The 7.8 mag. Earthquake in Turkey and Syria that had claimed the lives of more than 2,300 people, has brought my attention to what I have been reading in Revelation sixteen. Verse 18 and following, tells us that there will be a great earthquake—the greatest there ever was. It will be so great that it will cause all the cities to fall. And it will cause every island and all the mountains to disappear below the earth. Read it yourself (Rev. 16:18-20).
As great as this quake in Turkey is, the one coming up will be so much greater. I hope you who are reading this will not have to go through it—in the Tribulation. You need not experience it if you are a Christian and are raptured.
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday, killing more than 2,300 people and taking down countless buildings.
The earthquake prompted a search for survivors in the rubble in cities and towns across the region. The death toll is expected to rise. The World Health Organization (WHO) said the numbers could increase as much as eight time as rescuers work to find more victims.
“We always see the same thing with earthquakes, unfortunately, which is that the initial reports of the numbers of people who have died or who have been injured will increase quite significantly in the week that follows,” the WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, told AFP.
I have been writing a book on the Tribulation, and I am at the end of it. The last chapter, which I am beginning now is entitled: Armageddon, The Fall of Babylon, and The Judgement of the Nations.
When we think about Armageddon we should think of it first as a war, or as an extended, escalating conflict. Then at the very end it will be a bloody battle, normally called the Battle of Armageddon.
In my research I found that some of the most popular authors on this subject seem to be quite sure that the campaign of Armageddon involves eight phases or stages: 1) the gathering of the armies of the Antichrist, 2) the destruction of Babylon, 3) the fall of Jerusalem, 4) the Antichrist moves against the Jewish Remnant, 5) Israel is saved, 6) Jesus Christ Returns, 7) the final battle, and 8) Christ ascends to the Mount of Olives.
Using the same Scriptures, I came up with a slightly different and shorter list of stages. Here are my five stages: 1) the gathering of the armies, 2) A Great Earthquake, or a nuclear exchange, 3) the fall of Babylon, 4) the fall of Jerusalem, and 5) the climax of the battle, or the return of Christ. Also note that I am not positively sure about the order of stages two, three, and four; but I will do my best to explain things as I see them, as you will read in upcoming blogs.
The harvest of the earth speaks of the great judgment of God upon all unbelievers, which occurs at the very end of the Tribulation. We will look at the entire passage and then break it down into three points.
Revelation 14:14-20.Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.
17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. 18 Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. 20 And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.
There will be two executioners: Jesus Christ and special designated angels. Jesus Christ is seen by John as “a son of man having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.” This imagery, especially the golden crown on His head, shows us vividly that Christ is victorious in battle; and even before the battle is over, we know that He will conquer His enemies.
His special angels helping Him also have sharp sickles (deadly weapons), and they will be working to gather all the sinners into the great wine press of God (the wrath of God).
The Harvest Will Be Ripe
The harvest in this passage is first of grain (vs 14-16), and then of grapes (17-20). In the first group of verses I think the harvest of grain is dealing with the separation of the tares from the good grain, or the unbelievers from the believers (This is explained for us in Matthew 13:39-43). We can’t be sure exactly when or how this will occur, but I think it will occur sometime before Armageddon—which is what is described in verses 17 through 20.
So, as for this second passage, where the imagery is clearly of the harvest of grapes, the separation has already occurred, and all of the unbelieving people left (represented as grapes) are harvested (judged); they are all ripe and are cast into the great wine press.
Notice that in both cases—the harvest of grain (the separation) and the harvest of grapes—the timing is exactly right. Hence, as the writer of Ecclesiastes puts it, “There is an appointed time for everything” (Ecc. 3:1). And in this case, the time for God’s judgment on unbelievers has come. He has waited patiently for people to repent and come to Him. But there will be an appointed time when His patience runs out and His judgment begins. At that time nothing can be done to delay His time of judgment.
The Great Wine Press
The great wine press is the slaughter of all unbelievers like the pressing of grapes. The writing here portrays all those who will come to the great battle ground in Israel. As is described in the sixth bowl (Rev. 16:13-16), they (hundreds of millions) will be drawn to this place of battle: mainly in Armageddon, but I think in most of the land of Israel, by demons which will come out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet; these three will demonically convince the world to come and fight. And so, they will be led by demons to this great battle. But they will come to be slaughtered by the angels of God and Christ Himself. They will be slaughtered by the sword, and their blood will be as deep as the horses’ bridles—as it flows for 200 miles from Armageddon in the North to Edom in the south.
