Saturday, December 20, 2014

Should Christians Wish People a Merry Christmas or Not?

Many people, agencies, and corporations are trying to make saying “Merry Christmas” a crime these days. Recently a Walmart manager threatened to call the police on a group of children who came in to flash mob the place by singing Christmas carols. How ironic, considering that Walmart now puts out the Christmas merchandise even before Halloween is over. Most Christians (there are those who believe Christians shouldn't celebrate Christmas anyhow, as it is a co-opted pagan celebration, so this probably wouldn't bother them) are naturally outraged by this verbalized restriction of their freedom to celebrate their religious belief, as it appears nobody has a problem with other religions celebrating their holiday. It is just Christian holidays that seem to be an offense. I am all for religious freedom and the anti-Christian stance that this country is beginning to take bothers me enormously. I feel it is a danger to Christians. However, I am looking at this in a different light. A great deal is made of being free to say “Merry Christmas” and we should be free to do so, but should Christians be wishing each other this phrase anyhow? Let us take a look at what it is actually saying.

The first word in the phrase is “Merry.” By itself this word is no problem. It means be light-hearted, festive, cheerful, jolly, and carefree. It invites the idea of frivolity and playfulness. The problem comes in when this word is coupled with the word “Christmas.” I don't know if people really understand that this word does not mean “the birth of Christ” but is just a coupling of the words “Christ” and “mass,” and when you say “Christmas” you are really saying “the mass of Christ.” A mass is a Catholic ceremony that celebrates the death of Christ, not His birth, most particularly by transubstantiation, or the eating of what they believe is the literal body and blood of Christ. So when you say “Merry Christmas” what you are really saying is “have a festive and joyful time celebrating the death of Christ by literally eating His body and blood.”

Now I don't know about you, but I have a problem with this on several levels. First, as most everyone knows at this point, the twenty-fifth of December is not the birthday of Christ. Many scholars believe He was born during the Festival of Tabernacles in the fall, which makes sense given that the Scriptues imply He was about to celebrate His 30th birthday when He began His ministry, and He died in the spring after three and a half years of ministry. That would put His birthday in the fall around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. So why are we celebrating it on December the twenty-fifth? Because the Catholic church, way back when, took many pagan things and Christianized them for the sake of compromise between the pagans and Christians. One of those things was turning the birthday of Mithras or the last day of the weeklong celebration of Saturnalia, the Roman festival in celebration of the god Saturn, into the birthday of Christ. I am not going to get into that argument here, for all days belong to God including the birth days of pagan gods, and if we celebrate a day unto the Lord, Paul has said that is fine. Romans 14:5-6 “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.”

The next problem I have is that I do not believe in the celebration of mass, for I do not believe in Christ having to die over and over. Christ died once for all time for our sins. To say that He is crucified anew every time mass is celebrated is saying that He did not die once and for all. The Scriptures do not agree with this teaching.

Romans 6:10 “For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.”
Hebrews 7:26-27 “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.”
Hebrews 9:28 “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Hebrews 10:10-12 :By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;”
1 Peter 2:18 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:”

Christ died once and cannot be crucified again and again by the priests. It clearly says in Hebrews that He does not need to be daily offered up as a sacrifice, as the priests once did at the temple, and as the priests in Catholicism do every day. Once was enough. So we should not be celebrating mass, as that is what it means.

Next is the actual celebration of the mass, which is the eating and drinking of the body and blood of Christ. That is what transubstantiation means. Literally and miraculously turning the wafer and wine into the body and blood. Pagans practiced the “eating of the gods,” where they believed that when they ate a wafer and drank some wine, it became the body and blood of their god. This was a Babylonian practice that pre-dated Christianity by a long time and like other pagan practices was incorporated into the rituals of the Church. If people were to bother studying the Scriptures, they would find that this is a blasphemy to God. The one thing that He clearly specified in the Old and New Testament was that we are NOT to drink blood, ANY blood, neither animal and especially not human. To drink the blood of Christ would be to drink the blood of God Himself, which is total blasphemy. Nor should we be eating the body, as that is cannibalism. When cannibalism is presented in Scripture it is the result of God's wrath upon a people and the result that ensues in their desperation for food. It is not something that God approves and endorses. It is an evil human act which comes as a byproduct of God's vengeance and anger being enacted upon a people.

When Christ held what is now called the Last Supper, He was celebrating the Passover seder. In that seder He performed the ritual of breaking the bread (which is now part of the ritual of the afikomen) and said that it was His body which would be broken for them. Obviously as He was not yet dead, it could not be His actual body, but was a representation of His body. He did the same thing with the wine, which was the Cup of Redemption in the seder, indicating it represented His blood which would be their redemption. He was instilling a new symbolism into the already well-known annual ritual that would, in an abbreviated form, become a part of the Church's ordinances to this day. If there is any argument on this interpretation, Christ himself made it clear that this was to be figuratively taken, when earlier He told the disciples He was the Bread of Life, and if they ate of it they would live forever. John 6:51-58 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.”

Now clearly the Jews and the disciples believed that Christ was speaking literally, and there was a brouhaha over it. Why was that? Because what Christ was proposing, if literal, was in direct violation of God's very own laws. Now, would Christ be telling them to do something which was strictly forbidden, and still is, by God? Of course not. And He makes that clear to the disciples later when He was with them and they still weren't understanding what He meant.

John 6:61, 63 “When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Christ saw they were not understanding and asked them if they were offended by what He had said. Of course they were, so He made it clear that He didn't mean it literally, for He says that eating His literal flesh would not do anything for them. He meant that spiritually or figuratively He was the Bread of Life and only in accepting Him as the way to eternal life (figuratively eating His flesh and blood or in other words taking Him internally into their hearts and lives) would they live forever. Would eating anything give us eternal life? Of course not. As Christ said, what you eat comes out the other end. It doesn't profit anything except to keep the body going. It does nothing for the spirit. He states, very clearly, that the words were spiritual or symbolic, not to be taken literally. I always advocate taking God's Word at face value except for when God Himself indicates otherwise by interpreting a vision or symbolic representation for us, so that we know it is symbolic and for what that symbolism stands. In this case Jesus is very clear that the words were not to be taken literally, but spiritually. As He has already indicated in this passage that when He refers to His body as the Bread, it is symbolic, we have already been told in advance that this is how He means it at the Passover seder. So the bread and wine are only symbolic of His body and blood.

Since the entire idea of a mass has now been shown to be unscriptural, we should not be advocating it by wishing it to people. In so doing, we are encouraging them to participate in a ritual which God finds an anathema. To wish them a “Merry” Christmas is to say that not only should they participate in said ritual, but should do it with frivolity and merriment, as if Christ's death were a trivial, fun thing.

So, when someone tells you that you shouldn't wish someone a Merry Christmas, maybe they aren't so wrong after all.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Will the Ark of the Covenant Be Necessary in the Third Temple of Daniel's 70th Week? Will It Be Found?

Much has been speculated over the fate of the ark of the covenant. There are a number of theories as to where it lies. This is the list of the most popular theories.

It lies hidden in a cave in the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Temple Institute, which is an ultra-orthodox group who have been working on preparations to rebuild the Temple, along with many orthodox Jews, say that this is the location of the ark. There was an excavation attempted in 1982 under Rabbi Yehuda Getz, but is was halted due to the riots that began when the Arabs discovered there was digging going on under the Dome of the Rock. “Witnesses” have said that they saw it, before they were blocked from further excavation.

It lies in a hidden room at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres in France. It is suggested by Louis Charpentier in his book Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral that the Templars found the ark during the Crusades and hid it in the cathedral for safety. The current clergy and caretakers at the cathedral deny this theory.

It lies in an unmarked cave in modern Jordan, along with other key artifacts, having been hidden there by the prophet Jeremiah prior to the siege by Babylon.

