Category: Eschatology

The Rapture and Everyday Life

The Rapture and Everyday Life

The Rapture is said to be the greatest end-time event that Christians all around the world are eagerly waiting to take place. This is when the Lord Jesus will come in the clouds to receive every church age believer, dead or alive, and take them to heaven as He promised in John 14:1-3.

Theologians also refer to the Rapture as the blessed hope of the believers (Titus 2:13). But do you know that the Rapture can have a meaning for our everyday life? Every key New Testament passage on the Rapture contains a practical application that is closely associated with it.

The message is crystal clear – anticipating the Rapture should change the way we live. According to the Bible, understanding the Rapture should have at least six life-changing influences on our hearts.

The Rapture and the Church

Converting Influence on Seeking Hearts

With life’s brevity in mind, the most important question for every individual to face is whether he or she has a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior. Salvation through Jesus is a message that contains both bad news and good news.

The bad news is that the Bible declares that all people, including you and me, are sinful, and therefore separated from the holy God of the universe (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23).

God is holy and cannot simply overlook sin. A just payment for the debt must be made. But we are spiritually bankrupt and have no resources within ourselves to pay the huge debt we owe.

The Good News, or Gospel, is that Jesus Christ has come and satisfied our sin debt. He bore our judgment and paid the price for our sins. He died on the cross for our sins and was raised to life on the third day to complete the work of salvation. See Colossians 2:14 and 1 Peter 3:18.

The salvation that Christ accomplished is offered to all of us through faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation from sin is a free gift that God offers to sinful people who deserve judgment.

If you have not received that gift yet, I invite you to do it right now. Place your faith and trust in Christ and in Him alone, for your eternal salvation. The Rapture could happen anytime and those who fail to trust Christ will be left behind to endure the Tribulation.

Accept Christ personally by calling upon Him to save you from your sins (Romans 10:9-10, 13). Make sure you are Rapture ready!

Caring Influence on Soul-Winning Hearts

No believer can study Bible prophecy without being gripped by the awesome power of God and the wrath of God. Just a simple reading of Revelation 6 –18 reminds us of what is in store for this earth after the Rapture.

Scripture also describes the eternal horrors that await those who die without trusting Christ. The Bible brings us face-to-face with what is at stake for those who don’t know Christ as their Savior.

2 Corinthians 5:20 reminds us of our calling during this present age: “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”

Those who have already responded to the message of God’s grace and forgiveness through Christ know the world’s future, and we are Christ’s ambassadors, representing Him and His heart to a perishing world. We should care deeply about those who are still lost, willingly give of our material resources to help spread the gospel message, and regularly ask the Lord for opportunities ad boldness to share the Good news of Christ.

A clear understanding of the Rapture should exert a strong influence on every believer to care about the lost before time runs out.

Cleansing Influence on Sinning Hearts

A proper understanding of the Rapture should produce a life of holiness and purity. Focusing the mind and heart on Christ’s coming can powerfully motivate our efforts toward living a pure life.

Note the certainty: “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). Here is a perfect prescription for living a life of holiness – focusing on the Rapture.

How can we be riveted by the Rapture and live an impure life at the same time? 1 John 3:3 says it can’t happen. Fixing our hope on Christ and His coming is a purifying hope.

We are to live as if Christ could come at any time, and if this becomes real to us it will transform our lives. The Bible declares that we are to always be looking for Christ’s coming (Titus 2:12-13).

Prophecy and purity are mentioned in Romans 13:11-14 and 2 Peter 3:10-14 presents the practical, cleansing effect of prophecy.

So, when anyone says that studying Bible prophecy is impractical or irrelevant to everyday life, they reveal that they don’t understand what the Bible says about the personal impact of prophecy.


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Calming Influence on Stirring Hearts

Another practical effect of the Rapture is that it calms us down when our hearts are troubled and stirred up. In John 14:1-3, Jesus tells His disciples (and every believer today) to “not let our hearts be troubled.”

The word troubled means “to be stirred up, disturbed, unsettled, or thrown into confusion.” There are many things in our world today to disturb and unsettle us: moral decay, crime, economic uncertainty, terrorism, fear of pandemics, social unrest, and others.

Added to these problems are the personal trials and difficulties we all face in our daily lives. Trouble is the common denominator of all humankind (Job 5:7). Often these troubles and difficulties can leave us distraught, distracted, and disturbed.

However, Jesus emphasizes three things in John 14:1-3 that can calm our troubled hearts: a person, a place, and a promise. The person is our Lord, the place is the heavenly city (new Jerusalem), and the promise is that He will come again to take us to be with Him forever.

One of the great comforts in times like This is to remember that our Lord will someday return to take us to be with Himself.

Comforting Influence on Sorrowing Hearts

Every person has faced or will face the grief of losing a close friend or loved one in death. When death strikes, pious platitudes do little to bring lasting comfort to friends and family. The only real, lasting comfort is the hope that we will see that person again in heaven.

God’s Word tells us with certainty that we are not to sorrow as people who have no hope because we will be reunited with our saved loved ones and friends at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Rapture and Resurrection should transform the way we view death. Death has lost its sting. God has promised that death will ultimately be abolished and that life will reign.

Grief is still appropriate when our friends or loved ones die. Didn’t Jesus weep at the death of His good friend Lazarus (John 11:35)? Stephen’s friends also wept loudly over his battered body (Acts 8:2).

We miss our loved ones when they die. However, the Bible declares that our weeping is not the weeping of despair. There is deep solace, hope, and comfort for our sorrowing hearts in the truth of God’s Word about the future for His children.

Controlling Influence on Serving Hearts

So many today are unstable and unsettled in Christian work. They are constantly vacillating. Knowing about Christ’s coming and future events should cure the problem of instability and inconsistency in Christian labor.

After presenting the truth of the Rapture and the Resurrection, Paul concludes with a strong admonition: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Paul is saying since you know that Christ will someday come to receive you to Himself, let nothing move you, and be strong and steady in your Christian service. Realizing that Christ could return at any time is to make us energetic and excited about serving the Lord.

If the Rapture is a reality to us, it will motivate us to work faithfully for the Lord. The Lord intends for our knowledge of Bible prophecy to translate into devotes service for those around us as we await His return.

The principle in the Bible is clear: waiters are workers. When Christ comes we are to be “dressed for service and keep our lamps burning” (Luke 12:35 NASB).

Final Thoughts

Warren Wiersbe tells a story of when he was a young man preaching on the last days with all the events of prophecy clearly laid out and perfectly planned. At the end of the service, an older gentleman came up to him and whispered in his ear, “I used to have the Lord’s return planned out to the last detail, but years ago I moved from the planning committee to the welcoming committee.”

Certainly, we want to study Bible prophecy and know about God’s plan for the future. But we must be careful not to get too caught up in the planning and forget the welcoming.

Are you on the welcoming committee for the Lord’s coming? Are you living each day to please the Master?

May God help our knowledge of the Rapture to transform our lives as we eagerly await the coming of our Lord and Savior.


Note: This article is an excerpt from Dr. Mark Hitchcock’s book “The End, A complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days.”

What is the Day of the Lord?

What is the Day of the Lord?

When talking about the last days and end times, one eschatological term that cannot be ignored is the “Day of the Lord,” which is mentioned at least 19 times in the Old Testament and 4 times in the New Testament. What is the “Day of the Lord?”

In order to have a clear and concise understanding of the expression the “Day of the Lord,” we must first define what is meant by “day.”

The Word “Day” in the Bible

The word day is used in the Bible in three main ways and all three uses are illustrated in the first two chapters of Genesis.

First, sometimes it is used to refer to daylight; for instance, the hours between dawn and sunset (Genesis 1:5). Second, it is also used to refer to a twenty-four-hour day (Genesis 1:5). The Jewish day began at sunset and continued to the next day at sunset. Third, the word day is used in the Bible as a period of time (Genesis 2:4) just as we use it in English.

Understanding the Day of the Lord

We speak of the day of our youth. Are we saying that we were young only one day? No. Rather, we are referring to the extended period of time in which we were young. The Day of the Lord falls into this final category. It is an extended period of time, not just a twelve-hour or twenty-four-hour period.

The Day of the Lord in the New Testament

In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4, the Day of the Lord refers to an extended period of time but is given characteristics like a twenty-four-hour day. It is a day that begins at midnight or in the darkness, advancing to dawn and then to daylight.

It will close again with another period of darkness after daylight has passed. Apparently, that is the symbolism involved in the Day of the Lord.

