Keys to Understanding Bible Prophecy - Church of God - NEO

Keys to Understanding Bible Prophecy - Church of God - NEO

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TORMillions are aware of the redemptive role of Christ. Theyknow that Jesus died to reconcile man to God. But howmany realize that their very Savior predicted today's chaoticworld conditions in advance and foretold the outcome of itall? See page 3.The major events that will make tomorrow's news headlinesare already prerecorded in your Bible. Yet so few seem tounderstand these vital prophetic passages. To millions, thatthird of the Bible that is prophecy is a sealed book. Yet,never has it been more necessary to understand prophecy.Here are some keys that will help you unlock propheticmeanings. See page 6." " •Does the biblical expression lithe end of the world" meanthe end of the existence of this physical planet? See page9.•Answers to some often asked questions about Bible prophecy.See page 12.,•6362 / 80012

Millionsaware of the redemptive role of Christ. They know that Jesus diedto reconcile man to God. But how many realize that their very Savior predictedtoday's chaotic world conditions inand foretold the outcome of it all?first verse of the book ofRevelation states: "The Revelationof Jesus Christ. whichGod gave unto him, to shew unto hisservants things which must shortlycome to pass . ... "Jesus Christ was a prophet; JesusChrist was a newscaster of futureworld events; Jesus Christ forecastthe overall, general sequence ofevents that would characterize theworld from His time to now and oninto the future; Jesus Christ was anup-to-date futurist in the true senseof the term.He talked not only of the mindbending,fast-moving, sometimeshorrifying events to presage His secondcoming, but also of a wonderfulworld to come.Blessings to come. Go to the Gospelaccounts. In their contents, Jesusspoke directly of an altogether differentkind of society that would envelopthe earth in future ages.The religious set of Jesus' daythought they had Him cornered witha trick question about marriage andthe resurrection. But He deftly answeredtheir questions by informingthem of the never-before-heard-ofconditions of tomorrow's world.He forecast: "But they which shallbe accounted worthy to obtain thatworld [Greek: age], and the resurrectionfrom the dead, neither marry,nor are given in marriage: neithercan they die any more . .. " (Luke20:35-36).Have you ever before heard of aworld in which part of the inhabitantsthe compassionate rulingclass as other scriptures makeclear can no longer die? Visionaryfuturists of our day contemplate afantastic world with a vastly lengthenedhuman life-span made possibleby super-replacement parts for wornoutbody organs. But how many envisionthe ultimate: " ... neither canthey die anymore"?Matthew's Gospel account shedsstill more light on conditions in thisincredible civilization yet to come.This particular scripture about tomorrow'sworld does have a definitenegative connotation. However, italso has an unspoken positive side aswe will show. Those that were hostileto (and attributed intentional indignityto) the Work that Jesus Christwas doing through the power of theHoly Spirit in proclaiming that futureworld would be on the outsidelooking in.Notice Matthew's description:" ... But whosoever speaketh againstthe Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgivenhim, neither in this world, neitherin the world to come" (Matt.12:32).But on the positive side, the benevolentrulers will be composed of thosewho execute justice and judgment intheir personal lives. David said: "Hethat ruleth over men must be just,ruling in the fear of God" (II Sam.23:3) .Some specific positions in this futureworld have been preassigned byJesus.To His apostles, Jesus promised:"And I appoint unto you a kingdom,as my father hath appointed unto me;that ye may eat and drink at my tablein my kingdom, and sit on thronesjudging the twelve tribes of Israel"(Luke 22:29-30).The epistles written by Peter andJohn are a microcosm of the overallgood character of the apostles. Dedication,loyalty and love earmarkthose remarkable letters.The Gospels are not the only biblicalbooks whose contents reveal specificprognostications of Jesus Christin His role as a prophet.As was pointed out, the book ofRevelation is unveiled by JesusChrist Himself. If you have a red-let-•ter Bible one in which the first-personquotations of Jesus are printed inredyou will be struck by the manyprophecies spoken by your Savior.Further revelation on the world tocome unfolds as you progress into itsexciting contents. Specific rewardsare prophetically promised to specificchurches (and the Church as awhole) in chapters two and three."And he that overcometh, and keepethmy works unto the end, to himwill I give power over the nations [intomorrow's world]" (Rev. 2:26).Rulershipthe reward for overcomingsin and doing Christ'sWork is promised to every Christianexecuting justice and judgmentin his personal life.The Bible is chock-full of propheciesabout this wonderful world tocome. One scripture that perhapsbest sums up the general conditionsof the wonderful world tomorrow,and on beyond. was spoken by Jesusin Revelation 21: 5. " ... Behold, Imake all things new." That statementis all encompassing. Our fragile,uncomprehending human mindscould never fathom the depth andbreadth of that prophetic promise.In keeping with Jesus' modusoperandi in His message to the sevenchurches, we have first presentedChrist as the Revelator of these goodthings to come.But he also is the Revelator of incredibleprophecies of punishment tocome on this world in the relativelynear future.Punishments to Come. Jesus wasboth specific and general in Hisfuturistic forecasts of various types ofpunishment for the world's sins.He directly foresaw the fall of Jerusalemin A.D. 70. The horrible picturewas so vivid in His mind that Hec:>1975 Worldwide Church of GodAll Rights Reserved3

ereou?••IChances are that no onereading this is going to be aliving, breathing human be­Ing 100 years from now. It'sa bit, isn't it? Orwe all know that hubeingsdon't live forev"er. thoughts of our owndeath, no matter how distantthat event may seem, leadto thoughts about the "afterlife." Millions of people feelthat for those who live aworthy life for those whoare "saved" ,the afterlifeis in heaven. Such beliefsare supposedly based onthe , but are, in fac, .nonbiblical. The doeshave a great deal to sayabout anbut it'sdifferent fromIf you'dlike to read more about thetrue biblical teaching on thissubject, write for these freebooklets: What Is ths Rs·ward of th8 SlIvsd? andWh.,8 Ars Enoch and Eli·jah? Send your request toournearestto you.made great lamentation for what Heknew would befall that city (Matt.23:37).And on His painful path to thecross, " ... there followed him a greatcompany of people, and of women,which also bewailed and lamentedhim."But Jesus turning unto them said,Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not forme, but weep for yourselves, and foryour children. For, behold, the daysare coming, in the which they shallsay, Blessed are the barren, and thewombs that never bare, and the papswhich never gave suck. Then shallthey begin to say to the mountains,Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us"(Luke 23:27-31).This stark prophecy was fulfilled(at least in part) in less than four decades.The historian Josephus recordeda vivid account of the terriblefamine which ravaged Jerusalem: "Itwas now a miserable case, and a sightthat would justly bring tears into oureyes, how men stood as to their food,while the more powerful had morethan enough, and the weaker were lamenting[for want of it]. But thefamine was too hard for all other passions,and it is destructive to nothingso much as to modesty; for what wasotherwise worthy of reverence, was inthis case despised; insomuch thatchildren pulled the very morsels thattheir fathers were eating out of theirvery mouths, and what was still moreto be pitied, so did the mothers do asto their infants: and when those thatwere most dear were perishing undertheir hands, they were not ashamedto take from them the very last dropsthat might preserve their lives ... "(Wars of the Jews, book V, chapterX, section 3).Josephus further described masskillings and deportation: " ... So the[Roman] soldiers, out of the wrathand hatred they bore the Jews, nailedthose they caught, one after one way,and another after another, to thecrosses, by way of jest; when theirmultitude was so great, that roomwas wanting for the crosses, andcrosses wanting for the bodies"(Wars of the Jews, book V, chapterXI, section I)."And now, since his soldiers werealready quite tired with killing men,and yet there appeared to be a vastmultitude still remaining alive, Caesargave orders that they should killnone but those that were in arms, andoppose them, but should take the restalive. But, together with those whomthey had orders to slay, they slew theaged and the infirm .... Titus alsosent a great number into the provinces,as a present to them, that theymight be destroyed upon theirtheatres, by the sword and by thewild beasts; but those that were underseventeen years of age were soldfor slaves ...."Now the number of those thatwere carried captive during thiswhole war was collected to be ninetyseventhousand; as was the number ofthose that perished during the wholesiege, eleven hundred thousand ... "(Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews,book VI, chapter IX, sections 2, 3).The horrible happenings of A.D.70 are an apparent type of the evenmore grueling events of the endtime.Perhaps the whole picture of theseage-ending prophecies is best describedand brought into proper focusin Matthew 24.The disciples asked Jesus: "Tell us,when shall these things be? and whatshall be the sign of thy coming, andof the end of the world [Greek aion,meaning age]?" (Verse 3.)Then Jesus proceeded to enumeratea series of general events andhappenings that would characterizethe times from the first century tonowactually intensifying to the extremeat the very end of the age.Among the things Jesus specificallymentioned were religious apostasy,wars and rumors of wars, natural disastershere and there on the earth,and blatant religious bigotry findingits ultimate expression in countlessbrutal martyrdoms.Signs of Christ's Coming. Finally,the world would be so dominated bysin that even some Christians wouldbegin to lose their first love and actuallybegin to betray, persecute, ·andcause to be put to death their ownbrethren. On the world scene, Jesuswarned of several prophetic benchmarks to precede His second comingnone of which has yet been fulfilledto the fullest extent.1 )Publishing of the Gospel: "Andthis gospel of the kingdom shall bepreached in all the world for a witnessunto all nations; and then shall4