It lies in one of sixty-four different locations designated as treasure sites in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

It is held by the Lemba Tribe in southern Africa, specifically Zimbabwe. This tribe claims to be one of the “lost” tribes of Israel. A DNA survey done in 1999 does link the Lemba tribe to the priestly families in Israel. They treat their “ark” with the appropriate rules as prescribed in the Scriptures. There is a 700 year-old replica held at the Museum of Human Science in Zimbabwe which the Lemba claim was created from the core of the original ark. As this “ark” is bowl shaped, one has to wonder if they were so meticulous about keeping the prescribed rules for how to treat the ark, how they missed reading the description of it, which clearly is a box shape.

It lies in the Chapel of the Tablet at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum, Ethiopia. Supposedly Solomon's and the Queen of Sheba's son, Menelik, stole the ark and replaced it with a fake, taking the real one back to Ethiopia with him. Nobody is allowed in to see this ark, but supposedly replicas of it are placed in every affiliate church. In looking for pictures of the replicas, I could only find someone carrying a small red rectangular trunk (no cherubim) with either gold or silver star-shaped designs on it. Again, this does not fit the description in the Bible.

It lies on the bottom of Lake Tiberias (aka the Sea of Galilee) according to some Shia Muslims who credit this knowledge to the Hadith (sayings attributed to Mohammed or commentary thereof). According to their prophecies, this ark will rise from the lake after the rise of the Mahdi (their Messiah), whom their prophecies also say will rule the Earth for seven or so years before the Day of Judgement.

It lies under the hill of Golgotha, according to Ron Wyatt, a hobbiest archaeologist. Wyatt made claims of finding other Biblical artifacts, such as Noah's ark. He said that the ark of the covenant was positioned there, so that Christ's blood could drip on it through the fissure in the rock during the crucifixion. He even claims to have scraped dried blood off the ark casing and to have subjected it to DNA testing. He said the lab reported the fascinating result of half the chromosomes normal humans have, consistent with having only one human parent (Mary). My problem with this is, how did Wyatt avoid being struck dead, as Uzzah was when he touched the ark, when he scraped this blood sample off the ark? That does beg some questions, does it not?

It is said by some to reside in heaven, based upon Revelation 11:19 “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” This can be dismissed right away, as there has always been an ark in heaven, long before the replica of it was made for the tabernacle. We know this because God told Moses that he was making the tabernacle and its accoutrements as replicas of the heavenly temple, and that is why the measurements and arrangement of all things had to be so precise. Exodus 25:9, 40 “According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it........And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.” Hebrews 8:5 “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.”

Lastly the movie Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark along with the television show Warehouse 13 has left us with the theory that the ark is boxed up in an unmarked crate and stored along with other missing artifacts of importance in an undesignated (or possibly the basement of the Smithsonian) government location where it can be protected from either being used for nefarious purposes by unsavory characters, or possibly proving the Bible true. One can almost believe this is the most logical possibility, knowing our government.

The truth of the matter is, nobody knows what happened to it except God. Is it necessary that it make a reappearance for the time of Daniel's 70th week? Not really. We know that it was not in the Second Temple, and that did not stop them from sacrificing. We know that God left the Temple and will not return to it until He returns in the person of Jesus Christ or Yeshua ha Mashiach, so He does not need the mercy seat as a throne. We know that Christ was the ultimate sacrifice and that the Yom Kippur sacrifice or atonement has been permanently made once and for all. So the ark would seem to be unnecessary for the Tribulation Temple, for lack of a better title.  The only real prophecies that say it will make a reappearance come not from the Bible, but from the prophecies of Islam. These prophecies come from Satan, so does he plan to bring it back? Or at least a facsimile of it? Possibly.
The question then would seem to be, is it a necessary part of the Millennial Temple, for if it is, then one might think that it is necessary that it makes its reappearance. For that answer we can turn to the Scriptures.

Jeremiah 3:16 “And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.”

This Scripture tells us that during the millennium (which this passage of Scripture is describing) the ark will not come to mind, nor be remembered, nor visited (it could only be visited by priests once a year on Yom Kippur), nor shall what was done on the day of Yom Kippur (the sacrifice covering the sins of the people for the past year) be done anymore. If it is not visited by the priests on Yom Kippur, then it is not being used. If it is not being used it is unnecessary. If it is not remembered or does not even come to mind, it probably doesn't exist, for even if it existed, but was not visited, people would know it was there and think about it. Why is it not there? It is not needed. God will dwell among people in the person of Jesus Christ. He will be on a different kind of throne. Not a mercy seat where sacrifices need be offered, but on a throne where a king reigns. The people who are born in the millennium will only know the world that is, at that time, not remember the world that was. It will be irrelevant to them. The temple worship will be similar, in that sacrifices will be made, but not for all the same purposes. In Old Testament times, besides being sacrifices of blood to barely temporarily cover their sins, the sacrifices were the source of food for the priests and Levites. Without land to till and raise animals, they would be without food to eat. These sacrifices provided, along with the tithes every third year, the needed supplies of food, oil, wood, wine, etc. that was needed for the temple priests/Levites as well as their families and the running of the temple itself.

While many people have a problem with sacrifices being re-instituted during the millennium, that is exactly what Ezekiel teaches us in the last ten or so chapters of that book. As most people do not understand the sacrificial system at all, and only think it was to cover sins (which it never really did – Hebrews 10:4 “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”), they do not understand why it would be re-instituted given that Christ died for our sins once and for all. Yes, He did. But looking at the Church these days and the sin that pervades it, would it not be a good reminder every time you committed a sin, if you had to go sacrifice an animal? I know it would certainly be a greater tangible deterrent for me than just my conscience, which although it accuses me, makes me feel guilty, and causes me to repent, does not cause as much anguish in my repentance (shame on me) as if I had to also slaughter one of my animals (and being an animal lover, this would bother me greatly). Then there is the absolute necessity of providing food for the priests and Levites. This will not change. This is the means by which it will be done, as this is how God set up His government. The sacrifices always served a double duty.

So, while the temple will be built again (see Ezekiel for the description) during the millennium (this will be the fourth temple, actually) it will not have an ark of the covenant according to the Scripture in Jeremiah. As it is not needed, chances are, it will not be discovered for the time of Daniel's 70th week. But who knows. Maybe Satan has something up his sleeve, given what he has told others.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2 Thessalonians 2:1-11 What is Paul Really Saying?

Even though I have written on this passage in my endtimesstudies blog, I am constantly amazed and dismayed that people can read this passage of Scripture in such a way that they can so badly scramble what it says. It is an all too often misused and misinterpreted passage of Scripture having to do with the end times, although one of the simplest to understand. The passage of which I speak is 2 Thessalonians 2:1-11. It truly is not that hard to understand if you simply do not come to it with a preconceived prejudice or bias toward a particular theological doctrine, or spiritualize what it says. Let's take a look at it word by word, verse by verse, and just take it at face value, for I do not think Paul was trying to be obtuse or put it in hidden terms, so that only the “enlightened” could understand. That is a satanic thing, not a God thing. God is not the author of confusion. He wants us to understand, and He knows we are incredibly stupid. One only has to look at some of the crazy interpretations of some of the Scriptures out there to know this. The verses in question are the following:

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose 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 lie.”

When Paul taught the early churches about the Second Coming, he would have taught them what Christ had taught the disciples. And what would that have been? It would have been the information found in the Olivet Discourse. Within the Olivet Discourse there are no hidden secrets, no hidden meanings. Christ told his disciples straight out what to expect before His return and what they (or those who were alive when He returned) could expect to endure. Contrary to what some teach, Paul was not given a new secret about Christ's return which had not revealed to the disciples, that he was now to teach the Church. We will see that this passage and the Olivet Discourse line up exactly with the same chronology. Paul was teaching exactly what Christ had taught.

Starting with the first verse and taking it one section or phrase at a time, we begin with....

