin with judgments that are providential in character, that is, the outworking of God's plan through the movements of men. The appearance of Antichrist in itself is a judgment upon mankind (Rev. 6:1-2). Men are reaping what they have sown. With him eventually there comes war on a gigantic scale (Rev. 6:3-4). This results in the judgment of deprivation, hunger, and famine (Rev. 6:5-6). It is inevitable that as a result of these things death will be experienced all across the world covering one fourth of the population (Rev. 6:7-8). But in a more active sense, religious persecution is directed by the Antichrist (Rev. 6:9-11). Then comes a physiological disturbance that runs its course through the entire fabric of nature (Rev. 6:12-17). This comes directly from God announcing the approaching day of wrath, which will be unloosed with the opening of the seventh seal. Once this seal is opened it produces consternation to the point of silence even in heaven (Rev. 8:1).

    The second series of judgments results from the blowing of the seven trumpets (Rev. 8:2-9:21; 11:15-19). After the opening of the seventh seal, seven angels step forward and are equipped with trumpets (Rev. 8:2-6). The trumpet-judgments follow the pattern of that under the sixth seal, merging into the immediate action of God. The first four are directed against the earth, the sea, the rivers, and the heavenly bodies, those objects of worship by the people (Rev. 8:7-12). The last three trumpet-judgments are more horrible than the first four (Rev. 8:13). The fifth and the sixth consist of the loosing of demon spirits from the pit. Since the peoples have turned again to idolatrous and demon worship, God permits them to have their gods (Rev. 9). The evil spirits like locusts torture their victims and from them they are not permitted to escape even by death (Rev. 9:5-6). The evil spirits like horsemen bring death to a third of the remain­ing population (Rev. 9:18). The seventh angelic trumpet sounds, and though in heaven the Lord Jesus Christ takes over the kingdom (Rev. 11:15-19), in earth at this middle point of the tribulation Anti­christ becomes the supreme ruler of the world (Chapters 12-13).

    The final series of judgments results from the pouring out of the bowls of wrath (Rev. 15-16). These come out of the seventh trumpet at the middle point of the tribulation and run through the final three and one half years. The first four bowls of wrath are directed against the earth, the sea, the rivers, and the heavenly bodies with increased intensity (Rev. 16:2-9). The fifth is directed against the throne of the beast and his kingdom (Rev. 16:10-11). But in spite of increased intensity of judgment, it is demonstrated that men have become incorrigible. Therefore the sixth bowl of wrath initiates the program leading to the end. God provides for the mobilization of all the armies of the world against Jerusalem where the battle of that great day of God Almighty will be fought (Rev. 16:12-16). This event carries the judgments to the very end of the tribulation period, and is described in some detail in Rev. 19:11-21. At some point prior to the absolute end, the seventh bowl of wrath is poured out upon the city of Babylon, the throne of the Antichrist (Rev. 16:17-21). This is described in detail in Chapter 18.

    Christ's return to the earth is the climax of judgment upon the world, and by means of His presence the tribulation period is brought to an end (Rev. 19:11-21). At that moment when Antichrist is about to overwhelm the Jews gathered in Jerusalem Christ returns to fight for His people (Zech. 12:8; 14:3). With amazing conceit Antichrist and his accomplices have thought to vanquish the Christ (Rev. 17:14; 19:19), but the very brilliance of His coming renders the Antichrist inoperative (2 Thess. 2:8). One glimpse of the Christ is enough to convince the mobilized millions that they have been grossly deceived, and "he shall come to his end, and none shall help him" (Dan. 11:45). "He shall be broken without hand" (Dan. 8:25), without the use of carnal weapons. All that will be necessary to dispatch the Antichrist and his legions will be one stroke of His almighty word (2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:15, 21).

    The providential aspect gathers about the movement of events through the tribulation period in preparation for the consumma­tion. The consummation of the age is marked by an event that is both a war and a battle. It is therefore called "the battle of that great day of God Almighty" (Rev. 14). The word "battle" is in reality the word for war. War is a series of clashes in an extended conflict. But at last military might has reached such dimensions that an entire war is concentrated into one battle. Nevertheless, colossal prepara­tions lead to this event.

Saturday, March 28, 2015



The soteriological aspect gathers about the salvation of men during this period. For out of this period must come the people who will populate the Mediatorial kingdom. From its very beginning to its close God provides for a missionary program to the ends of the earth under the most unfavorable conditions, and millions of Jews and Gentiles will respond to the call of the gospel.

   The ministry of the Spirit continues during the period of the tribulation. Even though the Spirit of God is removed in the same sense in which He came on the day of Pentecost, namely, to dwell in a body of people (2 Thess. 2:6-7), His ministry as the omnipresent Spirit will continue. As at creation (Gen. 1:2) and the flood (Gen. 6:3), and during Old Testament days (Num. 27:18; 2 Sam. 23:2; 2 Chr. 24:20), so also the Spirit of God will be carrying on His work during the tribulation period. This is prophesied by Isaiah (Isa. 59:19-21) and Joel (Joel 2:28-29) and Ezekiel (Ezek. 36:27), and in the case of Israel in relation to the Northern power the ministry of the Spirit falls defin­itely within the tribulation period (Ezek. 39:29), and in the instance of the two witnesses it comes at the middle of the tribulation period (Rev. 11:11). Apart from the ministry of the Spirit there could be no real conversion (John 3:3, 5).

    The message of salvation during this period will be the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 13:10). This is described as "this gospel of the kingdom" because it lays its emphasis upon the returning king and the establishing of the kingdom (Matt. 24:14). It is called "the everlasting gospel" because it endures for­ever (Rev. 14:6). But as a matter of fact there is only one gospel (Gal. 1:6-7). It is referred to in a variety of ways. As to source it is "the gospel of God" (Rom. 1:1), as to subject "the gospel of Christ" (Rom. 1:16), as to servant the gospel of Paul (Rom. 2:16), as to nature the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24), as to duration "the everlasting gospel" (Rev. 14:6), as to fulfillment "the gospel of the kingdom" (Matt. 24:14).

