End Times


Last Judgment Master Calendar
Parsimony Law of Prophetic Perspective
The Rapture The Nations
Sinners in the Hand of God Back to the Drawing Board
Enthronement Date of Revelation
All or Nothing Lost
Every Eye Day of Discernment
Last Trump Relief
So What? Equal Time

Last Judgment

It is strange but true that the end times event Mohammed borrowed from his Christian informants is one which many Christians nowadays insist will never happen. This is the famed final judgment of song and painting. The word 'justify' means 'to aquit,' in Proverbs 17:15: "He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD." The seventy translators spell this out as, "He that pronounces the unjust just, and the just unjust, is unclean and abominable with God." (Brenton Septuagint, Proverbs 17:15). Despite the proverb's scorn, this is the Christian's great hope. We expect to be acquitted, or justified, i.e. declared righteous, vindicated, by pleading the shed blood of Jesus Christ. . .at an event which will never happen, before a law-court which will never convene, to hear some people tell it. Whenever you mention it, they hasten to correct you.

What struck the Medieval imagination about this event was its universality: all of humanity, great and small, quick and dead, heathen and Christian, prince and subject, sinner and saint, would stand together before God's judgment seat. Nowhere on earth at that time was justice available to all; as the legal scholar Montesquieu relates, there was simply no legal recourse for a serf wronged by his lord: "The villain could not bring a challenge of false judgment against the court of his lord. . .Hence Defontaines says, 'between the lord and his villain there is no other judge but God.'" (Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, Kindle location 8134). What was not obtainable in this life, they awaited in the world to come. To a world in which justice was hard to come by, the notion that all accounts would ultimately be settled, all secrets laid bare, both thrilled and terrified:


Dies Irae

  • "On that great, that awful day,
    This vain world shall pass away.
    Thus the sibyl sang of old,
    Thus hath Holy David told.
    There shall be a deadly fear
    When the Avenger shall appear,
    And unveiled before his eye
    All the works of man shall lie.
    Hark! to the great trumpet's tones
    Pealing o'er the place of bones:
    Hark! it waketh from their bed
    All the nations of the dead, --
    In a countless throng to meet,
    At the eternal judgment seat.
    Nature sickens with dismay,
    Death may not retain his prey;
    And before the Maker stand
    All the creatures of his hand.
    The great book shall be unfurled,
    Whereby God shall judge the world:
    What was distant shall be near,
    What was hidden shall be clear.
    To what shelter shall I fly?
    To what guardian shall I cry7
    Oh, in that destroying hour,
    Source of goodness, Source of power,
    Show thou, of thine own free grace,
    Help unto a helpless race.
    Though I plead not at thy throne
    Aught that I for thee have done,
    Do not thou unmindful be,
    Of what thou hast borne for me:
    Of the wandering, of the scorn,
    Of the scourge, and of the thorn.
    Jesus, hast thou borne the pain,
    And hath all been borne in vain?
    Shall thy vengeance smite the head
    For whose ransom thou hast bled?
    Thou, whose dying blessing gave
    Glory to a guilty slave:
    Thou, who from the crew unclean
    Didst release the Magdalene:
    Shall not mercy vast and free,
    Evermore be found in thee?
    Father, turn on me thine eyes,
    See my blushes, hear my cries;
    Faint though be the cries I make,
    Save me, for thy mercy's sake,
    From the worm, and from the fire,
    From the torments of thine ire.
    Fold me with the sheep that stand
    Pure and safe at thy right hand.
    Hear thy guilty child implore thee,
    Rolling in the dust before thee.
    Oh the horrors of that day!
    When this frame of sinful clay,
    Starting from its burial place,
    Must behold thee face to face.
    Hear and pity, hear and aid,
    Spare the creatures thou hast made.
    Mercy, mercy, save, forgive,
    Oh, who shall took on thee and live?"


  • Thomas Macaulay's translation of Thomas of Celano's Latin hymn:
    "Dies irae, dies illa
    Solvet saeclum in favilla,
    Teste David cum Sibilla, etc."


Stephan Lochner, Last Judgment

 Michael Wigglesworth 
The Day of Doom


At this the dispensationalists call a halt. 'Where,' they demand, 'is this SINGULAR Day of Judgment to be found in the Bible? We count no fewer than seven future judgments (see for example Chapter XXIV, I. Seven Future Judgments, p. 276, The Millenial Kingdom, John E. Walvoord), nor will any of them be this awful scene of eternal separation the artists depict, but rather the processing of homogeneous groups of people.'

Where in the Bible is there a reference to a singular eschatalogical judgment, versus multiple judgments? Everywhere there is a reference to an end-times judgment. The reference is always singular, there is no passage which enumerates multiple judgments:

"Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30-31).
"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom...Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:1-8).
"Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." (John 5:28).
"Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!" (Matthew 10:15)
"But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you...But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you." (Matthew 11:22-24).

"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment." (Matthew 12:36).
"Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17).
"But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:7).
"And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:40).
"...in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel." (Romans 2:16).

"Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?" (Romans 3:6).

"Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’" (Matthew 7:22).

See how this singular event is transformed into plurality: "2 Timothy 4:1. In support of his solemn charge to Timothy to live for God, Paul called attention to the fact that Timothy would be judged by Jesus Christ at the time of His appearing. Though Paul speaks of the judgment of living and dead as if they occur at the same time, Scriptures make clear that the dead will not be judged until the end of the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:11–15)." (Walvoord, John F. (2011-09-01). Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (p. 483). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.) What response can one make to this kind of Bible reading: freely admitting that Paul describes these events "as if they occur at the same time," the author explains that, nevertheless, they don't. How can the Holy Spirit get the point across if not by describing things "as if" they occur as they do occur?

It is an oddity of the dispensational system that, every time the Bible refers to this singular event, it is deemed to be referring to a different event, and thus judgments multiply. In premillenial exegesis, which bizarrely enough describes itself as 'literal,' few of these 'days' can be read as actual days; if so, they don't involve judgment of "the world" but of some discrete sub-population, and even so a remainder are left over which must be taken as a vague bundling of very different events separated by intervals of up to one thousand years. In Romans 2:5 Paul mentions a day, "But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. . ." (Romans 2:5). Straightforward enough? Day? What day?: “In speaking of 'the day of God’s wrath' (v. 5), Paul was not referring to any specific day though, as Scripture unfolds the series of judgments that will characterize the judgment of all men, the final judgment will come at the end of the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:11–15).” (Walvoord, John F. (2011-09-01). Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (p. 432). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.) However one might describe the strategy of Bible interpretation in which 'a day' or 'the day' must become many days, or no day, 'literal' isn't the word. A 'day' can indeed be a prolonged period of time, but the fact that the same day has to be both long and short is definitely a problem:

“The day of Christ in Scripture needs to be distinguished from the more common expression 'the day of the Lord.' . .In 1 Corinthians 5:5, there is reference in the context to the rapture of the church, though the expression that is used is the more common expression “the day of the Lord.” . . .Though the varied wording does not in itself specify what day is in view, the context of these six references indicates a reference to the rapture rather than to the day of the Lord, which will begin at the rapture of the church and extend through the tribulation and through the millennial kingdom, climaxing at the end of the millennium.”
(Walvoord, John F. (2011-09-01). Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (p. 460). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.)

While it is true that 'day' in the Bible need not refer to a period of twenty-four hours, the fact that the 'days' of scripture, which cannot be distinguished by any marker and seem in fact to the be very same event, must fold in and out like an accordion, from twenty-four hours to more than a thousand years, is proof of the failure of this interpretive approach.

