Revelation Isn't Chronological

One of the things that makes interpreting the visions of John, Daniel, Ezekiel, and others difficult is our tendency to try to read them chronologically. The reader of, say Revelation chapter 11, might assume that the events described there happen before the events of Revelation chapter 20. This approach makes a common sense interpretation impossible.

The visions given to the prophets are highly symbolic. The writers are seeing an image in their mind and then putting those images to paper in the form of words - using words to describe what they saw.

They weren't seeing future events, like watching the news. They were seeing scenes, full of symbolic images that conveyed concepts about the future. Remember God's goal in giving these visions to the prophets: to tell the saints that they ultimately win.

The Purpose of Parables

But I think God has another goal in choosing to reveal these things in symbolic language: to keep this message concealed from those for whom it is not intended - to keep it hidden from the enemy and the lost. The message of the prophets isn't plain. You really have to think about it. You need the help of the Holy Spirit to understand it. You have to want to know the truth and seek it every day. God wants to reveal His plans to those who love Him, love the truth, and prove that by pursuing it every day.

Jesus said that He spoke in parables so that they "would not understand" (Matthew 13:10-17). The message of the parables is intended for those who love and follow the truth. A parable is a memorable and convenient way to deliver a deep message - but only for those who "have ears to hear". Those who pursue, accept, and respond to truth will get it - and be given more.

In parables, ideas are conveyed through stories, or scenes. The images given symbolize something else. The diligent student will start to pick up on these symbols and through that start to "decode" meaning from the scenes being described.

The visions given to the major prophets are intended to accomplish the same thing as when Jesus spoke in parables; namely, to communicate deep meaning to the person for whom it is intended and who is willing to seek it out and believe it.

Interpreting the Visions

When interpreting the visions written down by the prophets, I believe the reader must be ready to approach them understanding this fact: the writers of these visions write what they saw chronologically, but what they saw isn't chronological. For example, in the Book of Revelation, after the messages to the churches in Revelation 1-3, John sees a vision of the throne room of heaven in Revelation 4. He starts with the words, "After this I looked, and behold a door standing open in heaven!"

Revelation chapter 5 starts with "Then I saw..."
Chapter 6 begins with, "Now I watched..."
And chapter 7, "After this I saw..."

Each of these is a variation on the statement, "and I saw". John is telling us the order in which he saw things - not necessarily the order in which they are meant to be understood or that they take place in historical time.

Further, we are reading these visions as experienced and told by prophets who know clearly what they saw, but not necessarily the meaning of what they saw.

Progressive Revelation

Through all the the prophetic visions, especially Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation, we the readers are receiving a progressively expanding picture of what is going on in heaven, on earth, who the major participants are, and the nature of each of these things - all delivered through the language of parables. We are receiving progressively more information with each vision. Especially in the Book of Revelation, with each "and I saw", we pick up additional information about some element of the story that increases our understanding of the whole.

Think of the way people tell a story of something that they experienced. They tend to tell highlights, the things that were most memorable, followed by other details as they come to mind and are needed to fill in the gaps. If a child comes home from an amusement park, they don't start with talking about how they rode in the car, then stood in line for tickets, then walked through the park, etc. They start with, "Mom! I rode a roller coaster!" Then as the story unfolds about their experiences of the day, other less poignant details get added. "We ate hotdogs for lunch, and Dad let me have a chocolate shake." You get a progressively expanding picture in your mind of the day that was experienced by the child, although the story wasn't given to you chronologically.

In each "and I saw" John is revealing some additional facet, some truth, some detail that is relevant to what the churches will face in the future, who the major players in this story are, and how it will turn out - but the order of these "and I saw" statements is not communicating the order in which they will happen as prophecy unfolds.

To miss this fact will require wild interpretations of the prophetic visions - especially the Book of Revelation which is quite long and contains lots of detail. Requiring a chronological interpretation of events will entirely distort the meaning of the book.

All the major prophecies found in the Bible communicate to the reader a complex scene that is multi-dimensional. While time unfolds in a linear manner, describing it linearly doesn't work. To get the full message, John, in the Book of Revelation and their other prophets in their writings have to see and communicate to us ideas and concepts that are happening partly in heaven, partly on earth, with some events having elements in the past and others in the future, with parties that are involved in some elements and not others. There is a lot going on here which cannot be explained with an "A happened, then B happened, then C."

