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Corrie ten Boom’s “Great Tribulation Perspective” (1974)

May 28, 2009 Leave a comment

In the early 1970’s Corrie ten Boom’s book THE HIDING PLACE became a best seller and World Wide Pictures released the major motion picture “The Hiding Place.” Corrie went on to write many other inspiring books and make several evangelical videos. Corrie was a woman who was faithful to God. She died on her 91st birthday, April 15, 1983corrie_ten_boom

The world is deathly ill. It is dying. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It is possible for them to do this because they are overcomers.

Christians are ambassadors for Christ. They are representatives from Heaven to this dying world. And because of our presence here, things will change.

My sister, Betsy, and I were in the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbruck because we committed the crime of loving Jews. Seven hundred of us from Holland, France, Russia, Poland and Belgium were herded into a room built for two hundred. As far as I knew, Betsy and I were the only two representatives of Heaven in that room.

We may have been the Lord’s only representatives in that place of hatred, yet because of our presence there, things changed. Jesus said, “In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” We too, are to be overcomers—bringing the light of Jesus into a world filled with darkness and hate.

Sometimes I get frightened as I read the Bible, and as I look in this world and see all of the tribulation and persecution promised by the Bible coming true. Now I can tell you, though, if you too are afraid, that I have just read the last pages. I can now come to shouting “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” for I have found where it is written that Jesus said, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things: and I will be His God, and he shall be My son.” This is the future and hope of this world. Not that the world will survive – but that we shall be overcomers in the midst of a dying world.

Betsy and I, in the concentration camp, prayed that God would heal Betsy who was so weak and sick. “Yes, the Lord will heal me,” Betsy said with confidence. She died the next day and I could not understand it. They laid her thin body on the concrete floor along with all the other corpses of the women who died that day.

It was hard for me to understand, to believe that God had a purpose for all that. Yet because of Betsy’s death, today I am traveling all over the world telling people about Jesus.

There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days.

Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution.

In China, the Christians were told, “Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly, “We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes – to stand and not faint.”

I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it. We are next.

Since I have already gone through prison for Jesus’ sake, and since I met the Bishop in China, now every time I read a good Bible text I think, “Hey, I can use that in the time of tribulation.” Then I write it down and learn it by heart.

When I was in the concentration camp, a camp where only twenty percent of the women came out alive, we tried to cheer each other up by saying, “Nothing could be any worse than today.” But we would find the next day was even worse. During this time a Bible verse that I had committed to memory gave me great hope and joy. “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part evil is spoken of, but on your part He is glorified.” (I Peter 3:14) I found myself saying, “Hallelujah! Because I am suffering, Jesus is glorified!”

In America, the churches sing, “Let the congregation escape tribulation,” but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived.

This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.

Several years ago I was in Africa in a nation where a new government had come into power. The first night I was there some of the Christians were commanded to come to the police station to register. When they arrived they were arrested and that same night they were executed. The next day the same thing happened with other Christians. The third day it was the same. All the Christians in the district were being systematically murdered.

The fourth day I was to speak in a little church. The people came, but they were filled with fear and tension. All during the service they were looking at each other, their eyes asking, “Will this one I am sitting beside be the next one killed? Will I be the next one?”

The room was hot and stuffy with insects that came through the screenless windows and swirled around the naked bulbs over the bare wooden benches. I told them a story out of my childhood.

“When I was a little girl, “ I said, “I went to my father and said, “Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.” “Tell me,” said Father, “When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?” “No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.” “That is right,” my father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need—just in time…”

My African friends were nodding and smiling. Suddenly a spirit of joy descended upon that church and the people began singing, “ In the sweet, by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.” Later that week, half the congregation of that church was executed. I heard later that the other half was killed some months ago.

But I must tell you something. I was so happy that the Lord used me to encourage these people, for unlike many of their leaders, I had the word of God. I had been to the Bible and discovered that Jesus said He had not only overcome the world, but to all those who remained faithful to the end, He would give a crown of life.

How can we get ready for the persecution?

First we need to feed on the word of God, digest it, make it a part of our being. This will mean disciplined Bible study each day as we not only memorize long passages of scripture, but put the principles to work in our lives.

