|The hope of
the Church is the Lord's coming. As believers, we do not
look for prophetic events to take place while we are here
on earth. Our home is in heaven, and we look for the
Saviour for our bodily deliverance out of this present
evil world that is plunging into perdition. This hope
will he realized when we hear the shout of victory and we
are caught away to meet our Lord in the air, forever to
be with Him in the Father's house. Following the rapture
of the Church with the Old Testament saints, when all in
Christ at that time will be raised and changed to be in
heaven forever, earth will begin to undergo changes (Rev.
For two thousand years the fulfillment of prophecy has been held in abeyance because of the "mystery," until the fullness of the Gentiles is come in (Rom. 11:25). The Apostle Paul was the first and only one to be given a revelation of the "mystery." The whole church period, including the judgment of the false professing body, is a mystery known even now only to the true believer who has the anointing of the Spirit. Paul was given, by revelation, the truth of the Church, as to its character, the administration in testimony during its stay in the world, and order and behavior in the gathering together of the assembly for doctrine, breaking of bread, fellowship, and prayers, also its rapture and association with the One who as Man will be Head over all created things (Rom. 16:25, Eph. 3:6, 9).
John was given, by revelation, the future setting up of government and blessing in the earth through the Church. It will be associated with Christ in administrative glory on the throne as those who dwell in the heavens. John also shows us the development and climax of the awful apostasy and violence that close the history of the disbelieving, disobedient, professing church left here to undergo God's wrath, while the true Assembly dwells in glory in the heavens, beyond the din of the rumblings of judgment.
Conditions at the time when the true Church has gone will probably not show any immediate change, religious organizations continuing much as before. There will likely be a stir as the company of believers disappears. A search no doubt will be made, to the chagrin of the searchers. The fact that no bodies will be found and everything left just as it would be, were the believers present, will be an enigma indeed to the earth dwellers. The outward observance of traditions will increase in order to ease the conscience, and idolatry will give outward satisfaction to the restless, estranged heart (Rev. 9:20).
There seem to be two spheres upon which the prophetic spotlight focuses - Roman (western) (Rev. 8:7), and the Holy Land (eastern) (Rev. 9:1-4). The term earth will include both the western and eastern parts. It is a moral expression to set forth the part of the world that is in known relationship to God, at least by profession. There will be a gospel preached on earth after the rapture of the Church. It will tell of the coming King, Israel's Messiah, long promised, who shall reign in righteousness on the throne of His father David.
After the gospel of the kingdom has been preached (Matt. 24:14), the nations found within the boundaries of the four monarchies, described by Daniel in the second chapter of his prophecy, will also be included along with Israel in the prophetic earth. It will be the prophetic earth, not the whole geographical world, that will be judged then (Isa. 26:9).
Of the four monarchies (or beasts) mentioned, Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman, the last shall be revived in the end days, when iniquity and sin are to be filled up, to head up an earth avowedly opposed to God and His Christ. Before the millennial day can be fully ushered in, what remains of these proud instruments of God's government and wrath shall fall, as a part of the great image described in Daniel 2. The image shall be completely crushed by the Son of man as He comes to take His kingdom in righteousness.
The Apostle Paul writes how "blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." The first change for earth on God's part will be the removing of that blindness (Rom. 11:25). Some of the Jews, spoken of as "wise" or intelligent ones, from the two tribes just then returning to Palestine, will teach the awakened remnant (Dan. 12:3). The result will be a testimony in Jerusalem. It will be at this point, or just before, some great maritime power, probably from Europe, will take up the cause of the Jews, not only to bring them back to their land in great numbers (Isa, 18), but also it may be the same power who will make a protective covenant with them for seven years (Dan. 9:27). The close of the first three and one half years of this covenant will see the covenant broken, bringing in the great tribulation upon the two tribes who have returned. The first three and one halt years are sometimes spoken of as "the beginning of sorrows."
There will probably be prosperity at first as the wealthy Jews return to their land with treasure gathered during the Christian era (Isa. 2:7), and civilization will flourish in Jerusalem and its environs (Isa, 17:9-11). A popular leader with a religious background will arise to guide the people. Shortly thereafter, he becomes their king (Dan, 11:36).
From the start, there will be a godly remnant distinguished from the mass of the people. This remnant will not partake of the covenant, the worship, nor the sacrifices, their sacrifice being a broken spirit, which the Lord will not despise (Psa. 51:17). At and around Jerusalem false teachers will arise (Matt. 24:24).
