For if solemn language of this Psalm, which describes so vividly the manifestation of God, can be explained away on the ground of poetic exaggeration and the like, it is very obvious that every similar passage may on similar principles be nullified.
If heightened language be employed here to produce fictitious effect, it may be equally employed in other parts of the Word of God, and how then could the Scriptures be called the Scripture of truth?
7 Then the earth shook and quaked;
And the foundations of the mountains were trembling
And were shaken, because He was angry.
8 Smoke went up out of His nostrils,
And fire from His mouth devoured;
Coals were kindled by it.
9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With thick darkness under His feet.
10 He rode upon a cherub and flew;
And He sped upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him,
Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.
12 From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
14 He sent out His arrows, and scattered them,
And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them.
15 Then the channels of water appeared,
And the foundations of the world were laid bare
At Your rebuke, O Lord,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.
Will anyone affirm that God thus manifested His glory, and shook the heavens and the earth when the typical David was delivered from the hands of Saul? Or was there any such manifestation of glory when Jesus rose from the dead? He rose during the silence of night, unseen by mortal eye. The heavens were not bowed; the foundations of the round world were not discovered; the channels of waters were not seen, nor lightnings to discomfort… The Psalm, therefore, is clearly unfulfilled, It was spoken by the typical David prophetically. There is in it no empty metaphor – no poetic exaggeration. Every word will be fulfilled with close exactitude in the great day of coming visitation. (B. W. Newton)
I really can’t blame you if the above statement leaves you feeling empty. I have never heard anyone else ever say they were a “7th trumpet rapture-ist”… mostly because I created the title myself just few years ago. Long ago, however, I left the more familiar titles of “pre-trib”, “post trib”, “mid trib”, “no trib”, etc. knowing that they weren’t accurate enough or Biblical enough. Maybe you have had similar thoughts.
Let me explain.
In the book of Revelation there are a series of 21 judgments to be unleashed on the earth in the Last Days. You may have heard before of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. These are the first four judgments in the series of 21. There are 7 seals, 7 trumpets and, finally, 7 bowls of judgments, progressively getting more and more intensive. This is why Jesus said that the end times would be like “birth pangs”, growing in intensity and frequency like a woman birthing a newborn.
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” (Mtt 24:7-8)
If you read the book of Revelation as consecutive judgments (chs. 6-19) – which I believe is the accurate way – you will see that there is something extra special about the last trumpet! The book actually takes 2 chapters to describe it (10-11).
This is the same trumpet that the apostle Paul wrote of:
“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (I Cor 15: 52-52)
What Paul knew prophetically by the Spirit, John wrote about and explained in the book of Revelation many years later. Jesus Himself started this “last trumpet rapture” idea when He wrote :
“And He [the Son of Man] will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Mtt 24:31)
Paul said that at the “last trumpet” the dead will be raised imperishable and will be changed. Jesus declared that “at the trumpet call” He will send out His angels to gather in the elect.
Now I want to turn to what the apostle John wrote in the last book in your Bible. We pick up the text just after the sounding of the 6th trumpet, where 1/3 of mankind is wiped out by the three plagues of fire, smoke and brimstone. (Rev 9:13-19)
Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by Him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them… and said, “There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as He announced to His servants the prophets.” (Rev 10:5-7)
Here we read of God “setting up” the blowing of the last trumpet, the 7th. After this blowing there will be “no more delay” and “the mystery of God is finished” (NASB) as He had earlier told His prophets.
Paul, above, wrote of this mystery. Here it is again for your confirmation:
“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; (I Cor 15:51)
If you read carefully the prophets, in particular Isaiah, Daniel, and Zechariah, you will again and again see how God announced this event to His special servants.
Finally I want to get you to the actual blowing of the last trumpet, which you know by now is the 7th trumpet:
Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,
“We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” (Rev 11:15-18)
At the sounding of the 7th trumpet, the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of God and Christ. God takes His mighty power and begins to reign. The nations were enraged against Him but His physical presence (in the form of Jesus) overcame them (Zech 14). At the 7th trumpet, the dead are judged and the saints are rewarded and those who destroy the earth (Antichrist and his armies) are themselves destroyed.