Next we need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not just the Jesus of yesterday, the Jesus of History, but the life-changing Jesus of today who is still alive and sitting at the right hand of God.

We must be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is no optional command of the Bible, it is absolutely necessary. Those earthly disciples could never have stood up under the persecution of the Jews and Romans had they not waited for Pentecost. Each of us needs our own personal Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will never be able to stand in the tribulation without it.

In the coming persecution we must be ready to help each other and encourage each other. But we must not wait until the tribulation comes before starting. The fruit of the Spirit should be the dominant force of every Christian’s life.

Many are fearful of the coming tribulation, they want to run. I, too, am a little bit afraid when I think that after all my eighty years, including the horrible Nazi concentration camp, that I might have to go through the tribulation also. But then I read the Bible and I am glad.

When I am weak, then I shall be strong, the Bible says. Betsy and I were prisoners for the Lord; we were so weak, but we got power because the Holy Spirit was on us. That mighty inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit helped us through. No, you will not be strong in yourself when the tribulation comes. Rather, you will be strong in the power of Him who will not forsake you. For seventy-six years I have known the Lord Jesus and not once has He ever left me, or let me down. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him, for I know that to all who overcome, He shall give the crown of life.

Hallelujah!

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Reading the “love chapter” in its original context

May 20, 2009 Leave a comment

The Love Chapter1 Corinthians 13 is probably the best known chapter in the Bible and is often read at weddings and such. However, in its original context, this chapter was written to balance the Corinthian Christians’ knowledge of gifts (read abuse) with a reminder of the love’s importance!

I have written an article some years ago called Kingdom Math: 12+13=14that looks into this sequence given to us in Chs 12-14: gifts + love = functioning. This is what God wants us to balance in our expression of “church” as we come assemble together.

You can really not underestimate reading verses and chapters in their context. It is so important!

If you cut and paste 1 Cor. 13 and put it on your refrigerator you can miss the deeper/fuller meaning of a body “out of balance” during a gathering of the believers.

I would like to jar your thinking with a classic example of a taking a verse “out of its context”!! It is the following very famous verse from the book of Revelation:

‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.’ (Rev 3:20)

Behold I Stand At the Door and Knock

Try as we might, the real context and therefore its real meaning of this scene is so difficult to comprehend because of decades of faulty interpretations. Honestly, can you think of this verse and not hear Billy Graham or countless others using this in an evangelistic setting??

Here are just three points I can see quickly where we can come up with a faulty meaning:

1.This verse was written to the church in Laodicea and not to the unsaved! It was a “lukewarm church” but nevertheless a church, full of believers.

2. Jesus is shown here “knocking at the door” of the church! He had just told them that ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.’ He was knocking at the door for anyone in the church who would respond to his loving discipline and repent of lukewarmness and with zeal open the door and let him in!

It only took ONE person to usher Him back inside!

3. When it comes to our salvation, it is we who do the knocking! Jesus is the door! It is OUR knocking that invites Him into our hearts. He is not shyly standing at the knocking and knocking for us to open to Him for salvation… Well if you believe He is, then use another verse and NOT THIS ONE for your text!

Whew!! Do you now see how misguided interpretations we can come up with just as easily as breathing…

I wanted to share this excellent quote regarding our subject that I found in the April 09 edition of The Atlantic magazine. I thought the author does a wonderful job of putting these verses from 1 Cor. in their proper context:

Consider that famous ode to love in 1 Corinthians. Paul wrote this letter in response to a crisis… Many in the church believed themselves to have direct access to divine knowledge and to be near spiritual perfection. Some thought they needn’t accept the church’s guidance in moral matters. Some showed off their spiritual gifts by spontaneously speaking in tongues during worship services—something that might annoy the humbler worshippers and that, in large enough doses, could derail a service.