Let's say that someone is writing a book about the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. Fully describing this major historical event could not be done chronologically very well. A better method would be to tell the story over and over - each time from a different perspective. In one chapter you may discuss it from the perspective of a soldier on the front lines. In another from the perspective of the President. Later from the point of view of family whose loved one is on battlefield. You may tell the story of a slave whose future hinges on the war's outcome. The writer will probably move from perspective to perspective, focusing here for a bit, there for bit, moving forward and backwards through chronological time to emphasize elements at the appropriate point to communicate the ideas that the author finds most important.

With each rendering of the same story, the reader picks up additional detail and gets a deeper understanding of the events, their impact, the people affected, and how they were affected. This is the technique being used by God as the prophets experience the various visions that they wrote about.

So lets dive into the Book of Revelation next "reading" it in this context.

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Allegiance - Setting the Stage for the Great Tribulation

A Reminder: We Win!

I want to discuss the Beast and the Great Tribulation by starting with Daniel 7.

In chapter 7: 1-15 Daniel sees a vision of four beasts with various characteristics. The fourth and final one being terrifying, dreadful, and exceedingly strong. This beast overcame all the others.

Yet, in verse 9, we see that the Ancient of Days (God), took His seat, pronounced judgement on this beast, it was killed and its body turned over to be burned. The dominion was also taken away from all the other beasts.

Verses 13 and 14 show that the Ancient of Days gave dominion to "one like a son of man", that everyone would serve Him, and His dominion will never be taken away.

So a quick interpretation: here on the earth, worldly kings will rise and fall. One king will overtake another. Governments will grow in strength, handing over their power one to the next until a final earthly king who is exceedingly strong will have dominion over all the earth. This king it says elsewhere will even prevail against the saints, but God comes, takes His seat, pronounces judgement, destroys the enemy, and hands us the victory.

So lets unpack that and I'll show you how I got there. Lets start with a discussion of the enemy over whom we'll eventually have victory.

Interpretation of the Beasts

Daniel had the vision of chapter 7 interpreted for him by an angel starting in verse 15. The angel plainly tells him in vs 17 that:
These four great beasts are four great kings that will arise out of the earth.
The beast is symbolic of earthly kingdoms, or earthly governments. More pointedly: governments of men. The number 666 that we see in Revelation 13:18 is interpreted for us as the number of a man. In Daniel 7:8, it says the fourth beast has the "eyes of a man".

The Counterfeit Messiah

The beasts of Daniel and Revelation are human based earthly governments. Further, they are a counterfeit Messiah. The lost, who have been deceived because they see with their eyes rather than with eyes of faith, can only put their trust in that which they see. They cannot see God. But they can see government. They can see kings. So they ask the king to care for them, to protect them, to provide for them. They ask earthly kings for that which they should be asking of Christ - namely, salvation.

The Israelites asked Samuel for a king (1 Samuel 8:6). At the time they were completely free. God had merely placed judges in their land to resolve disputes. But they were not ruled by the Judges, God Himself was their only King. When Israel pressed Samuel for a king, God said that it was a rejection of Him (vs 7). He also warned them that a king would cost them their freedom and their wealth (vs 11-18). An an aside, America was the first nation on earth founded deliberately on the notion that human beings should be free, and that when too much authority is given to government, it will consume the people. The founders of this nation purposely tried to limit government, but warned posterity that only through their personal relationships with God would they be able to keep it limited.
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other (John Adams)
But many people, those who have no love or trust for God, want a king/government they can see, and are willing to give all that they have to get the security that they believe a king will provide. Unfortunately, what they will receive instead is the ultimate insecurity.
We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security. (Dwight Eisenhower)
Human history is a story of allegiance. A story of our choice, made as individuals and collectively, about whom we will follow, love, and serve.

It is human choice that empowers either the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Hell. Jesus said in Luke 17:21 that "The Kingdom of God is within you." Simply put - the Word of God shapes us from the inside out. When Jesus "comes to live in our hearts" it means that we believe the Word in our hearts (Rom 10:8) and are changed on the inside.  That change starts to take effect in the things we do and say. The things that we do and say shape our environment and our relationships. Rejecting the Word of God has the opposite, but same kind of effect. Individuals produce in the world around them either the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Hell by what they agree with and act upon.

Taken together (those that believe and those that reject the Word of God), our beliefs shape the entire world. The world we live in is a product of what its inhabitants believe - a product of what every human being, taken as a whole, says and does.

The Great Tribulation

The Great Tribulation is the final playing out of the misplacement of human allegiance. It is the final culmination of human trust in a physical government rather than a trust in God.

Revelation 13 has many parallels to Daniel 7. Revelation 13:3-4 says that humanity "marveled as they followed the beast." God has given each human being the freedom to choose. That freedom gives us authority. Trusting in man gives that authority over to Satan.

