Tag Archive | "May 21 2011"

Riding The Timeline Through Jacob’s Amazing Prophecies

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Near the end of the book of Genesis, there are some amazing prophecies involving Jacob’s sons.  We will see that these prophecies actually reveal a great deal of information about God’s salvation plan; but before examining the prophecies, it helps to review some information that Genesis provides about the 12 men whose descendants became the 12 tribes of Israel.

 

 

Jacob’s Sons

 

 

1. Reuben:

 

Reuben’s mother was Leah and he was Jacob’s firstborn son, as we read in Genesis 29:32:

 

And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.

 

The name Reuben means “behold a son.”  Leah was Jacob’s first wife.  Jacob really loved Rachel and was supposed to marry her instead, but his uncle Laban deceived him into taking Leah while in a tent where it was too dark to see.  Apparently, the Lord didn’t like the fact that Jacob had once deceived his father Isaac by taking advantage of his father’s inability to see (Genesis 27:1-37), because Jacob was deceived in a similar way.

 

A key verse about Reuben is Genesis 35:22:

 

And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it.  

 

We will see that this sin of immorality is very relevant to the prophecy about Reuben.

 

 

2 -3.  Simeon and Levi:

 

And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon. 34 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.  ( Genesis 29:33-34)

 

In Jacob’s prophecy, Simeon and Levi are mentioned together – almost as if they were twins.  However, they were not twins.  Simeon was Jacob’s second son, and his name means “heard.”  The name of Levi, the third son, means “joined to.”

 

There are many verses about each of these two men individually.  But there is one incident in which they acted together.  It was to avenge their sister, Dinah.  Genesis 34:1-2 explains:

 

And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.  

 

After this happened, Shechem wanted to marry Dinah.  Jacob’s sons agreed to allow the marriage if all the men in that place were circumcised (Genesis 34:13-17).  However, Jacob’s sons spoke “deceitfully” when they made this agreement.

 

As a result, Shechem and his father met with the men of their city and made the case that they should all be circumcised, as we read in Genesis 34:23:

 

Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.

 

The men of the city were convinced by this argument and agreed to be circumcised (verse 24).  Genesis 34:25-26 tells us what happened next:

 

And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. 26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.    

 

We will see that these verses help us understand Jacob’s prophecy about Simeon and Levi.

 

 

4.  Judah:

 

And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.  (Genesis 29:35)

 

After Levi was born, Leah had another son: Judah.  According to the concordance, the word Judah means “praised.”  We will see that Jacob’s prophecy about Judah is very different than those for all the other sons.

 

Up to Judah, Jacob’s prophecies about his sons follow the order in which they were born: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah.  After Judah, the next son to be born was Dan; however, the next son listed in Judah’s prophecies is Zebulun.

 

 

5.  Zebulun:

 

He was Leah’s sixth son, as we read in Genesis 30:20:

 

And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun.

 

Zebulun was Jacob’s tenth son and Leah’s last.  His name means “exalted.”  In Jacob’s prophecies, Zebulun is the fifth son to be named.

 

 

6.  Issachar:

 

The sixth son named in Jacob’s prophecies is Issachar.  We first read about him in Genesis 30:17-18:

 

And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son. 18 And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.

 

Issachar was Jacob’s ninth son.  There is some ambiguity about the meaning of the name Issachar, but it’s related to Leah’s statement about being given her hire, referring to Genesis 30:14-16.  The concordance indicates his name could mean either “he is wages” or “he brings wages.”  When we get to the prophecies, we will see that both meanings fit.

 

 

7.  Dan:

 

And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. 6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.  (Genesis 30:5-6)

 

The next son named in Jacob’s prophecies is Dan.  According to the concordance, the name Dan means “a judge.”  Rachel was so desperate to have children that she gave her maid Bilhah to Jacob (Genesis 30:1-4).  Dan was Jacob’s fifth son and Bilhah’s first.

 

 

8.  Gad:

 

When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. 10 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.  (Genesis 30:9-11)

 

Gad was the eighth son to be named in Jacob’s prophecies; but in order of birth, Gad was Jacob’s seventh son.  His name means “a troop.”

 

 

9.  Asher:

 

And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.  (Genesis 30:12-13)

 

The name Asher means “happy.”   He was Zilpah’s second son, and Jacob’s eighth son.

 

 

10.  Naphtali:

 

And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. 8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.  (Genesis 30:7-8)

 

Jacob’s sixth son was Naphtali.  In Jacob’s prophecies about his sons, Naphtali was tenth in order.  His name means “wrestling.”

 

 

11.  Joseph:

 

After many years, God gave Rachel a son, as we read in Genesis 30:22-24:

 

And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. 23 And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: 24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.

 

Joseph’s name means “Jehovah has added.”  He was Jacob’s eleventh son.

 

 

12.  Benjamin:

 

We read about Benjamin’s birth in Genesis 35:16-18:

 

And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. 17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. 18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

The name Benjamin means “son of the right hand.”  He was Rachel’s second and last son, and Jacob’s twelfth and last son.

 

 

The Prophecies

 

Just before dying, Jacob asked to see his 12 sons, as we read in Genesis 49:1-2:

 

1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. 2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.

 

Jacob then went on to say something about each son.  Those statements have been understood as prophecies about the tribes that descended from his sons.  Past theologians have looked at Biblical accounts of individual tribes in the wilderness and Canaan as they tried to understand the prophecies.  Others believe the prophecies have been fulfilled by certain modern nations.  For example, the name “Denmark” may point to Dan’s descendants; and Britain may also trace its roots to one or more tribes of Israel (the word “British” apparently comes from two Hebrew words: the word for covenant –  “beriyth,” Strong’s number H1285; and the word for man – “iysh,” Strong’s number H376).  However, theologians have been looking in the wrong places in the Bible; and more importantly, they have been looking at the prophecies in the wrong way.

 

Even if Denmark or Great Britain or some other nation did originate with people from one of Israel’s tribes, prophecy has to do with God’s salvation plan.  That’s how we will see it fulfilled.  To understand what Jacob told his sons, we need to realize that God can use an individual to represent a group of people.  The group doesn’t have to be related to that individual by birth or nationality.  In fact, we know that God has saved people from every nationality, from all over the world.  This group whom God has saved – the elect – is the most important group in God’s salvation plan.

 

We can say that God’s salvation plan is what we know about His work through the ages to accomplish His purpose of saving a people for Himself.  God has revealed a great many details about this plan, and we can construct a timeline presenting some of that information as dates and events.  The timeline is the means by which we can understand Jacob’s prophecies.  Here is the timeline we need:

 


This timeline is a revision of the one Mr. Camping used.  Many people are familiar with it, because some of its dates were discussed very often over Family Radio for a couple of years before May 2011. The revisions to Mr. Camping’s timeline reflect what we have learned since 2011 (the feast of tabernacles has been deleted, because God shows us that this feast will be fulfilled in eternity; also, the timeline ends in a question mark because we do not know the last date and will not know it until it arrives).

 

Anyone who is familiar with the timeline should be thinking about it as soon as he or she reads Genesis 49:1.  Notice what Jacob told his sons: that he would tell them what “shall befall you in the last days.”  Our timeline includes the last three dates revealed by the Bible.  They are certainly important in any discussion of “the last days.”

 

This timeline begins in 1860 B.C. (see Time Has An End, p. 103 and Genesis 47:28 to determine this date) because that was the year of Jacob’s prophecies.  Thanks to Mr. Camping, we have a calendar of history going all the way back to Creation (in 11,013 B.C.); so our timeline could go back that far if needed.  However, to understand Genesis 49 our timeline starts in the year Jacob died – and that was when he spoke his amazing prophecies.

 

 

1.  Reuben

 

Here is what he said about Reuben (Genesis 49:3-4):

 

Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: 4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it : he went up to my couch.

 

We know that Jacob is here referring to Reuben’s sin of sexual immorality (Genesis 35:22).  However, this is also a prophecy: “Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.”  What can this possibly mean?

 

From Genesis 49:1, we know that Jacob’s prophecies are in some way concerned with the last days; but that doesn’t mean the prophecy for each son must be about the last days.  In fact, if we compare Jacob’s prophecy about Reuben with the timeline’s end-time events, we don’t see any way they match.  However, instead of looking near the end of the timeline, suppose we look at the period after the Exodus.

 

More than 400 years after Jacob died, the children of Israel escaped from slavery in Egypt.  They soon forgot about the Lord’s commandments and began to worship a molten calf, as we read in Exodus 32:7-8:

 

And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.   

 

Sadly, this was not a one-time mistake.  It turned out to be the kind of sin they committed over and over, century after century.  If you read the book of Judges, you’ll learn that there were many times when the children of Israel worshipped false gods.  Then, perhaps worst of all, after Israel had become a kingdom and was at the height of its power under king Solomon, we read this in 1 Kings 11:5-8:

 

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

 

Because of this sin, the Lord told Solomon that He would tear the kingdom from him (1 Kings 11:9-13).  In order to see how this relates to the prophecy about Reuben, we need to keep two other ideas in mind.  First, God sometimes compares His relationship with His people as a marriage.  The worship of false gods is compared to a wife’s immoral behavior.  Hosea 2:13 is a verse where we see this idea expressed:

 

And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.    

 

The second thing to keep in mind is that God has also used the idea of a son to represent His people.  We see this in Hosea 11:1-2:

 

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. 2 As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.

 

God is here referring to the children of Israel (at the time they came out of Egypt) as His son.  Notice that they soon “went from them;” that is, the children of Israel soon went from God to worship Baalim and graven images.  However, God associates the worship of false gods with sexual immorality.  So we can conclude that, in the prophecy, Reuben’s sexual immorality is a picture of Israel’s sin of worshipping false gods; and Reuben is a picture of the children of Israel from the time they left Egypt until the time of Solomon’s death.  They definitely did not excel.

 

 

2 -3.  Simeon and Levi:

 

The next prophecy concerns Simeon and Levi.  What Jacob said about them is found in Genesis 49:5-7:

 

Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. 6 O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

When Jacob said this, he was undoubtedly thinking about the incident involving his daughter Dinah, when Simeon and Levi killed all the males in a nearby city.  However, part of this statement is a prophecy.  At the end of verse 7, we read “I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.”  Of course, this is the Lord telling us about something He would do in the future.  We can know what this prophecy means if we make 931 B.C. our next stop on the timeline.

 

That was the year Solomon died and his son Rehoboam began to rule (1 Kings 11:43).  Recall that God had told Solomon He would take the kingdom from his son (1 Kings 11:12-13).  The stage was all set for this to happen when Rehoboam became king.  You can read all about it in 1 Kings 12.

 

The kingdom was divided.  Most of the people followed a man named Jeroboam.  This new kingdom of Israel consisted of all the tribes except for Judah and Benjamin (1 Kings 12:21).  Rehoboam continued as their king, but he now ruled over a much smaller territory and number of people.  His kingdom was now known as Judah.

 

Under Jeroboam, the kingdom of Israel got off to a very bad start.  Jeroboam was afraid he would lose his kingdom when people went back to Jerusalem to worship during the annual feasts, so he had two golden calves made and established his own false religion (1 Kings 12:26-33).  In that way, he tried to keep his people in the territory he controlled.

 

When we look at the histories of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah from the time of the division until they were conquered, we don’t find many good kings.  There were eventually a few good kings in Judah (based on what the Bible tells us about them, e.g. Hezekiah), but most were bad; and it doesn’t appear that there were any good kings in Israel.  As usual, the problem in each kingdom was the worship of false gods.  Eventually, God brought Assyria against the kingdom of Israel, and in 709 B.C. it was conquered.  Then in 587 B.C., Jerusalem was destroyed; and so the kingdom of Judah also came to an end.  As each kingdom fell centuries after the monarchy was divided, its people (the ten tribes of Israel and then the two tribes of Judah) were scattered throughout the region in accordance with Jacob’s prophecy.

 

 

4.  Judah:

 

The prophecy about Judah is very different than all the others.  We will see that each of the other brothers is a picture of God’s people at some time during God’s salvation plan, from the time of the Exodus until the end of the world.  However, Judah is a picture of the Lord Jesus.  (We will also see that the prophecy about Joseph is very special.)  Here is Jacob’s prophecy about Judah.  It’s found in Genesis 49:8-12:

 

Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. 9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. 11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: 12 His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

 

This prophecy takes us to the year 7 B.C. on the timeline.  That was the year the Lord Jesus was born.  Notice that verse 9 refers to Judah as a “whelp.”  You might also see it translated as the word “cub” if you’re using a version other than the KJV.  A whelp or a cub is a young animal, and that’s a picture of the Lord Jesus as a young boy.  That same verse mentions an old lion.  Indeed, the Lord Jesus was a man of about 38 years old when He was crucified.  In a vision years later, the apostle John heard the Lord Jesus called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, as we read in Revelation 5:5:

 

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

 

Continuing with the prophecy, Genesis 49:10 tells us about the Lord’s power as king and lawgiver.  The words “gathering of the people” may be a reference to the last day, when all true believers will join in the Rapture and Resurrection to meet the Lord in the air.  They will be gathered to Him (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and John 11:52).

 

The first part of verse 11 mentions a foal with a vine, and then an ass’s colt with a “choice vine.”  These two pairings may refer to the Lord’s relationship with both the Jewish nation of His day (most of whom were unsaved) and also with the true believers.

 

Next, we find references to wine and milk in verses 11 and 12.  Some New Testament verses help us understand what they represent.  In 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, we read about milk being fed to the believers at Corinth.  There, milk represents basic truths from the Bible; these are things that are easier to understand or accept than other Biblical truths we eventually learn.  Of course, the Lord Jesus was exposed to those teachings because He grew up in a Jewish household.

 

What about wine and “the blood of grapes?”  In each of the four Gospel accounts, we read something about the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before He was arrested.  There’s a reference to a cup in each account.  Here is the Luke 22:42 version:

 

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

 

When we search for verses to help us understand what this means, we find that God sometimes uses the idea of a cup to symbolize His judgment against the unsaved.  We see this in Revelation 14:10:

 

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

 

The Lord’s eyes are “red with wine,” according to Genesis 49:12, because He drank the cup of God’s wrath as the penalty for all those whom He saved.

 

In addition to seeing how the prophecy was fulfilled in the New Testament, it’s very interesting to notice how a couple of verses about events in the life of Jacob’s son Judah are apparently relevant to the prophecy.  One such verse is Genesis 43:9:

 

I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:

 

Here, Judah is speaking to his father Jacob about Benjamin.  He is promising to return Benjamin to his father after they go to Egypt to buy food.  Judah and his brothers still did not know at that time that the man with whom they had spoken on their first trip to Egypt was actually their brother Joseph.  On that first trip, Joseph had insisted that the brothers bring Benjamin when they return; otherwise he would not see them.  Jacob was afraid to let Benjamin go, but he felt he had no choice because the family needed food.  Judah’s guarantee to save Benjamin is like the Lord’s guarantee to save His people (see John 17:12).

 

Another relevant verse appears to be Genesis 46:28:

 

And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.

 

Here, we see that Jacob chose Judah to lead the move into Goshen.  In Genesis 47:6, Goshen is called the “best of the land.”  So God may be giving us a hint that Judah here represents the Lord Jesus leading His people to the Promised Land.  This too is consistent with Jacob’s prophecy about Judah, the son whose name means “praised.”

 

As we read about various people in the Bible, it’s important to realize that someone may be a picture of something spiritual in one verse or situation; but that picture may not apply in another verse about the same person.  This is certainly the case with Jacob’s son Judah.  Many verses about him have nothing to do with Jacob’s prophecy about him.  This is one of the ways God has made it so difficult to understand truth.

 

 

5.  Zebulun:

 

We’ve seen that Jacob’s prophecy about Judah is a picture of the Lord Jesus during His time on earth from 7 B.C. until the Crucifixion.  That happened April 1, 33 A.D., and that’s where we are as of Genesis 49:12.  In order to understand the prophecy about Zebulun, we only have to move a short distance on the timeline to the next stop, several weeks later.

 

On Pentecost, May 22, in 33 A.D., God poured out the Holy Spirit to begin the Church Age.  The prophecy about Zebulun is all about the Church Age.  Here is that prophecy, from Genesis 49:13:

 

Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.     

 

You probably know that the apostle Paul recorded more of the New Testament than anyone else.  He sailed all over the Mediterranean and started many congregations (for a site with maps of Paul’s missionary journeys, see http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journeys.htm).  We have his epistles to Christians at Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, Thessalonica and Rome.  He may also have written to many other congregations – letters that were not included in the Bible (e.g., see Colossians 4:16).

 

Do you see how this relates to the prophecy?  Zebulun is a picture of God’s people sending out ships to spread the Gospel all over the world, and of people accepting the Gospel when the ships land.  This activity continued throughout the Church Age until 1988.  Until then, it was still possible to be saved – at least in some local congregations.  That all ended on May 21, 1988, and that’s where we are stopped on the timeline right now.

 

 

6.  Issachar:

 

Before Jacob made his prophetic statements about his sons, he spoke of his two grandsons, who were Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh.  He prophesied that the younger (Ephraim) would be greater than the older, but that each would become a great people (Genesis 48:19).  So we see there a picture of two great groups of people.  You may know that this prophecy matches something we find in God’s salvation plan as pictured in the annual feasts God commanded ancient Israel to observe (Leviticus 23).  Those feasts include the feast of firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10) and a second feast held later in the year (Leviticus 23:39), when the larger harvest had been gathered.

 

Now let’s think about the Church Age.  It lasted for 1,955 years.  The Bible reveals that when it ended no one was being saved anywhere.  This period without salvation lasted for a few years, from May 21, 1988 until September 7, 1994.  That’s when God began the latter rain.  This was the time when He began saving a great multitude all over the earth.  It was also a time of judgment against the churches, because they did not participate in this blessing of salvation.  God has given us a picture of this change in His salvation plan in the sign He gave Gideon (Judges 6:36-40).  Do you recall that?  First, there was dew only on the fleece; but then, the dew fell everywhere except on the fleece.

 

During the Church Age, the local congregations were like that fleece.  They had the dew, and that’s where people were saved.  Then, during the latter rain, it was possible to be saved anywhere the word of God was heard – except in a local congregation of a Christian church.  And so we again see two great groups represented: one of them saved during the Church Age, and the second, larger group saved during an end-time period.

 

That great period of salvation we call the latter rain ended just before May 21, 2011.  The second group of God’s elect had by that time been saved.  That was the great multitude the apostle John saw in a vision (Revelation 7:9).  This great multitude from all over earth was saved after a smaller group (represented by 144,000 in Revelation 7:4) had been saved throughout the Church Age.

 

Recall that the prophecy about Zebulun matches the perod from 33 A.D. until May 21, 1988.  That’s our present stop on the timeline; but we’re about to move again.  Keeping all of this background in mind, we can now read Jacob’s prophecy about Issachar, found in Genesis 49:14-15:

 

Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: 15 And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

 

This mysterious prophecy is packed with meaning.  Each of Jacob’s prophecies about his sons is amazing, but this may be the most amazing prophecy of all.  What does it mean?

 

First of all, we need to recognize that verse 14 could have been better translated.  The word “burdens” is Strong’s number H4942, “mishpath.”  It’s only used in one other place in the Bible (Judges 5:16), and there it’s translated as “sheepfolds.”  A sheepfold is an enclosed area where a flock of sheep is kept.  So the picture we see in verse 14 is that of an animal like a donkey lying down near two sheepfolds.  Think of the verse as being translated like this:

 

“Issachar is a strong ass lying down between two sheepfolds.”

 

Notice how the prophecy matches what we know of God’s salvation plan.  It is telling of the time after the great multitude (Revelation 7:9) has been saved out of the great tribulation (Revelation 7:14).  It shows God’s people resting from their labor of bringing the Gospel to the world.  Here, Issachar is a picture of God’s people after the latter rain has ended.  So we move along the timeline from May 21, 1988 to May 21, 2011.

 

As of that date, the two big groups we read about in Revelation 7 have been saved and are in their sheepfolds.  The sheepfold gates are closed, and no more sheep can enter in at either sheepfold.  In other words, it’s a picture of the time when salvation has ended permanently.  In fact, Genesis 49:14 is a picture of God’s people today.

 

Genesis 49:15 provides additional details:

 

And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

 

The verse tells us they “saw” the rest.  When we see how the word “rest” (H4496) is used in other verses, we can conclude that the verse appears to teach that God’s people understand the truth about salvation: that they cannot work for it.  However, the verse may also teach that God’s people understand that salvation has ended.  This is consistent with the prophecy’s first verse, because Issachar is lying down.

 

What about the next part of the verse?  It tells us they saw the land, that it was pleasant.  When we understand what God tells us about this world, we can rule out the possibility that God’s people should think of it as being pleasant; so the verse must be telling us that God’s people are thinking of the new heavens and earth.  They are anticipating the Lord’s return and looking forward to their lives with Him in His kingdom.

 

The verse continues in a way that, at first glance, appears to contradict the first part of the prophecy.  The second part of verse 15 tells us that Issachar “bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.”  If Issachar is lying down and resting, then why is he working?

 

There’s a passage in Matthew 17 that helps us understand.  Matthew 17:24-25 states:

 

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?  He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

 

Here, the idea of paying tribute has to do with submitting to those who are in authority over us in this world.  In the above verses, it has to do with paying taxes.  Therefore, the prophecy about Issachar being a “servant unto tribute” appears to be showing us a picture of God’s people living as good citizens in whichever nations they are.  It implies that they’re living a normal life, trying to earn a living and be obedient to the laws of the land, always mindful that this is a wicked and God-rejecting world.

 

This picture of Issachar as God’s end-time elect continues until the last day.  There is no other timeline event after May 21, 2011 until the rapture/resurrection, and that’s exactly what the prophecy about Dan is all about.

 

 

7.  Dan:

 

Jacob’s prophecy about Dan comes right after his prophecy about Issachar.  It’s found in Genesis 49:16-18:

 

Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. 17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. 18 I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.

 

God gives us some clues that this prophecy concerns the last day.  First of all, we know that the Rapture and Resurrection will be a judgment (Dan is “a judge”) against all those who are following a false gospel.  Most people who today consider themselves as Christians follow a works-based gospel – what Mr. Camping used to call a do-it-yourself salvation plan.  They are certain they have been saved because of something they have done or continue to do (e.g., baptism in water, a public confession of faith, regular attendance at mass).  The Bible shows us that the Resurrection and Rapture will be a judgment against them because they will realize that they have been left behind on earth after the elect have been taken up to heaven.

 

Another clue about the meaning of this prophecy is its similarity to something found in Revelation 9.  There, we read about the sounding of the sixth trumpet (verses 13-21), and what the apostle John saw in a vision associated with that trumpet.  In the vision, John saw a great army of horsemen riding horses having tails like serpents (verse 19).  In other verses from Revelation, this event is described as a battle against a great earthly army gathered by Satan.  The horses with the serpent-like tails represent a heavenly army (all of those who have been saved) bringing God’s judgment against an earthly army, who represent the unsaved (see Revelation 16:13-16 and Revelation 19:17-21).  That’s the meaning of “biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.”

 

The first two verses of the Dan prophecy tell of the judgment aspect of the Rapture/Resurrection.  The third verse (Genesis 49:18) also points to the last day, but in a different way.  The words “I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD” tell us about the completion of salvation.  This verse is not telling us that salvation continues after the Issachar prophecy.  To understand this, read Exodus 14:13:

 

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

 

The word salvation used in Genesis 49:18 is the same Hebrew word used for “salvation” here, telling us the children of Israel saw “the salvation of the LORD.”  However, from the book of Exodus we know this does not mean the children of Israel were saved.  On the contrary, only Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Caleb and maybe a few others were saved out of that whole multitude of people.

 

The children of Israel saw the Lord’s salvation that day because God saved them from the Egyptian army.  The situation on the last day will be similar for the elect because those who are still alive will be rescued from this world.  Also, all the elect will see their salvation completed as they inherit their immortal bodies.