In other words: they lacked brotherly love. Hence Paul’s harping on that theme in 1 Corinthians, and especially in chapter 13. It is in reference to members’ disrupting worship by speaking in tongues that Paul writes, “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” And when he says, “Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant,” he is chastising Corinthians who deploy their spiritual gifts—whether speaking in tongues, or prophesying, or even being generous—in a competitive, showy way… In the case of 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, the result was some of Western civilization’s most beautiful literature—if, perhaps, more beautiful out of context than in. (Robert Wright, “The Evolution of God”)

My continual prayer is for a generation of men and women with discernment and insight, who will be “ready and able” to give understanding to many:

“Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many… Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven.” (Daniel 11:33;12:3)

Yours for the least in the Kingdom,

Jeff Gilbertson

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Daniel, the “missing link” to understanding the End Times

May 12, 2009 5 comments

handwriting on the wallIn my journey to comprehend the enormous subject of the End Times and to open up my heart to the book of Revelation (and all the end time passages — there are over 150 chapters in the Bible that deal with the subject!), I can honestly tell you that one verse has stirred my thinking like none other. That verse is Matthew 24:15.

Here is the verse in its larger context. Read it slowly and out loud:

14 “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. 15 “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains… 21 “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. (Mtt 24:14-15, 21)

In Matthew chapters 24 – 25, we find Jesus describing to His disciples “the sign of His coming” (parousia) and the keys to being victorious at His Second Coming. IN the middle of this passage, Jesus abruptly shifts the storyline to the prophet Daniel.

Why Daniel of all the Old Testament prophets?

Jesus could have mentioned the prophetic books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, etc. but He pointed to instead to Daniel and to the reference there of the “Abomination of Desolation”. Curiously enough, it is in Daniel (and only Daniel) we read about the Abomination of Desolation in the Old Testament. Jesus pointed His disciples back over 500 years to help the gain understanding on what would happen over 2000 years in the future.

I believe that it is right here — in the “red letter” words of Christ — that we have our “Missing Link” to unlock the End Times!

“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand) (Mtt 24:15)

In the parallel passage in Mark a small caveat is added: “But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand ), then let those in Judea flee to the mountains. ” (Mk 13:14)

The “It” that Jesus indicated will one day stand in the holy place, “where it should not be” is the Antichrist. Jesus said that when you see “It” — also called the “beast” in Rev. 13 — standing in the holy place (and that place is the temple in Jerusalem!), then that is like the “CRACK” of the starter’s pistol. The “man of lawlessness” is being revealed (2 Thess 2) and the end of all things is just around the corner…

”It is called the Abomination of Desolation because it is an Abomination to God that results in the Desolation of the nations by His Great Tribulation judgments. The Antichrist brings tribulation to the saints using his worldwide government (Rev. 13). God brings tribulation against the people in the Antichrist’s empire by the 21 numbered judgments.“ (Mike Bickle)

To fully grasp the context of the above quote, I want to review with you briefly what I believe is the setting of the last 3 1/2 years (1260 days) of earth as we know it, during what Jesus called the Great Tribulation:

There will be 21 consecutive judgments, growing in intensity and frequency. Jesus takes the scroll, sealed up with seals, from His Father and opens the 7 seals judgments, which in turn opens the scroll to release the 7 trumpets judgments. Finally, the 7 bowls of wrath are poured out on the earth. At the last trumpet, Jesus will return to earth with the dead in Christ and we who remain will be caught up together with Him. When the last of the “Bowls of Wrath” is poured out, a loud voice cries out from the throne in heaven: “IT IS FINISHED!” (Rev 16:17)

Before the 7th trumpet sounds and Christ returns “coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him” (Rev 1:7), a staggering number of people on earth will be killed — over 1/2 of the world’s population (as you can ascertain from the judgments of the 4th seal and the 6th trumpet).

Jesus tells us that if we are to comprehend all of this we need to go back into the book of Daniel and look for answers.

Who (or what) is the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION?

When you turn to the book of Daniel you read about this “abomination of desolation” in three main passages:

Daniel 9:27 “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

Daniel 11:31 “Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.

Daniel 12:11 “From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.”

It would takes pages and pages to explain who “he” is and who “he” is not… My desire is to whet your appetite and get you reading for yourself. In Daniel we have the clearest picture of the Antichrist and his character to be found anywhere in the Bible.

Before we go any deeper into this subject I want to clear up one little-known fact:

The name “Antichrist” is really a misnomer.

If you do a word study on the name “antichrist”, remarkably you will find that it is only cited five times and all of those are in the epistles of I and II John .

