Let's go back to 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verses 1-6, which we discussed at the end of our study last week. I'll read the verses and make some comments and add to what I said last week. I'll read from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition, which I'll always use unless I mention otherwise. Frequently I'll make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ] or [[ ]].
"Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need for anything to be written to you. [That's because the apostle Paul had already taught them about these things.] (2) For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (3) While they are saying, 'Peace and Safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. (4) But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; (5) for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor or darkness; (6) so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober."
The day of the Lord, the day of judgment, will start when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth in the middle of the seven-year period known as Daniel's 70th week. As we discussed in some detail in the last article, verse 4 shows that the Lord is not coming for us as a thief in the night. However, many Christians believe He is coming as a thief in the night for us too. He is coming as a thief in the night only for those who are living in sin, without repentance. He is not coming as a thief in the night for those who are ready for His coming. How do we get ready for His coming? By believing the truth of the gospel and living the truth of the gospel, through the powerful saving grace of God in Christ.
I'm going to turn to Jeremiah 6:14 and 8:11. These verses will help us understand 1 Thess. 5:3. (Ezekiel 13:10 is a similar verse, but we won't look at that verse here.) I'll read Jer. 6:14, "They have healed the brokenness of my people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace." The backsliden prophets and priests in Jeremiah's day were telling the backsliden people of Judah what they wanted to hear, "Peace, peace," all is well, which contradicted what Jeremiah, who was a true prophet, was telling the people. Jeremiah was telling the people that they must repent, and that if they did not repent intense judgment would fall on them. But the backsliden people of Judah were clinging to false words like "Peace and safety!" instead of repenting, and some were plotting to kill Jeremiah. They didn't need to worry (they thought) because God will never let a bunch of pagan Babylonians come and destroy Jerusalem or His temple. The people of Judah didn't repent, and many of them were carried into captivity, and in 587/586 BC the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.
Now I'll read Jer. 8:11, "They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace." There can't be peace when God's people continue to live in sin. I'll read 1 Thess. 5:3 again: "While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' destruction will come upon them suddenly [that is, God's destructive judgments will come upon them like a thief in the night], like birth pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape." They will not escape, but we will escape. We will be glorified and raptured to meet the Lord in the air at the time He returns; we will escape all the wrath being poured out throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week, and (much more importantly) we will escape the wrath of the second death, which is the eternal lake of fire.
Now we will look at two important cross-references that deal with our escaping the wrath to come. First we'll look at Luke 21:34-36. Jesus said, "Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day [He is speaking of the day of judgment that will begin when He returns to the earth.] will not come upon you suddenly [or, unexpectedly] like a trap." The NIV translates "unexpectedly" instead of "suddenly." For that day to come upon people suddenly (or unexpectedly) like a trap is the same thing as the day coming upon them like a thief in the night. But, as we have discussed in some detail, He is not coming after those who are living for Him and ready for His coming like a thief in the night. He has commanded us to get ready for His coming and to always stay ready for His coming. We are in a dangerous place if we are not always ready for His coming. We have been warned.
The Lord has commanded all Christians to always be ready for His coming; we certainly cannot wait for end-time signs to get ready for His coming. But He has taught us of several things that will come to pass before He returns. We learn in Matthew chapter 24 and in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, for example, that Antichrist's abomination of desolation will take place before the Lord Jesus returns to the earth with the clouds of heaven. And we learn from the book of Revelation that the first six trumpets will all sound before the Lord returns (in the middle of Daniel's 70th week) at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet of the book of Revelation. Also, we learn from Revelation chapter 11 of the three and one-half year ministry of the two witnesses (also called prophets) that will take place throughout the first half of Daniel's 70th week, in the days preceding His coming.
The Lord Jesus is not coming for us like thief in the night, and end-times signs will precede His coming. But again, we cannot wait for end-time signs to get ready for His return. In Matthew chapter 24, for example, the Lord Jesus exhorted every Christian of every generation of the need to always be ready for His return. For one thing, if we are living in sin, He may come for us in judgment like a thief in the night at any time (see Rev. 3:3, for example).
