Category: Eschatology

Should Christians be Afraid of Dying?

Should Christians be Afraid of Dying?

Scripture tells us that this life is not all that there is. Indeed, we are beings made for eternity. Death is the doorway to eternity for each of us and this eternity will be one of conscious existence.

Needless to say, each person must be prepared. So the obvious question is, “Should we be afraid to die?” More importantly, “Should Christians be afraid of dying?”

A Natural Fear of Death

Death is an unknown for all of us. We have never been dead before and so it makes sense that all of us have a natural fear of death. Besides, eternity is a long time. Put all these factors together and you will have a natural fear or uneasiness of death.

The Bible gives us some examples of godly characters that feared death. In 2 Kings 20:1-3, we read the account of King Hezekiah.

In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’” Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

What? Hezekiah, a godly king, was afraid of dying? He sure was! Therefore, it’s not strange that we have the same type of fear.

How Christians Should View Death

While Christians do have a natural fear of death there should be no ultimate fear. Although we may have to suffer physical death because of the original sin of Adam, death eventually loses its horror as it transports the believer into a better life.

Once we understand what happens to us at the moment of death, we realize that death is not something to be feared. Although it is the separation of the spirit and the body, it is a separation into something better.

The Bible says that Jesus came to release us from the fear of death and dying in Hebrews 2:14-15.

“In as much then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

Notice how it says that Jesus delivers us from the fear of dying.

How then, should Christians view death? Below are several factors that need to be considered.

Death is Not the End

When we die, we do not cease to exist. Death is a transition, it is not an end. Consequently, the ultimate terror of death is removed for those who trust in the promises of the God of the Bible (Psalm 23:4).

Why Not Fear Death

From the Scripture passage above, believers are told that the Lord is with them when they have to face death. In one sense, they only enter the valley of the shadow of death, not the reality.

Although believers do die physically, it’s not the same separation as the unbeliever experiences in death. This is because when we die physically, we are immediately brought into the presence of the Lord. Therefore, not even death can separate the believer from the Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

Death is Not a Punishment for Christians

In Romans 8:1, Paul tells us clearly that “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” It is true that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23), but that penalty no longer applies to believers – not in terms of physical death, and not in terms of spiritual death.

All the penalty for our sins has been paid for by the suffering and death of our Lord. Therefore, even though we know that Christians die, we should not view their death as a punishment from God or in any way a result of a penalty due to us for our sins.

Death is the Final Outcome of Living in a Fallen World

Although death does not come to us as a penalty for our individual sins as mentioned above, it does come to us as a result of living in a fallen world, where the effects of sin have not all been removed.

We still live in a fallen world and the last aspect of the fallen world to be removed will be death (1 Corinthians 15:26). When Christ returns, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death where is your sting” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)?

But until that time, death, as well as pain and suffering, remain a reality even in the lives of Christians. And related to the experience of death are other results of the fall that harm our physical bodies and signal the presence of death in the world.

Although God often answers prayers to deliver Christians (and also non-Christians) from these effects of the fall for a time, nevertheless, Christians eventually experience all of those things to some measure, and, until Christ returns, all of us will grow old and die.

The Citizenship of Believers is Heaven

Christians have their ultimate citizenship in heaven. Paul emphasized this truth when he wrote to the church in Philippi.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

Although we live here on earth, our true home is with God in heaven. The Bible says we are merely temporary residents or pilgrims here. In fact, Peter addressed his first letter to these pilgrims when he wrote the following:

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Peter 1:1).

Our real home is in heaven. We are only temporarily residing here.

Should Christian be Afraid of Death

A Genuine Hope for Something so Much Better

Consequently, we have a realistic hope for an existence that is so much better in the next life. The Bible tells us not to sorrow or grieve for the dead believers as unbelievers do for their dead. Paul made this clear when he wrote to the Thessalonians.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 NLT).

Notice the contrast. Believers have a genuine hope that death is not the end. Therefore, any sorrow we may experience for believers who have died is always mixed with a feeling of happiness for them. They have gone on to glory.

This is in contrast to those who have died outside of Christ who have no hope of eternal life in the presence of the Lord.

Death Completes our Union with Christ

Paul says that we are fellow heirs with Christ when we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17) and Peter encourages us to rejoice as we share in Christ’s suffering so that we may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:13).

But union with Christ in suffering includes union with Him in death as well.

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10).

“And if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:17).

Do you ever wonder why God allows us to experience death, rather than taking us immediately to heaven when we become Christians? Although not every one of us will suffer and die the same way Jesus did, through death we imitate Christ in what He did and thereby experience closer union with Him.

Final Words

As human beings, we all have a normal fear of death. Although a certain anxiety about the afterlife is natural, believers in Jesus Christ should not be obsessed with the idea of death and dying. Neither should we let the fear of death keep us from being effective while we are still on earth.

The apostle Paul said there is no comparison between this life and the blessings of the next (Romans 8:18). Indeed, everything will be greater in heaven. Anything we have in this life is nothing compared to what awaits us in the next.

We should keep all these things in mind when contemplating our own death. When we do, then death will hold no ultimate fear for us as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Recommended Resource: Heaven and the Afterlife: The Truth about Tomorrow and What it Means for Today by Erwin W. Lutzer

Heaven and the Afterlife: : The Truth about Tomorrow and What it Means for Today Combining three books that together have sold nearly 1 million copies, Heaven and the Afterlife gives you Erwin Lutzer’s best reflections on eternity and what it means for you today.

The trilogy includes:

One Minute After You Die. A simple and moving explanation of what the Bible teaches about death, this book makes you consider a sobering truth: one minute after you die, your life will not be over. Rather, it will be just beginning—in a place of unimaginable bliss or indescribable gloom. Are you ready for that moment?

How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God summarizes the Bible’s teaching on salvation, answering questions like, “What role do I play in my own salvation? Can I lose my salvation if I commit a serious sin? What if I doubt that I’m saved?”

Your Eternal Rewards. This book explores the often-overlooked Scriptures about reward and judgment for Christians, answering questions like, “How will believers be judged? Do rewards for faithfulness vary? If heaven is perfect, why do rewards even matter?”

Together these books will help you live faithfully today, readying you for that final hour when you meet your Maker.

The 7 Judgments of God

The 7 Judgments of God

The Bible tells us that there will come a time when every person shall stand before God to face final judgment (Hebrews 9:27). However, many people do not understand that instead of one final judgment, we read from Scriptures that there are a series of 7 future judgments.

These judgments differ with respect to time, purpose, subjects, and circumstances.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

This judgment, also called the Judgment of the Bema, is for the body of Christ only, the church, and it will take place in heaven immediately after the rapture of the church and the resurrection of the believers who have died in the Lord.

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

The 7 Judgments of God

The context of this verse clearly indicates that the judgment seat is not optional, i.e., no believer is exempt. The word we refers to believers in Christ and just so we don’t miss it, Paul includes the word all. Every single member of the body of Christ will appear before the Lord to be “judged.” (See also Romans 14:10-12.)

However, we must understand that the issue at the judgment seat is not salvation but rewards. This judgment is not to determine whether people will enter heaven or hell, or to punish sin. This ultimate issue is decided when one decides to accept or reject God’s gift of eternal life.

At the judgment seat, each believer’s work will be evaluated to demonstrate whether they are good or bad, and rewards will be conferred. You can read more about the judgment seat of Christ in this article.

The Judgment of Old Testament Believers

The resurrection and rewarding of Old Testament saints will take place after the 7-year Tribulation according to Daniel 12:1-2.

“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

After the Tribulation period is over, Jesus Christ will return (with the church saints) to resurrect and reward the Old Testament saints. Consequently, every believer who has died from the time of Adam until the Second Coming of Christ will have been resurrected by this time.

But why aren’t the Church saints and the Old Testament saints resurrected and rewarded at the same time? We read in Hebrews 11:39-40 that they will not receive what has been promised to them apart from us. This means they must wait for the church to be resurrected (and rewarded) first.

The Judgment of Tribulation Believers

Those who trust Christ during the Tribulation period and are martyred will be raised and rewarded at the Second coming of Christ. We read the following in Revelation 20:4-6.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

“But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

Note: Some believe that the Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints will be resurrected and rewarded together at the Second Coming of Christ, or the end of the 7-year Tribulation.


The Judgment of Living Israel

All Jews who survive the Tribulation will be judged right after the Second coming.

The saved will enter the millennial kingdom, and the lost will be purged (Ezekiel 20:38). The Scripture teaches that before the Messiah can begin to reign, a judgment must take place to determine who will enter the millennial kingdom, “for they are not all Israel who are of Israel” (Romans 9:6b).

Ezekiel 20:34 and Ezekiel 39:28 says that God will bring Israel out from the nations where she has been scattered throughout the times of the Gentiles into her own land. The fulfillment of this prophecy started happening in 1948 when Israel became an independent state once again. From that time on, Jews are seen returning to their land in large numbers.

Read more about God’s promise to bring Israel back to her own land in this article.

So, when Christ returns personally to earth, He will first gather Israel outside the land of Israel, called the “wilderness of the peoples,” to execute judgment on them face to face (Ezekiel 20:35-36). Matthew 24:31 also says, “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

What will be the basis of God’s judgment? As in the church age, salvation in the Tribulation for both the Jews and Gentiles is through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God. (See Romans 9-11.)

Every single one of them will have to pass under the “rod of God” and their individual works will be brought into judgment, but not because they are saved by their works, but because their works demonstrate that they failed to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah.

The Judgment of Living Gentiles

Just as the Lord judges the Jews who survive the Tribulation when He personally returns to earth, so He will also judge those Gentiles who remain. This is often referred to as the judgment of the “sheep and goats” (Matthew 25:31-46). The righteous will enter the millennial kingdom and the unrighteous will be cast into hell.

Matthew 25:31-33

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.”

