THE COMING OF THE LORD
Copyright © 1993, 2002 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Our vision of the return of Christ to the earth affects the sincerity with which we prepare ourselves to do our Lord’s will. The present Christian expectation is confusing, focusing on meeting the desires of people rather than being a true witness of the Person and will of almighty God.
Our current belief is in error. It is leaving the believers unprepared for the spiritual desolation on the horizon. The great and terrible Day of the Lord is at hand. Let us without delay cast aside our myths and traditions and search the Scriptures. Let us pray that we may be accounted worthy to escape spiritual destruction and to stand before Christ in victory.
Table of Contents
Events Associated with the Coming of the Lord
Herod’s Temple, a symbol of the glorifying of self
Deceivers and false Christs
The Divine solution to God’s problem
Our afflictions are leading to redemption
The saints are not of this world
Persecution has a cleansing effect
The danger of wickedness
Waiting patiently on the Lord
The latter-rain revival
The abomination that produces desolation
Occasions for fleeing
Strangers on the earth
Protection in the day of trouble
The days of vengeance
The deceiving spirit of Antichrist
The open revelation of Christ
The power of His coming
The eagles gather together
The signs of His coming
The great and terrible Day of the Lord
The gathering of the elect
The fig tree
The eternal Word
God is sovereign
Ready for the Day of the Lord
Who will be admitted to the Kingdom?
Watch and pray diligently
A sudden accounting
The rewards are for the victorious saints
What it means to receive Christ
The first resurrection will include only the overcomers
Attaining the first resurrection
The basis of the first resurrection
The Day of Atonement and the first resurrection
The resurrection of the royal priesthood
Foreword — The Day of the Lord
Our vision of the return of Christ to the earth affects the sincerity with which we prepare ourselves to do our Lord’s will. It is necessary that Christian people study the Scriptures concerning this supremely important event and not merely accept the traditions that have been handed to us. There are widely held doctrines among Christians that are contrary to the words of the Lord Jesus and the Apostles of the Lamb.
Many of us have trusted that the saints will not be called on to endure tribulation. Yet this is not borne out by church history or by the Scriptures. One area of confusion concerns the great tribulation. The difference between tribulation and Divine wrath is not always made clear.
Paul teaches us in Second Thessalonians that the Day of Christ will not come until after the worldwide revolt against authority and the revealing of the man of sin. The Lord Jesus spoke clearly that He would not come in secret, but that His appearing would shine as lightning “immediately after the tribulation of those days.”
No verse of the Scriptures speaks of a disappearing of the saints. Christ ascended in full view of the onlookers, will call up His saints into the clouds in full view of the onlookers, and will descend to the Mount of Olives in full view of the onlookers.
The Scripture does not teach or imply that when we are caught up to meet the Lord, we will return to Heaven with Him. Yet multitudes of Christian believers have been taught that this is the case without any scriptural support whatever for their belief. To our knowledge, there is no verse in the New Testament that tells us the Lord will bring His Church to Heaven when He returns. The Lord’s return is not for the purpose of bringing His Church to Heaven, but to bring justice, righteousness, and true worship to the nations of the earth.
We are to flee to the mountain of prayer with God as we behold the rise of lawlessness. When we Christians have been driven from the cities of the earth, God will provide for us in the wilderness until Christ returns and destroys Antichrist with the power and glory of His Presence.
The return of Christ to set up His Kingdom on the earth is the ancient hope of the saints. That original hope is being brought up to date by the burden of the Holy Spirit.
and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,
in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. (II Thessalonians 1:7-10)
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)
Events Associated with the Coming of the Lord
We shall use Jesus’ statements in the book of Matthew as the basis for our study of His coming. Mark and Luke also include the Lord’s prophecy of the end-time and we shall refer to them as the need arises. Let us examine the events associated with the coming of our Lord as He presented them in prophetic utterance.
Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.
And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:1,2)
Herod’s Temple, a symbol of the glorifying of self.
Herod’s Temple was a magnificent structure of cream stone and gold. It was begun in 19 B.C. and work continued on it for over eighty years. It was demolished, as Jesus foretold, in A.D. 70. Titus, a Roman general, ordered the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem as well. The holy vessels of the Temple were carried off to Rome.
The spectacular Temple of Herod and its subsequent destruction are symbolic of the history of the world, which Jesus began to predict, and also of the life of each of us.
The Temple was costly, startlingly impressive, nearly impregnable in strength, and professed a noble purpose — the housing of God and His work. But it was built to glorify King Herod, not the Lord God of Heaven. Solomon’s Temple was built for the Glory of God. The restoration of the Temple under Ezra and Nehemiah also was conducted in accordance with the will of God. Herod’s Temple glorified only Herod and those Jewish leaders who were associated with this glamorous edifice.
When Christ stood looking at the Temple of Herod, it was a case of the true Temple of God judging a structure erected to the glory of man.
All the world, as well as each of us as individuals, desires to construct an edifice as enduring as it is impressive. Also, we wish to show that it is for God (or some other accepted good) we are laboring. In fact it often is true of the world, as well as of each of us (Christians and non-Christians alike), that King Self is on the throne of our edifice. Our “building” is not for the Glory of God at all, but for the glory of self.
When the eyes of flesh behold some great accomplishment, there is approval and praise. But God looks on the heart. “There shall not be left here one stone upon another,” the Lord declares. All our works are likewise tested by the fire of the eyes of Christ.
Deceptions invite us to go astray. Wars and rumors of wars follow one after the other. Famine comes, earthquakes, pestilence, floods. By the time the Lord gets through shaking us, everything we have erected “to the Glory of God” has been demolished. Only the true riches that God has given us remain. The only portion of our life’s work that will endure is what has been prepared in God.
Herod’s Temple symbolizes the world and the accomplishments of each person in the world. All that has been constructed for our glory shall be cast down. Then the true Temple of God, Christ, will point us toward another building that has eternal foundations. The building He reveals to us is magnificently impressive. It possesses eternal, Divine strength. It truly houses God and the Lamb. It is the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb.
Are you being made an integral part of the eternal city? You are if King Self has been removed from the throne of your life and King Jesus has taken His rightful place in your heart.
Here the Holy Spirit in a few words has depicted the entire history of mankind, from the building of the Tower of Babel — that first “Herod’s Temple” — to the present day.
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)
Jesus, Peter, James, John, and Andrew were seated in a location from which they could view the city of Jerusalem. Notice the three questions asked:
- “When will these things be?“ — evidently referring to the leveling of Herod’s Temple.
- “What will be the sign of your coming?”
- “What will be the sign of the end of the age?”
What follows in Matthew chapter 24 is the answer to these three questions. Matthew chapter 24 reveals when these things will be, what is the sign of Christ’s coming, and what is the sign of the end of the age. The return of Christ is the Day of the Lord which the Hebrew Prophets spoke of.
The coming of our Lord is the Day of the Lord, the Day of Christ — the blessed hope of the Church of Christ. The Day of the Lord includes:
- The resurrection of the saints and their being caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
- The giving of rewards to the saints.
- The establishing by force of the will of King Jesus over the earth and its inhabitants.
- The perfecting of the Wife of the Lamb.
- The revolt of earth’s inhabitants against the rule of Christ and His saints.
- The removal by fire of the earth and the firmament.
In its broadest sense, the Day of the Lord encompasses the Church-Kingdom Age. The purpose of the first two “days” (thousand-year periods) is to form the Church, the Body of Christ. The purpose of the third “day” (the thousand-year Kingdom Age) is the marriage of the Lamb — that is, the perfect reconciliation to Himself of all the elect, and also the breaking of the rebellious will of the nations of saved people.
The whole Christ, the Kingdom of God, the Church, the new Jerusalem, will be perfected during the third thousand-year period.
And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ (Luke 13:32)
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.
“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. (Matthew 24:4,5)
Deceivers and false christs.
The Lord Jesus warns us against deceivers and false Christs more than once in Matthew chapter 24. There will be major attempts by the adversary to deceive God’s people concerning the return of Christ to the earth. We know that Satan has no power over the elect. His authority was stripped from him on the cross of Calvary. He attempts to entice us to believe a lie, to lead ourselves away from the truth and Presence of Christ.
Each of us must pray, “Do not lead me into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one.” You are to pray this every day of your life.
None of us is safe from being deceived, except as the Holy Spirit guards us against the snares of the enemy. Strong delusion and deception will characterize the last days of the Church Age. Let us take heed to ourselves that we are not led astray (II Thessalonians 2:9-12).
“And shall deceive many “! People are easily led astray. We must — each of us — keep in prayer and study God’s Word every day. We must, if at all possible, assemble with fervent Christians, subjecting ourselves in the Lord to the elders whom God has placed over us.
There will always be those who are building their own temples, as did Herod. It appears that such self-seekers will not lack followers who are willing to be deluded.
Christ has warned us that He will not come secretly, but in plain view of all. Are we willing to be deceived concerning this when Jesus has spoken so pointedly to us?
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (Matthew 24:6)
The Divine solution to God’s problem.
How accurately Christ prophesied the history of the world! Wars and rumors of wars have persisted from the day of His resurrection. There have not been many periods during earth’s history during which there has not been a war taking place somewhere on the earth.
Secular leaders and teachers often have presented one plan or another for the purpose of bringing an end to war and violence. Time has proved them false prophets. The Word of the Lord Jesus stands.
“But the end is not yet.” Many times we hear it said that this or that great war surely must indicate Christ is coming tomorrow. But wars and rumors of wars are not the sign of the end. In fact, they are signs that “the end is not yet.” This is what the Lord said.
The sign of the end is the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom for a witness to all nations. This unprecedented witness will be followed by the establishment of a worldwide “peace” in which the churches have been joined to the government in an attempt to improve the quality of life of people.
We see this tendency today as the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is presented as the Divine program for solving the problems of man on the earth. The churches are attempting to be social agencies rather than lampstands. They are occupied with meeting the needs of people rather than with bearing a true witness of the Person and will of almighty God.
The Antichrist will be shrewd enough to enlist the support of the leaders of the churches. These eminent Christians will be flattered and think of the invitation as an opportunity to reform the government from the inside, not realizing they are being tricked by Satan away from their true calling as God’s witnesses.
Today, Monday, September 23, 1997, as I am revising the present booklet, I noticed an article in the newspaper: “The Clinton administration is forming a 20-member advisory committee of prominent religious leaders and scholars to be housed in the State Department, the Washington Post reported yesterday.” White House officials were quoted as saying “the panel would advise the secretary of state on problems of religious oppression and intolerance.”
I predicted years ago, when I first wrote The Coming of the Lord that this would happen. The announcement was made today.
The committee professes a noble purpose in the present hour. My further prediction is that succeeding presidents will maintain this committee and before much time has elapsed, we will see this very committee joining with the government in persecuting the holy remnant that God is speaking to in our day.
The Christian religious leaders will be blind to the fact that the Church of the Lord Jesus is not a social agency working for the betterment of mankind. The Church is the Divine rebuke directed toward the spirit of this world. The Church is not of this world. The world always hates Jesus and those who truly are of Jesus.
The Church has power only as it is separate from the world. God will not dwell or work with people who are in partnership with the world. God desires that we come out from among the peoples of the world and be holy to Himself as a royal priesthood. It is only as we separate ourselves to God that we can be of use to mankind.
The leaders of the churches, even of the Christian movements, if they become guilty of self-seeking and lack of cross-carrying obedience to Christ, may be deluded into believing their presence in the administration of the one-world government somehow will bring about godly changes and that they will be “bearing witness” and assisting God’s program in some manner. Antichrist, knowing the foolishness of Christian people who are not abiding in Christ, thus will be able to render the Christian churches spiritually powerless.
Satan has no fear of the plans and programs of the Christian churches. But Satan is in trouble when the churches abandon their own resources and turn to Christ in trembling humility and repentance, seeking His will in every detail.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not the Divine solution for the problems of people. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is the Divine solution for the problem of God, which is the bringing about of loving obedience on the part of God’s creatures and the establishing of Christ as the Head, Center, and Significance of every creature and of every other aspect of the creation.
It is when people are exclaiming “Peace and safety,” a peace and safety brought about through means of their own resources, that the end will come.
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
“All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:7,8)
Our afflictions are leading to redemption.
Certainly sorrow has been the portion of mankind since the first century. Even in our time, the famines, pestilences, and earthquakes continue. Heart disease and cancer are two of the principal pestilences of our day and in some instances overcome the most capable efforts of medical science to combat them.
“All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Sorrows may be translated “birth pains” and some Bible-editions have adopted this rendering. The wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, and other afflictions of the world are not the pains of death but of birth. The creation is not preparing to die but to live. The redemption of the righteous is drawing near.
The entire material creation is anxiously and hopefully awaiting the revealing of the sons of God because the material creation itself — the earth and those who are saved to dwell therein — will be released from the bondages of sin and death under the ministry of the sons of God.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;
because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:20,21)
We are not coming to the end of anything except sin and rebellion against God and His Christ. We stand now at the threshold of the glorious consummation of all that God has envisioned since He planned the creation. All that God has sown in the earth is near to harvest. The Lord Jesus Christ will return with His saints to bring in the Kingdom of God, that wonderful reign of God in Christ over the nations of the earth.
The earth and its resources belong to Christ, as does every individual who has ever been born. Wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes — all are necessary because we build “Herod’s Temples.” Saints and sinners alike build for the glory of self more often than not. God in His goodness sends various afflictions on us and the rest of mankind so the works of self and flesh will be torn down before they do extensive damage to God’s plan for the world.
God intervenes in our lives before we are so strengthened in our self-will we no longer can be brought under the lordship of Christ. The only freedom there is comes to man when he accepts the absolute lordship of Christ over him. Only then is he free.
It is God’s goodness that knocks down every stone of our life until there is not one left on another. All we have built for our self-glory is demolished. Then God in Christ comes to us and builds His own place of rest. We find our true rest in His rest.
The wars, pestilences and earthquakes are not the pains of death, except death to sin and rebellion. Rather they are the pains of life — the travail of the material creation to bring forth the Kingdom of God in the earth.
Glory is on the way. He who endures to the end in Christ will be saved into the eternal Kingdom of God.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. (Matthew 24:9)
The saints are not of this world.
We know from the history of the Christian Church that millions of Christ’s disciples have been afflicted and killed for the sake of their Christian testimony. Even in our own day there are many places on the earth where those who bear the name and testimony of Christ are imprisoned, martyred, or otherwise persecuted.
Some nations have tolerated the worship of Christ. Others have actively set about to destroy those who serve the Lord Jesus. If we were of the world, the world would love us. Because we Christians are not of the present age, but Christ has chosen us out of this age, the spirit of the world hates us.
Whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. We are not of the world, but have been called out of the world by the Lord. Let us always keep that in mind and not be surprised when the world turns against us and attempts to destroy us.
“And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. (Matthew 24:10)
Persecution has a cleansing effect.
When the Church is not being persecuted, the disciples of the Lord conduct their worship services according to their cultural preferences. Many people from the surrounding community are attracted by the various programs and begin to attend.
When persecution arises, those who were never called out by the Lord are offended. When it is in their best interests to do so, they betray the believers with whom they once had fellowship. They are filled with suspicion and hatred.
Persecution has a cleansing effect on the Church of Christ.
As long as people are not inconvenienced because of the Gospel, they will attend Divine service. When following Christ results in their being deprived of comforts, of food, of liberty, of the approval of the world, even of their personal desires, those who never were touched by Christ will fall away. We do not know who truly is of Christ until the world demonstrates its hatred of the Church or until people are deprived in some other manner.
How many people in your congregation would stand true to Christ if it meant the loss of their houses, their money, their freedom, their social standing, the separation of the members of their families, their martyrdom? Those who would stand true are the members of the Body of Christ. The remainder are those who have been attracted by the social life of the church.
“Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. (Matthew 24:11)
Again the Lord Jesus warns us of deception associated with His return to earth. He states that many will be deceived. Every believer who wants to stand true must remain steadfast before the Lord in prayer and the study of His Word. To live carelessly in the present hour is to run the risk of being led astray.
How many “prophets” in our day are informing God’s sheep (in spite of the direct exhortation of the Lord in Matthew chapter 24) that their behavior is not critically important, they cannot be deceived, and if they have made a profession of Christ, they will be caught up to meet Him in the air before suffering approaches them?
Do you believe that this is the message of Christ to His people in the present hour? We do not think it is.
“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many [most] will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12)
The danger of wickedness.
When persecution abounds, our love for Jesus becomes white hot. Suffering causes us to cease from sin and purifies the churches.
It is iniquity (wickedness), not persecution, that ruins professing Christians and their churches. The most formidable foe facing the end-time church (Laodicea) is self-centered, self-seeking, pleasure-loving wickedness.
Some translators prefer the love of “most people” or of “the majority,” will grow cold. Here is the falling away (apostasy; defection; mutiny) of II Thessalonians 2:3. Wickedness will come to hideous fruition in the last days. Every sort of temptation will be dangled before the eyes of God’s people. If we are not living a dedicated, disciplined, overcoming life, we will be led astray by the offer of easy, comfortable “Christian” living — a form of godliness that contains none of the Presence of the Holy Spirit of God. We will be at ease in Zion while the people of the world are sinking ever deeper in the chains of sin.
There are three major causes of distress coming up on the horizon:
- The hour of temptation.
- The great tribulation.
- The day of God’s wrath.
The true saint need fear only the first distress — the hour of temptation.
Tribulation is redemptive. It creates patience. We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God
The blood-washed Christian who is serving the Lord has no reason to fear God’s wrath. Jesus has delivered us from the wrath of God, and if we follow Him faithfully, we will be spared in the Day of the Lord.
It is the hour of temptation that is the problem. We think that hour is very close and perhaps has already begun. Sexual lust, the love of money, comfort, and pleasure, and personal ambition and self-will are all prominent today. Only the most consecrated, the most diligent believer will be able to remain free from sexual lust, the love of money and comfort, and personal ambition. Many spiritual leaders are falling away from Christ because of one or the other of these major temptations.
Today, multitudes of the Lord’s people are being led astray by the doctrine that states we can indulge in all the pleasures of this world and then reign with Christ at His appearing. Is this the ancient Gospel of the Kingdom of God? Do you feel any bloody nail prints in this doctrine? We do not. We believe in taking up our cross and following Christ, expecting the approval of God alone.
The Lord God gives us all good things to enjoy. But we are not “home” yet. We are strangers and pilgrims in the present world.
Is your love for Christ white hot? Or has an easy, comfortable way of life caused your zeal to become lukewarm? Are you ready to give your life in the service of Christ if He should so direct?
“But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:13)
Waiting patiently on the Lord.
The saints are called upon to wander in the earth as in a strange land, although one day we will inherit the earth along with Christ. Meanwhile we experience much sorrow, many difficulties. We share the sufferings of Christ — the rejection, humiliation, burdens, delayed answers to prayer, misunderstandings, that the true saints know well. We are not in the fullness of the Kingdom of God as yet. In this world we shall have tribulation.
After we become a Christian, there is a life of growth in righteousness to be lived. Sometimes that life is filled with the manifest Presence of the Lord and blessings of many kinds. But more often than not, it is a faithful, day by day, patient following of the will of the Lord. Sometimes God’s will is difficult to perceive.
Boredom can be a formidable enemy. We must be faithful and patient, faithful and patient, faithful and patient. By our perseverance in faithful, patient, waiting on the will of Christ, we win our own souls.
If we persevere to the end of our pilgrimage, remaining faithful to the course to which Christ has called us, enduring the tribulations and afflictions that come our way as cheerfully as we can, we will be saved into the eternal presence of the Lamb of God.
Being a conquering Christian requires much patience and faithfulness.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
The latter-rain revival.
