THE BEGINNING AND THE END
Isaiah 46:9, Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure.'
1). Last week we had covered the Great Tribulation --- the opening of the 2nd through the 5th seal, and the pouring out of the five trumpet judgments and the five bowl judgments. This brought about the fall of Gentile world power and the complete downfall of world trade and commerce. At the same time, the Jews will have been completely shattered by the Antichrist and the Gentile nations. We will remember that God placed the Jews into the hands of the Gentiles because of their disobedience: ...because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword (Ezekiel 39:23).
2). Immediately following widespread death at the end of the
Tribulation, the fifth seal opens revealing souls under
the altar. This altar is a description of the brazen altar in
the Temple of God; the place where the sacrifice occurred and the
blood of the sacrifice poured beneath the altar. These souls under
the altar are described as those who had been slain for the Word
of God and for the testimony that they held (Revelation
6:9c). Taking into consideration that this scene
resulted from that which previously transpired with the first four
seals, these souls would have to come out of the Great Tribulation.
a). We see further commentary on this in Revelation chapter seven, describing these souls as “a great multitude that no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands...these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-14)
b).These souls were “martyrs”; those saved from the ministry of the 144,000 Jewish evangels who had been slain for their faith during the Great Tribulation.
c). So immediately following the Tribulation, after all of these things have come to pass --- the fall of Gentile world power, the Jewish people shattered, the scene of the martyrs, after much death, famine and pestilence, and at the time when the Jewish people cry out to the Lord unto repentance --- then Israel’s cries will be heard, and He will answer them.
Zechariah 13:9c, They will call on My name, and I will answer them.
Daniel 12:7c,“...it shall be for a time, times, and half a time [three and one-half years]; and when the power of the holy people [Israel] has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.”
d). This will mark in proximity to the coming of the Son of Man, immediately following His wedding festivities in heaven with His bride, revealed in Revelation 19:7-11.
3). Christ’s return to the earth is revealed in the opening of the sixth seal:
Revelation 6:12, I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15And the kings of the earth, the great men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
a). We see a parallel to Revelation 6:12 in Matthew 24:26 concerning the coming of the Son of Man ---
26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
b). Immediately after the Tribulation, these Scriptures (Revelation 6:12 and Matthew 24:26) indicate that the signs of Christ’s coming seem to be marked by monumental cosmic disturbances, such as great earthquakes, the sun being darkened and the moon dark as blood. But actually, these signs are metaphors used to depict the outpouring of God’s wrath with the downfall of the kingdom of the Antichrist and then bringing all of this to its completion when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. The prophets from the Old Testament made this same distinct indication that the coming of the Lord will be signified by the deterioration of conditions on earth which will reach its peak and will include the complete collapse of the governments of the earth (rf, Joel 2:30-32). The darkness of the sun, moon and fallen stars signifies the complete breakdown of Gentile world power, and that of the kingdom of the Antichrist; and that which follows is its complete destruction by the Lord Jesus Christ and His army of angels.
The Lord gives voice before His army, For His camp is very great; For strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it? (Joel 2:10-11)
c). The manner of Christ’s return is revealed to be just the opposite of that which will be proclaimed by false Christ’s and false prophets at the time. Christ is not returning to a secret place, but He is returning in an open, visible manner for all to see---
Matthew 24:27, For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be... 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Revelation 1:7, Behold, His is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
d). When the sixth seal is opened, John witnesses the heavens being opened to allow Christ, accompanied by a multitude of angels, to return to the earth ----
Revelation 19:11, Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 and He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
4). At the time of Christ’s return, Israel, as a repentant and converted nation, will be regathered from a worldwide dispersion and judged in the wilderness at Sinai. A new covenant will be made with the nation at this time [replacing the old covenant that was made with Israel at Sinai following their Exodus from Egypt], and the Jewish people will then be restored to their land under this new covenant, now cleansed and possessing a new heart and a new spirit in them ---
Ezekiel 20:33, “As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. 34 I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. 36 Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,” says the Lord God. 37 “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant...40 For on My holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel, says the Lord God, there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me; there I will accept them, and there I will require your offerings and the firstfruits of your sacrifices, together with all your holy things.” (rf, Ezekiel 39:25-29)
Ezekiel 18:30, “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 for I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”
Ezekiel 11:17, Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” 18 And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. 19 Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads.” Says the Lord God. (rf, Ezekiel 36:24-28)
5). Christ will deal with the Jewish people relative to that seen in the first six Jewish feasts in Leviticus 23:4-44, feasts outlining in chronological order a series of events between Christ’s return and the ushering in of the Millennial Kingdom. The last and seventh feast will take place during the Millennium. The six feasts will be fulfilled during a 75 day period, noted in Daniel 12:11-13, and will constitute what could be called, “The Prophetic Calendar of Israel” ---
I). The Feast of Passover – This first feast is the national conversion of Israel when they look upon the One whom they pierced. The Lamb has died, the blood has been shed (Exodus 12:6), but Israel has yet to apply the blood (Exodus 12:7). But at the time of Christ’s return, Israel will apply the blood (i.e., place belief in the Lord) and complete the Passover Feast. Note in the type that the Passover occurred while Israel was in Egypt (a type of the world). In the antitype, Israel will have her national Passover while the nation is scattered throughout the Gentile world. This is the time when “they [the Jewish people] will look upon” their Messiah, and a nation will be “born at once” (Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah 66:8).