What are the 7 Judgments of God

Though salvation is by grace through faith, the saved who survive the Tribulation will be identified by their works in befriending their Jewish brothers. During the Tribulation where universal anti-Semitism is prevalent, befriending Jews is an outward manifestation of one’s salvation.

Matthew 25:40, 45

“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

The Final Judgment of Satan and His Demons

Christ will also judge Satan, the created spirit-being who became the devil and his followers when He returns to the earth and sets up His kingdom, and their judgment is certain. They will be sent to the bottomless pit and eventually to the lake of fire where they will be condemned and punished for all eternity.

Revelation 20:10

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Matthew 25:41

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’”

See also 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6.

The Great White Throne Judgment

All the unrighteous or unsaved dead from all time will be judged and sent to their final destination, the lake of fire, at the end of the millennium by the One whom they rejected. They will be judged according to their works.

We read this in Revelation 20:11-15.

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

“The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Closing Words

While many Bible-believers think there will be only one future “Judgment Day” where every person who has ever lived will be judged, the Scriptures affirm that there are various judgments and will happen in stages.

The question now is this: Which judgment would you like to participate in? Would you like to take part in the judgment seat of Christ where you will be evaluated and rewarded in heaven without having to go through the Tribulation?

Then all you need to do is acknowledge that you’re a sinner in need of a Savior in the person of Jesus Christ, receive God’s forgiveness, and His offer of eternal life by surrendering your life to Him. After which, you are to start living out your faith, grow in His grace and allow Him to use you for His purpose and glory while you wait for His coming (Titus 2:13; Philippians 3:20).

I’m not saying you won’t have a chance to be saved during the Tribulation and be rewarded when Christ comes to set up His earthly kingdom. But why would you choose to experience the outpouring of God’s wrath if you can be assured of eternal life now?

The 7 Future Judgments of God

And you wouldn’t want to appear at the Great White Throne Judgment, right? The vision of this final judgment should cause everyone to stop and think about the eternal implications of this future event.

For those who never trusted in the Lord Jesus as their Savior, it should cause them to want to search out the truth regarding Christ, to accept His free gift of eternal life, and be rescued from eternal doom.

For the believer in Jesus, the future reality of the Great White Throne Judgment should cause deep concern because of the many (including some family, relatives, and friends) who will be participants of this event because they never placed their faith on the Lord Jesus.

Act now before it’s too late.


Recommended Resource: Revelation (The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries) by John Walvoord
Edited by Philip E. Rawley and Mark Hitchcock

The book of Revelation has long fascinated and even confused readers and students of the Bible. Yet the Bible is written to be understood, and Revelation is no exception. Who better to help you understand the seals, trumpets, vials, woes, and plagues than John F. Walvoord, one of evangelicalism’s most prominent leaders, and Mark Hitchcock, today’s leading Bible prophecy expert? 

In this first in a renewed series of commentaries from Dr. Walvoord, he points out that much of the book’s symbolism can be interpreted literally. At key points, different views and approaches to interpretation are explored. Walvoord devotes special attention to textual and doctrinal issues while avoiding technical language. 

7 Marks of a True Prophet

7 Marks of a True Prophet

Anyone who loves to study Bible prophecy should get acquainted with the men and women that the Bible calls prophets and prophetesses. Who are they and how were they identified? Are prophets those strange people, wearing strange clothes, eating strange things, preaching strange sermons, and doing strange things that no one understands?

It was a great and distinct honor to be a prophet of the living God. That’s why there were so many false prophets in Israel. The prophets anointed kings, performed miracles, and predicted the future.

At the same time, a prophet’s assignment could also bring great danger, difficulty, and even death. As God’s mouthpiece and spokesman for predicting and previewing the future, the prophet was called to speak God’s uncompromising message to an often rebellious people, which frequently brought reproach, opposition, criticism, and even execution.

Throughout history, many people have claimed to be a prophet and made several predictions about the future. How do we distinguish between true prophets and false prophets? In this post, we will look at the 7 distinguishing marks of a true prophet

The Test of a Prophet

The true word and way of God have always been plagued by imitation and counterfeiters. For this reason, the Lord established a clear set of test questions a person had to pass to be received as a true spokesman for God.

Four main passages in the Old Testament deal with false prophets.

Deuteronomy 13:1-14

In this passage, Moses warns the people that there may arise from among them prophets or dreamers who could also accurately predict the future or produce a sign or a wonder. So, they must be careful and not believe them right away. Instead, they should allow God to bring confirmation as it would be unusual for God to speak alone through a dream without confirmation.

Deuteronomy 18:15-22

In this passage, Moses makes a distinction between a true and false prophet.

First, Moses tells the nation of Israel that the Lord God will raise up for them a (true) Prophet like him from their midst, from their brethren, and they should listen to Him for God will put His words in His mouth and will speak to them everything that God will command Him (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).

A false prophet on the other hand, who presumes to speak a word in God’s name, but speaks in the name of other gods shall die (Deuteronomy 18:20). How shall the people know he is a false prophet? If the thing that he speaks does not happen or come to pass, it means the Lord has not spoken through him (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).

Jeremiah 23:9-40

This passage describes the pain inflicted on Jeremiah by the false prophets.

True prophets know how serious it is to be called by God to declare His word, and they accept the responsibility with fear and trembling. So, when they see self-styled prophets living like sinners, they grieve.

No wonder Jeremiah had a broken heart and trembled like a drunken man. He realized what the false prophets were doing to the people and the land, and it makes him sick. The false prophets were committing adultery and walking in lies.

Ezekiel 12:21-14:11

In Ezekiel 12:21-28, Ezekiel’s messages rang with the certainty and the nearness of God’s judgment on Jerusalem and the land of Judah. But the people were quoting a proverb that may have been devised by the false prophets to humiliate Ezekiel.

Because Ezekiel’s prophecies had not been fulfilled immediately the people started paying more attention to the false prophets than to the Word of God. The visions of the false prophets were false and misleading (Ezekiel 12:23).

In Chapter 13 of Ezekiel, God declared that the false prophets had spoken only lies and explained how He would judge them.


7 Distinguishing Marks of a True Prophet

In the above passages and many others, Scripture presents at least seven key distinguishing marks of a true prophet. These marks were not always present in every case, but certainly, in some cases they were.

However, for any follower of God who really wanted to know, there would have been no question who was a true prophet and who was false.

1. The true prophet never used divination, sorcery, or astrology.

See Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Ezekiel 12:24; Micah 3:7. The source of the prophet’s message was God Himself.

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

2. The true prophet never tailored the message to cater to the desires of the people.

See Jeremiah 8:11; 28:8; Ezekiel 13:10.

The false prophets, or “pillow prophets” as some have described them, spoke the message that would bring them popularity and money. They were the “Fortune 500” prophets, the religious opportunists (see Micah 3:5-6, 11).

The true prophet spoke God’s unadulterated message regardless of personal loss, shame, and even physical harm.

3. The true prophet maintained personal integrity and character.

See Isaiah 28:7; Jeremiah 23:11; Hosea 9:7-9; Micah 3:5, 11; Zephaniah 3:4.

Jesus said that true and false prophets will be known by their fruits, that is, by what they do and say (see Matthew 7:15-20).

4. The true prophet was willing to suffer for the sake of the message.

When the prophet Micaiah, son of Imlah, prophesied the defeat of Ahab and Jehoshaphat, he was put in prison and was given nothing but bread and water (1 Kings 22:27-28).

Jeremiah was cast into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son when he declared the Word of the Lord saying, “Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but those who surrender to the Babylonians will live” (Jeremiah 38:4-13).

5. The true prophet announced a message that was consistent with the Law and the messages of other true prophets.

See Jeremiah 26:17-19.

The true prophet’s message must neither contradict nor disagree with the previous revelation of truth, but rather should confirm and build upon that body of truth (see Deuteronomy 13:1-3).

6. The true prophet, when predicting future events, had a 100 percent success rate.

See Deuteronomy 18:21-22.

Unlike the modern psychics, 25 percent (or even 99 percent) was not good enough! If alleged prophets were not 100 percent accurate, the people were to take them outside the city to stone them to death (see Deuteronomy 18:20).

7. The true prophet sometimes had the message authenticated by a miracle.

See Exodus chapter 5 to 12.

This test was not conclusive evidence, however, because false prophets also produced miracles on occasion (see Exodus 7:10-12; 8:5-7; Mark 13:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). Therefore, Moses added further aspects to this test in Deuteronomy 13:1-5.

The true test is the content of the message, not miracles. The true prophet spoke only in the name of the Lord and called people closer to God, not away from God.

Conclusion

As the saying goes, prophets were both foretellers and forth tellers. Although they are usually thought of as being announcers of the future, they spent most of their time proclaiming God’s words about the age in which they themselves lived.

But as the prophets delivered God’s message about the present, it naturally spilled over into the future as they threatened punishment or promised blessing.

Do prophets exist today?

There may not appear prophets today as in the Old and New Testament periods. However, it must be noted that God can still speak through people in whatever way He chooses to reveal certain information at certain times. And this information will not contradict what God has already revealed about Himself in His written word, the Bible.


Reference: The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Mark Hitchcock

The End by Mark HitchcockThe end times have seen a great amount of interest in the last two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and eschatology for more than five decades.

Mark Hitchcock’s book is a comprehensive resource for the twenty-first century. The End will do for eschatology what Randy Alcorn’s Heaven did for people’s understanding of heaven. It provides a solid biblical foundation for Christians to explore the essential truths around the topic of the end of the world.

The End lays out Biblical prophecy in a clear and understandable way explaining how to interpret Bible prophecy, pointing out key passages, events, and characters. It also discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the different views on the Rapture, the Millennium, and the chronology of end-times events.

God and the Coronavirus

God and the Coronavirus

In their daily briefing on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, declared COVID-2019 a global pandemic. This is due to the rapid escalation in the number of confirmed cases and deaths in more than 100 countries and territories.

