"And after these things (all the cataclysmic events that have been taking place, to include of course, the demise of the Anti-christ and all the armies of the world) I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory."
"And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, `Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.'" Many folks try to make you think that this Babylon spoken of here in Revelation, is the ancient city of Babylon that has been rebuilt and will become a tremendous trade center. I beg to differ with them on the basis of Scripture. Let's turn back to Isaiah Chapter 13. This Babylon in Revelation is not speaking of any one city in particular. But, as we have been witnessing in the last 20 years or so, the world is getting smaller and smaller. With all of our vast communications systems, and the speed of transportation, anything that takes place is all of a sudden a world-wide news event. So it is with commerce and politics. We are talking about one world government lately and the great new age. Well, this is all because it's coming down to the place where, indeed, the whole thing can come to its end in just one very short period of time. So, when you see that word `Babylon' in Revelation, always think of the whole global picture, whether it be religion, politics, or the economy. Those three areas of activity comprise, you might say, the whole social fabric of the world tonight; it is all intertwined, and that's the world system. Since the world is getting so small and it's getting there so fast, the Bible can rightfully call that whole system now one word. Babylon! Now the other word for Babylon, or what we normally think of as Babel, is `confusion.' And as the world gets smaller and smaller. and all three of these are so closely related and involved together, what is rising proportionally? Confusion.
Jesus said in Luke 21:25, "...and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity;..." And is that what we are coming to? They are just filled with perplexity. They don't know where to go next. Within our own nation we have perplexity. But nothing compared to the perplexity of the whole world!
Now if you have Isaiah Chapter 13, here is the basis for my saying that the city of Babylon is not going to be rebuilt and become a center of commerce.
Isaiah 13:19 "And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah." Now, this Babylon is talking about the ancient city, the capital of Nebuchadnezzar's empire.
"It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there." It is so clear that the ancient city of Babylon, with all of it's beautiful hanging gardens and what have you, once it was destroyed, (you might say God had put such a curse on it) it would never be rebuilt. And God's Word stands. It's so interesting how many things are said in Scripture that, regardless what man may try to do, can't be done. And one of them is the Golden Gate. We call it the Eastern Gate. If you ever see a picture of the eastern wall of Jerusalem, always be mindful that right in the center of that wall is the eastern gate. And it is always shut, and Scripture says, "that when God mandated it to be shut it would never again be opened until Christ returns." It's amazing that when you go back through history how many emperors and kings have said they were going to go to Jerusalem and open that eastern gate. But no one has ever succeeded. They either died or were defeated by some military power. And the reason the eastern gate is closed this very day is because Scripture says it would be. And so it is with Babylon; the Scripture says it will never be rebuilt!
Go back to Revelation Chapter 18. So this Babylon in Revelation is the whole global system. It's all the great commercial and cultural centers of the world that are included in that one word.
"For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication (her gross immorality) and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies."
I was thinking about this verse this week. I make no apology that I'm a full-time rancher, and I have spent a lot of time out in those hot hay fields the last few days. It's been hot here in Oklahoma. But I couldn't help, as I was driving along on that tractor thinking about this verse and the word `delicacies.' I think of the life style of the rich and famous when I think on this verse. And that won't be just in isolated areas, but world-wide. Even the communists in Russia have sumptuous places where they can live head and shoulders above the common man. And so it is all around the globe tonight, the rich and the famous with all of their high income. And some of these incomes are two and three million dollars a year. Personally, I can't envision any one man being worth that much every 12 months. But you see, this is exactly what the world is coming to. Oh, some of them are not that way, there are exceptions, but the vast majority of the wealthy fit that verse we just read exactly. Solomon would have called it, "vanity, vanity, all is vanity." But more and more this is what the world is coming to.
A few believers are also wealthy, but, for the most part, most of us in the Christian community are of very limited means. Now verse 4:
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying (now watch this closely), `Come out of her (that is out of this world system),...'"