The Bible warns of judgment to come, but they have convinced themselves it isn't so: "Scripture is clear in both the Old and New Testaments that every individual will stand before God’s judgment, not necessarily at the same time or for the same reason." (Walvoord, John F. (2011-09-01). Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (p. 443). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.). If 'the day' isn't the same time, then what is? And if assignment for eternity to heaven or hell isn't the same reason, then what is? Those in Christ will, of course, plead the shed blood of their Lord rather than their own merits; but these folks do not expect ever to have to enter a plea, as there will be no grand assize where their future stands at jeopardy. Modern-day evangelical Christians have convinced themselves they will never experience the judgment because they simply won't be there; only the wicked unbelieving will stand before the great white throne. The sole 'judgment' experience they will ever encounter will be for the parcelling out of rewards:

"Speaking of this day in the future, the Bible also says, 'For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad' (2. Cor. 5:10 NIV). This is not to be confused with the great white throne of judgment (Rev. 20), at which anyone whose name isn't written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire. This great white throne of judgment is only for the nonbeliever. We find more about the judgment seat of Christ (the Bema Seat judgment), exclusively for believers, in 1 Corinthians. . ."  (Greg Laurie, Let God Change Your Life, pp 148-149).

Thus we learn of a "judgment" where the verdict is always the same. They invented the rubber stamp for an occasion like that.

Back to the Bible: the Old Testament describes the same singular event as does the New:

“I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth, says the LORD. I will sweep away humans and animals; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. I will make the wicked stumble. I will cut off humanity from the face of the earth, says the LORD. I will stretch out my hand against Judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem...That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’S wrath; in the fire of his passion the whole earth shall be consumed; for a full, a terrible end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth. (Zephaniah 1:2-18 NRSV).
"Let the nations rouse themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the neighboring nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. (Joel 3:12-15 NRSV).

This valley, says Thomas Aquinas, is "in all probability" the location of the final judgment:

P(4)-Q(88)-A(4) — On the contrary, It is written (Joel 3:2): “I will gather together all nations and will bring them down into the
valley of Josaphat, and I will plead with them there.”
P(4)-Q(88)-A(4) — Further, it is written (Acts 1:11): “(This Jesus) . . . shall so come as you have seen Him going into heaven.” Now He ascended into heaven from Mount Olivet which overlooks the valley of Josaphat. Therefore He will come to judge in the neighborhood of that place.
P(4)-Q(88)-A(4) — I answer that, We cannot know with any great certainty the manner in which this judgment will take place, nor how men will gather together to the place of judgment; but it may be gathered from Scripture that in all probability He will descend in the neighborhood of Mount Olivet, even as He ascended from there, so as to show that He who descends is the same as He who ascended." (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Supplement, Question 88).

God the Son is the judge:

“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God will shine forth.
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent;
A fire shall devour before Him,
And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him.
He shall call to the heavens from above,
And to the earth, that He may judge His people:
'Gather My saints together to Me,
Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.'
Let the heavens declare His righteousness,
For God Himself is Judge.” (Psalm 50:2-6).

While some verses address specific populations, there is ample warning of a greater judgment, which none shall escape:

"For behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword the Lord will judge all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many." (Isaiah 66:15-16).

“Therefore prophesy against them all these words, and say to them: ‘The Lord will roar from on high, and utter His voice from His holy habitation; He will roar mightily against His fold. He will give a shout, as those who tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise will come to the ends of the earth— for the Lord has a controversy with the nations; He will plead His case with all flesh. He will give those who are wicked to the sword,’ says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 25:30-31).

Notice the object of the judgment: "all flesh," "all the inhabitants of the earth." Completely aside from particular judgments denouncing doom against the defiant nations, there will come a time when "all flesh" is judged together. The modern notion of a multitude of mini-judgments affecting different populations is innovative but unbiblical. There will be a universal, world judgment. It is as certain as any other of God's promises. God's promises cannot fail; it is strange some people have persuaded themselves this day will never come.

"Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth. . .
For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with His truth." (Psalm 96:9-13).
"Let the rivers clap their hands;
Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
And the peoples with equity." (Psalm 98:8-9).
"But the LORD shall endure forever;
He has prepared His throne for judgment.
He shall judge the world in righteousness,
And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness." (Psalm 9:7-8).

"Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. 'I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, a man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts and in the day of His fierce anger.'" (Isaiah 13:9-13).
"Come near, you nations, to hear;
And heed, you people!
Let the earth hear, and all that is in it,
The world and all things that come forth from it.
For the indignation of the LORD is against all nations,
And His fury against all their armies;
He has utterly destroyed them,
He has given them over to the slaughter.
Also their slain shall be thrown out;
Their stench shall rise from their corpses,
And the mountains shall be melted with their blood.
All the host of heaven shall be dissolved,
And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll;
All their host shall fall down
As the leaf falls from the vine,
And as fruit falling from a fig tree." (Isaiah 34:1-4).



  • “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
  • (Ecclesiastes 12:14).


  • “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
  • (2 Corinthians 5:10).


  • “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
  • (Matthew 12:36-37).


  • “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.”
  • (Daniel 7:9-10).


  • “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”
  • (Matthew 16:26-27)





How long is a day? As long as you need it to be: "The day of the Lord refers to any period of time in which God deals directly with the human situation either in judgment or in mercy. The expression may refer to a specific day or to an extended period of time, as in the eschatological day of the Lord, which stretches from the rapture of the church to the end of the millenial kingdom." (John F. Walvoord, Every Prophecy of the Bible, p. 276). While one must agree with them that sometimes in the Bible a 'day' can refer to a lengthy period of time, "any period of time" is a bit vague and falls short of the 'literal' interpretation this tendency promises but fails to deliver.

God judges nations and individuals throughout history; what is remarkable about this singular event is its universal sweep and the devastation and cosmic reconstruction accompanying it:

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." (2 Peter 3:10 NKJV).

Any literal reading of the Bible must accommodate these facts.


Rogier van der Weyden, The Archangel Michael

John Wesley
The Great Assize


Master Calendar

The Bible prophesies a great many end-times events. Bible-believers look forward to all these events. The order in which they will occur, however, is not stated explicitly by the Bible. The 'master calendar' is missing, presumably by design. But what God's hand has withheld, human ingenuity has rushed to supply.

In the master calendar's absence, every possibly permutation of end-times events has been advanced. The 'sore thumb' sticking out of Biblical prophecy is the millenium of Revelation, which has been inserted at three main divisions: premillenial (Christ returns prior to the millenium), postmillenial (Christ returns subsequent to the millenium), and the tendentiously named amillenial: Christ returns subsequent to the millenium, which is identified with the inter-advent period. It is not correct to suggest that any of these three viewpoints ignores the Bible or denies the Bible, though partisans for each viewpoint have so alleged.

Historically Catholics have accepted Augustine's system of Bible prophecy, as do also conservative Calvinists and Lutherans. This system identifies the present time as the thousand years of Revelation: "But while the devil is bound, the saints reign with Christ during the same thousand years, understood in the same way, that is, of the time of His first coming." (Augustine, City of God, Book XX, 9.). The great strength of this system is its simplicity. Unlike the proliferating judgments of dispensational premillenialism, this system respects the Bible's one Day of Judgment, of the quick and the dead, the wicked and the righteous. As seen, the Bible does refer to such a day in the singular: "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained." (Acts 17:30-31).

The weakness of this system is its counter-intuitive treatment of the millenium. Jewish authors in addition to John describe a millenium, none of them hinting they mean by this. . .the Dark Ages. And John does not write in his letters as one who believes Satan is already bound:

"We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." (1 John 5:19).
"...because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4).

To this, the 'amillenialists,' as they are tendentiously called, respond: Jesus Himself said that He had already bound the "strong man:"

"And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house." (Mark 3:26-27).

Jesus has entered into the strong man's,-- i.e., the devil's,-- house, the world, and liberated his captives, humanity.

Parsimony

William of Ockham advanced the principle of parsimony as a general rule of investigation. The principle was stated most economically after his time as "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem:"



Ockham's Razor

  • Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
  • Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.




This is the great Achilles' heel of modern premillenialism. Of everything of which the Bible counts one, they've got a bushel.

