1. Notes on Millennial Sacrifices, (Bottom of page)
2. Questions regarding the prophecies in the OT (Bottom of page)
3. Eight items missing from Ezekiel’s Temple (Bottom of page)
Lesson 1: Introduction
As we begin our study of End Times Prophecies, you need to know where I am coming from in terms of theological viewpoint. As you probably know, every Biblical commentator has a certain viewpoint that they operate from, which directly affects and influences how they deal with the Scriptures (and associated information). The fancy way of describing my view would be to say that I am a “Pre-Millennial Fundamentalist”. What that really means is that I believe that there will be a series of events that are foretold in Scripture relating to a time period known as the “end times” or “latter days” which will occur immediately prior to a literal 1,000 year earthly reign of Christ, followed by the Eternal Kingdom. I take the Bible literally, knowing that there is symbolism and allegory in God’s Word, but believing that what God specifically says is what He really means. For example, I believe that there will be a real, literal “mark of the Beast” that people will choose to take at some point during the events of the 70th “week” of Daniel. Although many modern commentators choose to teach that such material is only symbolic, I believe that God meant what He said, and that we need to be aware of the fact that a time will come when the people of the earth will have to knowingly choose whether or not to accept the mark of God’s enemy.
Another aspect of my “viewpoint” on Scripture is that I believe that the best way to study and interpret Scripture is in the light of Scripture. By that I mean that whenever God uses symbols, or difficult to understand phrasing, you will find that He has explained His meaning in some other part of Scripture. Using Scripture as its’ own commentary by cross-referencing, and by studying the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew and Greek), you will find that the vast majority of what people see as “confusing” or “impossible to understand” is actually quite clear. This is not to say that there aren’t still some “mysteries” in God’s Word, but it is not as unapproachable as most people think.
That being said, let’s look at a few guidelines for the study of prophecy:
The first and most important guideline for studying prophecy is to seek the plain and normal meaning of the words and situations described within their historical context. Don’t come to a prophetic passage with a preconceived conclusion or interpretive system to force it into. Let the grammatical and historical context communicate the plain and normal meaning, and then incorporate that meaning into what you already know.
A second guideline for interpreting prophecy is: compare one prophecy with another, especially similar prophecies. Each prophecy unfolds a bit more of the total plan of God for the ages. Often there are overlapping and corresponding references in a few or several prophecies, though they may have been delivered hundreds of years apart. (Compare the description of “the Ancient of Days” in Daniel 7:9–14 with the “One like the Son of Man” in Revelation 1:13–16 and the Lamb in chapter 5:8–14.)
A third guideline for interpreting prophecy is to remember that the timing of the fulfillment may be uncertain. From God’s side of eternity the elements are complete and the prophecy is already fact. From man’s side, separate future events may seem to blend into one, as a person looking toward a range of mountains may see two peaks as one, not perceiving the valley between them or its size and unique characteristics. This principle suggests that biblical prophecies may have several layers of fulfillment. Some of the events prophesied in the book of Daniel began to happen in the days of Babylon, Persia, and Greece. But those prophecies were only partially fulfilled at that time. Classical scholars would see the second-century invasion of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes (in 167–164 B.C.) as a type or partial fulfillment of yet other future events which are yet to occur at the end of this age (Dan. 9:26, 27; 11:21–35).
The fourth guideline for interpreting prophecy is sometimes called the law of double reference. A prophecy may have a fulfillment both in the time of the prophet, and another in the perhaps distant future. For instance, the prophetic sign given to Ahaz in Isaiah 7:14 also refers both to the birth of a son by Isaiah’s wife (Is. 8:3) and to the birth of the Messiah by the Virgin Mary (Matt. 1:22; Luke 1:27).
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s begin our journey with the first “end times” prophecy in the Bible, which deals with the following question, “Is there a time limit to human history, and if so, where are we on the timeline?”
1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
2nd Peter 3:8
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The literal translation of the text of 2nd Peter 3:8 is “….. and a thousand years as DAY ONE” This is important when we remember that the Jews did not have NAMES for days, like we do (we have Monday, Tuesday, etc.). Their days were as follows: Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, Day Six, SABBATH. Many commentators (and I agree with them) state that God established a pattern in the week of Creation that will reflect the pattern of human history. We will have “six days” (6,000 years) of “regular” history, followed by a “day” (1,000 years) of “sabbath”, under the direct rule of Christ (commonly known as the Millennium).
If this is the case, where do we stand in “the week”? Well, the current year in the Jewish calendar (which supposedly began counting at the creation of the world) is the year 5,766; which would leave us approximately 234 years left. We can all breathe a big sigh of relief, right?
Well, NO! You see, the current Jewish calendar was established by “sages” in the Middle Ages who calculated their times by the reigns of the various kings listed in the Old Testament. However, more recent archeological finds in the Middle East have caused archeologists and historians at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel to state that the commonly accepted calendar is OFF by approximately 240 years! If they are correct, then we could hit the big “6,000” VERY soon.
From “The Jewish New Testament Commentary”
“According to Jewish tradition, there were 2,000 years without Torah—spiritual tohu—between the creation of Adam and the time when Abraham, aged 52, began convincing people to worship the one true God.
The second 2,000 years supposedly lasted from then until 172 years after the destruction of the second Temple, that is, until 244 C.E. That was the year 4000 by the Jewish calendar, but no significant event in Jewish history took place then. However, biblical chronology has a number of uncertainties, so that not all agree that the Jewish calendar accurately dates the biblical beginning of creation. James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, writing in the 17th century, placed the creation according to Genesis at 4004 B.C.E., exactly 4,000 years before Yeshua’s supposed birthdate (see Mt 2:1N).
Concerning the third 2,000 years, a footnote to this passage in the Soncino English edition of the Talmud says, “Messiah will come within that period. He should have come at the beginning of [it]; the delay is due to our sins.” It should be obvious that the Messiah who “should have come at the beginning” of the last 2,000-year period is in fact Yeshua, who did come then. The delay is not of his coming but of our recognizing him, and this delay is indeed “due to our sins.” For more on predicting when the Messiah is to come, see Mt 24:36N.
Yet, as Kefa points out, there is a delay in his second coming; and this is, in a different sense, “due to our sins”: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise … ; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is … his purpose that everyone should turn from his sins, literally, “that everyone should come to repentance” (see Mt 3:2N).”
This theory was also taught by the early church leaders and commentators, such as Origen, Justin Martyr, and others.
From “The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1”
“THE FALSE AND THE TRUE SABBATH
Further, also, it is written concerning the Sabbath in the Decalogue which [the Lord] spoke, face to face, to Moses on Mount Sinai, “And sanctify ye the Sabbath of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart.” And He says in another place, “If my sons keep the Sabbath, then will I cause my mercy to rest upon them.” The Sabbath is mentioned at the beginning of the creation [thus]: “And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it.” Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth, saying, “Behold, to-day will be as a thousand years.” Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. “And He rested on the seventh day.” This meaneth: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day.”
From “The Post Nicene Fathers, Volume 7, Lactantius”
Therefore, since all the works of God were completed in six days, the world must continue in its present state through six ages, that is, six thousand years. For the great day of God is limited by a circle of a thousand years, as the prophet shows, who says “In Thy sight, O Lord, a thousand years are as one day.” And as God labored during those six days in creating such great works, so His religion and truth must labor during these six thousand years, while wickedness prevails and bears rule. And again, since God, having finished His works, rested the seventh day and blessed it, at the end of the six thousandth year all wickedness must be abolished from the earth, and righteousness reign for a thousand years; and there must be tranquillity and rest from the labors which the world now has long endured.”
Lesson 2: “As In The Days Of Noah”
37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 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, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 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. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
How was it in the days of Noah?
“5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”
2nd Timothy 3:1-5
“1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! “
Our first lesson in this series discussed the fact that The Bible gives a general TIMELINE of the “latter days”; this second lesson discusses the MORAL and SPIRITUAL CLIMATE of these same “latter days”. Although sin and lawlessness have existed in every generation since The Fall, the end times will be characterized by a higher degree of sinfulness. In every generation, people have committed ACTS of sin, but the AIM of most societies was to encourage “good behavior”; but the final generation prior to the Millennium will be characterized by an ACCEPTED lawlessness. Sin will be both condoned and legitimized by the very entity that is supposed to RESTRAIN behavior; the STATE. The culture, entertainments, legal and political systems, and home life will change the “expected norms” of “civilized” behavior from the historic standards of community, service, virtue, honor, truthfulness, sanctity of marriage and family, patriotism, and so on.
The specifics of this pattern of behavior are found in the list from 2nd Timothy:
For men will be:
lovers of themselves – looking out for number one, self-centered
lovers of money – greedy, “anything for a buck”
boasters – focusing on self-achievement and self-promotion
proud – individual accomplishment, “I’m the best!”
blasphemers – mocking the things of God
disobedient to parents – de-emphasizing the family structure and authority
unthankful – lack of gratitude for anything or anyone, “you owe it to me!”
unholy – lacking purity or virtue
unloving – real love is based in self-sacrifice, this will not be seen in relationships
unforgiving – grudges, hard-feelings from childhood on up
slanderers – anything can be said about anyone, whether its’ true or not
without self-control – “I’ve got to have it ALL, NOW”
brutal – vicious, violent, uncaring of the pain of others
despisers of good – any virtue is seen as “weak”
traitors – willing to betray family, friends, co-workers, your country, ANYONE
headstrong – “It’s MY way or the HIGHWAY!”
haughty – looking down on others for any one of a hundred reasons
lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – “If it feels good, do it!”
having a form of godliness but denying its power – RELIGION, without RELATIONSHIP. False doctrines, and “anything goes” Christianity.
Lesson 3: “The Exodus as a blueprint for the Tribulation”
The Book of Exodus contains the blueprint for the last generation saints to endure the great tribulation until the Messiah comes. It is the story of the exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land; it is the pattern for the greater exodus from this world to the Messiah’s Kingdom.
Moses wrote a song of deliverance (Exodus 15) at the first Exodus. Upon crossing the Red Sea and seeing Pharaoh’s chariots drowned, he sang that song – the song of Moses. I’m sure you have heard the words, “The horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.” But, did you know that Moses wrote a second song? The second song is also a song of deliverance and according the book of Revelation, it will be sung along with the song of the Lamb by tribulation saints at the end of the age. The second song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32) is for the greater Exodus. And they sang the song of Moses the bond-servant of God and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations. Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all the nations will come and worship before Thee, For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.” REVELATION 15:3-4
The children of Israel left Egypt with the clear expectation that they were going to the promised land – the land of milk and honey. However, they did not go directly to that land. Instead, they went into the great, terrible wilderness for 40 years and camped at 42 different places. Then, they came to the Jordan river and crossed over to the promised land. Whereas, Israel camped 42 times, our tribulation is 42 months (3 ½ years). The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzrayim. It literally means trials and tribulations.
Lets look at some of the comparisons between the Exodus and the “FINAL” exodus:
Pharaoh and the Anti-Christ: Pharaoh hardened his heart against the Lord and great judgment befell Egypt. The Antichrist will also harden his heart against God and not remember the son of Joseph (Jesus the Messiah). Great judgments will befall the world and the Antichrist so that everyone will “know the Lord.”
Moses and Aaron – the two witnesses Moses and Aaron went into Pharaoh and spoke the Lord’s will, “Let My people go.” With each refusal, Moses and Aaron pronounced God’s judgments upon Egypt and Pharaoh. In like manner, we will have two witnesses prophesying in Jerusalem, pronouncing judgments upon the world, and warning the people, “Behold, Here is your God!”
God’s Judgments as Sets The ten plagues that hit Egypt were three sets of three judgments with a final judgment. They can be identified by where Moses was when the judgment is brought forth. Beginning with the first judgment, water into blood, the judgments came forth in this manner: At the river Nile, at the Palace, then unannounced. This pattern repeats itself through the first nine. Therefore, the judgments were actually three sets of three each. It is not that the judgments announced at the river Nile happened first then all the Palace announcements happened, etc. They were integrated with each other. In like manner, we can see that the future Revelation judgments are three sets of seven.
The Locusts and Darkness Judgment Judgment number eight and nine in ancient Egypt were particularly difficult. These preceded the final judgment. God demonstrates His great wisdom and judgment by doing the same with us in the great tribulation. In the final days of the tribulation, an asteroid, meteor, or comets strikes the earth in a deep impact scenario. According to the prophet Joel and John, great clouds billow up to darken the sun, moon, and stars. All the prophets have spoken of the world being in darkness before the coming of the Lord. From the abyss in the earth, demons come forth in this darkness to terrorize men. They are compared to locusts, following in mass and devastating everything in their path.
The 10 Tests in the Wilderness Israel was purposely tested in the wilderness. God wanted to transform the people and teach them to trust Him. And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. DEUTERONOMY 8:2-5 Beginning with the crossing of the Red Sea and ending with Israel’s rejection at Kadesh-Barnea, Israel failed 10 tests.
These tests are summarized by two categories (belief and obedience) as the following questions:
Belief and Trust: 1. Will God save us from Pharaoh (Antichrist)?
2. Will God provide water?
3. Will God provide food?
4. Will God be with us to defend us?
5. Is God the One and only, true God?
Obedience and Blessing: 6. Will we reject God’s provision?
