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Revelation is an amazing and inspiring book.  In it we can see history and yet to be fulfilled prophecy.  The book starts with John seeing a vision of the resurrected Christ.  But this is far from a forgetable experience.  John saw Jesus in all His heavenly glory.  We can read how John described Him:                      

"His head and His hair were like wool...His eyes were  like a flame of fire.  His feet were like fine brass  ...His voice was as the sound of many His  right hand were seven stars...out of His mouth went a  sharp two edged sword and His countanence was like the sun."                         

The same Jesus that walked with John on the dusty streets of Jerusalem some 60+ years ago was now infront of him in all His amazing glory.                                

How did John react?  With a yawn?  Let's read his reaction:                         

"And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead."   (Revelation 1:17)                      

John literally fainted when he stood in the direct presence of Jesus in all His heavenly splendor.  An encounter  with Jesus like this will happen to all of us.  Will we be ready?                                   

The book continues with  Jesus dictating to John seven letters that were to be sent to seven different  churches in the ancient world.  Some of the letters were comforting.  Some were encouraging.  Others contained troubling words.  No one would want Jesus to say that your lampstand will be put out or that Satan will be  allowed to test you for ten days.  Jesus speaks to these churches as groups yet He knows each individual believer.  Consider His statement to the church at Sardis:                 

"I know your works, that you have a name that you are  alive but you are dead."                     

Yet He also says:                      

"You have a few names even in Sardis who have not de-  filed  their garments, and they shall walk with Me in  white."                        

Sardis, much like many of today's churches, was a dying church.  Jesus told its members to be watchful and strengthen what virtues were left.  Why? Because their works were not God-centered in the eyes of Christ.  What else strikes me is that He knew that some members were faithful.  This shows that Jesus knows a church as a group yet He also knows each Christian by name.                  

Jesus isn't like a man on a stage who looks out at the audience but is only able to know a few people personally.  Because He is all-knowing and ever-present God in the form of a man, He can know our deepest, thoughts, needs, and motives.  This fact can provide both comfort and dread.  Since Jesus knows all our good points He also knows ALL of our sin.                    

After the last letter was delivered John is taken up into God's heavenly kingdom.  He describes God's awesome appearence as like jasper and sardius stone.  A beautiful rainbow was around His throne.  Also by the throne were four living creatures and 24 choosen elders.  All of the elders wore spotless white robes and golden crowns.  The four living creatures and the elders praised God day and night.                         

The heavenly scene continues with God the Father holding out a scroll with seven seals.  The question now, we are told, is who is worthy to open those most holy seven seals.  We are told that no one, no angel, no king, no president, no victorious general, and no church leader was worthy to open any of the seven seals.  No one had the spiritual perfection of God the Father needed to even touch the seals.  For a moment it looked as though the seals of the scroll would never be opened, until:                

" of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep. Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loosen its seven   seals'." (Revelation 6:5)                    

Who was prepared and worthy to perform this vital deed?  No one save the victorious and sinless Lord Jesus.               

Next Jesus, symbolized by a lamb, took the scroll from God the Father.  At that moment 28 voices sang:                 

"You are worthy to take the scroll...You were slain.   And have redeemed us to God by your blood." (v9)                Now it is time for all of us to  take a deep breath and see what will happen when these seven seals are opened.                        

When  the Lamb opened the first seal a white horse and his rider appeared.  The rider held a bow and wore a crown.  He went out into the world conquering and to conquer (present and future).  Now there is some theological debate as to whether the rider is a good guy or a bad guy.  There is evidence to support both views.               

If we see the rider and his white horse as godly, we can point out that white is the color of moral and spiritual purity.  Also the rider carries a bow with no arrows.  This implies that the rider is a successful conqueror, but he attains his victories without the use of brute force.  He can be seen as a savior rather than a despot.                         