Now we beseech you, brethren,”

Paul was making a strong plea to them about something. He was not just asking, he was pleading with them about something. One only turns to pleading when one is distraught. They obviously had something amiss that he wanted to rectify, and he seems a little frustrated that they had so soon turned from the truth which he had already taught them. That truth being the information given by Christ to His disciples.

by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

The thing which they apparently had misconstrued was something having to do with the Second Coming of the Lord. That is what the phrase “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” clearly means. The “coming” is the Second Coming. So this is clearly speaking of the Second Coming of Christ, the one in which every eye shall see Him, for this is the only “coming” that had been taught. In the Olivet Discourse Christ told us in Matthew 24:30 “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” We are also told by John in Revelation 1:7 “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” In all the verses speaking of Christ's return or coming, it is always a reference to the Second Coming in His power and glory.

John clearly still understands (well after Paul wrote his epistles) that there is only one coming of the Lord and it will be very visible to the world. It will be just as Christ described it to the disciples in the Olivet Discourse, in the clouds with glory for all to see. There is no mention anywhere in Scripture of Christ coming other than at His Second Coming. In fact we are told in several places that He cannot return until certain things occur. Acts 3:20-21, 2:34-35 “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things.....For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool.” Heaven receives Christ until there is a restitution of all things (on the earth) and Christ's foes (Satan, the beast, his minions) are made His footstool. This occurs at the time Christ returns in power and glory and the kingdoms of the world become His. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:Until Satan and his beast are put down and are made Christ's footstool, He cannot return, according to this Scripture, secretly or otherwise. Until restitution is made and the earth is returned to its proper owner, Christ must remain in heaven. So there is one coming that Christ taught, John has taught in Revelation, and Paul is teaching here in 2 Thessalonians.

So to repeat, Paul is addressing something they have gotten wrong about the Second Coming. This event is mentioned in conjunction with something that occurs with it.

and by our gathering together unto him,”

This phrase is connected by a conjunction “and” which means the two go hand in hand. And this follows what came before. One does not put a second event before the first in a series of chronological events connected by the conjunction “and.” If I were to buy some groceries at the grocery store I would not say, “I bought some groceries and went to the store.” To say it that way would imply that I went somewhere (perhaps a farm market) and bought some groceries, then I went to a store afterward. While one can put objects in any order and have it make sense - “ham and eggs” and “peanut butter and jelly” are the same as “eggs and ham” and “jelly and peanut butter” - and while the order doesn't matter in these cases, still the two phrases exist as one entity, not two separate meals (a ham meal, and an egg meal) or sandwiches (a peanut better one, and a jelly one). While an order is not so essential in a list of objects, one cannot put events which occur in a timeline and have chronological significance in any order other than the order they occur, if one is to be understood correctly. The order for correctly understanding the order of events in the sentence above should be “I went to the store and bought some groceries.” Now it is clearly understood that I went to the store where groceries were sold and then bought the groceries there.

In the same manner, Paul mentions the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, then our gathering together unto Him. This clearly is a statement of the chronology of events. First Christ returns in His Second Coming in the clouds where every eye sees Him, then He gathers His elect. Now we can see that Paul did indeed teach what Christ taught in the Olivet Discourse, for that is exactly how Christ explains it.

Going back to Matthew 24:30 where Christ comes, and continuing on to verse 31 we find the same chronology. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

The parallel passage is found in Mark 13:26-27 “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.”

So to this point, Paul is giving the order of events in the same manner Christ did. He has not changed the timing of the gathering of the elect to seven years before Christ's coming or any time before Christ's coming for that matter. It still occurs after He comes. Paul speaks of it in this same order in another passage. In 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 he says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.” Paul is putting the resurrection at the time of the Second Coming. But the resurrection precedes the rapture, as we all know. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”  Paul clearly tells us here that those who are alive at the coming (Second Coming) of the Lord will not precede the dead in Christ or the resurrection. So in this passage so far, Paul is imploring them to correct their misunderstanding about the Second Coming and the gathering of the elect, which as we shall see is otherwise known as the Day of the Lord. So what is he imploring them to correct?

That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us”

It would seem that someone has sent them a letter or told them by word of mouth, some new information regarding this subject and implying that this information has come from Paul and his associate. The information in this letter which they believe is valid has gotten them terribly upset. They are apparently shaken to the core, and it will shortly be seen why. Paul assures them that they should not be upset or troubled by this information that supposedly came from him, for it did not come from him and the information is faulty. So what is this information that has them so upset?

as that the day of Christ is at hand.”

Apparently this letter informed them that the Day of the Lord was happening. The Day of Christ, otherwise known as the Day of the Lord, is when Christ returns and pours out God's wrath on the world. It is the time when He will gather His elect before He pours out God's wrath. Now to be clear again, Paul is saying that this issue which has them all upset is concerning the Second Coming and gathering (rapture), which he then labels as the day of Christ, (another name for Day of the Lord) meaning that the Second Coming, gathering, and Day of the Lord are all the same event. All three things are inexorably combined into one major event and Paul refers to them as such in the way he writes this. Christ's Second Coming, the gathering of the elect, followed by the Day of the Lord are all part of one huge orchestration. And this makes perfect sense. The elect are not appointed to wrath. We should be taken out before God's wrath is poured out, as God has promised us that we will not suffer His wrath, but there is no reason to take us out any earlier than just before it begins. We are only not appointed to suffer God's wrath. We are not appointed to escape persecution. But Christ does not pour out God's wrath until He returns, so this order of events as laid out by Paul makes perfect sense and taken at face value it clearly makes things understood. It also lines up with what Christ taught.

Now we can understand why the people were so upset if they thought the Day of the Lord had commenced. They knew they should be gathered out before that happened. To think they were still here during the Day of the Lord would mean that, as the saying seems to be going around, they were “left behind.” Now Paul goes back to the basics that Christ taught in the Olivet Discourse to reassure them that there are signs that precede this event, which he no doubt has taught them, but they have forgotten, and they should know them, so that they will realize when the event does occur.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first”

Paul almost chastises them and tells them that they should let nobody deceive them. One thing that is going on in spades these days is the deception of what the end times events are. There are numerous theories out there as to what is going to happen, but what must be realized is that there is only one way it is going to happen. Only one of these theories is right. All the others are wrong. So anything that does not agree with the face value chronology of the Scriptures - of what Christ said in the Olivet Discourse, of what Paul said in his epistles, of what Peter said in his epistles, and what John relates to us from what he sees and hears in Revelation - is not correct.

What did Christ repeatedly say in the Olivet Discourse? Do not be deceived. Matthew 24:4 “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” Matthew 24:5 “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:11 “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:23 “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.” Matthew 24:24 “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matthew 24:26 “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.”

So what is the first deception that Paul corrects in their thinking? That day.... what day?..... the day mentioned earlier - the Day of Christ or the Lord, (which occurs in conjunction with the Second Coming and gathering) shall what?..... shall not come except (until or unless)....that day (the Day of the Lord) shall not come until or unless something occurs first. What is it that must occur before that Day comes? There are a couple things that must occur. It won't come until 1) “there come a falling away first.” What exactly is this falling away that must occur first, or before any of these other events can happen? The Greek word for “falling away” is “apostasia” which means “to defect from truth” or “to forsake” (the truth). No matter how much some people want this to mean to fall away from the earth (as in a rapture) that is not what the Greek means. It means exactly what the English word apostasy means, a total desertion, departure, or abandonment of one's faith or principles. It is from the Greek word and its meaning that we get the English word and it's equivalent meaning.

