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Some Comments on Mike Bickle's End-Time Teaching, Part 5
by Karl Kemp
8/29/2015 / Bible Studies
We continue the discussion of Rev. 3:10, which is a very important verse, here in Part 5. This verse is probably the most important verse in the Bible to show that the end-of-the-week rapture viewpoint is wrong.
I believe we have enough information to understand the "hour of testing." The "hour" will take place throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week. (IT IS INTERESTING AND SIGNIFICANT THAT THE WORD "HOUR" [OR "ONE HOUR"] IS USED SEVERAL TIMES IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION TO REFER TO THE SECOND HALF OF DANIEL'S 70TH WEEK [see Rev. 17:12; 14:7, 15; cf. Rev. 18:10, 17, and 19].) The test will involve whether people will submit to Antichrist when it will be very difficult to not submit to him (see Revelation chapter 13 for example) or submit to God (cf. Rev. 14:6, 7). God makes it very clear that those who submit to Antichrist will suffer very severe consequences; they cannot say they haven't been warned: I'll quote REVELATION 14:9-11: "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 [see Rev. 13:14-18], (10) 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. (11) 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.' "
Christians who believe that we will not be raptured until the end of the seven years, including Mike, are forced to try to interpret Rev. 3:10 in a way that will fit their viewpoint, but I don't believe their interpretations are reasonable or accurate, even if they are sincerely held. (I'm sure that Mike is sincere, and I'm sure he wants to teach the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches with a high priority. Very often Christian teachers are passing on errors that they picked up from others without thinking much about it. Also, errors typically lead to other errors.) Mike has two paragraphs dealing with the interpretation of Rev. 3:10 in the "Book of Revelation; Study Guide, NKJV," published in 2009 by Forerunner Books of IHOP, page 18. I purchased my copy at amazon.com.
I'll quote Mike's first paragraph and make some comments in brackets: " 'I will keep you' - being kept means 'preserved in the midst of.' [What does "I will keep you out of" mean?] It is a 'spiritual keeping' by enabling us to be faithful without stumbling. [[These two sentences don't fit what Jesus said in Rev. 3:10 at all. But you typically hear similar statements from those who believe that the Lord Jesus will not return and the rapture will not take place until the end of the seven years. (One good thing, of many good things, that we can thank those who hold the pre-week rapture for is the insight that Rev. 3:10 requires an early rapture, but I am very sure that that early rapture will take place in the middle of the seven years, not before the seven years begin.) There is a GIGANTIC DIFFERENCE between our living on the earth the first half of the seven years and our living on the earth the second half of the seven years, after the devil has been cast down to the earth having great wrath and Antichrist has begun his three and one-half year super-evil reign.]] Jesus prayed these very words asking the Father to keep believers from Satan without taking them out of the world (John 17:15). [[(This double bracket goes on for three paragraphs before I come to the two last sentences of Mike's first paragraph that deal with Rev. 3:10.) I'll quote John 17:15 from the NASB, which is very close to the NKJV; they both communicate the same meaning. "I [Jesus] do not ask You [Father] to take them out of [Greek preposition "ek"] the world [It certainly wasn't time to take the apostles out of the world; they had a lot of super-important work to do, including establishing the new-covenant church on the earth and giving us the New Testament. It will be different at the end of this age. Those Christians who have stayed faithful when tested (Rev. 3:10) will be taken out of the world when the Lord Jesus returns and the rapture takes place.], but to keep them from [ek] the evil one." [(This bracket goes on for three paragraphs.) Keep in mind that what we want to discern here is how the words KEEP "from" or "out of" are used in John 17:15. The Greek preposition that is translated "from" in John 17:15 is "ek," which is the same preposition used in Rev. 3:10, translated "from." It could just as well been translated KEEP "out of" in both verses, which I prefer. In the margin of John 17:15 the NASB has, "Or [keep] 'out of' the power of." The NKJV has, "but to keep them from the evil one, with the word "one" being in italics. The NASB has the word "one" in italics too.