 

The prophecies we have covered so far span God’s salvation plan from the Exodus until the last day.   With the prophecy about Dan, we have come to the end of the timeline; but there are still five prophecies to go.  What do we do with them?

 

There is really no problem here, once we realize that God has done something similar to what we see in the book of Revelation.  There, we find that visions corresponding to the seven seals and seven trumpets follow in chronological order.   However, the visions that come afterwards do not follow chronologically.  With Jacob’s prophecies, the situation is similar, but maybe not so difficult to understand.

 

Recall that the prophecy for Zebulun extends to the end of the Church Age, during which a large group of people was saved; but the prophecy for Issachar begins after the great multitude – the second large group of elect – has already been saved.  In other words, the entire period of the great tribulation was skipped.  In Jacob’s remaining prophecies, God goes back to that period to show us five different pictures of His people living during those days.

 

 

8.  Gad:

 

Jacob’s prophecy about Gad is found in Genesis 49:19:

 

Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.

 

Notice that Gad will be “overcome.”  Compare that with what we find in Revelation 11:7, where we read about the two witnesses.  They represent those who bring an end-time warning that God’s judgment is near:

 

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

 

There are several places in the Bible where God reveals that His people are overcome or silenced in some way in the last days.  The prophecy about Gad is one of them.

 

We now know how it happened.  As part of the warning that May 21, 2011 would be Judgment Day, the world was also told to expect an enormous global earthquake, followed by the Rapture and Resurrection.   Since there was no physical sign of any kind that day, those who brought the warnings have been discredited in the world’s eyes.  Many have suffered much more than loss of credibility, besides sorrow and disappointment.

 

In this way, “Gad” has been overcome; but the verse also tells us that Gad – that is, God’s people – shall overcome at the last.  This is clearly a reference to the Rapture and Resurrection on the last day.  In fact, the Hebrew word translated “at the last” is the same word found in the prophecy about Dan (Strong’s number H6119, “aqeb”), where it’s translated as “heels,” as in horse heels.   Therefore, Gad is also that “serpent by the way” bringing judgment on the last day when he is caught up to heaven.

 

 

9.  Asher:

 

Recall that the name Asher means “happy.”  Therefore, we should expect the prophecy about him to imply that God’s people will be happy about something in the last days.  This prophecy is another short one, and it’s found in Genesis 49:20:

 

Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.

 

When we check the word translated here as “bread” in a concordance, we find that it’s the same word used to describe the manna with which God fed the children of Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4).  Recall that the Lord Jesus compared Himself with that bread (John 6:41).  Also, the Lord is called the Word in the fourth Gospel (John 1:1).  Based on these verses, it appears that Asher’s bread represents the spiritual food we get from the Bible when God opens His word to our understanding.

 

The word “fat” is used in several verses in the Old Testament.  For example, in Ezekiel 34:14 we find the term “fat pasture.”  The idea is that there is a great abundance of something.  The prophecy, therefore, seems to be telling us that God will open His word to reveal truth abundantly – to reveal things that have never before been understood.

 

The second part of the verse tells us “he shall yield royal dainties.”  The word translated here as “yield” is also found in Psalm 85:12, where it’s used with the idea of land that yields a crop.  This part of the prophecy, therefore, appears to be telling us about the fruit of the Spirit developing in God’s people during the last days as they wait for the Lord to return.  In this way, Asher will yield “royal dainties.”  That’s a development that will be pleasing to God.

 

 

10.  Naphtali:

 

Here is the prophecy about Naphtali from Genesis 49:21:

 

Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

 

We might think it strange that Naphtali is called a “hind,” but we can understand why he is after we have read the Song of Solomon.  Here is the last verse of that book, Song of Solomon 8:14:

 

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

 

The beloved in this verse is the Lord Jesus, and the speaker is a maiden who is a picture of true believers waiting for the Lord’s return on the last day.  Notice that the Lord is compared to a hart, which is a male deer.  A hind, on the other hand, is a female deer.

 

In many places in the Bible, God pictures His relationship with the elect as a marriage.  The Church – being the entire body of believers – is pictured as a bride (e.g., see Revelation 21:9).  In the Song of Solomon and (by logical extension) in Jacob’s prophecy about Naphtali, we find that relationship represented by a hart and a hind.

 

The prophecy tells us that Naphtali is a hind “let loose.”  When we check a concordance to see how the corresponding Hebrew word is used, we find that most of the time it’s translated as “send” or “send away” or something close to that.  It is Strong’s number H7971, “shalach,” and it’s the word used in Exodus in verses where the Lord commands Pharaoh to let the people go (e.g., Exodus 9:13).

 

From the context of this prophecy, we know that Naphtali is in some way a picture of the elect during the great tribulation.  It appears that Naphtali represents those who were saved during the latter rain.  They heard the warning that Judgment Day was approaching, and they were saved.  They were released or let go from Satan’s kingdom after the “wrestling” or struggles of those who warned the world about Judgment Day and prayed that their efforts would be effectual.

 

The last part of the prophecy tells us Naphtali “giveth goodly words.”  This part of the verse appears to be well translated, and fits well with what we have learned so far.  The “goodly words” appear to be referring to prayers of those who had become saved.  We can see this from the way “words” is used in Psalm 19:14 and 54:2.  However, “goodly words” might also refer to the testimony of the end-time elect if they too preached the Gospel after they had been saved.  The latter rain lasted for several years, so some people who had been saved then could have joined in proclaiming the approach of Judgment Day.

 

 

11.  Joseph:

 

Even a quick look at the prophecy concerning Joseph shows that this one is very different than the others.  Here it is, from Genesis 49:22-26:

 

Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: 23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him , and hated him: 24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) 25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: 26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

 

This is the longest of Jacob’s 12 prophecies, even a bit longer than the one about Judah.  Also, notice how Joseph is blessed.  The blessings pronounced on him are far beyond any blessings pronounced on the other sons.

 

There are actually two different ways to understand this prophecy; but we don’t have to choose one of them because God gives us enough evidence to know that both are valid.  To begin, let’s take a look at a couple of events in Joseph’s life.  In Genesis 37:9-10, we read a description of a dream Joseph had:

 

And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?  

 

Joseph told the dream to his father, and Jacob apparently wasn’t very happy when he heard it.  In many other Bible verses, we find that stars are used to represent the elect; but we also know that God’s people don’t bow down to another believer.  God has shown this to us in a couple of ways.  For instance, in Revelation 22:8-9 we read:

 

And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. 9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

 

Therefore, the way to understand Joseph’s dream is to realize that God is using him there to represent the Lord Jesus.  Here’s another verse in which Joseph is a picture of the Lord – Genesis 45:7:

 

And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

 

Here, Joseph is telling his brothers that their plot against him was actually part of God’s purpose to bring him to power in Egypt, where he would make preparations for the great famine.  In a general sense, this is something the Lord had already done, and on a far greater scale.  That’s because it was God’s purpose to save a people for Himself out of all humanity – a process begun before the foundation of the world.  That’s when the Lord Jesus paid for the sins of the elect and began “a great deliverance.”

 

When we think about the things mentioned in the Joseph prophecy, we can see how they fit into the Lord’s life.  First of all, look at the first verse.  It compares Joseph to a fruitful bough with branches.  Compare that with what the Lord Jesus is quoted as saying in John 15:5:

 

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

 

The next verse in the prophecy also fits as a description of the Lord.  It tells us “archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.”  Recall the prophecy made in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve were about to be cast out.  It’s Genesis 3:15:

 

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

 

So in Jacob’s prophecy, the idea of Joseph being “sorely grieved” or hurt in some way obviously fits the Lord’s experience.   The prophecy then mentions Joseph’s bow.  Notice how the Lord is pictured as having a bow in Lamentations 2:4:

 

He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire.  

 

In the prophecy’s last verse, we see mention of a crown.  Here is a verse telling us that the Lord Jesus has a crown – Revelation 14:14:

 

And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.

 

Genesis 49:26 ends by referring to Joseph as “him that was separate from his brethren.”  Of course, it’s a well-known story about Joseph’s brothers planning to kill him and then selling him into slavery; but the Lord Jesus was also separated from His brothers.  We read about that in Acts 1:9-11, which took place immediately after He had spoken with His disciples for the last time:

 

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

 

Notice the words “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven.”  The day the Lord ascended into heaven, He left His disciples behind – looking up at a cloud in the sky where He disappeared.  Recall what the Lord said when someone told Him that His mother and brothers were waiting for Him.  In Matthew 12:48-49, we read:

 

But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

 

Therefore, we can say that the Lord Jesus was “separate from his brethren” when He ascended into heaven, and so He also fulfilled that part of Jacob’s prophecy (Genesis 49:26).

 

There is no doubt that the prophecy about Joseph points to the Lord Jesus, and we’ve seen how He fulfilled it.  However, the prophecy also works as a picture of God’s people during the great tribulation and afterwards.  Let’s see how it does.

 

First of all, notice that Joseph is called “a fruitful bough” (Genesis 49:22).  Here is another verse in which the Hebrew word for “fruitful” (Strong’s number H6509, “parah”) is used – Genesis 48:4:

 

And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.

 

This verse quotes something the Lord said to Jacob.  We find the same word “parah” used in several other verses in the same way.  It’s associated with the idea that God will multiply the number of His people.  That happened to “Joseph” because God used the proclamation of the Gospel to save a great multitude of people during the latter rain.  Joseph is a picture of God’s people warning the world about the approaching end of salvation, with the result that a great many people were saved.

 

In the prophecy’s next verse, we read “The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.”  This is another one of several verses showing that God’s people are in some way overcome or injured in the last days.  It matches Jacob’s prophecy about Gad (Genesis 49:19), and concerns the world’s reaction after May 21, 2011 to those who had warned the world about Judgment Day.

 

In Genesis 49:24, we read about Joseph’s bow.  There is something very interesting about a bow in 2 Samuel 1:17:

 

And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: 18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)

 

Any commentary you read about these verses will probably tell you that “the bow” is the name of the lamentation recorded in verses 19 to 27.  However, we must not jump to this conclusion.  Elsewhere in the Bible, when we read the words someone spoke on a particular occasion, there is a particular word describing the quote (e.g., song or psalm).

 

In this case, verse 18 actually seems to be telling us that David wanted his soldiers to learn how to use a bow. That is of great significance if you realize that David is often a picture of the Lord Jesus.  It also makes sense for David to say such a thing.  After all, Israel had just suffered a great defeat.  David would naturally be concerned about improving the capabilities of his army.

 

Indeed, the elect are pictured as having a bow in some verses.  Jeremiah 50:14 is one of them:

 

Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the LORD.  

 

The wicked are also pictured using a bow, as in Psalm 37:14.  (They are pictured with a sword too, as in Revelation 6:4, because they use the word of God for their own selfish purposes, with the frequent result that they persecute others.)  However, what’s important for our understanding is that the end-time elect meet all the requirements in Jacob’s prophecy about Joseph.

 

Continuing with Jacob’s prophecy, read again about the blessings pronounced on Joseph.  There are blessings of heaven, the deep, the breasts and the womb.  The blessings of heaven include God’s promise of the new heavens and the new earth, and that His people (who are spiritual descendants of Jacob) would be greatly increased in number.  The prophecy apparently also includes material blessings (as in Leviticus 25:21).  We might think it strange that God promises prosperity to any of His people, but it definitely makes sense in this case.  Remember, millions of dollars were spent in the effort to warn the world about the approach of Judgment Day.  This money was raised by many thousands of people all over the world who were able to donate it.

 

“Blessings of the breast” apparently refer to the “milk” of God’s word: those who brought the warnings about Judgment Day had access to the true Gospel.  These were people who were outside the local congregations of Christian churches, where a false gospel was preached.  “Blessings of the deep” and “the womb” also fit perfectly into this portrait of God’s people during the great tribulation.  Those blessings appear to tell us of the many people who were saved during that time.  They represent people being born again, or rescued from the condition of being under God’s judgment (the deep).

 

Genesis 49:26 tells of a crown for Joseph.  Several verses mention a crown for the elect.  Revelation 3:11 is one such verse:

 

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.        

 

So the promise of a crown applies to God’s people during the great tribulation (and of course during earlier periods too).  Finally, the prophecy refers to Joseph as “him that was separate from his brethren.”  Can you see how this also perfectly fits this picture of God’s people during the great tribulation?  Those who left the local congregations left their “brethren” behind.  The decision to leave was undoubtedly a difficult one in many cases; but as more people realized that the churches were teaching a false gospel, they made that decision and left.  Some of those who left eventually shared their knowledge and the warnings about Judgment Day with many others.

 

 

12.  Benjamin:

 

Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.

There’s not much to this prophecy– just one verse, Genesis 49:27.  However, in the context of Jacob’s other prophecies, it’s enough for us to understand much of what God is telling us about Benjamin.  In several places in the Bible, God uses nighttime as His setting to illustrate the Lord’s return on the last day.  We also know that the elect will inherit the new heavens and earth on the last day.  These two pieces of information allow us to understand the second part of the verse: Benjamin is a picture of God’s people on the last day.  That’s when they will “divide the spoil” and receive their inheritance.

 

Notice that the verse also contrasts night with morning by telling us “in the morning he shall devour the prey.”   We’ve learned that night is used to indicate a time when salvation has ended; so morning in this verse must refer to the time when salvation was still possible.  That was during the latter rain – the period that lasted almost 17 years until May in 2011.  God is apparently showing us that Benjamin participated in bringing the message about Judgment Day.  The words “devour the prey” suggests judgment on the unsaved as they hear and reject the message.  There’s much more we can say about Benjamin as a picture of God’s people during the great tribulation; but first we need to look at some events in his life and in the life of his older brother.

 

 

A Closer Look at Joseph and Benjamin

 

We’ve seen how Jacob’s prophecies about his sons reveal God’s end-time salvation plan and show us pictures of His people at various times.  In a few of those prophecies, there are obvious references to events in the lives of Jacob’s sons.  We saw that Jacob’s prophecies about Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Joseph (as pictures of God’s people) all refer to actual events in their lives.  Now we need to take a closer look at some verses concerning Joseph and Benjamin.

 

At the very end of Genesis, we read about Joseph’s death.  In Genesis 50:24, we read:

 

And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

 

We know that this statement was also a prophecy, because over three hundred years after Joseph made it God did visit His people: He picked Moses to lead them out of Egypt and eventually into the Promised Land.  Notice how God emphasizes this idea in the next verse, Genesis 50:25:

 

And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

 

Here for a second time we see the words “God will surely visit you.”  A repetition like that should get our attention.  In fact, when we think about it we see that Joseph’s statement fits perfectly into Jacob’s prophecy about him as a picture of the elect during the great tribulation.

 

In the prophecies, Issachar and all the sons mentioned after Dan represent God’s people after salvation has ended; but Joseph’s last words reveal that God is showing us something special about him.  It is this: Joseph is a picture of those who die while waiting for the Lord’s return. The prophecy shows that the Lord does not return quickly after salvation ends.  In this picture, years go by and “Joseph” dies, with his last words as a reminder of God’s promise to those who remain.  It’s as if he tells them “God will return, and when He does you will carry me up with you to meet Him in the air.”

 

Joseph is a picture of those who don’t live long enough to see the last day, and Benjamin is a picture of those who do.  Certain events in his life support this understanding.  First of all, recall that Benjamin’s mother died as soon as he was born (see Genesis 35:17-18).  This event matches his position in the sequence of Jacob’s prophecies – he is last.  It shows that Benjamin represents the last group to be saved.  After him, there are no longer any “blessings of the womb.”  Salvation ends right after “Benjamin” is saved.

 

We also need to remember that Benjamin was Joseph’s younger brother.  We find a similar relationship in the Song of Solomon.  There, we read about a maiden, who represents end-time believers (see Song of Solomon 5:5-7).  The maiden’s little sister (Song of Solomon 8:8-9) also represents the last group to be saved.  Notice what we read about the little sister in Song of Solomon 8:8: there will be no “milk” for any one else, and so there will be no more true believers.  And the Bible gives us another picture of the last believers to remain on earth: that’s Lazarus.  We see that in John 21:20-24.  Yes, that disciple was Lazarus – not the apostle John.

 

Next, notice how Benjamin is treated in Genesis 43:34 and Genesis 45:22.  God is showing us that Benjamin is blessed more than the other ten brothers who have come to Joseph.  This is also consistent with what we have learned about Benjamin as a picture of the end-time elect.  He is blessed above the other brothers because he never dies.  He is a picture of the believers who are taken up in the Rapture.  All the other believers will be resurrected, because they will have died before the last day; but “Benjamin” will live to see the Lord return.

 

Besides all this, there are two interesting facts about the tribe descended from Benjamin, and they appear to fit very well with our understanding of the Benjamin prophecy as a picture of the last believers.  First, look at what we find in 1 Chronicles 12:2:

 

They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul’s brethren of Benjamin.

 

This verse is describing a group of elite warriors from the tribe of Benjamin.  They came to help David when Saul was hunting him.  Now consider this.  We’ve learned that God has a reason for everything He put in the Bible; so why would He tell us about these men?  The answer could be God is telling us that, among the last believers to remain on earth, there will be some who have a great understanding and ability to use God’s word.

 

Many people know that a sword is used to represent the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).  Well, a stone hurled from a sling, or an arrow shot from a bow can also represent the word of God.  This way of understanding 1 Chronicles 12:2 is consistent with what we have already learned.  Recall that in Jacob’s prophecy about Asher, God shows that He will open His word to reveal wonderful new truths to end-time believers.  By the time the last day finally arrives, God will have opened the Bible to its maximum extent.  The last believers alive should have a better understanding of God’s word than those at any other time in history.  Therefore, they should be able to destroy any false teaching by accurately using God’s word.

 

There’s another fact about the tribe of Benjamin, but this one is not good news.  In 1 Samuel 9:21, we read:

 

And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?

 

Here, God is telling us that Benjamin is the smallest tribe.  The book of Judges explains why that is.  The tribe was almost wiped out in a war with Israel’s other tribes, because they refused to hand over men who were responsible for a horrible crime.  The tribe survived, but its numbers were greatly reduced (Judges 21:17).

 

This piece of information about the tribe of Benjamin also fits the prophecy.  It shows us that many years will pass before the Lord returns.  “Benjamin” will be small because many of those believers who brought the warning about Judgment Day in 2011 will no longer be alive on the last day.

 

With that last piece of information about Benjamin, we can now see how Jacob’s last two prophecies fit together.   First, we have Joseph as a picture of those end-time believers who brought the warning about Judgment Day, but will not live long enough to see the Lord’s return.  Next, we have Joseph again – this time as a picture of the Lord Jesus.  That prophecy will be fulfilled when the Lord Jesus returns on the last day.  Finally, we have Benjamin as a picture of end-time believers who live to see the Lord’s return.  That’s the group we read about in 1 Thessalonians 4:17:

 

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

 

These are the “Benjamites” who “divide the spoil” at night.

 

 

Related Blessings by Moses

 

Before dying, Moses blessed the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 33:1-25).  When we compare these blessings with Jacob’s prophecies, we find some interesting similarities; but there are some differences too.

 

 

Reuben, Judah, Levi, Benjamin and Joseph

 

Moses first blessed the tribe of Reuben, and we find that blessing in Deuteronomy 33:6:

 

Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.

 

Look closely at that verse.  The word “not” is in italics because the translators added it.  They probably couldn’t believe that Moses would “bless” Reuben with “let his men be few.”  But that’s what Moses said.  Remember that in Jacob’s prophecy about Reuben, he said Reuben would “not excel.”

 

In that prophecy, Reuben is a picture of the children of Israel when the Lord brought them out of Egypt, continuing until the kingdom was eventually divided.  Based on Moses’ statement, we can conclude that relatively few people were saved during that whole period of time.

 

It’s interesting that we see confirmation of this in the book of Revelation.   There we read about the two large groups of people whom God has saved.  One group was saved during the entire church age, and the other was saved during the great tribulation.  We might wonder about those who were saved before the church age began, going all the way back to creation.  God apparently answers that question by telling us about the elders who are with Him in heaven.  We read about them in Revelation 5:8:

 

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

 

Notice there are 24 elders, and that number can be broken down into two little groups of 12 each.  By giving us that number, God appears to be showing us that He had saved two small groups before the church age began.  We know from Revelation that the two large groups were saved after the church age began: one group came out of the church age and the other out of the great tribulation.  The 24 elders match these two groups and apparently show us that there was also a division made before Jacob’s time.  Perhaps the number shows that a small group was saved from creation until the flood, and another from Noah’s day until around the time the church age began.  However, compared to the two large groups, their numbers were indeed few.

 

After blessing Reuben, Moses next blessed the tribe of Judah.  Deuteronomy 33:7 states:

 

And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies.

 

We know that Jacob’s prophecy about Judah concerns the Lord Jesus.  What Moses said about Judah also fits this picture.  Notice the words “bring him unto his people.”  That happened when the Lord was born in 7 B.C.  The verse is also a blessing for help in the ordeal that the Lord would face in 33 A.D.

 

The fact that Judah comes second indicates that, in these blessings, Reuben may be a picture of the children of Israel from the Exodus all the way up to the time when the Lord Jesus was born.

 

Next, Moses spoke of Levi.  This is a fairly long blessing (Deuteronomy 33:8-11), and it’s definitely different than Jacob’s prophecy about Levi and Simeon together.  First of all, there is no mention of Simeon here.  In fact, that tribe is just not mentioned anywhere in these blessings; so it’s clear that God is using Levi in a different way here.

 

First, notice that in Deuteronomy 33:8 we find a reference to the time when the children of Israel were in the wilderness at Meribah (Exodus 17:7).  That was one of several incidents when they sinned.  It’s a picture of unsaved people.  However, the blessing on Levi also clearly refers to the elect (as in verses 10 and 11: e.g., “they shall put incense before thee,” and “Bless, LORD, his substance”).  We know that even during Israel’s time in the wilderness, at least a few people there were saved.  Then throughout the church age and latter rain, salvation continued.  So “Levi” appears to be a picture of God’s people through the ages, from the time of the Exodus until salvation ended after the latter rain.

 

The blessing for Benjamin is found in Deuteronomy 33:12.  There doesn’t appear to be anything about it pointing to a particular period of time.  However, this blessing is consistent with Jacob’s prophecy about Benjamin, and with the preceding blessing for Levi as a picture of the elect right up to end-times, and also with the blessing on Joseph that follows.

 

When we read what Moses said about Joseph in Deuteronomy 33:13-17, we must conclude that here again we are seeing a picture of the Lord Jesus.  Once more, many blessings are pronounced on him.  Verse 17 mentions his glory and also horns – a symbol of power.  We read that he shall “push the people together to the ends of the earth.”  This blessing about “Joseph” doesn’t work as a picture of the elect in this case.  It can only be a picture of the Lord.

 

Up to this point in the sequence of Moses’ blessings, we’ve gone from a picture of Israel (Reuben) in the wilderness and continuing until the Lord Jesus came (Judah).  Then we have Levi and his children.  They fit as a picture of the external representation of the kingdom of God from the time of the Exodus until the very end of salvation.  Then comes Benjamin; he still fits as a picture of the last group of true believers, because he is right before Joseph – who represents the Lord Jesus. Joseph’s position in the list indicates that he is a picture of the Lord returning on the last day.  These blessings account for five of Jacob’s sons.  The remaining blessings concern six of Jacob’s sons: Zebulun, Issachar, Gad, Dan, Naphtali and Asher.