the end come" (Matt. 24:14). Whenthem that are in the countries enterGod's anxiety for the physical wel­you see the true gospel beginning tothereinto" (verse 21). Luke then de­fare of His people is recorded by thebe announced to the world's na­scribes the great tribulation in differ­prophet Isaiah: "Come, my people,tionswhen you see this prophecy inent words. "For these be the days ofenter thou into thy chambers, andaction on the world sceneyouvengeance, that all things which areshut thy doors about thee: hide thy­should increase your personal worldwritten [in the Old Testament proph­self as it were for a little moment,watch and vigilance.ecies] may be fulfilled" (verse 22).until the indignation be overpast.2) The Abomin&tion of Desolation:(Jesus often used the expression "it isFor, behold [here is the reason for"When ye therefore shall see thewritten" when quoting or paraphras­hiding], the Lord cometh out of hisabomination of desolation, spoken ofing a passage from the Old Testa­place to punish the inhabitants of theby Daniel the prophet, stand in thement [Matt. 2:5; 4:4, 7, 10; 11 :10;earth for their iniquity ... " (Isa.holy place ... then let them which be21:13; Mark 7:6; 9:12, 13; 11:17,26:20-21 ).in Judaea [the modern nation of Is­etc.].)Notice that verse 21ties rightrael] flee into the mountains ...."For then shall be great tribula­The Bible simply does not clearlydelineate all these eventful propheticback into the Christian's propheticresponsibility: watching significanttion, such as was not since the begin­bench marks in easy one-two-threeworld events individually (and warn­ning of the world to this time, no, nororder. Nor are the ones mentioneding the world as a Church) as well asever shall be [again]" (verses 15-16,the only ones; there are many more.praying to be worthy to escape the21) .The Bible is written "here a little andpunishments of God on this sick andJesus spoke of the vital necessity ofthere a little," and therein lies one ofdying world.understanding this "abomination" inthe reasons Jesus continu9usly .ad­Watch! 0the parenthetical phrase, "whosomonished His servants to watchreadeth, let him understand" (verse(Matt .. 24:42; 25:13; Mark 13:33-15). It appears to involve a great reli­37).gious leader who would make hisAs world events unfold, ChristiansFROM THE PEOPLEworld headquarters in the HolyLand. This event's great import lies(and especially the ministryseeAmos 3:7) should begin to match upWHO BRING YOUin the fact that it is a sign signalingthe beginning of the great tribula­the world scenario with the biblicalprophecies.THE PLAIN TRUTH . . .tion.Jesus Christthe Revelator of all3)The Hour of Trial: Jesusthereal Revelator of the Bible's lastbookrefers again to this utterlyunique time in the world's history.Notice His message to the Church inRevelation 3: 10: "Because thou hastkept the word of my patience, I alsowill keep thee from the hour oftemptation[trial], which shall come uponall the world, to try them that dwellupon the earth."prophecy and the living Word thatinspired the whole Bibleenjoinsthe following very big responsibilityon all Christians: "Watch ye therefore,and pray always, that ye maybe accounted worthy to escape allthese things [the end-time eventsmentioned in the preceding verses]that shall come to pass, and tostand before the Son of man" (Luke21:36).Here's the story of a uniquegroup of people-the WorldwideChurch of God. It's achurch with a purpose, a missionthat's being actively fulfilledon a worldwide scale. It'sa church that is having aprofou nd, positive impact onmillions of lives. Read the fullstory in the booklet, This Is theWorldwide Church of God. Foryour free copy, write to:This hour of trial (an hour is a rel­Believe it or not, God is very con­atively short time in biblical prophecy)will not be a local upset done incerned that His elect (any person orpersons who will truly obey Him andTHE PLAIN TRUTHPasadena, Calif. 91123a corner of Asia. It will be global inrangeall the inhabitants of theearth will be affected.4)Jerusalem Surrounded Withhelp perform His Work upon theearth) not suffer with a disobedient,God-rejecting world.But the qualifications for physicalOr, if you live outside theUnited States, write to the addressof our office nearest you.•Armies: The companion prophecy inescape are spiritual. Hoarding honey,Luke 21 gives us an additional pro­soybeans and other food staples is notphetic waymark to consider. "Andthe right route to take.when ye shall see Jerusalem com­"Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek ofpassed with armies, then know thatthe earth, which have wrought histhe desola tion thereof is nigh" (versejudgment; seek righteousness, seek20; cf. Zech. 14:1-4; Rev. 16:16).meekness: it may be ye shall be hid inBut notice that this prophecy thenthe day of the Lord's anger," criedparallels Matthew 24: 16-20 as it de­the prophet Zephaniah (2:3).scribes the events just before theA sermon-on-the-mount-typegreat tribulation: "Then let themcharacter is required. If you developwhich are in Judaea flee to the moun­such Christlike character, thetains; and let them which are in thechances of your escaping the greatmidst of it depart out; and let nottribulation are very good.5