“Little children, these are the end times, and as you heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen. By this we know that it is the final hour.” 1 John 2:18

For more light on this I want to turn you to the NIV Study Bible:

“John assumed his readers knew that a great enemy of God and His people will arise before Christ’s return. That person is called ‘antichrist’ (vs. 18), ‘the man of lawlessness’ (2 Thess 2: 3) and ‘the beast’ (Rev 13:1-10). But prior to him, there will be many antichrists.”

In Daniel not only do we read about the abomination of desolation but also we see an “unveiling” of the Antichrist. In the following passage from Dan. 7 you can read about him symbolic language. Don’t be dismayed by the symbols (i.e. 4th beast, ten horns.) As you will see, the context will usually give the meaning: “the ten horns are ten kings”.

Symbols describe realities!

“The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time [3 1/2 years]. But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. ” (Dan 7:23-26)

Here is the Antichrist and THIS is what Jesus wanted us to understand!

Truth be told, we need to read and re-read Daniel as it is the Old Testament’s equivalent of the New Testament’s book of Revelation. Perhaps this is where the trouble of our “muddled interpretations” of the Last Days! These two books are “center stage” and yet most of us are content with knowing about Shadrach and Meshach in a fiery furnace and Daniel in the lion’s den and that Jesus will return on a white horse and save the world someday…

Take this one example:

“Now I [Gabriel] have come to give you [Daniel] an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.” Dan 10:14

Surely you know of the spiritual warfare in connection with Daniel’s three weeks of prayer and fasting BUT did you also know that the answer Gabriel brought him was two chapters on the Antichrist!

The Antichrist IS the Timeline.

What I find most compelling in Daniel is the accuracy of the “length of days” and timing of the end of the age. In Daniel we find the BEGINNING, MIDDLE and END of the Last Days. You can read it all in one verse straight from the mouth of Gabriel. (Please do a study someday of who Gabriel talks to in the Bible!!)

“He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Dan 9:27 (NIV)

1. BEGINNING

The Antichrist will “covenant with the many” for seven years Dan 9: 27a

2. MIDDLE

The “abomination of desolation” will come in the middle of those seven years (i.e. 3 1/2 years or 1260 days) (Dan 9: 27b, Mtt 24:15/ Mk 13:14, 2 Thess 2:4 Rev 13:5)

3. END

The Antichrist’s destruction in the lake of fire (Dan 9: 27c, 2 Thess 2:8, Rev 19:20)

I found an excellent graph for this exact timeline that I think will be helpful. (Please note that they use the title “Rule of the Prince” for the Antichrist.) It shows the correct place for the 1260, 1290 and 1335 days of Daniel 12:7, 11-12. You would laugh your head off if I told you of all the confusion and contradiction from just these three verses you can find in one hour on the Internet!!
chart03
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Part 2

The Type, or the Antitype.”

In closing, I want to touch briefly on one of the main struggles you can experience in trying to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) about the End Times. I am not trying to be too cryptic here but I feel I need to use these two words to help us move forward.

1. TYPE – A type is a person, place, thing, or event that is a foreshadowing of a future person or event.

2. ANTITYPE – The antitype or thing the type foreshadows is greater and clearer to understand.

“For example, a rubber stamp is a type. It is not clear and simple to understand. However, its antitype, that print that appears when the rubber stamp is pressed on paper, is much clearer than the type. The type was a shadow, or promise of the revealed antitype to come. We must never expect the type and antitype to be the same… Remember too, that the antitype is always superior to the type. If it were not, there would be no need of the type. The antitype is always clearer and more revealing. ” (by Grady Scott)

In the following verse I think you will agree with me that Moses is the type and that Jesus is the antitype:

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14).

Melchizedek, the “king of peace” (Heb. 7:2), is another the type of a Jesus, a Man who would be called “Prince of Peace”, the antitype, who is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him.

I like how A. W. Pink has developed this thought in this quote:

“As it is in the natural world, so it is in the spiritual: there is first the blade, then the ear, and then the full corn in the ear. So there is first the shadow, and then the substance; the type, and then the antitype.”

Well, dear brothers and sisters, we ALSO have type/antitype of the Antichrist!

Pharaoh was a striking and accurate type of the Antichrist.

“Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?” (Ex. 5:2). The Pharaoh had magical resources at his disposal (Ex. 7:11), but not as great or powerful as the antitype, the Antichrist; the lawless one (2 Thess. 2: 8-9)

Many see in Nimrod an obvious type of the Antichrist.

Gen. 10:10 informs us that the beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom was Babylon and we all know where that led. Fast-forward to the end of the Bible and we see Babylon again, this time depicted as the Great Harlot sitting on a scarlet beast, “drunk with the blood of the saints”! (Rev 17)

In 168 B.C. Antiochus IV was a type of the Antichrist. The Jewish holiday Hanukah commemorates the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the forces of Antiochus IV. He exalted himself by using “divine epithets”, which no other Hellenistic king had done, such as “Theos Epiphanes” which means “God Manifest”.

In 70 A.D. armies from another type of the Antichrist, the Roman Emperor Titus, completely destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. Josephus claims that 1,100,000 people were killed during the siege, of which a majority were Jewish.

Both of these men were not the fulfillment but the foreshadowing!

So was Nero, Napoleon, Hitler, Saddam Hussein…

If the church could grasp this one truth much insight and strength would come to the body. But since we have already a doctrine / theology that splits into “a, pre, and post”- millennium and splits again into “past, present, future and symbolic” interpretation camps, we are weak and fractured!

God help us!! (If what I just wrote makes no sense at all consider yourself one of the fortunate ones.)

Church, take courage and strength from Daniel!

“Those who have insight [at the end of the age] will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Dan. 12:3

Yours for the least in the kingdom,

Jeff Gilbertson

P.S. Just to good to leave out:

“Almost everyone looks at the book of Daniel with a sense of wonder and anticipation, because this is usually regarded as a prophetic book foretelling the future. This is true. The book of Daniel, together with the book of Revelation, marvelously unfolds future events as God has ordained them in the program of history. By no means has this book yet been fulfilled, neither has the book of Revelation. These two books, one from the Old and one from the New Testament, remarkably complement each other in their symmetry and harmony. The book of Revelation explains the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel lays the basis for the book of Revelation. If you would like to know God’s program for the future, it is essential that you understand this book of Daniel.”(Ray Stedman)

Sample chapter from Future History: Understanding the Book of Daniel and End Times Prophecy

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He will come like a thief in the night!

May 4, 2009 1 comment

thiefThere is so much bewilderment about the “How and When” of the promised return of the Lord Jesus that I hardly know where to start. Many people that I talk with often say that they just can’t get “sidetracked” by the End Times since it is so muddled. As if studying the Second Coming is “off on a tangent“!

Nevertheless, I feel an urgency in my heart to keep “chipping away” at the faulty theology imbedded at large in the body of Christ on the Last Days. I want to examine with you one of the verses that I believe has been appallingly misunderstood in regards to the Second Coming:

“The day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.”
1 Thess 5: 2

For decades the church has fed itself the continuous line that the “Day of the Lord” would come unexpectedly — like maybe even before I finish typing this sentence… AAAAHHHH!

This “sudden and sneaky” Rapture fever has served the church quite well in evangelism, I guess. Have you not seen the portrayals of lightening flashing in a crowded church service and then after the smoke clears a few are “left behind”, broken and repentant and start to REALLY seek the Lord, etc.?? You might have read the popular book series touching on these themes.

Well, it might make for good “YouTube” hits, but it is poor theology.

Yes, Jesus will come like a thief in the night… to those who are not watching!! To those who are asleep.

Read it for yourself:

I Thess 5:4-6 “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day [of the Lord] would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.”