7. Will we reject God’s presence?
8. Will we reject God’s salvation?
9. Will we reject God’s Anointed?
10. Will we reject God’s Kingdom?
At the Red Sea, Pharaoh and his chariots approached to slaughter the children of Israel. The unbelievers cried out that Moses had brought them out to die. But Moses answered and told the people to be quiet and see the salvation of God. God led them through the Red Sea and drowned the Egyptians before their eyes. When the great tribulation comes, the first test will be whether God will save us from the Antichrist and his chariots. Many believers have been told that the Antichrist will be very powerful in the world. The Antichrist will be given power for a specific period; however, our God will not forsake us nor abandon us to the enemy. He is a savior and His arm is not short to deliver those who take refuge in Him. The Apostle Paul makes reference to these tests explaining that they are to teach us. He also says they are intended for the people at the end of the ages (the last generation). Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1st CORINTHIANS 10:11
Wanting to return to Egypt It didn’t take long before the children of Israel began to mumble and grumble among themselves. The accommodations were not all that great. Food and water were questionable. Eventually, Moses’ leadership came into question. They complained that in Egypt they had cucumbers, melons, leeks and garlic; in the wilderness, all they had was manna. They also had taken a lot of gold from Egypt. What could they spend their gold on out in the wilderness? All of this led to various groups and individuals rising up in opposition saying that they should return to Egypt. In like manner, I can assure you that these very issues will present themselves in the great tribulation in the camp of believers. They will get hungry for McDonald’s french fries, Chinese take-out, and pizza delivery. What’s more, many believers will bring money with them, but there won’t be anywhere to spend it in the camp. The temptation will come and our own brethren will rise in opposition to camp leadership. The issue won’t be the leaders; the issue will be money, and they will want to go spend it back in the cities.
For the Fear of our Children The greatest concern and most difficult issue for Israel in the wilderness was preparing to enter the land of Israel. When the spies returned and said, “There are giants in the land,” the people believed that their enemies would kill their children. For this reason, they would not trust the Lord despite all that the Lord had done and shown them. In like manner, we will face our greatest test in believing that the Lord will protect and care for our children. The children of Israel didn’t believe the Lord; they were judged for their unbelief and disobedience in refusing to enter the land. So God took their children and took the land with them. The parents died one by one in the wilderness.
Crossing the River Jordan When Israel crossed the Jordan river, they entered the promised land as a nation. They had leaders, laws, and land. The Angel of the Lord went before them. They were no longer slaves to Egypt. They were a free people with a covenant from God. In like manner, we will be resurrected from the dead or changed by the rapture. We will have new bodies. We will have Jesus with us. We will no longer be slaves to sin and the world; we will be free and servants of the Living God. We will receive another covenant – the covenant of peace. And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. EZEKIEL 37:26-27
Lesson 4: “End Times Prophecies In The Psalms”
1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision. 5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: 6 “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.” 7 “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8 Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ” 10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
This psalm relates to the Second Coming of Christ and the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. Notice the attitude of the earth immediately prior to Christ’s coming. The Father has decreed that The Son will inherit all the nations of the earth, and rule them with severity. See Revelation 13:1-7, Revelation 19:11-19
1 Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. 3 Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. 4 For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. 6 Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. 7 Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Give to the LORD glory and strength. 8 Give to the LORD the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. 9 Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. 10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.” 11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; 12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the LORD. 13 For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.
Christ will establish the court of His palace, and the peoples of the earth will bring praise into it. He will judge the earth and all peoples with righteousness and truth. See Ezekiel 44:1-3, 46:1-3
1 The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” 2 The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! 3 Your people shall be volunteers In the day of Your power; In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth. 4 The LORD has sworn And will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” 5 The Lord is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath. 6 He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries. 7 He shall drink of the brook by the wayside; Therefore He shall lift up the head.
See Ezekiel 39:8-21
These three psalm relate to the actual conquest of the earth by the Messiah, the warfare against God’s Anointed, and Christ’s victory over the massed armies of the earth. He then establishes His Millennial Kingdom, and His palace, and directly rules and judges the earth.
After His resurrection, Jesus did not establish the kind of kingdom envisioned in the Old Testament. But history did not come to a close with Jesus’ death and resurrection. Some 2,000 years have passed since the events recorded in the New Testament took place. An appropriate question, then, is, What happened to the covenant promises made to David? The best answer is not to assume that the covenant promises given to David were symbolic, and have been fulfilled “spiritually” in the blessings Christians now enjoy. The Old Testament prophecies are far too specific for that. The best answer is to link the ultimate fulfillment of the covenant promises to Christ’s return and the end of history.
Jesus promised to return (Matthew 24). This chapter of Matthew is eschatological. It describes events which will take place at history’s end. The Gospels speak of a time of terrible tribulation here on earth. Jesus speaks of His own return to earth in great power. Matthew wrote, “They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 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” (Matt. 24:30–31).
Revelation 19 describes Jesus’ return in power to rule. This chapter of the book of Revelation depicts Jesus’ return and His victory over God’s enemies. Jesus is called KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS (Rev. 19:16). When Christ returns, He will not appear as suffering Savior but as King of kings. He will take the throne not only of Israel but of the whole world.
The early Christians expected the promises to David to be fulfilled at Jesus’ return. Today many Christians have concluded that the ancient covenant promises given to Israel were set aside by Jesus, and that the commitments given to Abraham and his descendants have been fulfilled symbolically in the church. HOWEVER, this view was not held in the early church. The early Christians expected the covenant promises made to Israel to be fulfilled when Jesus returns. About A.D. 150 Justin Martyr wrote, “I and as many as are orthodox Christians, do acknowledge that there shall be a resurrection of the body, and a residence of a thousand years in Jerusalem, adorned and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel, Isaiah, and others do unanimously attest” (2Vol. I, p. 239). The early church fathers integrated the teaching of Revelation with Old Testament prophecy and with Jesus’ own statements about the future found in Matthew 24 and Mark 13. Before the world came to an end, the church fathers expected Jesus to return and to institute the age of blessing spoken of in the Old Testament.
THE DAVIDIC COVENANT HAD PROPHETIC APPLICATION
As we move into the prophets, we begin to see an additional dimension of the Davidic Covenant. David is always to have a descendant qualified to sit on his throne—until the promise to David is fulfilled in a ruler who will establish an endless kingdom. In addition, the Old Testament prophets linked the coming ruler, called the Messiah, or Anointed One, with specific promises made to Abraham. David’s descendant will rule over a restored Hebrew kingdom, reestablished on the land promised to Abraham. God will bless His people then by being their God. And the Davidic King will be a banner to which even the Gentiles rally. So all families on earth will be blessed through Him.
The New Testament predicts a return of Jesus before the world ends. And it is as history draws to its close that the promises given Abraham are to be fulfilled by Jesus as God’s agent and as David’s great Son.
Lesson 5: “End Time Prophecies In Isaiah – The Messianic Kingdom”
Isaiah 11:1 – 12:6
Isaiah 24:1 – 27:13
Isaiah 32:1 – 35:10
Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, looks beyond the current (for him) chaos to the glorious kingdom of the Messiah. In that day Jerusalem will be established as the religious and political capital of the world. The Gentile nations will make pilgrimages to Zion for worship and for divine instruction. The King will arbitrate international problems and settle disputes for the people. As a result, there will be universal disarmament. The funds formerly spent on munitions will be spent on agricultural equipment. These opening verses resemble Micah 4:1–3, either because they are inspired by the same Holy Spirit or because one prophet could be quoting the other.
The section starting in chapter 4 looks forward to the glorious kingdom of Christ. He is the Branch of verse 2, beautiful and glorious. The ancient Chaldee paraphrase here reads, The Christ, or Messiah, of the Lord. He is also the first fruit of the land, in whom the restored Israelites boast. Unbelievers will have been destroyed by the Lord Jesus at His Second Advent. Saved Jews, recorded for life in Jerusalem, will be called holy. The cleansing of verse 4 is accomplished by judgment and not by the gospel. Mount Zion will be covered by a canopy of cloud by day and of flaming fire by night, a symbol of God’s care and protection.
Isaiah 11 is one of the greatest passages on the Millennium in either the OT or the NT. In one of the quick transitions, so frequent in the prophets, we are now carried forward to the Second Coming of Christ. First we see the lineage of the Son of David, a Rod from the stem of Jesse, who was David’s father (1 Sam. 17:12).
Even wild animals will submit to Messiah’s rule, making it possible for a nursing child to play by the cobra’s hole. One of the most glorious promises in all of Holy Scripture is the second half of v. 9, giving the reason for the ideal conditions during the Millennial Kingdom.
The Messiah will be a banner, attracting the Gentiles to Himself, and the seat of His authority will be glorious. The Lord will regather the remnant of His people from all directions of the compass. Judah and Israel (Ephraim) will live together in peace, and will subdue their enemies—the Philistines, Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites. The tongue of the Sea of Egypt (the Red Sea) will be dried up, and the River (the Euphrates) will be reduced to seven streams so that the Jews can return to the land. A highway will connect Assyria and Israel so that the return from the north will be made easy. In the glad millennial day, Israel will sing songs of thanksgiving and of trust. With joy the saved remnant will quench its thirst by drawing water from the wells of salvation. Israel will also sing as God’s missionaries to the nations, inviting them to come to Christ for satisfaction.
Judgment on All the Earth (Chap. 24)
The judgments of God seem to start with the land of Israel, but they widen to include the whole earth and even wicked beings in the heavens. Then the prophet mourns the dread horrors of the Great Tribulation. It will be a time of treachery. Escape will be impossible. The earth will careen like a drunkard, as if struck by a mammoth quake. It falls to rise no more. The wicked hosts in heavenly places will also be judged. This corresponds to Revelation 19:19, 20; 20:1–3. Kings of the earth who have served as their puppets will share in this judgment at the Second Advent of Christ. The Lord’s surpassing glory will put the sun and moon to shame.
The Book of Songs (Chaps. 25–27)
1. Israel’s Song of Praise for Kingdom Blessings (Chap. 25)
Here the restored Jewish remnant praises the LORD for its deliverance through the Great Tribulation. Enemy cities have been pulverized, causing Gentiles to acknowledge Jehovah’s power. God has been to His people all that they needed. On Mount Zion the Lord spreads a feast of the finest spiritual delights. He removes the covering of ignorance, the veil of Satanic blindness that has shrouded all nations. He conquers death abolishes sorrow, and removes the stigma from the Jewish people. The remnant will say “This is our God; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Israel’s enemies, of whom Moab is perhaps representative, will be shamefully trampled.
2. Judah’s Song to the Rock of Ages (Chap. 26)
Back in the land, the restored remnant celebrates the life of faith and dependence. The righteous nation (redeemed Israel) experiences the perfect peace that comes from leaning hard on Jehovah. Regarding verse 3 the celebrated American Baptist hymnwriter, Philip P. Bliss, used to say “I love this verse more than any other verse in the Bible, ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.’”
Verses 7–19 seem to rehearse the prayers of the remnant when passing through the Tribulation. The Lord has smoothed the path for them and they have waited earnestly for Him to reveal Himself. Only when God acts in judgment will the wicked learn righteousness. God’s hand has been raised in readiness, but when it descends in fury they will be ashamed, and then there will be peace for Israel. The remnant has been ruled by many Gentile masters, but God is their true and only Lord. The nations that troubled Israel will not rise to trouble God’s people again. This verse does not deny the bodily resurrection of the wicked; it merely promises that the Gentile powers will never be restored.
But after Israel goes through travail similar to that of childbirth, which seemingly has accomplished nothing, the nation will enjoy a resurrection. Jehovah answers His people’s prayer with a definite promise of national restoration when the refreshing dew of herbs (the Holy Spirit) is poured out on the land. In the meantime, the Lord counsels the faithful remnant of His people to hide in secret chambers while He pours out His wrath on the apostate world.
3. God’s Song over Redeemed Israel (Chap. 27)
In the coming day of the LORD, Jehovah will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent (seen by some as Assyria), Leviathan that twisted serpent (seen by some as Babylon), and He will slay the reptile that is in the sea (seen by some as Egypt). Some commentators understand all three monsters as symbolizing Babylon. Still others see them as picturing Satan, who energizes world powers; he is called serpent and dragon (Gen. 3:1; Rev. 12:3; 13:2; 16:13).
In that day God will rejoice over His redeemed vineyard of red wine (Israel) with singing. He will guard it night and day. He has no more fury against His people. If any hostile powers were to arise against the remnant, He would burn them like briers and thorns. It would be better for such powers to turn to the Lord for protection and peace. In the Millennium Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. God has not dealt with Israel as with her Gentile overlords! No, His chastisement of Israel has been in measure and limited. He drove them off into exile to purge them of the sin of idolatry. This objective will be achieved when Israel utterly destroys every last vestige of images.
In the meantime, Jerusalem is seen in ruins, as shown by calves grazing on the bushes, and women gathering boughs for firewood. All this has come because the people showed no spiritual discernment. In a coming day, the LORD will thresh the true and the false within the land of Israel. Then He will regather those Jews who are dispersed in such Gentile nations as Assyria and Egypt. Back in the land, they will come to Jerusalem to worship the LORD.
The Reign of the Righteous King (Chap. 32)
The first five verses describe the Millennial reign of Christ. He is the king who reigns in righteousness; the princes may be the twelve apostles (see Matt. 19:28). “A man will be as a hiding place from the wind … ” —that Man is the Lord Jesus, providing shelter, protection, refreshment, and shade. No longer will judicial blindness afflict the people, nor will ears be closed to listening obediently. Those who now make rash decisions will have discernment, and those who now stammer will express themselves without hesitation. Moral distinctions will no longer be blurred. The senseless person will not be honored. The coming of Christ will reveal men in their true light. The fool and the knave will be exposed as such (and punished accordingly). The generous man also will be manifested and blessed.
Social justice and righteousness will permeate every aspect of life, resulting in peace, quietness, safety, and confidence. The enemy (forest) shall be leveled by the hail of God’s judgment and the city (its capital) shall be laid low. It will be a happy time, when people can safely sow beside all waters and when the ox and the donkey can range freely without danger.
Woe to the Plunderer/Assyria (Chap. 33)
33:1–6 The destructiveness and treachery of the Assyrian come back on him (vv. 1, 2). Then God’s people pray to the LORD for deliverance in their time of trouble. When God moves into action, a thunderous noise sends the nations scrambling. It is the Jews’ turn to pounce on the loot of the fleeing enemy and pick it over thoroughly. Christ is enthroned, filling Zion with justice and righteousness, thus making the times stable, and enriching His people with spiritual treasure.