    The messengers of salvation to the Jews are two witnesses appointed to this task (Rev. 11:3). Since all saved people are removed from the earth with the translation of the Church, there must be appointed mouthpieces to carry the message to the Jews, The two witnesses fill this place. Their identity is not revealed, unless it is possible to deduce something from the text of Scripture. The most plausible explanation is that two ancient leaders in Israel reappear for this task. The language of the immediate context suggests Moses and Elijah (Rev. 11:4-6; Mal. 4:4-6). Others point to Elijah and Enoch, since these are the two men who never died, and both are prophets of judgment (Mal. 4:5; Jude 14-15). Still others think two men of the future will be appointed to this task. In any event, these men preach to Israel directly, and indirectly to the Gentiles in the course of their ministry, for three and one half years (Rev. 11:3, 7).

    The multitude of Jews saved during this period comprise at least five different companies. First, there is a special company consisting of 144,000 that are saved and sealed (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5). Second, there will doubtless be Jews in that multitude out of every nation, kindred, people and tongue (Rev. 7:9-17). But these will suffer death for their faith, the number being a part of the two thirds of the nation that die (Zech. 13:8). Third, there is that company of Jews who flee into the wilderness and are protected of God (Rev. 12:6, 13-14). Fourth, there is the remnant of her seed back in the land who have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:17).

  Finally, there is that company of Jews who do not confess Christ until He comes in His glory, when a nation shall be born at once (Isa. 66:8; Zech. 12:8-10), All these companies put together constitute one third of the nation (Zech. 12:8-10). So that at last it may be said that "all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Rom, 11:26 with 2:28-29).

    The messengers of salvation to the Gentiles will be the 144,000 Jews saved during the first three and one half years. They are sealed from all physical harm so that they can fulfill their ministry (Rev. 7:2-4). They have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:17) and there is no false witness in their mouth (Rev. 14:5). Like Paul, who represents this group (1 Cor. 15:8), these men are fired with unflagging zeal for the gospel of grace, and will carry it to all the nations of earth before the end of the tribula­tion period (Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10). Today there are something like 35,000 missionaries of every breed, and stripe, and kind. But even with this many the ministry of the gospel is fighting a losing battle so far as reaching the vast hosts of humanity. But then, there five times as many missionaries, and everyone like the apostle Paul, and each one protected from physical harm. With the gospel of grace they will reach to the ends of the earth.

    The multitudes of Gentiles saved during the tribulation period constitute two groups. There is an unnumbered multitude from every nation, and kindred, and people and tongue that will have their robes washed and made white in the blood. of the Lamb (Rev. 7:9, 14). They take their stand for Christ during the last three and one half years of the tribulation (Rev. 7:14), and for taking their stand they must suffer death at the hands of the Antichrist (Rev. 13:14-15). But there is also a vast host of Gentiles who will be saved and will escape the sword of persecution wielded by the Antichrist (Matt. 25:31-34). Two factors work for their protection: first, the Antichrist is finite, and with multiplying problems during the last half of the tribulation he is unable to make the persecution complete; second, the Lord is determined to populate the kingdom with living people, so He cuts short the days of persecution (Matt. 24:22).

    The manifestation of God's power during the tribulation period is displayed by the many nations saved under the most unfavor­able circumstances. These nations along with Israel will enter the kingdom (Matt. 25:34; Isa. 9:7). "In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria; and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptians shall serve the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land; whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed b Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance" (Isa. 19:23-25).

Friday, March 27, 2015


The Content of the Period of Tribulation

In approaching the development of this point the scope is so vast that it is impossible within the limited area assigned to this treatise to do anything more than trace the leading aspects of the tribulation period. There are seven such aspects running parallel through this period.
1. The racial aspect gathers about the nation Israel. It has already been pointed out that the tribulation period is identified with the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy (Dan. 9:27). During this period a number of things mark the history of this people.
   There will be a general return of the people to their ancient land, "The children of Israel shall abide many days with­out a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without a teraphim. Afterward shall the children of Israel return" (Hos. 3:4-5). This suggests that when the seventieth week of her future history begins, Israel will be in existence as a nation. (1948)

   There will be contractual relations established as a nation with the prince of the revived Roman Empire. "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week" (Dan, 9:27). This firm treaty with the Roman prince undoubtedly grows out of several factors. They believe him, a Jew, to be the long awaited Messiah (John 5:43). He offers to place them in possession of Old Jerusalem and restore the temple worship in return for monetary and geographical considerations such as will guarantee his rise to power.

   There will be a Northern invasion of the land of Palestine. Gog, thought to be Russia, will seek to acquire more territory (Ezek. 38:8), to amass greater wealth (Ezek. 38:12), to destroy the people of Israel (Ezek. 38:16), and to obliterate the very name of God (Ezek. 38:14). At this point God comes to the rescue of His people and completely destroys the northern armies by physiological disturbance, demoral­ization, pestilence, floods, hail, and volcanic eruption (Ezek. 38: 18-22; 39:2-6). All this happens during the first half of the trib­ulation period. As with Pharaoh and the wall of water, nature is under the command of God Himself. (Psa. 148:8)

   There will be individual rebellion toward the Roman prince, the Antichrist, growing out of the fact that two witnesses minister to the Jews the gospel of grace with its emphasis upon the truth of the returning Messiah (Rev. 11:3-6). As a result 144,000 Jews, 12,000 out of each of twelve tribes, experience salvation (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5). They receive the seal of the living God which protects them from the immediate judgments of God as well as the fury of the Antichrist. This gives them the courage to take their stand, so that no false testimony proceeds out of their mouth.

   There will be wholesale persecution initiated against the nation by the Antichrist. This begins with the murder of the two witnesses (Rev. 11:7) and the breaking of the treaty (Dan. 9:27), both of which take place in the middle of the week. Religious free­dom will be withdrawn, and in the place of Judaism the pagan worship of the abomination of desolation will be instituted and perpetuated under penalty of death (Rev. 13:14-15). The war against the saints and the nation of Israel will reach such intensity that two thirds of the nation of Israel finally perish (Zech 13:8). The coming of the Lord in glory is the only thing that stops this awful carnage (Matt. 24:22; Zech. 14:1-3)
  The international aspect gathers about the four great powers of the end time. These four powers correspond roughly to the geograph­ical divisions of the earth. The geographical point of reference is the land of Palestine, which is regarded as the center of the earth (Ezek. 38:12). The phrase "midst of the land" is more correctly rendered by ASV as "the middle of the earth".
   The Western power centers in the wilful king, the prince of the revived Roman Empire (Dan. 11:36). He becomes the dominant figure in the ten-king confederacy (Dan. 7:24; Rev. 17:12-13). His rise to power is phenomenal. At first he begins as a minor political figure. He subdues three kings, and then the remaining seven think it well to join with the three in this confederacy. From one triumph to another this Western power moves by the middle of the tribulation period to the place of absolute power over the whole world (Rev. 13: 5, 7).

