Tag Archive | "Biblical timeline"

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In many areas such as city neighborhoods, college campuses, parks and even in large buildings, you’ll see a diagram like a map posted to help people there understand exactly where they are in relation to their surroundings.  Usually, the diagram is marked with an arrow and the words “You Are Here” to indicate the exact spot where a person would be standing in order to read the information.  Amazingly, God has done something similar to help end-time believers understand where they are in time according to His plan for mankind.

 

 

The Two Witnesses

 

One way He has done this is by telling us about the two witnesses of Revelation 11.  We know that they represent a group of end-time believers, based on events described in that chapter of Revelation and on related information in the Bible.

 

Revelation 11:4-5 tells us something about them:

 

These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.  And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.

 

These witnesses proclaim a message of judgment to the world.  The message of God’s judgment is the fire that “proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies.”  When we read about the two witnesses, we must realize that God isn’t telling us that there will be two real people who can blow fire out of their mouths to kill people.  He is telling us about a time when His message of judgment goes out to the world near the end of time.  Those who are enemies of this message are judged by God’s word and eventually destroyed, as required by God’s law.  Their destruction is by the fire that “devoureth their enemies.”

 

The two witnesses represent a group of believers near the end of time.  Their prophesying or preaching finishes at a specific time.  We know this from Revelation 11:7, which states “when they shall have finished their testimony.”  At that time, according to the same verse, “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.”

 

The beast, which is Satan, doesn’t literally kill the two witnesses.  Rather, he and the unsaved world – that is, people who are in his kingdom – silence the two witnesses, who are the elect.  Verses 8 and 9, which tell us that their bodies lie “in the street” because they aren’t buried, show us that the world wants to bring shame on them because the witnesses brought a message of God’s judgment.

 

Verse 10 indicates that their message reached around the world, for it states:

 

And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.  

 

Notice what happens after the witnesses are “killed,” according to Revelation 11:11-12:

 

And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.  And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

 

These verses and the rest of Revelation 11 make it clear that this passage is telling us about the Rapture and the end of the world.  We have to realize that the number of days that elapses after the witnesses are killed – three and a half – is not to be taken literally.  It is like the number of witnesses, which represents the elect who bring the true Gospel (see Mark 6:7 and Luke 9:30-31).

 

However, there is something very important we can understand about the three and a half days: God is showing us that the elect remain here for a certain period of time after their warnings to the world are finished.

 

Notice how well Revelation 11 matches the situation of those who warned about May 21, 2011.  You may recall that, according to the timeline that was proclaimed with the message of judgment, there was a period of time (the first part of the great tribulation) when God was not saving anyone.  This period of time is identified in Revelation 11:2, where we read “the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”

 

After this, God gives power to His two witnesses.  They prophesied and brought a message of God’s judgment (see Revelation 11:3) until they “finished their testimony” (Revelation 11:7).  At that time, they were “overcome” and “killed.”  This is what happened to those who were discredited in the world’s eyes on May 21, 2011 because the Rapture did not occur then.  In all of this, God is identifying the time in which we are now living as the three and a half days preceding the Rapture.

 

 

The Locusts of Revelation 9

 

Visions corresponding to the seven seals and seven trumpets are a series of pictures of end-time spiritual events presented in chronological order.  We know this because God gives us a clear starting point in Revelation 6:1-2 with the opening of the first seal, picturing the start of the church age; and He gives us a clear finishing point in Revelation 11:15: the sounding of the seventh trumpet, marking the end of the world.  God also gives us verses in-between those two points (Revelation 6:11, Revelation 8:1, Revelation 8:13, Revelation 9:12, Revelation 11:14) to show us that events are following each other in time.

 

With this in mind, we can see something in Revelation 9 that matches what we find in Revelation 11.  In order to see this we need to realize that, besides the seven seals and trumpets, God gives us an alternate and partial path of end-time events: that path is the three woes.  We also need to realize that the vision associated with the sixth trumpet sounding (Revelation 9:13) is a picture of the Rapture.

 

The Rapture will occur on the last day and be immediately followed by the end of the world.  However, in the first part of Revelation 9 (before the verses describing the Rapture), we read about a vision describing the period of time that comes just before the Rapture.  This vision involves strange creatures called locusts.

 

Revelation 9:5 tells us the period of the locusts lasts five months.  Their time begins with the trumpet sounding by the fifth angel (Revelation 9:1).  The darkening of the sun (verse 2) indicates God’s judgment has begun.  It is the final time the sun darkens.  This vision is set in a time when the Gospel no longer shines with power to save anyone.  However, the Gospel is still proclaimed around the world in this vision.

 

Here, the Gospel is a witness of judgment against the world.  The locusts proclaim God’s word, and that is their sting.  It is the sting of judgment from God’s law.   This is the meaning of Revelation 9:5, which states:

 

And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

Like the other numbers in Revelation, the five months is only a representation of something.  It’s a spiritual number.  Here, it represents the time between the last day of salvation (which is the start of the period without salvation anywhere ever again) and the last day of the world.

