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Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

Will Jesus return literally in the clouds?

There are several passages in the New Testament that on the surface would seem to indicate that when Christ returns He will do so appearing in the clouds above. You may have heard the expression or read the Bible verse about the believers being “caught up together … in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).  Or you may have read “Behold, He comes with clouds” (Revelation 1:7).

jesus-in-the-clouds

No doubt the Second Coming concomitant with the resurrection of the dead—both of the saved and the unsaved—is yet to happen. But do the Scriptures mean, literally, that Jesus will appear in the clouds all around the earth, simultaneously, so that all people can see Him? My personal eschatological belief is that that is not the case. I explain below.

In the Old Testament we read that the God of Israel said

2 Samuel 23:4 He that rules over men must be just ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds; (KJVER used throughout)

The only just ruler is God Himself. His countenance is as bright as the sun in a cloudless sky. Also He controls the environment including the weather and the clouds.

Job 36:26-33 Behold, God is great, and we know Him not, neither can the number of His years be searched out. 27 For He makes small the drops of water [i.e. clouds]: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: 28 Which the clouds do drop and distill upon man abundantly. 29 Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of His tabernacle? 30 Behold, He spreads His light upon it, and covers the bottom of the sea.  31 For by them judges He the people; He gives meat in abundance. 32 With clouds He covers the light; and commands it not to shine by the cloud that comes between. 33 The noise thereof shows concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour.

Hebraisms in the Scriptures

In the Bible there are found many Hebraisms, which are Hebrew idioms or expressions. Even in the New Testament, which was originally written in the Greek language, we find many such expressions. For example,

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Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

Israel of God

In a prophecy given by the prophet Hosea the Lord said:

Hosea 11:1  When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt.

flight-into-egypt-01The Lord refers, in the first part, to the nation of Israel, while in its infancy, God called out of the land of Egypt. But the second part is a prophecy of Christ Jesus, the Son of God who, in a parallel way, God also called out of Egypt. This happened after Mary and Joseph had taken the infant Jesus down to Egypt to protect Him from King Herod, who sought to kill Him. Only after Herod died did Jesus return to Israel from Egypt.

Matthew 2:15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My son.

The nation called Israel really started with the conversion of Jacob to becoming a man of God. After his conversion God called him Israel. From him, i.e. his children, came the 12 tribes of Israel.

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Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines

Further evidence of the true meaning of who it is in Daniel 9:27

In studying the prophecy in Daniel 9 there has been the issue of the misidentification of who the person is who is referred to by “he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” in verse 27.  Many Christians falsely teach that the “he” here is a reference to some coming future AntiChrist figure, but I am not alone when I have argued that it is a reference to the Messiah, who came and confirmed His covenant with His people on the Cross. Read Daniel 9 prophecy for the details to this.

Now, if you look at the three verses Daniel 9:25, 26 and 27 (listed below) you can see a parallelism in the text. The first part of each verse refers to Messiah, while the last part refers to the city. First part, about the Messiah, is shown in grey text while latter part of each verse, referring to the destruction of the city, is shown in blue text.

Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall even in a troublous time.

Daniel 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off [killed], but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come, shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and to the end of the war desolations are determined.

Daniel 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of the abominations, he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

This then reinforces that the ‘he’ of verse 27 is the Messiah and not some AntiChrist figure. Besides the antecedent of the word translated as ‘he’  in verse 27, a singular individual, is the Messiah as evidenced in both verses 25 and 26.

Update: 25/3/2017

If you are wondering, actually, Christ is the one who shall “… cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of the abominations, he shall make it desolate.”

Christ is the one who terminates the Temple worship on the Cross when His sacrifice forever pays the price of our atonement and no further sacrifice is needed.

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:16-18).

“Causing the sacrifice to cease” has erroneously been attributed to some future AntiChrist figure, who allegedly stops the religious worship of the Jews in a new third Jewish Temple, which is yet to be built.

Also it was the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Sovereign God, who sent General Titus and the Roman legions to bring in all manner of abominations of Roman gods into Jerusalem and in 70 A.D. they destroyed the second Temple, stone by stone, and the city, laying it waste.