Revelation 3:3 “So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” — Jesus

Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.” — Jesus

Matt 24:33,36 “Even so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door… But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” — Jesus

Just to be clear on this last verse, which seems to be is the fountainhead of the confusion, we WILL NOT KNOW “that day and hour” — which is an oft repeated theme of the New Testament — BUT we are to know that “He is near”. Jesus went on to compare it to watching the trees budding in spring and showing a “hint of green” in their leaves and recognizing that summer is near! (Mtt 24: 32)

Thankfully, more and more believers are “waking up” to the truths of these and other scriptures. Believers are finally taking the time to seriously think through their faulty theology of a God who wants to “catch the world by surprise”. The following is a quote from one such believer:

“We all ‘know’ that when Jesus returns, it will be ‘as a thief in the night’, a totally unexpected surprise, about which He has given us no clues about what to watch for and expect. This is the ‘doctrine of imminence’, the foundation of the pre-tribulation rapture error. We have also repeatedly heard that God has no interest in, or intention of, revealing His timing to us, preferring, if you will, that He might catch us all by surprise. It has also been well ingrained into our minds that any form of ‘date setting’ is not only foolish, but forbidden. But are these commonly held beliefs necessarily valid? Or have we misapplied what Jesus was trying to convey to His disciples? Is He really trying to sneak up on everyone to catch them unaware?” ( For the entire article see: Ed Spurlin)

The dreaded problem of “Dual Application”

Before we can look deeply into the End Times we must all have a clear understanding that when the Scriptures speak of “the last days” there is often little or no more clue than just that: “In the last days” or “In that day” or “ A day of the Lord is coming. (see Isaiah 2: 2-4,11,17, 20; Micah 4:1-7; Zech. 14: 1-9)

Many times there is a dual application that is unspoken or hidden and we need to “search out the matter” to know if the writer is speaking of a day soon to come in his generation or if this was fulfilled in the cross or will be fulfilled in the Second Coming!

A well know example would be Isaiah 9:6-7

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.”

Certainly much of this was fulfilled in the first coming of Jesus but there is still “a day coming” when Jesus will rule the nations from David’s throne in Jerusalem with a rod of iron and the government of the whole world will rest on His shoulders. Hallelujah!!

As I now describe the coming birth pangs that Jesus gave us to “recognize the times“ we need a clear understanding that this passage may have a dual application to a time to come shortly in Israel ( 70 A.D.) and a second, broader application to come “at the end of the ages”. I always find that Jesus Himself is the key to unlocking the most difficult passages!! (e.g. Mtt 24: 15)

Here is a complete list of the “Birth Pangs” that Jesus spoke of in the Gospels. (Mtt 24; Mk 13; Lk 21)

1. wars and rumors of wars
2. nation will rise against nation / kingdom against kingdom
3. plagues
4. famines
5. terrors (“fearful events” NIV)
6. great signs from heaven
7. earthquakes
8. they will deliver you to tribulation and will kill you
9. you will be hated by all nations because of My name
10. many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another
11. many false prophets will arise and will mislead many
12. lawlessness is increased
13. most people’s love will grow cold
14. gospel must first be preached to all the nations

The whole point of Jesus telling us to “watch and pray” is that we would watch the obvious signs in the world and in the church and pray for His wisdom and guidance. In Mark, Jesus distinctly told His disciples to “Be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.” (Mk 13: 23)

Dear Saints, Jesus wasn’t keeping them in the dark, like a “cloak-and-dagger” spy novel! That was not and is not the heart of God!! He let them know “IN ADVANCE”, step by step, point-by-point, what would take place.

As it was in the days of Noah

“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. ” Mtt 24:37

In Matthew 24, we see that Jesus said that His second coming, His “parousia”, would be just like the days of Noah. Just days before the world-wide flood, the people of Noah’s time were carrying on with “business as usual”. We know that Noah built his ark for at least 100 years but he did not know when it was going to rain until God told him that it would come in just seven days.

The significance I want to draw out of the parallelism to Noah and the Second Coming is two-fold:

#1. We need to be like Noah “alert and sober” and careful to be walking in righteousness before our God.

Gen 7:1,4 Then the LORD said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time…For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights.”

#2. The “sleepy” people of Noah’s day were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” right up until the very day Noah entered the ark, even though the “sign” of pending judgment grew daily right before their eyes! For them “that day” came like a thief in the night!

Mtt 24:39 “And they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”

Finally, I want to close with one last encouragement from noted Bible teacher Rick Joyner who has summed up these thoughts very well about knowing the times you are living in:

“Even the best map is useless unless you know where you are. Every Christian should know where they are on the path of life, and they should also know the signs of the times in which they live.”

Yours for the least in the Kingdom,

Jeff Gilbertson

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