This doesn't just mean in the final hours of the Tribulation. This is speaking to you and I who are living before the Tribulation has begun. And here is the admonition to believers who may have some kind of a desire to be part of that lifestyle of the rich and famous. I wouldn't want any part of that kind of lifestyle. I've often said I would like to have enough that if I need a new car, I could go and pay for it with a check, and I would. But to have that kind of lifestyle and wealth I don't want it. Now let's read verse 4 again:
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, `Come out of her, my people (see God doesn't expect the unsaved world to drop that life style, but He expects His own to shun it), that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
God is very patient tonight. When you look around you today, I don't care if you live in the sheltered mid-west, or on the coast; regardless where we are, we have these things right before our eyes. But the Lord's admonition is, "Come out of her, my people, that you don't partake of her sins." As you look at some of the things that are going on in our own country and around the world, don't you wonder how long God is going to put up with it? Sure you do. But it's His Grace and Mercy that is still flowing from Him. Do you remember that just before the flood came, the ark was ready, and everything was in it. What did God do for seven days? He left the door open and the gang plank down, so anyone of that Noahic generation could have come into the ark of safety. And that was His Grace. But not one took advantage of it. It's the same way today. One of these days, and I think we are getting so close, God's Grace is going to come to an end. He will drop the curtain, and in will come His awful wrath and vexation.
Let's go to II Corinthians Chapter 6 and this whole concept of separating ourselves from this ungodly wicked world. We've all heard it said that we are in the world, but we are not of it. We're here and Jesus, through the Apostle Paul, said that there was no way you could avoid dealing with even the grossest of immoral people because that's what the world is. So we must realize that they are all around us. We're not isolated, but we are not to be of it.
II Corinthians 6:17
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,"
It isn't that He's putting a condition on our salvation, but as a believer now, it's still left up to us. I always maintain that under Grace, God never says, "That you will or else." It's always, "I beseech you brethren." "Yield not," Paul says. But here again the invitation is for us to come out from among that ungodly set of circumstances and be separated. Look at I Corinthians Chapter 6. I'm afraid this is being lost sight of, even in our more fundamental Bible teaching and preaching churches. We've gotten to the place where the world can't tell a Christian when they see one. Christians can't tell a Christian when they see one. And it is simply because we have lost this whole concept of separation. We are to be different. And that doesn't mean we have to be oddballs or put our nose in the air and have no dealings with the world; but we are not to be of the world! Paul again is writing to the Gentile believers at Corinth:
I Corinthians 6:19
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"
We as believers have to realize that we have been bought with a price. We are something special in God's eyes and His program. And He can't use us if we are amalgamated with the world.
I Corinthians 6:20
"For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God (how? With your body) in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." Let's come back to I Corinthians Chapter 3, and we have that same thought:
I Corinthians 3:16,17
"Know ye not that ye are the temple (the dwelling place) of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man (a believer) defile the temple (his own body) of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
And that is the kind of temple you and I are. Whatever you do to the body, you're doing to the temple of God.
_______ LESSON ONE * PART II
BABYLON - "THE WORLD SYSTEM"
Let's continue on with Revelation Chapter 18. Before we do, I would like to encourage you to get your Bibles and open the Word. Any of you, regardless of your background, can understand the Scriptures. We only hope to teach The Book where people can read the Scriptures and understand and enjoy them. It's a thrilling Book. Now, back to the Book of Revelation. God says the reason He is going to come down on this (Babylon) whole world system with His wrath and judgment is because of the following:
"For her sins (her rebellion, her disobedience) have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double."
"How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously [do you see the language? Isn't this exactly what the world system is trying to do? All of your commercials (I don't care what they are), what is their main thrust? Hey, whatever is out there, they want you to want it, whether we can afford it or not. And those who can profit from it, can go out, and as the Scriptures say, they can indeed live deliciously], so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, `I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.'" That's what they think!
"Therefore (God says) shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her."
Let's go back again and look at how the Old Testament prophesied some of these very things. This isn't just New Testament; this is Old Testament also. And, again, I like to recognize that there are a lot of Jewish people watching our program. I always like to take that into consideration, and use the Old Testament as much as possible, to show these all dovetail together. So, if you will turn to the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 51. Again, remember the term `Babylon' (as we are speaking of in Revelation and back in the Old Testament) has to be taken from the text. Early in the Chapters of 50 and 51, it is indeed talking about Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon just before it fell. But like so many Old Testament prophecies, you have both the near-term and the long-term in view. So, as Jeremiah writes Chapter 50 that was the near-term. It's the judgment of God that's going to fall on Babylon as it was in Jeremiah's day. But now, as you come on down to Jeremiah Chapter 51 verse 7, the prophecy takes the long-term view, and we are looking at the Babylon that Revelation refers to, the whole world system. And that's the best way I can put it.
"Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made (what's the next three words? Not just the Middle East but all the earth) all the earth drunken (notice the next two words): the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad." Now the word `mad' here doesn't mean angry, but they have been mentally affected.
"Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed (now that is what Revelation describes): howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed." But of course she can't be.
On our way back to Revelation, stop at Daniel Chapter 2 because all these Old Testament prophecies were looking forward to these same things that the Book of Revelation is explaining. That is why we can teach it with authority. All of the scriptures agree on these events. Now, here in Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar of the ancient empire of Babylon had a dream, and Daniel interprets it:
"Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee: and the form thereof was terrible (or terrifying). This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay."
Remember I explained before that those were all metals. The head of gold was the Babylon, the silver was the Medes and Persians, the brass was Greece, and the legs of Iron were the Roman empire. There is that whole system of Gentile empires all depicted in that great image that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream.
"Thou sawest till (until a point in time. And then a stone) that a stone was cut out without hands (remember a stone or rock in Scripture is Christ. At least all the way back to Exodus, if not sooner, as when Moses struck the rock and water came forth. In the New Testament it tells us Who that Rock was. It was Christ. Here It's Christ at His Second Coming), which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay (in other words this amalgamation of the nations of the world, but especially the nations of the western world), and brake them to pieces."
I hope you are getting the picture in your mind. Just picture a huge Boulder coming down without the help of mankind, and It's coming down toward this great image that Nebuchadnezzar saw and It strikes it on its feet. Just bowls it over:
"Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors (I know some don't know what this language is, but I think most of the people who listen to me understand that chaff is the light stuff that accompanies the grain. Threshing, and the wind, just simply blows it away. Now that's the picture that the Bible paints here of these nations and kingdoms of the world at the time of Christ's Second Coming. His coming will crush them like the Boulder bowling over this great image, and they will simply disappear from view like the chaff of the summer threshingfloor); and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them (these great global corporations are going to disappear from view. The great empires and governments, the White Houses of the world will be no more): and the stone (Christ) that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." And here again is the prophetic statement about His coming Kingdom. Now back to Revelation Chapter 18. We will look at verse 8 once more.
"Therefore shall her plagues come in (how fast) one day (I'm a literalist; I don't think this is a long time; this is instantaneous), death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her."
Let's go back for a moment to Luke 21. I mentioned it in the last lesson, and we'll see how even the words of Jesus Himself, during His earthly ministry spoke of these things. When I speak of Jesus' earthly ministry, we need to remember that when we come to the letters of the Apostle Paul, they are the words of Christ as well. And here is where a lot of people get hung up. When I emphasize Paul and the Pauline doctrines, they will say, "Now wait a minute Les, I go by what Jesus said." Well where do you think Paul got his words? He got his words from Jesus, but under a different set of circumstances. Jesus spoke in the flesh while He was here on the earth, while He was still dealing with Israel under the Law. But you see, Paul gives us the revelation of Jesus Christ Who has now finished the work of the Cross; He has defeated death and sin and Satan. He is now ascended and from His glorified position in glory, Jesus speaks to us through the Apostle Paul. So this is what I mean when I say this is what Jesus said in His earthly ministry:
"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;" You just picture all of this. Don't read this as just a bunch of words. This is descriptive. The whole planet is gong to be caught up in this traumatic event.
"Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." So this is all associated with Christ's Second Coming. Now go to Matthew Chapter 24. Let's look at verse 37. This is Jesus speaking while here on earth:
"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." To put that in plain English let's say, "As was at the time of Noah, so it's going to be at the time of His return."
"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,"
Remember I told you in the last lesson that God showed His Grace by leaving the ark's door open for seven days. But no one went in for safety and salvation. It will be the same way at the coming of Christ; life is going to be so full of activity. There is nothing wrong with eating and drinking proper things. There is nothing wrong with marriage. But it just simply depicts that the world is going to be so caught up in all their activities. When you talk to pastors and church people, they are so distraught because they can't get people involved anymore. Even young people. Why? They are too busy. I even run into it in my nightly classes. People will tell me, "I would like to come, but I'm too busy." Kids are kept busy with their activities, playing ball, and so forth, and have no time for anything else. And that is the way it was back at the time of Noah.