 

 

Zebulun, Issachar, Gad, Dan, Naphtali and Asher

 

Verses 18 and 19 cover the blessings on Zebulun and Issachar.  However, before reading that blessing, notice something about the blessing for Joseph.  In Deuteronomy 33:17, we read: “…he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

 

We’ve seen that Ephraim and Manasseh represent the two great groups of people whom God planned to save throughout the church age and the great tribulation, respectively.  Manasseh corresponds to those saved during the church age, and Ephraim to those saved during the great tribulation.  Recall also that Jacob’s prophecy about Zebulun told of people who “dwell at the haven of the sea” and are “a haven of ships.”  It was a picture of God’s people going out in ships to spread the Gospel, with the result that many people were saved.  Notice how Moses’ blessing of Zebulun confirms this understanding, because Zebulun is told to rejoice “in thy going out.”  In Deuteronomy 33:18-19 we read:

 

And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents. 19 They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.   

 

The blessing also tells us that “Zebulun” would call the people “unto the mountain.”  This happened when the elect who spread the Gospel during the church age called men to repentance and to God.  The result was that many were saved – they were rescued out of the “seas” and the “sand.”  And it’s very important to notice that the blessing is for Zebulun to rejoice “in thy going out.”  That certainly agrees with Jacob’s prophecy about Zebulun and the idea of ships sailing out to spread the Gospel.

 

Moses’ blessing about Issachar also matches Jacob’s prophecy, but it actually shows us pictures of God’s people at two different times.  In Jacob’s prophecy, we see “Issachar” at rest between the two sheepfolds of Manasseh and Ephraim.  Moses’ blessing of Issachar certainly matches the prophecy, for it tells Issachar to rejoice “in thy tents.”  It confirms the end of salvation, because “Issachar” is now staying in his “tents.”  But Moses’ blessing of Issachar also tells of calling the people “unto the mountain.”

 

There is no contradiction here, because that is what “Issachar” did before “lying down.”  Jacob’s prophecy about Issachar is a picture of God’s people after the two big groups have been saved.  Moses’ blessing of Issachar refers to that time too (post May 2011) in Deuteronomy 33:18; but it also refers to the final period of salvation (from September 1994 until May 2011), when God’s people were actively bringing the Gospel by announcing the approach of Judgment Day.  Of course, the result of that effort was that a “great multitude” (Revelation 7:9, 14) was saved, and in that way “Issachar” also called the people “unto the mountain.”

 

The remaining blessings are mysterious, but they are compatible with the corresponding prophecies that Jacob spoke about his sons.  In Deuteronomy 33:20-21, we find Moses’ blessing of Gad:

 

And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head. 21 And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel.

 

This blessing tells of Gad being enlarged.  That happened during the great tribulation before “Gad” was overcome (Genesis 49:19).  Gad is a picture of God’s people being “enlarged” because more people became saved during the latter rain.  The blessing also tells us that Gad “provided the first part for himself.”  Other translations render this idea as Gad choosing the best of the land or the best land.  This clearly refers to the inheritance that God’s people will receive.

 

Also, notice that Gad was with “the heads of the people” and “executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel.”  This part of the blessing supports our understanding that the end-time warnings before May of 2011 were in accordance with the Lord’s will, and that they reached the top levels of government and organized religion all over the world.

 

Deuteronomy 33:22 is the blessing for Dan:

 

And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion’s whelp: he shall leap from Bashan.

 

We saw that Jacob’s prophecy about Dan was a picture of all the elect during the Rapture and Resurrection.  Moses’ blessing of Dan appears to show him as a picture of the elect who remain until the last day.  They shall “leap from Bashan” when they are taken up in the Rapture.  Notice also that Dan is compared to a young lion.  That may be a reference to the change that God’s people will undergo on the last day.  A verse that relates to this idea is 1 John 3:2:

 

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

 

After blessing Dan, Moses blessed Naphtali.  That blessing is found in Deuteronomy 33:23:

 

And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south.

 

This is another short blessing but, based on its context, we can be certain that Naphtali is a picture of the elect after salvation has ended, just as he is in Jacob’s prophecy (Genesis 49:21).   The words “possess thou the west and the south” refer to the inheritance.  However, it seems to be more a promise of the inheritance rather than its fulfillment.

 

Other translations of this verse refer to the south and the lake, or the sea.  Of course, in Israel the sea is to the west.  There’s a possible reason that the blessing includes only the west and south, or the sea and south.  It is this: some verses tell of judgment coming out of the north or east.  For instance, in Genesis 41:6 we read:

 

And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.

 

This was part of pharaoh’s dream, in which God warned him about the coming drought and famine – a picture of God’s judgment.  And we find another one in Jeremiah 1:14, where we read:

 

Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.

 

There is a verse in which it appears that judgment comes out of the south: Job 37:9.  However, if you check the original language (Strong’s number H2315: “cheder”) you’ll see that every other time that word is used (37 times besides its use in Job 37:9) the word is translated differently.  It’s usually translated as “chamber” or “inner” or something similar.  So it makes sense Naphtali should possess the west and south, and that north and east are excluded from the blessing on Naphtali, since the time setting is before the last day.

 

Moses last blessing on the tribes of Israel is found in Deuteronomy 33:24-25:

 

And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. 25 Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

 

Here again, the context tells us that Asher is a picture of God’s people after salvation is over.  Asher is blessed with children because many people were saved during the great tribulation, and Asher represents those who brought the Judgment Day warnings during that time.  The oil mentioned in verse 24 tells us of salvation.  That applies to “Asher” and his children.

 

Next, we come to something difficult to understand.  The first part of verse 25 states “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass.”  The word “shoes” is based on a word not found anywhere else in the Bible – that’s Strong’s number H4515 (“man’ al”); and that word appears to come from H5274 (“na’ al”), which is a word used eight times in various verses.  In verses where that word is used, it is mostly translated as “lock,” or “bolt,” or with the idea that something is enclosed.  For this reason, it appears that the KJV translation here is misleading.  The Revised Standard Version seems to give us a more accurate translation of this verse.  Here is the RSV translation of Deuteronomy 33:25:

 

Your bars shall be iron and bronze; and as your days, so shall your strength be.

 

The idea of iron and bronze bars fits with our understanding that salvation has ended and that “the door” to salvation is shut.  No one else can get in.  This picture matches what we see about Issachar in Jacob’s prophecy.  He is lying down between two sheepfolds.  The sheep are enclosed because salvation is over.  After sheep are brought into a sheepfold, the gate is closed.

 

It’s important to realize that these last blessings on the tribes are actually different pictures of the same group of people.  That was true of the last five sons mentioned in Jacob’s prophecies (Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin), and it’s true of the last five tribes mentioned in Moses’ blessings (Issachar, Gad, Dan, Naphtali, and Asher).  In each case, God is telling us something about His people during the last days.

 

There’s only one more piece to the blessing on Asher: “and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”  Once again, God is telling us in a very indirect way that there will be a long time between the end of salvation and the last day.  Asher is blessed with strength to last as long as his days, because his days will be long.  It’s a blessing for a long life, but that means “Asher” will have a long wait until the Lord returns.  In Moses’ blessings, Asher is the last son to be mentioned.  He corresponds with Benjamin in Jacob’s prophecies, and they represent the true believers who remain alive to be raptured on the last day.

 

Moses spoke his blessings shortly before dying (Deuteronomy 34:5-7). The children of Israel crossed the Jordan soon after that, apparently only a matter of several weeks later.  We can therefore date the year of Moses’ blessings as 1407 B.C. – that was 453 years after Jacob spoke his prophecies.

 

 

Some Important Lessons from the Prophecies

 

One lesson of Jacob’s prophecies is that God spoke through women as well as men.  We know that God inspired men to record the Bible exactly as He wanted it written down in the original languages.  In 2 Peter 1:21, we find proof of that:

 

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Jacob’s prophecies show us that the names of his sons are related to the prophecies about them; but it was each boy’s mother who named her child.  Rachel even gave Benjamin the name Benoni, meaning “son of my sorrow” (Genesis 35:18) right before she died, then Jacob gave him the name that stuck (the name Benjamin means “son of the right hand”).  Obviously, God wanted us to know the name Rachel gave her son because there is sorrow in knowing what Benjamin represents – that he is a picture of the last group to be saved.

 

The second lesson we see in the prophecies is that the time of bringing the Gospel to the unsaved world is now ended. Think about this: God’s word shows that salvation ends before the last day.  Even if we did not have a timeline pointing to the year 2011, we still see in God’s word His plan to end salvation before the last day.  Would God allow us to understand this truth before salvation ended?  If He did, someone might stop too soon in his efforts to send forth the Gospel.  It therefore stands to reason that only now is He allowing us to understand this truth, since there is no longer hope that anyone hearing the Gospel for the first time might be saved.

 

Sadly, this means babies and very young children cannot be saved.

 

This is an especially difficult truth to accept if they are among our loved ones.  They should certainly be brought up hearing God’s word, because knowledge of God’s word brings many blessings; but if they ask anything about salvation, it is probably best to only tell them that, before the world even began, God chose whom He would save and that no one knows who those people are.

 

It’s important to realize that an understanding of this truth (that salvation has ended) does not mean we should hand out tracts to tell the world they are living under God’s judgment and that there is no longer any hope for them.  What good does that do?  It does no good at all and it even creates fear.  If someone really wants to help the unsaved world, he or she can work to reform our educational system, which has shut God out of the classroom.  Knowledge of God’s creation will result in better and happier students.  They will be more likely to continue their studies and then go on to be better citizens.  They are also more likely to become scientists and engineers.  People can also share – with anyone who has shown an interest in the Judgment Day teachings – new truths they have learned out of God’s word.  Of course everyone should be praying, not only for those who have shown evidence of salvation (although especially for them), but also for the unsaved world, that God may be merciful to them in every way other than salvation.

 

The third lesson from the prophecies is perhaps the most important and amazing one: it is that God is in complete control of everything.  He is the reason this universe exists and we are here.  Jacob’s prophecies prove God’s existence.

 

Think about the ways God has fulfilled these prophecies.  Hundreds of years before the Exodus, God showed us that the children of Israel would not be faithful to Him after He called them out of Egypt.  Even many more hundreds of years before it happened, God told us that He would divide their kingdom and then eventually scatter the people from both of the divided kingdoms.

 

It was about 1,800 years from the time of Jacob’s prophecies to the birth of the Lord Jesus, but God told us it would happen by giving us Jacob’s prophecy about Judah.  In the same prophecy, He gave us hints about the Crucifixion.

 

The church age began soon after that, and in the prophecy about Zebulun God showed us He would send the Gospel all over the earth.  About 3,800 years before ending the church age, God showed us that He would end it after He had saved a large group of people.  He also revealed that a second, much larger group would be saved before the end of salvation.

 

All of these things show the fulfillment of prophecy.  It’s true that some of the events can’t be seen.  We don’t see physical proof that two large groups were saved and that salvation is now over, although we know that these things are true because the Bible reveals that information.

 

However, the other events are well known historical facts.  There is no denying that there was a kingdom of Israel that became divided and was eventually destroyed, and that the Lord Jesus was born over two thousand years ago, and that Christianity spread all over the world.  Only God could have foretold those events hundreds and even thousands of years before they happened.

 

Here is the fourth important lesson from Jacob’s prophecies: God shows us pictures of His people during the last days.  These people aren’t just any believers at any time: they are specifically believers living in the end times. The parable of the ten virgins is such an example.

 

Although this parable held lessons for true believers throughout history, it can only be fully understood by those living in the last days, after God had more fully opened His word.  So in the parable of the ten virgins, when we read the Lord’s words in Matthew 25:13 …

 

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

                                                                  

…we know that they apply especially to those living in the last days.    The ten virgins clearly represent end-time Christians, both saved and unsaved, who brought the message of Judgment Day before May 21, 2011.  Even though they were mistaken in their belief that it would be the date for the Lord’s return, the parable shows they live long enough to actually see that day.  The parable’s lesson is stated in Matthew 25:13 and illustrates that, even with the additional truths they are given, the end-time elect still cannot know the date for the Lord’s return.

 

We can be certain of this because the parable is a picture of those who went forth to meet the Lord based on new information they had received.  That was information about time – information God revealed during the lifetime of people who live to see the last day.  The parable warns end-time believers to live in such a way (to watch) that they will be happy to see the Lord whenever He comes.

 

Here is a fifth lesson from Jacob’s prophecies.  We find it in the prophecy about Joseph, with Joseph as a picture of the elect living in the last days.  The prophecy shows that there will be a long time after salvation ends (as compared with a lifespan) until the Lord returns.  Joseph is a picture of true believers who left the local congregations and then, during the latter rain, warned of God’s coming judgment.  However, they do not live long enough to see the Lord return.  This understanding is confirmed in Luke 18:8b, where we read:

 

Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

 

This verse contradicts the idea of an ever-increasing number of saved people and actually implies that only a small number of the elect will remain until the last day.  When we compare “Joseph” with the ten virgins, we see that Joseph is a picture of true believers who do not live long enough to see the last day, whereas the ten virgins do.

 

 

Summary

 

We’ve seen that Jacob’s prophecies are actually an outline of God’s salvation plan from the time Israel was in Egypt until the end of the world.  Each son is a picture of God’s people in some way:

 

Reuben represents the children of Israel from the time of the Exodus until the death of Solomon.

 

Simeon and Levi together represent the divided kingdoms, continuing until each kingdom was eventually destroyed.

 

Judah represents the Lord Jesus, coming to earth in 7 B.C. and remaining until shortly after the Crucifixion.

 

Zebulun is a picture of God’s people during the Church Age, going out to the world with the Gospel.

 

Issachar represents God’s people after the great tribulation has ended and the “great multitude” has been saved.

 

Dan is a picture of all those who will be either resurrected or caught up in the rapture.

 

Gad is a picture of those who brought the warnings that Judgment Day would arrive on May 21, 2011 and suffered in some way as a result.

 

Asher is a picture of God’s people learning new truth out of God’s word during the end-times, and developing the fruits of the Spirit while waiting for the Lord’s return.

 

Naphtali is definitely a picture of the elect and appears to represent those saved during the latter rain – the great multitude.  Their prayers are pleasing to God.

 

Joseph is first a picture of believers who left their local congregations (Joseph “was separate from his brethren”) and brought the warnings about Judgment Day.  However, they do not live long enough to see the Lord return.

 

As a second picture, Joseph also represents the Lord Jesus returning on the last day.  He also “was separate from his brethren” when He returned to heaven in 33 A.D.  All the other blessings on Joseph as a picture of God’s people also apply to the Lord Jesus.

 

Benjamin is a picture of those true believers who live to see the Lord return.  They brought the Judgment Day warnings too, just as “Joseph” did, but “Benjamin” outlives “Joseph” and is the group that will be caught up in the Rapture.

 

When we see the way Moses blessed the tribes of Israel in Deuteronomy 33, we can have even more confidence that we have correctly understood Jacob’s prophecies.  Although there are differences, Moses’ blessings support our understanding of Jacob’s prophecies and expand on it.

 

With an understanding of Jacob’s prophecies, we may now be able to understand some verses that were never before correctly understood.

For example, one of the strangest incidents in the Bible begins with Numbers 22:21:

 

And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.

 

As we read the story, which continues up to verse 34, we find that Balaam struck the animal when it went off the path and “into the field” because it saw “the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand” (verse 23).  Recall that a field represented the world in a parable the Lord Jesus taught about the spreading of the Gospel.  Then, “the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side” (verse 24).  This time, “she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall: and he smote her again.”  The animal squeezed against the wall to get by the Lord, crushing Balaam’s foot in the process.  But then, “… the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. 27 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.”

 

We’ve learned from Jacob’s prophecy about Issachar that God pictures His people as “a stong ass” lying down between two sheepfolds.  We also know that in Old Testament times, God sent many prophets to warn Israel of approaching judgment.  This matches what God shows us in this incident with the ass.

 

She was hit three times.  The first time represents the persecution that Old Testament prophets suffered.  The ass then went into the field, which can be a picture of the elect laboring to bring the Gospel during the Church Age.  The second time the animal was hit represents persecution that true believers experienced during the Church Age. When God ended it, the local congregations were no longer qualified to bring the true Gospel – that’s why Balaam’s foot was crushed (see Isaiah 52:7).  The third time the animal was struck represents the persecution God’s people suffered as a result of bringing the Judgment Day warnings before 2011.  After the ass “fell down under Balaam,” he struck the ass the final time.  That matches Jacob’s prophecy about Issachar.

 

You might recall that there are two ways to understand the name “Issachar:” either as “he is wages” or “he brings wages.”  Both names fit, because God paid by His own work or “wages” to save “Issachar;” but “Issachar” also served the Lord by sending out the Gospel during the three periods when salvation was possible after Jacob’s prophecy.

 

It’s important to realize how Revelation supports this understanding.  In Revelation 10:11, we read:

 

And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

 

The word “again” is very important.  During the New Testament, there were only two periods when salvation was possible.  One was very long, and one lasted only a few years.  The first one was the Church Age, and we see a picture of its beginning in Revelation 6:2, which is a picture of the elect going out to spread the Gospel all over the world.  That’s the rider on a white horse – a picture of a true believer (that’s not a picture of the Lord Jesus).  The second New Testament period of salvation was also the last time when anyone could be saved.  That was during the latter rain, and that’s why the apostle John is told in a vision that he must “prophesy again.”  He was a picture of the elect during the Church Age, and he is about to be a picture of the elect during the latter rain.

 

Notice that immediately after Revelation 10:11, we read about the two witnesses.   That’s because Revelation 10:11 refers to them.  It is they who represent the elect bringing the end-time message of approaching judgment.  When they are silenced (Revelation 11:7), that’s the end of salvation.  It was also the moment when “Issachar” lay down!

 

After a period of time, the two witnesses are taken up to heaven; and that’s a picture of the Rapture and Resurrection.  By having Balaam’s ass speak (Numbers 22:28-30) after she was hit the third time, God may be hinting at that event.  That’s because the Rapture and Resurrection will be a judgment against all those in the local congregations.  At that time, the elect will in a sense speak against them in judgment.

 

Something else that is strange is found in Judges 5.  In Judges 5:14 we read the words:

 

… and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.

 

Jacob’s prophecies provide an explanation for this mysterious verse.  We’ve seen that Zebulun is a picture of the elect sending out the Gospel during the Church Age.  Even though the Church Age lasted for 1,955 years, the New Testament books of the Bible were all recorded during the last part of the first century.  Compare that with the time required for the Old Testament to be completed.

 

The 39 books of the Old Testament were recorded over a period of 1,100 years and maybe even much longer than that.  We know that the first five books of the Bible were recorded within 40 years of the Exodus (1447 B.C.); but the book of Job is believed to be older (possibly much older) than that.  The last book of the Old Testament was recorded approximately 391 B.C., based on everything we know about it.  Interestingly, it appears in our Bible just before the oldest book – Job.

 

In comparison with the long time it took for the Old Testament to be completed (over 1,100 years), we know that all 27 books of the New Testament were recorded in about 65 years.   So “Zebulun” really did handle the “pen of the writer,” and Judges 5:14 is another prophecy that has been fulfilled.  It dates from a period many centuries before the Church Age, so we once again see “the finger of God” at work.

 

Most people in this world believe that men wrote the Bible.  They have never understood any of the amazing truths God has revealed out of His word.  For those of us who have understood some of those truths, praise should come naturally; but when we see how God fulfilled the prophecies Jacob spoke right before his death, how can we not praise and thank Him?  We should, just as we find written in Psalm 106:1:

 

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

 

The Mysterious Period Described in Ecclesiastes 12

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In Ecclesiastes 12, God describes a very mysterious period of time.  The chapter begins with the following verse, Ecclesiastes 12:1:

 

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

 

In this verse, God tells us to remember Him “in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not.”  The next few verses describe those days.  What are the evil days?   When do they come?

 

The Evil Days (Verses 2 and 3)

 

In verse 2, God gives us the first clues about them.  Verse 2 states:

 

While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:

 

In other words, God is telling us to remember our Creator – and of course He is our Creator – before the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars are darkened.   So this mysterious period of time comes when these things happen: it is characterized by the darkening of the sun, moon and stars, when something happens to light.

 

This verse may remind you of something the Lord Jesus once said.   In Matthew 24:29, we read:

 

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

 

Here, the Lord told His disciples about something that would happen before the end of the world but “after the tribulation.”  Notice how similar the two verses are in the ways they mention the sun, moon and stars.

 

Many people have understood Matthew 24:29 to mean that something would happen physically to the sun, moon and stars – that there would be tremendous signs in the sky for everyone to see.  However, we now know that the Lord was speaking about a spiritual event that cannot be detected by our senses.  We have to remember that the Lord spoke in parables (Matthew 13:34).  The darkening of the sun and the other bodies refers to a change in the Lord’s salvation plan.

 

Let’s continue with Ecclesiastes 12:3:

 

In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,    

 

This verse tells us about a day of fear.  On that day, the “keepers of the house” tremble; and there are other references to people here.   The verse mentions strong men, grinders and those that look out of the windows.  Who are these people?

 

First, we need to remember something.  We know that the Bible was written exactly as the Lord dictated it in the original languages.  However, the translations are another matter.   Not every translation is reliable.  Even today, a wealthy person such as Bill Gates could bring together a group of scholars to write a new translation of the Bible; and in a few years we might have the “Gates” Bible.  It probably wouldn’t be a very good translation, but who knows?

 

Today, many people rely on the King James Version.  Although it is generally a very good translation, sometimes a verse cannot be correctly understood as we find it in our Bibles.  Sometimes we must carefully examine a verse with a concordance to find its original-language words, and then compare that verse with others where those same original words are used.  The use of a concordance is of great help as we try to understand Ecclesiastes 12.

 

With a concordance, we find that many of the words used in Ecclesiastes 12:3 are also used in verses about the elect.  For example, the word “house” is Strong’s number H1004: bayith.  This is the same word used for “house” in Psalm 23:6:

 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

 

Therefore, the “keepers of the house” can be the elect.  Next, the word “strong” is used many times in the Bible – though not always in connection with the elect.  However, God definitely emphasizes the need for His people to be strong as they wait for Him, as in 1 Corinthians 16:13:

 

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.  

 

Even though the languages of the New Testament and Old Testament are different, we can still compare similar ideas found in both – like the idea of strength in the phrase “the strong men shall bow themselves.” Continuing with Ecclesiastes 12:3, we find a reference to the “grinders.”  The verse tells us in that day “the grinders cease because they are few.”  What could that possibly mean?

 

The word used for grinders in Ecclesiastes 12:3 is Strong’s number H2912, “tachan.”  It’s used eight times in the Bible.  Even though it’s translated only once as “grinders” – and that’s in Ecclesiastes 12:3 – it’s always translated as something to do with grinding.  For example, in Numbers 11:8 we read what the children of Israel did to prepare the manna that the Lord gave them: they “ground it in mills.”

 

So it appears we can safely accept the word “grinders” in Ecclesiastes 12:3 as a good translation.  Next, recall that the Lord attached spiritual meanings to the acts of sowing seeds and gathering a harvest.  We should expect that grinding may also have spiritual importance; and in Matthew 24:41, it appears that the “grinders” are trying to serve the Lord:

 

Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

 

As we see here, not everyone trying to serve the Lord is a child of God.  Only the elect are taken on the last day.  Everyone else is left behind to “pass away” (1 John 2:17) with the earth when it is spoken out of existence immediately after the Rapture.  However, the focus of Ecclesiastes 12:3 seems to be on the elect.

 

Continuing with that verse, we read that the grinders “cease.”  The word translated as “cease” is Strong’s number H988, “batel.”  It’s used only once in the whole Bible, so we can’t compare it with words in other verses.  It has the idea of being free from work.  We will see that the KJV translation for this word seems to fit the rest of the verse.

 

The next words in this phrase about the grinders tell us that they are few – they cease “because they are few.”  Why would they cease when they are few?  Of course, certain jobs require a minimum number of people to accomplish, but God’s work isn’t like that.  He can work with only one person.

 

Strong’s number H4591, “ma’at,” is the word used in the phrase “they are few.”  The word can mean that a group is reduced in number, but it can also mean that the group is diminished or made small in another way.  For example, it’s the word found in Jeremiah 10:24:

 

O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.

