MYSTERY OF INIQUITY Chapter Three The Chronology: From Here…. To Eternity
The most well defined signpost concerning the end times is the event referred to by Jesus and Daniel as the abomination of desolation, which takes place precisely 3 ½ years before Messiah establishes his earthly kingdom. This event and timing is one of the most documented facts on the prophetic calendar. Paul refers to this as the revealing of the man of sin, the son of destruction, the Wicked one who proclaims himself to be God. John refers to him as antichrist, the mouth speaking great things, and Abaddon, Apollyon, the Destroyer.
The chronological order of end time events is detailed within the specific seals, trumpets, thunders, and bowls of wrath in the book of Revelation. Please note that chapter 12, from which we have been reading, sets as a parenthesis within the chronology of the Revelation. This particular parenthesis covers several thousand years. It details, among other things, the original rebellion of Satan and a third of the angels in heaven, the birth and ascension of the Messiah, and Satan’ subsequent rebellious stand on earth after he is cast out of heaven 3 ½ years before Armageddon. But before we discuss the parenthetical explanations in the book of Revelation, it will be helpful to set the chronology first.
Nowhere else in scripture are we given future prophecies concerning the end times in a chronological order. Those who have studied the prophetic accounts in the Gospels and prophets are painfully aware of this. They simply were not written by one man and laid down chronologically. For generations we have attempted to assemble the ancient prophecies in an order that has made sense, both biblically and in the current geopolitical world in which we live. It is wise to remember that only the Word of God is flawless. Our interpretation of Bible prophecy is subject to our own pre-suppositions, the times in which we live, and our extremely limited comprehension of the eternal purposes of God.
Well-respected prophetic interpreters of the past have fallen into disrepute because they have failed to reconsider their interpretations in the light of what has developed on the world scene. Many of these interpretations have proven invalid through the years, and if they do not reevaluate their positions, they both become relics of a past generation. God’s Word alone is completely reliable. What we think about it should always be suspect and open for re-evaluation.
The only sure way to assemble the chronology of end time events is to go to the only book in which the chronological order of events is recorded. The Revelation of Jesus Christ. After the introduction, the book of Revelation begins by the Messiah laying down the structure for how the entire revelation will be given. The revelation commences in verse 10.
Revelation 1:10, I (John) was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, “Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia.”
After John was given this instruction, he saw the Messiah in the glory of his resurrected body. John was so shaken that he fell down on this face as if he were dead. Jesus then touched him, told him not to fear, and to:
“Write the things which thou has seen (Jesus appearing to John in the glory of his resurrected body), and the things which are (Messiah’s current messages to the assemblies), and the things which shall be hereafter (in the future); The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand and the seven golden lamp stands. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lamp stands which thou sawest are the seven churches.” The things, which thou hast seen, are recorded in chapter 1 verses 12-18.
The things which are, are recorded in chapter 1 verse 20 through chapter 3 verse 22. Even though these messages addressed specifics in the assemblies of that day and time, (the way they are, back then), their relevance to the assemblies throughout history, and today, is undeniable. It is sobering to recognize that Jesus sees behind our facades and cannot be fooled by the front we project to even our closest friends. Reading this section of Revelation, and weighing each reproof personally, can be a very rough experience. The format is there in each message. What does the Lord have against your personal lifestyle and walk with him? What can he praise you about? What encouragement to a more worthy endeavor can he entice you with? What vision of the future reward will give you courage to endure? If you will read these messages, asking our Lord to speak to your heart and to be brutally honest with you, you can be brought to true repentance. You will not need to be crushed by the world before you turn your heart to him. If you will judge yourself and keep yourself from sin, he will purge you and keep you in the hour of tribulation that is coming upon the whole world. That is one of his promises to you.
Otherwise, you can try this thing on your own, do it your own way, and see how you fare. Business as usual is not going to cut it in the months and years ahead. If you are not living for him and walking by the spirit of God now, don’t think that you are going to miraculously change when the economy crashes and you can’t buy a loaf of bread with your entire retirement fund. Do not think that a host of angels is going to descend on your house to keep you warm and safe while you watch five hours of entertainment TV and eat steak out of a freezer that never goes empty. There are only so many angels to go around. If Daniel had to wait for 21 days for an angel to get through the spiritual battle to deliver a message to him, I think that it would be wise t make our lives valuable in doing the will of the Lord. Perhaps then we will “rate” an angel to keep us and our family protected, which may result in others turning to righteousness.
The things, which shall be hereafter, are recorded in chapter 4:1 through chapter 22:6. This addresses those things which are in the future to the 90 AD assemblies in Asia, and have been future to all but those who will see the end of the age. Jesus described some of these events to his “future followers” as he addressed his disciples just days before his crucifixion, when he sat them down in private on the mount of Olives (Matthew chapters 24 and 25).