What is also important to note is his crown.  There are two Greek words for "crown".  One is "diadema" which is a crown of an earthly sovereign.  The second is "stephanos" which is a gift or a sign of divine favor.  "Stephanos" is the word that appears in the text.  The rider wins over people with words from the Holy Spirit rather than weapons.  Some authors believe that this rider represents the Gospel and the conquering nature of the Gospel as it goes out into all the world.  The "stephanos" could represent the presence of the Holy Spirit.                         

All of this brings to mind the words of Jesus:                

"...I will build my church and the gates of Hades   shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)                

Gates are not weapons.  They are barriers.  All of the "gates" that the enemy will put up including negative circumstances, sickness, lack of funds, persecutions, and even totalitarian laws against evangelism will be overcome by this rider.  God will reach His elect regardless of what obstructions Satan and ungodly governments will raise.                      

Napoleon once said of Jesus:                    

"Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded  empires.  But on what did we rest the creations of our genius?  Upon force.  Jesus Christ founded His empire  upon love, and at this hour millions of men would die  for Him."                        

If we take the position that the first rider represents evil then we would say that he represents false gospels and false messiahs.  His empty bow could mean that he wins over the crowds with charisma, deceit, and wild rhetoric.  Hitler giving loud emotional speeches at Nurenburg to cheering crowds would be a great example.               

False religions enjoy the support of the majority of the people.  Many of them appeal to our carnal nature.  Public opinion much of the time is on their side.  When the king of Babylon ordered all his citizens to bow before his great idol, only three Hebrew exiles had the moral courage not to follow the crowd.                   

As I have said, I don't believe in a coming world dictator who will enslave the world with a super computer.  But if we take the position that the first rider is evil then we could say that he represents the idolitry and materialism that is found throughout  our present world.  This is why he is so popular.                  

Personally after examining both sides of the nature of  the first rider, I tend to lean to the former.                                         

"He opened the second seal...And another horse, fiery  red went out.  And it was granted to the one who sat   on it to take peace from the earth and that people  should kill one another; and there was given to him  a great sword."                                     

Red, of course, is the color of blood and this rider represents bloodshed stemming from wars, riots, purges, revolutions, persecutions, and violent crime.  Note that there is a satanic spiritual force behind this rider that causes people to want to kill one another.  In our modern world where morality is relative, violent people show little or no control over their natural impulses.  The result is a world that has dangerous neighborhoods and overcrowded prisons.                      

Most of us would agree that rioting, violent crime, and terrorism are evil, but what about war?  Are all wars wrong?  Is it wrong for a country to violate another country's sovereignty with an armed invasion?  Yes.  But is it wrong for an invaded country to defend its citizens?  No.  There are good reasons for a country to go to war. One of the responsibilities God gives to human government is to defend the God-given rights of its citizens.  The command "Thou shall not kill" was given to an individual not to a nation.  Individuals do not have the right to commit murder however when a sovereign nation is attacked by a foreign aggressor and the freedom of its citizens is in jeopardy, then that nation's military is called to fight.  This reminds me of a line from one of Glen Ford's movies:                    

"Either we fight or we rearrange the White House to  suit the tastes of the Japanese emperor."                 

War is a consequence of living in a sin-cursed world.  Yes I realize that war is a terrible thing, but so is peace at any price.                       

Our world has seen the creation of more modern and more deadly weapons.  In the preface of his book Flashpoint, author George Friedman writes that an estimated 100 million Europeans were killed between 1914 to 1945 by war, persecutions, purges, and forced starvations.                          

The late D James Kennedy pointed out that an estimated 170 million people worldwide perished in the 20th Century alone because of the twin evils of war and persecution.  These numbers indicate that the 20th Century was the bloodiest century ever!                      

Today we are living in the age of terrorism.  World leaders around the globe are concerned that the Islamic theocracy of Iran will have a nuclear bomb soon.  Plus all of us live with the possibility of a suicide bomber, who is willing to target shopping malls and sporting events and who is willing to die to gain Paradise.  US ministries who want to reach Muslims could also be targetted.                        

As terrible as all that sounds let us bear in mind that our real enemy is not Iran or the suicide bomber who is willing to kill himself plus complete strangers who just might be Muslim.                      

