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BEFORE THE RAPTURE

BEFORE THE RAPTURE

END-TIME PROPHECY, TOP 100 Experts
BEFORE THE RAPTURE PROPHECY, Experts

BEFORE THE RAPTURE

BEFORE THE RAPTURE
BEFORE THE RAPTURE

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Jesus Christ: Coming to Earth Again: KING of Kings!


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For all information: A "BIBLICAL CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW REALLY MATTERS!"
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What Is
The WORD of GOD?
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BEFORE THE RAPTURE ™

Statement On The Holy Scriptures;

The ‘Lens’ Through Which All Knowledge Is Understood;

THE WORD of GOD, AXIOM-1:

"IF" there exists any such thing as 'The Word of God'; [and ALL evidence proves such does exist:]

"THEN" by inherent definition - it must be:

    Holy, Inspired, Inerrant, Intrepid, Infallible, Infinitive, Invincible, Indestructible, Inexhaustible, Inalienable, Immutable, Implacable, Impossible-to-Improve: Eternal and Indubitable NEVER FAILING and ALL CONQUERING!

    DEDUCTING from the simple fact - that God equates His Word with Himself:

      "In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, . . ." John 1:1 (and other Scriptures),
Thus 'GOD'S WORD' can have no lesser standard than stated above;


"GOD'S WORD MUST" THEREFORE BE:

    As true in history, archeology, geography, Earth science, medical science, nutrition, gerontology, agriculture, botany, astronomy, physics, chemistry, climatology, government, law, psychology, sociology - and every subject it touches - as in Theology, Divinity and Doctrine:

And "IF IT BE NOT" - true in all subjects mentioned above; and And "IF IT BE NOT"

    Holy, Inspired, Inerrant, Intrepid, Infallible, Infinitive, Invincible, Indestructible, Inexhaustible, Inalienable, Immutable, Implacable, Impossible-to-Improve: Eternal and Indubitable in EVERY FIELD OF KNOWLEDGE:
Whatever else it may be, it cannot be ‘The Incomparable Word’ of the Great Creator God!

God's Eternal Guarantee!

"Heaven and Earth Shall Pass Away;
But GOD'S WORDS Shall NOT Pass Away!"

--Jesus the Messiah, AD-33 (Matthew 5:18)

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Do You Qualify for
An Honorary "Doctor of Divinity" from Cambridge Theological Seminary?
If you believe God's Word as Stated Above:
Probably!
(Click for a Free Evaluation:)

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Please Visit Top Prophecy Webpages

[1] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Can RAPTURE Occur Before GREAT COMMISSION is Fulfilled?

[2] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - How Many Will be SAVED: 1 in 10? 1 in 100? 1 in 1000?

[3] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - What is the Best PLAN of Evangelization! (Very Brief!)

[4] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Jesus said: “I Will (ALWAYS BE BUILDING) Church!”
(But Did He Really Mean It? Will it REALLY Conquer the "GATES OF HELL?")

[5] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Alarming Church News! USA! (Brief)

[6] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Christ’s Commission: Does it Mean “Global Domination?”

[7] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Can You Face The RAPTURE Truth?

[8] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - A Futurist View of Revelation: A Catholic Doctrine: WHY?

[9] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Jesus and Paul on the “End-of-the-World”

[10] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Activists: "Who's Who in Christian Politics?

[11] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Is Modern Church Ignorant of Rapture Purpose?

[12] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Why Jesus did not come back in 2010! (Do you Know?)

[13] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Greatest "LAST DAYS Sin: (Are You guilty?)

[14] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Christ LAST DAYS Warning

[15] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - OPEN LETTER to Fellow Laborers

[16] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Are All Denominations Wrong?

[17] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Who Will save Christianity?

[18] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - A Last Days Revival!

[19] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - "The USA Rides The Titanic!

[20] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Founding Fathers’ “KINGDOM NOW” Dominion!

[21] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – What Was Great Falling Away

[22] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Biblical End of World, Basic Terms

[23] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Christianity Is Dying! WHY?

[24] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Christian Myths! Do You Believe Them?

[25] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Church Growth Goals Priority Page

[26] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Modern Christianity Is A Mess!

[27] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – The “Anti-Christ Home Page

[28] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – TOP-TEN Messages

[29] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Christ END TIME Commands!

[30] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Christianity Is Confusing and WHY?

[31] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Every Minister A Hero

[32] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” - Legal Abortion: Is It Good for Christians?

[33] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Southern Baptists Dying: WHY?

[34] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Satan’s TOP-TEN LAST-DAYS’ LIES!

[35] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – LAST DAYS Truth Test-3 Questions

[36] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Evangelicals Call for Government School Exodus!

[37] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – "Hall of Faith Ministers, 20th Century"

[38] "RAPTURE-READY – Early Church Outlaws Homosexuality!

[39] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – LAST DAYS ‘PULPIT FREEDOM SUNDAY’?

[40] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – GOD-GIVEN Rights

[41] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – "Rush Limbaugh Quotes" on Christ!

[42] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” –"Republican Power and Catholics!"

[43] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Last Days "GREAT COMMISSION MANDATE!"

[44] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – "Hall of Faith Activist Ministers, A>

[45] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Early Church Outlaws Homosexuality!

[46] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – PULPIT FREEDOM SUNDAY?

[47] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Guaranteed in Bible: “Civil & Human” Rights!

[48] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – "Rush Limbaugh Quotes" on Christ

[49] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – Some Sobering Questions; (Very Brief!)

[50] “BEFORE THE RAPTURE!” – "God v. Satan” WHO WINS? (Very Brief!)



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THE GREAT TRIBULATION:

The Greatest Book on The Tribulation;

THE GREAT TRIBULATION by David Chilton, Annotated by NewtonStein;

(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!" Scripture!)

      Many Fine Bible Scholars are UNAWARE of Christ's Great Parable covering the whole Prophetic Overview of His Kingdom, His Coming and His Greatest SIGN OF THE TIMES! (SEE "TARES-&-WHEAT!")

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REMEMBER!

Simply Move Your "ARROW" over any Scripture Reference
Scripture will appear in KJV and Young's Literal Translation (YLT)!

Do You Qualify for
An Honorary "Doctor of Divinity" from Cambridge Theological Seminary?
If you believe God's Word as Stated Above:
Probably!
(Click for a Free Evaluation)


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Do You Qualify for
An Honorary "Doctor of Divinity" from Cambridge Theological Seminary?
If you believe God's Word as Stated Above:
Probably!
(Click for a Free Evaluation:)


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"CAMBRIDGE!"

Will You Take "THE BIBLE PLEDGE?"

(Christians Sending a "Message" to ALL Elected Officials!)

Many Thousands Already Have: And GOD is "Keeping Track!"!

(Are you Afraid? Ashamed? Apathetic? Anti-Christ? Or Against God's Authority?)

"BIBLE PLEDGE!"

    "The BIBLE is the WORD of GOD!

      *HIS ULTIMATE TRUTH!

      *HOLY and UNCHANGING!

      *HIGHEST AUTHORITY on Earth!

    As I UNDERSTAND the BIBLE,

      >> I will NEVER 'GO' against, 'VOTE' against, or 'SPEAK' Against,

      >> The WORD of GOD,

      >> So Help me GOD!

    AMERICAN FLAG WAVING AMERICAN I am a 'CHRISTIAN AMERICAN'!"
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      Please "CLICK" the following to Affirm your Commitment as a CHRISTIAN AMERICAN to the Word of God upon the Earth!

    This Christian American BELIEVES in the WORD OF GOD!

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Many Fine Bible Scholars seem unaware,
Of Christ's Great Parable covering the whole Church Age,
From His Sowing First Seed and His Great End-Time Harvest of Souls!
To Final Judgment of the Unsaved and their Damnation;
To Christ’s Presence and Eternal Kingdom!

(See Greatest Parable on End of Times!)
Christ’s Greatest Parable on End of Times: Brief Overview

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"CAMBRIDGE!"

**SEE ALSO - **SEE ALSO - **SEE ALSO;

The INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE VERSION

By Webster-NewtonStein;

With Cambridge Theological Seminary™, AD-2000;

Translation Axiom: God's Word! "INSPIRED-INERRANT!"

The "INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE VERSION"


The "STRONG'S ADVANCED HEBREW LEXICON" by NewtonStein


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(See Cambridge Concise Bible COMMENTARY)

(See Cambridge Concise Bible CONCORDANCE)

(See Cambridge Concise Bible DICTIONARY)

(See Cambridge Comprehensive Bible DICTIONARY)

(See Cambridge Comprehensive Bible ENCYCLOPEDIA)

(See Cambridge Comprehensive Bible COMMENTARY)


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** To SEARCH for any word, subject or Scripture on this website, use the GOLD-BOX SITE SEARCH near top of page: over 600,000 pages available from Cambridge Theological Seminary Archives;

** To SEARCH for anyword, subject or Scripture on this SINGULAR-WEB-PAGE you are now on, (which may be from 100-3,000 regular notebook sized pages);

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END-TIME PROPHECY!

BEFORE THE RAPTURE:

Read Christ's Amazing Overview of End-Time Events!

(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!" Scripture!)

    Precious Greetings, "End-Time Prophecy Students and Scholars!" God Bless You and WELCOME to "PROPHECY EXPERTS HEADQUARTERS" at Ministers-Best-Friend.com;

Greetings in Jesus!

    May God's Greatest Blessing be upon you who "Preach the Gospel!", you who "Preach ALL the Counsel of God" - as Apostle Paul declared - in Acts 20:27.

    (HOW MANY Gospel Preachers can claim to Preach "ALL the Counsel of God" - as Paul Professed?

        FACT! True Gospel-Bible Preachers are THE ONLY HOPE FOR THIS WORLD!

        FACT! The Imminent Rapture Preachers have the best heart for Souls of ALL End-Time Preachers!

      * It is NOT Politicians who have the answers!

      * It is NOT Republicans & Democrats who have the answers!

      * It is NOT United Nations who has the answers!

      * It is NOT Harvard and Yale who have the answers!

      * It is GOSPEL PREACHERS. . .and the WORD OF GOD ONLY! who have the answers for this world's problems!


    We guarantee you fellow Ministers of the Gospel - our whole ministry, our major prayer, our earnest burden is for YOU - the Beloved Ministers - "CALLED BY CHRIST" to a Lost-&-Dying world!

    Thus our website name:

    'MINISTERS-BEST-FRIEND.com' - this is our goal, our striving, our prayer and out plea - for ALL who are preaching Salvation ONLY in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12) our Lord and Saviour, our KING of Kings, and LORD of Lord!

    We prayerfully beg of you - you who are the MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE ON THIS EARTH . . . Before you begin with the article you clicked on to read - we beg of you to take 'Just a moment or so' to read a PARABLE of JESUS . . .

    - with great 'thoughtfulness' as to the PROPHECY aspect of it, as usually it is only considered for salvation, judging, etc.:


WE BEG OF YOU

    And . . .we plead in the Name of Jesus, to read the ONLY SCRIPTURE that gives a complete prophetic overview of the New Testament Age: "The Parable of the Tares and Wheat:"

    In this brief but complete overview of the entire Church Age - from when Christ begins sowing Good Seed in His Kingdom, . . . until He sends His Angels for the final reaping and gathering, then final judgement, then casting the damned into Outer-Darkness, with the Saints shining in Eternal Glory:

    Please, prayerfully keep in mind the following:

      [1] Jesus Himself is doing the teaching;

      [2] This is the ONLY parable the Disciples asked Jesus to explain further!

      [3] This is the ONLY Scriptural teaching with a full-view of End-Time-Prophecy from Christ beginning, to His Angel's final gathering, destruction of the damned, etc;

      [4] This is the ONLY Scriptural teaching of End-Time-Prophecy with a clear, simple, chronological sequence, from the very beginning to the very end;

      [5] That this is ONE complete teaching, in ONE Scriptural setting, making it the ONE most valuable End-Time Prophetic passage in Scripture, as it puts ALL THINGS in order in ONE simple teaching;

    Thanks again for Coming to Ministers-Best-Friend.com;

    And PLEASE . . . let us know HOW we can serve your needs better, and EMPOWER YOU as a Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

ALL FOR JESUS!

BEFORE THE RAPTURE at Ministers-Best-Friend.com


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END-TIME PROPHECY!

BEFORE THE RAPTURE:

Read Christ's Amazing Overview of End-Time Events!

(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!" Scripture!)

    Precious Greetings, "End-Time Prophecy Students and Scholars!" God Bless You and WELCOME to "PROPHECY EXPERTS HEADQUARTERS" at Ministers-Best-Friend.com;

Christ's Overview of the Whole New Testament Age:


    Christ's Parable of Tares and Wheat:

    Matthew 13:36-43
      "Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, 'Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field'.

      "Jesus answered and said unto them;

        He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; The good seed are the children of the kingdom; But the tares are the children of the wicked one;

        The enemy that sowed them is the devil; The harvest is the end of the world: And the reapers are the angels.

        'As' therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; So shall it be in the end of this world.

        The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather OUT of his kingdom, all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

        'Then' shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." Matthew 13:36-43

      Let's break it down to the stated facts:

        [1] He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; Matthew 13:37

        [2] The field is the world; Matthew 13:38

        [3] The good seed are the children of the kingdom; Matthew 13:38

        [4] But the tares are the children of the wicked one; Matthew 13:38

        [5] The enemy that sowed them is the devil; Matthew 13:39


        [6] The harvest is the end of the world: Matthew 13:39

        [7] And the reapers are the angels. Matthew 13:39

        [8] 'As' therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; Matthew 13:40

        [9] So shall it be in the end of this world. Matthew 13:40

        [10] The Son of man shall send forth his angels, Matthew 13:41


        [11] and they shall gather OUT of his kingdom, Matthew 13:41

        [12] all things that offend, Matthew 13:41

        [13] AND them which do iniquity; Matthew 13:41

        [14] And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:42

        [15] 'Then' shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Matthew 13:43


        [16] *** Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." Matthew 13:43


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END-TIME PROPHECY!

BEFORE THE RAPTURE:

Read Christ's Amazing Overview of End-Time Events!

(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE: from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!" Scripture!)

    Precious Greetings, "End-Time Prophecy Students and Scholars!" God Bless You and WELCOME to "PROPHECY EXPERTS HEADQUARTERS" at Ministers-Best-Friend.com;

QUESTIONS On PARABLE of TARES:

    ** (1) Do you see JESUS SAYS: "The tares are gathered FIRST, and not the wheat?

    ** (2) Do you see JESUS SAYS: "The tares being gathered FIRST - are the ONES TAKEN - and not the wheat?

    ** (3) Do you see JESUS SAYS: "The tares are TAKEN AWAY and the Wheat are the ONES LEFT BEHIND?

    ** (4) Do you see that the Angels come to EARTH to "gather OUT OF Christ's Kingdom,"

      (A) "ALL things that offend" (all manner of sinful entities, alcohol, drugs, etc,;

      (B) And "ALL Them that DO INIQUITY!"


    ** (5) Then Jesus says: The RIGHTEOUS that are left behind - INHERITING THE WHOLE EARTH (as MANY, MANY Scriptures promise, from Christ's Beatitudes to Psalm 37), and with the evils gone, the RIGHTEOUS SHINE FORTH as the SUN!


NOW!

    Re-study All of the prophetic Scriptures that are 'Bits-&-Pieces' - 'taken-out-of-context' from 'here-&-there' and put them together in Christ's framework!

    THEN, you will come to a SIMPLE understanding, easily agreeable, that ALL have believed from Christ to 1900 - until the MODERN LAODICEAN AGE - with even the FICTION WRITERS of Hollywood making mythical ARMAGEDDON movies! . . .

    . . . and the Truth of Scripture was lost to the most of the MODERN, LUKEWARM CHURCH, END-TIMES THEORIES!


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END-TIME PROPHECY!

BEFORE THE RAPTURE: center>

Read Christ's Amazing Overview of End-Time Events!

(All RAPTURE-READY from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!" View of Scripture!)

    Precious Greetings, "End-Time Prophecy Students and Scholars!" God Bless You and WELCOME to "PROPHECY EXPERTS HEADQUARTERS" at Ministers-Best-Friend.com;

Read Christ's Insight into End-Time Events!

    Christ's Full Teaching on Kingdom Age:

      Thus in the Parable of Tares and Wheat, there is no room for the massive number of different prophecy schemes filling the bookstores and airwaves today, that come from the following:

      Taking 'tiny snatches' of Scripture out of context:

        >> Take a verse or two from the Revelation;

        >> Take a sentence or two from Daniel;

        >> Take some Scripture from Ezekiel that is CLEARLY for His day, but make it pertain to our day, 2600 years later!

        >> Split some of the sentences right in the middle . . . making one part apply to one era, and the rest apply to another era!

        >> Make "numbers" have "Secret meanings: "5" means this, "6" six means that; "7" means something else, and "10 means . . .

      FACT: "Numerology" is PURE nonsense!

      FACT: No two 'Number Systems' by the "Superstitious-Numbers" people AGREE on what the numbers mean!

      FACT: There is not even a HINT in Scripture that a "2", a "4", a "6", or a "12", etc, means anything besides the numerical value it is given!

      FACT: If you believe this NON-SCRIPTURAL foolishness, please send us YOUR number scheme, with Scriptural Proof why YOURS is correct and all others are wrong; also send Scriptural proof where you have the authority to make numbers mean whatever you want them to mean . . .

      AND We'll publish your Scheme and give you $100,000 IMMEDIATELY! . . . for settling this 100-year-old Christian Confusion for the whole Church!

    Adding a hidden meaning to numbers that the numbers do not have, that Scripture does not authorize or call for us to do, is simply superstitious, mystical, gnostic, and SINFUL by ADDING to the Word of God THAT which GOD did not give us!

    If you ever want to understand Prophecy, you MUST give up Human Myth-Making and Hollywood Hype with utterly foolish non-Scriptural conjecturing by those making $$MILLIONS$$ selling books to silly-superstitious people.


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Alert! ALERT!

END-TIME PROPHECY!

BEFORE THE RAPTURE:

Read Christ's Amazing Overview of End-Time Events!

(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!"Scripture!)

    Precious Greetings, "End-Time Prophecy Students and Scholars!" God Bless You and WELCOME to "PROPHECY EXPERTS HEADQUARTERS" at Ministers-Best-Friend.com;

Is God the "Author of Confusion?"

    God declares He is NOT the Author of Confusion! I Corinthians 14:33;

    Why then, is there SO MUCH CONFUSION in the Greatest Prophecy of the Great Book, that God - who is NOT the Author of Confusion - ever Authored?

    Obviously, the problem is with us the readers, and NOT God the Author.

QUESTION:

    What do we Bible and Prophecy Students do in discerning Prophecy interpretation, that MIGHT lend itself to mass-confusion in Prophecy?


ANSWER:

    When asked, here is what MANY Bible Scholars and students find very troubling in understanding the Word of God.

      ** Using part of a sentence from one Scripture, and part of a sentence from another Scripture, preachers and teachers are putting together PIECEMEAL THOUGHTS, CONCEPTS and IDEAS . . .

        . . . that NO ONE in Scripture EVER taught, and NO ONE in Scripture EVER put together in the Word of God!


      This method MISUSES Scripture and ABUSES the Word of God.

      This method of taking BITS and SNATCHES of Scripture from here, there and everywhere is used to make God's Word SEEM to teach:

        >> any position,

        >> on any doctrine,

        >> that anyone wants to teach!

        >> Thus we have 10,000 denominations in the USA;

        >> and 38,000+ worldwide, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia!


      This False-Teacher, False Prophet method - that of making a "Pre-Text" out of "Context" to use for a "Proof-Text" . . .

      . . . is what CAUSES the EVER-SPLINTERING of denominations, . . .

      . . . making Christianity the most confusing subject ever attempted to be taught in the world . . .

      . . . with Prophecy the most confusing issue of Christianity!


THE RESULT?

    >> Our national leaders reject us as blubbering, blabbering, blathering fools, having hundreds of Bible-versions, thousands of Denominations, unable to agree on ANYTHING the Bible says, . . .

    . . . FAR WORSE than the fools who argued on 'how many angels could dance on the head of a pin' . .

    . . . while nations drown in sin and ignorance . . .

    . . . while our local Churches are ever-more sickeningly lukewarm . . .

    . . . while losing our youth and closing Church-houses at the rate of 10 a day . . .

    . . . with TV Preachers spending more time preaching 'THE ANTICHRIST . . . than the CHRIST!!! . . .

    . . . and we dare wonder "What's Wrong?"


With our Competing, Criticizing, Condemning, Confusing, CORPORATE CHURCH CONGLOMERATIONS called "ABOMINATIONS" . . .(Sorry!!! . . . make that DENOMINATIONS . . .

. . . Where does it say in the Bible to start STATE-APPROVED CORPORATE-DENOMINATIONS ANYWAY?)

These thousands of denominations present such diverse views, with not even a hint of a way to exercise "Church Discipline",

THUS UNWITTINGLY, THE TRUE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE FROM OUR CHURCHES TO OUR NATION IS THIS:

    o The Bible is a BOOK that cannot be clearly understood;

    o Christ's MESSAGE also cannot be clearly understood;

    o Therefore, into whatever arena you bring Christianity, YOU INCREASE DISAGREEMENT and DIVISION, CONFUSION and CONDEMNATION!. . .

    o . . . just like in the feuding, fussing, fighting, fatally-stricken Churches in EVERY TOWN, USA.



PUBLIC RESPONSE?

    >> Thus this modern generation rejects our confusing teaching as worthless, incoherent, and are ever becoming more unwilling to even listen;

    >> The unsaved but seeking, don't know whom to believe!

    >> Judges, Legislators and bureaucratic leaders are simply OUTLAWING Christ, Christianity, His Name, and His Word, from all phases of public debate - to AVOID THE CONFUSION!


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END-TIME PROPHECY!

BEFORE THE RAPTURE:

Read Christ's Amazing Overview of End-Time Events!

(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!"Scripture!)

    Precious Greetings, "End-Time Prophecy Students and Scholars!" God Bless You and WELCOME to "PROPHECY EXPERTS HEADQUARTERS" at Ministers-Best-Friend.com;

The Greatest Sin for Believers?

    Do you realize what a great sin it is to 'divide the Body of Christ?'

      You DO realize that Jesus prayed perspiring blood in the Garden of Gethsemane - NOT just the three times asking "If it be possible, let this cup...," . . .

      . . . but do you realize He PRAYED FIVE TIMES for "all believers to be ONE?"


    Why is this 'UNITY OF BELIEVERS SO IMPORTANT' to Jesus?

    BECAUSE, by discarding pride, humbling ourselves and uniting to become ONE in the Great Quest to carry out Christ's GREAT COMMISSION, . . . JESUS GUARANTEED:

      >> That this UNITY and ONENESS would PROVE to the whole world that He WAS the Christ, THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW!

        John 17:23 - "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know..."


      >> This would CAUSE the whole world to Believe on Him AS Christ, THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE!

        John 17:21 - "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us:

        that the world may believe..."


      >> Precious Brethren: We beg of you to read, and re-read, John 17 ever so carefully!

      >> And see that these things are TRUE!

    >> In fact, we challenge you, to see if you can find the FIVE TIMES Jesus prayed for the UNITY of BELIEVERS in John 17!


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END-TIME PROPHECY!

BEFORE THE RAPTURE:

Read Christ's Amazing Overview of End-Time Events!

(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!"Scripture!)

    Precious Greetings, "End-Time Prophecy Students and Scholars!" God Bless You and WELCOME to "PROPHECY EXPERTS HEADQUARTERS" at Ministers-Best-Friend.com;

God says He has made the way PLAIN!

    God's Purpose is NEVER to confuse us, neither on Prophecy, nor any other doctrine. God gave The Apocalypse to REVEAL Prophecy to us!

      *FACT! The word 'APOCALYPSE' is the "unveiling" and "the making known" of a matter!

      *FACT! The word 'Apocalypse' has NOTHING to do, inherently, with end-times, last days, tribulation, war etc.

      *CHALLENGE! You have an internet and Greek study books available: Check it and see for yourself!

      *FACT! Modern Ministers, we say RESPECTFULLY - even radio and TV ministers - are so ASLEEP to God's Truth, that they accept the MODERN MEDIA DEFINITION, the 20th Century English Dictionaries' definition of "APOCALYPSE!!!"

        They choose the Media Definition INSTEAD of the Bible Definition of the First Century Greek word as it was given!


    Absolute Scriptural Facts!

      *FACT: The word "Apocalypse" is NOT in the King James Version (nor is it in most versions), so WHERE does this word come from, and how did it get it's modern meaning - "THE END OF THE WORLD!" - that we hear on the secular, atheist, Christ-hating newscasts continually?

    * FACT: Consider the actual Bible Book, "The Revelation!" Look at the word of the Title: It is the 'REVEALING', the 'REVEALED', the 'REVELATION' the 'MAKING KNOWN' . . . not the confusing, the hidden, the disguised, and the mysterious - known only to one teacher here or there!

    * PLEA: We beg of you to Let God's Words be your words, . . . BELIEVING and RECEIVING exactly what God is clearly and distinctly declaring!

      Revelation 1:1 "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

    *PLEA: WE BEG OF YOU, read through The Revelation again - TAKING OFF 20th-21st century "Movie-Making" - "Money-Making" - "Thief-In-The-Night" blinders!

    Scripture GUARANTEES us Believers - we the "Children of the Day!" - THAT Christ's Coming SHALL NOT come upon us as a Thief!

      "But ye, brethren, are NOT in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief!" 1 Thessalonians 5:4

    The Great book of "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" - PROMISED special blessings to those people to whom it was sent!

      >> for reading it,

      >> for teaching it,

      >> for hearing it, and

      >> for heeding it . . . THEN! . . . nearly 2,000 years ago!


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END-TIME PROPHECY!

BEFORE THE RAPTURE:

Read Christ's Amazing Overview of End-Time Events!

(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT! "Scripture!)

    Precious Greetings, "End-Time Prophecy Students and Scholars!" God Bless You and WELCOME to "PROPHECY EXPERTS HEADQUARTERS" at Ministers-Best-Friend.com;

Mystery of the Seven Churches!

    ***PLEASE CONSIDER: Why was The Revelation sent to "The Seven Churches in Asia", with NONE to the many Churches in Greece, Judea, Alexandria, or Rome?

    ***PLEASE CONSIDER: There is not a shred of evidence to say the 7-Church letters represent 7-Church Ages,in succession, one after the other.

      xx This is MYTH and cause of great error!

      xx Like the False Numbers Teachers, NO TWO agree on when the "wildly-assumed" 7-Church ages begin and end!

      xx What's really amazing and terribly devastating - since millions lived through all of those ages - and HAD NOT A CLUE from Scripture that there were:

        > Seven Distinct Church ages;

        > With Seven Distinct sets of rules and commands;

        > With Seven Distinct sets of sins and purposes;

        >>> However, since NO ONE WHO EVER LIVED during these many centuries knew this "Modern-Mumbo-Jumbo--Nunmerology-Mythology . . .

        >>> They didn't even know what they were supposed to be doing in their OWN particular Church age!!!

        >>> Amazing! God supposedly gave these seven Church ages specific commands to carry out . . . and NONE OF THESE AGES knew about the seven Church ages!!!


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END-TIME PROPHECY!

BEFORE THE RAPTURE:

Read Christ's Amazing Overview of End-Time Events!

(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE: from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!" Scripture!)

    Precious Greetings, "End-Time Prophecy Students and Scholars!" God Bless You and WELCOME to "PROPHECY EXPERTS HEADQUARTERS" at Ministers-Best-Friend.com;

Grave Fact For Prophecy Experts!

    A Grave Fact for Modern Prophecy experts to consider is as follows:

      FACT-A: "IF" the Seven Churches of Asia DID represent Seven Church Ages;

      FACT-B: "THEN" all of the NEW IDEAS that no one ever believed in the whole history of the church (a) "prophecy numerology" ideas, (b) all of the "7-Church-ages" ideas, (c) all of the "Secret-rapture-at-any-moment" myths (no one who EVER lived believed Christ could come back any day . . .

      . . . ALL believed the Church MUST do what Christ commanded - as Jesus said - and THEN He would return . . . and NOT ONE DAY BEFORE!

      FACT-B, CONT'D: All of these MODERN DOCTRINES ALL HAVE DEVELOPED in the Last Church Age - that of Laodicea, of which The Scripture tells us:

        >> The LAODICEAN CHURCH had not ONE redeeming quality!

        >> Not EVEN ONE good thing could Christ say!

        >> That HE, Jesus, was NOT even in this apostate Church, and He knocked on the door, hoping to be invited in, Himself!

        >> That this "assumed-last-Church-Age" was naked, wretched, miserable, BLIND, and needed "spiritual eye-salve", that they might SEE their apostasy;

      FACT-C: If "The 7-Church-Age Teaching" were true . . .

        ** . . .then they make themselves heretics . . . as they are ALL RICH TEACHERS OF THE "APOSTATE LAST-CHURCH AGE!" . . .

        ** . . . the one that is SICKENINGLY LUKEWARM . . .

        ** . . . that Jesus said He vomits up!

        ** This LAODICEAN CHURCH AGE is the age that produced the devastating RAPTURE ESCAPISM THEORY!


      QUESTION: Then how valuable is NEW TEACHING of the sickeningly lukewarm Laodicean Church-age - the hersey of the Vomit-Inducing Church-age theologians?

      QUESTION: Is it wise to accept the End-Time teaching by the APOSTATE CHURCH as the correct teaching?

      QUESTION: Is it wise to believe the End-Time teaching by the APOSTATE CHURCH when Jesus says this Church age did NOT even have Him in their midst?

      QUESTION: Is it wise to REJECT all of the End-Time teaching by Christ in the TARES PARABLE, and ALL the teachers for 1700 years . . .

      . . . then accept the End-Time teaching by the APOSTATE MONEY-MAKERS . . .

      . . . getting rich off teaching FEAR of the ANTICHRIST???


    QUESTION:

    Is this wise?

    We urge you to embrace the GREAT COMMISSION (Matthew 28:18-20) and reject the RAPTURE ESCAPISM THEORY that is so DESTROYING THE USA!


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TOP 100 Modern-Times Experts;

Read Christ's Amazing Overview of End-Time Events!

(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE "INSPIRED-INERRANT!" Scripture!)

    Precious Greetings, "End-Time Prophecy Students and Scholars!" God Bless You and welcome to "PROPHECY EXPERTS TOP 100 at Ministers-Best-Friend.com;

We urge you to RE-THINK Prophecy Understanding!

    ***WE BEG OF YOU: look for whole teachings given by Christ, an Apostle or Prophet - not "snippets Snatched" from here and there, NEVER give as part of a whole!

    REALIZE: In any field of study - such as anti-aging, cancer, Alzheimer's, etc., - when there are several contradicting explanations for something, this is evidence that NONE understand it CLEARLY enough to convince the others!

    When the "Clearly Correct Explanation" is put forth with evidence, the errors will go away when the generation of stubborn leaders who wont admit error dies off.


    [6] Currently, there are many conflicting and contradicting beliefs for how Christ returns:

      >> PRE-TRIB Rapture, the Hal Lindsay/Grant Jeffery position who guaranteed us Christ would return by 1976, 1988, 2000, etc.;

      >> MID-TRIB Rapture, Comes at the 'Last Trump';

      >> POST-TRIB Rapture, Comes at the 'Last Day';

      >> NO-TRIB Rapture, The Kingdom grows and leavens whole Earth;

      >> SECRET Rapture, [Thief in the night!];

      >> OPEN Rapture, [Paul says that day will NOT over take us as a thief!];

      >> MANY Raptures: Old Testament Resurrected saints at Christ's resurrection; the Church initially, the 144,000 separately, the tribulation saints, etc.;

      >> PRE-MILL Return of Jesus, most TV evangelists, 20th century;

      >> POST MILL Return of Jesus, most of the Reformation leaders, last 500 years;

      >> A-MILL Return of Jesus, the Orthodox Churches for 1500 years;

      >> PAN-MILL . . . multitudes of current believers who admit EACH position has "Proof Texts" that contradict each other - and NONE of them can explain the other's Proof-Texts - so the HONEST THEOLOGIANS admit it is a MESS, but the still believe it is all going to PAN-OUT alright!


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TOP 100 Modern-Times Experts;

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(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!"Scripture!)

    Precious Greetings, "End-Time Prophecy Students and Scholars!" God Bless You and welcome to "PROPHECY EXPERTS TOP 100 at Ministers-Best-Friend.com;

Will you research for yourself?

IMPORTANT QUESTION:

What has the Church ALWAYS BELIEVED,
UNBROKEN, from Christ through Today?


[7] It appears certain to us - having spent life-times studying what the Church has ALWAYS BELIEVED, PREACHED & TAUGHT - IN UNBROKEN SEQUENCE FROM THE APOSTLES THROUGH EVERY GENERATION WITH - WITH NOTHING ADDED, NOTHING NEW" . . .

that ALL of the "modern popular theories are in error" and contrary to Scriptural truths taught in every previous generation . . . from Charles Spurgeon back to Jesus and Paul!


[8] Surely you realize that the most popular theories were devised in the recent generations, that NONE of God's Great Leaders and Martyrs of the ages believed them, or ever thought of them, that they were never preached or in print!

The Modern TV Theories are just bits and pieces, snatches of scriptures, taken from here and there, RIPPED completely out of Context - MANY Times even 'Partial-Sentences' - made to to create a false picture to sell a book (or a million or two . . .


[9] Surely you know that that NONE of the few men, whom God ordained to write commentary on the whole Bible:

    >> John Calvin's Notes on the whole Geneva-Pilgrim's Bible, early 1600's;

    >> Matthew Henry, Commentary of the whole Bible in Six-Volumes, around AD 1700;

    >> Adam Clarke, Commentary of the whole Bible in Six-Volumes, around 1800's;

    >> Charles Spurgeon, exegetical sermons on the whole Bible in 57 Volumes, later 1800's;

NONE of these great men ever found such convoluted, cockamamie theories as are taught today, as the most popular theories devised in the recent generations.


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(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!" Scripture!)

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What did JESUS TEACH on Prophecy?

For all Doctrines, ALWAYS start with Words of Jesus! IF Jesus did NOT mentioned it, how important can it be?

[10] Dearest Fellow Believer: WHAT DID JESUS TEACH CLEARLY?

PLEASE take FIVE-MINUTES and read the Tares and Wheat Parable below - the ONLY teaching in all of Scripture that gives us a full, complete, overview of the whole New Testament era: simple, clear, concise, NEEDING NO other Scriptures to understand!

    THEN take this clear outline of the whole Kingdom Age - From Christ beginning to sow the Good Seed . . . UNTIL the final Harvest by the Angels, judgement of the damned and eternal bliss of the saved with their Heavenly Father;

    AND . . . use this clear outline of Christ's to help you interpret Daniel, The Revelation, Matthew 24-25, Paul's writings etc.


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END-TIME PROPHECY!

TOP 100 Modern-Times Experts;

Read Christ's Amazing Overview of End-Time Events!

(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!" Scripture!)

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Please Consider Christ's Great Commission:

    [11] Dearest Fellow Believer: DO YOU BELIEVE THE GREAT COMMISSION? That Christ meant for us to OBEY HIM and do what He Commanded?

    OR, do you believe Jesus wasn't serious about this command, and didn't mean it in the least; that He was just letting off steam because He was "pumped-up" after the resurrection?

    Matthew 28:18-20 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven 'and in earth'.

    Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

    Teaching them to observe ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE TAUGHT YOU: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

    [Obviously the capital letters are ours, for emphasis, to make sure you see that:


Christ's Great Commission is NOT:

    >> Running through the streets Preaching, (USA or Uganda);

    >> Shouting John 3:16 only;

    >> Praying a 10-second prayer;

    >> Tossing them a copy of the Gospel of John - or usually just telling them to "find a church somewhere";

    >> Rushing on to the next person cause Jesus might come back today!