 

The word translated “nothing” is the same word used in Ecclesiastes 12:3: Strong’s number H4591.  So we see that a group or a person can be diminished or made small in strength, ability or some other way.

 

Continuing in the verse, we read about the next group of people: “those that look out of the windows.”   Again, we need to consider these words in the original language.  The word translated “look out” is Strong’s number H7200: “ra’ah.”  It’s used over 1,300 times in the Bible, and more than 800 of those times it’s translated as “see.”  For example, we find it in Proverbs 20:12:

 

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.

 

Many times, the ability to see is associated with true believers.  Next, consider the word “windows.”  It occurs 30 times in the Bible, and there are six different Hebrew words translated “windows” (the plural word doesn’t occur in the New Testament, but the singular occurs twice: in Acts 20:9 and 2 Corinthians 11:33).  In Ecclesiastes 12:3, it’s Strong’s number H699 (“arubbah”) that is used for “windows.”  This Hebrew word is used nine times, and most of the time it’s associated with the windows of heaven.  It’s also found in Isaiah 60:8:

 

Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?

 

This verse certainly suggests a beautiful picture of the last day and the Rapture.  So we see that the word “windows” in Ecclesiastes 12:3 also points to the elect.  Also, notice how the elect are compared to birds (as in Psalm 124:7).

 

However, Ecclesiastes 12:3 tells us that they (“those that look out of the windows”) are “darkened.”  The word used here is H2821 (“chashak”) – the same word found in Ecclesiastes 12:2:

 

While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:

 

Elsewhere in the Bible, the children of Israel (who represent the elect) are compared to stars (as in Nehemiah 9:23).  So we see that the darkening of “those that look out of the windows” is consistent with the darkening of the stars in verse 2.

 

 

The Evil Days Continue (Verse 4)

 

This brings us to the next verse, Ecclesiastes 12:4:

 

And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;

 

The verse tells us “the doors shall be shut in the streets.”  This happens when “the sound of the grinding is low.”  The word for “sound” is Strong’s number H6963, “qowl.”  Of all the times it’s used, it is translated as “voice” most of the time – and of course a person’s voice has always been the most important way for anyone to share God’s word.

 

We discover something else too when we use a concordance to check this verse.  The word “low” in the phrase “sound of the grinding is low” is different than the word for “low” used in the phrase “all the daughters of musick shall be brought low.”  When applied to the sound of the grinding, the word used is Strong’s number H8217, “shaphal.”  From its other uses, we find that it can mean low in height (as in Leviticus 14:37).  Therefore it could mean that a sound (as in sound of the grinding) is low in volume.  But it can also mean low in the sense of being humble.  That’s how it’s used in Psalm 16:19, where it is used once (“an humble spirit…”).

 

When the word “low” is applied to the “daughters of musick,” the original language word is Strong’s number H7817, “shachach.”  It’s only translated as “low” in this one verse.  Every other time it’s translated differently and conveys the idea that someone is bowing down, cast down, humbled, weakened or despairing.   So we can think of this verse as telling us that “all the daughters of musick” are brought low in the sense that they are weakened or humbled or despairing.

 

The other words in this verse appear to be well translated, so it seems we have a good translation of Ecclesiastes 12:4 in the KJV.   However, we have to admit it is a very strange verse.  What does it mean?

 

So far, we’ve seen evidence that the various people mentioned in these verses are the elect.  That is certainly the case with “daughters of musick.”  The word translated as “musick” is most often translated as “song.”  That’s how it’s used in Psalm 40:3:

 

And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.  

 

Clearly, this verse is telling us about someone who is a child of God, and the “daughters of musick” are certainly the elect.  (See also Zephaniah 3:14, where we find the word “daughter,” which is the same word – Strong’s number 1323, “bath” – found in Ecclesiastes 12:4).

 

What about the phrase “he shall rise up at the voice of the bird?”   At first, we might think these words are describing someone who is so fearful that he is startled even by a bird sound.  However, there is another possible explanation.  Think about the picture we get from Ecclesiastes 10:20.  It’s the idea of a bird or fowl (a different Strong’s number than the bird of Ecclesiastes 12:4) bringing a message.  So how are we to understand what God is telling us in the words “he shall rise up at the voice of the bird?”

 

The Lord Jesus told a parable that appears to explain what this means, and we find it in Luke 11:5-13.  It’s a parable about someone who goes to his friend at midnight, asking for three loaves of bread.  The man does get the loaves from his friend, yet the Lord tells us what the answer could be based on the time setting in this parable.  The answer could be  “Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.”

 

In several places, the Bible tells us that there would come a time when salvation has ended.  We now know that this time precedes the end of the world, when the Lord returns on the last day.   Now think about the time setting for this Luke 11 parable.  We know that it is set at midnight, that the man’s friend is in his house, that the door is shut and that his children are with him in bed.  When we consider all these things together, we see that the parable is set during this time when salvation has ended.

 

Nevertheless, what do we read?  Luke 11:8 tells us:

 

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.

 

When we examine the context for this parable, we find that the Lord is telling us about God answering the prayers of His children (see Luke 11:2-4, 9-13).  This parable seems to show us how to understand Ecclesiastes 12:4.  It shows us that even after salvation has ended, the Lord will “rise up at the voice of the bird” to answer prayers of those whom He has already saved.

 

 

The Evil Days Continue (Verse 5)

 

The next verse, Ecclesiastes 12:5, also tells us about a time of fear:

 

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:  

 

At the start of the verse we read that “they” shall be afraid of something.   We’ve already seen that the preceding two verses deal with the elect, and this verse also concerns them.  What is it they fear?  They are afraid of that which is “high.”  The word translated “high” is Strong’s number H1364 (gaboahh).  It is mostly used to describe the world’s evils, as in Isaiah 5:15 where it is translated as “lofty” (“the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled”).  However, it is also used in Ecclesiastes 5:8, where it clearly refers to the Lord (“higher than the highest”).  Based on this, we can say that the verse (“they shall be afraid of that which is high”) is telling us about the elect being afraid of the Lord.

 

Next, the verse states “fears shall be in the way.”  The word translated “fears” is used only this one time in the Bible, but appears to be a good translation because we know the word from which it comes and can see how that word is translated.  The word for “way” is Strong’s number H1870 (“derek”), and it’s translated as “way” hundreds of times.  It can refer to a path or a road (see Ecclesiastes 10:3) or to a way of living (see Ecclesiastes 11:9).  The context, based on the preceding part of the verse, indicates that the elect’s fear of God will be seen in the way they live.

 

The verse continues by telling us that the “almond tree shall flourish.”  You may have learned that the fig tree represents national Israel in the Bible.  What about the almond tree?

 

The word translated as “almond tree” is Strong’s number H8247, “shaqed.”  It’s used one time in Ecclesiastes and in only three other places: Genesis 43:11, Numbers 17:8 and Jeremiah 1:11.  (However, this H8247 word is very similar to H8246 – which is also translated as “almonds” and is used to describe the design for the bowl of the candlesticks; e.g., see Exodus 37:20).

 

In Numbers 17:8, “shaqed” is translated as almonds.  In that verse, it refers to almonds on Aaron’s rod: a dead piece of wood that produced flower buds, blossoms and almonds.  This was an amazing miracle God performed to show that He had chosen Aaron as priest, and not anyone else (see Numbers 16:41-42, and 17:1-4).

 

In Jeremiah 1:11, the word is translated as “almond tree.”  There, we read about the rod of an almond tree.  This refers to Jeremiah himself (see Jeremiah 1:10 and 1:12).   God was going to “root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” and to use a rod of the almond tree – Jeremiah – to do it.

 

Even in Genesis 43:11, where “shaqed” is translated “almonds” and appears to be nothing more than that, its meaning and use are consistent with the other verses.  Notice that Jacob tells his sons to bring of the “best fruits in the land in your vessels” when they return to Egypt.  Almonds are included in the list, and from many other verses we know that a vessel can refer to a person’s body; so even in this verse almonds can represent the elect.  Clearly, this is what God is referring to in Ecclesiastes 12:5 when He tells us “the almond tree shall flourish.”

 

After the phrase about the almond tree comes “the grasshopper shall be a burden.”  We should expect that “the grasshopper” refers to God’s elect, just like the other references we found so far in verses 3 and 4.  In fact, there is evidence that this is the case.  The word for grasshopper is Strong’s number H2284, “chagab.”  It’s used a total of five times, but none of its verses appear to have anything to do with the elect.  However, H2284 is identical to H2285.  That Strong’s number word, also “chagab,” is used in Ezra 2:46.  There, it’s the name of a head of a family (“Hagab”) who returned from captivity in Babylon.   This is certainly a reference to one of God’s people.

 

Continuing in Ecclesiastes 12:5, the verse states that the grasshopper “shall be a burden.”  What could that mean?  The word used here for “burden” is Stong’s number H5445, “cabal.”  When we read that phrase, we get the idea that the grasshopper itself is the burden.  However, when we see how “cabal” is used in other verses, we find that its translation in Ecclesiastes 12:5 is questionable.  For example, in Lamentations 5:7 we read:

 

Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities.

 

Here, the word used for “borne” is “cabal;” so in the second part of this verse the subject (“we”) is bearing the burden and not being a burden to someone else.    Also, if we check some other versions of the Bible we find that their translators had a similar understanding concerning the phrase about the grasshopper of Ecclesiastes 12:5.  For example, the Revised Standard Version translates it as “the grasshopper drags itself along.”  The picture here is that of a grasshopper moving laboriously, as though it is carrying a heavy burden.

 

In view of this, we can say that the KJV translators did not do their best work on the phrase about the grasshopper.   Rather than being a burden to someone, God appears to be telling us that the grasshopper itself is burdened.  We will see that this way of understanding the verse is consistent with the preceding verses.

 

Next comes the phrase “and desire shall fail.”  The word translated “desire” is Strong’s number H35 and is used only this one time in the whole Bible.   It is thought to come from H14, which has to do with a person’s will or what a person would do.

 

“Shall fail” is from Strong’s number H6565, “parar.”  In most of its uses, it’s translated as “break.”  It seems to be used in the sense that something breaks or comes to nothing.

 

The next part of Ecclesiastes 12:5 tells us “man goeth to his long home.”  With a concordance, we find that the word translated here as “long” is usually translated as “ever” or “everlasting.”  We also find that the word translated as “home” is usually translated as “house” or “household.”  Therefore, a better translation should be “man goeth to his eternal house.”  From many verses in the Bible, we learn that only the elect have an eternal house or home.  The unsaved are destroyed and have no further existence once they die.  On the last day, any of their remains will simply vanish.  It will be as though they had never lived.

 

The final phrase of Ecclesiastes 12:5 is “and the mourners go about the streets.”  The word for “mourners” here is Strong’s number H5594: “caphad.”  From many verses, we know that mourning is associated with people whom God has saved.  We also see this idea in Zechariah 12:10, where “caphad” is the word used for “mourneth:”

 

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.   

 

The original language word for “streets” in Ecclesiastes 12:5 is always translated as “street” or “streets.”  However, there is something interesting about the word used for “go about.”  That word is Strong’s number H5437: “cahab.”  It’s used about 150 times in the Bible, and it often carries the meaning of “turning about” or “turning back” or “returning.”  In other words, God may be showing us that the mourners return from the streets.

 

 

Verse 6: A Big Transition

 

A great deal can be written about the next verse, Ecclesiastes 12:6:

 

Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

 

God creates four different pictures here to show us something.  If you search for a commentary about this difficult verse, you will find that it has been understood in different ways.  Possibly, God’s intention was that we could understand it in more than one way.  For our purpose, we actually don’t have to understand the different pictures God uses because He tells us what the verse means.  In verse 7, He declares:

 

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.  

 

Clearly, because of verse 7 we know that verse 6 is concerned with physical death.  Therefore, in each of the four pictures God is telling us something about physical death.

 

Verse 6 is a transition from verses 3, 4 and 5; but in those three verses, God tells us about the elect living in the period after salvation has ended.  In order to better understand this, we should review the timeline developed by Mr. Harold Camping.

 

 

Another Look at the Timeline

 

For about three years before May 21, 2011, Mr. Camping wrote and taught extensively concerning specific dates in God’s end-time salvation plan.  After many years of Bible study, Mr. Camping determined the following dates, shown in a timeline format:

 

May 22, 33 A.D.          May 21, 1988                 May 21, 2011

→••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

September 7, 1994                 October 21, 2011


The timeline’s first date marked the beginning of the church age on Pentecost Day shortly after the Lord Jesus returned to heaven.  The next date marked the end of the church age in 1988, and the beginning of a period when God stopped saving people.  That date was followed in 1994 by the beginning of a period in which God saved a great multitude of people all over the world.  The Bible’s term for that end-time period when many people were saved is the latter rain.

 

Before May 21, 2011, Mr. Camping’s understanding of the timeline was that the latter rain would end with the Rapture and a global earthquake of enormous devastation.   Then, exactly five months later on October 21, 2011, the world would end.  Because of his misunderstanding about the last two dates, many people now dismiss everything Mr. Camping taught concerning the timeline.  They have made a big mistake in doing this.

 

When we reevaluate what the Bible reveals about time, we find that his timeline is mostly correct and that the Bible shows us how to revise it.  First of all, the Bible shows us in several places that God’s people remain on earth after salvation has ended (see the article discussing where we are now in God’s salvation plan, entitled “You Are Here”).

 

One way in which God reveals this is the account of the two witnesses of Revelation 11.  They represent end-time believers (see Revelation 10:11) who bring the true Gospel all over the world in preparation for God to save a great multitude (see Revelation 7:9 and 14).  The two witnesses are overcome and killed after they have “finished their testimony” (Revelation 11:7).  The account then tells us that their dead bodies remain in the street for three and a half days because people will not allow their bodies to be put in graves.   This indicates their shame in the world’s eyes during a period of time when they remain on earth.  Notice that the Rapture follows that period (see verses 11 and 12).

 

Someone may argue that the message of judgment day and May 21, 2011 did not reach the whole world, and therefore Matthew 24:14 has still not been fulfilled.  Here is Matthew 24:14:

 

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

 

There is a big problem with that argument.  First of all, evidence indicates the May 21 / Judgment Day message did reach all over the world.  No one can point to any particular part of the world and say with certainty that none of the people there heard it.  Second, while it is true that improving technology will make it easier to reach people in the future, we must ask ourselves what kind of gospel people are now hearing and what will they hear in the future.  They will not hear the true Gospel of salvation by grace alone.   Instead, they will hear what local congregations of Christian churches are now teaching: the false gospel of self-empowerment that anyone can decide to save himself.

 

In the verses concerning the two witnesses and in several other places in the Bible, God not only shows us that His people remain here after salvation has ended, He also shows us that they have been overcome in some way or even silenced.  Again notice this extremely important verse about the two witnesses, Revelation 11:7:

 

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.  

 

Here we read that the two witnesses finished their testimony.  And what was their testimony?  It was the true Gospel and its message of God’s judgment  – sent out all over the world.  This picture of God’s people being overcome in some way is also found in Revelation 20:9:

 

And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 

 

The “they” in this verse refers to Satan and his army and tells us they “compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city.”  It’s a picture of the enemy surrounding God’s people.  In other words, during the time before the end of the world, God’s people are in some way restrained; they are silenced or overcome in some way.  They are not freely sharing the Gospel.  This picture is consistent with other Bible passages that show us a silencing of the elect when salvation has ended.  Therefore it was incorrect to teach that the Rapture would occur immediately after salvation had ended.

 

Let’s see what other corrections must be made to the original timeline.  You may know about the annual feasts that God commanded ancient Israel to observe.  They are found in Leviticus 23.  Mr. Camping discovered something amazing about these feasts.  He learned that they picture events in God’s salvation plan.  We know this because events pictured by the feasts occurred during the exact days when the feasts were being observed.

 

God told Moses about these feasts in 1447 BC (Leviticus 23:1), and there is strong Biblical evidence that about 1,440 years later one of them was fulfilled.  That happened in 7 B.C. when the Lord Jesus was born on the Feast of Atonement.  Then about 35 years later – again, according to Biblical evidence giving us time clues – the Lord Jesus began His ministry in 29 A.D. on the Feast of Trumpets.

 

It’s not so difficult to see fulfillment of the next annual feasts.  We know that the Lord Jesus was killed on Passover in 33 A.D. after a ministry of about three and a half years (see John 18:39).  Passover was fulfilled then, but it’s also a picture of the Lord’s death before the foundation of the world.  After Passover we have the Days of Unleavened Bread.  These are linked with the Passover and come right after it (see Leviticus 23).  They point to the Lord’s resurrection and time with His disciples before returning to heaven.

 

We can also see fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost.  That’s found in Acts 2:1-2.  We read there about an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that marked the start of the church age.  It happened on May 22 in 33 A.D. (our timeline’s first date) and was also the fulfillment of John 16:7:

 

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

 

Soon after the Holy Spirit was poured out, the disciples began to spread the Gospel far beyond Jerusalem.  The Lord Jesus had told His disciples that He would send them out as witnesses.  In Acts 1:8, we read:

 

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

 

In Revelation 6:2, the rider on a white horse going forth “conquering, and to conquer” is a picture of true believers going out to the world at the start of the church age, in fulfillment of the Lord’s words.  And so we see that Pentecost also points to the Lord Jesus, just as the Feast of Atonement, the Feast of Trumpets, and Passover with the Days of Unleavened Bread point to Him.

 

When we read about all the annual feasts in Leviticus 23, we find that there is still no event to fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles.  Mr. Camping and many others assumed – very logically – that this feast would be fulfilled in 2011.  One reason for this was the mention of five months in Revelation 9:5.

 

Mr. Camping realized Revelation 9 reveals that this five-month period begins when salvation ends.  However, he understood it to be a literal period of five months, according to the calendar.   We now know that the numbers and time periods given in the book of Revelation are not to be taken literally.  (This was not known before May 21, 2011 because the book of Daniel, which is similar to Revelation in its end-time visions, does have numbers fitting literally into the timeline of earlier events.)

 

However, this still does not resolve the question about the Feast of Tabernacles.  Should we be searching the Bible to determine the date when this feast can be fulfilled according to our calendar?  In the book of Zechariah, God helps us understand how the feast will be fulfilled.  In Zechariah 14:12, God tells us about the destruction of all the unsaved at the end of the world.  He then goes on to tell us that the Feast of Tabernacles is kept after that time.  For example, in verse 19, we read:

 

This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.

 

The setting of this verse is the new heavens and earth, after the end of this world (see Zechariah 14:16-17).  In other words, the Feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled in the new heavens and new earth.   We will not see it fulfilled in this world according to a predictable date on our calendar.

 

This brings us to another correction in Mr. Camping’s teaching about the timeline.  Mr. Camping thought the Bible revealed that God’s people would know the date for the end of the world (although he did change his thinking about this matter after October 21, 2011).  What does the Bible really teach concerning that date?

 

 

What We Cannot Know

 

The book of Revelation concerns end-time events, and it has a verse of major importance concerning this subject of whether or not we can know the date when the world will end and the Lord will return.  There, we read that the apostle John was about to write something he had heard.  In Revelation 10:4, we read:

 

And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.  

 

The thunders represent the voice of God (John 12:29).  In this verse, God is telling us there are some things He will not reveal.  They were not written down and so they are just not in the Bible.  Therefore, we immediately have to admit the possibility that the day of His return may be one of them.

 

In fact, right after this verse we read about an angel announcing the end of time (Revelation 10:5-6).  Clearly then, God is showing us that the missing information concerns the end of time.  Remember, there has always been one question asked more than any other about the last day.  Of course, that question is “when will it be?”  Revelation 10:4 is strong evidence that we cannot know.

 

There are also parables we should keep in mind when we think about this matter of knowing or not knowing the date.  One is a parable (called the parable of the ten virgins) showing the elect (five of the virgins) expecting the Lord’s return on a certain day and going forth to meet Him.  As we read in Matthew 25:1-5, the bridegroom tarried and did not arrive when the virgins expected Him.  Notice the similarity between their situation and that of those who expected the Lord’s return on May 21, 2011!

 

As we continue with the parable, we find that the virgins did not watch.  When we search the Bible to understand what that means, we find that watching has to do with the way we live, and our relationship with the Lord.  The parable’s point is stated in Matthew 25:13:

 

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

 

We cannot insist that the restriction given in this verse – that you know “neither the day nor hour” – applies only to those who were believers in earlier times.  Clearly, this parable applies to end-time believers.  The parable of the ten virgins is all about end-time believers and everything about it applies to them.  It shows us that we cannot know the date of the Lord’s return.

 

While it is true that the Lord promised He wouldn’t do anything without revealing it to His servants (Amos 3:7) – who are the elect – we must not claim that this verse means we will know the date for the Lord’s return.  God has already revealed in His word that He will destroy this universe and create a new heavens and earth.  Not everyone knows this.   We also know that we are in a time without salvation since 2011; and we know that God’s elect will live with Him for eternity, while the unsaved will not suffer anything after death.  These are all amazing and precious truths we have learned without knowing when the Lord will return.  God has indeed revealed to His servants the things He has done and will do.

 

If you’re still not convinced about this, think about the multiple times the Lord tells us we will not know when He will return (e.g., Matthew 24:36, 24:44, 25:13).  Here is Matthew 24:44-46:

 

Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.  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.

 

Notice the words “when he cometh shall find so doing” in the last verse. The “faithful and wise servant” wasn’t expecting the Lord.  This servant didn’t know it was the last day, but he was doing the Lord’s will by providing “meat in due season” to his household.  (Notice that the man is not sowing seed, which is a picture of spreading the Gospel.  Rather, he is feeding his household.  This is another picture of feeding the Lord’s sheep.)  The wording in verse 46, telling us that the lord “finds” the servant providing for his household, is consistent with a surprise and sudden return.

 

 

The Corrected Timeline and the Mysterious Period

 

When we re-examine some of the verses concerning the Feast of Tabernacles and the question of whether or not we can know the date for the Lord’s return, we see how we have misunderstood the last part of the original timeline.  The Feast of Tabernacles never belonged in the timeline, and the date at the timeline’s end – which will be earth’s last day – can never be known.  Therefore, we now have a new, corrected timeline:

 

May 22, 33 A.D.          May 21, 1988                                 May 21, 2011

→•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••→?

September 7, 1994

 

Notice that this new timeline is very similar to Mr. Camping’s, except at the end.  Let’s compare it with the description of that mysterious period of time described in Ecclesiastes 12.  For reference, here is Ecclesiastes 12:1-5:

 

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: 3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, 4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; 5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

 

These verses perfectly match the new timeline.  The darkening of the sun, moon and stars (verse 2) speaks of the day marking the end of salvation.  This event was a major turning point in God’s salvation plan.

 

The return of the clouds (also in verse 2) tells us that there is a period of time without the possibility of salvation, continuing until the last day.  This period follows the darkening of the sun, moon and stars.  On the timeline, it matches the period that began on May 21, 2011.

 

Notice that verse 2 also implies that there was an earlier period of time without salvation, because it tells us that “the clouds return.”   The timeline shows us that this previous period of time began on May 21, 1988 and lasted until September 7, 1994.  That period of time also had “clouds.”

 

The timeline shows us that after the “clouds” return they continue (that is, there is no salvation) until the end of time.  This might remind you of something in the first chapter of the book of Acts.  Notice that in Acts 1:9, we read about a cloud in connection with the departure of the Lord Jesus:

 

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

 

And in Acts 1:11 we read that the Lord will “come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”  Therefore, a cloud is also associated with the Lord’s return; so this verse agrees with our understanding of Ecclesiastes 1:2 and the timeline.  It shows that on the last day there will be “clouds,” indicating that salvation had ended.

 

Next, notice the words “after the rain” in verse 2.  The period from September 7, 1994 until May 21, 2011 has been identified as the latter rain.  It was a time when God saved a great many people all over the world.  The “rain” in Ecclesiastes 12:2 matches the latter rain indicated on the timeline.

