Part 5/5: Comparing the Prophets to the Olivet Discourse Framework

This is the final post in a five-part series related to Jesus’s Olivet Discourse Framework.

In this series we’ve reviewed Jesus’s Olivet Discourse Framework, recognized the critical undergirding of the Old Testament, and studied multiple passages depicting the great end-time gathering. All of this ties together and provides a solid basis upon which to ground our understanding and synthesize a big picture framework of major events that lead to the day of the Lord.

Why does it matter to study these Scriptures about events leading up to and including the day of the Lord? Well, for every Christ-follower, the day of the Lord is our “blessed hope.” We should not only anchor our hope on the good news of Christ’s second coming, but also understand the major events leading to His return! Why? So that we can more earnestly watch, pray, and look for His revealing from the heavens (Mark 13:33; Philippians 3:20; I Thessalonians 5:4–6; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; 2 Peter 3:12–14; Jude 1:21).

To do this, it is critical to recognize the distinct purposes between the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. He first came as a lamb and suffering servant for the forgiveness of sins. Accordingly, Jesus fulfilled the prophecies regarding suffering and sacrifice (Acts 3:18). But as you know, much more remains to be fulfilled!

Jesus will one day return from heaven like a lion in power and glory to fully accomplish the expectant words of His holy prophets (Acts 3:20–21) concerning both judgment (Acts 10:42; 17:31) and restoration hope (Hebrews 9:28; 2 Peter 3:13). While the sacrificial system of the Old Testament has become obsolete through the new covenant, today we hold the same eschatological hope as that espoused and taught by the law and prophets (Acts 10:42–43; 24:14–15; 26:6–7; 28:23)! Therefore, repent and be converted (Acts 3:19) so you can enjoy the the glory and blessing to come at Christ’s second coming (1 Peter 4:13; 5:4; Titus 2:13; 2 Timothy 4:8; Colossians 3:4; Philippians 3:20–21; I John 3:2–3)!

Lining up the Prophets with the Olivet Discourse

It is a joyful exercise to see how the Scripture ties together so well. As promised, with this final post in the series, I’d like to demonstrate this cohesion using Jesus’s teachings as our gold standard benchmark.

Seven passages from the prophets will be compared with Jesus’s Olivet Discourse framework: Isaiah 13, Ezekiel 38, Zechariah 12, Zechariah 14, Jeremiah 4, Joel 2, and Joel 3. With a consistent and relatively straightforward narrative, the distinct parallels between the prophets and the Olivet Discourse shouldn’t be dismissed. These New Testament teachings from the mouth of Jesus, the greatest prophet, is a substantial authentication, confirmation and corroboration of the veracity of the Old Testament prophecies.

Please note: For easier reading, you may find it helpful to zoom-in with your browser to read each of the comparison charts. My comments after each comparison are very brief. This exercise is primarily intended to highlight the consistent voice of the prophets regarding the climactic events leading to the day of the Lord and how their messages are consistently aligned with Jesus’s Olivet Discourse teaching. Since there are so many examples to draw from (Ezekiel 38:17), this may become somewhat repetitive to you as we move from prophet to prophet. But repetition is good!

Let me encourage you. This takes time. While the Word of God isn’t a breeze-through novel, its commentary unto itself is deeply enriching. And though some of my conclusions may depart from current Christian thinking, I believe they stand up to biblical scrutiny. That said, I’m far from perfect and thus urge and implore you to be like the Bereans, who “searched the scriptures daily” to see if these things were so. Now to begin the study . . .

Isaiah 13:4–13 compared to Jesus’s Olivet Discourse

The key takeaway is the consistency between the sequential flow of events in Isaiah 13 with the teachings of Jesus. And while the rather straightforward narrative here in Isaiah 13 is one rooted in historical fulfillment, we see that it arcs forward to the day of the Lord and has future applicability. Many parallel Scripture references could be given to bolster the fact that Isaiah is speaking about a future day of the Lord, but that’s not the point of this exercise. Rather, I would like to highlight that sudden desolation and destruction is apparent on the day of God according to Isaiah’s description. Clearly, there is immediate, robust, dramatic consequence when Christ is revealed in power and glory. This is confirmed in the New Testament (Matthew 24:30, 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9; 2 Peter 3:10, 12; Revelation 14:9–10).

Ezekiel 38:12–23 compared to Jesus’s Olivet Discourse

Ezekiel 38:16 explains one of the main purposes and outcomes of the great end-time gathering of the armies of Antichrist (see also Ezekiel 36:23; 38:23; 39:6–7; Zephaniah 2:10–11; Isaiah 45:21–25; 59:19; 64:2)

And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes. (Ezekiel 38:16)

The day of the Lord initiates with the powerful, mighty, and glorious “presence” of the Lord (Ezekiel 38:20). And with great hailstones, fire, and brimstone, Ezekiel 38:22–23 depicts a conclusive end to this present evil age of “many gods” to a future age full of the glory of “one God” Jesus Christ! All will “know the LORD” when He “magnifies” Himself and puts asunder all the gods of the earth (Zephaniah 2:11).

In addition, pull out your bible and read Ezekiel 38:15–23. For the gathering to accomplish the Lord’s purposes, does it make sense for this climactic chain of events at the end of the age to occur over a period of several years or several days? How could the Lord’s fury and wrath (Ezekiel 38:18–19) directly destroy the armies of evil with great hailstones, fire, and brimstone (Ezekiel 38:22) if the gathering occurs over three years earlier? If there is a gap of over three years, the gathering loses its climactic feel, and the connection between the Lord’s presence and the gathered armies is severely muted. A scenario where the gathering occurs very near to the return of Christ appears more plausible since the gathering is met directly by the Lord!

Zechariah 12:2–10 compared to Jesus’s Olivet Discourse

Zechariah 12 succinctly takes us from the gathering rage of evil to the end of the age. Verses 8–10 highlight two main events of the day of the Lord; the Lord’s wrath and remnant Israel’s repentance. When the Lord forcefully and abruptly stops the enemies in a powerful way (Isaiah 30:27–28) they turn to Him!

Many other passages could be selected, but in regards to Israel’s repentance, compare the grace, supplication and resulting repentance referenced in Zechariah 12:10 with Isaiah 59:19–20, and also where Paul refers to Isaiah 59:20 in Romans 11:26–27.

So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. (20) And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 59:19-20 emphasis mine)

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (Romans 11:26–27 emphasis mine) 

Zechariah 14:1–13 compared to Jesus’s Olivet Discourse

Zechariah 14 follows the narrative of Jesus without question. And we know that this chapter leads to the same destination as Ezekiel 38:23. Why? Because of the stark similarities and context. They teach about the same day-of-the-Lord events when the Lord causes men to kill each other as in the day of Midian (Zechariah 14:13, Ezekiel 38:21–22, Isaiah 10:26), along with a “great tumult from the LORD”. These day-of-the-Lord events ultimately lead to Jesus as King over all the earth (Zechariah 14:9) because of His great power, glory and victory! The nations will know that Jesus is LORD!

Jeremiah 4:5–6, 13–28 compared to Jesus’s Olivet Discourse

A certain pattern exists in the various prophetic declarations. In Jeremiah 4, we again see remarkable consistency with Jesus’s narrative.