It doesn't make much difference whether they were to be kept "from," or "out of" "the evil [of this world]" or "from" or "out of" "the evil one." Either way, Jesus was asking that they be set apart by God for God from evil and the god of evil (Satan). In John 17:12 Jesus said He had been keeping them, but now He was leaving (by way of the cross, through which He saved us) and He was asking the Father to keep them set apart from the evil one and from evil, with much emphasis being put on their being set apart from being enticed to become evil/do evil. There certainly is no idea in John 17:15 of keeping them "in" or "through" evil or the evil one. I don't believe John 17:15 offers any support for the idea that we will still be living on the earth during the second half of Daniel's 70th week.
Jesus asked (in John 17:15) that those believers be kept "out of" or "kept from" (be kept separate from) the evil or the evil one in the same sense that He said (in Rev. 3:10) that the faithful Christians will be kept "out of" or kept "from" the "hour of testing/trial." The Christians will be kept out of, or kept from, the "hour of testing" by being glorified and raptured from the earth just before the "hour of testing" begins.] (Now I'll quote the last two sentences in Mike's first paragraph dealing with Rev. 3:10.)]] This speaks of standing in victory in the midst of trials. It refers to the grace not to yield to unfaithfulness (Luke 21:34-36)." Revelation 3:10 speaks rather of being KEPT OUT OF or KEPT FROM the HOUR OF TESTING, using the preposition "ek" as it is used in John 17:15.
I would like to make an important point that isn't directly related to the interpretation of Rev. 3:10, but it does relate to Mike's last two sentences, and it does relate to what God requires of us to be ready to stand before Him at the end of this age. We need to understand that God's new-covenant plan of salvation provides the grace (which includes all the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit of life, truth, righteousness, etc.) that enables Christians to know and to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God. However, the New Testament makes it very clear that we will walk in these things only to the extent that we appropriate and walk in these things by faith, against the opposition of the world, the flesh (the old man who wants to continue in sin), and the devil and his hosts.
I mentioned above that Jesus exhorted most of the Christians in the seven churches of the book of Revelation that they must repent if they want to continue to be true Christians. Mike mentioned Luke 21:34-36. I'll quote LUKE 21:34-36, "Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come upon you suddenly like a trap [The Lord Jesus was speaking of the day of judgment that will start when He returns.]; (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 [which includes always living as He requires us to live (by His grace through faith), so that, for one thing, we will always be ready for His return], praying [which includes always looking to God] that you may have strength [I would translate "be able" with the NIV; the BAGD Greek Lexicon (under the verb "katischuo") translates "be able, be in a position" here] to escape all these things that are about to take place [the judgments that will fall on the earth in the last days when the day of judgment comes], and to stand before the Son of Man." Those who are faithful (by grace through faith) before He comes will be raptured from the earth and will not be on the earth when the day of judgment falls on the earth. That is how we "escape all these things that are about to [or, "that are going to"] take place." We will "stand before the Son of Man" as His people. It will be like Matt. 24:38, for example: Noah and his family entered the ark before the flood of judgment fell on the earth. God even told Noah to get in the ark (Gen. 7:1) "For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made" (Gen. 7:4).
Mike puts an emphasis on the need for Christians to put God first in every area of life, which is good, very good, but he doesn't see that we will be raptured from the earth before the "hour of testing/trial" begins. As I mentioned, it is a major feature in God's plans for the end of this age to glorify us and rapture us from the earth to begin to reign with Him instead of living on the earth when Satan has been cast down and has great wrath and Antichrist's super-evil three and one-half year reign is taking place. WE WILL BE ABLE TO GLORIFY GOD ALL RIGHT THROUGHOUT THOSE THREE AND ONE-HALF YEARS AS WE REIGN WITH THE LORD JESUS WITH A ROD OF IRON.
I'll just quote the last sentence of Mike's second paragraph that deals with Rev. 3:10 from page 18 of the "Book of Revelation Study Guide" and make some comments "The saints in the tribulation [Mike means in the second half of the seven years] are kept from God's judgment without being exempt from Satan's persecutions (Dan. 7:21, 25 [and Mike listed many more verses])."
