The Last Time I Teach the Last Times

 

The Last Time I Teach the Last Times
I don’t want to color anybody’s reading of the Word, especially on this topic! Let’s let the Word of God speak for itself.
There are a few interpretation “rules” we have to review.
1. Verses are to be taken literally unless there is some indication in the context that the words are meant to be taken figuratively.
2. Clearer passages of the Bible will explain more difficult passages.
Chapter 1: Jesus Says (Matthew 24-25)
Matthew 24-25 is the basis for all our understanding of the Last Times/End of the World. Everything else in the Bible should line up with this in-depth discourse of Jesus.
The Setting (Matthew 24.1-3)
Go to Matthew 21 and Matthew 27 to determine when Matthew 24 takes place.
Holy Week
How does Jesus throw a wet blanket over the disciples’ obvious awe at the beauty of the Temple in the setting sun?
He tells them not one stone of this beautiful Temple will be left standing on another one.
What three questions do the disciples ask Jesus?
1. __When will the Temple be destroyed?
2. __What is the sign you are coming back?  How can we be sure you are really coming back for us?
3. __What is the sign of the end of the world, that the Last Day really is the Last Day?
“What will be the sign of your coming” means “how do we know you are really coming back?” Likewise the “what will be the sign of the end” means “how do we know this is really the end?”
Why would it be more important for the disciples to know Jesus was coming back rather than when he was coming back?
It will comfort and strengthen their faith knowing they will be going to heaven one day.
Does this line up with other Scripture? (cf. John 14.1-4)
Yes!  John 14.1-4 clearly says Jesus is going to come back to take his believers to be with him in heaven.
The rest of Matthew 24 answers these three questions.
Fill in the chart to determine which answer goes to which question. (Here are your choices)
Matthew 24.4-14
Matthew 24.15-25
Matthew 24. 26-35

When will the Temple be destroyed?
How do we know you are coming back for us?
How do we know when the end of the world is here?
Matthew 24.15-25
Matthew 24.4-14
Matthew 24.26-35

Good! Now we’re on the right track, letting Jesus speak for himself.
Look at the closing verses of each section (14, 25, 35). What do they all have in common?
An emphasis on the Word of God.  It will be preached throughout the world, Jesus has told them ahead of time, his words will never pass away.
This is a pretty good indication that our division of Jesus’ words is correct—they all end with a refrain, a refrain of the proclamation of the Gospel. That should also encourage us to let Jesus speak for himself and not put words into his mouth!
Let’s take the answers in chronological order (I’ve left the next three pages loose leafed so nobody cheats!)--you will have to click the following hyperlinks to get them!
 
Ah! Welcome back. The disciples’ three questions have been answered. But like so many of Jesus’ discourses, someone else’s questions open up the topic for Jesus to talk at length about what really needed to be emphasized.
Be Ready! The Day and Hour is Unknown! (Matthew 24.36-51)
With this section coming on the heels of Jesus answering the disciples’ questions, what should this tell us about using Jesus’ preceding words as a timetable to determine when the Second Coming will be?
Who alone knows when the Last Day will be?
Only God the Father
What is the point of comparison between the Last Day and the day Noah entered the ark?
Unexpected and total destruction.
Look at verses 40-41. Is it a continuation of Jesus’ words about Noah or does it introduce a new topic?
Continuation.  There is no break in the text, nothing that would indicate we are talking about something new here.
If it is a continuation of Jesus’ words about the days of Noah, what is the point of comparison?
Unexpected destruction.
On what day will one be taken and the other left?
The Last Day
(Remember this answer for next week!)
What is the point of Jesus’ words about the day and hour unknown?
We are always to be ready for it.
The question now becomes, which type of servant will you be? Fill in the chart.

Type of Servant
Believing
Unbelieving
Behavior of Servant
Good
Bad
Destiny of Servant
Heaven
Hell

 
Keep Watch! The Day and Hour is Unknown! (Matthew 25.1-13)
What day does Jesus’ parable of the faithful and wicked servants end on?
The Last Day
What day does the parable of the faithful and unfaithful virgins talk about?
The Last Day
How do you know this?
"at that time"  Jesus is still referring to the Last Day which he was talking about in Matthew 24.26-35
How can you tell which virgins were wise and which were foolish?
The wise ones have enough oil, the foolish ones no longer have oil.
What were they waiting for?
The Las Day
When does the bridegroom come?
At midnight
How does that line up with Matthew 24.36, 39, 42, 44, 50?
It is unexpected.  No one in their right mind expects a wedding party to start at midnight.  In the same way, no one expects the Last Day or can predict when it will be.
Let’s start putting the characters of the parable together with reality.

Parable Detail
Reality
Bridegroom
Jesus Christ
Midnight
unexpected end
WeddingBanquet
Heaven
Wise Virgins
Believers
Foolish Virgins
Unbelievers

What is the point of this parable of Jesus about the Last Times?
Keep watch!
Keep Watch! The Day and Hour is Unknown! (Matthew 25.14-29)
How does Jesus link this parable with the preceding parable?
"Again, it will be like."  He uses words that connect ideas together.
What does that say about the moral of the parable?
It is the same moral as the foolish and the wise virgins--be ready!
Fill in the chart to prove that this is actually the same parable but with different characters!