Revelation 4:1, After this I looked and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
John was then taken to the throne of God to see the future of mankind, and the battle that rages in the heavens because of the rebellious stand that Satan has taken against God and his people. To extrapolate from this verse that John “represents” the church as it is taken up into heaven in a secret rapture, destroys any possibility of understanding the book of Revelation.
Utilizing that logic, we must say that John, falling down as dead at the feet of Jesus, represents the church paralyzed by fear and incoherent (Rev 1:17). Of course this is an inane abstraction, but not more so than the “secret rapture indicator”. If we are allowed to allegorize the Bible in this “anything goes” fashion, we might as well close the book and make up our own stories. I am not saying that there is no rapture, but this is not it! We will see the day that he raises and rewards his Saints later in the book of Revelation. It will be no secret. It will not be a vague allusion or indistinct insinuation. It will not be stuck in between verses or between seals or thunders. It will be the most glorious revelation since the Day of Trumpets at Sinai. Jesus said that every eye will see when he sends forth his angels to gather the elect, and all of the tribes of the earth who have not obeyed his Word shall mourn. As we explore the things which must be hereafter, we see that the book is laid out in chronological succession.
SEVEN SEALS: Satan’s authority stripped from heaven; his unbridled power unleashed on earth.
SIX TRUMPETS: War devastation that gives the New World Order full control on earth.
SEVEN THUNDERS: Great tribulation and persecution of the believers.
SEVENTH and LAST TRUMPET: The Saints’ (first) resurrection and rewards.
SEVEN BOWLS OF GOD’S WRATH: The day of vengeance of our God, tribulators tribulated.
ARMAGEDDON: Messiah returns to the earth to rule; Satan bound for 1,000 years.
MILLENNIUM: The 1,000 year reign of Messiah on earth; saints rule with a rod of iron.
THE END: The last (second) resurrection and final judgment; death and the grave destroyed.
ETERNITY: The new heaven, and earth, and new Jerusalem; God wipes the tears away.
Every significant prophetic future event in the Hebrew Scriptures will fit precisely into the chronological sequence that unfolds in the book of the Revelation. When speaking of the chronological order of events, it is obvious that Jesus could not strip off the fourth seal before he stripped off the first seal, because the fourth seal would then have been the first seal. When Jesus strips off the seventh seal, the seven angels with trumpets are introduced and begin sounding their trumpets in successive, chronological order. If this seems like we are dealing with elementary logic, we are. Why then have we not been able to intelligently see the order of events in the book of Revelation? Honestly, because we don’t like seeing what takes place. I don’t like it either, but that is not the criterion by which God rules the universe. Where the chronology is clearly disturbing, some have attempted to legitimize and “early out” by engaging in a “dance of the seals and trumpets”, that stacks seals on top of thunders, on top of trumpets, on top of bowls. This leaves the book of Revelation in an indecipherable time warp continuum, all in an attempt to get us out of here before the first resurrection at the last trump. (See Appendix I, The Chronological Outline of the book of Revelation).
Every prophetic even in the Old and New testaments will fit precisely into the chronological sequence. The revealing of the Destroyer is there. The raising of the dead by Messiah at the rapture of the Saints is there. It is all there, and it is all in order.
There is an extremely important and fearsome warning to those who would trifle with the book of Revelation. It originates in the Gospel of Matthew, in Jesus’ warning to, “Take head that no man deceive you, for many shall come in my name… and deceive many.” Sincerity will not make a difference when it comes to casually explaining away the solemn warnings of the Messiah concerning his second coming. The snares have been set. Most Christians will walk blindly into them. Yes, I am talking about you! Unless you carefully listen and take heed in meekness, willing to broadly apply his sobering warnings to your own thought processes, you will be snared.
The Secret Rapture?
Our thought processes and beliefs are primarily shaped by the pew that we sat in, and the experiences that grew out of that understanding. But there is a higher authority to whom we must answer, and religious professionals will not be with us before the throne to accept the blame for how we lived. Do not trifle with the warnings, but rather, try your heart diligently according to the Messiah’s words.
Revelation 22:18, I testify unto everyman that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy. God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
I will not add an extra resurrection into the book of Revelation, or in any book of the Bible, in an attempt to get us out of here early. The penalty is too severe. I will not take away the value of the warnings, thereby taking away the validity of the entire book, by insisting that it is not written to the servants of the Messiah, but rather to “Jews in the future.” I will not take away the Saints, before Messiah takes us away at the Last Trumpet. I would rather err on the side of caution than to assume a most damnable attitude of frivolity concerning these warnings. Let me err on the side of caution. As a man, err I will, I will not attempt to change the timing of events by insisting that extremely significant events must have happened between versus, or between seals or trumpets. I will not attempt to sneak in a secret rapture anywhere in the book of Revelation. Instead, I will wait for the Messiah to return to raise the dead and gather the church, when Jesus clearly revealed to John and Paul that it would take place. At the seventh and last trump.