As of today, March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus has infected more than 529,000 and killed nearly 24,000 people, causing one-third of the world to declare a national lockdown or otherwise dramatically restricted travel. (Source: WHO)

These numbers are so alarming that some Christians started asking if the world is going to end very soon, or if diseases such as the novel coronavirus are a punishment from God. We are definitely in the last days, but thinking that God uses diseases to punish people is another thing.

Does God have something to do with the Coronavirus outbreak that is causing thousands of people, including Christians, to suffer and die?

If God, Why the Coronavirus?

In an 8-minute YouTube video, Dr. Vince Vitale, RZIM’s Regional Director for the Americas and Director of the Zacharias Institute, tackled this question.

First, he said that from a philosophical standpoint, something like the coronavirus is referred to as natural evil. But how can there be such a thing as natural evil when what we are seeing today seems to be so unnatural?

This does not seem like it’s the way things are supposed to be, at least as we know God has originally designed it.

To put it in perspective, Vince said that natural evils are not intrinsically evil in and of themselves. Like if you put a virus under a microscope, it can be beautiful to behold. Furthermore, there is a category of viruses, friendly viruses, that are good for the body.

Here is the video.

Do you sometimes wish that we are not susceptible to diseases? What if the laws of physics have undergone a redesign and the fundamental natural features of our universe altered? The end result? None of us ever would have lived.

We need to understand that God designed the universe to be inhabited by us, human beings. This is called fine-tuning in cosmology.

Fine-tuning refers to the precise balance of cosmological constants that allow the observable universe to exist as it does. Any slightest variation in these constants would make the universe significantly different. More importantly, it would not be possible for human life to exist.

Is the Coronavirus a Punishment from God?

We know that God is love and that He loves us unconditionally because the Bible tells us so.

It sounds like a cliché I know, but it’s true. God loves us so much and He does not want us to be separated from Him for all eternity because of our sin. So, what did God do? He sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die for us just so we can have eternal life (John 3:16).

Yes, God loves us! That’s a fact, and He has our best interest at heart. He wants us to live our lives to the full (John 10:10b) and wants to bless us in every way possible. So why diseases such as Covid-19?

Interestingly, some Christian pastors and leaders believe this is God’s punishment for legalized abortion and gay marriage. Articles like this started circulating after Richard Weber Jr, an attorney for the LGBTQ+ community, died of coronavirus complications.

Meanwhile, conservative pastor Rick Wiles and avid supporter of President Donald Trump, claimed the Covid-19 is God’s punishment to Jews for rejecting Jesus Christ as their Messiah.

If we are to take their words seriously, then why is it that many pastors and Bible-believing Christians got infected with the coronavirus? Several of them even died!

If this virus is a punishment from God for the wicked, why are Christians suffering from it too? Why doesn’t God spare His children to show the world that He is the one true God that every people from every tribe and nation must bow down to and worship?

God and the Coronavirus Outbreak

Can God stop the global pandemic that is affecting the entire world? Sure, He can! God is all-powerful and there is nothing too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:27). So why doesn’t God intervene and stop it so everybody can go back to their normal lives?

Amid this crisis that the entire world is going through, where is God? What does He think about all this? I do not believe one bit that God finds satisfaction at the expense of the suffering of His creation. Remember, if there is someone who understands perfectly what suffering means, it’s the Lord Jesus.

Christ suffered at the hands of His own people. He didn’t have to but He did. He endured extreme shame, suffering, and death on the cross for our sake. It is unreasonable for us to think that He doesn’t care about us nor love us. So, why this suffering caused by a very tiny, invisible, yet potent virus?

Instead of asking why God isn’t stopping this pandemic, the question we should be asking is, “What is God’s purpose for allowing the coronavirus outbreak? What does God seek to accomplish by letting the entire world go through this?”


This global pandemic could be a wake-up call for all Christians. Have we become complacent in doing the Father’s business? Are we sharing our faith with others the way we should? When was the last time Christians all around the world were united to pray for the nations?

We are in the very last days and we should be working double-time to reach out to the lost.

With the current situation, people need to hear that there is a God who loves them and cares so much about them. When people realize that doctors are running out of solutions, they are most certainly open to something else, or somebody else. One who has the answer to their problems and suffering.

If you’ve been paying close attention to the news, you must have read stories about atheist doctors who started calling out to God for help. This is huge! People who do not believe in God are now asking for His help. Do you know what this means? God is opening for us an opportunity to share the Word; let’s not waste it.

Global Effects of Covid-19

It’s devastating to read about people dying everywhere around the world from the novel coronavirus. What’s even more heartbreaking is that many healthcare providers such as doctors and nurses are dying too. These so-called front liners have risked their lives and continue to do so to help and save people who have been infected.

Healthcare professionals, who are now hailed as modern-day heroes, go to work every day. They leave their families behind not knowing if they will ever see each other again. Some might say, “Hey, isn’t this what they signed up for?” And I say, “That’s right!”

As a healthcare worker myself, I am very much aware of the risks that come with this job. I could be exposed to some lethal chemicals, I could contract certain diseases caused by known or unknown bacteria and viruses and end up dying from it.

In the hospital where I work as a Lab. Tech, there are now a few patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Some of our colleagues who were found to have had direct contact with these patients were immediately placed on home quarantine (HQ).

Home Quarantine During Covid-19 Outbreak

Yesterday when I talked to a colleague about the possibility of us getting infected, she was upset that the management refused to give us full details on the current status of our patients who tested positive. While I wasn’t sure what was going through her mind, I could sense her fear, and I understand.

I tried explaining to her that this is one of the risks of working in healthcare. There isn’t any guarantee that no one will get infected among us. All we can do is take the necessary precautions, put on our full PPE (personal protective equipment) such as gown, face mask, face shield, and gloves.

Frequent hand washing and social distancing also play a vital role in staying protected from the virus. More importantly, we need to pray for God’s divine protection and the blood of Jesus to cover us.

God has so many wonderful promises in His Word that we can claim for us and our loved ones. In Psalm 91:1-16, God promises protection, safety, and security for those who trust in the Lord and make Him their refuge and dwelling place.

My concern now is the possible shortage of personnel in healthcare. If doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners continue to get infected with the coronavirus and succumb to it (God forbid), what will happen to the thousands of people who need medical attention?

I can’t even begin to imagine. I can only hope and pray that this crisis will all be over soon.

Impact of the Coronavirus to the World Economy

The effect of the Covid-19 global pandemic is undeniable.

People everywhere are losing their jobs, business establishments are shutting down, the stock market is crashing, the economy is collapsing. We do not know when this crisis is going to end. Will we be able to recover? Will things ever get better?

We are still in lockdown here in Saudi Arabia, just like most territories everywhere else in the world that are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 8, 2020, our government imposed a 14-day lockdown in the eastern region after 11 people tested positive for the virus. I thought everything will go back to normal after completing this period. But due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases, (and again just like in other countries especially Italy and America), the lockdown period was extended for another 14 days.

God and the Coronavirus

Not only that we cannot go somewhere else. In a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government also declared a nationwide coronavirus curfew that started on the evening of Monday, March 23, 2020. For 21 days residents are ordered to stay inside their homes from 7 pm until 6 am.

Excluded from the 11-hour long curfew are people who work in certain industries, including healthcare, food service, and media. The curfew is seriously implemented that violators will be punished with a 10,000-riyal fine, and with jail time after multiple violations.

I just watched a video of the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, saying he wanted so badly to re-open the economy in states that are mildly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Trump is getting impatient I guess and is very much concerned about the companies that have shut down.

Will they be able to re-open after this crisis is over?

God is Our Only Hope

As we go through this global crisis, we must not forget that God is our only hope. God is not our last hope; He is not our last resort. We do not go to Him only when all else fails. Instead, we must go to Him first.

In trying times such as this, we are to cry out to God for help. Now more than ever, we need to humble ourselves before God and ask for His grace and mercy. We need to pray fervently for the nations. We are to stand in the gap on behalf of our land.

We do not know what the future holds. Will things ever be the same? We can never tell. 

But one thing we know and can be sure of is that no matter what happens, God is with us, He is for us, and He will never abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). God has already conquered sickness (1 Peter 2:24) and death (2 Timothy 1:10). There is no reason to live in fear.

In the meantime, let us put our trust in God, hold on to His promises and live each day anticipating the Lord’s return.

Guidelines in Interpreting Bible Prophecy

Guidelines in Interpreting Bible Prophecy

Bible scholars often tell us that approximately twenty-five percent of the Bible was written as prophecy. This is why studying Bible prophecy and knowing how to correctly interpret them is an enormously important subject.

While much of prophecy is simply straightforward and unambiguous, this means that the immediate context usually provides the interpretive framework; there are cases where a prophetic theme does not follow a tight theme with a strict chronological order.

For instance, the scenes described in the prophecy may appear to be like those of a dream with transitory impressions going back and forth in time and between events. In other cases, the prophets made such extensive use of symbolism, thus making it difficult for the Bible reader to understand what the prophecy is about.

So in this article, we will look at some basic guidelines or rules on how to interpret Bible prophecy.

How to Correctly Interpret Prophecy

1. Study each prophecy as a whole – not just isolated parts.

One of the common errors Bible students make when reading and studying the Bible is taking verses out of their original context. In doing so, one can make the text say whatever he wants it to say even if it’s not what the author had in mind when he wrote them.

This is why people who claim to have read the Bible do not always agree on what the Bible has to say about a certain topic or issue.

In the same way, you cannot correctly interpret a prophecy without studying it as a whole. For instance, if you want to study the prophecy about the Antichrist in Daniel 11:36-45, you must start reading from Daniel 10:1.