10 VirginsParable Detail
Talents Parable Detail
Reality
Bridegroom
Master on a journey
Jesus
Midnight
long time to return
Last Day
Wedding Banquet
Masters' happiness
Heaven
WiseVirgins
hard workers
Believers
FoolishVirgins
lazy workers
Unbelievers/Hypocrites

Since this is the same parable, all that remains is to investigate some of the differences—what Jesus added.
Why does each servant get differing amounts of money?
According to his ability.
What did the master expect of each servant?
That they be faithful with whatever amount they had been given.
How could you tell the faithful servants had been faithful?
See what they did with their talent.  They invested it and gained more.
What was the reward of the faithful servants?
Heaven
How could you tell the unfaithful servant was unfaithful?
Judge him by his words which explain his actions.  He hates and fears the Master and this shows in his unwillingness to work for the Master.  He has done nothing with what he has been given.
What was the punishment of the unfaithful servant?
Hell
What does it mean to “keep watch” for the Last Day?
Live the Christian life.  Be active in our faith according to our abilities.
The Non-Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25.31-46)
Which of the ten virgins got into heaven?
The faithful ones.
Which of the “talented” servants got into heaven?
The faithful ones.
Who gets into heaven?
The faithful, the believers.
When do they get into heaven?
On the Last Day
Did the treatment of the foolish virgins seem harsh to you? Why?
Yes, perhaps a bit.
Jesus himself shows the treatment of the unfaithful servant may seem harsh to people—in Luke’s retelling of the parable (Luke 19.25) the servants themselves object to the masters’ treatment of the unfaithful servant!
Jesus concludes his teachings on the Last Days by addressing this point—why do the unbelievers receive such treatment and why is it not unjustifiably harsh treatment?
Who is the Son of Man?
Jesus
When will he come?
Last Day
Who will accompany him?
Angels
Who will appear before him?
All people
What must have happened to all these people that they can appear before Jesus on the Last Day?
A general resurrection must have taken place for all people (believers and unbelievers) are alive again.
Who are the sheep? How can you tell?
They are the believers, the ones who are "blessed by God."
Who are the goats? How can you tell?
They are the unbelievers, those who are "cursed."
Prove that the sheep are saved by faith alone and not by works.
Jesus uses the words, "since the creation" and "inheritance."  You can't earn an inheritance--it depends on the will of the one drawing up the will.  And you can hardly earn something that was given you before you were even created!
Prove that the goats are damned by works alone and not by faith.
Jesus points out the things that their unbelief led them not to do.  Their lives were filled with evil deeds of lovelessness.
Why don’t we need a timeline after Judgment Day?
There is no time, for we are now in eternity.
Discussion
1. Knowing human nature, what would happen if people actually knew the day and the hour when Jesus would come and how would that be absolutely hazardous to their soul’s salvation?
It would be almost impossible not to procrastinate.  If I knew the Lord was returning, say, August 17, 2017, wouldn't it be almost irresistible to say, "I'll get religion on June 17, 2017."  But until then I lead a wicked, dissolute life.  Why, if I got drunk and wrapped my car around a telephone pole on August 17, 2007, that knowledge of when the Last Day was coming wouldn't help me a bit!  The day I die is the day my world ends.  If I am ready for the end of the world at any time, I am also ready for the end of my personal world, my life, at any time.
2. Why does Jesus tell us about Judgment Day and heaven and hell?
First of all, because they really exist.  Christ is nothing, if not truthful.  Secondly, to comfort us with the hope of heaven.  Nothing is worth more than that.  All our cares and sorrows will find healing there.  Finally, he tells us about hell to scare us away from sin.  If he needs to use the Law as a curb to frighten us away from things that would destroy our soul's salvation, he is more than happy to use that weapon, too.  It is really the only thing our sinful human nature listens to--that threat of the Law which keeps it so immobilized by fear that it can't master us.
3. What effect should Jesus’ teachings on the Last Times have on believers?
They are to comfort us and give us strength and encouragement.  If they are taught in such a way that they scare the bejeebers out of us, they are being taught wrong.  It is Gospel, not Law.
The Last Time I Teach the Last Times
I don’t want to color anybody’s reading of the Word, especially on this topic! Let’s let the Word of God speak for itself.
There are a few interpretation “rules” we have to review.
1. Verses are to be taken literally unless there is some indication in the context that the words are meant to be taken figuratively.
2. Clearer passages of the Bible will explain more difficult passages.
Chapter 2: Why Left Behind Should Be (Matthew 24-25, 1 Thessalonians 4.13-5.11)
One hesitates to teach people false doctrine, but with this subject, I doubt whether I will be telling anyone anything new. Thanks to the “Left Behind” series, false teachings about the Last Times have been spread like an epidemic! I would encourage all of you to leave Left Behind behind you! Here, in a nutshell, is the teaching of “Left Behind.” We call it “The Rapture.”
The False Teaching Concerning the False Doctrine of the Rapture
As the world progresses to the end, Judgment Day, things will get worse and worse (“The Tribulation”). But wait! Things are going to get really worse very soon (“The Great Tribulation”). But before things get that bad, Jesus is going to come back from heaven, halfway, in the clouds. He will rapture, seize away, all his living believers from the earth at one time, that they may not have to suffer the final woes of the world. They will be safe in heaven while earth experiences the worst sufferings ever. Those left behind will suffer, but will also have time to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus. Then, when Jesus comes, there will be even more chances to believe. Sort of.
I better give you some definitions to explain the timelines.
The rapture is what we are studying right now.
The millennium is the idea that Jesus will come and rule on earth for 1000 years.
The tribulation is a time of terrible sufferings that almost destroys the Church on earth, until Jesus appears to save it and usher in eternity.
Here are timelines showing the two main false conflicting views about the end times.
Pre-Tribulation Millennium
 
                                                                       
Post-Tribulation Millennium
 
                        
This teaching of the Rapture is common among Baptist (Green Valley Baptist Church), Non-denominational (Central Christian Church), and Assembly of God (Green Valley Christian Center) fellowships. There are literally dozens of variations on these two basic outlines, whose proponents are willing to fight to the death on it. You can get all sorts of fantastical Biblical interpretations of Daniel and Revelation from this bunch.
People who believe in the Rapture basically point to two proof passages, Matthew 24.39b-41 and Thessalonians 4.13-5.11. The first one is easy—we’ve already studied it! Let’s go to that one, first.
Does Matthew 24-25 Teach the Rapture?
Give two reasons why is this section of the Bible so important to the teachings of the Last Times?
1. __Jesus' clearest teaching on this matter
2. __Explains all other end times passages
Look closely at the context. What is Jesus talking about in Matthew 24.36?
Judgment Day
What is the point of comparison between Judgment Day and the day Noah entered the Ark?
Unexpected destruction.
What is referred to by “the coming of the Son of Man” in Matthew 24.39
The Last Day--Judgment Day
What will happen to the one man taken in the field?
He will go to heaven.
What is the other man in the field left for?
He will be left for hell.
Why does Jesus talk about him being left rather than thrown into hell?
The people outside Noah's ark were left for destruction from the Flood.  Jesus is keeping this parallelism.  Those taken are the saved in heaven and it implies that others are left. 
What will happen to the one woman taken?
She will go to heaven.
What will happen to the other woman?
She will be left to go to hell.
How does this agree with the Parable of the Ten Virgins?
Five let in and five shut out.
What does Matthew 24.42 talk about?
Judgment Day
Let’s put it in a table to clarify the situation.