•.,••• •The major events that will make tomorrow's news headlines are already prerecordedin your Bible. Yet so few seem to understand these vital propheticpassages. Tothat third of the Bible that is prophecy is a sealed book.Yet, never has it been more necessary to understand prophecy. Here are somekeys that will help you unlock prophetic meanings.- - 0 MOST professing Christiansthe writings of men like Daniel,Zechariah, Joel and John (inRevelation) are shrouded in mysterioussymbolism and meaninglessmetaphor.So complete is this blindness thatsome "higher critics" have evendared to propose that such propheticwritings are merely the rantings ofdrug-driven hallucinators of antiquity!Prophetic Blindness Prophesied.God knew it would be this way! Noticehow vividly and accurately Hedescribes this spiritual blindness inIsaiah 29:10-12 (R.S.V.): "For theLord has poured out upon you aspirit of deep sleep, and has closedyour eyes, the prophets, and coveredyour heads, the seers. And the visionof all this has become to youlike the words of a book that issealed. When men give it to onewho can read, saying, Read this, hesays, I cannot, for it is sealed. Andwhen they give the book to one whocannot read, saying, Read this, hesays, I cannot read.'''- That is, many of the learned theologianswill claim that propheticbooks are permanently "sealed" tounderstanding.Others who are lay people willclaim ignorance due to a lack of such"education."God simply has not given the understandingof prophecy to everyone!But Peter said, "WE have also amore sure word of prophecy; whereuntoYE do well that YE take heed asunto a light that shines in a darkplace" (II Peter 1: 19).The Holy Spirit must lead usinto all truth (John 16: 13). This includesthat portion of God's Wordthat is prophecy! (John 17:17.)Those who do not yield to God andsubmit to His way cannot hope tounderstand.Daniel wrote a great deal about futureevents. Yet he did not really understandjust how his own prophecieswould work out! "I heard this, but Idid not understand it. So I asked, '0my lord, what is to be the last phasebefore the end?' But he said, 'Ask nomore, Daniel, for the revelation is tobe kept secret and close, TILL THECRISIS AT THE CLOSE' " (Daniel 12:8-9, Moffatt).He was speaking of the close ofman's age the time of the end!Then he said, "... the wise SHALLUNDERSTAND" (verse 10, KJV).In the opening verse of the book ofRevelation we find these words: "TheRevelation [not concealing but revealing]of Jesus Christ, which Godgave unto him, TO SHEW [not 'hidefrom'] HIS SERVANTS [not the wholeworld] things which must shortly[with speed i.e., Matt. 24:34] cometo pass."Prophetic meanings were not permanentlysealed, rather they were tobe revealed, but only to God's trueservants and that not until the endtime!You are living in that end timenow!About 90% of that prophetic thirdof the Bible is now well into the be-ginning stages of fulfillment! Youneed to understand!There are keys to assist in understanding.This article will explainsome of the most important and basicones.Prophetic Time Lapses. One of themost crucial considerations whenstudying prophecy must be the timefactor. This has been a major stumblingblock to many students ofprophecy. Even learned commentatorshave failed to grasp the principleof prophetic time lapses. This is especiallytrue in Isaiah, Daniel andRevelation.An excellent example of such atime lapse may be found in Isaiah61:1-3. In the first three verses wefind a short prophecy concerningChrist and His commission. (Actuallythe complete prophecy continuesto the end of the chapter, but the firstthree verses will suffice to illustratethe point.) Jesus Himself quoted thissection from Isaiah when He had occasionto read in the synagogue inNazareth.Notice it in Luke 4:16-20: "Andhe came to Nazareth where he hadbeen brought up: and as his customwas, he went into the synagogue onthe Sabbath day, and stood up for toread. And there was delivered untohim the book of the prophet Esaias[Greek for Isaiah]. And when he hadopened the book he found the placewhere it was written, The spirit of theLord is upon me because he hathanointed me to preach the gospel tothe poor: he hath sent me to heal thebrokenhearted, to preach deliverance6«:> 1972 Ambassador CollegeAll Rights Reserved

to the captives and the recovering ofsight to the blind, to set at libertythem that are bruised, to preach theacceptable year of the Lord. AND HECLOSED THE BOOK ..."Notice! Jesus did not finish quotingthe rest of Isaiah 61 :2! But why not?Simply because the first part of thatprophecy concerned Christ's earthlyministry from 27-31 A.D. only! But therest ofthe verse did not apply to the timeof His first coming.The remainder of the prophecystartingin mid-verse applies toChrist's second coming the timeknown as "the day of the Lord" oras Isaiah expressed it "AND the DAYOF VENGEA NCE of our God ...."In other words, we see in one verseof Bible prophecy a prophetic timelapse of almost 2000 years betweenthe fulfillment of the first and secondparts of that one verse.This principle is not uncommon inIsaiah's writing and in other propheticbooks of the Bible.The longest single prophecy in theBible (found in Daniel 11) covers atime period from the Medo-PersianEmpire to the return of Christ in amere 45 verses.In Revelation 12 we find a briefbiography of Satan the devil from hisinitial rebellion many millennia inthe past to the years and months justahead in human events! And all in 17short verses!Therefore, we see that it is veryimportant when studying propheticpassages to get God's guidance in understandingthe time element involved.Prophetic Symbolism. But understandingthe time factor alone is notenough. We must add to this a knowledgeof God's use of symbolism. Tograsp prophetic meanings God oftenuses symbols, analogies, metaphorsand allegories in describing futureevents. It is critical to understandwhen such devices are being used andwhen a word is to be taken literally!Many have gone astray because theyhave failed to grasp the symbolicmeaning of a word as opposed to a literalapplication.Bible Self-interpreting. As a casein point, notice Revelation 1 :20:"The mystery of the seven starswhich thou sawest in my right hand,and the seven golden candlesticks.TH E SEVEN STARS ARE THE ANGELS ofthe seven churches: and the sevencandlesticks which thou sawest arethe seven churches."Here we find stars being used as asymbol for angels. In fact, the nameLucifer (the great cherub who becameknown as "Satan" after his rebellion)means "Shining One" or"Morning Star" (Isaiah 14: 12).Thus we find a principle of propheticunderstanding. When a wordis obviously used as a symbol, wemust look elsewhere in the Bible forthe interpretation or meaning of thatsymbol.The symbol for an angel is often a"star. "Other Common Symbols. God usesmany symbols when describing propheticevents. In Revelation 17 wefind two mysterious symbols used inportraying events which are not toofar in the future. In verse 1 we read," ... 1" will shew unto you the judgmentof the great whore that sittethupon many waters."Here we must know the meaningof "many waters" and just who this" whore" is if we are to understandthe prophecy. Verse 18 of the samechapter gives us the answer in part."And the woman [whore] which thousawest IS THAT GREAT CITY, whichreigneth over the ki ngs of the earth."Therefore, we understand that thewoman, or whore, as GOD calls her,represents a city-centered entitywhich has influence over kingsthat,in fact, has ruled and will ruleover other rulers!Verse 15 tells us what the"waters" represent. " ... The waterswhich thou sawest, where the whoresitteth, are PEOPLES, and multitudes,and NATIONS, and tongues."But to really understand the symbolismof the "woman" in this chapter,we need additional information.We find that throughout the Biblethe woman often is used to signify aCHURCH. The congregation of Israelwas called the "church in the wilderness"according to Acts 7:38. And indescribing how God brought Israelout of Egypt and made them a greatnation the Bible uses the analogy of afemale baby growing up to womanhoodin Ezekiel 16. Notice thephraseology." ... Thus saith the Lord God untoJerusalem [representative of thewhole nation of Israel] ... thou didsttrust in thine own beauty, and playedthe harlot . .. and madest to thyselfimages of men, and didst commitwhoredom with them ... thou hasttaken thy sons and daughters, whomthou hast borne unto me .... Howweak is thine heart ... seeing thatthou doest ... the work of an imperiouswhorish WOMAN" (Ezek.16:3, 15, 17, 20, 30). Therefore, wesee the "church in the wilderness"­Israel was represented by a womanwho became an adulterous wife toGod.•In the New Testament the trueand false churches are also representedas women. In Ephesians 5:22-32 Paul draws a parallel between thehusband-wife relationship andChrist's relationship to the Church.Revelation 19 speaks of the "marriageof the Lamb" and the ChurchEZEKIEL'SVISION OF- ,"The prophet Ezekiel reported seeingan awesome "wheel within awheel" that has served as an oftquoted precedent for unusualsightings in the heavens, such asUFO's."The appearance of the wheelsand their work was .. . as it were awheel in the middle of a wheel.When they went, they went upontheir four sides: and they turnednot when they went. As for theirrings, they were so high that theywere dreadful; and their rings werefull of eyes round about them four.And when the living creatureswent, the wheels went by them:and when the living creatures werelifted up from the earth, the wheelswere lifted up" (Ezek. 1: 16-19, seealso Ezek. 10).There is no need to make wildinterpretations of these verses.Ezekiel 1 :28 tells what it was thatEzekiel saw: "THIS WAS the appearanceof the likeness of theglory of the Lord"!What Ezekiel saw has oftenbeen described as a vision of a"portable throne" of God, completewith representatives of theangelic host. There is no biblicalreason to believe otherwise.7