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but   against principalities, against powers, against the   rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual   hosts of wickedness in the heavenly realm." (Eph.   6:12) KJV                        

It is because of the tenacity of the demonic world that evil will never disappear.  Nevertheless God still holds each person accountable for his words and actions.                                         

"When He opened the third seal...I looked and behold  a black horse and he who sat on it had a pair of    scales in his hands." (Rev. 6:5)                                

A voice is heard saying that a portion of wheat and barley will cost a day's wage.  Why the references to wheat, barely, wine, and oil?  Because this rider represents an era of intense famine.  But not a famine brought on by a lack of food (wheat and barley are metaphors) but a famine of hearing the Word of God.                

In Amos 8:9 the prophet makes this prophecy;                 

"And it shall come to pass in that day...That I will  make the sun go down at noon.  And I will darken the  Earth in broad daylight."                     

This prophecy was fulfilled in 33 AD when Jesus died on the cross.  We are told that there was darkness over all the land for roughly three hours.                   

In verse 11 Amos makes yet another disturbing prophecy              

"'Behold the days are coming', says the Lord, 'That I  will send a famine on the land. Not a famine of bread  nor a thirst for water., but of hearing the words of  the Lord.'"                       

Amos prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel during the time of King Jeroboam II (782-753).  Back then Israel had a strong and proud military. The pagan nations of Assyria and Babylon were still relatively weak.  The military power and prosperity of the Israelities eventually brought a spirit of complacency.  The written Word of God was less valued.  This de-valuing of the Torah led to a spirit of unbelief and indifference.  The prophecy of Amos was taking shape.  The result:  In 722, just 31 years after Jeroboam's death, the northern kingdom of Israel was overtaken by the growing Assyrian Empire.                         

"Those who swore by the sin of Samaria...shall fall."  (Amos 8:14)                       

The same prophet who predicted the darkening of the sun in 33 AD also predicted the doom of Israel.  Could this same scenario happen in our present world?  My answer is a loud "Yes!"                      

It is the Bible where we find spiritual truth.; truth that will give us spiritual direction.  But to receive this direction we must be in a right relationship with its Author.                          

In the early years of our republic we as a nation honored God and His Word.  God had really blessed our country with freedom and prosperity that was the envy of the world.  People risked their lives to come here.  But in more recent times godless entertainment, heady academics, and tacky social commentary by liberal media pundits have pulled America away from God.  Society of course will pay the price with broken homes, substance abuse, rising crime, shattered lives and worst of all, souls in the lake of fire.                     

Throughout world history the Bible has been banned, burned, and scoffed at by critics.  In today's world man's opinions have replaced the authority of the Bible.  Man's opinions are fallible and ever-changing.  God's Word is perfect and unchanging (John 17:17).                              

"He opened the fourth seal...And I looked and behold a pale horse, And the name of him who sat on him was   Death and Hades (the waiting place of the unconcious   and unsaved dead) followed him." (Rev. 6:7)                 

This rider is all about the end result of sin and spiritual famine - death.  Death is seen as riding on a pale horse.  The Greek word for "pale" is "chloras".  We get the English word "chlorine" from it.  Chlorine bleach is a whitener.  It can cause fabric to lose its natural color.  A similar process happens when a sick person is dying.  The skin of a terminally ill patient will eventually lose its natural color.  They will become pale as they get closer and closer to death.                  

How has this rider operated in our time?  At the beginning of the 20th Century, Victorian England was a country with a solid spiritual and godly heritage.  The country in years past produced such spiritual giants as John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, John Foxe, Dr. John Reynolds (who appealed to James I for a new tranlation of the Bible), George Fox (founder of the Quakers), Charles Spurgeon, John and Charles Wesley, William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army), and Dr. David Livingston who served as a missionary to Africa.                    

Today England is in a moral drift.  The same country that gave us the King James Bible would later give us the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols, and Ozzie Osbourne.  Not only do fewer and fewer English citizens attend church but Muslims migrating to England now outnumber Anglicans.  We might expect this kind of shift in a place like Egypt but England?                   