Many things get our attention with this passage, including the great shaking (Jeremiah 4:24), the darkened heavens (Jeremiah 4:28), and the Lord’s call for the hearts of Israel to be washed from wickedness to experience salvation (Jeremiah 4:14). But, the most powerful of all is reference made to the “presence” of the LORD. Undoubtedly this is a prophecy of the Lord’s coming on the “day of the Lord” to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42, 17:31) along with fulfilling a host of other purposes that we’ve discussed many times.

Joel 2:1–11 compared to Jesus’s Olivet Discourse

It has become a constant theme. The parallels between Jesus and the prophet Joel are also clear and distinct. The end-time gathering is spoken of as an unprecedented event (Joel 2:2), there is an indirect reference to travail (Joel 2:9), and there are direct references to a great shaking and cosmic events (Joel 2:10) the day of the Lord (Joel 2:11).

In addition, Joel 2:3–6 seems to be a rare mention of the 6th Trumpet where John saw horses, and them that sat on them, spewing fire, smoke, and brimstone out of their mouths. Aspects of the 5th Trumpet and 5th Bowl could also be in view here? As far as I can tell, Joel 2 contains the only reference in the prophets to one of the preceding plagues in the book of Revelation. This is telling. But, this fits my proposed framework, and I believe it is what we should expect! Most importantly, I believe it also fits with Jesus’s teaching in Luke 21:11 where “terrors and great signs from heaven” occur before the gathering and cosmic events.[i]

Joel 3:9–16 compared to Jesus’s Olivet Discourse

The alignment between Jesus’s Olivet Discourse and the prophets continues to be consistently consistent! And, doesn’t it seem right that signs in the heavens will precede the apocalyptic return of Jesus in power and glory? During His first coming, the skies turned black at the death of Christ and an earthquake announced His resurrection. Not unexpectedly, cosmic events in the heavens and a great shaking on the earth will announce and precede His glorious and powerful return to harvest the earth (Joel 2:30–31; 3:15; Isaiah 13:10; Matthew 24:29–31; Mark 13:24–27; Luke 21:25–28; Revelation 6:12–17). The harvest of the earth is comprised of two primary events. First, the reaping of the righteous (Revelation 14:15–16). Second, the reaping of the wicked (Revelation 14:9–10, Rev 14:18–19, Joel 3:13).

A Clear-Sounding Trumpet

The oft-repeated prophetic warning of the day of the Lord and the harvest of the earth emits a distinct, clear, and certain sound. These messages uttered by the prophets are so consistent and contagious because their Author is God! Time after time we have seen messages from several prophets line up consistently with Jesus’s Olivet Discourse. We should take note. The distinct parallels are hard to dismiss. This deserves our respect.

The Book of Revelation compared to Jesus’s Olivet Discourse and the Prophets

Now, what about the debated book of Revelation? How does it align with Jesus and the prophets? Do we read the book strictly in a sequential chronological manner? Or, are there some parallels within the book of Revelation due to certain visions witnessed by John being recapitulated in unique ways?

In my book there is a proposed framework which I believe aligns with both Jesus and the prophets (see below). Obviously, I could be wrong. I simply think it is very important to build from the bottom up. In other words, the prophets (including the greatest of prophets the Lord Jesus Christ) should serve as the foundation of our understanding. Then, our interpretation of the complicated book of Revelation should complement, not contradict, the gold standard of Jesus and the prophets. As you can see, and as I described in the last post, I believe the climactic world-wide gathering (which begins at the 6th bowl/vial) is the same climactic end-time gathering that we read about in the prophets that leads to the soon and sudden return of the Lord! The 6th bowl/vial gathering fits each of the defining characteristics described by the Old Testament prophets.

Clearly, the proposed framework shown below for the book of Revelation flows in sync with the narrative of Jesus and the prophets in an expected left-to-right chronological sequence. I have studied other frameworks for the book of Revelation, such as the pre-tribulation, pre-wrath, and “classic” post-tribulation views. Especially with the pre-tribulation and pre-wrath views, there is chaos and disarray when comparing and contrasting those frameworks with the teachings of Jesus and the prophets.

The above consistencies between the Olivet Discourse, the prophetic oracles, and the book of Revelation fit together like a glove.

For full disclosure, let me tell you when my deep dive into the book of Revelation occurred. Years ago, I embarked upon a very in-depth study of the prophets. This was followed by a study of the Olivet Discourse. For the Olivet Discourse, I studied all three synoptic gospels together using side-by-side columns that I assembled, one each for Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. It was after these studies when I began to deeply explore and peer into the book of Revelation. There is no doubt that my proposed framework was strongly influenced by that sequence of study.

Many believe the day of the Lord is comprised of months and months of plagues (i.e. Trumpets and Bowls/Vials) that increase in intensity over a long period of time. But isn’t the focus of the prophets on the main event––the power and glory of God!? The “day of the Lord” is not about pre-cursor events but rather the great day when Christ is revealed!

Described below are three principles that are tethered to my proposed framework: 1) the emphasis by the prophets of Jesus Christ on the day of the Lord; 2) the emphasis by the prophets of the latter days gathering that leads to the day of the Lord; and 3) the emphasis by the prophets of events to occur when the 7th angel sounds to proclaim the day of the Lord.

So what about Revelation 16:14?

The real question is whether or not the world-wide gathering event of Revelation 16:14 is the same gathering event referred to by Jesus and the prophets. As you can tell from what I have written above, I think it is the same event. It appropriately and contextually fits within the narrative of the prophets. Moreover, it leads to the same event depicted by the prophets’ time and time again (i.e. the Lord coming to destroy the gathered armies).

On the flipside, if you elect to interpret the unprecedented evil gathering of Revelation 16:14 (that begins at the 6th bowl/vial) as a separate and distinct event from that referenced by Jesus and the prophets, it is like building without a foundation. We need to stand on solid ground, not spiritual sand. To conclude that Revelation 16:14 is a separate gathering event than that spoken of by Jesus and the prophets, the following weaknesses must be accepted:

  • After each of the prophets describe a unique, vast, evil gathering toward the land of Israel, we can find nothing in their consistent narrative of events that hints at another massive gathering just prior to the day of the Lord. Therefore, we are electing to interpret Revelation 16:14 as an isolated event that has no other scriptural witness even though the prophets frequently spoke in detail about this exact time period.
  • After Jesus describes an evil gathering of armies in Luke 21:20, we can find nothing in His continuing narrative of events that hints at another massive gathering just prior to the day of the Lord. Won’t the return of Jesus Christ serve the purpose of cutting short the days of great tribulation directly caused by the gathered armies? Isn’t this “cutting short” in reference to the gathered armies Jesus spoke about in Luke 21:20? In forcing another gathering event after Luke 21:20, we are electing to interpret Revelation 16:14 as an isolated event that has no other scriptural witness even though Jesus spoke in detail about this exact time period.
  • Even though Revelation 16:14’s unique, vast, evil gathering looks, sounds, and feels identical to the narrative of the prophets; even though Revelation 16:14’s gathering flows in sync with Jesus’s narrative as depicted in my proposed framework; and even though the composition of the evil gathering of Revelation 16:14 (“the beast” and “the kings of the earth” and “their armies”––Revelation 19:19) matches the descriptions given by the prophets, we must conclude that it is not the same massive gathering.

These are notable weaknesses. Something is amiss if Revelation 16:14 is a different gathering event than the evil gathering declared by the prophets and Jesus.