 

Ecclesiastes 12:3 tells us about a time of fear.  This is consistent with our understanding that God saved a great multitude during the period of the latter rain.   You might remember reading that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (see Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10).  A fear of the Lord is a characteristic of God’s people.

 

This fear is certainly true of new believers and would apply to the great multitude saved all over the world after the time the Gospel was sent all over the world.  In Revelation 7:9, we read:

 

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;  

 

The apostle John had a vision of this great multitude and was told in Revelation 7:14 that they came out of “the great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14 includes the article “the” in the original Greek).  And so Ecclesiastes 12:3 is consistent with and confirms our understanding of the timeline in this way.

 

In the next verses of Ecclesiastes, God gives us a picture of His people living and dying.  Notice the words “and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets.” Ecclesiastes 12 is further evidence that any dates predicted for the Lord’s return in 2014 or 2015 are incorrect.  In fact, based on Ecclesiastes 12:5 it appears that the Lord’s return is many years away.

 

Verses 4 and 5 show us a picture of God’s people living in sorrow and then dying.  In fact, after reading Ecclesiastes 12 we might ask if any true believers will be left when the Lord returns.  We can answer that question with a definite “yes.”  However, it is possible that many believers who were alive on May 21, 2011 will have passed away when the Lord finally does return.  Based on verse 5, it appears that the older ones will no longer be here by then.  This is consistent with something we find in John 21:22:

 

Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.   

 

This was the Lord’s reply after Peter had asked what would happen to “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (see John 21:20-21).  We know that this disciple was actually Lazarus (not John, as is almost universally believed; see the article entitled “The Adventures of Lazarus” for more information).   In John 21, God is using Lazarus to represent the true believers who will still be alive when the Lord returns (another representation of the last group of believers is the “little sister” in Song of Solomon 8:8.  These examples are consistent with 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).   Therefore, we know that at least some true believers will still be here on the last day.

 

 

A Most Amazing Verse

 

While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:

 

Ecclesiastes 12:2 might be the most amazing verse in the whole Bible, at least as far as our study of the timeline is concerned.  It compresses over 19 years (and still counting) into two short clauses of only several words each.   Here is a brief review of how this works.  Begin with the second part of the verse.  It warns us that the clouds return, so it’s referring to an earlier period of clouds.  That was a time without salvation, and it ended in September of 1994 when the latter rain began.  The latter rain continued until May of 2011.  That’s when salvation ended – as pictured in the first part of the verse by the darkening of the sun, light, moon and stars.  Then the clouds returned after the rain.  The end of salvation and the time afterwards are “the evil days” we read about in verse 1.

 

The New Timeline

 

May 22, 33 A.D.          May 21, 1988                                 May 21, 2011

→•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••→?

September 7, 1994

 

Ecclesiastes 12:2 and the related verses of Ecclesiastes 12 confirm that the new timeline is correct.  Notice also that God is telling us to remember Him before our time runs out in one of two ways.   First, because there will be an end to salvation (verse 1); and secondly, because of death (verses 6-7).  There is no reference to the end of the world.  Yet many people still insist that God will reveal that date.  Think about this.  Why should God reveal that date?  What purpose would it serve?  But the date for the end of salvation: Yes!  God wanted us to know it and to warn the world about it.

 

There are many more reasons for us to have confidence in this timeline.   When we read Genesis from chapter 1 to the end, we go from Creation to the time of Joseph’s death in Egypt.  The Bible makes it clear that all of this history took place over the course of several thousands of years – not billions.

 

In developing the original timeline, Mr. Camping discovered that the Creation occurred in 11,013 B.C.  Although our educational system overwhelmingly rejects the idea that earth could be only about 13,000 years old, science – when properly understood – actually supports it.

 

Modern estimates for the age of the earth (supposedly about five billion years old) and the universe (supposedly about 14 billion years old) are all based on certain assumptions.  Undoubtedly you can use certain equations, plug in some numbers and come out with large numbers like those.  But if your assumptions about initial conditions are wrong, then any answers you get will also be wrong.  It’s a case of garbage in, garbage out!

 

Those who are vehement in their rejection of the idea that earth is only thousands of years old should remember Alfred Wegener, the scientist who presented the theory of continental drift in 1912.   Most scientists of his day rejected the idea.  He suffered a great deal of hostility and was not even allowed to teach in his native Germany.  Such attacks continued in 1926, when he presented his ideas at a symposium in New York City.  In fact, it wasn’t until the 1950’s that other scientists started to realize that he was correct: there really had been a super-large land mass that broke apart to form the continents we have today.

 

And what does this have to do with the Bible?  Genesis 10:25 records the name of a man called Peleg.  It tells us that in his days the earth was divided.  That happened about 2,000 years after Noah’s flood.   It’s too bad the scientists of Alfred Wegener’s day didn’t believe the Bible, because God revealed that interesting piece of earth history to mankind over 3,400 years ago.

 

 

Three Dates In A Tribulation

 

Besides the dates for Creation and the flood, Mr. Camping discovered many other key dates for Biblical events.  All of them can be listed on a long timeline covering about 13,000 years – the complete history of the earth and of mankind.  During early church history, other writers also realized that the earth is only several thousand years old.  But their timelines were much too short to be realistic.  Mr. Camping’s timeline, however, satisfies the historical record and answers scientific questions as well.

 

A major feature of Mr. Camping’s timeline (and our new timeline) is the great tribulation.  The Bible makes it clear that there is an end-time great tribulation, and Revelation 7:14 tells us that a great multitude is saved out of it.  In order to learn about the timing for this tribulation, Mr. Camping examined two earlier periods of great trouble for God’s people.

 

In Genesis, we read about a great famine that occurred when Joseph was a ruler in Egypt.  The famine was seven years long, and it had already been going on for two years when Joseph’s father Jacob left his home and went to Egypt because there was food there. The second period Mr. Camping examined began before and ended after Jerusalem was captured by Babylon in 587 B.C.  That was a 70-year period of time.  It began in 609 B.C. when Judah’s king Josiah was killed, and it ended in 539 B.C. when Babylon was conquered.

 

Therefore, we have three significant dates for both periods.  For the famine of Jacob’s day, we have the year the famine began and the year it ended.  In between we have the year that Jacob left his homeland.  And for the end of Judah (all that was left of Solomon’s once great kingdom of Israel) we have the year of Josiah’s death in battle – which was a disastrous blow to the kingdom of Judah – and the year when Babylon was conquered, thereby allowing some Jews to return home.  In between those two dates we have the date when Babylon captured Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, marking the end of Judah.

 

As Mr. Camping studied those two periods of time and all the related dates, he noticed that there were many patterns connecting them (see chapter 11 of his book Time Has An End.  For example, the famine of Jacob’s day lasted for 84 months; and Judah’s decline, destruction and captivity lasted 840 months: facts that helped him realize that the great tribulation of our day was 8,400 days long).  Those patterns allowed him to know the dates for the end-time tribulation.  We have those dates on our timeline: May 21, 1988; September 7, 1994; and May 21, 2011.

 

Like the two ancient tribulations recorded in the Bible, the end-time tribulation has only three dates.  This is additional proof that we cannot know the date for the end of the world: the timeline doesn’t allow it.  And that’s why the feast of tabernacles can’t fit into the timeline.  There is no room for it or any other date because the end-time tribulation is completely described by only three dates.

 

 

Ecclesiastes 12 Agrees With Revelation

 

Just as Ecclesiastes 12 confirms the timeline, so does the book of Revelation in its account of the opening of the seven seals of a book that had been sealed.  We know that the four horsemen (which are visions the apostle John saw when the first four seals were unsealed – see Revelation 6:1 and following) are pictures of the church age.  The church age began with the true Gospel being sent out to the world by the elect (on a white horse).  However, almost immediately men began to misuse God’s word (pictured by the rider on a red horse – notice the sword).  In time, truth in church doctrine was so scarce that God compares the situation to a famine (the rider on a black horse, with a set of scales for measuring out small amounts of the truth).  Then comes the last rider.  He’s on a pale horse and brings death to anyone snared by his teaching.

 

The time setting for these visions of the four horsemen correspond to May 21 of 33 A.D. on the timeline.  Next comes the opening of the fifth seal, which corresponds to the period before God’s judgment on the churches.  The opening of the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12) is a vision illustrating God’s anger when He ended salvation in May of 1988.  It is focused on the local congregations, but also includes national Israel (note the 40 years time interval from 1948, the year of Israel’s rebirth).  It marks the end of the church age.

 

The opening of the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1) records a half hour of silence in heaven.  From our current perspective, it corresponds with an earlier time when no one was being saved – a condition that continued until the latter rain began.  The latter rain is described in Revelation 8:3-4 as the prayers of the saints ascending before God.  However, that is also the time when the first four trumpets sound (Revelation 8:7-12).  These visions are pictures of God’s anger against the churches.   Even when He was saving people all over the world, He still withheld blessing from the local congregations.  The churches would never again be used as an earthly representation of God’s kingdom.

 

Next comes the sounding of the fifth trumpet.  This marks the end of the latter rain and corresponds with May 21, 2011 on the timeline.  It’s a picture of judgment brought by God’s word when there is no longer any possibility of salvation.  Notice Revelation 9:4 – only those who have already been sealed (that is, saved) are spared.  The strange locusts of this vision are those who continue to bring the Gospel after salvation has ended.

 

The sixth trumpet vision is a picture of the Rapture and resurrection.  It’s also a judgment against the local congregations, because the people there are confident that they have been saved.  Their anguish will be much greater than that of other unsaved persons when they realize that they have not been saved.  And of course the sounding of the seventh trumpet marks the end of the world.  Therefore, Ecclesiastes 12 is consistent with the visions described in Revelation, from the opening of the sixth seal up to and including the sounding of the fifth trumpet.  So we see that both Ecclesiastes 12 and the visions associated with the opening of the seven seals confirm the timeline, although in different ways.

 

Undoubtedly there will still be people who insist that salvation continues until the last day; but if they’re going to be honest with themselves, they must answer some difficult questions.  For example, what could God possibly be telling us in Revelation 9:6, if it’s not about the end of salvation?

 

And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

 

Clearly, God is telling us about a time when men continue to seek the atoning death of the Lord Jesus (see Romans 6:3-7), but it is no longer available.  And why would God tell us about a time when a man, who represents God Himself, could say what we read in Luke 11:7:

 

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.

 

This language tells us that salvation has ended.  Also, note the time setting for the parable from which this verse is taken – it’s midnight (Luke 11:5), indicating that the darkening of the sun, moon and stars has already taken place.

 

Also, if salvation continues to the last day, why is it that in the account of the two witnesses God tells us that their “testimony” was “finished” three and a half days before the Rapture (Revelation 11:7, 11:11-12)?  God is showing us here that the time of preaching the Gospel to the unsaved ends at some time before the last day.  This contradicts the idea that salvation continues right up to the last day.  If it did, then the two witnesses should have continued their testimony right up to the time of the Lord’s return.

 

Finally, if salvation continues to the end, why is it that God tells us to seek Him while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6)?   And why does Ecclesiastes 12 emphasize that the deadline to remember our Creator is the darkening of the sun, etc. (Ecclesiastes 12:1-2), unless a person were to die before that event occurred (Ecclesiastes 12:6)?  These questions cannot be answered unless we recognize that salvation ends before the last day.

 

 

Logical Thinking Leads To This Conclusion

 

Logic also compels us to admit that salvation has ended once we recognize that the church age is over.  In Matthew 24:15-16, the Lord Jesus told His disciples about a situation that would exist at some time before the end of the world.  In those two verses, the Lord says:

 

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

 

Many people have recognized that these verses speak of a time when people must get out of their local congregation.  It is the time when Satan sits “in the temple of God,” as we read in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.  Those verses were definitely written after the church age had begun.  In other epistles, Paul mentions some churches of his day and recorded rules to govern believers in their local congregations (e.g., see Philemon 1:2, 1 Timothy 3:2, and 1 Corinthians 14:34).  But in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul is already warning of the day when Satan would rule in the local congregations of Christian churches.  For Paul, it was something in the distant future (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).

 

There are those who now believe that the church age has indeed ended, but that salvation continues.  Let’s think about this.  How can anyone know for sure that the church age is over right now?  Yes, we do see great wickedness in many well-known churches, especially in recent years as they have changed their policies.  But in at least some of those cases, a number of congregations broke away from the main group when the church’s governing body made decisions not in accordance with the Bible.  Isn’t it possible that we might find a faithful congregation among one of those that broke away?  Or perhaps someone who has good understanding of the Bible could start a new congregation of his own today.  Isn’t that also a possibility?  Why shouldn’t someone start a new church?

 

The answer is we really do know that the church age is over.  We shouldn’t spend time looking for a faithful church, and we shouldn’t try to start a new one.  But there is only one way to know that God has finished with the local congregations, and that is from the timeline.  The timeline reveals that the church age ended in 1988.  That’s how we know that the Lord’s command to “flee into the mountains” is in effect today.  Now ask yourself, how can anyone accept the timeline date for the end of the church age, yet reject the other two end-time dates the timeline has given us?   They can’t, because the three dates are locked together.  The date for the end of the church age comes from Mr. Camping’s discovery of dates for the great tribulation, and the great tribulation has three dates.  Therefore, if you think the church age is over, logic compels you to admit that salvation has also ended.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Our new timeline is now complete and accurate, and Ecclesiastes 12:1-6 verifies it.  It shows us that there was a period without salvation (clouds), followed by a time of salvation (rain), followed by the darkening of the sun, light, moon and stars – which marked the final end of salvation and return of the clouds (Ecclesiastes 12:2).

 

This is exactly what we see in the timeline.  God brought His judgment on the churches and on Israel, ending salvation for a period of time beginning in 1988.  Then, in 1994 He again began saving people and continued until a great multitude was saved.  That all ended in May of 2011.  That marked the end of the great tribulation and beginning of this present period without salvation that continues until the last day.

 

Ecclesiastes 12 also provides additional insight into the new timeline.  It is clear that we cannot know the date for the Lord’s return; but Ecclesiastes 12 shows us that it will most likely be a long time from now.  Notice the words in verse 1: “nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.”  God is describing the “evil days” as years.

 

They begin with the darkening of the sun, etc. – just as we read in Matthew 24:29.  But according to Matthew’s account, it seems as if the end of the world comes immediately after the darkening of the sun.  Notice the words “And then” in Matthew 24:30.  This verse can easily lead you to believe that the Lord returns as soon as the sun darkens, even though it doesn’t say that.  However, Ecclesiastes 12 shows us that there is a period of “years” after the darkening of the sun, and that some – and possibly many of God’s elect – will die before the day He returns.  We see this in the words “man goeth to his long home” (Ecclesiastes 12:5).

 

Luke 18 has another example of a verse implying a long wait for the Lord.  Here it is, Luke 18:8:

 

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.  Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

 

This verse implies that there may not be too many of the elect alive when the Lord returns.  It also implies that salvation has ended long before then.  After all, if God were saving people right up to the very end of the world, why would the Lord ask if He shall find faith on earth when He comes?

 

Although this realization will be a great disappointment to everyone who was hoping to see the Lord in 2011 and still expects His return next year, we can take comfort in knowing that He will “rise up at the voice of the bird” (Ecclesiastes 12:4) to answer our prayers during these evil days – for however many years we remain here.

 

The Error of Harold Camping

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WHEN 2011 FAILED TO BE THE YEAR GOD DESTROYED THE WORLD, 1988 AS THE START DATE OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION FAILED RIGHT ALONG WITH IT!

 

Have you read Mr. Camping’s book 1994?  I never did.

 

Prior to 2011, I read and studied all of his other books, but this one was unavailable when I began to listen to Family Radio in 2002.  I didn’t secure a copy of it until a few months ago.  What I have found in this book has been startling and extremely enlightening.

 

I decided to share this information for the sake of others like myself who may have misunderstood exactly how it was determined that 1988 was the year that the Great Tribulation began.  It saddens me to know that this lack of understanding has caused some to become adamant in the belief that an 8400 day countdown to Judgment Day began in that year.  It did not.

 

Until recently, I believed that as Mr. Camping was studying the scriptures over the years 1994-2011, he was continuing to receive previously unknown Biblical understanding about the timeline and its meaning.  As I sat under Mr. Camping’s teachings from 2002-2011, listening to the Open Forum nearly every night, and reading his books in order as each one was published, beginning with “The End of the Church Age,” I came to that conclusion very naturally and almost without thinking. I say “almost” because I had learned of the unsealing of the little book spoken of in Daniel 12:9 through the Open Forum.  Every evening as well as in each book, he used phrases such as “God has a timetable for revealing the understanding of truth recorded in the Bible” and “as God opens our eyes to truth.”  So I ASSUMED that Mr. Camping was publishing these books as this was happening, AS HE WAS LEARNING the information.

 

Certainly Mr. Camping did nothing to dissuade anyone from reaching that conclusion during those years.  His words very directly insinuated that he was teaching things he hadn’t known previously.  But also, I had the reality of my experience.  In 9 years, I’d NEVER heard him speak of certain subjects before their nearly simultaneous publication in a new book.  So I don’t believe this assumption was entirely my fault.

 

Yet, in reading the book “1994?,” I have learned through Mr. Camping’s own words that this was not the case at all.  Nearly everything he taught in the years I listened were things he believed and taught in 1992 when that book was published.

 

For example, I never heard him speak about the year 2011 as the probable final year of history on the Open Forum until 2004.  I didn’t think he knew the exact year since previously he had always discussed the end only as being “during our lifetime in all likelihood.”

 

I never heard him speak about the 7000 years between the Flood and the end of the world until late 2004 on the Open Forum and in the subsequent publishing of the book “Time Has An End.”  When I did hear him discuss this 7000 years, he did so by calling it a “proof” which backed up everything we had learned up to that point.

 

I never heard him discuss Solomon and his concubines until somewhere in 2007-08 as near as I can recall.  When he taught the study through the Alameda Fellowship videos and began to teach it on the Open Forum, I believed that he had just learned this information.

 

I never heard him mention Homosexuality as a “sign of the end” until he published that book just before 2011.  The only discussions I had ever heard him give regarding homosexuality were on the Open Forum and then it was only in response to caller questions where he would describe it as being “no different than any other sin.”  But he said nothing about it being a significant sign of the end times.

 

And certainly, I never heard the phrase “cry out to him for mercy” until early 2010, shortly before the Family Radio (FR) billboard campaign began.

 

But I have discovered that ALL OF THESE THINGS were discussed in the book “1994?.”  So, I’m sure that people who’d read it must have known these were NOT new ideas and understandings.  But I did not.  By the time I started listening in June of 2002, this book was no longer offered by FR and these particular things were not being discussed on the Open Forum Program, nor were they discussed in the books “The End of The Church Age” and “Wheat and Tares.”

 

Of course, I DID hear many callers to the Open Forum ask Mr. Camping about his failed prediction and the book “1994?.”  I heard his explanations regarding the question mark in the title, etc.  I heard him say that his error resulted from placing too much emphasis on one verse which he said he misunderstood because God had not opened his eyes to the Latter Rain period which would come after the 2300 evening mornings spoken of in Daniel 8:14.  And most important, I heard him defend the failure and the new date by saying that he’d noted the year 2011 in that book as another possible end date.  Like many, I accepted that explanation and I didn’t investigate it myself.

 

Simply put, his explanation was not the whole truth.  He did not give the year 2011 as just “another possibility.”  The ONLY context in which Mr. Camping discussed 2011 in the book was to note it as being 7000 years from the Flood date and to use it as the year from which to begin his calculations to find the starting date of the Final Tribulation!  He never indicated to his audience that 2011 had been the basis for his 1994 failed conclusion and yet, IT ABSOLUTELY WAS and certainly he knew it as he answered those questions.

 

Let me explain how 1994 and 2011 failures are connected:

 

In “1994?,” Mr. Camping already taught that the Bible says that the world would continue for exactly 7000 years after the Flood and then it would be destroyed.  So, using the timeline’s 4990 BC Flood placement, he did the arithmetic and calculated that end of the world HAD to take place in the year 2011.  Since he knew that the Final Tribulation takes place in the closing years of the earth’s history he knew that it ALSO would need to conclude in the year 2011.  Further, he had determined that God had ORIGINALLY planned a specific length of time for this Final Tribulation, but according to Daniel 8:13-14 and Matthew 24:21-22, He intended to shorten that time period to 2300 days for the sake of the elect.

 

Having already fixed the Great Tribulation’s shortened length at 2300 days and having already fixed its end and the destruction of the world at 2011, he began a search for the start date of the “original tribulation.”  From there he could simply add 2300 days to find the year that the “shortened tribulation” and the world would end. The only way he could do that would be to speculate as to how long God had “ORIGINALLY” intended the Tribulation to be, subtract that number of years from 2011 to locate the original beginning year date and simply add 2300 days to determine the end.  The equation looked like this:

 

(7000 year End of the World as 2011) – (Original Full Great Tribulation Period)  = (Start of Original Great Tribulation) + (2300 day Shortened Tribulation Period) = End of the World

 

He taught that the length of this tribulation period could be ONLY ONE OF 4 POSSIBILITIES which were each periods of time which typified the Final Tribulation.  The book details the process by which he concluded that these 4 possibilities were 70 years, 23 years, 3.5 days, or 42 months.   With this in mind, he began to plug these possibilities through the equation:

 

(7000 year End of the World as 2011) – (Possibility 1,2,3,or 4 as the Original Full Great Tribulation Period)  = (Start of Original Great Tribulation/End of Church AGE) + (2300 day Shortened Tribulation Period) = End of the World

 

RESULTS:

 

First, he decided that 3.5 days and 42 months were both too short and should be considered “symbolic” because neither period of time was long enough to fit even the shortened 2300 day tribulation length he’d ALREADY DETERMINED.  So he discounted those possibilities. Still considering the other 2 possibilities as “literal” time periods, he then plugged 70 years into the equation and found that it would result in a year which had already gone by.

 

(2011) – (70 years) = (1941) + (2300 days) =1947.

 

With the 70 year possibility now discounted, this left only the final choice of a 23 year length for God’s Originally Planned Final Tribulation.  The equation was as follows:

 

(2011) – (23 years) = (1988) + (2300 days) = 1994 End of the World

 

When 1994 failed, it should have been immediately suspected that 1988 failed as the Start of the Great Tribulation right along with it, but instead, a “spiritual” reason was given to explain it.  This is when the “half hour of silence in heaven” was ADOPTED as the meaning of the 2300 evening mornings of Daniel 8:13-14.  BUT THE EQUATION WAS LEFT INTACT!  The reason it was left intact is that it was already seen that the other 3 patterns simply COULD NOT FIT and there were no other possibilities left that he could see!  So while it may still be true that the Great Tribulation is a period of 23 years, it could not have begun in 1988.

 

Here is why:

 

1)  If it is true that the last day of the world is exactly 7000 literal years from the Flood (the basis for which 2011 was chosen to begin the equation), then the Flood could not have occurred in the year 4990 BC since the world did not end in 2011.  THIS WOULD MEAN THAT THE CALENDAR IS WRONG and we have no way of knowing for certain when those 7000 years began or when they will expire.  So we would have no reason or Biblical authority to begin calculating backwards from 2011 to arrive at 1988 as the End of The Church age and the start of the Great Tribulation.

 

2)  If it is true that the calendar is correct, then it CANNOT be true that the Bible is telling us that the world will end precisely 7000 literal years post-Flood in the year 2011 AD because we know that it did not end!  THIS MEANS OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE 7000 YEARS IS WRONG.  So we would have no reason or Biblical authority to begin calculating backwards from 2011 to arrive at 1988 as the End of the Church Age and start of the Great Tribulation.