   The Southern power takes in Egypt and the nations to the south (Dan. 11:40). This too is doubtless a confederacy of nations whose interests and ideology and geographical location throw them together. Inasmuch as survival in the midst of conflicting interests makes them join forces, under their leader they push at this king of the west who seems to threaten their existence. It seems quite evi­dent that the Roman power is too great and the southern power falls before legions of Antichrist.

   The Northern power is also a confederacy of nations con­sisting of Russia and its satellites (Dan. 11:40; Ezek. 38:2-3, 5-6). This confederacy of nations push at the western power by invading the land of Palestine. This is probably for the purpose of placing themselves in a more strategic position in relation to the Roman power, as well as for other reasons more suited to its own national interests. But the campaign against the nation of Israel is fatal. God enters the conflict on the side of Israel (Ezek. 38:18-22), and five sixths of the invading legions are annihilated (Ezek. 39:2-6). This removes the Northern threat to Antichrist on his way to world power.

   The Eastern power is designated as "the kings of the east" (Rev. 16:12). This also suggests a coalition of nations, doubtless including China, Japan, India, and other lesser nations. These nations bestir themselves toward world conquest which reaches the ears of Antichrist. "Therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many" (Dan. 11:44). Quite evidently he is successful in this encounter, for by the middle of the tribula­tion week he is the monarch of the world (Rev. 13:5, 7). Later during the last half of the tribulation period, perhaps near the end, the kings of the east respond to the summons for mobilization against the city of Jerusalem (Rev. 16:12-16).

  The ecclesiastical aspect gathers about the superchurch of the endtime. The seventeenth chapter of Revelation clearly depicts the religious Babylon of the endtime with its confusion of voices. The figure of a woman represents religion in the Revelation (Rev. 2:20; 12:1; 19:7), and the "whore" represents false religion (Rev. 17:1).

   The description of the superchurch is from the point of view of her final and fullest development. The word "judgment" denotes the infliction of the sentence upon this religious sytem (Rev. 17:1). This comes at the point of time when this organization has reached its ­fullest development. It is called a harlot because this apostate organization has forsaken its original companion. Instead of being open and unconcealed, she wears the name "Mystery" (Rev. 17:5) because her power is sinister, subtle, secretive, suggestive, seductive. There is something about this system that is hidden, enigmatic, dark, puzzling, obscure, inscrutable, incomprehensible, unexplained. Though it is one system, yet within it is a whole brood of harlots she has mothered, as well as all the abominations associated with false religion (Rev. 17:5).

   The domain of the superchurch is universal. It is said that "the great whore. . sitteth upon many waters" (Rev. 17:1). This is later explained, "The waters which thou rawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" (Rev. 17:15). This is a favorite way of describing universality in the Book of Revelation. This is another way of declaring that at last all false religion. has been incorporated into one gigantic organization. This means that all apostate Catholicism, Protestantism, Muslim, the cults, and pagan religion are joined together in this amazing ecumen­ical organization of the endtime. In order to accomplish this it was necessary to thrust aside all sound doctrine, and this was done, for this organization became the bitterest enemy of the saints even to the point of becoming satiated with their blood (Rev. 17:6).

   The duration of the superchurch is contemporaneous with. the career and climax of the beast (Rev. 17:8-11). This apostate organization in its various forms has been riding the beast through the centuries (Rev. 17:3, 7). The seven heads of the beast chart the course of empire through the centuries, and the ten horns mark the climax of his power. The seven heads or mountains mark the movement of great governments. Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece are the five that are fallen. Rome is the one during which John writes. Revived Rome is the seventh. The king of the seventh dies, and then comes to life again. He is the eighth, but belongs to the seven. Upon his head are ten horns. These are the ten kings of the Roman confederacy. This marks the climax of the career of the beast. During all this time apostate religion has joined itself to government, and at the end enjoys almost absolute power.

 The dominion of the superchurch reaches supreme earthly heights. The final city of prominence in world empire is the city of Babylon. It is the capital city where the king of the world finally centers his government. So great has the power of the false church become that she moves the center of her government to this city and is identified with it (Rev. 17:5, 18). Her dominion over her subjects is characterized by fornication (Rev. 17:2). Her power, attractiveness, seductiveness, and compulsion are irresistible, so much so that the kings of the earth enter into unholy alliance with her. Her devotees become intoxicated with the wine of her fornication. There is a fascination about this system that attracts the millions (Rev. 17:4). Her outward garments of royalty, purple, and scarlet, her vast stores of wealth, her spectacular pageantry of parades and pomp and ceremony compel a following. The filthiness of her traffic is woven into the fabric of her worship. The golden cup offers only abominations to her suppliants. This dominion is also characterized by fanaticism toward all those who disagree with her (Rev. 17:6).

 The destruction of the super church occurs at the middle of the tribulation period. This is effected by the Beast and the ten kings when they finally reach the pinnacle of power (Rev. 17:16-17). They submitted reluctantly to the domination of the super church, because they were using her as a means to rise to absolute and complete world power. Having gained this by the middle of the tribulation period, they no longer have any use for the whore. Hating her as they do, they turn upon her, and make her "desolate", that is, withdraw all political and military support. They make her "naked", that is, denude her of all outward finery that gives glamor and attractiveness. They "eat her flesh", that is, they confiscate all her wealth, and leave her standing like a skeleton. And "they burn her with fire". This means that this great system is reduced to rubble. Her buildings, shrines, altars, images, priesthood, finery, are destroyed or confis­cated so that nothing remains. In the place of this false worship, Antichrist substitutes the worship of himself (2 Thess. 2:4).

Thursday, March 26, 2015


The Purpose of the Period of Tribulation
When God Finally says Enough is Enough

Predictive prophecy is so replete with information concerning the tribulation that it is difficult to distinguish between the fact, its nature, its purpose, and its content. After analyzing all the mater­ial there do seem to be some things that clearly emerge as marking the purpose of this period of time. There is no question but that God's eternal purpose is being progressively fulfilled during this period, and from the prophetic Scriptures dealing with this period seven details suggest themselves.

