Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tribulation Confusion Part 3

Tribulation Confusion (Part 3)

Biblegems #155
Question: Do the terms “the Day of the Lord” and “The Great Tribulation” refer to the same event?

As has been shown in the first two articles, the Day of the Lord and the Great Tribulation are not one and the same.  Understanding the difference helps to unravel some other scriptural puzzles.

For instance, the Bible clearly teaches that the Day of the Lord involves the outpouring of God’s wrath upon mankind. Yet the Scripture also teaches that those who are genuine followers of Jesus will not experience God’s wrath, for Jesus has already taken God’s punishment for our sin upon Himself:
         1Th. 5:9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

But once we understand that the Great Tribulation is not the result of God’s wrath it then becomes clear that the Church will suffer persecution—as it always has—during the Tribulation, but that we will be Raptured after the Tribulation, rescued from God's wrath, when the Antichrist is destroyed by Jesus’s appearing, as the first act of the Day of the Lord:
         2Th. 2:8 And then the lawless one [the Antichrist] will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

So, to sum up—
The Great Tribulation will be triggered by the refusal of Jews and Christians to worship the image of the Antichrist set up in the Temple [which has yet to be built] (Matt. 24:15-2; Dan. 9:27; 2Thess. 2:4).

The Lord’s Return in the sky in great power and glory takes place “immediately after the Tribulation,” accompanied by cosmic upheaval and the destruction of the Antichrist (Matt. 24:29-30; 2 Thess. 2:8).

The Rapture of the Church, according to Jesus, will take place “at that time” [ie., at Jesus’ Return following the Tribulation], as we are gathered from the whole earth “to meet the Lord in the air” (Matt. 24:31; 1Thess. 4:17).

The Day of the Lord will commence with Jesus’ appearing and our being gathered to Him, at which time God’s wrath will be poured out upon rebellious mankind and the earth will be purged of the effects of sin (Is. 13:9; 2Thess. 2:8).

The Church is called to suffer, yes, but not to experience God’s wrath. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians:
         Phil. 1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him

Jesus is coming back, and we who are alive at that time will be gathered to meet Him to meet Him in the air, to be changed and made like Him in the twinkling of an eye. This is our blessed hope, as Paul said to Titus (Titus 2:13). Between that day and this, wewait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath (1Th. 1:10).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tribulation Confusion Part 2

Biblegems #154
Question: Do the terms “the Day of the Lord” and “The Great Tribulation” refer to the same event?

The Great Tribulation (continued)
The Great Tribulation describes the persecution of the Church perpetrated by the Antichrist:
         Matt. 24:9 Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.

The Antichrist’s reign also represents a persecution of the Jews. He will establish a 7-year covenant with Israel for her supposed protection (Dan. 9:27) and will break the agreement after 31/2 years, presenting himself in the temple as greater than any other god:
         2Th. 2:4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

The Day of the Lord
The Scripture is very clear that the Day of the Lord is not only different from the Tribulation but that it follows the Tribulation. In fact, the apostle Paul wants to make sure no one deceives us on this matter because it greatly impacts how we view the Return of the Lord and the Rapture of the Church:
         2Thess. 2:3-4 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day [the Day of the Lord] will not come until the rebellion [apostasy — falling away; rebellion] occurs and the man of lawlessness [ie., the Antichrist] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction

There were some false teachers in the New Testament church who taught that Jesus’ Return, the Rapture, and the Day of the Lord had already taken place (2Thess. 2:1). However, as Paul says in the verses above, the Return of Christ, the Rapture of the Church and the Day of The Lord cannot take place until after the Antichrist is revealed, and after the Jews have rebelled against him because of his desecration of the temple. This also highlights the truth that none of these things can take place until after the temple has been rebuilt!

So if the Day of the Lord and the Tribulation are not the same thing, and if the Day of the Lord follows the Tribulation—what exactly is the Day of the Lord?

The Tribulation showcases the wrath of the Antichrist against those who rebel against him, whereas the Day of the Lord is God’s judgment on the Antichrist and rebellious mankind:
         Is. 13:9 See, the day of the LORD is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.

