The Missing Tribe of Dan in Revelation 7
See my new article on the topic of Why is Dan Missing from Revelation.
See my new article on the topic of Why is Dan Missing from Revelation.
I have studied and taught bible prophecy for many years also; my question for you is -if the rapture is at the end of the great tribulation -why would we need one at all?
This is a great question, as few understand the real purpose of the rapture. It also underscores a truth about the pretrib rapture doctrine that I have observed repeatedly over the years. Believing in the pretrib rapture incurs a great barrier to correctly understanding the bulk of end time Bible prophecy.
Naturally, based on the supposed pretrib timing of the rapture, pretribbers believe that the purpose of the rapture is to deliver the saints from a supposedly unbearable period on earth, the Great Tribulation. So dreadful is the Great Tribulation in the minds of pretribbers, that they liken the concept of us being on earth for it to wife abuse (“Jesus would not put his bride through the Great Tribulation!“).
However, when the verses speaking directly on the timing of the rapture and the associated resurrection of the dead in Christ (1Th 4:15-17) are used instead of typical allegorical or types and shadows style cases for the rapture timing, a different picture emerges. The rapture gathering is “after the tribulation of those days” (Mt 24:29-31) or at the “seventh” or “last trump” (1Co 15:52=Rev 11:15).
Once you correctly conclude that the rapture is at the 7th trumpet after the Great Tribulation ends, it is then possible to see related key rapture passages that reveal the true rapture purpose. Fortunately, all of these verses can be read plainly and literally. No subjective allegorical reading or “types and shadows” are used such as is required to argue a pretrib timing to the rapture.
Here’s the first passage to look at on the rapture purpose:
Revelation 11:15, 18 (ESV) â€”Â 15 the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, â€œThe kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.â€
18 The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.â€
God uses the rapture to “reward” his servants. But how and why? As the writer above noted, obviously this reward cannot be an escape if the rapture happens after the Great Tribulation. Notice that just like the passage above, Paul also touches on this reward being given to both the living and the dead in Christ at the same time:
1 Corinthians 15:50-53 (ESV) â€” 50Â I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Â Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52Â in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53Â For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
The purpose is clearly to reward the saints with eternal life. But what is the reason for the post-trib timing of the rapture (and resurrection) giving this change to eternal life? Revelation 20 again mentions this resurrection of the righteous (that coincides with the rapture) and sheds light on the purpose to the timing:
Revelation 20:4 (ESV) â€”Â Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
The resurrection(/rapture) timing is clearly right before the Millennium, the period we saints will rule the earth with Christ. Now this all makes sense. We change from physical to spiritual bodies at this time since you simply cannot rule for more than around 120 years in a physical body. Since we saints are to reign, this is also when the dead in Christ also finally “come back to life.” Plainly, they do not come back to physical bodies. As Paul said above, we are quickened or changed to incorruptible, immortal bodies as “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” a spiritual kingdom.
In conclusion, the rapture is about rewarding the living and dead saints at the same time with eternal, immortal, spiritual bodies so that they can immediately reign with Christ at the start of the Millennium. The rapture is not some celestial escape from the Great Tribulation for the saints. Instead, God has a terrestrial escape plan for his servants that is described in Dan 11 and Rev 12. Only when you see the rapture in it’s proper timing do you see its proper purpose which then allows you to see the real escape plan for the Great Tribulation that God has in store for us.
Just as there is speculation about what the Mark of the Beast is, there is also speculation about what the seal of the 144,000 is:
Revelation 7:3 â€” Donâ€™t harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we seal the servants of our God on their foreheads.
In a previous post, I debunked the SDA theory that the Mark of the Beast is Sunday-Keeping. At the same time, I should have covered a side belief that goes along with this one. If someone believes that the Mark of the Beast is (sinful, pagan) Sunday worship, it’s natural that they believe that Sabbath-keeping is also mentioned in Revelation, but in a positive way.