So Paul is telling us that the Day of the Lord (and the Second Coming followed by the gathering or rapture) cannot occur until after there is a defection from Christianity's truth. Not a departure from the name “Christianity” but from the truth that is Christianity. “Christian” mega-churches abound. They are huge and growing, but when one looks at what they are teaching it seems to bear no resemblance to the truth of what is taught in the Scriptures. These are apostate churches. And not just the mega-churches fall into this category. Some of the big denominations, the cults who call themselves Christian, even small individual churches, are all abandoning, deserting, and departing from the truth of Scripture. They have created another gospel. One that is comfortable and easy and appeals to itching ears, but one that will not save you. I think it is safe to say that this first tenet is now a reality, so we have seen the first sign Paul has given us come to pass, although I do believe it will get worse.

And does this go along with what Christ said in the Olivet Discourse? Yes it does. Matthew 24:10-11 “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”
We see that before the abomination of desolation occurs, many shall be deceived (into apostasy) and be offended. This word “offended” is “skandalizo” in Greek. It means “to entrap, stumble, entice into sin and apostasy.” It is obviously the root of our English word “scandalize” which is when someone does something that crosses the boundary of moral behavior for all the public to see. So we see that Christ said that before the abomination of desolation (verse 15), there would be an apostasy. A falling away from the faith due to deception. This is why He kept warning us to not be deceived by false prophets. He told us that false teachings about His return would abound. And we can see that this is very true.

and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped”

What is the next tenet? 2) “and that man of sin be revealed.” The man of sin. And who is the man of sin? “the son of perdition” The only other person to be called the son of perdition was Judas. And why was he called that? Because Satan himself actually entered in and possessed him. This man of sin will be possessed or at least controlled directly by Satan himself and he will be “revealed”. How will he be “revealed”? He will do some things that will clue us in that he is the son of perdition.

Before pursuing more on the man of sin, we need to stop and again see that just as Christ put the apostasy before the abomination of desolation (when the beast comes to prominence), so Paul put it there too in this passage.

What kind of things he will do? “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped;” This man of sin, the son of perdition, will first oppose God and exalt himself above God. Daniel 7:25a “And he shall speak great words against the most High,” Daniel 11:36 “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods,” Revelation 13:5-6 “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.”

He will oppose God. He will be publicly verbal in his opposition, speaking insulting and blasphemous things against the most High God. He will try to usurp God's position (as Satan has been trying to do from the beginning and will try to do in a physical body now on earth) and demand that he alone be worshiped as God.

so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

Next we are told “so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” He will sit in the temple of God declaring himself to be God, and he will demand worship of himself as God. Revelation 13:4, 15 “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?......And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” If a person does not worship him as God, they will be killed.

It says that he will show himself to be God. How would he go about doing that? By miracles. In this very passage in 2 Thessalonians we are told in verse nine “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” In Revelation we are told one of these wonders. Revelation 13:13 “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.” So there will be miracles to convince people that he is God.

Now we need to address something that is a bone of contention between two differing Christian camps. What is meant by the phrase “so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God”? There are two vastly different understandings of this phrase. One takes it quite literally at face value, and the other spiritualizes it. The question that comes to my mind is, should we be spiritualizing it? We are told by Peter that prophecy is not for private interpretation. Spiritualizing a prophecy makes it a matter of private interpretation. But for the moment let us suppose it is supposed to be spiritualized or taken figuratively. The argument is given that in the New Testament we are told that we are now the temple of God, therefore any time a temple is referred to in the New Testament, it refers to our bodies. Does this hold true? Of the 108 verses that mention the temple in the New Testament, only seven of them are definitely not referring to the literal temple. Two of those seven are Christ referring to Himself as the temple and the other five are Paul telling us that we are the temple of God both as individuals and as the entire body of Christ. So to say that in the New Testament the temple refers to our bodies is erroneous. Granted, the temple was still standing during the time much of it was written, so it would refer to the temple as a physical place. But what about after it was destroyed. What about the prophecies, which is what this particular passage in 2 Thessalonians is about?

Let us take this verse figuratively and see where it leads us when we take it to its conclusion. If we believe that the temple is the body or more accurately the heart of the believer, then we would read this passage in this way, “so that he as God sits (or takes control and ownership of) the heart of the people of God.” This interpretation is saying that the antichrist, the man of perdition is going to set up his throne in the heart of Christians. Not in the heart of the unbeliever, mind you, but the heart of the temple of God, the Christian, which the unbeliever is not. It makes no reference at all, in this spiritualization, of the man of sin setting up himself in the heart of those who do not believe in God. Does this not seem a very wrong interpretation? It certainly does to me. And regardless of how much the person who wants to argue this may argue, this is the clear meaning of the verse by simple substitution of the words “Christian's heart and body” for “temple.” It would read, “so that he as God sitteth in the Christian's heart and body.” This is saying the Christian replaces the true God with the son of perdition as his god. Do these people who come up with these symbolic interpretations ever really take it to its conclusion and look logically at what they are saying? I think it is clear that we can dismiss this verse as referring to the figurative temple of God. So the only thing left is the literal temple. A temple which presently does not exist, and would have to be built for this verse to be taken at face value.

Are there any other verses that would provide evidence that indeed this interpretation is correct? Yes there are. Let us start at the place where this event mentioned here in Thessalonians is first mentioned. In the Olivet Discourse in the gospels we find Christ giving us a clue to this event.

Matthew 24:15 “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand):”

Mark 13:14 “But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:”

To understand to what Christ is referring, we need to reference the book of Daniel. In that book we find a couple of references.

Daniel 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.”

Daniel 11:31 “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.”

Daniel 12:11 “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.”

These are the references in Daniel to the abomination of desolation. As I have written on Daniel 9 in other articles, I am not going to go into the meaning of the seventy weeks here. All that is necessary to know is that each of these references refer to a future event. In the case of Daniel 11:31, it also describes what Antiochus Epiphanes did to the temple, but it also has a second prophetic meaning in that it also describes what the man of perdition will do again. Antiochus Epiphanes was a foreshadow of a larger but similar event. It is this particular verse that lets us know to what the other two verses are referring. When Christ mentioned the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, the only thing that would have popped into the mind of His disciples would be the historical event that led to the celebration of the holiday of Hanukkah. As the prophecies of Daniel about the end times were sealed until now, they would not understand that those prophecies referred to a second occurrence. It was for us to understand that this is what Christ meant. He said it for us. It is Christ's statement to them when He tells them that one of the signs of His coming would be that the abomination spoken of in Daniel, the one they understood about Antiochus Epiphanes slaughtering a pig on the altar and setting up a statue of Zeus in the holy place, would be that this abomination would be seen to happen again. While they might not understand exactly what He meant, we should. Christ is not obliquely referring to antichrist setting himself up in the hearts of Christians. He is referring to an actual event that will involve the temple, just as it happened before. That is the only way in which He expected His statement to be understood. The term “place,” as in “holy place,” is the Greek word, “topos” which means a physical spot of limited locality and occupancy. When Christ speaks of the holy place, He is referring to the temple, and possibly the holiest place in the temple where the ark was kept. The term “holy place” in Old Testament usage (and Christ would have been using Old Testament terminology in His speech, not using the term "temple" as referring to our bodies and hearts) meant the temple itself. When He told the disciples that when they saw the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, which to the disciples would mean something akin to the statue of Zeus, stand in the holy place (temple), that they should flee Judea.

Now this word “stand” is the Greek word “histemi” which does not necessarily mean to stand, as  opposed to sitting. It means “stand” as in “to abide, be established, be set up”. So something will be set up or will abide in the temple that is an abomination, just as the statue of Zeus was.

Clearly in this passage, Christ is referring to a physical temple, and a physical idol of some sort set up in that temple. To further verify this idea, we see that these verses in Daniel each have a second reference that accompanies the abomination. Something that also occurred with Antiochus. The sacrifices and oblations were and will again be stopped. Sacrifices refer to animals offerings. Oblations refer to non-animal offerings such as oil, wine, grain, etc. And it says they will be stopped again. Christians today do not offer animal sacrifices or oblations. How then can they be stopped if they are not being offered?  The only conclusion one can get from the clear reading of these passages based upon how Christ told us they should be interpreted (by Daniel's book) is that there will be a temple (this does not have to include the courtyards, but only the main building) and an altar set up on the Temple Mount. One that can be desolated by an abomination.