From the West, during the same period, some great leader will come forth in bloodless brilliant conquest (Rev. 6:2), subduing the western nations, at least for a short time. Unrest from despotism will produce a form of civil war (Rev. 6:4), perhaps different from former ones in that it will be more chaotic and widespread; they shall "kill one another." They may result from differences in local issues such as labor against capital, race disputes, and, as conditions become more trying, through the relaxing of morals, pleasure and gain, these being the objects of fallen man. The day of pleasure and gain is already upon us. How soon the Lord's coming must be!
As a result of a period of prolonged civil strife and spending of energies on desolating wars, agriculture will suffer. The increase in population, which has already become a problem, will add to widespread famine (Rev. 6:5, 6), especially among the laboring classes. Fearful sights accompanied by signs from heaven shall strike terror, as pestilence and death sweep over a part of the prophetic earth (Rev. 6:8).
There never was a day when Satan did not attack God's people, and the time here spoken of will be no exception. Martyrs are heard crying from under the altar for vengeance upon the dwellers upon the earth (Rev. 6:9,10), who are the religious people who have refused heaven, instead of taking the path of rejection with an ascended glorified Christ whom the world has cast out. Those who were once privileged people, having turned away from the truth, shall fall away to Satan's delusion and become the instruments in his hand to persecute and slay the witnessing remnant of the Jews, all they can find. The martyrs are told to rest until their "brethren" and "fellow servants" should be killed as they (Rev. 6:11).
At this point in the prophetic unfolding, Satan shall be cast out of heaven onto the earth, causing a tremendous convulsion, especially in the West (Rev, 12:7-9). Having no more opportunity to work from heaven, his energies will from then on be directed from earth. Though personally present to direct things, being a fallen angel he will not be seen. He will enter into the political arena, bringing together the Roman Empire but in a new and different form not known before, with ten horns and seven heads, the heads crowned (Rev, 12:3).
The tail of the dragon (Satan) will draw the third part of the stars of heaven as he falls to the earth (Rev, 12:4). The "third part" designates the Roman Empire, the newly formed coalition of ten nations, but not each having a king as later at the end. The drawing with the tail suggests that they will be under a strange religious control, but dictated to by Satan, not heaven (Isa. 9:15). The earthquake spoken of is this unprecedented change of power, now completely politically in the hands of Satan (Rev. 6;12-14). The end Satan has in view, which will follow, is to be worshipped in the earth. Without ecclesiastical organization Satan would not have suitable tools with which to work (Rev. 17:7).
The church of Rome, called the "woman" in its governing form (Rev. 17;18), the "harlot" in its corrupting religious form in which it falls and is destroyed (Rev. 17:1-5), will be the instrument ripe and ready to be used by Satan in forming the new order upon the earth soon after he falls from heaven (Rev. 17). The church of Rome has always sought to influence government, and it is just such an organization that can be used to bow the whole mass of Christendom in idolatry and the worship of Satan (Rev. 18:2). Of course, the "harlot" will have "children," the Protestant denominations which embrace Romish principles (Rev. 2:23). The ecumenical movement could be a preview of this. Thus the political Roman world shall he controlled by a religious government during a part of the last three and one halt years of the seven years of prophecy yet to be unfolded.
Government being subverted, men will have no protection. The fear of what is coming on the earth will so overwhelm men that they will be driven to despair, calling for the rocks and mountains to fall upon them to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6:16). Terror will grip the western earth that was once in possession of the most precious truths which, if believed in the heart, would not only hide the soul from the wrath of God but bring the vilest sinner into His eternal favor through faith, giving peace even now in a troubled world (Acts 10:36). But at the time noticed here, all opportunity for mercy to these will be over. Remorse and terror shall strive for mastery in the human breast.
But the wrath of the Lamb has not come. These are the rumbling of judgment so terrible that were it not that the days will be shortened, no flesh would be saved (Matt. 24:22). Some flesh will be saved; and in the interval before the announcement of sorer calamities, we are invited to see what God is doing to magnify His great name (Rev. 7). One hundred and forty-four thousand of the children of Israel (a symbolic number), as well as a great company of Gentiles no man could number, out of all nations, are presented as God's trophies of grace to be spared out of great tribulation to have a special place in the kingdom. These Gentiles may be the same as the sheep of Matthew 25, who have believed the Jewish preachers who will go out to all the Gentiles of the prophetic earth before the "end" comes (Matt. 24:14). The prayers of the martyrs, formerly referred to, will then be carried into heaven, precipitating the following staggering judgments (Rev. 8:3-5).
The eight souls of Noah's day prefigure these who not only will be saved to form the new millennial earth but picture also the ones to populate the earth during the eternal state (I Pet. 3:20).