If we could view the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew as a tapestry of time, it would be our opinion that we now are at verse fourteen. The principal signs of our Lord’s return — the darkening of the sun and moon, the shaking of the firmament, the falling of the stars from heaven — have not yet occurred.
Also, there first must occur a falling away from the faith and the revealing of the fullness of Antichrist. Paul states:
… that Day will not come unless the falling away [rebellion] comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition [destruction] (II Thessalonians 2:3)
Wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes are not the sign of the end of the age. Rather, they are the birth pains of a creation in travail.
We think the Holy Spirit is telling us that we are now in the early stages of the greatest revival of all time. It is the season of the latter (harvest) rain. All the gifts of the Spirit (I Corinthians chapter 12) are to be restored and operating. Signs and wonders of unprecedented power and variety are to follow the preaching of the Good News of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God.
All about us in every land we hear of the moving of the Spirit of God as never before. Huge churches are being constructed — perhaps the largest in the history of Christendom. Miracles are being performed. Christ Himself is appearing to people and commissioning them to work in various areas of His vineyard.
The task of translating the Scriptures is moving ahead. The rain of God’s Spirit is increasing in scope. The word is, “Jesus is coming soon. Work, for the night is coming in which men no longer will be able to do the work of the Kingdom.”
In addition to these accomplishments and blessings, the latter-rain revival, when it grows into the fullness of purity and power, will include stupendous energies of destruction — those of the two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11 — as a witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
The Kingdom of God will be installed on the earth with violence, with the smashing of opposition with a rod of iron. Therefore the witness of the coming Kingdom must include similar acts of destruction — the compelling of obedience by the demonstration of the Divine judgment upon sin and disobedience (Revelation 11:5,6).
Now is the time for each of us to set himself or herself apart in order to serve Christ more perfectly.
As soon as the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, then the darkness of Antichrist will settle on the earth and the testimony of Christ will be driven from the cities of the world. The remnant of saints will wait in the wilderness areas until the Lord returns from Heaven.
He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down [profaned].
Because of transgression [rebellion], an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered. (Daniel 8:11,12)
The idea of the above two verses seems to be that Antichrist will magnify himself to be equal with Christ and that the host of God will be given into the hands of Antichrist, just as the Apostle Peter was tested by Satan, and that people will worship (make their daily offering to) Antichrist instead of the Lord Jesus. Those will be terrible days. We always look to Heaven for the truth of God. But in those days truth will be cast down to the ground. Then God and His salvation will be found only in the remnant.
And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion [the saints] and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD calls. (Joel 2:32)
In our opinion, the “mount Zion” and “Jerusalem” mentioned above are those found in Heaven, while the warlike remnant will be both in Heaven and also protected somewhere on the earth. In those days, the Throne of Almighty God will be in a process of transition from His Temple in Heaven to the hearts of those who are ready to experience the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles.
Notice carefully that Matthew 24:14 does not state that everyone will be saved. Rather, the Gospel will be preached for a witness to all nations. Before Jesus returns, the saints will be empowered to testify to the whole earth of God, of His holy Person, of His righteous ways, and of judgment to come.
In the end-time, the saints will be clothed with the spirit and power of Elijah and Elisha — the double portion. They will bear witness of Christ in power, as declared in Acts 1:8. As one man, John the Baptist, was “Elijah” who bore witness of the first coming of the Lord, so it is true that the remnant of the believers will prepare the way for Christ’s return to earth. The remnant (Romans 11:5) consists of every man, woman, boy, and girl who accepts Christ as his or her Lord and Savior and serves Him wholeheartedly.
Multitudes have accepted Jesus as their Savior. How many have received Jesus as their personal Lord?
We are in the greatest revival of all time — the harvest rain of which the prophets spoke (Joel 2:23; Hosea 6:3; Zechariah 10:1). The harvest rain must come in order to bring the planting of the Lord to maturity. The planting of the Lord is Christ in the hearts of people.
First the harvest (latter) rain. Then the burning sun of tribulation until the “heads of wheat” are ready for the harvest. It requires both rain and sun to bring wheat to maturity.
The wheat and the tares will grow to maturity side by side (Matthew 13:30). Then will come the time of the end when the messengers of the Lord remove from the Kingdom of God all that is offensive to the Lord, including those people who refuse to be separated from their sins and rebellion.
Let us proceed with the work of testifying to every nation on the earth of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God. By so doing we are hastening the return of Him whom we love above all.
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), (Matthew 24:15)
The abomination that produces desolation.
Daniel prophesied of the abomination which makes desolate, a condition that will come into being before the Lord Jesus returns. In our opinion, the abomination that makes desolate is Antichrist. The spirit of Antichrist has been with us since the first century.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. (I John 2:18)
Just before the Lord returns, the spirit of Antichrist will come to the fullness of expression in a single individual. During the same period of time, the Spirit of Christ will come to maturity in the true saints.
Antichrist may come out from among those who assemble with the true believers, as did Judas Iscariot.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (I John 2:19)
The spirit of Antichrist is the spirit of lawlessness. The “mystery of iniquity” is the mystery of “lawlessness.” Lawlessness is the spirit of Antichrist. Antichrist is lawlessness.
Don’t we see the rise of lawlessness in the last several hundred years, and particularly in our day? The rise of lawlessness is the rise of Antichrist. Lawlessness produces desolation, as we may observe in any country where there is lawlessness.
Lawlessness finally will be embodied in one person. This individual will defy every law of the God of Heaven. He will be so filled with Satan that he will be the visible expression of Satan during the last days, just as the saints will be the visible expression of Christ in the last days. This evil man, the Antichrist, will be the personification of lawlessness.
We know the Day of Christ is not here yet because the great apostasy, the worldwide embracing of lawlessness, has not occurred. Neither is it true that the man of lawlessness has taken his seat in the Temple of God.
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away [rebellion] comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition [destruction],
who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (II Thessalonians 2:3,4)
The spirit of lawlessness has been with us since the first century. The spirit of lawlessness rejects Christ, who is God’s law in human form. Christ is God’s law, God’s covenant brought to glorious perfection and fullness. The man of lawlessness despises God’s Christ, God’s covenant, God’s law.
Antichrist makes his own laws according to his self-will. He puts himself above God and desires worship. Antichrist portrays the exaltation of man above his Creator.
Do we see such willfulness, such self-determination, being glorified today in the major centers of learning? From grade school through college, we are hearing that people should not be hindered from doing as they please. This is the spirit of Antichrist, of lawlessness.
Let us flee into the “wilderness,” so to speak, and choose to live with God as did Elijah of old. Let us flee from the spirit of lawlessness, of man seeking to make himself God, that is capturing the minds and hearts of people everywhere.
The Day of Christ, the return of our Lord from Heaven, will not take place until the “man of sin,” the “son of perdition” [destruction], has been revealed.
Judas, who betrayed Christ, was “the son of perdition” (John 17:12). Judas despised Christ and chose to follow his own will. Judas sold his Christ for money. Antichrist always sells Christ for money. The reign of Antichrist, of lawlessness, will be characterized by the worship of money. Many of the large nations of today worship money. Money is their god.
The spirit of the love of money and of lawlessness already is at work in the world. The deceiving, corrupting, poisoning leaven of it even now is fermenting in our thinking and our deeds. Let us flee from the pursuit of lawlessness, from the pursuit of money, before “666” has poisoned our minds and deeds. The number 666 (Revelation 13:18) indicates that Antichrist will attempt to make man god in place of the God of Heaven. Six is the number of man, in that man was created on the sixth day. Three is the number of Divinity. Therefore 666 represents the deification of man.
The mark in the “right hand” or “foreheads” (Revelation 13:16) speaks of the conforming of our deeds and minds to the economic spirit — the endless buying and selling of the world. Let us conform our deeds and thoughts to Christ, not to the spirit of lawlessness in the world.
In addition to the symbolic interpretation, we believe there also will be a literal mark in the right hand or forehead.
Paul says of Antichrist, “Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (II Thessalonians 2:4).
We could spiritualize a bit and teach that since people are the temple of God, the above passage refers to the spirit of lawlessness taking over our heart — which is the rightful throne of Christ. No doubt this application is true. However, we believe there will be an actual person, whether male or female, who will use the Most Holy Place of the Temple in Jerusalem as the place of his or her throne. This assumes the Temple will be rebuilt, either by the Jews or by Antichrist.
It is our belief that Antichrist will be a Christian of consummate political ability and exceedingly great charisma and charm and that he will enlist the aid of supernatural forces. Finally Satan will possess him completely. Then he will be the incarnation of Satan, of lawlessness, of mutiny against the rule of the Almighty.
In his ambition to rule the world, Antichrist will perceive the political advantage of associating himself with God, for multitudes of earth’s peoples believe in God and fear God. Also we must remember that the rise of Antichrist has been preceded by an outpouring of God’s Spirit of unprecedented glory and power — the two witnesses. Thus the peoples of the world will be ready to accept as their leader someone who is (as they believe) associated with the God of Heaven.
It may be noted that since the first edition of this book was published, there has been an increase in lawlessness. Even more significant, perhaps, has been the tendency in the Charismatic movement, in association with the “faith” and “prosperity” teachings, for some of the ministry to stress that the believers are gods and possess the power of God. In this manner a Christian may be deceived. He may learn to use his “faith” apart from obedience to Jesus. He may bring the concepts of miracle-working faith, and of man being God, into the political arena. After this, Satan can delude him into the excesses that characterize Antichrist.
It is also said that some of the New Age teachers emphasize the divinity of man, revealing that the day of Antichrist is upon us.
Only a student of the Tabernacle of the Congregation can appreciate what an abomination it will be for a human to enter past the sacred veil into the Most Holy Place and there take his place on the Mercy Seat between the wings of the Cherubim of Glory.
Will he not say he is the Shechinah, the Glory of Israel?
We may gasp in horror. But isn’t it true that in the large universities of today, the young people are being taught that man should rule the world apart from God? Isn’t it a fact that even in the secondary and elementary schools, the children are being impressed that the highest value in life is the pursuit of one’s own will and ambitions, that the greatest harm we can do to an individual is to deny him or her the right to follow his own will?
We are being filled with the spirit of delusion even though the Lord Jesus repeatedly warned us. We are enthroning man between the golden wings of the Cherubim of Glory.
Let us flee to the “wilderness” of prayer and repentance before the God of Heaven.
Paul says, “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
May the Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us and open our eyes before we too are swept away in the worship of money and self-will. Let us go outside the camp with Christ, away from the ease and pleasure lawlessness offers, and become the bondslaves of Christ.
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. (II Thessalonians 2:7)
We believe that the restraining influence holding back the full expression of lawlessness is the power of the Holy Spirit. The Presence of the Spirit in the world and in the Church is preventing the revealing of the man of sin. The Spirit is convicting the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. He will not permit at this time the full expression of lawlessness.
If a political leader of today were to enthrone himself on the Mercy Seat between the wings of the cherubim and claim to be God Almighty, the Jewish people would rise up in outrage because of such blasphemy. The Christians would condemn such a wicked person. Every true believer would go to his knees in prayer. From every Jewish and Christian pulpit throughout the earth there would thunder the Word of God concerning the exceeding wrongfulness of man making himself God.
The Spirit of God is not ready for someone to declare himself to be the God of Heaven. The Spirit in the Church is as leaven that affects the thinking and actions of the people of the world. The leaven of Christian testimony and influence acts as a restraint on such an abomination. The saints of today have Spirit-given power in prayer that would prevent such a major advance of Satan in the earth.
The Lord God will not permit a premature demonstration of a man making himself God:
So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them.
And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”
Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died. (Acts 12:21-23)
King Herod is an example of what would happen to anyone who dared to take his seat in the Temple of God and claim to be God. But the time is coming when lawlessness will attain maturity in the earth. Then the Lord Jesus will permit that horrid abomination to exist for a season in order to fulfill the Divine purpose.
Antichrist cannot be revealed today because of the restraints God has placed on him. But the spirit of lawlessness is at work on every side to undermine the Christian testimony and spiritual influence and prepare the hearts of people to accept the ascending of a man to the Throne of God.
Much has been accomplished toward this undermining over the past two or three hundred years, as we know from the study of world history. Today there is an increasing emphasis on the virtue of unrestricted, ungoverned personal liberty — on anarchy. In addition to the drift toward anarchy, there is a major emphasis in television programming, particularly in children’s programming, on sorcery and familiar spirits, on supernaturally gifted heroes who cause “right” to triumph over “wrong.”
How much has world thought and attitude been modified in this direction over the past three hundred years? How much over the past fifteen years? Is man making himself God? Do we see an increase in anarchy in the earth? What will be the public viewpoint by the year 2000?
Slowly and steadily, the restraint on lawlessness is being removed in preparation for the enthroning of Antichrist. Are we Christians living close enough to Christ to avoid being led astray? Are we truly alert to what is taking place all around us? Or are we little by little being leavened with the spirit of lawlessness and love of pleasure?
How will the restraining influence of Christ finally be “taken out of the way,” out of the midst?
As we have stated previously, we now are moving toward a great manifestation of God’s power. The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world for a testimony to all nations. As soon as the testimony has been given to God’s satisfaction, the Spirit of power and prophecy will be lifted from the saints so there can be a sifting of the fruit of the latter-rain outpouring. Then there will be an upsurge of lawlessness, of sin, of rebellion against God and His Christ. The spirit of Antichrist will begin to move people to turn away from God. So extraordinary will be the flowering of lawlessness in the earth that the love for God of the majority will grow cold. There will be an earthwide revolt against Christ.
At that time there will be great tribulation. The saints of the Lord will come under persecution. They will be hounded throughout the earth. They will be forced into hiding. Many will be slain. There will not be a major city left on earth that will contain one true disciple of Christ.
There will be “Christian” churches in the city of Antichrist (probably many cities linked together by telecommunications). These churches will have a form of godliness and may be fundamental in doctrine but the power of the Holy Spirit will not be present in any of them.
This is our belief of the manner in which the restraint will be removed, the restraint that prevents the revealing of the man of sin. Not one true Christian will remain in the large cities of the earth. The saints will be in hiding in the wilderness places, being nourished by the Lord, and also being helped by some of the people in the nations of the earth who take it upon themselves to assist the saints and in so doing save themselves and their households — as did Rahab.
The influence of the Christian Church will be destroyed from the centers of civilization and then the Lord will appear.
First, the “woman,” the Church, will travail in birth and bring forth Christ in the members of the Body of Christ (Galatians 4:19). Then the saints will be persecuted until the accomplishment of all God has in mind.
Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.
But the woman [the elect] was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.
But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:13-17)
The “remnant of her seed” are the saints who will stand in Christ throughout the dark hour that is coming. The double portion of the Holy Spirit will be upon them. They will bear witness, as did Elijah and Elisha, and will reign with God while Israel is in apostasy. Notice in particular the following verse:
It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. (Revelation 13:7)
We know from the statements of Christ that the Church is built on Christ and the power of Hell cannot destroy it. But God will allow the testimony of the Church to be overcome for a season so the Church can be purified by persecution and tribulation.
Is the Church of today ready for her Lord? Or is it true that the churches of Christ are filled with strife, bitterness, contention? Are we lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God? Are we indeed the glorious Wife of the Lamb, a Church without spot or wrinkle, one in God and Christ, eagerly awaiting the coming of our heavenly Bridegroom?
The Church is not ready for the Lord’s coming. It is time now for us to arise and put on our beautiful garments of righteousness and praise. Let us make ourselves ready for Him, washing our robes and making them pure and white in the blood of the Lamb. We do this by walking before Christ in the open confession of our sins, following the Holy Spirit into complete sanctification and obedience to God.
In the darkest hour of the world’s history, when peace and safety have been achieved under the skilled leadership of Antichrist, the Light of Christ will arise on the Church and the peoples of the earth will come to the Light (Isaiah chapter 60).
First there must be a purifying process:
And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion [tested Christians] and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy — everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem.
When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, (Isaiah 4:3,4)
It is necessary that the saints be troubled by offenses, but woe to those through whom the offenses come! It would have been better for the offenders that they never had been born.
Notice the Word of Christ in Daniel concerning the purifying of the saints during the time of Antichrist:
“Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.
“And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering.
“Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue.
“And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time. (Daniel 11:32-35)
First the saints will come to maturity in Christ. During this period, there will be much temptation and suffering. Then the Glory of Christ will be given to them so they may ascend in clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered [crushed], all these things shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7)
The scattering of the holy people is referring to the overcoming of the Christian testimony by violent opposition, by economic pressure, and by sin as the believers succumb to the life of sensual pleasure so readily available under Antichrist.
Those who refuse to serve Antichrist during the great tribulation, washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb, will be brought into God’s Presence. They will suffer no more, but will be dwelling in love, joy, and peace in the spirit realm.
And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. (Revelation 7:14,15)
It is as Jesus said, “Many who are last will be first.” How righteous are the Lord’s ways that those who have suffered much will serve Him in His Temple! It is to those who conquer in Christ during the worst of the church ages, that of Laodicea, that the greatest of the rewards is assigned:
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:21)
When the man of lawlessness takes his seat in the Temple of God, displaying himself as God, then this — as we understand it — is the abomination of desolation.
That a human being should attempt to take the place of his Creator is an abomination. That he would sit in the Temple of God is an outrage so abominable that all our sensibilities are repulsed at the thought. Every lesson we have learned from the Lord teaches us that man must never usurp the glory that belongs to God. We worship and serve the Lord Jesus Christ and are His bondservants forever. For a man to declare himself to be God is an abomination. King Herod was smitten mortally for such blasphemy. But King Herod was a pale shadow of the perversity and presumption that today are being formed in the minds and deeds of people everywhere.
When Antichrist takes his place in the Temple of God, desolation will follow. When man is on the throne, desolation inevitably follows. What once was beautiful and joyous becomes miserable, crushed with sorrow, ruined, bleak, afflicted, unhappy, filled with discord. The environment is laid waste, neglected, ruined.
The governments of our day make a show of having a sincere interest in the welfare of people. The leaders speak in grandiose terms of the goodness of mankind and declare they are ready to sponsor worthy enterprises of every sort. The result always is desolation. Look around you and observe the conditions brought about by governments that do not honor God.
The religion of humanism, which places man as God of the universe, has made so much headway in the world that many of the power-seeking leaders are careful to represent themselves as liberators of oppressed peoples. In certain instances they do alleviate some of the social and economic grievances and inequities. But examine the quality of life lived by the people who labor under a government that does not fear the Lord. Compare it with the quality of life lived where the government serves in the fear of God — if you can find one in our day! By quality of life, we do not mean that the middle class possesses an abundance of material goods. We mean that crime, poverty, violence, and injustice are being done away. There is integrity throughout the government. Medical science is overcoming sickness. The handicapped are cared for. The citizens are safe in their homes and streets. The elderly are secure. The children play joyfully without danger.
It is our belief that Antichrist will sponsor humanitarian endeavors that appear to be supportive of the welfare of earth’s peoples. Antichrist possesses a “mouth that spoke very great things” (Daniel 7:20). As a result, many unsuspecting Christians will fall into his snare.
Let us beware. It is written that “the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them” (Daniel 7:21; compare Revelation 11:7; 13:7).
In our time, those who would establish themselves as world leaders must speak inspiring words of humanitarianism and promise liberty and prosperity to all, as Antichrist always will speak. Such leaders always have and always will bring educational, moral, artistic, and economic desolation and confusion.
Whenever man is on the throne, strife, self-seeking, and hatred of God’s elect (especially of the Jewish people) follow inevitably. The curse of God soon is apparent. Nature itself rises in protest. Confusion and bitterness reign.
What once was luxuriant and productive becomes desolate and wild. Little by little all that was constructed by God-fearing people crumbles in disarray. The result is a parched, uninhabited desert where beauty and harmony used to flourish.