"And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." That wasn't just a heavy rain; it was instantaneous destruction. Look at it in Genesis Chapters 6 and 7. Every time I hear of murders (sometimes two or three a day even in a city as small as Tulsa. And it's about the same way in Ft. Smith, Arkansas as they report a murder almost every day) I remember what Jesus said: "As it was in the days of Noah." It's an indication of the time of His return.
"And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Now verse 11:
"The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence."
Now what's violence? Murder! The killing of one another. When they talk about sex and violence on television, what are we talking about? This constant showing of the killing and murdering of fellow human beings. This is the way it was just before the flood.
"And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, `The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.'"
How did He destroy them? Go to Chapter 7. Here's where I maintain it wasn't the flood that came from the 40 days of rain. That was merely part of it. The real cataclysmic event you will find in verse 11. And in Revelation these judgments will almost be as instantaneous as this was here. They didn't gradually drown as the rain and flood water came up. They were gone in a matter of hours.
"In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were (in that one day) all the fountains of the great deep broken up (so where did the cataclysmic events begin? In the earth! Tremendous volcanoes and earthquakes, cataclysmic and instantaneous destruction), and the windows of heaven were opened." So, as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the end-times. Let's re-read verse 9:
"And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,"
This `her` used here in the female gender is the amalgamation of nations, with its religions, politics and governments, and economies. They are meshed together to make this global Babylon.
"Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, `Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.'"
The businessmen and merchants are flying from one end of the world to the other to make their deals. I can just about imagine that every airliner is full lately into Soviet Russia because they think they can go in there and make a pocketfull. I read an article recently that one of the sleeping giants for world goods and services is Africa. There is great potential there for profit and business. So they are just rushing all over the world trying to capitalize on every situation where dollars can be made on these prospects, and all of a sudden it's all gone. Now verse 11:
"And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:" It's all done.
When it mentions this city here in Revelation 18, just think of all the commercial centers all over the world: Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tehran, Rome, London, Paris, New York, and Chicago (even Jerusalem is getting to be the center of a lot of activity). All of these great centers of commerce, business, and trade you can just about lump into one city. They are all intertwined with computer networks. Transactions can take place between Tokyo and Chicago in a matter of minutes.
"The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,"
Now notice these are all commodities that are still in demand even today. The world hasn't changed. These are the things that people still long for. Then some of the the delicacies of good food are listed in the next verse:
"And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat (remember what I said about living it up and living deliciously, but it's all going to end), and beasts, and sheep, and horses,..."
Have you ever talked to someone in the horse business? They're fanatics, and that's all they talk about. You get into the wealthy horse owners and it's nothing for them to pay a million dollars for one. But, like everything else, it also will end.
_______ LESSON ONE * PART III
BABYLON - "THE WORLD SYSTEM"
Now back to Revelation 18 again. As we look at these cataclysmic events that are associated with the end of the Tribulation and the return of Christ, I want you to keep them in your mind. Because at the end of this lesson I want to go back and show the graphic difference between this and the silent removal of the believer at the Rapture when there are no cataclysmic events, or great upheaval; we just simply one day will be gone. And I'm going to show you from Scripture, so there is no doubt in your mind that these are not one and the same event as a many folks believe.
I remember I taught the Rapture in a church we were involved in at one time, and one of the leaders came up to me afterwards and said, "Les I've always believed in the Second Coming, but I've never heard of it in two parts." And it shocked me, because I have never known it any other way. But now since I've been teaching for all these twenty some years, I've found many people know nothing of what we call the Rapture. They don't know the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming. Keep that in mind as we look at these horrible cataclysmic events leading up to the return of Christ at His Second Coming. Now to Revelation 18:14-16:
"And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her (by this great system, a conglomeration of religion, politics and government, and economics), shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, `Alas, alas, that great city (great system) that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!'"
"For in one hour (just one short period of time) so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning,... And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, `Alas, alas, that great city, wherein where made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.'"
Now come to Chapter 16. And here we get another graphic statement that alludes to the very same thing. Here, as the final great bowl judgment is poured out at the battle of Armageddon (that great plague of hundred pound hail stones), right in the middle of that bowl judgment you will find in verse 19 the following:
"And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell (here's where I get the concept that the great commercial centers of the world, the Tokyo's and Hong Kong's, etc. as we listed them, are all going to go): and great Babylon (that whole consortium) came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath."