•is represented as the bride of Christ.The true Church is called "Jerusalemwhich is above ... which is themother of us all" in Galatians 4:26.The principle is consistent. Biblesymbolism often depicts a church asa woman.Getting back to Revelation 17, wecan see, then, that the great "whore"which rules over nations and kingdomsmust be a false church! It iscalled a "mother" in verse 5 and a"woman" in verse 6.When we understand the symbolism,then we can see that Revelation17 is talking about a religious system,based in a great city, which exercisesinfluence over human kingdomsand nations which speak variouslanguages!Verse 9 of the same chapter tells usthe "woman" or church being referredto sits on seven hills or mountains. Thismay have a literal application and itmay havea symbolic one.The Symbolic "Mountain." Thisbrings us to another symbol oftenused in Bible prophecy. That of the"mountain." This term is often usedto represent a kingdom or government.Jeremiah 51 :24-25 provides a goodillustration of this principle. Noticeverse 24: "And I will render untoBabylon and to all the inhabitants ofChaldea all their evil that they havedone in Zion in your sight, saith theLord. Behold I am against thee, 0DESTROYING MOUNTAIN, saith theLord, which destroyest all theearth."Here we find the term "mountain"used to describe the Babyloniankingdom.Again in Daniel 2 we find thesame symbol used. Notice verse 35,last part: " ... And the stone thatsmote the image becam~ a greatmountain, and filled tHe whole~earth."I'Now, if we try to undeistand thisliterally, it makes little sense! Normally,a literal mountain comes to apeak df some kind. Can you picturesuch an entity "filling" a roundearth? Obviously, the term "mountain"is used symbolically here. Danielhas just been recounting to Nebuchadnezzarthe dream he has had.The entire dream was based on symbols.Go back and read verses 31-35to get the whole picture.Then God explains the terminologyused in the preceding verses inverses .36-45. Note especially verse44, which explains what the "mountain"that fills the whole earth is:"And in the days of these kings shallthe God of heaven set up a kingdom,which shall never be destroyed: andthe kingdom shall not be left to otherpeople, but it shall break in piecesand consume all these kingdoms, andit shall stand forever."Now the meaning comes clear!God was showing the world's kingdomsby means of the image. Thevarious parts of the image representvarious world-ruling kingdoms,namely the Babylonian (which Nebuchadnezzarruled over), the Medo­Persian (which followed it), TheGreek and finally the Roman. Thenthe "stone" which grew into a"mountain" destroys the last of thesekingdoms, which is the final "resurrection,"or revival, of the end-timeRoman Empire. Christ will returnand set up His Kingdom, which willbe a WORLD-RULING Kingdom thatwill endure forever! That is what ispictured by the "mountain" that fillsthe whole earth.Other Strange Symbols. In Revelation9 we find still more mysterioussymbolism. In verse I we again findthe star symbol used for an angel.Here the "star" is personified andperforms a certain duty for God." ... And I saw a star fall from heaven... and to him was given the keyof the bottomless pit."The term "bottomless pit" 'is not adear translation. It should more correctlybe rendered "the abyssalshaft," or "abyss," as other translatorshave done.The next verses give a picture ofbillowing smoke emitting from themouth of this abyss and darkeningthe sun. From the smoke emergesome very unusual locusts! Verses 3-10 give a full description of these bizarrecreatures. They are describedas having "tails like unto scorpions,"a sting like a scorpion, being armorplatedand having a roar like thesound of pounding battle horses! Weare told that these nightmarish "locusts"are able to fly!It should be apparent that John isnot describing literal locusts! Whateverhe is describing seems to be controlledby men (verse 7). It becomesapparent that what John is seeing ismodern military weaponry at its hideousworst! Today's frightening arrayof weaponry would give pause to thebravest man of our time, much moreof John's time! And how else couldthe apostle describe it? There werenot jet planes or rocket-launching helicoptersin his days! The heart-stoppingroar of hundreds of jet fightersand bombers was unknown at thattime! To see men at the controls ofsuch instruments of destructionwould have been a shattering experiencefor any first-century fisherman!Who in John's time could have envisionedlaser beams and flame-throwingtanks? Could any have foreseenthe advent of giant missiles beingemitted from the bowels of a nuclearpowered,undersea monster called a"submarine"? And what about theweapons John saw that we don'tknow of yet? Perhaps even more terrifyingweapons are on the drawingboards!Even if God had inspired John towrite in modern military shoptalk,who would have understood any of itbefore the latter part of this modernage of space travel? John had to usethe language of his day. Thus, thesymbolism of great flying locusts.In verse 11 we find the motivatingforce behind this great militarypower described. "And they had aking over them, which is the angel ofthe bottomless pit [abyss], whosename in Hebrew tongue is Abaddon,but in the Greek tongue hath hisname Apollyon [Destroyer!]."This angel or demon is none otherthan Satan the devilthe Destroyer.He is the old serpent of Revelation12:9, who is called the "god of thisworld" in II Corinthians 4:4.He is the same one who gives hispower to a great end-time falseprophet (II Thes. 2:7-9). He will stirup certain kings or rulers to amalgamatetheir military forces to becomethe greatest war-making machine inhistory! . -'>Bible prophecy is coming alive in today'snews! The world's "hot spots" arespreading and this decade promises tobe one of the most traumatic in man'sexperience! You need to watch worldevents as they unfold, daily fulfillingthe many intricate and specific propheciesrelating to this pulsating twentiethcentury! 08•