 

3)  The two statements above CANNOT both be true at the same time.  Once 2011 passed without the end of the world, it became Biblically IMPOSSIBLE to adhere to the belief that 2011 is 7000 years from the 4990 BC Flood AND ALSO adhere to the belief that the Church Age ended in 1988, beginning the 8400 day Great Tribulation which results in a post-May 21, 2011 Judgment Day WITHOUT BELIEVING A LIE.

 

4)  So this is the bottom line.  The explanations and computations Mr. Camping gave on pages 494-497 of the book “1994?” clearly demonstrate that the 1988 calculation for the start of the Great Tribulation was entirely based on a pre-determined understanding that world was to be destroyed in 2011 AD.  When the world did not end in 2011, God demonstrated that this conclusion is faulty and 1988 was NOT the first year of the Great Tribulation.

 

AFTERWORD:

 

When 1994 failed to be the end of the world as Mr. Camping believed, he simply moved back to what he believed was God’s ORIGINAL EXPECTED 23 year Tribulation duration ending in 2011, 7000 years after the flood.  He deduced a spiritual meaning for the 2300 days of Daniel which sadly left the faulty 1988 calculation intact.  It doesn’t appear that he ever revisited his original studies after the 1994 failure to check for errors beyond the 2300 days.

 

Finally, it doesn’t matter what we may eventually learn regarding the correct meaning and/or time application of the 7000 years, the length of the Great Tribulation, or the dates for either.  The fact is that Mr. Camping’s calculation for 1988 as the End of The Church Age/Start of the Great Tribulation has been invalidated with the passing of 2011.  Subsequently, there is absolutely NO BIBLICAL BASIS to conclude that the world has entered into a “Judgment Day” defined by a period of “no salvation.”  This doctrine must be given up as a spiritual “high place” and “another god.”  On pages 142-143 of “The End Of The Church Age… And After”, Mr. Camping wrote:

 

“If we trust in any doctrine that is not firmly taken from the Bible, then we are trusting in our own minds.  In that event, our minds and the individuals who designed that doctrine is our god.  Any time any doctrine is taught that is not altogether based upon the Bible, it is a spiritual high place, it is the worship of another god.”

 

I would also like it to be known that throughout “1994?,” Mr. Camping repeatedly went into great Biblical detail to prove that there is no possibility whatsoever that the world may continue for a single day beyond the saving of the very last elect soul.  He provides much scriptural support for that particular conclusion since his teaching on Matthew 24:21-22 formed the entire basis for the ability to search for the day of Christ’s return.  In fact, he taught quite thoroughly that the only purpose for this world to continue or for believers to be here on the Earth is in order to fulfill God’s magnificent salvation program.  He taught that the bounds of this physical world are determined completely by that plan.  Once the last soul is saved, this world must end according to God’s own Word given in Deuteronomy 32:8 and other verses.  Having learned that, I am doubly surprised by his “temporary” descent into the “5 months of torment/no salvation” doctrine and the “post May 21 no salvation error.”

 

The man-made ideas of “feeding sheep” and a “Judgment Day over the whole world in which there is no longer any hope of souls becoming saved” came about only AFTER AND IN RESPONSE TO the failure of May 21, 2011.  But, ANY doctrines which are based on the conclusion that 1988 was the start of an 8400 day Great Tribulation simply CANNOT be true since they are entirely based upon a foundation that has been demonstrated to be irrefutably impossible and absolutely incorrect.

 

If we lived in a world where men had perfect Biblical understanding, Mr. Camping should have been the first to comprehend this error.  If we lived in a world where men made perfect decisions, he would not have removed “1994?” from the FR website immediately after the prediction failed as he did his other books after 2011 failed.  I believe those decisions did much to allow error to multiply and has significantly slowed correction.  And finally, if we lived in a world where men were able to perfectly examine their own hearts, those of us who believed that Christ would come May 21, 2011 would be quicker to admit to ourselves and to others that we failed to “check out” what Mr. Camping taught (as he encouraged us to do) as thoroughly as we claimed we had, beginning with a brutally honest review of the book “1994?”

 

Thank you for reading.  I sincerely pray that you will not receive this note as an attack on Mr. Camping.  As he was always the first to say, he is a man with feet of clay as any other, though I thank my God always for him and the FR ministry, and for directing their hearts into the love of God’s Word and the desire to share the Gospel so that Christ might seek out and save His lost sheep.  By God’s grace and mercy, my family and I have been unspeakably blessed by their labors.

 

I pray also this information will be as helpful to you in your walk with Christ as it has been to me.  Please feel free to share the note if the Lord so inclines your heart.  May God, in His merciful longsuffering, forgive our errors and comfort the hearts which sorrow over them.   And may He be pleased, in His infinite pity, to continue to reprove us, correct us, and lovingly lead us to our heavenly home.

 

Jude 1:24-25:

 

24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

 

25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.  Amen.

 
 

 

Ten Virgins, Two Shut Doors

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If you go to Matthew 25 in your Bible, you will find something amazing.  It’s a parable known as “The Ten Virgins,” and it should be amazing to all who believed last year’s warnings about May 21, 2011.  That’s because this parable so well describes the situation that day and afterwards.

 

People all around the world heard the Judgment Day, May 21 warnings.  Many believed there would be great physical signs that day.  Many Christians expected the Rapture and resurrection to occur then.  It was supposed to be the date for the Lord’s return – guaranteed by the Bible.

 

Since last year, several other dates have been proposed for the Lord’s return.  However, none of those other dates was publicized nearly so much or accepted by nearly so many people as last year’s May 21.  The warning about May 21, 2011 was a worldwide phenomenon.  It’s important to keep this in mind as you read the parable of The Ten Virgins.

 

 

The Parable

 

Here is the complete parable, from Matthew 25:1-13 (King James Version):

 

1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 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. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

 

 

The Time Setting

 

As we see in these verses, it’s a parable about ten virgins.  Immediately we should ask ourselves why the parable concerns virgins.  When we search the Bible, we find that the word “virgins” (Strong’s number G3933) can refer to those who have become saved (for example, see Revelation 14:4).  However, when we read this parable we soon learn that half the virgins were not saved; so as a group these ten virgins do not represent the elect.  Instead, they must represent people who are identified with God’s kingdom – regardless of whether or not they are actually saved.

 

All ten of the virgins took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom.  Who is the bridegroom?  The Lord Jesus compared Himself to a bridegroom in Mark 2:18-19:

 

And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?  And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

 

Also, the Lord compared His return at the end of the world to the arrival of a bridegroom returning after his wedding, as 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.  

 

Therefore, we see that the parable of the ten virgins is actually showing us a picture of those identified as God’s people at some time near the end of the world.  They are expecting the return of the Lord Jesus.

 

 

They Went Forth to Meet the Bridegroom

 

Verse 1 tells us that the virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom.  Perhaps you’ve read this verse many times without thinking about it.  If you go to meet someone, it’s because you expect that person to arrive at a particular time.  In only a few words, the parable is telling us that the virgins were expecting the bridegroom’s immediate return – that’s why they went to meet him.

 

In verse 1, we also learn that they took their lamps with them when they went to meet the bridegroom.  Continuing with the parable, we read that five virgins were wise, and five were foolish.  The wise ones “took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”  The foolish ones, however, “took no oil with them.”  What is the significance of the oil?  The Greek word (G1637, “elaion”) translated as “oil” in Matthew 25:3 and 4 is the same word translated as “oil” in Mark 6:13:

 

And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them. 

 

Mark 6:13 is actually a little parable in itself.  It’s telling us that the apostles (Mark 6:7) anointed the sick with oil and healed them.  This is a picture of people who have not yet been saved (that is, they are “sick”) hearing the word of God and being saved when God’s Holy Spirit (the “oil”) is present to save them.   So when we read that the wise virgins took oil with them, we know that they were saved.  The foolish virgins, however, took no oil with them; in other words, they were not saved.

 

All ten virgins had lamps: they appeared to be God’s people.  The world knows them as Christians.  However, only five of them were truly God’s children.

 

 

The Bridegroom Tarried

 

Verse 5 states:

 

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 

 

The virgins went to meet the bridegroom, but what happened?  He tarried, or delayed his coming.  The delay pictured in this parable is apparently not brief, for we read that the virgins “all slumbered and slept.”  They settled down to relax while they waited for the bridegroom, and then they fell asleep.

 

Beginning with verse 6, the parable deals with the arrival of the bridegroom.  However, before continuing with the parable we should consider some key verses about the Lord’s return.

 

 

Like Lightning

 

One of those verses is Matthew 24:27:

 

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

 

The Lord compared His return to lightning.  A powerful flash of lightning brightens the entire sky, and does it so quickly that it appears to be instantaneous.  It might be a matter of seconds until the sound of thunder reaches someone who is distant from the lightning, but the flash can be seen from one end of the sky to the other as soon as the lightning strikes.

 

The Bible also tells us that for the unsaved the Lord’s return means sudden destruction.  We read that in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3:

 

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

 

The day of the Lord is the last day (see 2 Peter 3:10), and that’s the day the Lord will return.  Therefore, the above verse implies that there will be no physical signs preceding the Lord’s return.  The world – the unsaved as well as the elect – will be going about their business as usual; everyone will expect a tomorrow that brings more of the same.  Matthew 24:37-39 confirms this:

 

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,  And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

 

On the day of the Lord’s return, there will be no doubt about what is happening.  His return will happen without any warning, and it will be seen and heard all over the world at the same time.

 

 

The Bridegroom Cometh

 

Returning to the parable, verse 6 states:

 

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

 

What is this cry?  It is the start of events that will happen on the last day.  It is proof –physical evidence – that the last day has arrived.  Compare that verse with 1 Thessalonians 4:16:

 

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 

 

The ten virgins are wide-awake; they have heard the “cry” or “shout.”  Notice that the time setting has changed.  Time has passed since the virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom; but we cannot know how much time.   Now the ten virgins are witnessing the resurrection or something else that will occur on the last day.  They know what is happening.  In verse 7, we read that they all arose and trimmed their lamps:

 

Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

 

It’s interesting to read that they “trimmed their lamps.”  Every other time the Greek word translated as “trimmed” (Strong’s number G2885) is used in the Bible, it’s translated as “adorn” or “garnish” (for example, as in 1 Timothy 2:9: “…that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…).   Perhaps this verse is telling us that the virgins are mentally preparing themselves to meet God.

 

Continuing with the parable, verses 8 and 9 tell us:

 

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.  But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

 

The foolish virgins are worried they are not saved.  We know this because of the words telling us that their “lamps have gone out.”  They witnessed the resurrection and Rapture; they see no indication that they will be taken up with the others.  Their anguish is much greater than that of other unsaved people, such as those who follow other religions and those who are atheists.

 

As Christians, the foolish virgins knew that the Bible teaches about the Lord’s return; but they thought they were saved and ready to meet Him.  However, instead of the true Gospel they believed a false one.  They thought they could guarantee their own salvation.  These foolish virgins are the same people the Lord Jesus mentioned in Luke 12:47:

 

And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 

 

The foolish virgins now realize they have a false gospel.   They realize they need the “oil” of the Holy Spirit, and they need to be saved.  The wise virgins tell them “go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”  This is a reference to something we find in the book of Isaiah.  There, God compares the Gospel to something that is offered for sale by merchants.  Isaiah 55:1 states:

 

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 

 

Despite the wise virgins’ advice, it’s too late for the foolish virgins to seek God’s mercy because the time for it has passed.  This is clear from verses 10-12:

 

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.  Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.  But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

 

 

The Door Was Shut

 

When we read that the door was shut, we are reminded of the ark’s door being shut in Genesis 7:16:

 

And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.

 

The great flood was God’s judgment on the world of Noah’s day.  Out of all the people living then, only Noah, Noah’s wife, their sons and their sons’ wives were spared.  Not even one young child came into the ark, which represented God’s salvation.  Once the ark’s door was shut, it was impossible for anyone outside to be saved.  They were condemned to die in the flood.

 

In the flood account, we see a picture of God’s end-time judgment; but we must be very careful in the way we apply its lessons to our own time. The consequences of God shutting the ark’s door are clear; but what about the door in our parable?  Should we conclude the shutting of the door in the parable of the ten virgins is teaching something similar?  Is the parable teaching salvation is possible right up to the moment the door to the marriage feast is shut on the last day?

 

We’ve seen that God often uses objects and people in the Bible to represent ideas associated with His salvation plan.  However, we must be aware that there is no guarantee an object or person will represent the same idea in every situation and whenever we find it in the Bible.  For example, Moses is frequently a picture of the Lord Jesus; but in the verses where we read about his disobedience (Numbers 20:11-12), we know that he is definitely not a picture of the Lord.

 

What about the shutting of the door in the parable of the ten virgins?  That cannot be the moment salvation ended – there is too much Biblical evidence that salvation had already ended before the foolish virgins were shut out of the marriage feast.  The very fact that the virgins went to meet the bridegroom on a particular day tells us that day is associated with God’s judgment.  Then how are we to understand the shutting of the door?  When we read “and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut,” we are reading about the end of the Rapture.  Luke 13:25-28 helps us to understand this:

 

When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:  Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.  But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

 

In our parable, when the door is shut so that the foolish virgins cannot enter, it’s the moment they realize there is absolutely no hope for them to be saved.  It is when they see “Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God,” and realize they are “thrust out.”

 

The parable’s final events  – from the time the virgins hear the cry (“Behold, the bridegroom cometh … “) until they hear the final words (“I know you not”)  – all happen quickly.  They portray the Rapture-resurrection, and anguish of unsaved Christians when they finally understand their fate.  They show us a picture of events on the last day of the world.

 

Watch!

 

The final verse is the command associated with this parable.  Matthew 25:13 declares:

 

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

 

This is the parable’s point.  It’s teaching us to always watch, because we won’t know when the Lord will return.

 

Before May 21 in 2011, it was commonly believed that the command to watch meant that God’s people are to search the Bible in order to learn the date of the Lord’s return.  However, all the evidence now indicates we will never know that date.  If you search to understand what is meant by the command to “watch,“ you will find that the Bible guides us to correct understanding.

 

When we check a concordance for the word “watch,” we find that there are several different Hebrew words and several different Greek words translated that way.  In our parable, the word used for watch (Matthew 25:13) is Strong’s number 1127 (gregoreo).  It’s used 23 times in the New Testament, and it’s always translated as “watch,” except for one verse where it’s translated as “be vigilant” and another one where it’s translated as “wake.”

 

The way it’s usually used, it means just what we think when anyone tells us to watch: we should keep our eyes open and notice what is going on around us.  But that doesn’t help us understand what the Lord meant when He told us to watch.  Obviously, He doesn’t expect us to spend our lives sitting around, watching the sky and waiting for His return.

 

There are some verses that can help us understand what it means to watch.  For example, read 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8:

 

Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

 

Notice that the first verse tells us to watch and be sober.  Then in the last verse we find an instruction to those who are “of the day.”  This is an instruction to the elect; and what are they told?  They are told to be sober, “putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”  What about watching?  Does this verse only explain what it means to be sober?

 

God didn’t just skip over the idea of watching here; He’s helping us understand what it means to “watch” by telling us to be sober, and telling us about the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of salvation.

 

Here’s another verse telling us to watch, using the same Greek word found in the parable.  In Colossians 4:2, we read:

 

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

Here we see the idea of watching associated with thanksgiving in prayer.  Finally, let’s look at Revelation 3.  In Revelation 3:2, we find the word “watchful;” and in Revelation 3:3, we find the word “watch.”  In both cases, the original Greek word is “gregoreo”  – the same word used in the parable.  In Revelation 3:2-3, we read:

 

Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.  Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

 

These verses are part of a message from the Lord Jesus to the church in Sardis.  He is telling them to be watchful and to “strengthen the things which remain;” to remember what they have received and heard; and to repent.

 

Based on these examples from 1 Thessalonians, Colossians and Revelation, we can now understand the Lord’s command in Matthew 25:13 to “watch” (“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”).  We can see that watching has nothing to do with searching the Bible to learn the date of the Lord’s return.

 

Instead, watching has to do with examining ourselves to make sure that we are living faithfully.  It has to do with strengthening ourselves through prayer, and taking the “whole armour of God” (Ephesians 6:13-18).  We get the protection of that armor by reading the Bible and praying.  Watching has to do with spiritual growth as God works in our lives and as we pray, give thanks, read the Bible and meditate on God’s word.  God wants us to watch ourselves!

 

 

The Parable Fits the Timeline

 

The parable doesn’t give any clue telling us how long this time of watching will be; but it does help us to understand all that has happened since May last year.  It also shows that key teachings associated with the Judgment Day, May 21, 2011 warnings were correct.

 

Notice the following:

 

First, the ten virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom because they expected him to return at a specific time.  Based on the Biblical timeline about which Mr. Harold Camping and others wrote and taught, May 21, 2011 was to be the date for the Lord’s return.  People all over the world expected the Lord to return that very day.   Like the ten virgins, they “went forth” to meet Him.

 

Second, in the parable the bridegroom tarried: he didn’t arrive when the virgins expected him.  Like the ten virgins, people who expected the Lord’s return on May 21, 2011 have been forced to wait because the Lord is “tarrying.”

 

Third, the parable tells us that the foolish virgins took no oil in their lamps.  From the day they went forth to meet the bridegroom, they were unsaved.  This confirms the teaching that salvation was over by May 21, 2011 – the day people “went forth” to meet the Lord.  Also, notice that the bridegroom came at midnight.  Midnight identifies with spiritual night.  It’s a time when salvation has ended and the light of the Gospel is no longer shining with power to save anyone.

This parable should give tremendous comfort to those who believed the teachings about May 21, 2011, but have now begun to wonder if any of them were true.  It confirms our understanding that God provided end-time information, just as He indicated He would in His word (Daniel 12:10).  It also helps us understand why God’s people remain here, even though salvation has ended.

 

 

Watching and Waiting

 

What is God’s purpose in letting His people remain here if salvation has ended?  There are plenty of examples in the Bible showing that even after God has saved a person, he or she is far from perfect.  Earlier, we saw that watching has to do with spiritual growth; but that process takes time.  Depending on God’s specific purposes for each one of His children, a very short time may be enough.   On the other hand, it might take a lifetime.

 

Based on the Biblical timeline, we know that God saved a great multitude all over the world during the latter rain – the period when He poured out His Holy Spirit, starting in 1994 and continuing until the last day of salvation.  The Bible indicates that this group included people who had little or no exposure to God’s word until very recently (Revelation 7:9).  During this final part of God’s plan for mankind, these people can learn more about God’s word and God can work in their lives.  There are some verses that help us to understand this.

 

In 2 Peter 1:5-7, we read:

 

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

 

This verse shows us a picture of spiritual fruits developing in a person’s life over a period of time.  In Hebrews 12, we find another idea that helps us understand why the final group of God’s elect would remain in the world even after salvation has ended.

 

Sadly, human nature is such that God must either allow or cause suffering to come into the life of everyone of His elect.  Hebrews 12 tells us about chastening, and in Hebrews 12:6-7 we read:

 

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?    

 

These verses appear to indicate that chastening occurs after God has saved someone.  Chastening forces a person to rely on God and seek His help in prayer.  It is one way God may use to develop spiritual fruit in a person.  Even after salvation has ended, spiritual gifts are still available to God’s children.  In fact, there is a parable showing us that very thing.

 

 

Another Parable, Another Shut Door

 

In Luke 11, we find a very interesting parable.  It has to do with a man who goes to his friend at midnight to ask for three loaves.  In Luke 11:5-6, we read:

 

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?

 

In order to understand this parable, we need to realize that it is telling us something about prayer.  We should suspect this right away because in Luke 11:1, we read that one of the Lord’s disciples asked Him to teach the disciples how to pray.  For His answer (Luke 11:2-4), the Lord Jesus spoke the words that have become among the best known in the Bible:

 

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.  Give us day by day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

 

Then, right after this the Lord told them the parable about the man and his friend.   The fact that this parable has to do with three loaves also indicates that it is teaching something about prayer.  (Remember the words “Give us day by day our daily bread” in the verses telling us how to pray).

 

In the parable, a man has gone to his friend’s home at midnight to ask for three loaves for another friend who has come to him “in his journey.”   But the friend who is at home doesn’t immediately provide the loaves.  In fact, at first it appears that the man won’t get the loaves because of the way his friend seems to answer.   In Luke 11:7 we read:

 

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.    

 

This verse is telling us that salvation has ended!  Remember, the man went to his friend at midnight.  That means it’s a time of spiritual nighttime.  The sun has darkened so that the Gospel is no longer able to save anyone (Matthew 24:29).  Also, the friend says that his children are with him in bed and the door is shut.

 

In this case, the shut door does indeed mean that salvation is over.  This door is like the door to the ark in Genesis 7 after God has shut it.  And notice what we read about the man’s children.  Just as the fictional Lazarus was in Abraham’s bosom after death (Luke 16:23), the children of this man’s friend are with him in bed.  The parable is definitely telling us about the period of time after salvation ends.

 

The friend’s answer from within indicates that the man will not get the loaves he requested.  However, in the very next verse of the parable we find that the man will get what he wants.  Luke 11:8 tells us:

 

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.

 

What is going on here with the loaves?  We can see that the loaves do not represent salvation.  Notice that the man asked for three loaves; but salvation cannot have a quantity associated with it.  It’s an amazing work of God in which He gives someone a new, resurrected soul.  No number can represent salvation, and you can’t say that if you get as many as need then you’ll have it.   Therefore, the loaves cannot represent salvation; but they can represent increasing fruits of the spirit and nourishment provided by God’s word.

 

In Luke 11:9-10, the Lord Jesus begins to explain the parable:

 

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.

 

We must be careful not to misunderstand the words “every one.”  These verses cannot be teaching that just by asking God for salvation, anyone will receive it.   The “every one” here means God’s children.  We see that in Luke 11:11-13, which speak of a father’s relationship with his son:

 

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? 

 

The promise of the Holy Spirit in the last verse is not a promise of salvation; it is a promise that the Lord will give “good gifts” to His children – those whom He has already saved.  Some statements the Lord Jesus made to His disciples support this way of understanding the promise of the Holy Spirit.

 

For instance, recall that at the Passover supper the Lord washed the feet of His disciples.  In John 13:10-11, we read:

 

Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.   For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

 

According to these verses, except for Judas all the disciples there that evening were clean; that is, they were saved (also, see John 15:3).  Yet they had to wait for the Holy Spirit, as we read in Acts 1:4-5:

 

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.   For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

 

About a week and a half later, the disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  That was the beginning of the Church Age, and from that day the disciples were equipped to carry out their mission to spread the Gospel.

 

Summary

 

Once we realize that God has promised to give His Holy Spirit to the elect even after “the door” of salvation has been shut, we can understand how all of these ideas fit together.  The parable of the ten virgins is in agreement with the parable of the man asking for the loaves, although the two parables are teaching different things.

 

In the parable of the ten virgins, the shutting of the door signifies the moment when the unsaved Christians realize they will not be caught up to be with the Lord.  The point of that parable is that the elect should always be watching – and we saw that watching has to do with spiritual growth.

 

On the other hand, in the parable of the man asking for the loaves, the shut door shows us the parable’s time setting: it happens after salvation has ended.  Therefore, this parable is showing us that God’s elect remain here even after salvation has ended!

 

There’s another important lesson in the parable of the man and the loaves.  God is showing us that we can go to Him in prayer any time, right up to the last day.  God is the “friend” who is at home behind the shut door.  John 15:15 illustrates that:

 

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

 

God’s children can go to Him in prayer for themselves and for others too.  Remember, the man who was asking for the three loaves needed them to set before his own friend who had come “in his journey.”

 

Although the parable of the ten virgins only mentions one door, there are actually two doors in view there.  The first door, the one to salvation, was already shut when the virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom.  There was no possibility that the five foolish virgins could be saved after that time.  Neither was there any danger that the five wise virgins could lose their salvation, even though they weren’t watching when the Lord returned.