 1. The tribulation period constitutes the consummation of the age. The Scriptures clearly declare that this period is the consumma­tion of the age. Five times in the Gospel of Matthew the word "end" appears (Matt. 13:39, 40, 49; 24:3; 28:20). In each case it is a compound word in the original Greek, meaning consummation [sunteleia]. This word means more than a termination. It describes a consummation where all the lines of development converge at a point into a meaningful pattern. Where there is a commencement, there must be a consumma­tion. Where there is seedtime, there must be harvest. Where there is the root, there must eventually be the fruit. Where there is per­formance, this will inevitably develop into a pattern.

 In a very real sense the tribulation period is the harvest at the consummation of the age (Matt. 13:39). God permitted man to initiate his own program in the beginning; He has been permitting its continuation through the centuries; and in the tribulation period He will permit it to come to full ripeness (Rev. 14:15, 18). This means that sin will reach its fullness, human ingenuity will be directed to human ends, human government will achieve its greatest in separation from God, human religion will turn inward upon itself. It means that every form of human activity apart from God will reach its fullest development constituting that stage that demands the immediate inter­vention of God (Matt. 13:30, 38-43). When sin reaches its fullness and righteous men are at their fullness Christ will return.

 2. The tribulation period provides for the maturation of the sinful nature. As a result of the fall of man in the garden, it was necessary for the Lord to point to the seed of the serpent ("thy seed" - Gen. 3:15). These are "the tares . . . the children of the wicked one" (Matt. 13:38). They multiply and wax worse and worse until the time of harvest (Matt. 13:30; 2 Tim. 3:13). Not until they have developed to that stage of full ripeness for harvest does God intervene in judgment (Matt. 13:39; Rev. 14:14-20).

 Through the many millenniums since the fall of man, God has been exercising a certain restraint upon the development of sinful nature. He has been doing this in order that He might accomplish eventually His own eternal purpose. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit working through the preaching of the word and the influ­ence of God's people in the earth He has slowed the progress toward maturation (Gen. 6:3; 2 Pet. 2:5; Matt, 5:13). At times it has been necessary for God to intervene directly into the affairs of men to break up the terrifying and accelerating descent into sin. He did this at the flood (Gen. 6:5-8), at Babel (Gen. 11:5-8), and at Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:13, 24-25).

 The tribulation period will mark the removal of hindrances to the progress of evil. The Spirit of God, in the sense that He exercises a restraining influence through a body of people, the Church, will be caught out at the rapture (2 Thess. 2:6-7). The mystery of iniquity will then increase its speed without the hindering influence of the Church. In the absence of the Church, there is no body of people conserving and promoting the truth, and the great apostasy will then move into high gear (2 Thess. 2:3). This will be stimulated by demonic activity in the teaching of false doctrine (1 Tim. 4:1). Conditioned by this atmosphere, sinful nature will develop swiftly to full maturity.

 3. The tribulation period permits the revelation of the great Antichrist of the end time (2 Thess. 2:3-4, 6-8). In this man the mystery of iniquity or lawlessness reaches its fullest development. He is therefore called "the man of sin" (2 Thess. 2:3), or "the lawless one" (2 Thess. 2:8 ASV). "Sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4), the very nature of which is to regard self as the highest good and the chief end in life. This one "opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thess. 2:4).

 This could not take place so long as the true Church was within the world. But once the true restraining forces in the Church were removed at the rapture, this masterpiece of Satan and man of sin could be revealed. The philosophic trends centering in pan­theism (2 Peter 3:3-4), the apostasy in the false church (2 Tim. 4:3-4), and the absence of spiritual influence among professing religionists (Matt. 5:13) will contribute to the revelation of the the Antichrist and provide a perfect atmosphere for his appearance.

 In a singular sense, the seed planted by Satan in the beginning (Gen. 3:15) will be realized in this one individual of the end time. Just as the seed of the woman was fully personalized in the true Christ, so the seed of the serpent comes into full manifestation in the Antichrist. There is also a larger seed among whom he appears and by whom he is received. For his "coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a [Grk.-the] lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thess. 2:9-12).

 4. The tribulation period exposes the confirmation of men in wickedness. Consummation not only includes maturation of sinful nature, and the revelation of the man of sin, but all this includes the exposure of the fact that men have become confirmed in sin, incorrigible in nature, incapable of change, and are therefore ripe for judgment. Not until the tares come to full maturity is the inner nature and character revealed (Matt. 13:30). In external appearance the tare resembles in every way the true grain. But once it has come to full ripeness, it is demonstrated that it is absolutely empty. It is the same way in the spiritual area. The children of the wicked one are able to put on every outward resemblance to the true children of the kingdom. But in the time of harvest it will be revealed that they are absolutely devoid of any divine nature.

 The confirmation of sinful nature will be revealed in their response to temporal judgment during the tribulation period. Expo­sure to suffering from demon spirits, the gods whom they have been worshipping, results in the refusal to change their minds concern­ing the objects of worship and to depart from their wicked deeds (Rev. 9:20-21), In the midst of calamity wicked men are not repentant of mind nor remorseful of spirit, but angry (Rev. 11:18). Being scorched with great heat, men "blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory." (Rev. 16:9). And though they experience such darkness that "they gnawed their tongues for pain", [yet they] "blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds" (Rev. 16:10-11).

 This incorrigible condition reveals the fact that wicked men are ripe for final judgment. "The harvest of the earth is ripe" (Rev. 14:15). It is now time to "gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe" (Rev. 14:18). They must be "cast . . . into the great winepress of the wrath of God" (Rev. 14:19), where "the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation" (Rev. 14:10), will be experienced forever. Confirmation in sin reveals the fact that God is justified in delaying no longer his judgment upon the wicked. They have reached that stage in development where there can be no change of nature, and they are therefore fit subjects for incarceration in the lake of fire. This fact explains in part why God has persisted up to this point in longsuffering toward mankind. He has waited until there was no longer any possibility for salvation (2 Pet. 3:9, 15).

 5. The tribulation period results in the preparation of a people for the kingdom. This is twofold. On the one hand there is the preparation of a Jewish remnant to enter the kingdom. On the other hand there is the salvation of a Gentile multitude to populate the kingdom. This feat will be accomplished under the most adverse circumstances.