Besides, 1 Peter 3:10-13 indicates that the Day of the Lord will include the destruction of the present heavens and earth and the creation of the new heavens and new earth.

The Day of the Lord in the Old Testament

A few sample passages in the Old Testament give a general overview of the Day of the Lord.

Isaiah 13:9-11 describes a dramatic judgment manifest in the physical world, which will interfere with the light of the sun, moon, and stars. God will put down the proud and deal with sinners in judgment.

Zephaniah 1:14-16 continues in the same strain. According to the Old Testament, the “Day of the Lord” is a time of God’s judgment and a time of God’s dealing with the world in its sin.

However, the Bible also portrays the Day of the Lord as a time of deliverance and blessing for Israel. The Day of the Lord includes the Millennium – the whole kingdom reign of Christ on earth – in which Christ personally directs the government of the world.

Zephaniah 3:14-17 pictures Israel’s blessings on that day, obviously following the time of judgment. This passage prophesies the praising and rejoicing of Israel during the Millennium on earth. Joel 3:14-18 shed additional light on the blessing phase of the Day of the Lord.

A Time of Judgment and Blessing

Putting all the above-mentioned passages, the Day of the Lord is any time God intervenes directly and dramatically in history to either judge or to bless. God has intervened in this way in the past, and He will do so again in the future.

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There have been specific, past “days of the Lord” when God intervened dramatically to judge. For instance, the destruction of Egypt was called the “Day of the Lord” (Ezekiel 30:1-4). The locust plague in Joel 1 was a day of the Lord when God intervened directly to judge Israel (Joel 1:15).

Yet it is important to remember that all these past, historical days of the Lord prefigure the final, future day of the Lord.

The Future Day of the Lord

As revealed in Scripture, the future day of the Lord is a period of time that will begin with the 7-year Tribulation (the judgment phase) and will continue throughout the entire one-thousand-year reign of Christ, and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth (the blessing phase).

The future Day of the Lord will stretch from the Rapture to the creation of the new heavens and new earth. It will commence with a time of wrath and judgment upon a wicked and Christ-rejecting world and will culminate in a time of peace and prosperity; Christ will be in the midst of the earth, will rule over the earth, and will bless the nation of Israel

Much like a 24-hour day, the Day of the Lord will begin with the dark night of the Tribulation, continuing with the dawn bursting forth when Christ returns, and then the world will bask in the full sun of daylight during the Kingdom of Christ.

Living in the Day of Grace

Our present time, this current church age is often referred to as the day of grace. This is not to say that God never displayed grace in the previous dispensations. Many of God’s dealings with mankind from the Garden of Eden to the present day have manifested His grace.

People have always been saved by God’s grace through faith. The salvation of every person, no matter when he or she lived, is a work of God’s sovereign grace. But God, during this present age, has uniquely displayed His grace, highlighting it as the basis for salvation and our Christian life.

Another feature of this day of grace is that for the most part, God is not dealing openly and directly with human sin. He may impose a swift judgment in some cases, but evil people often flourish, enjoy health and wealth, and succeed in their endeavors, even though they are not Christians and do not honor the Lord.

God has given us grace in Christ Jesus

A person today may even arrogantly blaspheme God, angrily declare to be an atheist, or openly denounce God and teach destructive ideas. Yet, God seems to do nothing about it. The Lord is not attempting to straighten that out in this day of grace.

The overriding purpose of God in this age is to proclaim His grace so that people may be saved by trusting in Christ and receiving God’s gift of grace. However, after this day of grace has run its course and the church has been “caught up” to be with Christ (an event known as the rapture), the Day of the Lord will begin when God will punish human sin directly in wrath and judgment.

Conclusion

Scripture clearly portrays the Day of the Lord as a day of divine judgment upon the world followed by a time of unparalleled blessing.

In the Day of the Lord, Christ will rule with a rod of iron over the entire earth (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27). He will administer absolute justice (Isaiah 11:1-9). On that day Israel will also be regathered (Isaiah 11:10-12) and brought into the perfect peace of the millennial kingdom (Zephaniah 3:14-20) and on to the creation of the new heaven and new earth.


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Recommended Resource: The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy: Over 150 Topics from the World’s Foremost Prophecy Experts 

Edited by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson

Popular Encyclopedia of Bible ProphecyMore than one-fourth of the Bible was prophetic in nature at the time it was written, and Christ’s second coming is mentioned more than 300 times in Scripture. Clearly, God wants you to anticipate the last days—but Bible prophecy can seem vague and mysterious.

Find the clarity and answers you need in this comprehensive resource filled with thousands of facts about Christ’s return and the end times. Prophecy teachers Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson combine knowledge from an outstanding team of more than 40 experts to bring you…

  • detailed definitions of prophecy-related terms
  • helpful timetables of last-days’ events, including the rapture and the glorious appearing
  • thorough summaries of all the major prophetic viewpoints
  • vital understanding of the key players, such as the Antichrist and the False Prophet

Gain wisdom and insight as you repeatedly reach for this A-to-Z encyclopedia to find biblical answers to your toughest prophecy questions.

Can One Be Saved After Death?

Can One Be Saved After Death?

The belief that God will give the lost a second chance to believe after death has been held by many. They argue that those who have died without believing in Christ will have an opportunity to do so in the afterlife. Is there any scriptural support for this claim? Can one be saved after death?

Two days ago, my colleague asked me this question, which did not come as a surprise at all. Her mother passed away almost a year ago, barely three months after being diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer. It all happened so quickly that she was not prepared to lose her in such a short time.

She misses her every day but she is holding on to the thought that someday they would see each other again in heaven.

Let me just say this, I do not know her standing in the Lord, nor was her mom’s. As Roman Catholics they believe that Jesus is God; I’m just not sure if they have confessed Him as their Lord and Savior. But every opportunity I get to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with her and God’s gift of salvation through faith in Christ, I make sure to get the message across to her loud and clear.

Can One Be Saved After They Die

Judgment Comes After Death

When my colleague asked me if a person can be saved after they die, I said, “No. There isn’t any scriptural evidence to support the claim that God will give anyone a second chance to believe in Christ once this life is over.”

First of all, the Bible says that after death comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). There is not some type of probation for those who did not believe in this life. The New Living Translation translates the verse this way:

“And just as it is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 NLT).

It is consistently taught throughout the Scripture that judgment comes after death and there’s not a chance to believe in Jesus Christ.

Eternal Life is Determined in this Life Alone

The Bible is clear that our ultimate destiny is dependent upon what we do in this life and this life alone.

Jesus said this when He spoke to the religious leaders of His day, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).

These religious leaders were no different from any other human being. Jesus never gave any indication that they or anyone else can have some type of chance to believe in the afterlife. That being said, each and every person who dies without placing their faith in Christ is forever lost.

Not only is eternal life determined in this life, but also that the state of the dead is forever fixed. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus that Jesus gave, the great gulf between the believing and the unbelieving dead is permanently put in place so that no one from either side could cross over.

“And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us” (Luke 16:26).

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The Day of Salvation is Now

The Bible urges people to believe in God’s promises because the day of God’s salvation is now; not tomorrow or sometime after this life is over. Paul wrote:

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV).

Salvation is today; right now. It should never be put off until later and certainly not until someone gets to the next life.

If you haven’t made a decision yet to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to do it right now. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow and there is no guarantee that you will still be alive by then. Most people are afraid to die but if we are in a right relationship with God, we do not have to fear death.

God Determines What is Fair

It needs to be emphasized that it is not a sinful human being who decides what is fair and what is not but the God of the Bible. God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11), thus it is wrong to accuse Him of unfairness because of what we think He should do.

The following says this about God’s character in Isaiah 40:13-14 (NIV):

“Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as His counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge, or showed Him the path of understanding?”

The answer to the question, of course, is nobody. Nobody tells God what to do; nobody directs Him. God alone makes all the decisions and He does exactly what He wants to do.

Paul made this clear when he wrote to the Romans, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this’” (Romans 9:20 ESV)?

Who are we to question God? He formed us and He knows what’s best for us. Therefore, we need to trust Him in all decisions.

When we die we don't cease to exist; we just change location

God is a Righteous Judge

Another point that needed to be made is that the Lord eventually judges the world and He will do it righteously or fairly. God is the righteous Judge of all the earth and we can be confident that everyone will be treated and judged righteously.

“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

We may not know exactly how God will judge but we can conclude from the totality of the evidence in the Bible that God does not give people a chance to be saved after they have died. As far as determining our ultimate destiny, this life is all that there is.