This has been erroneously assigned to some future AntiChrist who takes over the as yet to be built third Temple. But the AntiChrist is now in power and has been for a long time. Just turn your eyes towards Rome and see the one who claims to be Christ’s representative on Earth.

Acknowledgment

I would like to thank Ken Brooks for alerting me to this information

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Bible prophecy worldview

So shall also the coming of the Son of Man be

Christ said that before He returns there would only be one sign to herald His coming.

Matthew 24:37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Theologians have interpreted this to mean that the conditions of the world would be the same as those that were before the Flood. This is indicated by the following verse.

Matthew 24:38,39 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, 39 And knew [understood] not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

And the world does seem to have gotten into the same state now, maybe it is even worse. When discussing this a few days ago with a friend he suggested something that really struck a chord with me.

On July 7, 2016 the Ark Encounter1 opened for visitors in Williamstown, Kentucky (see Fig.1), an actual-size replica of Noah’s Ark (157 m, 510 ft long). It is located inland, far from water, and used by Answers in Genesis to educate people about the size of the Ark and other issues related to the Earth destroying global flood in Noah’s day,2 that resulted the death of all air-breathing land dwelling as well as all flying creatures. But most importantly it meant the death of all humans except for those 8 that were on the Ark, Noah, his wife, Noah’s 3 sons Shem, Ham and Japheth and their wives.

ark-encounter-ark
Figure 1: Ark Encounter Noah’s 155-meter-long Ark replica built by Answers in Genesis’ for $100 million. Credit: Ark Encounter

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Bible prophecy Book of Revelation Islam prophecy The Papacy

Warning! prophecy

warning-prophecy

Turn your eyes towards Memphis (Egypt), for out of it shall come the Great Confusion! The author of confusion is even now marshalling his forces for this Great Confusion! He is gathering his forces from a great nation and eastern nations, friends that will join with him. So sudden will be the Great Confusion, that it will cause a mighty widening of the eyes of those who have not discerned the signs of the times. But be ye not deceived! Be prepared! And be not deceived by the great society, for it will come to travail and then bring forth the Great Confusion! Be prepared!  Even now the skies are red, red with warning, and black, black with clouds gathering for the great confusion, which is almost upon you!

In 1965 Virginia Berg received this prophecy, which she called the Warning prophecy. The first paragraph was given to her in the middle of the night. She said that God woke her out of a deep sleep and told her to start writing. She obeyed; the prophecy was the result. Please note the bracketed word Egypt was not part of the prophecy; it is an interpretation that God meant Memphis Egypt.

In 1974 as a young Christian on hearing this prophecy I was spurred on to reach people with the gospel of salvation by Jesus Christ. Now 42 years later I have looked at this again. Whether or not this is a true prophecy from God, the message in it I believe is amazingly resonant with our times now.

Back in the 1970’s I was taught and I accepted the notions that are described as part of the futurist interpretation of Bible prophecy. I believed at that time in a rise of a future AntiChrist and that he would sign a 7-year peace pact centred on the Middle East, especially Israel. Eventually he would rule the world. After a period of Great Tribulation, I believed, he would be defeated by Jesus Christ Who returns at His Second Coming.

This tract shown here I used to hand out on the streets in Australia, warning people of the impending peril that was coming. In the 1970’s and 80’s the world went through a great fear of nuclear war, which passed when the Soviet Bloc broke up and the Cold War ceased. Since then also I have come to no longer believe in the Jesuit inspired false interpretation of Bible prophecy (futurism). I never believed in the John Darby Nelson concept of dispensationalism and pre-Tribulation Rapture though that is a branch of futurism.  Now I believe that we are coming towards the end of the “Church Age”, which is symbolised by the 1000-year period in Revelation chapter 20, called the Millennium, except it is much longer than 1000 years. I also believe that we are in the period towards the end of that called by some the “little season”, where Satan is loosed or unbound from the pit he was bound in during the Church Age (see Revelation 20 study for details).