II). The Feast of Unleavened Bread -- Israel acknowledges her sin and removes sin from the house (house of Israel). Israel is guilty of the sin of disobedience over centuries of time, with this disobedience seen coming to an apex in Israel’s harlotry out among the nations. Then the Jewish people climaxed their sins by crucifying their Messiah when He appeared to the nation. And, because of this climactic act, Israel is presently unclean by and through contact with the dead body of God’s Son, and will remain unclean for two days (2,000 years). After two days, on the third day (on the third 1,000-year period [after the Tribulation, which will end the two days]), Israel is going to acknowledge her sins in the presence of the very One whom she crucified (cf. Genesis 44:16). Israel will then put sin out of the house (out of the house of Israel).
III. The Feast of Firstfruits -- This feast has to do with resurrection. Christ was raised from the dead on this day, and Old Testament saints will be raised from the dead at this time, fulfilling this feast. The firstfruits of the resurrection of Old Testament saints occurred after Christ was raised (Matthew 27:52, 53). And now the main harvest follows.
IV. The Feast of Pentecost -- Following the resurrection of Old Testament saints, the Holy Spirit will be poured out on the nation of Israel following national repentance and national baptism. This is when Joel’s Prophecy (Joel 2:27-32) will be fulfilled and that which began to be fulfilled in the day of Pentecost in 33 A.D. in Acts 2:1.
V. The Feast of Trumpets -- This feast has to do with the regathering of Israel from the four corners of the earth to their land.
VI. The Feast of Atonement -- This feast has to do with a cleansing from sin for a people who will have already availed themselves of the blood of the Passover Lamb. Atonement is to be provided for Israel’s sin of crucifying her Messiah (the same blood shed at Calvary, now on the mercy seat). Their sins are forgiven and they will receive a new heart and a new spirit. And, as well, a new covenant will be made with them.
VII. The Feast of Tabernacles –This is the last of the feasts and has to do with offerings made to the Lord and a time of rest at the conclusion of the previous feasts of the Lord. This points forward to millennial offerings (Ezekiel 45:15ff; 46:2ff) and a time of rest in the coming age after the conclusion of events surrounding the first six feasts of the Lord. This feast lasted for seven days — a complete period of time — pointing forward to the complete duration of the Millennium.
a). Both Old Testament typology and the order seen in these seven Jewish feasts place the resurrection of Old Testament saints at a time before Israel’s restoration to the land; and the dead [resurrected] return with the living. In this respect, “the whole house of Israel,” as seen in Ezekiel 37-39 (the dry bones), could only be understood as “complete” when both are present, both the living and the resurrected dead. This completes the healing and restoration of “the whole house of Israel,” both the people and their land.