Also worth noting is that in today's England self control is being replaced by self indulgence.  In her article "The Sun Never Sets on the British Welfare System" (Aug 10, 2011) columnist Ann Coulter describes the British welfare system as everyone's "free lunch".  The current system has done much to erode the moral fiber of the country.  Coulter writes:                    

"England's welfare state is fast returning the native  population to its violent 18th Century highwayman   roots...Britian leads Europe in the proportion of   single mothers and as a consequence, also leads the  European Union in violent crime, alcohol and drug   abuse, obesity, and sexually transmitted diseases."               

Coulter adds:                       

"This is how civilizations die."                                

Yes I know that Ann and I are describing England.  But can any of us deny that America could very well be close  behind on this road to ruin that is paved with good intentions and out of control social spending?                  

Here we see the sins of society in general but what about the sins within the church?  In Revelation 3:15 and 16 Jesus told the Christians of Laodicea:                 

"I know your works that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then because   you are lukewarm...I will spew (rebuke) you..."                

For years I didn't totally understand the hidden meaning of this verse.  Does Jesus desire cold churches? Isn't it better to be at least a little warm rather than ice cold?  At least I would be better in people's sight than someone like Vlad the Impaler who tortured and  murdered for pleasure in 15th Century Romania.                  

There are a few things that we have to remember about God and His standards.  God doesn't grade on a curve.  God's standard is perfection.  Because all of us have violated His law in one form or another, we cannot have fellowship with a holy God.                     

But why does Jesus SEEM to say that He desires a cold heart over a warm heart?  In truth the Bible really doesn't say that.  Consider these facts for a moment.  It does not surprise God to see unsaved people living in sin.  Unsaved people are sinners and sinners do what they do best, they sin.  This doesn't mean that God likes what He sees.  He is holy and He will always hate sin.  But what really angers God more than their sin is when He sees His people, who have been redeemed, start to act like the world.  The Laodicean Christians, much like Christians today, were being told that their mixture of sin and salvation was not acceptable.  Thankfully Jesus didn't stop speaking at verse 16.  He went on to say:               

"As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.  Therefore be zealous and repent." (v. 19)                    

The whole bottomline is that God despises hypocrisy.  As much as God despises a cold heart He despises a lukewarm heart even more.  All of us need to keep this in mind the next time we watch the evening news and see some depraved monster being led away in handcuffs in front of the news cameras and are tempted to say to ourselves, "I know I'm not perfect but at least I'm better in God's sight than that creep."                      

The last thing I want to say in regards to the pale horse is why do so many of us live an ungodly life when God has a better way?  Of course we know that man is in a fallen state.  Because of his dark natural heart he has an inborn natural appetite for sin.  He basically lives for the "flesh".  But another common answer as to why people (even Christians) fall into sin is that we often think with our feelings rather than our brains.  We tend to do what feels good and will give us instant gratification rather than doing what is right and will honor God's name. When faced with temptation we force our character, moral courage, and sense of commitment to values to take a backseat to whatever will give us instant pleasure, an easy way out, or ungodly peer approval.                         

An excellent book on the subject of doing the right thing by showing character, moral courage, and commitment to  right values is How Could You Do That!, by Dr. Laura Schlessinger.  On page 142 Dr Laura writes:                

"Feelings, nothing but feelings obviously gets you   into trouble.  It's when you blend feelings with a   major dose of courage, conscience, and natural thought that you connect to the most self-respectful aspects  of your humanity."                      

How is self-esteem and self-respect built?  By showing the character and moral courage to do the right thing and honoring godly ethics and values in a world full of compromisers, liars, and cheats.  When we show commitment to godly values despite the cost, then we can look at ourselves in the mirror with a clear conscience.                           

"Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust  of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16)                                

"When He opened the fifth seal I saw under the altar   the souls of those who had been slain for the Word of  God and His testimony which they held.  And they cried with a loud voice saying, 'How long, Oh Lord holy and  true, until you judge and avenge our blood?' was  said to them that they should rest a little while   longer, until both the number of their fellow servants  and their brethren, who would be killed as they were   was complete." (Revelation 6:9, 10, and 11)                 

The fifth seal is called the seal of martyrs.  It is here that we read about the cries of anguish of the souls of those believers who were martyred for the sake of the Gospel.                         

Do the souls of Christians soul sleep after death the way souls of non-Christians do?  Not according to Revelation 6.  Here we read that saved souls are alive and awake.  They feel emotional pain.  Their cries are not just said. They are shouted.  They desire for God to show justice against those who dwell on the  Earth.  Note that according to Hebrews 11:36-40 those souls could include those who gave their lives in service to God during Old Testament times.  Yet those souls are told simply to rest and be patient until the designated number of martyrs is complete.                      

When was the fifth seal opened?  No one can say for sure by Daniel gives us a clue.  In Daniel 12:11 we read about the 1290 day prophecy:                     

"And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken   away and the abomination of desolation is set-up there shall be 1290 days."                      

How are we to understand this verse?  Is this prophecy historic or futuristic?  What is meant by the daily sacrifices and the abomination of desolation?  And most important of all how does it relate to the fifth seal?               

First of all we know that the history of God's salvation plan had two parts - the Old Testament covenant of animal sacrifices and the New Testament covenant of grace.  Some teachers say that this verse has to do with the actions of a future world dictator.  There is a problem with this line of reasoning.  When Jesus was on Earth He spoke of an abomination that causes desolation that would occur in His future but not necessarily our future.  In Matthew 24:15 Jesus said:                               

"But when you see the abomination of desolation spoken by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place...  then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains"               

Jesus spoke of this abomination as something the disciples were to watch for.  When Jesus said that this would happen in the "holy place" the twelve instantly knew which place.  Jerusalem had only one holy place - the Temple.  For the disciples this prophecy was futuristic but to us it is historic.  The abomination standing in the holy place refers to Satan.  But wait, Satan is a spirit.  We can't SEE a spirit standing in a temple or anywhere.                       

What the disciples would see would be the tangible proof that Satan would someday soon takeover the Temple.  They wouldn't see Satan but they would see his handywork.                

In Acts 6 an apostle named Stephen along with six other apostles came on the scene for the purpose of caring for the widows.  Stephen served the widows, preached Jesus, and did signs in His name.  All of this caught the attention of the non-believing Jews.  When these religious legalists couldn't dispense of Stephen's zeal and wisdom, they did what they could to turn the crowd against him.  Because of the commotion, Stephen was promptly arrested and dragged before the council.  Instead of being free to preach salvation to those who needed it and wanted it, Stephen was now on trial for his life.                         

Stephen started his defense by giving the council a brief lesson on Jewish history.  Why?  So that he could show his listeners that the prophets wrote of the coming of the Just One (Jesus).  And that just as past generations killed the prophets, so has this generation killed Jesus (Acts 7:52).                     

The council was not persuaded by his words, which were really God's words.  Just as Pharaoh hardened his heart at the words of God spoken through Moses, so did these religionists hardened their hearts against Stephen.  The scene didn't stop there.  Stephen was cast out of the city and stoned to death.                     

Without controversy the murder of Stephen was the work of Satan.  The disciples couldn't see Satan standing in the Temple but they could see Stephen's dead body. His dead body provided tangible proof that Satan had taken over the Temple.  The abomination was now standing firmly in the holy place.                       

The words "Let those in Judea flee to the mountains...", are a poetic way of saying that it would be time for the elect to leave the Temple and start a new chapter in history - the church age.  It would be the dawn of the era of the local church.                   

Now let's get back to Daniel 12:11:                  

"...from the time the daily sacrifice is taken away.."              