I'll quote a short paragraph from what John MacArthur says here ("Revelation 1-10") "Some hold that the promise of deliverance is only from God's wrath during the Tribulation. But a promise that God will not kill believers but will allow Satan and Antichrist to do so would provide small comfort to the suffering church...." I fully agree with MacArthur's point here.
THE SEVEN SEALS OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION. Mike believes the rider on the white horse at the first seal is Antichrist. (See Mike's 2014 "Studies in the Book of Revelation - Session 6, The Seals of Judgment and God's Protection," pages 1-6 and see his two charts that I mentioned in the first part of this paper.) I have always agreed with the large number of Christians who believe the rider represents the Lord Jesus and/or the gospel of the kingdom going forth throughout this age (or the equivalent) conquering the hearts of all who will submit to God, His Son, and His gospel. These two views are quite different aren't they? This is important!
Many popular end-time teachers in our day agree with Mike. However, as Mike's charts show, he locates the first seal at the beginning of the second half of the seven years; it seems that at least most of those who agree with Mike that the first rider is Antichrist locate the first seal at the beginning of the seven years, or a little while before the seven years begin. Some popular end-time teachers don't agree that the rider is Antichrist: As we continue I'll include an excerpt from George Ladd, who is an influential end-time teacher in our day, and he teaches the end-of-the-week rapture, as does Mike. And, much more importantly, I'll include an excerpt from a Christian scholar from the 1800s who states that no Christians believed that the rider on the first horse is Antichrist until AD 1500. Even if that scholar missed a person or two (and I don't know that he did miss a person or two) who held that viewpoint before 1500 this is important information. This information is especially relevant when it comes to the Christian writers from the first few centuries. I'll give the views of two of those early writers (Irenaeus and Victorinius) as we continue.
I believe, in agreement with many, that Matthew 24:14 is an important cross-reference for the rider on the white horse: "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew chapters 24 and 25 are discussed verse-by-verse in a paper on my internet site: Google to Karl Kemp Teaching.) And I believe that the second seal (warfare) and third seal (famine) correspond with what Jesus prophesied in Matt. 24:6, 7. I believe the first four seals prophesy of things that will come to pass throughout this age, undoubtedly increasing in intensity at the end of this age. The events associated with the trumpets will supersede the events associated with the seals.
I Have A Paper On My Internet Site That Discusses Revelation Chapters 1-10 Verse- By-Verse. I'll quote most of what I said there on REVELATION 6:1-17, which covers the first six seals. (This will involve a little repetition.):
(Rev. 6:1) "Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals [cf. Rev. 5:1-10], and I heard one of the four living creatures [cf. Rev. 4:6-10] saying as with a voice of thunder, 'Come.' [[(This double bracket goes on for four paragraphs.) The KJV and NKJV, following a different Greek reading, have "Come and see," as if the words were spoken to John. There's widespread agreement that the Greek reading followed by the NASB (and the NIV) is the correct reading, the original reading. This living creature was calling forth the rider on the first horse, the white horse, even as the other three living creatures call forth the next three riders and their horses in the following verses. The first four seals go together as a unit. We learn of the famous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (of the book of Revelation) from these verses (Rev. 6:1-8).
As discussed in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," I believe the four horsemen all ride forth at the same time, throughout this entire Christian age. The primary cross-reference that convinces me of this interpretation (which is widely held) is the teaching of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:3-14; Mark 13:3-13; and Luke 21:5-11). The Rider on the white horse corresponds (at least to some significant extent) with the worldwide preaching of the gospel and the advancement of the Kingdom of God before the end comes that is spoken of in Matt. 24:14. The Rider on the white horse is the Lord Jesus Christ, or the Gospel of the Kingdom (or the equivalent). This Rider has been riding forth conquering the hearts of all who will submit to the gospel. It's very good to have your heart conquered by this glorious Rider. It's clear that the Rider on the white horse in Rev. 19:11 is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the word "white" is always used in the book of Revelation (17 total uses) of the things of God, very much including victory and purity.