•AKE NO mistake about it.THIS IS THE END TIME!But the world itself (thephysical globe) is NOT going to end.Not soonnot ever! This planet hasa permanent and vital place in theuniverse! Nor will mankind bringabout his own extinctionalmost,but not quite!There will be a world tomorrow!And it will be a UTOPIA of peace andplenty. Such a world is just aroundthe corner. You can bank on it!But it will not be brought aboutby man 's efforts~It will be introducedin spite of him!Let's understand.What, Then, Does "End of theWorld" Mean?The expression"end of the world" needs detaileddefining.Granted the Bible does use theterm. Let's examine one such instancein Matthew 24:3: " ... Thedisciples came to him privately, saying,Tell us ... what shall be thesign of thy coming, and of the ENDOF THE WORLD?" Notice the phrase"the end of the world" is related tothe return of Jesus Christ to thisearth. Does this mean Christ will returnonly to destroy this earth andblast to oblivion the planet He Himselfcreated? Not at all! The word"world" in this verse comes from aGreek word, aion, which does notsignify the physical globe we callthe "world." It means "age" andhas been so rendered by a number oftranslators.The return of Jesus Christ signifiesthe conclusion of this age andthe commencement of anothermillennial ageaupon this earth.Beginning at His arrival, Christ willsubdue all earthly kingdoms and assumethe reigns of world government(Dan. 2:44; Rev. 1 \:15). Thiswill signal the opening of a thousand-yearperiod known propheticallyas the millennium. It will be atime of constantly increasing peace,prosperity and plenty. It will be aperiod of the rebuilding of this ravagedearth.Great ecological restorations willbe enacted and after a while evensome old cities of this present agewill be rebuilt (Acts 3:20-21; Isa.61:4). Of course, this rebuilding willbe done in an orderly and sensiblemanner. There will be no urbansprawl or slums in the cities of tomorrow.It will be God's world. AndGod is not the author of confusion!(I Cor. 14:33, 40.) Today's citiesare disorganized, confused botcheson the face of the scarred and pollutedlandscape. Tomorrow's citieswill be orderly and free of pollution.The End of This Age. BeforeChrist's millennial rule begins, however,man's allotted 6000-year agewill come to a tumultuous climax!Many prophecies will be fulfilled ina relatively brief period of time. Inthe Bible this mind-shattering climacticperiod is known astime of the end.""theThe Apostle Paul in describingthis period said, "In the last daysthe time will be full of danger . .. "(II Tim. 3: I, Phillips translation).Conditions on this earth will be sodangerous that ALL LIFE, human orotherwise, will be threatened withEXTINCTION! Only the interventionof the returning Christ will preventglobal catastrophe. Notice, onceagain, how Jesus Himself describedthis now soon-coming period inMatthew 24:22, "And except thosedays should be shortened, thereshould no flesh be saved[alive] .... "Christ will have to step in andsave man from himself!Brink of Cosmocide In recent decadesman's technological knowledgehas rapidly increased at a staggeringrate. But so have man's trou-bles! Why? Because man does nothave the wisdom to rightly use thetechnology at his disposal. For example,every new weapon that hasbeen invented has eventually beenutilized. Now man has the hydrogenbomb stockpiled in overkill proportions!And yet newer and more bizarreweapons of mass destruction are onthe drawing boards. The militarypotential of orbiting satellites is inconceivable.Laser beams and bacteriologicalagents are weapons toohorrifying for the average person toconsider.But the solution to war and internationalstruggles and conflicts isnot a change of weaponry to morelethal and devastating munitions.Nor is it the ever-growing stockpilingof existing weapons of mass destruction.It is a change of heart onthe part of mankind in general.MAN MUST DEVELOP THE WISDOMTO A VOID WARNOT THE WEAPON­RY TO WAGE IT! As wise old KingSolomon said centuries ago, "Wisdomis better than weapons of war:but [weapons in the hands of?] onesinner destroyeth much good"(Eccl. 9:18).When Christ Return? Thishas been the question of the ages!Great theologians have ponderedthis question. Wild-eyed religionistshave cried "woW' too many times.The public is skeptical about thewhole subject.God, of course, prophetically anticipatedthis attitude. Notice thewords of Peter, " ... There shallcome in the last day s scoffers. .. saying, Where is the promiseof his coming? for since the fathersfell asleep, all things continueas they were from the beginning ofthe creation" (II Peter 3:3-4).For centuries a wily and craftyadversary of God (Satan the devil)has sent his false prophets to delude9

man into expecting the imminentreturn of the Messiah. Always therehas been a letdown. Christ did notshow up when these misguided selfappointed"prophets" said Hewould. Consequently, people havebecome doubtful that Christ reallywill ever return. This is exactly whatthe devil has desired! Because whenGod's true servants stand up to announcethe imminency of Christ'sreturn, a "once bitten, twice shy"public will not believe it! They'vebeen "had" too many times!But whom can you believe? Beforeyou accept the words of any allegedservant of God, " ... believe not everyspirit, but try the spirits whether theybe of God: because MANY FALSEPROPHETS ARE GONE OUT INTO THEWORLD" (I John 4: I).God dogmatically states wheneverHe does a majqr act He will informHis servants beforehand(Amos 3:7). God's Word, the Bible,tells how to recognize the conditionsthat will precede Christ's secondcoming. When the disciples askedwhat the sign of Christ's comingwould be, He gave them a numberof such signs! They are listed in the24th chapter of the book of Matthew.He listed an ever-skyrocketingcurve of wars and rumors ofwars, famines, disease epidemics,coexisting with a dramatic increasein religious fervor which would culminatein the arrival on the worldscene of one great false religiousleader of enormous influence andpower. Read it for yourself in Matthew24:3-15 and II Thessalonians2:3-9. Accompanying this would bepersistent rumors that Christ's returnhas already taken place (IIThes. 2:1-2). Notice also Matthew24:23-24. Do not be deceived!God's Word plainly says, "Watchtherefore, FOR YE KNOW NEITHERTHE DAY NOR THE HOUR WHEREINTHE SON OF MAN COMETH" (Matt.25: 13). This Work has never set anexact date for the return of Christ!After all, who are we to dictate toChrist when He must arrive on thisearth?Though we cannot know at thistime the precise day of the return ofthe Messiah, we can know the approximatetime in history "THETIME OF THE END." We can watchthe news of the world fulfill the specificand meticulous end-timeprophecies of God's Word. Whenwe see these prophecies being fulfilled(which they are!), we can alsorecognize that they are the signs ofChrist's arrival. As John the Baptistprepared the way for the first comingof Jesus, this Work is preparingthe way for His second arrival!(Mal. 4:5-6.)What Prophecy Means to You!Jesus Christ commissioned HisChurch to preach and publish thegospel of the Kingdom of God to allthe world as a WITNESS (Matt.28:18-20; Matt. 24:14; Mark13: 10). The Gospel is prophetic! It• •WILL THE EARTH BE DESTROYED?Many wonder about II Peter 3: 10. Didn't Peter say this globe would be destroyed?Was Peter really talking about the total destruction of the earth?Notice what the context tells us: "But the heavens and the earth, which arenow, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day ofjudgment and perdition of ungodly men" (II Pet. 3:7).This fire is the Judgment of ungodly men. This is the Lake of Gehenna Firewhich is the second death (Rev. 20: 14), the unquenchable fire that will burn upthe unrepentant (Matt. 3: 12).Peter goes on to describe the effects of this unquenchable fire: "In thewhich the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the element's shallmelt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall beburned up" (II Pet. 3: 10). An unquenchable fire is one that cannot be put out. Itmerely burns until it has consumed all combustible material. Then it dies outfor lack of anything else to consume. Everything will be burned up except forspirit beings who are not affected by physical fires.He used the example of Noah's Flood as a type of the future cleansing ofthe earth by fire. "Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed withwater, perished" (II Pet. 3:6). Just as the earth continued to exist after theFlood, so it will continue to exist after the coming worldwide Gehenna Fire.Continuing with the context of II Peter 3 we find in verse 13 that:"We ... look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."In Revelation the new heaven and new earth are mentioned immediatelyafter the account of the Lake of Fire. "And I saw a new heaven and a newearth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away [by firel; andthere was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, comingdown from God out of heaven ... the tabernacle of God is with men, and hewill dwell with them [on the earth]" (Rev. 21:1-3).The earth will still exist (Eccl. 1 :4). The simple explanation of II Peter 3: 10is that the surface of the earth and everything on it, including the incorrigiblewicked, will be destroyed by fire. God will then remake the surface of theearth for a habitation for Himself and the rest of the God Kingdom (Rev. 21,22).has to do with present-day worldnews, and the FUTURE of this wholeearth!The whole meaning of the Gospelis PROPHETIC. Jesus Christ said:"Watch ye therefore, and pray always,that ye may be accountedworthy to escape all these thingsthat shall come to pass [that areprophesied that are to happen inthe FUTURE], and to stand beforethe Son of man"! (Luke 21:36.)And Bible prophecy is reallycoming alive! The world's "hotspots" are spreading and the comingyears promise to be some of themost traumatic in man's experience!You need to watch world events asthey unfold, daily fulfilling themany intricate and specific propheciesrelating to this pulsating twentiethcentury!Yes, you need to come to UNDER­STAND prophecy! Only by understandingthe prophecies of the Biblecan you intelligently WATCH andJesus meant watch world news.When you KNOW, in advance, whatis GOING to happen then you canbe a real watchman of AlmightyGod!Spiritual Qualifications NecessaryToo. But, realize there is alsoa spiritual ingredient involved in intelligentlywatching world news and10