Bottom Line

While many hold to the view that the Lord will be gracious enough to allow people to trust Christ sometime after their death, this is certainly not supported by the Bible. On the contrary, the Scripture emphasizes that now is the day of salvation because there is no chance after death.

What about the millions of people how have died without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ? Again, we need to remember that God determines what is fair and there is no injustice in Him. We need to trust the Lord that whatever way He will judge each and every human being, it will be done fairly and righteously.


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A Bible Study on the Rapture

A Bible Study on the Rapture

The Rapture which is the next great event on God’s prophetic calendar is undeniably one of the most debated issues in Christian theology. Although every Christian denomination affirms its belief in the eventual return of Christ, there exists a wide variety of opinions concerning when and how Christ will return.

In this article, we will examine the biblical doctrine of the rapture.

The Meaning of Rapture in the Bible

Those who object to the rapture are quick to point out that the word rapture is not in the Bible. I must say that’s a fair concern. However, the word Trinity is not in the Bible either, or even the word Bible for that matter. Yet we believe that these things are very real.

So, where does the concept of the rapture come from?

The term rapture comes from the words “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17: “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

Is the Word Rapture in the Bible

Our English word rapture is from the Latin word rapio or raptus, meaning “to snatch up, to seize, or to carry off by force.” When the great scholar Jerome translated the Greek NT into Latin in the 4th century, he translated the Greek word harpazo in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 into the Latin word raeptius. This word was eventually brought into the English as Rapture.

So, while it’s true that the word rapture does not occur in most English translations, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 clearly contain the concept of a catching away of living believers to meet the Lord.

The rapture could just be well called the “catching away of the church,” “the snatching away of the church,” “the translation of the church,” or “the harpazo of the church.” But “Rapture of the church” is an excellent description and has become the most common title for this event.

Where is Rapture in the Bible?

The rapture of believers is an important biblical concept that appears in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The idea of believers being “caught up” by God is not limited to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. There are several places throughout the Bible where people were “snatched up” from earth to heaven – providing insight regarding aspects of our future rapture.

There are seven raptures of specific people clearly described in Scripture. These involve Enoch, Elijah, Jesus, Philip, Paul, and the two witnesses. It’s possible that John was raptured as well, which would give us eight.

In light of these raptures, any serious theological understanding of biblical eschatology must include the idea of believers being “caught up” into heaven. Christians may differ on their understanding of the timing of the rapture to come, but not the reality that it will take place.

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Interestingly, some critics argue there is no rapture at all for the church. Yet we see the word we refer to as the rapture used 14 times in the New Testament: Matthew 11:12; 12:29; 13:19; John 6:15; 10:12, 28, 29; Acts 8:39; 23:10; 2 Corinthians 12:2; 4; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Jude 23; Revelation 12:5.

Of these 14 uses of harpazo, four refer to an actual rapture by God. In addition to believers, both dead and living (1 Thessalonians 4:17), these include Philip (Acts 8:39), Paul (2 Corinthians 2:2-3), and the male child (Revelation 12:5).

In addition, several raptures have already taken place in Scripture or are specifically mentioned in the future.

Raptures in the Old Testament

In addition to references to the word translated “rapture” in the New Testament, the Old Testament reveals two occasions on which the Lord “snatched up” a person into heaven. On both occasions, the person was taken alive directly to heaven with the Lord. Thus, the idea of a miraculous rapture of God’s people has precedence in the Old Testament.

Enoch

The first record of such an event has to do with Enoch. He is an intriguing character in Scripture mentioned six times in Genesis, once in a genealogy in 1 Chronicles 1:3, and three times in the New Testament (Luke 3:37; Hebrews 11:5; Jude 14).

Enoch was the son of Jared (Genesis 5:18) and became the father of Methuselah at the age of 65, and later he had other sons and daughters (Genesis 5:21-22). Living in the time of the early patriarchs, he lived to the age of 365. Scripture then notes, “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).

Where is the Word Rapture Mentioned in the Bible

Elijah

The second Old Testament person taken alive directly into heaven was the prophet Elijah. Elijah, meaning, “my God is Yahweh,” was a 9th century BC prophet from Tishbe, in Gilead, on the east bank of the northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 17:7). Elijah’s early ministry involved several confrontations with the idolatrous Ahab and Jezebel, the king and queen of Israel. This reached a climax at Mt. Carmel, where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to call down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:19-39).

Despite God’s miraculous intervention, Jezebel was determined to have Elijah killed, so he fled to the desert and hid in a cave (1 Kings 19:1-9). There, God called Elijah to anoint Elisha as his successor (1 Kings 19:15). Leaving the cave, he found Elisha and “threw his mantle on him” (1 Kings 19:19). For about the next ten years they ministered together, training “sons of the prophets” (disciples) in the various cities of Israel and Judah (2 Kings 2:3).

Second Kings 2 begins, “And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal” (2 Kings 2:1). His servant Elisha refused to leave his side, staying with Elijah as they walked to Bethel, Jericho, and across the Jordan River after Elijah parted the water by striking it with his cloak (1 Kings 2:8).

2 Kings 2:11-12 report, “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!’ So he saw him no more.”

Raptures in the New Testament

Seven raptures are recorded in the New Testament. These include the ascension of Jesus (Greek, harpasthê) in Revelation 12:50, the temporary raptures of Philip and Paul, the calling up (Greek, anaba) of John, the resurrection and rapture of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:12, and the rapture of all believers in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Jesus

First, Jesus ascended to heaven following His resurrection. This event known as the ascension is described in Acts 1:9-11. It is also mentioned in Luke 24:51.

What is intriguing about this rapture of Jesus is that the angels reported Jesus will return “in just the same way” as the disciples had watched Him go into heaven. What way was this? Jesus left by being “lifted up” (Greek, epêrthê) and received (Greek, hupelaben) by a cloud.

Jesus’ ascension was physical, personal, visible, and glorious. Jesus promised to one day return in the same way at the second coming (Matthew 24:30; Daniel 7:13) as well as to the same place, the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).

Philip

The second rapture noted in the New Testament is also recorded in the book of Acts (Acts 8:25-40). In this passage, Philip is led by an angel to meet with an Ethiopian Eunuch. A Hellenistic Jew, Philip was one of the seven original deacons appointed by the church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-7).

After Philip successfully evangelized Samaria (Acts 8:1-8), he was led by an angel to head south toward Gaza, on the edge of the Sinai desert. There, Philip encountered an Ethiopian of African descent who was reading from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Philip shared the good news of Jesus with the eunuch, speaking from Isaiah 53 in response to the eunuch’s question; “Of whom does the prophet say this” (Acts 8:34)?

“Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized’” (Acts 8:36)? This powerful account chronicles Philip baptizing the first known convert from Ethiopia. But the eunuch’s baptism was not the end of God’s power in this account.

After the baptism, Philip’s rapture occurs (Acts 8:39-40). John R. W. Stott observes, in this case, Philip was “removed with miraculous velocity … as at the rapture.” He was “snatched away” and reappeared at Azotus (Ashdod) some twenty miles away.

Though Philip was only temporarily raptured to another location, this event highlights an important aspect of the future rapture of the church: Those who remain on the earth will no longer see those who were raptured.

Where is Rapture in the Bible

Paul

The third rapture recorded in the New Testament involves the apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, Paul refers to “a man” who was caught up to heaven. Though he does not directly identify himself in this passage, from the context it is clear that he is speaking of himself.

Though reluctant to speak about his experience, Paul notes several details referring to his being “caught up” to the “third heaven.” The third heaven refers to the place where God lives – beyond the first heaven, or the sky, and the second heaven, or outer space.

First, Paul was raptured “into Paradise.” It was common to speak of heaven as “Paradise” (Luke 23:43; Revelation 2:7). Following his rapture, Paul was in the presence of the Lord immediately. Similarly, 1 Corinthians 15:52 reveals the rapture of believers will take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”

Second, this rapture occurred to “a man in Christ.” John Drane sees this concept as the heart of Paul’s theology. He writes, “The supreme fact for Paul was that he was ‘a man in Christ.’ It was by being ‘in Christ’ that a person could be justified before God, and share in the new life Jesus had come to bring.”

Third, Paul “heard inexpressible words.” One of the beautiful aspects believers can anticipate about being in the presence of Christ is the supernatural fellowship that will occur from being with the Lord.

Paul could not even speak of what took place during his experience. Imagine how much greater of an experience it will be when we live in Christ’s presence forever.