 

If God has saved you, then you will be allowed into the marriage feast (Matthew 25:10) whether or not you have been “watching.”  On the other hand – if God has truly saved you – then you will want to be watching.   We can do that by reading and meditating on God’s words, thanking Him for blessings, and remembering others in our prayers.

 

 

Date of Judgment Day – Confirmed!

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Undoubtedly many people remember that last year, around this time, they were hearing that God’s Judgment Day was about to come.   There were billboards throughout the world announcing it; and if you did any regular travelling in or near a city, you were most likely offered a tract about Judgment Day – possibly many times.  The date announced as Judgment Day was May 21, 2011.  As you know, May 21 came and went just as any other day.  There was nothing spectacular about it, and the world is still going on the same as ever.  Does this mean that the effort to warn the world about Judgment Day was all a big mistake?  There’s no doubt that there was a misunderstanding about the nature of that day, because there was no great earthquake or any other type of physical sign.  However, there is more to this than meets the eye. 


You may remember reading or hearing a Bible verse about the Genesis Flood given as proof that Judgment Day would begin on May 21 of 2011.  The verse has to do with the fact that last May 21 was the 17th day of the second month in the Hebrew calendar.  Jews the world over use that calendar, although it doesn’t follow exactly the same rules as the lunar calendar God instructed ancient Israel to use after they left Egypt (see Exodus 12:1-2).  Why is it important that last May 21 was identified with the 17th day of the second month in the modern Hebrew calendar?


When we read about the great Flood of Noah’s day in the book of Genesis, we find that it began on the 17th day of the second month according to the calendar in use at that time (in 4990 BC).  God calls our attention to that date, as we learn from Genesis 7:11:


In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 


In the Flood, God destroyed all mankind with the exception of Noah and his family.  Only eight people out of the whole world survived.   Aside from the last day of the world, when God will destroy all the unsaved on earth as well as the earth itself, the Flood is the only other occasion when God brought physical judgment on the whole world. 


It’s important to realize that the verses about the Flood weren’t used to determine that last May 21 was a key date in the sequence of dates discovered by Family Radio’s Mr. Harold Camping.  Rather, the Flood’s connection to May 21 was discovered only after Mr. Camping had calculated that date.


When we read about the Flood, we are reading about an historical event; but that account can also be understood as a picture or parable of God’s Judgment.  We know from the Bible that God uses such pictures to instruct us about past and future events.  Therefore, the fact that the flood began on the 17th day of the second month was understood to be an important confirmation for May 21 as the beginning of Judgment Day.  


You might not know it, but the book of Esther is also an historical parable about the end of the world.  This was known several years before 2011; it was written about and discussed on many occasions by various Bible teachers heard over Family Radio.  Collectively, they have spent many hours looking into this book of the Bible during the last few years.  We may, therefore, think it’s amazing that we can still learn something new from Esther; but that is apparently what has happened.


Something New from the Book of Esther


If you’ve ever read the book of Esther, you might not have paid much attention to the dates recorded there.  Those dates, however, are very important.  The new information has everything to do with those dates.


God has shown us that we can understand His word, which is the Bible, only if and when He opens it up to our understanding; so we really shouldn’t be surprised when we learn something new from the Bible – even if it’s something that was right there in front of us all the time, like those dates from the book of Esther. 


What has been learned from Esther proves that we have correctly understood a major date in the discovered timeline of events in God’s salvation plan.  More proofs may yet be discovered as people continue searching the Bible; but this new confirmation is really special.  It is the sort of thing that should make us suspect that God has waited until now to reveal it so that He could encourage His people.


A Wicked Prince, an Evil Plot, and a Courageous Queen


In order to understand what has been learned, some background information about the book of Esther is needed.  The time setting for Esther is about two hundred years after the fall of Jerusalem, during the time of the Media-Persian kingdom.  Most of the events we read about in this book take place in and around the palace at Shushan.   


In the book, we read about a wicked prince named Haman.  The king has promoted Haman above all the other princes (Esther 3:1), and now Haman expects all the king’s servants to bow before him (Esther 3:2).  However, a man named Mordecai, who is a Jew, refuses to bow before Haman.  We read of Haman’s reaction to this in Esther 3:5:


And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. 


Haman decides not only to punish Mordecai, but also to destroy all the Jews throughout the kingdom (Esther 3:6).  The date for their destruction is determined by casting a lot (Esther 3:7).  Haman then speaks to the king, making the case that the Jews ought not to be permitted to remain in the kingdom (Esther 3:8-9) and should be destroyed.   The king agrees to allow Haman to determine what should be done about the Jews (Esther 3:10-11).   Haman then has the king’s scribes write a decree for the destruction of the Jews, and has it sent throughout the kingdom (Esther 3:12-15).   Notice that this happens on the thirteenth day of the first month.


Mordecai learns about the decree, puts on sackcloth and publicly displays his grief throughout the city, even near the palace (Esther 4:1-2).  Esther, who is queen, learns what Mordecai is doing and is grieved exceedingly.   In fact, Esther is Mordecai’s younger cousin and was raised by Mordecai (Esther 2:7).  Her Jewish ancestry, however, is unknown at the court (Esther 2:20).  To Esther, Mordecai must have seemed more like a father than a good cousin.  


Esther sends “raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him” (Esther 4:4).  Mordecai doesn’t accept the clothing, and so she sends one of the king’s chamberlains to speak with Mordecai (Esther 4:5).  Mordecai tells the chamberlain about the decree and gives him a copy of it, saying that Esther should go to the king and make a supplication for her people (Esther 4:7-8).  


The king’s chamberlain tells Queen Esther what Mordecai has said.  She then sends another message to Mordecai, telling him that if she goes into the inner court to see the king without being called, she will lose her life unless the king holds out the golden scepter to her (Esther 4:9-11).  Her message includes the detail that she has not been called to come in unto the king “these thirty days.”


In Esther 4:13-14, you can read Mordecai’s response to this message.  He tells her not to think that she will escape, being in the king’s house; and that, if she doesn’t speak, help will come from another place.  He ends his message to her by saying “and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”


Esther sends her reply to Mordecai, asking him to gather all the Jews present in Shushan and to fast for her for three days.  She says “and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish (Esther 4:16).”


After the time of fasting, Esther goes to see the king and finds favor in his sight (Esther 5:1-3).  Her petition to the king is that he and Haman should come to a banquet she has had prepared for that day (Esther 5:4).  At the banquet, the king asks Esther what her petition is.  Curiously, Esther asks the king to come with Haman the following day to another banquet that she will prepare for them (Esther 5:6-8).


When Haman comes home after the first banquet (Esther 5:10), he tells his friends and his wife how he is being honored by Esther’s invitations (Esther 5:11-12).  Nevertheless, he is upset at the sight of Mordecai (Esther 5:13).  His friends and his wife advise him to have a great gallows prepared, and to speak to the king the following day so that Mordecai can be hanged on it (Esther 5:14).  Haman is pleased by this advice, and has the gallows built.


That night, the king cannot sleep.  He orders a certain book of records to be brought and read before him (Esther 6:1).  During the reading, the king hears the record of a plot that had been made against him.  It had been discovered and reported by Mordecai (Esther 6:2).  The king learns that nothing has been done to honor Mordecai for his service (Esther 6:3).


At that same time, Haman has come to the court to speak with the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows (Esther 6:4-5).  Before Haman has an opportunity, the king – intending to honor Mordecai for his past service – asks Haman what shall be done for a man whom the king takes delight in honoring (Esther 6:6). 


Haman advises the king to have the man dressed in the king’s royal apparel, and a crown set on his head, and led through the city on the king’s own horse by one of the king’s most noble princes as it is proclaimed before him “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour” (Esther 6:7-9).   The king then commands Haman to do all those things to honor Mordecai, the Jew (Esther 6:10).


Haman manages to carry out the king’s command (Esther 6:11); but in Esther 6:12, we read about his state afterwards:


And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered. 


Haman tells his wife and his friends what has happened, and while they are yet talking the king’s chamberlains arrive to quickly bring Haman to the banquet Esther had prepared (Esther 6:14).


At the banquet, the king again asks Esther what her petition is.  He tells her it will be granted to her, even to half of the kingdom (Esther 7:2).  Esther then tells the king that her petition is for her life and the lives of her people (Esther 7:3).   She tells the king “For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish” (Esther 7:4).


The king asks Esther “Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?”  In Esther 7:6, we read Esther’s answer:


And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen. 


The king, in anger, gets up and goes out into the palace garden (Esther 7:7).  Haman realizes that his life is in jeopardy and goes over to where Esther is reclining, even falling over her to ask for his life.  The king returns to see what he believes is Haman assaulting Queen Esther.  One of the king’s chamberlains points out to the king the great gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai’s execution, and the king orders Haman to be hanged on it (Esther 7:8-10).  


The New Proof


We are now ready to examine the new information by reviewing only a few verses.  Recall that the decree ordering the Jews to be destroyed was written by the king’s scribes on the 13th day of the first month (Esther 3:12).  The decree would have had a date on it.  Regardless of which calendar was used in the kingdom at that time, the date would have been the 13th day of the first month according to the Hebrew calendar of that day (the ancient Hebrew calendar differs from the modern one).


Next, we know that Esther told Mordecai she hadn’t been called to see the king “these thirty days” (Esther 4:11).   Esther knew about the decree (Esther 4:8) because Mordecai had given a copy of it to the messenger to be given to her; besides, Esther in all likelihood had heard about the decree even sooner than that because she was queen!  It is perfectly reasonable for us to understand her words “these thirty days” to mean that the date was now the same day of the month following the one on which the decree was issued.


The next thing we need to notice is in Esther 4:16.   Esther’s message to Mordecai, recorded in that verse, is that he and the other Jews of Shushan should fast for her for three days.  This was in the hope that the Lord would preserve her life and bless her effort to save the Jews when she appeared before the king.   After three days of fasting that began on the 14th day of the second month, the date would be day 16 in the second month. 


It was on that 16th day in the second month that Esther went to speak to the king (Esther 5:1-3).  She asks him to come with Haman to a banquet that day.  The king agrees to this (Esther 5:5).


At that banquet on the 16th day of the second month, the king asks Esther what her petition is.  She asks the king to come to another banquet – again with Haman – on the following day, and she tells the king she will make her request then. 


Early the next day, being the 17th day of the second month, the king orders Haman to honor Mordecai for a past service.  (Mordecai once learned of a plot against the king (Esther 2:21-23) and revealed it, possibly saving the king’s life.)  Ironically, Haman has just gone to the king to ask permission to have Mordecai hanged.  Haman never has an opportunity to ask the king about this, because the king orders Haman to take charge of honoring Mordecai.


It is at the second banquet, held later that day and still on the 17th day of the second month, that Esther accuses Haman and the king orders him to be executed.  Notice that the king’s chamberlain was able to see the gallows Haman had prepared some distance away, thus indicating that the sun had not yet gone down and that it was still the 17th day.  


Based on what we read in Esther 8, we can conclude that Haman was executed that same day: the 17th day of the second month.  Here is a summary of dated events leading up to and ending on that day.


Timeline Leading to the 17th Day of the Second Month

 

The decree to kill the Jews is written (Esther 3:12):

 

First month, day 13

                                               

Esther’s message to Mordecai that she hasn’t seen the king for 30 days since the decree (Esther 4:11); Esther asks Mordecai to fast with the Jews of Shushan for three days (Esther 4:16):

 

Second month, day 13

 

Esther goes to see the king (Esther 5:1) and asks him to come to her banquet with Haman that day (Esther 5:4).  At the banquet, she asks the king to come to her banquet the next day, again with Haman (Esther 5:8):

 

Second month, day 16

 

Mordecai is honored; Haman is executed (Esther 7:10): 

 

Second month, day 17

 

That’s the 17th day of the second month – the same date we find in Genesis 7:11! 


What Does It All Mean?


To fully appreciate this new information, we need to remember that Moses recorded the book of Genesis, with its account of Noah’s flood, long before the book of Esther was recorded.  We know from the book of Exodus and from Mr. Harold Camping’s work that the children of Israel left Egypt in 1447 BC.  Both books – Genesis and Exodus – are dated from that time. 


The final events in the book of Esther, on the other hand, have been dated to 391 BC.  Mordecai may have been the man who recorded that book somewhere around that time.  Over 1,000 years after telling Moses about the 17th day of the second month (as recorded in Genesis 7:11), God inspired the writer of Esther to record events just as it was done so that we would again find that date in God’s word. 


We must realize that the importance is much greater than just finding that date in the book of Esther.  When we read about Mordecai being honored on the 17th day of the second month, we are seeing a picture of something important: it’s a fulfillment of a stage in God’s salvation plan.  In Esther 6:7-11, we read how the king honored Mordecai.  Notice especially the crown in Esther 6:8:  


Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: 


The Hebrew word translated as “crown” in this verse is “kether,” Strong’s number H3804.  Besides this verse, it’s only used in two other verses in the whole Bible: in Esther 1:11 and in Esther 2:17. 


The first time it appears in the book of Esther, it is the word used for the crown placed on Queen Vashti.  In Esther 1, we learn that Vashti was queen before Esther became queen.  However, Vashti refused to come when the king summoned her (Esther 1:12); and so the king decided to choose another queen (Esther 2:4).


In Esther 2:17, we read that Esther was made queen and that the king “set the royal crown upon her head.”  Here again we see that Hebrew word “kether;” this time it’s used for Esther’s royal crown.   The third and final time that word appears, it’s used for the crown set on Mordecai’s head.  What might God be showing us in these verses?


When we compare these verses with some others in Esther, we get a glimpse of God’s salvation plan.  First, notice that the king made Esther a “great feast” when she was crowned queen (Esther 2:18).  Although we don’t read about a feast to celebrate Vashti on the occasion when she became queen, there should have been a great feast for her too.  We then read about a conspiracy against the king by two of the king’s chamberlains who were his doorkeepers (Esther 2:21).  This conspiracy apparently developed about the time Esther became queen (notice the words “in those days” in Esther 2:21).


After the conspiracy is discovered, we read about Haman’s promotion (Esther 3:1), and then later we see Mordecai in sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:1) when he discovers the plan to destroy the Jews.


All of these events fit our understanding of God’s salvation plan and give us a glimpse of it.  First, we know that God had chosen ancient Israel to be His people.  God saved some of them, and for a time they were the external representation of His kingdom.  Then, He moved to the next stage of His salvation plan – the Church Age.  Notice how Vashti and Esther fit into this picture.   Vashti represents ancient Israel and Esther represents the body of believers saved during the Church Age.  The Church Age began on Pentecost Day after the resurrection and ended in 1988, based on the same analysis that led to the discovery of last May 21 as a key date.


Soon after Esther wears the crown, we read about the conspiracy by the two doorkeepers.  This appears to correspond with the end of the Church Age.  We then read about Haman’s promotion.  You might remember hearing that God allowed Satan to begin ruling in the local congregations when the Church Age was over. 


When Haman’s decree is made known, we read about Mordecai crying in sackcloth and ashes.  This appears to be a picture of God’s people in mourning before May 21, when they saw the end of salvation approaching.  We know that only a short time later, Haman was humiliated when he was commanded to lead Mordecai through the streets.  Mordecai wore the royal apparel and the royal crown that day – the 17th day of the second month.


Just as Vashti appears to represent the body of believers saved out of ancient Israel until God ended that relationship, and Esther to represent those saved during the Church Age, Mordecai – as he is honored and as he wears the crown – appears to be a picture of the last group of believers to be saved.   


Elsewhere in the book of Esther, Mordecai appears to be a picture of the Lord Jesus or the Holy Spirit; but when Mordecai wears the same crown that Vashti and Esther wore, he appears to represent those people God saved outside of the local congregations from the time the Church Age ended until Judgment Day began.   This certainly agrees with our understanding that May 21 marked the end of salvation.


That date also marked the execution of a man who represents Satan.  The Bible shows us that God will judge Satan near the end of time, although Satan won’t be destroyed until the world ends.   In Daniel 7:11-12, we read about God’s judgment of Satan:


I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.  As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.  


The book of Esther confirms that there is a delay between the time God judges Satan and then destroys him, as indicated in the above verses.  It does so by telling us that Haman’s ten sons are executed several months after Haman’s execution (Esther 9:1 and 9:10).


Also notice that in Daniel 7:13-14, we find that God’s judgment of Satan happens at the end of the world.  This too agrees with our understanding that the book of Esther’s final chapter shows us a picture of God’s judgment against all the unsaved on the last day.


I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. 


 The story of Esther is well known to Jews today.  It culminates with a great victory by the Jews over those who plotted to destroy them.  It is this book of the Bible that established the days of Purim (occurring this year around the end of the first week of March), celebrated every year by Jews all over the world.  We read about these days in Esther 9:28:


And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed. 


The book of Esther is probably less well known among Christians than most Old Testament books.  Perhaps it’s because God’s name is not mentioned in it.  There is no mention of prayer or dependence upon God in the book, and Esther is never quoted or mentioned in the New Testament.  However, the book of Esther is the Word of God – just like the other 65 books of the Bible.   Therefore, it is worth reading with a prayerful request that God may reveal any other spiritual lessons it may contain.


The new information from the book of Esther should be a big encouragement to anyone who sacrificed or suffered persecution in order to warn the world about Judgment Day coming on May 21.  Some of these people are undoubtedly wondering if they made a mistake by being involved in that effort, despite the proofs about May 21 that were known back then.  This new information is another wonderful proof that God did indeed guide His people to that date and that He wanted them to warn the world about it.


Related Stories:

 

 Countdown to Judgment


May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!


Harold Camping: False Prophet or Herald of God?


It is Finished: God’s Final Warning


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part I


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part II


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part III


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part IV


Judgment Day: Less than One-Half Year Away


A Word of Warning


Signs of the Times


May 21, 2011: Judgment Day Scenario Unfolds


The Great Anticipation


The Great Disappointment II

  

October 21, 2011: End of the World!!!


October 21, 2011 – The First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Not the Last!

  

Genesis Chapter 8: Could December 28, 2011 Be the End?

  

The World Will End on December 28, 2011: The Proofs

  

December 28, 2011 – The End: New Revelations 

  

December 28, 2011 – The End: New Revelations

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When May 21, 2011 came and went just like any other day, those who had spent thousands of hours studying the Bible over the last number of years were in shock.  They had to reassess their understanding, thinking that the beginning of the Day of Judgment must have been only spiritual in nature.  Then the focus turned to October 21, and when that day also passed with no outward signs, there was complete consternation.  Since the timeline of history seemed perfect, and all of the proofs lined up wonderfully, these determined people concluded that there must be more to the story.


This study has followed the search for this missing piece at the very end of time.  For these dedicated people, it started to look like an awfully interesting coincidence that the Day of Judgment was exactly 5 months long, and Noah’s ark floated on the water for exactly 5 months as well.  Since Noah’s journey wasn’t complete, maybe if they could line up our calendar with his, they could follow along to see what was still in store for us.  Indeed, the calendars paralleled each other beautifully, and with an impressive list of proofs, they determined that the very last day had to be December 28, 2011, not October 21.


As a prosecuting attorney builds his case on as much evidence as he can find, so too we search the Bible for every piece of information that can support our argument for showing Truth.  Even so, that attorney will also search desperately for a motive, as that helps substantiate his position immensely.   The law of God is eternal, and so His principles continue as law into whatever worlds are in the Heavens.  For us, we can learn all that we need to know about those laws in the Bible.  There is only one set of rules, and the Bible teaches that God Himself must also follow these laws.  However, God is under no obligation to explain his actions to us.  If He is going to show us why He added 68 days to the end of earth’s calendar, it can only be because of His love and kindness toward the human race.


Before we can address the question of why the calendar was extended, we should tie up a few loose ends to solidify our adventure in Noah’s ark.  First, let’s take a look at the boat itself.  In Genesis 6:15, God is telling Noah exactly what the dimensions must be:  “…The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.”  A cubit is about 18 inches, so the ark was about one and a half football fields in length, and 45 feet high, the height of a 3 or 4 story building!  We know that the rain continued non-stop for forty days and nights.  At the end of that period, the water would be at its highest level throughout the earth before starting to recede, which was about 22 to 23 feet above the highest mountain tops:  “Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.” (Genesis 7:20).  In Chapter 8 verse 3, we read, “And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.”  God is telling us that after the forty day rain, the water level dropped over the last 110 days of Noah’s 5 months of floating on the water.  Continuing on:  “And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.”  (Genesis 8:5).  This adds another 74 days to the 110 days, or 184 total days that it took the water to drop about 22 feet from its highest point until the mountain tops were visible.  Assuming that the water receded at a fairly constant rate, the ark would have rested on the spot on Mount Ararat in about 8 to 9 feet of water.  Looking at Noah’s ark as a 45′ tall vessel, we would expect it to float over the land in 22 feet of water, but it would probably bottom out in only 8 or 9 feet of water.  This reasoning helps bolster our confidence that our findings concerning Noah’s schedule of events are accurate.


A definite point of confusion is how that we can know for sure that the 40 days that Noah waited before he opened the window followed immediately after the day the ark rested on the mountain.  In the Bible, the passage about the 40 days is positioned on the page after the mountain tops were visible, which was 74 days after the ark landed.  We can get some help on this by taking a closer look at the one window in Noah’s ark:  “A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof;…” (Genesis 7:16).  Noah had one small 18 inch square window, and we can clearly see that the door was on the side, but the window was in the roof.  The ultimate purposes of the window were for Noah to keep track of the day and night cycles to count days, and to allow the birds to check for land.  Since the roof had to be a solid waterproof component of the ark to keep out the pounding rain, Noah could not see what was going on outside at all.  Finally, as described in Genesis 8:13, Noah dismantled the roof and looked down at the ground for the first time.  This was 90 days after the mountains were above the water line, or 164 days after the ark rested.  Day 74 after the ark stopped moving, when the mountains appeared out of the water, was like any other day had been for Noah for some time.  There was nothing to signal him to immediately start counting off another 40 days of waiting.  We now know that day 74 was the day the dove landed, but Noah did not see that happen either, as he only knew that it did not return.


One final piece of old business is clarifying how we know that all of Noah’s months were 30 days each, as the Bible does not spell it out word for word.  One strong piece of evidence is that when we make that assumption, everything fits neatly into place.  We know that the 17th day of the 2nd month to the 17th day of the 7th month is stated as totaling 150 days, which at least averages out to be 30 day months.  Also, Genesis 8:14 declares, “And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.”  This was the last official day of the flood, which began on the 17th day of the second month in the previous year. Using 30 day months, we arrive at a total of 370 days, or (10×37).  Spiritually this represents complete (10) judgment (37), and so we have harmony with this supposition.  In addition, as with an algebra problem in school, there have to be some known constants to work with to solve for the unknowns.  God always seems to give just enough information so that eventually we can find Truth.


Now, getting back to this matter of an explanation of why God would add 68 days after the 5 month Day of Judgment, we have the whole Bible at our disposal for our search.  Since we can justify the end time calendar of events through the period of the 5 month Day of Judgment, we must first look at these months to give us some reason to continue yet farther in time.  Besides Revelation Chapter 9 and Genesis Chapter 8, there is one more place in the Bible describing a curious period of 5 months.  Luke 1:24-25 says:  “And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.“.  The context here is centered around Elisabeth, the wife of Zacharias, who was an upstanding priest who had just completed his scheduled duties in the temple.  These verses describe how Elisabeth hid in shame from the world for being pregnant.  However, there was no reason why Elisabeth should feel ashamed at all, as this was a legitimate pregnancy, and she had every right to bear a child.  This discrepancy should cause us to take special note, and realize that these verses must be a parable of something else.


It turns out that Elisabeth’s baby would grow up to be John the Baptist, the man who announced and baptized the Lord Jesus.  When we jump down to verse 41, we find that something interesting happened to this baby while it was still inside Elisabeth’s womb:  “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:“.  This is a clear message that John the Baptist, as a fetus, was given a new eternal soul, and the promise of salvation that goes along with it.  We have correctly realized for centuries that this teaches us that human life begins at conception, and that salvation is possible for babies before birth.  But could this somehow also lead to the answer we are searching for?  The answer is a resounding YES!