Law of Prophetic Perspective

"Law of prophetic perspective -- viewing events and speaking of them in the same passages without a definite explanation of a distinction between them as to time. It is like seeing the mountain peaks in one view, without seeing the valleys between them. For example, Isa. 61:1-2 pictures the 1st and 2nd advents of Christ in the same passage with only a comma dividing the statements of one from the other. From a casual reading it would seem that the recorded happenings would take place, one right after the other; but we know that such is not the case for there have been nearly 2,000 years already between the preaching of the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance. Turning to Lk. 4:18-19 we see that Christ read this passage from Isaiah up to a certain point -- including the statement about the acceptable year of the Lord. At that place He declared, 'This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.' (Lk. 4:21). Had He read the next part of the statement -- 'and the day of vengeance of our God' -- He could not have said the passage was fulfilled that day." (Finis Dake, The Dake Annotated Study Bible, p. 84 Index.)

Though this author is quite unreliable in matters of theology, he has expressed this principle well. All schools of prophecy use this principle, consciously or unconsciously. Another way of putting it is that prophetic passages in the Bible are not presented in chronological order. Any reader of the Old Testament prophets can confirm this; discussions of current events are interspersed with passages singing the glories of the Messianic age, back and forth. Whatever the organizational principle of Bible prophecy, chronology is not it.

The different schools of prophecy diverge in which passages they subject to this principle, and which they sequester. If all prophetic events are allowed to splinter into two or more events widely separated in time, then no master calendar can be prepared, because any event might be both before, and also after another. The premillenialists exempt the Book of Revelation from this principle: the millenium succeeds the second coming because Chapter 20 succeeds Chapter 19. Amillenialists exempt the Day of Judgment from this rule. Because this event is always described in the singular, therefore Chapter 20 must be lined up with the rest of the Bible at this fixed point, about which all else revolves: the judgment, described in verse 11.

This is why these systems can be taught to willing students, but never demonstrated to a skeptic. The initial decision: which verses to subject to the Law of Prophetic Perspective, and which to exempt,-- determines the result. Though interpreters may feel they have reason to prefer one system to another, these systems cannot be proven in the way that significant Bible doctrines can be proven.




  • "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
  • (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

  • "...deinde nos qui vivimus qui relinquimur simul rapiemur cum illis in nubibus obviam Domino in aera et sic semper cum Domino erimus."
  • (1 Thessalonians 4:17 Jerome's Latin Vulgate)



The Rapture

Jerome's Latin Vulgate renders 'caught up' with the future passive of the verb rapio; those thus caught up are said to be 'raptured.' That this event will occur is a certainty, it's in the Bible; when it will occur, in relation to other events, is subject to much speculation.

Traditionalists time this event at the second coming of Jesus Christ. The Bible prophesies a second coming:

"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Hebrews 9:28).

The Bible counts no third nor fourth coming; the comings and goings projected by the dispensationalists claim support in the above-mentioned Law of Prophetic Perspective. What is described in the Bible as one event is unfolded, like a fan, into a multitude of sequential events. This approach to reading the Bible, it will be noted, is far from literal. Reading 'one' and understanding 'seven' is not a literal way to read the Bible, because 'one' does not literally mean 'seven.' Neither is counting two 'second comings' literal; a literalist would count the second 'second coming' as the third. While multiplying events cannot be ruled altogether inadmissible, the parsimonious reader resorts to this liberty as infrequently as possible.

Why would surviving and resurrected believers rise to meet the Lord in the air if they are not then proceeding as a body to some third location?

The believers of Rome came out to meet Paul: "...and so we went toward Rome. And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage." (Acts 28:14-15). The brethren did not then take ship for some foreign port of call; they came out to meet Paul, not to wave at him in passing. When a sports team wins a Super-bowl, fans go out to the airport,-- not to fly away elsewhere, but to welcome and accompany the returning team home. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, people went out to meet Him: "The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! The King of Israel!’" (John 12:12-13). Then they followed Him back into the very city from which they had just come out: "And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna!’" (Mark 11:8-9). The trajectory they described in so doing was that of a yo-yo, but there was a method to their madness.

Describing conditions under the Byzantine empire, this author explains that an emperor, or his designate, was entitled to such a procession: "Unlimited in his power, the exarch was given imperial honors. . .Whenever he arrived at Rome, he was accorded an imperial reception: the senate, the clergy, and the populace met him outside the city walls in triumphant procession." (History of the Byzantine Empire, 324 to 1453, Alexander Vasiliev, Kindle location 2440). The Lord returns, in triumph, with this same raptured mighty army in His train: "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints..." (Jude 1:14). This is a triumphal entry, befitting a conquering hero's return. His people come out to meet Him, then return with Him to the city, all in the same day. It was not thought superfluous or pointless, though it is not now done. An example, albeit perhaps semi-legendary,

"Romulus himself came last in the procession, clad in a purple robe and wearing a crown of laurel upon his head, and, that he might maintain the royal dignity, he rode in a chariot drawn by four horses. The rest of the army, both foot and horse, followed, ranged in their several divisions, praising the gods in songs of their country and extolling their general in improvised verses. They were met by the citizens with their wives and children, who, ranging themselves on each side of the road, congratulated them upon their victory and expressed their welcome in every other way." (Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities, Book II, Chapter 34).

Dispensationalists count this event, the Rapture, as a stand-alone event occurring a full seven years before the second coming.

If you watch low-budget movies or read potboilers, you have encountered an event wherein people vanish into thin air, disappearing as their vehicles crash into one another, each leaving behind a neat little pile of clothes. Who has not heard this?: "There are reports of citizens simply vanishing into thin air. . ." (Dispatches from Bitter America, Todd Starnes, p. 217). Where is the description of this event in the Bible? Nowhere; the Bible nowhere speaks of the day when believers will vanish. The Bible speaks rather of believers caught up into the sky as the Lord descends from heaven. These 'train wrecks' unprevented by absent engineers are science fiction, a better fit with Scientology than with Christianity. A young lady seer of the nineteenth century named Margaret Macdonald first imagined this silent, or secret, rapture:

"I saw it was just the Lord himself descending from Heaven with a shout, just the glorified man, even Jesus; but that all must, as Stephen was, be filled with the Holy Ghost, that they might look up, and see the brightness of the Father's glory. I saw the error to be, that men think that it will be something seen by the natural eye; but 'tis spiritual discernment that is needed, the eye of God in his people." (Margaret Macdonald).

The event described in the Bible is anything but silent, because it is accompanied with the trumpet call of the second coming: "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." (Matthew 24:31).

The dispensationalists themselves realize it is heresy to deny that Jesus rose again in the flesh:

"Others say they believe in the resurrection of Jesus, but they merely believe that the 'spirit of Jesus' rose again and is in the world today. That is no bodily resurrection! But naive Christians fall for that line." (Tim LaHaye, The Beginning of the End, p. 109).

Jesus Christ is the "firstfruits" of those who sleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). Just as He rose from the grave, deceased believers will rise from their graves to meet Him, and those who are alive will be transformed into the same form, not another. Jesus rose in the flesh; His resurrection body was visible and tangible; He did not rise in invisible, 'spirit' form:

"But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, 'Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.' When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet." (Luke 24:37-40).

Resurrected believers are likewise, in the normal order of nature, visible, not invisible. Certainly it is an easy thing for God's miracle-working power to hide visible things from man's sight, but where there is no promise, there is no reason to expect He will make what is naturally visible to be invisible. The dispensationalists understand the believers' 'resurrection' as equivalent to 'becoming invisible' on the strength of their theosophistic reading 1 Corinthians 15:44:

"So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. . .It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).