John

The fourth possible rapture recorded in the New Testament is found in Revelation. Due to the anti-Christian persecution that took place under the Roman emperor Domitian, the apostle John was banished to the island of Patmos. While there, he continued to worship the Lord and wrote the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:9-11).

In Revelation 4:1-2, John refers back to this vision and says, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this. Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.”

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John Walvoord observes that while the invitation to John to “come up here” (Greek anaba hòde) is similar to that which the church anticipates at the rapture, “it is clear from the context that this is not an explicit reference to the rapture of the church, as John was not actually translated; in fact, he was still in his natural body on the island of Patmos.”

Nevertheless, the idea of his being transported, even in a vision, shows a pattern of a believer being taken to heaven to gain a new perspective on events that would transpire on earth.

Future Raptures

In addition to the raptures that have already taken place throughout Scripture, two future raptures are noted.

The Rapture of Living Believers

While several passages describe the rapture, the three most direct passages that describe this event include John 14:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Note: The focus of this write-up is on the pre-tribulation view of the rapture of all believers in Christ.

In John 14:1-3, Jesus personally describes some aspects of the rapture. First, He explains that one reason for leaving earth is so He can personally prepare a place for us in heaven. This amazing detail reveals Jesus is actively involved in preparing our future heavenly home.

Second, Jesus teaches in John 14:3 that He will come again and receive us to Himself. The order of events is clear. Jesus will leave (the ascension), He will prepare a place for us in heaven, He will come again, He will take us to be with Him (the rapture), and we will be in heaven with Him.

A Bible Study on the Rapture

The Rapture of the Two Witnesses

We read about the rapture of the two witnesses sent by God to testify to the world on His behalf in Revelation 11:3-12. God will grant these two Jewish men authority to witness and prophesy for 42 months, or 1,260 days – this comprises the first 3 ½ years of the seven-year tribulation that will follow the rapture (Revelation 11:2-3).

These two men will minister outside of the rebuilt Jerusalem temple and have the ability to destroy their enemies (Revelation 11:5). At the midpoint of the tribulation, the beast (Antichrist) will kill these two witnesses and leave their bodies in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 ½ days (Revelation 11:7-8).

The people of the world will celebrate their death (Revelation 11:10). Yet these two witnesses will return to life after 3 ½ days, causing great fear among the people (Revelation 11:11). They will then follow the Lord’s command to “come up here,” and they will be raptured to heaven (Revelation 11:12).

While the term harpazo is not used to describe the rapture of the two witnesses, the fact of their physical resurrection and rapture is clearly indicated. A voice from heaven called them to “come up here” and they “went up.”

The Rapture is the Blessed Hope

A careful study of the Greek term harpazo and these examples of biblical raptures make it clear that the idea of a future rapture of all believers is certainly biblical. The only real debate is over the matter of the timing of the rapture, not the fact that there will be such an event.

Therefore, any serious discussion about the nature, timing, and significance of the rapture ought to be carried out with the utmost respect for this biblical concept.

If the first Christians viewed the rapture as the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), then so should we, regardless of our opinions concerning its timing.

Closing Words

The rapture or the catching away of living believers to heaven is a biblical doctrine. Scripture clearly teaches that at some point in the future, Jesus will come, and every believer in Christ who is alive on earth will be caught up to heaven to meet Him in the air.

One important thing to note: Jesus is not coming for moral people, for people who faithfully attend church, or for people who observe religious rituals, as good as those things maybe. He’s coming for those who are “in Christ” through faith in His atoning death and resurrection.

Are you ready to meet Him?


References:

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

Can We Still Believe in the Rapture? by Ed Hindson and Mark Hitchcock

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Did God Create Evil (Isaiah 45:7)?

Did God Create Evil (Isaiah 45:7)?

The problem of evil is one of the arguments commonly brought up when talking about the existence of God. Atheists often ask, “If a morally upright God exists, why doesn’t he stop all bad things from happening?” Often people claim that God Himself created evil.

And you know what? They even use the Scriptures, particularly Isaiah 45:7 (KJV) to support this claim. What? No way! Does this verse really teach that God created evil?

In this post, we will look at this verse more closely and figure out how to properly respond to this question.

Is God the Creator of Evil?

One passage of Scripture that seems to teach that God did indeed create evil is Isaiah 45:7. The King James Version of the Bible says this, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”

But does this mean that God is the creator of evil? If so, then He isn’t a good God after all. So, how do we explain the following verse in Genesis?

Does the Bible Teach that God Created Evil

If everything God created was “very good” then how can He be the creator of evil? Is evil something very good? How are we supposed to explain these seemingly contradicting statements?

Making Sense of Difficult Passages

Christian apologist, speaker, author, and pastor of Calvary Chapel Signal Hill Don Stewart, gives us three possible ways in which Bible-believing Christians should address this passage.

Incorrect Translation of the Hebrew Word

It is important to note that only the King James Bible uses the word evil and in this case, some people feel that the Hebrew word was incorrectly translated based on the context of the passage. The word translated “evil” is the Hebrew word ra, which also means calamity, disaster, sorrow, afflictions, and adversity.

Modern Bible translations have translated the passage with a different English word. For example, the New International Version reads:

“I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7 NIV).

Here we have the word translated “disaster.”

Interestingly, the New King James Version uses the word “calamity. It says, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

Therefore, the Scriptures do not teach that God was the originator of evil. Rather, what this passage is saying is that on occasion God brings calamity or disaster to the world but that He did not create evil itself.

 

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God Created the Conditions for Evil

Although others believe that the Hebrew word does not actually mean that God creates evil, they usually understand it in the sense that God creates the conditions for people to commit acts of evil. In other words, God creates circumstances where people have the choice to either do good or evil and that people sometimes make the choice to do the latter.

So, in a sense, God creates conditions that people can do evil but these conditions also allow people to do what is good. In other words, it is not that God created something evil but rather that He created the conditions for evil to become a possibility.

By giving human beings a choice, God opened up the possibility that humans would choose evil. Adam and Eve did exactly that. They chose to rebel against God and brought sin into our world. Therefore, in one sense, God did create evil by allowing the conditions for evil to originate.

But at the same time, God did not force Adam and Eve to choose evil. To do evil was something they chose to do.

God Allows Evil to Exist for His Own Purposes

Scriptures tell us that God is good, all-powerful, and sovereign. This is why we must recognize that no circumstance escapes His watchful eyes. In other words, God allows things to happen; He permitted evil to infest His creation.

Now, why is that? How could God just sit there and watch evil destroy His creation? When it comes to the problem of evil, the Bible leaves some things unanswered. But one thing it does tell us: God uses evil for His own purposes.

God uses everything for His purpose

We see this in the story of Joseph and his brothers. What Joseph’s brothers did to him was evil. Yet, God used their evil for good – to preserve the lives not only of their family but of the nation of Israel. You can read more about it in this article.

Another example is the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, in several instances such as that in Exodus 7:3 by God, and other instances (Exodus 8:32) by Pharaoh himself. God said this happened not only so that He might show His power in Pharaoh but also for His name to be declared in all the earth (Romans 9:17).

And let us not forget the evilest event that God allowed to happen – the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son (Acts 2:23). All the evil things that the participants in the crucifixion did have been ordained beforehand by God. And yet, the moral blame rested on the people who crucified Christ.

Indeed, God did not create evil. But He uses evil to accomplish His purposes for His own glory and for our good.

Bottom Line

Sure, the Bible recognizes that evil exists. But God did not create evil. We must reiterate that Isaiah 45:7 does not teach God created evil. God is not the originator of evil. The origin of evil lies with humanity. When God created man, i.e., human beings, He gave them free will – the choice to obey or disobey.

Evil came as a result of humanity’s choice. We must recognize that much of the evil in the universe is due to the direct or indirect choice of individuals. Lying, stealing, murder, and the likes cannot be blamed upon God. Each person is given a choice to do good or evil. And when they choose evil, they must be held accountable.


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Recommended Resource: Why Does God Allow Evil?: Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions by Clay Jones

“If you are looking for one book to make sense of the problem of evil, this book is for you.” – Sean McDowell

Grasping This Truth Will Change Your View of God Forever

Why Does God Allow Evil?: Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions by Clay JonesIf God is good and all-powerful, why doesn’t He put a stop to the evil in this world? Christians and non-Christians alike struggle with the concept of a loving God who allows widespread suffering in this life and never-ending punishment in hell. We wrestle with questions such as…

  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Why should we have to pay for Adam’s sin?
  • How can an eternal judgment be fair?