correctly understanding biblicalprophecy.Let's understand what it is.God told Daniel the words whichhe had received were closed andsealed but only UNTIL a certaintime. Read it! "And he said, Go thyway, Daniel: for the words areclosed up and sealed TILL the timeof the end. Many shall be purified,and made white, and tried; but thewicked shall do wickedly: and noneof the wicked shall understand; butthe WISE SHALL UNDERSTAND"(Dan. 12:9-10).Who are the "wise"? God says,"The fear of the Eternal is the BE­GINNING of wisdom" (Prov. 9:10).Wisdom comes from God! "For theEternal giveth wisdom: out of hismouth cometh knowledge and understanding"(Prov. 2:6). The wayto get wisdom to come to understandthe Bible prophecies is toFEAR (be in awe of) AlmightyGod!Today people say, "Well, I knowthe Bible says that but here's theway I look at it!" People do not seemto really fear to misapply, to misinterpret,wrest, distort and twist thesacred word of God! People do notreally RESPECT the divinely inspiredwords of Almighty God!That's why many people don'tunderstand the Bible! You can cometo understand the Bible, and biblicalprophecy, ONLY when you begin toreally FEAR and RESPECT what theBible says! (Isa. 66:1-2)It is only when one has been trulyconverted, has come to fear God, toOBEY God, has REPENTED, and receivedGod's Holy Spirit, that trueunderstanding of the prophecies ofGod can come.SO, STUDY YOUR BIBLE PRAYfor God to give you an obedient,humble, submissive mind givingyou more and more a deep, respectfulA WE of the Word of God!You can't afford NOT to your verylife your FUTURE is at stake!This is the End Time! Yes.But no "Doomsday" and no endof the world either. It will NEYERoccur. This world (physical globe)and the race of man that inhabits itboth have a brilliant, glowing future!But only because a loving andcompassionate Creator is waiting inthe wings to save man. Soon! 0"EN HA YE been speculating onthe return of Jesus Christ formillennia. There were thosein the latter part of Paul's day whothought the return of Christ was imminent.The apostle to the Gentileshad to warn the Church in his daynot to be deceived by unfounded andunreliable information concerningthe return of the Messiah. "And now,brothers, about the coming of ourLord Jesus Christ and his gatheringof us to himself: I beg you, do notsuddenly lose your heads or alarmyourselves, whether at some oracularutterance, or pronouncement, orsome letter purporting to come fromus, alleging that the Day of the Lordis already here. Let no one deceiveyou in any way whatever" (II Thes.2: 1-3, The New English Bible).Christ WILL Return. But there is nodoubt that the Messiah will return tothis earth to set up the everlastingKingdom of God! The Bible is filledwith prophecies describing the secondcoming of Jesus Christ.Why?Because the heart and core of theNew Testament message concernsHIS RETURN to this earth to set up aruling, governing kingdom.The very first message that evercame back from heaven afterChrist began to ascend to God'sheaven was that He was going toreturn to this earth.) n Acts I: 11, Christ's discipleswere told: "Men of Galilee, whystand there looking up into the sky?This Jesus, who has been taken awayfrom you up to heaven, will come inthe same way you have seen him go"(The New English Bible).This scripture alone is conclusiveproof of Christ's second coming tothis earth. But, read just one more,this time in the King James version."So Christ was once offered to bearthe sins of many; and unto them thatlook for him shall he appear the secondtime without sin unto salvation"(Heb.9:28).So the question is not whether Hewill return, but WHEN!"• • • ,Human speculation on this hascome to nothing. The truth must berevealed. Those sections of God'sWord, the Bible, which reveal futureevents are known as prophecies. Onlythose who have been given specialwisdom and insight by God are ableto comprehend the meaning ofprophecies and rightly use them...... None of the wicked [those notliving in God's right way of life] shallunderstand; but the wise shall under- .stand" (Dan. 12: 1 0).Peter, referring to the Church,said, "We have also a more sureword of prophecy; whereunto ye dowell that ye take heed . .. "(II Peter1:19).It is through this "sure word ofprophecy" that we can understandthe truth about the return of JesusChrist. And the Bible reveals that JesusChrist is likely to return to set upHis world-ruling kingdom in yourlifetime and mine. (That is, barringany unforeseen termination of yourlife or mine.) Christ's return willlikely occur in this very generation.It is entirely possible that YOU, asan individual, will live to witness thisgreat event! Jesus Christ personallystated, "Verily I say unto you, THISGENERATION SHALL NOT PASS, till allthese things be fulfilled" (Matt.24:34).Moffatt has it: .. ) tell you truly,the present generation will not passaway, till all this happens." Phillipstranslates: "Believe me, this generationwill not disappear till all this hastaken place."Which Generation? But how canwe know Jesus is talking about OURGENERATION TODAY? How can we besure He wasn't talking about the generationof His day? Let's get ourbearings.Matthew 24 records what is commonlycalled the "Olivet Prophecy."It is so named because it was on theMount of Olives that the disciples ofChrist came to Him and asked aboutthe prophecies concerning His secondcoming and of the end of theworld [age verse 3].1 1