The seals, trumpets, and thunders record the destruction of man against man under the influence of Satan. Nations are being judged at this time, by God’s time honored method of allowing other nations to crush those who have turned away from him. Yet, none of the occurrences in Revelation is the vengeance and wrath of God until we get to the seven bowls of God’s wrath. That is the time of his punishing those who have destroyed the earth (Rev 11:18).
To be truthful with you, I don’t like what happens before the Destroyer is introduced at the fifth trumpet. I don’t like the seven thunders. I don’t like what happens before the last trump. I like the end, but the journey looks a bit rough. I would like the waters of life to be very smooth until the Lord returns to take me to heaven in the middle of a five course Sunday brunch at the Country Club. I would like my daughters to grow up in the America of 50 years ago. I would like to have a million dollars in my pocket, and peace on earth. I would like……
Once you read the book of Revelation by staying directly with the chronology of the seven seals, six trumpets, seven thunders, last (seventh) trumpet, the sea of Fire and Glass, the seven bowls of Wrath, the marriage supper of the Lamb, the Battle of Armageddon and succeeding events, you can then go back and fill in the details with the parenthetical sections of scripture. The parenthetical sections do not change the chronology, they only amplify. They give detail, and show cause and effect. They describe past and foretell future events. They tie the beginnings to the endings, but they never contradict the perfection of the chronology. Some parentheticals cover 3 ½ years, one covers several thousand years, but the chronology of the book of Revelation stands alone.
The Three Resurrections
The parenthetical section that we have been dealing with in the 12th chapter of Revelation is directly after the chronological revelation of the seventh and last trump, when the mystery of God is executed. This particular mystery concerns the resurrection out from among the dead of those who are “in Messiah” from both the first and the renewed covenant. This is the first resurrection, the resurrection of the just, when the saints will be raised incorruptible and rewarded for their faithful service.
Revelation 10:7, In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be executed as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
This is the mystery of God concerning the resurrection that Paul revealed for the first time to the Corinthians. It is important to recognize that before Paul revealed this mystery, the resurrection of the saints was not understood in the detail that we comprehend it today. The body with which we will be raised is addressed for the first time in the records of the church.
I Corinthians 15:50, …flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God…Behold I show you a mystery.
This is the first time that Paul puts together the change from the corrupted corpse to the incorruptible new body and from the mortal flesh to the immortality of a body like Messiah’s resurrected body. How fast will this change happen?
I Corinthians 15:52,..In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye…
When will this mystery be executed?
I Corinthians 15:52,…At the last trump
There is no confusion between Jesus, Paul, and John. This is when the mystery of God is executed, at the last trump. This is the moment that the righteous dead will be raised, judged and rewarded. This is the exact picture that we see when the seventh angel sounds the last trumpet:
Rev 11:15, And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets and to the saints, and them that fear they name, small and great, and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
The faithful martyrs from Abel to Zechariah, Stephen, Matthew, and Thomas, to those who stand against the son of destruction; these all will be raised and rewarded at the last trumpet. They will be given authority to reign with Messiah a thousand years. Of the two resurrections, this is without question the better one in which to participate.
Hebrews 11:35,…others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
Some say that there is no resurrection or future judgment. In I Corinthians 15:12 and following, Paul refuted some errors that had crept into the body of believers at Corinth. Paul laid out the specifics of the three times that the dead are raised, Jesus himself becoming among the firstfruits of those who have died, being alive now and forevermore.
I Corinthians 15:20, But Christ is risen from the dead, becoming the firstfruits of them that slept. Since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. For in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming; then cometh the end.
The word: cometh, being in italics was added by the King James translator. There is no authority to add the word cometh. It is improperly supplied and should be deleted and read as follows:
…in Christ all shall be made alive. But every man in his own order: (1) Christ the firstfruits; (2) afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming; (3) Then the end; (when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.)
Christ will have put down all rule, authority, and power by the time the “Great White Throne Judgment” near the end of the book of Revelation. He will have cleansed heaven of the exercised authority of Satan. He will have put down all rule on earth and subjected this world under himself as Adam was to have done. Then he will overcome all the power of Satan, opening the grave and casting Satan into the lake of fire. Note the order of the time indicators: firstfruits, afterward, then. That summarizes the resurrections.
After Messiah’s resurrection, the next resurrection, in order, will be those that belong to him at his coming. This is referred to as the first resurrection (Rev 20:5). In I Cor 15:12-54, the truth of the resurrection, the nature of the new body, the indication of rewards, the speed at which this change will occur, and the timing of this first resurrection are all addressed in this chapter. The entire context of this section of scripture is the resurrection of “they that are Christ’s at his coming” for his saints at the last trump. This is our hope, not a “get out of tribulation free” card. These are the three resurrections, or times that the dead will be raised to life. In these three resurrections all will be made alive:
1. The resurrection of Jesus, who is the firstfruits from among the dead.
2. Those that are Christ’s at his coming. The justified in Messiah who looked forward to his coming in faith, such as Abraham, Moses, and David, and those of us who look back at his sacrifice in faith, as we do today. They will be rewarded for their righteous works. This is the resurrection of the just.