This is the 7th trumpet rapture! It is not the well-known pre-trib. or post-trib. or pre-wrath rapture. This is the last trumpet rapture. It is here in Rev 11. It is not spelled out directly as a rapture but piecing together all the truth of the Scriptures one can see the red thread.
At the 7th trumpet, the saints of all-time will rise to meet Jesus in the air as He makes His long-awaited return to earth. Jesus was told by His Father to “sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” (Ps 110) Rev. 11 is the moment that Jesus stands up and prepares to battle His enemies. Please notice that He only comes down once to deal with His enemies. There is no secret rapture or two Second Comings.
The saints and angels ride side by side, clothed in white, as part of the army of the Lord, warriors of the King of Kings. (Rev 19) The sword coming out of the mouth of Jesus destroys all those who were destroying the earth. The beast and the false prophet are thrown alive into the lake of fire and Jesus begins His physical reign on earth!
He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” Mat 13:33
How one little verse can be so completely misunderstood.
> First off, we have to look at our preconceived ideas.
Who in his or her right mind would ever say that the Gospel won’t fulfill its course and cover the earth “as the waters cover the sea” (Isa 11:9)? (Don’t mention anyone that this is a Millennial promise!) This is what the parable is saying, obviously, that the “whole loaf”, praise God, will be leavened by the Holy Spirit. Surely the Holy Spirit in us will accomplish all that is promised – that all nations will be discipled and then the end will come. (Mtt 28) How can this parable of leaven suggest anything else?
> Next, we judge a verse too quickly.
How can the “kingdom of heaven” point to a persuasive, evil influence; its impossible. Next question… The trouble is that we make this decision even though we know that (in our minds) ALL other references to this word leaven clearly say that it is evil and we must be warned about!
And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Mtt 16:6)
In the Bible, leaven is never used in a good sense. In a crass way, I say it is the equivalent of saying “dog poop”. (ie. “He put dog poop in my eye and I got sick.”) There is not a single place in the Scriptures where it typifies something good. Even when Jesus uses the word “leaven” it is always in a bad sense (Mtt. 16:11-12 “false teaching”; Mk. 8:15 “idealizing the Kingdom as domineering power and authority”; Luke 12:1 “hypocrisy”).
> Furthermore, we have grown up in the time when “interpretation” is an individual concept, left open to the eye of the beholder.
If I want “leaven” to be good, I can make it so! If I want “the birds of the air nesting in the branches in the tree” (Mtt 13:32) to be an expression of the Gospel’s global influence, I can (even though I just read in an earlier parable, same chapter, same setting, that the birds are evil. Mtt 13:19)
We have grown up in this atmosphere that each man’s belief is his right and who am I to question his/her interpretation!
In other words: “As with all spiritualizing, the interpreter becomes the authority since the symbols mean whatever he wishes them to mean.” (Dr. Peter Steveson)
Most of you know this already but I need to say it again and fresh:
“If we want to change the symbolic meaning of leaven and take it in a good sense in the parable of the leaven, we must have some very solid arguments.” (I-Bing Cheng, M.D.)
Leaven was, and is, an unseen, pervasive, evil influence. That’s why Scripture says that the woman “hid” the leaven into the flour. The actual Greek word for hid is “enkrüptō” from whence we get our English word “encrypt”. Do you really think that Jesus would want us “hiding” or secretly “encoding” the truth of the Gospel like an American solider in WW2 infiltrating the enemy lines wearing a German officer’s suit? We might get some intelligence but we would not be acting like our forefathers of the faith, of whom the world was not worthy! (Heb 11)
At the end of the age, at the harvest, Jesus will send out His angels to gather out of the kingdom tares and chaff and foolish virgins. They will co-exist in the kingdom of heaven because God is not a respecter of persons and will allow BOTH to grow together. The truth will be confronted on all sides. An enemy will come in the night and sow tares, an imitation crop. Leaven of hypocrisy and false teaching will so permeate the whole loaf that truth will be questioned on all sides.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isa 5:20)
This is what the Bible declares and this is how one can and should read the prophetic parables of Mtt 13.
P.S.I have been told that leaven ONLY works when the dough is lukewarm!