Matthew 24.
Reference
36
Judgment Day
37
Judgment Day
39
Judgment Day
40
Judgment Day
41
Judgment Day
42
Judgment Day
44
Judgment Day

Do you see any indication in the text that verses 40 and 41 talk about a totally different time?
No
Do you see any indication in the text that verses 40 and 41 talk about a Judgment Day, the same time verses 36-39 and 42-44 talk about?
Yes--it is a continuation of them.  "That is how it will be (v. 39b)."
So, what is Matthew 24.40-41 talking about?
Judgment Day
What are we to keep watch for in Matthew 24.43-44?
Judgment Day
What are we to keep watch for in Matthew 24.45-51?
Judgment Day
What does the Parable of the Ten Virgins talk about?
Judgment Day
What does the Parable of the Talents talk about?
Judgment Day
What does the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats talk about?
Judgment Day
Does Matthew 24-25 teach the Rapture?
NO
How can you be sure?
It is talking about Judgment Day.
Does 1 Thessalonians 4.13-5.11 Teach the Rapture?
Read the whole section over first.
What is referred to by “the coming of the Lord” in 1 Thessalonians 4.15?
Judgment Day
What is referred to by “the day of the Lord” in 1 Thessalonians 5.2?
Judgment Day
How do Paul’s words about a thief in the night (1 Th 5.2) line up with Jesus’ words in Matthew 24-25?  How does that confirm your interpretation about which day 1 Thessalonians 4.13-5.11 is talking about?
Judgment Day will be a day of unexpected destruction, like a thief comes unexpectedly.
What does 1 Thessalonians 5.3 line up with in Matthew 24-25?
No one knows that day or hour--Judgment Day will be unexpected.
So, what day is 1 Thessalonians 4.14-5.3 talking about?
Judgment Day
In 1 Thessalonians 4.14-17 Paul has given us an in-depth time line of Judgment Day.
Judgment Day
 