3. The end, or last resurrection, when all who have ever lived will stand in judgment before the great white throne. This excludes all those who have previously stood judgment in the first resurrection.
At this time, the two resurrections remaining to be fulfilled are “those who are Christ’s at his coming,” and “the end resurrection” when he has conquered all principalities and powers. These remaining two resurrections are documented fully in the book of Revelation. They occur at the seventh and last trump. (Rev 10:7, 11:15, 18), and at the end, just before the final judgment (Rev 20:11-15). These are the only times that the dead are raised. That is all there is, and there ain’t no more.
Do not tamper with God’s Word. There remain two resurrections after Jesus was raised from the dead. He now holds the keys to the grave, and all who live will be raised and judged by hi. Do not trifle with the Word of God by adding more resurrections to the book of Revelation and to I Corinthians chapter 15. You will find yourself in contempt of God, having loved a comfortable lie more than you love the truth. He will not change his plan to suit your fancy, you will simply be judged for misleading others into your personal plan of salvation.
There are those who have redefined the resurrection of those in Christ in I Corinthians 15 as not a “resurrection”, but only a “raising of the dead”. This asinine and illegitimate redefinition is a contrived striving over words in a vain attempt to insert another resurrection of the dead. The raising of the dead in Christ is a resurrection; the terms are synonymous and legally describe the resurrection of the justified at the last trump. The audacity to redefine this entire chapter is inexcusable. Attempting to redefine the resurrection as “a raising” is a prime example of the wrestling of definitions that needs to be accomplished to support an extra resurrection in which to insert the secret, pre-tribulation rapture of the Saints.
Without the illegitimate redefinition of the word “resurrection”, there is no legal base for a pre-or mid-tribulation rapture. None. The theological juggling of parables must then be resorted to, in order to justify the assumption. The word “resurrection” appears in the 15th chapter of I Corinthians more than any other place in the Bible. This chapter is speaking specifically of the gathering of those in Christ as the resurrection of those who have been justified by him. If you are in Christ, when the last trumpet sounds you will either be resurrected or changed. You will in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, be “born again”.
Scripture declares a literal resurrection of every person who has ever lived. The euphemism “sleep” is used here in I Corinthians, because death will end. In Revelation 1:18, Jesus holds the keys to death and hell (the grave). All will be made alive by him, and stand before his judgment. Jesus was raised as the firstborn from among the dead (Rev 1:5). When he spoke to Nicodemus, he told him of the necessity of being “gennao anathen” – born again – in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Nicodemus responded with a question for further clarification. Nicodemus knew that one does not enter into their own mother’s womb a second time. He was not a fool, he was a Torah Scholar.
Nicodemus knew that Jesus was using a parable, which is simple a parallel between a well-known reality of the physical universe, as it relates to a spiritual reality, or a concept that has not yet been revealed. Just as we are born into the physical world with a body equipped to live in this physical universe, we must be born again with a spiritual body equipped to live in the kingdom of heaven.
Paul clearly expounded the truth concerning the incorruptible body with which we will be raised, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven”. This corrupted body must put on incorruption, and this mortal body must put on an immortal one (I Cor 15:50). That new body will be like the body with which Jesus was raised. When Jesus was raised, he was the firstborn from among the dead. He was raised with a body that was no longer powered by blood, but by the spirit, yet it had physical properties that are quite tangible. This is when Jesus was “born again” as he used the term when speaking to Nicodemus.
Jesus was raised from the dead with a new body that is equipped to live eternally in the kingdom of heaven. We too will receive a new body that is like his resurrected body (Phil 3:21), at the time we are either raised from the grave, or clothed with a new body at the moment of his return. Then, we too will be “born again”. Since the flesh and blood body of this first physical birth cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven, “marvel not that I say unto you, you must be born again.” No one enters by any other door, and Jesus himself is the door to eternal life.
I realize that like myself, most Christians have grown up using the term “born again” as describing the experience of confessing Jesus as Lord and being filled with the Holy Spirit. I in no way deny that experience. I am simply saying that Jesus did not use the term “born again” to describe that experience. While this error is not evil in itself, its wrong usage paints an incorrect picture of not only our salvation, but the change that must transpire before we can inherit the kingdom of heaven. The lights will go on when this truth takes root. One thing is obvious, however, none of us are “born again” in a literal sense at this term. It is a future experience that will have a physical impact on our bodies, whether we are alive or in the grave.
Be Not Misled:
Matthew 24:4,… Take heed that no man deceive you.