Nothing could be of greater damage to "Understanding the Cause of Christ", and Confusing the Commission of Christ to His Church!


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END-TIME PROPHECY!

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(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!" Scripture!)

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Christ's Great Commission:

The "GREAT COMMISSION" of CHRIST IS:

    >> Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to EVERY CREATURE!

    >> Teaching "ALL Nations" - Yes, including the 57 Muslim nations of 1.5 BILLION MUSLIMS too! (of which Christians are currently in almost NONE of their nations openly!)

    >> Teaching ALL PEOPLE, ALL THINGS THAT CHRIST TAUGHT


    >> EVERY Parable, EVERY Principle, EVERY Scripture, EVERY Prophecy,

    >> EVERY WORD that came out of His mouth (this is what we are to live by - EVERY WORD - not bread alone!)

    >> As "EVERY WORD is SPIRIT" Jesus said;

    >> And "EVERY WORD is LIFE" Jesus said;Whatever you believe

GREAT QUESTION for American Preachers

    Would you honestly say we have accomplished this yet in the USA?

    CHRIST'S GREAT COMMISSION must be fulfilled BEFORE the Return of Jesus, so say God's many Great Church Leaders of all ages!

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END-TIME PROPHECY!

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(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!" Scripture!)

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Christ's Parable of Tares and Wheat: AGAIN;


Christ's Overview of the Whole New Testament Age:

Matthew 13:36-43
    "Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, 'Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field'.

    He answered and said unto them,

      * He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

      * The field is the world;

      * The good seed are the children of the kingdom;

      * but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

      * The enemy that sowed them is the devil;

      * the harvest is the end of the world;

      * and the reapers are the angels.

    As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

    The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

    And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.


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END-TIME PROPHECY!

TOP 100 Modern-Times Experts;

Read Christ's Amazing Overview of End-Time Events!

(All BEFORE THE RAPTURE from "INSPIRED-INERRANT!" Scripture!)

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Some questions on Parable of Tares:

QUESTIONS

    ** (1) Do you see JESUS SAYS: "The tares are gathered FIRST, and not the wheat?

    ** (2) Do you see JESUS SAYS: "The tares being gathered FIRST - are the ONES TAKEN - and not the wheat?

    ** (3) Do you see JESUS SAYS: "The tares are TAKEN AWAY and the Wheat are the ONES LEFT BEHIND?

    ** (4) Do you see that the Angels come to EARTH to "gather OUT OF Christ's Kingdom,"

      (A) "ALL things that offend" (all manner of sinful entities, alcohol, drugs, etc,;

      (B) And "ALL Them that DO INIQUITY!"

    ** (5) Then Jesus says: The RIGHTEOUS that are left behind - INHERITING THE WHOLE EARTH (as MANY, MANY Scriptures promise, from Christ's Beatitudes to Psalm 37), and with the evils gone, the RIGHTEOUS SHINE FORTH as the SUN!


NOW!

    Re-study All of the prophetic Scriptures that are 'Bits-&-Pieces' - 'taken-out-of-context' from 'here-&-there' and put them together in Christ's framework!

    THEN, you will come to a SIMPLE understanding, easily agreeable, that ALL have believed from Christ to 1900 - until the MODERN LAODICEAN AGE - with even the FICTION WRITERS of Hollywood making mythical ARMAGEDDON movies! . . .

    . . . and the Truth of Scripture was lost to the most of the MODERN, LUKEWARM CHURCH, END-TIMES-THEORIES!



    BEFORE THE RAPTURE BANNER PART-1BEFORE THE RAPTURE BANNER BEFORE THE RAPTURE BANNER PART-3

    See "TOP-100"

    BEFORE THE RAPTURE EXPERTS

    Prophecy Teachers Alphabetical Order

    BEFORE THE RAPTURE BANNER PART-1BEFORE THE RAPTURE BANNER BEFORE THE RAPTURE BANNER PART-3

    "NOTICE!"

    TOP-25 ELITE SCHOLARS OF ALL TIME!

    Following The List of the "TOP-100!"

    Matthew Henry, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Adam Clarke, B.B. Warfield, Charles Hodges, James Stuart Russell, John Calvin, John Wesley, John Knox and MORE!

    These Based Prophecy Understanding on the Bible Alone!


    The following "TOP-100 All use Television and Current events to Interpret the Prophecy of God's Word

      EXAMPLE of egregious Error!

        >> ALL of the Rapture Prophecy Greats from World War-2 through Hal Lindsay's "Late, Great, Planet Earth" did as follows:

        >> ALL SAW the great nemesis of Christ as the COMMUNIST SOVIET UNION in Prophecy as the KING of the NORTH!

        >> NONE SAW - or even hinted at the terrible rise if Radical, Anti-Christ ISLAM in prophecy - NOT EVEN ONE RAPTURE PERSON!


      TODAY, POST-AD-2,000:

        >> ALL SEE the terrible rise if Radical, Anti-Christ ISLAM all through Bible Prophecy!

        >> NONE SEE - The now disbanded USSR (Soviet Union) in prophecy, and in fact, the former Soviet Union is RAPIDLY being overrun by Islam, at a much faster rate that Hispanic growth in the USA!


      THE CERTAIN TRUTH IS, the Rapture Teachers were NOT understanding prophecy in the 50's, 60's and 70's by Scripture but by the NEWS and HOW THE WORLD LOOKED TO THEM . . . with the USSR threatening the Christian World!

      They are STILL IGNORING SCRIPTURE . . .the growth of Christianity that EVANGELIZES THE WHOLE WORLD before Christ returns, . . .

      . . . and are STILL understanding prophecy by HOW THE WORLD LOOKS TO THEM TODAY . . . with the ISLAM threatening the Christian World!

    Surely, if you are an honest scholar of God's Word, you see this easily and clearly, as sad as it may be to admit.

    The Radical Rapture Authors - Lindsay, LaHaye, Van Impe, Grant Jefferies, Perry Stone, Paul Crouch, and many more - they are true Christians! They are NOT bad men (though money-oriented and Anti-Christ Rapture books sell!), . . .

    But they do interpret PROPHECY BY THE NEWS, then use the NEWS as "PROOF" they are correct!

    If they knew "BEANS!" about Bible Prophecy, why did they NOT see the Rise of Islam in the Scripture THEN . . . as they "conveniently" are finding it now?

    We are praying earnestly for you as you study God and His His Word!


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      THE GREAT TRIBULATION:





        This book may still be purchased for personal use, or, DOWNLOADED FOR FREE At Dr. Gary North's Website at http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/

        Dr. North is a profound Bible Scholar, and offers just at 100 excellent books for free - not ancient books - but the best books of recent years, books extremely well researched and profusely documented with Scripture.

        These are great books to which he has acquired the copyright to make available for free to all Students and Scholars of the word of God!.

        We urge ALL OF YOU . . .

          >> To get them all;

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          >> and incorporate them into your theology and ministry,

          >> Whether you are Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Church of Christ/Christian Church Jeho0vah's Witness or Letter Day Saints;

        These great books are NOT sectarian, but they ARE deeply Scriptural and practical on many topics most theology books ignore . . . from Economics, to Investing, to Government, to Jurisprudence, to Family Law, to Church-v-State, to Marriage Law, and MUCH, MUCH more!

        Dr. North is a great blessing to the Church of Jesus Christ for his great gift to one and all!

        Please support, prayerfully, financially, verbally and to recommend his sites to your friends!

        In the Name of Jesus Christ!

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        Other books by David Chilton

          >> Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt-Manipulators, 1981

          >> Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion, 1985

          >> The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation, 1987

          >> Power in the Blood: A Christian Response to AIDS, 1987


          THE GREAT TRIBULATION David Chilton

          Institute for Christian Economics

          Tyler, Texas

          Copyright © 1987 [1997]

          by Dominion Press

          All rights reserved. Written permission must be securedfrom the publisher to use or reproduce any part of this book,except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles.

          Published by Dominion Press

          P.O. Box 7999, Tyler, Texas 75711

          Printed in the United States of America

          Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataChilton, David.

          The great tribulation / David Chilton.

          Originally published: Ft. Worth, Tex. : Dominion press,1987.

          Includes indexes. ISBN 0-930462-55-6

          1. Theology-eschatology.

          2. New Testament prophecy.

          3. Jewish history-fall of Jerusalem.

          4. The Antichrist.

          5. Symbolism-Bible.

          6. Bible - hermeneutics

          I. Title. BT821.2.C44 1996 236' .9 - dc20 96-26306 CIP


          TABLE OF CONTENTS

            PUBLISHER'S PREFACE vii

              1. The Terminal Generation 1

              2. Coming on the Clouds 16

              3. The Coming of the Antichrist 29

              4. The Last Days 40

              5. The Coming of the New Covenant 53

              6. The Four Horsemen 64

              7. Vengeance for the Martyrs 79

              8. The Book Is Opened 88

              9. Jerusalem Under Siege 104

              10. All Creation Takes Vengeance 121

              11. It Is Finished! 134

              SCRIPTURE INDEX 153

              INDEX 167

              PUBLISHER'S EPILOGUE by Gary North ...•• 171

              PUBLISHER'S PREFACE

              by Gary North

              The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right

              hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The

              Lord shall send the rod ofthy strength out ofZion: rule

              thou in the midst of thine enemies (Psalm 110:1-2).

              Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered

              up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall

              have put down all rule and all authority and power.

              For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his

              feet. And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death

              (I Corinthians 15:24-26).


              The Bible teaches that Jesus shall reign over theearth. Once it begins, there will be no interruptionof His earthly reign over this earth in history untildeath shall at last be conquered. But we know thatdeath ends only on the final day, when Christ putsan end to Satan's final rebellion, when the devil iscast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10).The key kingdom question is: When will His

              VIII THE GREAT TRIBULATION

              reign over earth begin? Jesus was very clear aboutthis. He told His disciples after His resurrection:All power is given unto me in heaven and inearth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father, andof the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teachingthem to observe all things whatsoever I havecommanded you: and 10, I am with you alway,even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew28:18-20).So, all power in heaven and in earth has alreadybeen given to Christ. Already! We know also that Heis reigning with God in heaven.And what is the exceeding greatness of hispower to us-ward who believe, according to theworking of his mighty power, which he wroughtin Christ, when he raised him from the dead,and set him at his own right hand in the heavenlyplaces, far above all principality, andpower, and might, and dominion, and everyname that is named, not only in this world, butalso in that which is to come: and hath put allthings under his feet, and gave him to be thehead over all things to the church, which is hisbody, the fulness of him that filleth all (Ephesians1:19-23).Is Christ the head of the church today? Paul saidthat He is. But what else is also true today, accordingto Paul? The passage is clear: Jesus Christ now rulesPUBLISHER'S PREFACE Ixthe earth from heaven above. He is presently over allprincipality, power, might, and dominion. What arethese? They are demonic spirits. Paul wrote in thissame epistle: "For we wrestle not against flesh andblood, but against principalities, against powers,against the rulers of the darkness of this world, againstspiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).God is in control. Jesus is in control. All thingsare £n pr£nc£ple under Jesus' feet. It is true that £n history,evil beings still have power. We as Christ's peoplewrestle spiritually against them. The war betweengood and evil, between right and wrong, goeson daily in the life of every Christian and in the lifeof every society. But, in principle, life is stronger thandeath, for Jesus' resurrection has proven this. Theresurrection is more powerful than the cross. Light ismore powerful than darkness (John 1:9). Good ismore powerful than evil, for Christ now reigns fromon high. The legacy of the "second Adam," JesusChrist, is more powerful in history than the legacy ofthe first Adam. Grace is more powerful than sin.You believe this, don't you?Why Fear a "Great Tribulation"?Why, then, should Christians believe that somegreat tribulation faces them in the future - a tribulationso great that nothing like it in history has everoccurred? Not all Christians believe that they will gothrough the tribttlation, although post-tribulationpremillennialists do. But ifGod reigns from on high,why should Christians expect anything worse thanthe "normal" holocausts of the twentieth centuryXTHE GREAT TRIBULATIONthe persecutions and genocides of Armenians, Jews,Russian kulaks, Ukrainians, and Cambodians?These were indeed terrible events, and there maywell be more of them, but why should Christians expectthat another event will occur that is fundamentallyworse?The answer is: they shouldn't. Why not? Becausethe great tribulation is behind us. This is what DavidChilton argues in The Great Tribulation. Jesus warnedHis people of a great tribulation to come in the verynear future. In the chapter on the great tribulationin Matthew, Christ's words are recorded: "Verily Isay unto you, This generation shall not pass, till allthese things be fulfilled" (Matthew 24:34). We knowfrom the parallel passage in Luke that the great tribulationwould be the destruction ofJerusalerIl by anarmy, which turned out to be the Roman army:And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassedwith armies, then know that the desolationthereof draweth nigh. Then let them whichare in Judea flee to the mountains; let themwhich are in the midst of it depart out; and letnot them that are in the countries enter thereinto.For these be the days of vengeance, thatall things which are written may be fulfilled(Luke 21:20-22).David Chilton's magnificent commentary on theBook of Revelation is appropriately called The Daysof Vengeance (Dominion Press, 1987). This little bookis a brief survey of those sections of Revelation thatPUBLISHER'S PREFACE xldeal with the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.Are lTou Looking Forward to Disaster?It may sound strange to many readers that thegreat tribulation is behind us. This view has beenquite common throughout church history, but overthe last hundred years or so, many Bible-believinggroups have adopted a different view: that the greattribulation will happen to Israel (or to everyone, includingChristians) in the future, and probably inthe near future. Most dispensationalists believe thatthe church will be "raptured" out of the world beforethe great tribulation takes place; post-tribulation dispensationalistsand traditional non-dispensationalpremillennialists believe that the church will gothrough the great tribulation.What the Bible teaches is that it took place inA.D. 70, and Christians did not go through it.This book introduces readers to the theology ofjudgment: specifically, God's judgment sanctionsagainst Israel. The sanctions were curses. God gaveblessings to the church and cursings to rebelliousIsrael, which had crucified the Lord and publiclycalled God's judgment down on themselves: "Thenanswered all the people, and said, His blood be onus, and on our children" (Matthew 27:25). God'scursings on ancient Israel in A.D. 70 matched theircrime, the crucifixion of Christ. This crime was thegreatest (worst) in history; their punishment wasalso the greatest (worst) in history. To call anythingelse "the great tribulation" is to downplay the immensityof that generation's crime.xII THE GREAT TRIBULATIONOur Comprehensive ResponsibilityI realize that this will disappoint many Christians.If the great tribulation is over, then the Raptureis not scheduled to take place prior to this tribulation.The rapture of the saints - the resurrection ofdead saints and the instant transformation of thosestill alive on earth (I Corinthians 15:52)- gets delayeduntil the final act of history, when Satan rebelsand Christ comes back to judge the world (Revelation20:7-10). This means that until then, Christianswill remain on earth as God's delegated agents ofjudgment in history, preaching the gospel, applyingGod's law to every area of life, and progressivelysubduing the earth to the glory ofGod (Genesis 1:2628).This means that there will be no earthly escape forchurch members from the progressively heavy responsibilitiesof exercising dominion.Sadly, there are millions of Christians today whohave adopted a philosophy of the future that teachesthat most people will die and go to hell- and then betossed into the lake of fire for all eternity (Revelation20:14)-and nothing the church can do will be ableto overcome their resistance to the gospel. The HolySpirit will simply never change the hearts ofa majorityof mankind. They will inevitably perish. Withover 5 billion people alive today, and with billionsmore to be born in the next 40 years, this is a pessimisticdoctrine of the future. Yet today's Christiansprefer to believe in this horrible scenario than to believein the growth of the church and the triumph ofthe gospel, for such a triumph would place tremendousresponsibility on those who call themselvesChristians. They really would rather see billions ofPUBLISHER'S PREFACE xIIIpeople perish eternally than to admit to themselvesthat they, as Christians, will be called on by God totake responsibility in this world - in the areas thatmany Christians call "secular"- because of a world..wide revival.We who call ourselves Christian Reconstructionistsproclaim a future worldwide revival and thesteady, voluntary submission of people to God's law.We believe that Christians will steadily be given responsibilitiesin every area of life in a world that hasrun out of workable answers. God will give us theseresponsibilities, but not through revolution or tyranny.Instead, He will give us these responsibilities in historythrough the voluntary submission of those whohave no other hope, and who (until that final rebellionof Revelation 20) will be willing to allow Christiansto bear these social, political, military, and economicresponsibilities.We believe in revival. We believe in evangelismand foreign missions. So do all Christians. But weReconstructionists have this unique outlook: we believethat these gospel efforts will be successful in history. When wecall other Christians to intensify their efforts to spreadthe gospel, we offer them this unique motivation:their efforts will eventually prove successful in history.The gospel ofJesus Christ will not prove to be a failurein history. The power of the resurrection is greaterthan the power of the devil and his human followersto resist the most powerful message in man's history:that Jesus Christ has borne the sins of man, and thatevil has in principle been overcome. As time goeson, this gospel will triumph in history.xiv THE GREAT TRIBULATIONMankind's New BeginningIt is one of those oddities of recent intellectualhistory that perhaps the most succinct and perceptivecomment on the Christian view of history is providedby a secular Jew who teaches law at HarvardUniversity. In the Introduction to his book, Law andRevolution: The Formation oj the Jtestern Legal Tradition,published by Harvard University Press in 1983,Harold J. Berman makes a crucial observation onthe centrality of the resurrection in Christian historicalthought. He begins with an important insight intothe Hebrew attitude toward historical time:In contrast to the other Indo-European peoples,including the Greeks, who believed thattime moved in ever recurring cycles, theHebrew people conceived of time as continuous,irreversible, and historical, leading to ultimateredemption at the end. They also believed,however, that time has periods within it.It is not cyclical but may be interrupted or accelerated.It develops. The Old Testament is astory not merely of change but of development,of growth, of movement toward the messianicage-very uneven movement, to be sure, withmuch backsliding but nevertheless a movementtoward.Berman then goes on to explain how Christianityadopted this view of linear time, but added a keynew element:PUBLISHER'S PREFACE XVChristianity, however, added an importantelement to the Judaic concept of time: that oftransformation of the old into the new. TheHebrew Bible became the Old Testament, itsmeaning transformed by its fulfillment in theNew Testament. In the story of the Resurrection,death was transformed into a new beginning.The times were not only accelerated butregenerated. This introduced a new structureof history, in which there was a fundamentaltransformation of one age into another. Thistransformation, it was believed, could onlyhappen once: the life, death, and resurrectionof Christ was thought to be the only major interruptionin the course of linear time from thecreation of the world until it ends altogether(pp. 26-27).,The Great Tribulation shows that this transformationof the old order into Christ's new order wasdecisively manifested in the public termination ofthe old order: the fall of Jerusalem and the destructionof the temple and its sacrificial system. This wasthe shaking of the foundations in history.Modern Christians are almost totally unfamiliarwith the events of A.D. 70. The eschatological viewpointsthat predict the great tribulation in the futureled to the neglect in popular Christian literature ofthe story of the fall of Jerusalem. David Chilton hasperformed a major educational service to the churchof Jesus Christ in reminding us what a momentousevent the fall of Jerusalem was. From the fall ofxvi THE GREAT TRIBULATIONJerusalem until the future conversion oftheJews (Romans11), which will inaugurate a period of unprecedentedearthly blessings (vv. 12-15), nothing else comesclose as a public manifestation of Christ's new order.What we need to understand is that Satan is agreat imitator. God defeated him at Calvary, but hestill· seeks to defeat Christians in their lives. God imposeda great tribulation on the old order of theapostate Hebrews, but Satan imitates God by imposingholocausts on mankind through his followers.Christ inaugurated a new world order, and soSatan's followers now promise to bring us a newworld order. The Marxists do, the Nazis did, andthe New Age movement does. It is all a counterfeit.Accept no substitutes! Remember Christ's words:"But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then thekingdom of God has come unto you" (Matthew12:28). He cast out devils by the Spirit ofGod, so thekingdom of God had come to them.. It is now our inheritanceas members of Christ's new nation, thechurch, for He told the Jews of His day: "The kingdomof God shall be given to a nation bringing forththe fruits thereof" (Matthew 21:43). Christ's newworld order has come, and the fall of Jerusalem isproof. As Berman says of the resurrection: "This introduceda new structure of history, in which therewas a fundamental transformation of one age intoanother. This transformation, it was believed, couldonly happen once: the life, death, and resurrectionof Christ was thought to be the only major interruptionin the course of linear time from the creation ofthe world until it ends altogether." The worst is over!1

              THE TERMINAL GENERATIONOne of the most basic principles for an accurateunderstanding of the Bible's message is that Scriptureinterprets Scripture. The Bible is God's holy, infallible,inerrant Word. It is our highest authority. Thismeans that we cannot seek for an authoritative interpretationof Scripture's meaning anywhere outside ofthe Bible itself. It also means that we must not interpretthe Bible as if it dropped out of the sky in thetwentieth century. The New Testament was writtenin the first century, and so we must try to understandit in terms of its first-century readers. For example,when John called Jesus "the Lamb of God," neitherhe nor his hearers had in mind anything remotelysimilar to what the average, modern man-on-the-.street might think of if he heard someone called a"lamb." John did not mean Jesus was sweet, cuddly,nice, or cute. In fact, John wasn't referring to Jesus'"personality" at all. He meant that Jesus was the sinlessSacrifice for the world. How do we know this?Because the Bible tells us so.2 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONThis is the method we must use in solving everyproblem of interpretation in the Bible - includingthe prophetic passages. That is to say, when we reada chapter in Ezekiel, our first reaction must not be toscan the pages of the New Thrk Times in a franticsearch for clues to its meaning. The newspaper doesnot interpret Scripture, in any primary sense. Thenewspaper should not decide for us when certain propheticevents are to be fulfilled. Scripture interpretsScripture.This GenerationIn Matthew 24 (and Mark 13 and Luke 21) Jesusspoke to His disciples about a "Great Tribulation"which would come upon Jerusalem. It has becomefashionable over the past 100 years or so to teach thatHe was speaking about the "end of the world" andthe time of His Second Coming. But is this what Hemeant? We should note carefully that Jesus Himselfgave the (approximate) date of the coming Tribulation,leaving no room for doubt after any careful examinationof the Biblical text. He said:Truly I say to you, this generation will notpass away until all these things take place(Matthew 24:34).This means that everything Jesus spoke of in thispassage, at least up to verse 34, took place before the generationthen lz'ving passed away. "Wait a minute," yousay. "Everything? The witnessing to all nations, theTribulation, the coming of Christ on the clouds, theTHE TERMINAL CENEftATION Sstars falling . . . everything?" Yes - and, incidentally,this point is a very good test of your commitment tothe principle we began with in this chapter.Scripture interprets Scripture, I said; and you noddedyour head and yawned, thinking: "Sure, I know allthat. Get to the point. Where do the atomic blastsand killer bees come in?" The Lord Jesus declaredthat "this generation" - people then living - would notpass away before the things He prophesied tookplace. The question is, do you believe Him?Some have sought to get around the force of thistext by saying that the word generation here reallymeans race, and that Jesus was simply saying that theJewish race would not die out until all these thingstook place. Is that true? I challenge you: Get outyour concordance and look up every New Testamentoccurrence of the word generation (in Greek, genea)and see if it ever means "race" in any other context.Here are all the references for the Gospels: Matthew1:17; 11:16; 12:39, 41, 42, 45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:36;24:34; Mark 8:12, 38; 9:19; 13:30; Luke 1:48, 50;7:31; 9:41; 11:29, 30, 31, 32, 50, 51; 16:8; 17:25; 21:32.Not one of these references is speaking of the entireJewish race over thousands of years; all use the wordin its normal sense of the sum total of those living at thesame time. It always refers to contemporaries. (In fact,those who say it means "race" tend to acknowledgethis fact, but explain that the word suddenly changesits meaning when Jesus uses it in Matthew 24! Wecan smile at such a transparent error, but we shouldalso remember that this is very serious. We are dealingwith the Word of the living God.)4 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONThe conclusion, therefore - before we even beginto investigate the passage as a whole - is that theevents prophesied in Matthew 24 took place within the lifetimeof the generation which was then living. It was thisgeneration which Jesus called "wicked and perverse"(Matthew 12:39,45; 16:4; 17:17); it was this "terminalgeneration" which crucified the Lord; and it was thisgeneration, Jesus said, upon which would come thepunishment for "all the righteous blood shed on theearth" (Matthew 23:35).All These ThingsTruly I say to you, all these things shallcome upon this generation. 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem,who kills the prophets and stones thosewho are sent to her! How often I wanted togather your children together, the way a hengathers her chicks under her wings, and youwere unwilling. Behold, your house is beingleft to you desolate! (Matthew 23:36-38).Jesus' statement in Matthew 23 sets the stage forHis teaching in Matthew 24. Jesus clearly told of animminent judgment on Israel for rejecting the Wordof God, and for the final apostasy of rejecting God'sSon. The disciples were so upset by His prophecy ofdoom upon the present generation and the "desolation"of the Jewish "house" (the Temple) that, whenthey were alone with Him, they could not help butask for an explanation.And Jesus came out of the Temple and wasgoing away when His disciples came up toTHe TeRMINAL GeNeRATION 5point out the Temple buildings to Him. AndHe said to them, "Do you not see all thesethings? Truly I say to you, not one stone hereshall be left upon another, which will not betorn down." And as He was sitting on theMount of Olives, the disciples came to Himprivately, saying, "Tell us, when will thesethings be? And what will be the sign of Yourcoming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew24:1-3).Again, we must take careful note that Jesus wasnot speaking of something that would happen thousands ofyears later, to some future temple. He was prophesyingabout "all these things," saying that "not one stone hereshall be left upon another." This becomes evenclearer if we consult the parallel passages:And as He was going out of the Temple,one of His disciples said to Him, "Teacher,behold what wonderful stones and what wonderfulbuildings!" And Jesus said to him, "Doyou see these great buildings? Not one stone shallbe left upon another which will not be torndown" (Mark 13:1-2).And while some were talking about theTemple, that it was adorned with beautifulstones and votive gifts, He said, "As for thesethings which you are looking at, the days will comein which there will not be left one stone uponanother which will not be torn down" (Luke21:5-6).6 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONThe only possible interpretation of Jesus' wordswhich He Himself allows, therefore, is that He wasspeaking of the destruction of the Temple which thenstood in Jerusalem, the very buildings which the disciplesbeheld at that moment in history. The Templeof which Jesus spoke was destroyed in the fall ofJerusalem to the Roman armies in A.D. 70. This isthe only possible interpretation ofJesus' prophecy inthis chapter. The Great Tribulation ended with the destructionof the Temple in A.D. 70. Even in the (unlikely)event that another temple should be built sometimein the future, Jesus' words in Matthew 24, Mark 13,and Luke 21 have nothing to say about it. He wastalking solely about the Temple of that generation.There is no Scriptural basis for asserting that anyother temple is meant. Jesus confirmed His disciples'fears: Jerusalem's beautiful Temple would be destroyedwithin that generation; her house would beleft desolate.The disciples understood the significance of this.They knew that Christ's coming in judgment to destroythe Temple would mean the utter dissolution ofIsrael as the covenant nation. It would be the signthat God had divorced Israel, removing Himselffrom her midst, taking the kingdom from her andgiving it to another nation (Matthew 21:43). Itwould signal the end of the age, and the coming ofan entirely new era in world history-the New WorldOrder. From the beginning of creation until A.D. 70,the world was organized around one central Sanctuary,one single House of God. Now, in the NewCovenant order, sanctuaries are established wherTHETERMINAL GENERATION 7ever true worship exists, where the sacraments areobserved and Christ's special Presence is manifested.Earlier in His ministry Jesus had said: '~n hour iscoming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem,shall you worship the Father.... But anhour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipersshall worship the Father in Spirit and truth"(John 4:21-23). Now Jesus was making it clear thatthe new age was about to be permanently establishedupon the ashes of the old. The disciples urgentlyasked: ''When will these things be, and what will bethe sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?"Some have attempted to read this as two or threeentirely separate questions, so that the discipleswould be asking first about the destruction of theTemple, and then about the signs of the end of theworld. This hardly seems credible. The concern ofthe immediate context (Jesus' recent sermon) is onthe fate of this generation. The disciples, in consternation,had pointed out the beauties of the Temple,as if to argue that such a magnificent spectacleshould not be ruined; they had just been silencedwith Jesus' categorical declaration that not one stonethere would be left upon another. There is nothingwhatsoever to indicate that they should suddenlychange subjects and ask about the end of the materialuniverse. (The translation "end of the world" inthe King James Version is misleading, for the meaningof the English word world has changed in the lastfew centuries. The Greek word here is not cosmos[world], but aion, meaning eon or age.) The discipleshad one concern, and their questions revolved around8 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONone single issue: the fact that their own generationwould witness the close of the pre-Christian era andthe coming of the new age promised by the prophets.All they wanted to know was when it would come,and what signs they should look for, in order to befully prepared.Signs of the EndJesus responded by giving the disciples not one,but seven signs of the end. (We must remember that"the end" in this passage is not the end of the world,but rather the end ofthe age, the end of the Temple, thesacrificial system, the covenant nation of Israel, andthe last remnants of the pre-Christian era). It is notablethat there is a progression in this list: the signsseem to become more specific and pronounced untilwe reach the final, immediate precursor of the end.The list begins with certain events which would occurmerely as "the beginning of birth pangs" (Matthew24:8). In themselves, Jesus warned, they werenot to be taken as signals of an imminent end; thusthe disciples should guard against being misled onthis point (v. 4). These ''beginning'' events, markingthe period between Christ's resurrection and theTemple's destruction in A.D. 70, were as follows:1. False Messiahs. "For many will come inMy name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and willmislead many" (v. 5).2. J#.zrs. "And you will be hearing of warsand rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened,for those things must take place, but thatTHE TERMINAL GENERATION 9is not yet the end. For nation will rise againstnation, and kingdom against kingdom" (vv.6-7a).3. Natural disasters. "And in various placesthere will be famines and earthquakes. But allthese things are merely the beginning of birthpangs" (vv. 7b-8).Anyone of these occurrences might have causedChristians to feel that the end was immediately uponthem, had not Jesus warned them that such eventswere merely general tendencies characterizing the finalgeneration, and not precise signs of the end. Thenext two signs, while they still characterize the periodas a whole, do bring us up to a point near the endof the age:4. Persecution. "Then they will deliver youup to tribulation, and will kill you, and you willbe hated by all nations on account ofMy name"(v. 9).5. Apostasy. "And at that time many will fallaway and will betray one another and hate oneanother. And many false prophets will arise,and will mislead many. And because lawlessnessis increased, the love of many will growcold. But the one who endures to the end, heshall be saved" (vv. 10-13).The last two items on the list are much more specificand identifiable than the preceding signs. Thesewould be the final, definitive signs of the end- one10 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONthe fulfillment of a process, and the other a decisiveevent:6. Worldwide evangelization. "And this Gospelof the Kingdom shall be preached in thewhole world for a witness to all the nations, andthen the end shall come" (v. 14).At first glance, this seems incredible. Could theGospel have been preached to the whole world withina generation of these words? The testimony ofScripture is clear. Not only could it have happened,but it actually did. Proof? A few years before the destructionof Jerusalem, Paul wrote to Christians inColossae of "the Gospel which has come to you, justas in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit andincreasing" (Colossians 1:5-6), and exhorted themnot to depart "from the hope of the Gospel that youhave heard, which was proclaimed in all creation underheaven" (Colossians 1:23). To the church at Rome,Paul announced that "your faith is being proclaimedthroughout the whole world" (Romans 1:8), for thevoice of Gospel preachers "has gone out into all theearth, and their words to the ends of the world"(Romans 10:18). According to the infallible Word ofGod, the Gospel was indeed preached to the wholeworld, well before Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D.70. This crucial sign of the end was fulfilled, as Jesushad said. All that was left was the seventh, final sign;and when this event occurred, any Christians remainingin or near Jerusalem were instructed toescape at once:THE TERMINAL GENERATION 117. The Abomination of Desolation. "Thereforewhen you see the Abomination of Desolationwhich was spoken of through Daniel theprophet, standing in the holy place (let thereader understand), then let those who are inJudea flee to the mountains; let him who is onthe housetop not go down to get the things outthat are in his house; and let him who is in thefield not turn back to get his cloak" (vv. 15-18).The Old Testament text Christ referred to is inDaniel 9:26-27, which prophesies the coming of armiesto destroy Jerusalem and the Temple: "Thepeople of the prince who is to come will destroy thecity and the sanctuary. And its end will come with aflood; even to the end there will be war; desolationsare determined. . . . And on the wing ofabominationswill come one who makes desolate, even until a completedestruction, one that is decreed, is poured outupon the desolate." The Hebrew word for abominationis used throughout the Old Testament to indicateidols and filt~ idolatrous practices, especially of theenemies of Israel (e.g., Deuteronomy 29:17; I Kings11:5, 7; II Kings 23:13; II Chronicles 15:8; Isaiah66:3; Jeremiah 4:1; 7:30; 13:27; 32:34; Ezekiel 5:11;7:20; 11:18, 21; 20:7-8, 30). The meaning of bothDaniel and Matthew is made clear by the parallelreference in Luke. Instead of "abomination ofdesolation," Luke reads:But when you see Jerusalem surrounded byarmies, then recognize that her desolation is at12 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONhand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to themountains, and let those who are in the midst ofthe city depart, and let not those who are in thecountry enter the city; because these are thedays of vengeance, in order that all things whichare written may be fulfilled (Luke 21:20-22).The "abomination of desolation," therefore, wasto be the armed invasion ofJerusalem. During the periodof the Jewish Wars, Jerusalem was surrounded byheathen armies several times. But the specific eventdenoted by Jesus as "the abomination of desolation"seems to be the occasion when the Edomites (Idumeans),the age10ng enemies of Israel, attackedJerusalem. Several times in Israel's history, as shewas being attacked by her heathen enemies, theEdomites had broken in to ravage and desolate thecity, thus adding greatly to Israel's misery (II Chronicles20:2; 28:17; Psalm 137:7; Ezekiel 35:5-15;Amos 1:9, 11; Obadiah 10-16).The Edomites remained true to form, and theircharacteristic pattern was repeated during the GreatTribulation. One evening in A.D. 68 the Edomitessurrounded the holy city with 20,000 soldiers. Asthey lay outside the wall, according to Josephus,"there broke out a prodigious storm in the night,with the utmost violence, and very strong winds,with the largest showers of rain, with continual lightnings,terrible thunderings, and amazing concussionsand bellowings of the earth, that was in anearthquake. These things were a manifest indicationthat some destruction was coming upon men, whenTHE TERMINAL GENERATION 13the system of the world was put into this disorder;and anyone would guess that these wonders foreshowedsome grand calamities that were coming."This was the last opportunity to escape from thedoomed city of Jerusalem.Anyone who wished to flee had to do so immediately,without delay. The Edomites broke into thecity and went directly to the Temple, where theyslaughtered 8,500 people by slitting their throats. Asthe Temple overflowed with blood, the Edomitesrushed madly through the city streets, plunderinghouses and murdering everyone they met, includingthe high priest. According to the historian Josephus,this event marked "the beginning of the destructionof the city . . . from this very day may be dated theoverthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs."The Great TribulationBut woe to those who are with child and tothose who nurse babes in those days! But praythat your flight may not be in the winter, or ona Sabbath; for then there will be a great tribulation,such as has not occurred since the beginningof the world until now, nor ever shall(Matthew 24:19-21).Luke's account gives additional details:Woe to those who are with child and tothose who nurse babes in those days; for therewill be great distress upon the land, and wrathto this people, and they will fall by the edge of14 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONthe sword, and will be led captive into all thenations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentilesbe fulfilled (Luke 21:23-24).As Christ pointed out in Matthew, the GreatTribulation was to take place, not at the end of history,but in the middle, for nothing similar had occurred"from the beginning of the world until now,nor ever shall." Thus the prophecy of the Tribulationrefers to the destruction of the Temple in that generation(A.D. 70) alone. It cannot be made to fit intosome "double-fulfillment" scheme of interpretation;the Great Tribulation of A.D. 70 was an absolutelyunique event, never to be repeated.Josephus has left us an eyewitness record ofmuch of the horror of those years, and especially ofthe final days in Jerusalem. It was a time when "theday-time was spent in the shedding of blood, and thenight in fear"; when it was "common to see citiesfilled with dead bodies"; when Jews panicked andbegan indiscriminately killing each other; whenfathers tearfully slaughtered their entire families, inorder to prevent them from receiving worse treatmentfrom the Romans; when, in the midst of terriblefamine, mothers killed, roasted, and ate theirown children (cf. Deuteronomy 28:53); when thewhole land "was all over filled with fire and blood";when the lakes and seas turned red, dead bodiesfloating everywhere, littering the shores, bloating inthe sun, rotting and splitting apart; when the Romansoldiers captured people attempting to escape andTI-I~ T~nMINAL O~N~ftATION 16then crucified them- at the rate of 500 per day."Let Him be crucified! Let Him be crucified! Hisblood be on us, and on our children!" the apostates hadcried forty years earlier (Matthew 27:22-25); andwhen it was all over, more than a million Jews hadbeen killed in the siege ofJerusalem; close to a millionmore were sold into slavery throughout the empire,and the whole ofJudea lay smoldering in ruins,virtually depopulated. The Days of Vengeance hadcome with horrifying, unpitying intensity. In breakingher covenant, the holy city had become theBabylonish whore; and now she was a desert, "thehabitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit,and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (Revelation18:2).2