4.14 Jesus brings dead believers with him
4.16a Jesus will come down
4.16b Dead in Christ will rise
4.17a Living believers will be caught up in the air
4.17b All believers will be with the Lord forever
Will there be unbelievers present on Judgment Day?
Yes
How do you know?
From the parable of the sheep and the goats, the talents and the ten virgins
Are there unbelievers mentioned in Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4.13-17?
No
I think this is the kicker for those who believe in the Rapture. The absence of unbelievers leads them to think this day Paul is talking about refers to a day different than the Judgment Day. (Remember, these are the same kinds of people who almost delight in talking about the torments and anguish of the damned on the Last Day!). They have a point. There should be unbelievers mentioned if you are talking about Judgment Day…unless there is some guidance from the text.
Look closely at 1 Thessalonians 4.13. What are the Thessalonians upset about?
The believers who have already died will miss out on the Last Day and are now without hope!
What will happen to the souls of those who have died before the Last Day comes (1 Thessalonians 4.14)?
Jesus will bring them along with him on Judgment Day.
Look closely at 1 Thessalonians 4.15. What false thinking particularly disturbs the Thessalonians?
Dead believers will be second rate at the Judgment Day or may even miss out entirely on everlasting life.
So, instead of talking about sheep and goats, believers and unbelievers, what two groups of people is Paul talking about in 1 Thessalonians 4.13-16?
Dead believers and living believers when Judgment Day comes.
This flow chart may help things.
Saints Alive and Dead at Judgment Day
Put the appropriate letter by the numbered box in the chart above.
a. We will be with the Lord forever
b. Dead in Christ will rise first
c. God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him
d. We who are still alive and left will be caught up with them in the clouds
1 c
2 b
3 d
4 a
Why aren’t the unbelievers mentioned in this discussion on Judgment Day?
They are not the topic of the Thessalonians' question.
Why would this be an encouragement to the believers at Thessalonica?
The dead believers will in no way miss out on Judgment Day or eternal life.  In fact, they will have front row seats!
Now Paul goes on in 1 Thessalonians 5 to discuss how we should live that Judgment Day does not surprise us like a thief in the night.
How does this echo Jesus’ words in Matthew 24-25?
Keep watch.  He mentions drunkenness and the need for self-control.  His imagery matches with Jesus' imagery.
How do we “keep watch” so that Judgment Day does not catch us unawares?
Be faithful, keep living the Christian life.
Does this line up with Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 24-25?
Yes!
Does 1 Thessalonians 4.13-5.11 teach the Rapture?
NO!
But what about the “Alive Believers” when Judgment Day comes? Paul isn’t all that clear about what will happen to the “Alive Believers” on Judgment Day. You have to go to 1 Corinthians 15.50-53. Let’s go back to the chart in fill in a few more items on the basis of 1 Corinthians 15.50-53.
Saints Alive and Dead at Judgment Day
We’ve got boxes 1, 2, 3 and 4 down pat. Review it briefly.
On the basis of 1 Corinthians 15.50-53, what happens at 2A on Judgment Day?
The living believers (we) will be changed.
How do we know 1 Corinthians 15.50-53 is talking about Judgment Day?
Paul is talking of the resurrection of the body on Judgment Day.
Discussion
1. Why do people believe in the Rapture?
They are in the habit of following the teachings of men rather than going by the simple words of the Bible.  Let's face it, there's not a lot of publicity to be gained by sticking to the truths of the Bible, but there's a veritable cult of the personality when you go down to the local (false) Christian bookstore and see the full color posters of this generation's latest false prophets.  Many people, especially from Reformed circles, are just plain bad Bible students.  They read into the Bible what they have been told to find by their religious leaders.
2. Why do people see the Rapture being taught in Scripture?
They are bad Bible students.  They are blinded by their false teachers, the devil or their sinful human nature, to simply let the words speak for themselves.  They mangle the grammar and sense of the sentences.  It certainly is exciting.  It certainly is new.  And that's the catch.  Some people are simply into Christianity for the next great adventure and this gang will never let them stop long enough to catch their breath, putting one of "God's causes" ahead of them without let-up.
3. Do you see any dangers to the teaching of the Rapture?
It takes attention away from the cross of Christ.  It can lead to a false security--"Relax," says the super-cool unbeliever--"I'm going to get religion right after the Rapture when I know all this God stuff is really for real."  It teaches people to rely more on the teachings of man than the clear words of the Bible.  That's what the Pope wanted in the days of Luther!  Finally, all false teaching is dangerous for it will eat away at the rest of a person's faith.  If only my steak is rotten, but my salad, vegetables, milk, dinner bun and chocolate pudding are fine, I'm still going to get sick if I woof down that steak.  Get rid of it and enjoy a wholesome, healthy meal! 
The Last Time I Teach the Last Times
I don’t want to color anybody’s reading of the Word, especially on this topic! Let’s let the Word of God speak for itself.
There are a few interpretation “rules” we have to review.
1. Verses are to be taken literally unless there is some indication in the context that the words are meant to be taken figuratively.
2. Clearer passages of the Bible will explain more difficult passages.
Chapter 3: Give or Take a Thousand Years (Selected Old Testament Passages, Revelation 20)
Roots of the False Teaching Concerning the False Doctrine of the Millennium
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel,” the disciples asked Jesus on the day he ascended into heaven. Mired as they were in the false Jewish teachings that the Messiah would bring earthly deliverance to the Jews and reestablish the kingdom of David, even three and a half years with Jesus couldn’t shake them loose from this false teaching. Throughout the Gospels this false teaching is spooking around—in the enemies of Jesus! After the feeding of the 5000 they want to make Jesus their Bread-King. The crowds turning out for Jesus’ Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem give Jesus praise heavily laced with political overtones. The charge of the Jewish leaders reflect this common thinking the Messiah would bring an earthly rule with him, so what better way to get rid of a false Messiah than to turn him in to the Romans!
We will investigate the supposed Old Testament roots of this false teaching regarding the false doctrine of the Millennium. We will briefly view Jesus’ words attacking decisively this false teaching and then will take a look at the verse most distorted to “prove” the false teaching of the Millennium, Revelation 20.
In an aside, it is interesting to note the calm way Jesus dealt with his disciples when they were caught up in millennial thinking. “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” Then he gets them back on track, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.” This is the same Holy Spirit Jesus promised, would “guide you into all truth.” True to his word and true to the Holy Spirit, after the day of Pentecost, the false doctrine of the Millennium never surfaced in apostolic teaching and never appeared in the three ecumenical creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, Athanasian) which confessed the teaching of the first four centuries of the whole Christian Church on earth.