Rules in Interpreting Prophecy

2. Know the cultural and historical context of the passage.

Every prophecy should be interpreted taking into consideration its historical and cultural contexts. It is also important to know the intended meaning of the author, thus, reading the introduction to the book that contains it will help.

The prophets composed their books from about 850 B.C. till possibly as late as 400 B.C. Generally speaking, this was a time of great tumult politically, militarily, and economically as Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, and Persia waxed and waned in power and influence – with the inhabitants of ancient Israel frequently caught in the middle.

It was also a time of religious unfaithfulness on the part of God’s chosen people – even after their return from exile.

3. Bible prophecies should be interpreted in the light of grammatical considerations.

In addition to understanding the historical and cultural settings of the book that contains the prophecy we are studying, following the standard rules of grammar also helps us arrive at the correct interpretation.

We need to understand that words have a particular meaning in a particular context. And the way the words are placed together in sentences and paragraphs will help the reader derive the appropriate message that the writer wanted to communicate.

The same is true with the Bible, God had a reason for moving the writers to choose the words they used and put them together in the order they did. Our goal as Bible readers is to come up with the proper interpretation, which can be done by following common-sense rules.

The strength of this hermeneutical approach is evident in the way the New Testament authors interpreted the Old Testament. This is also the only approach that offers an internal system of “checks and balances” to make sure we are on the right track.

4. Know what the book that contains the prophecy is about.

What is the main theme of the book? In other words, what is the author talking about in the book? Why? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you put the prophecy you are studying in perspective.

Where exactly should you look? If you are using a study Bible, you will find them in the introduction to the book.

5. Know the context of the prophecy you are studying.

To correctly interpret a prophecy, you need to examine the outline and chart that is included at the beginning of the book containing the passage you are studying. Look at the survey section as well.

These study aids provide a wealth of information to familiarize you with the book and make you feel “at home” with it. You must also take into consideration what comes before the prophecy in the book and what comes after it. You can also ask the following questions:

  • Who are the actors?
  • What do they do?
  • What is the result?
  • Where does it happen?


6. Check to see if the symbol or symbolism is introduced or explained earlier in Scripture.

The Bible uses a lot of symbolism and understanding the symbolism, say, in Ezekiel and especially Daniel is crucial to understanding the book of Revelation.

7. Check to see if other prophecies parallel the one you are studying.

Many Bible prophecies can only be understood when read side by side with passages that talk about the same subject. For example, the subject matter of Daniel 2 parallels the subject matter of Daniel 7.

8. Presume the passage or thing being referred to as literal unless it is obviously a symbol or interpreted as such.

This means that unless there is firm evidence in the context that the word is used in some other sense, words are to be understood in their normal, natural sense.

It is also important to distinguish between the symbolic and the literal, the prophecy and the interpretation. The interpretation is not symbolic and is meant to be understood literally.

9. Interpret animals, colors, and numbers literally unless the author reveals that they are approximations by using words such as like, as, or about.

The prophets describe fantastic sights, and there are times when they simply run out of earthly things with which to describe heavenly things.

Examples:

“And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stones in appearance “ (Revelation 4:3).

“The first living creature was like a lion” (Revelation 4:7).

“And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire” (Revelation 15:2).

10. If a prophecy has not been completely fulfilled in the past, you can assume that it will be fulfilled in the future.

A partial fulfillment, like the foretaste of the kingdom experienced by Peter, James, and John at the Transfiguration of Christ, makes the future fulfillment of the prophecies relating to the kingdom all the more sure. This is Peter’s point in 2 Peter 1:19-20.

Final Thoughts

Many Christians shy away from studying Bible prophecy because there are difficulties in interpreting them. But if we are to take the Bible seriously and we want to know God and His will, we need to study prophecy.

We cannot deny the fact that there have been several erroneous interpretations taught by people claiming to have the Spirit of God. But this should not discourage us from studying prophecy because in so doing will give us a better understanding of what God has done in the past, what He is doing at present and what God has in store for us in the future.


*Recommended Resource: Understanding Prophecy: A Biblical-Theological Approach By Alan S. Bandy & Benjamin L. Merkle

An authoritative guide to clearly understanding the place and meaning of prophecy in the Bible

For thoughtful readers who are curious about biblical prophecy, this book will help them learn the place of prophecy in the message of the Bible and clear up the confusion that often surrounds reading these texts.

Studying biblical prophecy is about much more than predicting end-times events. Rather, a proper approach to prophecy acknowledges that the threads of prophecy crisscross throughout Genesis to Revelation, forming the fabric of canonical Scripture. This is why having a good grasp of the prophetic genre is essential for understanding the message of the entire Bible.

Authors Alan Bandy and Benjamin Merkle not only offer thoughtful and careful explanations of individual biblical prophecies but also give the reader the big picture of how all prophecy relates to and should be interpreted in light of Jesus Christ.

This book examines the nature, themes, purposes, and theology of biblical prophecy and provides a framework for how to interpret any passage in the context of the Bible as a whole.

What is Sin in the Bible?

What is Sin in the Bible?

In today’s culture where biblical literacy is diminishing, sin has been reduced to some kind of simple misbehavior or minor flaws. Many understand sin to be anything that violates their will and wants. But what is sin according to the Bible? What are the effects of sin and what should be done about it?

What Sin Is

If asked to define sin, people will come up with many different definitions as to what sin is and these are usually the things that the individual does not like. In dealing with sin, it is important to know what sin is.

One of the most common definitions of sin is missing the mark – a failure to live up to an expected standard. The Greek word is hamartia, from the root word hamartanō, an archer’s term meaning to miss the bull’s-eye. The problem with this definition is that it fails to take into account that when the mark is missed, something is hit.

What is Sin According to the Bible

Another definition of sin is found in 1 John 3:4, “sin is lawlessness.” Or as the NLT says, “Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.” Simply put, sin is anything that is contrary to what the Word of God commands or forbids. This definition, however, does not take into account those things about which the Word of God is silent.

The best definition of sin is found in 1 John 5:17, “all unrighteousness is sin.”

The Effects of Sin

Sin, regardless of its degree, always has an effect – death. The entrance of sin into the human race brought with it death (Romans 6:23; James 1:15). That man is a sinner is proven by the fact that he dies, for where there is death, there is sin.

The good news is that sin’s penalty, death, can be remedied by life – union with God. This is achieved by believing in Jesus, who died to pay the penalty of man’s sin (Romans 5:21).

*Read here: Death Penalty for Sin, Eternal Life in Christ

The Bible tells us that there are two kinds of death: spiritual and physical. And whether spiritual or physical, death always means separation.

1. Spiritual death

Spiritual death is when a person is alive physically, but dead spiritually. Spiritual death is the state of being alienated from God. Every one of us is born spiritually dead, that is, separated from God, because sin separates one from God. As Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities (or sins) have separated you from God.”

Spiritual death became a reality for all humanity as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve. Romans 5:12 explains, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

Adam was told that if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would die (Genesis 2:17; 3:3). Adam and Eve ate of the tree and immediately died spiritually – their relationship and fellowship with God were broken. And everyone born after them is separated from God.

Good news is, spiritual death need not be a permanent state. God is eager for us to receive the life He is offering. To be rescued from spiritual death, we only need to recognize our sinful state and acknowledge our need of a Savior in the person of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son who gave His life to purchase eternal life for us (John 3:16)

2. Physical death

When Adam deliberately disobeyed God’s command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he did not only die spiritually, he began to die physically. God’s pronouncement of His judgment of death upon Adam spoke of Adam’s body returning to dust (Genesis 3:19). The body that is made up of dust will return to dust.

Physical death is the separation of the spirit (and soul) from the body. The Scriptures testify to this in Luke 23:46, “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last.”

Also, when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter: “But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’ Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat” (Luke 8:54-55).

Physical Death is just a Doorway to Heaven

As far as human knowledge is concerned, death is the place of no return; it is the end of all life and existence for a person (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10). No matter what your status in life, young or old, rich or poor, sooner or later your body will cease to function. From the moment we are born, we begin to die. That is because the penalty of sin is death.

Again, the good news for the one who believes in Jesus is that the penalty of sin is broken. Yes, he will die physically (unless he is alive when Jesus returns to take all believers to heaven with Himself in an event called the rapture described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18), but physical death for him is only the doorway into the presence of God.

What Should Be Done About Sin

The believer should never condone or attempt to excuse his sin. There are only two things that should be done about sin: confess it and forsake it (Proverbs 28:13).

1. Confess it.

The Old and New Testaments are agreed on this.

Upon realizing his sin of murder and adultery, David confessed his sin and experienced the Lord’s forgiveness (Psalm 32:5). John agrees as he points out: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

To “confess” means to acknowledge or to say the same thing as. The believer is instructed that he is to say the same thing as God says about his sin, “It is sin.”

When the believer confesses his sin, he has the assurance that God is “faithful” (He can be counted upon to keep His word) and “just” (He is just in dealing with our sins because He paid the price for them) “to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

There is no sin too great and no sin too small – God is able to cleanse us completely from anything that is inconsistent with His own moral character.

2. Forsake it.

Sin in the believer’s life is a terrible thing and is not to be tolerated because it mars his fellowship with God. Sin, whether committed against God or a fellow human being, has a detrimental effect on their relationship and fellowship.

That’s why it is important for the believer, after receiving forgiveness and cleansing, to forsake his sin and yield completely to God. In doing this the believer is restored to full fellowship with God.

Proverbs 28:13 NKJV

Closing Thoughts

As God’s children, He expects us to live a life of godly character and to become more like Him (Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:16). We are to build a godly character by remaining faithful to what is right according to God, not what the world thinks is right.

Some say this is quite difficult to do, and I agree. We are all by nature sinful, we are all fallen (Romans 3:23). But because “Jesus Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, we have already died to sins so that we might live for His righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). We are to live by faith that God will give us the strength to resist the urge to sin.