A word goes out to godless Gentiles (you who are afar off) and to apostate Jews in Zion (you who are near). In the fire of God’s judgment, the burning of His wrath, the only ones who will survive are those who walk righteously and separate themselves from every form of evil. Then secure and satisfied, the believing remnant will see the King in His beauty and the land whose borders are greatly expanded.
In the millennial Zion, the solemn appointed feasts will be held again. The city will be like a tent that is pitched securely and permanently. The LORD will be to Zion everything that a river is to a city—protection, refreshment, and beauty. No enemy galley or majestic ships will ever pass by, because the LORD is there.
In the Kingdom, even the lame will be able to take the prey. Sickness will be over, and the iniquity of the people will be forgiven.
Woe to All Nations (Chap. 34)
In chapter 34 we have God’s indignation against all nations in general, and against Edom in particular. The latter may be representative of all the other nations. When Jehovah judges the Gentiles (nations) the air will reek from the decomposing corpses, and the mountains will melt away from the torrent of their blood. Even the stellar heavens will be convulsed. The sword of the LORD, “intoxicated with blood,” will fall in fury on Edom, both on the common people (lambs, goats, rams) and on the nobles or leaders (wild oxen, young bulls, mighty bulls). It is the day of the Lord’s vengeance.
The Glory of the Coming Kingdom (Chap. 35)
After the rebellious nations are destroyed, the glorious kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is introduced. Features of that period include increased fertility of the land and the personal presence of the Lord in glory and excellence. There will be mutual encouragement among the saints. Every type of disability will be removed, and great rejoicing will celebrate the transformation of the desert into well-irrigated fields.
In some editions of the Bible, the supplied summary titles at the tops of the pages of Isaiah read in substance, “Blessings on the church” and “Curses on Israel.” In fact, almost all these predictions are directly aimed at Israel—whether blessings or curses, and the church comes in later or by application. Jennings decries this unjust treatment of Israel by many Christians:
We justly blame those who take all the promises of the Old Testament, and leave only the threatenings for the poor Jew, for in this they do greatly err; yet there is an element of truth in their contention, since “all the promises of God are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus.” Their error is in saying that since God has no further use for Israel, these comforting forecasts apply, and only apply, to Christians, not to Israel as a nation at all! God be thanked that whatever is of a spiritual character does so apply: the material blessings that Israel shall enter into on the basis of the new covenant of grace are, in a spiritual sense, ours by that same grace. But that does not fulfill these promises that were given directly to Israel as identified with her Messiah, Jesus, and given her long before the Church of God was revealed at all.
Lesson 6: “End Time Prophecies In Ezekiel”
PART 1 – Israel’s national rebirth and the great war
This prophecy began to be fulfilled in 1948, when Israel began to live as a nation again. However, they are currently a SECULAR nation. Not until the Second Coming will they be fully restored as a “spiritually alive” people.
The first battle of Gog and Magog. As near as I can figure it, this battle takes place at or near the beginning of the “seventieth week” of Daniel. Notice which nation is missing from the list of Middle Eastern nations that will attack Israel.
2 “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. 4 I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. 5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; 6 Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you.
Gog – a ruler (possibly his name, or title)
Magog – a land that includes Mesheck and Tubal, (which are in Turkey)
Persia – Iran
Ethiopia – North Africa
Libya – west of Israel along the north African coast
Gomer – Southern Ukraine, slightly north of Istambul
Togarmah – Western Armenian region
The phrases “After many days” and “in the latter years” very clearly project the events to the distant future of Israel’s last days before the Second Coming.
What could possibly justify such an all-out military effort by the Muslim confederacy that is described here? The text says “To take a spoil”. The Arab nations despise Israel and call for her destruction. Also, although they have tremendous oil wealth, their agricultural and other natural resources are somewhat scarce. The development of Israel since 1948 has been phenomenal. It is also a known fact that the mineral wealth in the Dead Sea is of almost incalculable value! Much of it is used for production of fertilizer. Israel also stands at a crossroads of world commerce. Whoever controls Israel could control much more.
The greatest military power in the world will not be able to stand when God lets loose His fury by causing mountains, valleys, and buildings to be leveled. Added to this will be inundating floods, fire and brimstone through volcanic eruptions, and even confusion in the troops taking each other’s lives, perhaps as an escape from the holocaust of the elements. Thus, God will be magnified, because it will be recognized that the Lord has done this.
The destruction of the great army will be almost total. The text states that but one-sixth will survive. However, scholars are not agreed on the meaning of the original construction. The bows and arrows may, without difficulty, be viewed as figurative of weapons of warfare of whatever kind they may be. Even the land of Magog, where many of the troops come from, will experience the wrath of fire from the Lord upon them.
To clean up a carnage of this magnitude, supernatural aid is required. Many, of course, will have had their permanent burial through the leveling of mountains and valleys. The ravenous beasts and birds of prey will clean off the flesh. While Israel is burying the skeletons and bones, seven months will transpire. All the people of the land will be involved in the clean-up. It has been estimated that if an individual buried two bodies a day the total may have been in the millions.
This gruesome task would appear to have a very sobering influence spiritually. No doubt it will prove to be one of the means of leading Israel, as well as the Gentiles, to repentance and faith in the Lord.
Details of God’s purpose in His dealings with Israel are listed in the outline of chapter 39:21-29. They are: to show His glory among the nations in verse 21; a deliverance from the king of the north in verse 22; the nations observing God’s purpose of chastening Israel in verses 23–24; then the nations observing Israel’s regathering in verses 25–28; and the regeneration of Israel in verse 29. It should be noted that Israel will be saved by God’s mercy, not by their merit; for the Lord will regather Israel for His name’s sake. The regathering of Israel will be one of the great demonstrations of God’s power. As Israel’s deliverance from Egypt was in the past, and the resurrection of Christ from the grave is for the present, so Israel’s regathering and regeneration in the future will eternally magnify the Lord.
Lesson 7: “End Time Prophecies In Ezekiel”
PART 2 – The Millennial Temple, Worship, and Division of the Land
Ezekiel 40 – 48
The reason that the Millennial Temple is classified as an “end-times” prophecy is because it is a direct response by Jesus Christ to the “Tribulation Temple” of Revelation 11:1-2, Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, where a Rabbinical form of the Mosaic sacrifices will be instituted, and where the Antichrist will declare himself to be god. This false temple will be a place of un-holiness, while the Millennial Temple will be a place of holiness.
The Millennial Temple in Jerusalem (Chaps. 40–42)
These chapters give the details of the temple which will be erected in Jerusalem. Many of the descriptions are admittedly difficult to understand, but the general outline can be seen. Paul Lee Tan writes:
Non-literal interpreters maintain that this prophecy is a “symbol of the Christian church”. However, this major prophecy in the Book of Ezekiel contains descriptions, specifications, and measurements of the millennial Temple which are so exhaustive that one may actually make a sketch of it, just as one might of Solomon’s historic temple.
The Man with the Measuring Rod (40:1–4)
In the opening verses, Ezekiel is given a vision of the city of Jerusalem and the millennial temple. In the fourteenth year after Jerusalem was captured, Ezekiel was taken up in visions and set on a very high mountain. He was shown a vision of the city of Jerusalem and the millennial temple by a man whose appearance was like … bronze. The prophet was commanded to fix his mind on everything he saw and to declare it to the house of Israel. This he does in the ensuing chapters.
Chapter 40 deals primarily with the area surrounding the temple; chapter 41 describes the temple itself. The detailed measurements in chapters 40–43 remind us that in all our service we must build according to God’s specifications (see Ex. 25:40). Precise measurements also would seem to be meaningless unless this is to be a literal building. An allegory or type would scarcely be so architecturally precise. Also, no one has given a satisfactory explanation of the several parts if they are merely symbolic.
The Millennial Worship (Chaps. 43, 44)
Earlier in the Book of Ezekiel (11:23) we saw the glory cloud reluctantly leaving the temple at Jerusalem. But the glory of the God of Israel will return in the Person of the Lord Jesus when He comes to reign. He will dwell forever in the midst of His people; no more will they practice spiritual harlotry (idolatry) and related abominations in the shadow of the temple.
The Millennial Administration (Chaps. 45, 46)
45:1-8 – In the center of the land of Israel, a piece of land will be set apart for the LORD as a holy … district. It will be twenty-five thousand cubits by ten thousand. It will be divided into two strips. The top half will contain the sanctuary, and will also be for the priests. The lower half will be for the Levites. At the bottom of the square will be a third strip, a common place, which will include the city of Jerusalem. All the land to the east and west of this square, as far as the boundaries of the land, will belong to the prince.
In Ezekiel 43:20, 26; 45:15, 17 some of the offerings that will be presented during the Millennium are distinctly said to be for the purpose of making atonement. How can this be reconciled with Hebrews 10:12: “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” Or Hebrews 10:18: “Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin?” As used in the OT, the word “atonement” (lit., covering) never means the putting away of sins. Hebrews 10:4 reminds us that “ … it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Rather the sacrifices were an annual reminder of sins (Heb. 10:3). What then did atonement mean? It meant that the sacrifices produced an outward, ceremonial cleanness. They conferred a ritual purification on people, enabling them to draw near as worshipers in fellowship with God. The sacrifices even made atonement for inanimate things, such as the altar (Ex. 29:37), where there could be no thought of remission of sins. All it means is that the altar was cleansed ceremonially and thus made fit for God’s service. When we read of the forgiveness of unintentional sin in connection with atonement (Lev. 4:20), it can only mean the removal of ceremonial defilement so that the person could draw near in worship.
In our day the word “atonement” has acquired a much wider and deeper meaning. It is used, for instance, to describe the entire sacrificial work of Christ by which our sins are put away and we are reconciled to God. But it never has this meaning in the Bible. (In Rom. 5:11 KJV, the word “atonement” should be “reconciliation,” as in NKJV and other versions.)
The sacrifices in Israel’s history looked forward to the perfect and complete sacrifice of Christ. The sacrifices in the Millennium will commemorate His work on Calvary. They will be memorials for Israel just as the Lord’s Supper is for us.
The passages in Hebrews do not rule out any sacrificial ceremony in the future. But they insist that no future sacrifices can ever deal effectively with sins, any more than they did in the past.
The Millennial Land (Chaps. 47, 48)
The Healing of the Waters (47:1–12)
Ezekiel saw in a vision a river flowing from the door of the temple, past the altar, through the wall south of the east Gate, and down to the Dead Sea. The waters of the sea … will be healed, and fish will abound in it. Yates writes:
The water of life is a favorite figure in the Old Testament. Desert areas need water that life may be possible. This stream which Ezekiel sees flowing from the Temple makes its way toward the arid regions of the Arabah. In an ever deepening stream it goes on its way to bring life and health and abundant fruit wherever it goes. It is the one remedy that is needed. Jesus took that figure as a basis for his sermon to the woman at the well.
This stream (which will be an actual geographical river) is a striking figure of the blessing, widespread yet incomplete (v. 11), that will flow out during the Millennial Reign of Christ. God will dwell in the temple and therefore a stream of blessing, ever increasing, will go forth to other places. Today God does dwell in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19) and therefore a stream of blessing should be flowing to others around us (John 7:37, 38). The river will bring life wherever it flows—a vivid picture of the life-giving ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The Boundaries of the Land (47:13–23)
The future borders and divisions of the land are next given. The boundaries are described here.
Within each tribal portion, the land will be divided by lot, according to the tribes of Israel, but strangers will not be excluded from an inheritance.
The Division of the Land (Chap. 48)
48:1–7 It seems that the land will be divided in horizontal strips, from the Mediterranean to the eastern boundary of the land. The northernmost strip will be for the tribe of Dan (v. 1). Then below that, for Asher (v. 2), for Naphtali (v. 3), for Manasseh (v. 4), for Ephraim (v. 5), for Reuben (v. 6), and for Judah (v. 7). South of Judah will be the portion already assigned to the prince, and including the sanctuary and the city of Jerusalem. This “holy district” will be a large square area bordering on the northern part of the Dead Sea. It will be divided into three horizontal strips, the northernmost one belonging to the priests, and having the Millennial temple in its center. The middle strip will be for the Levites, and the southern strip for the common people, with Jerusalem in its center. The remaining territory east and west of the square will belong to the prince. Then south of the holy district will be sections for the tribes of Benjamin (v. 23), Simeon (v. 24), Issachar (v. 25), Zebulun (v. 26), and Gad (v. 27).
48:28–35 The city will have twelve gates, three on each side, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Its name will be: Jehovah Shammah—THE LORD IS THERE.
This name reminds us of what was always in the heart of God: He loves His creatures so much that He always planned to have them close to Himself. He is ever searching, asking, “Where are you?”, calling to repentance and faith. As Son of God He even came down to earth to die for us. His wish will be fulfilled: man will be close to His heart. We can engage in and participate in His search for the lost even now, while living close to His heart here on earth. This is God’s desire for us.
Lesson 8: “End Time Prophecies In Daniel”
In chapter 7, we have Daniel’s vision of four great beasts coming up from the sea. These represent the four world empires.
The lion represents Babylon. The eagle’s wings suggest swiftness of conquest.
The bear pictures Medo-Persia. The Persian section was raised up to greater importance than the Median. The three ribs which it held in its mouth perhaps represent the three sections of the Babylonian Empire which were sacked by the Medes and Persians under Cyrus—Babylon in the east; Egypt in the south; and the Lydian kingdom in Asia Minor. The leopard is a type of Greece. Its four wings of a bird speak of the rapid expansion of the Grecian Empire. Four is the number of the world. Wings speak of speed. Within thirteen years Alexander conquered the world, marching as far east as India. Then he died at thirty-three—empty handed. The leopard’s four heads apparently set forth the division of the empire to four of Alexander’s generals after his death.
The fourth beast, powerful and destructive, was different from the others but had some of their bestial characteristics. It is described as dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong, with huge iron teeth. It speaks of the Roman Empire, which would follow the Grecian Empire, would cease, and then, after a considerable space of time, would be revived. It is in this revived form that it would have ten horns, that is, ten kings, and a little … horn, i.e., the future head of the Revived Roman Empire—the Antichrist.