The word deceive is planos from which we get the word planet, meaning wandering star. It means to mislead or cause to wander. It does not carry the weight of the word “deception.” Jesus explained, when the blind leads the blind, they both fall into a ditch (Matthew 15:14). The blind are attempting to help each other, but they still get hurt. The two walking together may find strength, encouragement, and hope from each other as they stumble down the road. Their assistance from each other is more encouraging than no help at all, yet they are still blind and cannot know what they cannot see. They are not to be criticized and condemned as unenlightened fools. They need to be helped, not jeered. They may very well be doing their best, as they follow the advice of other blind men who have walked the path before them. I will not mock the, yet I will not put out my eyes and join them either. I have enough blind spots in my own life without making more.
In the Gospel of Like we find another very critical warning from Jesus. It concerns his return and the prophesied deception that will be rampant in the church.
Luke 21:8, And he said, “Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many will come in my name saying that I am Christ and that the time draweth near; go ye not therefore after them!”
To not be deceived, Jesus said that it is up to us to take heed. It is our responsibility to listen carefully to what he has said, comparing teachings with the teachings of those who come in his name. We see from the scriptures that false prophets are inside the church and may speak the truth in many areas. They may be completely sincere ministers and teachers, but they still mislead, especially those who are not rooted in the Word of God. There is, however, a very specific warning that Jesus focuses on here. Those who are going to be misleading the church in the end times will proclaim that Jesus is the Christ and that time (of his return) draweth near. ; The “time draweth near” is referring to his promised return for them, just as it does in the record in the 24th chapter of Matthew.
The words for draweth near in the Greek are sunelauno, which means to drive together with intensity, and eggidzo, which means to closely approach, to be near at hand. Its usage paints the picture that the time of his return is intently imminent, the time is now at hand, it could happen at any moment. Jesus warned his followers: When those who name the name of Christ say that his return is imminent, do not follow them. The words are clear, and the warning to the terminal generation, timely. There are prerequisites to his return, as Jesus will clarify in the following section. When teachers in the church at the end of the age say that the return of Jesus is imminent, Jesus said very boldly and clearly to go not after them; do not follow their teachings for they are not teaching the truth. In the following dissertation, Jesus tells them that many things will happen that will terrify most people, but that even then, the end is not imminent. Jesus goes on to describe the days of Satan’s vengeance that will cause his disciples to be persecuted and killed. He speaks further of the signs in the sun, moon, and stars; the shaking of the powers of the heavens that will precede his return for them. In verse 27, Jesus says that after the powers of the heaven are shaken, then they will see him coming in power and great glory.
Luke 21:28, And when you see these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth near.
Right here, Jesus wraps up the whole teaching on “the scandalous deception,” and ties it with a big pretty bow. He starts out the warning by telling his disciples not to follow those that say his return is sunelauno eggidzo. He then states the prerequisites that must be fulfilled. When those conditions are met then they are to look up because his return is sunelauno eggidzo. When are they to look up? When all these things begin happening, as they are initiated by the shaking of the heavens when Satan is cast out. These are the exact terms that are used by Jesus to indicate the beginning of the devastation of the Great Tribulation.
Do not follow those who come in his name and say that his return is imminent. They are speaking a lie. They will answer to Jesus for their deceptive handling of the scriptures, even if it was handed down to them by their denominational traditions. They are setting the snare of the mystery of iniquity for the strong delusion. Do not follow them. Reprove them. Give them a copy of this book so that they will see the error of their ways and repent. Do not assume that they are too hard hearted or set in their ways. The Lord knows their heart and he may have been working on them for years. I was in the same deception. Our Lord is merciful to those who seek him with their whole heart.
We will be able to say that the Lord’s return is imminent before too long. We know that in just less than 3 ½ years after the Destroyer is revealed as the commander of the New World Order, Jesus will return for his church. Our redemption will be especially longed for, after a few years of great tribulation. I have observed that those who teach the imminent (at any moment) return of Jesus avoid Luke 21:8-28 like the plague. I do not feel that the words of the Messiah can be swept under the rug as insignificant chatter. I will stick with Jesus on this one, if you don’t mind.
The Greatest Scandal of the Christian Church:
This scandal will not likely be reported on the evening news, yet it is the most serious scandal that the Saints will face in history. It will be more shocking than the bones of hundreds of babies found at the bottom of the lake at the cloistered convents in France. It will be more contemptible than the executions of millions of Jews and Christians in Europe during the Crusades. It will be more devastating that Stalin exterminating 7 million Christians in the Ukraine with the financial aid and knowledge of the United States government, under the regime of Franklin Roosevelt. This scandal will result in so-called Christians hating and betraying each other to death! Disappointed expectation will be the reason that Christians will hate and betray each other. They will be snared in their own preconceptions and habit patterns, because they have believed what Jesus said, “Believe not!”
Matthew 24:10, And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
WHY? What could cause such bitterness, disappointment, and hurt that Christians would betray each other to the death? What terrible traps have been laid for the Christian church? What are the plans of the mystery of iniquity that could put us into such a condition? It appears that there will be two groups of Christians: The haters and betrayers, and the hated and betrayed. It will not be a pretty picture, just as it isn’t when it happens now.