 

Notice that the period of the locusts is the same as the period when the two witnesses are dead “in the street” (Revelation 11:8).  However, in the verses about the two witnesses prophesying God is showing us a picture of the time when the Gospel saved a great number of people.  Their testimony ends when judgment day begins.

 

The locusts, on the other hand, bring their message during judgment day.  It is the time when the sun has been darkened (Revelation 9:2) and the Gospel isn’t saving anyone.  In that sense, it is a “torment” to unsaved people who hear it.  It is too late for them to be saved; but there is no “hurt” for the grass, or any tree, or any green thing according to Revelation 9:4:

 

And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.       

 

Here once again God is showing us that the elect remain on earth after judgment day begins.  The grass, green things and trees clearly identify them.  The smaller plants may represent people or children who were among the last to be saved near the end of the two witnesses’ time of prophesying, just before the period of the locusts.  That was during the latter rain – the last part of the great tribulation.

 

 

The Midst of the Seventieth Week

 

Historical Background:

 

In Daniel 9:24-27, we find an amazing prophecy.  This is information God gave the prophet Daniel after he had prayed for his people (Daniel 9:2-3).   In order to understand this prophecy, we must be aware that God has revealed in the Bible a great deal of information about time.

 

How can we understand and use this information?  When we add up lifespans for successive patriarchs going back to the time of Adam and Eve, we can create a Biblical calendar.  As we continue adding, we eventually come to a period of time (about 3,000 years ago) from which there are reliably dated archeological artifacts.  These artifacts are of course dated according to the calendar we all use – the modern secular calendar.  We know that dates assigned to some artifacts are reliable because they are confirmed by written records that have also survived.  Because of these artifacts, we can synchronize the Biblical calendar with the modern calendar.

 

When we do that, we discover that the creation occurred in the year 11,013 BC, the great flood of Noah’s day occurred in 4,990 BC, and the Lord Jesus died on the cross in 33 AD.  We also discover that Israel’s exodus from Egypt was in 1,447 BC.  After 40 years of surviving in the wilderness, the children of Israel entered the land of Canaan in 1,407 BC.

 

Eventually, Israel became a mighty kingdom. It was at its height when King Solomon ruled.  However, even before he died the kingdom began to decline.  It was broken into two kingdoms shortly after his death.  In 587 BC, the last of the two kingdoms was conquered when the Babylonians captured Jerusalem.  Israel no longer existed as a nation.  In about four centuries, Israel went from being a mighty power to a people without a country.

 

Some survivors – Daniel was one of them – were carried off to Babylon.  Less than 50 years later, Babylon itself was conquered (Daniel 9:1).   God moved the heart of the new king (Cyrus of Persia, who was also known as Darius the Mede) to allow some Israelites to return to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:22-23).  These Jews began the work of rebuilding the temple there, but opposition arose and the work required many years to complete.

 

A key event occurred during the reign of Artaxerxes 1, whose reign extended from 465 to 424 BC.  In this king’s seventh year (Ezra 7:7-8), a priest named Ezra returned to Jerusalem.  The king had made a decree allowing “all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem …” (Ezra 7:12-13).

 

In accordance with the decree, Ezra and hundreds of others (Ezra 8) went to Jerusalem.  Ezra 7:10 provides some insight into what Ezra hoped to do:

 

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

 

Based on this verse, we can say that Ezra went to re-establish the law of God in Jerusalem.  However, Ezra 9:9 compares Ezra’s mission to a building project:

 

For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.   

 

This was part of Ezra’s prayer some time after he had arrived in Jerusalem.  It was in the year 458 BC – the seventh year of Artaxerxes 1 (Ezra 7:7-8) – that Ezra went to Jerusalem.

 

 

The Prophecy:

 

With this background in mind, we can read the prophecy that begins with Daniel 9:24:

 

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

 

Notice that the prophecy involves a period of 70 weeks.  As we continue reading it, we see that God breaks up the 70 weeks in a very curious way.  Daniel 9:25 states:

 

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

 

Possibly, the first idea you have about this verse is that it concerns a commandment for the literal rebuilding of Jerusalem.  A great deal of work had already been done there before Ezra returned.  In fact, a new temple had already been finished (see Ezra 6:15).  A lot more work was done under Nehemiah several years after Ezra returned (e.g., see Nehemiah 6:1).  However, when we read about Ezra’s time in Jerusalem or in the decree that sent him there, we don’t find anything about construction activity.  Nevertheless, we will see that the decree sending Ezra to Jerusalem is the starting point for the prophecy of the 70 weeks.

 

The prophecy continues with Daniel 9:26:

 

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

 

This verse, when considered with the previous one, tells us “Messiah will be cut off” after 69 weeks.  This appears to be something that happens during the 70th week, and the following verse tells us more about that final week.  Daniel 9:27 – the prophecy’s final verse -  states:

 

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

 

What Does It Mean?