The False Teaching Concerning the False Doctrine of the Millennium (Simplified)
Either before or after the Great Tribulation, Jesus is going to come back to this earth with (or without) his believers and establish an earthly rule, centered in Jerusalem, throughout the world by his power for a thousand years. During that thousand years many unbelievers will come to faith, leaving only the most hardened and despicable still as Satanic controlled enemies of Christ; the Jews by and large will be converted and become a tremendous force for the spread of the Gospel. At the end of the thousand years Judgment Day will come, when the souls of all the dead believers will be returned to their bodies and they will enter heaven for all eternity. On the other hand, the ungodly will also be resurrected to be thrown, body and soul, in hell with the Devil and all his co-workers of evil.
Does the Old Testament Teach the Millennium?
Passages commonly used to “prove” the Millennium from the Old Testament are Isaiah 2.2-4 (Micah 4.1-4), Isaiah 11.6-9, Zechariah 9.9-10, Joel 2.28-32, Joel 3.18-21.
Let’s take a look at each one of these noting its context.
Isaiah 2.2-4 (Micah 4.1-4)
Where is the center of God’s Church?
Jerusalem, where the Word of God is taught
How is this portrayed in picture language?
Mountain of the Lord's Temple raised above all the hills.
Who will come to this Jerusalem?
All nations, many peoples.
Why do the people go to Jerusalem?
To learn the Word of God, to have God's revelation (Law) reach them.
What light does this verse shed on all peoples coming to Jerusalem?
You have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. Hebrews 12.22
They are coming into the New Testament Church!
What would be a better, simpler interpretation of Isaiah’s words rather than a millennial conversion?
People from all nations will become believers, members of God's New Testament Church.
Go back to Isaiah 2.2-4
What will be the role of the Messiah?
He will be a teacher--he will give the Law.
What will be the result of the Messiah’s work?
There will peace between God and man.
How does Isaiah picture this perfect peace?
Swords are turned into plowshares.
Remember Rule # 2 in Biblical interpretation? Interpret Isaiah 2.2-4 in light of Jesus’ clear words.
During New Testament times many people will hear the Gospel and become believers.  They will enjoy spiritual peace with God.
Is there any indication there would be universal peace on earth with Jesus’ earthly, millennial rule in Matthew 24-25?
No
What light does this verse shed on universal, earthly peace?
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10.34
Here on earth, Jesus' work will also produce persecution, hardly peace between all peoples.
What kind of peace does Jesus bring all his believers?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14.27
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16.33
Peace with God, a spiritual peace.
What would be a better, simpler interpretation of Isaiah’s words rather than a universal millennial peace?
Jesus' work will make people believers, members of the New Testament Church, from all over the world, people who now experience spiritual peace with God.
Isaiah 11.6-9
Isaiah pictures the coming of the Messiah (11.1-5) and then describes the peace he will bring.
What is remarkable about the animals in Isaiah’s picture?
These animals do not naturally eat with each other--they eat each other!
When was the last time all animals were vegetarian?
The Garden of Eden
Revelation 22 pictures heaven as paradise restored. It even has the tree of life in it, the same tree we last heard about in the Garden of Eden. Revelation 22 pictures heaven as a restored Eden.
Where do these blessings center, in a paradise restored on earth or in the Church? Prove your answer from Isaiah 11.9.
They center in the church--the holy mountain is a picture of the Church, the New Jerusalem.  Knowledge of the Lord will go out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.
Where will we find such universal peace?
Only in heaven.
Does Isaiah 11.6-9 teach a millennial peace?
No.  He teaches a universal spiritual peace through faith in God.
Zechariah 9.9-10
Look to Matthew 21.1-4 to get the proper interpretation of Zechariah 9.9.
What is Zechariah prophesying?
Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
Do you see any indication there is a shift in time between Zechariah 9.9 and Zechariah 9.10?
No
What does Zechariah 9.10 predict?
Jesus coming to save his people.
What kind of peace does the Savior bring (see our discussion above on Isaiah)?
Spiritual peace.
Often spiritual peace between man and God is described in terms of earthly peace. Consider Isaiah 40.2 (King James):
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
Then Isaiah goes to predict the life and ministry of John the Baptist.
What would be a better, simpler interpretation of Zechariah’s words rather than a universal millennial peace?
Jesus brings absolute peace between man and God.
Joel 2.28-32
Looking at Acts 2.16-21, what is Joel predicting in Joel 2.28-29?
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
According to Jesus’ words in Matthew 24-25, when will the sun be darkened and the moon turned to blood?
On the Last Day.
Is there any indication there is a different time frame referred to in Joel 2.32?
No
Do Old Testament prophets refer to heaven as Mount Zion and Jerusalem?
Yes, because it is the home of God's people.
How could those who are in heaven be referred to as “survivors?”
They are survivors from the destruction of the world on the Last Day.
Why would it be particularly effective for Peter to refer to Joel’s words on the day of Pentecost? (consider this diagram)
What would be a better, simpler interpretation of Joel’s words rather than a millennial conversion?
Get to heaven!  Be saved before the end comes.  Hear the Gospel now and believe it!
Joel 3.18-21
This section of Joel starts out with a very definite time frame, “In that day.” Look at Joel 3.14-16 to get the time frame. What day do these words of Joel refer to?
The Last Day
Do you see any indication within Joel 3.18-21 that he isn’t predicting only a thousand years of peaceful rule by Jesus Christ?
He says, "forever."
What would be a better, simpler interpretation of Joel’s words rather than a millennial peace?
Joel is picturing heaven's perfect peace.
Does the Old Testament teach a Millennium?
No
Did Jesus teach a Millennium?
No
Who taught a Millennium?
The enemies of Jesus, the Jewish religious leaders.
There is nothing new under the sun! Look at what Lutherans were fighting against in 1530!
They condemn also others, who are now spreading certain Jewish opinions, that before the resurrection of the dead the godly shall take possession of the kingdom of the world, the ungodly being everywhere suppressed. Augsburg Confession. Article XVII.5
Does Revelation 20 Teach the Millennium?
Let’s just read the entire chapter in context, asking simple questions.
What does the angel have?
The key to the Abyss and a chain
What does the dragon represent?
Satan
What does the chain represent?
The binding power of the Gospel to protect God's people from Satan.
How long is the dragon chained up?
1000 years
What happens after the dragon is released?
He deceives the nations and marches upon God's people.
How will it look for God’s people during this time?
Bad
How are God’s people saved?
Fire comes from heaven and destroys the forces of evil.
What, obviously, is represented in verse 10?
Judgment Day
What is happening in verses 11-15?
Judgment Day
So far, so good. Now let’s take a closer look.
Fill in the chart for Revelation 20.1-3