The Crux of the Issue

Isn’t it common sense that Jesus would affirm the message of the prophets? Doesn’t it make plain sense when we read of a great end-time evil gathering leading directly to the presence of the Lord, that we should appreciate yet another of many “witnesses” the Lord has given us in Scripture? After all, many times the prophets spoke of this gathering (Ezekiel 38:17) and many times the prophets spoke of the occasion when “there should be time no longer” (or “there will be no more delay” as the ESV translation states) when the 7th angel begins to sound with the last trumpet for the day of the Lord (Revelation 10:6–7). This is important. The message of the prophets about the day of the Lord is vivid and alive, and is especially relevant to the events of the 7th angel when the mystery of God is finished and fulfilled.

The climactic day of the Lord at the 7th angel features: the resurrection of the dead and judgment (Revelation 11:18); a plague of enormous hailstones (Revelation 11:19; 16:21); the unleashing of fire and brimstone from the altar of God (Revelation 8:5; 14:10); voices, thundering, lightning, and an earthquake (Revelation 8:5; 11:19; 16:18, 21); the full strength cup of God’s orgē wrath (Revelation 6:16–17; 11:18; 14:10; 16:19); and dominion on earth given to Christ (Revelation 11:15; Daniel 7:14, 27) to restore creation and reign in glory and righteousness as King of kings and Lord of lords at the conclusion of the great and notable day of the Lord (Revelation 19:16).

The simple, plain, and straightforward correlations between the prophets, Jesus, and the book of Revelation should come at no surprise. All of us love how Scripture is an integrated whole and works together in a big story from Genesis to Revelation.

But why is it exceedingly difficult for most students of Scripture to make these correlations?

Maybe it’s because I’m too simple-minded and just plain wrong in what I’ve shown with these comparisons? Or, perhaps due to one critical prophetic text in Daniel Chapter 9, most are compelled to place the climactic evil gathering spoken by the prophets and Jesus at the mid-point of a future 7-year tribulation period, thus stripping the natural climactic feel generated from a simple reading of the text?

It’s time to take a fresh look at Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy and explore even more of the fascinating cohesion of prophetic Scripture when seen through plain interpretation methods, Scripture harmonization, a futuristic lens, respect for Israel’s election, and an eschatological framework aided by the Jewish feast days—all leading to a monumental day of transition, the second coming of Jesus Christ on the day of the Lord.

This great and notable day is the heartbeat of prophetic Scripture. You can begin the exploration by submitting your email on this form and I’ll email a free PDF of my book to you. Or, just shoot me an email.

Blessings,
Brandon


[i] As we’ve seen several times now, the primary focus of the prophets begins with the gathering (i.e. Trumpet 6/Bowl 6 – Ezekiel 38:17) and ends with the day of the Lord (i.e. Trumpet 7/Bowl 7 – Rev 10:6–7). It is a repetitive presentation. So, while biblical and extremely important, the preceding Trumpets and Bowls/Vials were less relevant in the Old Testament. Why? Because the Lord primarily revealed to the prophets the climactic events leading to the day of the Lord at the 7th angel (Revelation 10:6–7).

Here is a question. If the day of the Lord is comprised of a long series of Trumpets followed by a subsequent series of Bowl/Vial plagues, why is there zero mention of this by the prophets? In contrast, we see the opposite with Joel’s mention of the 6th, and possible aspects of the 5th Trumpet and 5th Bowl, occurring prior to the cosmic events and the day of the Lord. This is problematic for those who attest that the day of the Lord will be a long, drawn-out ordeal comprised of months and months and months of heavenly wrath and plagues from God. In a plain, straightforward way, Scripture depicts judgment day as robust, dramatic, sudden, quick, and powerful. It is the revealed presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory and power that brings a harsh and final judgment on the day of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:7–9), not a long series of great sights and fearful sights from heaven which precede the day of the Lord (Luke 21:11).

Those in the pre-tribulation and pre-wrath camps attest that the entirety of Trumpets 1 thru 7 and Bowls 1 thru 7 represent the “wrath of God” which believers are to be delivered from and not suffer. However, it is important to understand that the wrath followers of Christ will not experience is the (orgē––G3709) wrath of God (Romans 2:5; I Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Revelation 6:16–17; 11:18; 14:10; 16:19) which is specifically the final, full-strength cup of wrath, anger, and indignation poured upon the ungodly at the time of the 7th angel.

Part 4/5: The Great End-Time Gathering (part 2)

Post Series: Jesus’s Olivet Discourse Framework
1/5: Laying out Jesus’s Olivet Discourse Framework – posted 1/12/2018
2/5: The Critical Role of the Old Testament – posted 2/10/2018
3/5: The Great End-Time Gathering (part 1 of 2) – posted 6/4/2018
4/5: The Great End-Time Gathering (part 2 of 2) – posted 6/6/2019
5/5: Lining up the Major and Minor Prophets with Jesus’s “Gold Standard” Framework

Without a doubt, prophecies from the Lord come true even if recorded in the ancient past. This is awe-inspiring. The Word does not (and will not) fail. What a God we serve!

Over the course of hundreds of years, the Lord inspired prophets to write lively oracles where certain writings have a contemporary application (in and around the time of the prophet) but then arc forward to events that are still in the future as of 2019. The main event—the day of the Lord—is the ultimate destination. Grasping this scriptural trajectory that places the day of the Lord as the climactic finale to this present age is critical. But its anticipation is not constricted to the Old Testament. The New Testament alone contains well over 100 references to the day of the Lord. According to Scripture, it’s what everything is moving and building toward.

But wait a second, should we expect literal fulfillment of the day of the Lord? As far as prophecy has already been fulfilled, it has been a literal fulfillment—a virgin birth in Bethlehem; a suffering death as the Passover lamb; no broken bones; casting lots for the parted garment; and on and on. Furthermore, prophecies of exile and oppression for Israel have occurred literally. Based on this pattern (notwithstanding the frequent use of poetic and apocalyptic language by the prophets) are we wise to not take God’s future promises and declarations at face value!?

Let’s be clear, even with explicit chapters such as Isaiah 53, no one was prepared for the unexpected hidden mystery of Christ’s death at His first coming. Though told by Jesus several times in advance, the disciples didn’t grasp it either!

But with the second coming of Jesus, much of the script is laid out and Jesus teaches us to watch and be prepared. Of course there are mysteries and unknowns, but at some point the stage will be set, and in His time, God will orchestrate and bring this age to its grand finale according to the prophets (Revelation 10:7). Rest assured, God isn’t going to send us a new script, and He doesn’t tell us to scrap the canonized prophetic oracles because they no longer bear truth or have become outdated. Like the first century church, we in the 21st century need to affirm the relevancy of the prophetic testimonies as indispensable to both our current and future hope (Acts 3:21; 10:42–43; 13:34; 24:14–15; 26:6–7; 28:23; Romans 15:8)!

Life in Christ is incredibly gratifying and fulfilling. Yet, in our corruptible bodies we groan for redemption right along with the whole creation (Romans 8:17, 22–23). We are to fix our hope on the grace, glory, hope, and salvation to come at the revelation of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:4; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; I Peter 1:10–11, 13; 4:13; 5:4; 2 Peter 3:13)!