 

These four verses are an amazing prophecy that extends from Ezra’s time until the end of the world.  Notice the words “end of the war” in the third verse, and in the fourth verse the words “until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured out upon the desolate.”  The final words of the prophecy in the fourth verse point to God’s judgment on the last day.  That is “the consummation.”  And the words “end of the war” in the third verse remind us that God compares our experience in this world to a war (e.g., 2 Corinthians 10:4, 1 Timothy 1:18).  This war is a spiritual war that continues until the last day.

 

Therefore, the prophecy actually extends to the last day.  Only then is “the war” over.  However, we now have a big problem trying to understand this prophecy.  It clearly has to do with the Crucifixion, because of the words “Messiah shall be cut off” in the third verse.  Yet the prophecy also extends to the end of the world.  How can 70 prophetic weeks cover all of that time beginning from Ezra’s day?

 

The solution is to see that God breaks the 70 weeks into a period of 69 weeks plus one final week that is treated very differently than the others.  In fact, God is giving us two different pictures in this prophecy.  The first has to do with the Crucifixion, and the second with end-times.  Even though we may not understand every word of this prophecy as it applies to both situations, we can now understand a big part of it.

 

Going back to Daniel 9:24, the first verse of the prophecy, we see that there is a period of 70 weeks “to anoint the most Holy.”  Using the year-for-a-day principle (Numbers 14:34) with which the Lord decreed judgment against ancient Israel, we see that 70 weeks represents 490 years.  When we start at 458 BC and advance the calendar by 490 years, we come to the year 33 AD.  There is no year “0,” so we must add one additional year:

 

-458 + 490 + 1 = 33.

 

The calculation brings us to 33 AD, and we know that was the year of the Crucifixion.  Recall that the Lord was anointed a few days before He died (John 12:3) and then again shortly after He died (Mark 16:1).   And so we see the first verse of the prophecy fulfilled in 33 AD.

 

What about an end-time fulfillment for the first verse?  As a whole, the prophecy clearly deals with end-times.  Will the first verse also be fulfilled on the last day?  The last of the 70 weeks extends to the last day, so in some way the Lord must be anointed again on or near the last day to fulfill the first verse if it too is an end-time prophecy.  The solution may be something we find in 1 Kings.  When the time had come for Solomon to rule, David commanded that he be anointed as king.  In 1 Kings 1:39, we read:

 

And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon.

 

Notice the next verse, 1 Kings 1:40:

 

And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.

 

In several places in the Bible, God uses Solomon to represent some aspect of His salvation plan.  Also, the Hebrew word for “rent” in this verse (Strong’s number H1234) is the same word we find in Genesis 7:11, where it’s translated as “broken up.”  That’s the verse telling what God did to the earth at the beginning of the flood!  It appears that God is using Solomon’s coronation and anointing as a picture of the Lord Jesus on the last day.  In this way, we can see how Daniel 9:24 will be fulfilled a second time when the Lord returns.  On that day, the Lord Jesus will begin His rule over the new heavens and earth.

 

In the second verse of the prophecy, we read:

 

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

 

Here, we see how God is breaking up the 70 weeks and telling us something about the final week.  This verse describes the situation after 69 weeks (seven and threescore (60) and two) have passed.  That brings the prophecy up to week number 70.  In his booklet entitled  “The 70 Weeks of Daniel 9,” Mr. Harold Camping showed that the Daniel 9 prophecy allows for a second path to the Lord’s first coming.  This path goes from 458 BC up to the year 29 AD.  The year 29 AD is of major importance, because that was the year the Lord Jesus was baptized and began His ministry (John 1:35-39, Luke 3:1-3).

 

This second path begins at the first Jubilee year following the decree: 457 BC.   It then goes to the next Jubilee year: 407 BC.  That is the seven weeks or 49 years of the prophecy’s second verse.  (The Jubilee is a special year that God instituted after Israel crossed the Jordan River into Canaan in 1407 BC; it comes every 50 years.)  Then, counting 62 weeks of years from 407 BC (434 years), we arrive at 29 AD.

 

Notice that the second verse of the prophecy states “unto the Messiah the Prince.”  This verse isn’t telling us about His death; it’s telling us about His ministry.  During three and a half years, the Lord Jesus did what we might call “spiritual building.”  In that way, He fulfilled the prophecy that “the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”

 

This activity also occurs during the final week, so we see that this way of viewing the final week differs from what we saw earlier.  From the prophecy’s first verse, we determined that the final week goes from the Lord’s anointing (33 AD) to the end of time.  But in the second verse, the final week goes from 29 AD to the end.  It includes the period of His ministry.