While it is probable that the believer will sin, no one who is in Christ will continue to sin (1 John 3:6) and anyone born of God does not keep on sinning (1 John 5:18 ESV). Is John saying that believers automatically become sinless?

No! He simply means that believers will not continue practicing sin as a way of life. A person who claims to be a Christian but is living contrary to God’s will is showing the world that he or she is not really saved, to begin with. A genuine believer in Jesus will not knowingly, deliberately, and habitually sin.

Do you sometimes feel the urge to commit sin? What are you doing to resist it?

What’s the Book of Revelation About?

What’s the Book of Revelation About?

With the increasing anti-Christian sentiment and the decline of economic and social stability, many Christians today are anxious about the future. In times like these, people tend to look even more closely at the book of Revelation because it encourages Christians to keep hope alive.

Background of the Book of Revelation

The apostle John wrote his great book while he was banished to Patmos – a small, rocky island in the Aegean Sea. While he was shut out from the world, he was shut into God and received the most extensive revelation of future events shown to any writer of the New Testament.

God very well may have allowed John’s banishment so he could be alone with Him and receive this monumental vision of the future. Sometimes the work God has for us requires removal from our normal environment. Abraham’s call, Joseph’s slavery, Moses’ flight from Egypt, and Daniel’s captivity are some instances.

What’s the Book of Revelation About

Many writers isolate themselves by getting away to a mountain retreat or stay in a hotel room so they can concentrate fully on their task. I tend to focus more on my thinking, planning and, writing when left alone in a quiet or remote place.

It becomes quickly apparent as we open the book of Revelation that we are about to encounter a message with a high purpose. Though it bears certain similarities to prophetic passages in Daniel, Ezekiel, and Matthew, Revelation is unique.

What Kind of Book is Revelation?

The book of Revelation tells us what kind of book it is in the first few paragraphs.

A Prophetic Book

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants – things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His servant John” (Revelation 1:1).

Revelation 1:1 displays the prophetic nature of what John wrote through the use of one keyword and one key phrase. The keyword is revelation, which is the translation of the Greek word apokalypsis or “apocalypse.” In the Greek New Testament, this is the first word of the entire book.

What comes to mind when you hear the word apocalypse? Horrible disasters associated with the end of the world, right? But in the Greek, the word simply means “an uncovering; an unveiling; a manifestation of.”

While most people believe that the primary purpose of the book of Revelation is to paint a picture of the end times, although it does do that, it was written primarily to unveil, or uncover, the majesty and power of Jesus Christ. This book is neither a puzzle nor an enigma but a disclosure of who Jesus is.

The key prophetic phrase used in Revelation 1:1 is translated “must shortly take place,” which describes something that suddenly comes to pass. It indicates rapid progression after something commences. The idea is not that the event may occur soon but that when it does, it will occur suddenly.

It’s more like an earthquake; we don’t know when the next will come, but we know that it will. And it will come suddenly and without warning.


Recommended Resource: Revelation (The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries) 

What's the Book of Revelation About?The book of Revelation has long fascinated and even confused readers and students of the Bible.

Yet the Bible is written to be understood, and Revelation is no exception. Who better to help you understand the seals, trumpets, vials, woes, and plagues than John F. Walvoord, one of evangelicalism’s most prominent leaders, and Mark Hitchcock, today’s leading Bible prophecy expert?

In this first in a renewed series of commentaries from Dr. Walvoord, he points out that much of the book’s symbolism can be interpreted literally. At key points, different views and approaches to interpretation are explored. Walvoord devotes special attention to textual and doctrinal issues while avoiding technical language.

Refined, updated with the English Standard Version (ESV), and streamlined, this classic text is set to help you interpret the last book of the Bible and gain a better grasp of current trends and the climax of history!


A Personal Book

“John … bore witness to the end of the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw” (Revelation 1:2).

The book of Revelation is cosmic and far-reaching in its scope, yet it is also very personal. This is a message that John received personally from the Lord (Revelation 1:1-2) and he writes to those with whom he is intimately acquainted, referring to himself as a “brother and companion” in tribulation (Revelation 1:9).

The Lord said to John, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea” (Revelation 1:11). The seven letters we find in chapters 2 and 3 were personal letters written to actual congregations in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) at the end of the first century AD.

Theologian John Stott said this, “The seven cities mentioned form an irregular circle, and are listed in the order in which a messenger might visit them if commissioned to deliver the letters. Sailing from the island of Patmos … he would arrive at Ephesus. He would then travel north to Smyrna and Pergamum, south-east to Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia, and finish his journey at Laodicea.”

Notice how each of the letters begins with the phrase, “I know your works,” and each contains a promise to the one “who overcomes.” But each message between these bookend phrases was personally tailored to the needs of the church to which it was addressed. As such, the letters must be read in their own context.

However, let us not take these letters for granted as there are applications for us today. John may have written these letters with first-century churches in mind, but they accurately identify the kinds of Christians who show up in church in every age – including today.

Anyone who reads the letters will likely think of individuals or churches that fit some of the descriptions. I believe the Lord’s recommendations to these seven churches could solve all the problems modern churches face. The fact that all seven letters were contained in a single parchment meant that each of the churches was required to read the letters written to the others.

A Pictorial Book

“He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw” (Revelation 1:1a-2).

John indicated, on thirty-nine occasions, that he was recording things he saw. His word paint vivid pictures to reveal the future through memorable images and symbols.

Symbols occur throughout Scripture as vehicles for divine revelation, but this book contains more than any other. Sometimes the symbols represent people, such as in the first chapter where Jesus is seen as a judge with a two-edged sword coming out of His mouth.

The Antichrist is presented as a beast coming out of the sea, and the false prophet as a beast originating from the earth, in chapter 13.

You may ask, “Why is there so much symbolism in the book of Revelation?”

First of all, symbolism is not weakened by time. Well-chosen symbols span the centuries and allow us to apply them not only to ancient or future times but also to our own. They create a compelling drama that encourages persecuted and suffering saints throughout the ages.

Second, symbols impart values and arouse emotions. To call a tyrant a beast evokes a primal fear that the word dictator misses. It is also more colorful to refer to the corrupted world system as Babylon the Great than to dull it with a mundane list of descriptions.

This is what Eugene Peterson said about how the imagery in Revelation affects him: “The truth of the gospel is already complete, revealed in Jesus Christ. There is nothing new to say on the subject. But there is a new way to say it. I read the book of Revelation not to get more information but to revive my imagination.”

Last but not least, these symbols functioned as a kind of spiritual code that was generally understood by believers but not by outsiders. John’s book was circulated to the churches during the reign of Domitian (AD 81-96). If it had been written in more direct, prosaic language to fall into the hands of the Romans, those associated with the book would have been executed.

Reasons to Study the Book of Revelation

A Profitable Book

Revelation is the only book in the Bible that motivates its readers by promising a blessing for those who will read and obey it. The promise is made at the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:3 and Revelation 22:7).

Related Article: The 7 Blessings in the Book of Revelation

You may be surprised to know that the word blessed as used in the above-mentioned verses means joyous, blissful or happy. So it may seem strange to associate joys with the sometimes chilling drama of the book of Revelation.

But as Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones explained, “Revelation was written in order that God’s people who were passing through terrible persecutions and terrible adversity might still be able to go on rejoicing. This book was written to help men and women who are in trouble by showing them the ultimate victory of the Lord over Satan and all the forces of evil.”

1. Profitable for Personal Application

It often appears that the enemy is winning but the book of Revelation puts everything into perspective. It tells us of God’s plan for the future and assures us that we are on the winning side. Satan may win some present battles, but the outcome of the war has already been determined.

Knowing that this truth gives us the courage to press on and persevere through the downturns.

2. Profitable for Public Assembly

Public reading and exhortation were an integral part of gatherings in the early church. Paul told young Timothy, for example, to “give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13).

The first-century church met in one place on the first day of the week and memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets were read as long as time permits. When the reader has finished, the president would urge and invite the people to imitate the noble things read.

3. Profitable for Prophetic Anticipation

Revelation 1:3 ends with the phrase “the time is near,” and Revelation 22:10 declares that “the time is at hand.”

The expression, “the time is near” does not necessarily mean the event will occur immediately. It does indicate nearness from the standpoint of prophetic revelation, which operates according to its own timetable. These events were near when John recorded them as they were the next major event on the calendar. And they are even closer today.

Prophecy is God’s way of giving us a fair warning so we can prepare our hearts and minds to be ready for what is ahead.

A Practical Book

More than a century ago, a book entitled, Jesus is Coming: God’s Hope for a Restless World written by William E. Blackstone was published, and interestingly, it had a significant impact on the Christian world that it spurred much of today’s interest in the study of prophecy.

In his book, Blackstone devotes an entire chapter to the practical benefits of studying Bible prophecy, which he calls the true incentive to a holy life. He writes, “No other doctrine in the Word of God presents a deeper motive for crucifying the flesh, for separation to God, to work for souls, and as our hope and joy and crown of rejoicing than this does.”

Three practical benefits that come to us from studying prophecy, especially the book of Revelation:

1. Studying prophecy motivates us to live productive lives.

Contrary to what some people think that a keen awareness of the second coming of Christ will turn us into lazy souls who stand around gazing upward in some kind of useless trance, knowing that Jesus is coming any minute will motivate us, even more, to work for Him to do the Father’s business in these last days.

2. Studying prophecy motivates us to live positive lives.

The book of Revelation promotes a positive mindset that as we study it; we begin to realize that everything that’s happening in our world today is heading somewhere. In Revelation, we see God’s sovereign hand upon affairs of the world, as in no other book, and we see Him in control even though so much here on earth seems out of control.

As the conditions of our world worsen, instead of hanging our heads on depression or shake our heads in confusion, we are to lift up our heads in expectation, for our redemption draws near (Luke 21:28).