I'll read Luke 21:34 again; then we'll go on to verses 35, 36, "Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come upon you suddenly [or unexpectedly] like a trap; (35) for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. (36) But keep on the alert at all times [always staying ready for His coming], praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place [or, things that are going to take place, and the NIV translates "that you may be able to escape," instead of "that you may have strength to escape," Those who are ready for His coming will escape all these things that are going take place. For one thing, we will be raptured from the earth to meet the Lord in the air at the time of His return.] (36) But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may be able to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
The "Son of Man" is the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of being blown away by judgment when He comes, we will be glorified and stand before Him; we will even begin to reign with Him in a never-ending reign. Keep on the alert at all times, praying (looking to God in prayer and living for Him by His sufficient grace) that you may be able to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. We will escape, but as 1 Thess. 5:3 says, "they will not escape." I'll read 1 Thess. 5:3 again, "While they are saying 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape." And I'll read Luke 21:36 again, "But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may be able to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." They will not escape. He is coming after them like a thief in the night. We will escape. He is coming for us who are living for Him and looking for His return to bless us and to glorify us.
Now let's look at another very important verse that deals with our avoiding (with out being kept out of) the wrath to come, Rev.3:10. This verse confirms that we (faithful believers) won't be living on the earth when God pours out His end-time judgments on the world. The words of this verse were addressed to the faithful Christians of the city of Philadelphia in Asia Minor, modern Turkey, about AD 95, but the words apply to all faithful Christians of all generations, and they have the greatest application for the true Christians who will be living on the earth when the Lord returns. I believe the Lord is coming very soon and that we are that last generation. However, even if we are not the last generation, we must make it top priority to live in the light of His coming and to always be faithful to Him by His sufficient grace and thereby always be fully ready for His coming.
I'll start to read Rev. 3:10, "Because you have kept the word of My perseverance [In other words, they were staying faithful to the Lord Jesus and keeping His Word, even when it required perseverance (in times of trials and testings). It was difficult, but they were staying faithful to His Word (by His grace); they were overcomers, which we must be according to the book of Revelation.], I also will keep you from [or, out of] the hour of testing, that hour which is about to [or, which is going to] come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."
He didn't say I will keep you through, or in, or during the hour of testing; He said I will keep you out of, or from, the hour of testing. (The Greek preposition translated "out of," or "from," is "ek".) We will be glorified and raptured just before this hour of testing takes place on the earth. This doesn't mean, of course, that the Christians living on the earth before this hour of special (very intense) testing takes place can avoid being tested. All Christians are tested during the time they live on the earth.
The Christians who will be living on the earth throughout the second half of the seven-year period will have to go through this time of special testing. Those Christians, which center in the repentant end-time remnant of Israel but which also undoubtedly includes many Gentiles, will not become Christians until after the mid-week rapture. They will be very thankful to be saved at the last minute (even after the Lord Jesus has returned and the day of judgment has begun), and they won't be complaining about the difficulty of living on the earth when Antichrist is having his super-evil three and one-half year reign throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week.
Daniel chapter 7 and Revelation chapter 13 both mention that Antichrist's super-evil reign will last for three and one-half years and that he will overpower the saints. I'll read Dan. 7:21 and 25, "I kept looking, and that horn [Antichrist] was waging war with the saints and overpowering them." And verse 25, "He [Antichrist] will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they [the saints] will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time." There is widespread agreement that 'a time, times, and half a time,' equals three and one-half years.
I'll read Rev. 13:2 (the last part of the verse) and then Rev. 13:5, 7. (We will look at these important verses in more detail later as we continue with these studies of the end times.) "And the dragon [the devil] gave him [Antichrist] his power and his throne and great authority." This transaction will take place right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, and at this time, Antichrist will begin his super-evil three and one-half year reign. Rev. 13:5, "There was given to him [Antichrist] a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him [that's three and one-half years]." And Rev. 13:7, "It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue was given to him." Ultimately that authority has to come from God. He uses Antichrist in His end-time judgment of the world.
Based on these verses in Daniel chapter 7 and in Revelation chapter 13, it is easy to see that the three and one-half years of the second half of Daniel's 70th week will be a time of severe testing for Christians. But it is also clear that Antichrist and his associates will also be against other peoples. As I mentioned, God is going to use Antichrist in His end-time judgment of the world. For one thing, we learn from Revelation chapter 17 that God will use Antichrist to destroy Babylon the great harlot, which is a major feature of His end-time judgment of the world. The book of Revelation devotes some three chapters to God's judgment of Babylon the great harlot.