In verse 9, Daniel pictures the fifth and final world empire—the glorious kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ; He will be given universal dominion. The description of the Ancient of Days here resembles that of Christ in Revelation 1. The Ancient of Days sits as a Judge in court (vv. 10, 26). The little horn and his empire are destroyed (v. 11). The other world empires also cease, but the nations and people continue (v. 12). The Lord Jesus is given universal dominion, a kingdom, the one which shall never be superseded (v. 14).
Daniel made special inquiry concerning the fourth beast which surpassed the others in cruelty and ferocity. He also wanted to know about the ten horns and the other horn before which three fell. He saw the little horn … making war with the saints of the Tribulation Period until the Ancient of Days came, ended their sufferings, and gave them the kingdom. The unnamed interpreter explained the fourth beast, the ten horns, and the pompous little horn. The latter will blaspheme the Most High, persecute the saints, and intend to change the “times and seasons” (possibly referring to celebrations, holy days, or other religious observances, as with the proposed U.N. “World Calendar”, which is a strictly lunar based calendar that observes every cultures holy days as one integrated whole).
While he was … praying, Gabriel, being caused to fly swiftly, reached Daniel about the time of the evening sacrifice. He told him that he was greatly beloved, a tremendous tribute, coming as it did from God Himself. He then gave him an outline of the future history of the Jewish nation under the figure of seventy weeks. Each “week” represents seven years. Since the prophecy is so crucial to understanding God’s program, we will examine it phrase by phrase.
Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people (Israel) and for your holy city (Jerusalem). The historical fulfillment of the first part of the prophecy shows that the weeks are weeks of years. Thus seventy weeks equal 490 years. We will see that the seventy weeks are divided into seven weeks plus sixty-two weeks, and then, after a time gap, one final week.
At the end of these seventy weeks, the following six things will happen:
A) To finish the transgression, to make an end of sins. While this may refer in a general sense to all Israel’s sinful ways, it has special reference to the nation’s rejection of the Messiah. At the Second Advent of Christ, the surviving remnant will turn to Him in faith and the nation’s transgression and sins will be forgiven.
B) To make reconciliation for iniquity. The basis for reconciliation was laid at Calvary, but this refers to the time, still future, when the believing portion of the nation of Israel will come into the benefit and enjoyment of the finished work of Christ.
C) To bring in everlasting righteousness. This, too, points forward to the Second Advent and the Millennium, when the King will reign in righteousness. It is everlasting righteousness in the sense that it will continue on into the eternal state.
D) To seal up vision and prophecy. The main body of OT prophecy centers on the glorious Return of Christ to earth, and His subsequent kingdom. Therefore, the bulk of prophecies will be fulfilled at the end of the seventy weeks.
E) And to anoint the Most Holy Place. At the beginning of the thousand-year reign, the temple described in Ezekiel 40–44 will be anointed or consecrated in Jerusalem.
F) The glory will return in the Person of the Lord (Ezek. 43:1–5).
“So you are to know and understand that from the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” This was the decree of Artaxerxes in 445 B.C. (Neh. 2:1–8).
Until Messiah the Prince. This refers not merely to the First Advent of Christ, but more particularly to His death (see v. 26a).
There shall be seven weeks (forty-nine years) and sixty-two weeks (434 years). The sixty-nine weeks are divided into two periods, seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. The city shall be built again, with plaza and moat, even in troublesome times. Jerusalem would be rebuilt (during the first seven weeks) with public square and protective channel, but not without opposition and turmoil. Then after the sixty-two weeks—that is, after the sixty-two week portion of time, which is really at the end of the sixty-ninth week, The Messiah shall be cut off. Here we have an unmistakable reference to the Savior’s death on the cross. A century ago in his book The Coming Prince, Sir Robert Anderson gave detailed calculations of the sixty-nine weeks, using “prophetic years,” allowing for leap years, errors in the calendar, the change from B.C. to A.D., etc., and figured that the sixty-nine weeks ended on the very day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, five days before his death.
But not for Himself, or literally and have nothing. This may mean that He had received nothing from the nation of Israel, to which He had come. Or it may mean that He died without apparent posterity (Isa. 53:8). Or it may be a general statement of His utter poverty; He left nothing but the clothes that He wore.
And the people of the prince who is to come. This prince who is to come is the head of the revived Roman Empire, identified by some as the Antichrist. He will come to power during the Tribulation. The PEOPLE are identified as the Romans. Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The Romans, under Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and its magnificent gold-trimmed white marble temple in A.D. 70. The end of it shall be with a flood. The city was leveled as if by a flood. Not one stone of the temple, for instance, was left on another. Titus forbade his soldiers to put Herod’s temple to the torch, but in order to get the gold they disobeyed, thus melting down the gold. To retrieve the melted gold successfully from between the stones they had to pry loose the great stones, thus fulfilling Christ’s words in Matthew 24:1, 2, as well as Daniel’s prophecy.
And till the end of the war desolations are determined. From that time on, the history of the city would be one of war and destruction. The end here means the end of the times of the Gentiles.
We now come to the seventieth week. As mentioned previously, there is a time gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks. This parenthetical period is the Church Age. It is never mentioned specifically in the OT; it was a “mystery” hidden in God from the foundation of the world but revealed by the apostles and prophets of the NT period. However, the principle of a gap is nicely illustrated by our Lord in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:18, 19). Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1, 2a but cut it short at “the acceptable year of the LORD” (His First Advent), and left off the judgment of His Second Advent: “and the day of vengeance of our God” (Isa. 61:2b). In between was to occur the whole Church Age.
Then he (Antichrist) shall confirm a covenant with many (the unbelieving majority of the nation of Israel) for one week (the seven-year period known as “the seventieth week of Daniel). It may be a friendship treaty, a non-aggression treaty, or a guarantee of military assistance against any nation attacking Israel. But in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. The Antichrist will turn hostile toward Israel, forbidding further sacrifices and offerings to Jehovah.
And on the wing of abominations. We learn from Matthew 24:15 that he will set up an abominable idolatrous image in the temple and presumably he will command that it be worshiped. Shall be one who makes desolate. He will persecute and destroy those who refuse to worship the image.
Even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate. Terrible persecution will continue for the last half of the seventieth week, a period known as the Great Tribulation. Then the Roman prince, “the one who makes desolate,” will himself be destroyed, as decreed by God, by being cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20).
Lesson 9: “End Time Prophecies In The Minor Prophets”
God will gather the Gentile nations to the Valley of Jehoshaphat (the Hebrew word “Jehoshaphat” means “The Lord Judges”) and will judge them there for their treatment of the Jews. Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia will be recompensed for plundering and enslaving God’s people. The Gentiles are told to “Prepare for war!”, for the Lord will fight with them in the valley of decision. In the Valley of Jehoshaphat the Lord will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. The sovereign God is currently testing all men and nations, as unfashionable as that concept may be to today’s worldly thinkers. Men dismiss the Biblical teaching concerning judgment to come, for individuals and nations, as a now outmoded concept. But the people of God have held fast through all the generations to the assurance that, in the “day of the Lord,” the Judge of all the earth will do right. That is our confidence, based upon the rock of Holy Scripture.
But the LORD will bless His people with deliverance, safety from invaders, and abundant supplies. The land of Israel would become fruitful and well-watered: the mountains shall drip with new wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water. Egypt and Edom will become a desolate wilderness, but Judah will be inhabited forever. God will also acquit her of her guilt of bloodshed.
This is fulfilled at the Second Coming.
These verses predict the re-gathering of both Israel (Joseph) and Judah from worldwide dispersion. Israel (Ephraim) will be like a mighty warrior.
The Lord will whistle for His people and gather them back into the land of Gilead and Lebanon from Egypt and from Assyria where He had sown or scattered them.
This began to be fulfilled in 1948.
Here the Gentile nations are seen marching against … Jerusalem in a future day. All who trouble the city will be greatly troubled. They will hurt themselves in trying to lift this very heavy millstone. In that day God will strike the invaders, both horse and rider, with madness and panic. The governors of Judah outside of Jerusalem shall say in their heart that the inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength from the LORD. In that day, … the governors of Judah will be like a devouring fire, burning everything they touch. Victory will come first to the inhabitants of outlying Judah so that the men of Jerusalem will not be exalted above them. The inhabitants of Jerusalem will be protected and strengthened, and the invading Gentile nations will be destroyed.
The people will mourn bitterly when they look on the Messiah whom they had pierced. “Then they shall look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son”. Notice “on Me.” The One whom they pierced was the Lord Jesus Christ, Jehovah. Mourning for an only son was the deepest form of sorrow for an Israelite.
This is fulfilled during the 1st Battle of Gog and Magog, and at the Second Coming.
Because of their rejection of the Lord Jesus, two-thirds of the nation will die during the Great Tribulation, yet a remnant of one-third will be preserved. This remnant will be refined like silver and gold. They will acknowledge God, and He will acknowledge them as “My people.”
Lesson 10: “End Time Prophecies In Matthew 24”
1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 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.” 3 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?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 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. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 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. 15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 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. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. 23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 “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. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. 29 “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. 30 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. 31 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. 32 “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. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 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, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 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. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 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, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus Predicts the Destruction of the Temple (24:1, 2)
This section is introduced by the significant statement that Jesus went out and departed from the temple This movement is especially significant in view of the words He had just uttered, “ … your house is left to you desolate” (23:38). It reminds us of Ezekiel’s description of the glory departing from the temple (Ezek. 9:3; 10:4; 11:23). The disciples wanted the Lord to admire the architectural beauty of the temple with them. Jesus warned that the building would be so completely destroyed that not one stone would be left on top of another. Titus tried unsuccessfully to save the temple, but his soldiers put it to the torch, thus fulfilling Christ’s prophecy. When the fire melted the gold trim, the molten metal ran down between the stones. To get at it, the soldiers had to remove the stones one by one, just as our Lord predicted. This judgment was executed in A.D. 70 when the Romans under Titus sacked Jerusalem.
The First Half of the Seventieth Week Of Daniel (24:3–14)
After Jesus had crossed over to the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately and asked Him three questions:
1. When would these things happen; that is, when would the temple be destroyed?
2. What would be the sign of His coming; that is, what supernatural event would precede His return to the earth to set up His kingdom?
3. What would be the sign of the end of the age; that is, what would announce the end of the age immediately prior to His glorious reign? (The second and third questions are essentially the same.)
We must remember that these Jewish disciples’ thinking revolved around the glorious age of the Messiah on earth. Their expectation was His coming in power and glory to destroy His enemies and rule over the world. Also we should be clear that they were not talking about the end of the world (as in the KJV), but the end of the age (Gk., aiōn).
Their first question is not answered directly. Rather the Savior seems to merge the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (see Luke 21:20–24) with a similar siege that will occur in the latter days. In the study of prophecy, we often see the Lord moving almost imperceptibly from an early, partial fulfillment to a later, final fulfillment. The second and third questions are answered in verses 4–44 of chapter 24. These verses describe the seven year period known as Daniel’s Seventieth Week. which will precede Christ’s glorious Coming. The first three and one-half years are described in verses 4–14. The final three and one-half years, known as the Great Tribulation and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jer. 30:7), will be a time of unprecedented suffering for those on earth.
Many of the conditions characterizing the first half of the Tribulation have existed to an extent throughout human history, but will appear in greatly intensified form during the period under discussion. During the first half of the Seventieth Week, many false messiahs will appear who will succeed in deceiving multitudes. The current rise of many false cults may be a prelude to this, but it is not a fulfillment. These false religious leaders will claim to be the Christ. There will be wars and rumors of wars. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes will occur in various parts of the earth. Even today world leaders are alarmed by the specter of famine due to the population explosion. But this will be accentuated by the shortages caused by wars. Earthquakes are attracting increasing attention.
Verse 8 clearly identifies this period as the beginning of sorrows—the onset of birth-pangs which will bring forth a new order under Israel’s Messiah-King.
Faithful believers will experience great personal testing during the Tribulation. The nations will conduct a bitter hate campaign against all who are true to Him. Not only will they be tried in religious and civil courts (Mark 13:9), but many will be martyred because they refuse to recant. Many will apostatize rather than suffer and die. Family members will inform against their own relatives and betray them into the hands of bestial persecutors.
Many false prophets will appear and deceive hordes of people. These are not to be confused with the false messiahs of verse 5. False prophets claim to be spokesmen for God. They can be detected in two ways: their prophecies do not always come to pass, and their teachings always lead men away from the true God.
With wickedness rampaging, human affections will be less and less evident. Acts of unlove will be commonplace. “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” This obviously does not mean that men’s souls will be saved at that time by their enduring; salvation is always presented in the Bible as a gift of God’s grace, received by faith in Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection. Neither can it mean that all who endure will escape physical harm; we have already learned that many believers will be martyred (v. 9). It is a general statement that those who stand fast, enduring persecution without apostatizing, will be delivered at Christ’s Second Advent. No one should imagine that apostasy will be a means of escape or safety. Only those who have true faith shall be saved. Although saving faith may have lapses, it always has the quality of permanence.
During this period, the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed worldwide, as a witness to all nations. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that Christ is coming to set up His kingdom on earth, and that those who receive Him by faith will enjoy the blessings of His Millennial Reign.
There is a striking parallel between the events listed in verses 3–14 and those of Revelation 6:1–11. The rider on the white horse—false messiah; the rider of the red horse—war; the rider of the black horse—famine; the rider of the pale horse—pestilence or death. The souls under the altar are martyrs. The events described in Revelation 6:12–17 are linked with those in Matthew 24:19–31.