 During the seventieth week God turns again to deal with His people Israel (Dan. 9:24, 27; Rev. 11:1-2). His purpose is to bring about the conversion of a great remnant. This He accomplishes in two ways. On the one hand God sends two witnesses among his people with the message of the gospel (Rev. 11:3; Matt. 24:14). Their message and methods suggest that they are Moses and Elijah (Rev. 11:4-6; Mal. 4:4-6). These men are protected from all harm during the days of their ministry. Surely these leaders in ancient Israel would have tremendous influence among Jews of this period. It seems quite likely that through their ministry, during the first three and one half years of the tribulation, 144,000 of them are saved and sealed (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5).

 As a result of the salvation of this company of Jews, they turn from allegiance to Antichrist, which was agreed upon with Israel at the outset of the seventieth week (Dan. 9:27). This produces a growing concern in the Antichrist, the killing of the two witnesses in the middle of the tribulation (Rev. 11:7), and the launching of the greatest persecution against the people of Israel the world has ever seen (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21). This affliction causes many Jews to flee to the wilderness for protection (Mark 14:14-19). In this they are enabled of the Lord (Rev. 12:6, 13-14). As a result of the increasing severity of persecution from Antichrist, at last this people cries out for the coming of the Messiah, and they shall say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matt. 23:39). At Christ's coming, when the siege of the nation’s reaches its height against Jerusalem (Zech. 14:1-4), "the spirit of grace and supplication" (Zech. 12:10) will be poured out upon the remnant and a great company will be saved at once (Isa. 66:8).

 The multitude of Gentiles saved during this period is concentrated during the last three and one half years. The order in which two companies appear in the New Testament leads to the conclusion that the Jews saved during the first three and one half years of the tribula­tion become the preachers during the last three and one half years. In Revelation 7, the saving and sealing of the 144,000 Israel­ites comes first (Rev. 7:1-8). Then the unnumbered multitude of Gentiles comes last (Rev. 7:9-17). They are said to come out of the tribulation, the great one (vs. 14). This describes the last three and one half years. Revelation 14 records a similar order: the 144,000 in Rev. 7:1-5, with the Gentile multitude in vs. 6, Matt. 25 also follows the same pattern. In Matt. 25:1-13 there is the account of the wise and foolish virgins. These refer to Jews, and the wise to the saved. Then appears the multitude of Gentiles in Matt. 25:31-46, the sheep being the saved.

 Though the saved Gentile multitude of Revelation seven suffers martyrdom, thus indicating that the persecution of Antichrist is enlarged to include Gentiles as well as Jews, the sheep of Matt. 25 do not suffer death. Antichrist is powerful, but not all powerful, so his grandiose plans fail of complete fulfillment, and this because God, "for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days" (Mark 13:20). "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom pre­pared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34).

 With these two saved companies of people, living Israelites and living Gentiles, the millennial kingdom will be populated. In these two companies of the saved God makes a new departure during the period of the kingdom in order to the fulfillment of His eternal purpose.

 6. The tribulation period manifests the indignation of the Lord against the Gentile nations. "The hour of trial . . . is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Rev. 3:10). But it will be concentrated on the Gentile nations for complicity with Antichrist against the people of Israel. This will also include apostate Jews who have defected to Antichrist.

 The indignation of the Lord is upon all nations (Isa. 34:2) to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity (Isa. 26:21). This is especially exhibited in their rejection of Christ and their reception of the Antichrist, "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation" (Rev. 14:9-10), "For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Rev. 6:17).

 The occasion for God's indignation against the nations is their treatment of the Jews, "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land . . .Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompense upon your own head. . . . Let the heathen be wakened, and come to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about" (Joel 3:1-2, 7, 12),

 In order to accomplish His indignation against the Gentiles, God permits demonic forces to gather the nations of men to the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16:12-16). They not only assemble against the Jews who have retreated to Jerusalem for their last stand (Zech. 14:1-4), but under the leadership of Antichrist they are determined in some sense to do battle against the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Rev. 17:14; 19:19; Ps. 2:1-3). This provides sufficient reason for the Lord in His fury to wield the sword of His mouth and tread the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (Rev. 19:15).

 7. The tribulation period concludes with the demolition of all satanic forces. The satanically energized human geniuses who head the mass rebellion of mankind at the end of the age are taken and cast alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20). The brilliance of Christ's coming exposes the colossal delusion that has been per­petrated on mankind. This renders the Beast and his accomplice, the false prophet, inoperative. His legions desert him (2 Thess. 2:8). Then by His almighty word Christ casts these two into the lake of fire without the benefit of formal evaluation.

 The massive legions under the direction of Antichrist are destroyed by the sword which proceeds from the mouth of Christ (Rev. 19:21). The slain provide a feast for the fowls of the air (Rev. 19:17-18). From this point the Lord moves out to the very ends of the earth. The angelic hosts sever the wicked from the just and cast them into Sheol-Hades to await resurrection (Matt. 13:49-50). And in addition, all things that might in any way offend are gathered and thrust out (Matt. 13:41).

 Last of all, that creature who is responsible for the entrance of sin into the world and the calamity that has followed, Satan, is taken and incarcerated in the bottomless pit for a 1000 rears (Rev. 20:1-3). The sentence was passed upon him at the cross (John 12:31), and now the first movement in the infliction of the penalty takes place. God is not quite through with him yet, so the final step in administering the permanent penalty is delayed till the end of the thousand years (Rev. 20:7, 10).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


The Nature of the Period of Tribulation

After assembling all the Scriptures that bear upon this period of time, it is not difficult to sort out four leading ideas that describe the nature of this period.
1. This period is characterized as the day of the Lord. In this sense it stands over against the day of man that has persisted from-creation to this hour. Paul characterized the present with the expression, "man's judgment", which in the original Greek is "human day" (1 Cor. 4:3). Across this long period God has been permitting men to go their own way. In patience, kindness, long‑suffering, exhortation and entreaty He has been trying to reach them. But at last the human day comes to an end, and the day of the Lord is ushered in with its manifested sovereignty (Joel 3:12-16).
"Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel."

 The day of the Lord has special relation to the earth (Mal. 4:6) and is not to be confused with "the day of Christ" (1 Cor. 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16; 2 Thess. 2:2 ASV). The day of Christ runs concurrently with the day of the Lord, but it has special reference to Christ in His relation to the Church, and this almost wholly in the heavens. But in every instance one is impressed with the absolute and sovereign movements of a thrice holy God.