What could a "spiritual body" be, ask the dispensationalists, but invisible? Thus they understand the resurrection of the saints as equivalent to becoming invisible; i.e., vanishing. That this is not what is meant by a "spiritual body" is seen in Jesus' resurrection; we follow in His footsteps, like the song says: "Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia! Following our exalted Head, Alleluia! Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia! Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!" (Charles Wesley, Christ the Lord is Risen Today). As we are presently constituted, our feeble puff of breath inhabits a clay house under uncertain tenancy. The spirit can be evicted at any moment. Not so in the resurrection. Now our spirit sojourns ill at ease in weak clay tabernacles every day declining toward dissolution, but then will feel right at home in a resurrection body made to conform to the enduring governing spirit: a "spiritual body."

As to fuel trucks crashing into schoolbuses, the reader who has placed his finger at the spot where the Bible describes an 'invisible' or 'silent' rapture will find the description of this event at the same location. There is no such event! The living God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).


Like LighningDate Setting

To show how badly 'the rapture' as envisioned as a stand-alone event clashes with the rest of scripture, consider 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6:

“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6).

It is believers whom Paul addresses. Plainly the "day of the Lord" could overtake these people, because they are warned to "watch." The day is a day of "destruction," not silent rapture. So much for the premillenialists' 'rapture:' there is no such event. These believers are, or could be, present on earth when Christ comes in judgment.

The traditional view of the rapture is on display in the picture below. As the saints on the left come up out of their graves, they rise upward toward Christ, who is descending from heaven, clustering in a cloud around Him.



Michelangelo, The Last Judgment


2,000 Year Gap

As noted, some readers find in some prophetic passages of the Bible unadvertised gaps. If there are any such, would not the very last place one would expect to find such a gap be in a chronology? An author who lists sequence and duration of events, but fails to warn the reader there are unadvertised 'gaps,' has not produced a usable chronology.

Jesus was born into a nation fervently expecting its Messiah: "And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ." (Luke 2:25-26). Why were people expecting the Messiah at just that time? Because Daniel had laid out the chronology:

"Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times." (Daniel 9:24-25).

Daniel's chronology of 69 weeks of years (69 x 7) runs, from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, to A.D. 30, the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into that city. If defenders of Sabbatai Sevi's messianic claim explained there is a 1,600 year 'gap' in Daniel's 69 week chronology, what Christian would not laugh them out of town?

Yet dispensationalism is founded upon the conviction there is a 2,000 year 'gap' between Daniel's 69th week and the 70th week. Because otherwise, this prophecy, which says nothing about 'antichrist' or the second coming, is not a prophecy about 'antichrist' or the second coming, but of the Lord's first coming and the destruction of Jerusalem. Since Christian commentators got along for nearly two millennia understanding that Daniel was writing about the first advent and the destruction of the temple, not about antichrist, they also got along without any 2,000 year 'gap.'

Again and against dispensationalism is marketed as a 'literal' interpretation of scripture. Yet inserting 2,000 year gaps into chronologies as needed is anything but literal. This 'correction' requires to be made for numerous prophetic passages:

"The Old Testament foreview simply did not anticipate the present age of the church composed of Jews and Gentiles on an equal standing, baptized into the body of Christ and becoming one. As far as the Old Testament prophecies are concerned, the end time would immediately follow the first coming of Christ. The Old Testament prophets did not know or anticipate that there would be this long period of time between the two advents."
(Walvoord, John F. (2011-09-01). Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (p. 226). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.)

The idea that God neglected to tell His prophets about this little matter of the entire church age finds no support in scripture, it is impossible in principle:

"Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing? Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it? Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all? If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it? Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. (Amos 3:4-8, Nelson, Thomas (2009-02-18). Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV) (pp. 891-892). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.)

This theme of the nescience of the prophets is repeated over and over: "The length of the present church age was unknown to Peter and to everyone else at the time of his Pentecostal sermon. On the basis of existing Scripture, he could rightfully expect the rapture to occur and the events following to come about immediately." (John F. Walvoord, Every Prophecy of the Bible, p. 278). It sounds as though they consider scripture to be rife with error.

Up

The Nations

"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. 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. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 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...'" (Matthew 25:31-34).
Mosaic, Ravenna, Sheep and Goats

The word 'nations' [ethnos] often means, by implication, 'nations other than the Jews,' i.e., Gentiles. Indeed in the New Testament it is commonly translated 'Gentiles.' Yet the word's literal meaning is simply 'nation,' and it is quite possible for Israel to be numbered amongst the 'nations:'

"And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, 'for he loves our nation [ethnos], and has built us a synagogue.'" (Luke 7:4-5).
"And they began to accuse Him, saying, 'We found this fellow perverting the nation [ethnos], and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.'" (Luke 23:2).
". . .and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47).
"If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation [ethnos]. . . nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation [ethnos] should perish. Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation [ethnos], and not for that nation [ethnos] only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad." (John 11:48-52).
"And they said, 'Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation [ethnos] of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.'" (Acts 10:22).
"Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation [ethnos], in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult." (Acts 24:17).
"My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation [ethnos] at Jerusalem, all the Jews know." (Acts 26:4).

In calling Abraham "father of many nations," the Old Testament does not disinherit his offspring the Hebrews:

"And thy name shall no more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraam, for I have made thee a father of many nations [ethnos LXX]." (Genesis 17:5, Septuagint)

So it is not safe to assume a judgment of "nations" excludes Jews or Christians. Nevertheless, this is the common understanding of premillenialists:

Matthew 25:31–46. This judgment relating to the Gentiles at the time of the second coming is revealed only here in Scripture. Premillenarians interpret this judgment as determining who among the Gentiles will enter the millennial kingdom. The basis for judgment is how they treated Christ’s brethren, the Jews, as a token of their faith or lack of it. . .Premillenarians contrast this judgment to several other judgments mentioned in Scripture such as the judgment of the church (2 Cor. 5:10), the judgment of Israel, and the purging out of the rebels as a prelude to the millennial kingdom (Ezek. 20:33–38), and it is also different from the judgment of the wicked dead resurrected at the judgment of the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11–15), which occurs at the end of the millennium.  . . The judgment is not of all men but of living Gentiles (Gr., ethne). The Gentiles are described as either sheep or goats, and Jews are described as brothers of Christ.”
(Walvoord, John F. (2011-09-01). Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (p. 387). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.)

But Biblically, this judgment of sheep and goats leaves individual human beings spending an eternity in heaven or hell: "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: . ..'" (Matthew 25:41). One of the odder ideas of modern evangelical Christianity is that these people are spending eternity with God or apart from Him, based on their treatment of the modern-day state of Israel, many of whose inhabitants are atheists or agnostics:

"Because Jesus said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me (Matt. 25:40). Jesus' reference to 'My brethren' was a reference to the Jewish people, not some Christian denomination. In Scripture, Jesus referred to Gentiles as 'dogs' (Matt. 15:26-27), not as 'My brethren.'" (John Hagee, Final Dawn over Jerusalem, pp. 92-93).

There is, needless to say, no Bible teaching according to which human beings spend eternity in heaven or in hell on any such basis:

"After the Tribulation, the first thing God will do in the Millenial Kingdom is gather the nations of the earth and judge them for the manner in which they treated the nation of Israel. . .At that moment, the Lion of Judah will assemble the divine tribunal and begin calling the nations to the bar of justice to answer for their abuse or blessing of the Jewish people and the State of Israel." (John Hagee, 'Final Dawn over Jerusalem,' p. 197).

Who did Jesus Himself say were His brethren?: "For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother." (Matthew 12:50). These modern revisionists strangely insist that only those who do not do God's will are Jesus' "brothers."




Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Church-goers rarely hear today the old-fashioned sermons that made sinners tremble before an angry God. Many Christians do not expect ever to stand before their Judge. Not that they anticipate pleading the shed blood of Jesus Christ; rather, they do not expect to be there at all: "Remember, no believer in Christ will stand before God at the great white throne." (Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, 'Are We Living in the End Times?,' pp. 252-253). What they expect instead is a casual 'performance review,' at issue the size of their 'bonus' or reward. "Every knee shall bow" promises universality:

"For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: 'As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.' So then each of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:10-12).