Hebrews 11:22, By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.
b). In the Old Testament, the Israelites, after keeping the Passover, were delivered from Egypt under Moses, and attention is directed to the bones of Joseph immediately before the Exodus from Egypt. “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him” at this time (because of Joseph’s command to his people before his death), and his bones were to be transported out of Egypt with the living (Genesis 50:24-26; Exodus 13:19).
c). This foreshadows that future day following Christ’s return when attention will be directed to the bones of Old Testament saints-- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel and others -- immediately before the deliverance of Israel from a worldwide dispersion. Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob, who died in the faith during Old Testament times will be raised from the dead and delivered with the living (Ezekiel 37:1-14, 24; Daniel 12:1, 2; John 11:6,7, 25, 43, 44).
d). This foreshadows that future day when the One who is greater than Moses returns and, following the national conversion of the Jewish nation (when they keep the Passover) and the subsequent resurrection of Old Testament saints, delivers the Israelites from a worldwide dispersion. Those having died outside the land, in places such as Babylon and throughout, will be raised from the dead and will return with the living. As surely as the dead accompanied the living in the type (Joseph’s bones), the dead (resurrected) will accompany the living in the antitype. This event is also evident in other Old Testament passages such as Isaiah 26:8-19 and Daniel 12:1, 2.
5). Now concerning the resurrected body of Lazarus, which forms an example of the future resurrection of Israel, we will realize that it was raised the in same soulical body that had died. Lazarus was raised in a body of flesh, blood, and bones. This was not the type of body that Christ possessed following His resurrection; nor is it the type of body that Christians will possess following their rapture and resurrection. Christ, following His resurrection, possessed a spiritual body of flesh and bones — the same body that had been placed in the tomb — but the Spirit rather than the blood was now the life-giving, animating principle of the body. This is the same type of body that Christians will one day possess.
a). The body that Jesus possessed following His resurrection had capabilities that a soulical body does not have. This is the same body that Jesus possesses today — a body capable of transcending natural laws as we know them. Jesus, in His resurrection body, moved through solid objects, starting with His grave clothes (cf. Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:12; John 20:19). In this same body Jesus traveled in a manner (at the speed of thought, that which He willed) and to places (into the heavens) that a soulical body cannot travel or go (Acts 1:9; 1 Peter 3:19).
b). The resurrection of Christians before the Tribulation will be in spiritual bodies like the body of Christ. Christians alone possess the promise, “when He is revealed, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:49). Christians will be raised from the dead — leaving their grave clothes behind, with their graves undisturbed — and be removed from the earth into the heavens. They will be raised in “celestial [‘heavenly’] bodies” (1 Corinthians 15:40a), for their promises and blessings are heavenly. [Note that heavenly positions will also be filled by the twelve apostles, seen in Matthew 19:28; and some Old Testament saints as well, those who qualified to rule from the heavens, seen in Hebrews 11:8-16]
c). The resurrection of Israelites following the Tribulation though will be in soulical bodies like the body of Lazarus. Old Testament saints will be raised from the dead — evidently in grave clothes, with their graves opened — and will be placed in the land of Israel here on earth. They will be raised in “terrestrial [‘earthly’] bodies” (Ezekiel 37:1; 1 Corinthians 15:40b), for their promises and blessings are earthly.
6). So once Christ has dealt with Israel, then Satan’s son, Antichrist, will lead the armies of the earth against Christ and the restored nation of Israel. Gentile powers will, as in the past, stand in the way of the Israelites’ departure from that which is typified by “Egypt” (the world) and entering into and dwelling safely, at rest, in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, realizing the rights of the firstborn in that land. So the pouring of the 6th judgment and the 6th bowl takes place at this time ---
a). When the Sixth Trumpet sounded, a voice is heard from the throne of God saying, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million...and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed- by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. (Revelation 9:14-16, 17, 18)
b. The angel poured out the Sixth Bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon [Satan], out of the mouth of the beast [Antichrist], and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon [the Mount of Megiddo]. (Revelation 16:12b-16)
c). The angel sounding the sixth trumpet is commanded to loose four angels that were “bound” at the great river Euphrates. The number “four” of these four angels has to do with the earth, showing the length of their mission, referring to the four corners of the earth. These angels are the same angels as that of the “three demonic spirits” seen when the sixth bowl is poured out. The number “three” in Scripture is the number of divine perfection. In this particular case, the number has to do with a counterfeit divine perfection. Satan, who seeks to imitate God, creates his own unholy trinity: the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. This is why “three unclean spirits” is used. And just as the actual number of God’s angels is much greater than twenty-four elders, so also the actual number of these three fallen angels or demonic spirits coming out of the unholy trinity is much greater. The fact that these fallen angels were “bound” indicates they could be the angels referred to in Genesis 6:1; 2 Peter 2:4 that fell during Jared’s day before the Flood and were sent to Tartaros bound in chains.