 2. This period is predominately characterized as a day of judgment (Rev. 14:7; 15:4; 16:7; 19:2). It is the time for the pouring out of God's wrath (Zeph. 1:15,18; Rev. 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:10, 19; 15:1,7; 16:1,19) upon the wicked of earth. The cup of His indignation is poured out upon the Antichrist, his accomplices, and his followers (Rev. 14:10; Isa. 26:20-21; 34:1-3). Trouble (Jer. 30:7; Zeph. 1:14-15), darkness Joel 2:2; Amos 5:18), desolation (Dan, 9:27), distress, wasteness, gloominess, clouds (Zeph. 1:l5), earthquakes (Rev. 6:12; 11:13; 16:18-20), aerial and stellar activity on a mammoth scale (Rev. 6:12-14; 8:7-12; 16:10), and devastation and death are present everywhere (Rev. 6:8-11; 8:7-11; 9:18; 11:13,18; 14:20; 19:21).

 3. This period is also characterized as a day of salvation. Men are saved under the most adverse circumstances. Two great throngs are saved during the period of the tribulation: the 144,000 during the first three and one half years, doubtless as a result of the ministry of two witnesses (Rev. 11:3 with 7:1-8). These are Jews, During the last half of this period an unnumbered multitude of Gentiles are saved, perhaps due to the ministry of the 144,000 (Rev. 7:9-17), These pay with their lives for embracing Christ (Rev. 6:9-11). But there is still a vast host of Gentiles who do not suffer death, even though they take their stand for Christ. These are the sheep of Matt. 25:31-46, the children of the kingdom referred to in the parable of the wheat and tares (Matt. 13:38-43).

 4. Finally, this period is a day of discrimination (Mal. 4:1-3). Even though this is predominantly a time of Judgment during which God in sovereign grace and power saves millions, He does so because He is determined to discriminate among people. This day of the Lord will be darkness and not light to apostate Jewry (Amos 5:18). Determined to make a difference among His people, God seals 144,000 to protect them from the judgments upon the world and the persecu­tions of the Antichrist (Rev. 7:1-8). He protects the two witnesses for the period of their ministry (Rev. 11:3-6). Against the perse­cutions of the Antichrist a great multitude in Israel is supernaturally enabled to flee to the wilderness for protection (Rev. 12:6, 13-14), and when Antichrist besieges this natural fortress, a great earthquake swallows up his mobilized legions (Rev. 12:16). Though judgments fall upon the earth, the seas, the rivers, and the kingdoms of men, there is such discrimination that the Lord's own are protected. And at last the days are shortened for the elect's sake (Matt. 24:22), and when Antichrist is about to annihilate Israel in Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus comes and fights for His people (Zech. 14:1-4).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


The Chronology of the Period of Tribulation

It is logical at this point to discuss the chronological order and duration of this coming period. Having established its existence, location, and identification, it is reasonable to expect that the Bible throws some light on its order and length.
1. There is a progressive program of events set forth in the Scriptures. Writing to the Thessalonian believers Paul declared, "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you" (1 Thess, 5:1). The reason it was unnecessary for him to write on this point grew out of the fact that they knew per­fectly or accurately these facts (1 Thess. 5:2). This does not mean that they knew the dates, but it did mean that they knew the order of the times and seasons. The order in the unfolding of the movements of God made them realize that "the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night" (1 Thess. 5:2), The prolonged period known as the day of man would be terminated by the coming of Christ for the Church, which event would usher in the day of the Lord. But the coming of the day of the Lord would arrive like a thief, without sign or signal as to the immediate moment of arrival. And this would usher in the period of tribulation.

 2. The presentation of this program was announced by James at the great Jerusalem council. This was his conclusion from the study of the Old Testament prophets and God's revelation through Peter (Acts 15:14-17). At least four periods in the movement of God are evident. There was an extended period in which God was seeking to build the tabernacle of David (16). But due to the fact that the nation of Israel turned its back on the Lord Jesus, God turned to the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name (14). This is the purpose of God during the present age of grace. Once He has completed this ministry, He will turn back to His people Israel to "build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up" (16). This future move in the direction of Israel is in order to that larger purpose which God intended to accomplish through His chosen people originally, namely, "that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things" (17). This last will be initiated during the tribulation but will be carried to completion during the millennial kingdom.

 3. One portion of this program covers the period of the tribulation. This is that period immediately following the completion of the Church during the age of grace. After Christ raptures the Church He will turn again to rebuild the tabernacle of David (Acts 15:16). In order to resolve a theological problem that had developed in the early Church, James appealed to the prophets of the Old Testament to demonstrate the progressive move­ment of God in the prosecution of His plan (Acts 15:15), and to show that for the present God had turned to the Gentiles for the building of His Church (Acts 15:14). This confirmed the ministry of Peter among the Gentiles. It also gave new hope for the nation of Israel. At the outset of the tribulation, we do not know how soon, though it appears as though this will immediately follow the rapture, the Lord moves again to repossess His people. This is displayed by the measuring of the temple and the people who worship therein (Rev. 11:1-2). As a major move in converting the nation of Israel, two specially selected witnesses minister God's message (Rev. 11:3-6). They are so successful in their three and one half year mission, that this touches off the great persecution beginning with their death (Rev, 11:2, 7-13). This drives the people of Israel even closer to the Lord.

 4. The measurement of this period is more precisely described than almost any other period in the Bible. Its identification with the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy makes it fairly clear that it is seven years in length, the prophetic week being a week of years (Dan. 9:27), This period of seven years is divided into two smaller periods of three and one half years each (Dan. 9:27), referred to as "a time, and times, and half a time" (Rev. 12:14; Dan. 7:27; 12:7). The length of each period is also declared to be forty two months, (Rev. 11:2; 13:5), and 1260 days (Rev. 11:3; 12:6).

 Though there is strong reason to believe that the tribulation period is seven years in length, the Scripture nowhere says in so many words that this is the duration of the period. But seven years is God's measurement for the seventieth week. Since Anti­christ holds sway during this period, it is very likely that it is his purpose to prolong this period beyond seven years, and his breaking of the covenant is his first move "to change times and laws" (Dan. 7:25). But because of God's concern for His people "those days shall be shortened" (Matt. 24:22).