It is the dragon that gives the beast power. Revelation 13:4 says:
And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who can fight against, it?
When mankind trusts government instead of God, they empower the dragon (who is Satan, as interpreted in Rev 20:2). One government may rise and be replaced by another - we see this clearly in Daniel 7 in the four beasts described there. But the authority given away by each individual to the beast (when they trust man rather than God) strengthens the dragon.

Generation after generation of empowering the dragon led to his eventual "release" (Rev 20:3). It has always been the aim of the dragon to control the entire earth through a centralized government. Every "great" ruler throughout world history has attempted to increase the size of their Kingdoms. Even our movies and various stories reveal that the villains' goal was always to "rule the world!"

Fully aware of the threat imposed by that possibility, God decentralized human government when he confused the languages at the Tower of Babel. He said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them." (Gen 11:6) The lost have been trying to centralize it again ever since.

The Great Tribulation is the accomplishment of that perpetual goal of the enemy - total centralization. At that time, the people of the world will have utterly surrendered over their lives, their freedom, their hope, their wealth, and their potential to one final earthly all-powerful government. And they will have done so willingly in their vain search for security.  Once that occurs there will be no human power capable of stopping the dragon and the beast. Anything the enemy chooses to do during the Great Tribulation is possible to him. During that time the enemy will have total and complete control over human beings on the earth. You won't even be able to buy or sell anything unless you are part of his system (Rev 13:7).

In the Great Tribulation the enemy will prevail even against the saints:
As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them (Daniel 7:21)
It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (Revelation 13:7)
And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them (Rev 11:7)
And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. (Daniel 8:23-24)
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short...29 “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 heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:21-30)
But God will end the Great Tribulation and the suffering of the saints by His coming. Don't forget Daniel 7 (reviewed at the start of this article) - God pronounces judgement on the beast and destroys his work with His coming and all dominion is given to the Son of Man. So while there will be a time of great suffering on the earth for the saints due to the world's love for and empowerment of the dragon and the beast, this will be cut short and we will be handed the victory. So take heart Christian - you're on the winning team.

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The Resurrection & Rapture

If we're currently in the Millennium (see my last post), then when do the Rapture and the Great Tribulation take place? Let's see what the Bible has to say about these events.

First, the word "Rapture" isn't in the Bible, but it's a generally accepted term for the gathering of the saints. There are dozens of references to this event. Here is one:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
The Rapture is a day when the saints of God are gathered up to meet Christ when he returns at His second coming. The Bible makes it clear that while we won't know the exact day or hour, the Rapture does coincide with His coming and that arrival won't be a secret. The sound of a trumpet announces His arrival in both the reference noted above and the one noted below. Trumpets aren't quiet.
Matthew 24:29-31
The Coming of the Son of Man
29 “ 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 heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
This is a great scripture because you see so many elements of the second coming addressed in it. You see the rapture itself described: "gather his elect from the four winds." You see the timing of the rapture, "immediately after the tribulation". You see that the rapture coincides with the second coming. We also learn here that there is a great shaking of the earth at this time, in other places called the second, or final shaking of the earth (the first was the flood of Noah).

Further, trumpets are a tool of war, much like the battlefield radio is today - they were used to coordinate troop movements over long distances. The trumpet announcement is almost like a "charge". Christ is coming to do battle. The saints are being prevailed against in the Great Tribulation and it is time to end it. His second coming does so:

Daniel 7:21-22 "As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom."
Daniel 12:1-3 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
An important component of the rapture is the resurrection of the dead.  In 1 Thes 4, quoted earlier, we see this phrase, "the dead in Christ shall rise first." Pre-millennialists use this scripture to say that the rapture only includes the saved. While only the saved are gathered to meet Christ in the air, everyone is resurrected simultaneously.

The clauses: "we will by no means proceed those who have fallen asleep" (1 Thes 4:15) and "the dead in Christ shall rise first" (1 Thes 4:16) are immediately explained by 1 Thes 4:17 that says, "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." The phrase "rise first" and "after that" are a discussion about the saved who have passed away and the saved who are still living.

The Bible makes a clear statement via many scriptures that there is one resurrection of the dead. All the dead. The dead who are saved and the dead who are lost. I just showed you one of those in Daniel 12:2 above (multitudes will awake, some to everlasting life, some to everlasting contempt).