One such teaching is that the seal given to the 144,000 is “keeping of Adonai’s appointed Sabbath”â€”even though the Sabbath is not mentioned anywhere in connection with them let alone the entire Book of Revelation.
Where does this idea come from then? Just like the Sunday Mark idea, it comes from an underlying assumption that the Sabbath is required today. In fact, not just Sabbath, but that all of the Torah is required on everyone. Here’s a few verses used to support this assertion:
Matthew 5:17-19 (NKJV) 17 Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Revelation 12: 17 (NKJV) And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Because Jesus said the Law and Prophets would not pass away until the earth does, some people read this as saying that the Torah has never stopped being required as well, down through history after the Old Covenant was broken. Additionally they believe it expanded its jurisdiction beyond the people it was given to, ancient Israel, to everyone. Naturally, under that understanding putting these two verses together makes it seem like the commandments that the righteous (as represented by the Woman and 144,000, cf. Rev 14:12) are keeping in the end times are the Torah, including Sabbath.
The problem with this thinking is this. Matthew 5 refers to the Millennial Kingdom of Heaven when the Torah will be taught to all and all will keep it (Isa 66:23; Zech 14:16). But that’s future and the Torah has not been taught or commanded by a prophet of God since before the exile of Israel and Judah. Even in Jesus time the leaders did not teach and keep Torah but their own religion (John 7:19).
Further, if the commandments of God referred to in Revelation 12 are Torah, then we’re all in trouble because the Torah was an all or nothing proposition with punishments when it was given and will be again (Zech 14:17-19).Â Today we can’t keep most of it (with no judges, priests, Levites, temple, altar, etc.) and like Judah and Israel would be guilty and punished for noncompliance.
Instead, what best fits the “commandments of God”Â in context is the commands that apply to a person in that time; in this case, the end times. What are the commandments of God we have today? They are expressed in the last six of the Ten Commandments included in the Torah, or “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:36-40). This was Jesus’ teaching on how to have eternal life (Lk 10:28), which was not the purpose and mission of the Torah was (i.e. wisdom, national greatness – Dt 4:6-7). By loving your neighbor for God, you are loving and pleasing God.
By the way, these commandments are the same ones that existed and were taught long before the Torah listing them was ever given to ancient Israel. And they never went away like the Torah for Israel when they broke the covenant. Further, unlike the Sabbath commandment, you are made aware of their necessity to this day by just being alive in a society of people. Not just from the government authority, but people around you are quick to teach you when you violate them (steal, kill, bear false witness, adulterate, disrespect elders). You don’t need a Torah or a Bible to learn how to love your neighbor. You can deduce that doing this must please God who made and loved them first, without a Bible. (Although a Bible can be needed in our times now to counteract such commonly taught errors such as Evolution.)
With that out of the way, it’s easy to see the correct interpretation of what the seal of the 144,000 is. The seal of the 144,000 is something that the angels do (for protection). It’s definitely not something the 144,000 are doing to be protected, and certainly nothing in the text says they are keeping Sabbath. (Yes, they must be righteous to be sealed, but the Woman is also righteous and not sealed in the same way.)Â It even tells us what it is: God’s name on their forehead.
Revelation 7:3 (HCSB)Â Donâ€™t harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we seal the slaves of our God on their foreheads.
Revelation 14:1 (HCSB) Then I looked, and there on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with Him were 144,000 who had His name and His Fatherâ€™s name written on their foreheads.
Check out and comment on the new article on Seven Antichrist Myths Not To Fall For:
The new prophecy article with this newsletter is:
Blood Moons of Jesus Return in 2015? Biltz Theory Debunked.
Recap of First Half of 2008 – Second Half Plans
“Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans” a wise man said. That would be an accurate description of the first half of this year for me. I had hoped to use my recent retirement from Bible software programming to focus on writing more newsletters, books and even a DVD. But the sneaky suspicion in the back of my head that I’d be doing other things turned out to be more correct.