The whole prophecy is about thetime of the end.In answering the question about theend of the world, Jesus foretold a seriesof events that would intensify just beforeHis return. He told about falseprophets in this end time (verse 5). Hetalked about war and rumors of war,about world war (verse 6). He foretoldfamines, pestilences and earthquakesin different places (verse 7). (Mosthave been occurring for 2,000 years,but the intensity will increase.)Then Christ explained that thisGospel of the Kingdom would be"preached in all the world for a witnessunto all nations; and then shallthe END come" (verse 14). He foretoldgreat tribulation and heavenlysigns just before His return.Then to make it abundantly clearwhat He was talking about, Jesusgave a parable of the fig tree. Hesaid, " ... When his branch is yettender, and putteth forth leaves, yeknow that summer is nigh: so likewiseye, when ye shall see all thesethings, know that it is near, even atthe doors" (verses 32-33).Christ showed that when thesegreat earth-shaking events began tohappen the time of the end of the agewas at hand. Today, these events arebeginning to really intensify andcome to a head.We're in the time when God mustintervene, or there will be no fleshsaved alive. Jesus was talking aboutour day today. He said true Christianswould know when He is aboutto intervene in world affairs by worldconditions.And He said, "So likewise ye,when ye see these things come topass, know ye that the kingdom ofGod is nigh at hand. Verily I say untoyou, This generation [during whichyou see "these things" occur] shallnot pass away, till all be fulfilled"(Luke 21:31-32).Other translators confirm thisKing James rendering. See Phillips,Moffatt, and The New English Bible.We have the SURE word of prophecyand it says all these things mustcome to pass first, and they haven'tall come to pass yet. On the otherhand, that same "sure word of prophecy"says the generation which sees"all these things" occur will not passuntil Christ returns. 012"I have been reading your bookletcalled 'The Book of Revelationnveiled at Last: and I'm still leftconfused as to where we stand in Bibleprophecy. What comes first? The diseaseepidemics, or the famines, orWorld War "I? Maybe I just don't getthe full picture. What is next in line forthe earth? Can you tell me?"It is diffcult to pin down exactlywhere, at any given moment,we stand in the development of Bibleprophecy. While there are many veryspecific prophecies of particularevents in the Bible, we must also realizethat prophecy generalizes aboutmany end-time conditions. Theevents of the Olivet prophecy (Matt.24, Luke 21 , Mark 13) and the correlatingevents of Revelation show ageneral picture of what will happenprior to the return of Jesus Christ:False prophets, wars, disease epidemics,famines and other prophesiedevents actually began in the firstcentury of the Christian era . Thereappears to be a certain duality or duplicationof events involved. All of theabove-mentioned factors were presentto one degree or another prior tothe destruction of Jerusalem in AD.70. However, the prospect of the totalannihilation of human life was notpossible thenin fact, it was notpossible until recently, with the usheringin of the atomic age. It is to thisend-time age that Jesus was referringwhen He said: "Arid if those dayshad not been shortened, no humanbeing would be saved" (Matt. 24:22,Revised Standard Version) .The Bible reveals the same type ofevents (wars, pestilence, etc. ) will berepeated , with greater intensity, justprior to the return of Jesus Christ.Even now we see such events occur-•ring throughout the world. Such happeningswill steadily build in intensityand culminate in one last final war,false prophet, famine and earthquakejust before Christ sets foot on theMount of Olives to take over the kingdomsof this world.Events are not always foretold in aone-two-three order. There is a certainamount of overlap. It is a mistaketo attempt to be too specific in foretellingthe ful•,of certain propheticevents. The main lesson inprophecy is that Christians should beprepared at all times by maintaining aclose relationship with God so thatwhen these events begin to happentheir salvation will be assured inChrist. (For more on this subject,write for the free booklets The Bookof Revelation Unveiled at Last' andThe United States and Britain inProphecy.)"There are two accounts of thesecond coming in the New Testament.The first account says Jesuswi" come' as a thief in the night,' and inthe second account He wi" 'come inthe clouds of glory, and every eyeshall see him.' Now, which one (if any)can we believe?"Revelation 1:7 ("Behold, he iscoming with the clouds, andevery eye will see him " ) refers to themanner of Christ's coming. Thestatement that " the day of the Lordwill come like a thief in the night" (IThess. 5:2; II Pet . 310) refers to thetime of his coming. He will arrive like athiefat a time no one expects Thecontext of I Thessalonians 5:2 showsthis : " But as to the times and the seasons,brethren , you have no need tohave anything written to you . For youyourselves know well that the day of

the Lord will come like a thief in thenight. "There is no contradiction betweenthese two concepts: Christ will arrivein a dramatic, obvious manner (Matt.2429-31), but the time of this comingis known only to God the Father(Matt. 24:36) and it will take many bysurprise just like a thief in the night."A while ago you people ran anarticle intimating that prophecyis conditional in certain instances.Could you please elaborate?"Yes, certain parts of the propheticwritings are conditional,although some prophecies su ch asthose predicting Christ' s secondcoming and the utopian millennia Ireign are unconditional.God gives man a choice; if we repentHe will have mercy on us. Leviticus26 illustrates this principle . It enumeratesthe blessings and cursesprophesied to come upon ancient Israelaccording to whether or not theykept the covenant God made withth em .The same concept is found in Deuteronomy29 and 30: " When all theseth ings come upon you, the blessingand the curse, which I have set beforeyou, and you call them to mindamong all the nations where theLord your God has driven you, andreturn to the Lord your God . . . andobey his voice in all that I commandyou this day, with all your heart andwith all your soul; then the Lord yourGod will restore your fortunes, . . . .for the Lord will again take delight inprospering you, as he took delightin your fathers, if you obey the voiceof the Lord your God ... with allyour heart and with all your soul"(Deut. 30: 1-10) .The entire book of Jonah is an accountof how God sent one of Hisprophets to the ancient city of Ninevehto warn them of their impending doomif they did not mend their ways. Theyrepented and " proclaimed a fast, andput on sackcloth, from the greatest ofthem to the least of them " (Jonah 3:5) .And " When God saw what they did,how they turned from their evil way,God repented of the evil which he hadsaid he would do to them; and he didnot do it" (verse 1 0).Another example of the outcomeof prophecy being delayed by repentanceis found in II Chronicles 32.God had miraculously healed Hezekiahof a fatal disease, "But Hezekiahdid not make return according to thebenefit done to him , for his heart wasproud. Therefore wrath came uponhim and Judah and Jerusalem"(verse 25). God told him, " Behold,the days are coming, when all that isin your house ... shall be carried toBabylon; nothing shall be left . . . " (IIKings 20: 17). "But Hezekiah humbledhimself for the pride of his heart, bothhe and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,so that the wrath of the Lord did notcome upon them in the days of Hezekiah"(II Chron. 32:26). Again, when anation or individual repents, God hasmercy on them ."In some of your booklets thatdeal with prophecy of the future,you seem to indicate a belief that theend of the age and Christ's return mayoccur within five to ten years from now.Many sources claim Adam wascreated in 4004 B.C. Since Godmarked out a 6000-year period beforeChrist's millennia I rule, would this notput Christ's return date some time inthe year 1996?"There is a great deal of disagreementamong scholars andexperts as to the exact dates for keypast events such as the creation andNoah's flood. And there has beenmuch speculation about the preCisetime of Jesus' return to this earth.World conditions show that we areliving near the close of an age. Many ofman's global problems have reachedthe point of no return. Environmentaldestruction, the capacity for total war,rapid and continuing economic breakdown,and the moral and soci al problemsof modern society amount tostrong evidence that Christ must soonintervene to save man from himself(Matt. 24:22, Moffatt).But we cannot know just whenChrist will return . No man knows theday or the hour of that momentousevent (Matt. 24:36) . We cannot setdates."One of your articles mentionsGod's '7,000-year plan forearth.' Would you please explain whatis meant by this?"Up until now God has allowedapproximately 6,000 years forhumanity to write the painful lesson of"doing its own thing "going its ownway without the revealed knowledgeof its Creator.A study of biblical chronology indicatesthat Adam and Eve (our firstparents) were created about 4,000years before Christ (Gen 5, 10;I Chron. 1-9; Matt. 1; Luke 3) Andalmost another 2,000 years haveelapsed since the time of Christ'sbirth totaling nearly 6,000 years ofhuman civilization to date.And the Bible tells us that shortlyafter the appearance of Christ on thisearth again, a peaceful, utopian,1 ,OOO-year reign begins on this planet(Rev. 20: 1-10; Isa. 11).These two general spans of time(approximately 6,000 years of man'srule; approximately 1,000 years ofGod's rule) add up to a period ofabout 7,000 years.Further, the 7,000-year conceptcomes from an analogy between theperfect weekly cycle (seven days)and the 6,000 year period allotted tomankind prior to the millennium.We must realize that even thoughthe saints will live and reign withChrist for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:4),there is still an undetermined periodof time allowed after the millenniumduring which Satan will be loosed andthe Great White Throne judgment willtake place (Rev. 20: 11-12). Thisspan of time is in addition to the1,000-year period.The main biblical indication of a7000-year plan is the evidence providedby the millennium as a type ofGod's rest or Sabbath (compareRevelation 20 and Hebrews 4). If themillennium represents a "Sabbath,"then it would be logically preceded bysix similar 1 ,OOO-year "days."II Peter 3:8 provides a basis forsetting the length of each millennialday: " .. . One day is with the Lord as[Greek: hos] a thousand years, and athousand years as rhos] one day."But we need to realize that even if weunderstand this as a literal statementregarding a 7,000-year plan, it is notgiving us a preCise, measured duration.Why not? Because hos before numeralsdenotes "nearly," "about,"" approximately." Compare its usagein Mark 5: 13, "about two thousand" ;Mark 8:9, "about four thousand";John 6: 19, " about five and twenty orthirty"; John 21 :8, " as it were twohundred cubits" ; Acts 13: 18,20,13