Here is another scripture that shows one resurrection of both the saved and the lost:
John 5:28-29
28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
The parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matt 13:24-30) also makes it plain, especially when Jesus interprets the parable for the disciples. In the parable, an enemy planted weeds among a man's field which was freshly planted with wheat. When the servants asked if they should pull the weeds, the man said that to protect the wheat they should instead wait and harvest both the wheat and the weeds together and separate them at that time, bundling the weeds to be burned and bringing the wheat into the barn. Jesus interprets this parable for His disciples starting in Matt 13:37
37 He said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 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, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
This is another clear reference to the rapture (harvest at the end of the age) where all are gathered and then separated. You see the same concept in the separation of the sheep and the goats at the Great White Throne Judgement discussed in Matt 25:31-33
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Again, the same elements are given: first you see the arrival of Jesus Christ ("When the Son of Man comes"), then there is the gathering of all nations (the resurrection of everyone), then a separation.

So to lay out what I believe will be the timing of these major events that immediately surround the second coming:

1) The saints are enduring the Great Tribulation and are being prevailed against by satan and the beast (this will be discussed in detail in a future blog post)
2) Christ cuts short the Great Tribulation for the sake of the saints with his coming which will be very public and obvious
3) All who have ever lived will be resurrected.
4) The saved, those who were living, and those who were just raised from the dead, will be gathered to meet Christ in the air.
5) Jesus does battle against satan and those who reject his offer of salvation and destroys them.
6) The earth is destroyed
7) All humanity kneels before God at the Great White Throne Judgement where the saved are welcomed into heaven (a new heavens and a new earth) and the lost are thrown into hell.

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Some of the various perspectives on Biblical Prophecy center on the question of the placement of the "Millennium" in the interpretation; asking, is your "eschatology" (study of end-times) "Pre-Millennium", "Post-Millennium", or "A-Millennium". Others frame their interpretation on the question of the Great Tribulation and the placement of the rapture; asking, does your interpretation place the rapture before or after the Great Tribulation?

We are introduced to the idea of the Millennium here:
Revelation 20
1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years
Later in Revelation 20 we see also that Christ rules during this time. The symbolic number of 1000 simply means "vast". Other places in scripture we read, "God owns the cattle on a thousand hills", or "To God, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day." In these places it is entirely obvious that one thousand is not an exact number, if it were, then why doesn't God own the cattle on hill numbered 1001? I apply the same logic to the interpretation of Revelation 20:2. Satan is bound for a long time and Christ rules for a long time.

So what does it mean that satan is bound during this time? As I posted in my last blog entry about our tendency to attempt to interpret biblical prophecy in a fantastical way, I believe this verse has been way over-literalized. Jesus taught in parables, highly symbolic language. Revelation should be read with that in mind.

Most interpret the binding of satan to mean that he has no impact on people during that time or that we will see no evil during that time. This over-literalization forces them to conclude that we must not be in the millennium depicted here at this time on the earth. I believe that is an error that greatly skews the various interpretations, making them "not common" to the experience of man. (see my last post).

The binding of satan should be understood in the context of the work of Christ on the cross. We no longer stand accused before God by satan.
Colossians 2:13-15
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
We are forgiven, the record of debt has been erased! Satan can no longer hold a list of our sins before God and say, "see what they did!" Jesus triumphed over him on the cross. Satan is disarmed. He has been put to shame.

In this he is "bound". He has no authority over us and has been defeated. In this he is "thrown into the bottomless pit", a place from which he cannot prevent our salvation. Jesus even said in John 12:31

Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.

There are so many other scriptures that confirm this. The Bible says that Christ defeated death. It says that we've been handed the keys of the Kingdom, it says we now have the authority to bind and loose. For the saints, if we resist satan, he must flee.

So this one reference to the millennium in Revelation 20 is not talking about a far off, mythical, thousand year window of time in which we hear no evil and see no evil. It's now! Christ does reign now! Satan is defeated now!

If you can accept this, then there will obviously be implications for your interpretation of the placement of the rapture, the timing of the Great Tribulation, and the eventual release of satan from the bottomless pit. Lets dig into those next.

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Before Your Very Eyes

One of the flaws I find with the pre-millennial view is interpretation that is fantastical, much like a hollywood movie, rather than in keeping with the normal course and flow of world events that we already see going on around us. I suspect that the pre-millennial view is interesting to people because it describes a world that seems so much different than the world they currently live in. Like a good movie, people are drawn to stories that take them out of their current circumstance and into an experience that is mythical, or "above" what they are currently living.

I believe that while the actual texts of the major prophecies of Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation are written in "fantastical" language, a language of visions and dreams, their interpretation is meant to describe things that we can see just by looking around. As we experience the events of the major prophecies, they will look much like the other common events of life going on around us.