I have ended up spending a lot more time with my family including my children’s education. I’ve even gone to some school meetings and functions that I never would have had time for before, and found myself enjoying the interactions (OK, full disclosure: one of them was a day at the amusement park.) Probably more than anything, the lack of productivity is from having to learn to adjust to a completely fluid schedule. Previously I had regular work that I fit everything else around. Now I have the family needs and fit in time for writing around that. I have not been striking a true balance as you can tell from the lack of newsletters. I’m realizing this and getting better at it but at the same time have learned a lot from the new experiences. I am also learning how to work smarter in handling my many emails and inquiries and create some set time for writing. We’ll see how it goes. Anyway, I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow in new areas this way.
Next Book Planned – Price: Free!
One exciting development in recent months is my decision to postpone developing a DVD version of my book Know the Future and focus on writing my next book which I plan to put on my website for free. The reason is that I see a chance to fill a great need that nobody else has, a need I have become more acutely aware of from observing the reaction of those who read my book groundbreaking prophecy book Know the Future.
In the process of showing people finally how to understand prophecy literally, it’s necessary in my book to set straight any non-prophecy subjects that they depend on. For example, the 5th seal martyrs resting under the altar cannot be understood until we learn what exactly happens to our spirits when we die according to the Bible. This of course creates a domino effect with other doctrines not addressed in my book that Christians are mistaught. Readers are prompted at last to properly question what they were taught at church and to check everything against the Bible like a good Berean (Act 17:11). Also they are so excited about finally understanding Bible prophecy, that they are inspired to get started reading the entire Bible for themselves (which sadly only a minority of Christians ever do, leaving them ill-equipped to question what they are taught). This too naturally brings all kinds of questions up and I get to see them in my email inbox or on the reader’s private forums.
What I want to do is gather and review these questions and organize the key areas of Bible topics into a new book. My goal is to write the book that I wish I could have read when I decided to join a church believing it would please God and teach me the Bible. Having that book would have saved me a decade of church attendance and thousands of dollars of “tithes” only to find out in the end that churches mainly indoctrinate you in religious traditions with a little Bible basis mixed in (and have no authority to receive tithes). (I know that’s a provocative statement for those still attending church who have not figured this out yet, but I have a feeling that if you reflect on it, you will notice that for years you’ve been noticing disturbing problems with church or discrepancies between what they teach and what you read in the Bible. Most simply put these problems out of their minds because they have no answer for them nor see any alternative to church. Others leave for home church as this book details.)
Don’t get me wrong, I had a great experience at my church and still believe church has its place. But if your goal is to learn fully what God really wants of his servants and how to fulfill that, take it from me, there’s no substitute for reading the Bible directly yourself and learning to think critically on what you read. Since that’s such a difficult and intimidating endeavor (which is why most of us look to a paid professional pastor to figure it out for us), it would be invaluable to have a comprehensive book written by a someone who has already gone through church and years of Bible truth seeking. If that person is also able to tell it like it is because he has no denomination or church board to worry about firing him, then you could literally save decades of dead ends.
Yes, this is a big goal and it’s going to take me many months, but it excites me to think of helping the millions of Bible truth seekers still in churches only because they have not figured out yet that it’s not going to teach them what they expect. Since having an explosive book like this available for free is the best way for it to spread virally, my plan is to put it in its entirety on my site (plus make softcover editions people always request available for a low price). The extra traffic and new readership it brings should improve sales of my current book enough to cover my time investment so I can justify giving it away. If you have any comments or suggestions on this project or ideas for future newsletters, just reply to this email and send them my way.
I have written a new article in reponse to a reader’s email on this subject. It is posted here: What Is The Mark of the Beast and How To Avoid It Today
I wrote a new article on my main website to demystify what this odd-sounding phrase refers to: What is the Image of the Beast
If the Antichrist is alive today, can we identify him already? I posted to my website my favorite research article explaining just how to do that from Revelation 13’s literal clues. I’m speaking of the counting of 666 off of his name and knowing where to look for the strange beast coming out of the earth who represents him.
These things are surprisingly literal (just as I have found over the years is the case with the rest of Revelation). Read here yourself to find out who is the Antichrist.