But the guiding idea of dispensationalism is 'different strokes for different folks.' People cannot be judged together because they are judged according to different programs. While the dispensationalists admit that "every knee shall bow," the 'every-ness' will be cumulative, as knees bow at different events addressing different issues spread out over more than a thousand years.

Prior to the nineteenth century the Last Judgment was believed and preached by all Christians:

London Baptist Confession of Faith

  • "God hath appointed a day wherein He will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ; {Ac 17:31; Joh 5:22, 27} to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father; in which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, {1Co 6:3; Jude 6} but likewise all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil. {2Co 5:10; Ecc 12:14; Mt 12:36; Ro 14:10,12; Mt 25:32-46}.

  • (Section 32, London Baptist Confession of Faith.)

The lack on interest in 'sin' as a preaching theme tracks with the disappearance of 'judgment.'

Back to the Drawing Board

The earliest church writers who address Bible prophecy are premillenialists; that is to say, they expect Christ's second coming to occur prior to the millenium of Revelation Chapter 20. They are most accurately categorized as 'post-trib,' knowing nothing of the stand-alone rapture John Darby would later discover. But then along came Augustine and started everyone down a different track.

Why did Augustine feel at liberty to overturn the prophecy consensus of his day? Quite simply, events had already invalidated the prophecy consensus of his day. Christians had thought that when Rome fell, Christ would return. Rome was sacked and burned by Alaric the Goth in 410 A.D. People went up to the roof-tops and scanned the skies. . .and nothing happened. It was like 1844, or 1988, or 1914; a plausible and widely-held interpretation had been put to the test, and found wanting. Human pride of authorship is so intense that people at this point start tweaking and tinkering, perfecting their system to yield 1845 or 1989.

But this is not the right path. The system failed, so it's back to the drawing board. God cannot be in error; it is the interpretation which is lacking.

As noted, the great strength of this system is its simplicity. Moreover, it preserves the Bible's solitary day of judgment. As noted, the Bible refers to this day in language which is singular, sometimes magisterially so: "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day." (John 12:48). How many 'last day's' can there be?

Dispensationalists point to this weakness: the system 'spiritualizes' two essential points, the first resurrection, understood as the new birth, and the thousand years, understood symbolically as a complete or perfect span of time. While the second resurrection is understood to be the bodily resurrection at Christ's second coming, the first is that of which Paul says: "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God." (Colossians 3:1). Moreover, under the dispensational system, this "first" resurrection is actually the 'second' by their count: this is the resurrection of the 'tribulation saints,' the dead in Christ having been raised seven years previously. Whatever the merits of counting the 'first' as 'second,' 'literalism' is not what you call it, because the literal meaning of 'first' is not 'second.'

What is clear in scripture is that when Christ comes again, a thing which He does once, He is accompanied with His church, His whole church, and not any subset thereof; there are no 'tribulation saints,' to say nothing of 'millenium believers:'

"These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed." (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10)

"But each one in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming." (1 Corinthians 15:23).

"And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. " (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).

"All those who believe," "those who are Christ's," "all His saints:" there are no 'tribulation saints,' unless they don't believe, are not Christ's, and aren't saints.

In the fifth century, the time was ripe for a re-investigation of prophecy, because the prevailing view had failed when Rome burned without consequence. Many centuries later John Nelson Darby would revive the older framework by the helpful addition of a two thousand year gap, inserted as needed. Our own times present a similar failure, of Darby's now universally popular but far from literal system. Who has not been amazed and appalled at the bloodthirstiness of the dispensational prophecy teachers? These people love war, any war: a just war, an unjust war, even a war like the Iraq war, criminal aggression according to international law. Such war lust is not a Christian disposition: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." (Galatians 5:22). Since dispensationalism does not produce a Christian temper in its professors, it cannot be right. One admittedly flawed place to start this re-examination:


Augustine
On the Millenium

Enthronement

David, after being anointed as King by the prophet Samuel, wandered about for years before his enthronement. Is Jesus now in the same status, an anointed King waiting for His reign to begin? Not according to the New Testament:

"So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God." (Mark 16:19).

The promise here announced as fulfilled is this:

“The LORD said to my Lord,
'Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.'
The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!” (Psalm 110:1-2).

The Kingdom is already underway, though not yet entered into its glorious final phase.




Date of the Book of Revelation

The date of this book is one of the few points upon which Bible-believers and secular historians agree: it was written late in the first century, they concur. Early church writers who show little interest in the dating of other books do very nearly unanimously date this one to Domitian's day. One imaginative writer even arranges an interview between the two, "And when all were glorifying God, and wondering at the faith of John, Domitian said to him: I have put forth a decree of the senate, that all such persons should be summarily dealt with, without trial; but since I find from thee that they are innocent, and that their religion is rather beneficial, I banish thee to an island, that I may not seem myself to do away with my own decrees. . .And straightway John sailed to Patmos, where also he was deemed worthy to see the revelation of the end. (Acts of John the Theologian, ECF_0_08 p. 1161). But this author is entangling his feet in his own net; when Domitian first meets John, he asks him, "And the fame of the teaching of John was spread abroad in Rome; and it came to the ears of Domitian that there was a certain Hebrew in Ephesus, John by name, who spread a report about the seat of empire of the Romans, saying that it would quickly be rooted out, and that the kingdom of the Romans would be given over to another." (Acts of John the Theologian, ECF_0_08 p. 1161). To what is this in reference, with its implied threat against Rome, if not to Revelation? What's more, why are the Jews, in the wake of the War, representing themselves as Roman patriots and complaining of the Christians?

An exception is Epiphanius, who thinks John was released from Patmos under Claudius: ". . .after his return from Patmos under Claudius Caesar. . ." (Epiphanius, Panarion, Section IV, Chapter 31 (51), 12.1); "He foretold it prophetically by the mouth of St. John, who prophesied before his falling asleep, during the time of Claudius Caesar and earlier, when he was on the isle of Patmos." (Epiphanius, Panarion, Section IV, Chapter 31 (51), 33.9). . .perhaps imprisoned under Gaius? Evidently the date of this book is significant in a way that the dating of other New Testament documents is not. Do these early authors protest too much? Only for the weightiest reasons should one discount the testimony of those in a chronological position to find out the facts. But in this case, the book's internal testimony points in another direction:

"There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time." (Revelation 17:10).

Some of the events described in Revelation, like the resurrection of the dead and the second coming, are events of distant futurity to the author. But it seems doubtful the author would isolate a slice of distant futurity wherein one king now "is" and five kings "have fallen." The five kings who had fallen by the author's day would have included Julius through Claudius:

1  Julius Caesar
2  Augustus
 3 Tiberius
 4 Gaius (Caligula)
5 Claudius
6 Nero Caesar

Classical enumerations of the Caesars begin the sequence with Julius. Suetonius begins his history, 'Twelve Caesars,' with Julius. The Jewish Sibyls likewise start their count with Julius: "...there will be the first prince who will sum up twice ten with his initial letter [Caesar]. He will conquer long in wars. He will have his first letter of ten [Julius], so that after him will reign whoever obtained as initial the first of the alphabet. [Augustus]" (The Sibylline Oracles, Book 5, 12-15). The apocryphal book known as 2 Esdras counts twelve kings: "The days are coming when the earth will be under an empire more terrible than any before. It will be ruled by twelve kings, one after another. The second to come to the throne will have the longest reign of all the twelve." (2 Esdras 12:13-16). Augustus, the second emperor counting from Julius as first, died in 14 A.D. at the age of 76. Recalling the battle of Actium was in 31 B.C., this is the longest reign.

Josephus starts his count with Julius: "After him came Annius Rufus, under whom died Caesar, the second emperor of the Romans, the duration of whose reign was fifty-seven years, besides six months and two days (of which time Antonius ruled together with him fourteen years; but the duration of his life was seventy-seven years); upon whose death Tiberius Nero, his wife Julia’s son, succeeded. He was now the third emperor; and he sent Valerius Gratus to be procurator of Judea. . ." (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, Chapter 2, Section 2).