I believe now though that there is an interpretation of this Warning prophecy, which uncannily makes a lot of sense:

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Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

As in the Days of Noah

Chapter 5 of the book “When Jesus Returns —what then?” by Jim Gibson. I have edited the text only where necessary, changed underlining to bold text and used the KJVER Bible version. 

“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew [understood] not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:37-39)

Here, Jesus is stating that life will go on as normal until the very moment of his return, just as it did when judgment came upon the ungodly in Noah’s time. The question is asked, “what was the ‘normal’ during the time leading up to the flood?” To find the answer to this question, we must turn to the sixth chapter of Genesis.

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually [all the time]. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:5,11-13)

antedel

From these verses, we discover that before the flood “all flesh” was corrupt, that is, decayed, rotten, putrified. Their wickedness had become a stench in the nostrils of God. Since we know from Solomon’s writings, that there is “no new thing under the sun”, then we can probably surmise some of the sins which the antediluvians (before the flood) were guilty. Judging from the account of Sodom and Gomorrah, we could rightfully conclude that many of the antediluvians practiced homosexuality. In conjunction with this particular sexual perversion, they also probably engaged in multiple other forms of sexual sin, including, but not limited to, rapeincest, bestiality, and pedophilia.

In Jeremiah 2:34, we find an obscure phrase alluding to the sin of abortion in which Israel had become guilty of. I call it “obscure” since there is not a consensus as to its interpretation. Many take the word “skirts” in a metaphorical sense, however, I believe it should be taken literally.

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Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines prophecy The Papacy

The AntiChrist and Great Tribulation

Chapter 4 of the book “When Jesus Returns —what then?” by Jim Gibson. I have edited the text only where necessary, changed underlining to bold text and used the KJVER Bible version. 

The antichrist. Probably no other personage in all of Christendom, besides the Lord Jesus, has captivated the imagination of both saint and sinner alike. Books and even movies have been produced centering on this one infamous individual. Since the antichrist is such an integral part of dispensational thought, it necessitates some consideration for discussion.

According to the dispensational view, after the rapture of the church, the antichrist will make his presence known in the world’s political scene. He will make a covenant with the Jewish nation, but will break that covenant after 3½ years. Also, he will sit in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and declare himself to be the Jews’ Messiah. The Jews will reject him as their Messiah and, consequently, he will begin to persecute them. This period of “great tribulation” will last for 3½ years ending at the Second Coming, thus precipitating the battle of Armageddon. This is just a brief synopsis of the dispensational teaching regarding the antichrist. There is some variation to this particular interpretation among the dispensationalists, although its basic tenets are the same.

antichrist2

The word antichrist is only found five times in Scripture and only mentioned by one apostle, namely, John. However, Paul explicitly refers to the antichrist calling him the “man of sin” and “son of perdition” in Second Thessalonians. He implicitly references him in First Timothy by ascribing to him certain causal attributes. Thus, these are the only two apostles who even addresses this evil personage, and, the following passages are the only texts that we can rightfully or critically examine in order to glean information concerning the antichrist.

“Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest [known] that they were not all of us. … Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:18,19,22)

“And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4:3)

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” (2 John 7)

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called god, or that is worshiped; so that he as god sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is god.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4)

“Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils [demons]; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats [foods], which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

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Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines

The Rapture

Chapter 3 of the book “When Jesus Returns —what then?” by Jim Gibson. I have edited the text only where necessary, changed underlining to bold text and used the KJVER Bible version. 

The term “rapture” does not appear anywhere in the Bible. This fact alone does not necessarily invalidate its truthfulness, however. The word itself refers to the “catching away” of the bride of Christ, which is the Church. According to the dispensationalists, the Church will be “taken” from the earth at the “coming” of Christ, otherwise known by its Greek name, the “Parousia”. This event would necessitate people being “left behind”. A seven-year period of great distress would follow and, would eventually end at the Second Advent of Christ. Thus, a “two-stage” coming of Jesus is required.