Babylon is a symbol for the world, which includes all the things the devil uses to seduce men from worshiping God, very much including all false religion, including apostate Christianity. I'll read Rev. 17:16, 17, "And the ten horns which you saw [the ten horns are the ten kings of the revived Roman Empire, who reign with Antichrist throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week] and the beast [Antichrist], these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled." It is clear that God will use Antichrist and his associates to destroy Babylon the great harlot.
Jesus said, in Rev. 3:10, "I will keep you out of (or from) the hour of testing." Let's discuss the word "hour." It is clear that Jesus was not speaking of a literal (sixty minute) hour here. I believe this hour of testing speaks of the second half of Daniel's 70th week. It is interesting that the word hour is used several other places in the book of Revelation of the second half of that seven-year period. I'll give two examples, First I'll read Rev. 17:12, "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom [that is, in the days of the apostle John, these kings had not yet even been born, much less received a kingdom], but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. We'll discuss this verse in more detail later. I believe it is quite clear in this context that the ten kings will reign with Antichrist, who is called the beast here, throughout the three and one-half years that is the second half of Daniel's 70th week. And note that Rev. 17:12 says that they will reign with him FOR ONE HOUR.
I'll also read Rev. 14:6, 7, "And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give Him glory, because the HOUR of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.' " These verses confirm, for one thing, that the gospel will still be proclaimed after the mid-week rapture. I have to assume that at least most of the people who will repent and submit to the gospel after the rapture will be people that God didn't deal with (or at least He didn't deal with them much) before the rapture. If God is dealing with us now, we had better repent and submit to Him now (in faith). It is very dangerous to put off submitting to God and His gospel when He is dealing with us. But the primary reason we are looking at these verses here is because of the use of the word "hour." The book of Revelation shows that God's hour of judgment will continue throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week. Some other verses in the book of Revelation that apparently use the expression "hour" or "one hour" to refer to the second half of Daniel's 70th week are Rev. 14:15 and Rev. 18:10, 17, and 19.
Now back to Rev. 3:10, "Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you out of [or, from] the hour of testing, that hour which is about to [or, which is going to] come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth." People will be tested regarding who they will worship. God will be calling all people to repent and submit to Him and His Son, and at the same time, Antichrist, who will have great power at that time, will insist that all mankind worship him. It will be difficult to not worship Antichrist. As I mentioned, the devil will have given Antichrist his power, his throne and great authority (Rev. 13:2), and the New Testament shows that miracle-working power will attend his reign (2 Thess. 2:9-12; Rev. 13:13-15); furthermore the people who don't worship him and take his mark will not be able to buy or sell and large numbers will be killed (Rev. 13:15-17).
Ultimately, however, it will prove a lot more difficult for those who reject God and worship Antichrist. I'll read Rev. 14:9-12, "Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If anyone worships the beast [Antichrist] and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand [We learn of the image of the beast and the mark on the forehead or on the hand in Revelation chapter 13; that's where the number 666 comes in], If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on this forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.' Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus." As I mentioned, I believe these are the saints/Christians who will be converted after the mid-week rapture. This last sentence confirms that these will be very difficult days for the saints/Christians; it will require intense perseverance. The book of Revelation shows that many of these Christians will be martyred. As Rev. 3:10 (and other verses) shows, the Christians who are being faithful now will be kept out of (or, from) that hour of testing that will come to pass throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week.
Let's turn back to 1 Thess. 5:1-6, where we started. I'll read verses 2-4, "You yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. [Yes, it will come like a thief in the night for those living in sin and not ready for the day of judgment; but it will not come like a thief in the night for those living for God and looking forward to His return.] (3) While they are saying 'Peace and safety!' [instead of repenting and submitting to God and His gospel of salvation], then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape [but we will escape, starting with the rapture], (4) but you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief." Praise God for full salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let's get ready for His coming and stay ready for His coming with top priority, as is required of all Christians. This will work for the glory of God and for our great good, and there is no reasonable alternative.