But what if the real problem doesn’t start with God…but with us?

Clay Jones, an associate professor of Christian apologetics at Biola University, examines what Scripture truly says about the nature of evil and why God allows it. Along the way, he’ll help you discover the contrasting abundance of God’s grace, the overwhelming joy of heaven, and the extraordinary destiny of believers.

What is the Day of Deception?

What is the Day of Deception?

The Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 begins with Jesus’ disciples asking Him three questions. The first was, “When will these things be?” The second, “What will be the sign of Your coming?” The third, “What will be the sign of the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3)?

In response, Jesus said, “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many’” (Matthew 24:4-5). Jesus then goes on to confirm that deception would be the foremost problem in the terminal generation saying, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).

The apostle Paul also wrote, “Let no one deceive you by any means, for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition [the Antichrist]” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

But what is the day of deception that Jesus and Paul were talking about? How does it impact the church?

What is the Day of Deception

Three Parts of Deception

The above-mentioned verses confirm that deception will be the major problem of the last days. And one of the major sources of deception is self-deception. The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

There are three elements of deception. The first is the fundamental distrust of God and His leadership, authority, and Word. But God’s Word is truth (John 17:17) and He Himself is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

The second element of deception is rebellion. Just like Jonah, you know what to do; you simply won’t do it. The Bible says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

The third element of deception is the rejection of God’s love. All cults are loveless. They are harsh, dominating, mean-spirited, and critical of everyone except their own. But the Bible says, “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10), and “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (John 13:34). A church without the love of God is nothing more than a loveless cult.

Deception Appeals to the Flesh

Deception offers that which is desirable in the beginning but destroys in the end. Satan came to Adam and Eve in the Garden and asked, “Do you want to be like God?” It was desirable in the beginning. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit they were driven from the Garden into a world God had just cursed.

When David saw Bathsheba bathing naked on her rooftop, he desired her. A sexual relationship with her was appealing in the beginning, but when he impregnated Bathsheba and conspired to have her husband Uriah killed, God’s judgment came upon him (2 Samuel 12:10).

Why Does God Permit Deception?

Every New Testament church has deception working in it. And Jesus prayed, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).

God allows deception to drive us to the Word that we may be “approved for God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). When heresies, false doctrine, or cults preach another gospel, those who are approved stand boldly and expose the deception.

 

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Nine Types of Deception

There are nine types of deception in the world.

1. Religious Deception.

Paul teaches, “Therefore let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths” (Colossians 2:16).

Fasting without godliness is an illustration of religious deception. Forbidding people to marry is religious deception. Declaring people holy for keeping man made rules of righteousness is deception (1 Timothy 4:1-5).

2. Doctrinal Deception.

Doctrinal deception occurs when people leave the simple meaning of the Word of God. An illustration of this is those who say, “We do not need water baptism because the thief on the cross wasn’t baptized.”

We say to them, “Get yourself crucified and we’ll excuse you from water baptism. In the meantime, get in the tank!”

3. Ethical Deception.

This is when Christians profess the lordship of Jesus Christ but cheat and lie in their business dealings.

4. Moral Deception.

Secular humanism is the cornerstone of moral deception. It says, “If it feels good, do it!” But Scripture says, “It is written, ‘Man shall not leave by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

You don’t break God’s law; God’s law breaks you!

5. Intellectual Deception.

Intellectual deception is when an individual believes that his opinions, formed by his intellect, are equal or superior to the teachings of the Word of God.

6. Fanatical Deception.

Jesus taught, “The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16:2). The crusades and leaders of the Spanish Inquisition are historical illustrations of fanatical deception.

7. Mystical Deception.

Experiencing dreams, visions, voices, angels, or “a bright light” does not mean you have had a visitation from an angel or Jesus Christ.

Paul says that “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Anything that inspires you to do anything contrary to the Word of God is demonic.

8. Sexual Deception.

Sexual deception is the belief or philosophy that rejects the God-ordained monogamous sexual relationship between a man and his wife as the only acceptable sexual relationship.

9. Spiritual Deception.

When Christians become bored with the discipline of the Word of God and begin practices that are contrary to New Testament orthodoxy, this represents the genesis of spiritual deception.

Closing Words

We get traumatized when thieves steal our money or identity but far more traumatic is when con artists who pose as Christians deceive the unsuspecting because the stakes are so much higher than someone’s life savings. What’s at risk is the eternal destiny of the soul.

To avoid deception of any kind, we need to develop biblical discernment and be vigilant at all times.


Note: This excerpt is taken from the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible’s “Top 20 Questions” edited by John Hagee.

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Recommended Resource: The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy: Over 150 Topics from the World’s Foremost Prophecy Experts 

Edited by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson

Popular Encyclopedia of Bible ProphecyMore than one-fourth of the Bible was prophetic in nature at the time it was written, and Christ’s second coming is mentioned more than 300 times in Scripture. Clearly, God wants you to anticipate the last days—but Bible prophecy can seem vague and mysterious.

Find the clarity and answers you need in this comprehensive resource filled with thousands of facts about Christ’s return and the end times. Prophecy teachers Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson combine knowledge from an outstanding team of more than 40 experts to bring you…

  • detailed definitions of prophecy-related terms
  • helpful timetables of last-days’ events, including the rapture and the glorious appearing
  • thorough summaries of all the major prophetic viewpoints
  • vital understanding of the key players, such as the Antichrist and the False Prophet

Gain wisdom and insight as you repeatedly reach for this A-to-Z encyclopedia to find biblical answers to your toughest prophecy questions.

Behold, Here Comes the Bridegroom

Behold, Here Comes the Bridegroom

John 14:1-3 is one of the three passages often quoted whenever the topic of the rapture comes into play. Jesus promises that He would go to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us, and then come back to receive us to Himself.

But no matter how wonderful this may sound, those who live in the modern western world do not completely grasp the full significance of this promise. This is because in His promise Jesus was drawing an analogy from Jewish marriage customs in biblical times.

Marriage Covenant in Ancient Israel

Following ancient Jewish wedding traditions, a marriage covenant is established as a result of the father of the bridegroom selecting a bride for his son. He would send his most trusted servant to search for a prospective bride and negotiate with the father of the young woman the purchase price (dowry or mohar in Hebrew).

Note: You may want to read Isaac and Rebekah’s love story in Genesis 24 – 27.

Once the woman accepts the proposal and both families agree to the price, the groom would travel from his father’s house to the home of his prospective bride to establish a betrothal covenant. This betrothal agreement is solemnized by three acts: a solemn oral commitment in the presence of witnesses, a pledge of money, and a written pledge or contract called a ketubah.

The Church is Betrothed to Christ

The betrothal covenant was thereby established and the young man and woman are regarded to be husband and wife, although she remained in her father’s house. From that moment on, the bride was declared to be consecrated or sanctified, set apart exclusively for her bridegroom.

As a symbol of the covenant relationship that had been established, the bridegroom and bride would drink from a cup of wine over which a betrothal benediction has been pronounced.

The Departure of the Groom

After the marriage covenant was sealed, the bridegroom would leave his bride and return to his father’s house to build an addition to the existing dwelling, where he would receive his wife in about twelve months.

He would say to his bride, “I have to go; I’m going to prepare the chuppah (marriage chamber), a place for you at my father’s house.” The bride would then say, “Do not go,” and the groom would respond, “It is better for you that I’ll go but I will come back.”

This period of separation afforded the bride time to focus on her personal preparations: beautification, wedding garments, but most especially her oil lamp, and to prepare for married life.

The Return of the Groom

At the end of the period of the separation, the groom would come to take his bride to live with him. The taking of the bride usually took place at night. The groom, best man, and other male escorts would leave the groom’s father’s house and conduct a torchlight procession to the home of the bride.

Although the bride knew to expect her groom after about a year, she did not know the exact day or hour. For that reason, the bride kept her oil lamps ready at all times, just in case the groom comes in the middle of the night, sounding the shofar (ram’s horn) to lead the bridal procession to the home he had prepared for her.

 

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The Home Taking & Marriage Ceremony

In an ancient Jewish wedding, when the father of the groom saw that the time had come for his son to go and get his bride, he would tell his son, “Go, son, and get your bride and bring her home.” The anxious son would then leave his father’s house to take his bride and present her to his father.

Note: The marriage ceremony consisted mainly of the “taking” of the bride.