The Great Tribulation (24:15–28)
At this point we have come to the middle of the Seventieth Week. We know this by comparing verse 15 with Daniel 9:27. Daniel predicted that in the middle of the seventieth week, that is, at the end of three and a half years, an idolatrous image would be set up in the holy place, i.e., the temple in Jerusalem. All men will be ordered to worship this abominable idol. Failure to comply will be punishable by death (Rev. 13:15). “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand). … The erection of the idol will be the signal to those who know the Word of God that the Great Tribulation has begun. Note that the Lord wants the one who reads the prophecy to understand it.
Those who are in Judea should flee to the mountains; in the vicinity of Jerusalem their refusal to bow to the image would be quickly detected. Utmost haste will be necessary. If a man is sitting on the housetop, he should leave all his possessions behind. Time spent in gathering belongings might mean the difference between life and death. The man working in the field should not return for his clothes, wherever he may have left them. Pregnant women and nursing mothers will be at a distinct disadvantage—it will be hard for them to make a speedy escape. Believers should pray that the crisis will not come in winter with its added travel hazards, and that it will not come on the Sabbath, when the distance they could travel would be limited by Mosaic law (Ex. 16:29), which (under the new Temple) would be in force. A Sabbath day’s journey would not be enough to take them out of the danger area.
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” This description isolates the period from all the inquisitions, pogroms, purges, massacres, and genocides of history. This prophecy could not have been fulfilled by any previous persecutions because it is clearly stated that it will be ended by the Second Advent of Christ. The tribulation will be so intense that unless those days were shortened, nobody would survive.
Verses 23 and 24 contain renewed warnings against false messiahs and false prophets. In an atmosphere of crisis, reports will circulate that the Messiah is in some secret location. Such reports could be used to trap those who sincerely and lovingly look for Christ. So the Lord warns all disciples not to believe reports of a local, secret Advent. Even those who perform miracles are not necessarily from God; miracles can be satanic in origin. The Man of Sin will be given satanic power to perform miracles (2 Thess. 2:9, 10). Christ’s Advent will be unmistakable—it will be sudden, public, universal, and glorious. Like the lightning, it will be instantly and clearly visible to all.
The Second Advent (24:29–31)
At the close of the Great Tribulation there will be terrifying disturbances in the heavens. The sun will be darkened, and since the moon’s light is only a reflection of the sun’s, the moon will also withhold its light. The stars will plunge from heaven and planets will be moved out of their orbits. Needless to say, such vast cosmic upheavals will affect the weather, tides, and seasons on earth. “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven.” We are not told what this sign will be. His First Advent was accompanied by a sign in heaven—the star. Perhaps a miracle star will also announce His Second Coming. Some believe the Son of Man is Himself the sign. Whatever is meant, it will be clear to all when it appears. All the tribes of the earth will mourn—no doubt because of their rejection of Him. But primarily the tribes of the land will mourn—the twelve tribes of Israel. “… then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zech. 12:10). Then “they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” What a wonderful moment! The One who was spit upon and crucified will be vindicated as the Lord of life and glory.
The Parable of the Fig Tree (24:32–35)
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree.” Again our Lord draws a spiritual lesson from nature. When the branches of the fig tree become green and tender, you know that summer is near. We have seen that the fig tree pictures the nation of Israel (21:18–22). For hundreds of years Israel has been dormant, with no government of its own, no land, no temple, no priesthood—no sign of national life. The people have been scattered throughout the world.
Then, in 1948, Israel became a nation with its own land, government, currency, stamps, etc. Spiritually, the nation is still barren and cold; there is no fruit for God. But nationally, we might say that its branches are green and tender.
24:33 “So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, at the very doors!” Israel’s emergence as a nation means not only that the beginning of the Tribulation is near, but that the Lord Himself is near, at the very doors! After referring to the fig tree, Jesus added, “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” “This generation” could not mean the people living when Christ was on earth; they have all passed away, yet the events of chapter 24 have not taken place. What then did our Lord mean by “this generation”? The very generation that sees the beginning of these things will see the end. The same people who see the rise of Israel as a nation will see the Lord Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven to reign.
To emphasize the unfailing character of His predictions, Jesus added that heaven and earth would pass away but His words would by no means pass away. In speaking of heaven passing away, He was referring to the stellar and atmospheric heavens—the blue firmament above us—not to that heaven which is the dwelling place of God (2 Cor. 12:2–4). The dissolution of the heaven and the earth is described in 2 Peter 3:10–13 and mentioned again in Revelation 20:11.
The Day and Hour Unknown (24:36–44)
As to the exact day and hour of His Second Advent, “no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” This should warn against the temptation to set dates or to believe those who do. We are not surprised that angels do not know; they are finite creatures with limited knowledge.
While those living prior to Christ’s return will not know its day or hour, it seems that those familiar with the prophecy may be able to know the year. They will know, for instance, that it will be approximately three and one-half years after the idol image is set up in the temple (Dan. 9:27; see also Dan. 7:25; 12:7, 11; Rev. 11:2, 3; 12:14; 13:5). In those days, however, most people will be indifferent, just as in the days of Noah. The people ate, drank, married, gave in marriage; in other words, they went through the routines of life as if they were going to live forever. Though warned that a flood was coming, they lived as if they were flood-proof. When it came, they were unprepared, outside the only place of safety. That is just the way it will be when Christ returns. Only those who are in Christ, the ark of safety, will be delivered.
In view of the uncertainty as to the day and the hour, men ought to watch. If someone knows his house is going to be broken into, he will be ready, even if he doesn’t know the exact time. The Son of Man will come when least expected by the masses. Therefore, His people should be on the tiptoes of expectancy.
Parable of the Wise and the Evil Servants (24:45–51)
In the closing section of this chapter, the Lord Jesus shows that a servant manifests his true character by how he behaves in view of his Master’s return. All servants are supposed to feed the household at the proper time. But not all who profess to be Christ’s servants are genuine. The wise servant is the one who is found caring for God’s people. Such a one will be honored with vast responsibility in the kingdom. The master will make him ruler over all his goods. The evil servant represents a nominal believer whose behavior is not affected by the prospect of his Master’s soon return. He begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards. Such behavior demonstrates that he is not ready for the kingdom. When the King comes, He will punish him and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites, where people weep and gnash their teeth. Many who profess to be Christians show by their hostility toward God’s people and their fraternization with the ungodly that they are not looking for Christ’s Return. For them it will mean judgment and not blessing.
Lesson 11: “End Time Prophecies In First Thessalonians ”
1st Thessalonians 4:13-5:10
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 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. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
Old Testament believers had an imperfect and incomplete knowledge of what happened to a person at the time of death. To them “sheol” was an all-purpose word used to describe the disembodied state, both of believers and unbelievers.
They believed that everyone would die eventually, that apparently there would be one general resurrection at the end of the world, and then a final judgment. Martha reflected these sketchy views when she said, “I know that he (Lazarus) will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24).
The Lord Jesus brought “life and immortality to light by the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). Today we know that the believer departs to be with Christ at the time of death (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21, 23). The unbeliever is said to be in Hades (Luke 16:22, 23). We know that not all believers will die, but that all will be changed (1 Cor. 15:51). We know that there will be more than one resurrection. At the Rapture, only believers will be raised (1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:16); the wicked dead will be raised at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:5).
When Paul first went to Thessalonica, he taught the Christians about Christ’s coming to reign and the events that would follow. But in the meantime, problems had arisen regarding those saints who had died. Would their bodies remain in the graves until the last day? Would they be excluded from participation in Christ’s coming and in His glorious kingdom? To answer their questions and to allay their fears, Paul now describes the order of events at the time of Christ’s coming for his people.
The formula, “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren,” is used to alert readers to an important announcement. Here the announcement concerns those who have fallen asleep, that is, those believers who have died. Sleep is used to describe the bodies of departed Christians, never their spirits or souls. Sleep is an appropriate simile of death, because in death a person seems to be sleeping. Even our word cemetery comes from a Greek word meaning “sleeping place” (koimētērion). And sleep is a familiar simile, because every night we act out this symbol of death, and every morning is like a resurrection.
The Bible does not teach that the soul sleeps at the time of death. The rich man and Lazarus were both conscious in death (Luke 16:19–31). When the believer dies, he is “present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). To die is to “be with Christ,” a position which Paul speaks of as “gain” and as being “far better” (Phil. 1:21, 23). This would scarcely be true if the soul were sleeping! Neither does the Bible teach annihilation. There is no cessation of being in death. The believer enjoys eternal life (Mark 10:30). The unbeliever suffers eternal punishment (Mark 9:48; Rev. 14:11).
With regard to those saints who have died, the apostle says that there is no need for hopeless sorrow. He does not rule out sorrow; Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, though He knew He would raise him in a few minutes (John 11:35–44). But he rules out the despairing grief of those who have no hope of heaven, of reunion, of anything but judgment. The basis of the believer’s hope is the resurrection of Christ. Just as surely as we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so we believe that those who have fallen asleep in Jesus will be raised and will participate in His coming. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). His resurrection is the pledge and proof of ours. Notice the expression sleep in Jesus or “those who through Jesus sleep.” Knowing that it is merely the Lover of our souls giving sleep to the bodies of His beloved ones robs death of its terror.
Paul goes on to explain that when Christ returns, the living saints will not have any precedence or advantage over sleeping saints. The exact order of events at Christ’s coming for His saints is now given. The Lord Himself will descend from heaven. He will not send an angel, but will come Himself!
It will be with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. Several explanations have been offered as to the significance of these commanding sounds, but frankly it is almost impossible to speak with finality about them:
1. Some feel that the shout is the voice of the Lord Jesus Himself which raises the dead (John 5:25; 11:43, 44) and changes the living.
2. The voice of Michael, the archangel, is commonly understood as an assembling command for the OT saints, since he is so closely associated with Israel (Dan. 12:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:4–7). Still others suggest the voice of an archangel summons the angels as a military escort to accompany the Lord and His saints through enemy territory back to heaven (cf. Luke 16:22).
The bodies of the dead in Christ will rise first. Whether this includes the OT saints is debatable. Those who think it does point out that the archangel’s voice is heard at this time, and that he is closely linked with the destinies of Israel (Dan. 12:1). Then the living shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. The word Rapture, which we use to describe this first phase of the Lord’s return, is derived from the verb used here in the Latin Bible meaning caught up. A “rapture” is a snatching away or a catching up. It is used of Philip in Acts 8:39, of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2, 4, and of the male Child in Revelation 12:5.
Think of all that is included in these verses! The earth and the sea yielding up the dust of all the dead in Christ. Then the transforming miracle by which this dust is formed into glorified bodies, free forever from sickness, pain, and death. Then the flight to heaven. And all of this taking place in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52). Men of the world have difficulty believing the account of the creation of man in Genesis 1 and 2. If they have difficulty with creation, what will they do with the Rapture—when God will recreate millions of people from the dust that has been buried, scattered, strewn, or swept up on the beaches of the world?
“Therefore comfort one another with these words.” Thoughts of the Lord’s coming do not produce terror for the believer. It is a hope that thrills and cheers and comforts.
The Day of the Lord (5:1–11)
Once again, we need to remember that the chapter breaks were not in the original text, and that the subject continues from chapter 4 into chapter 5 without interruption.
What does Paul mean by the day of the Lord? It is certainly not a day of twenty-four hours, but a period of time with certain characteristics. In the OT this term was used to describe any time of judgment, desolation, and darkness (Isa. 2:12; 13:9–16; Joel 2:1, 2). It was a time when God marched forth against the enemies of Israel and punished them decisively (Zeph. 3:8–12; Joel 3:14–16; Obad. 15–17; Zech. 12:8, 9). But it was also any occasion on which God punished His own people for their idolatry and backsliding (Joel 1:15–20; Amos 5:18; Zeph. 1:7–18). Basically it spoke of judgment on sin, of victory for the cause of the Lord (Joel 2:31, 32), and untold blessing for His faithful people.
In the future, the day of the Lord will cover approximately the same period as the times and the seasons. It will include:
1. The Time of Jacob’s trouble (Dan. 9:27; Jer. 30:7; Matt. 24:4–28; 2 Thess 2:2; Rev. 6:1–19:16).
2. The coming of Christ with His saints (Mal. 4:1–3; 2 Thess 1:7–9).
3. The thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth (Joel 3:18 [cf. v. 14]; Zech 14:8, 9 [cf. v. 1]).
4. The final destruction of the heavens and earth by fire (2 Pet. 3:7, 10).
The day of the Lord is the time when God will publicly intervene in human affairs. It is characterized by judgment on the enemies of Israel and on the apostate portion of the nation of Israel, by deliverance of His people, by establishment of Christ’s kingdom of peace and prosperity, and glory for Himself. The apostle reminds his readers that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. It will be completely unexpected to those of the world, taking the unsaved off guard. The world will be wholly unprepared.
This Day will also come suddenly, destructively, inevitably, and inescapably.
There will be an air of confidence and security in the world. They will believe that MAN has the means to solve the problems of life and peace. Then God’s judgment will suddenly begin to descend with vast destructive force. Destruction does not mean loss of being, or annihilation; it means loss of well-being, or ruin as far as the purpose of one’s existence is concerned. It will be as inevitable and unavoidable as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. From this judgment there will be no escape.
It is important to notice the change in pronouns from “they” and “them” in the previous verses to you and we in the following verses. The Day of the Lord will be a time of suprise for the unsaved world. But what will it mean to us? The answer is that we will not be taken unaware, because we are not in darkness.
This Day will come as a thief in the night (v. 2). The only way it will overtake anyone is as a thief, and the only persons it will take by surprise will be those who are in the night, that is, the unconverted. This verse says that the Day of the Lord will overtake believers, but not as a thief.
The next verses call believers to a life that is consistent with their position. This means watchfulness and sobriety. We are to watch against temptation, laziness, lethargy, and distraction. Positively, we should watch for the Savior’s return.
Sobriety here means not only being sober in terms of alcohol, but also in conversation and in general demeanor.