Now we'll turn to Matthew chapter 24. This chapter is discussed to some extent in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," and there is a verse-by-verse study of Matthew chapters 24 and 25 on my internet site. I'll start with Matt. 24:15, "Therefore [Jesus said] when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place...." I agree with the widespread viewpoint that the "holy place" refers to the temple that will be rebuilt in Jerusalem. " What is the "abomination of desolation" that is spoken of several places in the Old Testament book of Daniel? Briefly, the abomination of desolation centers in the fact that Antichrist will go into the temple, stop the sacrifices, and want to be worshiped himself. This blasphemous, abominable act will lead to great desolation; it deserves the name, "abomination of desolation."
I'll comment briefly on the word "therefore" at the beginning of Matt. 24:15, "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation...." This word builds on the preceding verses and shows that the abomination of desolation will take us beyond "the beginning of birth pangs" that Jesus spoke of in verse 8. I'll read verse 8, "But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs." The change comes at the abomination of desolation. At that time things will really begin to shake.
When is the abomination of desolation? This is a very important question. Most end-time teachers say that the abomination of desolation will take place right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, that super-important seven-year period that we learn about from Dan. 9:27. We'll look at that verse in just a minute. Daniel 9:27 says that the abomination of desolation will take place in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, but it is important to see (I believe) that Dan. 9:27 is speaking of the approximate middle, not the precise middle of Daniel's 70th week. We'll discuss this important point in some detail. I believe the book of Daniel (and other considerations) shows that the abomination of desolation will take place about a month before the precise middle of Daniel's 70th week.
I'll read most of Matt. 24:15 one more time, then turn back to the book of Daniel, "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place...." Now turn if you can please to Dan. 9:27; this verse is extremely important to understand the end times. (Daniel chapter 8 is an important chapter on the abomination of desolation. That chapter is discussed in some detail in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.") I'll read Dan. 9:27, and make several comments, "And he [Most agree that "he" refers to Antichrist.] will make a firm covenant [or, he will confirm a covenant] with the many for one week [Most agree that Antichrist will make this covenant, or confirm this covenant, with Israel. This "one week" is the 70th week of Daniel; it is a week of years, a seven-year period. Daniel 9:27 is the one verse in the Bible that speaks of this seven-year period. But quite a few other verses in the book of Daniel and in the book of Revelation speak of one-half of this seven-year period, sometimes the first half and sometimes the second half. The first sixty-nine weeks that precede the 70th week of Daniel are discussed in the preceding verses, starting at Dan. 9:24. Daniel 9:24-27 are discussed in some detail in my book.], but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate [referring to Antichrist], even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed [one that is decreed by God], is poured on the one who make desolate [referring to Antichrist's being cast into the lake of fire. It is interesting that almost every time that Antichrist is mentioned in the Bible his destruction is mentioned.]." "In the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering." That's when Antichrist goes into the temple and stops the sacrifices and wants to be worshiped himself; that's the abomination that leads to great desolation.
One primary reason we are looking at Dan. 9:27 here is because of the words, "in the middle of the week." This verse shows that the abomination of desolation will take place in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. But, as I mentioned, I believe it is important to see that this verse is speaking of the APPROXIMATE middle of the seven-year period. Daniel 12:11, which we'll look at next, shows that the abomination of desolation will actually take place a month before the exact middle of the seven-year period. A month before the middle is still the middle (using the word middle in an imprecise sense, which is commonly done in the Old Testament, as I will demonstrate. A month before the middle is only 2.38 percent removed from the exact middle).
The Hebrew noun that is translated middle here is "chatsi." It is easy to demonstrate that this noun is sometimes used in an imprecise sense. (The NASB translated this noun as "middle" six times, and as "midst" two times, and quite a few other ways too.) In Ruth 3:8, for example, "chatsi" is used of something happening in the middle of the night. The middle of the night is used in a very imprecise sense here. I'll give one more example; in Psalm 102:24, the psalmist requests that he not be taken away in the midst of his days. The midst of his days is very imprecise terminology. It is quite reasonable therefore to say that the use of the noun "chatsi" need not be understood in a precise sense in Dan. 9:27.
Now I'll turn to Dan. 12:11. This verse uses more precise terminology than Dan. 9:27 and demonstrates that the abomination of desolation will take place a month before the precise middle of Daniel's 70th week. It's time to stop for now. We'll come back to Dan. 12:11 and the time of the abomination of desolation in the next article. God bless you!
© Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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