Those of us who know the Lord look around us and wonder how long is God going to be patient? We don't know how long, but one thing I know, and I can guarantee; one day His patience is going to end. His Grace is going to end. And His wrath is going to fall. Now back to Revelation 18 to wind it up:
"And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers and trumpeters (today we would have to add the other musical instruments we have, but on that day they will all be quiet), shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone (the sound of production) shall be heard no more at all in thee;"
"And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries (drugs. There will be a tremendous drug culture during the Tribulation) were all nations deceived."
Now verse 24, and here is another reason God's wrath is going to be so tremendous. This world system for the last 2600 years, all the way back to Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon; what have they done to God's people? They have been persecuting, and murdering them. And now here it comes:
"And in her (this great system) was found the blood of prophets (Old Testament days) and of saints (believers of the New Testament Age, I think), and of all that were slain upon the earth.
Several weeks ago I gave you some figures that were shocking. Remember I told you 50 million people, civilian and military, lost their lives during World War II. I also told you that 50 million lost their lives during the 70 years that the communists ran Russia. And during the dark ages, 50 million believers also lost their lives. We sometimes think that wars are precipitated solely on the basis of patriotism, and you and I are of the mindset that if someone was to come and take away our freedoms we would all be willing to fight and die to keep them. And our men have done that down through our history. But the more you analyze much of the wars of history, they were manipulated by the super, super rich, because when you get into the area of war and war materials, who profits? The rich.
Now I'm not one of these who scream, "The rich this and the rich that..." Not at all, but I'm a realist. And I know that these things are manipulated. We know that the wealthy people of the world will finance both sides of a war. They don't care about the human misery. All they care about is how much can they get for their war material. And that is the basis today of most of the economies of the world, even our beloved America. What do you suppose is the backbone of our economy? Defense. The defense contractors. And I'm not against defense spending, for I know we have to have a certain amount of it, and I always want us prepared. But what I'm saying is the merchant and money men of this world are not concerned about the welfare of the individual on the street. They're concerned about how they can generate wealth.
The Scripture makes it so plain that, as they have gathered all this wealth, they have also come down, for the most part, on God's people. Just remember that all the events associated with Christ's Second Coming and His return to earth are cataclysmic, and judgmental, bringing this whole earth down to the place where everything that's materialism, and technological (all the efforts of man) will be gone. Here is a point I haven't made that I should. Who is the god of this world that is behind all of this? Satan. The god of this whole world system we have on the scene is Satan. He is the promoter of it, and all the misery that goes with it. And it won't be until he is defeated that these things can go down the tube. Go back to the Book of Zechariah to Chapter 14. And this is still the Second Coming. When the disciples stood on the Mount of Olives with Jesus and as He ascended, what did the angel tell them?
"...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."
Now what does that mean? He left from the Mount of Olives and He's coming back to the Mount of Olives. And I've said it like this more than once. "He left head first, He's coming back feet first." Remember, Zechariah is writing to the Jew:
"Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city." And then in verse 3, when it looks like there is no hope:
"Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations (these Gentile nations that have been gathered to fight against the Jew), as when he fought in the day of battle." That refers to when the Lord fought Israel's battles back in the Old Testament. Then verse 4; notice how plain this is:
"And his feet shall stand in that day (what day? The day of His Second Coming) upon the mount of Olives (where is the Mount of Olives? In Jerusalem), which is before Jerusalem on the east,..."
He will then prepare for the Kingdom, and we will come back to that at a later time. For now, let's go to I Corinthians Chapter 15. Drop down to those verses we know so well, verses 51 and 52. Remember the Apostle Paul is the Apostle of the Gentiles. That's Romans 11:13. And as the Apostle to the Gentiles, all of his writings are directed mostly to us Gentiles. And he always writes to the believer. So now, he writes to the believing Gentiles at Corinth, who were not the most magnificent testimony of the Christian faith, but nevertheless they were believers. And, as he writes to the believers there at Corinth, he's writing to you and I today. That's the difference. You've got to watch as you read your Bible, to whom was it written! When the Old Testament prophets are writing, they are writing to the Jew, the Nation of Israel under the Law. But when we come to Paul, he is writing to us Gentiles, who are not under the Law, but rather under Grace. We are under a whole different economy. We are now members of the Body of Christ.