When man is on the throne, desolation follows. When Antichrist takes his seat in the Temple of God, worldwide desolation will follow, along with vicious persecution of the Jews and of every person in whom Christ is dwelling.
“But,” one may ask, “how can they cry ‘Peace and safety’ if there is desolation on every hand?” It is because perverse, wicked people are more concerned with escaping moral obligation to God than they are with the actual serenity and productiveness of their surroundings. They are joyful in the midst of desolation if they are assured they can exercise their will without interference. The demons caper about with joy when they are able to destroy a family that once had been living in decency and honor, or a nation that once had flourished in the fear of God. The saints and the wicked think differently. They have different values.
Herod, the forerunner of Antichrist, attempted to destroy the infant Jesus. Antichrist, that thousandfold image of Herod, will attempt to remove Christ from the earth. But as the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him to take his family and flee, so it is that we Christians always are to hold ourselves ready before Christ because He will warn us in case we must take our families and flee to a place of safety.
Woe to the believer in Christ who allows himself to become so involved in the things and people of the world that he no longer is in a position to hear and take heed to the voice of Christ coming to him through the Holy Spirit!
When we see man ascending to the throne of God, the elect, God’s saints, are to flee to the mountains (whether figuratively or literally). There we shall be protected until the Lord returns and destroys Antichrist with the fire of His Presence (Isaiah 26:20; Revelation 12:6). At His glorious appearing, Christ will crush the wicked son of lawlessness and will demonstrate who is the only rightful King over the kingdoms of the world.
“then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
“Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.
“And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. (Matthew 24:16-18)
Occasions for fleeing.
God’s people always are to flee from the spirit of the world, from the spirit of lawlessness and wickedness. Deception, and fleeing from the spirit of lawlessness, are two of the principal themes of the Lord’s prophecy concerning His coming.
There are three different occasions described in Scripture during which the elect are warned to flee from where they are located and go into a new place with the Lord. The idea here is that God’s saints are always to live in the world as pilgrims and strangers, being ready to move with the Lord at a moment’s notice.
Are you holding the things of the world so lightly you will be able to move when the Lord directs you to do so? This is the exhortation of Jesus’ prophecy concerning the end of the age.
The three different occasions are:
- The latter part of the first century.
- When the abomination of desolation stands in the holy place.
- When the trumpet of the Lord sounds and the elect are gathered together to meet the Lord at His coming.
The first fleeing:
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.
“Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. (Luke 21:20,21)
It is possible that this prophecy refers to the siege under Titus in the first century. Some scholars believe so, and we are told that many Jews fled from Jerusalem and their lives were spared. We are suggesting this was a first occasion for the flight of God’s elect.
It seems likely to us that this passage refers, at least in part, to General Titus. However it appears there is additional desolation yet to come (Daniel 11:41; Zechariah 14:2) and that Antichrist and the armies of the earth will surround Jerusalem in the last days. Perhaps the siege of Titus foreshadowed a greater desolation to come, as Judas and Herod foreshadowed the greater Antichrist to come.
This brings us to the second occasion for fleeing. It is the one described in Matthew:
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),
“then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
“Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.
“And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
“But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
“And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
“And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:15-22)
The above is the great tribulation of which Daniel and Christ spoke. Daniel prophesied:
“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. (Daniel 12:1)
“A time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time”! “Great tribulation, such as was not since the creation of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be”!
The siege of Jerusalem in the first century, as terrifying as it was, does not appear to have fulfilled these awful predictions. Also, Daniel seems to associate the great tribulation with the resurrection of the dead (Daniel 12:1,2).
Matthew chapter 24 places the great tribulation after the Gospel has been preached for a witness to all nations. We are warned to flee when we behold the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place.
When Antichrist becomes willing to take his place on the golden Ark of the Covenant and claim to be God Almighty, the fullness of God’s judgment will be ready to smite the earth with tribulation — just as the presumptuous King Herod was struck down. It is the Day of Vengeance of our God.
The Day of Vengeance of our God will be exercised in two phases: (1) in the great tribulation, which will be a demonstration of God’s displeasure with man making himself God in the earth, and (2) in the outpouring of the wrath of God on all sin and sinners.
The great tribulation is the continuation on a larger scale of the pain and frustration people have experienced since the disobedience of Adam and Eve. But the outpouring of wrath is upon Satan and all his works. It is the wrath that has been stored in God since the time when the angels rebelled.
Tribulation can be redemptive if the rebellious turn from their ways. Divine wrath is nonredemptive, bringing destruction upon its objects. Man will be able to continue in self-willed disobedience throughout the great tribulation if he so chooses, but the outpouring of God’s wrath will destroy all sin and disobedience from the earth.
If the great tribulation were not shortened in time, every person on earth would perish. But the days of tribulation will be shortened or else the elect would be slain along with the ungodly.
The remnant of saints will be hidden and protected on the earth throughout the great tribulation. The army of victorious saints will be raised from the dead and caught up to Christ before the wrath of God is released on the earth.
The anger of God is approaching the boiling point. The great tribulation will offer an opportunity for the believers to flee from sin, to wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb. The members of the Bride of the Lamb will be purified during the tribulation period. They will be separated from the religious organizations. They will learn to depend wholly on the Lord Jesus for every aspect of life.
One of the main purposes of the tribulation appears to be the separating of the Bride from the apostate churches so she may be holy to the Lord.
The purpose of the Day of Wrath, on the other hand, is to bring all sin to judgment and to destroy both sin and sinners out of the earth. The Divine wrath is directed toward Satan and toward all who refuse to be separated from Satan.
Lawlessness and rebellion will be judged and punished with a savage fury. We shudder. We tremble as did Habakkuk. We know the righteous will be saved with difficulty — so frightful will be the unleashing of the recompense on evil.
As soon as we observe man making himself God, we are to flee from the cities of the earth. We are to waste no time attempting to carry with us our treasures of gold and silver. They will be worthless to us in that day. We are to flee from the areas on which the judgment will fall.
The urgency is such that we are advised to leave immediately — as soon as the Divine guidance comes. We are to pray that our flight not take place in winter or during the Sabbath day. While this latter admonition may apply directly to Jewish people, there is a concept that applies to us Gentiles: we are to pray that God will assist and sustain us in that hour. During the worst of times God will hear and answer prayer.
Christ was foreseeing the awful judgment that is to come on the earth. Let us make sure we hold the things of the world so lightly we can move instantly whenever and wherever the Spirit directs us.
There have occurred times in modern history when whole bodies of believers have been directed by the Spirit of God to move from one location to another as a group, because to remain in their homes would result in their destruction. Those who obeyed the Spirit were preserved. Those who remained at home were harmed.
We are strangers and pilgrims. Let us never forget that. When God says move, we are to move. We are to live always as men and women, boys and girls, who are waiting for our Lord to return and gather us to Himself. We are not of this world. We have been called out of the world.
We know that great tribulation will come upon every nation as lawlessness increases. The Spirit of God will protect us from destruction provided we are ready to move when the Spirit tells us to move. What would have happened if Noah and his family had not entered the ark? If Lot had refused to leave Sodom? If Joseph and Mary had refused to obey the angel of the Lord?
Are you ready? Or are you so involved in the present social and economic order you would be obligated to bring part of the world with you if you were forced to move? Jesus warns us all: “Be ready to leave everything and obey the guidance of the Spirit of God.”
The first occasion of fleeing was the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman general, Titus. The Jews who fled saved themselves from destruction.
The second occasion of fleeing will occur when we witness the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place.
The third occasion of fleeing involves the coming of the Lord from Heaven.
“Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
“In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.
“Remember Lot’s wife. (Luke 17:30-32)
Lot’s wife stands as an eternal warning against becoming so involved with the things of the world that when the call of the Spirit comes, we are unable to move with God. Jesus taught us that His coming will have points in common with the days of Noah and the days of Lot. We can learn several things from the episodes of Noah and Lot:
- We are not to look back when the Lord commands us to flee.
- As soon as the elect leave, the judgment of God will fall on the world.
- Some are not a part of the world, as was true of Noah and Abraham, and they will not be touched by the Divine judgment.
- Some are living too close to this world, as was Lot, and they will barely escape from destruction. They will be delivered because of the prayers of the godly, but will lose their inheritance, being able to save only their lives.
- If we want to be saved in the day of destruction, we must take certain steps of faith.
In our opinion, both the “Noahs” and the “Lots” will be saved from destruction during the days of judgment that are ahead. They both will need to take a step of faith — to flee as the Lord commands them.
However, we think that the “Lots” will be directed to parts of the earth where they will be spared from the wrath of God while the “Noahs” and “Abrahams” will be raised from the dead and carried up to meet the Lord in the air and be forever with the Lord.
To teach that the “Lots” are to be raised in the first resurrection and carried up to the Lord violates too many passages of Scripture, as we intend to explain later when we come to the appearing of Christ. The “Lots” are not fit to be rulers during the thousand-year period. Also, they do not have enough faith to sustain the change from mortality into immortality, to pass from death to eternal life, while standing on their feet.
It is our opinion that only the victorious saints will possess enough faith in that hour to press forward into incorruptible, eternal life, exchanging their flesh and blood metabolism for a spirit metabolism. The victorious saints will be required to cease living as mortals and to enter the fullness of resurrection life without having had the advantage of the adjustment period offered by ordinary physical death and a period of time spent in the spirit realm. No doubt such an abrupt transition will require great faith. Also, not glancing back even once to the human beings left behind will require a faith and obedience found only among the most consecrated of the disciples of the Lord.
We shall not fly up to Heaven the moment the seventh trumpet blows. We shall need to take a step of faith. Our ability to take the final, decisive step will depend on our prior preparations, on our having served the Lord consistently and faithfully in intense consecration.
Do you remember the five wise and the five foolish virgins? The five foolish virgins, because of their prior manner of life, were not able to respond at the critical point. The same was true of Lot’s wife.
Noah represents the “Abrahams,” so to speak. There are those saints, disciples, conquerors, victorious Christians, call them what you will, who live each day for Christ and in Christ. They will not be taken by surprise when the Lord comes. Like Noah and Abraham, they will know in advance what God is about to do (I Thessalonians 5:4). They are in the world but not of the world. Their actions and thinking are conformed to the Word of Christ, not to the spirit of the present age. When God’s judgment is ready, the Lord will go to them. He will advise them of the coming trouble. They then will prepare themselves and their households.
Noah was warned of the flood many years in advance. From that point forward, Noah lived in anticipation of the flood, preparing the ark precisely in accord with the directions given him by the Spirit of God. We too are to live in anticipation of the coming Day of Judgment, preparing ourselves and our households in accordance with the Word of Christ.
When the time came, Noah and his household were ready. Their ship was watertight, coated within and without with pitch. When the judgment came, the waters that destroyed the violent, ungodly people of the world lifted Noah and his family ever higher. The longer the rain fell, the further the eight people were removed from the violent worldlings and from the destruction they had brought on themselves by their ungodly deeds. Likewise, we and our households will be saved in the Day of Judgment that is near at hand provided we prepare ourselves carefully and then take the step of faith that will be required when the hands of the Divine clock point toward midnight. “As it was in the days of Noah…”
Do you want to have an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God? Do you want to be fruitful? Noah and Abraham were the fathers of many generations. You also will be the fathers of many generations if you serve God as did Noah and Abraham. Then, when destruction is at the door, the Lord will warn you so you can take the necessary steps toward preservation.
Noah was not sluggish and dull of hearing, nor was Abraham, when it came to performing the will of God. Therefore in the time of trouble, no plague came near their dwellings.
How about you? Are you living as Noah? — as Abraham? If so, you need have no fear of what is to come. Not only will you be gloriously saved in that hour, but you will be exceedingly fruitful in the Kingdom of God as well.
The salvation of Lot was a different story. Lot was a righteous man, the Scripture informs us. However, he pitched his tent toward Sodom. Lot was vexed — troubled over the ungodliness he was witnessing on every side. But he was not vexed or troubled enough to move away from it. Lot remained in the well-watered Sodom and enjoyed the material advantages. Yet he knew the “men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.”
Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of a wicked culture. In that case, we are to flee in prayer to the mountain of God that we may be as Noah and Abraham, keeping ourselves unspotted by the world. On occasion we may be directed to move geographically.
When the hour approached for the destruction of Sodom, Lot was not warned until the last minute. He was oblivious of the catastrophe to come. He was pursuing his day-to-day life in vexation of spirit, putting up with the worldliness of his wife, his daughters, and his sons-in-law. Lot was ignorant of the mind of God, having little or no concept of the smoking wrath about to fall on the sinners of Sodom.
Lot’s testimony of righteousness meant little to his wife and daughters, apparently. His sons-in-law were ready to mock any show of godliness Lot demonstrated, as were the remainder of the citizens of Sodom. Lot’s family had little confidence in him. This was not the case with the righteous and faithful Noah whose testimony was so pure and consistent his family endured the mockery of the world of their day. When the Word of the Lord came to Noah, his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law obediently followed him into the ark, no doubt amid the jeers of their neighbors.
As the overthrow of Sodom drew near, God saw that Lot was living there. The problem was, Lot was part of Abraham, being Abraham’s beloved nephew. To harm Lot was to harm Abraham. The love of God for Abraham was so great something had to be done. God appeared to Abraham. God informed Abraham of the wrath hovering over Sodom. As the Lord knew he would, Abraham immediately began to intercede for his nephew, Lot. The result of Abraham’s expressed concern was the promise of God that He would not destroy the city of Sodom if ten righteous men were to be found there. There were not ten righteous and so the city was destroyed by fire. But God remembered Abraham, and Lot was saved from the fires of destruction, becoming a type of those who will be saved as by fire (I Corinthians 3:15).
There are many “Lots” today and a few “Abrahams” praying for them, it seems. How great is the love of God! If we will stand true today, we have hope from the Scripture that God will save those who are part of us and for whom we express concern to the Lord.
The entire nation of Israel was saved from destruction in the wilderness because of the prayer of Moses for them. Let us who have unsaved loved ones who are “living in Sodom” hold steady in prayer and righteous behavior. Let us keep on believing that God in His love will save every one of them in the Day of the Lord.
Lot was saved as by fire. He had no inheritance. He and his two daughters fled to the mountain. His wife perished. His sons-in-law perished. His livestock perished. Lot did not have an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God, to speak figuratively.
Lot and his family delayed in Sodom, unable to make up their minds to leave. They dallied and wasted time. They would have been consumed with the city except for the love of God for Abraham. “Hurry up, escape to Zoar,” the angel of the Lord directed Lot. “I can’t do anything until you get there.” “I can’t do anything until you are safe.” Think of it. How great was the love of God for His friend, Abraham! How marvelous! The angels of the Lord had to drag Lot, his wife, and his two daughters out of the city. They could not bring themselves to part from their comfortable, familiar surroundings.
Then tragedy struck. Lot’s wife, unable or unwilling to tear herself away from her sons-in-law, her house, her yard, her neighbors, looked back. She perished in a moment. Even the intercession of Abraham was not sufficient to reach through Lot and save his wife. So fiery was the wrath of God over the sin of Sodom that Lot’s unnamed wife was consumed at his side by eternal fire. How terrible! Remember Lot’s wife!
Thus will it be when Jesus comes.
The Christian can choose to live in a realm of sinfulness and worldliness, or on the mountain of prayer and communion with God. To count on being saved as by fire is a dangerous hope. Perhaps we will be saved, as was Lot. Perhaps we will be destroyed, as was Lot’s wife. How much better to be as Abraham — far from the exercise of God’s vengeance.
Let us choose to live on the mountain with the Lord, the mountain of prayer and communion with Him. Let us also remember in prayer those who have chosen to pitch their tents toward Sodom. Let us pray that in the coming Day of Wrath the angel of the Lord will wrench them from their surroundings and deliver them.
It appears that some of our loved ones do not love the Lord enough to forsake the conveniences of the world. They may delay in indecision and confusion in the midst of their worldly possessions until it is too late, unless someone cares enough for them to hold them in prayer before the Lord so they may be saved from the bondage of Satan.
We have stated that there are lessons we can learn from the stories of Noah and Lot. We learn that some who are saved from destruction enter an abundant inheritance while others escape with only their lives.
We also learn that when the last trumpet sounds, we must be willing to take certain steps of faith if we wish to be raised from the dead and gathered together with the victorious saints to meet the Lord in the air. The Lord Jesus would not warn us to “remember Lot’s wife” if there were no danger of our hesitating in unbelief at the moment of His calling His saints to meet Him in the air.
We have just discussed the first lesson. Noah and Lot were both saved from destruction. But what a difference in their salvation! Noah repopulated the whole earth. Lot, after a disgraceful exit from Sodom, became the father of Moab and Ammon through means of incestuous relationships with his daughters. The blessing of the Lord did not rest on the tribes of Moab and Ammon:
“An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever, (Deuteronomy 23:3)
In my opinion, the “Lots” of this world will be saved from destruction through the intercession of the saints, but they will not be raised in the first resurrection as members of the royal priesthood. The nature of the deliverance experienced by Lot could hardly be regarded as a type of God’s kings and priests, clothed in the power of incorruptible, eternal life, ascending to the thrones of glory.
Noah was one of the greatest men of history. Lot remains an example of worldly living and compromise, with the resulting weakness, fear, and indecision.
The second lesson is about the steps we will be required to take when the Day of Vengeance is at hand and the Lord returns.
Noah and Abraham were warned ahead of time concerning the judgment to come. It is true of us also, if we walk in the light of God’s Presence and will, that the Day of the Lord will not come as a thief (a surprise) to us.
Noah had many years in which to prepare himself for the execution of Divine judgment. During those days he prepared an ark of safety for himself and his loved ones. Then, when the destruction came, he entered graciously into the ark with his family and God closed the door. They all were saved.
Although the Scripture does not describe what happened when the fountains of the deep opened up and the rain began to fall, it is likely that the violent people of the earth began to pound on the ark and to curse and tear one another to pieces as they fought for the highest ground. But God would not allow Noah to open the door.
So will it be in the Day of Christ. Once the trumpet sounds, it will be all that the righteous can do to cope successfully with the Divine challenge placed before them. There will not be enough grace (oil) at that time to share with the careless and unbelieving.
When God closes the door of opportunity, at the appearing of Christ, we must be full of the Holy Spirit. We will not be able to give grace to another person in that day. Those who do not have “oil in their vessels with their lamps” will not have time to “buy.”
The Christians who are living in victory will be prepared for the Day of the Lord. God will warn them and they will warn others. The saints will “prepare an ark” to the saving of their households. Their families also will be delivered in that day if the families enter God’s place of protection. They may do this, as we have said, if the “Noahs” are faithful in intercessory prayer for them. When the Lord “closes the door,” all who are “in the ark” will be saved. The judgment to come will not catch the true saints off guard. But it shall take the sinners and the lukewarm church members by surprise.
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isaiah 33:14)
“The sinners in Zion.” In Zion!
Noah had to take some steps of faith at the moment of judgment. He had to enter the ark. His experience of life made those few fateful steps into the ark possible. If Noah had not been living a godly life, he would not have been warned, he would not have built an ark, and he would not have had the faith and courage to bring himself and his family into a ship when there was not a cloud in the sky.
Lot also had some steps to take at the moment of judgment. He had to entertain and give credence to the angels who came to Sodom in the evening. Lot’s previous life with his uncle, Abraham, had left Lot with some knowledge of righteous behavior. It was this that saved him. If Lot had mocked the angels, he surely would have been destroyed. The righteousness that had been imparted to him while he lived with Abraham caused Lot to give ear to the messengers of the Lord. But Lot’s testimony in Sodom was so weak that his sons-in-law disregarded his warning of destruction to come.
Lot, his wife, and his two daughters had to walk away from the city of Sodom while the sky was yet clear and there was no sign of impending disaster. The father and his daughters kept going. Lot’s wife had become involved with her home and with the social life of Sodom. It is likely she was a homemaker, a good neighbor, and fond of her sons-in-law. She may have been a native of Sodom.