Rapture

The word “rapture”, however, did not originate until the early part of the 1830’s when it was first coined by John Nelson Darby, the leader of the Brethren movement. This paper will not entertain the controversy of who was actually the first to expound the idea of a “two-stage” coming, whether Darby or a young Scottish woman by the name of Margaret Macdonald. Rather, I will only address the scriptural texts that have been cited in proof of this popular view referred to as the “rapture”. The most referenced biblical passage to support the “rapture” is from 1 Thessalonians.

“But I would not have you to be ignorant [unaware], brethren, concerning them which are asleep [dead], that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep [die] in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep [dead]. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort [encourage] one another with these words. But of the times and the seasons [dates], brethren, you have no need that I write to you. For yourselves know perfectly [full well] that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail [birth pains] upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake [surprise] you as a thief… For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-4,9)

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Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines

The Return of Jesus Christ

Chapter 2 of the book “When Jesus Returns —what then?” by Jim Gibson. I have edited the text only where necessary, changed underlining to bold text and used the KJVER Bible version. 

To begin our study of what the scriptures reveal, we will first consider those which speak of a certain day marked on God’s celestial calendar. Jesus and the disciples referred to this historic day as the “day of judgment”.

“Verily I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.” (Matthew 10:15)

“But I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matthew 11:22)

“But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)

“The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations [trials], and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” (2 Peter 2:9)

“But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved to fire against the day of judgment and perdition [destruction] of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:7)

“Herein is our love made perfect [complete], that we may have boldness [confidence] in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17)

“And the angels which kept not their first estate [position], but left their own habitation, He has reserved in everlasting chains [eternal bonds] under darkness to the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 6)

MARTIN_John_Great_Day_of_His_Wrath
The End of the World, also known as The Great Day of His Wrath by John Martin. Credit: Wikipedia

As one studies these verses, it becomes obvious that a specific day is reserved to judge the ungodly of this world. The verse 1 John 4:17 alludes to the fact that even the believers will be judged on this fateful day. Furthermore, Jude 6 clearly intimates that the demons will also be held in judgment for this “great day”.

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Bible prophecy hermeneutics

The battles of Gog and Magog

In the late 1970’s my wife and I were living in Singapore where we did some street witnessing, handing out tracts, mostly on salvation but one tract was a prophetic end-time message, titled “Israel Invaded”.  That tract discussed the future invasion of Israel from the northern lands of Gog and Magog, and was based on chapters 38 and 39 of the book of Ezekiel.

Gid 25 -Christina1977
My wife Christina and I in Singapore in 1977

As you may know, Singapore is a bit sensitive about anything political, so it was not totally surprising then that we were taken into custody by the police, along with our daughter, who was less than two years old. At the station, all the police were eager to read the different tracts we had and some of the female officers enjoyed playing with our daughter. Eventually they let us go saying that we should get the tracts registered with the Department of Religion, which I did except for the Ezekiel 38 and 39 tract. The reason for that was that a senior police officer visited me at home later and told me that Singapore has close relations with Israel and they would not want anything to upset that, even though I told him the message was not about Israel in our time, and that it was just Bible prophecy. But then I believed that Ezekiel 38,39 was a prophecy to be fulfilled in our future and it involved the invasion of Israel.

So that brings me to my point. Is the prophecy in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 really about some future end-time event, as I once believed? Well, I admit I have recently changed my mind. I also once believed as many evangelical Christians do today that there would be in the future the rise of a world dictator, the AntiChrist, who would establish a 7-year peace agreement and allow the re-construction of the Temple in Jerusalem, internationalising the city. He would somehow build a supercomputer to control all world commerce and trade and would break his peace agreement in the middle of the 7 years and subjugate all who oppose him in a great Tribulation period. I have since learned that that is not the case and, in fact, most of those ideas, though they form part of John Nelson Darby’s dispensational pre-Trib. secret Rapture doctrine, were developed long before Darby by Jesuit interlopers who wanted to destroy the effects of the Reformation and get the Protestants’ eyes off Rome as the reformers taught that Rome is the Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots (Revelation 17:5) and they recognised the papacy as the real AntiChrist, the ‘beast’ of Revelation 13, who sits in the temple of God proclaiming himself to be God.