The One True God at the 7th Thunder, 7th Trumpet, and 7th Bowl—
Since it’s been a long time between postings, I urge you to go back and re-read the series, or at least the previous post. We explored the major attributes of the gathering and saw how this is the plan of God. The purpose has been declared. The place has been chosen. The end result of the gathering is the ultimate crushing of the Evil One and the absolute exaltation of God as the one true God (Isaiah 45:5–6, 18, 22; Ezekiel 36:23, 38:16, 23; 39:7)! This is quite dramatic when considering today’s climate and culture, and history in general. Today we see “many gods” being worshipped and given priority and status above the God of the Bible. But the Lord Jesus will put asunder all the “gods of the earth” (Zephaniah 2:11) and the “power of the air” (Isaiah 24:21, 34:4). The fall of the false gods via the power and glory of Jesus will impel a universal acknowledgment of the one true God! The heathen will “know God” when He appears in glorious, unmistaken power. Ezekiel eloquently writes this when stating one of the primary purposes for the end-time evil gathering.

And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes. (Ezekiel 38:16 emphasis mine)

What an incredible declaration. This verse should greatly inform and shape our understanding about the tight link between the great end-time gathering and the day of the Lord. Indeed, the hammer of judgment will powerfully fall upon the ungodly and in some amazing fashion the glory of the Lord will strike the attention of all the world and every creature, every knee, and every tongue will respond that Jesus is Lord to the glory of the father (Isaiah 45:22–25; Philippians 2:10–­11; Revelation 5:13). His power and glory will not leave any doubt (Isaiah 40:5; Ezekiel 38:20, 23; Zechariah 2:13; I Peter 4:13). All little “g” gods will be destroyed (Zephaniah 2:11) and there will become only one King and one LordJesus Christ (Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15)! The name above all names who will bear rule over all the earth after a climactic finale to this present evil age! The return of Jesus will make certain scriptures untrue and impotent—namely the “god” of 2 Corinthians 4:4, the “prince” of Ephesians 2:2, and the “present evil age” of Galatians 1:4!

A wondrous reversal it will be. At this point, Satan’s time is over (Revelation 10:6–7, 11:15–18; 16:17)! In unison we can declare, “he is finished!” As the 7th angel begins to sound, the day of the Lord will occur just as God declared to the prophets (Revelation 10:7). What a rich inheritance is coming (Ephesians 1:18, Matthew 19:29, 25:34)!

The Great End-Time Gathering in Revelation 16—
Now, let’s move back in time to the gathering that precedes the exaltation of Jesus Christ as the one King and one Lord. The pouring out of the sixth vial’s contents causes an incredible event. A world-wide provocation will ensue. This provocation is namely to those who worship the beast and his image and receive his mark. I say this because of Revelation 14:9–10. It appears that everyone who fits the qualification of Revelation 14:9 will suffer the consequence of Revelation 14:10 on the day of the Lord (i.e. fire and brimstone associated with the presence of the Lamb). This is sobering. Blind to the consequences, hordes of people will be enticed and deceived to worship the beast and receive his mark through the powers and wonders displayed by the first and second beast (Revelation 13:11–18). Pure deception. What a strong need to walk in the Spirit, to pray for grace and wisdom, and to say “No” to every temptation and every enticing thing that is instigated by the Evil One whether today, or in context of his persecution against the saints (Revelation 13:3–4, 7–8, 11–14). Jesus says endure to the end and continue preaching the good news of the kingdom until the end of the age when the harvest comes (Matthew 13:40–42; 24:13–14).

Now let’s read the text.

And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. (13) And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. (14) For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (15) Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (16) And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. (Revelation 16:12–16, emphasis mine)

How does the above passage—describing a unique, unprecedented, divinely-allowed, pre-day of the Lord, worldwide-in-scope gathering—fit the defining characteristics of the great end-time gathering that we discussed in the last post? I believe that all of the boxes can be checked and that we find a direct correlation.

To gather the heathen into one place like sheaves for the threshing floor (Micah 4:11–13); to gather the “kings of the earth” as prisoners to cast them into the pit (Isaiah 24:21–22); and to gather ripe clusters of grapes from all over the earth for crushing in the winepress of the wrath of God (Revelation 14:18–19, Joel 3:13).  
To gather the heathen toward Jerusalem, and specifically toward Mount Zion (i.e. the Holy Hill of God / mount of assembly / location of temple—see endnote of the last post for more information).  
A unique and intense supernatural force as caused/allowed by the Lord will sweep across the world and stimulate those who are aligned with the beast kingdom to head toward, surround, and invade Jerusalem.  
The scope of the gathering is worldwide.  
The gathering is met directly by the presence of the Lord (i.e. God interposes into the gathering and renders it impotent)

The provocation that begins at the sixth bowl leads to a world-wide gathering that is unto the “great day of God Almighty.” Each of the defining characteristics identified from Old Testament passages reviewed in post 3/5 are evident in Revelation 16.

Here is my primary question: Isn’t the 6th bowl of Revelation 16:14 describing the same climactic end-time gathering commonly pronounced by the Old Testament prophets (Ezekiel 38:17)?

Rev 16 Gathering in OT

We’ll review this in Post 5/5 of this series, but to summarize, multiple Old Testament prophecies describe a climactic gathering to the land of Israel in the latter days, which is then met directly by fury and wrath from the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ on the day of the Lord. Among other commonalities, these multiple accounts witness to: 1) the huge gathering wreaking great havoc and causing much travail and suffering in the land; 2) a great shaking of dramatic proportions along with the darkening of the skies; and 3) salvation in the land and a universal acknowledgment of one King and one Lord. The narrative in these passages is relatively straight-forward. This climactic event of evil gathering toward Jerusalem in the latter days sure seems like the same event as prophesied in Revelation 16:14.

Below is a decision-chart for Revelation 16:14. As I worked through this, three options came to mind. As you’ll see, both option A and Option B seem to end with insurmountable weakness. I am unable to find a trustworthy biblical response that addresses the noted weaknesses.

[I admit, my framework of understanding is not tied to a 3.5-year period of tribulation at the end of the age followed by 3.5 years of great tribulation for a total tribulation period of 7 years. While it is reasonable, and I respect the long-held 7-year end time framework, I’m not comfortable with it. Rather, I support a 3.5-year tribulation period capped off toward the very end of the age with several days of great tribulation. This is the framework presented in my book. I continue to peer into Scripture and so far I am comfortable that the proposed 3.5-year framework conforms with the biblical narrative.]

Rev 16 Decision Chart

I’ll leave you to ponder on this. And next time, In the final post of this series, we’ll evaluate these things in light of Jesus’s Olivet Discourse.

Blessings,
Brandon

Part 3/5: The Great End-Time Gathering (part 1)

Post Series: Jesus’s Olivet Discourse Framework
1/5: Laying out Jesus’s Olivet Discourse Framework – posted 1/12/2018
2/5: The Critical Role of the Old Testament – posted 2/10/2018
3/5: The Great End-Time Gathering (part 1 of 2) – posted 6/4/2018
4/5: The Great End-Time Gathering (part 2 of 2)
5/5: Lining up the Major and Minor Prophets with Jesus’s “Gold Standard” Framework

The Great End-Time Gathering
Apart from the actual return of Jesus Christ, the great end-time gathering could be considered one of the most monumental events in all of history. In context of the day of the Lord being “nigh at hand” (Joel 2:1), the prophet Joel says a time is coming unlike anything that has ever occurred in the history of mankind, or that will ever occur (Joel 2:2). I find this type of pronouncement remarkable. Likely, this unique characterization of the event’s status is due to its size and scope. Evil will gather toward Jerusalem from the ends of the earth (Zechariah 12:3). This horde of evil will be greater than any gathering. . . ever! Quite amazing and sobering.