The doomed citizens of Sodom were caught off guard. They were eating. They were drinking. They were building. They were selling. They were planting. They were buying. It was “business as usual,” and then — sudden destruction!
No doubt Lot’s wife and sons-in-law had been eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building, along with everyone else in Sodom. Would God destroy them for that? Not for these activities alone because they are not sin. But the industry of the people of Sodom had brought about material prosperity. They had plenty of food, and time for the seeking of pleasure. But no time was left for determining the mind of the Lord. God was not in all their thoughts. As a result, they had become grossly sinful. The same transition into gross sin is taking place today in the United States of America and other affluent nations.
God has not placed man on the earth to eat, drink, buy, sell, plant, and build. God has placed man on the earth to serve and worship God.
As happens so frequently in wealthy cultures, the people of Sodom, because they did not devote themselves to the service and worship of God, turned their attention to the satiation of their lusts. They indulged their flesh without restraint. The insane howling of the wild debaucheries rose up to Heaven, as is taking place in the wealthy cities of today. The foul odors of Hell hovered over the city. The citizens of Sodom supposed God (if indeed there was a God in Heaven) was too busy or else unable to do anything about their abominable revelings.
Whenever a nation abandons itself to sin, it is weighed in the balances and found wanting, and then the handwriting appears on the wall. From that moment, its days are numbered. The kingdom will be divided and given to a more disciplined culture. This is true without exception. Unless the leaders and people repent, as did Nineveh, destruction is more certain than the rising of the sun.
Because the wealthy nations of today are giving themselves over to the worship of the flesh, the handwriting is on the wall. The remainder of the twenty-first century may witness the destruction of many nations. Every kind of calamity is about to fall on the world because of the sins being practiced. Unless the nations repent, catastrophe is standing at the door. Sinners always destroy themselves, their loved ones, and their surroundings.
Lot’s wife was so engrossed in the ordinary pursuits of life that when the word came to flee, she could not bring herself to believe her world would change.
There is no sin in eating, drinking, buying, selling, or building unless they are practiced to excess. However, our involvement in the ordinary pursuits of life is able to destroy our ability to respond to the spiritual realities of the Kingdom of Heaven.
We slay our spiritual life by not cultivating prayer and the reading of God’s Word. It is nearly impossible for a wealthy individual to enter the Kingdom of God because of the ability of material possessions to kill our spiritual nature.
Man cannot live by bread alone nor does his life consist of the abundance of things he possesses.
When the Lord Jesus descends from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the chief angel, and with the trumpet of God, all our previous behavior in the world will greatly affect the manner in which we react to Christ’s appearing. We may think we will have the faith necessary to be able to go out and meet Him in that day. But will we? Do we have enough faith today to go outside the camp with Him and live with Him, bearing His reproach? If we do not, why do we suppose it will be different when a much more difficult step of faith is required?
We will not be carried out of ourselves in that day. Rather, we will need to take the step of obedient faith at that moment in time, as was true of Noah and Lot. If our past history of behavior has been such that we have been involved heavily in the world, and our spiritual life is faint or nonexistent, we will not possess the grace and faith necessary for resurrection and ascension — regardless of our doctrinal beliefs. Correct doctrine saves us only as we act on it.
Listen to the Word of Christ:
“but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone [burning sulfur] from heaven and destroyed them all.
“Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
“In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.
“Remember Lot’s wife.
“Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
“I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left.
“Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left.
“Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.”
And they answered and said to Him, “Where, Lord?” So He said to them, “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” (Luke 17:29-37)
Our understanding of the last verse quoted above is that Christ is the slain, bleeding Lamb, the Carcass, the Body. We Christians are the eagles who feed on the body and blood of Christ, on the Lamb of God. Note the following verse from Job:
Its young ones suck up blood; and where the slain are, there it is.” (Job 39:30)
It appears that the Lord Jesus was referring to this passage in Job. Christians are to live by eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood. His body and blood are our life. Christ is our life. When He appears we shall fly to Him where He is and appear with Him because we live by partaking constantly of His life.
The believers who are not living by Christ’s life will not be raised and drawn up to Him, because the resurrection life is not abiding in them. If the Spirit of life is not dwelling in us, our mortal body will not be made alive in the Day of Christ (Romans 8:11).
When the Lord is revealed (and the types of His appearing involve evening, or darkness, or midnight because He will appear during the greatest spiritual darkness ever to come upon the earth), there will not, at first, be an apparent reason for anyone to make a particular kind of move, as there was no apparent reason for Lot to leave Sodom, or for Noah and his family to enter the ark.
We saints will need to obey the Lord in faith according to what the particular word from the Spirit is directing us to do. This is the way we obtain salvation. This is the way we obtain physical healing. This is how we obtain gifts of the Spirit and enter our ministries.
Active faith will be required in the Day of the Lord, just as active faith is required in initial salvation. We must be prepared in order to move instantly with the Lord in that day. All our past conduct will determine our ability to move in the crucial moment. Will we be able? Let us start preparing ourselves right now.
At that point, the nature of our eternal destiny will be decided. If we have been involved in the things of the world, we will not be able to move quickly enough. It is not that the Lord will prevent us from entering the Kingdom; it is we ourselves who will shut ourselves out by our inability to respond in faith when the last trumpet sounds.
Jesus has warned us pointedly and repeatedly to keep alert because of the suddenness and decisiveness of His appearing. If we do not keep ourselves alert but allow ourselves to become sluggish and dull of hearing, we are foolish and slothful indeed.
We know, therefore, that right now we are determining our eternal destiny, our position in the Kingdom of God. Either we are coming out from the things of this world, fleeing to the mountain of God in repentance, prayer, the continual study of God’s Word, consistent fellowship with fervent saints, submission to the elders of the church, sharing our material substance with the needy and with the work of the Lord; or else we are caught up in eating, drinking, marrying, giving in marriage, buying, selling, planting, and building.
Either we are gathering to Jesus or else we are scattering from Jesus. There is no middle ground. If we are gathering to Jesus, we will have enough spiritual strength to respond to the trumpet of God. If we are scattering from Jesus, being occupied with the things of the world, we and our loved ones will not be able to respond to the trumpet of God. We will take one last lingering look at our possessions, and that will prove to be the final act of disobedience that brings destruction on us.
“But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! (Matthew 24:19)
Strangers on the earth.
The coming day of trouble will be difficult for women who are pregnant or have infants. This is why Paul advised us not to become involved with marrying and giving in marriage any more than is necessary for the proper conduct of our Christian life. However, the Lord will make a way for each individual who does His will, even though he or she may be responsible for young children. The Lord Jesus has enormous power. He can protect any individual under any circumstances.
But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, (I Corinthians 7:29)
Paul teaches us that we are to be giving our whole attention to our ability, and the ability of those who look to us, to stand in the Day of the Lord, to overcome in the hour of trial and enter triumphantly into the Kingdom of God (Ephesians
We are not in any manner suggesting that the fervent saint is to ignore his wife, or husband, or children. The believer who ignores his responsibilities in these areas of family living will never be entrusted with the riches of the Kingdom. We are warning of the dangers of the current tendency of Christians to place undue emphasis on creating an ideal life for themselves and their loved ones in the present world.
We are strangers and pilgrims on the earth — we and our children. Our attention is to be focused on the coming Kingdom of God. We are not to be attempting to use the Lord Jesus to create an idyllic family environment for us so we can settle back and live comfortably and peaceably in the present age. It is time now for the churches of Christ to repent and turn to the Lord in fervent consecration.
Again, we are not suggesting a neglect of our families. Sometimes it is necessary that the major part of our prayers, faith, strength, and activities for a number of years be directed toward the welfare of our loved ones. We are pointing out that this world is not our home and our efforts are not to be directed toward making it our home.
We are to pray diligently each day that the Lord Jesus will cause each of our loved ones to stand in His Kingdom. We are to live one day at a time in the awareness that judgment is hovering over the wealthy nations of our day. Only those who are learning to walk in the spirit realm as well as in the natural will be able to survive the days of trouble that even now are coming upon us.
It will do us little good to establish successful family relationships, only to discover in the Day of Christ that our family is not prepared to walk in faith in the hour of trouble. The urgent need is to get ourselves ready for the coming of the Lord as well as for the spiritual battles taking place now. The Lord God of Heaven will help us to do this and will protect and strengthen our families, if we never give up praying and serving to this end.
“And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. (Matthew 24:20)
Protection in the day of trouble.
Difficult times are ahead, both for the elect and the world. If we will pray and seek the Kingdom, God’s Word informs us we will be fed and clothed. We will be protected from harm if we live in the center of the will of Christ — a delightful place in which to abide.
Psalms 34, 37, and 91 are among the passages of Scripture that will have their most complete fulfillment during the shortened period of unprecedented desolation just ahead of us. If we choose to be in Christ continually, God will guard us from Satan and bring us safely through every evil.
“I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep [guard] them from the evil one. (John 17:15)
The promises of Scripture concerning guidance, protection, and provision will remain true and faithful throughout the tribulation period for each person, young and old, who keeps on dwelling in the will and Presence of Christ. Let us maintain perfect trust and faith in Him.
Matthew 24:20 (quoted above) reveals to us that nothing is inevitable. Even in the terrible days of vengeance, the Lord God will hear the cry of His elect concerning the privation of winter, or, in the case of the Jews, the conflict and upset caused by the work of traveling on the Sabbath.
God will shorten the days of vengeance for the sake of the elect. If God did not abbreviate this worst of all tribulation periods, no flesh would be saved on the entire planet(Matthew
“I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, the fish of the sea, and the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land,” says the LORD. (Zephaniah 1:3)
The love and concern of God for His people always shines through the darkest of nights, and so we find the admonition given in love, “But pray that your flight not be in the winter, nor on the sabbath.” Whatever our needs and desires may be at that time, we should not hesitate to look up to God in Christ and let our wants be known before the throne of grace. God will always hear the cry that comes up to him in Jesus’ name, until the doors of the Kingdom close and the hour of wrath has arrived.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:21)
General Titus set about systematically to crush the Jews. Before he ceased, many had been slain. Jewish resistance was ended. Jerusalem and the Temple were ruined. It was a period of much suffering.
As great as was the tribulation that fell on the Jews in the first century, it was but a foreshadow of “the great tribulation.” The great tribulation will affect the entire earth, as we understand it, being occasioned by the abomination of a Satan-possessed human being sitting between the wings of the Cherubim of Glory and declaring he is God.
Also, we need to keep in mind that Jesus was not addressing Himself primarily to the future history of the Jewish race, but to the future history of the elect — to the believers of both Jewish and Gentile parentage who have been called out of the world so that they may glorify God (John 17:9,10).
The Jewish race is still known by God and beloved because of the patriarchs and prophets. But the “elect” are those whom Christ has called to Himself from all races, especially the Jews.
And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)
The days of vengeance.
The days of vengeance will reveal the anger of God against lawlessness, against rebellion, against willful, disobedient, sinful behavior on the part of God’s creatures, both angelic and human. It will be a period of such awful, terrible destruction, our minds cannot comprehend it. Except those days were shortened, there would not be left on the earth one living human being.
Because of God’s elect, His chosen who cry to Him day and night, the human race will be spared extinction. Truly, the Church is the salt of the earth, the only factor in the world preventing the total destruction of mankind.
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.
“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
“See, I have told you beforehand. (Matthew 24:23-25)
The deceiving spirit of Antichrist.
During the time of trouble that is coming, there will be false Christs and false prophets. Because people will be looking frantically for a way out of the problems of earth, they will be ready to run after anyone who offers them peace and prosperity.
When teachers of the Scriptures lead Christian people to believe that God will not allow them to suffer tribulation, they are preparing their listeners for deception and heartbreaking spiritual collapse.
It is true that God’s faithful servants never will be visited with His wrath. It is also true that we Christians have tribulation in the world, and that we enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation
The wrath of God is different from tribulation. Tribulation is a rebuke and chastening of our personality. Wrath is nonredemptive and destructive. Let us be careful to distinguish between tribulation and wrath. To give the believers the impression they never will suffer pain and trouble is to leave them open to discouragement and confusion when they experience the realities of life and of the Kingdom of God.
Life on earth is filled with suffering of various kinds. The faithful pastor or teacher does not leave his charges vulnerable by catering to their whims and telling them only what they desire to hear. The minister who does this is in deception and is seeking his own glory.
We have teachers who tell us there will be a secret rapture of the saints before the coming of the Lord. They say this in spite of the testimony of Christ that (1) there will be no secret coming, and (2) His prayer in John chapter 17 that God not remove us from the world but deliver us from the evil one.
“I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep [guard] them from the evil one. (John 17:15)
We need to gird up the loins of our mind and realize that great tribulation is coming. We will be protected throughout the tribulation period provided we live in the “secret place of the most High,” in the center of the will of Christ.
Let us follow no person who offers us an easy way out. This is the deceiving spirit of Antichrist who wants to turn our eyes away from patiently waiting for Christ and lead us astray by miraculous signs, appealing to our self-centered love of pleasure, ease, and material gain.
The “four horsemen” that have confused Bible interpretation are humanism, Gnosticism, antinomianism, and Dispensationalism.
The influence of humanism is found in the doctrine of numerous churches. Consequently, Christ has become the servant of the believers, bringing them every spiritual, domestic, and material blessing. Such a message is much more realistic in the affluent nations, but it also has an appeal in the poorer countries. The image of success, blessing, and happiness is presented by the preacher. It is the cult of the prosperous adamic person and knows little or nothing of what it means to be a new righteous creation in Christ.
Gnosticism is an ancient heresy that believes (and emphasizes) that the material world is evil and the spirit realm is good. It is the Gnostic emphasis that has changed the goal of redemption from the Kingdom of God and His righteousness to eternal residence in a golden mansion in the spirit paradise.
Antinomianism: The antinomian influence presents Divine grace as an alternative to righteous behavior, portraying grace as an eternal amnesty that operates independently of our behavior. This error has destroyed the moral strength of the Christian people.
Dispensationalism is a newer concept. Two of its more questionable aspects are the division between Israel and the Christian Church, and the pre-tribulation catching up to Heaven of the believers to escape Antichrist and the great tribulation.
The spiritual element of the Kingdom of God is made up of blood-washed, born-again believers who are pursuing the victorious Christian life. The physical nature of the Kingdom of God is the physical land and people of Israel. The one Kingdom of God (there are not two kingdoms) requires both the spiritual and the physical aspects. To divide between the two is to prevent the installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth, which is precisely what Satan desires.
The teaching of the pre-tribulation catching up to Heaven of the believers in Christ has produced spiritual babies who will not be able to stand in the evil day, which is precisely what Satan desires.It may be noticed that these four errors, in one way or another, work against the pursuit of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Until these four influences are removed from the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, it will be impossible for God’s people to understand the Prophets of Israel or the Apostles of the new covenant. The goal of redemption and the means of attaining the goal will continue to be obscured. There will be no moral light to guide the nations — which is precisely what Satan desires!
Beware of anyone who promises a visible coming of Christ apart from the worldwide return that will shine as lightning from horizon to horizon. He has warned us in advance:
Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. (Matthew 24:26)
The open revelation of Christ.
Christ’s coming will not be a secret. He will descend with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. Christ will not sneak into the world and “steal away” a weak, fearful bride. This is not what the Scripture means when it states Christ will come as a thief in the night. It means He will come suddenly upon the world in judgment against sin and rebellion, catching the lukewarm Christians and the world unprepared.
The Lord Jesus Christ will return in thunderous power and majesty to be glorified before the eyes of the world, being accompanied by a cloud of faith-filled, dedicated, conquering saints. This is the true coming of the Lord.
For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:27)
The power of His coming.
Anyone who has lived where there is much lightning knows there is nothing secretive about it. The dark clouds swollen with rain blot out the sun, moon, and stars. Tension builds as the electrons accumulate on the higher points of the landscape. Suddenly the electricity discharges, leaping up from the earth to the clouds. Brilliant forks of light reflecting enormous energy momentarily illuminate the blackness. We know that the energy of the Holy Spirit that will lift up the Church in the Day of the Lord will be enormous — powerful enough to pluck God’s saints from all the forces of Hell. Then comes the crashing roar of the displaced air rushing back together. The windows rattle. People and animals are stunned. The majesty of God comes to mind, and the affairs of earth are seen in perspective to be the feeble activities of ants crawling about in the dust.
So it will be in the Day of the Son of Man. The light of the Holy Spirit suddenly will shine through the saints — the saints on earth and the saints coming from Heaven with the Lord Jesus. The light of God in the saints, the same light that was separated from the darkness in the beginning of the creation, will reach from horizon to horizon. This will take place when spiritual darkness is at its peak.
Then will come the galaxy-creating power of the word of command of Christ and the voice of the chief angel of God. The majesty of God will be revealed. The peoples of the earth, including the careless Christians, will stagger about in frightened confusion. Their confusion and frustration will turn to unbearable remorse as they begin to realize that the gates of redemption may be closed to them for eternity.
Remorse will turn to rage as the lost souls confront their leaders, their deceivers — those who have taught them man can bring peace on earth apart from Christ.
Satan will torment the lukewarm believers in that hour. The members of Babylon (man-directed Christianity) will look for someone to blame. The preachers and teachers who had assured them that God and Jesus are only love and not a consuming fire, and that they are too kind to harm anyone, will be the objects of their murderous hatred.
Then will be poured out, under the administration of the saints, the vials of the wrath of God — a fierce punishment of devils and men.
The judged will be the judges. Those who persecuted the saints, who pretended to be one with them, even the individuals who neglected to take care of the disciples when they were in need, will now be at the mercy of the Lord’s faithful.
The saints who will sit on the thrones of judgment are not the average, careless believers. They are the dead-living who have been crucified with Christ. Their judgment will not be based on sentiment. As they hear from the Lord, they will judge. The two-edged sword will be in their hand. They are the Bride — as terrible as an army with banners. As He is, so are they in this world
Many people are given the opportunity to assist the Lord’s witnesses as they plod forward bearing the cross of self-denial. Those who help them along the way will not lose their reward. Those who harm them, or refuse to do them good when the opportunity arises, will suffer great loss in the Day of the Lord. Perhaps they would have aided the Lord Jesus had they known it was He; but in hurting or neglecting the Lord’s witnesses, they have hurt or neglected the Lord Himself.
The book of Revelation presents the description of those who have rejected the love of God as they are forced to bear the scrutiny of the Lamb who was slain at the hands of wicked men:
And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,
and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!
“For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17)
In that day all the nations of the earth will mourn. The Jewish race will realize that Jesus of Nazareth, He who was crucified, is Christ — God’s beloved Son.
For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. (Matthew 24:28)
The eagles gather together.
As stated earlier, we believe the “carcass” to be the slain Lamb of God, Christ. The “eagles” are the saints who live by feeding on the body and blood of the slain Lamb
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Matthew 24:29)
The signs of His coming.
We must endure throughout both the great tribulation and the hour of temptation; not throughout the Day of Wrath, but throughout the tribulation and the upsurge of lawlessness of the last days. Jesus will return “immediately after the tribulation of those days” and before the wrath of God is poured out on the world.
As soon as “Noah enters the ark,” so to speak, the wrath of God will fall on the ungodly of the earth.
We will be saved if we stay true to Christ throughout the tribulation of those days and do not succumb to the hour of temptation. We can and we will endure by means of the provisions and comfort and encouragement of the Lord. Many saints, because of their faithfulness, will be slain. They will go straight into the Presence of the Lamb, and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes (Revelation 7:9-17).
The saints of Christ always have been able to endure seasons of tribulation and persecution and have emerged more than conquerors through the grace of God in Christ. Similarly, Israel was kept in safety in the land of Goshen during the period that God’s judgment was executed on the gods of Egypt. Yet, Goshen was located next to the area of destruction. God has no problem protecting His own, even when judgment is falling on every side.
