Seven Things You Have To Know To Understand End Times Prophecy … Part 3
Excerpts From a Forthcoming Book by Jack Kelley
This is the final
installment of our series entitled Seven Things You Have To Know To Understand
End Times Prophecy.
5) Conditions Surrounding The 2nd Coming
A couple of days
before He was arrested, Jesus had a private conversation with four of His
disciples, His inner circle. They were
Peter and Andrew, and James and John, two pairs of brothers. They had asked Him about the 2nd
Coming and the End of the Age. His response is contained in Matt.
24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. It's called the Olivet Discourse because the
conversation took place on the Mt.
of Olives. I called our study on it "The End Times
According To Jesus" and have included a link to it at the end of this
account, the most detailed, Jesus used several specific geographic and time
references. He did this so His readers wouldn't get confused as to the identity
of His ultimate audience. Having
commanded us to understand this passage in Matt. 24:15, He wanted to
make sure we got it right. I'll point them out and explain their significance
to our subject.
Of course, making
the timing of events clear doesn't stop some from ignoring those references in
an attempt to make the Lord's words fit their preconceived ideas. The result is
that some commentators have Him speaking to a different audience than He
intended, and appearing to say things He never said.
For example, some
take the erroneous view that since the Olivet Discourse is in the gospels it's
for the Church. But in Matt. 24:16 the Lord makes it clear that He's
admonishing a future generation of people in Judea (as Israel was
called then) to pray that their flight from the anti-Christ doesn't take place
in the winter or fall on the Sabbath.
The mountains of Judea are treacherous
in the winter, and Jews are forbidden under the Law to travel more than 1000
paces on the Sabbath for any reason. The warning is intended for latter-day Israel, back in
its Old Covenant relationship at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, 3½
years from the Second Coming. The Church is already gone.
In Matt 24:15-21
He explains that the Great Tribulation will begin with the Abomination that
causes Desolation, the anti-Christ standing in the Temple declaring himself
to be God. That's the signal for the Jews to flee into the mountains.
Then in Matt
24:29 He says that immediately after the tribulation ends, the
sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall
from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. It's now 3 ½ years
later. The Great Tribulation has ended.
Matt 24:30 has people on Earth seeing the Sign of the Son of Man in the
sky, His visible return to Earth with power and great glory, and all the
peoples of the Earth mourning. It's now too late for them to be saved and they
intuitively realize it. This is the Second Coming. (Contrast the use of the second person
"you" and your" in verses 20, 23, 25 and 26 with the third
person "they" in verse 30.
Jews who heed this warning and flee are distinguished from the nations
(Gentiles) who mourn at His return.)
Matt 24:36 begins with "No one knows about that
day or hour …" What day? What
hour? The day and hour
of His Second Coming. Stay in
context. That's been His subject since
verse 30. I believe the reason He said
"day or hour" is so we would know for sure that He was talking about
the actual Day and Hour of His Coming, not the general time.
(Matt 24:40-41 are often used to show where a
post-tribulation rapture takes place, but a little further along I'll show you
why that can't be. First let's continue
with our review of the Lord's time references.)
Matt 25 begins with the phrase "At that time, …" and contains
three illustrations the Lord used to describe the time of His Coming. For the purpose of this study, I'll just high
light what they reveal about the identity of their intended recipients. For a more complete study on them, use the
links at the end of this article.
The Parable of 10 Virgins
The first one is the
Parable of 10 Virgins. It's sometimes
used to illustrate the precarious position of "backsliders" in the
Church, but there are several problems with that view.
First, if oil is
being used symbolically here, as I believe it is, then the principle of
Expositional Constancy demands that it represent the Holy Spirit. Can we lose
the Holy Spirit, or exhaust our supply of Him?
Ephesians 1:13, and 2 Cor. 1:21-22 both
say that the Holy Spirit has been sealed within us as a guarantee of our
inheritance, and that it happened solely because we believed the Gospel
message. Through out the New Testament, it's clear that our position with the
Lord is based on belief, not behavior.
Remember, all 10 are caught sleeping when He returns. They all behaved
badly. It's the oil that distinguishes
one group from the other.
never call these 10 the Bride, but often call them bridesmaids. The Church is not a bridesmaid! And it looks like they're trying to get into
Mitzvah (wedding feast) a banquet that
follows the wedding ceremony. If so,
none of them made it to the actual marriage ceremony, oil or not, so none of
them can be the bride.
These virgins aren't
the Church. They're Tribulation survivors trying to get into the Millennial Kingdom.
Five were saved during the Great Tribulation, signified by the oil, and
are welcomed in. The Five without oil
when He arrived are not and are excluded.