I know how it is to find your religious denomination riddled with envy, pride, jealousy, and sexual promiscuity and perversion. I know many ministers who are now recuperating as truck drivers because they have witnessed the same hypocrisy within the upper echelons of their own denominations. It crushed their lives and their spirit. I know what it is like. Life can be bitterly disappointing, even when things are going relatively well. But what could cause such wholesale hatred against each other? What disappointed expectation? What could cause the Christian church to turn their back on the clear instructions of the Messiah and destroy each other? What could cause such bitter hostility? Could it be that they would have reason to believe that Jesus himself has let them down? Life is not lived in a vacuum. What is the cause of this terror? What is this trap, Lord?
Matthew 24:10, And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
Skandalidzo is a snare. A snare is set to capture the prey in its own environment and habit patterns. A snare is set by watching the habit patterns of the intended victim: You observe where they feed, where they go to water, and where they go for rest. You learn the comfort zones of the beasts that you are attempting to capture. The snare is then set to catch them in their own habit patterns by a device that is well camouflaged and appears to be a harmless part of their comfortable environment.
Skandalidzo is the Greek word from which we get the English scandal. Legally, to lure with bait is to entrap, but to catch someone in an act in which they are willingly engaged is scandal. The Christian church will be caught in its own habits, snared by thought patterns and taken captive in their own comfort zones. Their expectations are about to be irreversibly disappointed. When this snare is sprung it will cause them to turn on each other with venom and a vengeance. Their world will be turned upside down. What are the snares that will catch the Christian church in their own expectation, thought patterns, and habits?
Matthew 24:11-13, 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.
There are two major snares that Jesus exposes in this section of scripture. The first is the nature of salvation, confessing Jesus as Lord, and our accountability to him. Part of this share concerns our responsibility to Jesus as our Lord, our continuing in the path he laid down for us, and the requirement of enduring and remaining faithful to the end. It is clear that we are accountable to the Lord for our works as his servants. That is the main thrust of the parables in this section. The result of this snare does not manifest itself until he returns to gather the Saints. Many grief stricken servants will be weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth over lost opportunities, lost rewards, and perhaps worse, being left behind to inherit the reward of disobedience. The parable in Matthew 24:42-51 and the warning of II Thessalonians 1:8 speak to those who do not obey their Lord.
The second snare concerns the nature and timing of his return to gather his servants together. By timing, I do not mean the day and hour, but the parameters that we as awake and sober Saints are instructed to know so as not to be deceived by the strong delusion already at work in the mystery of iniquity. Christians, who believe that Jesus is going to come and get them before the Great Tribulation, will feel betrayed by their religious leaders – they were. The let down will be severe. It is certain that they will feel lied to by those who have preached this “gospel.” The hatred and betrayal will cause the love of God to grow cold in many. The ensuing confusion will cause all but the very elect to be deceived by the “prince that shall come.”
Forewarned is Forearmed:
Jesus foretold the wrestling of scriptures to try to prove that there is another resurrection, a secret rapture or “tameion” coming for his saints, as Jesus referred to it. He detailed this deception as recorded by Matthew, and warned about adding and subtracting from the chronological sequence of revelation. He then told Paul that those who love comfortable lies more than truth will be allowed to go home to their own working error, right into the waiting arms of the “messiah from hell”. The snare has been set, just as Jesus foretold.
Matthew 24:24, 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.
For thirty years I assumed “behold, I have told you before”, meant that Jesus was reiterating something that he had told them previously. That is what the King James Version indicates. Since we do not have a scriptural record of the previous occurrence, I relegated his warning to insignificance. I never seriously questioned the scope of his statement, I just read by it with unconcern. I was wrong, and the King James is weakly translated here. The Greek text reads:
……Look, I am foretelling this!!
These words highlight one of the most serious warnings of the Messiah to his followers concerning his return for them. Cautiously heeding this warning will ensure that “we will not be deceived by any man”. He is foretelling the future condition that will allow all but the very elect to be deceived. This deception will dominate the teachings of the “church” before he returns, and it will have been introduced by ministers who have spoken what Jesus has not authorized, and repeated by those who found the message comforting. Given the solemnity of the warnings, it is a dangerous position to ignore, gloss over, or attach an insignificant meaning to the specifics Jesus describes.
Jesus stated to the twelve Apostles, nearly 2000 years before the fact, that these false teachings will so permeate the church that it will deceive nearly everyone! Listen! Listen! If there is one warning to be heeded from the lips of the Messiah concerning this coming for his followers, it is this prophetic warning of the teachings that will abound before he returns.
Do not trivialize this warning! Let it haunt you day and night. I pray that you will not be able to sleep until the truth of what Jesus spoke grabs your heart and shakes you to the depth of your soul. I pray that you wake up shaking in cold sweats over the veracity of this warning. This is serious. You have been set up for the great deception if you love the words of manufactured comfort from man more than you love the warnings of your Lord. He has shown us the path and has promised us strength to endure until the end.