In the natural realm, sleep is associated with night. So in the spiritual realm, careless indifference characterizes those who are sons of darkness, that is, the unconverted. Men prefer to carry on their drunken revelry at night; they love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil (John 3:19). The very name “night club” links the ideas of drinking and carousing with the darkness of night. 5:8 Those who are of the day should walk in the light as He is in the light (1 Jn. 1:7). This means judging and forsaking sin, and avoiding excesses of all kinds. It also means putting on the Christian armor and keeping it on. The armor consists of the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of the hope of salvation. In other words, the armor is faith, love, and hope—the three cardinal elements of Christian character. The apostle is saying that sons of light should wear the protective covering of a consistent, godly life. What preserves us from the corruption that is in the world through lust? Faith, or dependence on God. Love for the Lord and for one another. The hope of Christ’s return.
Sleeping not sleeping
Drunk not drunk
of the night and darkness sons of light and sons of the day
overtaken unexpectantly by the Day of the Lord as a thief in the night not overtaken unexpectedly by the Day of the Lord as a thief in the night
sudden and inescapable destruction, as labor pains of a pregnant woman not appointed to wrath but to obtain salvation
Lesson 12: “End Time Prophecies In Second Thessalonians”
2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12
1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 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.
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 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. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Paul undertakes to correct a misunderstanding that had arisen in the minds of the saints concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Day of the Lord. The saints were suffering such severe persecution that it was easy for them to think that they were already in the first part of the Day of the Lord, i.e., the beginning of the 70th Week of Daniel. Rumors were floating around that the apostle himself believed and taught that the Day of the Lord had arrived! So he must set the record straight. Rumors had been circulating that Paul himself had said that the Day of the Lord had arrived. Like most rumors, they were very garbled. One version intimated that Paul had received the information by spirit, that is, by a special revelation. According to another report, the news had come by word, that is, the apostle had publicly taught that the Tribulation had begun. By letter as if from us is generally understood to refer to a forged letter, purportedly from Paul, that the Day of the Lord had started. The expression as if from us probably goes with spirit, word, and letter. None of these sources was to be trusted.
The Man of Sin (2:3–12)
Now the apostle explains why they could not be in that Day. Certain events must take place first. Notice that the Apostle does not say that the Rapture has already happened, but that certain events MUST happen that will indicate that the true “end times” has begun. Although the Church has suffered persecution in ALL ages, some very specific things will occur that will be the indicators of the end of this age.
First of all there will be the falling away, or the apostasy. What does this mean? It refers to a wholesale abandonment of Christianity, a positive rejection of the Christian faith.
WARNING!!! CONTROVERSIAL MATERIAL AHEAD!!!
What is the “falling away” that Paul is talking about?
First, we need to understand that (in the original Greek) there is a definite article attached to the word translated as “falling away”, making it “the falling away”; a specific and definite event or condition of the latter days.
Second, the word translated as “falling away” is “apostasia”, which is translated in the KJV as “to forsake” and as “falling away”, and which literally means “a falling away, defection, apostasy”. One can only fall away from something that is professed. The increase in occultism, Eastern Religions, the New Age Movement, and so on IS NOT the “apostasia”, since they never claimed to be Christian in the first place (although they are “signs of the times”). It is obvious from the text that the “falling away” will be from professed Christianity. People (and churches / denominations) who proclaim themselves to be Christian will defect from true Christian doctrine, and will reject the TRUE Christ for a false “Christ” that is in the image that they find comfortable.
“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
It appears from the articles in the Greek that Christ is speaking of supposed CHRISTIANS being offended, betraying each other, hating each other, accepting false prophets, and losing their love.
2nd Timothy 4:3-4
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Once again, this section refers to Christians, not occultists or pagans.
What is the nature of this “falling away”? It seems to fall into two categories:
A) Lack of sound doctrine due to lusts.
2nd Timothy says that they will not endure sound (or whole, or correct) doctrine, but will follow teachers that tell them “fables” that they want to hear. Under this category could be listed a large number of false doctrines that people base their entire spirituality upon; such as the “health and wealth gospel”, the undue emphasis on gifts of the spirit as a means of showing how “spiritual” you are, the pro-homosexual movement in many denominations, any of the racist “Christian Identity” teachings, Christian Militia teachings, any group that mixes New Age (Eastern) philosophies with Christianity, and so forth.
B) Something having to do with the return of Christ.
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
Christ Himself says that there will be lies told about His return. These lies will consist of a SECRET return that is not seen of ALL men. He says that when He comes for His people, EVERYONE on earth will see Him. When people are convinced that Christ will return secretly for them, and He doesn’t, their hopes will be dashed to pieces and their faith will be shaken; especially if they were expecting to avoid the trials and hardships of the tribulation. Could this relate to the current teachings of the “pre-trib” Rapture doctrine? I firmly believe it does, at least as a part of the overall problem..
What will happen when the two categories come together in the final days?
Churches and Christian families will split; “fundamentalists” will be hated and reviled (especially those who insisted that the Church would go through the terrible times of the 70th Week of Daniel); the human nature of the so-called “Christians” will be at its worst, as they take out their fear, frustration, and disappointment upon those who dared to tell them they were wrong; and persecution and martyrdom will begin from WITHIN the “Church”.
When people feel that they have been lied to about Christianity, whether it is in the realm of “Jesus will make you wealthy and you’ll never be sick again”; “My Jesus would never make me go through the hard times or make my family go hungry if we don’t take the mark”; or any other non-Biblical teaching that people rest their faith and life upon; they will react with anger, hatred, and a desire to “get even” with those who make them feel that way. Satan will use this to bring persecution and martyrdom to those who have held on to the “pure” doctrine, and whose hope is not in the various “teachings” of their favorite “preachers”, but in Christ alone.
The Coming Of The Man Of Sin
Then a great world figure will arise. As to his character, he is the man of sin or lawlessness, that is, the very embodiment of sin and rebellion. As to his destiny, he is the son of perdition; he is doomed to eternal judgment.
… the man of sin and son of perdition (2 Thess. 2:3)
… the Antichrist (1 Jn. 2:18)
… the little horn (Dan. 7:8, 24b–26) … the king of fierce features (Dan. 8:23–25)
… the prince who is to come (Dan. 9:26)
… the willful king (Dan. 11:36)
… the worthless shepherd (Zech. 11:17)
… the one who comes in his own name (John 5:43)
The man of sin has been given an intriguing variety of identifications down through the years. He has been equated with the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, the Roman Empire, the final form of apostate Christendom, Judas reincarnated, Nero reincarnated, the Jewish State, Mohammed, Luther, Napoleon, Mussolini, and the embodiment of Satan. My favorite is the mathematical proof that demonstrates that “Barney The Purple Dinosaur” is the Antichrist!
He will violently oppose every form of divine worship and will enthrone himself in the temple of God in Jerusalem. This description clearly identifies him as Antichrist, the one who is opposed to Christ and who sets himself up in the place of Christ. Note that this means that a temple of some sort will be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15 show that this blasphemous action of the Antichrist takes place in the middle of the 70th Week. Those who refuse to worship him will be persecuted and many will be martyred. Paul used to tell the Thessalonians these things when he was still with them. However, with contradictory teaching being given to them which seemed to accurately describe the fierce persecutions they were then enduring, they had forgotten what the apostle had said. We all forget too easily and need to be constantly reminded of the great truths of the faith.
They knew what was restraining the full and open manifestation of the man of sin, and what would continue to restrain him until the appointed time.
This brings us to the third great unanswered question in this chapter. The first is, “What is the apostasy?” The second is, “Who is the man of sin?” The third is, “What or who is the restrainer?”
In the first part of verse 6, the restrainer is described in an impersonal way … “what is restraining.” But then in verse 7 it is a person— “He who now restrains.” I believe that the restrainer is the archangel Michael, protector of Israel.
Who is Michael? An archangel, or an angel of high rank, who served as prince or guardian over the destinies of the nation of Israel (Dan. 10:21; 12:1). According to the Epistle of Jude, Michael disputed with Satan over the body of Moses (Jude 9). The Book of Revelation speaks of “Michael and his angels” (Rev. 12:7), who struggled with Satan when the devil rebelled against God at the beginning of time. Michael’s name means “Who Is Like God?” While Gabriel is more of an announcing and preaching angel, Michael is more involved in protecting and fighting. Only three times in the Scripture do we see this particular Michael mentioned (there are other Michaels in the Old Testament, but they’re men, not angels).
Michael is a royal champion of God’s people Israel. He’s referred to three times in Daniel, and his tagline gets progressively more exalted and more personal toward Israel:
First he’s called “one of the chief princes” in 10:13.
Then it’s “Michael, your prince” in 10:21.
Finally it’s “Michael, the great prince who protects your people” in 12:1.
In the New Testament, Michael is mentioned twice. In Revelation 12:7 he’s the leading warrior in the great heavenly battle against Satan — “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.”
Considering that men worship the antichrist with a corruption of Michaels name in Hebrew (Revelation 13:4), I think that he is the restrainer mentioned by Paul.
END OF CONTROVERSIAL MATERIAL (FOR NOW)
Even when Paul wrote, the mystery of lawlessness was already at work. By this we understand that a tremendous spirit of disobedience to God was already stirring beneath the surface. It was at work in mystery form—not that it was mysterious but rather that it was not yet fully manifested. It was still in germ form.
The Antichrist will unscrupulously use every form of wickedness to deceive people. God actually will allow a working of error “that they should believe the lie.” The lie, of course, is the Antichrist’s claim to be God. People refused to receive the Lord Jesus as God manifest in the flesh. When He was on earth, He warned men, “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me: if another comes in his own name, him you will receive” (John 5:43). So now they receive the man of sin who comes in his own name and demands worship as God. “
The Antichrist will probably claim some connection to being Jewish (Ezek. 28:9, 10; Dan. 11:37, 38). Most Jews would not be deceived by one posing as the Messiah unless he claimed to be descended from the tribe of Judah and the family of David.
We know that many people will be saved during the 70th Week. One hundred and forty-four thousand Jews, for instance, will be saved and will be God’s messengers in preaching the gospel of the kingdom throughout the world. Through their ministry many others will be saved. These new believers will, as those who already believe and are alive at that time, be “tried by fire”. We all need to make sure that our faith is real, and will stand the test (in whatever form it may come for us as individuals).
Lesson 13: “End Time Prophecies In Second Timothy”
2nd Timothy 3:1 – 4:4
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
The Coming Apostasy (3:1–13)
The apostle Paul gives Timothy a description of conditions that will exist in the world prior to the Lord’s coming. It has often been pointed out that the list of sins that follows is very similar to the description of the ungodly heathen in Romans 1. The remarkable thing is that the very conditions that exist among the heathen in their savagery and uncivilized state will characterize professing believers in the last days.
One cannot study these verses without being struck by the repetition of the word lovers. In verse 2, for instance, we find lovers of self and lovers of money. In verse 3, the expression “despisers of good” means literally “no-lovers-of good.” In verse 4, we read of “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
In verses 2–5, nineteen characteristics of mankind during the last days are given. We shall simply list them and give synonyms that explain their meaning:
Lovers of themselves—self-centered, conceited, egotistical.
Lovers of money—greedy for money, avaricious.
Boasters—braggarts, full of great swelling words.
Proud—arrogant, haughty, overbearing.
Blasphemers—profane, abusive, foulmouthed, contemptuous, insulting.
Disobedient to parents—rebellious, undutiful, uncontrolled.
Unthankful—ungrateful, lacking in appreciation.
Unholy—impious, profane, irreverent, holding nothing sacred.
Unloving—hard-hearted, unnaturally callous, unfeeling.
Unforgiving—refusing to make peace, refusing efforts toward reconciliation.
Slanderers—spreading false and malicious reports.
Without self-control—men of uncontrolled passions, dissolute.
Despisers of good—haters of good; opposed to goodness in any form.
Headstrong—reckless, self-willed, rash.
Haughty—making empty pretensions, conceited.
Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—those who love sensual pleasures but not God.
Outwardly these people seem religious. They make a profession of Christianity, but their actions speak louder than their words. By their ungodly behavior, they show that they are living a lie. There is no evidence of the power of God in their lives. There never was regeneration. They want to be religious and to have their sins at the same time (cf. Rev. 3:14–22). A commentator named Hiebert warns: “It is the fearful portrayal of an apostate Christendom, a new paganism masquerading under the name of Christianity.”
Among the corrupt men of the last days, Paul now singles out a particular group, namely, leaders and teachers of false cults. This detailed description of their character and methods finds its fulfillment in many obvious examples in our present day. First of all, we read that they creep or worm their way into households. It is not by accident that this description reminds us of the movement of a serpent. If they revealed their true identity, they would not succeed in getting into many of these homes, but they use various subtle devices, such as speaking about God, the Bible, and Jesus (even if they do not believe what Scripture teaches about these).
Next it says that they make captives of gullible women. This is characteristic. They plan their visit when the husband is apt to be at work or elsewhere. History repeats itself. Satan approached Eve in the Garden of Eden and deceived her. She usurped authority over her husband, making the decision that should have been left to him. Satan’s methods have not changed. He still approaches the womenfolk with his false teachings and leads them captive. These women are gullible in the sense that they are weak and unstable. They do not lack brains as much as they lack strength of character. They are described as loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts. This suggests, first of all, that they are burdened under a sense of sin and feel a need in their lives. It is at this crucial time that the cultists arrive. How sad it is that those who know the truth of God’s word are not more zealous in reaching these anxious souls. Secondly, we read that they are led away by various lusts. The thought seems to be that, conscious of their load of sin and seeking relief from it, they are willing to expose themselves to every passing wind of doctrine and to every religious novelty.
The expression always learning does not mean that they are continually learning more about the Lord Jesus and the word of God. Rather, it means that they are constantly delving into one cult after another, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. The Lord Jesus is Himself the Truth. These women seem to come ever so close to Him at times, but they are taken captive by the enemy of their souls and never attain the rest that is found only in the Savior.
It should be noted at this point that members of the various cults invariably say, “I am learning,” mentioning the system by name. They can never speak with finality as to an accomplished redemption through faith in Jesus Christ.