The purpose of the
Parable is to show that waiting to be sure the Lord has returned before
deciding to let Him into your heart is a recipe for failure. That's why the people of Earth mourned when
they saw Him coming on the clouds. The
final whistle had blown, the game was over.
They were too late!
The Parable Of The Talents
In Matt 25:14,
at the beginning of the Parable of the Talents, the word "again"
means he's giving another illustration from the same time period as the parable
of the 10 Virgins, the Day of His Coming.
Though our use of talent as being a gift or ability derives from this
parable, a talent was a Greek unit of measure, usually monetary.
The key to
interpreting a parable is knowing that everything is
symbolic of something else, so in this parable a talent represents something
valuable to the Lord that he wished to have invested. Upon his return, He asks
those to whom he had entrusted it what they've accomplished. Those who teach
that the talents are gifts given to the Church to be used wisely, producing a
measurable return, haven't read the last verse of the parable. The servant who buried his talent in the
ground and produced nothing with it was thrown into the outer darkness, the
eternal destiny of unbelievers. Is the
Lord teaching a works based salvation here? Threatening us with the loss of our
salvation if we don't produce enough with the gifts He gave us? It can't
Reading the Bible,
it's clear that money isn't important to the Lord. But Psalm 138:2 says that He values
His Word above all else. I believe the
talents represent His Word. Those who
sow it into the hearts of others find that it multiplies in new believers. Those who study it find
that their own understanding grows, multiplying their faith.
But those who ignore
His word find that it's like burying it in the ground. Out of sight, out of mind, until what little
they began with is lost to them. This proves it never held any value for them,
and condemns them as unbelievers, to be cast into the outer darkness. They had heard the truth and ignored it. Now it's too late. In 2 Thes. 2:10 Paul describes them as those
who perish because they refused to love the Truth and so be saved. Some will bear the further responsibility of
having led their followers astray by their refusal to teach the truth.
"Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his
plan to his servants the prophets," He said. (Amos 3:7) He did this so man would never have to wonder
what He was up to. And where the End of
the Age is concerned He had more to say than about any other subject. No one
can plead ignorance. Again the point is
that some who survive the Great Tribulation will be welcomed in to the Kingdom
and some won't, and faith is the determining factor.
The Sheep And Goat Judgment
Matt. 25:31 leaves no doubt as to the timing on this
one. It begins "When the Son of Man
comes … " and goes on to talk about the Lord
setting up His throne on Earth after His return for the Judgment of the
Nations, actually a judgment of Gentile tribulation survivors. The Lord doesn't judge nations in the eternal
sense, only individuals. The Greek word
here is ethnos, and means "people of every kind." They'll be judged by how they treated
"His brothers" during the Great Tribulation. It's called the Sheep
and Goat judgment, with the sheep being those who helped His brothers through
the horrific times just past and goats being those who didn't.
Some say His
brothers are believers, whether Jew or Gentile, and others say they're
specifically Jews, but the most important point is that these tribulation
survivors aren't being judged by their works.
Their works are being cited as evidence of their faith, as in James
2:18. To give aid to a believer, especially a Jew, during the Great
Tribulation will take even more courage than it did in Hitler's Germany, and
will be an offense punishable by death. Only a follower of Jesus, certain of
His eternal destiny, would dare do it or even want to. Those
who helped "His brothers" will have demonstrated their faith by their
works and will be ushered live into the Kingdom. Those who refused to help will have condemned
themselves to the outer darkness by this evidence of their lack of faith.
illustrations teach the same lesson.
Surviving believers go live into the Kingdom. Some will have relied
exclusively on the Holy Spirit's gift of faith, as in the Parable of the 10
Virgins. Others will have multiplied
their faith by studying and sharing His word, as in the Parable of the Talents.
Still others have put their faith into action, risking their lives in the
bargain. They're the Sheep of the Sheep and Goat Judgment. But just like it's been throughout history,
all are saved by faith.
Where's The Rapture?
The Sheep and Goat
judgment is actually an expansion of Matt. 24: 40-41 "One taken and
the other left …" Beside the timing problem, here's why these verses can't
be describing the Rapture. The Greek
word translated taken in verses 40 and 41 means "received." Captains choosing up sides in a sandlot
baseball game point to someone and say, "I'll take you." It means, "Come over here. You're on my
team." No problem so far, the Lord is taking some but not others.
But the primary
meaning of the word translated left is "to send away" as a divorcing
husband would "send away" his wife.
In those days wives had no rights and except in very unusual
circumstances didn't own property. The
marriage home was the husband's property, usually built on his family's
land. If he divorced his wife, he sent
her away to live somewhere else, excluding her from his presence. Unbelievers are not sent away in this manner
at the Rapture.