 

Now let’s again look at the prophecy’s third verse:

 

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

 

After the Lord’s ministry was over, He was crucified.  Even though the Lord didn’t bear our sins at that time, He was still “cut off” for the sake of His people.  The verse continues by telling us something about the “people of the prince that shall come.”  History tells us that the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD.  Based on this fact of history, someone might easily conclude that the “prince that shall come” was the Roman general who led his army against the Jews.  Undoubtedly, there have been other explanations as well.  However, once we understand that Daniel 9 is an end-time prophecy, we know this verse must have a different kind of meaning.

 

The prince that shall come is the Lord Jesus.  This is a reference to His second coming.  And it is His people who “destroy the city and the sanctuary.”  How can this be?

 

We know from the Biblical timeline that, years ago, God removed the Holy Spirit from all congregations of Christian churches.  They became “desolate,” because God was no longer there.  In other words, God abandoned them.  After a while, God began a great program to save many outside the local congregations.  This program has now ended.  However, the churches are still identified with the Lord Jesus Christ because the world calls them Christian churches.  In a sense, they are still His people; but the verse tells us that it is they who destroy “the city and the sanctuary.”

 

The city and the sanctuary identify the elect – those are true believers and they have become saved.  The third verse of the prophecy indicates that the “people of the prince” destroy the elect.  This agrees with the silencing of the elect, as pictured by the death of the two witnesses in Revelation 11.  The remainder of the verse compares God’s end-time judgment to a flood, and tells us that the condition of desolation continues to the very end.  It indicates the end of salvation.

 

The prophecy’s fourth and final verse is Daniel 9:27:

 

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

 

We know that when the Lord died, the great veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:50-51).  (It is believed that this veil was about 50 feet high: Herod’s temple was a magnificent structure – much bigger than that of Ezra’s day).  The tearing of the temple veil signifies the end of sacrifice; and so we see that the Lord did indeed “cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease” in 33 AD, thereby fulfilling the prophecy at that time.  But this is also an end-time prophecy: events of the fourth verse are prophesied to happen in the 70th week, which goes to the end of time.  How do we understand this verse as an end-time prophecy?

 

The first part of the verse indicates God’s work of saving many people through the entire New Testament period.  However, the “sacrifice and the oblation” have now ended because God is no longer saving anyone anywhere.  This confirms what we have learned about God’s judgment on the churches at the end of the church age, and how this judgment eventually includes the whole world.

 

The Bible reveals that God has abandoned the local congregations of Christian churches, just as He abandoned the Jewish temples in the first century.  He was no longer there after 33 AD to save people, and He is no longer in Christian congregations now.

 

As an end-time prophecy, that is how we must understand the fourth verse.  Notice that the translators have added a word to this verse: the word “it” is in italics.  Without the “it,” we see that the desolation can apply to the whole world.  This desolation is “until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured out upon the desolate.”  These words agree with our understanding of the last day.

 

When we consider the prophecy as a whole, we can now see that it reveals some of the same truths we find elsewhere in the Bible.  The prophecy extends to earth’s last day and reveals that salvation ends at some date before then (as in Daniel 9:26, “unto the end of the war desolations are determined” and in Daniel 9:27, “desolate, even until the consumption, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate”).  The amazing Daniel 9 prophecy not only revealed the year of the Crucifixion several centuries before it happened, it also reveals that God’s elect remain here after salvation has ended.

 

 

 

The Unexpected Guest

 

The Lord Jesus told a parable about a man who received a guest whom he did not expect to visit.  The man is not prepared for his guest, as we see in Luke 11:5-6:

 

And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;  For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?

 

The man needs bread, so he goes to his friend for help.  To help us understand this parable, notice the verses preceding it.  In Luke 11:14, the Lord told His disciples about prayer.   Prayer includes our requests that God meet our needs (for example, for daily bread – as in verse 3).  Knowing this, we see that the friend who has the loaves is actually God.  The parable continues with verse 7:

 

And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.

 

From this verse, it looks like the man will be disappointed.  However, the next verse reveals that the man gets the loaves he requested.  Luke 11:8 states:

 

I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

 

Why would the Lord Jesus tell us about the negative answer in verse 7, when the man actually gets the loaves he has requested?   Take a look at that negative answer.  It tells the man “Trouble me not.”  In other words, “Don’t bother me.”  The answer continues: “the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.”  In telling us about this answer, the Lord Jesus is showing us what the answer could have been.  In other words, God could answer that way at a certain time.

 

And when is that?  The parable tells us that it is midnight.  We know that in the Bible midnight is a time of spiritual darkness.  It is the time when salvation has ended.  Also, “the door is now shut.”  This means it is too late to be saved.  The answer continues, “my children are with me in bed: I cannot rise and give thee.”  This is another way of telling us that, at the time setting in this parable, no one else can be saved: all of God’s children are safely with Him, and that is pictured by the bed.   Also, He “cannot rise and give thee.” God’s plan is revealed in His law, which is the Bible.  But God has bound Himself to follow His law, and that law sets a date when salvation ends.  Once that date has passed, God “cannot rise and give thee.”