 5. The trump of God ushers in the period of tribulation. The trump of God is known to Israel. It was sounded for the first time at Mount Sinai at the giving of the law (Exod. 19:13-19). The trump of God will sound again when God renews His dealings with the nation on the basis of the O. T. law (Isa. 27:13; Matt. 24:31; Zeph. 1:16; Zech. 9:14). This well-known trump of God (1 Thess. 4:16), the last trump (1 Cor. 15:52), will be the signal that God is finished with His work during the age of grace and is now ready to resume His work with the chosen nation, Israel.

 It is this last trump of God that announces the regathering of the people of Israel to their own land. Michael, the archangel, the special custodian of the people of Israel (Dan. 12:1), will superintend the ministry of angels in helping to regather the people back to the land (Isa. 27:13; Matt. 24:31). At the same moment this trump announces the renewal of dealings with the nation of Israel, the Church will also be assembled into that meeting of the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

 6. The return of Christ in glory will terminate the tribula­tion period. Though there may be some doubt whether the rapture of the Church initiates the tribulation period, there is little doubt that the coming of Christ in glory will bring it to an end. It is after the tribulation that Christ comes to put an end to all the distress created by the Antichrist (Matt. 24:29, 30). It is then that His fury is poured out upon "the beast, and the Kings of the earth" (Rev. 19:19-21). The indignation of the Lord will be felt by all he Gentile nations (Isa. 34:1-3). When the nations are raging, and the people imagining a vain thing; when the kings of the earth have set themselves, and the rulers have taken counsel against the Lord and against His Christ, saying, "Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from us. ….then will he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore dis­pleasure", and will set His king upon the holy hill in Zion (Psa. 2:1-6 ASV).


The Identification of the Period of Tribulation

There is real value in knowing the existence of such a period, and in having some idea of its general chronological location. But if this period of tribulation can be identified with any period that is otherwise clearly indicated in the Scripture, there will be great help in unfolding systematically the teaching relating to it. In this connection, the student of prophecy is directed to Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks (Dan. 9:24-27).
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."

 That portion of the prophecy dealing with the final or seventieth week exhibits remarkable correspondence with prophecy dealing with the tribulation. The likenesses are so exact that they lead to one conclusion, namely, that the tribulation is to be identified with the seventieth week in large part, if not the whole. Some of these likenesses and values are now indicated,

 1. The seventieth week parallels the future history of Israel in the tribulation. There is the appearance of a prince who will have a definite relation to Israel (Dan. 9:26-27; Rev, 6:1-2; Dan. 11:36-38). Israel will receive this prince as her own and will make a firm covenant with him (Dan. 9:27; John 5:43; Dan, 11:37). He will then break this covenant and turn upon Israel in great per­secution (Dan, 9:27; Rev. 11:7; 12:6-17; 13:7). This persecution is characterized by total war upon Israel and the supplanting of worship with abomination (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15, 21). This will be brought to a sudden end by the return of the Messiah and the ushering in of the kingdom (Dan, 9:24; Matt. 24:29-30; 35:31),

 2. The seventieth week incorporates experiences constituting the climax of the nations during the tribulation period. "The people of the prince that shall come" (Dan. 9:26), belong to the Roman Empire. This is the final empire of history (Dan. 7:23, 26), with which "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24) come to a close in one universal empire dominated by this prince that shall come (Rev. 13:5, 7; 19:19-21). With indignation "the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity" (Isa. 26:20-21),

 3. The seventieth week excludes any reference to the Church so far as events in the earth are concerned. It speaks clearly of Israel and the nations, but there is no mention made of the Church on earth. This is in keeping with the fact that the Church is a mystery which appears in the earth during that prophetic gap between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel's prophecy. That prophetic gap is not measured by the time of this prophecy, and time measurements which were suspended upon Christ's return to glory will not be reinstated until He comes to take the Church into heaven. During the period of the seventieth week the Church is in heaven (Rev. 4:4; 13:6; 19:7-8, 14).

 4. The seventieth week provides the framework for the inter­pretation of the Book of the Revelation. Daniel's prophecy was sealed till the time of the end (Dan. 12:4, 9). Christ at His first coming initiated the end, and so in the Book of Revelation the prophecy of Daniel was unsealed (Rev. 22:10). The great burden of the Book of Revelation, chs. 4-19, is an expansion and elucida­tion of the seventieth week as set forth in Daniel 9:27. Christ at His second coming will terminate the end, and in the formal and more absolute sense, the seventieth week, the period of tribulation is that end. Within the chronological framework of the seventieth week the Book of Revelation unfolds in detail the movement of events belonging to that period.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


The Location of the Period of Tribulation

Having established the fact that there is such a period of time, it is important to locate this period in relation to the progressive unfolding movement of the ages. Scriptural statements indicate the following things.

1. The tribulation period is consummative in nature in that it is the inevitable moral outworking of human conduct. For God "will render to every man according to his deeds. . . unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile" (Rom. 2:8-9).

2. The tribulation period is futuristic in time when taken in relation to realities of the present. The Church through twenty centuries has been suffering at the hands of wicked men. This was true in Thessalonica. To them- came this promise for the future, "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you" (2 Thess. 1:6). And this promise was linked with the second coming of Christ, "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven" (2 Thess. 1:7).

3. The tribulation period is convergent in totality at one period of time for the whole world. It is "the hour of trial, that hour which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Rev. 3:10 ASV). This means that in the nature of things wicked society will at last reach that period when in the providence of God it will reap the fruit of its own doings, The experience of distress and anguish will be concentrated in one period of time, "In those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be, And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved" (Mark 13:19-20).

4. The tribulation period is consecutive in order in relation to the rapture of the church. The Church is given the promise that it will be kept from this hour of trial (Rev. 3:10). The rap­ture, which initiates the tribulation period, will also usher the Church into heaven, and since the Church is not in darkness, that day cannot overtake them as a thief (1 Thess, 5:4). And what is more, certain events follow the rapture, such as the great apostacy and the revelation of the man of sin, which is reason why the Church should be encouraged (2 Thess. 2:1-4).