The Great Climax
But now take a step back. What is the most powerful, significant, and single-greatest event to come? The Lord returning in power and glory! On the day of the Lord, the fire of the LORD’s wrath will suddenly come upon the evil, the pride of man will be thrust asunder, the splendor and greatness of the LORD will be vibrantly displayed, and the Lord will make Himself known in the eyes of the nations. Scripture describes the day of the Lord as great and notable—exceedingly magnificent, strong, and memorable.

So what do we have here? The climax of this age! A great gathering of evil, unlike any in the history of the world, that will be met by the greatest response of power. . . ever! Yet again, incredibly amazing and sobering to ponder.

Anti-Christian behavior, deception, betrayal, apostasy, persecution of the saints, iniquity, and general ungodliness will abound and grow in intensity. Prophetic events will occur as stated by Jesus (Olivet Discourse) and as seen by John (Book of Revelation). Ultimately, the bitter rage of evil will peak with this gathering toward Jerusalem, along with a great travail and time of distress for Jacob/Israel. Then “when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19–20) and this grand finale of evil will experience defeat at the battle we know as Armageddon.

Seeing the Big Picture
How is it possible that Satan could bring about a massive gathering at the end of this age? Why are we headed toward such a peak of evil rage against the plans of God? Didn’t Satan experience his defeat when Jesus died on the cross? I admit, it is easy to envision a brutal footprint on the back of Satan’s neck as C.S. Lewis once wrote.

On the back of Satan’s neck is a nail scarred footprint. ― C.S. Lewis

It seems popular to hear that “Satan’s head was crushed” long ago at the cross—a complete fulfillment of Genesis 3:15. In part there is truth to this statement because Jesus indeed wields power and offers us an escape from Satan’s pursuits and ultimately from the curse of death. Christ’s sin-bearing sacrifice is available for mankind to receive the forgiveness of sins and the enemy can be conquered with the Holy Spirit, strength, grace, and wisdom from God. However, the statement isn’t totally accurate. We cannot obfuscate the distinct purposes of the first coming and second coming, and in turn miss the big picture.

Jesus is fully qualified and worthy to one day rule the world as King. But the time when Jesus is firmly seated on the throne of David (Luke 1:32) is not here yet. Today Jesus is at the right hand of Almighty God. . . waiting to return at the appointed time set by the Father (Acts 17:31). One day the time for judgment and restoration will come to pass according to the testimony of the prophets (Acts 3:21; Matthew 19:28). At that time, in the “day of His power”, Jesus will “strike through kings in the day of His wrath” and “judge among the heathen” (Psalm 110). Then, Jesus will reign gloriously over the kingdom of God from Zion (Luke 21:31; Acts 1:6; 2 Peter 1:11; 2 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 11:15; Psalm 2:6; 72:8; Isaiah 2:2–3; 66:19).

Meanwhile, we are called to pick up our cross every day for the battle at hand. Who and what are we fighting? Satan, of course, in an ultimate sense. He, we must say candidly, is the current “ruler” of this world.

Why is there so much evil today? And why will evil continue to rage until defeated by Jesus at the battle of Armageddon? It is critical that we understand the following basic scriptural truths.

  • Satan is the present-day “god of this [age] world” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
  • Satan is the “prince and power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2)
  • As a result of this, we live in “a present evil [age] world” (Galatians 1:4)

The blessed hope for which we yearn (Titus 2:13) is that one day the Son of man will come to crush Satan, defeat the ungodly, restore all things, and establish His kingdom in power and glory. The Apostle Paul clearly states that the crushing of Satan had yet to occur in his day.

And the God of peace shall bruise [crush] Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Romans 16:20)

Never lose sight of the living power of Jesus, but please don’t underestimate and under-appreciate Satan’s position and power today, both in the air and on earth. Our acknowledgment of Satan’s present reign as “god of this world” is biblical. It forces the humble Christian into a greater dependence in the grace and power of Almighty God. Further, it builds our hope in the day of the Lord and the glory and salvation to come! The first coming of Jesus brought a sin-bearing offering through love, suffering, and death. The second coming will not find Jesus bringing an offering to deal with sin, but rather He will come to save those who are ready, prepared, and waiting for Him in eager anticipation (Hebrews 9:28)!

Our acknowledgment of Satan’s present reign as “god of this world” is biblical. It forces the humble Christian into a greater dependence in the grace and power of Almighty God. Further, it builds our hope in the day of the Lord and the glory and salvation to come!

Now that I have that off my chest, let’s return to our subject!

Understanding the End-Time Gathering
Seeing the “day of the Lord” profusely mentioned throughout Scripture is no surprise to any bible student in tune with the forthcoming return of Jesus. Although much less frequent, I believe we can find similar repetition pertaining to the evil end-time gathering. Being such an epic event in all of history, it is reasonable to expect the prophets to clearly speak about this gathering of a vast and strong people against Jerusalem. This is confirmed by Scripture because the great end-time gathering led by Antichrist is an oft-repeated refrain of the prophets (Ezekiel 38:17). With that said, let’s review its meaningful characteristics.

The Purpose:
It will happen for reasons much deeper and broader than my mind can process. Some of the purpose is severe discipline and chastisement to soften the hearts of the house of Israel for the moment they behold the Redeemer with their eyes. Some of the purpose is to gather the tares of the earth for burning and the grapes for crushing. Some of the purpose is for the divine holiness of the great “I AM”. God knows the end from the beginning and the monumental gathering unto the day of the Lord and the end of this age will come to pass accordingly. I summarize the purpose as follows:

  • To bring chastisement and discipline upon the house of Israel which then leads to them knowing the LORD their God from that day and forward (Isaiah 59:21, 62:12; Jeremiah 23:6, 30:7–9, 31:33, 32:39-40; Ezekiel 36:27; 39:7, 22, 25–29; Zechariah 9:16, 12:10, 13:8–9; Joel 3:16; Romans 11:26).
  • To gather the heathen together into one place, like sheaves are gathered for the threshing floor (Micah 4:11–13); to gather the “kings of the earth” together as prisoners so they can easily be cast into the pit (Isaiah 24:21–22); and to gather together the ripe clusters of grapes from all over the earth so they can be crushed in the great winepress of the wrath of God (Revelation 14:18–19; Joel 3:13).
  • So that the LORD may vindicate the holiness of His great name and make the nations know that “I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel” (Ezekiel 36:23; 38:16, 23; 39:7).

The Place:
In Micah 4:10–11, what is the focus when the nations are gathered? It is Zion in Jerusalem. And in Zechariah 14:1–3 what is the focus? The eyes of the gathering in the last days are upon Jerusalem.[1] Several other passages help bring the location of Armageddon into focus. In my opinion, it becomes quite clear after reviewing these passages that Jerusalem (and Mount Zion in particular) is in view at the end of this age where evil climaxes in a rage toward Mount Zion, only to be met on the day of the Lord by the mighty right arm of God, the Lord Jesus.

  • Isaiah 10:12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.
  • Isaiah 31:4–5 For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. (5) As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.
  • Jeremiah 4:6, 16–17 Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction. (16) Make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah. (17) As keepers of a field, are they against her round about; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the LORD.
  • Jeremiah 25:17–18 Then took I the cup at the LORD’S hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me: (18) To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day;
  • Zechariah 12:2–3 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. (3) And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.