 

However, as we have seen, the man does get the loaves he needs.  In order to understand what has happened, we need the rest of the parable.  It continues with verses 9 and 10:

 

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 

 

In these verses, God is encouraging us to continue in prayer in every situation, no matter what the need or when the need arises.  But there is a problem here.  Notice the words, “to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”  Does this mean God will open the door to save someone who has not been saved after the cutoff date has passed?  We can understand the parable after we read the remaining verses.  Luke 11:11-13 declares:

 

If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

 

In these verses, God is comparing two kinds of relationships.  The first is the relationship an unsaved man has with his children.  Notice the words “ye then, being evil.”  Even unsaved people give “good gifts” to their children.  The second relationship is the relationship God has with His children.  This means the parable is concerned with prayers from God’s children.  God hears their prayers even after salvation has ended.  However, His answer to anyone who has not yet been saved is “Don’t bother me.”

 

God always hears His children and provides them with spiritual food from His word.  He provides as many “loaves” as they need.  And so we see what this parable reveals: God continues to take care of the elect while they remain here waiting for the last day, even after salvation has ended.

 

The Ten Virgins

 

The parable of the ten virgins is found in Matthew 25:1-13.  It’s a brief parable, but it may be the Bible’s clearest picture of our day.  It begins with an event that precedes the Lord’s return and ends when He does return.  Notice that the virgins “went forth to meet the bridegroom” (verse 1) at the start of the parable.  Then, “they all slumbered and slept” (verse 5).  Finally, when the Lord returns at the end of the parable, they are still alive; so the parable portrays events that happen within a lifetime of some people who witness the end of the world.

 

Let’s focus our attention for now on the five wise virgins.  These five were definitely children of God, as we find in verse 10:

 

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

 

They were “ready” and went in with the bridegroom to the marriage feast after he arrived.  That of course is a picture of the elect inheriting the new heaven and earth on the last day when the Lord returns.

 

It’s important to notice that the five wise virgins had already been saved when they went forth to meet the bridegroom in verses 1-2, and none of the others were saved afterwards.  Only the five wise virgins had the “oil” (verse 4).  Even so, they were mistaken to expect their Lord’s return when they went forth to meet Him.

 

Notice also that the Lord doesn’t reprimand the wise virgins for going to meet Him too early.  The parable doesn’t tell us they were false prophets, or that they had done anything wrong.  In fact, the parable’s lesson is stated in verse 13:

 

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

 

It’s almost as if the Lord is using this parable to tell us: “Look, you’re going to misunderstand something about the time information I have given you and think you know when I’m coming.  After you are disappointed, you’ll be sorrowful.  In spite of this, you must remain watchful about how you live in this sinful world.”

 

It’s very important to think about the word “watch” in verse 13.  The Greek word translated “watch” is Strong’s number G1127: “gregoreo.”  In order to understand what the Lord meant by using this word, we must compare its use here with other verses where it is used.  We can find several helpful verses.  For instance, in Revelation 3, the Lord Jesus gives a warning to the “angel of the church in Sardis.”  In verse 2, we find the word “gregoreo” used:

 

Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

 

Here the word “watchful” is that word “gregoreo,” and it has to do with taking care to “strengthen the things which remain.”   In Colossians 4:2, we find it used again:

 

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;     

 

The word “watch” in this verse is associated with prayer and has nothing to do with the end of the world.  It has to do with the way we should live, regardless of whether or not we are living in end-times.  So we see that “watching” has nothing to do with an attempt to discover the date for the Lord’s return (also see 1 Thessalonians 5:6 and 1 Peter 5:8, where the word “vigilant” is another translation of “gregoreo.”).

 

In fact, God made it very clear in the parable of the ten virgins that this date is something we can never know.  God did this by showing that the lesson of the parable applies to the ten virgins, and that includes the five wise ones.  It’s very important to realize this point: the parable’s lesson applies even to the elect who live in the last days.  These are God’s children who live during end-times and who will be alive when the Lord does finally return.  The date is unknowable even for them.

 

A question now arises.  In view of the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 25:13, how could anyone ever think he or she could know that date?  Most people today have heard of Sir Isaac Newton and know that he was a great scientist.  Some even think he may have been the most brilliant scientist to ever live.  He was also very familiar with the Bible; so he definitely would have read the parable of the ten virgins and known the Lord’s clear teaching that we cannot know the date of His return.  Yet Sir Isaac also believed the Bible revealed that date.  In fact, he believed the year 2060 would be it.

 

From his study of secular history, Sir Isaac determined that the year 800 was a key year in the decline of the Christian church.  To that date he added a Biblical number of days – 1,260, based on the year-for-a-day principle.  And so he arrived at the year 2060.

 

We don’t have to do any checking to know that the Bible does not reveal 2060 to be the date.  God has made it very clear that even the last generation of true believers will not know the date of His return.  In fact, when the Lord told His hearers in Matthew 25:13 that they would not know the date, it was the fourth time in quick succession He had given that teaching (see Matthew 24:36, Matthew 24:42, and Matthew 24:44).