Character
Literal (L) or Figurative (F)
Represents (if figurative)
Angel with chains
F
Gospel
Dragon
F
Satan
1000 years
F
whole period of time

Do you see any indication in the text that the 1000 years should be taken literally?
No
What does 1000 years represent? Why not 1 million years? Why were so many people spooked by January 1, 2000?
A complete period of time.  Even today we think of 1000 years as a complete period of time.  Just think how many foolish people were thinking the world would end at Y2K.
Is the devil really on the run during all this New Testament time? (Remember John 16.33!)?
Yes!  The Gospel gives men peace and sets them apart from the devil's power.
What would be a better, simpler interpretation of John’s words rather than a Millennium?
On earth we will have peace with God through faith in the Gospel.
First Resurrection—Second Death
The key to understanding Revelation 20.4-6 and 11-15 seems to be the First Resurrection and the Second Death.
I think we can, before we even look at the text, identify the First Death.

 
PertinentBiblePassage
Who does it affect?
What is it?
First Resurrection
John 11.25
Believers
Faith
First Death
John 11.25
All
Physical Death
Second Resurrection
John 11.26
Believers
Heaven
Second Death
John 11.26
Unbelievers
Eternal Death 
 

If Jesus’ words are the key to understand these verses, let’s go back to Revelation 20.
Those who sit on thrones are those who reign with Christ during the New Testament era. They are the believers. Coming to faith is the First Resurrection.
How do you know that verse 5 “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended” is not part of the First Resurrection?
They are spiritually dead--they are the unbelievers.
Why will those who have experienced the First Resurrection not have to fear the Second Death?
They are spiritually alive and will enter heaven, eternal life.
Skip over to Revelation 20.11-15.
How can you tell it is the end of the world?
Earth and sky are gone.
How do you know it is Judgment Day?
The Judge is there opening up his books of judgment.  It is Judgment Day.
What is the Second Death?
The lake of fire, a picture of hell.
Does this fit with Jesus’ Parable of the Sheep and the Goats?
He describes hell as a place of eternal fire.
Now, let’s go back to Revelation 20.7-10.
What is described in Revelation 20.10?
Satan is thrown into the burning fire.
What is being described here?
Hell
Does this line up with Jesus’ words in Matthew 24?
Yes.  The devil, his evil angels and all unbelievers (goats) will be in the eternal fire.
What would be a better, simpler interpretation of John’s words rather than a Millennium?
Jesus brings spiritual peace to his believers and they will experience that to the full in heaven.
Discussion
1. Maybe through all this you’ve been thinking, “Gee, this is a little less cut and dried than the previous two lessons. Maybe there is something to the Millennium!” We’ve left out one passage, the “deal killer.” It is so obvious you don’t need someone to lead you through it. Look at John 18.36, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Discuss the context, Pilate’s responsibility, Jesus’ answer and the implications it has for any teaching on the Millennium.
Jesus was on trial for his life.  The charge was that Jesus was claiming to be an earthly king who posed a threat to Rome.  It doesn't matter when that threat is against Rome.  The point is that he is a threat.  Even if it were only towards the end of the world, in the Millennium, that Jesus would be an earthly king, Pilate would still have had to find him guilty.  The Romans expected their empire to last forever.  And Jesus would have been a liar, because he says his kingdom is not of this world.
2. You Lutherans don’t believe the Bible. We Baptists do, because we take it literally, especially Revelation 20. How would you sly foxes respond?
Not everything in the Bible is meant to be taken literally.  Sometimes a literal translation will lead you into false teaching (the Millennium is a good example).  Take the passages the way they were meant to be taken.  Literal passages are to be taken literally.  Figurative passages are to be taken figuratively.  Baptists are bad interpreters of the Bible because of this.  It's not a question of believing the Bible but reading the Bible the way it was meant to be read.
3. What is the danger in believing in the Millennium? After all, even our Augsburg Confession simply referred to it as an “opinion.”
An opinion is never to be held to in contradiction of the Bible's teachings.  By calling it an opinion, the Augsburg Confession is saying it is a false teaching, not something given by God, but thought up by men, their opinion.  Believing in the Millennium can lead to an approach to Bible interpretation that is not God-pleasing, the "I'll get out of the Bible what I want" attitude.  Then we are using God's word, but not obeying it.  It also takes away from the cross of Christ and distracts people from sin and grace with all these additional teachings.
4. We have to be bound to an interpretation of the Old Testament if the New Testament quotes it. Agree or Disagree and explain why.
Agree.  The Holy Spirit inspired the New Testament, so the interpretation of that Old Testament passage is the Holy Spirit's inspired interpretation of it.
Note: Next week’s class is going to be a bit grueling since we will be covering a number of chapters in Revelation in overview. Take next week’s booklet along with you and work through it this week.
The Last Time I Teach the Last Times
I don’t want to color anybody’s reading of the Word, especially on this topic! Let’s let the Word of God speak for itself.
There are a few interpretation “rules” we have to review.
1. Verses are to be taken literally unless there is some indication in the context that the words are meant to be taken figuratively.
2. Clearer passages of the Bible will explain more difficult passages.
Chapter 4: Grinding out the Tribulation (Revelation 6-20)
Disagreement about “The Great Tribulation”
Perhaps the best way to describe the exaggerated teaching some have on “The Great Tribulation” is to quote at length from a Bible encyclopedia—and this is as clear as it gets!
Reminiscent of Daniel 12.2, Jesus predicted a “great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” It includes more intense persecution of God’s people by the anti-Christian forces. To the disciples on the Mount of Olives, Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” The period also includes acts of God in pouring out His righteous wrath on the ungodly. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Such manifestations of divine wrath are described in detail by John in Revelation 6-19. out of “the great tribulation” comes a multitude seen before the throne of the Lamb.
On the identity of the people of God in the great tribulation and the time of the rapture theologians differ. Posttribulationists see the Church continuing on earth to the end of the tribulation when the rapture occurs. Midtribulationists look for the Church to survive the first half of the tribulation when the rapture takes place. Pretibulationists anticipate the rapture prior to the tribulation so that the people of God on earth are members of the restored Jewish nation.
Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible
You will note they believe in the Rapture, which we discussed in Chapter 2 and the Millennium, which we discussed in Chapter 3. Just because it is an encyclopedia doesn’t make it the Bible! Naturally there is much disagreement because the Bible doesn’t teach “The Great Tribulation” the way they see it.
Go to the Source
Review Jesus’ words of Matthew 24.1-35.
What are the signs of the end in Matthew 24.4-14?
These are the signs that the end of the world is coming, that we can be sure that Jesus is coming back for us: wars, rumor of wars, nation against nation, earthquakes, famines, false teachers, persecution of Christians, apostasy of believers, spread of the Gospel to the whole world.
Could this be described as “tribulation?”
Yes--it doesn't sound like a very pleasant time to be a Christian!
What signs intervene in Matthew 24.15-25?
Signs of the destruction of Jerusalem: abomination that causes desolation, false Christs.
The encyclopedia talks about the sun turning to blood and the moon not giving its light as more of the tribulation. What, however, is Jesus talking about in Matthew 24.26-35?
The Last Day, Judgment Day.
In general, then, Jesus gives this timeline.
The History of the World
So when is the Tribulation happening?
Now!  Until Jesus returns.
Table of Contents (Revelation 6)
John’s Revelation is broken into two parts, the Seven Letters to the Seven Churches (Revelation 1-3) and the Spiritual History of the World For All Eternity (Revelation 4-21). Revelation 4-5 take us to heaven. What we are going to see is the spiritual history of the world, firmly in the hands of God, sort of a Forward from the author. Then we have the table of Contents, Revelation 6, which, in summary fashion, through the imagery of the Seals, gives us the spiritual history of the world.
Fill in the chart to discover who the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are (included are Jesus’ clear words in Matthew 24)