Shortly after arrival, the bride and groom would be escorted by other members of the wedding party to the bridal chamber. Before entering the chamber, the bride remained veiled so that no one could see her face. There in the privacy of the chuppah, the bride and groom would enter into physical union for the first time, thereby consummating the marriage that had been covenanted earlier.

After the marriage was consummated, the groom would announce the consummation to the other members of the marriage ceremony outside the chamber (John 3:29). Upon receiving this good news, the wedding guests would feast and make merry for the next seven days.

During the seven days of the wedding festivities, which were sometimes called the “seven days of the chuppah,” the bride remained hidden in the bridal chamber. After these seven days, the groom would bring his bride out of the bridal chamber, now with her veil removed, so that all could see who his bride was.

The Bride of Christ: The Church

How a wedding in ancient Israel is celebrated is a picture with spiritual parallels to the church of Jesus Christ and even to each individual believer’s relationship to Christ.

The Bridegroom is no other than Jesus Christ.

On one occasion, Jesus was questioned by the Scribes and Pharisees about fasting. They asked Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?” And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them” (Luke 5:33-34)?

John the Baptist answered the question of the Scribes and Pharisees in John 3:27-29.

In the examination of the analogy of Jesus’ promise to His disciples (and to all believers) in John 14:1-3, the first thing that should be noted is the fact that the New Testament clearly pictures the Church as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-23).

Behold, Here Comes the Bridegroom

The Betrothal of Christ with the Church

Also, just as the Jewish bridegroom took the initiative in marriage by leaving his father’s house and traveling to the home of the prospective bride, so Jesus left His Father’s house in heaven and traveled to earth, the home of His prospective bride (the Church), over 2,000 years ago.

In the same manner, as the Jewish bridegroom came to the bride’s home to obtain her through the establishment of a marriage covenant, so Jesus came to earth to obtain the Church through the establishment of a covenant.

On the same night in which Jesus made His promise in John 14:1-3, He instituted communion. As He passed the cup of wine to His disciples, He said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood (1 Corinthians 11:25).” This was His way of saying that He would establish a new covenant through the shedding of His blood on the cross.

Parallel to the custom of the Jewish groom paying a price to purchase His bride, Jesus paid a price to purchase His bride, the Church. The price that He paid was His own lifeblood (1 Peter 1:18-19 NLT; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV).

Analogous with the Jewish bride being declared to be sanctified or set apart exclusively for her groom once the marriage covenant was established, the Church has been declared to be sanctified or set apart exclusively for Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27); 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:11; Hebrews 10:10; 13:12).

The Coming of the Lord for His Church

In the same manner, as the Jewish groom came to take his bride to live with him at the end of the separation period, so Christ will come to take His bride to live with Him at the end of His period of separation from her (John 14:3).

Analogous with the Jewish bride not knowing the exact time of the groom’s coming for her, the Church does not know the exact time of Christ’s coming for her. This is why the believers need to keep watch because no one knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man comes (Matthew 24:36).


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In the same way that the Jewish groom’s arrival was preceded by a shout, so Christ’s arrival to take the Church will be preceded by a shout (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Similar to the Jewish bride’s return with the groom to his father’s house after she departs from her home, the Church will return with Christ to His Father’s house in heaven after she is “caught up” from the earth to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

The Church & the Tribulation

Corresponding with the Jewish bride remaining hidden in the bridal chamber for a period of seven days after arrival at the groom’s father, the Church will remain hidden for a period of seven years after arrival at Christ’s Father’s house in heaven.

While the seven-year Tribulation period is taking place on the earth, the Church will be in heaven totally hidden from the sight of those living on the earth.

Just as the Jewish groom brought his bride out of the bridal chamber at the conclusion of the seven days with her veil removed, so that all could see who his bride was, so Christ will bring His Church out of heaven in His Second Coming at the conclusion of the seven-year Tribulation period in full view of all who are alive, so that all can see who the true Church is (Colossians 3:4).

Conclusion

Someday at the appointed time, the Father in heaven will tell His Son, “Go, Son, and get Your bride and bring her home!” Christ will come to take His bride, and she will be presented to His Father as a glorious, unblemished bride. At this point, the Father will have fulfilled His legal contract when He betrothed us to Christ.

We are still waiting for this presentation phase of the marriage. We are waiting for our Bridegroom to come to take us to Himself. We are waiting to hear the midnight cry, “Behold, here comes the Bridegroom! Come out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6).

Are you ready for the coming of our Bridegroom, to receive us to Himself?

What is the Doctrine of Purgatory?

What is the Doctrine of Purgatory?

The Bible teaches that death closes the period of probation that all of us have here on earth and after death comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). All those who die will spend eternity in heaven or hell.

But before we reach our final destination, everyone is in a state of conscious existence after death. Believers are in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; Luke 23:43) while unbelievers are not.

However, certain unbiblical views of the intermediate state have arisen. One of them is the doctrine of purgatory held by the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

Origin of the Doctrine of Purgatory

In Roman Catholic teaching, purgatory is the place where the souls of believers go to be further purified from sin until they are ready to be admitted into heaven. Thus, they have to go to halfway place between earth and heaven, that is, purgatory.

The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church believe that not every Christian who dies goes immediately to heaven. The only people who enter heaven immediately are some martyrs and other highly favored individuals. Even if the person dies at peace with the church, if they are not perfect, they have to go through a time of purging.

Most Christians who are not good enough to go straight to heaven have to go through a time of purging. Although these people have been forgiven of their sins, they are still liable to experience some temporary punishment before their admittance to heaven.

They must be properly freed from the blemish of some defects they had received after baptism and they must work out their salvation in purgatory through suffering and a process of purification in this place. According to this view, the sufferings of purgatory are given to God in substitute for the punishment for sins that believers should have received in time but did not.

Once their sins have been sufficiently purged, they can then enter the perfection of heaven.

Further Teachings About Purgatory

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the suffering in purgatory is proportionate to the sins committed in this life. The time spent can vary from a relatively short period, such as a few hours, to thousands of years. However, there is no consensus as to the duration of stay in purgatory or the type of punishment one receives.

While Christians must spend time in purgatory, it supposedly can be lessened by a number of things. The living can do services and give gifts to the church to shorten the time of their loved one. This included purchasing indulgences or certificates signed by the pope which can forgive sin. This indicates that the pope on earth has some jurisdiction in the next world.

Prayer by priests shortens the time spent in Purgatory
Photo Credits: Crux Now

Prayers by priests as well as having masses in the name of the dead can also shorten the time a person spends in purgatory. The dead can do nothing in purgatory to help themselves. It is only their living friends and loved ones who can help them. They are completely dependent upon them to shorten their stay in this place of purging.

Purgatory is a temporary place that will end when the last judgment occurs. Like death and Hades, it will be thrown into the lake of fire. From that time forward, no more suffering will be necessary because everyone will be perfected, ready to enter heaven.

Is Purgatory in the Bible?

Will Christians have to suffer for their sins once this life is over? What does the Scripture say?

Although the Bible speaks of fire as purification, it does not mention a purifying process between death and resurrection that the believer must encounter. It’s not only that purgatory has no biblical basis but it also contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ.

This, however, has not stopped people from attempting to find biblical support for this non-biblical doctrine. Let us look at some of the passages they use and then respond to them.

1. Isaiah 4:4

“When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning.”

Argument: Burning, in this context, refers to the fires of judgment; a hint of the doctrine of purgatory.

Response: Isaiah’s reference has nothing to do with purgatory. It speaks of God refining people in this life, not the next. Therefore, this is not a reference to purging the believer after this life is over so they can eventually enter into the presence of the Lord.

2. Matthew 5:25-26

“Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary delivers you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.”

Argument: Jesus’ statement in the Sermon on the Mount teaches that prison is purgatory, and the last penny refers to the complete payment of the purgation of saints.

Response: Paying the last penny has nothing to do with paying for sin in the next life.

In Roman law, the plaintiff could bring the accused along with him to the judge. The defendant could, however, settle the matter on any terms with the plaintiff as they proceeded to the tribunal.

However, once they reached the tribunal the issue would be settled according to the law. Jesus is encouraging people to settle their differences before it reaches the judge. There is nothing here that remotely suggests a purgatory.

3. Matthew 12:32

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

Argument: This verse has an indirect reference to purgatory seeing that Jesus left open the possibility of forgiveness in the next world.

Response: This passage compares this world and the next and supposedly hints at forgiveness in the next world. However, the phrase “this age or in the age to come” was a Hebrew phrase meaning “never.”

If we look at the other gospels which give this same account, the phrase is omitted. This is because Mark and Luke are writing for Gentiles. Besides, they each state that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven (Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10).