I Corinthians 15:51
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep (or die physically) but we shall all be changed," Whether we have died, or whether we remain alive at this time, we are going to have a resurrected body. We are going to have a new body, like His resurrected body. The body that can travel at the speed of light. A body that can go through a wall without a door. That will be able to eat and enjoy food, A body that can disappear out of sight. I always tell my classes if you want to get an inkling of what our new body is going to be like, just study those 40 days of Christ's life after His Resurrection.
I Corinthians 15:52
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." Now let's break the verse down.
"In a moment (a moment in the Greek is not a sixty second minute. It's the smallest divisible portion of time. So it's just a fraction of a second), in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead (those who have died as believers in Christ. I don't believe the Old Testament believers are going to be in there. This is strictly an event for the Body of Christ) shall be raised incorruptible, and we (Paul writes as though he is to still be alive when this happens. What is so amazing about this Church Age Doctrine of the Rapture, and given only to the Apostle Paul, is that it's always been an imminent event. And so it is today. We don't know when He will return, but I don't think it will be long. Personally, I think it will be when the last person is saved during this Age of Grace) shall be changed." Remember we can't go to heaven in this old body, we must put on that body like Christ has. I always like to compare it to the caterpillar and the butterfly, but that takes time, and this will be in a twinkling of an eye. Now do you see any language about cataclysmic events, or the wrath of God being poured out here? No! It's just all of a sudden here it comes and we're going to be gone!
Let's come on over to I Thessalonians Chapter 4. Now in verse 13, and now the Apostle uses that same language that he uses so often as he writes to believers.
I Thessalonians 4:13
"But I would not have you to be ignorant (untaught, In other words, Paul says learn this, understand it), brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as other which have no hope." Now here it comes verse 14:
I Thessalonians 4:14
"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,..."
That's according to Paul's Gospel that He died for my sins, He was buried and He arose again! This is the only qualification for being in this number. Paul doesn't say if you believed and joined the church, and you have been baptised and you've done this and that. No! But only if we have believed Paul's Gospel. Granted, as we saw in an earlier lesson, when we become a believer, what does God expect? That we withdraw from the world and all of its appetites, but that's not qualification for salvation. Those are the things that follow salvation. But the qualification to be in that number is to believe the Gospel. Now if we have, and we are alive, then those who have died as believers...
I Thessalonians 4:14
"... even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."
These people are in heaven in the presence of God in soul and spirit only. They are waiting for the resurrection day so they can have their new body. A lot of people think their loved ones are already walking the streets of gold, and are having a ball in glory. I can't find that in Scripture. They're in glory alright and in the Lords presence, but they can't have a resurrected body until the resurrection day! And that hasn't happened yet. Now verse 15.
I Thessalonians 4:15
"For this we say unto you be word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (or go ahead of them who have died) them which are asleep." And here is the reason why.
I 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 (I love it when people write and say they are waiting for the trumpet to sound. Aren't we all): and the dead in Christ shall rise first:"
I Thessalonians 4:17
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord (where?) in the air (there's nothing of him coming to Mount of Olives here. There is nothing of cataclysmic judgments here. Nor the wrath of God falling all around us. But all of a sudden there is going to be a quiet disappearance): and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
I Thessalonians 4:18
"Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
Now let's go down into Chapter 5 and watch the difference in language. Here in Chapter 4 Paul is including the believers with his own experience. The pronouns are `we' and `you.' Now come into Chapter 5:
I Thessalonians 5:1,2
"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."
I Thessalonians 5:3
"For when (what's the pronoun?) they shall say, Peace and safety: then sudden destruction cometh upon (what's the pronoun? Do you see that) them, as travail upon a woman with child; and (and again) they shall not escape." For those of us who are going to be in this great out-calling, Paul includes us in the first person. But when he speaks of those who will be left behind to face the wrath and awful cataclysmic events of the Tribulation, the pronouns are `they' and `them.' Now you come on down to verse 9 and I guess it's time to close again.
I Thessalonians 5:9
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,"
God hath not appointed you and I, as believers, to wrath. He hasn't designated that we are going to have to suffer the awful events of the Tribulation before He comes. We're not appointed to that, we will be taken out ahead of it.
I Thessalonians 5:10
"Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.