              COMING ON THE CLOUDSWe have seen that Christ's discourse on theMount of Olives, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13,and Luke 21, deals with "the end"-not of the world,but of Jerusalem and the Temple; it has exclusivereference to the "last days" of the Old Covenant era.Jesus clearly spoke of His own contemporaries when Hesaid that "this generation" would see "all these things."The "Great Tribulation" took place during the terribletime of suffering, warfare, famine, and mass murderleading up to the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.What appears to pose a problem for this interpretation,however, is what Jesus says next:But immediately after the tribulation ofthose days the sun will be darkened, and themoon will not give its light, and the stars willfall from heaven, and the powers ofthe heavenswill be shaken, and then will appear the sign ofthe Son of man in heaven, and all of the tribesof the land will mourn, and they will see theCOMING ON THE CLOUDS 17Son of Man coming on the clouds of heavenwith power and great glory. And He will sendforth His angels with a great trumpet and theywill gather together His elect from the fourwinds, from one end of the heaven to the other(Matthew 24:29-31).Jesus seems to be saying that the Second Comingwill occur immediately after the Tribulation. Did theSecond Coming occur in A.D. 70? Have we missedit? First, let us be clear about one thing at the outset:there is just no getting around that word z"mmedz"ately.It means immediately. Acknowledging that the tribulationtook place during the then-living,generation, wemust also face the clear teaching of Scripture thatwhatever Jesus is talking about in these verses happenedimmediately afterward. In other words, theseverses describe what is to take place at the end of theTribulation - what forms its climax.In order to understand the meaning ofJesus' expressionsin this passage, we need to understand theOld Testament much more than most people do today.Jesus was speaking to an audience that was intimatelyfamiliar with the most obscure details of OldTestament literature. They had heard the Old Testamentread and expounded countless times throughouttheir lives, and had memorized lengthy passages.Biblical imagery and forms of expression had formedtheir culture, environment, and vocabulary from earliestinfancy, and this had been true for generations.The fact is that when Jesus spoke to His disciplesabout the fall of Jerusalem, He used prophetic vocabu18THE GREAT TRIBULATIONlary. There was a "language" of prophecy, instantlyrecognizable to those familiar with the Old Testanlent.As Jesus foretold the complete end of the OldCovenant system-which was, in a sense, the end ofa whole world- He spoke of it as any of the prophetswould have, in the stirring language of covenantaljudgment. We will consider each element in theprophecy, seeing how its previous use in the Old Testamentprophets determined its meaning in the contextof Jesus' discourse on the fall of Jerusalem.Remember that our ultimate standard of truth is theBible, and the Bible alone.The Sun, Moon, and StarsAt the end of the Tribulation, Jesus said, the universewill collapse: the light of the sun and the moonwill be extinguished, the stars will fall, the powers ofthe heavens will be shaken. The basis for this symbolismis in Genesis 1:14-16, where the sun, moon,and stars ("the powers of the heavens") are spoken ofas "signs" which "govern" the world. Later in Scripture,these heavenly lights are used to speak ofearthly authorities and governors; and when Godthreatens to come against them in judgment, thesame collapsing-universe terminology is used todescribe it. Prophesying the fall of Babylon to theMedes in 539 B.C., Isaiah wrote:Behold, the Day of the LORD is coming,Cruel, with fury and burning anger,To make the land a desolation;And He will exterminate its sinners from it.COMINO ON THe CLOUDS 18For the stars of heaven and their constellationsWill not Hash forth with their light;The sun will be dark when it rises,And the moon will not shed its light(Isaiah 13:9-10).Significantly, Isaiah later prophesied the fall ofEdom in terms of de-creation:And all the host of heaven will wear away,And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll;All their hosts will also wither awayAs a leaf withers from the vine,Or as one withers from the fig tree (Isaiah 34:4).Isaiah's contemporary, the prophet Amos, foretoldthe doom of Samaria (722 B.C.) in much thesame way:"And it will come about in that day,"Declares the Lord GOD,"That I shall make the sun go down at noonAnd make the earth dark in broad daylight"(Amos 8:9).Another example is from the prophet Ezekiel,who predicted the destruction of Egypt. God saidthis through Ezekiel:"And when I extinguish you,I will cover the heavens, and darken their stars;I will cover the sun with a cloud,20 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONAnd the moon shall not give its light.All the shining lights in the heavensI will darken over youAnd will set darkness on your land,"Declares the Lord GOD (Ezekiel 32:7-8).It must be stressed that none of these events literallytook place. God did not intend anyone to place aliteralist construction on these statements. Poetically,however, all these things did happen: as far as thesewicked nations were concerned, "the lights went out."This is simply figurative language, which would notsurprise us at all if we were more familiar with theBible and appreciative of its literary character.What Jesus is saying in Matthew 24, therefore, inprophetic terminology immediately recognizable byhis disciples, is that the light ofIsrael is going to be extinguished;the covenant nation will cease to exist.When the Tribulation is over, old Israel will be gone.The Sign of the Son of ManMost modern translations of Matthew 24:30read something like this: "And then the sign of theSon of Man will appear in the sky. . . ." That is amistranslation, based not on the Greek text but onthe translators' own misguided assumptions aboutthe subject of this passage (thinking it is speakingabout the Second Coming). A word-for-word renderingfrom the Greek actually reads:And then will appear the sign of the Son ofMan in heaven. ...COMING ON THE CLOUDS 21As you can see, two important differences cometo light in the correct translation: first, the locationspoken of is heaven, not just the sky; second, it is notthe sign which is in heaven, but the Son ofMan who isin heaven. The point is simply that this great judgmentupon Israel, the destruction of Jerusalem andthe Temple, will be the sign that Jesus Christ is enthronedin heaven at the Father's right hand, ruling over thenations and bringing vengeance upon His enemies. Thedivinely ordained cataclysm of A.D. 70 revealed thatChrist had taken the Kingdom from Israel and givenit to the Church; the desolation of the old Templewas the final sign that God had deserted it and wasnow dwelling in a new Temple, the Church. Thesewere all aspects of the First Advent of Christ, crucialparts of the work He came to accomplish by Hisdeath, resurrection, and ascension to the throne.This is why the Bible speaks of the outpouring of theHoly Spirit upon the Church and the destruction ofIsrael as being the same event, for they were intimatelyconnected theologically. The prophet Joel foretoldboth the Day of Pentecost and the destruction ofJerusalem in one breath:And it will come about after thisThat I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;And your sons and daughters will prophesy,Your old men will dream dreams,Your young men will see visions.And even on the male and female servantsI will pour out My Spirit in those days.And I will display wonders in the heaven andon the earth:22 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONBlood, fire, and pillars of smoke.The sun will be turned into darknessAnd the moon into blood,Before the great and awesome Day of the LORDcomes.And it will come about that whoever calls onthe name of the LORDWill be delivered;For on Mount Zion and in JerusalemThere will be those who escape,As the LORD has said,Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls(Joel 2:28-31).As we will see in a later chapter, St. Peter's inspiredinterpretation of this text in Acts 2 determinesthe fact that Joel is speaking of the period from the initialoutpouring of the Spirit to the destruction ofJerusalem, from Pentecost to Holocaust. It is enoughfor us to note here that the same language of judgmentis used in this passage. The common dime-storeinterpretation that the "pillars of smoke" are mushroomclouds from nuclear explosions is a radicaltwisting of the text, and a complete misunderstandingof Biblical prophetic language. It would make just asmuch sense to say that the pillar of fire and smokeduring the Exodus was the result of an atomic blast.The Clouds of HeavenThat, appropriately, brings us to the next elementin Jesus' prophecy of Jerusalem's destruction:"and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, andCOMING ON THE CLOUDS 23they will see the Son ofMan coming on the clouds ofheaven with power and great glory." The word tribeshere has primary reference to the tribes of the land ofIsrael; and the "mourning" is probably meant in twosenses. First, they would mourn in sorrow over theirsuffering and the loss of their land; second, theywould ultimately mourn in repentance for their sins,when they are converted from their apostasy (seeRomans 11).But how is it that they would see Christ comingon the clouds? This is an important symbol of God'spower and glory, used throughout the Bible. For example,think of the "pillar of fire and cloud" throughwhich God saved the Israelites and destroyed theirenemies in the deliverance from Egypt (see Exodus13:21-22; 14:19-31; 19:16-19). In fact, all through theOld Testament God was coming "on clouds," in salvationof His people and destruction of His enemies:"He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks uponthe wings of the wind" (Psalm 104:3). When Isaiahprophesied of God's judgment on Egypt, he wrote:"Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud, and isabout to come to Egypt; the idols of Egypt will trembleat His presence" (Isaiah 19:1). The prophetNahum spoke similarly of God's destruction ofNineveh: "In whirlwind and storm is His way, andclouds are the dust beneath His feet" (Nahum 1:3).God's "coming on the clouds of heaven" is an almostcommonplace Scriptural symbol for His presence,judgment, and salvation.More than this, however, is the fact that Jesus isreferring to a specific event connected with the de24THE GREAT TRIBULATIONstruction ofJerusalem and the end of the Old Covenant.He spoke of it again at His trial, when theHigh Priest asked Him if He was the Christ, andJesus replied:I AM; and you shall see the Son ofMan sittingat the right hand of power, and comingwith the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:62; cf.Matthew 26:64).Obviously, Jesus was not referring to an eventthousands of years in the future. He was speaking ofsomething that His contemporaries - "this generation"-would see in their lifetime. The Bible tells usexactly when Jesus came with the clouds of heaven:And after He had said these things, He waslifted up while they were looking on, and acloud received Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9).So then, after the Lord had spoken to them,He was received up into heaven, and sat downat the right hand of God (Mark 16:19).It was this event, the Ascension to the right hand ofGod, which Daniel foresaw:I kept looking in the night visions,And behold, with the clouds of heavenOne like a Son of Man was coming,And He came up to the Ancient of DaysAnd was presented before Him.And to Him was given dominion,COMING ON THE CLOUDS 25Glory and a Kingdom,That all the peoples, nations, and men of everylanguageMight serve Him.His dominion is an everlasting dominionWhich will not pass away;And His Kingdom is oneWhich will not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).The destruction of Jerusalem was the sign thatthe Son of Man, the Second Adam, was in heaven,ruling over the world and disposing it for His ownpurposes. At His ascension, He had come on theclouds of heaven to receive the Kingdom from HisFather; the destruction ofJerusalem was the revelationof this fact. In Matthew 24, therefore, Jesus wasnot prophesying that He would literally come on theclouds in A.D. 70 (although it was figuratively true).His literal "coming on the clouds," in fulfillment ofDaniel 7, took place in A.D. 30, at the beginning ofthe "terminal generation." But in A.D. 70 the tribes ofIsrael would see the destruction of the nation as theresult of His having ascended to the throne ofheaven, to receive His Kingdom.The Gathering of the ElectFinally, Jesus announced, the result of Jerusalem'sdestruction will be Christ's sending forth ofhis "angels" to gather the elect. Isn't this the Rapture?No. The word angels simply means messengers(cf. James 2:25), regardless of whether their origin isheavenly or earthly; it is the context which determines28 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONwhether these are heavenly creatures being spokenof. The word often means preachers of the Gospel (seeMatthew 11:10; Luke 7:24; 9:52; Revelation 1-3). Incontext, there is every reason to assume that Jesus isspeaking of the worldwide evangelism and conversionof the nations which will follow upon the destructionof Israel.Christ's use of the word gather is significant in thisregard. The word, literally, is a verb meaning to .rynagogue;the meaning is that with the destruction of theTemple and of the Old Covenant system, the Lordsends out His messengers to gather His elect peopleinto His New Synagogue. Jesus is actually quotingfrom Moses, who had promised: "If your outcastsare at the ends of heaven, from there the LORD yourGod will.rynagogue you, and from there he will takeyou" (Deuteronomy 30:4, Septuagint). Neither texthas anything to do with the Rapture; both are concernedwith the restoration and establishment ofGod's House, the organized congregation of His covenantpeople. This becomes even more pointedwhen we remember what Jesus had said just beforethis discourse:o Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills theprophets and stones those who are sent to her!How often I wanted to synagogue your childrentogether, the way a hen gathers her chicksunder her wings, and you were unwilling.Behold, your House is being left to youdesolate! (Matthew 23:37-38).COMING ON THE CLOUDS 27Because Jerusalem apostatised and refused to besynagogued under Christ, her Temple would be destroyed,and a New Synagogue and Temple wouldbe formed; the Church. The New Temple was created,of course, on the Day of Pentecost, when theSpirit came to indwell the Church. But the fact of thenew Temple's existence would only be made obviouswhen the scaffolding of the Old Temple and the OldCovenant system was taken away. The Christiancongregations immediately began calling themselves"synagogues" (that is the word used in James 2:2),while calling the Jewish gatherings "synagogues ofSatan" (Revelation 2:9; 3:9). Yet they lived in anticipationof the Day ofJudgment upon Jerusalem andthe Old Temple, when the Church would be revealedas the true Temple and Synagogue of God.Because the Old Covenant system was "obsolete"and "ready to disappear" (Hebrews 8:13), the writerto the Hebrews urged them to have hope, "not forsakingthe synagoging of ourselves together, as is thehabit of some, but encouraging one another; and allthe more, as you see the Day approaching"(Hebrews 10:25; cf. II Thessalonians 2:1-2).The Old Testament promise that God would"synagogue" His people undergoes one major changein the New Testament. Instead of the simple form ofthe word, the term used by Jesus has the Greekpreposition epi prefixed to it. This is a favorite NewCovenant expression, which intensifies the originalword. What Jesus is saying, therefore, is that the destructionof the Temple in A.D. 70 will reveal Him as28 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONhaving come with clouds to receive His Kingdom;and it will display His Church before the world asthe full, the true, the super-Synagogue.3

              THE COMING OF THE ANTICHRISTAccording to Jesus' words in Matthew 24, one ofthe increasing characteristics of the age precedingthe overthrow of Israel was to be apostasy within theChristian Church. This was mentioned earlier, but amore concentrated study at this point will shed muchlight on a number of related issues in the New Testament-issues which have often been misunderstood.We generally think of the apostolic period as atime of tremendously explosive evangelism andChurch growth, a "golden age" when astoundingmiracles took place every day. This common imageis substantially correct, but it is flawed by one glaringomission. We tend to neglect the fact that theearly Church was the scene of the most dramatic outbreakof heresy in world history.The Great ApostasyThe Church began to be infiltrated by heresyfairly early in its development. Acts 15 records themeeting of the first Church Council, which was con30THE GREAT TRIBULATIONvened in order to render an authoritative ruling onthe issue of justification by faith (some teachers hadbeen advocating the false doctrine that one mustkeep the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament inorder to be justified). The problem did not die down,however; years later, the apostle Paul had to dealwith it again, in his letter to the churches of Galatia.As St. Paul told them, this doctrinal aberration wasno minor matter, but affected their very salvation: itwas a "different gospel," an utter distortion of thetruth, and amounted to a repudiation ofJesus ChristHimself. Using some of the most severe terminologyof his career, Paul pronounced damnation upon the"false brethren" who taught the heresy (see Galatians1:6-9; 2:5, 11-21; 3:1-3; 5:1-12).St. Paul also foresaw that heresy would infect thechurches of Asia Minor. Calling together the eldersof Ephesus, he exhorted them to ''be on guard foryourselves and for all the flock," because "I know thatafter my departure savage wolves will come inamong you, not sparing the flock; and from amongyour own selves men will arise, speaking perversethings, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts20:28-30). Just as St. Paul predicted, false doctrinebecame an issue of enormous proportions in thesechurches. By the time the Book of Revelation waswritten, some of them had become almost completelyruined through the progress of hereticalteachings and the resulting apostasy (Revelation2:2, 6, 14-16, 20-24; 3:1-4, 15-18).But the problem of heresy was not limited to anygeographical or cultural area. It was widespread andTHE COMING OF THE ANTICHRIST 31became an increasing subject of apostolic counseland pastoral oversight as the age progressed. Someheretics taught that the final Resurrection hadalready taken place (II Timothy 2:18), while othersclaimed that resurrection was impossible (I Corinthians15:12); some taught strange doctrines of asceticismand angel-worship (Colossians 2:8, 18-23; 1Timothy 4:1-3), while others advocated all kinds ofimmorality and rebellion in the name of "liberty" (IIPeter 2:1-3, 10-22; Jude 4, 8, 10-13, 16). Again andagain the apostles found themselves issuing sternwarnings against tolerating false teachers and "falseapostles" (Romans 16:17-18; II Corinthians 11:3-4,12-15; Philippians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; II Timothy4:2-5), for these had been the cause of massivedepartures from the faith, and the extent of apostasywas increasing as the era progressed (I Timothy1:19-20; 6:20-21; II Timothy 2:16-18; 3:1-9, 13; 4:10,14-16). One of the last letters of the New Testament,the Book of Hebrews, was written to an entire Christiancommunity on the very brink of wholesale abandonmentof Christianity. The Christian Church ofthe first generation was not only characterized byfaith and miracles; it was also characterized by increasinglawlessness, rebellion, and heresy fromwithin the Christian community itself-just as Jesushad foretold in Matthew 24.The AntichristThe Christians had a specific term for this apostasy.They called it Antichrist. Many popular writershave speculated about this term, usually failing to32 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONregard its usage in Scripture. In the first place, con..sider a fact which will undoubtedly shock some peo..pIe: the word 'Mntichrist" never occurs in the Book ofRevelation.Not once. Yet the term is routinely used byChristian teachers as a synonym for "the Beast" ofRevelation 13. Obviously, there is no question thatthe Beast is an enemy of Christ, and is thus "anti"Christ in that sense; my point, however, is that theterm Antichrist is used in a very specific sense, and isessentially unrelated to the figure known as "theBeast" and "666."A further error teaches that "the Antichrist" is aspecific individual; connected to this is the notionthat "he" is someone who will make his appearancetoward the end of the world. Both of these ideas, likethe first, are contradicted by the New Testament.In fact, the only occurrences of the term Antichristare in the following verses from the letters of theApostle John:Children, it is the last hour; and just as youheard that Antichrist is coming, even nowmany Antichrists have arisen; from this weknow that it is the last hour.They went out from us, but they were notreally of us; for if they had been of us, theywould have remained with us; but they wentout, in order that it may be shown that they allare not of us. . . .Who is the liar but the one who denies thatJesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist, theone who denies the Father and the Son.THE COMING OF THE ANTICHRIST 33Whoever denies the Son does not have theFather; the one who confesses the Son has theFather also. . . .These things 1 have written to you concerningthose who are trying to deceive you (I John2:18-19, 22-23, 26).Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but testthe spirits to see whether they are from God;because many false prophets have gone out intothe world.By this you know the Spirit of God: everyspirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has comein the flesh is from God;and every spirit that does not confess thatJesus Christ has come in the flesh is not fromGod; and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, ofwhich you have heard that it is coming, andnow it is already in the world.You are from God, little children, and haveovercome them; because greater is He who is inyou than he who is in the world.They are from the world; therefore theyspeak as from the world, and the world listensto them.We are from God; he who knows God listensto us; he who is not from God does not listento us. By this we know the Spirit of truthand the spirit of error (I John 4:1-6).For many deceivers have gone out into theworld, those who do not acknowledge JesusChrist as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiverand the Antichrist.34 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONWatch yourselves, that we might not losewhat we have accomplished, but that we mayreceive a full reward.Anyone who goes too far and does not abidein the teaching of Christ, does not have God;the one who abides in the teaching, he has boththe Father and the Son.If anyone comes to you and does not bringthis teaching, do not receive him into yourhouse, and do not give him a greeting;for the one who gives him a greeting participatesin his evil deeds (II John 7-11).The texts quoted above comprise all the Biblepassages that mention the word Antichrzst, and fromthem we can draw several important conclusions:First, the Christians had already been warned aboutthe coming of Antichrist (I John 2:18; 4:3).Second, there was not just one, but "many Antichrists"(I John 2:18). The term Antichrist, therefore,cannot be simply a designation of one individual.Third, Antichrist was already working as St. Johnwrote: "even now many Antichrists have arisen"(I John 2:18); "I have written to you concerning thosewho are trying to deceive you" (I John 2:26); "you haveheard that it is coming, and now it is already in theworld" (I John 4:3); "many deceivers have gone outinto the world.... This is the deceiver and the Antichrist"(II John 7). Obviously, if the Antichrist wasalready present in the first century, he was not somefigure who would arise at the end of the world.Fourth, Antichrist was a system of unbelief, particTHECOMING OF THE ANTICHRIST 35ularly the heresy of denying the person and work ofJesusChrist. Although the Antichrists apparently claimedto belong to the Father, they taught that Jesus wasnot the Christ (I John 2:22); in union with the falseprophets (I John 4:1), they denied the Incarnation(I John 4:3; II John 7, 9); and they rejected apostolicdoctrine (I John 4:6).Fifth, the Antichrists had been members of theChristian Church, but had left the faith (I John 2:19).Now these apostates were attempting to deceiveother Christians, in order to sway the Church as awhole away from Jesus Christ (I John 2:26; 4:1;II John 7, 10).Putting all this together, we can see that Antichristis a description of both the ~stem qf aposta~ and individualapostates. In other words, Antichrist was thefulfillment of Jesus' prophecy that a time of greatapostasy would come, when "many will fall awayand will betray one another and hate one another.And many false prophets will arise, and will misleadmany" (Matthew 24:10-11). As John said, the Christianshad been warned of the coming of Antichrist;and, sure enough, "many Antichrists" had arisen.For a time, they had believed the gospel; later theyhad forsaken the faith, and then went about trying todeceive others, either starting new cults or, morelikely, seeking to draw Christians into Judaism - thefalse religion which claimed to worship the Fatherwhile denying the Son. When the doctrine of Antichristis understood, it fits in perfectly with what therest of the New Testament tells us about the age ofthe "terminal generation."36 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONOne of the Antichrists who afflicted the earlyChurch was Cerinthus, the leader of a first-centuryJudaistic cult. Regarded by the Church Fathers as"the Arch-heretic," and identified as one of the "falseapostles" who opposed St. Paul, Cerinthus was a Jewwho joined the Church and began drawing Christiansaway from the orthodox faith. He taught that alesser deity, and· not the true God, had created theworld (holding, with the Gnostics, that God wasmuch too "spiritual" to be concerned with materialreality). Logically, this meant also a denial of the Incarnation,since God would not take to Himself aphysical body and truly human personality. AndCerinthus was consistent: he declared that Jesus hadmerely been an ordinary man, not born of a virgin;that "the Christ" (a heavenly spirit) had descendedupon the man Jesus at His baptism (enabling Himto perform miracles), but then left Him again at thecrucifixion. Cerinthus also advocated a doctrine ofjustification by works - in particular, the absolutenecessity of observing the ceremonial ordinances ofthe Old Covenant in order to be saved.Furthermore, Cerinthus was apparently the firstto teach that the Second Coming would usher in aliteral reign of Christ in Jerusalem for a thousandyears. Although this was contrary to the apostolicteaching of the Kingdom, Cerinthus claimed that anangel had revealed this doctrine to him (much asJoseph Smith, a 19th-century Antichrist, would laterclaim to receive angelic revelation).The true apostles sternly opposed the Cerinthianheresy. St. Paul admonished the churches: "But evenTHE COMING OF THE ANTICHRIST 37though we, or an angel from heaven, should preachto you a gospel contrary to that which we havepreached to you, let him be accursed!" (Galatians1:8), and went on in the same letter to refute thelegalistic heresies held by Cerinthus. According totradition, the Apostle John wrote his Gospel and hisletters with Cerinthus especially in mind. (We arealso told that as St. John entered the public bathhousehe spotted this Antichrist ahead of him. Theapostle immediately turned around and ran backout, crying: "Let us flee, lest the building fall down;for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is inside!")Returning to St. John's statements about thespirit of Antichrist, we should note that he stressesone further, very significant point: as Jesus foretoldin Matthew 24, the coming of Antichrist is a sign of"the End": "Children, it is the last hour; and just as youheard that Antichrist is coming, even now manyAntichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is thelast hour" (I John 2:18). The connection people oftenmake between the Antichrist and "the last days" iscorrect enough; but what is often missed is the factthat the expression the last days, and similar terms,are used in the Bible to refer, not to the end of thephysical world, but to the last days ofthe nation ofIsrael,the "last days" which ended with the destruction of theTemple in A.D. 70. This, too, will come to many as asurprise; but we must accept the clear teaching ofScripture. The New Testament authors unquestionablyused "end-times" language when speaking of theperiod they were living in, before the fall of Jerusalem.As we have seen, the Apostle John said two38 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONthings on this point: first, that Antz'chnst had alreadycome; and, second, that the presence ofthe Antz'chrz'st wasproofthat he and hz's readers were lz'vz'ng z'n '~he last hour." Inone of his earlier letters, St. Paul had had to correcta mistaken impression regarding the coming judgmenton Israel. False teachers had been frighteningthe believers by saying that the day ofjudgment wasalready upon them. St. Paul reminded the Christiansof what he had explained before:Let no one deceive you, for it will not comeunless the apostasy comes first. . . . (II Thessalonians2:3).By the end of the age, however, as John was writinghis letters, the Great Apostasy-the spirit of Antichrist,of which the Lord had foretold - was a reality.St. Jude, who wrote one of the very last NewTestament books, leaves us in no doubt about thisissue. Issuing strong condemnations of the hereticswho had invaded the Church and were attempting todraw Christians away from the orthodox faith (Jude1-16), he reminds his readers that they had beenwarned of this very thing:But you, beloved, ought to remember thewords that were spoken beforehand by theapostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that theywere saying to you, "In the last tz'me there shall bemockers, following after their own ungodly lusts."These are the ones who cause divisions, worldlyminded,devoid of the Spirit (Jude 17-19).THE COMING OF THE ANTICHRIST 39St. Jude clearly regards the warnings about the"mockers" as referring to the heretics of his own day- meaning that his own day was the period of "thelast time." Like St. John, he knew that the rapidmultiplying of these false brethren was a sign of theEnd. Antichrist had arrived, and it was now the LastHour.4

              THE LAST DAYSAs we began to see in the preceding chapter, theperiod spoken of in the Bible as "the last days" (or''last times" or "last hour") is the period between Christ'sbirth and the destruction ofJerusalem. The early Churchwas living at the end of the old age and the beginningof the new. This whole period must be consideredas the time of Christ's First Advent. In both theOld and New Testaments, the promised destructionof Jerusalem is considered to be an aspect of thework of Christ, intimately connected to His work ofredemption. His life, death, resurrection, ascension,outpouring of the Spirit, and judgment on Jerusalemare all parts of His one work of bringing in His Kingdomand creating His new Temple (see, for example, howDaniel 9:24-27 connects the atonement with the destructionof the Temple).Let's consider how the Bible itself uses these expressionsabout the end of the age. In I Timothy4:1-3, St. Paul warned:THE LAST DAYS 41Now the Spirit expressly says that in lattertimes some will depart from the faith, givingheed to deceiving spirits and doctrines ofdemons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, havingtheir own conscience seared with a hot iron,forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstainfrom foods which God created to be receivedwith thanksgiving by those who believeand know the truth.Was St. Paul talking about "latter times" whichwould happen thousands of years later? Why shouldhe warn Timothy of events which Timothy, andTimothy's great-great-grandchildren, and fifty ormore generations of descendants, would never live tosee? In fact, St. Paul tells Timothy, "If you instructthe brethren in these things, you will be a good ministerofJesus Christ" (I Timothy 4:6). The membersof Timothy's congregation needed to know aboutwhat would take place in the "latter days," becausethey would be personally affected by those events. Inparticular, they needed the assurance that the comingapostasy was part of the overall pattern of eventsleading up to the end of the old order and the full establishingof Christ's Kingdom. As we can see frompassages such as Colossians 2:18-23, the "doctrines ofdemons" St. Paul warned of were current during thefirst century. The "latter times" were already takingplace. This is quite clear in St. Paul's later statementto Timothy:But know this, that in the last days periloustimes will come; for men will be lovers of them42THE GREAT TRIBULATIONselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers,disobedient to parents, unthankful,unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers,without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasurerather than lovers of God, having a form ofgodliness but denying its power. Andfrom suchpeople turn away! For of this sort are those whocreep into households and make captives of gulliblewomen loaded down with sins, led away byvarious lusts, always learning and never able tocome to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannesand Jambres resisted Moses, so also do theseresist the truth; men of corrupt minds, disapprovedconcerning the faith (II Timothy 3:1-8).The very things St. Paul said would happen in '~he lastdays" were happening as he wrote, and he was simplywarning Timothy about what to expect as the agerushed on to its climax. Antichrist was beginning torear its head.Other New Testament writers shared this perspectivewith St. Paul. The letter to the Hebrews beginsby saying that God "has in these last days spoken to usin His Son" (Hebrews 1:2); the writer goes on toshow that "now once at the end of the ages He has appearedto put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself"(Hebrews 9:26). St. Peter wrote that Christ "wasforeknown before the foundation of the world, buthas appeared in these last times for you who throughHim are believers in God" (I Peter 1:20-21). Apostolictestimony is unmistakably clear: when Christ came,THE LAST DAVS 43the ''last days" arrived with Him. He came to bringin the new age of the Kingdom of God. The old agewas winding down, and would be thoroughly abolishedwhen God destroyed the Temple.From Pentecost to HolocaustOn the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit hadbeen poured out and the Christian community spokewith other tongues, St. Peter declared the Biblicalinterpretation of the event:This is that which was spoken of throughthe prophet Joel: ''And it shall be in the last days,"God says, "that I will pour out My Spirit uponall flesh; and your sons and your daughtersshall prophesy, and your young men shall seevisions, and your old men shall dream dreams.And on My menservants and on My maidservantsI will pour out My Spirit in those days,and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders inheaven above and signs in the earth beneath:blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sunshall be turned into darkness, and the mooninto blood, before the coming of the great andglorious Day of the Lord. And it shall be thatwhoever calls on the name of the Lord shall besaved" (Acts 2:16-21).We have already seen how the "blood and fireand vapor of smoke" and the signs in the sun and themoon were fulfilled in the destruction ofJerusalem.What is crucial to notice at this point is St. Peter's44 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONprecise statement that the last days had arrived. Contraryto some modern expositions of this text, St.Peter did not say that the miracles of Pentecost werelike what Joel prophesied, or that they were somesort of ''proto-fulfillments" ofJoel's prophecy; he saidthat this was the fulfillment: "This is that which wasspoken of through the prophet Joel." The last dayswere here: the Spirit had been poured out, God'speople were prophesying and speaking in tongues,and Jerusalem would be destroyed with fire. The ancientprophecies were unfolding, and this generationwould not pass until "all these things" were fulfilled.Therefore, St. Peter urged his listeners, "Be savedfrom this perverse generation!" (Acts 2:40).In this connection, we should note the eschatologicalsignificance ofthe gift oftongues. St. Paul showed, inI Corinthians 14:21-22, that the miracle of tongues wasthe fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy against rebellious Israel.Because the covenant people were rejecting His clearrevelation, God warned that His prophets wouldspeak to them with foreign tongues, for the expresspurpose of rendering a final witness to unbelievingIsrael during the last days preceding her judgment:Indeed, He will speak to this peopleThrough stammering lips and a foreigntongue....That they may go and stumble backward, andbe brokenAnd snared and taken captive.Therefore, hear the Word of the LORD, 0scoffers,THE LAST DAYS 45Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem,Because you have said, "We have made acovenant with death,And with Sheol we have made a pact.When the overwhelming scourge passes through,It will not reach us,For we have made falsehood our refugeAnd we have concealed ourselves withdeception."Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD:"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a testedstone,A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmlyplaced;He who believes in it will not be in a hurry.And I will make justice the measuring line,And righteousness the level;Then hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies,And the waters shall overflow the secret place.And your covenant with death shall be canceled,And your pact with Sheol shall not stand;When the overwhelming scourge passes through,Then you become its trampling place.As often as it passes through, it will seize you.For morning after morning it will pass through,And by day and by night.And it will be sheer terror to understand what itmeans" (Isaiah 28:11-19).The miracle ofPentecost was a shocking messageto Israel. They knew what this meant. It was thesign from God that the Chief Cornerstone had come,46 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONand that Israel had rejected Him to its own damnation(Matthew 21:42-44; I Peter 2:6-8). It was the sz'gnofjudgment and reprobatz'on, the signal that the apostatesofJerusalem were about to "stumble backward,be broken, snared, and taken captive." The LastDays of Israel had come: the old age was at an end,and Jerusalem would be swept away in a new flood,to make way for God's New Creation. As St. Paulsaid, the gift of tongues was "for a sign, not to thosewho believe, but to unbelievers" (I Corinthians 14:22)- a sign to the unbelz'evz'ngJews of thez'r approachz'ng doom.The early Church looked forward to the comingof the new age. They knew that, with the visible endof the Old Covenant system, the Church would berevealed as the new, true Temple; and the workChrist came to perform would be accomplished.This was an important aspect of redemption, andthe first-generation Christians looked forward to thisevent in thez'r own lifetz'me. During this period of waitingand severe trial, the Apostle Peter assured themthat they were "protected by the power of Godthrough faith for a salvation ready to be revealed inthe last time" (I Peter 1:5). They were on the verythreshold of the new world.Expecting the EndThe Apostles and first-generation Christiansknew they were living in the last days of the OldCovenant age. They looked forward anxiously to itsconsummation and the full ushering in of the newera. As the age progressed and the "signs of the end"increased and intensified, the Church could see thatTHE LAST DAYS 47the Day of Judgment was fast approaching; a crisiswas looming in the near future, when Christ woulddeliver them "from this present evil age" (Galatians1:4). The statements ofthe apostles are full ofthis expectantattitude, the certain knowledge that thismomentous event was upon them. The sword ofGod's wrath was poised over Jerusalem, ready tostrike at any time. But the Christians were not to beafraid, for the coming wrath was not aimed at them,but at the enemies of the Gospel. St. Paul urged theThessalonians to "wait for His Son from heaven,whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, whodelivers us from the wrath to come" (I Thessalonians1:10). Echoing Jesus' words in Matthew 23-24, St.Paul emphasized that the imminent judgment wouldbe poured out upon "the Jews, who both killed theLord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out.They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men,hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that theymight be saved; with the result that they always fillup the measure of their sins. But wrath has comeupon them to the uttermost" (I Thessalonians2:14-16). The Christians had been forewarned andwere therefore prepared, but unbelieving Israelwould be caught off guard:Now as to the times and epochs, brethren,you have no need of anything to be written toyou. For you yourselves know that the day ofthe Lord will come like a thief in the night.While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" thendestruction will come upon them suddenly like48 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONbirth pangs upon a woman with child; and theyshall not escape. But you, brethren, are not indarkness, that the day should overtake you likea thief; for you are all sons of light and sons ofday.... For God has not destined us forwrath, but for obtaining salvation through ourLord Jesus Christ (I Thessalonians 5:1-5, 9).St. Paul expanded upon this in his second letterto the same church:For after all it is a righteous thing for Godto repay with tribulation those who troubleyou, and to give relief to you who are troubledand to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall berevealed from heaven with His mighty angels,in flaming fire dealing out vengeance to thosewho do not know God and to those who do notobey the gospel ofour Lord Jesus Christ. Theseshall be punished with everlasting destruction,away from the presence of the Lord and fromthe glory of His power, when He comes to beglorified in His saints on that day, and to bemarveled at among all who have believed (IIThessalonians 1:6-10).Clearly, St. Paul is not talking about Christ'sfinal coming at the end of the world, for the coming"tribulation" and "vengeance" were specifically aimedat those who were persecuting the ThessalonianChristians of the first generation. The coming day ofjudgment was not something thousands of yearsTHE LAST DAYS 49away. It was near-so near that they could see itcoming. Most of the "signs of the end" were in existencealready, and the inspired apostles encouragedthe Church to expect the End at any moment. St.Paul urged the Christians in Rome to persevere ingodly living, "knowing the time, that it is already thehour for you to awaken from sleep; for now our salvationis nearer than when we first believed. Thenight is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let ustherefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put onthe armor of light" (Romans 13:11-12). As the old agehad been characterized by sin, despair, and bondageto Satan, the new age would be increasingly characterizedby righteousness and the universal reign ofthe Kingdom. For the period of the "last days" wasalso the time when the Kingdom ofheaven was inauguratedon earth, when the "Holy Mountain" beganits dynamic growth and all nations began to flow intothe Christian faith, as the prophets foretold (see Isaiah2:2-4; Micah 4:1-4). Obviously, there is still agreat deal of ungodliness in the world today. ButChristianity has been gradually and steadily winningbattles since the days of the early Church; andas Christians continue to make war on the enemy,the time will come when the saints possess the Kingdom(Daniel 7:22, 27).This is why St. Paul could comfort believers byassuring them that "the Lord is at hand" (Philippians4:5). Indeed, the watchword of the early Church (ICorinthians 16:22) was Maranathal The Lord comeslLooking forward to the coming destruction of Jerusalem,the writer to the Hebrews warned those50 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONtempted to "draw back" to apostate Judaism thatapostasy would only bring them "a certain fearful expectationof judgment, and fiery indignation whichwill devour the adversaries" (Hebrews 10:27).For we know Him who said, ''Vengeance isMine; I will repay, says the Lord." And again,"The Lord will judge His people." It is a fearfulthing to fall into the hands of the living God.. . . For you have need of endurance, so thatafter you have done the will of God, you mayreceive the promise: "For yet a little while, andHe who is coming will come, and will not tarry.Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyonedraws back, My soul has no pleasure in him."But we are not ofthose who draw back to perdition,but of those who believe to the saving ofthe soul (Hebrews 10;30-31, 36-39).The other New Testament authors wrote in similarterms. After St. James warned the wealthy unbelieverswho oppressed the Christians of the miseriesabout to descend upon them, charging that they hadfraudulently "heaped up treasure in the last days"(James 5:1-6), he encouraged the suffering Christians:Therefore be patient, brethren, until the comingofthe Lord. See how the farmer waits for theprecious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently forit until it receives the early and latter rain. Youalso be patient. Establish your hearts, for thecoming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumbleTHE LAST DAYS 51against one another, brethren, lest you bejudged. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!(James 5:7-9).The Apostle Peter, too, warned the Church that"the end of all things is at hand" (1 Peter 4:7), andencouraged them to live in the daily expectation ofthe judgment that would come in their generation:Beloved, do not think it strange concerningthe fiery trial which is to try you, as thoughsome strange thing happened to you; but rejoiceto the extent you partake ofChrist's sufferings,that when His glory is revealed, you mayalso be glad with exceeding joy.... For thetime has come for judgment to begin at thehouse of God; and if it begins with us first,what will be the end of those who do not obeythe gospel of God? (I Peter 4:12-13, 17).The early Christians had to endure both severepersecution at the hands of apostate Israel, and betrayalby Antichrists from their own midst whosought to steer the Church into the Judaistic cult.But this time of fiery tribulation and suffering wasworking for the Christians' own blessing and sanctification(Romans 8:28-39); and in the meantimeGod's wrath against the persecutors was building up.Finally, the End came, and God's anger was unleashed.Those who had brought tribulation upon52 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONthe Church were cast into the greatest Tribulation ofall time. The Church's greatest enemy was destroyed,and would never again pose a threat to herultimate victory.5