Nowhere does it state, or imply that forgiveness can be achieved in the next life. Jesus said that those who commit the unpardonable sin can never receive forgiveness in this age or in the age to come. Never means never!

The subject in Matthew 12:32 is the “unpardonable sin.” Consequently, it has nothing to do with purgatory.


4. Matthew 18:34

“And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.”

Argument: This is a reference to the suffering in purgatory. People will remain there and suffer torture until they pay their entire debt for the sins they have committed. They will not be able to leave until their debt is paid.

Response: This is a parable about forgiving others. The torture which the man received was in this life, not the next. The debt he owed was to be paid in this world.

Also, those believers who do not forgive others will suffer in this present life, not in the afterlife. They may lose some of their reward in heaven but they will not be tortured for their lack of forgiveness because Jesus Christ has already paid for those sins.

5. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.”

“If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

Argument: This passage speaks of the believer being refined by fire which is a clear indication of a refining place called purgatory. Once refined, the believer can enter the presence of the Lord.

Response: “He will be saved through fire” does not mean he shall be kept alive amid hell-fire. The fire deals with the works of a person, not their character. Some of their works will receive a reward while other of their works will not.

In addition, this testing by fire occurs on judgment day, not in the intermediate state. Judgment day occurs after the person is raised from the dead. Again, we find no purgatory here.

6. 2 Maccabees 12:41-42, 45 (NRSV)

“So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen.”

“But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead so that they might be delivered from their sin.”

Argument: This passage clearly states that some type of sacrifice can be offered for the dead. The sacrifices and prayers of the living can help those who have died and are suffering in purgatory.

Response: The teaching of a purgatory found in 2 Maccabees has no relevance at all for believers. The reason is that 2 Maccabees as well as all the apocryphal books are not accepted as “inspired” and therefore should not be taken as an authoritative source of doctrine.

Note: It is in this book that the practice of praying for the dead started.

Believers are in God's presence at the moment of death a

The Doctrine of Purgatory is Unbiblical

Purgatory, a supposed place which exists somewhere between earth and heaven where the righteous are purged of any sins which have not been paid for so they can enter heaven, has absolutely no biblical basis. No such belief is taught or even hinted at.

If the Bible is our final authority on all matters of belief and practice then the fact that the doctrine of purgatory is absent reveals that no such place exists.

Furthermore, the idea of purgatory negates the promises of God that the believer can look forward to being in His joyous presence immediately upon death. Rather they have to look forward to a judgment by fire of undetermined length and character. This contradicts direct statements of Scripture that the believers are immediately with Him.

Also, purgatory robs the believer of any assurance of salvation. Since salvation is looked at as a process, rather than a past completed act, believers can never be assured that they have been completely saved from their sins. Neither can they know how much time they have to be purged before entering heaven.

It would seem to give a very uneasy feeling for those who believe purgatory lies ahead. There is really no assurance about anything.

Conclusion

The doctrine of purgatory, the teaching that people must be purged of their sins after they die before they can enter heaven, is indeed popular in many circles but is unbiblical.

Yes, there is a need for the purging of our sins before we can enter heaven, for without holiness none of us can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). However, the Bible plainly states that this has already happened in the past. We have been purged. Jesus Christ has taken upon Himself the penalty for all of our sins. It is a past completed act. We cannot add to it. All that we can do is accept it by faith. This is what allows us to enter into heaven.

Scripture stresses that we can do absolutely nothing to gain entrance to heaven. Our suffering is meaningless as far as taking away sins is concerned. We have zero ability to get to heaven. Jesus Christ has done it all. He is the only One who can do anything about it. We cannot earn eternal life by anything that we do or say. We are granted eternal life by belief in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 10:9).

There is a hell where people pay for their own sins and this is the only place in the next world where sins can be paid for. Unless our sins are taken care of in this life by Christ, we will have to pay for them in the next life. However, the payment will not be in a temporary place called purgatory but rather in a permanent place called the lake of fire, hell (Revelation 20:14-15, 21:8).


References:

1) What Happens One Second After We Die? by Don Stewart

2) Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Recommended Resource: Four Views on Hell: Second Edition (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Four Views on Hell: Second Edition (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) Recent years have seen much controversy regarding hell: Do we go to heaven or hell when we die? Or do we cease to exist? Are believers and unbelievers ultimately saved in the end?

This second edition of Four Views on Hell, featuring all new contributors, highlights why the church still needs to wrestle with the doctrine of hell.

In the familiar counterpoints format, four leading scholars introduce us to the current views on eternal judgment, with particular attention being given to the new voices that have entered the debate.

Contributors and views include:

  • Denny Burk: Eternal Conscious Torment
  • John Stackhouse: Annihilationism (Conditional Immortality)
  • Robin Parry: Universalism (Ultimate Reconciliation)
  • Jerry Walls: Purgatory

General Editor Preston Sprinkle concludes the discussion by evaluating each view, noting significant points of exchange between the essayists. The interactive nature of the volume allows the reader to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of each view and come to an informed conclusion.

What is the Second Death?

What is the Second Death?

Scripture speaks of a final place of punishment known as the “lake of fire.” It is where people experience the “second death.” John wrote about this in Revelation 19:20 where he said the beast, the final Antichrist, as well as the false prophet, would be sent to this place of everlasting punishment.

“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

The Lake of Fire is the Second Death

In chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation, we read further of the place of punishment, the lake of fire which is the second death.

“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever … 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 (Revelation 20:10, 14-15).

We also read this in Revelation 21:8.

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Second Death & First Death

If there is a second death, then there also is the first death. What is the difference between the two? Death in the Bible always means separation. Physical death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body while spiritual death is separation from God.

When one dies physically, there will be a separation between his physical body and his soul and spirit. Physical death is what the Bible refers to as the first death and it will be experienced by both the righteous and the wicked.

Man is a tripartite being consisting of material (the physical body) and immaterial parts (soul and spirit). At death, the body which is made of dust will return to dust (Genesis 3:19) while the soul and spirit will go to one of two places: heaven (for the righteous) or hell (for the wicked).

While every human being will experience the first death, the second death has no power over those who confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior.

“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 (Revelation 20:6).

Descriptions of the Second Death

The Bible gives us several descriptions of the Second Death.

It is Eternal

The lake of fire, which is the second death, is the final destination for all unbelievers. It is a place from which there is “no hope.” It is equivalent to saying the “last death.”

Those who had been kept in Hades, the temporary place of punishment, will eventually be thrown in this lake of fire, their ultimate destination (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:14).

There is Conscious Suffering

Those suffering in the lake of fire are conscious (Revelation 20:10). Furthermore, their conscious suffering is eternal. In other words, the dead are not in a state of extinction as some teach and believe.


The Lake of Fire is a Burning Lake

The lake of fire is referred to as the burning lake. Four times, fire and sulfur are mentioned in the book of Revelation when referring to the lake of fire (Revelation 14:10; 19:20; 20:10 & 21:8).

The Wicked are in Some Type of Bodily Form

If the wicked are to suffer eternally in the lake of fire, they have to assume some type of bodily form. Jesus emphasized this fact when He said the following.

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

The apostle Paul also said the following about his hope for the resurrection.

“I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15).

If the unrighteous dead were merely annihilated, there would be no reason for their resurrection. They are raised for the purpose of judgment and then punishment.

Indeed, if they were in their final place of punishment in Hades, there would not be a need for a resurrection. Hades is temporary, while the lake of fire is permanent.

Conclusion

The Bible is clear that God will pour out His wrath upon the wicked. This will include Satan and his angels as well as wicked humanity. They will all go to a place of final punishment which the Bible calls the “lake of fire.”

The lake of fire, the second death, does exist, and it truly is a place everyone should want to avoid. The common question people ask is, “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?”

We need to understand that God does not send people to hell. We are all bound for hell because of sin. But God in His grace and mercy does not want anyone to go to hell and that is why He gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die for us (John 3:16).

Hell is never God’s choice for us. But a countless number of people will send themselves there because they reject the God of the Bible and His free gift of salvation.

Hell is an awful place, but it can be avoided. If a person trusts Jesus Christ as his or her Savior, then heaven awaits them instead of this horrific place.

Have you trusted Jesus to save you from eternal punishment in the lake of fire? If you haven’t yet and you want to receive God’s gift of salvation, pray the  Sinner’s Prayer with your whole heart.