One last reference that clinches this idea that a temple will be rebuilt is found in Revelation 11:1-2. “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”

John has been given a vision of the future when the man of perdition will reign on earth. In this vision he is given a rod and told to measure the temple of God. One whose courtyard is being overrun by the Gentiles, as is the city of Jerusalem. This is speaking of something tangible. A temple and a city. Would one be given a rod to measure a single Christian, for clearly the word “temple” is singular. One could say, well it is all figurative speech. Okay, but then he is told to also measure the altar and them that worship therein. People are worshiping inside this temple. Clearly this is a physical temple, with an altar and worshipers. A temple which can be measured. And this is exactly what Daniel has said and what Christ has said. Not only that, but the idea that there would be no courtyards seems to be accurate, for John is told not to measure that area for it is given to the Gentiles to trod underfoot. There will be no courtyards, which given the situation on the Temple Mount makes perfect sense. It could well be a shared space with the Muslims and the Dome of the Rock. While some think this is impossible, let me quote an article on this subject.

Can Third Temple be built without destroying Dome of the Rock? By Matthew Wagner 06/21/2009 Jerusalem Post

Until now Jewish tradition has assumed that destruction of the Dome of the Rock was a precondition for the building of the third and last Temple. However, in an article that appeared in 2007 in Tehumin, an influential journal of Jewish law, Frankel, a young scholar, presented a different option. His main argument is that Jewish doctrine regarding the rebuilding of the Temple emphasizes the role of a prophet. This prophet would have extraordinary authority, including the discretion to specify the Temple's precise location, regardless of any diverging Jewish traditions. Frankel considers the scenario of a holy revelation given to an authentic prophet that the Temple be rebuilt on the current or an extended Temple Mount in peaceful proximity to the dome and other houses of prayer such as the Aksa Mosque and nearby Christian shrines. However, both Muslims and Jews have expressed opposition to the initiative. Sheikh Abdulla Nimar Darwish, founder of the Islamic Movement in Israel, said it was pointless to talk about what would happen when the mahdi, the Muslim equivalent of the messiah, would reveal himself. "Why are we taking upon ourselves the responsibility to decide such things?" Darwish said in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post. "Even Jews believe that it is prohibited to rebuild the Temple until the messiah comes. So what is there to talk about. "The mahdi will decide whether or not to rebuild the Temple. If he decides that it should be rebuilt, I will go out to the Temple Mount and help carry the rocks." Darwish warned against any attempt to rebuild the Temple before the coming of the mahdi.”

I find this article intensely interesting in that both parties say that if a Messiah type were to come with the authority of God, they would both concede peace and the temple would be built alongside the Dome of the Rock. That this position could be filled by the man of perdition is stating the obvious. The antichrist will present himself as the world's Messiah. To the Jews he will be the Jewish Messiah. To the Muslims he will be the Mahdi. He will fulfill all the roles needed.

So it seems clear that there will be a physical temple rebuilt that can be desolated by an abomination. And that sacrifices that will at some point begin, will be stopped.

Now we look again to the verse in 2 Thessalonians. “so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” The man of perdition will sit in the temple declaring himself to be God. We find that there might be more to it than this. In Revelation 13:14-15 “And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” It does not state that this image will be set up in the temple, but we know that the man of perdition will set himself up as God in the temple.

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

Now Paul shows his frustration with them. He asks them if they remember that he went over all this when he was there with them. He taught them the Olivet Discourse. Obviously they were not listening. I sympathize with Paul. As a teacher I know how frustrating it is to teach something and find out that the student has paid no attention and has learned nothing. And in Paul's case it is crucial information. Information about the end times. This is important information that they were to teach others. This is not just a school subject. This is information about our future, about salvation and the Coming of the Lord, and the terrible time that will precede it.

And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.”

This is also a debated phrase. What exactly is it that withholdeth the antichrist from coming into power? Well, we know from this passage that he is called the man of perdition, and that only one other has had that moniker, Judas. And why did Judas have that title? Because he was indwelt by Satan. It seems to be the consensus that the son of perdition will be inhabited by Satan at the time he sits in the temple declaring himself God. I do not know if it is an actual possession by Satan, or as God has a Son, so Satan has spawned an offspring which he can control. Angels do have that ability as we know from Genesis. So, what precipitates Satan taking control of the man of sin? It appears that he finally gets thrown out of heaven for good.

Revelation 12:7-9 “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

We find this mentioned in the Old Testament as well in the book of Daniel 12:1 “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” The context of both passages show that this war between Michael and his angels and Satan and his angels occurs at the time of the abomination of desolation. We see in another passage in Scripture that it appears that Michael is Satan's adversary. Jude 9 “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”

In the verse in Daniel 12 it says that Michael shall stand up. We are used to the phrase “stand up” meaning literally to rise from a seated position. But this is not how this Hebrew term “amad” is used in chapters 11 and 12. Throughout the chapters it means “to arise, stand by, stand firm, and stand still” for a few definitions. It is highly doubtful that Michael sits around in heaven and only at this point stands up to do battle. He does battle constantly, as he appears to be a comparable angel in position and power to Satan, being an archangel. He is also the angel who oversees Israel. So it would appear that it is Michael who is Satan's equal and adversary (he is not Christ's equal) and who does battle with Satan and restrains him from doing what he would like to do, especially to Israel.

The passage in Thessalonians tells us that we should know who withholds or restrains Satan, who will be taken out of the way so that Satan can vent his wrath full force. When it says that Michael stands up, it means that after he throws Satan out of heaven, he stands still or stands by and just watches. God is allowing Satan to have full reign, so Michael can no longer dispute or battle with him. He no longer tries to restrain him. Michael is told to stand aside and let Satan have his way. Most people believe it is the Holy Spirit and will not accept this interpretation, but Scripture does bear out that Michael is the one who does battle with him. The Holy Spirit is never once in Scripture said to have the job of restraining or battling Satan. That is not His job. It is the Holy Spirit's job to indwell, guide, lead, and so forth, us. The only reason the assumption has been made that it must be the Holy Spirit is that this verse is approached with a preconceived doctrine (pre-trib rapture) which then creates a bias toward interpreting it that way, so that the theory can be validated. That is not the way Scripture should be understood. We do not bring out theory to the Scriptures and make them say what we want to validate our theory. We read the Scriptures and understand what it says and build our theory from there. The only Scriptural connection between Satan, the man of perdition, and the lifting of restraint is the Michael connection. Therefore we need to lean on the side of Scripture and accept that the apparent restrainer is Michael.

And just to show that the theory that it is the Holy Spirit cannot be right, those who believe it is the Holy Spirit being removed in a pre-trib rapture, then say that untold numbers will come to the Lord during this time. How can they, if it is the Holy Spirit who reveals and draws us to the Lord and He is removed? Since Christ returned to heaven, He has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell believers. It is through the Spirit that we have the strength to endure. Without Him, which is what this theory insists, how could people believe and how could they endure? Common sense tells us that this cannot possibly be a right interpretation given what the Scriptures teach about the Holy Spirit's job in our lives.

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.”

The passage continues with information about the restrainer being removed. It says that this evil is already at work, and that he that “letteth” which in Greek actually means “hold down” not “allow” as we think of the word “let,” will continue to hold him down until he is told to stop doing so. The way it is worded is that the restrainer is taken out of the way by God. But the Holy Spirit is God. He doesn't take Himself out of the way by removing His presence from Christians and leaving them alone to face this horror without the Comforter. He takes someone else out of the way. Again this would seem to point the finger at Michael as he is told to stand still.