3. Studying prophecy motivates us to live pure lives.

The third benefit of studying Revelation is that it fosters purity in our lives. The Bible says, “… when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

A Purposeful Book

Revelation 1:7-8 presents the twofold purpose of the entire book, which is to affirm Christ’s return and His ultimate reign over the earth.

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7).

Daniel predicted that the Messiah would come through the clouds (Daniel 7:13). In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus spoke of His coming in similar terms (Matthew 24:30). John expanded on Jesus’ words to describe what every person will experience at His second coming (Revelation 1:7).

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet that point not only to the eternity of Christ but also to His all-inclusive power.

As the Alpha and Omega, Christ precedes the beginning of Creation and survives the end of humanity’s day. He is the eternal, omnipotent God. And when the time was right, Jesus began His campaign to regain His rightful sovereignty over the earth.

The book of Revelation is the account of that campaign. It tells of His appointment by the Father to the throne, His battle against the forces of evil, His final victory, and His relationship with the redeemed.

As a result of Christ’s triumph, His people are presented as overcomers. The simple meaning of the word overcome is “to conquer” or “to win the victory.” The promise of victory is certain, but its final reality awaits the return of Jesus Christ the King.

What’s the Book of Revelation About

Closing Words

It is in the heart of every believer to join with the saints of old in longing for that day as did John when he completed his scroll: “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). Yet while we wait, let us remember that we still need the revelation that John received from Jesus.

In a world where we see Christian’s martyred for their faith each year, the church remaining terribly flawed, we need the Revelation which Jesus gave to John – a Revelation which changes everything; a Revelation that God is still on the throne working out His strategies from the control room of heaven.


Reference: Agents of the Apocalypse (A Riveting Look at the Key Players of the End Times) by Dr. David Jeremiah

Understanding the Book of RevelationWho Will Usher in Earth’s Final Days?

Are we living in the end times? Is it possible that the players depicted in the book of Revelation could be out in force today? And if they are, would you know how to recognize them?

In Agents of the Apocalypse, noted prophecy expert Dr. David Jeremiah does what no prophecy expert has done before. He explores the book of Revelation through the lens of its major players―the exiled, the martyrs, the elders, the victor, the king, the judge, the 144,000, the witnesses, the false prophet, and the beast.

One by one, Dr. Jeremiah delves into their individual personalities and motives, and the role that each plays in biblical prophecy. Then he provides readers with the critical clues and information needed to recognize their presence and power in the world today.

The stage is set, and the curtain is about to rise on Earth’s final act. Will you be ready?

The Olivet Discourse: Blueprint to the End Times

The Olivet Discourse: Blueprint to the End Times

The Olivet Discourse is a sermon that Jesus preached from the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem, three days before His crucifixion. The Olivet discourse is recorded in its most complete form in Matthew 24:1-25, and in more abbreviated forms in Mark 13 and Luke 21.

Jesus preached this sermon to a select group of His disciples in response to their question about the destruction of the Temple and the end of the age (Matthew 24:1-3). Mark 13:3 says that Jesus’ audience consisted of only four men: Peter, James, John, and Andrew. Imagine what it must have been like to hear the Savior outline the blueprint of the end times in such an intimate setting.

Christ’s Return at the End of the Age

For clarification purposes, the return of Christ at the end of the age is different from His return for the Church described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. In essence, there are two phases of the “Second Coming.”

The first phase is when Christ returns in the air to “receive the believers unto Himself” (John 14:3) and the second phase will be when Christ returns to the earth with His saints (the believers) and He will stand on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem at the end of the Tribulation period to defeat the Antichrist (Zechariah 14:4; Revelation 19:19).

Going back to the Olivet discourse, we read that before Jesus delivered this sermon, He and His disciples had been in the Temple in Jerusalem. “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down’” (Matthew 24:1-2).

As Jesus and the disciples crossed the Kidron Valley on the Mount of Olives, Jesus’ words must have been seared into the minds of the disciples. They must have wondered how this could be. When would this happen? When would the end come?

Matthew 24:1-2

So when they finally arrived at the Mount of Olives, the four men came to Him immediately for clarification (Matthew 24:3). The disciples were asking Jesus one big question with three parts. Clearly, the disciples’ question focuses on Christ’s return and the end of the age.

The disciples could not fathom the destruction of the Temple apart from the end of the age. For them, the destruction of the Temple, the coming of the Messiah, and the end of the world were tied together (Zechariah 14:1-11). This sermon, therefore, addresses the seven-year Tribulation period that will occur just before Christ returns.

While many futuristic scholars believe that a part of the Olivet discourse has already been fulfilled in 70 AD, particularly the destruction of the Temple, they say that the remainder of the discourse is yet to be fulfilled. They’re saying that Jesus began by speaking events that would be fulfilled in 70 AD, but then looked ahead to events that would be fulfilled near the end of human history.

The Olivet Discourse: The Mini Apocalypse

The Olivet discourse of Jesus is often called “The Mini Apocalypse” because it provides a concise yet comprehensive overview of the end times. In this sermon, Jesus gives us the basic blueprint for the end – a checklist of the signs of the times for Christ’s Second Advent. In twenty-seven verses, Matthew 24:4-31 moves from the beginning of the future Tribulation to the second coming of Christ.

Looking at Matthew 24:4-14, Jesus lists eight key signs He likens to birth pains that will be the signs of His coming: false Christs (v. 5); wars (vv. 6-7); famines (v. 7); earthquakes (v. 7); persecution (vv. 9-10); false prophets (v. 11); lawlessness (v. 12); and worldwide preaching of the gospel (v. 14).

The comparison with birth pains indicates that as the time of Christ’s coming draws near, the judgments will increase immensely in frequency and intensity.

In Matthew 24:15, Jesus directly appeals to the prophecies of Daniel and specifically to Daniel 9:27. Jesus goes on to describe the terrors of that time. Matthew 24:15-20 marks the midpoint of the Tribulation when the Antichrist breaks his treaty with Israel, invades the nation, and desecrates the Temple.

The Olivet Dsicourse Explained

Beginning in Matthew 24:21, the final 3 ½ years of this age are graphically outlined. The terrors will be so great that God will shorten the time for the sake of His people (Matthew 24:22). There will be people pointing here and there, claiming to have identified the Messiah, but Jesus warns against believing such claims (Matthew 24:23-26).

After the Tribulation, the second coming of Christ is presented (Matthew 24:29). He describes the signs in the heavens that will indicate that the Son of Man is coming, and finally His coming and gathering of His elect from around the world. He describes it as being “like the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37).

Jesus encourages the disciples to look for the signs, like leaves on a fig tree (Mark 13:28), even though the day of His return is unknown. Nonetheless, He encourages them to keep watch and remain faithful (Mark 13:35-36; Matthew 24:42; Luke 21:36).

The Generation that will Not Pass Away

Some scholars argue that the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 fulfilled Jesus’ predictions in Matthew 24. This view is based primarily on Matthew 24:34, which says, “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”

Proponents maintain that “this generation” must refer to the generation that originally heard the words of Jesus. The chief problem with this view is that the destruction of Jerusalem did not fulfill all the events described in Matthew 24, so Jesus could not have been referring to that time period

In the context, “this generation” probably refers to those living during the Tribulation who will personally witness the events described in Matthew 24:4-31. Jesus is emphasizing that those who see the signs that He listed, and experience the Great Tribulation, will also witness the Second Coming.

Jesus is saying that those who are alive to see the beginning of the birth pangs will also witness the birth.


Matthew 24 is Futuristic

Reading the passage more carefully, there are two key points from the surrounding context that strongly suggest that all the conditions and characteristics in Matthew 24-4-28 are future events that will occur during the Tribulation, immediately preceding the return of Christ.

First, Jesus established the time frame for this sermon in Matthew 23:39, “For I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Jesus was telling His disciples that He was going to leave this world but that He would come again only when the Jewish people would repent and receive Him as their Messiah.

This statement is very significant as it forms the backdrop and context for what Jesus says in Matthew 24. Jewish repentance, which has never occurred and certainly didn’t occur in AD 70, is the ultimate event that will trigger His return. At the end of the Tribulation, the Jewish people will repent, and their Messiah will return to rescue them from the Antichrist (Zechariah 12:10).

Matthew 24:3

Second, when the disciples asked Jesus about the end of the world, they were thinking of when the Messiah would come to establish His glorious Kingdom in Israel. In fact, Jesus Himself used this exact terminology, “the end of the world (or age),” twice before to refer to the final judgment (Matthew 13:39, 49).

John Mac Arthur summarized it this way:

“It seems more sensible and more consistent, therefore, to take a futuristic approach with respect to the Olivet Discourse – to interpret the entire discourse as a prophetic picture of a “generation” and events that would take place long after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. These are events that will immediately precede Christ’s coming to establish His kingdom, and therefore they are events that are yet future even today.”

Conclusion

Jesus used the prophetic sermon known as the “Olivet Discourse” to outline the events that will lead up to the return of Israel’s Messiah to establish His Kingdom on earth and to call His people to faithfulness in view of that coming.

Although the events in Matthew 24 – 25 are futuristic, the parables encourage us to love Christ’s appearing, to look for His appearing and to labor faithfully until He comes. We should be watching, witnessing, and working. We may not be successful in many people’s eyes or even popular with others. But if we are faithful and profitable, we shall receive our reward.

And no matter what view of prophecy we take, we know that Jesus is coming again. As Christians, we must be alert and ready. We must not waste our opportunities. We may not have a great deal of ability or a great many gifts, but we can still be faithful in the calling God has given us.


*Reference: The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days
By Mark Hitchcock

The first comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and the end times in more than 50 years. Presenting various eschatological viewpoints, Hitchcock offers a solid biblical foundation to guide you in exploring the essential truths surrounding this often misunderstood topic – and the earthly and celestial events that will mark Christ’s second coming.