Christian historian Eusebius lists Julius Caesar among the emperors, in his enumeration of Olympiads: "183rd [Olympiad] - Theodorus of Messene, stadion race. Julius Caesar was emperor of the Romans. 184th. - Theodorus for a second time. Augustus became emperor of the Romans." (Eusebius of Caesaria, Chronicon, Kindle location 1304). Julius Caesar counts as an emperor, he is not something else, and so Augustus was not the first Roman emperor by the count of those who lived in the ancient world. That would be Julius: "After these remarks, we will return to the reign of the first emperor. From the death of Tarquinius up until the time of Julius Caesar, there was an intervening period of 115 Olympiads, which is the equivalent of 460 years." (Eusebius of Caesaria, Chronicon, Kindle location 1813).

Early Christian authors respect the customary numbering: that Julius is the "first:"

"The annual magistrates ruled the Romans, as we say, for 453 years. Afterwards those who are called emperors began in this order: first, Caius Julius, who reigned 3 years 4 months 6 days; then Augustus, 56 years 4 months 1 day; Tiberius, 22 years; then another Caius, 3 years 8 months 7 days; Claudius, 23 years 8 months 24 days; Nero, 13 years 6 months 28 days;..." (Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus, Book 3, Chapter 27).

Eusebius, already mentioned, compiled a chronology of the world, in which Julius Caesar 'counts' as an emperor: "In her [Cleopatra's] reign, Gaius Julius Caesar became the first Roman emperor. The next emperor, Octavius Caesar Augustus, called Sebastos in Greek, killed Cleopatra and put an end to the dynasty of the Ptolemaei, who had ruled for 295 years." (Eusebius of Caesarea, Chronicon, Kindle location 1055). The later emperors styled themselves 'Caesars' after the first in the series. If his power grab was not legitimate, neither was theirs. That would make the one who "is" Nero Caesar, who ruled from 54 A.D. to 68 A.D.

Thus the internal testimony of the book. Additional circumstantial evidence turns up in the Great Fire of 64 A.D. and its aftermath. Tacitus describes this cataclysmic event:

  • “A disaster followed, whether accidental or treacherously contrived by the emperor, is uncertain, as authors have given both accounts, worse, however, and more dreadful than any which have ever happened to this city by the violence of fire. It had its beginning in that part of the circus which adjoins the Palatine and Caelian hills, where, amid the shops containing inflammable wares, the conflagration both broke out and instantly became so fierce and so rapid from the wind that it seized in its grasp the entire length of the circus. For here there were no houses fenced in by solid masonry, or temples surrounded by walls, or any other obstacle to interpose delay. The blaze in its fury first ran through the level portions of the city, then rising to the hills, while it again devastated every place below them, it outstripped all preventive measures; so rapid was the mischief and so completely at its mercy the city, with those narrow winding passages and irregular streets, which characterized old Rome. Added to this were the wailings of terror-stricken women, the feebleness of age, the helpless inexperience of childhood, the crowds who sought to save themselves or others, dragging out the infirm or waiting for them, and by their hurry in the one case, by their delay in the other, aggravating the confusion. Often, while they looked behind them, they were intercepted by flames on their side or in their face. Or if they reached a refuge close at hand, when this too was seized by the fire, they found that, even places, which they had imagined to be remote, were involved in the same calamity. At last, doubting what they should avoid or whither betake themselves, they crowded the streets or flung themselves down in the fields, while some who had lost their all, even their very daily bread, and others out of love for their kinsfolk, whom they had been unable to rescue, perished, though escape was open to them. And no one dared to stop the mischief, because of incessant menaces from a number of persons who forbade the extinguishing of the flames, because again others openly hurled brands, and kept shouting that there was one who gave them authority, either seeking to plunder more freely, or obeying orders. [...]”
  • “At last, after five days, an end was put to the conflagration at the foot of the Esquiline hill, by the destruction of all buildings on a vast space, so that the violence of the fire was met by clear ground and an open sky. But before people had laid aside their fears, the flames returned, with no less fury this second time, and especially in the spacious districts of the city. Consequently, though there was less loss of life, the temples of the gods, and the porticoes which were devoted to enjoyment, fell in a yet more widespread ruin....Rome, indeed, is divided into fourteen districts, four of which remained uninjured, three were levelled to the ground, while in the other seven were left only a few shattered, half-burnt relics of houses.”
  • (Tacitus, Annals, 15.38-40).


No explanation is needed for a fire that began in shops stocked with flammable goods; ancient fire suppression technologies were inadequate. Most fires start accidentally; Mrs. O'Leary's cow was no terrorist. The wandering bands who interfered with efforts to fight the fire may have been opportunistic looters; there seems also to have been some involvement by the fire-fighters themselves, possibly setting back-fires.

Nero punished the Christians corporately: why? To say that he is mad explains nothing, though it cannot be denied that Nero, a matricide, was a troubled soul. If the Book of Revelation were already in circulation prior to the fire, no further explanation is required. The police mind, whether in that day or in this, finds advance knowledge of an event tantamount to complicity. This is how Japanese police scrutiny came to be focused on Aum Shinrikyo: they had predicted a poison gas attack in the Tokyo subway, and what do you know, that's exactly what happened: "In the end, it was Asahara's own pronouncements that led the police to the door of AUM Shinrikyo. In particular, Master Asahara had predicted that gas attacks by terrorists would occur in the not-too-distant future. This made him an obvious target of suspicion." (Odd Gods, edited by James R. Lewis, pp. 264-265). Certainly this is one way to obtain advance knowledge of a crime: if you are the perpetrator.

The whore seated upon seven hills (Revelation 17:9) would have been understood as Rome by John's contemporaries, because the seven hills of Rome were a commonplace of ancient 'travel brochures:' "Phoebus, and thou Diana, sovereign of the woods, ye illustrious ornaments of the heavens. . .bestow what we pray for at this sacred season: at which the Sibylline verses have given directions, that select virgins and chaste youths should sing a hymn to the deities, to whom the seven hills [of Rome] are acceptable." (Horace, The Secular Hymn, to Apollo and Diana). Another: "My home is not Dulichium or Ithaca or Samos, places from which absence is no great punishment, but Rome, that gazes about from her seven hills upon the whole world,— Rome, the place of empire and the gods." (Ovid, Tristia, Book I, Chapter V, To a Faithful Friend).

Contrariwise, writing the book in the immediate aftermath of the fire would be like pinning a 'Prosecute Me' sign to one's backside. The traditional dating is psychologically impossible. John could not fail to remember the fire of 64; individuals personally known to him including Peter perished cruelly in the aftermath. To suppose that, thirty years later, he would willingly have chirped up with, 'Oh by the way, Rome's gonna burn,' grates like fingernails on a chalk-board. Rome had already burnt, and the falsely accused Christians had been punished for it. I suspect he'd have fled further than Jonah's Tarshish had the Lord required him to say so; why open that whole can of worms all over again?

A likely date of composition is 62 A.D. The 'elephant in the living room' of Revelation study, both secular and religious, is that 1.) Rome did burn, in 64 A.D., and 2.) the Christians were blamed for it. Some secularists would take the fact that Rome did burn as proof that the book of Revelation cannot have been written until after the fact. This is how they date Bible books: if a book prophesies an identifiable event, say the destruction of the temple, then it must have been written after the fact. Experience cannot justify this rule. It is as if, unearthing a Jeanne Dixon newspaper article of the 1950's, one were to lay down that none of the events described, if they actually happened, can have happened when they did, including John F. Kennedy's assassination. But even a false prophet like Ms. Dixon cannot possibly be wrong 100% of the time. If you predict that someone will die, Las Vegas can give you odds on that; the odds cannot be zero, and if that party already has one foot in the grave, the odds are higher. Secular Bible study defies statistics when it assumes that Christian prophecy must be wrong 100% of the time, and the only way it can be right is if it is postdated.

