Understanding Revelation / Chapter 5 — Rich Kelsey

Deception Is on The Horizon

Deception Is on The Horizon:

Satan has always worked in subtle ways. One of his greatest achievements is getting mankind to doubt his existence. If Satan were to let the wicked know he was real, they might put two and two together and realize that judgment day and hell could also be real. The devil will not surrender his best strategy so easily, Satan will continue to hide his existence even as he torments his victims. Deception is coming on a major scale. Revelation’s pages foretell a time of gross spiritual darkness.

As the horsemen ride through this earth, they don’t have the power to kill men directly. To accomplish their goals, Satan and his entourage stir up the minds of the ungodly and let them go rampaging. Even during the time of trumpets, when demonic activity will reach its peak, much of the world won’t realize they are approaching the time of the end. The light of the gospel was ignored in the day when laborers were working hard, bringing in the harvest. Now the night has come when no man can work. What lies ahead for mankind is an age where wickedness abounds.

The father of lies is about to herald his greatest lie. Antichrist will have a sales pitch so refined that people will receive his twisted illusions with itching ears. As the clock ticks down, one thing is certain, a new order will arise with men united in a common cause under the mastery of Satan.

As this planet spins ever closer to the time of Antichrist, earth will reel from the absence of light; men will strive against the Spirit of God. Because many will have abandoned God’s laws and pursued wickedness, Satan will be granted his appointed season to commence the ancient plan.

With truth thrown to the ground, the young, the unpracticed, and the half-committed may lose what truth they once held. Satan will sift the unstable ones among us like wheat. The oil in their lamps will wane, and their lights will flicker and dim.

Seven Years on Earth Without Church?

Much of orthodox Christianity is convinced that the church will ascend in the rapture a full seven years before Armageddon, not just seven weeks as this book explains. These people interpret the symbolic content of Revelation’s chapters in such a manner as to void any application to them; for example, much of the church world is sure that Jesus is the male child in Revelation 12; they believe the woman in the same chapter is Mary. People who see this chapter as a representation of Christ’s virgin birth some 2,000 years ago scoff at the idea it may have an application to God’s faithful at the end of time.

Even among the Evangelicals, it is generally taught that the two prophets in Revelation chapter 11 are either John the Baptist and Elijah, or Moses and Elijah; and the 144,000 in Revelation are National Israel; they do not see the end-time Christian church within this symbolism.

2 Thessalonians 2:

“For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed.” (2 Thessalonians 2: 7–8)

A present-day interpretation of 2nd Thessalonians 2:7-8 is one of the reasons the teaching of a seven-year period on earth, void of the church, is so widespread. The argument goes like this: where the text reads,

“… the one who now holds it back,”

is said to be all the Spirit-filled men, women, and children who make up the church.

The text goes on to say,

“… till he is taken out of the way.”

This is said to depict the removal of all these Christians, in other words, the rapture of the church.

Sound Teaching Skills—a Small Tangent:

While researching doctrine, a teacher should look up every verse pertaining to the subject in question. Upon doing so, one builds a working hypothesis. Some Scriptures at first glance may appear to run contrary to the general theme. Prudent Bible teachers do not use those Scriptures to establish doctrine; they are initially set aside. They first use easier-to-understand proof texts for a foundation until the overall picture comes into view; then after much study, they look into the harder-to-understand verses and bring them into harmony with the general tenor of the main body of evidence. Using the same systematic approach in our study, this rapture text has been set aside until now: now is the time to bring 2nd Thessalonians 2:7-8 into harmony with the general tenor of Scripture:

Several assumptions must be held in order to maintain that this passage in 2nd Thessalonians 2 is speaking of the rapture of the church before Antichrist reigns. Let’s ask ourselves: is there any possibility that Paul was not speaking solely of the church in his discourse? After all, the words

“he”

&

“one”

 do not demand that the church is the principal subject matter.

Throughout the book of Revelation, we see that God has a restraining force in place to keep Satan in check; we also see this force lifted over and over again as the various events of Revelation transpire. As the Lamb breaks the seals of Revelation’s seven-sealed scroll, demon spirits are released to go forth upon earth. Here is a good example of this force being released:

“And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.” (Revelation 9:15)

Let’s continue our investigation by taking a good look at the context of these verses in 2nd Thessalonians:

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1–3)

There is strong reason to believe that this warning from Paul starts off speaking about the rapture/resurrection with the words

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1–3)

Then Paul shifts his focus to an event that is called

“… the day of the Lord.”

When discussing Bible prophecy, the terms day of the Lord and rapture/resurrection are not randomly interchanged. The day of the Lord speaks of Christ’s coming Kingdom, starting with God’s wrath upon earth, while the rapture precedes God’s wrath.

The Day of the Lord in Scripture:

1. “Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear.” (Amos 5:18–19)

2. “A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped.” (Zechariah 14:1–2)

3. “The great day of the LORD is near—near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the LORD will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness.” (Zephaniah 14–15)

4. “The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? … The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.” (Joel 2:11 & 31)

The day of the Lord speaks of a time when the nations are punished. This day also encompasses Christ’s return and the commencement of His kingdom. If this is what Paul is referring to in 2nd Thessalonians when he penned,

“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed,”

then Paul was no longer speaking of the rapture, Paul had moved on and was speaking of Christ’s kingdom.