The Provocation:
In the latter days (Ezekiel 38:16), a provocation, as caused/allowed by the Lord, will sweep across the world in a moment of time. All who have aligned with the beast kingdom will blindly heed the stimulating force and in a short period of time armies of people will head toward and eventually surround Jerusalem. I cannot imagine the intensity of the spiritual force that will create such unification of evil, all with a focused resolve toward the city of God (Jeremiah 33:16; Psalm 48:1–2). In my opinion, the following Scriptures indicate that the Lord is the One who ultimately stimulates the evil gathering: Isaiah 10:5–6; 42:13, 24; Jeremiah 4:6; 25:29, Ezekiel 38:4, 39:2; Joel 3:2, 11–12; Micah 4:11–12; Zephaniah 1:7, 3:8; and Zechariah 12:2, 14:2.

The Scope:
I started off this post by noting the historically unprecedented nature of the gathering. The worldwide scope is a staggering thought, but this fact is supported by Scripture. Each of the following scriptures lend support to the vastness of the gathering which develops from “all the ends of the earth”: Isaiah 10:14, 13:4–5, 14:9, 24:21–22, 34:1–2; Jeremiah 25:26, 29, 31–32; Micah 4:11; Zechariah 12:3, 14:2. This “all-nations” aspect or worldwide scope is very important to consider.

The Presence of the Lord:
I’m sure there are more, but from my count around twenty-one passages in the Old Testament directly refer or make inference to this end-time gathering of nations. What becomes evident is that the gathering occurs very quickly. It is like the sudden appearance of storm clouds (Jeremiah 4:13, Ezekiel 38:9, 16). And, the gathering is met directly by the presence of the Lord. For reference and study purposes, some of the more explicit examples are as follows:

  • The gathering in Isaiah 13:4–5 is met by the presence of the Lord in Isaiah 13:9–13.
  • The gathering in Jeremiah 4:6, 13, 17 is met by the presence of the Lord in Jeremiah 4:26.
  • The gathering in Ezekiel 38:4–11, 15–16 is met by the presence of the Lord in Ezekiel 38:18–23.
  • The gathering in Joel 2:1–2, 20 is met by the presence of the Lord in Joel 2:11, 20.
  • The gathering in Zephaniah 1:7, 3:8 is met by the presence of the Lord in Zephaniah 1:15–18, 2:4–15, 3:8.
  • The gathering in Zechariah 12:2–3, 14:2 is met by the presence of the Lord in Zechariah 12:4–9, 14:3–4, 12–15.
  • The gathering in Psalm 18:3–5 is met by the presence of the Lord in Psalm 18:7–18.
  • The gathering in Psalm 118:10–12 is met by the presence of the Lord in Psalm 118:13, 16, 26.

Let’s review a few of these end-time gathering passages.

Zephaniah 3:8
(8) Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

Gathering of the nations:
. . . for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms

Direct response of the LORD:
. . . to pour upon them [i.e. the gathered nations] mine indignation, even all my fierce anger

Zechariah 12:2–4, 8–9
(2) Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. (3) And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. (4) In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. . . (8) In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; . . . (9) And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

Gathering of the nations:
. . . all the people round about (v2)
. . . though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it (v3)
. . . all the nations that come against Jerusalem (v9)

Direct response of the LORD “in that day”:
. . . defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem (v8)
. . . seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem (v9)

In addition, Jerusalem will be like a “cup of trembling” to all the nations round about her. The picture is a large, shallow basin filled with intoxicating drink (i.e. cup of “reeling”) from which the nations are enticed to drink. Ultimately this is a word picture of judgment and correlates to the “wine of the wrath of God” and the “cup of indignation” poured out upon the followers of Antichrist (see Revelation 14:9–10). Finally, another method of judgment caused by the LORD is internal confusion, conflict, and madness. This theme, where the nations turn against one another is unsurprisingly found in other last days passages like Isaiah 10:26, Ezekiel 38:21, and Zechariah 14:13. In the chapter of my book on “The Egyptian Corollary of the End Times” I wrote about a similar parallel when the Lord “troubled” the host of Egyptians into a confused state just prior to the waters returning in strength and overthrowing all who were in the sea.

Zechariah 14:2–3
(2) For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. (3) Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

Gathering of the nations:
. . . I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle (v2)

Direct response of the LORD:
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations (v3)

The Abrupt Halt to the Travail
A tight chronological connection is evident between the gathering and the day of the Lord (i.e. the presence of the Lord). I see a direct response by the Lord to this gathering of evil. In other words, the gathering is “unto” the return of Christ.

Jews will be expelled, the city will be run over, and people will experience terror, anguish and death (Isaiah 13:7–8; Jeremiah 30:5–7; Zechariah 14:2). This is a picture of sudden destruction (I Thessalonians 5:3) that comes when Jerusalem is overrun by a massive force of evil. What if the force of the gathering is not stopped? What if Jesus doesn’t put an end to the rampage? What if Jesus doesn’t return to defend Zion and the remaining inhabitants?

We read in the Olivet Discourse that “except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved”. So what do we find prophesied in Zechariah 12:8? The LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem! The Lord will put a stop to the great travail caused by the gathered armies. Otherwise, no human being in and around Jerusalem would be saved from the destructive force of the gathered enemies of God!

Jesus uses the birth pain analogy in His discourse, and what we see that the “great tribulation” is the climax of pain and sorrow in the last days—a direct result of this evil gathering. Following the analogy, the coming of the Lord to defend Mt. Zion is equivalent to the delivering of the baby. After a peak period of excruciating agony and travail, pain subsides quickly and joy erupts!

Word Pictures—Bees, Grapes, Tares, Wheat, and Shining as the Sun
The Scripture describes relief coming from the Lord when the land of Israel is being flooded with the presence of the enemy (Isaiah 59:19–20). We must consider the vastness of the gathering. Many will be within the city of Jerusalem causing destruction while others are gathered outside the city and others still making their way toward Jerusalem. The enemies of God will be “within and without” the city at this time.

Like swarming bees
According to Psalm 118:10–12, hordes of people will still be surrounding Jerusalem “like bees” when the fire of the Lord falls upon them.

All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them. (11) They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. (12) They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. (Psalm 118:10–12)

Like grapes assembled into the press
The gathering is for the purpose of bringing together the ripe clusters of grapes from all over the earth so they can be crushed in the great winepress of the wrath of God (Revelation 14:18–19).

The bundling of tares
Jesus taught a parable about this in Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43. The context is the harvest at the end of this age. Both the wheat and tares grow together until the end! Verse 30 says that when the time for harvest has come, the first thing that occurs is the gathering and bundling of the tares (i.e. Antichrist and his followers gather around Jerusalem).

The wheat is put in the barn
Next, Jesus comes with the angels, and the faithful dead in Christ are resurrected and the faithful living in Christ are raptured. This is the harvest of the righteous (Revelation 14:14–16). From Luke 17 we understand that this will occur much like Noah and his family escaping the flood in the ark or Lot fleeing Sodom prior to its destruction by fire and brimstone.

Burning of the tares
Third, the Lord dispenses His wrath and judgment against the ungodly. This is the harvest of the wicked (Revelation 14:18–20). The tares are “bundled” through the provocation to head toward one single geographic location on the earth, the city of Jerusalem. The gathered tares are then burned in the fire (Psalm 68:2, 97:3; Isaiah 9:19, 10:17, 24:6, 30:30, 31:9, 34:9, 64:2, 66:15; Ezekiel 38:22, 39:6; Nahum 1:5; Habakkuk 3:5; Zephaniah 1:18; Zechariah 12:6; Malachi 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Revelation 14:10).