We have not yet seen the sun darkened. The moon has not been darkened nor has it turned to blood. The stars have not fallen from heaven. The powers of the heavens have not been shaken. These are the principal signs of the return of Christ. They have not yet occurred. Therefore it seems unlikely that Christ will return momentarily.
It is the author’s opinion that we are in the time of the church of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13). Christ is appearing to us as He who possesses the key of David, the key of the Kingdom of God — the authority to bind and to loose (Isaiah 22:22).
He is appearing as the One who is holy, the One who is true. As we understand it, today is the time when Christ is ready to open the door to every nation so the Gospel of the Kingdom may be preached as a witness. No man or nation can close the door Christ opens, and what Christ closes cannot be opened again.
We possess a “little strength.” There has been set before us an open door in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is ready to enable us to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in unprecedented power and authority. Many are being prepared now for the immense opportunities soon to be given to the saints.
Those who today are claiming to be Christians but actually are lovers of themselves will come and worship at the feet of the true saints. We have many today who profess Christ but who are attempting to make money and gain fame from the Gospel. They “say they are Jews and are not, but lie” (Revelation 3:9). In His time God will show who truly is following Christ, and who has King Self enthroned in his or her life.
Because we have guarded the word of Christ’s patience, He will guard us from the hour of “temptation” that is to come upon all the world. If we will continue faithfully in prayer, God will not lead us into temptation, but will deliver us from the spirit of Antichrist and from the False Prophet.
The spirit of Antichrist is that of man making himself God, particularly by means of a political-economic system. The False Prophet is the spirit of religious deception. We hear the voice of the False Prophet in the current “grace” teaching, the pre-tribulation rapture, the “prosperity” teaching, the reconstruction doctrine, replacement theology, and related deceptions.
Christians have placed emphasis on the need for Jesus to deliver His saints from the great tribulation rather than from sin. Such a stress is not of God; it is of humanism. It is people looking for a way to keep from suffering, not people seeking to serve God more perfectly.
The problem of the last days is not the great tribulation, it is the hour of temptation. Deliverance from the hour of temptation must be stressed if God’s saints are to escape the deceptions of Satan. It is the abundance of sin, not of tribulation, that will cause the love of the majority to grow cold
Because you have kept [guarded] My command to persevere, I also will keep [guard] you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
The Lord’s Apostles were accustomed to tribulation.
I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:9)
John on the island of Patmos is an example of what the Scriptures mean by the saints being forced into the wilderness. John could have refrained from preaching Christ and thus would have been allowed to enjoy the comfortable circumstances of the civilization of his day. Because of his testimony of Christ, the Apostle was exiled from the amenities of civilization. As a result of his willingness to go outside the camp with Christ, John was given a spectacular revelation of world history from his day until the return of the Lord. I would gladly go into the wilderness, as God wills, in order to receive a revelation similar to that of John. How about you? But each of us is to abide in the calling wherein God has called him.
Christ is coming quickly. Let us make sure no man takes our crown of authority and rulership. If we continue to overcome to the end, we will be made an integral part of God’s eternal temple. We then will possess “eternal security.”
Christ will not return momentarily, although we are convinced His coming is near and certain preparations are to be made now. However, the preliminary signs have not yet appeared in the heavens. The revolt against God has not occurred and the man of sin has not been revealed.
We think another church is appearing on the horizon — the lukewarm church of Laodicea. As we understand it, Laodicea is the church that will be on earth during the days of Antichrist and will continue until the Lord returns. The Laodicean believers must choose either to buy Divine faith tested in the fires of tribulation or to join the apostate Babylon — the worldwide federation of churches.
Notice that the promise to the conquering saints of the Laodicean period is that they will inherit the throne of Christ. This is the most awesome of the rewards designated for the victorious saints (Revelation 3:21; see also Revelation 20:4). The Lord has kept “the good wine until now.” Truly, many who are last will be first.
Let us be content with our own age, the Philadelphian, and hasten through the open door that Christ has set before us. The nations await the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Who among us will consecrate his service this day to the Lord of the harvest? If we go forth in tears, bearing the precious seed of the Word of God, we will come again with rejoicing, bringing a rich harvest of people in whom Christ has been formed.
Wars, pestilences, earthquakes, are not the principal signs of the Lord’s return. Rather, they are the birth pains of a creation soon to be redeemed at the unveiling of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).
The major sign of the Lord’s coming is the shaking and blacking out of the heavenly bodies. This blacking out has not yet occurred, nor has the worldwide mutiny against all authority occurred, nor has Antichrist taken his seat in the Temple of God. Therefore we are of the opinion that the Lord Jesus is not coming tonight.
Our belief is that the Spirit is testifying that today is the time of the “harvest rain” and that the downpour of the Spirit of God will bring both the wheat and the tares to maturity. Righteousness and sin will both come to full stature as a result of the latter rain of the Spirit of God. The latter rain is Christ coming to the earth in the Spirit to prepare the way for the setting up of His Kingdom (Hosea 6:3).
We who are Christians have the opportunity to ask of Christ the full anointing of the Holy Spirit so we can bear witness of His death, resurrection, and soon return in His Kingdom.
Ask the LORD for rain in the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone. (Zechariah 10:1)
If we will pray and be obedient to the Lord in the present hour, many souls will be saved who otherwise would not be prepared for the coming hour of temptation and the return of Christ. Let us be faithful to our responsibility and serve our generation by the will of God. The opportunities are unlimited. Will we serve the Master with our whole heart in this present day?
When the sun and moon are darkened, the stars fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven are shaken, we know that the sign of the Son of man will soon appear in heaven.
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)
The great and terrible Day of the Lord.
The testimony of Christ to the High Priest reveals that He will appear at the right hand of God.
Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64)
Zechariah states, “…they will look upon me whom they have pierced…” (Zechariah 12:10). The world will see the descent of the King who is coming to establish His Kingdom on the earth. The Jews will see their Christ whom they rejected. They will “mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son.” The sinners of the earth will scream to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16).
The great and terrible Day of the Lord is at hand. Let us prepare ourselves so we will not be ashamed before Him at His appearing.
And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31)
The gathering of the elect.
The Lord will return, and we shall be resurrected, at the last trumpet. The last trumpet is the seventh trumpet.
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15)
Two parallel passages are as follows:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16)
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:52)
And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31)
The nation of Israel as such is not the elect that will be gathered. It is the members of Christ who are gathered together “immediately after the tribulation of those days.” This seems to be indicated by the following verse:
What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (Romans 11:7)
The above passage from Romans suggests to us that the term elect does not refer to all who are Jews by race. Rather, there is a remnant made up of both Jews and Gentiles that constitutes the elect of God.
even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (Romans 9:24)
Consider the following examples of the manner in which the term elect is applied to the Christian believers:
Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies [declares righteous]. (Romans 8:33)
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; (Colossians 3:12)
Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, (Titus 1:1)
Clearly, the New Testament Apostles considered the followers of Christ, whether Jewish or Gentile by natural birth, to be God’s elect.
There are not two elects, a Jewish elect and a Christian elect. The teaching of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:11-22 is against there being two elects. We think the true saint of God knows in his heart that Matthew chapter 24 is speaking of the Christians, the members of the Body of Christ.
Matthew chapter 24 describes the one coming of the Lord. The coming of the Lord will take place “after the tribulation of those days.” To teach otherwise is a serious departure from the Scriptures.
The “elect,” the Lord’s chosen, will be gathered together “after the tribulation of those days,” after the darkening of the sun and moon, the falling of the stars from heaven, the shaking of the power of the heavens, and the appearing of the sign of the Son of Man in the heaven.
We do not know what the “sign of the Son of man” will be. Perhaps it will be a great cross surrounded by angels. Throughout history, the cross has been the sign of Christianity. But we cannot say because we have not found it in the Scriptures.
The earth-shaking blast of the trumpet of God was heard when the Ten Commandments were given on Mount Sinai. At the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven, the trumpet of God again will sound a tremendous fanfare, announcing the coming of the one true King and the establishment of His Kingdom on the earth.
Under Moses, the people were not able to keep the dreadful Word. Under Christ, the One who is greater than Moses, the Word of God will be obeyed. All nations will keep the laws of Christ’s Kingdom. The laws of the Kingdom of God will be enforced by the “rod of iron” — the irresistible strength of the Spirit of God.
Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near — at the doors! (Matthew 24:32,33)
The fig tree.
The “things” referred to in verse above are the darkening of the sun, the removal of the light of the moon, the falling of the stars from heaven, and the shaking of the powers of the heavens. When we see all these things, we will know the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. (Matthew 24:34)
“This generation” is the generation that witnesses the four major signs of the end of the age we have just mentioned. The generation of people who behold these wonders in the heavens above will not pass away until the Lord Jesus has returned to the earth. The four manifestations in the heavens announce the end of the present age.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Matthew 24:35)
The eternal Word.
We know from the book of Revelation that at the end of the thousand-year period, the earth and the heaven will flee away and no place will be found for them (Revelation 20:11). But the Word of Christ will be as perfect and complete in that day as it was when He spoke it on the Mount of Olives, and as it has been to the present hour. When we hold the Scriptures in our hands, we are holding an eternal record. The Scriptures will remain as true as ever when the universe in existence in the present hour is but a dim memory. Regarding the coming of Jesus:
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. (Matthew 24:36)
God is sovereign.
God consulted with no one when He drew up the plan of redemption. His plan was finished to the last detail before the creation of the world. The name of every one of God’s redeemed was written in the Lamb’s book of life. All the appointed hours were established. Truly, God is God. The world can attempt to live without God as much as it pleases. But when that day and that hour arrive, the present evil age will end and Christ will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,
“and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:37-39)
Ready for the Day of the Lord.
The wheat and the tares will grow together until the end of the age. Then the messengers of God will come and gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to be burned. The wheat will be gathered into the Lord’s barn (Matthew 13:30). We know the righteous will not be “raptured” before the great tribulation because the wheat and the tares will come to maturity side by side.
When the Lord’s trumpet sounds, heralding the day of the Lord, we shall be as Noah and his family. We shall have the opportunity to step “into the ark of safety.” If we are ready, we will be gathered by the angels to where the Lord Jesus is. Then, as soon as we are safe under the wings of the Lord, the wrath of God will destroy the ungodly. In fact, the saints who have been so designated by Christ will be involved — under His authority and direction — in the administration of God’s judgment (Psalms 149:6-9).
The mass of ungodly, rebellious, and sinning humanity will be oblivious to what is taking place until suddenly the graves open and the shining beings come forth who are destined to rule the world. Immediately after this testimony, those who have opposed the Gospel of the Kingdom will be visited with destruction from Heaven.
and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,
in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (II Thessalonians 1:7-9)
The Day of the Lord will overtake the world as a thief, but it is not intended to overtake the saints as a thief.
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (I Thessalonians 5:4)
Let us therefore, as Paul admonishes, “be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:8,9).
“Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.
“Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. (Matthew 24:40,41)
Who will be admitted to the Kingdom?
The angels, the messengers of the Lord, will gather together Christ’s elect “from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” At that moment we will be separated from the ungodly people that we have been working with in the world.
Two people are living side by side, but one is a tare of Satan and the other is the Lord’s wheat. The wheat is gathered to the slain Lamb in the clouds. The tare is left to be cast into the furnace of fire. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in that day. But even then there will be the “Noahs” and the “Lots.” There will be those who are ready instantly to answer the trumpet call, and there will be those who, as Lot, must be dragged from the city of destruction by the angels. Let us not look back in that day. Remember Lot’s wife.
Remember also the ten virgins in Matthew chapter 25.
Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!” Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered, saying, “No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” But he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” (Matthew 25:1-12)The cry went out at midnight, “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him.” At this point, action had to be taken by each of the virgins. They arose and “trimmed their lamps.” They took stock of themselves as they realized the Hour of hours had arrived. Immediately the foolish became aware in themselves that they did not possess enough grace to be gathered together with the elect. Their past experience of life now was being put to the test. They had not been living in the Spirit of God. The light of their testimony was burning low and flickering out. They should have realized this long before now, but they were foolish.
How many today are drifting about foolishly in the idea they will be able to prepare themselves adequately in the moment of the Lord’s return? The foolish depend on the wise to pluck them out of the confusion into which they become entangled. But now God Almighty has decreed otherwise. The wise know in themselves that they cannot spare any oil. They possess no extra grace for resurrection. “And if the righteous are scarcely saved [saved with difficulty], where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (I Peter 4:18).
The foolish went to buy. They attempted to repent, to set their spiritual household in order, to do the things they always knew in their heart were required by the Lord Jesus. While they were gone “those who were ready went in with Him to the marriage.”
We must make ourselves ready today. If we do not, we are foolish.
“And the door was shut.” Those five words are the most terrible, the most dreadful, words ever uttered in any language. There is no other statement conceivable by the mind of man that can compare in sheer frightfulness with these: and the door was shut.
Humanism has made such inroads into the thinking of people that the concept of a door being shut that cannot be opened by the will of man has become unbelievable. The current concept is, if enough people want something badly enough, they will get it. They will take it by force, if they must, but they will get it one way or another.
It is not so in the Kingdom of God. When a door is shut by the Lord, it cannot be opened. No amount of reasoning, money, force, or accusations can alter the situation in any manner. Such places as Hell, outer darkness, the Lake of Fire, are fierce prisons indeed. They are areas of spiritual torment, and Christ determines who is placed in them.
Every individual on the earth needs to consider carefully the inflexibility of God’s Word. The spirit realm is a very real world. It is far more real, far more clearly defined, than is true of the physical realm, which is but the faintest shadow of the spirit realm.
To enter the spirit realm as a rebel against God is the most terrifying of all the prospects that can face a human being. Whoever does not shudder at such a thought is ignorant of spiritual realities.
There are people today (and their number continually is increasing) who are ready to blame God because of the ills people bring on themselves. They are ready to challenge God in the area of righteousness. Because they are not smitten instantly, they suppose justice is on their side against God. They have no idea of the danger they are subjecting themselves to. God is loving, patient, and reasonable. But there comes a point at which God decides the individual has crossed the line and is a confirmed hater of God. He has become another adversary, another satan. This person is sealing his doom. His talk is brave now. But when he finds himself in the Presence of the almighty God, he will shriek with horror, realizing that all his friends who upheld his blasphemies no longer can support him. He is alone with his Creator and his Creator is angry. Like Judas, it would be good for him had he never been born.
God is just and God is love. But God is a Spirit, not a human being. What God has stated, that He will do, and it comes to pass in exactness and fullness. Blessed is the individual who knows this well.
Once the massive spiritual doors of salvation begin to close, the fate of multitudes has been decided. The righteous, those who have obeyed Christ and who love Him, will be safely inside the Kingdom of God. There they will enjoy Paradise forever: the Presence of God and the Lamb; the children playing; the heavenly parks, trees, flowers, animals; the holy angels that abide in the Divine Presence.
Outside the doors will be Satan and his servants. There dwell the people who have despised Christ; who fornicate, lie, curse, hate, steal, mock; who willfully and perversely go their own way. Standing in outer darkness they can see at a distance the light of Paradise. There will be weeping, screaming, blaming, raging, cursing. People will be gnashing their teeth in mental and spiritual agony. There will be unimaginable horror as the lustful, murderous, idolatrous despisers of the righteous behold the eternal doors closing in their faces. The dreadful finality of the Word of God will shut out all hope from their souls. The terrifying prospect of eternal darkness has become stark reality to these doomed individuals.
Now the demons will turn on those foolish people who have neglected and ignored the salvation that had been so lovingly offered to them, the salvation that cost the Son of God piercing agony of spirit, soul, and body. The hideous, leering faces and grotesque bodies of the goblin-like offspring of Satan will strike their victims numb with fright. After their captors torment them, the wicked will be dragged into various areas of the darkness — helpless in the hands of the malformed creatures who are the embodiment of the practices of the wicked while they were on the earth.
Now there are no saints to help. There is no praying mother or father, grandmother or grandfather, to go to Jesus in intercessory prayer. There is only the blackness of eternal night somewhere in the bowels of the earth, pressed down in confinement, in heat, not knowing what to expect from Satan, the fallen angels, or the demons. It is a nightmare from which there is no awakening. Sleep is not possible. Escape by death is not available. To torture the wicked further, their memory will be sharp and clear as they think back on their lives on the earth, as they remember the opportunities they had to do good.
They have lived for their own pleasures, and now they can love no longer nor is there anyone to love them. None of the beauty of nature is there. Trees, grass, birds, animals live only in memory. There are no flowers to smell, only the acrid stench of burning sulfur. No music accompanies the pounding of the demon drums. A child’s laughter and smile is gone forever. There is no hope, no glimmer of light. This is the eternal destiny of the human being who rejects the love of his Creator.
The Scriptures warn us clearly. God is angry with the wicked every day. He has prepared a prison for Satan and for those who love the ways of Satan. The wicked will be confined in their bodies. The righteous will look on them with abhorrence.
“And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:24)
Let us not be deceived. God is not mocked. It will be too late then.
God’s people must prepare themselves now, because the days ahead will become increasingly dark and oppressive as Satan and his unclean hordes create lawlessness in the hearts of the unsuspecting.
No person will be saved or lost in the Day of the Lord on the basis of doctrinal belief. We do not find that Jesus ever raised the question of doctrinal belief when discussing the fate of people in the Day of the Lord. Doctrines are of Kingdom worth only to the extent that they lead us to Him who is the Resurrection and the Life — to Jesus in reality, not in theological thinking.
The Lord Jesus always raises the question of our readiness to walk with Him, as demonstrated by our behavior, by our faithfulness in serving Him, and by keeping ourselves unspotted by the world. Our doctrinal stance is not critical. It is the fervency and integrity of our discipleship that is critical, our personal fellowship with the Lord and the righteousness of our conduct.
We shall be saved by enduring to the end: by patiently working out our salvation with fear and trembling; by carrying our cross; by bearing a true and single-minded, single-hearted witness to the Person and will of God and Christ so that the multitudes of spiritual wanderers about us may read the message of Christ plainly from the “bible” of our personality and behavior.
The success we will have in being saved, in being gathered together with the elect in Christ in His Day, depends directly on the preparations we are making today. Right now — today — we are either saving ourselves and those who hear us, or else we are destroying ourselves and those who hear us. We are gathering or scattering.
When Christ appears, it will be too late to make the necessary preparations.
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:42)
Watch and pray diligently.
To “watch” is to pray, to read the Scriptures, to gather together with fervent believers, to refrain from becoming involved with worldly people, to be ready always to stop our activities in order to do the will of Christ. Such watchfulness requires that we prepare ourselves for action, put on the whole armor of God, discipline ourselves to the life of cross-carrying obedience, and be ready to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ.
We must take a strong hand with our physical body, subduing it, refusing to obey its lusts, keeping it under discipline. Otherwise our flesh will make certain that our spirit and soul are prepared for the Lake of Fire rather than for the Paradise of God and the Lamb. Our flesh is dead in sin and our human mind is the enemy of the Holy Spirit. It is the task of our Christ-filled inner nature to be sure that our flesh is brought under obedience to the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.
“But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:43,44)
A sudden accounting.
When we first receive Christ, we are overjoyed with salvation and are watchful in prayer. As the years roll by and we laboriously make our way through the desolate wilderness of life, patiently praying and hacking through a seemingly endless jungle of problems, heartaches, confusions, dreads, there comes the temptation to relax and begin to enjoy some of the comforts of the present world. Little by little, we are deceived into “building bigger and better barns” in order to house our possessions. Our hearts become occupied with material concerns. Our burning love for Christ cools off. Our careful watchfulness in prayer changes to a religious routine.