d). The purpose of drying up the Euphrates River where the demonic spirits were bound was so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared (Revelation 16:12c). Although the Euphrates River is the largest river in the Middle East, it is apparent that this river is being used as a metaphor here. Armies of today would not be blocked by a river or a drying up of a river, as their means of travel and warfare are highly sophisticated. Rather, this metaphor implies that these fallen angels were sent to remove any hindrance that would prevent the Gentile armies worldwide from moving into the Middle East. The Gentile armies are presented as horsemen wearing breastplates of fire, brimstone and smoke; and the horses they ride having heads as lions, with fire, smoke and brimstone as well. Numerous metaphors are being used. The description of the Gentile armies is a reference to the modern day methods of war, of weapons, and of travel — that which will result in the most horrific, bloodshed war ever to take place since the history of man.
e). The armies being led by the beast (Antichrist) and Satan will form a huge army numbering 200 million soldiers from all over the world. They will be led into Jerusalem, specifically to a particular place referred to as “Armageddon,” meaning “Mount of Megiddo.” The battle of Armageddon will be Satan’s final attempt to destroy the Christ and His people. The sixth trumpet and the sixth bowl then is a picture of the armies of the world under the Antichrist, already in complete collapse, being gathered to the Middle East, to the land of Israel. And they are being gathered by demonic spirits, in order to attempt to destroy the converted Jews and their King, the Lord Jesus Christ. God will allow Satan to effect the gathering of the armies of the earth in order that Christ, beginning His march into battle from the Mount of Olives, will go forth and destroy these armies and deliver His people ((rf, Joel 3:1-17).
f). The Mount of Megiddo in Revelation 16:16 encompasses the entire surrounding area, the valley of Megiddo, located some fifty miles north of Jerusalem, in order to house such a vast worldwide army. It is no wonder that it is referenced as the “great day of God Almighty.” The bloodshed from this battle will run up to 180 miles in length. And it is from Jerusalem that the Lord Jesus Christ will go forth as the Lion of the tribe of Judah to tread the winepress. The treading of the winepress is seen in Revelation 14:17,
Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.”19 So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth [Gentile nations], and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God [the battle of God Almighty]. 20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city [outside the city of Jerusalem in the Valley of Megiddo; Battle of Armageddon], and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs [180 miles]. (rf, Joel 3:1-13)
g). And this treading of the winepress on earth allows “the great supper of God” to occur ---
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud
voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven,
“Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that
you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of
mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and
the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”
John 2:1, On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding...11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.2. Those among the saved Gentiles who come out of the Tribulation alive, both faithful and unfaithful, will appear before Christ to be judged according to their works. Following determinations, the faithful and unfaithful at this time will be separated, as seen in the judgment of the sheep and the goats ---
Matthew 25:31, When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?....40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink....44 Then they will also answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty... 45 Then He will answer them saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal [age-lasting] life.”
a). In Matthew 25:31-46, Christ reveals the “judgment of the nations” (saved, living Gentiles) following His return. Christ judges and separates them into two groups —the sheep and the goats. Since He will be judging both of them at the same time, it is obvious that both belong to the same “class,” saved individuals who will be delivered out of the Great Tribulation. The “sheep” are allowed to “inherit the kingdom” but not so with the “goats.” The goats on the left are cast into the “everlasting [Greek: aionian, age-lasting; millennial] fire” that has been prepared for the devil and his angels (vv. 41). This judgment of the “goats” has nothing to do with eternal verities, but with millennial verities — the thousand year reign of Christ. All those appearing before Christ for judgment prior to the Millennium deal only with the saved in regards to Christ’s millennial reign. It is apparent that the determinations for inheriting the kingdom for these saved Gentiles were whether they were faithful in assisting Israel during her time of persecution or not. Their works will be judged according to this.
10). The final series of events will be the binding and incarceration of Satan, judgment and two resurrections at the throne of God, and the ushering in of the Millennial Kingdom --- but we will have to cover this next time, if the Lord is willing.