Matthew 24:26 Therefore, if they (false Christs) shall say unto you, Behold he is in the desert, go not forth!
The word desert is not indicating a dry hot area with cactus, snakes and lizards. Words paint pictures in the mind as a means of communicating thoughts and emotions from one mind to another. What is the picture or communication being painted by the word eremos? Here eremos is a noun used as an adjective which is descriptive, indicating the environment. This Hebrew linguistic construction is very common in Matthew and Revelation. But, what is the environment? It is the same word, and environment which described where John the Baptizer was teaching:
Mark 1:4, John did baptize in the wilderness (eremos), and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judea.
John was in the wilderness where everyone who wanted to see him had to go forth to see him. Jesus described the same environment here. False Christs “anointed ones” will mislead Christians into thinking that they will need to go to him when he returns. Jesus warned us to go not forth, and went on to tell us the true environment of his coming that cannot be falsified.
Matthew 24:31, And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
This is why we will not need to “go forth” to see him. He is sending forth his angels to get us. He is coming in all of his power and glory. No one will be able to duplicate his coming. No one could deceive you unless you were taught to look for a “different” coming: A secret, imminent coming with no known precursors to the event. Jesus said that the snare would be set by “anointed ones” lurking among his future followers.
A man pretending to be the Messiah would not elicit much of a favorable response by the majority of Christendom at the time of this writing. But the mystery of iniquity has laid plans for a very dangerous deception in the near future will deceive all but the very elect of God. Most of the Christian church will fall prey to this snare. Be forewarned, this is not an idle prophecy from Jesus! The snare is set. To keep from getting snared read on carefully. No matter who shows up as the messiah, go not forth!
You may very well witness this snare, as it is spring on the church. Remember, Jesus has foretold it. But how will this snare be set? By prophets and teachers who have spoken falsely in the name of the Lord. However, this snare cannot be sprung without the false teaching that Jesus now exposes for his future disciples who will live to see his return.
This is the picture that Jesus paints of his return for his disciples. However, Jesus warned us of false prophets who would sow the seeds of a deadly snare into the church at the end of the age. Jesus stated the form that this deception would take so that his disciples would not be deceived by anyone who taught a different gospel. Remember, he is foretelling this so that we will not be deceived by men!
Matthew 24:26b, If they (the false prophets) shall say unto you, behold! He is in the secret chambers: Believe it not!
Secret chambers is the Greek word tameion, which again is a noun used as an adjective describing the environment of his coming back for his disciples. The significance is clearly not on the place, but the condition. The Hebrew emphasis is again on the picture the words paint, rather than the more typical mathematical construction of the Greek language. The environment of his coming is the emphasis. What is the environment described? Please look at the context of these two other occurrences of tameion. It becomes very clear.
Matthew 6:5-6, And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward (which is to be seen openly praying. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Tameion shows us that which is done deliberately in secret so as not to be seen openly. It is an intentional secret for the purpose of concealing the activity from those who could see if it were done openly. Tameion can be, and is translated as closet, storehouse, storeroom, and inner-chamber; anyplace that can obscure the actions of the one from being observed. Its usage is not meant to convey where one hangs clothes or stores grain. Jesus is not painting the picture of a deception by false prophets who will teach that Jesus will come, and you will teach that Jesus will come, and you will find him in a closet standing amidst your suits and dresses, or you will find him behind a sack of wheat flour. No! The false teaching is that he will return to gather us in a secret rapture, unseen by the world. The act, as well as its timing would be a secret with no precursors to the coming event. His real coming, however, will be preceded by several events that are an integral part of the Great Tribulation. Jesus foretold of the deception by false prophets. That you would not know when it would happen, and that it would be an unseen event. Let’s look at Jesus’ other usage of tameion:
Luke 12:2-3, For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hid that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light: and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
What are the conditions described by tameion? Secret, covered, hidden, not known, in darkness, silent. Tameion clearly indicates that which is not open for visual inspection, a secret occurrence, or a mystery event unseen by the world. If false prophets (who may be honest, sincere Christians) say, Look he will return at any time to gather his church in secret! DO NOT, DO NOT, NO NOT BELIEVE IT! Look, Jesus foretold of this deception!
Jesus said this teaching would become predominate in the church. He foretold it 1900 years ago! Yet we have swallowed this secret pre-tribulation rapture hook, line, and sinker, since it made its major debut in the early 1800s. Jesus said that this would happen, yet many people are more willing to accept the words of a man in the pulpit than the words of the Messiah himself. It is not a question of the sincerity of those who teach it, it is a question of authenticity.