 

Considering the Lord’s clear statements that the date of His return cannot be known, we can reasonably ask why Sir Isaac Newton, or Mr. Harold Camping, or anyone else would ever predict such a date.  We can understand why they did.  God tells us He would reveal new information about time near the end of time.  This Biblical teaching was always understood as a promise that God would reveal the date of His return.  However, the Bible does not make that promise; in fact, it specifically excludes that piece of information from the promise.

 

God has in fact revealed a great deal of time information in recent years.  His promise was that the wise would understand time and judgment (Ecclesiastes 8:5).  The evidence is that God has given us that information by allowing us to understand the Biblical calendar and directing us to announce May 21, 2011 as the beginning of Judgment Day.

 

The parable of the ten virgins shows us a picture of people who misunderstood the promise, just as Sir Isaac Newton did.  The virgins in the parable were mistaken and disappointed when they expected the Lord’s return.  In that way, the parable matches the experience of those who warned that the date for the Rapture was approaching.

 

Notice that in the parable the cry comes at midnight (verse 6).  This cry is the shout we read about in 1 Thessalonians 4:16.  It announces that the Lord has returned!  This agrees with our understanding that when the Lord does finally return, it will be at a time (midnight) when salvation has ended.  The parable doesn’t tell us that the Lord will return at 12:00 AM; but it does reveal that it will be a time of spiritual darkness when the Gospel has stopped shining with power to save anyone.

 

Also notice that the wise virgins were brought into the marriage feast even though they too had “slumbered and slept.”  They weren’t “watching” as they should have been, but they were saved anyway.  This reveals that salvation is totally based on the Lord’s choice.  It was His decision at the “foundation of the world,” and has nothing to do with anything anyone can ever do.  In these ways, the parable is a picture of God’s people shortly before and then after May 21, 2011.  It shows that they remain here after Judgment Day, waiting for the Rapture and not knowing when it will be until it actually begins.

 

 

The Faithful Servant

 

Near the end of Matthew 24, God gives us examples of two different types of people living in the last days.  Taken together, they paint another picture of end-times and also help us understand the parable of the ten virgins.  In Matthew 24:45-47, we read:

 

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?  Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

 

Unlike the wise virgins who “slumbered and slept,” this servant continues to provide for the Lord’s household so that they have “meat in due season.”  This is not a picture of sowing seeds, which is spreading the Gospel.  It’s a picture of someone helping to make God’s word available to the elect (“his household”) after a time when the Lord was expected to return.

 

On the other hand, this parable also tells us about an “evil servant” in Matthew 24:48-49:

 

But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;  And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 

 

The evil servant is a picture of someone who misuses God’s word: he begins “to smite” fellowservants.  This indicates the evil servant is bringing a false gospel.  Notice that he too has misunderstood God’s word, because he expected the Lord to return at a certain time.  So we see in this parable too how God illustrates what He wants His children to do and to not do in a period after the day they expected Him to return, continuing until He finally does return.

 

 

 

 

The Maiden Waiting For Her Beloved

 

The Song of Solomon tells us about God’s love for the true believers.  In this book, a maiden represents them.   We learn something about her early in the first chapter in an interesting verse -Song of Solomon 1:5:

 

I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

 

We might wonder about this and the next verse as well, for in verse 6 we read:

 

Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

 

We know that the sun represents the Gospel’s power to save someone, so this verse actually explains why the maiden is black.  She tells us “the sun hath looked upon me.”  In other words, she has been saved.  God is using her skin color to show us that she is a picture of the elect.

 

We may not understand a great deal of this book; but there are some key verses that show us something amazing.  Much of the book consists of poetic dialog back and forth between the maiden and her beloved.  The dialog begins in verses 7 and 8 of the first chapter:

 

Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?   If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.

 

The maiden asks where she can find her beloved’s flock.  She is told that, if she doesn’t know, she can follow the footsteps of the flock.  Recall that the Lord Jesus identified Himself as a shepherd in John 10:14:

 

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.  

 

We find the Lord Jesus identified as a shepherd in the Old Testament too, for in Psalm 23:1-2, we read:

 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

 

The maiden’s beloved is the Lord, and she is seeking His flock.  Throughout much of this book, she is seeking Him.  There are verses indicating that at certain times she is with her beloved; but in other verses, it is absolutely clear that her beloved is gone.  How are we to understand these things?

 

When we read the Bible, we see that God was physically present with mankind at certain times.  God’s physical presence was never required for Him to save anyone.  However, in the Song of Solomon God appears to be using the beloved’s absence to indicate a time when salvation has stopped or ended.  When he is present, there is salvation; and when he is gone there is no salvation.  When we use this rule, we will see that the Song of Solomon provides a picture of end-times.

