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

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