Christ suddenly stands before us and demands an accounting of our life. We are speechless because we have wasted time and the gifts of the Lord on the filth and rebellion of the world. Christ demands an immediate accounting of our behavior. If we had known at what time He was going to appear before us, we would have been better prepared. Now we are caught in our carelessness, indulgence of our flesh, love of the world, and self-seeking.
What will we say to the Lord? How will we answer Him? He has come as a thief to us and we have left the doors and windows unlocked and are sleeping soundly. When we awake from our lethargy, we discover we have lost everything of value. Our family, which is our greatest treasure, is unprepared to meet God. We have wasted our one life on the tinsel of this age. The pangs of remorse and the bitter anguish of opportunities now lost forever flood over us because we have been cold and indifferent toward Christ and toward the work of gathering souls for the Kingdom of God.
What good are our money and possessions now? We have lost our soul and the souls of those who were depending on us.
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?
“Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.
“Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. (Matthew 24:45-47)
The rewards are for the victorious saints.
There is a doctrine that must be preached in the end-time clearly and persistently. It is that the reward of rulership with Christ is only for the overcoming saints. Only overcomers receive rewards.
It appears that many Christians are sitting placidly in church, supposing they suddenly will become kings and priests of God — spiritual giants who will go forth to judge men and angels.
This is ridiculous. It is a delusion. It is not true. Our assignment of rulership in the Day of Christ depends on the faithfulness we display in the present hour in handling the small responsibilities we have been given. Our faithfulness in the small tasks qualifies us for an enlarged area of service.
“But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’
“and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,
“the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,
“and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:48-51)
What it means to receive Christ.
Notice in the above passage that the test of salvation in the Day of the Lord is not our doctrinal belief. We have been so intent on belief in theological facts that we may have forgotten the things that Jesus spoke concerning the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
We must by faith receive Christ as our Savior, as our sin-offering, and be baptized in water. Then we must receive Jesus as our personal Lord, obeying His commands. How many of God’s people have taken Christ as their Savior but never have received Him as their personal Lord?
After we receive the blood atonement for our sins, we must do what He says. If we do not, we run the risk of being cast into outer darkness regardless of our doctrinal profession, our religious stance, our church affiliation.
Consider this: Jesus did not say, In that day everyone who has not received Me as Savior will be lost and those who have professed faith in Me will be saved regardless of their actions. Nowhere in the Lord’s prophecies of His coming is salvation shown to be based on an assent to theological facts. Rather, a genuine belief in Him and receiving of Him always results in a desirable change in our behavior.
We reveal that we truly have received Him when we do not harm our fellow Christians, or eat and drink with the drunken, when we begin to lead a righteous and holy life, coming out from the moral filthiness of the world.
What does it mean to receive Christ? Does it mean to adopt a correct theological stance concerning the facts of the atonement and the resurrection? Or does the receiving of Jesus as our Savior mean we begin to do what He says? Who has received Jesus: the person who says he believes Jesus is God’s sin-offering, or the one who prays always, “Lord Jesus, what would you have me do?” — and then does the will of Christ from the heart?
The issue of the Kingdom of God is that of the condition of the heart and the manner in which the individual behaves.
We know from the writings of the Apostles that no person can be saved apart from receiving Christ as Savior and accepting Him as Lord of all. We know also from the Words of Christ in the Gospels, and in the book of Revelation, that we all will be judged in that day concerning our conduct in the world.
…And I will give to each one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)
For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:5)
There is no such thing as salvation by an abstract “faith.” James stated that faith without works is dead. A dead faith, a faith not expressed in works, cannot redeem any human being.
We have come to the conclusion that the Gospel of the Kingdom is being preached today without the necessary works of repentance. The Word of God is being presented as a means of achieving human success and prosperity. We are not warning all people everywhere to flee from the wrath to come, to repent so they may be saved in the Day of Wrath.
The Word of God is not a formula by which we can attain the things we desire. The Word of God is the command of the almighty Creator concerning His will for His creatures. It is the law and the testimony of God.
Let us not presume on God’s love. His love is far greater than we can ever tell and His mercy endures forever. But the true grace of God teaches us to repent, to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and in stern obedience to God in this present world
How can we be saved apart from sincere repentance when repentance is salvation? Freedom from the bondages of Satan is redemption. There is no doubt that Paul’s doctrine of grace has been perverted. Grace is being presented today as the Divine means for saving people apart from godly behavior. To save someone apart from godly behavior would be to save someone apart from saving him, because salvation is redemption from ungodly behavior.
The Gospel of Christ is no longer regarded as a force that changes the behavior of people from sin to righteousness. Grace has become an alternative to repentance. This interpretation of the Scriptures is not leading us to godly behavior, but to a belief in theological facts. It is taught that by believing in Jesus, we go to Paradise no matter how we behave. What Paul feared has come to pass (Romans 6:1). Paul is now presented as the proponent of a means of salvation apart from doing the will of God.
The research polls in America are revealing that being a Christian is not resulting in a change in moral behavior. Those who believe in God, in Jesus, are still practicing fornication. It is clear that the doctrine of justification has driven out the doctrine of sanctification.
What has gone wrong? It is not difficult to understand. The Apostle Paul, writing under the direct inspiration of the Spirit of God, announced the Divine plan of redemption: Man cannot save himself. God has come and saved us. Let us therefore cease from our own religious works and embrace the Divine gift so freely offered.
As the result of humanistic thinking, mankind has proceeded along a course of rebellion against the moral restraints of God. The modern interpreters of Paul have taken his doctrine to mean that since the Divine redemption is offered freely, whatever man does in response is dead works. This is good news to the individual influenced by humanism, but the worst possible news to the Lord Jesus.
What conclusion may be drawn by the teacher and believer from some of the current teaching? The conclusion is, man is to do nothing. Christ has done it all. While man may endure a few religious formalities, and in some instances engage in religious work, he is primarily waiting to die and go to Heaven in order to receive the reward for his belief that Christ has done it all.
Given the fundamental doctrine that the believer in Christ is not obligated to change his behavior to conform to the Words of Christ and His Apostles; given the doctrine of humanism that everything, including God, exists for the good of man, with man as the center of all things; given the horde of demons that have been allowed to enter among the population of the earth; only one result is possible: sin is springing up on every side.
The churches of Christ, the potential light of the world, are filled with sinning members. The nations of the earth, attempting to perceive spiritual realities by means of such a dim light, have embarked on a course leading straight to destruction.
The Christian churches have become silly, self-centered, money-loving, entertainment-filled institutions preaching the traditions of men instead of the Word of God. The unscriptural doctrine of “unconditional grace” and the unscriptural doctrine that salvation is residence in a spirit paradise in Heaven have worked together to destroy the power of godliness. There is a form of godliness but not nearly enough power to save people from the sins that are prevalent.
There is not enough iron to bring forth saints! It is the “stick,” the cross of Jesus working in our life, that creates the iron discipline of the Holy Spirit.
So the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. (II Kings 6:6)
The iron of God will never “swim” until the churches repent of the careless, worldly, fleshly, fun-filled life they are advocating.
The Christian church-life of today is foreign to the Kingdom of God. We are in a dreadful falling away from the faith. There have been eras of apostasy in church history. Believers who live during such an era cannot detect the apostasy of their own time because they assume that all is normal and well. So it is today.
We ought to realize that if the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not compelling people to forsake the world and turn to God, as did the saints of the first century, something has gone wrong. Obviously, any interpretation of Paul must be incorrect if it results in ignoring the numerous commandments to righteous holy living found in the writings of the Apostles.
The truth is, grace is not the means whereby an unchanged sinner enters Paradise. Grace is Divine assistance — the virtue and wisdom of God given to us through Jesus so we may be able to turn from our way of life and embrace the humble, lowly way of suffering patience pursued by the Christian saints of all ages. The goodness and mercy of God lead us to repentance, not to Paradise in our moral filth and rebellion.
Can we not perceive the difference between these two concepts of grace? Can we not perceive that a misinterpretation of grace can destroy, and is destroying, the plan of God for His Church?
If after being saved we begin to think, Christ isn’t here yet and probably will not come for a while, and then become hostile toward our fellow Christians and involved in the things of the world, we certainly will be facing an angry Lord when He returns. In this instance, our belief in His grace and mercy will not help us. We have allowed ourselves to be deceived. We should have known better. Christ has warned us clearly.
Our salvation in the great and terrible Day of the Lord does not depend on our statement of belief in the facts of the atonement and the resurrection. The demons know these facts and tremble in terror. When Christ discusses His coming, He warns us about practicing righteousness and showing mercy; He warns us about faithfulness and service; He warns us concerning the use of our talents and of the necessity for industry and diligence.
In the prophecies of the Gospels, Christ places the emphasis on our conduct as watchful pilgrims. The Apostles — Paul, Peter, John, James, Jude — also place the same emphasis with regard to the Kingdom of God, as we may notice if we reread what they have said about the necessity for righteous conduct.
What is the relationship between the teachings of Christ concerning the Kingdom of God, and the teachings of the Apostles (particularly Paul) concerning salvation through grace? The relationship is as follows: Christ taught us concerning the righteous conduct that always is required in the Kingdom of God. There is no sin in the Kingdom of God. The walls and gates of the new Jerusalem, the holy city, prevent sin from entering the Presence of God and the Lamb. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ announces to us how we must live in order to please God and dwell in His Presence. We must, through the ability (grace) that the Spirit gives, grow toward perfection as our Father is perfect. That is the eternally unchanging Word of the Son of God. There are no alternate routes to the Presence of God, to the Kingdom of God — none!
Whoever teaches that sinners can dwell in the Presence of God is a deceiver and part of the False Prophet. He is speaking from the spirit of religious delusion that pervades the thinking of the believers today.
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” (II Corinthians 6:14-17)
Paul is not writing here to the unsaved advising them to accept Christ for the forgiveness of their sin. Paul is writing to the Christians in Corinth, warning them to come out of the world and its unrighteous ways. And the Apostle John also:
He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)
When we hear the Word of the Father, we are in despair. We know our weaknesses. If we do not know our weaknesses, we find out about them quickly when we attempt to live as Jesus lived and taught.
The grace that Paul declared is not an alternate route to the Kingdom of God; it is the God-given means to forgive us and then to enable us to keep the commandments given by Christ and His Apostles. The forgiveness apart from the accompanying effort to come out of the world and its ways is of little use in the Kingdom of God. The purpose of the new covenant is to produce people who live righteously.
We could think of grace as being a bypass while our “road is under construction.” But when the construction is finished the bypass is closed and we come out onto the King’s highway.
The trouble today is that the roads are not under construction. The bypass is considered to be a permanent highway. Grace is conceived of as a new way of pleasing God rather than what it is — a dispensation of mercy that serves while we are washing the robes of our behavior and making them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Grace is the Divinely ordained means by which we attain the righteous personality and behavior required of the members of the Kingdom of God. We are forgiven through the blood of the cross. Then we are given the Word of God made alive by the Holy Spirit so we can learn to walk in God’s righteous ways. Both are manifestations of grace. Also, Christ Himself is born in us through the Holy Spirit.
Here is the relationship between the Kingdom of God as preached by Christ, and grace as preached by the Apostles of the Lamb. As mentioned earlier, grace is Divine assistance — the Divine virtue given us so we may be able to enter the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Kingdom of God. The Divine virtue teaches us and enables us to begin to obey the laws of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is first, righteous behavior, then peace, then joy — all in the Holy Spirit. This is the Kingdom of God.
Jesus set the standard. Then, through His Apostles, He showed us the Divine provisions for meeting the standard.
The Apostles did not change the standard of behavior announced by the Lord Jesus!
Our common sense and our conscience inform us that the grace of God is not a means of bypassing God’s judgment on unrighteous conduct, except temporarily while we are being “re-created.” Religions have a tendency to evade the laws of conscience and common sense, and the Christian religion is no exception.
The holy city will not be filled with citizens who are sinning and rebelling against God. What kind of a holy city would that be? The truth is, all the citizens of the holy city will be holy in personality and behavior.
The fact that the believers of today are willing to believe that God is now ready to have fellowship with unrepentant sinners, making no demands on them except that they subscribe to certain theological facts, our readiness to embrace the ancient heresy of antinomianism (lawless grace), is an indication of the extent to which the concepts of humanism have entered Christian thinking. “Whatever else may be true, man must not be permitted to suffer or to be inconvenienced in any manner.” This is the lie of Christian thinking.
Under the current delusion, it is believable and acceptable that Christ suffered untold agonies on the cross; however, the Christian is not to suffer. He is not to share Christ’s sufferings. He only is to “believe” and then wait for the angels to carry him to a land where no demands of any kind will be made on him.
The truth is, we have been called to enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation. We must suffer, as God directs, so we may be worthy to take our place with the saints of all ages (II Thessalonians 1:5).
Let us therefore run with patience (an important aspect of the fruit of the Spirit) the race set before us, thanking God for every blessing of life and not being surprised when we are called on to endure fiery trials.
Let us make certain to the best of our ability that we are ready to be gathered together with the elect when our Lord comes from Heaven.
Our faith always must stand in the written Word of God. I have attempted to present a few passages of Scripture associated with the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven with His saints and the holy angels.
I trust the reader will ponder what has been said in the preceding text, submitting his heart and spirit to God in prayer so the Holy Spirit may enlighten his understanding. The end result should be that he begins to make adequate preparation for the great and terrible Day of the Lord that is at hand.
I will tell you what I think I have seen with the Lord. Let the reader judge.
One Sunday morning, in the early hours as I was making preparation for my Sunday School class, my attention was on the second chapter of II Thessalonians. I began to examine the verse that speaks of the restraint on the revealing of the man of sin (verse seven). In time past, I have studied this passage, using commentaries, other translations, and the Greek text. Nothing seemed to ring with the sound clarity that comes when I discover the apostolic track of thinking. My understanding just did not fit the other passages of the Scriptures involving the Day of the Lord. My interpretation was not satisfying.
Having done all, I looked up to the Lord and requested His explanation. Isn’t it true that so often we exhaust every other avenue of help before we turn to the Lord?
Suddenly there came the impression the answer was on the way, and then a period of quiet waiting. I knew the answer was there in the text and that it was simple. There seemed to be a heavenly chuckle in the air. Have you ever experienced the happy, confident, loving chuckle of the Lord Jesus?
Then the Scripture seemed to unfold and there followed a series of impressions. I do not claim these impressions were clear pictures such as those given to Daniel or John. But they were clear enough that I have remembered their substance over the years that have passed.
I will now present their substance as they are in my mind but make no claim for their accuracy in detail. It was not a set of detailed pictures but a series of fairly structured, fairly vivid impressions.
First my attention was directed to II Thessalonians 2:3. The thought came that the restraining influence that prevents the full revealing of Antichrist is the anointing of power that rests on the Church — the power that gives the Church the ability to testify of God’s purpose in Christ. There will be a special anointing of power in the last days so the Gospel of the Kingdom may be preached to every nation for a witness.
When that special anointing is lifted by the Lord, Antichrist will be able to “make war with the saints, and to overcome them” (Revelation 11:7; 13:7; Daniel 7:21; 12:7).
I know from church history that the Lord Jesus visits the earth through the Holy Spirit in a special manner, from time to time, in order to accomplish the work of the Kingdom. There are seasons of refreshing, of revival, that come from the Presence of the Lord. The revival in Wales in the 1800s and the modern-day revival in Indonesia are two examples of Divine intervention. The Lord’s Presence is among us in a powerful way, and then lifts for a season so that Divine purposes may be accomplished.
Such flowings and ebbings of Divine Life are true even of my own discipleship. Some necessary changes are made in my life through means of blessing and glory, and others take place when I go through dry seasons or through the fires of tribulation or temptation.
I know that after the first century, the fullness of power and revelation resting on the Apostles was lifted. Then men sought to build the Kingdom of God by their own efforts and understanding. What would the Church be like today if the Divine anointing that rested on Peter and Paul had been given to the church leaders throughout the centuries of the Christian Era?
The authority to testify of Christ with power throughout the earth is to be given to the members of the Body of Christ in the closing days of this age. As long as that authority rests on the Church, there is no enemy who can interfere successfully with the testimony (Revelation 11:5,6).
But it is necessary that sin come to maturity so it may be judged. Therefore the authority to testify with irresistible power will be lifted from the saints. Immediately the Antichrist will begin to fill the minds and hearts of earth’s peoples with unprecedented lawlessness.
The lifting of the anointing of the Spirit will produce a tsunami of lawlessness — an earth-wide revolt against God and His Christ. The majority of those who profess belief in Christ will grow cold and partake of the world spirit. The true believers will be forced to leave the centers of civilization and hide in the wilderness areas of the earth. There they will be nourished by the Lord until His return in the clouds of glory.
Some of God’s witnesses will fall through temptation and fear. Others will be tortured and slain. A remnant will flee from the cities and live in hiding. Thus the Gospel will be driven from the cities of the earth.
The majority of believers in Christ will remain in the Antichrist-subsidized churches in the cities. Some of the pastors and leaders will be invited to serve in the world government, being charged with the material welfare of the poorer nations. Because Antichrist will stress human welfare and not attack the doctrine of the churches, numerous Christian people will be deceived. The believers, as is true today, will look to correctness of doctrine and professions of belief rather than to the Presence of God and His Spirit as being the sign of true Christianity.
Christians imagine that Antichrist will be hostile to Christianity in a manner similar to a Fascist or Communist dictator. They do not realize the wisdom of the enemy. It is true, rather, that Antichrist will invite the Christians to help him with the task of improving the quality of life of earth’s multitudes.
Antichrist will not attack the professions of belief of the churches because Satan knows religious beliefs alone cannot destroy his kingdom. Antichrist will attack the manifestation of the Spirit of God. He will discourage prayer and everything associated with life in the Spirit, and will teach the Christians (who are sheep) to emphasize the “good” they can do in the world — to use their resources and talents to help mankind.
That which is positive in terms of people is to be stressed, and talk about the coming of a Kingdom and a Day of Judgment is to be avoided as not being constructive and helpful. The churches are to be hospitals to “help sinners,” not prophets that thunder denunciations of civilization and urge us to accept crucifixion with Christ. Antichrist will overcome many believers with his smooth words (Daniel 11:32).
Only a praying saint who walks with God will be able to see through the mask of the worldly “friends” of the church and perceive the face of the Hell-filled fallen cherub.
The Christian churches in their present condition represent no danger to Satan. It is God whom Satan fears. As long as we in the churches concentrate on our activities, ambitions (“for the Gospel”), programs, buildings, goals, seminars, rallies, conventions, Satan is safe.
Satan is safe until some saint goes to his knees in prayer, lays his life (religious and otherwise) at the foot of the cross of Christ, and then arises under the load of his personal cross and begins to walk in righteousness, holiness, and stern obedience to the Father. It is then that Satan trembles.
The accuser of the brothers is overcome only when a saint trusts in the blood of the Lamb, reveals the Word of God in his personality, deeds, and words, and does not love his life even to death. Such a saint learns from the Father that he does not need the help of the world, and he is not to seek it. His role in the world is not to solve the problems of mankind. His role is to bear witness of the righteousness of God in Christ and of the Kingdom of righteousness that soon is to come to earth.
The saint is not to tell of a kingdom the Christians will bring in by their efforts, even by their efforts of prayer and faith, but of the Kingdom that will come at the hand of the returning Jesus.
The apostasy presented in II Thessalonians 2:3, the elimination of the true Christian testimony from the cities and the embracing of the Antichrist spirit by the Christian churches, is the removal of the restraint that currently prevents the full manifestation of the man of sin.
As soon as Antichrist has driven the Divine testimony from the cities, he will enter the Most Holy Place of a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and sit on the Ark between the wings of the Cherubim of Glory, claiming he is the living God, the Glory of Israel, and the God of all the religions of the earth.