"about the time of fortyyears . . . about the space of fourhundred and fifty years"The biblical meaning behind man's6,OOO-year period of human history,marked by costly trial and error plusignorance and rejection of God's revealed Word, is explained in ourbooklet titled Why Were You Born?"Everyone at one time or anotherhas heard that God giveswarning before He sends punishmentthat those who heed thewarning will be spared the cataclysm.On the other hand, nearly all theapostles died by violent means. Howare the violent deaths of so many repentantexplained in light of this?"Th e scripture you are probablybasing your first statementon is Amos 3:7: "Surely the LordGod does nothing, without revealinghis secret to his servants the prophets."Bible prophecies are sometimesgeneral overall warnings to a nationas a whole.God also gives a general overallwarning to Christians. He statesthrough th e apostle Paul that "allwho desire to live a godly life inChrist Jesus will be persecuted" (IITim. 312). The apostles themselveswere practi cally promised martyrdom from the outset (see John2118-19; 16:1-2; 1518-21) So inthis se nse they were warned, butwere not delivered from violence atthe hand of unbelievers .Personal CounselIf you have any questions abouthow to become a Christian, or youjust want to learn more about thisway of life, here is good news.The Worldwide Church of Godnow has ministers available in manyparts of the world. They are ready tocounsel with you personally, answeryour questions or to help you withany spiritual problems. We won'tsend anyone to see you unless yourequest it.But if you would like one of thesetrained men to call and counsel withyou about problems or answer yourquestions, please feel free to let usknow. We who are in this greatWork want only to helpto serve.We count it a privilege to do so.It is important to realize that thereis a difference between suffering forrighteousness' sake (I PeL 1 :6-7;314; 4: 12-16) and suffering for one'spersonal or national sins. God in Hiswisdom did allow the apostles to gothrough various trials and even martyrdomfor the gospel's sake. Thiswas in spite of the fact that they wererepentant, righteous servants of His.In contrast, the entire wicked city ofNineveh received a reprieve from destructionwhen God saw how enthusiasticallythey repented. Althoughthese people were probably not leadingdeeply spiritual lives even aftertheir repentance, God gave themmercy.Reviewing the lives of all of God'sservants as recorded in the Bible, itis obvious that one's spiritual statedoes not necessarily completely determinethe physical course of one'slife. One of the writers of the Psalmsobserved that wicked men are oftenblessed while righteous men suffer.But he realized that in the end Godwill see to it that all these seeminginjustices are equalized (Psalm 73) ."Some scriptures indicate thatat the time of the end true Christianswill be persecuted and even putto death (Rev. 13:7; Matt 24:9). On theother hand, there are verses (notablyPsalms 91:7-11 and Revelation 3: 10)which promise that there is a way fortrue Christians to escape the trials andtribulations of that day. How can theseapparently contradictory scriptures bereconciled?" .Psalms 91 :7-13 reads : " Athousand may fall at your side ;but it will not come near you. You willonly look with your eyes and see therecompense of the wicked. Becauseyou have made the Lord your refuge,the Most High your habitation, no evilshall befall you, no scourge comenear your tent. For he will give his angelscharge of you to guard you in allyour ways. On their hands they willbear you up, lest you .dash your footagainst a stone. You will tread on thelion and the adder, the young lion andthe serpent you will trample underfooL " This psalm cannot be taken asa definite promise of God to a/waysprotect every individual Christian fromevery physical trial . Rather, theseverses proclaim the fact that sooneror later in God's time the righteousare victorious. All things workout for good to those who obey God(Rom . 828).As Hebrews, chapter 11 , vividlydescribes, many righteous peoplehave been martyred in the past (Heb.11 :35-38). And many of the righteouswill be killed in the future (Rev . 69-11). Tradition indicates that all of theoriginal apostles (with the possibleexception of John) died violently atthe hand of persecutors. Even ChristHimself was crucified.Revelation 3: 10, part of the messageto the church at Philadelphia,states: "Because you have kept myword of patient endurance, I will keepyou from the hour of trial which iscoming on the whole world, to trythose who dwell upon the earth ."While it is obvious that this verse cannotbe applied universally to everysingle Christian, it does appear tohave a definite application to "the crisisat the close." Even then, however,no individual Christian has a"carte blanche" promise for personal,physical safety.Ecclesiastes 9: 11 states that "timeand chance" happen to us all. If weare caught in the middle of an accident,a war, or a national disaster,perhaps God will have mercy on usand deliver us from our troubles. Butagain , He may choose, in His perfectwisdom, to let us live through suchtrials or allow us to die as a result ofthem. .But does this imply that God is insome way remiss to allow su c h .things to o c cur? Isaiah 57 : 1-2reads : " The righteous man perishes,and no one lays it to heart,devout men are taken away, whileno one understands. [But] the righteousman is taken away from calamity,he enters into peace; theyrest in their beds who walk inuprightness." So even death canbe a haven from this world'stroubles.But where does this leave the averageChristian hoping for some formof security to hang on to in this unstabletime? Notice Paul's personalexample. He experienced a greatnumber of devastating personal trials(see II Cor. 1123-28), but he neverlost faith . He had his mind set on thepromise of salvation recorded inScripture the promise of the resurrection.He was able to say: " I count14

everything as loss because of thesurpassing worth of knowing ChristJesus my Lord. For his sake I havesuffered the loss of all things, andcount them as refuse, in ord er that Imay gain Christ and be found inhim .. . that I may know him and thepower of his resurrection, and may•share his sufferings, becoming likehim in his death, that if possible I mayattain the resurrection of the dead"(Phil 38-11).Paul valued being a Christian, andbeing able to preach the messageChrist had given him , over and abovehis own life. He knew that whateverhappened to him physically, he wouldeventually be resurrected to immortallife. This kind of salvation is whatChristians today ought to be pinningtheir hopes on . 0re you lonely? Tired of wrestling with marital or financial problems?Wish you had somebody to talk to? Maybe we can help.The Worldwide Church of God has a counselor in your areawho's willing and able to lend an ear. He can patiently, discreetlyand confidentially provide a sounding board when you need it most.He can give you encouragement, answer your questions about the Bible,and let you know when and where the Worldwide Church of God meets nearyou. (Now there's a place you'll find hundreds of friendly people willing toreach outpeople just like you who share the hopes and dreams youshare people who could end up being the best friends you've ever had.)So whether you need confidential cOlJnseling or would just like to knowwhere you could meet some happy, sharing people, pick up your phoneand call now. There's no cost or obligation we're here to serve you .. -\\Or write us at the nearest you (see Inside hOitl Raeldents of Alaska and may dial 213-5n -5225 collect .•15

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