Vision
Jesus’ Words
Identity
Rev. 6.2
This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world, and then the end will come (24.14).
White horse with rider bent on conquest
Rev. 6.3-4
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars (24.6)
Red horse whose rider takes peace away from the earth
Rev. 6.5-6
There will be famines (24.7).
Black horse whose rider talks about shortages and scarcity
Rev. 6.7-8
See above two boxes
Pale horse with Death and Hell as its rider

The Seals (Four Horsemen)
The identities aren’t too hard. But let’s continue the chart, keeping Jesus’ words in mind.
The Seals (continued)

Vision
Jesus’ Words
Identity
Rev. 6.9-11
Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me (24.10).
Souls of the martyred believers asking God for vengeance.
Rev. 6.12-17
Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the nations of the earth will mourn (24.29-30).
End of the world--Judgment Day

When is the Tribulation?
From the time Jesus ascended until he returns--now!
When will the Tribulation end?
On the Last Day
How bad will it get?
Very bad--almost, but not quite as bad as the Last Day
Do you remember now why Jesus would have to tell the Christians what the Last Day would be like?
Jesus would have to tell them how they would know the Last Day would really be the Last Day because there would be other days that would seem literally like the end of the world.
Tension and Release (Revelation 7)
John’s Revelation has its own ebb and flow. Vivid, disturbing sections (the Tribulation) are followed by idyllic, victorious scenes in heaven. Chapter 7 is one of these idyllic scenes in heaven. Remember, it has just come following the complete history of the world, a history remarkably in keeping with Jesus’ clear words in Matthew 24.
Look at Revelation 7.13-14—who are the people John sees?
Believers in heaven with white robes.
Where have they come from?
The great tribulation.
Where are they now?
In heaven.
What is the “Great Tribulation?”
The history of the earth from Jesus' ascension to his return on the Last Day.
Does this line up with Jesus’ words and what we have seen in Revelation 6?
Yes!  There will be troubles for believers until the Last Day.
The Seven Trumpets (Revelation 8-9)
Another period of disturbing scenes follows. It worked so good last time, let’s just fill in the chart.
The Seven Trumpets

Vision
Description
Identity
First Trumpet Rev. 8.6-7
Fire and hail hurled down on earth and destroy 1/3 of earth's vegetation
Satan, cast out of heaven, causes hardship within limits upon the people of earth
Second Trumpet Rev. 8.8-9
Blazing mountain thrown into the sea and destroys 1/3 of sea life
Satan, cast out of heaven, causes hardship within limits upon the people of earth
Third Trumpet Rev. 8.10-11
Wormwood star falls to earth, poisoning 1/3 of fresh water and killing people.
Satan, cast out of heaven, spiritually poisons a limited number of unbelievers
Fourth Trumpet Rev. 8.12
1/3 of heavenly bodies go dark, producing 1/3 of the day in darkness and 1/3 of the night without any moonlight or starlight
Satan, cast out of heaven, spiritually blinds a limited number of unbelievers

It is obvious something unpleasant is happening and people (both believers and unbelievers) are suffering, but it is hard to get much beyond that. Suffering is a mark of the times between Jesus’ Ascension and his Second Coming.
Now we have a lot more to go on with the Fifth Trumpet (Revelation 9.1-11).
Go to verse 11. Who is the angel of the Abyss, the king over the evil spirits?
Satan
Go to verse 1—where did the angel of the Abyss come from? Does Scripture support this?
Fell from heaven--a good angel who sinned against God and became the Devil.  His supporters became demons.  Yes, Scripture supports this--1 Peter 2.4
Where does the angel of the Abyss want to cause trouble?
On earth
Who alone can the angel of the Abyss’ helpers harm?
Unbelievers--those without God's seal of faith upon them
How long can they cause harm?
A limited time--only 5 months
What is the only kind of torment from the devil that could attack only unbelievers, not believers or any other creature?
Spiritual torments, such as the searing of consciences from false teaching, the heartache and heartbreak caused by false living encouraged by false teaching.
The Seven Trumpets (continued)

Vision
Description
Identity
Fifth Trumpet Rev. 9.1-11
Satan opens the Abyss and sends smoke and locusts to torment unbelievers
False teachers cause terrible hardships upon unbelievers

Would you describe this as “The Tribulation?”
Yes!
Again we have much to go on with the Sixth Trumpet (Revelation 9.13-11.13).
The problem with the Sixth Trumpet is that it has a lot of things happening in it.
Horsemen are loosed from the Euphrates (Revelation 9.13-21). They have power to destroy only people and their power is in their mouth and tails, which look like snakes.
Whose side are they on (tails like snakes is a good tip-off)?
Satan's
What is the condition of mankind?
They are stubbornly unrepentant--unbelievers
Does this line up with Jesus’ words in Matthew 24?
Yes!  The love of most will grow cold and there will be a falling away from the faith.
B. The Angel and the Scroll are now seen (Revelation 10). An angel of God appears, declares God’s judgments will happen soon (“There will be no more delay!”) and he gives John a scroll to eat.
What is written on a scroll?
The Word of God
Where do those words on the scroll come from?
God
What is John supposed to do with those words?
Proclaim that Word throughout the world.
What is John’s profession as a Christian going to do to his life? How is this clearly stated in Matthew 24?
John is going to be persecuted for his faith (during the Revelation he is in exile for his faith on the island of Patmos).  This lines up with what Jesus said, that his followers would be persecuted.
C. The Two Witnesses appear (Revelation 11.1-14).
Where is the trouble now?
In God's church on earth.
Who is causing the trouble?
The unbelievers (Gentiles)
How do you know these troubles will not last forever?
They will only trample on the holy city, the Church, for 42 months.
How bad will with trouble get?
Bad--there will be droughts and plagues and the water will turn to blood.  Finally the witnesses will be killed and the whole unbelieving world will rejoice over their deaths, even giving each other gifts to commemorate it.
How will God’s Witnesses be saved?
After three and a half days God will raise them to life and take them to heaven.
Now we’ve got enough to go on to fill the chart and while we’re at it, we can do the Seventh Trumpet
The Seven Trumpets (continued)