              THE COMING OFTHE NEW COVENANTWe have seen in the preceding chapters how themessage of Jerusalem's approaching desolation iscentral to the concerns of the New Testament. TheBook of Revelation is no exception to this. It specificallystates, in the very first verse, that its concernsare not with the far distant future and the end of theworld, but rather with "the things that must shortlytake place." In the third verse its readers are warnedthat "the time is near" for its prophecies to be fulfilled.Both of these statements are repeated at theend of the book as well (see Revelation 22:6, 10).And its prophecies are clearly - though often in symbolicform - directed against "the Great City . . .where the Lord was crucified" (Revelation 11:8; cf.14:8; 16:19; 17:18). Like the rest of the New Testament,the Book of Revelation follows Christ's example inforetelling the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.As I have explained at length in my commentary,The Days of 'Vengeance, St. John wrote Revelation in54 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONthe standard Biblical form of the "Covenant Lawsuit"delivered by the Hebrew prophets (God's "attorneysfor the prosecution") against the disobedient nationof Israel. Through a myriad of symbols adaptedfrom the Old Testament prophecies, St. John setforth two major points: first, Israel had irrevocablybroken her Covenant with the Lord; second, by Hisincarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension,Jesus Christ had brought in a new and final Covenant,infallibly guaranteed by His victory over sinand death.The foundational image of this in the Book ofRevelation is shown in the first vision of the Court ofheaven (Chapters 4 and 5). 81. John saw the Lordsitting on the Throne holding a Book that was "sealedwith seven seals" (indicating to his audience that itwas some sort of testament) and "written on the frontand on the back." Any Christian reader of the firstcentury would immediately have understood the significanceof this, for it is based on the description ofthe Ten Commandments. The two tablets of the Testimony(which were duplicate copies of the Law) wereinscribed on both front and back (Exodus 32:15).An analogue of this is found in the suzeraintytreaties of the Ancient Near East: a victorious king(the suzerain) would impose a treaty/covenant uponthe conquered king (the vassal) and all those underthe vassal's authority. Two copies of the treaty weredrawn up (as in modern contracts), and each partywould place his copy of the contract in the house ofhis god, as a legal document testifying to the transaction.In the case of Israel, of course, the LORD wasTHE COMING OF THE NEW COVENANT 55both Suzerain and God; so both copies of the covenantwere placed in the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:16,21; 40:20; Deuteronomy 10:2).The idea of Covenant is thus central to the messageof Revelation. St. John's prophecy is presentedfrom the outset as part of the Canon of Holy Scripture,primarily written to be read in the liturgy (1:3).Tabernacle imagery is used in the opening Doxology(1:4-5), and the Church is declared to be constitutedas the new Kingdom of priests, as Israel had been atSinai (1:6). The theme of the book, stated in 1:7, isChrist's coming in the Glory-Cloud; then, almostimmediately, St. John uses three words that almostalways occur throughout the Bible in connectionwith covenant-making activity: Spirit, Day, and Voice(1:10). The following vision of Christ as the gloriousHigh Priest (1:12-20) combines many images fromthe Old Testament- the Cloud, the Day of theLORD, the Angel of the LORD, the Creator and universalSovereign, the Son of Man/Second Adam, theConqueror of the nations, the Possessor of the Church- all of which are concerned with the prophecies ofthe coming of the New Covenant. The vision is followedby Christ's own message to the churches, styledas a recounting of the history of the Covenant(Chapters 2-3). Then, in Chapter 4, St. John seesthe Throne, supported by the Cherubim and surroundedby the royal priesthood, all singing God'spraises to the accompaniment of Sinai-like lightningand voices and thunder. We should not be surprisedto find this magnificent array of covenant-makingimagery culminating in the vision of a testament/56 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONtreaty document, written on front and back, in thehand ofHim who sits on the Throne. The Book is nothingless than the Testament of the resu"ected and ascendedChrist: the New Covenant.But the coming of the New Covenant implies thepassing away of the Old Covenant, and the judgmentof apostate Israel. As we have briefly noted,the Biblical prophets spoke in terms of the covenantaltreaty structure, acting as prosecuting attorneyson behalf of the divine Suzerain, bringingcovenant lawsuit against Israel. The imagery of thedocument inscribed on both sides is also used in theprophecy of Ezekiel, on which St. John has modeledhis prophecy. Ezekiel tells of receiving a scroll containinga list of judgments against Israel:Then He said to me, "Son of man, I amsending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebelliouspeople who have rebelled against Me; they andtheir fathers have transgressed against Me tothis very day. . . ." Then I looked, behold, ahand was extended to me; and 10, a Book wasin it. When He had spread it out before me, itwas written on the front and back; and writtenon it were lamentations, mourning, and woe(Ezekiel 2:3-10).As St. John sees the opening of the New Covenant,therefore, he will also see the curses of the OldCovenant fulfilled on the apostate covenant people.This conclusion becomes clearer as we look at theoverall movement of the prophecy. The Seven SealsTHE COMING OF THE NEW COVENANT 57of the Book are broken in order to reveal the Book'scontents; but the breaking of the Seventh Seal initiatesthe sounding of the Seven Trumpets (8:1-2).The final vision of the Trumpets-section closes with ahorrifying scene of a great Vintage, in which human"grapes of wrath" are trampled and the whole Landis flooded with a torrent of blood (11;19-20). Thi5leads directly into the final section of Revelation, inwhich St. John sees the blood from the Winepressbeing poured out from the Seven Chalices of wrath(16:1-21). It would seem, therefore, that we aremeant to understand the Seven Chalices as the contentof the Seventh Trumpet, "the last Woe" to fallupon the Land (cf. 8:13; 9:12; 11:14-15; 12:12). All ofthese-Seals, Trumpets, and Chalices-are the contentsof the seven-sealed Book, the New Covenant.But there is a crisis: St. John finds that no one inall of creation - "in heaven, or on the earth, or underthe earth" - is able or worthy to open the Book, oreven to look into it. Noone can fulfill the conditionsrequired of the Mediator of the New Covenant. Allprevious mediators - Adam, Moses, David, and therest - had ultimately proved inadequate for the task.Noone could take away sin and death; for all havesinned, and continually fall short of the Glory ofGod(Romans 3:23). The sacrifice of animals could notreally take away sins, for such a thing is impossible(Hebrews 10:4); and the high priest who offered upthe sacrifices was a sinner himself, ''beset with weakness"(Hebrews 5:1-3; 7:27) and having to be replacedafter his death (Hebrews 7:23). No one could befound to guarantee a better covenant. With the pro58THE GREAT TRIBULATIONphetic yearning and sadness of the Old CovenantChurch, St. John began to weep greatly. The NewCovenant had been offered by the One sitting on theThrone, but no one was worthy to act on behalf ofboth God and man to ratify the Covenant. Theseven-sealed Book would remain locked.Immediately, St. John is comforted by an Elder,who says (as it reads literally): "Stop weeping; behold,He has conquered!" The Church thus preachesthe Gospel to St. John; and it seems as if the Elder isso excited about his message that he blurts out theclimax before he even explains who has conquered.He goes on to describe Christ the Conqueror as theLionfrom the tribe ofJudah, the strong and powerful fulfillmentofJacob's ancient prophecy to his fourth son:You are a lion's cub, a Judah;You return from the prey, my son.Like a lion he crouches and lies down,Like a lioness - whq dares to rouse him?The scepter will not depart from Judah,Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,Until He comes to whom it belongs,And the obedience of the nations is His(Genesis 49:9-10).It was King David, the conquering Lion ofJudah of the Old Covenant, to whom God revealedboth the plan of the Temple (I Chronicles 28:11-19)and the plan of the everlasting covenant, the "Charterfor Humanity" by which the coming Priest-Kingwould bring the blessing of Abraham to all nationsTHE COMING OF THE NEW COVENANT 59(II Samuel 7:18-29; 23:2-5; I Chronicles 17:16-27;Psalm 16; 110; Acts 2:25-36). At last David's greaterSon came and conquered, establishing everlastingdominion and opening the Covenant. Embodyingand fulfilling all its promises, He is the One "towhom it belongs."Christ is also called the Root of David- a strangeexpression, to our way of thinking. We can moreeasily understand Isaiah's term: "a shoot from thestem ofJesse" (Isaiah 11:1). As a descendant ofJesseand David, Jesus could be called a "branch" (Jeremiah23:5; Zechariah 3:8); but how could He becalled the Root? Our perplexity originates in ournon-Biblical views of how history works. We areaccustomed to thinking of history as if it were a cosmicRube Goldberg machine: trip a lever at oneend, and a series of domino-like thingamajigs andwhatsits bang into each other, at long last producinga whatchamacallit at the far end of the machine. Bypure cause and effect, each event causes otherevents, in direct chronological succession.Now, this is true- but it is not the whole truth.In fact, taken alone and autonomously, it is not trueat all, for such a thesis is evolutionary in its assumptions,rather than Biblical. History is not simply amatter of the past causing the future; it is also truethat the future causes the past!A simple illustration might help us understandthis. Let's say someone finds you packing a sacklunch on a warm Saturday morning, and asks thereason for it. You answer, "Because. I'm going tohave a picnic at the park today." What has hap80THE GREAT TRIBULATIONpened? In a sense, the future-the planned picnichasdetermined the past. Because you wanted a picnic atthe park, you then planned a lunch. Logically, thepicnic preceded, and caused, the making of thelunch, even though it followed it chronologically. Inthe same way, God desired to glorify Himself inJesus Christ; therefore He created Jesse and David,and all the other ancestors of Christ's human nature,in order to bring His Son into the world. The RootofDavid's very existence was the Son ofDavid, JesusChrist. The "effect" determined the "cause"!The Lord Jesus Christ is thus presented in themost radical way possible as the Center ofall history,the divine Root as well as the Branch, the Beginningand the End, Alpha and Omega. And it is as theconquering Lion and the determining Root that Hehas prevailed so as to open the Book-the New Covenant-and its seven seals. Interestingly, however,when St. John turns to see the One who is describedin this way, he sees a Lamb standing before theThrone. The point of the text is not that Jesus is"lamblike" in the sense of being gentle, sweet, ormild. Christ is called a Lamb, not because He is "nice,"but in view of His work. He is the Lamb that was slain,"who takes away the sin of the world" (Jonah 1:29).Thus, the center ofhistory is thefinished, sacrificz'al work ofChrist. The foundation for His mediatorial kingship(Christ as the Lion) is His mediatorial atonement(Christ as the Lamb). It is because of His sacrificethat He has been exalted to the place of supreme ruleand authority. Christ has attained victory throughHis redemptive suffering and death on our behalf.THE COMING OF THE NEW COVENANT 61This means that Christ's understanding of creationand history originates not from history itself butfrom the fact that He is both the Creator and Redeemerof the world. Thus, on the basis of His Person,His work, and His exalted position as Saviorand World-Ruler, Jesus Christ ascended to heaven,stepped forward to the Throne of His Father, andtook the New Covenant out of the right hand ofHimwho sat upon the Throne (Revelation 5:7). We havealready noted how the prophet Daniel described it:I kept looking in the night visions,And behold, with the clouds of heavenOne like a Son of Man was coming,And He came up to the Ancient of DaysAnd was presented before Him.And to Him was given dominion,Glory and a Kingdom,That all the peoples, nations, and men of everylanguageMight serve Him.His dominion is an everlasting dominionWhich will not pass away;And His Kingdom is oneWhich will not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).The central message of the Bible is salvationthrough Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant.Apart from His work, through which He acquiredand eternally possesses the Covenant, there isno hope for mankind. He has overwhelmingly conqueredso as to open the Treaty of the Great King;62 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONand through Him we too are more than conquerors.In the closing verses of Revelation 5, St. Johngoes on to show the Church's response to all this inworship, praising God for the outcome of Christ'swork. Their "New Song" exults in the fact that Christhas purchased His people out of the nations, not onlyto redeem them from sin, but to enable them tofulfill God's original Dominion Mandate for man.As the Second Adam, Christ sets before His NewCreation the task Adam forfeited - this time, however,on the unshakable foundation of His death,resurrection, and ascension. Salvation has a purpose,a saving to as well as a savingfrom. Christ hasmade His people to be kings and priests to our God,and has guaranteed their destiny: "Thou hast madethem to be a kingdom and priests to our God; andthey will reign upon the earth" (Revelation 10). Thisshows us the direction of history: the redeemed ofthe Lord, already a nation of kingly priests, are movingtoward the complete dominion God had plannedas His original program for man. In Adam it hadbeen lost; Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, hasredeemed us and restored us to our royal priesthood,so that we will reign upon the earth. Through the workof Christ the definitive victory over Satan has been won. Weare promised increasing victories, and increasingrule and dominion, as we bring the Gospel and lawof the great King to fruition throughout the world.The Church in St. John'S day was about to experiencea time of severe testing and persecution.Already they were seeing what, in a sane age, couldscarcely be imagined: a union between Israel andTHE COMING OF THE NEW COVENANT 63the evil Beast of the pagan Roman Empire. TheseChristians needed to understand history as somethingnot ruled by chance or evil men or even thedevil, but ruled instead from God's Throne by JesusChrist. They needed to see that Christ was reigningnow, that He had already wrested the world fromSatan's grasp, and that even now all things in heavenand earth were bound to acknowledge Him as King.They needed to see themselves in the true light: notas forgotten troops in a lonely outpost fighting a losingbattle, but as kings and priests already, wagingwar and overcoming, predestined to victory, with theabsolute assurance of conquest and dominion withthe High King over the earth. They needed the Biblicalphilosophy of history: that all of history, created and controlledby God's personal and total government, is moving inexorablytoward the universal dominion of the Lord JesusChrist. The new and final age of history has arrived;the New Covenant has come. Behold, He has conquered!6

              THE FOUR HORSEMENWe now come to consider the breaking of theseven Seals ofthe Book (six ofthe Seals are broken inRevelation 6; the seventh Seal is broken in 8:1, andis connected to the seven Trumpets). We have seenin the preceding chapter that the Book represents thetreaty document of the New Covenant, the openingof which will result in the destruction of apostateIsrael. What then does the breaking of the Seals represent?Some have thought this to signify a chronologicalreading through the Book, and that theevents depicted are in a straight, historical order.This is unlikely for two reasons. First, the Seals seemto be on the outside edge of the Book (which is in theform of a scroll): one cannot really begin to read theBook until· all the Seals are broken. The seventhSeal, consisting of a call to action by the blowing ofthe seven trumpets, actually opens the book so thatwe can read its contents.Second, a careful reading of the events shown byeach Seal reveals that they are not listed in chronoTHEFOUR HORSEMEN 65logical order. For example, in the Fifth Seal-afterall the havoc wreaked by the Four Horsemen-themartyrs calling for judgment are told to .. wait. Butthe judgment is immediately poured out in the SixthSeal, the entire creation "unseam'd from the nave tothe chaps." Yet, after all this, God commands theangels to withhold judgment until the servants ofGod are protected (7:3). Obviously, the Seals are notmeant to represent a progressive chronology. It ismore likely that they reveal the main ideas of thebook's contents, the major themes of the judgmentsthat came upon Israel during the Last Days, betweenA.D. 30-70.Several commentators have observed the closestructural similarity between the six Seals of thischapter and the events of the so-called Lz'ttle ApocalYpse-Jesus' discourse recorded in Matthew 24,Mark 13, and Luke 21-which, as we have alreadyseen, foretells the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (seeChapters 1 and 2, above). As the outlines belowdemonstrate, all these passages essentially deal withthe same basic subjects:Revelation 61. War (vv. 1-2)2. International strife (vv. 3-4)3. Famine (vv. 5-6)4. Pestilence (vv. 7-8)5. Persecution (vv. 9-11)6. Earthquake; De-creation (vv. 12-17)68 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONMatthew 24-1. Wars (v. 6)2. International strife (v. 7a)3. Famines (v. 7b)4. Earthquakes (v. 7c)5. Persecutions (vv. 9-13)6. De-creation (vv. 15-31)Mark 131. Wars (v. 7)2. International strife (v. Ba)3. Earthquakes (v. Bb)4. Famines (v. Bc)5. Persecutions (vv. 9-13)6. De-creation (vv. 14-27)Luke 211. Wars (v. 9)2. International strife (v. 10)3. Earthquakes (v. lla)4. Plagues and famines (v. llb)5. Persecution (vv. 12-19)6. De-creation (vv. 20-27)This is very perceptive of the commentators.What is astonishing, however, is that many of themfail to see St. John's purpose in presenting the samematerial as Matthew, Mark, and Luke: to prophesythe events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem.While all readily admit that the LittleApocalypse is a prophecy against Israel (see Matthew23:29-39; 24:1-2, 15-16, 34; Mark 13:2, 14, 30; LukeTHE FOUR HORSEMEN 8721:5-6, 20-24, 32), few seem able to make the obviousconnection: the Big Apocalypse (the Book of Revelation)is a prophecy against Israel as well!The Biblical Background of the HorsemenThe central Old Testament passage behind theimagery of the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" isZechariah 6:1-7, which pictures the Four Winds asGod's chariots driven by His agents, who go backand forth patrolling the earth. Following and imitatingthe action of the Spirit (cf. Revelation 5:6), theyare God's means of controlling history (cf. Revelation7:1, where the Four Winds are identified with,and controlled by, angels; cf. also Psalm 18:10, wherethe "wings of the wind" are connected with "cherubs.")Biblical symbolism views the earth (and especiallythe Land of Israel) as God's four-cornered altar, andthus often represents wide-sweeping, national judgmentsin a fourfold manner. The Horsemen, therefore,show us God's means of controlling and bringingjudgment upon the disobedient nation of Israel.In particular, they symbolically represent the greatdevastations that Jesus predicted would come uponIsrael in the last days of the Old Covenant era, leadingup to the destruction ofJerusalem and the Temple(Matthew 24).Just as important as Zechariah in the backgroundof this passage is the Prayer of Habakkuk(Habakkuk 3), the traditional synagogue reading forthe second day of Pentecost, in which the prophetrelates a vision of God coming in judgment, shininglike the sun, Hashing with lightning (Habakkuk68 THE GREAT TRIBULATION3:3-4; cf. Revelation 1:16; 4:5), bringing pestilenceand plague (Habakkuk 3:5; Revelation 6:8), shatteringthe mountains and collapsing the hills (Habakkuk3:6, 10; Revelation 6:14), riding on horsesagainst His enemies (Habakkuk 3:8, 15; Revelation6:2, 4-5, 8), armed with a Bow (Habakkuk 3:9, 11;Revelation 6:2), extinguishing sun and moon(Habakkuk 3:11; Revelation 6:12-13) and tramplingthe nations in His fury (Habakkuk 3:12; Revelation6:15). Habakkuk clearly interprets his imagery as aprophecy of the military invasion of Judah by theChaldeans, God's heathen instruments of divinewrath (Habakkuk 3:16; cf. 1:5-17). Under similar imagery,St. John portrays Israel's destruction at thehands of the invading Edomite and Roman armies.The White HorseThe Book-visions begin, as the Messages did,with Christ holding a cluster of seven in His hand.As the Lamb breaks each of the first four Seals, St.John hears one of the four living creatures saying aswith a voice of thunder, "Come!" This is not spokenas a direction to St. John to "come and see." It is,rather, that each of the living creatures calls forthone of the Four Horsemen. The four corners of theearth, as it were, standing around the altar, are callingfor God's righteous judgments to come and destroythe wicked -just as the apostolic Church'scharacteristic cry for judgment and salvation wasMaranatha! 0 Lord, Come!- and bring Anathema!(Early Christian documents indicate that this phrasefrom I Corinthians 16:22 was repeated in the closingTHE FOUR HORSEMEN 69prayer of every Church worship service for decadesprior to the fall ofJerusalem.)As the first living creature calls, St. John sees awhite horse, its Rider armed for battle, carrying aBow. The Rider is already victorious, for a crown wasgiven to Him. Having achieved victory, He rides onto further victories, going out "conquering, and toconquer." Amazingly, an interpretation popular insome circles claims that this Rider on the white horseis the Antichrist. Showing where his faith lies, onewriter goes all the way and declares that the Antichristis "the only person who could accomplish all ofthese feats"!But there are several points about this Rider thatdemonstrate conclusively that He can be none otherthan the Lord Jesus Christ. First, He is riding a whitehorse, as Jesus does in Revelation 19:11-16. Second,He carries a Bow. As we have seen, the passage fromHabakkuk that forms the basis for Revelation 6shows the Lord as the Warrior-King carrying a Bow(Habakkuk 3:9, 11). St. John is also appealing hereto Psalm 45, one of the great prophecies of Christ'svictory over His enemies, in which the psalmist joyouslycalls to Him as He rides forth conquering, andto conquer:Gird Thy sword on Thy thigh, 0 Mighty One,In Thy splendor and Thy majesty!And in Thy majesty ride on victoriously,For the cause of truth and meekness andrighteousness;Let Thy right hand teach Thee awesome things.70 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONThine arrows are sharp;The peoples fall under Thee;Thine arrows are in the heart of the King'senemies (Psalm 45:3-5).We should ask a rather obvious question at thispoint- so obvious that we are apt to miss it altogether:Where did Christ get the Bow? The answer (as isusually the case) begins in Genesis. When Godmade the covenant with Noah, He declared that Hewas no longer at war with the earth, because of the"soothing aroma" of the sacrifice (Genesis 8:20-21);and as evidence of this He unstrung His Bow andhung it up "in the cloud" for all to see (Genesis9:13-17). Later, when Ezekiel was "raptured" up tothe Throneroom at the top of the Glory-Cloud, hesaw the Bow hanging above the Throne (Ezekiel1:26-28); and it was still there when St. John ascendedto heaven (Revelation 4:3). But when the Lambstepped forward to receive the Book from HisFather's hand, He also reached up and took downthe Bow, to use it in judgment against the apostatesof Israel. For those who "go on sinning willfully afterreceiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longerremains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifyingexpectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire thatwill consume the adversaries. Anyone who has setaside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on thetestimony of two or three witnesses. How muchseverer punishment do you think he will deserve whohas trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regardedas unclean the blood of the covenant byTHE FOUR HORSEMEN 71which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spiritof Grace? For we know Him who said: 'Vengeance isMine, I will repay.' And again: 'The Lord will judgeHis people.' It is a terrifying thing to fall into thehands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:26-31). It wasthus necessary that the first Rider should be seencarrying the Bow of God's vengeance, to signify theunleashing of the Curse upon Israel's ground; forthese apostates, the Noachic covenant is undone.St. John's first readers would immediately haveunderstood his reference to this Rider with the Bowas speaking of Jesus Christ, on the basis of what wehave already seen. But, third, there is the fact that theRider is given a crown, and this too agrees with what weknow about Christ from Revelation (14:14; 19:11-13).This Greek word for crown (stephanos) is used seventimes in Revelation with reference to Christ and Hispeople (2:10; 3:11; 4:4, 10; 6:2; 12:1; 14:14).The fourth and final point, however, should renderthis interpretation completely secure: the Ridergoes out conquering. This is the very same word in theGreek as that used in the letters to the sevenchurches for overcoming or conquering (see Revelation2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). Consider how the Revelationhas used this word up to this point:He who conquers, I will grant to him to sitdown with Me on My Throne, as I also conqueredand sat down with My Father on HisThrone (3:21).The Lion that is from the tribe of Judah,the Root of David, has conquered so as to openthe Book (5:5).72 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONAnd I looked, and behold, a white horse;and He who sat upon it had a Bow; and acrown was given to Him; and He went out conquering,and to conquer (6: 2).It is Christ who is the Conqueror par excellence. Allevents in history are at His command, and it is entirelyappropriate that He should be the One representedhere as the leader of the judgments of God.He is the Center of history, and it is He who bringsjudgments upon the Land. His opening of the NewCovenant guaranteed the fall of Israel; as He conqueredto open the Book, so He rode out in victoryto implement the meaning of the Book in history. Herode forth at His Resurrection and Ascension as thealready victorious King, conquering and to conquer,extending the applications of His once-for-all, definitivevictory throughout the earth. And we shouldtake special notice of the awful judgments followingin His train. The Horsemen represent the forcesGod always uses in breaking disobedient nations,and now they are turned against His covenant people.The same holds true, of course, for all men andnations. All attempts to find peace and safety apartfrom Jesus Christ are doomed to failure. The nationthat will not bow will be crushed by His armies, bythe historical forces that are constantly at His absolutedisposal.There are differences between this vision ofChrist and that in Revelation 19. The primary reasonfor this is that in Chapter 19, Christ is seen witha sword proceeding out of His mouth, and the visionTHE FOUR HORSEMEN 73symbolizes His conquest of the nations after A.D. 70with the Gospel. But that is not in view during thebreaking of the Seals. Here, Christ is coming againstHis enemies injudgment. He is coming, not to save,not to heal, but to destroy. The awful and terrifyingriders who follow Him are not messengers of hopebut of wrath. Israel is doomed.The Red HorseAs the Lamb breaks the second Seal (Revelation6:3-4), St. John hears the second living creature saying,"Come!" In answer, a rider on a "blood-red"horse comes forth, who is granted by God the power"to take peace from the Land, and that men shouldslay one another; and a great sword is given to him."This second rider, standing for war, shows how utterlydepraved man is. God does not have to incite men to fightagainst each other; He simply orders His angels to take awaythe conditz"ons ofpeace.In a sinful world, why are there not more warsthan there are? Why is there not more bloodshed? Itis because there are restraints on man's wickedness, onman's freedom to work out the consistent implicationsof his hatred and rebellion. But ifGod removesthe restraints, man's ethical degeneracy is revealedin all its ugliness. John Calvin wrote: "The mind ofman has been so completely estranged from God'srighteousness that it conceives, desires, and undertakes,only that which is impious, perverted, foul,impure, and infamous. The heart is so steeped in thepoison of sin, that it can breathe out nothing but aloathsome stench. But ifsome men occasionally make74 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONa show of good, their minds nevertheless ever remainenveloped in hypocrisy and deceitful craft, andtheir hearts bound by inner depravity."All this was abundantly fulfilled in Israel and thesurrounding nations during the Last Days, when theLand was filled with murderers, revolutionaries, andterrorists of every description; when, as the historianJosephus wrote, "every city was divided into two armiesencamped against one another, and the preservationof the one party was in the destruction of theother; so the day-time was spent in the shedding ofblood, and the night in fear. . . . It was then commonto see cities filled with dead bodies, still lyingunburied, and those of old men, mixed with infants,all dead, and scattered about together; women alsolay amongst them, without any covering for theirnakedness; you might then see the whole provincefull of inexpressible calamities, while dread of stillmore barbarous practices which were threatened,was everywhere greater than what had been alreadyperpetrated" (The Jewish J#lr, ii. xviii. 2).The Black HorseFollowing on the heels of war is the third angelicrider (Revelation 6:5-6), on a black horse, holding apair of scales in his hand, a symbol of famine fromthe prophecy of Ezekiel, in which the starving inhabitantsof Jerusalem were forced to weigh their foodcarefully (Ezekiel 4:10). This Horseman brings economichardship, a situation described as completelychaotic. A voice from "the center of the living creatures"-i.e., from God's Throne-says: "A quart ofTHE FOUR HORSEMEN 75wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for adenarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine."This curse thus means a shortage of the necessarystaples - a measure of wheat rising to more than1000% of its former price, consuming an entire day'swages, so that a man's entire labor is spent in obtainingfood. This is God's curse on men whenever theyrebel: the land itself spews them out (Leviticus18:24-28; Isaiah 24). The curse devours productivity inevery area, and the ungodly culture perishes throughstarvation, disease, and oppression (Deuteronomy28:15-34). This is how God controls the wicked:they must spend so much time just surviving thatthey are unable to exercise ungodly dominion overthe earth. In the long run, this is the history of everyculture that departs from God's Word.Josephus describes the frantic search for foodduring the final seige: "As the famine grew worse,the frenzy of the insurgents kept pace with it, andevery day both these horrors burned more fiercely.For, since nowhere was grain to be seen, men wouldbreak into houses, and if they found some they mistreatedthe occupants for having denied their possessionof it; if they found none, they tortured them as ifthey had concealed it more carefully. Proof whetherthey had food or not was provided by the physicalappearance of the wretches; those still in good conditionwere deemed to be well provided with food,while those who were already wasting away werepassed over, for it seemed pointless to kill personswho would soon die of starvation. Many secretlybartered their possessions for a single measure of76 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONwheat if they happened to be rich, barley if they werepoor. Then they shut themselves up in the darkestcorners of their houses; in the extremity of hungersome even ate their grain underground, while othersbaked it, guided by necessity and fear. Nowhere wasa table laid - the food was snatched half-cooked fromthe fire and torn into pieces" (TheJewish ~r, v. x. 2).On the other hand, however, in this specific curseon Jerusalem the luxuries of oil and wine are unaffectedby the general price rise; the black Horsemanis forbidden to touch them. In other words, justas the people of Israel were really beginning to feelthe pinch of the failure of grain, it was time to harvestthe grapes and the olives. The situation isironic, for you can survive on grain without oil andwine - but not the other way around. In all likelihood,another dimension of this expression's importis that God's messengers of destruction are kept fromharming the righteous: scripture often speaks ofGod's blessings upon the righteous in terms ofoil andwine (cf. Psalm 104:15); and, of course, oil and wineare used in the rites of the Church (James 5:14-15; ICorinthians 11:25). This would then parallel thoseother passages in which the godly are protected fromdestruction (Revelation 7:3).The Green HorseFinally, the fourth Seal is broken (Revelation6:7-8), and the fourth living creature calls up the lastHorseman ofjudgment, who rides a green horse - thegreen color connoting a sickly pallor, a presage ofdeath. Thus the fourth rider, with a much broaderTHE FOUR HORSEMEN 77and more comprehensive commission, is namedDeath; and he is followed by Hades (the grave)bothhaving been set loose by the Son of Man, whounlocked them with His key (see Revelation 1:18).Authority is given to him to bring four plagues uponthe four-cornered Land: "to kill with sword and withfamine and with death and by the wild beasts of theLand." This is simply a summary of all the covenantalcurses for apostasy in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy28. Moreover, it parallels God's listing ofHis four basic categories of curses with which Hepunishes ungodly and disobedient nations-"Myfour severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword,famine, wild beasts, and plague to cut off man andbeast from it!" (Ezekiel 14:21; cf. Ezekiel 5:17). Atthis preliminary stage, however-and in keepingwith the "fourness" of the passage as a whole - Deathand the grave are given authority to swallow up onlya fourth of the Land. The Trumpet-judgments willtake a third of the Land (Revelation 8:7-12), and theChalice-judgments will devastate it all.ConclusionPerhaps the most significant obstacle to a correctinterpretation of this passage has been that commentatorsand preachers have been afraid and unable tosee that it is God who is bringing forth these judgmentsupon the Land- that they are called forthfrom the Throne, and that the messengers of judgmentare the very angels of God. Especially viciousand harmful is any interpretation which seems to pitthe Son of God against the court of heaven, so that78 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONthe curses recorded here are seen as somehow beneathHis character. But it is Jesus, the Lamb, whobreaks the seals of judgment, and it is Jesus, theKing of kings, who rides out in conquest, leading theangelic armies against the nations, to destroy thosewho rebel against His universal rule.It was crucial for the early Christians to understandthis, for these judgments were even thenbreaking loose upon their world. In every age,Christians must face the world with confidence, withthe unshakable conviction that all events in historyare predestined, originating from the Throne ofGod. When we see the world convulsed with wars,famines, plagues, and natural disasters, we mustsay, with the Psalmist, "Come, behold the works ofthe LORD, who has wrought desolations in the earth"(Psalm 46:8). Ultimately, the Christian's attitude towardGod's judgments upon a wicked world is thesame as that of the four living creatures around theThrone, who joyfully call out to God's messengers ofjudgment: "Cornel" We too, in our prayers, are toplead with God to bring down His wrath on the ungodly,to manifest His righteousness in the earth.Faced with these awesome revelations of judgment,what is our proper response? We are told, in Revelation22:20: the Spirit and the Bride say, "Cornel"7