John writes as though the temple were still standing, confirming a date of writing prior to 70 A.D. Why, then, do early witnesses concur that this book was written in the 90's while Domitian was emperor? Perhaps this very unanimity should excite suspicion. No other New Testament book's dating receives this level of attention, or indeed any attention at all. Was it painful to the early church to recall a prosecution painting their movement as an ancient Aum Shinri Kyo. . .a prosecution not without evidence, though without truth? Peter writes at a time when the church is undergoing a "fiery trial" (1 Peter 4:12). This phrase can just as easily mean a 'trial for fire:' i.e., an arson trial. I do not think there is a chance in the world the church was guilty; unlike so many today who think God needs their help to work His wonders, the early Christians understood what the saying means, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay" (Romans 12:19, Deuteronomy 32:35).




All or Nothing

A school of prophecy interpretation has arisen in recent years called Preterism. The Preterists do not expect, with the Nicene creed, that "he shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead," because they think that already happened. . . though it plainly has not. A student of prophecy who assumes that all prophesied events either have already happened in his day, or have not but are about to, assigns a privileged position to his own point on the time-line beyond all likelihood. Equally unwilling to look in front of their faces are the futurists, who insist that, because some of the events of the book of Revelation have not yet occurred, including the resurrection and the final judgment, therefore none of the events described in this book can yet have occurred. There is no book of prophecy in the Bible which passes this 'all or nothing' test; Isaiah prophesied, not only the Messiah, but also current events. Readers attuned to the 'Law of Prophetic Perspective' will disentangle fulfilled prophecies from unfulfilled.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Lost

"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books." (Revelation 20:11-12).

The reader of Revelation chapter 20 finds himself in unfamiliar territory. What is the "thousand years,"-- to Latinize, the millenium? This period is mentioned nowhere else in scripture. Does it follow in sequence after the battle just completed in the prior chapter? It is normal for historical narratives to be written in chronological order. But if this book unfolds in chronological order, it is the only Bible prophecy book so written. Most of them bounce between contemporary events, to end-time events, and back again. And a close study of the book of Revelation shows it cannot have been written in chronological order. See the Lamb on Mount Zion: "Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads." (Revelation 14:1). But this is in chapter 14, not chapter 19! Rather the narrative circles around the same events, until it breaks out of the circle with the resurrection, judgment, and new heavens and new earth.

So does chapter 20 continue the narrative, or start over, or stand back and take a wider view? In an unfamiliar landscape, it is helpful to locate a landmark. The striking landmark here is our old friend, the Last Judgment, at 20:12. We should orient ourselves by this landmark.

Every Eye

"Behold, He 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." (Revelation 1:7).

The Bible promises a second coming of our Lord to the earth. Just as He ascended into heaven following His first advent, so shall He descend:

"Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.'" (Acts 1:9-11).

There is no half-way descent known to scripture, nor is this event repeated so that the Bible reader can count a third coming and a fourth coming, though some people do. If, as John says in the Revelation, "every eye" shall see Him, including "who pierced Him," what does this imply about who will be standing on the earth on the day of the second coming? Those who watch Him descend include "they who pierced Him." Now some of those who pierced Him, like the centurion of Mark 15:39, may have become believers, but most must be numbered with the ungodly. And they are all dead. So they must have been raised from the dead to see Him descend with their own eyes.

According to the dispensationalists, the unrighteous dead will not be raised until one thousand years after Christ's second coming. This cannot be right, according to Revelation 1:7. So the second coming must occur at the same time as the resurrection and judgment.




Day of Discernment

The "great and dreadful day of the LORD" is a day of discernment, when the distinction between the righteous and the wicked turns into a gulf:

"Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. 'They shall be Mine,' says the LORD of hosts, 'On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.' Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,' says the LORD of hosts, 'That will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,' says the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 3:16-4:3).

This is how scripture defines judgment: it is a separation, the fork in the road where those travelling to different destinations part company. The wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest, when they are finally and conclusively separated:

“But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’. . .‘Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!'” (Matthew 13:29-43).

The varied judgments of the dispensationalists do not all have this character, but tend rather to involve the processing of homogeneous groups of people. Among their many judgments are few which count as a judgment at all, by Biblical criteria. For example, the dispensational understanding of the 'Great White Throne' Judgment of Revelation 20 is that all there gathered receive the same verdict: damnation, because this is the judgment of the wicked dead. There will be an open book there: "And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life." (Revelation 20:12), but it might as well have remained closed, because none present is written therein. Like a Soviet-era trial, no spectator need remain in suspense waiting to hear the verdict:

"When the wicked dead approach the Great White Throne, God will first look for their names in the Book of Life. Obviously, they will not be there." (John Hagee, 'Final Dawn Over Jerusalem, p. 200).

Obviously, so why bother to look? They have made this solemn end of history into a farce. Once they have defined 'judgment' this way, none of their many judgments sounds at all like the event the Bible keeps consistently describing. It is safer to trust God's word on this than inventive human schemes.



"This judgment is to take place at the second coming of Christ and at the general resurrection. Therefore it is not a process now in progress; it does not take place at death; it is not a protracted period prior to the general resurrection. A few of the passages bearing on this point are the following: In the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13: 37-43), already referred to, we are taught that the final separation between the righteous and the wicked is to take place at the end of the world, when the Son of Man shall send forth his angels to gather out of his kingdom all things that offend. This implies that the general resurrection, the second advent, and the last judgment, are contemporaneous events."
(Hodge, Charles (2015-02-13). Systematic Theology: The Complete Three Volumes (Kindle Locations 40022-40027). GLH Publishing. Kindle Edition.)




Last Trump

When do risen and living believers meet the Lord in the air? At the "last trump," when the dead will be raised and the living changed:

"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

This "last trumpet" is not the first trumpet blast in a sequence, nor the middle one of a series of trumpet calls, but rather the final one. This is what "last" signifies. When does it sound?:

"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. 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. 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." (Matthew 24:29-31).

When the Lord comes again. . .not seven years before. Our dispensationalist friends, who stock up on multiples of everything else, count several 'last trumpets' to match: one 'last trumpet' when the dead in Christ rise, then for good measure another 'last trumpet' when the Lord returns. Literalists can only count up to one 'last,' because that is all the 'lasts' stocked in the literal cupboard, there ain't no more.

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Relief

When Jesus comes again, executing His wrath against the wicked,

"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 1:3-8).

. . .it will be to 'grant relief' or 'give rest,' ανεσιν, to the embattled church, which is manifestly still here on earth to receive this welcome intervention.

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So What?

All Christians expect to see the same thing: they expect to see Jesus. They expect to look into His loving face and be welcomed into His open arms. It's what they expect to see over His shoulder that diverges.

Dispensationalists write as if their new doctrine filled a vacuum: "Christians after the early second century spent little time really defining prophetic truth until the middle of the nineteenth century. Then there seems to have been a great revival of interest in the prophetic themes of the Bible." (Hal Lindsey, 'The Late Great Planet Earth,' p. 170). But the Last Judgment, the lost end times teaching, ignited great excitement in past church ages, and even inspired a copy-cat religion, Islam. Mohammed's earliest suras treat of this theme almost exclusively.

Dispensationalists like to present their doctrine as something in place of nothing. Their preferred debate partners during the early years of the twentieth century, when this doctrine spread through the evangelical community, were not adherents of rival prophecy calendars, but rather liberals, who did not expect any sort of real fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Yet what they discarded: the Last Judgment,-- is Biblical. The Lord spoke often of this great end times event, as He did not of their imaginary events. Hopefully what was lost will be rediscovered; it is still there in the text, needing only unprejudiced eyes to see it.