And the foundations of the mountains were trembling
And were shaken, because He was angry.
Smoke went up out of His nostrils,
And fire from His mouth devoured;
Coals were kindled by it.” (Ps 18:7-8)
One of the most troubling aspects of our Bible reading is to interpret such passages. Did smoke really come out of God’s nostrils and did He really breath fire out of His mouth to destroy David’s enemies?
I don’t think so…
I think most of us agree that something else is going on here, when we give such attributes as fire and smoke to God. It seems more in line with understanding God’s heart to say, with Bible expositor John Gill, that “the ‘smoke of His nostrils’ seems to intend the indignation of God against the enemies of David, of Christ, and of His people, and the punishment [that] will be inflicted upon them”. (Gill)
We can all agree that some type of symbolism is going on here: “fire and smoke” to represent God’s wrath, anger and indignation. This is just not guessing but is followed up by cross-checking our Bible!
Behold, the name of the LORD comes from a remote place; Burning is His anger and dense is His smoke; His lips are filled with indignation, and His tongue is like a consuming fire. (Isa 30:27)
Now when it comes to less obvious passages, here is where we find great difficulty. The misapplication of the Scriptures has been the undoing of the church for centuries. We have perverted the texts to write ourselves into an exalted position. We have erringly called literal “Babylon”- Rome; we have seen in “the Antichrist” (I John 2) the Pope, Nero, Napoleon, Hitler, you name it; and, most troubling, we have taken the future promises for Israel in the Millennium for ourselves.
For example, we, the Church, are “the desert that shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (Isa 35) instead of Israel during the Millennium. Jesus’ Bride is the Church. God’s wife is Israel. His promises to her will never be forgotten and will be fulfilled! We should not place the church in matters spoken to Israel. Israel is God’s firstborn son and will always remain so! (Ex 4:22)
Here is the crux of the matter:
“As with all spiritualizing, the interpreter becomes the authority since the symbols mean whatever he wishes them to mean.” (Dr. Peter Steveson)
Let us not “spiritualize away” all the great truths and promises in the Old Testament of Israel and Jerusalem.
One day Jerusalem will rises from her ashes and be “the city of the great King”! (Ps. 48)
One day “all the nations will stream to her” for instruction. (Isa 2)
One day Jerusalem will be lifted up physically to be established as the chief of the mountains. (Isa 2, Zech 14:10)
One day a road will join Egypt and Assyria to make travel easier to Jerusalem for those who trust the Lord. (Isa 19:23)
One day the earth will be “filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2)
There is no warrant for spiritualizing the place of Israel and Jerusalem with the church. Isaiah is full of future glimpses of their coming beauty and sovereignty. I pity the poor fool who tries to read this book without seeing the coming reign ON THIS EARTH of the great King, Jesus.
Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion in the far north, The city of the great King. (Ps 48:2)
Yours for the coming King,
Since much of the Old Testament is drenched in prophecy and Jesus, Paul and John often spoke of the future, it would be a great idea to have a firm foundation when it comes to reading (or for that matter FINDING!) prophecy in your Bible.
I offer you three keys to reading the Bible as prophecy.
1. Prophecy declares the omniscience of God.
When God “brags” about Himself one of the facts He touts is that He knows the future:
I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’ (Isa. 46: 9-10)
When God “taunts” false gods He asks them to prove their greatness by predicting the future.
Declare the things that are going to come afterward, That we may know that you are gods; Indeed, do good or evil, that we may anxiously look about us and fear together. Behold, you are of no account, And your work amounts to nothing; (Isa 41)
Our All-Knowing Father knows the future as well as He knows the past. He who knows “the very hairs of your head” (and numbers them!) will bring this present age to an end; not global warming, nuclear war or population overgrowth.
Rest assured that only one Being in the universe knows the future, and what is more, He has written it down in a book for us to know it as well! Let’s be confident in approaching the books of Zechariah, Revelation, Joel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea… Our Father wrote them down for us! Don’t let Satan rob you of what is rightfully yours.