If in the third seal the laboring class felt famine, here the great men of the earth, capital, the upper classes, come under judgment, their property falling with them. I suppose they are made to feel how small man really is when God removes His daily blessings for which he is so unthankful. All pride shall be abased.
The next judgment within the Roman earth has to do with a great power (mountain) cast into the masses of the people, turning it into apostasy (Rev. 8: 8, 9). (Apostasy is the giving up of a known or professed position.) Commerce then comes to an end. What frightening conditions will engulf the earth. The "star" seen to fall could be the giving up of all connection with God, even outwardly, on the part of a popular leader of the western world (Rev. 8:10,11). This apostate power takes control, affecting the very sources and fixed channels of life and well-being within the empire. Through popular influence, apostasy will become a part of governmental administration, finally affecting buying and selling (Rev. 8:12).
The judgment reaching the rulers, spreading out to the least powers, instilling apostasy as the truth, and the worship of Satan as though he were God, show the great delusion taking effect. Man will be left without proper leadership, and there will be no inspiration or direction in his private life. The nations who form a part of the Roman earth, with their leaders, will have turned away from God to Satan, and the mass of the people follow in their stride. What emotional superstition will finally clutch the so-called Christian world!
In the East a religious leader later referred to as the Antichrist will take control of the apostate people of Judah and Benjamin who have returned to the land (Rev. 9:1-11). The first woe pictures the subjection of this leader to the darkening influences of the abode of Satan, enclosing as in a religious net the mass of apostate, unsealed Jews. The light of heaven will be gone - what darkness! "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness" (Matt. 6:23).
The instruments used in judgment on the so-called western Christian nations will be none other than the forces of atheism, then seen crossing the Euphrates to attack the Roman Empire from the east (Rev. 9:12-21). Both the sword and the venom of the serpent shall be felt by the West, reaching into the empire. This will cement the Jewish and the western confederacy together as one front against the eastern enemy. How far-reaching the results of this attack will be we do not know but enough to close the gap between the Roman Empire and the people in the area of Palestine. God shall bring the nations against the professing Jewish people. The Assyrian shall begin his activities which will finally bring him into judgment as well. This overwhelming power from the north and east will not turn the Roman subjects from their idolatry.
A beast is seen rising out of the sea and pursuing its course for forty-two months. Thus the stage shall be set for what follows, the rising of the two beasts in their final acts of blasphemy. The first beast is seen ascending out of the bottomless pit, his power now directly from Satan (Rev. 11:7). He is in his last form an emperor with ten crowned subordinate kings. In this form the beast comes forth to take complete control of the earth and to be worshipped, finally as supreme over all (Rev. 13:4). He usurps the right of God and His Christ.
Of the four monarchies, the first with the head of gold was the most glorious, earthwise (Dan. 2:37-39). The last, however, the Roman, shall wield the greatest, cruelest power, but only for a short time (Dan. 7:19-21). Yet he will include all of the cruelty the other monarchies symbolize.
The second beast of Revelation 13 rises out of the earth (Rev. 13:11), his character as having two horns like a lamb, imitating Christ as prophet and king. He is called "king" by Daniel the prophet (Dan.11:36), and he assumes the place of Messiah and deceives the entire earth.
The two wicked instruments of Satan, the two beasts, will be raised up in their last blasphemous form during the tribulation judgments to counter the coming in of the kingdom of the Son of man. As the prophet sees the Lamb standing on Mount Zion with the "one hundred and forty-four thousand" (Rev. 14:1), the angel with the everlasting gospel calls for all to give glory to God, for the "hour" of His judgment is come. It will be these two wicked instruments who shall bring the great apostasy of the Jew and the false church to the climax. There shall then be open worship of the beast through the great delusion set forth by the false prophet, bringing down the judgment from the temple of God (Rev. 16).
The public testimony at Jerusalem shall cease where the Antichrist holds his sway, for the two witnesses are slain by the first beast.
Now, for "one hour" (Rev. 17:12), all will be in the hands of the Roman beast, with the ten kings, and the Jewish Antichrist. The ten horns will come forward crowned and with the beast shall overthrow the "woman," taking away her political power, leaving her only as a "harlot" to become the habitation of demons. Soon after, she shall be destroyed completely by the ten horns and the beast.
This governmental power under the church of Rome being taken away from her is referred to in Scripture as "Babylon is fallen." Then she becomes the habitation of demons. This shall be the state of the professing church just before her final destruction. The ten horns have been a part of the Roman Empire, but they shall be crowned and active in throwing off Popish governmental power and in giving their power to the beast, when he takes the character of ascending out of the bottomless pit. In giving their power to the beast they can together attack the Lamb when He comes out of heaven to set up His kingdom.