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

It is at this time that the “Wicked” or “anomos” which means “the lawless” (as in not subjecting himself to God's laws) will be revealed. It has already been discussed that at the abomination of desolation that the son of perdition will be controlled by Satan and declare himself God. Up until this point, people may not realize exactly who this man is. It is when he is no longer restrained and declares himself that he is revealed for who he really is.

When Christ comes at the end of Daniel's 70th week, he will destroy the son of perdition. We find this is foretold in Revelation 19:11-20 also. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,”

It has already been discussed that this son of perdition will be performing miracles and now Paul tells us that those miracles are the work of Satan. He will have all kinds of supernatural power and perform lying signs and wonders to convince people he is God.

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 lie.”

Paul tells us that the unrighteous will be deceived and will perish. This is because when they have heard the gospel (And the entire world will have heard the truth of the gospel. Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”), they have rejected it or fallen away from it. Because they have rejected the truth, God will send them a delusion that is so believable that they will believe it. And consequently they will believe that the son of perdition is God and will take his mark and condemn themselves to an eternity in hell.

What is important in this verse that many tend to completely miss is that God says that during this time, what time?.... the time of tribulation, when the son of perdition will declare himself God after the abomination, those who have not believed in the gospel, will not believe. The idea of 144,000 evangelists bringing thousands upon thousands of people into God's fold of believers is totally against what God has said will happen. People will not be accepting the truth, as they will believe the lie, because that is what God has ordained. Now, we know there will be people who go into the millennium who have not taken the mark, but are not a part of the Church. How can that be? There are people who do believe in God the Father (Jews in particular) and worship Him, but do not know Christ. These people will not believe the lie, because they do believe in God the Creator, God the Father, the God of the Bible. They may not have a personal relationship with Him through Christ, but they have a head and heart belief in the Father, and this keeps them from believing the lie. There will probably also be conspiracy theorists and survivalists among some of these people, besides the Jews. And if the son of perdition presents himself as an “alien”, there are those who will refuse to bow down to him because they will not accept an “alien” as their god. And it must not be forgotten, that not all of Israel are Jews. The ten tribes have co-mingled themselves into the Gentile nations. Some of them no doubt still believe in the God of Abraham. So while they are not followers of Yeshua or Jesus, they will not believe the delusion, for they do believe in the truth of the God of the Bible.

So we can see that Paul is simply re-teaching us the Olivet Discourse here. The events occur in the same order that Jesus taught them. The reference to the man of sin by Paul is an apt description of the one in Daniel, which Christ referenced for us to understand what this event would be. These two passages go hand in hand and completely agree with each other, as Scripture generally does. It is very clear to see for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Hopefully for anyone who has not seen this truth yet, may your eyes now be opened to the truth and may you continue to seek out the rest of the truth so that you are spiritually prepared for what lies ahead.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How Dispensationalism Redefines the Bible to Deceive

I recently ran across a video about dispensationalism. Actually it was not so much about dispensationalism as it was the pre-tib rapture, but the first video in the series was all about why you cannot believe in a pre-trib rapture, unless you believe in dispensationalism. Thus the video began by spending a good portion of time showing why dispensationalists believe in this doctrine of dispensationalism.

I have had trouble understanding why pre-tribbers have such a hard time seeing the rapture as anything but a pre-trib rapture, given the multitude of Scriptures that refute it. I grew up with the dispensational and pre-trib doctrine, unfortunately, but I guess I never really put it together that pre-trib is the only viewpoint one can take if one is a dispensationalist, otherwise the whole belief system falls apart. This is why it is so heartily defended. To let go of a pre-trib doctrine is to let go of the entire dispensational belief system.

In this youtube video (titled Les Feldick Why We Stand on  Pre-Trib Rapture) a Mr. Les Feldick from the Les Feldick Ministries was explaining that hatred is growing for the pre-trib rapture position. He posits that this is not because people have studied their Bibles and have found it to be unscriptural, but that they do not believe in a rapture. He says, “We're gonna start on the premise that you cannot, you cannot understand the concept of the rapture and the tribulation, and the Second Coming, and the kingdom without being a dispensationalist.”

The first error one can see in this statement, which represents the dispensational viewpoint, is that the concept of a rapture cannot be understood unless you are a dispensationalist. (The idea that you cannot understand the concept of the tribulation, Second Coming and God's Kingdom without being a dispensationalist is not even worthy of arguing, it is so absurd.) The truth is, the tribulation, rapture, Second Coming, and kingdom can all be seen by anyone who studies the Scriptures. What will not be seen is a pre-trib rapture, unless you adopt a dispensational approach to the Scriptures. If you do not hold to dispensationalism, which by definition requires a pre-tribulational rapture, you will not come to the conclusion of a pre-tribulation rapture at all. So the situation exists that their entire doctrine of dispensationalism falls apart if a pre-trib rapture does not exist and vice versa. Apart from this belief system, one will not see a pre-tribulational rapture in the Scriptures.

Mr. Feldick then continues to explain that the word “dispensation” is hated and feared by those who do not agree with dispensationalism and a pre-trib rapture. This view is also an absurd idea. We do not fear it, although we dislike it, because it leads people astray from the truth. We see it as an obstacle to the truth and keeping people in deception. A deception which will cause many to fall from the faith when their expectations are not fulfilled and they do not understand what is going on. But that is the end result of the belief. What we need to examine is how they came to the idea of dispensations at the start.

It is then explained that the idea of dispensationalism comes from the Bible itself, and Mr. Feldick references the only four verses in the Bible that use the word “dispensation” and from which they build their doctrine and the use of the word. He says, “Dispensationally speaking, everything that God has done from Adam in the garden, down through the very end of the kingdom age and we go into eternity, is based on a dispensational approach to Scripture. Now we usually define a dispensation as simply as possible. A dispensation is a period of time during which God deals with the human race in a particular way.” He then uses the comparison of a person going to a doctor and getting a prescription which he gets filled. This first prescription has instructions. Then going back for another ailment, the person gets another prescription with different instructions. The person combines the two prescriptions thinking it more efficient, but then has no instructions to follow thus creating confusion as to what to do with the medicine. He says that to use the whole Bible to understand the rapture and end times is like mixing medicines. You will only end up with confusion, because you are trying to mix the teachings of one dispensation with the teachings of another.

The trouble with this comparison is that it bears no resemblance to the actual situation. First of all, man has only one ailment. Sin. There is and has always been only one prescription or remedy for sin - salvation through Jesus Christ. From the beginning, God's instructions were to believe in God, have faith in the promise of a redeemer, and obey whatever commands God gives. That was what was at the beginning and that is exactly the way it has been ever since. We have not been given two different medicines which we must not mix. There is only one way of God's dealing with man and man responding to God. God extends us grace to believe, have faith, and obey Him. Nothing has changed. There are not two medicines with two completely different set of instructions. Belief and faith, which are the essential aspects, never change. Neither does the command to be obedient. The essential rules, the Ten Commandments, were around long before Moses and always will be around. They have not been done away with. Other rules (such as temple rules) may have only been for a particular time as most of the civil, temple, dietary, and etc. laws were for a nation under a theocracy, not for the world at large nor for all of time. Before the flood God forbid the eating of flesh. After the flood He instituted it. These rules are not about salvation, they are simply rules for living under the conditions God has given, which change, so thus do the rules for living. The Ten Commandments on the other hand are the guide for living a holy life in righteousness, pleasing to God, so they are unalterable, but salvation comes through faith in the redeemer alone, not through the laws. This is how it has always been from Adam and Eve to today and will be up through to eternity.