Shining as the sun
The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9–10; Galatians 5:21). However, once the tares are burned and the battle of Armageddon is over, the righteous (the resurrected and raptured, along with redeemed remnant of Israel) will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of God! The restoration of the earth begins as does Jesus’s glorious reign from Zion!

A Wrap-up
We have reviewed the purpose for, the place of, and the provocation that spurs the gathering from all the ends of the earth. This leads to the climax of labor pains—a very great travail—which is then halted by none other than the Lord Himself at the end-of-the-age harvest of the righteous and wicked. We’ll continue to explore this remarkable subject next time.

 

 

[1] These passages all reference Zion and/or Jerusalem as the place of the gathering for the great battle between evil and the LORD (Isaiah 10:12, 31:4–5; Jeremiah 4:6, 16–17; 25:17–18; Micah 4:10–11; Zechariah 12:2–3, 14:1–3). Due to the Lord’s personal participation in the battle, we know this great, final battle is Armageddon. Where is Armageddon? Armageddon is har megiddô, or “mountain of Megiddo”. Megiddo is a city located within the valley of Jezreel, nearly 70 miles north of Jerusalem. While Megiddo was the site of several historical battles because of its strategic location, how is it possible for the battle of Armageddon to occur at Megiddo when there is no mountain at Megiddo? This is confusing, and something seems amiss. The most reasonable explanation of Armageddon that I have come across is that the Hebrew phrase underlying the Greek is not har megiddô (“the mountain of Megiddo”) but har moed (“the mountain of assembly”). Thus, “Armageddon” would mean “Mountain of Assembly,” which is a reference to the assembly at Mount Sinai, and to its replacement, Mount Zion. The issue stems from translating Hebrew to Greek where it is common for the letter gamma to represent the Hebrew letter ayin. This is taught effectively by Michael S. Heiser, and according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armageddon, other scholars also argue that the word is derived from the Hebrew moed (מועד‎), meaning “assembly”.

I could be wrong, but the “mountain of Megiddo” doesn’t make sense based on reality (there is no mountain at Megiddo) and based on scripture to scripture comparison. Scripture works together and surveying a host of relevant passages is the best way to make a conclusion about the location. The verses cited above all point to Jerusalem as the focus of the great gathering at the end of the age, and more specifically Mount Zion. This is congruent with the big picture of God’s plans. God has a Holy Hill in Zion destined for glory and Satan wants to annul the plan of God. Further, this “mount of the assembly” is referenced in Isaiah 14:13. Satan wants to “be like the most High” and as part of that desire the Scripture states that he also aims to “sit upon the mount of the congregation [assembly—Strong’s H4150]”. But, will Jesus Christ or the Evil One rule from Zion in glory and righteousness? Praise God we know the answer.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. (3) And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2–3)

Part 2/5: The Critical Role of the Old Testament

In the last post we laid out the framework that Jesus gave us from the Olivet Road Map of the End Times in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. It is my opinion that Christ’s straightforward chronology of events should be our “gold standard” framework. In this post, I intended to immediately launch out and start comparing prophecies from the Old Testament with this New Testament framework. However, I feel that it is best to lay some groundwork first. Below is a tentative outline for this series of posts.

Post Series: Jesus’s Olivet Discourse Framework
Part 1: Laying out Jesus’s Olivet Discourse Framework
Part 2: The Critical Role of the Old Testament
Part 3: The Great End-Time Gathering (part 1 of 2)
Part 4: The Great End-Time Gathering (part 2 of 2)
Part 5: Lining up the Major and Minor Prophets with Jesus’s “Gold Standard” Framework

The Critical Role of the Old Testament
When Jesus was walking to Emmaus, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). At Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul “reasoned with them out of the scriptures” that it was necessary for Christ to first suffer, die and then rise from the dead (Acts 17:2–3). Jesus and Paul taught about the first coming from the Tanakh (the Law, Prophets, and Writings)—what we today call our Old Testament.

Teaching from the Old Testament held great value and importance despite the first coming of Christ, as a suffering Savior, being a hidden mystery and not clearly visible except through hindsight (I Corinthians 2:7–8, Romans 16:25–26). The disciples couldn’t even grasp it though Jesus told them in advance. And when Mary Magdalene told the still sorrowing disciples that Jesus was risen, they didn’t believe it (Mark 16:10–11, Luke 24:9–11). God’s plan for the death and resurrection of Christ was so subtle in the Old Testament (i.e. hidden wisdom, a mystery) in order that Satan would be duped and God’s marvelous plan through Christ’s death and resurrection could begin.

1 Cor 2:7-8 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: (8) Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

On the other hand, the second coming is not subtle in the Old Testament. So with the more apparent and obvious prophesies of the day of the Lord in the Old Testament, how much greater value does Jesus and Paul’s teaching method engender as it pertains to the second coming of Jesus?

The Mississippi River Analogy—If you have ever studied the testimony of the major and minor prophets you undoubtedly grasped how repetitively and consistently the prophecies arced toward the time of the end and the day of the Lord (i.e. the second coming). While there are many prophecies with a near-term or contemporary fulfillment, the ultimate trajectory of the Bible’s prophetic accounts takes us all the way to the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord is a central and unifying theme throughout Scripture. Therefore, the “testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).

To understand this pictorially, I like to use an analogy with the Mississippi River. The headwaters originate in northern Minnesota at Lake Itasca, a name coined from a combination of two Latin words: veritas (“truth”) and caput (“head”). While the waters of the Mississippi sometimes flow east, west, or north, their general direction is from north to south. The flowing water that begins at Lake Itasca is fed and supported by numerous water-carrying tributaries all along the way until reaching their destination in the Gulf of Mexico.

Consider the inspiration of the Spirit of God as the headwaters, the tributaries that support and feed into the Mississippi as the prophets, and the consolidated words of prophecy as the Mississippi River itself. The ultimate trajectory of these inspired “waters” is toward a common destination: the first and second comings of Jesus Christ.

We can take this a step further to depict the importance and relevance of prophecy, which some say is nearly 30 percent of Scripture. If we equated the United States of America to the Holy Bible itself and the placement of the Mississippi and its tributaries to prophecy, what would we find lies at the heart of Scripture? Prophecy. And what is the heart of the message of prophecy? Jesus Christ.

From this simple illustration, can you see the valuable nature of prophecy? The prophetic message of Jesus Christ is the heartbeat of Scripture.

First things first—Our approach is backwards If we start studying eschatology by reading the book of Revelation. It’s wonderful to read, and one should do so multiple times. But prior to developing strong positions, we first need to understand the major themes, covenants, prophecies, and general story of the Old Testament. We need to feel out the basic tenor of the testimony of the prophets which is the very foundation of our eschatological house. The Old Testament—as a lens through which we look when viewing prophetic texts from the New Testament—undergirds and supports the New Testament. As Jesus and Paul, we must rely on Old Testament scriptures to shape, mold, and influence our understanding of the second coming of Christ.

Restoration of all things—The day of the Lord will rid the heavens and the earth of evilness and ungodliness and restore creation to its original glory. This is a future reality that provides a real and legitimate anchor of hope. The power of the air will be dissolved, sin will be judged, the curse upon the earth will be removed, paradise and the tree of life will be restored, and Satan will be bound. We look forward with eagerness to this “new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). Both Acts 3:19-21 and Matthew 19:28 reaffirm the revealed plan of God from the Old Testament of an earthly restoration.