              VENGEANCE FORTHE MARTYRSFor the first-century readers of Revelation, thetribulations depicted in it were becoming all too real:each church would soon know the anguish of havingsome of its most forthright and able leaders imprisonedand executed ''because of the Word ofGod,and because of the testimony which they had maintained"(Revelation 6:9). For many Christians, allacross the empire, the coming months and yearswould involve great distress, as families would beseparated and loved ones killed. When tragedystrikes, we are all tempted to ask: Does God care?This question is especially intense when the pain iscaused by vicious enemies of the faith bent on destroyingGod's people, and the injustice of the sufferingbecomes apparent. If Christians were truly theservants of the King, when would He act? Whenwould He come to punish the apostates who had firstused the power of the Roman State to crucify theLord, and now were using that same power to killand crucify the "prophets and wise men and scribes"80 THE GREAT TRIBULATION(Matthew 23:34) whom Christ had sent?Thus the breaking of the fifth Seal reveals a scenein heaven, where the souls of those who had beenslain are underneath, or around the base of, the altar(Revelation 6:9-10). The image is taken from theOld Testament sacrifices, in which the blood of theslain victim would stream down the sides of the altarand form into a pool around its base ("the soul[Hebrews nephesh] of the flesh is in the blood," Leviticus17:11). The blood of the martyrs has been pouredout (cf. II Timothy 4:6), and as it fills the trenchbelow the altar it cries out from the ground with aloud voice: "How long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dostThou not judge and avenge our blood upon thosewho dwell on the Land?"The Church in heaven agrees with the cherubimin calling forth God's judgments: How long? is astandard phrase throughout Scripture for invokingdivine justice for the oppressed (cf. Psalm 6:3;13:1-2; 35:17; 74:10; 79:5; 80:4; 89:46; 90:13; 94:3-4;Habakkuk 1:2; 2:6). The particular background forits use here, however, is again in the prophecy ofZechariah (1:12): After the Four Horsemen havepatrolled through the earth, the angel asks, ~O LORDof Hosts, how long wilt Thou have no compassion forJerusalem?" St. John reverses this. After his FourHorsemen have been sent on their mission, he showsthe martyrs asking how long God will continue to putup with Jerusalem - how long before He destroys herfor her violent oppressions.St. John's readers would not have failed to noticeanother subtle point: if the martyrs' blood is flowingVENGEANCE FOR THE MARTYRS 81around the base of the altar, it must be the priests ofJerusalem who have spilled it. The officers of the Covenanthave slain the righteous. As Jesus and theapostles testified, Jerusalem was the murderer of theprophets (Matthew 23:34-37; Luke 13:33; Acts7:51-52). The connection with "the blood of Abel"crying out from the ground near the altar (Genesis4:10) is another indication that this passage as awhole refers to judgment upon Jerusalem (cf. Matthew23:35-37). Like Cain, the "older brothers" ofthe Old Covenant envied and murdered their righteous"younger brothers" of the New Covenant (cf.I John 3:11-12). And so the blood of the righteouscries out: the saints pray that Christ's prophecy of"the days of vengeance" (Luke 21:22) will be fulfilled.That this blunt cry for vengeance strikes us asstrange just shows how far our pietistic age has degeneratedfrom the Biblical worldview. If ourchurches were more acquainted with the foundationalhymnbook of the Church- the Book of Psalms- instead of the sugary, syrupy, sweetness-and-lightchoruses that characterize modern evangelical hymnals,we would understand this much easier. But wehave fallen under a pagan delusion that it is somehow"unchristian" to pray for God's wrath to bepoured out upon the enemies and persecutors of theChurch. Yet that is what we see God's people doing,with God's approval, in both Testaments of the HolyScriptures (see, e.g., Psalm 5, 7, 35, 58, 59, 68, 69,73, 79, 83, 109, 137, and 140). It is, in fact, a characteristicof the godly man that he despises the reprobate(Psalm 15:4). The spirit expressed in the82 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONimprecatory prayers of Scripture is a necessary aspect- though not the whole - of the Christian's attitude(cf. II Timothy 4:14). Much of the impotence of ourchurches today is directly attributable to the fact thatthey have become emasculated and effeminate. Suchchurches, unable even to confront evil- much less"overcome" it-will eventually be captured and dominatedby their enemies.The righteous and faithful saints in heaven arerecognized as kings and priests of God, and thusthere is given to each of them a white robe (Revelation6:11), symbolizing God's acknowledgment oftheir purity before Him, a symbol of the victory ofthe overcomers (cf. Revelation 3:4-5). The whitenessof the robe is part of a characteristic pattern inRevelation, in which the last three items in a sevenfoldstructure match the first four items. Thus:First Seal: White horseSecond Seal: Red horseThird Seal: Black horseFourth Seal: Green horseFifth Seal: White RobesSixth Seal: Moon like blood; Sun blackSeventh Seal: Green grass burnedIn answer to the saints' plea for vengeance, Godanswers that they should "rest for a little whilelonger, until the number of their fellow servants andtheir brethren who were to be killed even as they hadbeen, should be completed also." The full number ofmartyrs has not yet been completed; the full iniquityVENGEANCE FOR THE MARTYRS 83of their persecutors has not yet been reached (cf.Genesis 15:16), although it is fast approaching thedoom of God's "wrath to the uttermost" being pouredout upon them (I Thessalonians 2:14-16). We mustremember that the primary application of this has todo with apostate Israel-those who dwell on the Landwhich(in cooperation with the Roman authorities)was murdering the saints. The martyrs are instructedto wait a little while, and God's judgment willassuredly strike, bringing the promised "Great Tribulation"upon covenant-breaking Israel.As the sixth Seal is broken (Revelation 6:12-14),we are more clearly brought into the events ofIsrael's "last days." The Lamb reveals the next greataspect of His covenantal judgments, in a symboloften used in Biblical prophecy: de-creation. Just asthe salvation of God's people is spoken of in terms ofcreation (cf. II Corinthians 4:6; 5:17; Ephesians2:10; 4:24; Colossians 3:10), so God's judgments(and the revelation of His presence as Judge over asinful world) are spoken of in terms of de-creation,the collapse of the universe - God ripping apart anddissolving the fabric of creation. Thus St. John usesthe fundamental structures of creation in describingthe fall of Israel:1. Earth2. Sun3. Moon4. Stars5. Firmament6. Land7. Man84 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONThese seven judgments are detailed in terms ofthe familiar prophetic imagery of the Old Testament.First, destabilization: a giant earthquake (cf.Exodus 19:18; Psalm 18:7, 15; 60:2; Isaiah 13:13-14;24:19-20; Nahum 1:5).Second, the eclipse and mourning ofIsrael: "The sunbecame black as sackcloth made of hair" (Exodus10:21-23; Job 9:7; Isaiah 5:30; 24:23; Ezekiel 32:7;Joel 2:10,31; 3:15; Amos 8:9; Micah 3:6).Third, the image of an eclipse continues, with theidea of defilement added: "The whole moon becamelike blood" (Job 25:5; Isaiah 13:10; 24:23; Ezekiel32:7; Joel 2:10, 31).The fourth judgment affects the stars, which areimages of government (Genesis 1:16); they are alsoclocks (Genesis 1:14), and their fall shows that Israel'stime has run out: "The stars fell to the earth, as a figtree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a greatwind" (Job 9:7; Ecclesiastes 12:2; Isaiah 13:10; 34:4;Ezekiel 32:8; Daniel 8:10; Joel 2:10; 3:15); the greatwind, of course, was brought by the Four Horsemen,who in Zechariah's original imagery were theFour Winds (Zechariah 6:5), and who will be reintroducedto St. John in that form in Revelation 7:1;and the fig tree is Israel herself (Matthew 21:19;24:32-34; Luke 21:29-32).Fifth, Israel herself now simply disappears: "Theheaven vanished," like a copper scroll snapping shut(Isaiah 34:4; 51:6; Psalm 102:25-26; on the symbolismof Israel as "heaven," see Isaiah 51:15-16; Jeremiah4:23-31; cf. Hebrews 12:26-27).Sixth, the Gentile powers are shaken as well: "EveryVENGEANCE FOR THE MARTYRS 85mountain and island were moved out oftheir places"(Job 9:5-6; 14:18-19; 28:9-11; Isaiah 41:5, 15-16; Ezekiel38:20; Nahum 1:4-8; Zephaniah 2:11). God's "oldcreation," Israel, is thus to be de-created, as theKingdom is transferred to the Church, the New Creation(cf. II Peter 3:7-14). Because the rulers inGod's Vineyard have killed His Son, they too will bekilled (Matthew 21:33-45). The Vineyard itself willbe broken down, destroyed, and laid waste (Isaiah5:1-7). In God's righteous destruction of Israel, Hewill shake even heaven and earth (Matthew24:29-30; Hebrews 12:26-28) in order to deliver HisKingdom over to His new nation, the Church.In the closing verses of Revelation 6, Old Testamentprophetic imagery is still in view as St. Johndescribes the apostates under judgment. This is theseventh phase of de-creation: the destruction of men.But this seventh item in the list opens up to revealanother "seven" within it (just as the seventh Sealand seventh Trumpet each contains the next set ofseven judgments), for seven classes of men are namedhere, showing that the destruction is total, affectingsmall and great alike: "the kings of the earth and thegreat men and the commanders and the rich and thestrong and every slave and free man."None will be able to escape, regardless of eitherprivileged status or insignificance. The whole Landhas rejected Christ, and the whole Land is beingexcommunicated. Again, the parallels show that thejudgment upon Israel is intended by this prophecy(cf. Isaiah 2 and 24-27), although other nations ("thekings of the earth") will be affected as well.86 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONAs the earth is de-created, and the mediatingnatural revelation is removed- placing sinners faceto-face with the bare revelation of the holy and righteousGod- the men of Israel attempt to flee and toseek protection in anything that might seem to offerrefuge. Flight underground and into caves is a signof being under a curse (cf. Genesis 19:30-38). Thusthey hid themselves (cf. Genesis 3:8) "in the cavesand among the rocks of the mountains" (God's "eyefor-an-eye" judgment on them for their mistreatmentof the righteous: Hebrews 11:38; cf. Judges 7:25). St.John records their desperate plea to the mountainsand rocks: "Fall on us and hide us from the presenceof Him who sits on the Throne, and from the wrathof the Lamb; for the great day of His wrath hascome; and [cf. Nahum 1:6; Malachi 3:2] who is ableto stand?" The interpretation given here is againconfirmed: this passage is not speaking of the Endof the World, but of the End of Israel in A.D. 70. Theorigin of the symbolism used here is in the prophecyof Hosea against Israel:Ephraim will be seized with shame,And Israel will be ashamed of its own counsel.Samaria will be cut off with her king,Like a stick on the surface of the water.Also, the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel,will be destroyed;Thorn and thistle will grow on their altars.Then they will say to the mountains: Cover us!And to the hills: Fallon us!(Hosea 10:6-8).VENCEANCE FOR THE MARTYRS 87Jesus cited this text on His way to the crucifixion,stating that it would be fulfilled upon idolatrousIsrael within the lifetimes of those who were thenpresent:And there were following Him a great multitudeof the people, and of women who weremourning and lamenting Him. But Jesus turningto them said, Daughters ofJerusalem, stopweeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and foryour children. For behold, the days are comingwhen they will say: Blessed are the barren, andthe wombs that never bore, and the breasts thatnever nursed. Then they will begin to say to themountains: Fall on us! and to the hills: Coverus! (Luke 23:27-30).As the churches in Asia Minor were first readingthis vision, the prophesied judgments were alreadytaking place; the final End was fast approaching.The generation that had rejected the Landlord's Son(cf. Matthew 21: 33-45) would soon be screamingthese very words. The crucified and resurrectedLord was coming to destroy the apostates. This wasto be the great Day of the outpoured wrath of theLamb, whom they had slain.8

              THE BOOK IS OPENEDFinally, the Lord Jesus Christ breaks the seventhSeal of the New Covenant (Revelation 8:1-2), openingit up to reveal the seven Trumpets that herald thedoom ofJerusalem, the once-holy City which has becomepaganized and which, like its precursor Jericho,will fall by the blast of Seven Trumpets (cf. Joshua6:4-5). But first, in this grand heavenly liturgy whichmakes up the Book of Revelation, there is "silence inheaven for about half an hour." The basis for this ismost likely the liturgy of the Old Testament, whenthe singers and trumpets ceased and all bowed inreverent worship (cf. II Chronicles 29:28-29); andthe specific period of a half-hour is probably relatedto the length of time required for a priest to enter theTemple, offer up the incense, and return (cf. Revelation8:3-4; Leviticus 16:13-14; Luke 1:10, 21). (Thetechnical details here are just a few of the many indicationsthat St. John had been a priest of Israel, andmay even have come from the high priest's family;his eye for minute details of worship is amazing.)THE BOOK IS OPENED 89Alfred Edersheim's description of this Templeceremony helps us understand the setting reflectedhere: "Slowly the incensing priest and his assistantsascended the steps to the Holy Place, preceded bythe two priests who had formerly dressed the altarand the candlestick, and who now removed thevessels they had left behind, and, worshipping, withdrew.Next, one of the assistants reverently spreadthe coals on the golden altar; the other arranged theincense; and then the chief officiating priest was leftalone within the Holy Place, to await the signal ofthe president before burning the incense. It wasprobably while thus expectant that the angel Gabrielappeared to Zacharias [Luke 1:8-11]. As the presidentgave the word of command, which marked that'the time of incense had come,' 'the whole multitudeof the people without' withdrew from the innercourt, and fell down before the Lord, spreading theirhands in silent prayer."It is this most solemn period, when throughoutthe vast Temple buildings deep silence rested on theworshiping multitude, while within the sanctuary itselfthe priest laid the incense on the golden altar,and the cloud of,odours' [Revelation 5:8] rose up beforethe Lord, which serves as the image of heavenlythings in this description" (The Temple: Its Ministryand Services as They mre at the Time of Christ, p. 167).Following this awe-filled silence, the seven angelswho stand before God are given seven Trumpets (theTemple liturgy used seven trumpets also: I Chronicles15:24; Nehemiah 12:41). St. John seems toassume that his readers will recognize these seven90 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONangels. Why? Because he had already introducedseven "angels," or pastors, in Revelation 2-3. Theyare the ones represented here, even if we grant thatthe two sets of"seven angels" are not necessarily identical.They are clearly meant to be related to eachother, as we can see when we step back from the text(and our preconceived ideas) and allow the wholepicture to present itself to us. When we do this, wesee the Revelation structured in sevens, and in recurringpatterns of sevens. One of those recurringpatterns is that of seven angels (chapters 1-3, 8-11, 14,15-16). Just as earthly worship is patterned afterheavenly worship (Hebrews 8:5; 9:23-24), so is thegovernment of the Church (Matthew 16:19; 18:18;John 20:23); moreover, according to Scripture, thereare numerous correspondences between human andangelic activities (cf. Revelation 21:17). Angels arepresent in the worship services of the Church(I Corinthians 11:10; Ephesians 3:10)-or, more precisely,on the Lord's Day we are gathered in worshiparound the throne of God, in the heavenly court.Thus we are shown in the Book of Revelationthat the government of the earthly Church corresponds toheavenly, angelic government, just as our official worshipcorresponds to that which is conducted around theheavenly throne by the angels. Moreover, the judgmentsthat fall down upon the Land are brought through theactions ofthe seven angels (again, we cannot divorce thehuman angels from their heavenly counterparts).The officers of the Church are commissioned andempowered to bring God's blessings and curses intofruition in the earth. Church officers are the divinely apTHEBOOK IS OPENED 91pointed managers ofworld hzstory. The implications ofthisfact, as we shall see, are quite literally earth-shaking.In Revelation 8:3-5, St. John sees another angelstanding at the heavenly altar of incense, holding agolden censer. A large amount of incense, symbolicof the prayers of all the saints (see Revelation 5:8), isgiven to the angel that he might add it to the prayersof God's people, assuring that the prayers will be receivedas a sweet-smelling offering to the Lord. Thenthe smoke of the incense, with the prayers of thesaints, ascends before God out of the angel's hand, asthe minister offers up the petitions of his congregation.What happens next is amazing: the angel fillsthe censer with coals of fire from the incense altarand casts the fire onto the earth in judgment; andthis is followed by "peals of thunder and voices andflashes of lightning and an earthquake." These phenomena,of course, should be familiar to all Biblereaders as the normal accompaniments of the GloryCloud:"So it came about on the third day, when itwas morning, that there were thunder and lightningflashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and avery loud Trumpet sound.... Now Mount Sinaiwas all in smoke because the LORD descended uponit in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of afurnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently"(Exodus 19:16, 18).The irony of this passage becomes obvious whenwe keep in mind that it is a prophecy against apostateIsrael. In the worship of the Old Testament, thefire on the altar of burnt offering originated inheaven, coming down upon the altar when the Taber92THE GREAT TRIBULATIONnacle and the Temple were made ready (Leviticus9:24; II Chronicles 7:1). This fire, started by God,was kept burning by the priests, and was carriedfrom place to place so that it could be used to startother holy fires (Leviticus 16:12-13; cf. Numbers16:46-50; Genesis 22:6). Now, when God's peoplewere commanded to destroy an apostate city, Mosesfurther ordered: ''You shall gather all its booty intothe middle of its open square and burn all its bootywith fire as a whole burnt offering to the LORD yourGod" (Deuteronomy 13:16; Judges 20:40; cf. Genesis19:28). The only acceptable way to burn a city as awhole burnt sacrifice was with God's fire -firefrom thealtar. Thus, when a city was to be destroyed, thepriest would take fire from God's altar and use it toignite the heap of booty which served as kindling, sooffering up the entire city as a sacrifice. It is thispractice of putting a city "under the ban," so thatnothing survives the conflagration (Deuteronomy13:12-18), that the Book of Revelation uses todescribe God's judgment against Jerusalem.God rains down His judgments upon the earth inspecific response to the liturgical worship of His people.As part of the formal, official worship service inheaven, the angel of the altar offers up the prayers ofthe corporate people of God; and God responds tothe petitions, acting into history on behalf of thesaints. The intimate connection between liturgy andhistory is an inescapable fact, one which we cannotafford to ignore. This is not to suggest that the worldis in danger of lapsing into "non-being" when theChurch's worship is defective. In fact, God will useTHE BOOK IS OPENED 93historical forces (even the heathen) to chastise theChurch when she fails to live up to her high callingas a kingdom of priests. The point here is that theofficial worship of the covenantal community is cosmicallysignificant. Church history is the key to world history:When the worshiping assembly calls upon theLord of the Covenant, the world experiences Hisjudgments. History is managed and directed fromthe altar of incense, which has received the prayersof the Church.In my distress I called upon the LORD,And cried to my God for help;He heard my voice out of His temple,And my cry for help before Him came into Hisears.Then the earth shook and quaked;And the foundations of the mountains weretremblingAnd were shaken, because He was angry.Smoke went up out of His nostrils,And fire from His mouth devoured;Coals were kindled by it.He bowed the heavens also, and came downWith thick darkness under His feet.And He rode upon a cherub and Hew;And he sped upon the wings of the wind.He made darkness His hiding place, Hiscanopy around Him,Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.From the brightness before Him passed Histhick clouds,94 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONHailstones and coals of fire.The LORD also thundered in the heavens,And the Most High uttered His voice,Hailstones and coals of fire.And He sent out His arrows, and scattered them,And lightning flashes in abundance, androuted them.Then the channels of waters appeared,And the foundations of the world were laid bareAt Thy rebuke, a LORD,At the blast of the breath of Thy nostrils(Psalm 18:6-15).The Background of the Trumpet-JudgmentsSeveral areas of the symbolic significance oftrumpets are in view in this passage. First, trumpetswere used in the Old Testament liturgy for ceremonialprocessions, particularly as an escort for the Arkof the Covenant (cf. Revelation 11:19); the obvious,prime example of this is the march around Jerichobefore it fell (Joshua 6; cf. I Chronicles 15:24; Nehemiah12:41; Revelation 11:13).Second, trumpets were blown to proclaim therule of a new king (I Kings 1:34, 39; cf. Psalm 47:5;Revelation 11:15).Third, the trumpet sounded an alarm, warningIsrael of approaching judgment and urging nationalrepentance (Isaiah 58:1; Jeremiah 4:5-8; 6:1, 17;Ezekiel 33:1-6; Joel 2:1, 15).Fourth, Moses was instructed to use two silvertrumpets both "for summoning the congregation" toworship and "for having the camps set out" in battleTHE BOOK IS OPENED 95against the enemy (Numbers 10:1-9). It is significantthat these two purposes, holy warfare and worshzp, arementioned in the same breath. The irony in Revelation,of course, is that God is now ordering the trumpetsof holy war blown against Israel herself.Fifth, trumpets were also blown at the feasts andon the first day of every month (Numbers 10:10),with special emphasis on Tishri 1, the civil NewYear's Day (in the ecclesiastical year, the first day ofthe seventh month); this Day of Trumpets was thespecial liturgical acknowledgement of the Day of theLord (Leviticus 23:24-25; Numbers 29:1-6). Ofcourse, the most basic background to all this is theGlory-Cloud, which is accompanied by angelictrumpet blasts announcing the sovereignty andjudgment of the Lord (Exodus 19:16); the earthlyliturgy of God's people was a recapitulation of theheavenly liturgy, another indication that God'sredeemed people had been restored to His image.(This was the reason for the method Gideon's armyused to rout the Midianites, in Judges 7:15-22: bysurrounding the enemy with lights, shouting, andthe blowing of trumpets, the Israelites were anearthly reflection of God's heavenly army in theCloud, coming in vengeance upon God's enemies.)Not only reminding us of the fall ofJericho, thejudgments brought about by the sounding of theTrumpets in Revelation also are reminiscent of theplagues that came upon Egypt prior to the Exodus.Together, they are represented as destroying onethird of the Land. Obviously, since the judgment isneither total nor final, it cannot be the end of the98 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONphysical world. Nevertheless, the devastation is tremendous,and does work to bring about the end ofthe Jewish nation, the subject of these terribleprophecies. Israel has become a nation of Egyptiansand Canaanites, and worse: a land ofcovenant apostates.All the curses of the Law are about to bepoured out upon those who had once been the peopleofGod (Matthew 23:35-36). The first four Trumpetsapparently refer to the series of disasters that devastatedIsrael in the Last Days, and primarily theevents leading up to the outbreak of war.The First TrumpetAs the Seal-judgments were measured in fourths,the Trumpet-judgments are measured in thirds. Thefirst Trumpet sounds (Revelation 8:6-7), and a triplecurse (hail, fire, blood) is thrown down, affecting athird of the Land; three objects in particular are singledout. St. John sees "hail and fire, mixed withblood, and they were thrown onto the Land." Theblood of the slain witnesses is mixed with the firefrom the altar, bringing wrath down upon the persecutors.The result of this curse, which has some similaritiesto the seventh Egyptian plague (Exodus9:22-26), is the burning of a thIrd of the Land and athird of the trees, and all the green grass (Le., all thegrass on a third of the Land; cf. Revelation 9:4). Ifthe trees and grass represent the elect remnant (asthey seem to in 7:3 and 9: 4), this indicates that theyare not exempt from physical suffering and death asGod's wrath is visited upon the wicked. Nevertheless,(1) the Church cannot be completely destroyedTHE BOOK IS OPENED 97in any judgment (Matthew 16:18), and (2) unlike thewicked, the Christian's ultimate destiny is not wrathbut life and salvation (Romans 2: 7-9; 1 Thessalonians5:9).The wicked, on the other hand, have only wrathand anguish, tribulation and distress ahead of them(Romans 2:8-9). Literally, the vegetation of Judea,and especially of Jerusalem, was destroyed in theRoman scorched-earth methods of warfare, as Josephusreports: "The countryside, like the city, was apitiful sight, for where once there had been a multitudeof trees and parks, there was now an utter wildernessstripped bare of timber; and no strangerwho had seen the old Judea and the glorious suburbsof her capital, and now beheld utter desolation,could refrain from tears or suppress a groan at so terriblea change. The war had blotted out every traceof beauty, and no one who had known it in the pastand came upon it suddenly would have recognizedthe place, for though he was already there, he wouldstill have been looking for the city" (The Jewish J'Var,vi. i. 1). Yet this was only the beginning; many moresorrows-and much worse-lay ahead (cf. 16:21).The Second TrumpetWith the Trumpet blast of the second angel(Revelation 8:8-9), we see a parallel to the firstplague on Egypt, in which the Nile was turned toblood and the fish died (Exodus 7:17-21). The causeof this calamity was that a great mountain burningwith fire was cast into the sea. The meaning of thisbecomes clear when we remember that the nation of98 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONIsrael was God's "Holy Mountain," the "mountain ofGod's inheritance" (Exodus 15:17). As the redeemedpeople of God, they had been brought back to Eden,and the repeated use of mountain-imagery throughouttheir history (including the fact that Mount Zionwas the accepted symbol of the nation) demonstratesthis vividly. But now, as apostates, Israel had becomea "destroying mountain," against whom God'swrath had turned. God is now speaking ofJerusalemin the same language He once used to speak of Babylon,a fact that will become central to the imagery ofthis book:Behold, I am against you, 0 destroyingmountain,Destroyer of the whole earth, declares the LORD,And I will stretch out My hand against you,And roll you down from the cragsAnd I will make you a burnt out mountain. . . .The sea has come up over Babylon;She has been engulfed with its tumultuouswaves (Jeremiah 51:25, 42).Connect this with the fact that Jesus, in the middleof a lengthy series of discourses and parablesabout the destruction ofJerusalem (Matthew 20-25),cursed an unfruitful fig tree, as a symbol of judgmentupon Israel. He then told his disciples, "Truly Isay to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, youshall not only do what was done to the fig tree, buteven if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and castinto the sea,' it shall happen. And all things you askTHE BOOK IS OPENED 99in prayer, believing, you shall receive" (Matthew21:21-22). Was Jesus being flippant? Did He reallyexpect His disciples to go around praying aboutmoving literal mountains?·Of course not. More importantly,Jesus was not changing the subject. Hewas still giving them a lesson about the fall of Israel.What was the lesson? Jesus was instructing His disciplesto pray imprecatory prayers, beseeching Godto destroy Israel, to wither the fig tree, to cast theapostate mountain into the sea.And that is exactly what happened. The persecutedChurch, under oppression from the apostateJews, began praying for God's vengeance uponIsrael (Revelation 6:9-11), calling for the mountainof Israel to "be taken up and cast into the sea." Theirofferings were received at God's heavenly altar, andin response God directed His angels to throw downHis judgments to the Land (Revelation 8:3-5). Israelwas destroyed. We should note that St. John is writingthis before the destruction, for the instruction andencouragement of the saints, so that they will continueto pray in faith. As he had told them in the beginning,"Blessed is he who reads and those who hearthe words of the prophecy, and keep the things that arewritten in it; for the time is near" (Revelation 1:3).The Third TrumpetLike the preceding symbol, the vision of the thirdTrumpet (Revelation 8:10-11) combines Biblical imageryfrom the falls of both Egypt and Babylon. Theeffect of this plague - the waters being made bitter- is similar to the first plague on Egypt, in which the100 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONwater became bitter because of the multitude ofdeadand decaying fish (Exodus 7:21). The bitterness ofthe waters is caused by a great star that fell fromheaven, burninglike a torch. This parallels Isaiah'sprophecy of the fall of Babylon, spoken in terms ofthe original Fall from Paradise:How you have fallen from heaven,o star of the morning, son of the dawn!You have been cut down to the earth,You who have weakened the nations!But you said in your heart,I will ascend to heaven,I will raise my throne above the stars of God,And I will sit on the mount of assembly,In the recesses of the north.I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;I will make myself like the Most High.Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol,To the recesses of the pit (Isaiah 14:12-15).The name of this fallen star is Wormwood, a termused in the Law and the Prophets to warn Israel ofits destruction as a punishment for apostasy (Deuteronomy29:18; Jeremiah 9:15; 23:15; Lamentations3:15,19; Amos 5:7). Again, by combining these OldTestament allusions, St. John makes his point: Israelis apostate, and has become an Egypt; Jerusalem hasbecome a Babylon; and the covenant breakers willbe destroyed, as surely as Egypt and Babylon weredestroyed.THE BOOK IS OPENED 101The Fourth TrumpetLike the ninth Egyptian plague of "thick darkness"(Exodus 10:21-23), the curse brought by thefourth Trumpet (Revelation 8:12-13) strikes the lightbearers,the sun, moon, and stars, so that a third ofthem might be darkened. The imagery here was longused in the prophets to depict the fall of nations andnational rulers (cf. Isaiah 13:9-11, 19; 24:19-23;34:4-5; Ezekiel 32:7-8, 11-12; Joel 2:10, 28-32; Acts2:16-21). In fulfillment of this, F. W. Farrar observes,"ruler after ruler, chieftain after chieftain of theRoman Empire and the Jewish nation was assassinatedand ruined. Gaius, Claudius, Nero, Galba,Otho, Vitellius, all died by murder or suicide;Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, Herod Agrippa,and most of the Herodian Princes, together with nota few of the leading High Priests of Jerusalem,perished in disgrace, or in exile, or by violent hands.All these were quenched suns and darkened stars"(The Early Days of Christianity, p. 519).St. John now sees an Eagle (cf. Revelation 4:7)flying in midheaven, warning of wrath to come. TheEagle, like many other covenantal symbols, has adual nature. On one side, he signifies the salvationGod provided for Israel:For the LORD'S portion is His people;Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.He found him in a desert land,And in the howling waste of a wilderness;He encircled him, He cared for him,He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.102 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONLike an Eagle that stirs up its nest,That hovers over its young,He spread His wings and caught them,He carried them on His pinions(Deuteronomy 32:9-11; cf. Exodus 19:4).But the Eagle is also a fearsome bird of prey, associatedwith blood and death and rotting flesh:His young ones also suck up blood;And where the slain are, there is he (Job 39:30).The prophetic warnings of Israel's destructionare often couched in terms of eagles descendingupon carrion (Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 4:13;Lamentations 4:19; Hosea 8:1; Habakkuk 1:8; Matthew24:28). Indeed, a basic aspect of the covenantalcurse is that of being devoured by the birds of the air(Genesis 15:9-12; Deuteronomy 28:26, 49; Proverbs30:17; Jeremiah 7:33-34; 16:3-4; 19:7; 34:18-20; Ezekiel39:17-20; Revelation 19:17-18). The Eaglecherubwill reappear in Revelation as an image ofsalvation (12:14), finally to be replaced by (or seenagain as) an angel flying in midheaven proclaimingthe Gospel to those who dwell on the Land (14:6), forhis mission is ultimately redemptive in its scope. Butthe salvation of the world will come about throughIsrael's fall (Romans 11:11-15, 25). So the Eaglebegins his message with wrath, proclaiming threeWoes that are to come upon those who dwell on theLand.Like the original plagues on Egypt, the cursesTHE BOOK IS OPENED 103are becoming intensified, and more precise in theirapplication. St. John is building up to a crescendo,using the three woes of the Eagle (corresponding tothe fifth, sixth, and seventh blasts of the Trumpet;cf. Revelation 9:12; 11:14-15) to dramatize the increasingdisasters being visited upon the Land ofIsrael. After many delays and much longsuffering bythe jealous and holy Lord of Hosts, the awful sanctionsof the Law are finally unleashed against thecovenant-breakers, so that Jesus Christ may inheritthe kingdoms of the world and bring them into HisTemple (Revelation 11:15-19; 21:22-27).9

