Promises and Secrets

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A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



Tribulation

VIEWPOINT



Having my beliefs about the end times and the Time of Tribulation, mostly from the words of pastors and "scholars", I have since read some well thought out pages and have had to do a little more research. Boy, were they, and I, wrong.

FACT



The Bible predicts a time of Tribulation will come on the Earth. Some say it has already happened, others that it will happen in the future.


BLUE VIEWPOINT



Lately, several churches and TV pastors claim that the tribulation mentioned in Daniel 7 and other books has already happened.

This started some thinking, and that is always dangerous because it tends to generate ideas that upset people. Those ideas are not always right, nor final, but they sure stimulate some interesting conversations.

Why so many "experts"?

What about the Tribulation? We hear that it will last seven years. We hear that it is over and lasted 1260 years. We hear that the Antichrist will be here. We hear that the Antichrist has already been and gone. We hear that the saints will be raptured to Heaven before it starts. We hear that the saints will not be raptured to Heaven before it starts. We hear that the saints will be persecuted, and we hear that they will not be persecuted because they won't be here. We hear that the tribulation happened in 70 A.D. We hear that it happened between 538 A.D. and 1798 A.D. We hear that it has not happened yet.

Check the source

Enough! Evidently they haven't read 2 Thes 2
Events prior to the Lord's Second Coming

1 Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. 2 Don't be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don't believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. 3 Don't be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed - the one who brings destruction. 4 He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.

5 Don't you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you? 6 And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. 7 For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. 8 Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming.

9 This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. 10 He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. 11 So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. 12 Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth.

Believers Should Stand Firm

13 As for us, we can't help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation - a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth. 14 He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15 With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, 17 comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. (NIV)

, or think that we haven't. What are we supposed to think with all these different inputs? Well, the only way to verify is to check the source of the only information we have on the issue - the Bible. Not just the KJV, NIV, or any other favorite version that tickles our ears - the whole Bible. The one that tells a story from Genesis through Revelation and all the information from one end to the other agrees with itself - without contradiction.

Some will lead you astray

Oh, you know that your pastor would never lead you astray? Well, one site at Patheos assures us that the tribulation was not only in the past, but the world is getting better because Jesus told us that once the tribulation happens, things will never be that bad again, based on Matt 24:20-21
20 But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again.

. The site uses the Bible to back up his claims - sort of. His discussion points to the fact that in Matt 24, Jesus was supposedly talking only to people who would be alive during the tribulation and the events would "come to pass in their lifetime, not ours", and then things would get better. Evidently, this person feels that this happened sometime in the Dark Ages, and things are just going to keep getting better for us.

Oh, his logic sounded good - until you actually read the passages in Matthew chapter 24. His argument was fine, if you stop after verse 21 and then skip to verse 34, but don't read any of the verses in between. However, there is a small set of passages in between that really make a difference:

29 "Immediately after the distress of those days

    " 'the sun will be darkened,
        and the moon will not give its light;
    the stars will fall from the sky,
        and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' "

30 "Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."

These words of Jesus are a summary restating quotes from the information in Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Joel. He is not stating this idea for the first time. God has been saying this all along.

Add it all together, and it makes sense

Now, work with me here. This is a little deep, and very theological, but you should be able to keep up without a brain hernia. If "immediately after the stress of those days" the sign of the Son of Man will appear in Heaven, and this happened in the distant past, there are some questions which beg to be asked. "Where is Jesus, and why is everyone still here?" "Where's my email that Jesus is here and in charge?" "How did the media, who see things that aren't even there, miss a real event?" If Rev 1:7
"Look, he is coming with the clouds," and "every eye will see him, even those who pierced him"; and all peoples on earth "will mourn because of him." So shall it be! Amen.

tells us that "every eye will see him", how did so many people in the world miss the most important event in the history of the world?

Of course, it depends on...

To be honest, this understanding is based on the definition of a couple of terms here. One is "immediately" as in "immediately after those days", which seems to imply a very short time. If you interpret "immediately" to mean "more than 200 years" (from 1798) or "more than 1900 years" (from 70 A.D.), then we just have to wait. Another term is "every" as in "every eye will see him". Now, this could mean "many" or "most" or "every non-Christian" or even "every Sunday-keeper" which is why some of us may have missed it. However, if nothing has been reported, and we haven't heard of any unusual droughts on countries, like America, that are not going to worship the King of the earth (Zechariah 14:17
If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain.

), it seems that maybe He hasn't come yet.

Not only that, what about the rest of the prophecy? The sun is still shining, the moon is visible on most nights except here in the moist northwest, and the stars still appear to be shining. Though we may not be theological professors, ministers, or any other Biblical authorities, a description of certain events should be noticeable, and when we can look around to see that apparently nothing has changed, some parts of this idea should tend to generate questions in our minds.

And this is not just depending on my own knowledge here. Zechariah said in chapter 14:16-19
16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord[a] will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.

that after the Lord comes, the survivors in the nations of the world would be required to go to Jerusalem year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Did we miss the announcement that Jesus has returned and is in Jerusalem waiting for us to do something?

And there are others...

Well, it's not just this guy who says that the tribulation happened in the past. There are some others who say that all this bad stuff happened during what we call the Dark Ages. Without putting you through all the logic, here is a summary in their own words at Christianity Beliefs: Revelation Timeline Decoded:

So history unveils that these prophecies all point to the same 1,260 year time period of Great Tribulation, from 538-1798 A.D., during which the Popes of Rome were the reigning power in the world.