First let's ask who ended the Old Testament system of animal sacrifices as a means of atonement for sin?  God did?  Second how did He do that?  He sent His Son to the cross to be the ultimate atoning sacrifice for sin.  Remember when Jesus died the veil to the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom.  This was a sign that any sinner desiring salvation could come into God's presense without the need of a priest.                    

Next we read that the abomination of desolation will be set up or take root.  In Daniel 9:27  we read that when a New Covenant is confirmed and the time of animal sacrifices ends there will be one who will:                  

"...on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate (Satan)."                      

Jesus told His disciples to watch for this deceiver who will someday be standing in the holy place - the Jerusalem Temple.  We have already covered the death of Stephen as visible proof that Satan was standing in the holy place.  The abomination of desolation was now set up.  It is conceivable that EXACTLY 1290 days transpired from the day Jesus died in the spring of 33  AD to the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7:60.  This would date the death of Stephen in the late fall of 36 AD.                  

Now this interpretation of the 1290 day prophecy does require a little bit of faith.  I cannot prove that exactly 1290 days transpired between the crucifixion and the stoning.  However when we read the first part of Acts it is conceivable that that much time could have transpired between those two events.                   

The 1335 day prophecy (Daniel 12:12) is different.  This historic prophecy refers to the time of Christ's baptism (John 1:29) to the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1).  It has been proven historically that exactly 1335 days transpired between those two events.  This is more proof that only God could have written the Bible.                  

The whole point of the 1290 day prophecy is that the death of Stephen marked the beginning of the age of martyrdom - the breaking of the fifth seal.  We have already covered the persecutions of Christians by Roman and Papal authorities.  In our modern post-Cold War era radical Islam has replaced communism as the worst enemy of religious expression.  The bad news is that today's persecution is as awful as it is real.  The good news is that persecution is temporary; Heaven is forever! (Romans 8:18)  God doesn't promise us a world without pain, but He does promise that He will never leave or forsake us.               

In Revelation 6:9 we read that the martyrs (Stephen included), as we speak, are crying out for divine justice.  God, at this moment, is hearing their cries.  Isn't it comforting to know that God takes note whenever one of His followers is killed because of his testimony for Christ?  To God we are not "expendible tools" or faceless pawns in this era of spiritual warfare.  He sees and hears our emotional cries of pain and anguish knowing that this is not the world He intended us to have.                

What we also know is that God will someday look down upon the church's plight and shout, "Enough!"  This is when the age of martyrdom ends.  What will happen next is that the Lamb will break the sixth seal.  Here is where we move from historic prophecies to futuristic prophecies that are waiting to be fulfilled.  Here is where prophecy study becomes even more exciting!                              

"I looked and He opened the sixth seal and behold   there was a great earthquake and the sun became as   black as sackcloth and the moon became like blood...  and the sky receeded...and every mountain and island  was moved out of its place.  (The unsaved) hid them-  selves in the caves and in the rocks of the moun-   tains and said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the    throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  For the great  day of His wrath HAS COME and who is able to stand?"  (Revelation 6:12-17)                      

This is what will happen during the Second Coming of Christ.  The events described above could occur on ANY given day.  Wow!  What a promise!  Think of it!  Jesus could return for His church within the next 24 hours or less!  Are you ready for Him?                    

Some have asked, "But wait.  In Revelation 6 Jesus is said to be, 'Him who sits on the throne';whereas in Revelation 19 Jesus is seen sitting on a horse.  How can these two parts both refer to the Second Coming?  Easy, once a prince is corrinated as the new king, he will always be the new king regardless of whether he is sitting on a chair or a horse. King Jesus  will be no different.                        

There is one big point that I want to make concerning the events of verse 12.  This verse says that the darkening of the sun and the turning of the moon's light to a blood red are the signs that will mark the start of the great day of the Lord.  The Bible makes a total of seven references to this solar-lunar sign.  Here's the list:                         

1.  Isaiah 13:10                     

 2.  Joel 2:31                       

3.  Acts 2:20 (where Peter quotes Joel 2:31)                 

4.  Matthew 24:29                      

5.  Mark 13:24                       

6.  Joel 3:15                       

7.  Revelation 6:12                      

Note that not all of these verses add the extra detail of the moon turning a blood red.  Here the Bible mentions seven times that there will be a solar-lunar sign that will signal the start of the great day of the Lord.  Seven times!  If the Bible repeats a detail like this that many times then it must be important enough for all of us to take note.                       