 

In the second chapter, we read about the maiden’s joy to be with her beloved.  For example, Song of Solomon 2:3 reads:

 

As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

 

But in the next chapter, we see the maiden searching for her beloved.  In Song of Solomon 3:1-2, we read:

 

By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.  I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.  

 

During the New Testament era until our day, God used the local congregations of Christian churches as an external representation of His kingdom.  We need to keep that in mind as we read the next two verses.  Song of Solomon 3:3-4 continues the passage about the maiden searching for her beloved:

 

The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?   It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.

 

The watchmen of the city are identified with the local congregations.  After the maiden went past them, she found her beloved.  We will see later how this incident fits into the Biblical timeline.

 

As we continue reading this book up to chapter 5, we find more dialog between the maiden and her beloved.  However, there are some very strange verses in the second half of chapter 3.  They begin with Song of Solomon 3:6:

 

Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?

 

This verse follows right after the maiden has found her beloved.  So it should indicate that God was present and that salvation was once again continuing.  The next two verses are very strange.  In Song of Solomon 3:7-8, we read:

 

Behold his bed, which is Solomon’s; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.  They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.

 

The number – threescore – is of course important.  We know that the number three represents God’s purpose, and a score equals 20 or 2 x 10.  The number two is used to represent those who bring the Gospel (e.g., the two witnesses) and the number ten represents completeness.  Also, notice that each man has a sword.  We know that the sword represents the word of God.  We will also see how this passage fits the Biblical timeline.

 

After dialog between the maiden and her beloved in chapter 4, we come to chapter 5.  In the first verse, which is very mysterious, we read:

 

I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.

 

This verse seems to indicate completion.   It’s as if the beloved is telling the maiden that he has finished what he had been doing.  This idea is also consistent with the next two verses.  In Song of Solomon 5:2-3, we read:

 

I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.  I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?  

 

In the next verses, the focus shifts to the maiden again.  In Song of Solomon 5:4-5 we find the maiden expecting her beloved,

 

My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.  I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

 

The maiden is certain her beloved is there; but, as we find in Song of Solomon 5:6, she is terribly disappointed:

 

I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

 

Notice what happens next.  In Song of Solomon 5:7-8, we read:

 

The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.  I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.

 

Here again we read about the watchmen: they are identified with the local congregations.  They smote and wounded the maiden as she searched for her beloved.   They also took away her veil.  This indicates an attempt to bring shame on the maiden.

 

The remainder of this book mostly consists of poetic dialog by the maiden, the beloved and the “daughters of Jerusalem” (e.g., see Song of Solomon 5:9, 6:1).   These appear to be other true believers.

 

It is clear from Song of Solomon 5:7-8 that the beloved has gone; and when we continue reading to the end of the book, we realize that the beloved has not returned.  There is a verse (Song of Solomon 8:5) in which it appears at first that he may have returned.  However, the final verse (Song of Solomon 8:14) shows us that he hasn’t:

 

Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

 

The beloved is absent from the time the maiden expected him to be standing in the doorway, until the end of the book.  This identifies a time when salvation has ended.

 

When we compare events in the Song of Solomon against the Biblical timeline, we find something amazing.  Recall that the maiden went “about the city” looking for her beloved in chapter 3.  In Song of Solomon 3:4a, we read:

 

It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth:  

 

The timeline indicates that God stopped using the local congregations to save anyone in 1988.   There was a period of a few years (until 1994) when salvation stopped.  This period matches what we read in the above verse, for it was “but a little” after passing the watchmen that the maiden found her beloved.

 

For a while, she couldn’t find her beloved.  This was a period without salvation.  It matches the “silence in heaven about the space of half an hour” (Revelation 8:1) that came after the start of God’s judgment, which began at the local congregations (Revelation 6:12, a picture of the end of the church age).  Then, after “a little,” the maiden did find her beloved.  So God was once again saving people.

 

When God began saving people again, it was outside the local congregations.  This was the period of the “latter rain.”  During that time, God saved a great multitude.  He also caused a great warning to go out to the world to warn of His coming judgment on the whole world.   That judgment would be the final end of salvation.

 

This time of warning the world matches what we read in Song of Solomon 3:6-11.   Those who brought the warning are apparently identified as the threescore valiant men (Song of Solomon 3:7).  Notice that they all hold swords, as we read in verse 8:

 

They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.

 

In many verses, the Bible compares the word of God to a sword.  (Also notice the command in verse 11: “Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion….”).   Verses 6-11 certainly agree with our understanding of what happened during the latter rain, from 1994 until May of 2011.

 

We know that God began the church age in 33 AD.  For many years until then, he used the kingdom of Israel to represent His heavenly kingdom on earth.  In Song of Solomon, this long period of time appears to be the setting for everything that comes before chapter 3.  For example, in Song of Solomon 2:13, we find a reference to the fig tree’s fruit.  In the Bible, the fig tree is used to represent national Israel.  So the first two chapters appear to take place during Israel’s time as a kingdom and to continue through the entire New Testament era, right up to the end of the church age.