The driving force of the covenants—The Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New covenants undergird the prophets and the entire story of the bible. The day of the Lord will usher in the kingdom of God. By its very nature a kingdom isn’t complete with land only; it must have laws and a king or it is no kingdom at all. The Lord said that He would establish an everlasting kingdom and throne through the seed of David. Ultimately this points to Jesus Christ sitting on the throne and ruling the everlasting kingdom (Luke 1:32–33; Matthew 2:2; Jeremiah 30:9, 33:14–17; Ezekiel 34:23–31; Hosea 3:5).

  • LAND: Abrahamic Covenant (promised inheritance of land – Genesis 15:8)
  • LAW: Mosaic Covenant (fulfilled by Christ – Romans 10:4, called to fulfill in Christ – Romans 8:4)
  • KING: Davidic Covenant (the throne of David – 2 Samuel 7:10-16; 1 Chronicles 17:11-15)
  • OBEY: New Covenant for Israel (Holy Spirit, new heart, and salvation – Jeremiah 31:31-34)

We need to deal with the reality that God has a plan for Israel as well as the nations. What God has said, He will bring to pass. His veracity is at stake.

The kingdom of God—Jesus will have reign and dominion over all the earth during a millennial (that is, a thousand-year) kingdom (Daniel 7:13–14, 26–27; Revelation 11:15; Zechariah 14:9; Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 60:19–21; Isaiah 66:22–23; Psalm 72:8; Revelation 20:4). Jesus will be king, and out of the LORD’S house and out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2–3).

Redeemed Israel is the primary focus during the millennium, but what about the saints who are resurrected and raptured on the day of the Lord? During the millennium, the resurrected and raptured will have immortal, glorified bodies like the angels (Luke 20:35–36). The resurrected and raptured will live and reign with Christ for a thousand years as priests of God and of Christ (Revelation 3:21; 20:4, 6). In His kingdom we will in some manner function as intercessors, ambassadors, and stewards on behalf of His royal and righteous rule. Simply amazing.

In summary—Just as the Lord Jesus is the focus of the first coming, the Lord Jesus is equally the focus of the second coming. Jesus will serve as king (Luke 1:30-33, Zechariah 9:9-10) ruling righteously (Isaiah 2:2-4, Isaiah 9:7, Isaiah 11:1-10, Habakkuk 2:14) from Jerusalem (Matthew 5:35, Isaiah 24:21-23; Isaiah 62:7, Ezekiel 37:21-28) on a glorious throne (Matthew 19:28, Psalm 132:11-17). The spirit of prophecy is Jesus Christ. This is clearly and plainly evident throughout the Old Testament!

God bless.
-Brandon

 

Part 1/5: Jesus’s Olivet Discourse Framework

Whose framework should we use as the “gold standard” for the end times?

Jesus, in His sermon on the end times recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, provided extensive details about events leading to the time of the end. In this sermon Jesus describes what is going to happen at the end of this age (Matthew 24:3). Jesus gave us a road map for the end times. The destination? The day of the Lord.

Essentially, the day of the Lord will be the fulcrum point where this current age transitions to the age to come. I love to ponder this. Here we will see the ultimate fulfillment of prophecy when the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and the god of this [age] world (2 Corinthians 4:4) receives an overwhelming blow to the head (Genesis 3:15). While we live in a world today that is evil (Galatians 1:4), the day is coming when Jesus will come again to restore all things (Acts 3:19–21; Matthew 19:28) and establish the kingdom of God (Luke 21:31) when He has reign and dominion over all the earth during a millennial kingdom (Daniel 7:13–14; Revelation 11:15; Zechariah 14:9; Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 60:19–21; Isaiah 66:22–23; Psalm 72:8; Revelation 20:4). This is beautiful and inspiring. It will be so wonderfully glorious that “the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17). Jesus will be king, and out of the LORD’s house and out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2–3).

Jesus Christ brought so much to mankind at His first coming, but so much is yet to come! Jesus is truly the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10).

Jesus Christ is not only the essence of prophecy, He is to be considered the greatest of all the prophets! Jesus prophesied of many things that were literally fulfilled during his lifetime. Here are just a few examples: Matthew 16:21; Matthew 26:2, 21, 34; John 2:18–22; John 14:26. Also, Jesus was declared a prophet multiple times in the New Testament (Luke 7:16; 24:19; John 6:14; 9:17; Acts 3:22; Hebrews 1:1–2). So not only was Jesus a prophet, He fulfilled prophecy at His first coming and He will fulfill prophecy yet future at His second coming.

Considering that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, considering Jesus’s prophetic record, and considering that three of the gospels record Jesus’s extensive prophetic sermon on the end times, I believe without reservation that we should use Jesus Christ’s straightforward end-times framework from the Olivet Discourse as our “gold standard”.

What I mean is that we should use this simple framework as a “measuring rod” to not only keep our bearings when studying prophetic scriptures, but to evaluate our own personal interpretation of prophetic scriptures.

The blue boxes contain a high-level summary of the events foretold by Jesus along with a handful of additional New Testament passages. This end-time chronology as summarized below is vitally important.

Olivet Discourse Framework for the End Times

I encourage you to take time and familiarize yourself with these important scriptures. If we don’t, how can we effectively obey Jesus’s command to be awake, to be watchful, to be prayerful, and to be ready for the coming of the Son of man? See Matthew 24:42–44; Mark 13:34–36; Luke 21:36.

In the next blog post, we will compare Jesus’s Olivet Discourse “framework for the end times” with the testimony of the prophets from the Old Testament. I think that you will be favorably impressed with how their testimony consistently aligns with Jesus’s “gold standard” framework.

Blessings,
Brandon

Daniel’s Prophecy of Seventy Weeks

The 70th Week Tenet that most students of biblical prophecy adhere to goes something like this…

“There is a future seven-year period, and at the midpoint the Antichrist will be revealed and commit the abomination of desolation, initiating his great tribulation against Israel and the Church.”

Note: Generally speaking, pre-trib adherents do not expect the Church to endure tribulation from the Antichrist and his followers, nor does the mid-trib camp expect the Church to be on earth during the great tribulation.

Regardless of how the resurrection and rapture is viewed within the context of the future tribulation period (i.e. pre-trib, mid-trib, prewrath, or post-trib), there is a consistent expectation for a future seventieth week, and thus a future “seven-year” tribulation period. It is generally accepted that Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy should be interpreted as weeks of years instead of weeks of days. This is what drives the presupposition for a future seven-year tribulation.

Without a doubt, I concur that Scripture teaches a future tribulation period, but is it seven years?

This broadly-accepted interpretation seems matter-of-fact and non-debatable. After careful study, I am confident that it is time to reevaluate this interpretation. The framework of our end-times understanding has major implications. In my book The Day of the Lord and the Coming Kingdom: A New and Biblical Framework for the End Times, I spend twenty-five pages on this important topic. Then, the entirety of my book presents a comprehensive study of the prophetic Scriptures, and explains how majestically, and almost supernaturally, all of the end-times pertinent Scriptures fit together within a newly proposed framework.

I conclude that the currently accepted framework is shaky and unstable, and that it requires an enormous amount of faith in human assumptions. However, I don’t have all of the answers, and iron sharpens iron. I invite and encourage humble students of the Word of God to test and reexamine the framework of our eschatological understanding. The Lord wants us to get it right, especially if the time of His return is near. For the glory of God, it is vital to ensure that we are standing on a solid, biblical footing.

Continue reading “Daniel’s Prophecy of Seventy Weeks”