The warfare and famine associated with the second and third seals are part of what Jesus called "the beginning of birth pangs" in Matt. 24:8 (see Matt. 24:6-8). The time of transition beyond the beginning of birth pangs will be the abomination of desolation (see Matt. 24:9, 15; cf. 2 Thess. 2:3, 4). (The abomination of desolation centers in the fact that Antichrist will enter the temple that will be rebuilt in Jerusalem, stop the sacrifices, and demand that he be worshiped. That abominable activity will lead to great desolation.) We can apparently say that the riding forth of the second, third, and fourth horsemen will continue until they are superseded by the events associated with the sounding of the trumpets of the book of Revelation. Events clearly go beyond the limits prescribed for the fourth horseman under the sixth trumpet, where one-third of mankind is killed. The abomination of desolation will take place about the time of the sounding of the sixth trumpet, about a month (cf. Dan. 12:11) before the Lord Jesus returns and the rapture takes place. (As I mentioned, Matthew chapter 24 is discussed verse-by-verse in a paper on my internet site.)
I'll quote a few sentences from George E. Ladd's introduction to Revelation chapter 6 ("Commentary on the Revelation of John" [Eerdmans, 1972], pages 95, 96): "The breaking of the seven seals is preliminary to the actual opening of the book [scroll] and the events of the end time. [The scroll cannot be opened (at Rev. 8:1) until all seven seals have been removed. In one sense at least the scroll has been opened and THE CONTENTS OF THE ALL-IMPORTANT SCROLL HAVE BEEN REVEALED TO US IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION. The events associated with the fifth and sixth seals will not come to pass (or start to come to pass) until the middle of Daniel's 70th week.] It [the breaking of the seals] PICTURES THE FORCES THAT WILL BE OPERATIVE THROUGHOUT HISTORY BY WHICH THE REDEMPTIVE AND JUDICIAL PURPOSES OF GOD WILL BE FORWARDED [my emphasis]. They are not a part of the great tribulation itself, but are preparatory and preliminary to the great tribulation. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that the breaking of the sixth seal clearly brings to the threshold of the end; the five seals must precede it."]] (2) I looked, and behold, a white horse [cf. Rev. 19:11], and he [or, He] who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him [[Compare Zech. 6:9-15 (Zechariah chapters 1-8 are discussed verse-by-verse in a paper on my internet site.); Rev. 14:14; and 19:12 [note the crown in 14:14 and the crowns/diadems in 19:12]; and see under Rev. 5:6 [in my paper on Revelation chapters 1-10] on the authority/reigning (the authority/reigning goes with the crown) of the Lord Jesus Christ from the time of His resurrection, ascension, and glorification. As I mentioned, I believe Christ, or the Word of the Gospel of Christ (or the equivalent), is the Rider on this horse. And as I mentioned, those who believe the events associated with the seals will only come to pass in the last days typically understand the rider to be Antichrist. Again, what a difference!]], and he went out conquering and to conquer. [[(This double bracket goes on for four paragraphs.) I'll quote part of what Henry Alford said under this verse ("New Testament for English Readers," Vol. 4 [Baker, 1983 reprint], pages 1830, 1831): "The going forth conquering and in order to conquer can only, it seems to me, point to one interpretation. The conquering might be said of any victorious earthly power whose victories should endure for the time then present, and afterwards pass away: but the in order that he may conquer [The words "in order that he may conquer" are a more literal translation of the Greek than the words "to conquer" of the NASB.] can only be said of a power whose victories should last forever. Final and permanent victory then is here imported [stated]. Victory, we may safely say, on the part of that kingdom against which the gates of hell shall not prevail: whose fortunes and whose trials are the great subject of this revelation. Such is the first vision, the opening of the first seal in the mystery of the divine purposes: victory for God's church and people: the great keynote, so to speak, of all the apocalyptic harmonies. ... [Alford doesn't believe the rider is the Lord Jesus Himself. He says the rider is "only a symbol of His victorious power, the embodiment of His advancing kingdom...."] ... In all cases but the last [the fourth rider], these riders are left in the vagueness of their symbolic offices. If we attempt to specify further, as e.g., Victorinus (I had a footnote here, "Victorinus of Pettau (died about AD 304). Bishop and exegete." Quoting from Michael P. McHugh, "Encyclopedia of Early Christianity" [Garland Publishing, 1990], page 927.) 'The white horse is the word of preaching with the aid of the Holy Spirit sent forth into the world; for the Lord saith, This gospel shall be preached through all the world, for a testimony before the nations, and then shall the end come [Matt. 24:14],' - while we are sure that we are thus far right, we are but partially right: we do not cover the extent of the symbol, seeing that there are other aspects and instruments of victory of the kingdom of Christ, besides the preaching of the Word. [That is, Alford agrees with what Victorinus said, but he doesn't want to limit the meaning of the first seal to what he said.] The same might be said of any other of the partial interpretations which have been given by those who have taken this view. AND IT WAS TAKEN, WITH DIVERGENCES OF SEPARATE DETAIL, BY ALL EXPOSITORS FROM EARLIEST TIMES DOWN TO THE YEAR 1500 [my emphasis]." In other words, according to Alford, the interpretations regarding the first seal all agreed in understanding the first seal to deal with the kingdom of Christ and its expanding victory until AD 1500. I'm confident that they were right. (In the early 1500s Luther and the pope began to call one another Antichrist.)