Vision
Description
Identity
Sixth Trumpet Rev. 9.13-11.14
The word of God will be preached in spite of persecution and false teachers
Persecution will come upon Christians, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Seventh Trumpet Rev. 11.15-19
God's kingdom has come, the temple's ark is revealed with great earthquakes, hailstorms and lightnings
The end of the world, Judgment Day

The Enemies of God (Revelation 12-14)
John sees an account of the spiritual warfare that goes on from the birth of Jesus to the end of the world. The Virgin Mary is about to give birth to a child, Jesus, and an enormous red dragon wants to gobble the child up. Where did the dragon come from? We have a flashback to war in heaven—Michael and the angels fought against the dragon and his angels and threw them out of heaven.
Who is the dragon?
Satan
The dragon is hurled to earth and makes life miserable for God’s people as he wages war against them. One of Satan’s allies is the Beast out of the Sea as well as the Beast out of the Earth. Rather than trying to identify them, simply link them up to our theme of Tribulation.
Who are they fighting against?
Blaspheme God and the saved in heaven.  Fight against the believers on earth.
When are they fighting?
In the here and now.
What will end their fighting?
Judgment Day.
And here comes the end of the world! At first we see heaven with all the saved there, then we have a flashback to Judgment Day where God’s fury is poured out on those who oppose him (the Dragon and Beasts) and the earth is harvested.
How does this line up with Jesus’ words in Matthew 24?
It will be a time of persecution and hardship for God's people as false prophets multiply and prosper.
One Last Time (Revelation 15-19)
This last cycle of the history of the world repeats now familiar territory—but with a difference! We are getting close to the end of the book and John shifts to the victory of God and his people. Six angels pour out their seven cups of God’s wrath, his judgments upon the unbelieving world, which leads to great suffering.
 
A key verse is Revelation 16.14
What are the unbelieving kings of the world gathered together for?
For a battle against God
When will that battle be fought?
On the Great Day of the God Almighty
What is that day?
The Last Day, Judgment Day
The seventh angel is—you guessed it, the end of the world. The whole history of the world from the time of Jesus’ birth to the time of his Second Coming is detailed.
Is there any place where specialized, limited suffering is detailed, like “The Great Tribulation?
No.  The whole period of the New Testament Church is one portrayed as suffering and hardship for God's people and torment for unbelievers because of false teachers.
Chapter 17 talks about a specialized enemy of God, an enemy within his own church on earth! That will be hard to take.
Chapter 18 talks about the fall of Babylon as a picture of the fall of the world on Judgment Day.
Chapter 19 shows us Judgment Day from heaven’s perspective, Jesus going out to conquer.
Chapter 20 now talks about this whole period from heaven’s viewpoint. During the time of the Tribulation, the devil has actually been chained—he can’t accomplish his final purpose of utterly destroying God’s people.
Revelation 20.7-10
What is going to happen when the 1000 years are over?
Satan will be released from Hell.
Who is gathering?
All the unbelievers throughout the world.
For what are they gathering?
Destroy God's people, the Church.
Remember Revelation 16.4! On what day is this all happening?
The Great Day of God Almighty--the Last Day
So what should come next in Revelation 20.11-15 if we are correct?
Judgment.
Let’s summarize—it’s been a long and grueling class!
Summary of Revelation 6-20

Vision
Meaning
Time Frame
The Seven Seals Revelation 6-7
Trouble for all people, culminating in Judgment Day and eternity in heaven.
Whole New Testament period to eternity.
The Seven Trumpets Revelation 8-14
Trouble from God, especially spiritual, for all unbelievers and trouble for believers from the ungodly culminating in Judgment Day and eternity in heaven.
Whole New Testament period to eternity.
The Seven Bowls Revelation 15-20
Trouble from God for unbelievers, culminating in Judgment Day and eternity in heaven.
Whole New Testament period to eternity.

Does this line up with Jesus’ words in Matthew 24?
Yes.
When is the Tribulation?
Now.
Discussion
1. What is the danger in not seeing that the Tribulation is now
We expect to do battle with the devil “in the future” and forget that the ultimate stakes in the battle between good and evil (our eternal souls) are being battled over now. There is nothing more comforting than a danger that is yet to come.
2. Paul warned his readers not to become conformed to the world, that is, picking up the habits and viewpoints of the unbelieving world around us, loosing our sensitivity to issues of right and wrong. How will this task be easier if we remember we are living during the Tribulation?
The battle is now, nothing can be conceded, nothing can be compromised away.
3. When you have a church that teaches fantastic things about the Tribulation, the Rapture and the Millennium, what does that do to the teaching of the cross? Is this a danger or not?
It usually downplays the power of the cross. There Jesus defeated all the powers and dominions of darkness. There he won forgiveness of sins for all. There he saved us. To get lost in imagined teachings about a future that will not come can do nothing but titillate the sinful human nature which wants to hear about anything other than Jesus, especially in religion.
4. Is it wrong to read books, novels, theological writings, that espouse false teachings about the Rapture, Millennium and the Great Tribulation? Explain your answer. What if that is all you are reading?
No. Being a Christian secure in our salvation, confident in Jesus’ promises to not let us slip from his grasp, we can read these things to find out what they are about, just like sometimes it is good to investigate other religions to see how good we Christians have it. But, if that is all we are reading, if we are not going back to our Bibles, if we are not going regularly to worship and participating in a church Bible study, watch out! It is human nature to believe the lie if the lie is told to it often enough. Dabble, don’t drown. Dive into God’s pure Word and don’t mistake the words of man for it.