During Paul’s day, there was widespread teaching maintaining that the day of the Lord had already come. Paul was addressing the church, defending against this teaching by expressing that before the day of the Lord,

“… the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him”

would first occur.

To strengthen his position, Paul went on to explain that there was another event that must also occur before the day of the Lord, which is the revealing of the,

“… man of lawlessness.”

In order for this verse in 2nd Thessalonians to make sense, we need to understand that Paul was speaking of two events in his discourse; once we understand this, the passage in 2nd Thessalonians no longer offers proof that the church will be caught up as soon as the Antichrist is revealed.

Christians—Still on Earth:

“And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.” (Revelation 20:4)

Because it is said,

“They had not received his mark on their foreheads …”

Revelation 20:4 demonstrates that Christians were still on the earth during Antichrist’s reign.

Also:

“And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name.” (Revelation 15:2–3)

This verse also shows Christians who had been living on earth during the Antichrist’s rule; these souls are now seen in heaven right before the bowls of wrath are poured out.

War Against the Saints:

“As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them… He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.” (Daniel 7:21, 25)

This “horn” is Antichrist. The “saints” are all the Christians who make up the church. This word usage in Daniel, “time, times and half a time” and the identical word usage in Revelation 12:12, “time, times and half a time,” is speaking of a three-and-a-half-year period in which the Antichrist rules the world. On this subject the book of Revelation spells out,

“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17)

The teaching that Christians will have ascended before Antichrist reigns, runs contrary to all these Bible verses, whose interpretations are straightforward. It also goes against the teaching of a last trumpet rapture and violates the time-line of Revelation. The earth will not be void of the church a full seven years before Armageddon.

The two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11 are seen performing miracle-working power as they deliver their testimony; if the witnesses are an illustration of the church, then surely the church is still on the earth as Revelation’s days unfold.

In the Days of the Seventh Trumpet:

The rapture occurs in the days of the seventh trumpet, when it shall begin to sound. It happens right before the bowl plagues are poured out. Instead of seven years on earth void of the church, Revelation’s pages speak of men, women, and children delivering a testimony to the world!

As Jesus breaks open the first wax seal of earth’s mortgage scroll in heaven, a countdown begins. No one knows the day or the hour. Nevertheless, we understand from scripture that the breaking of the first seal signifies that earth’s domain is about to be transferred to Jesus Christ.

In the Middle of the Final Week—the Messiah Was Cut Off:

It only makes sense that something is standing in the way of Christ’s kingdom. According to Old Testament prophecy, Christ’s ministry was cut off in the middle of the week of years that was needed to fulfill the covenant. With all the pain and suffering in the world, if it was lawful for Jesus to step in and put a stop to the suffering, it would seem likely that he would have by now. There’s a reason Jesus Christ isn’t ruling the earth at this time! He’s waiting for the final three and a half years of legal testimony to be delivered through His spiritual body:

“This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32)

Three and One-Half Years:

Within the Book of Revelation there are verses depicting a three and a half year time-frame:

1. “The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months.” (Revelation 13:5)

2. “The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.” (Revelation 12:14)

3. “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” (Revelation 11:3)

“Forty-two months,” “time, times and half a time,” and “1,260 days,” are all terms depicting a three-and-a-half-year time frame. Many Bible scholars put two of these periods back-to-back to get a seven-year timeframe. However, within Revelation’s chapters events overlap; sometimes an event is mentioned, and then the reader is brought back in time to focus on elements of that event from a different perspective.

Christ Is Calling Us to Warn the World:

The most consequential theme Revelation holds is that we, as a unified body, have a ministry to fulfill in these last days. Keeping this vision fresh in our hearts will keep us open to the moving of God’s Spirit. The Spirit will lead us. The Spirit will teach us. The Spirit will give us words to speak as we bring forth our testimony. Jesus said,

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)

Stealing the Calling:

Perhaps Satan’s greatest triumph lies in stealing the calling that we have found in God’s Word. Satan knows he can’t remove us from the Master’s hand, so instead he focuses on sidetracking us to forsake the Master’s plan. Satan works within and without the church, desperately seeking to corrupt the gospel. He’s the source of bitter waters—corrupt teachings that lead men astray. The pure water of the Word cleanses the soul. Righteous teaching brings forth good fruit and a bountiful harvest. But when the church receives false teaching, it’s a detriment to the body. At this very hour, Satan is lashing out in an attempt to hinder the growing kingdom of Christ where it matters the most—by influencing us to abandon the Great Commission. If the devil can stop the mouths of the prophets, he can choke the wellspring of life from the movement.

Deception is on the horizon! Souls are hanging in the balance. Millions are standing on the brink of eternity. Satan and his angels are pushing hard, focusing all their effort on deceiving the minds of men and then keeping them in deception. Satan desires to condemn as many as possible to the same fate he’s facing by influencing them to believe things that will lead to their spiritual destruction. Without the light of truth, it will be impossible for some to see through the coming darkness.

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