Satan's power will be manifested first in corruption under the false apostate church and then in the violence under the beast risen out of the bottomless pit. The other beast that rises out of the earth will follow the first, as previously indicated (Rev. 13.11).
The false church under the title of Babylon the Great will then be utterly destroyed.
It is not surprising that John wonders as he sees the awful end of that which was once the depository of the highest truth God ever gave to man - to which John was an apostle (Rev. 17).
After the first group of Jewish martyrs are slain (Rev. 6:9), there will be Gentile martyrs who will not receive the mark of the beast nor worship him (Rev. 15:2). These two groups, along with the two witnesses who were slain, shall be raised and be brought into their rest and reward (Rev. 14:13).
After the unmerciful tyranny of the last head of the revived Roman Empire (Rev. 16:8), the kingdom of the beast shall begin to crumble, purposes be frustrated, and territory lost to the hordes coming in from the east (Rev. 16:10). In desperation he shall concentrate his army and navy near Jerusalem for the showdown with the nations from the east and north who have been gathered to Armageddon for the final conflict (Rev. 16:12,16). He shall afflict Asshur and Eber (Mediterranean - Persian Gulf) from his ships (Num. 24:24).*
Heaven will then open and the Son of man as the Lamb shall come forth with a cortege, pure and bright, all riding upon white horses (Rev.19:11-15). But He shall be clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, His eyes as a flame of fire, and on His head many diadems. It is the Lamb, and He alone, who executes judgment upon His enemies, those who trampled His blood under foot and those who received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. The beast and false prophet shall be taken without trial and cast alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20). In this graphic description in Revelation 19:18, "all men, both free and bond, both small and peat," are mentioned as those slain with the sword of His mouth.
At the same time that He comes "as a thief" (Rev. 16:15), He is "terrible to the kings of the earth" (Psa. 76:12). All who come together to battle to Armageddon and oppose the Lamb as He comes out of heaven will be crushed in fiery vengeance when He whets His glittering sword. The rebels who join the beast and false prophet will be slain in the sudden coming of the Lamb out of heaven. The day of the Lord will have now commenced. Kings seem to disappear from the scene and are not spoken of from now on (Psa. 83).
The coming of the Lamb out of heaven will be a mysterious thing, as a thief in the night. It is the singular vengeance upon those who had openly challenged His heavenly rights over all. The man of sin will sit in the temple of God to show himself to be God (2 Thess. 2:3,4). This will be openly challenging God. The Lamb meets this challenge like a flash of lightning. He comes as a thief in the night. Without warning, except His Word given previously, He suddenly slays with the sword of His mouth the followers of the beast and the false prophet.
The Lord will use angels to cleanse out of the kingdom all that offends. This cleansing will begin at Jerusalem because Jerusalem had the most fight. Each nation of the prophetic earth will feel the burning breath of the Lamb's wrath, also those from the outside who meddle with His people, now the objects of mercy. Before He can show mercy, however, He must chasten His people. His rod for chastening in ancient times was the Assyrian, and the Assyrian will again be employed, together with the other nations of Psalm 83, to bring His people to their knees. Egypt will try to intercept the first attack of the Assyrian but be driven back and captured (Isa. 20). When Jerusalem is completely humbled and the priests and elders weep between the porch and the altar crying for mercy, then God will remove the Assyrian or northern army (Joel 2:17-20) and will bring in blessing, pouring out His Spirit in their midst.
Thereupon, the land will be quickly cleared. "A short work will the Lord make upon the earth" (Rom. 9:28). The enemies within will be driven from the land, as Judah returns first to enjoy the blessing of the Lord that makes rich and adds no sorrow. Thus the present age will be closed in judgment (Jer.25:30-33).
The Lord's feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4). This will not be as He was seen coming out of heaven to crush His enemies. Not this will be the beginning of the new age. This coming will be ushered in by the quiet manifesting of Himself - "this same Jesus" of Acts 1. It is not necessarily the showing of His hands and feet as later, but a quiet drawing wide of the veil, similar to the first time that Joseph made himself known to his brethren (Gen. 45). All others were commanded to leave. This making himself known troubled them. Later when their father was dead and they were dwelling in Goshen, and having gone through deep exercise concerning their conduct toward Joseph, they were completely restored (Gen. 50:15-21). They owned the one who went down into death for them, that he might go ahead to preserve life.
The 1290 days spoken of in Daniel 12:11, with an additional 30 days over the 1260 days in connection with the great tribulation, begin the new age. There will be still another short period of 45 days before the indignation will be removed from the entire nation which is in the meantime coming back into the land by faith. The great Assyrian, spoken of as Gog in Ezekiel 38:17, 18, has yet to return to Jerusalem to be destroyed before Zion can be founded. All twelve tribes will return before the Assyrian makes the second attack on Jerusalem (Isa. 10:24-34).