5. The tribulation period is antecedent in relation to the chronological appearance of the millennial kingdom. In answer to the question, "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world" [Grk.-age]? (Matt. 24:3), Christ came to the crux of the matter pointing to "the abomination of desolation" (15), and saying "then shall be great tribulation, , Immediately after the tribulation. . . shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven. ....coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. . . then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory" (Matt. 24:21, 29, 30; 25:31).

Saturday, March 21, 2015



Upon numerous occasions in the preceding articles reference has been made to a period designated as the tribulation. It has been assumed that the reader has some knowledge of this period. But it must not be assumed to the point of passing over a specific dis­cussion of this theme. At this juncture it is wise to give a rela­tively thorough, though brief treatment of this important period in eschatological times.

  • The Definition of Terms Denoting Tribulation
Tribulation is the most common name given to this period. This is a Scriptural term that is used both in a general and in a specific sense. It is therefore necessary to distinguish between them.
qliyiV thlipsis thlip'-sis
(1) The general sense in which this word is used denotes participation in distress without regard to time. From the original language the word is translated into the English by the word "trib­ulation" qliyiV thlipsis thlip'-sis (Acts 14:22), "anguish" qliyiV thlipsis thlip'-sis (John 16:21), "affliction" qliyiV thlipsis thlip'-sis (Acts 7:10-11), "burdened" qliyiV thlipsis thlip'-sis (2 Cor. 8:13), "persecution" qliyiV thlipsis thlip'-sis (Acts 11:19), "trouble" qliyiV thlipsis thlip'-sis (1 Cor. 7:28).
(2) The specific sense of this word denotes participation in distress with regard to a particular period of time. Christ referred to such a period when outlining the future of Israel to His disciples. "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matt. 24:21). In similar vein the elder addresses John and says, "These are they which came out of great tribula­tion" (Rev. 7:14). The Greek original is even stronger in grammatical construction, reading, "the tribulation, the great one".
The day of the Lord is another expression used to refer to this period of time (Zech. 14:1), though not confined to it. In this same pattern the expressions, "the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5), "that day" (Isa. 11:10-11), "the day" (Mal. 4:1) also appear. This usage sets this period of time apart from the day of man when he was allowed to go his own way.
A time of trouble is another way of referring to this period. It is Daniel who writes, "and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time" (Dan. 12:1). Jeremiah makes reference to this time in relation to Israel and calls it "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7).
The indignation is Isaiah's way of referring tc this period (Isa. 26:20). John calls it "the wrath of the Lamb" and "the great day of his wrath" (Rev. 6:16-17). And Paul refers to this period as "the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:10).
Many other expressions are also used in the Bible to designate this period, such as "The latter years" (Ezek. 38:8), "the latter days" (Ezek. 38:16), "the time of the end" (Dan. 11:40), "the end of the world" [Grk. - age] (Matt. 13:39), "the latter times" (1 Tim. 4:1), and "the last days" (2 Tim. 3:1).
This list does not by any means exhaust the ways by which reference is made to this period of time yet future. But each method of designation adds some different aspect to the description of this coming period in the history of the world.

Friday, March 20, 2015



1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9
"This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."
"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."
1. Life - "blameless" mentioned 3 times - lit. Giving no handle (Tit 1:6-7, 1 Tim 3:2). Of good behavior - orderly (1 Tim 3:2). Righteous - holy (Tit 1:8).

2. Temperament - No striker - not a brawler (1 Tim 3:3). Not self-willed - not soon angry (Tit 1:7. Patient - gentle (1 Tim 3:3. Temperament - self-controlled (Tit 1:8).

3. Disposition - Not given to wine (1 Tim 3:3 ARV marg.) Given to hospitality - Not greedy of filthy lucre - No lover of money (1 Tim 3:3). Not given to unfair gains (Cambridge Bible) Abuse of spiritual office for financial gains (Ellicot). A lover of good (Tit 1:8).

4. Family relations - Husband of one wife (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:6) - For various interpretations see Cambridge Bible. Modern divorce produces the most vicious type of polygamy. One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity (1 Tim 3:4). For reason see 1 Tim 3:5. Having faithful children to the faith, not accused of riot or unruly (Tit 1:6 - children that believe the faith - not accused of riotous living, Cambridge Bible).

5. Reputation - In good report of them that are without (1 Tim 3:7) - Most damaging situation to have an elder to be ungodly by outsiders.

6. Faith - Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught (Tit 1:9). See ARV - "according to the teaching." The elder needs this qualification that he may be able "by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." See ARV - "convict." This is tremendously important. The elder must be settled on every great fundamental doctrine, with no mere loose grip or smattering of the truth. Such an eldership can hold a church from drifting into apostasy. Christ does not change, so the doctrine does not change (Heb. 13:7-9). Men of the world are erudite, clever, and intellectual; why should not this be true of God's ministers.

7. Judgment - Vigilant - temperate - not hasty - sober minded of sound mind.  A man who can think a problem through and arrive at a sound conclusion (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8).

8. Ability - Apt to teach (1 Tim 3:2). Some have this ability as a natural gift. Others must develop it. It certainly assumes a knowledge of what is to be taught. If one is to be apt to teach, he must be apt to learn.

9. Experience - Not a novice (1 Tim. 3:6). He should be an experienced Christian. Why? A novice cannot be entrusted with authority (cf. latter part of 1 Tim 3:6). College and seminary education provide a good training ground and period of probation. It eliminates many and safeguards from trouble. The apostles had 3 years training with the Best Teacher possible. Problems were discovered and eliminated in that period.

10. Sex-Gender - The elder must be a man. No woman is eligible. No woman elder appears in the New Testament record. Furthermore, the nature of the office excludes women. Since it is a function of the office to rule, a woman elder must violate the divine order of the sexes in the church (1 Tim. 2:11-12).

NOTE: Does the New Testament furnish any basis for demanding educational preparation. Does Christ and His preparation of the apostle’s suggest thorough preparation? Yes, because such qualifications as Faith, Judgment, Ability, and experience can be developed by education of the right sort. (Cf. Tit. 1:9 "as he has been taught") 2 Tim 2:2 - Here is the principle and we have the example taught and led by Christ with those He was about to entrust with the foundation of the church.
NOTE: According to Acts 20 Paul in vs. 17 called for the elders (presbuteros) of the churches. In vs 28 he calls these same men overseers (episkopos) or bishops. He then calls them pastors (poimaino) that feed the flock. So the same man is the elder, overseer, bishop and pastor. There goes the church hierarchy.