Just like the starting gun at a race signals the start of the race, so will this solar-lunar sign signal the start of Christ's return.  In the race the runner's job is to be prepared for the sounding of the starting gun.  Likewise we as Christians are to be prepared to meet Jesus considering that He could come back at any time.                

"Behold the day of the Lord comes.  Cruel with both   wrath and fierce anger to lay the land desolate.     And He will destroy its sinners from it." (Is. 13:9)               

Wow , this topic of the return of Christ sounds serious even scary.  I'm hoping people will ask themselves, "How can I be prepared for this coming Earth-shattering event? If you are a non-believer, you need to experience salvation not just religion.  All of us need to do God's will.  God's will is that you glorify Him.  How is that done?                       

First - Turn to Jesus.  Don't just admire Him but turn to Him with a sincere and contrite heart.                  

Second - Allow Jesus to tranform your mind and heart.  This is internal transformation.                    

Third - Walk in newness of life.  This is external change that people can see.  Ask God in prayer daily or nightly to help you live a life that honors Him.                

Fourth - Study His Word.                     

If you are a believer your desire should be to "redeem the time".  Should we be hopeful to see Jesus soon?  Certainly!  Should we stand outside with our arms folded waiting for the sun to go dark?  Certainly not!  What did Jesus say?                        

"Blessed is that servant, whom his master, when he   comes, will find so doing." (Matthew 24:46)                 

This verse means that we are to live and work as if the Second Coming of Christ weren't for another 1000 years yet we are to be ready should it happen today.  We are to be about our Father's business which includes getting the Gospel message out while there is still time.  Let's allow Jesus to worry about His arrival schedule.               

What will happen to Christians on that glorious day?  Will we have to run for cover as non-Christians will?  The unsaved will be left on Earth to face the various plaques mentioned in Revelation.  This is not so for the Christians.                          

"(The church is) to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us   from the wrath to come." (I Thes. 1:10)                  

On that last day of the Church Age when we see the solar-lunar change, our bodies will be changed so that we can enter Heaven.                       

"...we shall all be changed in a moment, in a twink-  ling of an eye.. this mortal (man) must put on immor-  tality." ( I Cor. 15: 51, 52, and 53)                  

And then...                       

"He will send His angels and gather together His elect ...from the farthest part of the Earth." (Mark 13:27)               

Paul told the Christians in Thessalonica:                 

"For the Lord Himself will decend from Heaven with a  shout...And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then  we who are alive and remain shall be caught up to-  gether with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  So shall we ever be with the Lord." (I Thes. 4:  16, and 17                        

The next event on God's prophetic calender is the return of Christ.  Does anything else have to happen first?  Yes, all of the elect, the people who Jesus knows will someday turn to Him, have all got to become saved.  The fact that Jesus hasn't come back for 2000 years indicates that there are still people and people groups out there that He is interested in reaching.                 

When Jesus does return He will rule for a 1000 years.               

"And they lived and reigned with Christ for 1000    years." (Revelation 20:4)                     

This brings us to the subject of the 1000 year reign also called the Millenium.  There are different views on the Millenium.  A-millenialists, such as Harold Camping, claim that their will be no 1000 year golden age and that the above verse refers only to Heaven's eternity.  Pre-millenialists, like Jack Van Impe, claim the when Jesus returns He will rule the world as King of Kings from Jerusalem.  Both views are wrong.                    

Personally I share the view of the late LaVerne Tucker who says that when Jesus returns He will take His church to Heaven for a 1000 years.  The Millenium will not be an earthly political reign from the dusty streets of the old Jerusalem.  It will be something much better.  It will be a heavenly reign from the glorious New Jerusalem, Heaven.               