              JERUSALEM UNDER SIEGEAttack from the AbyssAs the Eagle had warned (Revelation 8:13), thesounding of the fifth Trumpet (Revelation 9:1-12)signals the intensifying of the plagues in this series.While this curse is similar to the great swarms oflocusts which came upon Egypt in the eighth plague(Exodus 10:12-15), these "locusts" are different: theyare demons from the "Abyss," the bottomless pit,spoken of seven times in Revelation (9:1, 2, 11; 11:7;17:8; 20:1, 3). The Septuagint first uses the term inGenesis 1:2, speaking of the original deep-and-darknesswhich the Spirit creat!vely overshadowed (andmetaphorically "overcame"; cf. John 1:5).In Biblical symbolism, the Abyss is the farthestextreme from heaven (Genesis 49:25; Deuteronomy33:13) and from the high mountains (Psalm 36:6). Itis used in Scripture as a reference to the deepestparts of the sea (Job 28:14; 38:16; Psalm 33:7) and tosubterranean rivers and vaults of water (Deuteronomy8:7; Job 36:16), whence the waters of the Flood,JERUSALEM UNDER SIEGE 105came (Genesis 7:11; 8:2; Proverbs 3:20; 8:24), andwhich nourished the kingdom of Assyria (Ezekiel31:4, 15). The Red Sea crossing of the covenant peopleis repeatedly likened to a passage through theAbyss (Psalm 77:16; 106:9; Isaiah 44:27; 51:10;63:13). The prophet Ezekiel threatened Tyre with agreat desolation of the land, in which God wouldbring up the Abyss to cover the city with a newFlood, bringing its people down to the pit in thelower parts of the earth (Ezekiel 26:19-21), andJonahspoke of the Abyss in terms of excommunicationfrom God's presence, a banishment from the Temple(Jonah 2:5-6). The domain ofthe Dragon (Job 41:31;Psalm 148:7; Revelation 11:7; 17:8), the prison of thedemons (Luke 8:31; Revelation 20:1-3; cf. II Peter2:4; Jude 6), and the realm of the dead (Romans10:7) are all called by the name Abyss.St. John is thus warning his readers that hell isabout to break loose upon the Land of Israel; as withTyre of old, the Abyss is being dredged up to coverthe Land with its unclean spirits. Apostate Israel isto be cast out of God's presence, excommunicatedfrom the Temple, and filled with demons. One of thecentral messages of Revelation is that the Churchtabernacles in heaven (see Revelation 7:15; 12:12;13:6); the corollary of this is that the false church tabernaclesin hell.Why does the locust plague last for five months?This figure is, first of all, a reference to the period offive' months, from May through September, whenlocusts normally appeared. (The unusual feature isthat these locusts remain for the entire period, engag106THE GREAT TRIBULATIONing in constant torment of the population.)Second, this seems to refer in part to the actionsof Gessius Florus, the procurator ofJudea, who for afive-month period (beginning in May of 66 with theslaughter of 3,600 peaceful citizens) terrorized theJews, deliberately seeking to incite them to rebellion.He was successful: Josephus dates the beginningof the Jewish War from this occasion.Third, the use of the term five is associated inScripture with power, and specifically with militaryorganization - the arrangement of the Israelite militiain a five-squad platoon formation (Exodus 13:18;Numbers 32:17; Joshua 1:14; 4:12; Judges 7:11; cf. IIKings 1:9ff.). By God's direction, Israel was to beattacked by a demonic army from the Abyss.During the ministry of Christ, Satan had fallento the earth like "a star from heaven" (cf. Revelation12:4, 9, 12); and, St. John says, "the key of the well ofthe Abyss was given to him. And he opened the wellof the Abyss." What all this means is exactly whatJesus prophesied during His earthly ministry: theLand, which had received the benefits of His workand then rejected Him, would become glutted withdemons from the Abyss. We should note here thatthe key is given to Satan, for it is God who sends thedemons as a scourge upon the Jews.The men of Nineveh shall stand up withthis generation at the judgment, and shall condemnit because they repented at the preachingof Jonah; and behold, something greater thanJonah is here. The Queen of the South shallJERUSALEM UNDER SIEGE 107rise up with this generation at the judgmentand shall condemn it, .because she came fromthe ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon;and behold, something greater than Solomonis here.Now when the unclean spirit goes out of aman, it passes through waterless places, seekingrest, and does not find it. Then it says, "Iwill return to my house from which I came";and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied,swept, and put in order. Then it goes, andtakes along with it seven other spirits morewicked than itself, and they go in and livethere; and the last state of that man becomesworse than the first. That is the way it will also bewith this evil generation (Matthew 12:41-45).Because of Israel's rejection of the King of kings,the blessings they had received would turn intocurses. Jerusalem had been "swept clean" by Christ'sministry; now it would become "a dwelling place ofdemons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and aprison of every unclean and hateful bird" (Revelation18: 2). The entire generation became increasinglydemon-possessed; their progressive national insanity isapparent as one reads through the New Testament,and its horrifying final stages are depicted in thepages ofJosephus' The]ewish Uizr: the loss of all abilityto reason, the frenzied mobs attacking oneanother, the deluded multitudes following after themost transparently false prophets, the crazed anddesperate chase after food, the mass murders, execu108THE GREAT TRIBULATIONtions, and suicides, the fathers slaughtering theirown families and the mothers eating their own children.Satan and the host of hell simply swarmedthroughout the land of Israel and consumed theapostates.The vegetation of the earth is specifically exemptedfrom the destruction caused by the "locusts." Thisis a curse on disobedient men. Only the Christiansare immune to the scorpion-like sting of the demons(cf. Mark 6:7; Luke 10:17-19; Acts 26:18); the unbaptizedIsraelites, who do not have "the seal of God ontheir foreheads" (cf. Revelation 7:3-8), are attackedand tormented by the demonic powers. And the immediatepurpose God has in unleashing this curse isnot death, but merely torment, as the nation of Israel isput through a series of demoniac convulsions. St.John repeats what he has told us in Revelation 6:16,that "in those days men will seek death and will notfind it; and they will long to die and death shall fleefrom them." Jesus had specifically prophesied thislonging for death among the final generation, thegeneration of Jews which crucified Him (Luke23:27-30). As God had said long before: "He whosins against Me wrongs his own soul; all those whohate Me love death" (Proverbs 8:36).The frightening description of the demon-locustsin Revelation 9:7-11 bears many similarities to theinvading heathen armies mentioned in the prophets(Jeremiah 51:27; Joel 1:6; 2:4-10; cf. Leviticus 17:7and II Chronicles 11:15, where the Hebrew word fordemon is hairy one). This passage may also refer, inpart, to the Satanic gangs of murderous Zealots thatJERUSALEM UNDER SIEGE 109preyed on the citizens of Jerusalem, ransackinghouses and committing murder and rape indiscriminately.Characteristically, these perverts dressed upas harlots in order to seduce unsuspecting men totheir deaths.One particularly interesting point about the descriptionof the demon army is St. John's statement that "the:sound of their wingB waB like the Bound of chariots,of many horses rushing to battIe." That is the samesound made by the wings of the angels in the GloryCloud(Ezekiel 1:24; 3:13; II Kings 7:5-7); the differencehere is that the noise is made by fallen angels.St. John goes on to identify the king of thedemons, the "angel of the Abyss," giving his name inboth Hebrew (Abaddon) and Greek (Apollyon)-one ofmany indications of the essentially Hebraic characterof the Revelation. The words mean Destructionand Destroyer; '~baddon" is used in the Old Testamentfor the realm of the dead, the "place of destruction"(Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Psalm 88:11; Proverbs15:11; 27:20). St. John thus presents Satan as thevery personification of death itself (cf. I Corinthians10:10; Hebrews 2:14).Clearly, for Satan's entire host of destroyers to belet loose upon the Jewish nation was a hell on earthindeed. And yet St. John tells us that this outbreakof demons in the land is only "the first Woe." Evengreater horrors lie ahead.Attack from the EuphratesSt. John's opening words about the sixth Trumpet(Revelation 9:13) again reminds us that the desolationswrought by God in the earth are on behalf of110 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONHis people (Psalm 46), in response to their official,covenantal worship: the command to the sixth angelis issued by a voice "from the four horns of thegolden altar [Le., the incense altar] which is beforeGod." The mention of this point is obviously intendedto encourage God's people in worship andprayer, assuring them that God's actions in historyproceed from his altar, where He has received theirprayers. The Church of Jesus Christ is the newIsrael, the holy nation, the true people of God, whopossess "confidence to enter the holy place by theblood of Jesus" (Hebrews 10:19). The first-centuryChurch is assured by St. John that its prayers will beheard and answered by God. He will take vengeanceupon their persecutors, for the earth is both blessed andjudged by the liturgical actions and judicial decrees of theChurch.God's readiness to hear and willingness to grantHis people's prayers are continually proclaimedthroughout Scripture (Psalm 9:10; 10:17-18; 18:3;34:15-17; 37:4-5; 50:14-15; 145:18-19). God has givenus numerous examples of imprecatory prayers,showing repeatedly that one aspect of a godly man'sattitude is hatred for God's enemies and ferventprayer for their downfall and destruction (Psalm5:10; 10:15; 35:1-8, 22-26; 59:12-13; 68:1-4; 69:22-28;83; 94; 109; 137:8-9; 139:19-24; 140:6-11). Why thendo we not see the overthrow of the wicked in our owntime? An important part of the answer is the unwillingnessof the modern Church to pray Biblically;and God has assured us: 10u do not have becauseyou donot ask (James 4:2). But the first-century Church,JERUSALEM UNDER SIEGE 111praying faithfully and fervently for the destruction ofapostate Israel, had been heard at God's heavenlyaltar. His angels were commissioned to strike.In verses 14-16, the sixth angel is commissionedto release the four angels who had been "bound atthe great river Euphrates"; they then bring againstIsrael an army consisting of "myriads of myriads."The Euphrates River to the north formed the bound~ary between Israel and the fearsome, pagan forcesfrom Assyria, Babylon, and Persia which God usedas a scourge against His rebellious people (cf. Gen~esis 15:18; Deuteronomy 11:24; Joshua 1:4; Jeremiah6:1, 22; 10:22; 13:20; 25:9, 26; 46:20, 24; 47:2; Eze~kiel 26:7; 38:6, 15; 39:2). It should be rememberedtoo that the north was the area of God's throne (Isaiah14:13); and both the Glory-Cloud and God's agentsof vengeance are seen coming from the north, i.e.,from the Euphrates (cf. Ezekiel 1:4; Isaiah 14:31; Jer~emiah 1:14-15). Thus, this great army from the northis ultimately God's army, and under His control anddirection, although it is also plainly demonic andpagan in character (on the "binding" of fallen angels,cf. II Peter 2:4; Jude 6). God is completely sovereign,and uses both demons and the heathen to ac~complish His holy purposes (I Kings 22:20-22;Job 1:12~21; of course, He then punishes the heathenfor their wicked motives and goals which led them tofulfill His decree; see Isaiah 10:5-14). The angelsbound at the Euphrates, St. John says, "had beenprepared for the hour and day and month and year,"their role in history utterly predestined and certain.The number of the horsemen is simply stated to112 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONbe "myriads of myriads," an expression taken fromPsalm 68:17, which reads: "The chariots of God aredouble myriads, thousands ofthousands" - in other words,an incalculable number, one that cannot be computed.Attempts to turn this into an exact figure (asin the supposed size of the Chinese army, or the armedforces of Western Europe, and so on) are doomed tofrustration. The term simply means many thousands,and indicates a vast host that is to be thought of inconnection with the Lord's angelic army of thousandsupon thousands of chariots.Avoiding the dazzling technological speculationsadvanced by some commentators on Revelation9:17-19, we note simply that while the number of thearmy is meant to remind us of God's army, the characteristz"cs of the horses - the fire and the smoke andthe brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths-remind us ofthe·Dragon, the fire-breathing Leviathan(Job 41:18-21), and of hell itself (Revelation 9:2;19:20; 21:8).Thus, to sum up the idea: An innumerable armyis advancing upon Jerusalem from the Euphrates,the origin of Israel's traditional enemies; it is a fierce,hostile, demonic force sent by. God in answer to Hispeople's prayers for vengeance. In short, this army isthe fulfillment of all the warnings in the law and theprophets of an avenging horde sent to punish thecovenant breakers. The horrors described in Deuteronomy28 were to be visited upon this evil generation(see especially verses 49-68). Moses had declared:10u shall be driven mad by the sight ofwhatyou see(Deuteronomy 28:34).JERUSALEM UNDER SIEGE 113As it actually worked out in history, the Jewishrebellion in reaction to the "locust plague" of GessiusFlorus during the summer of A.D. 66 provoked Cestius'invasion of Palestine in the fall, w£th large numbersof mounted troops from the regions near the Euphrates(although the main point of St. John's reference isthe symbolic significance of the river in Biblical historyand prophecy). After ravaging the countryside,his forces arrived at the gates ofJerusalem in the month ofTishri - the month that begins with the Day of Trumpets.What happened next is one of the strangest storiesin the annals of military history. The Romanssurrounded the city and attacked it continuously forfive days; on the sixth day, Cestius successfully ledan elite force in an all-out assault against the northwall. Capturing their prize, they began preparationsto set fire to the Temple. Seeing that they were completelyoverwhelmed, the rebels began to flee inpanic, and the "moderates," who had opposed the rebellion,attempted to open the gates to surrenderJerusalem to Cestius.Just then, at the very moment whe:p. completevictory was within his grasp, Cestius suddenly andinexplicably withdrew his forces. Surprised andencouraged, the rebels turned from their flight andpursued the retreating soldiers, inflicting heavycasualties in their attack. This unexpected success bythe rebel forces had the effect of creating an enormousbut completely unrealistic self-confidenceamong the Jews, and even the moderates joined inthe general enthusiasm for war. Instead of heedingthe true message of this warning blast of the114 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONTrumpet, apostate Israel foolishly became confirmedin her rebellion.Therefore, St. John records in verses 20-21 that"the rest of the men, who were not killed by theseplagues, did not repent . . . so as not to worshipdemons and the idols." The Jews had so completelygiven themselves over to apostasy that neither God'sgoodness nor His wrath could tum them from theirerror. Instead, as Josephus reports, even up to thevery end- after the famine, the mass murders, thecannibalism, the crucifixion of their fellow Jews atthe rate of 500 per day-the Jews went on heedingthe insane ravings of false prophets who assuredthem of deliverance and victory. Josephus comments:"Thus were the miserable people beguiled bythese charlatans and false messengers of God, whilethey disregarded and disbelieved the unmistakableportents that foreshadowed the coming desolation;but, as though thunderstruck, blind, senseless, paidno heed to the clear warnings of God" (The JewishJ#lr, vi. v. 3).Warnings of Jerusalem's FallWhat "clear warnings" had God given them?Apart from the apostolic preaching, which was allthey really needed (cf. Luke 16:27-31), God had sentmiraculous signs and wonders to testify of the comingjudgment; Jesus had warned that, preceding theFall of Jerusalem, "there will be terrors and greatsigns from heaven" (Luke 21:11). This was especiallytrue during the festival seasons of the year 66.Josephus continues in his report: "While the peopleJERUSALEM UNDER SIEGE 115were assembling for the Feast of Unleavened Bread,on the eighth of the month of Nisan, at the ninthhour of the night [3:00 A.M.] so br£ght a light shoneround the altar and Temple that it looked like broad daylight;and this lasted for half an hour. The inexperiencedregarded it as a good omen, but it was immediatelyinterpreted by the sacred scribes in conformity withsubsequent events."During the same feast another shocking eventtook place: "The east gate of the inner sanctuary wasa very massive gate made of brass and so heavy thatit could scarcely be moved every evening by twentymen; it was fastened by iron-bound bars and securedby bolts that were sunk very deep into a thresholdthat was fashioned from a single stone block; yet thisgate was seen to open ofits own accord at the sixth hour ofthenight [midnight]. The Temple guards ran and reportedthe news to the captain and he came up andby strenuous efforts managed to close it. To the uninitiatedthis also appeared to be the best ofomens asthey had assumed that God had opened to them thegate of happiness. But wiser people realized that thesecurity of the Temple was breaking down oj its own accordand that the opening of the gates was a present to theenemy; and they interpreted this in their own mindsas a portent of the coming desolation."A similar event, incidentally, happened in A.D.30, when Christ was crucified and the Temple'souter veil- 24 feet wide and over 80 feet high!rippedfrom top to bottom (Matthew 27:50-54;Mark 15:37-39; Luke 23:44-47). The Talmud (Thma39b) records that in A.D. 30 the gates of the Temple116 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONopened by themselves, apparently due to the collapseof the overhead lintel, a stone weighing about30 tons.Those who were unable to attend the regularFeast of Passover were required to celebrate it amonth later (Numbers 9:9-13). Josephus reports athird great wonder that happened at the end of thisSecond Passover in 66: "A supernatural apparitionwas seen, too amazing to be believed. What I amnow to relate would, I imagine, be dismissed as imaginary,had this not been vouched for by eyewitnesses,then followed by subsequent disasters that deservedto be thus signalized. For before sunset chariotswere seen in the air over the whole country, and armed battalionsspeeding through the clouds and encircling the cities."A fourth sign occurred inside the Temple on thenext great feast day, and was witnessed by the twentyfourpriests who were on duty: "At the feast calledPentecost, when the priests had entered the innercourts of the Temple by night to perform their usualministrations, they declared that they were aware,first, of a violent commotion and din, then of a voiceas of a host crying, 'We are departing hence!'"There was a fifth sign in the heavens that year:"A star that looked like a sword stood over the cityand a comet that continued for a whole year." It wasobvious, as Josephus says, that Jerusalem was "nolonger the dwelling place of God." Yet Israel did notrepent of her wickedness. Blind to her own evils andto the increasing judgments coming upon her, sheremained steadfast in her apostasy, continuing to rejectthe Lord and cleaving instead to her false gods.JERUSALEM UNDER SIEGE 117Did the Jews really worship demons and idols?Certainly, by rejecting Jesus Christ, they inescapablyinvolved themselves in idolatry, departing fromthe faith of Abraham and serving gods of their ownmaking. Moreover, the Jewish idolatry was not somevague, undefined, apostate "theism." ForsakingChrist, the Jews actually became worshipers Qf Caesar.Josephus bears eloquent testimony to this, writingrepeatedly of God's wrath against the apostasy ofthe Jewish nation as the cause of their woes: "Thesemen, therefore, trampled upon all the laws of man, andlaughed at the laws oj God; and as for the oracles of theprophets, they ridiculed them as the tricks of jugglers;yet did these prophets foretell many thingsconcerning the rewards of virtue, and punishmentsof vice, which when these zealots violated, theyoccasionedthe fulfilling of those very prophecies belongingto their own country.""Neither did any other city ever suffer suchmiseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation morefruitJulin wickedness than this was, from the beginning ofthe world.""When the city was encircled and they could nolonger gather herbs, some persons were driven tosuch terrible distress that they searched the commonsewers and old dunghills of cattle, and ate the dungthey found there; and what they once could not evenlook at they now used for food. When the Romansbarely heard this, their compassion was aroused; yetthe rebels, who saw it also, did not repent, but allowedthe same distress to come upon themselves; for theywere blinded by that fate which was already coming118 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONupon the city, and upon themselves also."Israel's idols, St. John says, are "of gold and of silverand of brass and of stone and of wood," a standardBiblical accounting of the materials used in the constructionof false gods (cf. Psalm 115:4; 135:15; Isaiah37:19). The Bible consistently ridicules men's idols asthe works of their hands, mere sticks and stoneswhich can neither see nor hear nor walk. This is anecho of the Psalmist's mockery of heathen idols:They have mouths, but they cannot speak;They have eyes, but they cannot see;They have ears, but they cannot hear;They have noses, but they cannot smell;They have hands, but they cannot feel;They have feet, but they cannot walk;They cannot make a noise with their throat.Then comes the punchline:Those who make them will become like them,Everyone who trusts in them(Psalm 115:5-8; cf. 135:16-18).Herbert Schlossberg has aptly called this reversesanctification - a process by which "the idolater istransformed into the likeness of the object of his worship.Israel 'went after worthlessness, and becameworthless'" (Idols for Destruction, p. 295). As theprophet Hosea thundered, Israel's idolaters "becameas detestable as that which they loved" (Hosea 9:10;cf. Jeremiah 2:5).JERU5ALEM UNDER5'EGE lleSt. John's description of Israel's idolatry is in linewith the usual prophetic stance; but his accusation isan even more direct reference to Daniel's condemnationof Babylon, specifically regarding its worship offalse gods with the holy utensils from the Temple. Danielsaid to king Belshazzar: ''You have exalted yourselfagainst the Lord of heaven; and they have broughtthe vessels of His House before you, and you andyour nobles, your wives and your concubines havebeen drinking wine from them; and you have praisedthe gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood,and stone, which do not see, hear, or understand.But the God in whose hand are your life-breath andyour ways, you have not glorified" (Daniel 5:23).St. John's implication is clear: Israel has become aBabylon, committing sacrilege by worshiping falsegods with the Temple treasures; like Babylon, shehas been "weighed in the balance and foundwanting"; like Babylon, she will be conquered andher kingdom will be possessed by the heathen (cf.Daniel 5:25-21).Finally, St. John summarizes Israel's crimes, allstemming from her idolatry (cf. Romans 1:18-32).This led to her murders of Christ and the saints (Acts2:23, 36; 3:14-15; 4:26; 7:51-52, 58-60); her sorceries(Acts 8:9, 11; 13:6-11; 19:13-15; cf. Revelation 18:23;21:8; 22:15); her fornication, a word St. John usestwelve times with reference to Israel's apostasy (Revelation2:14; 2:20; 2:21; 9:21; 14:8; 17:2 [twice]; 17:4;18:3 [twice]; 18:9; 19:2); and her thefts, a crime oftenassociated in the Bible with apostasy and the resultantoppression and persecution of the righteous (cf.120 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONIsaiah 61:8; Jeremiah 7:9-10; Ezekiel 22:29; Hosea4:1-2; Mark 11:17; Romans 2:21; James 5:1-6).ConclusionThroughout the Last Days, until the coming ofthe Romans, the trumpets had blown, warningIsrael to repent. But the alarm was not heeded, andthe Jews became hardened in their impenitence. Theretreat of Cestius was of course taken to mean thatChrist's prophecies of Jerusalem's destruction werefalse: the armies from the Euphrates had come andsurrounded Jerusalem (cf. Luke 21:20), but thethreatened "desolation" had not come to pass. Instead,the Romans had fled, dragging their tails betweentheir legs. Increasingly confident of divineblessing, the Jews recklessly plunged ahead intogreater acts of rebellion, unaware that even greaterforces beyond the Euphrates were being readied forbattle. This time, there would be no retreat. Judeawould be turned into a desert, the Israelites wouldbe slaughtered and enslaved, and the Temple wouldbe razed to the ground, without a stone left uponanother.10

              ALL CREATIONTAKES VENGEANCEThe Seventh Trumpet was the sign that "thereshall be no more delay" (cf. Revelation 10:6-7). Timehad run out; wrath to the utmost had now comeupon Israel. From this point on, St. John abandonsthe language and imagery of mere warning. Jerusalem'sdestruction is certain, and so the prophetconcentrates wholly on the message of her impendingdoom. As he describes the City's fate, he extendsand intensifies the Exodus imagery that has alreadybeen so pervasive throughout the prophecy. Hespeaks of "the Great City" (16:19), reminding hisreaders of a previous reference: "the Great City,which Spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, wherealso their Lord was crucified" (11:8). Jerusalem iscalled Sodom because of its sensual, luxurious apostasy(cf. Ezekiel 16:49-50), and because it is devotedto total destruction as a whole burnt sacrifice (Genesis19:24-28; Deuteronomy 13:12-18). But St. John'smore usual metaphors for the Great City are takenfrom the Exodus pattern: Jerusalem is not only122 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONEgypt, but also the other enemies of Israel. He hasshown the Egyptian Dragon chasing the Woman intothe wilderness (Revelation 12); a revived Balakand Balaam seeking to destroy God's people by warand by seduction to idolatry (Revelation 13); thesealed armies of the New Israel gathered on MountZion to celebrate the feasts (Revelation 14); and thesaints standing in triumph at the "Red Sea," singingthe Song of Moses (Revelation 15). Now, in Chapter16, seven judgments corresponding to the ten EgyptianPlagues are to be poured out on the Great City.There is also a marked correspondence betweenthese Chalice-judgments and the Trumpet-judgmentsof Chapters 8-11. 1 Because the Trumpets wereessentially warnings, they took only a third of theLand; with the Chalices, the destruction is total.Chalices1. On the Land, becoming sores (16:2).2. On the sea, becoming blood (16:3).3. On rivers and springs, becoming blood(16:4-7).4. On the sun, causing it to scorch (16:8-9).5. On the throne of the Beast, causingdarkness (16:10-11).1. The correspondence is not exact, however; and Russellcharacteristically goes too far when, after a superficial comparison,he categorically declares: "This cannot be mere casual coincidence:it is identity, and it suggests the inquiry, For what reasonis the vision thus repeated?" J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia: ACritical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord's SecondComing (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, [1887] 1983), p. 476.ALL CREATION TAKES VENGEANCE 1236. On the Euphrates, drying it up to makeway for kings of the east; invasion offrog-demons; Armageddon (16:12-16).7. On the air, causing storm, earthquake,and hail (16:17-21).Trumpets1. On the Land; ~ earth, trees, grassburned (8:7).2. On the sea; yg sea becomes blood, yg seacreatures die, yg ships destroyed (8:8-9).3. On the rivers and springs; Y3 watersbecome wormwood (8:10-11).4. yg of sun, moon, and stars darkened(8:12).5. Demonic locusts tormenting men (9:1-12).6. Army from Euphrates kills yg mankind(9:13-21).7. Voices, storm, earthquake, hail (11:15-19).Plagues on Egypt1. Boils (sixth plague: Exodus 9:8-12).2. Waters become blood (first plague:Exodus 7:17-21).3. Waters become blood (first plague:Exodus 7:17-21).4. Darkness (ninth plague: Exodus 10:21-23).5. Locusts (eighth plague: Exodus 10:4-20).6. Invasion of frogs from river (secondplague: Exodus 8:2-4).7. Hail (seventh plague: Exodus 9:18-26)."A loud voice from the Temple" issues the commandauthorizing the Chalice-judgments (Revela124THE GREAT TRIBULATIONtion 16:1). Again, St. John underscores a basic pointof his prophecy: that these terrible plagues originatefrom both God and the Church (cf. 15:5-8). Theseare judgments from God in response to the prayersof His saints.I have called these seven containers Chalices(rather than vials [KJV] or bowls [NASV]) to emphasizetheir character as a "Negative Sacrament."From one perspective, the substance in the Chalices(God's wrath, which is "hot," cf. 14:10) seems to befire, and several commentators have therefore seenthe containers as incense-bowls (as in 5:8; cf. 8:3-5).Yet the wicked are condemned in 14:10 to "drink ofthe wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in fullstrength in the cup of His anger"; and, when theplagues are poured out, the "Angel of the waters" exultsin the appropriateness of God's justice: "For theypoured out the blood of saints and prophets, andThou hast given them blood to drink" (16:6). A fewverses later, St. John returns to the image of"the cupof the wine of His fierce wrath" (16:19). What is beingmodeled in heaven for the Church's instruction onearth is thefinal excommunication ofapostate Israel, whenthe Communion of the Body and Blood of the Lordis at long last denied to her. The angel-pastors, entrustedwith the Sacramental sanctions of the NewCovenant, are sent from the heavenly Temple itself,and from the Throne of God, to pour out upon herthe Blood of the Covenant. Jesus warned the rebelsof Israel that He would send His martyrs to them tobe killed, "so that uponyou mayfall all the righteous bloodshed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to theALL CREATION TAKES VENGEANCE 125blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom youmurdered between the Temple and the Altar. Truly Isay to you, all these things shall come upon this generation"(Matthew 23:35-36). Drinking blood is inescapable:either the ministers of the New Covenantwill serve it to us in the Eucharist, or they will pour itout of their Chalices upon our heads.Accordingly, seven angels come out from theTemple (cf. 15:1) and are told to pour out the Chalicesof God's wrath: the Septuagint uses this verb (ekcheo)in the directions to the priest to pour out the blood ofthesacrifice around the base of the altar (cf. Leviticus 4:7,12, 18, 25, 30, 34; 8:15; 9:9). The term is used inEzekiel with reference to apostate Israel's fornicationwith the heathen (Ezekiel 16:36; 23:8), of her sheddingof innocent blood through oppression and idolatry(Ezekiel 22:3-4, 6, 9, 12, 27), and of God'sthreat to pour out His wrath upon her (Ezekiel 14:19;20:8, 13, 21; 21:31; 22:27). In the New Testament, itis similarly used in contexts that parallel majorthemes in Revelation: the spilling of wine (Matthew9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37), the shedding of Christ'sblood (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20), theshedding of the martyrs' blood (Matthew 23:35; Luke11:50; Acts 22:20; Romans 3:15), and the outpouringof the Spirit (Acts 2:17-18, 33; 10:45; Romans 5:5;Titus 3:6; cf. Joel 2:28-29; Zechariah 12:10).All these different associations are in the backgroundof this outpouring of plagues into the Landthat has spilled the blood of Christ and His witnesses,the people who have resisted and rejected the Spirit.The old wineskins of Israel are about to split open.126 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONThe First ChaliceAs the first angel pours out his Chalice onto theLand (Revelation 16:2), it becomes "a loathsome andmalignant sore upon the men who had the mark ofthe Beast and who worshiped his image." The soresare a fitting retribution for apostasy, God placingHis stamp of wrath upon those who wear the Beast'smark. Just as God had poured out boils on the ungodly,state-worshiping Egyptians who persecutedHis people (Exodus 9:8-11), so he is plaguing theseworshipers of the Beast in the Land of Israel-thecovenant people who have now become Egypt-likepersecutors of the Church. This plague is specificallymentioned by Moses in his list of the curses of thecovenant for idolatry and apostasy: "The LORD willsmite you with the boils of Egypt and with tumorsand with the scab and with the itch, from which youcannot be healed. . . . The LORD will strike you onthe knees and legs with sore boils, from which youcannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to thecrown of your head" (Deuteronomy 28:27, 35).The Second ChaliceThe second angel pours out his Chalice into thesea (Revelation 16:3), and it becomes blood, as in thefirst Egyptian plague (Exodus 7:17-21) and the SecondTrumpet (Revelation 8:8-9). This time, however,the blood is not running in streams, but insteadis like that of a dead man: clotted, coagulated, andputrefying. Blood is mentioned four times in thischapter; it covers the face of Israel, spilling over thefour corners of the Land.ALL CREATION TAKES VENGEANCE 127While the primary significance of this plague issymbolic, referring to the uncleanness of contactwith blood and death (cf. Leviticus 7:26-27;15:19-33; 17:10-16; 21:1; Numbers 5:2; 14:11-19), thereare close parallels in the actual events of the GreatTribulation. On one occasion, thousands of Jewishrebels fled to the Sea of Galilee from the Romanmassacre of Tarichaeae. Setting out on the lake insmall, flimsy boats, they were soon pursued andovertaken by the sturdy rafts of Vespasian's superiorforces. Then, as Josephus recounts, they were mercilesslyslaughtered: "The Jews could neither escapeto land, where all were in arms against them, norsustain a naval battle on equal terms. . . . Disasterovertook them and they were sent to the bottom,boats and all. Some tried to break through, but theRomans could reach them with their lances, killingothers by leaping upon the barks and passing theirswords through their bodies; sometimes as the raftsclosed in, the Jews were caught in the middle andcaptured along with their vessels. Ifany of those whohad been plunged into the water came to the surface,they were quickly dispatched with an arrow or a raftovertook them; if, in their extremity, they attemptedto climb on board the enemy's rafts, the Romans cutoff their heads or their hands. So these wretches diedon every side in countless numbers and in every possibleway, until the survivors were routed and drivenonto the shore, their vessels surrounded by theenemy. As they threw themselves on them, manywere speared while still in the water; many jumpedashore, where they were killed by the Romans.128 THE GREAT TRIBULATION"One could see the whole lake stained with blood andcrammed with corpses, for not a man escaped. Duringthe days that followed a horrible stench hung overthe region, and it presented an equally horrifyingspectacle. The beaches were strewn with wrecks andswollen bodies, which, hot and clammy with decay,made the air so foul that the catastrophe that plungedthe Jews in mourning revolted even those who hadbrought it about" (The Jewish Jif.iar, iii. x. 9).The Third ChaliceThe plague of the Third Chalice (Revelation16:4-7) more directly resembles the first Egyptianplague (and the Third Trumpet: cf. 8:10-11), since itaffects "the rivers and the springs of waters," turningall the drinking water to blood. Water is a symbol oflife and blessing throughout Scripture, beginningfrom the story of creation and the Garden of Eden. Inthis plague, the blessings of Paradise are reversed andturned into a nightmare; what was once pure andclean becomes polluted and unclean through apostasy.The "Angel of the Waters" responds to this curseby praising God for His just judgment: "Righteousart Thou, who art and who wast, 0 Holy One,because Thou didst judge these things." We shouldnot be embarrassed by a passage such as this. Thewhole Bible is written from the perspective of cosmicpersonalism-the doctrine that God, who is absolutepersonality, is constantly active throughout His creation,everywhere present with the whole of Hisbeing, bringing all things to pass immediately by Hispower and mediately through His angelic servants.ALL CREATION TAKES VENGEANCE 129There is no such thing as "natural law"; we might do betterto speak of God's "covenantal habits," or the habitualorder which God imposes on His creation through the actionsof His angels. Our sciences are nothing morethan the study of the habitual patterns of the personalactivity of God and His heavenly messengers.This is, in fact, precisely what guarantees thevalidity and reliability of both scientific investigationand prayer. On the one hand, God's angels have habits- a cosmic dance, a liturgy involving every aspect ofthe whole universe, that can be depended upon in allof man's technological labors as he exercises dominionunder God over the world. On the other hand,God's angels are personal beings, constantly carryingout His commands; in response to our petitions,He can and does order the angels to change thedance.There is, therefore, an "Angel of the Waters"; andhe, along with all of God's personal creation, rejoicesin God's righteous government of the world. God'sstrict justice, summarized in the principle ofan eyeforan eye (Exodus 21:23-25), is evidenced in this judgment,for the punishment fits the crime: "Theypoured out the blood of saints and prophets," criesthe Angel of the Waters, "and Thou hast given themblood to drink!" As we have seen, the characteristiccrime of. Israel was always the murder of the prophets(cf. II Chronicles 36:15-16; Luke 13:33-34; Acts7:52): Jesus named this fact as the specific reasonwhy the blood of the righteous would be poured out injudgment upon that generation (Matthew 23:31-36).The Angel of the Waters concludes with an inter130THE GREAT TRIBULATIONesting statement: by the apostates' shedding ofblood, "they are worthy!" This is a deliberate parallelto the message of the New Song in Revelation 5:9:"Worthy art Thou to take the Book, and to break itsseals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase us forGod w£th Thy blood." Just as the Lamb received Hisreward on the basis of the blood He shed, so thesepersecutors have now received the just recompensefor their bloodshed.God had once promised the oppressed of Israelthat He would render to their enemies according totheir evil works:I will feed your oppressors with their own flesh,And they will become drunk with their ownblood as with sweet wine;And all flesh will know that I, the LORD, amyour Savior,And your Redeemer, the Mighty One ofJacob(Isaiah 49:26).Israel's apostasy has reversed this: now it is she,the Persecutor par excellence, who will be forced todrink her own blood and devour her own flesh. Thiswas true in much more than a figurative sense: asGod had foretold through Moses (Deuteronomy28:53-57), during the seige of Jerusalem the Israelitesactually became cannibals; mothers literally atetheir own children. Because they shed the blood ofthe saints, God gives them their own blood to drink(cf. Revelation 17:6; 18:24).Joining the angel in praise comes the voice of theALL CREATION TAKES VENGEANCE 131Altar itself, where the blood of the saints and prophetshad been poured out. The Altar rejoices: "Yes, 0Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Thyjudgments!" The saints gathered round the base ofthe Altar had cried out for justice, for vengeance ontheir oppressors (Revelation 6:9-11). In the destructionof Israel that prayer is answered; the witnessesare vindicated. It is more than coincidental thatthese prayers in Revelation 16:5-7 (along with thetext of the Song of Moses in Revelation 15:3-4) arestrikingly similar to the song sung by the priests justbefore the offering of the sacrifices. Ironically - justas God Himself is preparing for the Whole BurntSacrifice of A.D. 70-the very angels of heaven weresinging apostate Israel's own liturgy against her.The Fourth ChaliceThe fourth angel (Revelation 16:8-9) now poursout his Chalice upon the sun, scorching the menwith fire. Whereas the Fourth Trumpet resulted in aplague of darkness (8:12), now the heat of the sun isincreased, so that the men were "scorched with greatheat." This too is a reversal of a basic covenantalblessing that was present in the Exodus, when Israelwas shielded from the heat of the sun by the GloryCloud,the Shadow of the Almighty (Exodus13:21-22; cf. Psalm 91:1-6). This promise is repeatedagain and again throughout the prophets:The LORD is your keeper;The LORD is your shade on your right hand.The sun will not smite you by day,132 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONNor the moon by night.The LORD will protect you from all evil;He will keep your soul (Psalm 121:5-7).They will not hunger or thirst,Neither will the scorching heat or sun strikethem down;For He who has compassion on them will leadthem,And will guide them to springs of water(Isaiah 49:10).Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,And whose trust is the LORD.For he will belike a tree planted by the water,That extends its roots by a streamAnd will not fear when the heat comes;But its leaves will be green,And it will not be anxious in a year of droughtNor cease to yield fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8).And He who sits on the Throne shall spreadHis Tabernacle over them. They shall hungerno more, neither thirst anymore; neither shallthe sun beat down on them, nor any heat; forthe Lamb in the center of the Throne shall betheir Shepherd, and shall guide them to springsof the waters of life; and God shall wipe awayevery tear from their eyes (Revelation 7:15-17).Throughout the Book of Revelation, St. Johnoften uses the passive voice (as in the expression itwas given) to indicate God's sovereign control ofevents. He again stresses God's sovereignty by tellALLCAEATION TAKES VENGEANCE 1aaing US that it was given to the sun to scorch the men;and, in the very next line, he is even more explicit:"God . .. has the power over these plagues." St.John knows nothing of a "God" who sits helplessly onthe sidelines, watching the world go by; nor does heacknowledge a "God" who is too nice to send judgmentson the wicked. He knows that the plagues fallingupon Israel are "the works of the LORD, who haswrought desolations in the earth" (Psalm 46:8).In his book on the Trinity, St. Augustine emphasizesthe same point: "The whole creation is governedby its Creator, from whom and by whom andin whom it was founded and established. And thusthe will of God is the first and supreme cause of allcorporal appearances and motions. For nothing happensin the visible and sensible sphere which is notordered, or permitted, from the inner, invisible, andintelligible court of the most high Emperor, in thisvast and illimitable commonwealth of the whole creation,according to the inexpressible justice of Hisrewards and punishments, graces and retributions."But the apostates refused to submit to God's lordshipover them. Like the Beast of Rome, whose headwas crowned with "names of blasphemy" (13 :1) andwhose image they worshiped, the men blasphemed thename of God who has the power over these plagues.And, like the impenitent Pharaoh (cf. Exodus 7:13,23; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 12, 34-35; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 14:8),"they did not repent so as to give Him glory." Israelhad become an Egypt, hardening her heart; and,like Egypt, she would be utterly destroyed.11