Includes helpful charts. (520 pages, hardcover from Tyndale)

What Happens at the Second Coming of Christ

What Happens at the Second Coming of Christ

The next big event in God’s program for all believers is the coming of Christ to take them to be with Himself. Most theologians call this event the Rapture of the Church. But does the Bible give us any details on what will happen at the second coming of Christ? Yes, it does.

The apostle Paul describes this event in two passages: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 while John refers to it in John 14:1-3 and 1 John 3:2-3.

Who are the Believers?

Before getting into what God has in store in the future for the believers in Jesus Christ, we need to set things straight right from the get-go and define our terms properly. So as mentioned earlier, the return of Christ is something that believers are looking forward to. But who are the believers or Christians?

Admittedly, the term “Christian” is often used in the broadest sense. Most, if not all people automatically assume that if you’re not a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, etc. then you are a Christian. But is this assumption correct? Not really!

What Happens at the Second Coming of Christ

The believers are those who acknowledged that they are lost and in need of a Savior from sin and as a result have made the decision to repent and completely trust in the Lord Jesus to be Lord of their lives (John 1:12; John 3:16). In other words, they are those who have been redeemed from the power of sin and death through the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are a believer in Jesus and a redeemed Christian, there is a glorious future waiting for you.

What will Happen when Christ Comes?

There are 3 major events that will take place at the second coming of Christ: 1) concerning the Lord Jesus, 2) concerning the believers who had died and, 3) concerning the believers who are alive at the time of the return of Christ.

The Lord Jesus

The first event to transpire when Christ comes to take believers will be that Jesus Himself will descend from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16a).

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”

Looking at this verse more closely, three truths become apparent:

A. It will be Jesus and no one else who will come.

Jesus will come personally for the believers as He promised in John 14:1-3. After Jesus announced His soon-to-be departure and Peter’s upcoming betrayal, the apostles were troubled. But Jesus promised to them that this won’t be their last time together because as soon as everything is ready He will return for His people so that they will always be with Him wherever He is.

B. Another truth that is expressed in the above-mentioned verse is that Jesus will be coming from heaven into which He was seen last going.

In Acts 1:9-11, we read how Jesus was taken up into a cloud in full view of the people watching. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven, two men in white apparel said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

C. Jesus’ coming will be accompanied by an appropriate signal.

Paul describes the signal that will accompany Christ’s return as being “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”

Wait a minute; will there be three different signals? No! Understand that Paul is referencing the signal as a triad in which the last two things describe the first. Paul is saying that Christ’s return will be accompanied by a shout and that shout will be like the voice of an archangel and like the trumpet of God.

So the only sound that will be heard will be the shout and when it is heard some will think that an archangel has spoken or sounded God’s trumpet.

This “shout” is a military term that is used for the signal that was sounded to gather troops together. If we look at other translations such as the New International Version, the verse says, “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.”

The “shout” that will be heard will be like a loud command by the captain of a troop to gather them. That’s exactly what Jesus will do when He comes – He will gather all believers of this age whether living or dead together to take them to heaven.

The Dead Believers

The second event to transpire at the second coming of Christ will be the resurrection of the bodies of the believing dead to be reunited with their spirits.

Paul says that “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16b). Take note of the word “first” which is the most important word in the statement. With this, we know that living believers will not meet the Lord ahead of the believers who have died.

In fact, if we go back to verse 15, Paul points out that believers who have died will not miss out on Christ’s coming. What is the authority of Paul’s instruction? It’s “the word of the Lord,” which lets us know that what he is saying is important and not to be treated lightly because this revelation was one that has been given directly to Paul by God.

We find no explicit statement in the Gospels that spells out in detail the return of Christ for the church. That’s why in 1 Corinthians 15:51, Paul says, Behold, I tell you a mystery.” Now let us avoid making the assumption that a mystery is something mysterious.

In the New Testament, a mystery is the revelation of some truth that had been previously given. It is something that has been there from the beginning. But prior to the revelation of a mystery, no one could have had any knowledge or understanding concerning it.

Note: Some theologians believe that the apostle Paul received this revelation at Sinai in Arabia, the same exact place where Moses received “The Law” (The Ten Commandments). After his encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul did not go immediately to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles. Instead, he went to Arabia and afterwards returned to Damascus (Galatians 1:10-18).

So again, as Paul said, when Christ returns the dead in Christ shall rise first according to the revelation that he received from God.

Paul Educates the Believers in Thessalonica

In order for us to better understand and properly interpret the letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, we need to know his intent.

It is generally believed that Paul stayed in Thessalonica for about three to four weeks. After pioneering a church there, he had to leave the city along with Silas and Timothy into Athens. Although they intended to return, they were hindered (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18).

Paul then sent Timothy from Athens to Thessalonica to see how the church was doing. Upon his return, Timothy reported to Paul that the believers were doing well; except for one problem that concerned some questions and a certain amount of anxiety that some of them were having regarding their loved ones who had died.

The believers in Thessalonica rightly understood that Christ was going to return, as Paul taught them. However, it never crossed their minds that some of their loved ones would die before the event took place. And so all sorts of questions were going through their minds: “Will their dead loved one miss out on Christ’s coming? What will happen to them when Christ returns for the church? Will they have any advantage over the living believers?”

So Paul educates them and assures them that all those who died in Christ prior to the second coming will not miss out on anything; in fact they will already have entered the presence of Christ. He goes on to tell them not to grieve like those who have no hope because when Christ returns God will bring with Him the spirits of the dead believers to be reunited with their glorified bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

What will Happen during the Rapture

The Living Believers

The third event deals with the living believers. Clearly, believers will be living when Christ comes to take them to be with Himself. But what will happen to living believers at the second coming of Christ?

Paul does not answer this question in 1 Thessalonians 4 because his emphasis there is to point out what will happen to those “in Christ” who died physically prior to Christ’s return, since that was the specific concern of the Thessalonians believers.

So we go to 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 where Paul tells us the details of what awaits the living believers at the second coming of Christ.

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

From this passage, we see four things that will happen to the raptured believers:

1. First, they will be immediately glorified.

Believers need to be glorified because unglorified humanity cannot go into God’s presence. A change must take place before mortal physical beings can be equipped for the eternal state. That change is “glorification” which is the final phase of salvation.

All believers will be transformed; everything that makes them mortal is removed and replaced with immortality. This fact is proclaimed in the words, “but we shall all be changed.” This verse summarizes the process that will equip the living saints for an eternal existence. Their bodies will be changed so that they will not wear out or decay. They will truly “inherit the kingdom of God.”

This process of glorification is described in three dimensions:

(1) As it relates to time, it will be “in a moment.” It describes the smallest indivisible unit of time. That is how long it will take for God to effect the change in the body of every living believer when Christ returns.

(2) As it relates to sight, it will be “in the twinkling of an eye.” Paul’s expression is used to describe any rapid movement such as the flapping of wings or the twinkling of lights. The emphasis here is upon speed. The bodies of living believers will be glorified in the same amount of time it takes the eye to twinkle when it is struck by light.

(3) As it relates to sound, “at the last trumpet.” This “last trumpet” is the same trumpet mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. It is the same time at which God will raise the bodies of all the believing dead.

With these three figures, Paul is showing that a lot will happen in a very short period of time. At the same time that the bodies of the believing dead are raised, the bodies of living believers will be changed. 

These two separate programs that God will run when Christ returns will take place successively, but together they will be accomplished so quickly that it will appear as if they happened simultaneously. In the smallest possible moment of time, every body of every believer who has believed in Christ from the day of Pentecost until the day that Christ returns will be raised from the graves in which they have been resting.

Both of these programs of God will be completed in less time than it takes for an eye to twinkle when struck by light. What a glorious future that lies ahead for those who have believed in Jesus!

Note: What is the “mystery” that has been revealed by God directly to Paul? That some believers will not die physically.

Even if Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once and after that faces judgment,” there are believers who will not experience death in their lifetime as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:51.

What will happen at the Second Coming of Christ

Paul used the word “sleep” to describe the physical death of believers both in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4. The figure is a beautiful one because when one sleeps he does so to take a rest in the full expectancy of being awakened to continue meaningful activity.

It is important to note that it is not the soul that sleeps but the body. When a believer dies, his body is asleep. That’s why it has to be buried in a cemetery. The English word cemetery comes from two Greek words, koime (sleep) and tere (a keeping place).

Thus, a cemetery is a place where the sleeping bodies of believers are kept until the time that Christ returns to awaken those sleeping bodies, glorify them, and reunite them with their souls that upon death went immediately into God’s presence.

The important thing that Paul is revealing to the Corinthians is that at the time of Christ’s return there will be some believers living but who will undergo a change in order to be able to enter God’s presence.

Clearly, Paul believed that he and his Thessalonian readers might well be alive when the Lord returned. He believed that Christ’s coming was imminent, that it could take place at any moment. Many times he used statements such as “the time is short” (1 Corinthians 7:29) and “the Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).

2. They will be reunited with the resurrected believers.

After living believers receive their glorified bodies, they will be reunited with the resurrected believers who have preceded them in being glorified . They will be “caught up” together with the resurrected believers (1 Thessalonians 4:17a).

The words “caught up” is harpazo in Greek, which means to seize or snatch away suddenly. In Latin, the word is rapio which is where we get the word “rapture.” In this event, believers will be removed from this earth and reunited with the resurrected believers.

This will be the second meeting of the universal body of believers known as the church, the body of Christ. The first meeting took place on the Day of Pentecost when the church was born. Since that time, the universal church has not met.

3. They will meet Jesus personally in the air.

The third experience that living believers will undergo when Christ returns for them is that they will meet Jesus personally in the air. Paul tells us that this meeting will take place “in the clouds,” which is his way of describing our atmospheric heavens (the second heaven). 

Paul uses a picturesque to describe this meeting. It is a word used of greeting a newly arrived magistrate. Such meetings usually took place outside of the city walls and then they all returned to the regular abode to continue the formalities. This, then, is a picture of how we will meet the Lord and then later will return to reign with Him when He comes to set up His Kingdom.