It has been recently reported that pre-tribulation rapturists have uncovered evidence that suggests that the pre-tribulation rapture was taught hundreds of years before the false prophecy of Margaret McDonald started this current craze. I fail to recognize that the longevity or antiquity of a lie qualifies it to be considered truth. It does not matter when the lie was first spoken, or by whom. It was exposed by Jesus as a future deception that would mislead all but the very elect. His prophecy stands. All that stand contrary are misled misleaders, the unwitting assistants of the mystery of iniquity. We will all stand before the judgment throne very soon. Let us at least consider what Jesus said before accepting this new and comfortable doctrine. Jesus is not coming in tameion. How then is he coming? His disciples asked…
Matthew 24:3, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the age? And Jesus answered, TAKE HEED THAT NO MAN DECEIVE YOU! The apostles asked when and what and Jesus began with the caution: Take heed that no man deceive you. He then went on to answer their question, but gave them prophetic detail about the shares that will be set by the false anointed ones, and false prophets in the church. Jesus painted the picture of what life will be like before he returns for the Apostles, and the Saints that would be established by them. He made no effort to paint a rosy picture for those “to whom were given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God” (Matthew 13:11). After a very discouraging set up, Jesus told them exactly what his coming will look like, and when it will be. Make no mistake; Jesus was speaking to his disciples, his dedicated followers, about his promised return for them.
Matthew 24:27, 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. (For wheresoever the carcass is, there will be the eagles be gathered together). Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they (all the tribes of the earth) shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Jesus nailed every specific that he had just warned them about concerning the false Christs and false prophets.
1. When he returns, you will not need to go forth to him, he is sending forth his angels to raise the dead and gather the elect.
2. It will not be a secret in its timing or in its execution. Every eye on earth will witness his power and great glory; all those left behind will mourn. This will be the great and notable day of the Lord, the day that the Lord acts. It will take place after the tribulation.
When will it happen? After the tribulation of those days, which begins at the abomination of desolation, detailed in verses 15-22. The powers of heaven will be shaken and the Great Tribulation begins when Satan and his angels are cast down to the earth, forevermore defeated in the heavens. After the tribulation of those days is when Jesus will return for his disciples, as he has promised. The gathering together, or rapture of the elect, is neither a secret in its timing or in its execution. Jesus has given us specific parameters for both what it will look like and when it will happen.
The Rapture: Timing and Execution
Nearly two thousand years ago Jesus prophesied of the secret pre-tribulation rapture heresy and warned us of the “false prophets” that would be teaching this very doctrine (just as I, myself, did for over twenty-five years). Must the Christian church continue to deny his words and every scripture concerning his coming for his church because we are afraid to believe the Bible over our denominational associations? The Day of the Lord will be the most triumphant revealing in the history of man. Unfortunately, many who have been misled by the false prophets, insert a secret rapture between verses, and then allegorize the book of Revelation any way that fits that presumption. The pre-tribulation rapture is not reality. It is a fairy-tale from the prince of fairies himself, Satan. No one can read the Bible and come up with a pre or mid-tribulation rapture. It simply is not in the plain text of the Bible. It needs to be explained by the “enlightened ones”, to the theologically ignorant masses. After the masses are shown which sentences to isolate to prove this fabrication, we then can pass it down to the next generation of unenlightened “sheeple”. This self-comforting theology attempts to get us out of here before we must face what life is now like in many other parts of the world. But it won’t happen! If you think things are bad now, cheer up. They are going to get a lot worse. Jesus clearly teaches his followers when he is coming back, and what it will look like. They have not been asking about Armageddon, they know nothing about Armageddon. They want to know when Jesus is coming back for them! Jesus knows what must happen first so he tells them:
Matthew 24:27, 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. (For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.)
As scavengers make their timely arrival at the carcass of those who have fallen, so will the angels make their timely arrival at the graves of the just, when they are sent forth to raise them in the twinkling of the eye.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days (the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken): And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven:
When will the sign appear? After the tribulation of those days, which will be worse than any other time in the history of mankind, and unless those days were cut short, there would not be anyone left alive on the planet. What is the sign? Like lightning, splitting the sky from east to west, as he sends forth his angels to gather the elect. In the atmosphere darkened by the nuclear war at the sixth seal, and a more conventional war in the Mideast at the sixth trumpet, the entire earth will witness the angels in full glory being sent out to gather the elect over all the earth. This darkened atmospheric condition was prophesied to exist “before the great and terrible day of the LORD” (Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15; Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; Acts 2:20).
But we never learn the cause of the condition until it is revealed in the book of Revelation (rev 6:12; 8:12; 9:2). The sign is not the darkened atmosphere, but the light of the mighty angels piercing the darkness as they are sent forth to gather the elect from the four winds. “And THEN shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they shall gather together his elect (the justified in Messiah from all ages) from the four winds from one end of heaven to the other.”
Then and only then (after the tribulation of those days that begins the abomination of desolation) will we all see the angels sent forth. Not everyone on the globe will see the Messiah personally at the moment of his return that would be an optical impossibility. However, the sign – millions of angels being sent forth – will not be missed by anyone alive on planet earth. This is Messiah’s coming in power and great glory.