Abraham knew about God's commandments and statutes, and I suspect so did the patriarchs before him, or he would not have known them either. Genesis 26:5 “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. God told Israel to remember the Sabbath. It was a statute from the very first week of creation. I am pretty sure “thou shalt not kill” was instituted after Cain killed Abel. For those who think Christians are under no obligation to keep the commandments, Christ told us in John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” I know many a Christian who argue that Christ reduced them to simply “love”, but if one looks at the Ten Commandments, one sees that the guidelines for how to love both God and our neighbor are found there. Therefore we should be keeping them. The testimony (which is what God calls the Ten Commandments) is found in the ark in heaven. I think if God has established them there, they are pretty important for us to observe. Revelation 11:19 “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”

One of the first problems we encounter in this laying down of the foundation of the doctrine of dispensation is that a completely wrong definition of the word “dispensation” is used to build the doctrine. While the dictionary might define it as “a system of order, government, or organization of a nation, community, etc., especially as existing at a particular time,” the Greek word “oikonomia” which has been translated “dispensation” does not mean that, even though it seems that the dispensationalists use that definition to build their doctrine. They are wrong. It means, according to Strong's concordance, “administration of a household or estate, stewardship.” In other words, it is not a system of government or organization that God changes with each new era. It means to have stewardship over something that belongs to another. If one looks at the four verses that are quoted, one sees that this is the way it should be understood, not as a way of God dealing with man, which has never changed, or a time period. It is merely the outer trappings which have changed. To use a metaphor, the clothes on the man, as it were, have changed, not the man inside them. The following four verses are the basis for a dispensational doctrine.

1 Corinthians 9:17 “For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.”

Ephesians 1:10 “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:”

Ephesians 3:2 “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to youward:”

Colossians 1:25 “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;”

In 1 Corinthians it does not say that a period of time of God's dealing with man has been committed to Paul. It says that the stewardship of the gospel (keeping it in truth, watching over it) has been committed to Paul as he will spread it.

In Ephesians 1:10 Mr. Feldick says that this verse does not refer to our present dispensation, but to another time period in the future. Does it not rather say that in the administration of the household of God, Christ will gather all which are in heaven and earth unto Him under His stewardship?

In Ephesians 3:2 it is not talking of the time period of God's grace which is given to Paul for us. It is the stewardship of the administration of the house of God which was given to Paul over the church. Paul was an apostle. He was an authority on what God's house should be. It is not speaking of a time period, it is speaking of stewardship. We look to Paul's writings to help us understand how we relate to the Old Testament, not how we can forget it exists.

Mr. Feldick says that God used rules to deal with man until Christ came and gave us grace. Adam and Eve had one rule. After they sinned a new dispensation began. Then another new dispensation under the Laws of Moses. This is not true. The original rule itself was irrelevant. It was the obedience that counted. The knowledge of good and evil did not exist in the fruit. It existed in the disobedience. It has not always been about the rules and each new dispensation brought a new set of rules that provided the means of salvation for their time period. God has not dealt with man in different ways at different times, because He had different rules. God has always extended grace to those who had faith. By grace through faith has always been the way of salvation. Adam and Eve didn't need salvation until after they sinned. That was when God started dealing with man about salvation. Rules were merely in place to show us a guide for living righteously before God, or in the case of Israel as the laws of a nation for civil and religious obedience. And in the case of the Ten Commandments, to also show us our sin. Rules and sacrifices were never a means of salvation....... ever. They were a way of showing obedience and belief and faith in the promise. God did not deal with man by rules alone....... ever. He punished disobedience just as He still punishes disobedience. The rules have nothing to do with how God deals with man on the issue of salvation. The means of salvation has been and always will be by grace through faith.

God's grace has existed from the beginning. Genesis 6:8 “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Exodus 33:17 “And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.” Jeremiah 31:2 “Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” God has always dealt with man in one way, by grace through faith. It was always belief and faith that brought God's grace, along with obedience. The rules were merely for us to show God our love and obedience, not to earn our salvation.

James 2:23 “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”

Hebrews 11:3-39 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.”

It does not say that all of these people obtained salvation through obeying the laws of their dispensation. God dealt with all of them the same way. They believed and had faith. They obtained the good report through faith, even though they never saw the promise of the Savior in their lifetimes.

In Colossians 1:25 Paul says he has been made a minister by the dispensation of God. God chose him to be a steward of the gospel. He was responsible for presenting the gospel and training Christian believers. That is what is meant here. He is not teaching them to forsake the Old Testament and adopt an entirely new belief that has nothing to do with Judaism. Not at all. Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. The trappings were to change, but the message is the same one Israel was given. They were to expect a Savior to save them from their sins. One who would eventually set up His kingdom on earth. We also believe in a Savior who saves us from our sins and will set up His kingdom on earth. There is no difference in the message. God is dealing with us through His plan of redemption which existed from eternity.

While Mr. Feldick would have us eschew the Old Testament, in Hebrews we are told to move on from the basics of the faith, repentence, baptism, etc., which is the “milk” and move on to the “meat”. As the only other “meat” at the time was the Old Testament, given that the New Testament was not created yet, and all people heard and knew was the gospel of Jesus Christ through the apostles, the only thing they had to study was the Old Testament. Hence it was the meat. If they were being told to study it for discernment, as it is the “meat” or the really deep theology (the bulk of prophecy is there), should we not also be studying it, so that we learn how to discern the prophecies in the New Testament?

So it can be seen that the whole idea of dispensationalism is not Scriptural, but a made up doctrine. Quite honestly it is a doctrine of demons, for this doctrine has led to the church separating themselves entirely from the teachings found in the Old Testament. This is exactly what Mr Feldick says we should do - not study the Old Testament to give us understanding of the end times, for that would be mixing dispensations. The truth is, you cannot understand the New Testament teachings on the end times and rapture unless you have a thorough working knowledge of the Old Testament. Without all the information it gives you to help decipher what is in the New Testament, you can make a great many errors in foundational beliefs.

Mr. Feldick refers to the Pharisees of Jesus' time and says that their problem was that they missed the signs of His coming. The irony is, Mr. Feldick and those who believe in an imminent return of Christ, which is not taught in Scripture, do not know the signs of His Second Coming, and therefore will be as blind to it as the Pharisees were to the first coming.

One of the first rules of brainwashing people or mentally preparing people to accept something that would not be readily acceptable under normal circumstances (knowing their Bible in this case) is to change the normal definitions of terms that will be used to change a belief system. In the case of a pre-trib rapture that is exactly how it was managed to get people to start believing in a concept that is not Scriptural. As shown above, the first definition that was changed was “dispensation,” which laid the foundation for creating the idea that Israel was under a different dispensation from the Church, therefore God would never deal with the two at the same time. It seems to have escaped the notice of dispensationalists that God did not destroy the temple for forty years after Christ died, while the Church began to grow. A Church that was made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

A second definition that was changed was the term “tribulation.” Christ defines the term for us in the Olivet Discourse. Matthew 24:21 “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” This time of great tribulation of which Christ speaks is the time which follows the setting up of the abomination of desolation, which Christ tells us can be found in more detail in the book of Daniel. A reference in Revelation in the letter to the church at Thyatira is the only other reference to a specific time called the great tribulation. These two places alone are the only places that use that term “tribulation” to describe this time period, which clearly is said to start at the abomination of desolation. Dispensationalists go to Daniel, as instructed by Christ, and in Daniel 9:27 where it says, “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,” they take the term “tribulation” and make it synonymous with the “one week” mentioned in this verse. There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that would indicate that one should do this. In fact, just the opposite. It says that in the middle of the week, the abomination will occur. Christ tells us that it is from that point on that the time of tribulation will take place. So to apply the term tribulation to the entire week (of seven years) is to deliberately mis-define the word “tribulation” for the sake of confusing the issue The entire seven year period is not anywhere defined as all a time of tribulation. But in so mis-defining the time period, it allows them to further misrepresent what that time is about.