This passage isn't
describing the rapture. The timing, the context, and the disposition of the
parties are all wrong. It's a summary of
the Sheep and Goat judgment. Those
taken (received) go live into the Kingdom in their natural bodies and help to
re-populate the Earth, while those left (sent away) are put into the Outer Darkness,
forever banned from the presence of God. (If Matt. 24: 40-41 is
the rapture, how would there be any sheep left for the upcoming Sheep and Goat
judgment. They would have all just been
As it was
in the days of Noah so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:37) Let's back up now and
address this overview statement. In the
days of Noah the people of Earth could be separated into three groups. There were the unbelievers who perished in
the Flood, the family of Noah who were preserved
through the Flood, and Enoch who was taken from Earth before the Flood. (Enoch was translated in Genesis 5. That means that God took him live into
Heaven. The Flood came in Genesis
In The Time Of The 2nd
Coming the people of Earth can also be separated into three groups The
unbelieving world that will perish in the End Times judgments, Israel who will
be preserved through the judgments, and The Church who will be taken from Earth
before the judgments.
There are some interesting similarities between Enoch and
the Church. His name means
"teaching," one of the primary roles of the Church. Some traditions hold that Enoch was born on
the 6th day of Sivan and was translated on
his birthday. The 6th of Sivan is the day in the Hebrew Calendar on which the Feast
of Pentecost is celebrated. It's the day
the Church was born. Will we be raptured on our
birthday as well? Time will tell. In any
case, Enoch makes a good model of the Church.
But you say, "Enoch was only one body." So is the Church.
6) The Duration and Purpose of the
Like rapture and
Lucifer, millennium is a word of Latin origin and doesn't appear any where in
the Scriptures. We get it from two Latin
words, mille, or 1000, and annum, or year.
Mille annum, millennium, the Lord's 1000-year reign on
Earth, also known as the Kingdom Age. It's the seventh and final
thousand years of the Age of Man, begun with the birth of Adam. It's often confused with Eternity, but as we
saw earlier the two are distinct. A Millennium
is obviously a defined span of time, while by definition Eternity is the
absence of time.
The Millennium On Earth
Millennium, the Lord will be King of Heaven and Earth, Earth being restored to
the condition it was in when Adam was created.
This will include restoring peace between man and the animals, bringing
back Earth's original garden-like environment with its world wide sub-tropical
climate, eliminating foul weather, killer storms, earthquakes and extremes of
heat and cold. The span of man's life will begin increasing again to equal
those of the Genesis patriarchs.
Sickness and disease, those by-products of sin, will be greatly
reduced. It appears the population of
Earth will be sustained by the return to an agrarian economy, but with all the
obstacles Adam faced gone as the curse of Genesis 3 is finally lifted. Man will easily produce enough for his
family's use, and enjoy doing it. None
will labor unproductively, or primarily for the benefit of others. Children
will grow up without fear and adults will grow old in peace. (A summary of Isaiah
2:1-5, 4:2-6, 35, 41:18-20, 60:10-22, 65:17-25, Micah 4:1-8)
Since Earth will be
re-populated mostly by Tribulation survivors in their natural bodies, there
will still be sin although to a much lesser extent, especially at the
beginning. In the so-called Millennial
Temple in Israel, priests will conduct daily
sacrifices for sin, just like in Old Testament days. But while Old Testament believers observed Temple sacrifices to
learn what the Messiah would one day do for them, original Millennial believers
will observe them to remember, and their children to learn, what He's already
done. (Ezek 40-47)
The Lord will reign
supreme on Earth as King and High Priest, the head of both a one-world government
and a one-world religion. He'll brook no threats to His established peace, nor any deviation from
His doctrine. (Psalm 2)
At the beginning,
only believers will inhabit Earth, enjoying the truly utopian environment that
mankind has always dreamed about, but only God can create. They'll soon begin bearing children who, as
they mature, will have to choose to receive the Lord's pardon just as we have.
And as it is today some will reject Him to go their own way. By the time Satan is released at the end of
the Millennium, there will be so many who've rejected the Lord that he'll
quickly find a huge army of recruits for his final attempt to kick the Lord off
But with fire from
Heaven the Lord will destroy Satan's army, casting him into the Lake of Fire, where he'll be tormented day and
night forever. Never again will he or any of his accomplices be free to afflict
God's people. (Rev. 20:7-10)
How'd That Happen?
What began as an age
of unimagined peace and prosperity will have ended in open warfare against the
very King who made it possible. How could this be?