              IT IS FINISHEDIThe symbolic targets of the first four Chaliceswere the elements of the physical creation: Land,sea, waters, and the sun. With the last threeChalices, the consequences of the angelic attack aremore "political" in nature: the disruption of theBeast's kingdom; the War of the great Day of God;and the Fall of "Babylon."The Fifth ChaliceAlthough most of the judgments throughoutRevelation are aimed specifically at apostate Israel,the heathen who join Israel against the Church comeunder condemnation as well. Indeed, the GreatTribulation itself would prove to be "the hour of testing,that hour which is to come upon the whole world,to test those who dwell upon the Land" (3:10). Thefifth angel (Revelation 16:10-11) therefore pours outhis Chalice "upon the throne of the Beast"; and, evenas the sun's heat is scorching those who worship theBeast, the lights are turned out on his kingdom, andIT IS FINISHEDI 135it becomes darkened-which is, as we saw in ourstudy of Matthew 24, a standard Biblical symbol forpolitical turmoil and the fall of rulers (cf. Isaiah13:9-10; Amos 8:9; Ezekiel 32:7-8). The primary significanceof this plague is still the judgment onIsrael, for (in terms of the message of Revelation) shewas the "throne" and "kingdom" of the Beast. Moreover,as we shall see, the people who suffer from theFifth Chalice are identified as suffering as well fromthe First Chalice, which was poured out upon theLand, upon the Israelite worshipers of the Beast(Revelation 16:2).It is also likely, however, that this judgment partiallycorresponds to the wars, revolutions, riots, and"world-wide convulsions" that racked the Empireafter Nero committed suicide in June 68. The great19th-century scholar F. W. Farrar wrote in this connectionof "the horrors inflicted upon Rome andRomans in the civil wars by provincial governorsalreadysymbolized as the horns of the Wild Beast,and here characterized as kings yet kingdomless.Such were Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian.Vespasian and Mucianus deliberately planned tostarve the Roman populace; and in the fierce struggleof the Vitellians against Sabinus and Domitian,and the massacre which followed, there occurred theevent which sounded so portentously in the ears ofevery Roman- the burning to the ground of theTemple of the Capitoline Jupiter, on December 19th,A.D. 69. It was not the least of the signs of the timesthat the space of one year saw wrapped in flames thetwo most hallowed shrines of the ancient world - the136 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONTemple of Jerusalem and the Temple of the greatLatin god" (The Early Days oj Christianity, pp. 555f.).One passage from Tacitus, the Roman historian,provides some idea of the chaotic conditions in thecapital city: "Close by the fighting stood the people ofRome like the audience at a show, cheering andclapping this side or that in turns as if this were amock battle in the arena. Whenever one side gaveway, men would hide in shops or take refuge in somegreat house. They were then dragged out and killedat the instance of the mob, who gained most of theloot, for the soldiers were bent on bloodshed andmassacre, and the booty fell to the crowd."The whole city presented a frightful caricatureof its normal self: fighting and casualties at onepoint, baths and restaurants at another, here thespilling of blood and the litter of dead bodies, closeby prostitutes and their like-all the vice associatedwith a life of idleness and pleasure, all the dreadfuldeeds typical of a pitiless sack. These were so intimatelylinked that an observer would have thoughtRome in the grip of a simultaneous orgy of violenceand dissipation. There had indeed been times in thepast when armies had fought inside the city, twicewhen Lucius Sulla gained control, and once underCinna. No less cruelty had been displayed then, butnow there was a brutish indifference, and not even amomentary interruption in the pursuit of pleasure.As if this were one more entertainment in the festiveseason, they gloated over horrors and profited bythem, careless which side won and glorying in thecalamities of the state" (The Histories, iii. 83).IT IS FINISHEDI 137Again St. John draws attention to the impenitenceof the apostates. Their response to God's judgmentis only greater rebellion - yet their rebellion isbecoming increasingly impotent: "They gnawedtheir tongues because of pain, and they blasphemedthe God of heaven because of their pains and theirsores; and they did not repent, so as to give Himglory." A distinguishing mark of the Chalice-plaguesis that they come all at once, with no "breathingspace" between them. The plagues are bad enoughone at a time, as in the judgments on Egypt. Butthese people are still gnawing their tongues and blasphemingGod on account of their sores-the soresthat came upon them when the First Chalice waspoured out. The judgments are being poured out soquickly that each successive plague finds the peoplestill suffering from all those that preceded it. And,because their character has not been transformed,they do not repent. The notion that great sufferingproduces godliness is a myth. Only the grace ofGodcan turn the wicked from rebellion; but Israel hasresisted the Spirit, to its own destruction.The Sixth ChaliceCorresponding to the Sixth Trumpet (Revelation9:13-21), the Sixth Chalice is poured out "upon thegreat river, the Euphrates; and its water was driedup, that the way might be prepared for the kingsfrom the rising of the sun" (Revelation 16:12). As wesaw earlier, the Euphrates was Israel's northern frontier,from which invading armies would come toravage and oppress the covenant people. The image138 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONof the drying of the Euphrates for a conquering armyis taken, in part, from a stratagem of Cyrus the Persian,who conquered Babylon by temporarily turningthe Euphrates out of its course, enabling his army tomarch up the riverbed into the city, taking it by surprise.The more basic idea, of course, is the dryingup of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-22) and the JordanRiver (Joshua 3:9-17; 4:22-24) for the victoriouspeople of God. Again there is the underlying note oftragic irony: Israel has become the new Babylon, anenemy ofGod that must now be conquered by a newCyrus, as the true covenant people are miraculouslydelivered and brought into their inheritance. Thecoming of the armies from the Euphrates, of course,represents the final siege ofJerusalem by the armiesof Titus; and it is certainly more than coincidentalthat thousands of these very troops actually did comefrom the Euphrates.In verses 13-14 of Revelation 16, St. John recordsthe appearance of three unclean spirits proceedingout of the mouths of the Dragon, the Beast, and theFalse Prophet (the "Land Beast," or leadership ofIsrael, spoken of in Revelation 13:11; cf. 19:20). Aconnection with the second Egyptian plague is establishedhere, for the multitude of frogs that infestedEgypt came from the river (Exodus 8:1-7). St. Johnhas combined these images in these verses: first, aninvasion from a river (v. 12); second, a plague offrogs (in the Old Covenant dietary laws, frogs areunclean: Leviticus 11:9-12, 41-47). Third, these"frogs" are really spirits of demons, performing signsin order to deceive mankind. There is a multiple emITIS FINISHEDI 139phasis on the Dragon (imitated by his cohorts)throwing things from his mouth (cf. Revelation12:15-16; 13:5-6; contrast 1:16; 11:5; 19:15, 21); and thetriple repetition of mouth here serves also as anotherpoint of contact with the Sixth Trumpet (9:17-19).These unclean spirits from the devil, the Romangovernment, and the leaders of Israel go out to thekings of the whole world (cf. Psalm 2) to gather themtogether for the War of that great Day of God. Bytheir false prophecy and miraculous works they incitethe armies of the world to join together in waragainst God. What they do not realize is that thebattle is the Lord's, and that the armies are beingbrought to fulfill God's purposes, not their own. It isHe who prepares the way for them, even drying upthe Euphrates for their passage.Micaiah the prophet gave a much similar messageto the evil king Ahab of Israel, explaining why Ahabwould be killed in battle against the Aramaeans:I saw the LORD sitting on His Throne, andall the host of heaven standing by Him on Hisright and on His left. And the LORD said, "Whowill entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramothgilead?"And one said this while another saidthat. Then a spirit came forward and stood beforethe LORD and said, "I will entice him." Andthe LORD said to him, "How?" And he said, "Iwill go out and be a deceiving spirit in themouth of all his prophets." Then He said, ''Youare to entice him and also prevail. Go and doso" (I Kings 22:19-22).140 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONThis is echoed in St. Paul's prophecy to the Thessalonians:For the mystery of lawlessness is already atwork; only he who now restrains will do so untilhe is taken out of the way. And then thatlawless one will be revealed whom the Lord willslay with the breath of his mouth and bring toan end by the appearance of His Coming; thatis, the one whose coming is in accordance withthe activity of Satan, with all power and signsand false wonders, and with all the deception ofwickedness among those who perish, becausethey did not receive the love of the truth so as tobe saved.And for this reason God will send uponthem a work of error so that they might believethe lie, in order that they all may be condemnedwho did not believe the truth, but tookpleasure in wickedness (II Thessalonians 2:7-12).Ultimately, the "work of error" performed bythese lying spirits is sent by God in order to bringabout the destruction of His enemies in the War of"that great Day of God," a Biblical term for a Day ofJudgment, of calamity for the wicked (cf. Isaiah13:6, 9; Joel 2:1-2, 11, 31; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah1:14-18). Specifically, this is to be the Day of Israel'scondemnation and execution; the Day, as Jesus foretoldin His parable, when the King would send Hisarmies to destroy the murderers and set their City onIT IS FINISHEDl 141fire (Matthew 22:7). St. John underscores this pointagain by referring to the Lord as God the Almighty, theGreek translation of the Hebrew expression God ofHosts, the Lord of the armies of heaven and earth (cf.1:8). The armies coming to bring about Israel's destruction- regardless of their motivation - are God'sarmies, sent by Him (even through "lying spirits," ifnecessary) to bring about His purposes, for Hisglory. The evil frog-demons perform their false wondersand works of error because God's angel pouredout his Chalice of wrath.The narrative is suddenly interrupted by Christ'sstatement in verse 15: Behold, 1 am coming like a thief!This is the central theme of the Book of Revelation,summarizing Christ's warnings to the churches inthe Seven Letters (cf. Revelation 2:5, 16, 25; 3:3, 11).The coming of the Roman armies will be, in reality,Christ's Coming in terrible wrath against His enemies,those who have betrayed Him and slain Hiswitnesses. The specific wording and imagery seem tobe based on the Letter to the church in Sardis: "1 willcome like a thief, and you will not know at what hour Iwill come upon you" (Revelation 3:3; cf. Matthew24:42-44; Luke 12:35-40; I Thessalonians 5:1-11).The same Letter to Sardis also says: "J#.zke up,and strengthen the things that remain, which wereabout to die; for I have not found your deeds completedin the sight of My God.... But you have afew people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments;and they will walk with Me in white; for they areworthy. He who overcomes shall thus be clothed inwhite garments . .." (Revelation 3:2, 4-5). Similarly,142 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONthe text of the sixth Chalice continues: "Blessed is theone who stays awake and keeps his garments, lest hewalk about naked and men see his shame" (cf. Revelation3:18, in the Letter to Laodicea: "I advise youto buy from Me . . . white garments, thatyou may clotheyourself, and that the shame ofyour nakedness may not berevealed").The symbolism of this is based on the punishmentfor those Temple guards who fell asleep whileon duty: their clothes were confiscated and burned.Christ is rebuking the guardians of Israel for theirSpiritual sloth, warning that they are about to becast out of office when He comes in judgment. Theyfell asleep, and now it is too late-the Temple isgoing to be attacked and destroyed. judgment anddestruction are approaching rapidly; there is no timeleft to waste, and the churches must be awake andon the alert.St. john picks up the story again in verse 16: thedemons gather the kings of earth together "to theplace which in Hebrew is called Armageddon." Literally,this is spelled Har-Magedon, meaning MountMegiddo. A problem for "literalists" arises here, forMegiddo is a city on a plain - not a mountain! Therenever was or will be a literal "Battle of Armageddon," forthere is no such place. The mountain nearest to theplain of Megiddo is Mount Carmel, and this is presumablywhat St. John had in mind. Why didn't hesimply say "Mount Carmel"? Probably because hewanted to bring both ideas together - Carmel becauseof its association with the defeat of jezebel's falseprophets, and Megiddo because it was the scene ofIT IS FINISHEDI 143several important military engagements in Biblicalhistory. Megiddo is listed among the conquests ofJoshua (Joshua 12:21), and it is especially importantas the place where Deborah defeated the kings ofCanaan (Judges 5:19). King Ahaziah ofJudah, theevil grandson of King Ahab of Israel, died at Megiddo(II Kings 9:27). Perhaps the most significantevent that took place there, in terms of St. John's imagery,was the confrontation between Judah's KingJosiah and the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco. In deliberatedisobedience to the Word of God, Josiah facedNeco in battle at Megiddo and was mortally wounded(II Chronicles 35:20-25). Following Josiah's death,Judah's downward spiral into apostasy, destruction,and bondage was swift and irrevocable (II Chronicles36). The Jews mourned for Josiah's death, evendown through the time of Ezra (see II Chronicles35:25), and the prophet Zechariah uses this as animage of Israel's mourning for the Messiah. Afterpromising to "destroy all the nations that comeagainst Jerusalem" (Zechariah 12:9), God says:And I will pour out on the house of Davidand on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spiriton grace and of supplication, so that they willlook on Me whom they have pierced; and theywill mourn for Him, as one mourns for an onlyson, and they will weep bitterly over Him, likethe bitter weeping over a first-born. In that daythere will be great mourning in Jerusalem, likethe mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain ofMegiddo. And the Land will mourn, everyfamily by itself ... (Zechariah 12:10-11).144 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONThis is then followed by God's declaration thatHe will remove from Israel the idols, the false prophets,and the evil spirits (Zechariah 13), and that Hewill bring hostile armies to beseige Jerusalem (Zechariah14)."Megiddo" thus was for St. John a symbol of defeatand desolation, a "Waterloo" signifying the defeatof those who set themselves against God, whoobey false prophets instead of the true.The Seventh ChaliceFinally, the seventh angel pours out his Chaliceupon the air, in order to produce the lightning andthunder (v. 18) and hail (v. 21). Again a Voice comes"from the Temple of heaven, from the Throne," signifyingGod's control and approval. St. John hasalready announced that these seven Chalice-plagueswere to be "the last, because in them the wrath ofGod is finished" (Revelation 15:1); with the SeventhChalice, therefore, the Voice proclaims: It is done!(cf. John 19:30; Revelation 21:6).Again St. John records the phenomena associatedwith the Day of the Lord and the covenantmakingactivity of the Glory-Cloud: flashes of lightning,peals of thunder, voices, and "a great earthquake"(Revelation 16:18). Seven times in RevelationSt. John mentions an earthquake (6:12; 8:5; 11:13[twice]; 11:19; 16:18 [twice]), emphasizing its covenantaldimensions. Christ came to bring the definitiveearthquake, the great cosmic earthquake of the New Covenant:"one such as there had not been since the mencame to be upon the Land, so mighty an earthITIS FINISHEDI 145quake, and so great" (cf. Matthew 24:21; Exodus9:18, 24; Daniel 12:1; Joel 2:1-2).This was also the message of the writer to theHebrews. Comparing the covenant made at Sinaiwith the coming of the New Covenant (which wouldbe established at the destruction of the Temple andthe complete passing of the Old Covenant), he announcedthat the "heavens and earth" of the Mosaiceconomy were passing away, having been replacedby Christ's eternal Kingdom:See to it that you do not refuse Him who isspeaking. For if those did not escape when theyrefused Him who warned them on earth, muchless shall we escape who turn away from Himwho warns from heaven. And His Voice shookthe earth then, but now He has promised, saying:let once more I will shake not only the earth, butalso the heaven [Haggai 2:6]. And this expression,"Yet once more," denotes the removing ofthose things that can be shaken, as of createdthings, in order that those things that cannot beshaken may remain. Therefore, since we receivea Kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude,by which we may offer to God an acceptableservice with reverence and awe; for ourGod is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:25-29).St. John has made it clear that "the Great City" isthe Old Jerusalem, where the Lord was crucified(Revelation 11:8; cf. 14:8); originally intended to be"the light of the world, a City set on a hill," she is146 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONnow an apostate murderess, condemned to perish.Under the judgment of the seventh Chalice, she is tobe "split into three parts" (Revelation 16:19). Thisimagery is drawn from the fifth chapter ofEzekiel, inwhich God instructs the prophet to stage a dramaportraying the coming destruction of Jerusalem.Ezekiel was to shave his head with a sharp sword andthen carefully divide the hair into three parts:One third you shall burn in the fire at thecenter of the city. . . . Then you shall take onethird and strike it with the sword all around thecity, and one third you shall scatter to the wind;and I will unsheathe a sword behind them.Take also a few in number from them and bindthen in the edges of your robes. And take againsome of them and throw them into the fire, andburn them in the fire; from it a fire will spreadto all the house of Israel.Thus says the Lord GOD: This is Jerusalem;I have set her at the center of the nations,with lands around her. But she hasrebelled against My ordinances more wickedlythan the nations and against My statutes morethan the lands that surround her; for they haverejected My ordinances and have not walked inMy statutes.Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD:Because you have more turmoil than the nationsthat surround you, and have not walkedin My statutes, nor observed My ordinances,nor observed the ordinances of the nations thatIT IS FINISHEDI 147surround you; therefore, thus says the LordGOD: Behold, I, even I, am against you, and Iwill execute judgments against you in the sightof the nations. And because of all your abominations,I will do among you what I have notdone, and the like of which I will never doagain. Therefore, fathers will eat their sonsamong you, and sons will eat their fathers; for Iwill execute judgments on you, and scatter allyour remnant to every wind.So as I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely,because you have defiled My sanctuary with allyour detestable idols and with all your abominations,therefore I will also withdraw, and Myeye shall have no pity and I will not spare. Onethird of you will die by plague or be consumedby famine among you, one third will fall by thesword around you, and one third I will scatterto every wind, and I will unsheathe a swordbehind them (Ezekiel 5:1-12).While 81. John's image of the City's division intothree parts is clearly taken from Ezekiel, the specificreferent may be the division of besieged Jerusaleminto three factions, each struggling fiercely and violentlyfor dominance. Scholars have often observedthat this factionalism proved to be the the downfallof the city; she was betrayed and destroyed throughher divisions.One important indication that the Great City isJerusalem is the fact that in this verse St. John distinguishesher from "the cities of the Gentiles," which148 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONfell with her. jerusalem, we must remember, was thecapital city of the Kingdom of priests, the place ofthe Temple; within her walls sacrifices and prayerswere offered up for all nations. The Old Covenantsystem was a world-order, the foundation on which thewhole world was organized and maintained in stability.She covenantally represented all the nations ofthe world, and in her fall they collapsed. (The neworganization of the world is based on the New jerusalem,built on the Rock and "multicentralized"throughout the world.)Thus "Babylon the Great [cf. Revelation 14:8]was remembered before God, to give her the cup ofthe wine of His fierce wrath." In this judgment everyfalse refuge disappears: the mountains and rocks nolonger can hide the wicked "from the face of Himwho sits on the Throne, and from the wrath of theLamb" (cf. Revelation 6:16). "Every island fledaway, and the mountains were not found" (Revelation16:20).We have already noticed that Revelation and theprophecy of Ezekiel share some common themes.Here again there is a parallel: Ezekiel declared thatjerusalem's false prophets would bring on her destructionby a violent hailstorm (Ezekiel 13:1-16). St.john foretells the same fate: "And huge hailstones,about the weight of a talent [100 lbs.], came downfrom heaven upon men; and the men blasphemedGod because of the plague of the hail, because itsplague is extremely severe" (Revelation 16:21). Aswith the other plagues, the imagery is borrowedfrom the plagues that Moses brought upon Egypt (inIT IS FINISHEDI 149this case, the seventh plague: Exodus 9:18-26). Theplague of hailstones also calls up associations with"the large stones from heaven" that God threw downupon the Canaanites when the Land was being conqueredunder Joshua (Joshua 10:11); as Deborahsang, the very stars of heaven make war against theenemies of God (Judges 5:20).A specific historical referent of this "hailstorm"may have been recorded by Josephus, in his strangeaccount of the huge stone missiles thrown by theRoman catapults into the city: "The stone missilesweighed a talent and traveled two furlongs or more,and their impact not only on those who were hit first,but also on those behind them, was enormous. Atfirst the Jews kept watch for the stone-for it waswhite - and its approach was intimated to the eye byits shining surface as well as to the ear by its whizzingsound. Watchmen posted on the towers gave thewarnings whenever the engine was fired and thestone came hurtling toward them, shouting in theirnative tongue: 'The Son is coming!' Those in the line offire made way and fell prone, a precaution that resultedin the stone's passing harmlessly through andfalling in their rear. To frustrate this, it occurred tothe Romans to blacken the stones so that they couldnot be seen so easily beforehand; then they hit theirtarget and destroyed many with a single shot'" (TheJewish l#zr, v. vi. 3).After considering various theories about themeaning of this phrase, commentator J. StuartRussell observed: "It could not but be well known tothe Jews that the great hope and faith of the Chris150THE GREAT TRIBULATIONtians was the speedy coming of the Son. It was aboutthis very time, according to Hegesippus, that St.james, the brother of our Lord, publicly testified inthe temple that 'the Son of Man was about to comein the clouds of heaven,' and then sealed histestimony with his blood. It seems highly probablethat the jews, in their defiant and desperateblasphemy, when they saw the white mass hurtlingthrough the air, raised the ribald cry, 'The Son iscoming,' in mockery of the Christian hope of theParousia, to which they might trace a ludicrousresemblance in the strange appearance of themissile" (The Parousia, p. 482).Again "the men blasphemed God"- their consistentreaction throughout the pouring out of theChalices, revealing not only their wickedness buttheir downright stupidity: when hundred-poundstones are falling from heaven, it is surely the wrongtime to commit blasphemy! But God has abandonedthese men to their own self-destruction; theirvicious, hateful rebellion consumes them to such adegree that they can depart into eternity with curseson their lips.The Chalices containing "the last of the plagues"have been poured out; but the end is not yet. Therest of St. john's prophecy closes in on the destructionof the great Harlot-City of jerusalem and herallies, and concludes with the revelation of theglorious Bride of Christ: the true Holy City, Newjerusalem. (Revelation 17-22 may therefore be considereda continuation of the seventh Chalice, or anexposition of its meaning; in any case, the events areIT IS FINISHEDI 151clearly governed by the angels of the Chalices; see17:1; 21:9.)In his fascinating study of The Early Days of Christianity(p. 557), F. W. Farrar draws this conclusionabout the Book of Revelation: "The whole book frombeginning to end teaches the great truths - Christshall triumph! Christ's enemies shall be overcome!They who hate him shall be destroyed; they who lovehim shall be blessed unspeakably. The doom alike ofJew and of Gentile is already imminent. On Judeaand Jerusalem, on Rome and her Empire, on Neroand his adorers, the judgment shall fall. Sword andfire, and famine and pestilence, and storm andearthquake, and social agony and political terror arenothing but the woes which are ushering in the Messianicreign. Old things are rapidly passing away.The light upon the visage of the old dispensation isvanishing and fading into dimness, but the face ofHim who is as the sun is already dawning throughthe East. The new and final covenant is instantly tobe established amid terrible judgments; and it is tobe so established as to render impossible the continuanceof the Old. Maranatha! The Lord is at hand!Even so come, Lord Jesus!"

              SCRIPTURE INDEXOLD TESTAMENTGenesis Exodus1:2 104 8:32 1331:14 84 9:7 1331:14-16 18 9:8-11 1261:16 84 9:8-12 1233:8 86 9:12 1334:10 81 9:18 1457:11 105 9:18-26 123, 1498:2 105 9:22-26 968:20-21 70 9:24 1459:13-17 70 9:34-35 13315:9-12 102 10:4-20 12315:16 83 10:12-15 10415:18 111 10:20 13319:24-28 121 10":21-23 84, 101, 12319:28 92 10:27 13319:30-38 86 11:10 13322:6 92 13:18 10649:9-10 58 13:21-22 23, 13149:25 104 14:8 13314:19-31 23Exodus 14:21-22 1387:13 133 15:17 987:17-21 97, 123, 126 19:4 1027:21 100 19:16 91,957:23 133 19:16-21 238:1-7 138 19:18 84,918:2-4 123 21:23-25 1298:12 138 25:16 558:15 133 25:21 558:19 133 32:15 54154 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONExodus Deuteronomy40:20 55 10:2 5511:24 111Leviticus 13:12-18 92, 1214:7 125 13:16 924:12 125 28 77,1124:18 125 28:15-34 754:25 125 28:26 1024:30 125 28:27 1264:34 125 28:34 1127:26-27 12728:35 12628:49 1028:15 125 28:49-68 1129:9 125 28:53 149:24 92 28:53-57 13011:9-12 138 29:17 1111:41-47 138 29:18 10015: 19-33 127 30:4 (LXX) 2616:12-13 92 32:9-11 101£.16:13-14 88 33:13 10417:7 10817:10-16 127 Joshua17:11 80 1:4 11118:24-28 75 1:14 10621:1 127 3:9-17 13823:24-25 95 4:12 10626 77 4:22-24 1386 94Numbers 6:4-5 885:2 127 10:11 1499:9-13 116 12:21 14310:1-9- 9510:10 95 Judges14:11-19 127 1-16 3816:46-50 92 4 3129:1-6 95 5:19 14332:17 106 5:20 1497:11 106Deuteronomy 7:15-22 958:7 104 7:25 86SCRIPTURE INDEX 155Judges II Chronicles8 31 36 14310-13 31 36: 15-16 12916 3117-19 38 Nehemiah20:40 92 12:41 89,94II Samuel Job7:18-29 59 1:12-21 11123:2-5 59 9:5-6 859:7 84I Kings 14:18-19 851:34 94 25:5 841:39 94 26:6 10911:5 11 29:9-11 8511:7 11 28:14 10422:19-22 139 28:22 10922:20-22 111 31:12 10936:16 104II Kings 38:16 1041:9ff 106 39:30 1027:5-7 109 41: 18-21 1129:27 143 41:31 10523:13 11PsalmsI Chronicles 2 13915:24 89,94 5 8117:16-27 59 5:10 1106:3 8028:11-19 58 7 81II Chronicles9:10 11010:15 1107:1 92 10:17-18 11011:15 108 13:1-2 8015:8 11 15:4 8120:2 12 16 5928:17 12 18:3 11029:28-29 88 18:6-15 93f.35:20-25 143 18:7 8435:25 143 18:10 67158 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONPsalms Psalms18:15 84 105:18-19 11033:7 104 106:9 10534:15-17 110 109 81, 11035 81 110 5935:1-8 110 115:4 11835:17 80 115:5-8 11835:22-26 110 121 :5-7 13236:6 104 135: 15 11837:4-5 110 135:16-18 11845:3-5 69£. 137 8146 110 137:7 1246:8 78, 133 137:8-9 11047:5 94 139:19-24 11050:14-15 110 140 8158 81 140:6-11 11059 81 148:7 10559:12-13 11060:2 84 Proverbs68 81 3:20 10568:1-4 110 8:24 10568:17 112 8:36 10969 81 15:11 10969:22-28 110 27:20 10973 81 27:20 10974:10 80 30:17 10277:16 10579 81 Ecclesiastes79:5 80 12:2 8480:4 8083 81, 110 Isaiah88:11 109 2 8589:46 80 2:2-4 4990:13 80 5:1-7 8591:1-6 131 5:30 8494 110 10:5-14 11194:3-4 80 11:1 59102:25-26 84 13:6 140104:3 23 13:9 140104:15 76 13:9-10 18£., 135SCRIPTURE INDEX 157Isaiah Jeremiah13:9-11 101 6:17 9413:10 84 6:22 11113:13-14 84 7:9-10 12013:19 101 7:30 1114:12-15 100 7:33-34 10214:13 111 9:15 10014:31 111 10:22 11119:1 23 13:20 11124 75 13:27 1124-27 85 16:3-4 10224:19-20 84 17:7-8 13224:19-23 101 19:7 10224:23 84 23:5 5928:11-19 45 23:15 10034:4 84 25:9 11134:4-5 101 25:26 11134:34 19 32:34 1137:19 118 34:18-20 10241:5 85 46:20 11141:15-16 85 46:24 11144:27 104 47:2 11149:10 132 51:25 9849:26 130 51:27 10851:6 84 51:42 9851:10 10551:15-16 84 Lamentations58:1 94 3:15 10061:8 120 3:19 10063:13 105 4:19 10266:3 11EzekielJeremiah 1:4 1111:14-15 111 1:24 1092:5 118 1:26-28 704:1 11 2:3-10 564:5-8 94 3:13 1094:13 102 4:10 744:23-31 84 5:1-12 146f.6:1 94, 111 5:11 11158 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONEzekiel Daniel5:17 77 7 257:20 11 7:13-14 24£., 6111:18 11 7:22 4911:21 11 7:27 4913: 1-16 148 8:10 8414:19 125 9:24-27 4014:21 77 9:26-27 1116:36 125 12:1 14516:49-50 12120:7-8 11 Hosea20:8 125 4:1-2 20:13 125 12020:21 125 8:1 10220:30 11 9:10 11821 :31 125 10:6-8 8622:3-4 12522:6 125 Joel22:9 125 1:6 10822:12 125 2:1 9422:27 125 2: 1-2 140, 14522:29 120 2:4-10 10823:8 125 2:10 84, 10126:7 111 2:11 14026: 19-21 105 2:15 9431:4 105 2:28-29 12531:15 105 2:28-31 21£.32:7 84 2: 18-32 10132:7-8 19f., 101, 135 2:31 84, 14032:8 84 3:15 8432: 11-12 10133: 1-6 94 Amos 35:5-15 1238:6 111 1:9 1238:15 111 1:11 1238:20 85 5:7 10039:2 111 5:18-20 14039: 17-20 102 8:9 19, 84, 135Daniel Obadiah5:23 119 10-16 12SCRIPTURE INDEX 159Jonah Habakkuk1:29 60 3:10 682:5-6 105 3:11 68,693:12 68Micah 3:16 683:6 844:1-4 49 Zephaniah1:14-18 140Nahum 2:11 851:3 231:4-8 85 Haggai1:5 84 2:6 1451:6 86ZechariahHabakkuk 1: 12 801:2 803:8 596:1-7 671:5-17 68 6:5 841:8 102 12:9 1432:6 80 12:10 1253 67 12: 10-11 1433:3-4 67f. 13 1443:5 68 14 1443:6 683:8 68 Malachi3:9 68,69 3:2 86NEW TESTAMENTMatthew1:179:1711:1011:1612:3912:4112:41-4512:423

              12526

              3

              3,43

              106f.3

              Matthew12:4516:416:1816:1917:1718:1820-2521:193,43,497

              90

              3,490

              98

              84

              180· THE GREAT TRIBULATIONMatthew Matthew21:21-22 99 26:64 2421:33-45 85,87 27:22-25 1521:42-44 46 27:50-54 11521:43 622:7 141 Mark23:29-39 66 2:22 12523:31-36 129 6:7 10823:34 79£. 8:12 323:34-37 81 8:38 323:35 4, 125 9:19 323:35-36 96, 125 11:17 12023:35-37 81 13 2ff., 65ff.23:36 3 13:1-2 523:36-38 4 13:2 6623:37-38 26 13:14 6624 2ff., 65ff., 135 13:30 3,6624:1-2 66 14:24 12524:1-3 4£. 14:62 2424:4 8 15:37-39 11524:5 8 16:19 2424:6-7a 8f.24:7b-8 9 Luke24:8 8 1:8-11 8924:9 9 1:10 8824:10-11 35 1:21 8824:10-13 9 1:48 324:14 10 1:50 324:15-16 66 5:37 12524:15-18 11 7:24 2624:19-21 13 7:31 324:21 145 8:31 10524:28 102 9:41 324:29-30 85 9:52 2624:29-31 16f. 10:17-19 10824:30 20 11:29 324:32-34 84 11:30 324:34 2,3,66 11:31 324:42-44- 141 11:32 326:28 125 11:50 3,125SCRIPTURE INDEX 161Luke Acts11:51 3 7:52 12912:35-40 141 7:58-60 11913:33 81 8:9 11913:33-34 129 8:11 11916:8 3 10:45 12516:27-31 114 13:6-11 11917:25 3 15 29f.21 2ff., 65ff. 19~13-15 11921 :5-6 5,66f. 20:28-30 3021:11 114 22:20 12521:20 120 26:18 10821:20-22 IH.21:20-24 67 Romans21:22 81 1:8 1021:23-24 13f. 1:18-32 11921:29-32 84 2:7-9 9721:32 3,67 2:8-9 9722:20 125 2:21 12023:27-30 87, 108 3:15 12523:44-47 115 3:23 575:5 125John 8:28-39 511:5 104 10:7 1054:21-23 7 10:18 1019:30 144 11:11-15 10220:23 90 11:25 10213:11-12 49Acts 16:17-18 311:9 242:16-21 43, 101 I Corinthians 10:10 1092:17-18 125 11:10 902:23 119 11:25 762:25-36 59 14:21-22 442:33 125 14:22 462:36 119 15:12 312:40 44 16:22 49,683:14-15 1194:26 119 II Corinthians7:51-52 81, 119 4:6 83182 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONII Corinthians II Thessalonians5:17 83 2:3 3811:3-4 31 2:7-12 14011:12-15 31I TimothyGalatians 1:3-7 311:4 47 1:19-20 311:6-9 30 4:1-3 31, 40£.1:8 37 4:6 412:5 30 6:20-21 312:11-21 303:1-3 30 II Timothy5:1-12 30 2:16-18 312:18 31Ephesians 3:1-8 41£.2:10 83 3:1-9 313:10 90 3:13 314:24 83 4:2-5 314:6 80Philippians 4:10 313:18-19 31 4:14 824:5 49 4:14-16 31Colossians Titus1:5-6 10 3:6 1251:23 102:8 31 Hebrews2:18-23 31, 41 1:2 423:10 83 2:14 1095:1-3 57I Thessalonians 7:23 571:10 47 7:27 572:14-16 47,83 8:5 905:1-5 47£. 8:13 275:1-11 141 9:23-24 905:9 48,97 9:26 4210:4 57II Thessalonians 10:19 1101:6-10 48 10:25 272:1-2 27 10:26-31 71SCRIPTURE INDEX 163Hebrews I Peter10:27 50 4:12-13 5110:30-31 50 4:17 5110:36-39 5011:38 86 II Peter12:25-29 145 1:1-3 3112:26-27 84 2:4 105, 11112:26-28 85 2: 10-22 313:7-14 85James2:2 27 Jude2:25 25 6 105, 1114:2 1105:1-6 50, 120 Revelation5:7-9 50f. 1-3 26,905: 14-15 76 1:3 55,991:4-5 55I John 1:6 552:18 34,37 1:7 552: 18-19 32f. 1:8 1412:22 35 1:10 552:22-23 32f. 1:12-20 552:26 33,34, 35 1:16 68, 1393:11-12 81 1:18 774:1 35 2-3 55,904:1-6 33 2:2 304:3 34,35 2:5 1414:6 35 2:6 302:7 71II John 2:9 277 34,35 2:10 717-11 33f. 2:11 719 35 2:14 11910 35 2:14-16 302:16 141I Peter 2:17 711:5 46 2:20 1191:20-21 42 2:20-24 302:6-8 46 2:21 1194:7 51 2:25 141164 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONRevelation Revelation2:26 71 6:12-14 833:1-4 30 6:14 683:2 141 6:15 683:3 141 6:16 108, 1483:4-5 82, 141 7:1 67,843:5 71 7:3 65, 76,963:9 27 7:3-8 1083:10 134 7:15 1053:11 71, 141 7:15-17 1323:12 71 8-11 90, 122, 1233:15-18 30 8:1 643:18 142 8:1-2 57,883:21 71 8:3-4 884 55£. 8:3-5 91, 99, 1244-5 54 8:5 1444:3 70 8:6-7 964:4 71 8:7-12 774:5 68 8:8-9 97, 1264:7 101 8:10-11 99, 1284:10 71 8:12 1315 62 8:12-13 1015:5 71 8:13 57, 1045:6 67 9:1 1045:7 61 9:1-12 1045:8 89, 91, 124 9:2 104, 1125:9 130 9:4 966 64ff., 85 9:7-11 1086:2 68, 71, 72 9:11 1046:3-4 73 9:12 57, 1037:4-5 68 9:13 1096:5-6 74 9:13-21 1376:7-8 76 9:14-16 1116:8 68 9:17-19 112, 1396:9 79 9:20-21 1146:9-10 80 9:21 1196:9-11 99, 131 10 626:11 82 10:6-7 1216:12 144 11:5 1396:12-13 68 11:7 104, 105SCRIPTURE INDEX 165Revelation Revelation11:8 53, 121, 145 16:10-11 13411:13 94, 144 16:12 13711:14-15 57, 103 16:13-14 13811:15 94 16:15 14111:15-19 103 16:16 14211:19 94, 144 16:18 14412 122 16:19 5312~1 71 16:19 121, 124, 14612:4 106 16:20 14812:9 106 16:21 97, 144, 14812:12 57, 105, 106 17-22 15012:14 102 17:1 15112:15-16 139 17:2 11913 32, 122 17:4 11913:1 133 17:6 13013:5-6 139 17:8 104, 10513:6 105 17:18 5313:11 138 18:2 15, 10714 90, 122 18:3 11914:6 102 18:9 11914:8 53, 119, 145, 18:23 119148 18:24 13014:10 124 19 72f.14:14 71 19:2 11914:19-20 57 19:11-13 7115 122 19:11-16 6915-16 90 19:15 13915:1 125, 144 19:17-18 10215:3-4 13119:20 112, 13815:5-8 12416 122f.19:21 13916:1 123f. 20:1 10416:1-21 57 20:1-3 10516:2 126, 135 20:3 10416:3 126 21:6 14416:4-7 128 21:8 112, 11916:5-7 131 21:9 15116:6 124 21:17 9016:8-9 131 21:22-27 103166 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONRevelation22:622:1053