I decided to see if Irenaeus commented on the identity of the Rider on the white horse in Rev. 6:2. Irenaeus is a well respected Church Father (about AD115 to about 202; bishop of Lyons); he was well acquainted with Polycarp, who knew the apostle John, who wrote the book of Revelation by the inspiration of God. In his "Irenaeus Against Heresies" (Book 4, Chapter 21.3), Irenaeus takes the Rider to be the Lord Jesus Christ.
I'll also quote from George E. Ladd ("Revelation of John," pages 99, 100), "The rider is not Christ himself but symbolizes the proclamation of the gospel of Christ in all the world. ... It will be preached effectively in all the world; and in spite of an evil and hostile environment characterized by human hatred, strife, and opposition, the gospel will make its way victoriously in all the world.
Here is a word of confidence, combined with a realistic note, for the church of the first century and every other age. How can any people be devoted to a cause which they believe will experience only defeat? The first generation of believers suffered, and at the hands of some of the later emperors they met determined efforts to root them out and to destroy them completely. But in spite of every form of opposition, the church effectively and victoriously established the gospel in all the Roman world until the Empire ceased its violent opposition. [There has been plenty of violent aggression by the world against God and His people since that time.] We do not look for the coming of God's Kingdom and the righting of the world's evils short of the return of Christ; but we are, as the modern bearers of the gospel of the kingdom, expectant of seeing victories won by the power of this gospel."]] (3) When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, 'Come.' (4) And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him. [[Compare Matt. 24:6, 7; 10:34-36; Mark 13:7, 8; and Luke 21:10. Alford ("New Testament for English Readers," Vol. 4, page 1831) quotes Victorinus again here: "The red horse, and he that sat upon him having a sword, are future wars, as we read in the gospel, for nation shall rise against nation...(Matt. 24:7)." The color red undoubtedly goes with the shedding of blood. We should undoubtedly expect an increase in this warfare as we approach the end of this age, so too for the famines of the third seal.]] (5) When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature [cf. Rev. 4:7] saying, 'Come.' I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand [cf. Ezek. 4:16, 17]. (6) And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures [A voice coming from this location would apparently be the voice of God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all speak in the book of Revelation.] saying, 'A quart of wheat for a denarius and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.' [[As discussed on page 21 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," I agree with the widespread viewpoint that these verses picture famine - limited famine. We obviously couldn't say that there never would be a famine in any part of the world throughout this Christian age more severe than this.
Based on the information cited in the commentaries, the prices given here for wheat and barley are some eight to fifteen times higher than the normal prices in the Roman Empire of John's day. The oil and the wine are apparently considered to be basic food items, not luxury items (cf., e.g., Deut. 7:13; 11:14; and 28:51). Warfare and strife can lead to famine, but so can a shortage of rain/water (e.g., Deut. 11:14; Hag. 1:11), or many other things, including locusts. As several commentators point out, the roots of the olive tree (for oil) and of grapevines are deeper and less affected by limited drought than those of wheat and barley.]]
We will continue to discuss the first six seals of the book of Revelation with Rev. 6:7 in Part 6 of this paper.
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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