Millennium, man had three excuses for his inability to please God. The first was Satan, whose clever schemes led
man astray. But all during the Millennium, Satan has been bound in darkness.
The second was the
bad influence of unbelievers among us.
But as the Millennium began, Earth was cleansed of all its
unbelievers. Only those who had given
their hearts to the Lord were allowed to enter the Kingdom.
And the third was God's
absence from our midst. For 2600 years, with the exception of one 33 year
period, God had been absent from the planet leaving man to "fend for
himself." But all during the
Millennium Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have dwelt in the midst of the people of
What's the point?
In the Millennium,
Earth dwellers will live in the ideal of circumstances of paradise, like Adam
and Eve. The curse is gone and the Lord's there among them, everyone's a
believer and Satan is bound. And yet, there's enough residual sin in the hearts
of unregenerate man that he'll rebel the first chance he gets. Sinful man cannot dwell in the presence of a
Holy God, being unable to keep His commandments. He needs a Savior and Redeemer
to reconcile him to God, and a heart transplant to cure him of his sin
nature. The whole point of the
Millennium is to prove once and for all that man's heart is deceitful above all
things and beyond cure. (Jere. 17:9)
The Millennium In the New Jerusalem
Life is far different in the Home of the Redeemed. Although
the Kings of the Earth bring us their splendor, no unbeliever can ever set foot
in the place, nor even a believer in his natural
state. Our mansions in the sky are built
of the purest gold as are the streets that run before them, their foundations
made from precious stones. There's no Temple in
the New Jerusalem because the Lamb of God dwells there and is our Temple. The energy source that lights and warms us is
the Glory of God, and our radiance in turn provides light for the nations of Earth.
Our glorified bodies will have been released from their
dimensional bonds, allowing us to appear and disappear at will, traveling back
and forth through time at the speed of thought as we plumb the limitless
delights of God's Creation. No detail
has been overlooked where our comfort and happiness are concerned. There's no
more death or mourning or crying or pain, only the endless joys of exploration
and discovery. As it is written: "No eye has seen, no
ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love
him. (1 Cor. 2:9)
Our home is not on Earth, but it's not at the Throne of God
either. Coming down out of the heavens
but never landing on Earth, our home could be called a low orbit satellite in
today's terminology. 1400 miles high,
wide and deep, it wouldn't fit in Israel,
let alone Jerusalem. If we did touch down on Earth we'd need a
space equivalent to the area from Maine to Florida to the Mississippi River, or all of Western
Europe from Sweden to Italy. And we'd be over 4000 times as tall as the
world's tallest building.
The Church has been described as the Pearl of Great
Price. A pearl is created in the ocean
and grows as a response to an irritant.
It's the only precious gem to come from a living organism. At harvest time, it's removed from its
natural habitat to be placed in a custom made setting where it becomes an
object of adornment.
And so it is with the Church. Created from among the Gentile
nations, the Church was a major irritant to both Israel
and the Roman Empire. Though hundreds of years of persecution were
intended for our destruction, we grew steadily. At the harvest we'll be taken
from Earth to be placed in mansions the Lord has built especially for us, to
become the object of His adornment.
I can't say much about eternity except to tell you that
there is one. The Bible ends at the end
of the Millennium, yet teaches us that every one ever born lives forever. The
question is not whether you have eternal life.
The question is where you will spend eternity. There are only two possible destinations and
we've described them both. Eternal bliss
in the presence of God, or eternal shame and punishment banished from the
presence of God. While God is patient,
not desiring that any should be lost, it's not His decision to make. He's given it to you, knowing that without an
alternative, your choice to voluntarily accept Him is meaningless. He loves you enough to risk that you'll make
the wrong decision, and enough to abide by your wishes if you do.
Don't get me wrong.
No one would knowingly choose to go to a place of eternal torment. But
many will wind up there. When they do
it'll be because they refused to choose Heaven, and it's the only other
Here then are Seven
Things you Have To Know To Understand End Times Prophecy. Mastering them will allow you to successfully
avoid all the heresy and false teaching that swirls about in these last days.
The study of prophecy is not a salvation issue, but the Lord did admonish us on
several occasions to understand the signs of the times so we wouldn't be caught
off guard. We are to watch with
expectation and wait with certainty.
In Revelation 1:3
we're promised blessings for our diligent study, and in 2 Timothy 4:8 a
crown for longing for His appearing. But
to me the greatest gift that comes from studying prophecy is the strengthening
of our faith. Nothing can equal watching
the Word of God proceed from abstract to concrete as we see Bible Prophecy
fulfilled before our very eyes. If you listen carefully, you can almost hear
the Footsteps of the Messiah. 04-02-06