God will gather all nations of the prophetic earth to Jerusalem to battle so He can pour out upon them His indignation (Zeph. 3:8). This time the rod goes beyond what God has ordered and will seek to take possession of the beloved land (Hab. 1). As the enemy, Gog, comes up as a cloud, the Lord encamps round about His house (Zech. 9:8), and His people will be there dwelling safely (Ezek. 38:10-18), Jehovah their trust. Gog will gather all the earth as fishes are gathered in a net (Hab. 1:15). The twelve tribes now returned will at first be afraid and will go to Egypt for help (Isa. 31:1) but they will finally hear the teachers who will be sent to them (Isa. 30:18-21), and they will be resigned to trust Jehovah. Jehovah shall be the peace as the Assyrian attacks (Mic. 5:5).
The attacking nations will probably gather in a circuit around Jerusalem (Joel 3:16; Zech. 12:2, 3). Gog will come from the north; Edom on the south has been responsible for this confederacy of nations. As the battle takes place, the Lord will roar out of Zion against Gog and all of his host. Fury will rise in the face of Jehovah. Fire, pestilence, and the sword will be the means used, and the Assyrian, Gog, will fall on the mountains of Israel. It will take seven months to bury the dead - seven years to burn the wood - from the battle. This judgment of the nations at Jerusalem will extend for two hundred miles to Edom (Obad.).
In this final conflict that decides the controversy of Zion, Jehovah must appear in His glory of judgment. The throne of His glory will then be set up (Isa. 14:32), and every eye shall see Him. "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced" (Zech. 12:10), and there shall be great mourning as never before, as they realize that they were the ones who put the wounds there. This is the day of atonement (Psa. 130). He shall display His Church before all as identified with Himself as His bride.
As the restitution of all things takes place, ushering in the millennial day, the bent of creatures will be changed. The lion will eat straw like the ox, the child shall play with the serpent (Isa. 11:1-9; Isa. 65:17-25). The Spirit shall also be poured out. The land shall be apportioned so that each tribe will have its inheritance directly touching the Mediterranean Sea; some will reach the Euphrates River at the east (Ezek. 48). The curse gone, vegetation shall flourish (Amos 9:13). Satan and all his hosts will he bound for one thousand years (Isa. 24;21,23). Rest, peace, prosperity shall fill that tranquil kingdom, reaching out until the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9).
At the end of the millennial period of rest and splendor, Satan shall be loosed for the last test of man. Myriads who have been accepting the blessings of that age of goodness but have never had a personal acceptance of Jehovah as King and Saviour, will follow Satan as he deceives all who are not real in their hearts and leads them to attack the beloved city. Fire from heaven soon disposes of these as Satan is cast into the lake of fire forever (Rev. 20:7-10).
The time will then come for the third setting of the throne. The first was to reward the heavenly saints and to provide them with garments pure and bright (2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 19:8), the second to order the kingdom on earth for one thousand years (Matt. 25:31), and this to judge the dead (Rev. 20:11). What a solemn tribunal it shall be. No opportunity for rebuttal, only the sentence now to pronounce and that from the lips of the One who could have been their Saviour to spare them thin eternal woe. They shall be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).
A new heaven and a new earth shall appear on the horizon. All things shall be new, no more sea (Rev. 21.1-8). On the earth, the heavenly city shall come dawn. God Himself shall wipe away all tears; sorrow and crying vanish as the former things pass away. In the heavens the various families, each in its place, shall enjoy the kindness of a God who honors those who honor His Son, bowing through grace to His Word (Eph. 2:7). The bride, now with Christ as a Man, forever shares the honors of the Son at home in the Father's house, as the Father lavishes His exceeding kindness on the children who lie in His bosom (Eph. 3:21).
Perhaps you are a youth at school, a young parent, or an older person. What is your prospect, your destiny - heaven or hell? Will you be in that light unstained, or will you be where the worm (conscience) dieth not and the fire (eternal punishment) is not quenched forever (Mark 9:4l)? Your choice is made now, at this very moment, because thin moment is all you may have. Be wise and act for your eternal welfare before "or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern" (Eccl. 12:6). He stands at the door and knocks. Will you open the door so Christ can come in?
May these few meditations on
destiny serve to awaken each heart to a realization of
the solemnity of life and the importance of the decisions
we make, step by step along its way, until we enter
scenes where all things are of God, where He has
reconciled us to Himself forever, provided we are resting
on the finished work of Christ, the eternal Son of God.
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