During prior revivals, visions and premonitions of the great Day of Judgment have played a significant role:

"One evening around 1805, when she was about fourteen, Zilpha Elaw, a free-born African American orphan living with Quaker parents in Pennsylvania, had a horrifying dream. It was 'of the day of judgment, accompanied by its terrific thunders. I thought that the Angel Gabriel came and proclaimed that time should be no longer; and he said, 'Jehovah was about to judge the world, and execute judgment upon it.' I then exclaimed in my dream, 'Oh, Lord, what shall I do? I am unprepared to meet thee.'" (Richard W. Fox, Jesus in America, p. 2724).

The reassurance preachers have done their utmost to ensure no one will ever have such a dream again, because under their teaching, even very nominal believers have been convinced that if they ever stand before the Lord in judgment, the issue will be only how a great a reward He intends to give them, not salvation. They may be found 'carnal Christians,' and stiffed. No believer however will ever see the great Judgment, which is reserved for unbelievers only. Having shoved away the foundation stone underlying historical revivals, they now wonder why revival does not come.

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Equal Time

The strength of the popular modern theory pioneered by John Nelson Darby is its encyclopedic reach. Its weakness is a level of complexity tameable only by charts and diagrams. Another drawback is that it kills people, as the recent debacle of the Bush presidency has shown. The bottom line for the popular modern authors is 'Bible scholars agree.' By 'Bible scholars' or 'prophecy experts' they mean the prior generation of dispensationalist authors. To see the dispensational system defended against those who do not already share it, one must look to this prior generation, and thus I've uploaded W.E.B.'s 'Jesus is Coming' to the Thriceholy library to expound this system:


Jesus is Coming
by W. E. Blackstone


Belief in a future, literal second coming of the Lord has always been the faith of the church, as the Nicene Creed testifies: ". .  .and He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end." Dispensational premillenialism is a novel doctrine developed in the nineteenth century. Yet you will often see premillenialists arguing that, because the Bible teaches the second coming of Christ (as indeed it does), therefore premillenialism is true:

"I was raised in a militantly Amillennial church. By that I mean that you could be disfellowshipped from the church for having any other prophetic viewpoint.

"We seldom ever heard any preaching about end time Bible prophecy. The classic sermon within our denomination was one that boldly stated, 'There is not one verse in the Bible that even implies that Jesus will ever put His feet on this earth again!'"

"So, you can imagine how shocked I was at age 12 when I was thumbing though the Bible and discovered Zechariah 14. It was very simple to understand. It said that the Messiah would return to the Mount of Olives, that the mount would split in half when His feet touched it, that He would speak a supernatural word that would destroy all the armies around Jerusalem, and that on that day He would become 'king over all the earth.'" (Dr. David R. Reagan, The Evil of Replacement Theology: A Shocking Discovery, December 18, 2013).

To the extent that these people are arguing against anything at all, it is that modern liberalism which denies, not only the second coming, but also a literal resurrection and virtually every other explicit Bible teaching. Needless to say, the Bible fact of the second coming cannot be adduced to support an erroneous man-made theory about its timing and circumstances.

The professors of this system have the annoying habit of requiring everything to be rebuilt so that it can be destroyed again. Surely Babylon is ancient history, and is anything ever to be gained by making the rubble bounce?. . .but no, it must be rebuilt, so as to again be destroyed! Did the Hasmoneans re-unite and reconstitute David's kingdom? Do over, first re-creating the ten lost tribes:

"The ten tribes were carried off to Assyria in 722 BC, and the two remaining tribes were carried off by Babylon between 605 and 586 BC. The situation where these two kingdoms were divided will end, and as this and other prophecies predict, the two kingdoms will become one nation (cf. Jer. 3:18; 23:5-6; 30:3; Hosea 1:11; Amos 9:11). No fulfillment has ever been recorded in history, and the future regathering of Israel will occur in the millennium."
(Walvoord, John F. (2011-09-01). Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (p. 182). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.)

In apostolic interpretation of Old Testament prophecy, 'David' is Christ, and yet these people will have David himself and none other to rule over them: "Ezekiel 37:24-25. As predicted in 34:23–24, so here again the prophecy was given, “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd.'. . . Though some have attempted to take this prophecy in less than its literal meaning, the clear statement is that David, who is now dead and whose body is in his tomb in Jerusalem (Acts 2:29), will be resurrected." (Walvoord, John F. (2011-09-01). Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (pp. 182-183). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.)

God denounced this doom over Babylon, that she should become desolate and uninhabited:

"And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged." (Isaiah 13:20-22)

Did that ever happen? Oh, yes! But not quickly enough to suit the premillenialists; therefore it must be rebuilt, so it can be destroyed all over again:

"Accordingly, the approach taken here is to anticipate Babylon as a city that will be rebuilt as the capital of the final world empire and will be destroyed physically as well as politically at the time of the second coming."
(Walvoord, John F. (2011-09-01). Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (p. 592). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.)

Stop and think about that for a minute: as punishment for the misdeeds of a pagan people who lived and struggled more than two millenia ago, the present Arabic-speaking inhabitants of Iraq, who purportedly intend to rebuild Babylon, will suffer calamity for the misdeeds long ago of persons who are not even their direct ancestors. The new Babylon will take nothing from the old one but the name and the locale; everything else is different. The people living there will in no way be the same; Muslims are not pagans. It is one thing for criminals' descendants to suffer punishment down to following generations, inasmuch as communities, once they embark upon a certain trajectory, tend to 'stay the course,' although Ezekiel tells us if they repent, they escape their fathers' doom: "But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?" (Ezekiel 18:21-23). Yet we read: "The exhortation to pay Babylon back double for what she has done is an application of the law of retribution." (Walvoord, John F. (2011-09-01). Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (p. 594). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.) Retribution for what somebody else did?

One of the ways in which the ancient world is different from our own is the proclivity people had then, in the event of a crop failure or other natural disaster, to pull up stakes and start moving, the whole group, men, women and children, killing and plundering, pushing a wave of refugees before them. One result of this tendency is that the people living in those places today are not necessarily the descendants of the prior inhabitants. As a rule they do not kill them all the aborigines, but there is a considerable infusion of alien DNA in the process. For example, during the dark ages, Turkish-speaking people from Central Asia moved into Asia Minor, a long-civilized and populous agricultural region. Today the people living there call themselves 'Turks.' Blaming them for atrocities surrounding the Trojan War is somewhat beside the point, as they are not the people who did that, and in any event it was a long time ago. Punishing them for the Trojan War would scarcely be justice.

It's likely part of the motivation behind establishing the Roman empire was to freeze the northern people groups in place; Rome was sacked by the Gauls in the fourth century B.C., but was able to keep a lid on these mass migrations up until the fifth century A.D., when the Visigoths and Huns and the like came streaming in and collapsed the structure. During the classical era, Arabs lived in Arabia. After Mohammed ibn Abdallah proclaimed the Koran, they came streaming out with swords flashing, and conquered much of the Mediterranean world. The people in Egypt and Tunisia now call themselves 'Arabs,' speak Arabic and identify completely with their imperial conquerors' beliefs and world view, other than a small unreconstructed remnant. So it is with Syria and Iraq. Nebuchadnezzar's people don't exist any more. Why is the new Babylon doomed because of an extinct race of people? Is this how God's providential governance of the world works? In fact Babylon long ago became the haunt of owls, there is no need to build it again just to destroy it all over again. As pointed out, Babylon, in its spiritual dimension, keeps on keeping on and will remain until the second coming; as often as it is built, it is judged by God and destroyed. This is the only sense in which Babylon continues and continues to suffer "retribution:" for her ever-renewed crimes, not for those of long ago and far away.

Their Bible interpretation is filled with irrationalities like this, with long-age fulfilled prophecies that have to be teed up again in order to be walloped again. However, it is the premillenialists' denial of the Last Judgment, a major, and plain, doctrine of scripture, which is the main divergence between their views and the Bible. Just as the Bible clearly teaches the second coming, it also teaches the final judgment. If they can find no place for it in their system, then their system is wrong.

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