2. Old Testament writers divided the history of this planet into two parts: “this age” and “the age to come”.
This age consists of life as we know it from Adam (after the Fall) to the present moment, which has now gone on for over 6000 years. “This age” will be overtaken one day by “the age to come” when the “Messiah of Israel shall take to Himself His great power and reign (Dan. 7:14; Rev. 11:15) and Jerusalem, the city of the great King, will be made the centre of the Earth for government, instruction, and blessing.” (B.W. Newton, Thoughts on the Whole Prophecy of Isaiah)
For a practical example of these two ages I want to turn your eyes to Isaiah 2. Right away you should be clued in that the writer, at the beginning, is NOT writing about “this present age” but about Judah and Jerusalem “in the last days”.
The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
Now it will come about that in the last days
The mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war. (Isa 2:1-4)
Folks, in case you haven’t heard it yet, THIS is the Millennium! Sadly, many evangelicals don’t see it or are even the least bit aware that the prophet slipped out of “this age” (Isa 1:1-23) and is now writing about “the age to come” (Isa 2: 1-4).
But think for a moment: Can you really say that in this age “all nations will stream” to the house of the Lord?
Or that the people will “hammer their swords into plowshares” and “never again learn war”? Is that what you are expecting? Then you will be waiting a long time…
In Isaiah 2:1-4, we are NOT seeing the present age or a “symbolic” place of the church but we are seeing “the age to come”, what has become to be known as “the 1000 year reign of Christ” (Rev 20), when Jesus Himself is sitting on HIS throne in Jerusalem (no longer sitting at the right hand of His father) ruling the nations with a rod of iron. (Ps. 2, Mtt 19, Lk 1)
“He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Rev 3:21)
3. Old Testament prophets (and to some extent NT writers) weave in and out of “the present age” and “the age to come” without a word of warning.
Here in Isaiah 2 we find a great example of this.
At the beginning of the vision (vs. 1-4),before we read of the terrible destruction of the earth when God comes to “make the earth tremble”,we find that Isaiah records the blessing of the Millennium (what the NASB subtitled God’s Universal Reign). Isaiah later follows that by a “flashback” to the present age (vs. 6-9) and the horrible national sins of Judah which God must judge by raising up an adversary, King Nebuchadnezzar, who will one day bring about the complete ruin of Jerusalem.
To continue the vision (for it doesn’t end until the end of Ch. 5) God allows Isaiah to record the awful events of the Second Advent (vs. 10-22) and the conditions on earth when Christ comes again, the second time, to have HIS Day of Reckoning!
For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning,
Against everyone who is proud and lofty,
And against everyone who is lifted up,
That he may be abased…
Men will go into caves of the rocks,
And into holes of the ground,
Before the terror of the LORD,
And the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble. (Isa 2: 12,19)
Only the intelligent, faithful student of the Word, led by the Holy Spirit, can make his or her way through Bible prophecy. We CANNOT do it on our own or with various commentaries. In case you haven’t noticed, commentaries often contradict each other. I don’t say they aren’t helpful but allow God to lead you to the right one and then stick with that!
When you see the words “in that day” get out your highlighter because more than likely you have moved on from this present age and now you are being led into the wonderful and exciting “age to come”. Isaiah (40 times) and Zechariah (19) are especially full of this terminology. Our adversary, the devil, well knows this and does all he can to hide the Millennium or pervert the interpretation of God’s Holy Word to mean “just about anything to anybody”!
“Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’” (Mark 13:35-37)
Yours for the Name!
The missionaries were not markedly foreign, nor were they attached to, or supported by, a foreign organization.
The converts, therefore, never thought in terms of foreign money or foreign organizations.
The Gospel and the Church were, from the very beginning, God’s gifts directly to them, in no sense foreign or related to foreigners or foreign lands, so it was only natural to consider that the propagation of the Gospel in their land would be carried on by local men dependent directly upon God using local resources.
A year or two after a church is founded we find that from among the local preachers and teachers some are called of the Lord as missionaries, and these join themselves to the missionary company with no fear of going forth looking to God for the supply of their needs.
So it was not necessary to bring more missionaries from other lands. Nor was it necessary to bring funds from other lands.
On the contrary, every newly evangelized field was soon sending the light on to the regions beyond.
Alexander Hays (1947)