The Tribulation is sinful man’s final last stand against God, whereas the Day of the Lord is God’s cleansing of His creation from the damage done by sin:
2Pet. 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Simply put, the Great Tribulation represents the wrath of man; the Day of the Lord represents the wrath of God.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tribulation Confusion

Tribulation Confusion (Part 1)

Biblegems #153
Question: Do the terms “the Day of the Lord” and “The Great Tribulation” refer to the same event?

In all the discussion among Christians “concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him…” (2Thess 2:1), there is probably no greater point of confusion than the identification of these two terms: "The Day of the Lord" and "The Great Tribulation." This post will be the first of a three-part series. Please read all three before drawing conclusions. May God use His Word to bring glory to His name and encouragement to His people.

The “Great Tribulation” is a term used by Jesus and by the prophet Daniel in reference to the 3½ -year reign of terror of the Antichrist. Jesus said, referring to Daniel’s prophecy about the Great Tribulation (Dan: 9:27):
         Matt. 24:15-21 So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress [“great tribulation”—KJV], unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.     

Jesus gives us a time reference in these verses (see underlines). The Great Tribulation, Jesus says, will take place when the Antichrist defiles the temple in Jerusalem by setting up an image of himself there to be worshiped (2Thess. 2:4). That is the “abomination of desolation” of Daniel’s prophecy. On that point nearly all Bible teachers agree. But notice what else Jesus says regarding the timing of the Great Tribulation (see underlines):
         Matt. 24:29-31 Immediately after the distress [Tribulation—KJV] of those days “ ‘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.’ “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he 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.

Nowhere else does Scripture give such a clear timeline of events regarding the Tribulation, Jesus Return and the Rapture of the Church as Jesus gives here. Notice Jesus says that He will visibly return in the air (30) “immediately after the Tribulation” (29), when the universe itself seems on the verge of collapse (29). “At that time” a great sound, like a trumpet blast heard around the world, will announce the Lord’s Return and the Rapture of the Church (30). 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Moses—Stutterer Or Eloquent?

Biblegems #152
Question: Acts 7:22 says, "Moses was educated in all wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action."  Yet Exodus 4:10 says, "Moses said to the Lord, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."   What accounts for the difference?

What we read in Exodus is Moses’ opinion of himself in response to the Lord’s command at the burning bush to speak to the Elders of Israel (Ex. 3:15-16) and to Pharaoh (Ex. 3:10) of God’s plan to deliver the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. Moses' phrase in Hebrew is more literally, “heavy of tongue.” The phrase does not mean that Moses had a speech impediment, such as stuttering. Rather, it means that Moses saw himself as someone who was not quick in using well placed words to defend himself in a debate or to answer objections.

The ancient Egyptians placed a very high value on the ability of a person to explain himself or defend himself with eloquence. An example of this can be seen in an Egyptian story dating back to the time of the Hebrew’s enslavement in Egypt. The story has been called the “Tale Of The Eloquent Peasant.” It describes a peasant who has been cheated by an Egyptian nobleman. The peasant pleads his case before a judge and finally gets justice. Here is a little segment of the peasant’s eloquent speech about being treated unfairly:
         If Falsehood sets out, it strays; it cannot cross in a ferry, and has not altered its course.And he who sails with it cannot touch land, his boat cannot moor in its harbor.

Moses’ complaint to God is that he doesn’t possess the talent to effortlessly spout off such flowery language.

In sharp contrast to this, Stephen describes Moses as “…educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and…powerful in speech and action” (Acts 7:22). 

But as we see in the Exodus account, Moses’ speech was very direct and straightforward, his words given to him by God:
         Ex. 7:14-16 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the water. …Then say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert.’”

God confirmed His word through Moses with demonstrations of power:
         Ex. 7:20 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood.

Yes, Moses was educated. But his effectiveness in speech and action was not the eloquence of Egyptian nobility that Moses thought he needed, but in his willingness to be used as God’s spokesman. What a great lesson for all of us—God may use our education and training, but He doesn’t need it to accomplish His purposes. All He wants and needs are people who will humble themselves to be used as His vessels.
         1Pet. 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.