To put this all in perspective, we need to go back to Noah’s window one more time.  The word window is used 14 times in the Old Testament, and 13 of those times, the original Hebrew word means just that, a window.  But in Genesis 6:16, as God is relaying his instructions regarding the construction of the ark, this Hebrew word for window is entirely different.  It focuses on the light the window gives, and the root of the word goes back to the meaning of producing light from oil, a figure of anointing.  This window is a symbol of salvation, and we had already assumed that, as the dove flew out of it to the Promised Land.  But now we can see that Noah’s window leads to even more incredible consequences for us today, as God has so craftily hid this surprise information in the Book of Luke.


Elisabeth is a picture, or portrait of all of the women of the world who have conceived or will conceive on or after May 21, 2011.  She conceived “after those days,” and hid herself for 5 months, to hide her reproach among the world.  When the Day of Judgment began, the salvation process as we had come to understand it was finished.  This is essentially true for all of those conceived before May 21, as you are either in the ark or outside of it in a hopeless condition.  For these pregnant women who started a life on or after May 21, the world is basically saying to them, “How dare you bring a baby into the world with no more hope of salvation, destined to die with no chance for eternal life!”  But as we read Luke 1:25 again, God in his mercy is taking away that shame, in the only way possible.  And that way must be by offering the hope of salvation to every bundle of human life conceived on or after May 21.  John the Baptist is a portrait of those babies out of that group who were chosen and not forgotten by God.  Most of us hadn’t thought much about this rather large group of human lives, but the Lord Jesus Christ had planned to save some of them too, and the world couldn’t end on October 21 until they were safe and secure as well.


…then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.” (Genesis 8:9).  As Noah reached out through that window to pull his dove into the ark, so too the Lord Jesus will be reaching out when the window is opened for us on November 24, pulling baby doves into the ark as a final 34-day celebration of the miracle of salvation.  How could we ask for a more wonderful Thanksgiving!  We now know that the raven was released when the window opened, so the world will continue along, business as usual, with no outward sign of God’s handiwork once again.  But this time we can be certain, that 3 days after we are reminded on Christmas of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, His purpose (3) will be fulfilled perfectly.




Related Stories:



Countdown to Judgment


May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!


Harold Camping: False Prophet or Herald of God?


It is Finished: God’s Final Warning


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part I


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part II


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part III


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part IV


Judgment Day: Less than One-Half Year Away


A Word of Warning


Signs of the Times


May 21, 2011: Judgment Day Scenario Unfolds


The Great Anticipation


The Great Disappointment II


October 21, 2011: End of the World!!!


October 21, 2011 – The First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Not the Last!


Genesis Chapter 8: Could December 28, 2011 Be the End?


The World Will End on December 28, 2011: The Proofs


The World Will End on December 28, 2011: The Proofs

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But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:37).  Little did we realize how important these words in scripture would be, in comparing Noah’s adventure with his ark 7000 years ago to our situation today.  In carefully piecing together this chronology in Genesis Chapters 7 and 8, every verse offers at least one tidbit of spiritual meaning or physical evidence to help put together our puzzle.  Finally, all the pieces appear to be in place. 

  

In Genesis Chapter 8: Could December 28, 2011 Be the End?, we started to look at May 21 and October 21, 2011 in relation to Noah’s calendar in his day.  The idea was to align the two calendars precisely, so that we could use his calendar to forecast the events and dates into our future.  The Flood in his day began on the 17th day of the 2nd month, the Bible says.  Our Day of Judgment, after working through the timeline of history, also began on the 17th day of the 2nd month in the Hebrew calendar of our day, which translates to May 21, 2011.  The Flood began in 4990 BC, and 7000 years later (subtract one year, as there is no year zero), we reach 2011.  God warned Noah that the water was coming within 7 days, and II Peter 3:8 sternly warns us that one day is as a thousand years.  We have interpreted this to mean that Noah’s 7-day warning is a 7000 year warning for us as well.  In trying to align the two calendars, the start of both judgment periods is the same day, exactly what we need.  The problem is that the next significant day in each calendar does not appear to correspond with the other.  The ark rested on a mountain top on the 17th day of the 7th month.  In our Hebrew calendar, that is October 15, 2011.  However, our 5 month day of judgment ends on the 23rd day of the 7th month, or October 21, 6 days later.  Without resolving or explaining this discrepancy, our progress is at a standstill.


To find the solution, we have to look at the warning itself:  “For yet 7 days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights;…” (Genesis 7:4).  In checking the original definitions of the Hebrew word for “yet,” it would have been better translated “within”.  That would mean that the day of the warning was day 1, and Noah had 6 more days before the raining began.  This is called inclusive counting, meaning you are counting off 6 days, but adding one more, the first day, to the count total.  There are many other examples of this given by God in the Bible, and it gives Him more flexibility.  If the Flood began on the 17th day, the warning would have been given on the 11th day of the 2nd month.  The “one day is as a thousand years” applies to the warning, and begins on the warning day, not the day the Flood began 7 (inclusive) days later.  The 11th day of the 2nd month in our day is May 15, and 5 months later lands perfectly on October 15, the day the ark rested in Noah’s day.  Thus, we have a path of 7000 years + 5 months to October 15.  When God repeats the warning to us again on May 15, we also have 7 inclusive days before judgment day begins on May 21, and that second trail ends on October 21.  If you are counting it by each day, you must remember that one path uses Noah’s 5 months as 150 days, and the other path uses our 5 months as 153 days.  To summarize, our mistake had been to apply the beginning of the 7000 years to May 21, not May 15.


Since October 15 is the 17th day of the 7th month in both calendars, we can continue with our exploration for Truth.  Noah’s calendar proceeds from that day, not the end of the Day of Judgment on October 21, which we would normally assume to be the stepping off point.  God has inserted just enough little pieces of confusion here and there to have made it historically impossible to figure out.


And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:…” (Genesis 8:6).  We have already established that this was 40 days after the ark rested, on October 15 (in our day).  Counting 40 days, we come to November 24, which is the 27th day of the 8th month in our Hebrew calendar.  Using 30 days per month for Noah, going from the 17th day of the 7th month to the 27th day of the 8th month also is exactly 40 days.  The perfect alignment of the calendars is now extended to November 24.  For us, the window will open as well, even if it is only spiritual in nature.


The section in Genesis Chapter 8: Could December 28, 2011 Be the End? concerning Noah releasing the birds after the window was opened needs to have the timing corrected.  When Noah opened the window on November 24, he would have released the raven to check for land.  Genesis Chapter 8: Could December 28, 2011 Be the End? incorrectly states that the date was November 23, and that Noah waited 7 days before releasing the raven.  A week later, on December 1, he released the dove because the raven did not return.  The dove would return December 8 with nothing.  Would Noah release the dove again on December 8, or was it even the same dove?  In Verse 8, explaining the first release of the dove, it says “a dove.”  But in Verse 10, describing the second release, the Bible says “the dove,” telling us that it was the very same bird.  Noah would obviously not have sent it back out immediately after being in flight for the better part of a week.  (There must have been lots of floating material on the water for the bird to rest on from time to time.)  Recall that in Genesis Chapter 8: Could December 28, 2011 Be the End?, we found out how we know that the time period between events was 7 days.  So Noah sent out the dove for the second time on December 15, a week or more after it returned.  This time it came back that evening, with the olive leaf in its beak, telling Noah that tree tops were now visible.  He would send forth the dove the third time on December 22 in our day, and it would not return.  The Bible does not give day and month numbers for all of this bird activity, so we can only count the spacing between events to move forward in the calendar.


As we spoke about in Genesis Chapter 8: Could December 28, 2011 Be the End?, back in Verse 5 the Bible informs us that on the first day of the 10th month, the tops of the mountains were visible above the water line, giving the birds a place to land.  Counting days using 30-day months from the 17th day of the 7th month when the ark rested, we get a total of 74 days.  Counting out the days on our calendar from October 15, the mountains were visible on December 28, 2011.  The dove was released the third time on December 22, and would have come back on Dec 29 for this 7-day pattern to perpetuate.  It fits within reason that after 6 days, on December 28, the dove was able to land on a mountain top and not have to return to the ark.


The raven is an unclean animal in the Bible, meaning it could not be used for food or religious ceremonies.  Unclean animals are a picture of the unsaved people of the world.  When Noah released the raven, it tells us that once the flood was over, sin would again proliferate on the earth.  The dove is a clean animal, and it represents all of God’s children safe and secure with Jesus Christ in the ark. The mountains can be a metaphor in the Bible of the Kingdom of God, and on December 28 the dove does reach the mountain tops.


As the Bible teaches us to break down verses and sentences to discover Truth, we have found all through the Bible that some numbers and their factors regularly point to truth as well.  The number 2 can represent those bringing the Gospel, 3 can mean God’s purpose, 4 points to the farthest extent of whatever is in view, and 7 can show perfect fulfillment.  Also, 13 leads us to the end of the world, and 17 is a number signifying Heaven.  Finally, for this discussion, 37 and 43 often refer to God’s wrath or judgment.


As with the precise year intervals between events as posted in the Bible throughout history, the day intervals between events during these last days are also remarkable.  From between both May 15 to October 15, and May 21 to October 21, the duration is 153 days, or (3x3x17), signifying God’s purpose (3) is a promise of Heaven (17) for His people during the 5 months.  October 21 to December 28 is 68 days long, or (4×17), meaning the farthest extent of this time (4) ends in Heaven (17).  How fitting that these are the final 68 days that God has added onto the 5 month Day of Judgment!  October 21 to November 24 is 34 days, as is November 24 to December 28, each breaking down into (2×17), or those bringing the Gospel attaining Heaven.  October 15 to December 28 is 74 days (2×37), from when the ark landed until the very end.  Another very good piece of evidence is the time of May 21, 2011 to December 28, 2011, 221 days, or (17×13), Heaven at the end of the world.  There are even a few more, which are worth discussing.  There are 6,321 days from the start of the latter rain on September 7, 1994 to December 28, 2011.  This breaks down into (3x7x7x43), or God’s purpose is the perfect fulfillment of his Judgment.  December 15 to December 28 is 13 days, and it indeed leads to the end.  December 1 to December 22 and November 24 to December 15 both each total 21 days (3×7).  November 24 to December 22, when the dove would leave the ark for the last time, is 28 days, or (4×7), a metaphor for perfect fulfillment at the farthest extent of time.  The incredible number of 7’s, 13’s and 17’s must speak for themselves, as that could never all happen by chance.


As has been shown already, all of the numerical proofs, as well as Noah’s day count of 74 days, point to December 28 as the end of it all.  However, there is one piece that does not corroborate.  When you look up the 1st day of the 10th month in a Hebrew calendar, the corresponding Gregorian day is December 27, not December 28.  We must remember, however, that Noah’s calendar with 30-day months had only 360 days, so the two calendars cannot remain parallel indefinitely.  From May 15 to November 24, God has positioned all of the important days to line up precisely, which is quite remarkable.  Whether the mountains were visible on the 27th or the 28th of December, the dove landed before he would have returned by the 7th day on the 29th.  It is possible that the last day could encompass part of the 27th as things happen around the world, but the very end has to be the 28th, not the 29th.  One possibility is that, as the Bible states, no man knows the day or the hour, so that God has the absolute say in the matter whether it is actually sometime on the 27th.  


We should be in absolute awe of the infinite wisdom of Almighty God.  Mr. Camping was 100% accurate in all of the dates, but God’s plan was not quite finished. 


Related Stories:

 

Countdown to Judgment

 

May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!

 

Harold Camping: False Prophet or Herald of God?

 

It is Finished: God’s Final Warning

 

Assembling the Timeline of History – Part I

 

Assembling the Timeline of History – Part II

 

Assembling the Timeline of History – Part III

 

Assembling the Timeline of History – Part IV

 

Judgment Day: Less than One-Half Year Away

 

A Word of Warning

 

Signs of the Times 

 

May 21, 2011: Judgment Day Scenario Unfolds

 

The Great Anticipation

 

The Great Disappointment II

 

October 21, 2011: End of the World!!!

  

October 21, 2011 – The First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Not the Last!

  

Genesis Chapter 8: Could December 28, 2011 Be the End?

  

October 21, 2011: End of the World!!!

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 Heee’s Baaaack!

   


Just when you thought it was safe to join or rejoin a church congregation, Harold Camping is back to explain the reasons for his failed prediction that May 21, 2011 would be the “guaranteed” date of The Rapture, a worldwide earthquake of epic proportions, and commencement of a 153 calendar day period known collectively as Judgment Day. Reported as “flabbergasted” that his alleged prediction proved erroneous, Camping faced some members of the press on his Monday, May 23rd edition of the Open Forum, a live call-in radio program.


In explaining his error, Mr. Camping, in circumlocutory language, essentially stated that his Biblical analysis and ultimate prediction of the world’s end on October 21, 2011 was actually correct! He simply misunderstood the nature of Christ’s return on May 21st, believing it to be a physical rather than a spiritual return. In fact, he stated, Jesus had returned spiritually on May 21st and that the world now sits in Judgment until its end on October 21st of this year.


He reiterated that all the “proofs” that “guaranteed” Christ’s return and the Rapture of his elect on May 21st are still valid. Having listened to Mr. Camping’s program and read a good deal of his literature on the subject, however, I am a little dubious – particularly of the “proof” than many have considered preeminent. Mr. Camping had stated that May 21, 2011 (the 17th day of the second month of the Jewish calendar) was exactly 7,000 years from the Great Flood (that his timeline indicated had occurred on the 17th day of the second month of 4990 B.C.). And, the number “seven,” according to Mr. Camping represents “spiritual perfection.”


So, does this now mean that there are 7,000 years and 153 days between the Great Flood and the world’s end? In that event, what becomes of the significance of exactly 7,000 years intervening between the two terminal events? If, however, he holds to the May 21st date as Judgment Day – exactly 7,000 years since the Flood (in his determination based on Biblical research), how does he harmonize the fact that one was an actual physical event and the other, spiritual? Or, does he now mean that the Flood was also a spiritual event? Could it be that the world’s end and the New Creation will also be “spiritual events?”


By the way, Mr. Camping’s indication that Christ’s May 21st return was “spiritual” in nature sounds very much like an explanation given by some of the followers of William Miller in the days succeeding his group’s final prediction of the world’s end on October 21, 1844. In that instance, it was suggested that Christ had returned “spiritually” on that day, was sitting on a cloud, and had to be “prayed down.”


As was the case prior to May 21, 2001, I am certain that there will be those who will believe Mr. Camping’s explanation and await the world’s end on October 21st. For those who are “true believers,” however, perhaps they should think carefully before making personal or financial decisions based on this predicted date. Neither Mr. Camping, nor his Family Radio organization are risking their personal and financial futures on its accuracy.


Related Stories:


Countdown to Judgment


May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!


Harold Camping: False Prophet or Herald of God?


It is Finished: God’s Final Warning


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part I


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part II


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part III


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part IV


Judgment Day: Less than One-Half Year Away


A Word of Warning


Signs of the Times 


May 21, 2011: Judgment Day Scenario Unfolds


The Great Anticipation


The Great Disappointment II



The Great Disappointment II

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Between 1831 and 1844, William Miller – a Baptist preacher later credited with founding the Seventh Day Adventist Church – predicted that Christ’s Second Coming would occur in 1843.  Prompted by followers to set a more specific date for Jesus’ return, Miller – using the Hebrew calendar year 5604 – refined his earlier prediction simply indicating that the Return would occur sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844.  A further revision, based on use of the Karaite Jewish calendar, led to extension of the date to April 18th.  In August 1844, Samuel Snow – a Miller follower or Millerite – propounded his own interpretation based on what he referred to as the “seven-month message,” extending the date of Christ’s return to October 22, 1844.  This final prediction spread like wildfire among the general public, already familiarized with Miller’s preaching during the preceding 13 years.  The passage of October 22 without event came to be known as “The Great Disappointment.”


Miller based his prediction on information in the Old Testament Book of Daniel.  Daniel 8:13-14 states, “Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?  And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”  Using an interpretive principle known as the “day-year principle,” Miller began dating these 2300 “years” with the decree by Artaxerxes I of Persia in 457 B.C. to rebuild and restore Jerusalem and its Temple.  Thus, his simple calculation that Jesus would return in 1843 or 1844.


Fast forward to 1970 when Harold Camping published The Biblical Timeline of History that he later refined and expanding in Adam When? Using genealogies from Genesis and a starkly different interpretative method than that employed by Bishop James Ussher in his landmark Biblical chronology published in 1650, Camping established the date for the Creation of the World as 11,013 B.C. and the Flood as 4990 B.C.  Using a combination of historical and Biblical sources, he calculated that the most logical date for the birth of Jesus was October 4, 7 B.C and for his crucifixion, April 1, 33 B.C.


Having created a timeline and determined the date of our Savior’s birth, Camping later turned his attention toward determining when that timeline would end.  Firmly believing in the Bible as the literal word of God and relying heavily on numerology as proofs of his theories, Camping initially determined that 1994 might be the date for Christ’s return.  In John 21:1-14, Jesus tells the disciples who were about 200 cubits out in the Sea of Galilee to throw their net on the right side of the boat, resulting in a catch of 153 fish.  Camping interpreted this to mean that 2,000 years would intervene between Christ’s First and Second Comings.  Since there are 2,000 years between Jesus’ birth (7 B.C.) and 1994 (note that there is no year 0 and hence you must subtract 1 from your calculations), Camping speculated that Jesus would return in 1994.


Although uncertain of his 1994 prediction, Camping later refined his analysis, and – comparing “Scripture with Scripture” and interpreting the spiritual meaning of Biblical events – established May 21, 2011 as the authoritative date for Jesus’ momentous return.  He further identified numerous Biblical “proofs” for this date.  These proofs relied heavily on the “spiritual meaning” that Camping applied to certain numbers – 3 representing “God’s purpose,” 5 representing “atonement” or “redemption,” 7 “spiritual perfection,” 10 or its multiples “completion,” 17 “Heaven,” and 23 “destruction.”  Included among these were that May 21, 2011 was exactly 7,000 years from the date of the Great Flood (4990 + 2011 – 1) and that there are 722,500 days between Jesus’s crucifixion and his return with 722,500 being the product of two repeating sets of spiritually significant numbers:  5 x 10 x 17 x 5 x 10 x 17.


Obviously, Harold Camping exerted a great deal of research, Biblical scholarship, and critical thinking into developing his theories.  Also, quite evidently, he – like William Miller and everyone else who have ever attempted to predict the world’s end – was wrong.  Does this mean that he should become the subject of derision and branded a “false prophet?”


Mr. Camping has been a source of controversy among Christians for more than two decades.  His views ultimately led to his excommunication by the Church with which he had been associated in 1988.  Coincidentally, he later determined from his Biblical scholarship that his excommunication coincided with what he refers to as the “end of the Church Age” in Christian history, the time at which the Holy Spirit left the Christian churches and Satan took over as their ruler.


Since that “revelation,” Camping has maintained that no one can be saved in the churches and that when Christ returns to Rapture his “elect,” those in the churches will be left behind.  Undoubtedly, this point of view has not been cheerfully embraced by the leaders and congregations of these churches.


Another thing that has been a source of frustration and consternation to those who would question Camping’s views is his absolute certainty in their rectitude.  On his call-in radio program “The Open Forum,” Camping has resolutely refused to entertain any questions conditioned on the possibility – no matter delicately stated – that his interpretations were incorrect.  His response has always been that to do so would be to deny The Bible and its truthfulness.


Like many before him, Camping confused his own interpretations with Biblical truths.  And, although he never suggested to anyone that they should make any personal or financial decisions based upon his predictions, one wonders how many did.  At the time of the Millerite’s Great Disappointment, there were reports that many of the “believers” had sold or given away their property in reliance on the belief that they would shortly be leaving this world.  I hope that that is not the case with Camping’s followers.


While Camping’s personal demeanor of certitude may have been divisive and his approach to interpretation seriously flawed, I believe that he has made a significant contribution to Biblical scholarship.  I also believe that, advanced in age, he will likely disappear from the limelight and that Family Radio will ultimately return to a more mainstream Christian message.


And, to those “true believers” that May 21, 2011 would be the date of Christ’s return, I offer the following consolation:  your efforts in promoting this message have not been in vain.  Your message, although inaccurate, has spanned the world, gained the attention of both mainstream and alternative media, introduced countless thousands to Christianity, and placed thinking about God squarely into the forefront of the minds of people worldwide sorely in need of His merciful intervention.  Countless others have delved seriously into the Word of God for the very first time in their lives.  Some of these will, undoubtedly, continue to read and study the Word.


And so, your “Great Disappointment” may produce great joy in Heaven.


Related Stories:


Countdown to Judgment


May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!


Harold Camping: False Prophet or Herald of God?


It is Finished: God’s Final Warning


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part I


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part II


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part III


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part IV


Judgment Day: Less than One-Half Year Away


A Word of Warning


Signs of the Times


May 21, 2011: Judgment Day Scenario Unfolds


The Great Anticipation


The Great Anticipation

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Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon in which a human observer perceives significance in a vague or random stimulus (often an image or sound).  When ancient man gazed at the nighttime sky, he discerned patterns in the stars and named constellations after the images he perceived.  In Ursa Major man perceived a Great Bear, in Ursa Minor a Lesser Bear, in Taurus a Bull, in Scorpio a Scorpion, in Sagittarius an Archer, and so on.  People see images of faces, people, or objects in clouds and hear hidden messages in recordings played backwards.  The desire or need to define patterns in those things inherently without pattern is a distinctly human trait.


And so, being human myself, I find it interesting that in the same week that many await the return of Jesus the Christ and their Rapture to spend eternity with him, it has been widely reported that Stephen Hawking, the celebrated English theoretical physicist and author of the best-seller A Brief History of Time, has declared that the concept of Heaven or an afterlife is a “fairy tale” for people afraid of death.  Is there a pattern here?  Could it be that our Creator employed a noted intellectual and inspired the news media to publicize these comments in juxtaposition to His plan for the conclusion of human history?


As the hours grow short until May 21, 2011, I find myself thinking about many things – but primarily about the nature of God and of His creation, Man.  I wonder about the criteria that God employed in selecting those whom He will save and those left behind.  I wonder how it is that humans, cut from the same cloth, can have such diversity of belief and opinion when presented with the same information.  Primarily, however, I think about the interplay of all of the individual stories of all of the people who have ever lived in the creation of humanity’s story.


As the world devolves into a morass of moral, ethical, and spiritual decay, I truly believe that there has perhaps never been a time when the world more needed God to intervene directly into the Story that He began those millennia ago – to wipe the slate clean and start over with a new Creation absent the flaws of this current one.  And, I observe that there are great multitudes of people whose heaviness of heart belies their implicit acceptance of the premise that this world is coming to its end.


But, perhaps I am just falling victim to pareidolia, perceiving a pattern where there is none.  Nonetheless, I can state with 100% certainty that, over the last number of years, I have grown weary with this world.  And, it brings to mind St. Paul’s valedictory declaration in 2 Timothy, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”


Whether I can say those things about myself or have any assurance about my state of being on May 22nd is uncertain.  Yet, I anticipate God’s imminent intervention – in whatever way He chooses and hope for the promised new Creation.


Related Stories:


Countdown to Judgment

  

May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!

  

Harold Camping: False Prophet or Herald of God?

  

It is Finished: God’s Final Warning


 Assembling the Timeline of History – Part I


 Assembling the Timeline of History – Part II


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part III

  

Assembling the Timeline of History – Part IV

  

Judgment Day: Less than One-Half Year Away

 

A Word of Warning


Signs of the Times


May 21, 2011: Judgment Day Scenario Unfolds

  

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