The falling away of the believers from the faith is the removal of the restraint upon Antichrist. This is the understanding I think was given to me by the Lord. In accordance with sound laws of interpretation, the meaning of the troublesome verse was found in its context. Verse three explains verse seven. The worldwide apostasy is the removal of the restraining influence. It makes sense, and I see it happening today. It is a satisfying explanation and appears to conform to all the passages of the Scriptures that discuss the coming of the Lord.
As I pondered this impression, which seemed to have the characteristics of a genuine revelation from the Lord Jesus, the current revival came into view. I have felt for some years, based on the burden of the Spirit plus the words of the Hebrew Prophets concerning the latter (harvest) rain, that we are now in the greatest revival of all time. The Gospel of the Kingdom is to go forth to every nation on the earth for a testimony so all people may see the power and hear the Good News of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
The saints are to walk with Jesus in apostolic power, raising the dead, healing the sick, casting out devils, and preaching the Gospel to the poor. If any city, town, or village will not hear them, the condemnation of God will rest on that area. This is the double portion of the two witnesses, the fullness of the Holy Spirit on the Church of the last days (Revelation chapter 11).
Multitudes upon unnumbered multitudes will be swept into the Kingdom as the most tremendous of all revivals fills the earth. There will be a true witness of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God. A full and perfect testimony of the mercy and wrath of God in Christ will be given so the way of the Lord may be made straight.
In my day, whoever will choose to do so may drink freely of the water of life.
When God decrees that the witness has been completed, the hour of darkness will come upon the world. Lawlessness without precedent in history will arise. As a result, the love of many of the believers in Christ will grow cold.
At this word I became alarmed. I asked, “Lord, how many?” hoping the answer would be that while a few may grow cold, the great multitude of those who were brought into the Kingdom in those days would stand in the Lord Jesus. At that time I did not know that the word “many,” as used in the King James translation, was being rendered “most” or “the majority” by other translators (Matthew 24:12).
The answer of the Lord seemed to come to me as a question:
“In the churches in which you have worshiped, how many of those in attendance would maintain their testimony if the knock on the door were to come at 2 a.m. and the ultimatum were to be given: ‘Do not be so fervent about following Christ; do not be so intense and narrow-minded about Christianity; do not speak in tongues in public, or you never will see your family again’?”
As I pondered this question posed by the Spirit, I thought about the thousands of charismatic worshipers, all doctrinally sound, all professing belief in the atonement and bodily resurrection of Christ, all accustomed to manifestations of the Spirit of God. Perhaps some are disciplined enough that they would go to their martyrdom before they would deny Christ.
But what if the early morning ultimatum were couched in friendly, persuasive tones? What if it were given by officials who had attended my services from time to time and who professed belief in Christ? What if it were presented as a nuisance, a mere formality that these officers were required to administer but that generally was understood to be an ineffective requirement that “nobody is doing”?
What if it were required that I lessen my emphasis on outward manifestations of prayer and worship, especially in the Sunday morning services, and give more attention to assisting the needy of the world? What if some of the leaders of my denomination already had been invited to serve in the government that is ordering these restrictions?
What if the penalty for not giving at least a token of my compliance proved to be harsh economic penalties that would harm my young children? What if my pastor assured us there is no harm in giving my assent to some mild restrictions on my fervency because the “rapture” is coming momentarily and it will not matter then?
How many charismatics would blaze forth in clarity of mind and heart: “I am a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. I stand ready to give my life for my convictions, denying myself and my family the necessities of existence before I will diminish in any manner whatever my service to Christ — with all I am, all I have, and all I do”?
I had my answer!
As the series of impressions continued, it appeared the masses of believers grew cold in spirit. The true saints of the Lord were forced to flee for their lives into the wilderness. There they survived by the miraculous provisions of the Lord. They were helped by some of the peoples of the world who feared the Lord enough to assist His followers
In my vision, the world leader arose. He skillfully rallied the major nations until world peace was achieved. He brought in cradle-to-grave welfare and economic security. He insisted that the Christian churches and schools (“dead bodies”) be left standing. They were located all through the land, being attended by “believers” who possessed a form of godliness but denied the power thereof.
Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. (Revelation 11:9)
The power and Presence of the Holy Spirit was not in any of those churches or schools. Rather, the Holy Spirit was dwelling in and upon the saints in the wilderness.
It seemed the workings of Antichrist primarily were confined to the large cities of the earth, or that all the cities were combined into one great city. The tribes in the wilderness areas of the earth were not bothered by Antichrist. The maturing of sin was centered in the cities, in the highly civilized areas.
Multitudes upon multitudes of Christian people were deceived because Antichrist brought into being every benevolent and socially constructive work. The poor, the infirm, the aged, the retarded — all were cared for in a “paradise” of humanitarian endeavor. Everything seemed to be in accordance with the finest ideas of men.
Because resistance to the world order resulted in reproach, great discomfort, economic sanctions, and torture and death in some areas of the world, many Christian people decided they would raise their families in comfort, security, material ease, with access to educational advantages rather than hide with their children in the wilderness — especially since they were allowed to conduct their church services as they pleased (in conformity with some government regulations).
Those churches were of Laodicea. They were lukewarm. They were blind, wretched, naked, devoid of the Spirit of God. Christ will vomit them, their robed choirs, their pipe organs, their mahogany pulpits, their costly structures, out of His mouth.
Let us take heed. Laodicea is near.
The peoples of the earth, including the “Christians,” began to exclaim, “All is safe. All is peaceful. War has been abolished. There is no more hunger. The best the world has to offer has come to us. Our president professes to believe in Christ. Anyone who so desires may attend the church of his choice. The rights of people are being preserved with the greatest care. The government is benevolent toward my religion.”
The Apostle John teaches us that Antichrist comes from the churches (I John 2:19; see also Jude 4). Judas was one of the twelve Apostles. Yet, Judas was the son of destruction, the forerunner of Antichrist. I think Antichrist at first will be a somewhat sincere Christian.
Peace and safety prevailed, or so it appeared to these blinded people, but in actuality every form of human enterprise was blighted. Intellectual, artistic, moral, and spiritual desolation abounded (just as today in the United States and other affluent, supposedly “Christian” nations). The rule of man always produces desolation. There is no exception to this principle. Laodicea is always impoverished, naked, and blind.
Suddenly, at the height of the spiritual darkness, the Lord appeared. The graves of the saints of all ages burst open. Everyone could see this happening. The victorious saints were brought back to life and stood beside their graves. God’s true witnesses who were alive on the earth were changed from mortality to immortality in a moment. They joined themselves with those who had just been raised.
In my vision, there was then the greatest time of worship, of rejoicing, of fellowship, ever to take place. Cherished relationships were restored. People were exclaiming, “We have received back our bodies. We are free from sin and death and are alive forever in Christ.”
The peoples of the world and their leaders were watching the fellowshiping and rejoicing and were unable to prevent it. They were horrified. They were wretched in their wrath, frustration, remorse, but they could not prevent this victory celebration (Revelation 11:11). They were terrified!
Then the Word of the Lord came, “God has set a table before me in the presence of my enemies”
The Lord Jesus, knowing the glory and blessing of that moment, allowed His saints to savor and rejoice in the wonder and glory of being alive once again on the earth — each in an incorruptible, sin-free, life-filled body.
Then (it seemed as if to beautiful music) the entire body of saints began to ascend from the face of the earth. Their movement upward was graceful, magnificent — marvelous beyond words. The sky was filled with them. They were as a cloud of witnesses ascending into the clouds. The anthems of praise to God and to the Lamb that was slain thundered from horizon to horizon as the music of a great organ. The incredible grandeur of the moment surpassed any scene that could be painted by the most gifted of artists. It was the Lord’s firstfruits rising to be with Him forever.
In their anguish and fury, the peoples of the earth turned on their leaders who had deceived them.
Then the Word of the Lord came, “If God were to do no more than lift His saints from their graves in the sight of the world, the wicked would destroy themselves in their anguish when they saw the resurrection and ascension taking place and realized the consequence of these events. But this is just the beginning of their pain.”
“Now the vials of God’s wrath are to be poured out, under the administration of the Lord and His saints. As soon as that part of the judgment has been executed, the Lord Jesus and His army of faithful saints will charge from heaven with tremendous speed and fury, crashing down on earth’s leaders in the irresistible power of the Spirit of God.”
At this point the impressions ceased.
Let me repeat, the vision did not consist of the precise details or most of the words I have written here. But the bulk of the impressions, the main thoughts, and some of the words, were as I have stated.
A number of years have passed since this burden was given. I think it has proved to be scriptural as I have had opportunity to check and recheck the ideas given at that time.
Let each of us set himself and his household in order as God enables.
Let each of us dedicate himself or herself to the service of Christ so we and our loved ones are found gathering for the Lord at all times. As many of us know, this is not always possible. Often our loved ones go astray. We must remain faithful in prayer so God may be pleased to deal with them and finally to bring them to Himself.
A great work of harvesting remains to be done. Let us conduct ourselves as true servants of Christ, laboring while there is light.
The night is at hand during which no man can work.
One final word: We are not to fear. Fear and faith cannot dwell in our heart at the same time. When we see all these things begin to come to pass, we are to lift up our head. They signal the drawing near of our redemption and the Kingdom of God (Luke 21:28).
We are to watch and pray always that we “may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).
The days ahead will be tumultuous, finally resulting in the destruction of people who choose not to serve Christ. The victorious saints are to rejoice always because of the coming of the Lord to set up His Kingdom on the earth.
We are not to fear. The promises of God’s Word always hold true for those who are abiding in Christ no matter how severe the problems of the world may become. We shall continue to be guarded by the power of God’s Word from today on through eternity regardless of our circumstances.
The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. (Psalms 34:7)
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. (Psalms 34:19)
They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. (Psalms 37:19)
A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. (Psalms 91:7,8)
The above passages hold true for us today. They shall hold true during the great tribulation. They shall continue to hold true for us throughout each day and night from now until Jesus comes. God’s Word does not change with the circumstances of earth.
There is no other power as great as that of the Word of God. The promises of the Scriptures continue to be unwaveringly true for every person who belongs to Christ, whether or not the world is in turmoil, in distress, in famine, in economic collapse. We are not of the world. Our protection and provisions come from the hand of God, not from the ability of the world to protect or provide.
Let us therefore honor God by our constant faith. God will keep us throughout the days to come no matter what happens, and present us faultless before His Presence with exceedingly great joy.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.
The first edition of The Coming of the Lord was finished in March of 1978. The present text was completed in October of 1997 and reviewed in 2005. The changes are not significant. Our view of the Lord’s coming remains the same. We think the vision came from the Lord Jesus. Our subsequent burdens and understandings have been in harmony with it.
The deceptions that have risen in the charismatic churches since 1978, such as the “prosperity,” “faith,” and “dominion kingdom” teachings, seem to correspond to what the Lord showed us concerning the entrance into the churches of humanistic (man-centered) reasoning.
Our conviction that the pre-tribulation rapture is a false vision has grown stronger with each passing year. Happily, it appears that an increasing number of Christians are abandoning the rapture teaching in favor of a more scriptural, historical, and realistic outline of what we can expect to experience before Jesus returns.
The first resurrection will include only the victorious saints.
There is one aspect of the coming of the Lord that appears to be more clear to us today than was true in 1978. It is that only the royal priesthood will be raised from the dead and ascend to meet the Lord Jesus at His coming. Only the victorious saints will participate in the earlier resurrection that is out from among the dead.
We cannot accept the teaching that every individual who recites the “four steps of salvation” thereby attains the first resurrection from the dead, receiving a glorified body like that of the Lord Jesus. Neither can we agree with the idea that everyone who is raised in the general resurrection at the end of the thousand-year period will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
Obviously these two issues deserve the serious attention of every Christian believer who is hoping to be raised from the dead when Christ appears.
It appears to us that the Scriptures teach two separate resurrections. The first resurrection takes place at the beginning of the thousand-year period while the second resurrection occurs at the termination of the thousand-year period — at the time of the judgment of the dead.
We believe further that the first resurrection is an advance resurrection out from among the dead and is reserved for the royal priesthood — the victorious saints. The second resurrection is the general resurrection of the dead. At the time of the second resurrection both the wicked and the righteous will be raised. The wicked will be cast into the Lake of Fire. The righteous will enter eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
We never would present such a departure from conventional Christian thinking unless we felt we were on solid scriptural ground.
There are two Old Testament types and two New Testament passages that cause us to believe that the first resurrection, the resurrection and ascension that will occur when the Lord returns, is a special out-resurrection reserved for the victorious saints — for those who are eligible to walk with the Lord Jesus in white robes.
The first Old Testament type is the return of David from the wilderness with his mighty men to rule over Judah. This was a reign of seven years and six months. After that, the remainder of the tribes of Israel joined themselves to King David, and David reigned for an additional thirty-three years (II Samuel 5:5). We think this type suggests that only part of Israel will rule with the Lord during the thousand-year period, to be followed by the glorification of all Israel during the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
The second Old Testament type we would mention is the removal of the Ark of the Covenant from the Tabernacle of the Congregation. When King David brought back the Ark from the house of Obed-edom, he did not restore it to the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle. Instead, David pitched a tent for the Ark in Zion, a city within the walls of Jerusalem.
We think the placing of the Ark of the Covenant in a tent in the city of Zion, rather than in the Tabernacle located on the idolatrous high place of Gibeon, is a type of a special reign of Christ with His victorious saints during the thousand-year period. His complete rulership, as pictured by the joining of the Ark and the remainder of the Tabernacle in the Temple of Solomon, will occur when the new heaven and earth come into being.
The separation of the Ark from the Tabernacle signifies the removal of the Glory of God from the main body of His Church until the enemy has been overcome. David’s rule was characterized by the conquering of Israel’s enemy. Solomon’s rule, that which took place when the Ark once more had been joined with the Tabernacle (in the Temple), was characterized by peace, wealth, and royal grandeur.
Solomon’s rule of peace and magnificence was not possible until the enemy had been conquered. So it is true that the peace and magnificence of the new heaven and earth reign of Christ will not be possible until the enemy has been conquered. The conquest of the enemy has begun now in the Church and will continue throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
Thus the Kingdom Age is the period of atonement, of reconciliation, the time when Christ “shall be perfected.” During this era, which will conclude with the white-throne judgment, sin will be eternally removed from the creation, being contained in the Lake of Fire. Everlasting righteousness will be ushered in.
And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ (Luke 13:32)
This is an excellent portrayal of the thousand-year period (David’s reign, to speak in a figure), followed by the new heaven and earth reign of Christ (typified by Solomon’s reign). These two types indicate to us that the thousand-year period, which will be inaugurated by the return of Christ from Heaven, will mark a partial glorification of Israel. Those who are raised to participate in this partial rule will be a firstfruits of Israel.
The first of the two New Testament passages is Philippians 3:11. Here the aged Apostle Paul expresses his desire to attain the resurrection (Greek — out-resurrection) of the dead. That Paul should set as his goal the attaining of the out-resurrection, or the resurrection out from among the dead, suggests:
- It is a special, advance resurrection.
- Only the Lord’s most fervent saints will attain it.
The second of the two passages is Revelation 20:4-6. These three verses deserve careful attention because they compose the only passage of the entire Scriptures directly stating that it is discussing the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection that will occur when Christ returns.
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This [living again] is the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power [authority], but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)
It is obvious that the resurrection designated in Revelation 20:4-6 is the assignment of the royal priesthood to the thrones of the creation. There is no place in the first resurrection for the weak Christian, the lukewarm, the double-minded, the one who is saved as by fire — the “Lot” who escapes the fire but with complete loss of inheritance.
When we compare Revelation 20:4-6 with Revelation chapters
Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
Revelation 14:1-5 reveals the destiny of the victorious saints. These belong to Jesus in a special way. They are on Mount Zion, on the mountain of rulership, with Christ. They are pillars in the Temple of God. They receive back their bodies in advance of the mass of mankind. They have attained the resurrection that is out from among the dead. (This reminds us of Peter, James, and John who were called from among the twelve to be with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration.)
The second death has no authority over the “blessed and holy” priesthood. Since the second death has authority over all sin, this means the members of the priesthood have been delivered from all sin. That they have been set free from self-seeking is signified by the expression, “And in their mouth was found no guile” (Revelation 14:5).
The victorious saints are eligible and competent to rule the nations of saved peoples of the earth. They have been found worthy to walk with Christ in the white robes of righteousness and glory.
“You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.” (Revelation 3:4)
If we are correct in our conclusions, the first resurrection, the resurrection and ascension that will occur when the Lord comes, must be attained. It is not true that all who profess faith in Christ will be raised from the dead when the Lord appears and be caught up to meet Him in the air.
The hope of a general resurrection of salvation at the coming of the Lord accompanied by an ascension to escape tribulation has no basis in the holy Scriptures. It is a deception calculated to keep the Christian churches in an eternal spiritual babyhood, ensuring that Satan’s kingdom — his rule over the nations of the earth — will not be jeopardized.
The parable of the ten virgins teaches us that many “virgins” (believers) will not be prepared to go with the Bridegroom when He appears. The unpreparedness is not related to their belief (their lamps) but to their inner spiritual life (their oil). The fact that one will be taken and the other left indicates that the first resurrection will be selective.
Attaining the first resurrection.
How, then, does one attain the earlier resurrection from among the dead? Please keep in mind that the purpose of the first resurrection is not to bring us into eternal life. It is the purpose of the second resurrection to bring the righteous into eternal life (Matthew 25:46; John 5:29).
The assumption is, those who attain the first resurrection already have gained eternal life in themselves prior to the coming of the Lord, prior to the resurrection and ascension that will take place at His appearing. They do not need to be resurrected to life since they already have attained life in Jesus.
The purpose of the first resurrection is not to raise us to life but to raise us to rulership. This doctrine is entirely in keeping with Revelation 20:4-6, Revelation 14:1-5, and Revelation chapters
The implication is clear that the nonvictorious believers (which include many — if not the majority — of the believers of our day) are not given to eat of the tree of life at this time, nor do they receive a crown of life, nor do they rule over the nations. Also, they do not walk with Christ in the white robe of righteousness (Revelation 3:4).
It is evident in Revelation chapters
We have stated that the first resurrection must be attained. The assumption is that the saints who participate in the first resurrection already have attained to life prior to the coming of the Lord. By combining these two thoughts, we may state that if one is to be qualified for the first resurrection, for the regaining of his body when the Lord comes, he must have attained to the resurrection of his spiritual nature before the coming of the Lord.
This is to say, the resurrection must be attained now, although its manifestation in bodily form will not take place until the Lord is revealed from Heaven. This is eminently reasonable. It is not reasonable to suppose that the Lord Jesus will clothe a sinful, rebellious, self-centered spiritual personality with a glorified body of vast energies and capabilities.
Man consists of three parts: spirit, soul, and body. Man has not attained to eternal life, the fullness of redemption, the promised-land rest of God, until he has attained to the resurrection of his spirit, the resurrection of his soul, and the resurrection of his body.
The last enemy of man to be overcome through Christ is physical death (I Corinthians 15:26). If physical death is the last enemy to be overcome, it follows that the filling of the physical body with eternal life cannot take place until first the spirit and soul have been resurrected to eternal life.
The resurrection of the spirit takes place, at least in part, when we receive the Lord Jesus as our Lord and Savior and are born again. At this point a firstfruits of our spiritual nature “dies” to the world spirit and becomes one with the Spirit of the Lord. Its resurrection occurs in that it becomes one with the resurrection Life of Christ. Our new born-again inward nature immediately is seated in Christ at the right hand of God.
But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. (I Corinthians 6:17)
and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6)
Now we have eternal life in our inward man. This takes place at once when we receive the Lord.