Sinner’s Prayer

“Lord Jesus, I acknowledge I’m a sinner in need of forgiveness and saving. I renounce my sinfulness and accept your gift of eternal life. Please forgive all my sins and cleanse me from my filthiness. I believe that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the grave to secure my place in heaven. I ask You now to come into my life to be my personal Lord and Savior. This I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

If you sincerely prayed this prayer, I welcome you into the family of God.


This article about the Second Death which is the Lake of Fire is an excerpt from Don Stewart’s book, “Hell, The Final Destination of Unbelievers.”

When God Transforms His People

When God Transforms His People

Listening to some prominent Christians say that the church has replaced Israel and that God is finished with them makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs, “That is so, so not true! Please read your Bible very carefully.”

Needless to say, I am not surprised at all that this so-called Replacement Theology has slowly crept into the church, thus, deceiving many. The devil hates God and Israel so much that he will use even Christ’s followers to spread a lie.

But the Bible is very clear that in the last days, God will once again deal with Israel as prophesied by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah (Jeremiah 30:1-22; Ezekiel 11:14-20; 34:11-15; Isaiah 11:10-16). In the last days, when God brings His chosen people back to the Promised Land (Ezekiel 36:24), He will change them spiritually.

After all, only a transformed people can enjoy a transformed land.

Why Should Christians Support Israel

The Future Restoration of Israel

Ezekiel 36 talks about how God is going to restore and transform Israel as a nation. God gave the Jews the land of Israel as a part of the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-18; 15:7-21) but their possession and enjoyment of the land depended on their faithfulness and obedience.

The Christian life is similar. We enter God’s family by trusting Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9), but we enjoy God’s family by believing His promises and obeying His will (2 Corinthians 6:18 – 7:1).

Israel was guilty of two great sins, the first of which was polluting God’s land (Ezekiel 36:16-19). Long before the Babylonians had swept through the kingdom of Judah, the sins of the leaders and the people had polluted the so-called Holy Land. When God’s people disobeyed God’s law and behaved like the heathen nations around them, they defiled the land and broke the covenant.

Their second sin was that of profaning God’s name before the Gentiles (Ezekiel 36:20-23). Polluting the land God allowed them to enjoy was bad enough, but they also had profaned God’s holy name instead of being godly witnesses in the Gentile lands where He sent them.

But Ezekiel 36:1-38 looks forward to that day in the future when God would restore His people and the land of Israel.

The Transformation of God’s People

How exactly is God going to transform His people? What are the events that will unfold as God fulfill His promise to restore and transform His people?

God will Cleanse Them from Their Sins

First, God will cleanse His people from their sins, and this is pictured by the “sprinkling of clean water” (Ezekiel 36:25). See also Ezekiel 36:29 and Ezekiel 37:23.

According to the Mosaic Law, every Jews who became defiled had to be cleansed before he or she could return to the camp and the blessings of the covenant community. This was accomplished either by bathing in running water or by being sprinkled with water prepared for that purpose (Leviticus 14:1-9; Numbers 8:5-7; Hebrews 10:22).

Of course, sprinkled water can never change the heart, but this is only a picture of the gracious forgiveness we have through faith. God sanctifies and cleanses us with water through His word (Ephesians 5:26). We are forgiven because of the death of Jesus on the cross (Ephesians 1:7).

God also cleanses us with the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). When believers confess their sins to the Lord; they are cleansed because of Christ’s blood (1 John 1:9).

God Will Give Them New Hearts

Second, God will give His people new hearts (Ezekiel 36:26).

Ezekiel had already spoken about this inward change in Ezekiel 11:18-20 and 18:31, the kind of change that the Lord yearned for Israel to experience before they entered the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 5:29).

The prophet Jeremiah shared the same promise that Ezekiel gave (Jeremiah 24:7). He was speaking about the new covenant that God would make with the Jews, a covenant not written on stones but on their hearts and in their minds (Jeremiah 31:31-33). See also Hebrews 8:8-13.

The basis for the new covenant is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and the emphasis is personal rather than national, with each person putting faith in the Lord and receiving a “new heart” and with it a new disposition toward godliness.

God Will Give Them the Holy Spirit

Third, God will give His people the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:27).

The Spirit accomplishes what God’s people cannot do on their own: walk in accordance with God’s law and keep His judgments. When God gives us a new heart and a new spirit, He also gives us a new desire to love and obey Him. The Holy Spirit is given like refreshing water upon parched ground, and this produces the “fruit of the Spirit” in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

The witness of the Spirit is proof that the person has been born of God (Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13-14). Because we have God’s Spirit within, we share in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:1-4) and therefore want to obey God’s divine will.

When God Transforms His People

God will Claim Them again as His People and Cause the Land to Flourish

Fourth, God will claim the Jews again as His own and will cause them and land to flourish (Ezekiel 36:28). Under the covenant God made with Israel before they entered Canaan, He agreed to bless them and meet their needs if they would obey Him (Leviticus 26:1-13; Deuteronomy 28:1-14).

This will be like a renewal of the covenant, for they will live in the land – He will be their God, and they will be His people. This will be a permanent arrangement, for they will no longer rebel against the Lord and disobey His will.

Since the founding of the nation of Israel in 1948, great progress has been made by the Jewish people in reclaiming the land. A great deal of reforestation and irrigation has taken place, and the waste places are being transformed.

As wonderful as this is, it is nothing compared with what the Lord will do when His people are gathered back to their land from the nations of the world. God will bless them and make the land like the Garden of Eden. The land will once again produce abundant flocks, herds, and harvests, and the people will be enriched by the blessing of the Lord.

This was a part of God’s covenant with Israel (Leviticus 26:3-5). The land would not only be fruitful; it would also be safe and secure (Ezekiel 36:10-12). The cities will be rebuilt and the ruins removed. This will be a wonderful new land for the new people of God and the beauty and fruitfulness will be a testimony to the nations (Ezekiel 36:36).

God’s People will Abhor Their Sins

Fifth, God’s restoration of His people will cause them to abhor their sins (Ezekiel 36:31-32).

One of the shreds of evidence of the Spirit’s presence within is a growing sensitivity to sin and a strong desire to turn away from it. So, when some people remember their sins and they enjoy them again in the dirty depths of their imagination, it simply shows that they really haven’t acknowledged them and repented.

When true children of God remember their past disobedience, they’re ashamed and abhor themselves because of what they have done to the Lord, themselves, and others. For he who loves the Lord hates evil (Psalm 97:10). Also, love without hypocrisy will hate evil and clings to what is good (Romans 12:9).

God’s People Will Enjoy Fellowship with the Lord

Sixth, God’s people will not only call once again the name of the Lord, but they will also enjoy fellowship Him (Ezekiel 36:37).

In Ezekiel’s day, individuals couldn’t inquire of the Lord or pray and be heard because they had sin in their hearts (Ezekiel 14:1-5; 20:1-3, 30-31). God even told the prophet, Jeremiah, not to pray for the people (Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11).

But under the new covenant, the people will have fellowship with the Lord and be able to pray to Him. The picture is of the people going to Jerusalem for the annual Passover festival, bringing animal sacrifices with them.

The Lord will be Glorified

Finally, the Lord will be glorified. Israel did not glorify God in their land or the Temple, nor did they glorify Him in the countries to which they had been scattered. But the day will come when God will be glorified by His people and the glory of the Lord will return to the Land.

The Lord promised to change His people because He desires to sanctify and glorify His great name.

Parallels to the Christian Life

The spiritual experience of Israel’s transformation parallels what happens to all sinners who trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Every born again believer sees a parallel here with his or her own experience of faith in Christ. The Lord has washed us (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), given us new hearts and His Holy Spirit within, and because of this, we should have a holy hatred for sin.

We have the privilege of coming to God individually in prayer and petition, as well as the desire to do things in accordance with His will. God also wants to make our lives abundantly fruitful for the glory of His name and the Lord has made us a part of His new covenant (Hebrews 8:10) so that our union with Him through Christ is eternal and unchanging.


Conclusion

God is faithful to His promises. So when He promised to restore and transform rebellious Israel, He will surely bring it to fulfillment. We must never assume that God has done away with the nation of Israel.

But in the last days, when God gathers His people back to their land, everything He will do for them will be because of His grace and not because they deserve it. God didn’t give them the land because of their righteousness (Deuteronomy 9:6) and He won’t restore the land because of anything they have done.

In the same way, God in His grace gives us what we don’t deserve, and in His mercy, He doesn’t give us what we do deserve. We must always remember that all we have in Christ comes from God’s grace and was designed for God’s glory.