This verse also makes us think of the vast present-day increase in knowledge in every realm of human endeavor, the tremendous emphasis on education so prevalent in modern life, and yet the abysmal failure of it all to bring men to the knowledge of the truth.
In the eighth verse, Paul returns to the leaders and teachers of false cults. He compares them to Jannes and Jambres who resisted Moses. Who were these men? Actually, their names are not mentioned in the OT, but it is generally understood that they were two of the chief Egyptian magicians who were called in by Pharaoh to imitate the miracles performed by Moses. The question arises as to how Paul knew their names. This should present no difficulty, for if they were not passed down by Jewish tradition, it is not at all unreasonable that the names could have been given to him by divine revelation.
The important thing is that they resisted Moses by imitating his works, by counterfeit miracles. That is precisely the case with the false cultists. They withstand the work of God by imitating it. They have their own Bible, their own way of salvation—in short, they have a substitute for everything in Christianity. They withstand the truth of God by presenting a cheap perversion, and sometimes by resorting to magical arts. These men are of corrupt mind. Their minds are distorted, debased, and depraved.
When tested concerning the Christian faith, they are found to be disapproved. The greatest single test that can be applied to them is to ask the simple question, “Is Jesus Christ God?” Many of them seek to hide their false doctrine by admitting that Jesus is the Son of God, but they mean that He is a son of God in the same sense that others are children of God. But when faced with the question, “Is Jesus Christ God?” they show their true colors. They not only deny the deity of Jesus Christ but usually become angry when so challenged. This is true of Christian Scientists, Spiritualists, Christadelphians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and “The Way.” Paul assures Timothy that these false teachers will progress no further. The difficulty here is that in every age they seem to be prospering on every hand, and nothing seems to hinder their advance in the world! The probable meaning is that every system of error is eventually exposed. False systems come and go, one after the other. Although they might seem to prosper mightily, and even for a long time, yet the time comes when their falsity becomes evident to all. They can lead men up to a certain point, even offering a certain measure of reformation. But they fail in that they have no regeneration. They cannot offer a man freedom from the penalty and power of sin. They cannot give life. Jannes and Jambres could imitate Moses to a certain extent by their acts of magic. However, when it came to producing life from death, they were utterly powerless. This is the very issue on which the false cults meet their defeat.
In marked contrast to these false teachers was the life and ministry of Paul. Timothy was well aware of the nine prominent features which characterized this servant of the Lord. He had followed Paul closely and could testify to the fact that here was a man who was faithful to Christ and His word.
The apostle’s doctrine or teaching was true to the word of God and loyal to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. His manner of life, or conduct, was consistent with the message he preached. His purpose in life was to be separate from moral and doctrinal evil. Faith here may mean Paul’s trust in the Lord, or his own personal fidelity. Timothy knew him as one who was utterly dependent on the Lord, and at the same time, one who was honest and trustworthy. The apostle’s longsuffering was seen in his attitude toward his persecutors and critics, and toward physical afflictions. As to love, he was selflessly devoted to the Lord and to his fellow men. The less he was loved by others, the more determined he was to love. Perseverance literally means “bearing up under,” that is, fortitude or endurance.
Persecution is an integral part of a devout Christian life. It is well that every young Timothy should be reminded of this. Otherwise, when he is called upon to go through deep waters, he might be tempted to think that he has failed the Lord or that the Lord is displeased with him for some reason. The fact is that persecution is inevitable for all who desire to live in a godly manner. The reason for this persecution is simple. A godly life exposes the wickedness of others. People do not like to be thus exposed. Instead of repenting of their ungodliness and turning to Christ, they seek to destroy the one who has shown them up for what they really are. It is totally irrational behavior, of course, but that is characteristic of fallen man. Paul had no illusions that the world would gradually become better and better, until finally all men would be converted. Rather, he knew by divine revelation that the very opposite would be the case. Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse. They would become more subtle in their methods and more bold in their attacks. Not only would they deceive others, but they themselves would be ensnared by the very false teaching with which they sought to trap their hearers. After having peddled their lies for so long, they would actually come to believe them personally.
The Man of God’s Resource in View of the Apostasy (3:14–4:4)
Time and time again, Timothy is reminded to continue steadfastly in the teachings of the word of God. This would be his great resource in a day when false doctrines would abound on every hand. If he knew and obeyed the Scriptures, he would not be led away by these subtle errors. Timothy had not only learned the great truths of the faith, but he had become personally assured of them as well. Doubtless he would be told that such teachings were old-fashioned and not sufficiently cultural or intellectual. But he should not abandon truth for theories or human speculations.
The Holy Scriptures are spoken of as being continually able to make men wise for salvation. This means, first of all, that men learn the way of salvation through the Bible. It might also carry the thought that assurance of salvation comes through the word of God. Salvation is through faith which is in Christ Jesus. We should mark this well. It is not through good works, baptism, church membership, obeying the Ten Commandments, keeping the Golden Rule, or in any other way that involves human effort or merit. Salvation is through faith in the Son of God.
When Paul speaks of all Scripture, he is definitely referring to the complete OT. Today we are justified in applying the verse to the entire Bible. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 is one of the most important verses in the Bible on the subject of inspiration. It teaches that the Scriptures are God-breathed. In a miraculous way, He communicated His word to men and led them to write it down for permanent preservation. What they wrote was the very word of God, inspired and infallible. While it is true that the individual literary style of the writer was not destroyed, it is also true that the very words he used were words given to him by the Holy Spirit. Thus we read in 1 Corinthians 2:13: “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” If this verse says anything at all, it says that the inspired writers used WORDS which the Holy Spirit taught. This is what is meant by verbal inspiration. The writers of the Bible did not give their own private interpretation of things, but wrote the message which was given to them by God. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20, 21). It is false to say that God simply gave the thoughts to the individual writers and allowed them to express these thoughts in their own words. The truth insisted on in the Scriptures is that the very words originally given by God to men were God-breathed.
Because the Bible is the word of God, it is profitable. Every portion of it is profitable. Although man might wonder about some of the genealogies or obscure passages, yet the Spirit-taught mind will realize that there is spiritual nourishment in every word that has proceeded from the mouth of God.
The Bible is profitable for doctrine, or teaching. It sets forth the mind of God with regard to such themes as the Trinity, angels, man, sin, salvation, sanctification, the church, and future events.
Again, it is profitable for reproof. As we read the Bible, it speaks to us pointedly concerning those things in our lives which are displeasing to God. Also, it is profitable for refuting error and for answering the tempter.
Again, the word is profitable for correction. It not only points out what is wrong but sets forth the way in which it can be made right. For instance, the Scriptures not only say, “Let him who stole steal no longer,” but add, “Rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need.” The first part of the verse might be considered as reproof, whereas the second part is correction.
Finally, the Bible is profitable for instruction in righteousness. The grace of God teaches us to live godly lives, but the word of God traces out in detail the things which go to make up a godly life.
Through the word, the man of God may be complete or mature. He is thoroughly equipped with all that he needs to bring forth every good work which makes up the goal of his salvation (Eph. 2:8–10).
Beginning in 4:1, Paul now begins his final solemn charge to Timothy. He does so in the sight of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. All service should be carried out with the realization that it is watched by God’s all-seeing eye.
In view of God’s present observation of His servants and of His future reward, Timothy should boldly proclaim the Word. He should do so with a sense of urgency, availing himself of every opportunity. The message is in season at all times, even when some might think it to be out of season. As a servant of Christ, Timothy will be called upon to convince, that is, to prove or refute. He will have to rebuke what is false. He will be required to exhort or encourage sinners to believe and saints to go on for the Lord. In all of this, he must be unfailing in patient longsuffering and in the faithful teaching of sound doctrine.
In verses 3–4, the apostle gives a strong reason for the charge he has just given. It is that there will be a general turning away from wholesome doctrine.
The apostle foresees a time when people will show a positive distaste for health-giving teaching. They will willfully turn away from those who teach the truth of God’s word. Their ears will itch for doctrines that are pleasing and comfortable. To satisfy their lust for novel and gratifying doctrine, they will accumulate a group of teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. The lust for inoffensive preaching will cause people to turn their ears away from the truth to myths. It is a poor exchange—to sacrifice truth for fables—but this is the wretched reward of those who refuse sound doctrine.
Lesson 14: “End Time Prophecies In 2nd Peter”
2nd Peter 2:1 – 3:9
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.
12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, 13 and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. 15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
THE RISE OF FALSE TEACHERS PREDICTED (Chap. 2)
At the close of chapter 1 Peter referred to the prophets of the OT as men who spoke, not by their own will, but as moved by the Holy Spirit. Now he mentions that in addition to the true prophets in the OT period, there were also false prophets. And just as there will be bona fide teachers in the Christian era, there will be false teachers as well. These false teachers take their place inside the church. They pose as ministers of the gospel. This is what makes the peril so great. If they came right out and said they were atheists or agnostics, people would be on guard. But they are masters of deception. They carry the Bible and use orthodox expressions —though using them to mean something entirely different. While professing to be ministers of righteousness, they secretly bring in soul-destroying heresies alongside true Bible doctrine. It is a deliberately deceptive mixture of the false and the true. Primarily, they peddle a system of denials. They deny the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, His virgin birth, and His death as a Substitute for sinners. They are especially vehement in their denial of the value of His shed blood. They deny His bodily resurrection, eternal punishment, salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the reality of miracles in the Bible.
Peter predicts that they will attract a large following. They do this by scuttling the biblical standards of morality and encouraging the indulgence of the flesh. As a result of this type of behavior, taught and practiced by false teachers, the way of truth is maligned. Unbelievers develop a deep contempt for Christianity.
These false teachers are greedy, both in the sexual and financial realms. They have chosen the ministry as a lucrative profession. Their great aim is to build up a large following and thus to increase their income. They exploit people with false words. Darby said, “The devil is never more satanic than when he carries a Bible.” So these men, with Bible in hand, pose as ministers of righteousness, give out well-known evangelical hymns, and use scriptural expressions. But all this is camouflage for heretical teachings and corrupt morals.
In verses 4–10, we have three OT examples of God’s judgment on apostasy—the angels, the antediluvians, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
We assume that the angels who sinned are those also mentioned in Jude 6. There we learn that: (1) They did not keep their position. (2) They left their proper dwelling. Though we cannot be certain, there is strong reason to believe that these are the same as “the sons of God” mentioned in Genesis 6:2: “The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.” Angels are called sons of God in Job 1:6; 2:1. The inference in Genesis 6 is that these sons of God left the angelic position assigned to them, exchanged their dwelling in heaven for one on earth, and intermarried with human wives. The children born to them were nephilim, which means “fallen ones” (Gen. 6:4). It seems clear from Genesis 6:3 that God was extremely displeased with these abnormal sexual unions.
God was outraged by this gross apostasy of the angels from His established order. Their doom was to be thrown down to hell, committed to pits of utter gloom until the final judgment.
The second illustration of God’s direct intervention in punishing sin relates to the people who perished in the flood. Their wickedness had been great. Every imagination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5). In God’s sight the earth was corrupt and filled with violence (Gen. 6:11–13). The Lord was sorry that He had made men on the earth (Gen. 6:6). He was so grieved that He determined to blot them out (Gen. 6:7). He did not spare the ancient world, but brought the flood upon it to destroy its ungodly inhabitants.
Only Noah and his family found favor in the eyes of the Lord. They sought and found refuge in the ark, and rode safely above the storm of God’s wrath and indignation.
The third example of God’s unsparing judgment concerns the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These two cities, somewhere near what is now the southern area of the Dead Sea, were cesspools of sexual perversion. The people accepted homosexuality as a normal way of life. This sin is described in Romans 1:26, 27: “Even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
God did not look upon this unrestrained degeneracy as sickness but as sin. He rained fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24), reducing them to ashes. The destruction was so complete that there is considerable doubt today as to the exact location of the cities. They serve as an example to any who would legalize this sin or condone it as a disease.
The same God who visits destruction on the ungodly rescues the righteous. Peter illustrates this by the experience of Lot. If we had only the OT account of Lot, we might not think him a true believer at all. In the Genesis account, he almost appears as a status-seeking opportunist, willing to put up with sin and corruption in order to make a place and name for himself in the world. But Peter, writing by inspiration, tells us that he was a righteous man who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked. God saw that Lot had genuine faith, and that he loved righteousness and hated sin. To emphasize that Lot really was a righteous man in spite of appearances to the contrary, Peter repeats that his soul was tormented daily by the things he heard and saw in Sodom. The vile immorality of the people caused him deep suffering. The conclusion is that the Lord knows how to deliver the godly and to punish the ungodly. He can rescue His people from trial, and at the same time reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.
These apostate religious leaders resemble irrational animals. Instead of using the powers of reasoning which distinguish them from animals, they live as if the gratification of their bodily appetites is the very essence of existence. Just as many animals seem to have no higher destiny than to be killed and butchered, so the false teachers lunge forward to destruction, heedless of what is their true calling—to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. They speak evil of the things they do not understand. Their ignorance is never more glaring than when they criticize the Bible. Because they are devoid of divine life, they are utterly unable to understand the words, ways, and works of God (1 Cor. 2:14). Yet they pose as experts in the spiritual realm. A humble believer can see more on his knees than they can see on their tiptoes. They will be destroyed in the same destruction as the animals. Since they choose to live like animals, they will die like them. Their death will not mean extinction, but they will die ingloriously and without hope.
“Their eyes are full of adultery and cannot cease from sin.” This describes men who preach supposedly religious sermons, administer the ordinances, counsel the members of their congregation; yet their eyes are constantly looking for women with whom they might have an adulterous affair. Their thirst for lechery, disguised perhaps under the ministerial “cloth,” seems to be limitless.
They entice unstable souls. Perhaps they misuse passages of Scripture to condone sin. Or they explain that matters of right and wrong are largely determined by our culture. Or they suavely reassure their dupes that nothing is wrong if it is done in love. It is easy for unsteady souls to reason that if a thing is all right for a religious leader, it certainly must be all right for a member of the laity.