Let me give one good example. Revelation 11 introduces us to the "Two Witnesses":
3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”
4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. 7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them

Revelation 11:4 tells us who these witnesses are; they are the olive trees and the lampstands. Other scriptures reveal how we should interpret these symbols. Romans 11:16-24 shows us that the olive tree is Israel and that the gentiles (a wild olive tree branch) are grafted in. One of God's witnesses on the earth is the olive tree, symbolizing the spiritual descendants of Abraham. The symbol of the lampstand is interpreted in Rev 1:20 where we are told that the "lampstands" are the "churches".

This should be easy to accept for the believer. Who are the ones witnessing on behalf of Christ? The spiritual descendants of Abraham and the churches throughout the world.

So back to my main point - this prophetic image, given to us in Revelation 11, is not talking about some future, almost movie-like event, where 2 super-human Christians terrify the lost by breathing fire. It is instead talking about YOU, and ME, and others from our communities of faith who are actively walking in the power of God to reach the lost that surround us. WE are the witnesses! As the Body of Christ, we DO have the power mentioned in Revelation 11:5. Christ said as a body we would do greater things than He did. This image shows us doing so.

Nearly all of the pictures painted for us through the symbolism found in the major prophecies are "common" - meaning, they find their interpretation in the events of life in a manner that you are already experiencing. Some are in the past, some are yet to come, but it is unfolding all around you. You are living biblical prophecy, you are seeing it, you are participating in it.

Bringing Biblical Prophecy Back to Earth

Today the "Pre-millennial" perspective is almost universally accepted framework for biblical prophecy and the study of end-time events. As that perspective has gained momentum with best-selling books, frequent conferences and seminars, and nearly a pop-culture acceptance of its tenants, I have found myself increasingly aware of the Holy Spirit's leadership away from this view.

Everywhere I look in scripture I see a conflict with the Pre-millennial view. It is my plan in the months to come in this blog to explain what I believe the Bible does say about end-time events and to provide an interpretation of biblical prophecy that is consistent with all of scripture, providing a framework for understanding eschatology that correlates comfortably with history, what we see going on around us now, and all Biblical utterances on the topic.

Fear of the Great Tribulation

I want to start by addressing why I suspect it is that Christians have been drawn to the Pre-millennial view. The great tribulation has haunted believers since it was first introduced in the book of Daniel. As Christians, we can take embarrassment, we can handle ridicule, even some suffering is okay. But "Great" and "Tribulation" are pretty scary, and I believe that our fear of this upcoming time has driven the theologians over the last several decades to try to find a belief system that lets them avoid it. 

Scripture clearly refutes this hope. Jesus says plainly in Matthew 24:21-22
"For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short."
We, the elect, the saints, those of us alive at that time will experience the great tribulation, but it will be cut short on our behalf. Daniel makes the same point in Daniel 7:21-22 by saying:
"As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom."
So while we'll be there, God cuts the tribulation of that time short with His coming, and in so doing hands us the Kingdom. This is ultimately great news for us, but yes, scary to consider from our current perspective. 

In order to begin, I must lay out a general framework for my Biblical interpretation. 

Purpose of Biblical Prophecy

The primary purpose of Biblical Prophecy is to give the saints hope by confirming for them their ultimate victory in the midst of the challenges that they are currently enduring or that lay ahead. It's goal is to prepare them for these challenges, and yet provide a basis for faith through them. 

The message is: We win! Our faith is not in vain. Yes, there will be trouble, but be of good cheer, our Savior is victorious. 

Who's Your Daddy?

While there is incredible detail contained in all the scriptures regarding the unfolding of history, at the center of all of them is one primary question - "who is your Father?" Jesus told the pharisees that they were of their father the devil (John 8:44). To the Christian, we are told that we have been adopted as sons and now call Him "Abba Father", essentially, "Daddy" (Rom 8:15).

God's goal is to save His children. The enemy's goal is to prevent that. The events of human history, both past and future, give each individual human being the opportunity to decide who they will love, listen to, follow, and serve. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, along with all the heavenly host and the saints, work in love to help each human being make this decision. God's enemy works, through his host of fallen angels and deceived human beings to prevent individuals from coming to know God.

Even now, Christians seek the lost, follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and move in the power of the Kingdom to accomplish God's redemptive plan. All around us, we are opposed. Opposed by governments, by the media, by popular culture. All politics, all debates, all controversies, have at their heart the central question: "who do you love, who will you follow, who will you serve?"

The Prophecy's of Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, many books in the New Testament, and especially Revelation are saying one thing: "have hope! God will be victorious! Your faith and sacrifice are not in vain! You will be greatly rewarded!"

So with these things in mind. Lets dig in. 

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