The next thing that needed to be done to the word “tribulation” to make this doctrine work, was to also redefine it as meaning wrath. In particular they redefine the word to mean God's wrath. Tribulation is a translation of the Greek word “thlipsis” which means “anguish, persecution, and trouble.” Wrath is either the Greek word “orge” which means “violent anger, passion, punishment, indignation, vengeance” or “thumos” meaning “passion, fierceness, indignation.” The Hebrew word for wrath of God is “ebrah” meaning “outburst of passion, anger, rage.” In all cases, wrath means the same thing, which is not at all the same as tribulation. Clearly these are two (in English) different words (tribulation and wrath) with two different definitions. If they were the same, the Greek words would have been the same, but they are not. One speaks of God's anger, indignation, and rage. The other speaks of persecution, anguish, and trouble. Persecution is something humans suffer at the hands of either Satan and his minions or other humans. God does not persecute. God punishes. Persecution is aimed at God's people from Satan and his followers. God's wrath is aimed at God's enemies and comes from God. God does not aim His wrath at His people, but He does allow Satan to persecute us. The great tribulation is a time of great persecution. We find this time mentioned in Daniel 12:1 using another term – trouble. “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Specifically this is called Jacob's trouble in another verse. Jeremiah 30:7 “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Because it is called Jacob's trouble, dispensationlists further use this as proof that this time is for Jews alone. What else would it say in the Old Testament? The church was unknown at that time. The writings of the prophet were given to Israel. It is in reading the New Testament that we see that the Church is also included in this time period, as well as Israel. In fact, in retrospect we can see that God did clue us in that the church was a part of this in the Old Testament, for in Daniel it says the "saints" will be given over to the beast. We are the saints.

Now, by redefining tribulation as God's wrath, and redefining Daniels' week all as the tribulation, and now going to a verse 1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” the idea that Christians cannot be around through Daniel's week is “proven” through the manipulation of redefining words. Thus by their deduction, if Christians cannot be here during that seven year period, they must by necessity be raptured before it begins. Hence a dividing line between the Church and Israel, hence a different dispensation. It seems to matter not to them that multitudes of verses refute this idea. As far as they are concerned they have created a pre-tribulation rapture and have “proven” it Scriptually. But as we can see, this proof rests upon misdefining words to create a situation which does not exist. So what does Scripture actually say?

The Bible says that there will be a seven year period, otherwise referred to as Daniel's 70th week. Halfway through that week we have an event called the abomination of desolation. From that point for an unspecified length of time, we are told there will be a time called the great tribulation. Tribulation by definition means persecution, and we are told that this persecution of God's people will be greater than anything the world has ever seen before. So far, there is no indication that the Church, as God's people, cannot be a part of this. Rather, a number of Scriptures tell us we will be there during it. This is not God's wrath. So where does God's wrath come into this?

An Old Testament term for God's wrath is the “Day of the Lord”. We are told that when the Day of the Lord comes, God will pour out His wrath. We are also told of signs to look for that will occur before the Day of the Lord occurs. As Mr. Feldick pointed out about the Pharisees who missed the signs of Christ's first coming, there are signs of His Second Coming that Christ clearly tells us, that dispensationalists are totally ignoring. We are told the following about the Day of the Lord. Isaiah 13:10 “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.” Isaiah 34:4 “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.” Joel 2:31 “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.” Joel 3:15 “The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.” Acts 2:20 “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:”

So in multiple verses we are told that there will be particular signs in the heavens before the Day of the Lord, God's wrath, occurs. These signs will herald the coming of the Day of God's wrath. Those signs are 1) the stars will stop shining and fall from the sky, 2) the sun will be darkened, 3) the moon will be darkened/turned to blood, 4) the sky will be rolled up like a scroll. These are very specific signs that do not occur in the normal course of events. While the sun can be eclipsed, and the moon can be eclipsed, these two are never eclipsed at the same time. We do have a phenomena of “stars” falling from the sky in the form of meteor showers. But again, they do not occur when the eclipses do. And the sky is never seen to roll up as a scroll. So when we see these signs listed again in Scripture, we should take note that it is speaking of the same event, the signs that herald the approach of God's wrath being poured out on the world.

So where do we see these signs in relation to Daniel's 70th week and the great tribulation? Christ tells us exactly where these signs will occur in relation to the great tribulation. He says, and I quote from Matthew 24:29-30 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Christ tells us that the signs that God's wrath is going to be poured out occur immediately after the great tribulation.

So now if we go to the verse that says we are not appointed to God's wrath, we see that there is no reason to not go through the great tribulation, for it is not God's wrath. We have not been exempted from persecution. In fact, it is quite the opposite. We are told to expect persecution and tribulation in life. The entire idea of a pre-trib rapture has evolved from something as simple as erroneous definitions. Erroneous definitions have laid an erroneous foundation upon which an erroneous doctrine (dispensationalism) has resulted. All of Scripture teaches that the Church must endure Satan's wrath and persecution and in fact we are told exactly that in Revelation. Chapter 12:7-17 “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 13:7 “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”

This idea is not just found in Revelation. It is also found in Daniel 7:21 “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;”

The saints, the remnant of the seed of Israel who have the testimony of Jesus Christ is the Church. We are the seed of Abraham by faith, so we are also the seed of Israel. Dispensationalism wants to separate the Church from Israel, but while Israel as a nation has a different place in the scheme of things, Christianity is not a separate entity from the faith of Judaism. It is the culmination of Judaism. Had Israel not rejected her Savior, there would have still been a temple, just as there will again be in the millennium. God would have continued to deal with man as He always has, by grace through faith in the Savior. The only difference between then and now being that instead of being on the front side of His coming, we are on the backside. Just as God spent forty years preparing the Church to take over for Israel as His spokesman, so He will spend seven years preparing Israel to take over from the Church. They overlap each other; there is no dispensational dividing line. It is just that the torch is being passed from one runner on the team to the other and back again.

It is, always has been, and always will be the job of the faithful to spread the good news or gospel of the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world. That is the only dispensation there has ever been. Ever since God gave Eve the promise of a redeemer, the faithful have looked forward to His coming. First they looked for what we know to be His first coming. Now we look for His second coming. Israel was the steward of that good news, (although they failed by adopting paganism into their beliefs and rejecting Him when He came because they did not know the signs) and now we are the stewards (and the Church has done the same thing by adopting paganism into our beliefs and not knowing the signs of His second coming). Israel's whole way of living as a nation- the temple, synagogues, the Scriptures, and the feasts - taught that the Savior would come to save the world from their sins and bring in a new kingdom, and was a witness to the world of God's redemptive plan. We have churches and teach through the words of Scripture, ordinances, and our personal testimonies that He did come to save us from our sins and will come again to reign in a new kingdom. Our way of living as individuals within an invisible corporate body is supposed to be a witness to the world of God's redemptive plan. In the millennium the kingdom will finally come to pass as Christ reigns over the world through both the nation of Israel with a new temple, and through the Church who will act as His judges. They will not be separate, because they are not separate dispensations. If they were, how could they work together in the millennium?

Using Mr. Feldick's definition of dispensation, faith in that Savior is the only dispensation (way that God deals with man) there has ever been from Adam and Eve, (she was given the first prophecy of a Savior) to the present time, and on into eternity. There is only one dispensation when defined that way. God is merely using different trappings to teach that redemptive plan. Israel was given writings, the Temple, feasts, and prophets to teach about His first and second coming. The Church was given the same writings (O.T.) plus more writings (N.T.), the Holy Spirit to all believers (in place of the temple and unlike the O.T. where the Spirit was only given to certain individuals), and ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper (observing the feasts is optional, although technically the Lord's Supper is the Passover seder) to teach about His first and second comings. The message has remained the same through all time. The Redeemer will(has) come, die(d) for our sins, rise(n) from the dead, and set up His kingdom on earth. Christ has come and died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again and reign. Israel didn't always understand that message, but that does not mean God had not given it to them. The Church also doesn't seem to understand a lot of the message about His Second Coming either. History seems to repeat itself. God said that faith and belief in that Savior by His grace would save people. That message was the same then, now, and always. It has never changed. There have merely been different delivery systems. God did not deal with man in a different way, He merely wrapped the package differently.