In several ways, these false teachers resemble the prophet Balaam the son of Beor. They falsely pose as spokesmen for God (Num. 22:38). They induce others to sin (Rev. 2:14). But the chief likeness is that they use the ministry as a means of financial enrichment. Balaam was a Midianite prophet hired by the king of Moab to curse Israel. His motive for doing this was money. On one of his attempts to curse Israel, Balaam and his donkey met the angel of the Lord (that is, the Lord Jesus in one of His pre-incarnate appearances). The donkey repeatedly refused to go on. When Balaam whipped it, the donkey rebuked him in human language (Num. 22:15–34). This was an astonishing phenomenon—a dumb donkey speaking with a human voice (and showing better sense than its master!). But the miracle did not shock Balaam out of his madness.
Peter likens the false teachers to waterless springs. Needy people go to them for refreshment and for relief from spiritual thirst but are disappointed. They are wells without water. They are also clouds carried by a tempest. The clouds hold promise of rain for land that has suffered from prolonged drought. But then a windstorm comes and drives the clouds away. Hopes are dashed; parched tongues are unsatisfied. They speak great swelling words of emptiness, or as Knox translates it, they use “fine phrases that have no meaning.” This is an accurate description of the words of many liberal preachers and false cultists. They are accomplished orators, holding audiences spellbound by their grandiose rhetoric. Their erudite vocabulary attracts undiscerning people. What their sermons lack in content, they make up for in a dogmatic, forceful presentation. But when they have finished they have said nothing.
The strategy of these false teachers is to allure people by promising unrestrained indulgence in every form of lust and passion. They teach that since our bodily appetites are God-given, they should not be restrained. To do so, they say, would cause severe personality disturbances. And so they advocate sexual experimentation before marriage and relaxed morals after marriage.
Verses 20–22 refer, not to the false teachers themselves, but to their victims. They are people who had reformed but who had not been born again. Through a partial knowledge of … Christ and of Christian principles, they had turned from a life of sin and begun a moral house-cleaning.
Then they come under the influence of false teachers who mock puritanical virtue and crusade for liberation from moral inhibitions. They become involved again in the very sins from which they had been temporarily delivered. As a matter of fact, they sink lower than before, because now that religious restraints are gone, there is nothing to hold them back. So it is true that their latter state is worse than the first. The greater a person’s privilege, the greater his responsibility. The more a person knows of Christian standards, the more obligated he is to live up to them. It would be better never to have known God’s holy requirements, than having known them to turn back to the filth of the world.
THE RISE OF SCOFFERS PREDICTED (Chap. 3)
From the subject of false teachers in chapter 2, Peter turns to the certain rise of scoffers in the last days. In this Letter as in the previous one, he first encourages his readers to cling to the Bible. They should remember the predictions of the holy prophets—found in the OT; and they should remember the teaching of the Lord as conveyed through the apostles—this is preserved in the NT. The Bible is the only true safeguard in days of declension.
The united testimony of the prophets and apostles was that scoffers would come in the last days, following their own lusts. Christians should remember this. They should not be bowled over by the arrogant and blasphemous denials of these men. Rather they should see in them a definite indication that the end of the age is nearing. These mockers follow their own passions. Having rejected the knowledge of God, they fearlessly indulge their appetites. They advocate permissiveness with total disregard of any impending judgment.
Their primary attack has to do with the coming of Christ. Their attitude is, “Where is the promise of His coming?” meaning, “Where is the fulfillment of the promise?” What they really say is this: “You Christians have been threatening us with warnings about a terrible judgment upon the world. You tell us that God is going to intervene in history, punish the wicked, and destroy the earth. It’s all a pack of nonsense. We have nothing to fear. We can live as we please. There is no evidence that God ever has intervened in history; why should we believe that He ever will?” Their conclusion is based on the careless hypothesis that “since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” They say that nature invariably follows uniform laws, that there are no supernatural interventions, that there is a natural explanation for everything.
They believe in the law of uniformitarianism. This law states that existing processes in nature have always acted in the same manner and with essentially the same intensity as at present, and that these processes are sufficient to account for all the changes that have taken place. There is a vital link between the law of uniformitarianism and the usual theories of evolution. The theory of the progressive development of living organisms from pre-existing types depends on the supposition that conditions have been fairly uniform. If this earth has been racked by cataclysms and catastrophes, then some of the presuppositions of Darwinian evolution are affected.
The scoffers deliberately ignore one fact—the flood. God did intervene at one time in the affairs of men, and the specific purpose of His intervention was to punish wickedness. If it happened once, it can happen again. It is a withering indictment of these men that they are willfully ignorant. They pride themselves on being knowledgeable. They profess to be objective in their reasoning. They boast that they adhere to the principles of scientific investigation. But the fact is that they deliberately ignore a well-attested fact of history—the deluge. They should take a course in geology! “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water, … perished.” The critics willfully disregard this fact of history. It is interesting that the flood has emerged in recent years as the object of bitter attack. But the record of it is written in stone, in the traditions of ancient peoples and modern, and best of all, in God’s Holy word.
When God created the earth, He seeded it with sufficient water to destroy it. In the same manner, He seeded the heavens and the earth with enough fire to destroy them. In this nuclear age, we understand that matter is stored-up energy. The splitting of an atomic nucleus results in the fiery release of enormous quantities of energy. So all the matter in the world represents tremendous explosive potential. At present it is held together by the Lord (Col. 1:17, “in Him all things consist”). If His restraining hand were removed, the elements would melt. In the meantime the heavens and the earth are being reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
Why then the long delay in God’s judgment? God has promised to end the history of ungodly men with judgment. If there seems to be delay, it is not because God is unfaithful to His promise. It is because He is patient. He purposely extends the time of grace so that men might have every opportunity to be saved. He waited 120 years before He sent the flood. Now He has waited several thousand years before destroying the world with fire.
Lesson 15: “End Time Prophecies In Jude”
1 Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: 2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. 5 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. 6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever.
The next-to-the-last book of the New Testament deals once again with the subject of both the current AND the end times APOSTASY. Noting how much time is spent by all of the N.T. writers on this subject of end times apostasy and false teachers, we should pay careful attention to this subject; especially since we earnestly believe that we are currently living in the “lead-in” period of the end times.
An apostate is a person who professes to be a true believer but who, as a matter of fact, has never been regenerated. He may be baptized and participate fully in the privileges of a local Christian fellowship. But after a while, he willfully abandons the Christian faith and maliciously renounces the Savior. He denies the deity of Christ, His redemptive work at Calvary, His bodily resurrection, or other fundamental doctrines. It is not at all a question of backsliding; the apostate was never converted at all. He has no qualms about his deliberate spurning of God’s only way of salvation. He is hardened in his unbelief and stubbornly opposed to the Christ of God.
Apostasy is not simply a question of denying the Savior. Peter did that. Peter was a true believer who buckled under the pressures of a crisis. But he really loved the Lord and demonstrated the reality of his faith by his subsequent repentance and restoration. Judas Iscariot was an apostate. He professed to be a disciple; he traveled with the Lord Jesus for about three years. He even served as treasurer of the team, but finally he revealed his true self by betraying the Lord for thirty pieces of silver.
Apostasy is a sin leading to death, one that lies beyond the responsibility of believers’ prayers (1 Jn. 5:16b). It is impossible to renew an apostate to repentance, since he crucifies to himself the Son of God, and puts Him to open shame (Heb. 6:6). For those who thus sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (Heb. 10:26, 27).
Jude charges the recipients of his letter to “earnestly contend for the faith”. It is not enough for a Christian to know the truth for himself; we have a responsibility to make sure that our churches, pastors, and teachers are holding to “the faith once delivered”.
As we come to the end of this lesson series, let’s note some of the important items that we have seen repeated by the authors of Scripture:
1) God WILL deal with the sinfulness and evil of mankind; it will not go unpunished.
2) We have been given specific prophecies of what the “end times” will look like, so that we will not be taken unawares.
3) The Bible spends a lot more time dealing with the issues of false teachers and false doctrines in the “latter days” that it spends on the economic, political, or social features of that time.
4) We are REPEATEDLY warned to be aware, on guard, observant, and careful so that we will not be fooled.
5) We are also repeatedly told that the best way to deal with the upheavals and dangers of the “latter days” is to rest in Jesus, live a holy life, learn and apply the Scriptures in all things, and stand for the truth of God’s Word.
6) And, lastly, never forget that God is always in charge, and that after everything is said and done, HE WINS, and so do we.
Notes On Millennial Sacrifices
“Some commentators hold that a reinstitution of sacrifices contradicts Hebrews
8:8-13. Yes, we see sacrifices in the Millennial kingdom because the Bible
prophecies this. We do realize there is no need for sacrifice for sin, however there are other sacrifices, and these sacrifices in the Millennium may be similar to the Lord’s Table in meaning. They may have commemorative value.
The problem is that the objectors probably misinterpret Hebrews, and ignore that the prophecies always mention that the Millennial sacrifices are a
memorial or some other form, rather than the sin sacrifices that are no
From “Derrickson’s Notes On Theology”
In Ezekiel 43:20, 26; 45:15, 17 some of the offerings that will be presented during the Millennium are distinctly said to be for the purpose of making atonement. How can this be reconciled with Hebrews 10:12: “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” Or Hebrews 10:18: “Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin?”
As used in the OT, the word “atonement” (lit., covering) never means the putting away of sins. Hebrews 10:4 reminds us that “ … it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Rather the sacrifices were an annual reminder of sins (Heb. 10:3). What then did atonement mean? It meant that the sacrifices produced an outward, ceremonial cleanness. They conferred a ritual purification on people, enabling them to draw near as worshipers in fellowship with God. The sacrifices even made atonement for inanimate things, such as the altar (Ex. 29:37), where there could be no thought of remission of sins. All it means is that the altar was cleansed ceremonially and thus made fit for God’s service.
When we read of the forgiveness of unintentional sin in connection with atonement (Lev. 4:20), it can only mean the removal of ceremonial defilement so that the person could draw near in worship. In our day the word “atonement” has acquired a much wider and deeper meaning. It is used, for instance, to describe the entire sacrificial work of Christ by which our sins are put away and we are reconciled to God. But it never has this meaning in the Bible. (In Rom. 5:11 KJV, the word “atonement” should be “reconciliation,” as in NKJV and other versions.) The sacrifices in Israel’s history looked forward to the perfect and complete sacrifice of Christ. The sacrifices in the Millennium will commemorate His work on Calvary. They will be memorials for Israel just as the Lord’s Supper is for us.
The passages in Hebrews do not rule out any sacrificial ceremony in the future. But they insist that no future sacrifices can ever deal effectively with sins, any more than they did in the past. “
From “The Believer’s Bible Commentary”
“One feature of the millennial kingdom will be a rebuilt temple, complete with animal sacrifices. Since the Scriptures indicate that much typological significance of both the temple and its service has already been fulfilled by Christ, we might question the need for a temple or for animal sacrifice in the next dispensation. But the temple will (1) demonstrate God’s holiness; (2) provide a dwelling place for the glory of God; (3) perpetuate a memorial of sacrifice; (4) become a center for divine government; and (5) assure victory over the curse. Illustration: The sacrifices in the Millennium will be memorial, much as the observance of the Lord’s Supper is memorial today. When both practices were instituted, they were pointing typologically to the atoning death of Christ. At no time did the sacrifices or the Lord’s Supper have atoning value, though the atonement message is central to their symbolism. When practiced after the Cross, both can have only a memorial significance. Application: As the believer confesses his sin (1 John 1:9) God will forgive and cleanse. (First Reference, Ezek. 47:1–12; Primary Reference, Ezek. 47:1–12; cf. Rev. 20:12.)
The mention of the burnt offering here and in connection with the altar (43:13–27) has proved problematic. Under the new covenant, Jesus Christ “after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12). How then may one explain this seeming reversion to the Levitical system of bloody sacrifices? Some have suggested that Ezekiel is merely presenting the worship of the Millennium in terms familiar to himself and his readers. Others have pointed out that several good reasons for the use of animal sacrifices can be given. Even the Levitical sacrifices did not take away sin, but were only pictures of Christ’s work prior to its accomplishment. There is no reason that the millennial sacrifices cannot have the status of memorials to the work of Christ, just as the Old Testament sacrifices had their status as precursors of Christ’s work. In the early New Testament church Christian Jews sometimes observed the temple worship (Acts 2:46; 3:1; 5:42) even to the point of offering sacrifices (Acts 21:26). Certainly they knew that these sacrifices added nothing to the work of Christ, but only pictured it. “
From “The KJV Study Bible”
Questions regarding the prophecies in the OT
What do we see as recurring themes in the prophecies?
1.God upholds His covenants
2.God judges sin, even among His Own People
In light of 1st Peter 4:12-19, and in light of what we have learned from the Old Testament prophecies, how should we conduct ourselves as the Church?
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
Eight Items Missing From Ezekiel’s Temple
The Wall Of Partition – separating Gentiles from the inner areas of the Temple.
The Court Of The Women – keeping women from the closest areas of the Court of Israel.
These two are done away with according to Galatians 3:27-28
The Laver – for the washing of priests for ceremonial cleansing.
See Titus 3:5
The Golden Menorah – to provide light in the Holy Place.
See John 8:12
The Table Of Showbread – unleavened loaves representing the tribes of Israel, and the Manna God provided in the wilderness.
See John 6:35
The Altar Of Incense – to provide the sweet smelling savor to arise before the Lord, representing the prayers of the people as they seek for the Lord.
See Ezekiel 48:35
The Veil That Separates - to keep the Holy of Holies closed from the people.
See Isaiah 25:7 and Mark 15:37-38
The Ark Of The Covenant – the residing place of the tablets of the Law, and the Mercy Seat, described as the footstool of God’s Throne. See Jeremiah 3:16-17 and Ezekiel 43:5-7