While most Christians believe that the prophecies of the Bible are impossible to understand or a distraction from more important areas of study or ministry, Iâ€™ve become convinced that Bible prophecy has an undeserved bad reputation. Itâ€™s clear from the statements of Jesus and the apostles that we should be just as learned in the roughly 1/3 of the Bible that is prophecy as the rest of the Bible. Further, I believe that we can even know for sure if we understand it properly, by following certain guidelines that amount to â€œrightly dividing the word.â€ In my latest blog post Iâ€™m sharing one such guideline.
Without a doubt there is a lot of confusion on Bible prophecy. There seem to be as many interpretations as there are would-be interpreters. You can listen to one and it sounds good until you hear the next one that contradicts it yet also is appealing. Which one is right? How can you know for sure? Itâ€™s enough to turn anyone off from studying prophecy.
What if there was a way to understand Bible prophecy and to know that you understand it correctly? There is a way and you already know how to do this. The trick is to read the prophecies just as you would any other verse. You must take them at face value and resist the temptation to try to assign a different, contradictory meaning to them when the face value does not make sense to you yet. Sounds too easy? Well it is actually very difficult to do this, as evidenced by all the many interpetations out there. It requires patience and high Bible literacy, because each verse can still have several face value readings because of the limits of language so each of these must be tested against every other related verse of the Bible.
The only way that so many interpetations are possible is because interpretors allow themselves to assign almost any imaginable meaning to the words of the prophecies which break not only its face value meaning, but of also other scriptures elsewhere in the Bible that they are simply not aware of or have similarly misread. They habitually break this rule because they believe that Bible prophecy is primarily symbolic and must be interpreted, rather than having the symbolism on top of the primary plain meaning. They thus usually go too far by coming up with meanings to the symbols that negate the primary plain, literal, or face value meaning of the words.
In other words, the common approach forgets what Jesus instructed in John 10:35 that the plain meaning of â€œScripture could not be broken.â€ He reminded his hearers of this when refering to Psalm 82:6 where it astonishingly says, â€œYe are godsâ€ because they had accused him of blasphemy merely for saying he was the son of God. How can that verse literally say that men are gods and make sense? Well this is a good example of a verse having multiple possible face values. The word there for â€œgodsâ€ is elohim which is not strictly used to refer to supernatural deities but also â€œjudgesâ€ (Ex 21:6; Ex 22:9) or Godâ€™s representatives. Jesus required his hearers to accept this face value meaning of the verse in defense of himself also being an elohim or son of God. Of course reading it to say that men are literally deities would break many plain verses, so that meaning could not be what is intended
Here are some other examples of where this principle could be used:
If you strictly adhere to this principle of taking verses at face value and not letting any interpetation of prophecy break the face value of any verse, you will be on your way to rightly dividing the word of God. It will certainly take more time than coming up with what you subjectively think it represents. However, in time if you keep it up you will eventually arrive at the right understanding. And you will have the confidence to know that you are right.
Why? Because you are not playing any tricks to explain a verse. The meaning you arive at takes the face value of the words and fits it in the consensus of the face value of all the other verses in the Bible. If there are no verses read at face value that contradict how you are understanding a passage then you can be sure you are right. Of course, arrving at this point takes a high degree of Bible literacy and enough time usually to do several iterations of eliminating each of the possible face value meanings that most verses may have as other verses are brought to your attention which contradict your present understanding. Through the process of elimination the true intent of each verse fitting in the context of the whole bible will eventually be arrived at.
By the way, this principle of not breaking the face value of Scripture applies to all Bible study. Many of the popular Christian doctrines that are commonly taught break the face value of some astonishingly plain verses. However, Iâ€™ll leave it to you to discover which ones yourself rather than risk roasting anyoneâ€™s sacred cow . Just know that if you apply this principle in all your Bible study you may end up having to renounce some of the doctrines you have been taught by religion but you will find comfort in knowing that the Bible is making sense like never before.