It remains for us to attain to eternal life in our soul and in our body. Since the body will receive eternal life instantly, at the coming of the Lord, it is the soul that is the problem. The giving of eternal life to our body depends on our laying hold on eternal life in our soul, that is, in our will and emotions. To gain eternal life in our soul is the task of our Christian discipleship, the reason why we must lay down our life, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.
To gain eternal life in our soul is to attain the out-resurrection, the first resurrection. Attaining eternal life in our soul qualifies us for the regaining of the body when Jesus appears. This will take place in advance of the general resurrection of the dead, the resurrection that will take place at the end of the thousand-year period.
Paul already had eternal life in his spirit. He was seeking to know the full power of Jesus’ resurrection in his soul, in his inner nature, so he will be eligible for the donning of immortality in his body when the Lord comes.
The basis of the first resurrection.
To gain eternal life in our soul is to change from one kind of humanity to another, to pass from one kind of creature to another, from one race to another. Until the doctrine of transformation from Adam to Christ, from the living soul to the life-giving spirit, is understood and accepted, it is difficult for the disciple to endure the rigorous dealings of the Lord in his personality (II Corinthians 3:18; I Corinthians 15:45-49).
In order to gain eternal life, our soul must die and be raised again in Christ. The self, the ego, the “I” of the individual, must die. In its place must come the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The conversion of the human soul from Adam to Christ is an interesting philosophical discussion. Worked out in the realities of daily existence, it indeed is a strenuous operation.
It is the sufferings of the cross that slay our soul. The enduring of the prison into which we are cast, the seemingly endless, patient, cross-carrying obedience we are called on to endure, contribute to the death of our soul.
We notice the death of the soul in Philippians chapter 3 as Paul speaks of suffering the loss of all things and counting them as trash in the attempt to win Christ, to partake of the Resurrection Life which Christ is.
It requires a period of time and much suffering before the human being is brought to the place where he counts every possession and achievement as garbage. Until he comes to this place, his soul still has not been converted. It is customary today to speak of conversion as being the time when we acknowledge the facts pertaining to Jesus. This is only mental conversion. True conversion takes place when the soul is crucified and the Life of Jesus comes forth.
In order to enter the power of Christ’s resurrection, we must experience the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. These sufferings imprison our soul, enabling the Godhead to enter our soul and transform it from the death of self-seeking and rebellion into the eternal life of restful union with God.
The end (goal) is to be crucified with Christ. There is no way to gain the Life of Christ other than to be crucified with Christ.
Christ lives in us. He lives in us. This is what it means to attain the resurrection of the soul.
If we endure patiently to the end of our lives, we will possess our souls. If we yield to the temptations and lusts of the world, Satan, and our own flesh and self-will, we will lose possession of our souls. Our souls will go on their own way and be alienated from God.
How many believers of today can claim they have been crucified with Christ and are not living their own lives, but they are living in and by the faith of Christ who is living in them? These are the believers who are attaining the out-resurrection.
It is he who is given the Morning Star who rules the nations. The Morning Star is Jesus living in the throne room of our soul (Revelation 2:26-28).
Each Christian is to be made a chariot of God. To be a chariot of God, we must be transformed in our soul so we have the face of a man, the face of a lion, the face of an ox, and the face of an eagle. The four living creatures each have these four faces because the living creatures reflect the image and Glory of God (Ezekiel 1:10).
- The face of a man is the moral image of God, the image of Christ — that which can enter union with God.
- The face of a lion is the conquering personality — that which rules with God.
- The face of an ox is the willingness and strength to bear the burdens of the work of the Kingdom, the vehicle of service and sacrifice.
- The face of an eagle is the eternal spiritual life soaring in the heavens rather than clutching the mortality of the earth.
These constitute the image of the sons of God.
Also, there must be “a wheel in the middle of a wheel” (Ezekiel 1:16). The wheel is our soul. The wheel in the middle of our soul is the Godhead.
Our soul must die to its self-centeredness. It must receive into itself another “wheel.” As it does, it is transformed into the man, the lion, the ox, and the eagle. For eternity, our soul is man, lion, ox, and eagle. For eternity it does not “roll” in its own direction or by its own power. There is a “wheel” in it from which it receives personality, direction, and power.
Our soul must endure a thorough death. We gain and possess our soul through patient suffering, or else we lose it by being unwilling to forsake our adamic instincts and desires (Luke 21:19).
To gain eternal life in the soul is, as we have said, to be transformed from one kind of humanity to another kind of humanity. The first kind of humanity is Adam, the flesh and blood creature, the dust of the ground. The second kind of humanity is Christ. He is very God of very God and very Man of very man. Christ is more than a flesh and blood animal. Christ is more than the dust of the ground.
We are the Lamb’s Wife, the Body of Christ. The Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, does not consist of flesh and blood animals, the dust of the ground. The Body of Christ is made up of what is both son of man and son of God. There cannot be an eternal union of one kind of humanity with a different kind of humanity.
In order for anyone to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, he must die to what he is, so he may become another kind of humanity. He must be born again if he wants to see and enter the Kingdom of God.
The gaining of eternal life in the soul, on which the first resurrection is based, cannot be accomplished by adherence to the doctrines of the Christian religion. Such transformation can be accomplished only as we receive the Life of Christ into us and permit the Holy Spirit to strike down the impulses of our old nature.
Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)
For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (II Corinthians 4:11)
It is not our doctrine that will raise us at the last day; it is the flesh and blood of Christ. It is His Life in us that Is the Resurrection. He Is the Resurrection. He Is eternal Life.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)
It is His Spirit who dwells in us who will make alive our mortal body. The resurrection of our body will come from our resurrected inner nature. If we live in the appetites of the flesh, our inner nature will not become filled with resurrection life. Therefore our participation in the first resurrection will not be possible. The first resurrection comes from within us (at least in part) and not, as in the case of the second resurrection, totally from outside of us.
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (John 6:56)
As we continually are being cast down by the tribulations we endure, God sends into our soul the flesh and blood of Christ. We die daily, and each day we are raised up. What is raised up is not our old nature, it is the eternal Life of almighty God. It is the new creation. It is the resurrection from the dead.
As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me [or ‘by Me’]. (John 6:57)
Christ lives by, with, and in the Father and the Father in Him. The Father is the Wheel in Christ. Christ is the Man, the Lion, the Ox, and the Eagle, and God is in Him. Christ is the Chariot of God. We are being created in the same image. It is the eternal union of God and man. This is the Kingdom of God.
Whoever seeks to save his life, his soul, will lose it. The soul is part of the first creation, the adamic race. The adamic creation came to an end on the cross of Calvary and will pass away when the earth and heaven pass away. The first creation is finished.
Flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Christ is the First of the new creation. Whoever loses his life in the process of becoming the new creation, the chariot of God, will save his life to eternity.
We notice the same transformation taking place in the Apostle Paul. After speaking of his continual death and resurrection, Paul says:
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, (II Corinthians 4:17)
The exceeding and eternal weight of glory is our house from Heaven.
Here is the relationship between the resurrection of the soul and the resurrection of the body. As affliction brings down our soul to death, we are raised up by the eternal Life that Jesus Is. A house from Heaven, an eternal weight of glory, which is an integral part of the first resurrection, is created as a consequence of our “death” through affliction.
If we want to understand the resurrection of the body, we must realize that two bodies are involved: (1) our heavenly body, and (2) our physical body.
Our heavenly body is our reward for submitting ourselves to death for Jesus’ sake. Our house that is from Heaven is being created as an invisible (to us now), spiritual counterpart of the sowing of our mortal body and soul to death in the will of Jesus. When our mortal body is raised from the dead, it will be clothed with our heavenly body — the body that has been created as we have submitted to the death of the cross.
Our physical body was born of our mother. When we die physically, our body passes back into the elements from which it was created, there to “sleep” until the Day of Resurrection.
There is a heavenly body, and then there are the “sleeping” elements that formerly made up our physical body.
When we die, we are an unclothed spirit. If we have entered the life of cross-carrying obedience while we are alive on the earth, there has been formed for us in the Presence of Christ in Heaven a heavenly body. The “weight of glory” of that body depends on the extent to which we have entered the Life of Jesus during the days of our discipleship.
The Day of Atonement and the first resurrection.
There is another aspect of the resurrection of the body that we should introduce at this time. In the festivals of Israel, there are three observances that occur after the feast of Pentecost: the blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the feast of Tabernacles.
The spiritual fulfillment of the blowing of Trumpets is the coming of the King to make war against all of His enemies and the organizing of the saints into an army. The King, Jesus, comes to us in order to judge all that is in our personality. If we are His servants, He will cleanse us from sin and self-will.
The Levitical Day of Atonement typifies the cleansing of our personality and bringing it into total union with God. We are to confess our sins. We are to do all in our power to follow the Holy Spirit as He brings us to complete reconciliation to God through Christ. It is a lifelong struggle against sin and self-will. The Lord cleanses us from some of our enemies immediately. He allows us to struggle with other evils for many years. God permits this seemingly endless warfare in order to determine whether we will serve Him or not (compare Judges 2:21-23).
We are never to yield to the enemy. We set out to do battle every day of our discipleship. We never give up. In the members of the royal priesthood, God is looking for the resolute will to conquer. That is the mark of those who attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Who will deliver us from the body of this death? God will, in the day of the first resurrection from the dead. In that day, God will visit His victorious saints, cleanse them from the last vestiges of the enemy, and clothe them in the white robe of immortal righteousness. This is their reward for serving the Lord under the difficult conditions of the present world.
After we pass through the judgment of the Day of Atonement, washing our robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb, the Father and the Son enter us through the Holy Spirit and make Their eternal abode with us. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles.
Now the wheel is within the wheel. Christ has been formed in us. The Godhead is dwelling in us. We have been trained, trained, trained by the Spirit of God in the ways of God. We have demonstrated our worthiness for the Kingdom of God by responding obediently, diligently, and worshipfully to the chastening of the Lord.
The old self-centeredness is gone. The lusts of our body are held under strict control by our inner man. Our soul has become the Throne of God and the Lamb. Our soul now is part of the new Jerusalem, the holy city of God (Revelation 22:3). The beautiful, impregnable wall of resistance to sin has been constructed around our soul as we have submitted ourselves to God and have resisted the devil.
We are ready for the resurrection of our body, the clothing of it with eternal life.
The resurrection of the royal priesthood.
All the members of the Body of Christ whom the Lord has found worthy to walk with Him in white will be brought to perfection together, at the time of the coming of the Lord.
When Jesus comes, the members of the royal priesthood will appear with Him. Every eye will see the slain Lamb. The peoples of the earth will not see the members of the royal priesthood, those who come with Him, for they still will be invisible spirits.
Jesus will remain in the clouds above the earth. The invisible saints will descend to the earth, being directed by the Godhead now abiding in them. By faith they will speak the word that will pull together the elements of their physical frame. Reaching down they will pick up this frame and enter it, as the Lord Jesus picked up His body and reentered it two thousand years ago.
The peoples of the earth will see nothing until the graves burst open. Then they will behold the true saints of all ages coming out of their graves, being filled with eternal light and glory. These immortal people are the royal priesthood of God. They are the pillars of the eternal dwelling place of God, the firstfruits of the new Jerusalem.
Those of us who are alive on the earth at that time will feel the upward drawing. We will know that if we reach forward in faith we will lose our normal bodily functions and become immortal creatures. It is at this point that we will be tempted to draw back and consider for the last time our flesh and blood life. If we do, we will not participate in the first resurrection.
The average churchgoer is not prepared for the coming of the Lord and the first resurrection. He or she never has entered, to any appreciable extent, into the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.
How many members of our churches will have enough faith to lay hold on immortality when it is offered? If they are double-minded today, being undecided concerning the extent to which they should commit themselves to God, they surely will look back, as did Lot’s wife and be denied entrance to the Glory of the Lord. They do not have enough “oil.”
If we have lived so that we are able to press forward in faith without once looking back, we will become immortal while standing on our feet. We will resemble those who have returned with the Lord and now have come up from the earth.
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:52)
The resurrected saints will have an opportunity to savor their victory for a while (Jesus had forty days). Then the shining ones will begin to ascend toward the greater Light in the sky. The wicked of the earth will rage and curse as they behold the Glory of God, because they know that soon they will be giving an account of their behavior to judges who cannot be bribed or threatened.
As soon as the witness leaves the earth, the wrath of God will fall on the wicked. As we understand it, each “Lot” (a person who is to be saved because of the prayers of the saints) will be brought to a place of safety by the Lord. They still will be human beings on the earth. But the victorious saints will have participated in the first resurrection. They will have regained their bodies from the dead and will be immortal.
Our belief is that the larger part of God’s Church, of His called-out people, will not be raised until the end of the thousand-year period, at which time they will enter their respective places in the Temple of God, the new Jerusalem. These will be reconciled to the Lord Jesus during the kingdom-wide Day of Atonement, which is the thousand-year period. We believe their reconciliation to God and His Christ is one of the purposes for the thousand-year period (Hosea 6:2).
One may question our use of the term reconciled, claiming that we are reconciled to Christ when we first call on the name of the Lord for salvation.
We indeed are reconciled to God by the blood of the Lamb as far as the payment for the debt of sin is concerned. But there remains much of our personality that has not as yet been reconciled to God. We have not been totally reconciled to God until every element of our personality is at rest in Christ, finding its righteousness, peace, and joy in Him; until every relationship, every situation, and every thing, including our soul, has been laid on the altar of God, never to be removed.
It appears that many Christians of the wealthy nations are finding it difficult to turn over their lives to Jesus. They are not ready to leave the world, to present themselves wholly and without reservation to God to do His will. Until this is true of us, we have not been reconciled to God. We are not ready to represent Him throughout His creation.
All that we are must die and be renewed in Christ before God can find rest in us. There is room for only one will in the universe, and that is the will of God. Those who love Jesus rejoice in the loss of their striving and individual ideas concerning the way things should be, and are glad to enter the rest of God and accept the creation of all things according to His will. Is this true of you as yet? It is true of all who have been completely reconciled to God and His Christ.
The Scripture is clear that only the blessed and holy, the victorious saints, the royal priesthood, will receive back their bodies at the beginning of the thousand-year period (Revelation 20:4-6).
If the weaker Christians do not receive back their bodies at the beginning of the thousand-year period, and will be reconciled to the Lord in the spirit realm during the thousand-year period, then it may be true they will receive back their bodies at the end of the thousand-year period and yet not be required to stand before the judgment seat and be judged according to their works.
We see no reason why this should not be true. Also, it is in keeping with the declaration of Paul that the elect of the Lord have been called, justified, and glorified from the creation of the world. While many of them will not be prepared spiritually to receive back their bodies and reign with Jesus at the beginning of the thousand-year period, their ultimate glorification has been assured by the promise of God (Romans 8:28-30).
The power and consistency of the predetermined plan of God is borne witness to by the fact that the names of the twelve sons of Jacob, men who were far from perfect in their behavior, are inscribed for eternity on the gates of the new Jerusalem.
We believe it is possible for one of the elect to lose his or her position in the Lord and be assigned to eternal punishment. Jesus told us that if we do not bear fruit, we will be cut out of the vine — out of the Lord Himself. It is one matter to hope that the weaker believers will one day find a place in the holy city. It is another matter to maintain that no matter how a believer neglects and abuses his position in Christ, he cannot be lost to the purposes of God. In our opinion, the latter belief is wrong and is also exceedingly dangerous and destructive.
But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 1:5)
While the wrath of God is falling on the earth (under the administration of the saints), the Lord Jesus will welcome His conquerors to Himself and prepare them for the cavalry charge, the invasion of the earth, which is the Battle of Armageddon. Our belief is that not all the saints who have been resurrected will take part in the Battle of Armageddon, but only those who have been called to this task. These are Christ’s warriors. They are very fierce of heart and have in themselves the training and the will for Armageddon, for the frightful destruction that shall remove all sin from the earth.
The wicked of the earth will suffer greatly because of the pouring out of the vials of God’s wrath.
Suddenly heaven will open. The veil that hides spiritual realities from the eyes of the peoples of the earth will be drawn aside. The nations will behold a white horse (Revelation 19:11 — compare Joel 2:4; Habakkuk 3:15).
The descent of Christ’s army will be powerful and violent. Even the prophet trembled in fear, hoping he will find rest when the Lord appears with His army (Habakkuk 3:16).
Woe to the wicked in that day! Woe to the hypocrites in the churches in that hour!
All of the wrath, release, and glory of the thousand-year period will issue through the saints — those who are living by the Life of Christ. God is in them all, and they all are in God.
The above is, we believe, a true picture of the coming, the parousia (to use the Greek term) of the Lord.
The preaching of forgiveness and grace has not been balanced in our day by a scriptural insistence on righteousness of behavior as being an integral part of redemption. The doctrine of justification has been enlarged until it has driven out the scriptural doctrine of sanctification. The imbalanced presentation has destroyed the moral character of great numbers of Christian people — believers who might have been true soldiers of the cross had they been instructed properly.
Also, the anti-Semitic doctrine that believing Gentiles will be carried up to Paradise while the Jews without the Holy Spirit are left here to cope with persecution, torture, and death has left the believers mentally and emotionally unprepared for today’s Divine move of restoration of the Jewish people.
When any doctrine or movement despises or sets aside the continuing importance of the Jewish people in God’s plan of redemption, that doctrine or movement is being inspired, at least in part, by Satan.
It is unscriptural and anti-Semitic to propose that God will split the elect into Jews and Gentiles. To entertain this destructive doctrine reveals an ignorance of the Kingdom of God. When one is born again into the Kingdom of God, he becomes an integral part of Christ. His racial origin loses its significance. The believer has become a part of the one Seed of Abraham.
It is God’s will that the victorious saints of today, the brothers of the Lord Jesus, turn in love and helpfulness toward the Jews by race and encourage them to return to the land of Israel (Micah 5:3). We would exhort all Christians who desire to help the Jews to abandon the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture, for it works against the restoring of the Jew to his Christ. The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture is obviously hostile to the interests of the elect Jews.
In the day of Christ’s Kingdom, the elect Jews and Gentiles will be one in the hand of God. They will stand on Mount Zion and the Word of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem. The only true King of all kings and Lord of all lords, Christ, will sit on the Throne of David. All nations will serve and obey Him, and the Kingdom will be the Lord’s.
Let us listen to the Prophet Isaiah as He describes the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (compare Joel chapter 2; Habakkuk chapter 3; Matthew chapter 24; I Thessalonians chapter 4; II Thessalonians chapter 1; Jude 14-15; Revelation chapter 19).
I have commanded My sanctified ones; I have also called My mighty ones for My anger — those who rejoice in My exaltation.”
The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like that of many people! A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together! The LORD of hosts musters the army for battle.
They come from a far country, from the end of heaven — The LORD and His weapons of indignation, to destroy the whole land.
Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty.
Therefore all hands will be limp, every man’s heart will melt,
And they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; they will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; they will be amazed at one another; their faces will be like flames.
Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it.
For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine.
“I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. (Isaiah 13:3-11)
This is the true vision of the coming of the Lord Jesus.
Let us without delay cast aside our fables and traditions and search the Scriptures. Let us pray we may be accounted worthy to escape spiritual destruction and to stand before Christ in triumph.
The Day of the Lord is at hand. He is preparing His mighty men, His victorious saints — a strong people, fully armed, prepared for war. Through them the creation will be released from the Divine curse. Life will be restored to the earth. The Lord’s “trees of righteousness” will rebuild what sin has destroyed. They will raise up what has been torn down and will repair the ruined cities.
Let us prepare ourselves for the great and terrible Day of the Lord, and for the work of rebuilding a world that has been reduced to rubble by man’s desire to be his own god.
All of the “Herod’s Temples” will at last lie in ruins. But the eternal Temple of God will arise and stand to the ages of ages, world without end. Amen.
(“The Coming of the Lord”, 3950-1, proofed 20230729)