4. They will be with Jesus forever.

After meeting with the Lord in the air, all believers will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17c).  

With this statement Paul lets us know that this meeting with the Lord will never end. It will be a personal association with resurrected believers and with Christ. This will be the final fulfillment of our Lord’s promise in John 14:3, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you maybe also.”

Comfort for the Believers Today

Knowing that Christ would one day return to take us to be with Him for all eternity should comfort our hearts (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

“Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

Whenever there is a loss of a loved one, we are to comfort one another. It is true that the death of a loved one brings sadness to us, but we should “not grieve as do the others who have no hope,” for we have comfort. We find comfort in knowing that our loved ones who died will not miss out on Christ’s coming.

In fact, they will have precedence and prominence in it. That is, if they have repented of their sins and accepted God’s gift of salvation prior to their passing.

We also find comfort in knowing that if we would be alive when Christ returns, we will not experience death. But we will be immediately glorified, caught up into the atmospheric heavens to be reunited with our loved ones who died to meet the Lord in the air and be forever with Him.

Believers Must Purify Themselves

Knowing that Christ could return at any moment also causes us to purify our lives (1 John 3:2-3).

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

We should purify our lives because of our present position. We are “children of God,” and we should bear the image of our heavenly Father, which is absolute holiness and purity .

Conclusion

From these passages, we had a glimpse of what the future holds for us as believers in the Lord Jesus. We know that God is faithful and will fulfill His promise to take us from this chaotic world to be forever with Him. This should give us hope, despite the trials and suffering that we might be facing.

Whatever situation we are in right now, no matter how difficult the circumstances we are facing, they are nothing compared to the wonderful and glorious future that awaits us.

 Scriptures on the Return of Jesus Christ

The Second Coming Christ for the Church or the Rapture is the “blessed hope” of the believers; it is our blessed hope. But while we wait, let us reject ungodliness and worldly passions, and let us live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age Titus 2:11-14).


*Recommended Resource: Preparing for Jesus’ Return: Daily Live the Blessed Hope
By A.W. Tozer

This never-before-published book is Tozer’s incomparable teaching on the book of Revelation. Discover his fresh and timely perspective on the purpose of prophecy, which he believed is to lift our gaze from the immediate to the eternal.

Preparing for Jesus’s Return offers a panoramic view of what is to come and examines what it means for you, your church and the world. No one knows when the Lord will return, but the assurance of His coming is our Blessed Hope!

The “I Will” Promises of God

The “I Will” Promises of God

We find so many “I will” promises of God in the Bible; promises to the nation of Israel and promises to the Church. These promises assure us that in the face of trials and difficulties, God has something wonderful in store for us. Even at times when we turn our backs on Him, God remains faithful and will always be looking out for us.

This is exactly what God did when the nation of Israel committed the sin of idolatry (spiritual adultery), ingratitude and hypocrisy against Him. Despite their unfaithfulness and rebellion, God, through the prophet Hosea, gave the Jewish people assurance that He has a wonderful future planned for them.

Let us note the six promises of God in Hosea 2:14-23 and see how they can be applied to the church and to the individual Christian.

“I will win her back once again.”

Hosea 2:14

The word used here is “allure.” It means that God is not going to force the nation of Israel (His people) to love Him back. Instead, He woos her or speaks tenderly to her, as a lover woos his beloved, seeking her hand in marriage.

God will win Israel back to Himself
Photo Credits: Brain Trust Hub

God did not say He would “drive her,” or “drag her;” not even “draw her.” While the devil tempts and ruins us with sweet words and baits of pleasure, God in His mercy seeks to outbid the devil and win us to Himself with His unconditional love which shall be much stronger than any force of resistance we may offer.

Throughout the Old Testament, we read how the Lord had spoken tenderly to His people through His Word and through the manifold blessings He bestowed on them in their land.

In spite of their rebellion and unfaithfulness, God was always there for them whenever they called upon Him.

Just as He had led the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage into the wilderness through the Red Sea and made a covenant with them at Sinai, so God would meet them again in the wilderness in the last days and lead them into their land and His glorious kingdom.

“I will return her vineyards.”

Hosea 2:15

God promises to bring His people back into their land and will make them prosperous again.

We find numerous passages in the Bible where God says He will scatter the nation of Israel among all the nations as a result of their rebellion. (See Deuteronomy 4:27; 28:64; Leviticus 26:33; Jeremiah 9:16; Ezekiel 12:15; 20:23; 22:15; Jeremiah 13:24; 18:17 and Zechariah 10:9 just to name a few.)

And true to His word, God scattered the Jewish people to all corners of the earth at the destruction of the second Temple by the Romans in 70 AD during the siege of Jerusalem. For many years, the Jews wandered in all corners of the earth and had no place to call home.

After nearly 19 hundred years of Jewish dispersion outside their land, the British government granted a national home for them in Palestine through the Balfour Declaration in 1917. On May 14, 1948, the state of Israel became a sovereign nation and Jews from all around the world started to return to their land.

The I Will Promises of God to the Jewish People

Despite being attacked many times by their neighboring countries, the Jewish people are now residing in their own land and have become prosperous over the years. This is in fulfillment of God’s promise to bring them back into their own land and for the desert land of Israel to prosper and bloom again (Isaiah 43:5-6; Jeremiah 6:14-15; Ezekiel 37:11-13; 36:33-36).

The Bible says, “There is no one is righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). We were all born sinners and were alienated from God as a result of Adam’s sin. But God in His grace and mercy desires for us to be reconciled back to Him through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-21); He wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him as it was in the beginning before sin entered into the Garden of Eden.

“I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips.”

Hosea 2:16-17

In Hebrew, Baal means “master” and Ishi means “husband.” Both terms were used by Jewish wives to address their husbands. In this verse, God declares an end to idolatry among His people. They would have a new vocabulary and the “baals” would never be named again.

God Promised to Remove Baal Worship Among the Jews

God looks forward to the day when His relationship with His people, an intimate love relationship where they will think of Him as a husband, will be genuinely restored. At that time Israel would no longer prostitute herself before idols and would love and serve the true living God.

The Lord desires the same relationship with the Church, His Bride. He wants us to love Him above all else and to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).

“I will make a covenant.”

Hosea 2:18-20

God’s wooing of Israel would result in her yielding to Him and entering into a covenant relationship that would never end. It will be a restored relationship founded on God’s righteousness, justice, loving-kindness, faithfulness, mercy, and compassion, resulting in a much deeper, intimate relationship. Basically, everything that Israel had lacked during her years of separation from her husband (Jehovah God), she will enjoy.

This new covenant would also include a restored creation: a transformed earth (Genesis 9:1-10; Romans 8:18-22) and peace among the nations.

The I Will Promises of God

The Church is included in the new covenant that God made with His people. The Bible tells us that because the Jews rejected God’s offer of salvation, it was brought to the Gentiles, which they gladly received. The Gentiles are spoken of as the wild olive tree branches that are grafted and have become partakers of the root and fatness of the olive tree (Romans 11:11-24).

At the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the Church (Bride of Christ) will receive her rewards from her groom, Jesus Christ, and will spend 7 years in heaven while the Tribulation is happening on earth.

“I will answer.”

Hosea 2:21-22

The I Will Promises of GodIn a tremendous cosmic conversation, God would speak to the heavens and the earth, and they would respond and bring blessings to God’s people.

The heavens would send the rain, the earth would bring forth the produce, and the Lord would send His rich blessings. This pictures a restored universe where sin and death no longer reign (Romans 5:12-21).

What a great blessing as a result of having a real, vibrant relationship with our God. Our thoughts and desires will become aligned with God’s and so when we ask Him to do things, we are actually asking Him to do what He wants to do.

This is the same exact principle we find in John 15:7. If we abide in Him, He will abide in us and we can ask anything we desire and it shall be done for us.

“I will plant.”

Hosea 2:23

The word Jezreel means “God sows,” and God would sow His people in their land the way a farmer sows seed. The Lord would say to them, “You are My people.” And they would respond, “You are our God.” This relates back to the names of the children that God in His grace had changed.

Before coming into a redemptive covenant with God through faith in the Lord Jesus, we belonged to the devil (John 8:44). Praise God for His amazing grace; He loves us so much that He didn’t want us to spend eternity in hell along with the devil and his demons.

The I Will Promises of God
Photo Credits: Now The End Begins

So He sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die at Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16). God also gave those who believed in the name of Jesus and received Him as Lord and Savior the right to become His children (John 1:12).

The moment we placed our faith in the Lord Jesus, we have become God’s children; we’ve become His peculiar people and He has become our God. We have been granted direct access to God and we can call Him “Abba Father” (Romans 8:15).

Closing Words

What wonderful promises God has given to His people, the nation of Israel. Although a large population of the Jews still does not believe Jesus to be the Messiah, there are already quite a number of Jews who have come into the saving knowledge of God through Christ.

And God is faithful; He will surely keep His promise to save the nation of Israel (Romans 11:25-27).

In the same way, God will surely keep His promise to never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6), to be with us to the ends of the earth as we fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), and to keep us from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole world (Revelation 3:10).

These are just some of the “I will” promises of God to us that He revealed in His written word. What do we do about them? We have to claim them and believe with all our heart that we already received them.


*Recommended Resource: Unshakable Hope: Building Our Lives on the Promises of God
By Max Lucado

Nothing lifts us out of fear and weariness like hope. An anchor through life’s storms, hope buoys our spirits and seeks to make a way when we face tough times.

After 40 years of ministry and speaking to hurt hearts, Max Lucado has learned that the promises of God will give you the strength you need. Each chapter in Unshakable Hope explores one Biblical promise that will help equip you to face every day with courage.

Includes reflection questions for individual or group study.