Some might ask, "But wait.  Doesn't the Bible indicate that Jesus will reign here on Earth?"  The answer is yes. The Old Testament declares:                     

"And the Lord shall be King over all the Earth."    (Zechariah 14:9)                      

"But the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight  themselves in the abundance of peace." (Psalm 37:11)               

These two verses are not describing the 1000 year reign.  They are instead foretelling of the time when we reside in the new Heaven and new Earth.  All of that will happen after the Millenium.                     

"I create new heavens and a new Earth." (Isaiah 65:17)              

"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. (Rev. 21:1)               

If Jesus were to return and reign politically from Jerusalem, would the Earth still have its imperfections?  Would there still be diseases and natural disasters?  Those things were present at His first coming.  Why?  Because we live in a fallen world.                   

"For creation was subject to futility...creation    itself also will be delivered from the bondage of   corruption...the whole creation groans and labors   with birth pangs together until now." (Romans 8:20,  21, and 22)                       

Our present world has birth-defects, diseases, tiny parasites that can kill, and natural disasters.  Even something as small as unexploded land mines cause me to doubt earthy pre-millenialism.  Untold numbers of land mines are buried in many parts of the world with Afghanistan having more of these maiming meneces than any other country.  Unexploded land mines that have been buried for decades in places like Vietnam can still pose a threat to anyone, even a child, who steps on one.                 

When will all this rotten imperfection be transformed into perfection?  It'll happen when God re-creates the entire cosmos and we experience the new heaven and new Earth.                           

I now also reject the belief of a secret rapture of the church.  When Jesus returns for His church and touches the Mount of Olives, the whole world will know it.  The natural elements of the sky and sea will not just be touched but greatly impacted. Unsaved people will see His face and be terrified.                    

What will take place after the Second Coming?  The next event will be the breaking of the seventh and last seal.                         

"He opened the seventh seal and there was silence in  heaven for about half an hour." (Rev. 8:1)                 

This seal is basically a signal marking the start of the terrible judgment plagues.  Why is there silence in Heaven?  Because those who are now in Heaven will realize that they still have unsaved close friends and family who are left on the Earth.  The unsaved will have to face those plagues and those in Heaven, for half an hour, will grieve for them.                       

Seven angels will each be given a trumpet.  The sound of each trumpet will mark the start of a terrible judgment.  This will be an awful time to be left on the Earth.  The unsaved, who rejected or neglected God's gift of His Son, now will have to face divine wrath.  Christians won't face this wrath.  This is what Paul meant when he wrote:                      

"...even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come"  (I Thes. 1:10)                       

During this time of tribulation there will be seven trumpet judgments (Rev. 8:2) and seven bowl judgments (Rev. 16:1).  While those judgments are happening on Earth, the church will be safe in Heaven praising the Lord (Rev. 15: 1-4).                      

I'm not going to describe all the plagues but I'll mention just a few:                       

*  Hail and fire mingled with blood                 

 *  Foul and loathesome sores                    

*  The sea turning to blood                    

*  The sun scorching men with fire                   

*  Swarms of stinging locusts                    

These plagues will hit the Earth one after another like bullets out of a machinegun.  Every material thing that people lived for will be ruined.  These plagues will not be myths.  The plagues on Egypt weren't myths.  They were real occurances backed by secular history.                  

After all these plagues have run their courses, for a period of at least five months (Rev. 9:5), then there will be universal death on all the Earth.  The whole planet will become a desolate wasteland for 1000 years.  This will be Satan's prison.  He will be bound by a chain of circumstance because he will not have anyone to torment.  The unsaved are called "the dead" and we are told in Revelation 20:5 that "the dead" will not live again until the 1000 years are over.                   

This is a scary picture indeed!  Fortunately for unsaved people Jesus still hasn't returned.  He still hasn't closed the curtain on the Church Age.  This means  that today is still the day of salvation.  Sinners can still become redeemed forever!                    

"Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your    hearts" (Hebrews 4:7)

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