So it is not referring to 3 1/2 years of Great Tribulation during the end times.

Here again, we can use the same logic as we did above: If, based on the statements in Matt 24:29-31
29 "Immediately after the distress of those days

    "'the sun will be darkened,
        and the moon will not give its light;
    the stars will fall from the sky,
        and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'

30 "Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."

Jesus came at a Second Coming "immediately after those days", where is He and why haven't we heard something?

What about the Rapture?

Another "sign" of the end times we are told about is the so-called "Rapture" of the saints before the time of trouble begins. Supposedly, when we see this happen, we are to know that, if we missed it, then we are left behind and are at the beginning of Tribulation. Do you remember finding any reports of mass Christian disappearances in the past 200 or 1900 years? In a similar manner to that of skipping parts of the Bible that discredit a theory, some take passages that say one thing and add to their words a meaning that does not match anything else in the Bible. Again, easy to say, but let's see what is happening here.

"But, that's what the Bible says..."

The main passage used by many to support this new Rapture (from the 1800's) theory is 1 Thes 4:13-17
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

.

Now, read this passage carefully and let everyone know when you find the place where it says that this will happen before Tribulation. Nothing? Next, see if you can find anything that references the "coming of the Lord". Ah, there it is in verse 15. O.K., so far? One more look-up here. Find any passages in the Bible that say that Jesus will come again - and then yet again. You know, a sort of "second coming before the second coming". You will find that there are none of those either. There is only one "second coming" mentioned - and 1 Thes 4:13-17 describes it exactly. Otherwise, we have two "second comings" (or a second and a third). Remember, we need to read what the Bible says, not add to or distort it.

So, where does that leave us?

It's pretty easy to say these things about someone else's efforts to interpret prophecy, but where can we get the straight scoop? It's not like Zechariah gave us a date, or even Jesus in the book of Matthew. The one thing we can definitely know for sure is that the tribulation spoken of in Daniel, Isaiah, Matthew, and other books has not yet happened. But they did leave us clues, or "signs" of what must happen before the tribulation involving the Antichrist can begin.

Falling away

One of the signs is a great "falling away", or loss of true faith in God and His Son. You can read this in 2 Thes 2
Events prior to the Lord's Second Coming

1 Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. 2 Don't be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don't believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. 3 Don't be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed - the one who brings destruction. 4 He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.

5 Don't you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you? 6 And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. 7 For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. 8 Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming.

9 This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. 10 He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. 11 So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. 12 Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth.

Believers Should Stand Firm

13 As for us, we can't help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation - a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth. 14 He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15 With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, 17 comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. (NIV)

. That "falling away" includes the loss of faith in the fact that Jesus will return someday for those who believe in His offer of Salvation.

...and all the rest...

Other signs that we are to look for include wars, rumors of wars, violence, lawlessness, droughts, famines, earthquakes and other natural catastrophies, diseases, someone trying to take control of the world, and a buddy to help that someone (likely a religious power). Well, except for the last two, this list just enumerates what is happening every day in the world, so by this information, we should be looking up for signs of Jesus' coming. However, the last two don't seem to be in the "news" today.

In fact, according to Ezekiel in chapters 40 - 48, there is yet to be a temple built in which the Antichrist will perform "the abomination that causes desolation" spoken of in Daniel 9:27
27 "He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him."

. So, by normal reckoning based on what the Bible says, we should be seeing a temple being built sometime before Christ comes, hopefully in the near future.

However, even there we have to be careful. By our method of timekeeping, at the time of this writing the current year is 2017. By a common "1000 years to a day" reckoning, we have started the period that some say is to begin the 7th 1000 year period that is supposed to be the Millennium. This makes some sense and is suggested by some vague texts in the Bible, but let's wait and see before shooting off half-cocked.

Since by all appearances Christ has not yet returned, and that Millennium hasn't happened yet, someone's idea is wrong somewhere. However, the Jewish calendar sets the year at 5777, so there are still 223 years to go before the end of the 6000 years. If that's what God has in mind, then they still have 216 years to build the temple before the Antichrist comes. Like they say, we can't be dogmatic, just stay awake.

But watch out, they are out there trying to hook you

After all this, we just have some general signs to keep in mind as we watch the events of the world unfold. To be dogmatic is foolish, as you can see by the number of "predictions" of the recent past. To get an idea of this, the site at Bible.ca lists 242 predictions with one setting the coming of the antichrist as late as September 14, 2047, and with several that just say "soon!" The way things look, if even Jesus wouldn't guess, these other guesses seem a bit foolish.

When the Antichrist gets here

When he finally gets here, according to Bible prophecy, he will have access to the saints. We will still be here because we don't get "caught up" until the second coming, and that second coming is the event that destroys the Antichrist as we are promised in 2 Thes 2:8
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

. For those of you who disagree because you think we "must" be raptured to keep us from God's Wrath, remember Noah's family and also the Israelites in Egypt. There were no raptures going on there, but the right people were protected from God's Wrath in both cases - by His promises, not our wishes.

Whether we recognize the Antichrist, or get taken in by him, depends on our familiarity with the signs that only God's word can give us. Study a lot and hang in there, brothers and sisters.

Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at glenjjr@gmail.com and give us your view.

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