 

When the maiden finds her beloved in Song of Solomon 3:4, we know that salvation has resumed.  He continues to be present with her until chapter 5, verse 6:

 

I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

 

This verse matches what many people experienced on May 21, 2011. There was great certainty that the Lord Jesus would return on that date, but it did not happen.  They “sought him,” but “could not find him;” they called, but there was no answer.  At that time, the Lord had finished His work of saving people (Song of Solomon 5:3).  Continuing to Song of Solomon 5:7, we see this verse also matches what many experienced after May 21, 2011:

 

The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.

 

This verse paints a picture showing the ridicule that many experienced, largely from members of local congregations.  Some suffered much more than just ridicule, even suffering physically.  Despite this, God shows us in this book that He continues to love His people, as in Song of Solomon 6:9:

 

My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.

Just as the maiden misses the beloved (that is, as God’s people yearn to be with Him), God here shows us that He also wants to be with His people.  This condition of separation, however, must last until God’s pre-determined time has arrived – according to His plan.

 

We’ve seen how events in the Song of Solomon match God’s end-time salvation plan according to the Biblical timeline; but there is even more evidence that this book of the Bible is a picture of end-time events.  That evidence is found in a very strange verse near the end of the book.  In Song of Solomon 8:8, we read:

 

We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?

 

What could this verse possibly mean?  A verse that helps us understand this is 1 Corinthians 3:2:

 

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

 

In the Bible, milk often represents the truth of God’s word.  More than that, it represents the first truths that God gives a new believer out of His word.  With this in mind, we can understand the verse about the maiden’s little sister.  The little sister represents the last group of people to be saved.  She is a picture of the great multitude (Revelation 7:9) saved out of the end-time great tribulation (Revelation 7:14).  She will have no milk to feed any true believers who come after her because there won’t be any!

 

We can contrast the little sister with the maiden.  In Song of Solomon 8:10, we read:

 

I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.

 

This verse applies to the maiden.  Notice that it comes near the end of the book, so it is after the time when the maiden expected her beloved to be at the door.  The maiden will now have plenty of “milk” for those who are newly saved (also see Song of Solomon 4:5).  This agrees with what we have learned about God’s plan to open His word to our understanding: in the last days, there is more understanding of His word than ever before.  God’s word is open to reveal more truth than man has ever before understood.

 

So we see that this amazing book is actually about end-times.  It shows us pictures of the end of the church age, the pause in salvation, the latter rain, and the end of salvation.  It also shows us that God greatly opens up His word to our understanding in the end-times.  Most importantly, it shows that God’s people remain here after salvation has ended.

 

 

 Conclusion

 

In several different ways, God shows us that the world does not end until some time after salvation has ended.  Even before May 21, 2011, this was understood and taught correctly.  The mistake back then was to think the Rapture would happen when salvation ended.  It is now clear that there is a period of time – and we cannot know how long it will be – until the Rapture does take place.  That will be earth’s last day.  We can now understand this truth; but it is part of God’s mercy on the unsaved world that they do not.

 

God paints different pictures to show us that His children would mistakenly believe they had discovered the date for His return (the ten virgins, the faithful and unfaithful servants, the Song of Solomon).  He also shows that there would come a time when His people have been overcome or silenced and humiliated (the two witnesses, the 70th week of Daniel 9, the Song of Solomon).

 

There have been many occasions in church history when a group of believers became convinced that the Lord was just about to return.  However, we can be certain that the ten virgins, the faithful/unfaithful servants and the maiden in Song of Solomon do not portray believers from one of those early events.  When we read about them, we clearly see that God is telling us about end-times.

 

God also tells us something about how we should live during the time after salvation has ended.  He shows us that the true Gospel brings only judgment on the unsaved (the locusts of Revelation 9), so it is no longer necessary for God’s people to try to reach anyone who is clearly unsaved: the believers’ testimony is “finished” (the two witnesses).  He shows us that we need to “watch” (the ten virgins) how we live our lives, and to be concerned about fellow believers (the unexpected guest and the faithful servant).

 

Another place in the Bible where the Lord tells us how end-time believers ought to live is found in Luke 12:35-36:

 

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.

 

Notice here also that the Lord tells us He will be returning “from the wedding” when He comes.  The Greek word for wedding in this verse is actually plural.  In other words, the Lord will be returning from the “weddings.”  Here too, we see that God is teaching us that salvation has already ended by the time the Lord returns.  The “great multitude” has been saved: the “weddings” are over.  Until then, He wants His people to be prepared for His return at any time (“Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;”).

 

Also, until then we should continue searching God’s word and be prepared to learn anything new He may want to teach us.  This was the maiden’s prayer in Song of Solomon 8:13:

 

Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.

 

The final verse of this book is also the conclusion of the maiden’s prayer.  In Song of Solomon 8:14, we read:

 

Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

 

May this and the apostle John’s prayer (Revelation 22:20) also be our prayer: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

 

 

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