              53

              Revelation22:1522:2011978

              INDEXabomination of desolation,11-12abyss, 104, 105altar, 80, 92, 110, 131angels, the seven, 90Antichrist, 31-35, 42, 51Apocalypse, 67apostasy, 9, 29, 38, 50Armageddon, 142Ascension, 24Babylon, fall of, 18Battle of Armageddon, 142Beast, the, 135, 138blood, 81, 126, 128, 130bow, 70Bride of Christ, 150Calvin, John, 73Cerinthus, 36chalicethe first, 126the second, 126the third, 128the fourth, 131the fifth, 134the sixth, 142the seventh, 144, 146chalices, 124chalice-judgments, 122Church, the, 27, 58, 62, 85, 93,110church, the early, 46clouds, 23, 55Communion, 124covenant, 54, 55covenant nation, 20crown, 71Day of God, 140Day ofJudgment, 47Day of the Lord, 55, 144de-creation, 83, 85demons, 104, 107dominion, 59, 63Dominion Mandate, 62Dragon, the, 138, 139eagle, 101, 102Edersheim, Alfred, 89end, the, 8, 16, 37, 49, 51, 86, 87end, signs of the, 8-11, 46, 49Eucharist, 125evangelism, worldwide, 10Exodus, the, 95False Prophet, the, 138false prophets, 144famine, 74Farrar, F. W., 135, 151168 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONfigurative language, 20"five," 106generation, 2, 3, 87Glory-Cloud, 91, 95, 109, 111,131, 144Gnosticism, 36Great City, the, 145, 147Great Tribulation, the, 2, 14, 16,83, 134heresy, 30Holy City, the, 150horseblack, 74, 76green, 76red, 73white, 69Horsemen, the four, 68idols, 118, 144imagerybiblical, 99mountain, 98imprecatory prayers, 82, 110Israelapostasy of, 119destruction of, 64idolatry of, 119judgment of, 21, 44, 56, 135Jericho, 94, 95Jerusalem, destruction of, 49,53,67jewish War, the, 106josephus, 13, 14, 74, 75, 97, 106,107, 114, 116, 117, 127, 149judgmentsof God, 77, 80of Israel, 4of jerusalem, 92of jews, 47Lamb, Christ as, 60last days, 16, 49, 74latter times, 41literalist, 142liturgy, 89, 92, 95locusts, 104~egiddo, 142, 143, 144natural disasters, 9natural law, 129New Covenant, 54, 56, 57, 58,61, 64, 145north, the, 111Old Covenant, 16, 18, 46, 56,58, 67, 145, 148Old Testament, 17Pentecost, 21, 22, 27, 43, 44,45,67persecution, 9Pharaoh, 133plagues on Egypt, 123prayer, 124prayer, biblical, 110prophecy, 18, 44, 58prophetic imagery, OldTestament, 84, 85Red Sea crossing, 105Root of David, 59Russell, J. Stuart, 149Sacraments, 7, 124St. Augustine, 133Schlossberg, Herbert, 118sciences, the, 129seal, 65, 68the first, 68the second, 73the third, 74the fourth, 76the fifth, 80the sixth, 83the seventh, 88seals, the seven, 64Second Adam, 25, 55, 62Second Coming, 17, 36"seven," 90sovereignty, 132symbolism, biblical, 67synagogue, 26Tacitus, 136Temple, the, 58, 89destruction of the, 4-7, 11, 12,16, 21, 67Ten Commandments, 54INDEX 169tongues, 44Tribulation, 14, 17, 48, 52Trumpetthe first, 96the second, 97the third, 99the fourth, 101, 131the fifth, 104the sixth, 109, 137, 139the seventh, 121Trumpet-judgments, 96, 123trumpets, significance of, 94, 95vengeance, 48war, 8,73Wormwood, 100worship, 92, 93, 110

              PUBLISHER'S EPILOGUEby Gary NorthAnd ifthine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is betterfor thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye,than having two eyes to be cast into hellfire: Wheretheir worm dieth not, and thefire is not quenched. Forevery one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrificeshall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salthave lost its saltiness, wherewith will ye season it?Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with oneanother (Mark 9:47-50).The Great Tribulation is a book about God's judgment.It may not be the judgment that you had inmind when you bought it. Whatever kind of biblicalevents that you associate with the word 'Judgment,"or the words "great tribulation," never forget as youread this book that these earthlyjudgments are nothingcompared to the eternal judgment that Jesus saidis coming at the end of time. They are "earnests"downpayments - on God's holy wrath in eternity.Actually, our use oflanguage is misleading when172 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONwe speak of God's judgment exclusively as punishment.In the Bible, judgment is two-fold: blessing andcursing. We see this in the final judgment. At the finaljudgment, after the resurrection of all humanity,God will judge men. Hejudges between men: "sheep"to one side and "goats" to the other (Matt. 25:33).(I hope there is no one reading this book who is so"literalistic" that he believes that Jesus was talkingabout literal sheep and literal goats. Literalism hasits limits. The Bible is filled with symbols, which youshould bear in mind as you read this book. Jesus wastalking about people, not animals. You and I will bethere at that great division.) That great final divisionleads to two different eternal states:Then shall the King say unto them on hisright hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inheritthe kingdom prepared for you from thefoundation of the world. . . . Then shall he sayalso unto them on the left hand, Depart fromme, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, preparedfor the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:34, 41).There will be eternally blessed people and eternallycursed people. Each group goes to its respectiveeverlasting "resting" place, though there is no rest forthe wicked. In fact, the two places can be defined interms of rest: ethical rest for those who live in God'skingdom forever, and zero ethical rest for those wholive (exist) in the second death of the lake of fire.The second death is the ultimate and everlastingcurse. It is living death, meaning spiritual deathPUBLISHER'S EPILOGUE 173with the sensation of pain. The Bible speaks of theworst pain imaginable: fire. "And death and hell werecast into the lake of fire. This is the second death"(Rev. 20:14). This is not annihilation, as severalcults teach.. It is not oblivion. It is not non-existence.Those condemned to the lake of eternal fire wouldgladly exchange their everlasting bodies for mereoblivion. Oblivion would mean an escape from theeverlasting agonies of God's curse, the longed-forsilence of God. But God is not silent. Sinners in helland later in the lake of fire are never given this opportunityto silence God. Sin has everlasting consequences.It is God's final judgment that will markforever the blessed and the cursed, the living and thedead, the covenant-keepers and the covenantbreakers,the Christians and the non-Christians.Note that the Bible teaches that both the postresurrectionkingdom of God and the place of everlastingtorment were created from the foundation ofthe world. The kingdom of God was created forredeemed people, while the lake of fire was createdfor the devil and his angels, though God opens it upfor human covenant-breakers (Matt. 25:41). Thelake of fire is marked by something called "theworm." We do not know what this is, but we knowwhat it isn't. It is not a fallen angel, for the fallenangels are rendered eternally impotent, too. Theworm is not human conscience, for there is no senseof voluntary submission before God and His law.Covenant-breakers remain covenant breakers forever.The worm may be gnawing regret that men arenot God. What we do know is that it never dies. And174 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONif it never dies, then its victims never enter into thecultists' hoped-for peace of eternal oblivion. Theworm torments condemned covenant-breakers forever.This book is about earthly judgment. What iscoming in eternity has been previewed on earth:blessings and cursings. The great tribulation was(not "will be") an event in history that reflected insome small measure the horror of the future cursingto come. Compared to the lake of fire, the great tribulationwas a brief, minor discomfort for a handfulof people. Nevertheless, compared with God's conditionalcovenant blessings to His chosen people, theJews-blessings that were revoked in 70 A.D.-thegreat tribulation was a world-changing catastrophe.This book is about that catastrophe.Equal Ultimacy: Blessing and CursingGod's judgments come in history and also at theresurrection of the dead. This brings us to a fundamentaldoctrine of the Bible, one which in our day israrely mentioned, even by pastors and theologians(especially by theologians): the equal ultimacy ofblessings and cursings. In common language, this issometimes expressed as the equal ultimacy ofheavenand hell, but this phrase is incorrect. Heaven andhell are not the final standard, because they areincomplete places historically. People do not havetheir bodies in heaven and hell. They are reunitedwith their bodies at the last judgment. This meansthat people are resurrected from both heaven andhell. We have to conclude then, that heaven is notPUBLISHER'S EPILOGUE 175yet perfect, for people do not possess their perfectresurrected bodies. It is yet incomplete. Also, in thedays of John, they cried out for God to bring Hisjudgment, another mark of incompleteness: "Andthey cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, 0Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avengeour blood on them that dwell on the earth" (Rev.8:10). God's blessings in heaven are historicallyincomplete.Similarly, hell is a place of comparative grace, ifwe are comparing hell to the lake offire. In hell, peopledo not possess perfect bodies to burn eternally,only souls. God's cursing on them is therefore limited.Furthermore, Jesus' story of the rich man whodies and goes to hell indicates that there is some sortof communication between those in hell and at leastone person in heaven, "Father Abraham" (Luke16:23-31). God's cursings in hell are therefore historicallyincomplete. After the final judgment, there isno more limited, "low temperature," body-free, hellfire. There is also no more communication with anyonein the kingdom of God. The last traces of gracein history are removed from the cursed, when hell,the devil, his angels, and resurrected non-Christiansare all ceremoniously dumped into the lake of fire(Rev. 20:14), just as the final absence of grace in historyis removed from the saints when they departfrom heaven and bodily enter the restored NewHeaven and New Earth. At that point and forevermore, those in hell can think back to the comparativecomforts of hell and correctly say of God, "No moreMr. Nice Guy."178 THE GREAT TRllULAnONNeither Christians nor non-Christians like tothink about such things. This does not make thesefuture events less real or less inevitable.Equal Ultimacy, Unequal ResultsOne possible source of confusion needs to becleared up. I have said that blessing and cursing areequally ultimate. I am referring to covenantal ultimacyin judgment, not historical ultimacy. Good and evilare not equally powerful over time. God's blessingsstrengthen His covenant-keepers, while His cursingsweaken covenant-breakers. God's promise to Eve ofthe coming seed (Gen. 3:15) was more powerful thanall of Satan's attempts to destroy the covenant line.Noab's ark was more powerful than the Flood. Theexodus was more powerful than Egyptian slavery.The resurrection of Christ was more powerful thanthe cross. The Church became visibly more powerfulthan Israel after 70 A.D. Christianity is more powerfulin principle than humanism, and this will eventuallybe manifested in history. Long-term powercomes from covenant-keeping: conformity to God'slaw through the empowering of the Holy Spirit.Long-term impotence comes from covenant-breaking:disobedience to God's law through the empoweringof Satan. (See my book, Dominion and CommonGrace: The Biblical Basis of Progress; Box 8000,Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1987:$8.95.)Heaven and hell are equally ultimate as places.They are equally ultimate covenantally. Hell as a placeof God's wrath is equally ultimate to heaven as aPUBLISHER'S EPILOGUE 177place of God's blessing, and both hell and heaven arelimited by history. God makes His declaration of''lost'' to those in hell, just as He declares "saved" tothose in heaven. Hell is no less real than heaven; it issimply impotent compared to heaven. Death isequally ultimate to life covenantally. In fact, life anddeath are primarily covenantal concepts, not physicalconcepts, as we shall see. They exist in relation toGod's covenant. Life and death must always be definedin terms of God's five-point covenant structure,a structure described best in Ray Sutton's book, ThatlVu May Prosper: Dominion By Covenant (Box 8000,Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics,1987; $14.95):1. The transcendence (yet also presence) of God2. The hierarchy of God's creation3. The law of God4. The judgment (sanctions) of God5. The inheritance (or disinheritance) of GodHeaven and hell are limited by time and by theirrelation to events on earth. The two post-resurrectionworlds will not be limited by time. God's gracewill shine forth perfectly in one place, and His wrathwill shine forth perfectly in the other. There is noescape from God in history: "Whither shall I go fromthy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I makemy bed in hell, behold, thou art there" (Ps. 139:7-8).How much more is God present in eternal judgment,in both the place of unrestrained blessing and178 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONthe place of unrestrained cursing! The presence ofGod is eternal; hence, once created, human beingsare creatures of endless future duration. Many peoplewill wish they weren't everlasting. For those inthe lake of fire, endless duration is the opposite ofeternal life: it is the eternal second death.The Bible speaks here of God's presence in thesense ofknowing and observing all things, determiningall things. It is not speaking of His presence inthe sense of ethical presence: showing grace (commongrace or saving grace) to people. That kind of presencewill not exist in the lake of fire. The residents ofthe lake of fire are separated from God eternally, notin the sense that men can escape God's presence, butin the sense that they cannot pray to God, seek God'sface, or expect God's mercy. He is present with themin some sense as He was present in the burningbush: as a consumingfire. He is present in some senseas the worm that never dies. (It is not Satan or afallen angel that serves as the worm, for they areequally impotent, equally under the curse.) He ispresent because God is omnipresent: present everywhere.This very presence as the Judge is the ultimatecurse of God: no ethical presence with peopleas the Savior and source of grace. They spend eternityin the presence of God's wrath, not God's grace.The key issue here, as always, is ethics. Life is afunction of covenantal ethics, not duration as such.So is death. Life is a gift of God's grace, an unmitigatedblessing: "He that believeth on the Sonhath everlasting life: and he that believeth not theSon shall not see life; but the wrath of God abidethPUBLISHER'S EPILOGUE 179on him" (John 3:36). Covenant-breakers have existenceon earth, but not life: they shall not see life,meaning covenantal life, Jesus said. They will havethe same existence in the lake of fire: they shall notsee life. Life is ethical, not simply a function of physicalperception. Those in ethical rebellion againstGod are ethically dead. They do not possess life.It is the devil's own lie that mere physical perceptionis life, and that physical death is the end of life.It is also his lie that physically dead men will nothave perception, especially the perception of incomparable,inconceivable pain. In non-physical helland also in the eternally physical lake of fire, deadmen will have perception. What they would give notto have it! Nothing, in this case, would be so muchbetter than something.Accept the sacrifice ofJesus Christ on Calvary asyour lawful substitute in the eyes of God. Entertainno false hope ofa world ofnothing beyond the grave.Sinners deserve a lot more than nothing.Taking Christ's Suffering SeriouslyBecause people seldom consider the eternal realityof the lake of fire, they do not fully understand ortake seriously the cosmic and eternal implications ofthe sufferings of the Son of God at Calvary. "A bigdeal, yes, but not that big a deal," they think to themselves.They do not take God's law seriously. Theydo not take God's eternal judgment seriously. This,of course, is precisely what sin is all about: not takingGod seriously.180 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONWhat of those who refuse to accept Christ's sacrificialwork as their substitute? Their fate is the sameas those in the Old Testament era who refused duringtheir life on earth to accept the representativeroasting of animals on God's altar. Remember, thereare no bulls and goats to take their place. Theythemselves will replace the bulls and goats on God'seternal altar. Not yet. They are enjoying-comparedto what is in store for them after the final judgment- a brief respite in hell. After the final judgment,things will at last and forever get really hot for them,body and soul, "where their worm dieth not, and thefire is not quenched." They will look back fondly athell as a place of God's restrained cursing. Hell willbe thought of as a place of comparative rest andrecreation. The Soviet Union's Gulag concentrationcamp system will be remembered by its covenantbreakingvictims as a positive paradise.There is no purgatory for sinners. Nothingpurges the consequences of sin after the sinner hasdied. Hell is the sinner's only "purgatory," in thesense of a place of temporarily restricted cursing.Hell's function is comparable to that of a prison in abiblical commonwealth: a holding place until thefinal sentence is handed down. It is better there thanin the courtroom of the judge, and surely better thanin the place of execution - eternal execution.The Salt of God's CovenantSalt is symbolic of judgment in the Bible.Remember, judgment is two-fold: blessing and cursPUBLISHER'SEPILOGUE 181ing. Therefore, salt is for both blessing and cursing.We know from the language of the New Testamentthat salt is a blessing, for Christians are describedas salt. "Salt is good: but if the salt have lostits saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have saltin yourselves, and have peace with one another"(Mark 9:50). Again, Jesus said in the Sermon on theMount: ''Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salthave lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? Itis thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out,and be trodden under foot of men" (Matt. 5:13).Obviously, salt does not lose its savor, but it can bemixed with other substances and become tasteless orbitter. This is what sin does to something good.When good men become corrupt, they are fit forcursing in history, to be "trodden underfoot." Theybecome good for nothing.What about cursing? The first example is Lot'swife. She looked back toward the plain where Sodomand Gomorrah were being subjected to God's fieryjudgment. God turned her into a pillar of salt (Gen.19:26). Why salt? Because in God's sacrificial system,salt always accompanies judgment. "And everyoblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season withsalt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenantof thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: withall thine offerings thou shalt offer salt" (Lev. 2:13).Here we find the phrase, "the salt of the covenant ofthy God." God in a sense flavors His covenantaljudgments with salt. Salt is good. It is a blessing.Covenant-keepers are the salt of the earth in history.182 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONBut if we mix our salt with corruption, as Lot's wifedid, then we become covenantally dead salt, corruptedsalt, and useless to God.Salt was a required aspect of God's sacrificialsystem.And on the second day thou shalt offer a kidof the goats without blemish for a sin offering;and they shall cleanse the altar, as they didcleanse it with the bullock. When thou hastmade an end of cleansing it, thou shalt offer ayoung bullock without blemish, and a ram outof thy Hock without blemish. And thou shaltoffer them before the LORD, and the priests shallcast salt upon them, and they shall offer them upfor a burnt offering unto the LORD (Ezek.43:22-24).There must always be salt on the altar. Christiansare that salt. In their sin-free resurrected bodies,they will serve as eternal salt for God's eternalaltar. There will always be a sacrifice on that altar,just as surely as there will always be a Church, God'sholy salt. On that fiery altar judgment will burn foras long as the Church shall exist. There can be noacceptable sacrifices without salt. God will nottolerate salt-free sacrifices. He will preserve HisChurch, for He will always preserve His altar. Hislaw is perpetual, His justice is perpetual, and Hisjudgment is everlasting, both blessings and cursings.PUBLISHER'S EPILOGUE 183Salt is also used as a destroyer in history. It notonly adds flavor, it also kills, and kills 'Jorever." It wasused in the ancient world as a means of destroyingan enemy city, for salting over a city's agriculturalarea destroyed its future productivity. "And Abimelechfought against the city all that day, and slewthe people that was therein, and beat down the city,and sowed it with salt" (Jud. 9:45). God salted overSodom and Gomorrah, and later other cities. Why?To preserve His covenant. Chilton reproduces thispassage in its entirety in The Days of ~ngeance in relationto the Temple's sacrifices. He does so in his introductoryremarks to the book's section on God'scovenant sanctions (p. 226):And the LORD shall separate him unto evilout of all the tribes of Israel, according to all thecurses of the covenant that are written in thisbook of the law: So the generation to come ofyour children that shall rise up after you, andthe stranger that shall come from a far land,shall say, when they see the plagues of thatland, and the sickness which the LORD hath laidupon it; And the whole land thereof is brimstone,and salt, and burning, that it is notsown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweththerein, like the overthrow of Sodom, andGomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which theLORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath theLORD done thus unto this land? What meaneth184 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONthe heat of this great anger? Then men shallsay, Because they have forsaken the covenant ofthe LORD God of their fathers, which he madewith them when he brought them forth out ofthe land of Egypt: For they went and servedother gods, and worshipped them, gods whomthey knew not, and whom he had not givenunto them. And the anger of the LORD was kindledagainst this land, to bring upon it all thecurses that are written in this book (Deut.29:21-27).The phrases of cursing are temperature-oriented:"the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, andburning"; "the heat of this great anger"; "the anger ofthe LORD was kindled against this land." It is totallymisleading to speak of God's judgments in historyapart from the language of fire. But it is also misleadingto speak of God's judgmental fire withoutsalt. Salt is the savor ofjudgment. Thus the presenceof the Church in history is the savor ofjudgment inhistory. God's covenant sanctions are two-fold: blessingand cursing.What is true of God's covenant cursings in historyis equally true of His covenant cursings in eternity.The lake of fire is the place "where their wormdieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shallbe salted with salt." The New Heaven and the NewEarth is as assured of its eternal status as the lake offire is, and vice versa. God's covenant sanctions neverend.PUBLISHER'S EPILOGUE 185Covenantal Death and the Baptism of FireDeath is a covenantal phenomenon. God toldAdam that he would die on the day that he ate of theforbidden fruit. Adam ate and died. He died covenantally.God's covenant sanctions of cursing wereplaced on him. He did not die physically (a sign ofGod's grace to him in history), although his body definitivelydied that day. It bore marks of the curse:sweat on the brow (Gen. 3:19). This same mark ofthe curse was not allowed for the high priest, whichis why he was required to wear the mitre on his headand was also required to wear linen (Ex. 29:38-43).We are specifically told in Ezekiel's vision that thehigh priest was required to wear linen in order toavoid sweating(Ezek. 44:18). Adam's body progressivelydied through the aging process for over ninecenturies; then it finally died (Gen. 5:5). He couldnot escape God's covenant sanction of cursing.This physical death is only the first death. Thereis a second death, the post-resurrection death afterthe final judgment (Rev. 20:14). Why is this seconddeath required? Because covenant-breaking, if it is persistedin until the day of the first death, becomes apermanent condition. The covenant of God is eternal.Therefore, one's position and condition as a covenant-breaker or a covenant-keeper becomes permanentat the death of the pre-resurrection body. Ifpeople could escape their position as covenantbreakersin eternity through any means, includingannihilation, they could therefore eliminate the per186THE GREAT TRIBULATIONmanence of God's covenant sanctions. God does notpermit such an attack on His sovereignty in time andeternity. His sanctions never end, for His covenantnever ends.Kline's Exposition of the Ritual SanctionsThese covenant sanctions are two-fold sanctions:cursings and blessings. This two-fold nature of thecovenant sanctions is spelled out in great detail byMeredith G. Kline in his book, By Oath Consigned(Eerdmans, 1968). Kline refers to John the Baptizer'ssummary of Christ's ministry: "I indeed baptize youwith water unto repentance: but he that cometh afterme is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthyto bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost,and with fire" (Matt. 3:11). What did John have inmind, "baptizing with fire"? Kline cites Malachi 4:1:"For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as anoven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly,shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burnthem up, saith the LORD of hosts, it shall leave themneither root nor branch." Stubble cannot grow. Itcannot send roots into the soil for nourishment, norgrow leaves on branches to absorb sunlight. Withoutroot and branches, stubble dies, dries, and is easilyset afire.But there is another source of light than theburning of stubble, as Malachi 4:2-3 says: "But untoyou that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousnessarise with healing in his wings: and ye shall go forth,and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall treaddown the wicked; for they shall be ashes under yourPUBLISHER'S EPILOGUE 187feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD ofhosts."What are Malachi's next words? A call to rememberGod's covenant law. "Remember ye the lawof Moses my servant, which I commanded unto himin Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments"(v. 4). Then is promised John's own ministry:"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before thecoming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD"(v. 5). Kline comments: "For evildoers the fire of thatday is the burning of an oven to consume them, butfor those who fear God's name it is the healing raysof the sun to refine them" (p. 58). John's baptism"was not an ordinance to be observed by Israel intheir generations but a special sign for that terminalgeneration epitomizing the particular crisis in covenanthistory represented by the mission of John asmessenger of the Lord's ultimatum" (p. 61).Viewed from a more comprehensive vantagepoint, John's baptism was a sign of the ordealthrough which Israel must pass to receivea judgment of either curse or blessing. . . . Byhis message and baptism John thus proclaimedagain to the seed of Abraham the meaning oftheir circumcision. Circumcision was no guaranteeof inviolable privilege. It was a sign of thedivine ordeal in which the axe, laid unto theroots of the unfruitful trees cursed by Messiah,would cut them off (Matt. 3:10; Lk. 3:9). John'sbaptism was in effect a recircumcising (p. 62).188 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONKline concludes: "Baptism, then, is concernedwith man in the presence of God's judgment throne"(p. 67). Baptism is a covenant sign, and it bears themark of the two-fold nature of covenant sanctions:blessing and cursing. This system of dual covenantsanctions will be manifested at the final judgment:Again, when the Lord appears in the finalordeal theophany as the Judge of the quick [living]and the dead, taking fiery vengeance onthem that obey not the gospel, he will bringbefore his judgment throne all who have beenwithin his church of the New Covenant. Therehis declaration of the curse of the covenant willfallon the ears of some who in this world havebeen within the community that formally ownshis covenant lordship, so that still in that daythey think to cry, "Lord, Lord, have we notprophesied in thy name? and in thy name havecast out devils? and in thy name done manywonderful works?"... There is, therefore, afulfillment of the covenant lordship of Christover his New Testament church unto condemnationand death as well as unto justificationand life. In the execution of both verdicts,whether unto life or unto death, the New Covenantwill be enforced and perfected (pp. 77-78).Permanent SanctionsThe New covenant is enforced andperfected in God'sfinal judgment. That future judgment is as permanentas the covenant itself. The sanctions of blessingPUBLISHER'S EPILOGUE 189and cursing are everlasting. The terminal generationof Israel did not understand the threat to them.They ignored John's baptism. They did not takebaptism seriously as a permanent (eternal) covenantsign. They did not heed John's warning of thesupreme ability of the One who followed him to imposethe baptism of permanent consuming fire.Thus, when they crucified Christ, they sealed theirfate. The day of the Lord came in A.D. 70 and visiblydestroyed the Temple and its animal sacrifices. Thefinal day of the Lord will come and institute the onlysacrifice that in principle God ever honored: true,complete, and permanent judgment.Is God's blessing ultimate? Yes: the resurrectionofthe blemish-free bodies of saints to be merged withtheir souls newly released from heaven, and theirpost-judgment transfer to their new permanent environment:the perfected New Heaven and NewEarth. Is God's cursing ultimate? Yes: the resurrectionthe blemish-free bodies of dead sinners to bemerged with their souls newly released from hell,and their post-judgment transfer to their new permanentenvironment: the lake of fire. God cursesthem with perfect resurrected bodies to serve as eternalstubble, that they may endure eternal agony inthe lake of fire.Covenantal death is permanent, after the deathof the body. Covenantal death is as permanent as thecovenant itself. Therefore,if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is betterfor thee to enter into the kingdom of God with190 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONone eye, than having two eyes to be cast intohell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and thefire is not quenched. For every one shall besalted with fire, and every sacrifice shall besalted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt havelost its saltiness, wherewith will ye season it?Have salt in yourselves, and have peace withone another (Mark 9:47-50).Those who argue for anything other than eternaljudgment have adopted what philosophers call nominalism:"Hell is just a name, not a real place," or"the lake of fire is simply symbolic language, not areal place." This is what modern theological liberalismargues. So do the cults, with their doctrine of annihilationism.But hell and the lake of fire are realplaces, for they play eternal roles in God's covenant.They are covenantal realities, not verbal symbols ofGod's wrath - a "wrath without wrath." Hell is asreal as heaven; the lake of fire is as real as the postresurrectionNew Heaven and New Earth. They areso real, that they have manifestations in history.Heaven and Hell on EarthChilton's Days of Mtngeance has a chapter titled,''All Hell Breaks Loose." On page 257, he citesHerbert Schlossberg's Idols for Destruction (ThomasNelson, 1983): "When a civilization turns idolatrous,its people are profoundly changed by that experience.In a kind of reverse sanctification, the idolateris transformed into the likeness of the object of hisworship. Israel 'went after worthlessness, and bePUBLISHER'SEPILOGUE 191came worthless' (Jer. 2:5)."This is a brilliant observation. But Schlossbergstops short of the goal. This is not "a kind of reversesanctification"; this is reverse sanctification. Covenant-keepers progressively work out the implicationsof their faith in history, manifesting the heavenlykingdom of God in time and on earth. God progressivelyanswers the required prayer: "Thy kingdomcome. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven"(Matt. 6:10). This is progressive sanctification: the workingout in history of the perfect moral righteousnessof Christ's perfect humanity (not His divinity) thatGod imputes to Christians at the point of their salvation.What God imputes to us definitively in principleat the point of our conversion to Christ - themind and righteousness of Jesus Christ- we are tomanifest progressively over time.Schlossberg's point is that Satan's followers manifesta parallel process of sanctification. To "sanctify"means to set apart. Satan sets his followers apart inthe same way that God does. They are to work out inhistory the evil covenant principles of Satan's hellishkingdom, just as Christians are to work out in historythe righteous covenant principles of God's heavenlykingdom.There is a constant complaint by those who holdeschatologies of earthly defeat that it is foolish towork for the establishment of God's law on earth.They call such a view "utopian." They deny thatthere can ever be a widespread manifestation ofGod's kingdom on earth in history. They dismisssuch a vision as totally false, "looking for heaven on192 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONearth." Yet to refuse to work to bring heaven on earthby teaching people to obey heaven's righteous principleson earth is to turn history over to the devil. Hisdisciples are working hard to bring hell on earth byteaching people to obey hell's rebellious principles onearth.There is a war going on. It is a war between Godand Satan, righteousness and evil, covenant-keepersand covenant-breakers, heaven and hell. This war isgoing on in history. It is an earthly war primarily. Theultimate issue over which the war is being fought isthe issue of sovereignty. Who is sovereign, God orSatan? The historical issue is also being fought overthe issue of sovereignty: Whose human forces willtriumph in history, God's or Satan's? Whose NewWorld Order will be victorious in history, Christ's orSatan's? In short, the war is being fought over thisquestion: Heaven on earth or hell on earth?There is no possibility of any other kingdom onearth. There is no possibility of neutral man's kingdomon earth, operated by hypothetical neutral naturallaw. Men are never neutral, and there is nosuch thing as natural law. There is God's law, andthere are Satan's numerous alternatives, including"neutral" natural law. There is no neutrality. Therefore,we face the question: Will it be heaven on earth orhell on earth? Will it be God's covenant law as thelaw of nations, or one or more of Satan's counterfeitlaw systems? Any attempt to substitute a thirdchoice, such as natural law, is simply another attemptto replace God's covenant law with Satan's. Itis simply another attempt to build hell on earth.PUBLISHER'S EPILOGUE 193Sadly, pessImIstIc Christians who expect littlebut defeat for God's people cling to faith in naturallaw as a neutral common ground between Satan'ssupposedly expanding influence in history and thechurch's supposedly decreasing influence. They seeGod's Bible-revealed law as a threat to their retreatfrom historic responsibility, so they choose to preachan undefined (and always undefinable) "neutral naturallaw" which lays no uniquely Christian civic responsibilitieson them.ConclusionThe judgment of God on Israel in A.D. 70 shouldpersuade us of the futility of escaping God's progressivejudgments in history. In our day, potentially thegreatest blessings since Pentecost are facing us:worldwide revival, the information revolution ofcomputerization, and a rediscovery of God's revealedlaw as a tool of godly dominion (Gen. 1:26-28). Inour day, also potentially the worst curses since thefall of Jerusalem are facing us: biological terrorismthat would kill millions of residents in a large city orcities, nuclear terrorism, or an attack on the west'stelecommunications systems. We need to understandGod's judgment. It involves blessing and cursing.God's blessing is definitive: the grace of salvation inChrist. His blessings are also progressive: promise ofthe coming seed (Gen. 3:15) and His provision ofclothing for them, Noah's ark, the exodus fromEgypt, the return to the land under Nehemiah andEzra, the resurrection of Christ, and the expansion194 THE GREAT TRIBULATIONof the Church. God's blessing is also final and eternal:the sin-free culmination of the post-resurrectionNew Heaven and the New Earth.God's curse is definitive: the death of mankind.His curses are also progressive: the cursing of Adamand Eve and their environment, casting them out ofthe garden, the Flood, slavery in Egypt, captivity inAssyria and Babylon, the death of Christ on thecross, and the fall ofJerusalem. God's cursing is alsofinal and eternal: the lake of fire.As the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646)puts it, regarding eternal blessing and eternal cursing,beginning at judgment day:The end of God's appointing this day is for themanifestation of the glory of His mercy, in theeternal salvation ofthe'e1ect; and of His justice,in the damnation of the reprobate, who arewicked and disobedient. For then shall therighteous go into everlasting life, and receivethat fulness of joy and refreshing, which shall ccome from the presence of the Lord: but thewicked, who know not God, and obey not theGospel ofJesus Christ, shall be cast into eternaltorments, and be punished with everlasting destructionfrom the presence of the Lord, andfrom the glory of His power. (ChapterXXXIII: II)Everlasting joy or everlasting torment: we mustpreach the equal ultimacy of blessing and cursing in eternity.To refuse to do so is to abandon biblical covePUBLISHER'SEPILOGUE 195nant theology. It is to fudge orthodox Christianity.Let Israel's experience in A.D. 70 be our guide to theimportance offaithfulness to God's revealed Word. Ifwe are so careless and arrogant as to deny the eternalreality of God's cursings, we risk having to experiencethem first-hand. "Learning by doing" is notwhat you want in this lesson in theology.



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