Now these who gather, at least most of them, I think, are military men (armies). But what of the civilian unbelievers. I assume that they will be judged too—wherever they may be located. None will escape the sword of God’s wrath. All will die because of their rebellious unbelief. As the seventh bowl judgment describes, some will die by a great earthquake, and some will die by huge hail stones, and I imagine that some will die merely out of fear—the fear of His judgment. In the end there will be no unbelievers left. All will die.
To start with, let me clarify something about the title of this section. I am not meaning here that the events from Revelation 12:1 to 15:4 will all occur exactly in the middle of the Tribulation, or that they will even occur between the trumpets and the bowls. I only mean that they are found written about in the book of Revelation between the trumpets and the bowls. Actually, it is a parenthetical passage meant to convey details of key events during all of the Tribulation and especially during the last three and a half years of it. But it is more than a record of key events. The passage is meant to give us background information or a setting for the Tribulation and for the main characters: for Satan, Israel, Christ, the two beasts, the 144,000 witnesses, and certain angels.
We will divide this lengthy passage into seven parts:…
I have just started reading through Revelation, and I keep noticing the many quotes about Jesus, which have been given to us through the apostle John, by “His angel” (Jesus angel, Rev. 1:1; 22:16). The angels are such good witnesses to Jesus; we ought to pay attention to what they say. Here are the quotes I ran across so far, up to Revelation 3:14.
[He is] the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. [He] loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father (Rev 1:5-6).
I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades (Rev 1:17-18).
[He is] the first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life (Rev 2:8).
The One who has the sharp two-edged sword (Rev 2:12).
The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze (Rev 2:18).
He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars (Rev 3:1).
He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens (Rev 3:7).
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God (Rev 3:14).
And He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32 “For He will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, 33 and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again. ” 34 And they understood none of these things, and this saying was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said (Luke 18:31-34).
In the above text Jesus foretells to His disciples His death and resurrection. And, in verse 34, we see that what He was telling them kind of went into one ear and out the other. They just didn’t get it. The full meaning was hidden from them. Why? Here are two reasons:
1. Because they weren’t ready or willing to except it. They were expecting His kingdom to come soon and they couldn’t believe that it would not come in their lifetime—and that He would soon die. They weren’t ready for that and couldn’t believe it. So, in their mind they rejected it.
2.So that Scripture would be fulfilled without interference. If they had partially understood, certainly things would have been different. They may have organized a protest. Or on the other extreme, if they had fully understood, Peter wouldn’t have denied Him, etc. But God could not let either of those things happen. Scripture had to be fulfilled as written. He must suffer and die as written in the prophets, so that our salvation would occur as promised—to all those that believe.
Applied to Us Today
In this day, just as in New Testament times, many believers, even pastors, in the same way do not understand the prophetic words of Scripture. It is mysteriously hidden from them. I remember one time when I was speaking to my pastor about a passage in Daniel 9. I don’t remember all the details of what was spoken (it was a long time ago), but I remember him saying to me, “What in the world are you talking about?” What I was saying just wasn’t registering to him, and he refused to listen to me. I see now that he, and many like him, are blinded from the truth of Bible prophecy. It is hidden from them.
Why is it hidden from them? Partly because they do not take the time to study it. Also, providentially speaking, if they did fully understand, the prophetic word of God would not play out as decreed in Scripture. Things would happen to incorrectly delay (or speed up) His coming and to change Scripture. But that cannot happen and will not happen. Hence, we must not be upset over all those who do not understand Bible prophecy; for it is in the providential will of God in order that all Scripture be fulfilled.
However, I’m sure that it is God’s will that as many as are willing to study the prophetic Scripture, He will help them; He will help that select few, to find the truth about what has been said in regard to future things.
How Christians Can Begin to Understand Bible Prophecy
If you think you are one of God’s chosen few who will come to understand future things, I think I can help you. Here are two good websites to aid you:
This is one of the best sites for Bible prophecy information, as well as to get a correct Christian world view. The thing that I really like on this site is the weekly, on line, radio show where Jan Markell (the founder) interviews one or two bible prophecy experts.
Founder Bill Koenig is a Christian White House news journalist. From this site you will get the best up to date White House and world news from a Christian perspective. It is the best news source I know of.
Let’s see, my interest in Bible prophecy began when I was about 8 or 9 years old, when I began hearing people talk about the Rapture. I can’t remember who it was, whether it was a preacher or maybe my mother. Anyway, they would be trying to describe how quickly Jesus would come and take us away. They would say it that will be as fast as the twinkling of your eye. And then they would try to explain how fast that would be. And I remember someone saying that it won’t be the blinking of the eye but the twinkling of the eye.
Well that was the start of it. And that thought continued to intrigue me for many more years. Gradually my knowledge of the bible increased as I read more and more of it, especially after I was saved at age 12. Oh yes, and one of the things that excited me and turned me toward salvation is the knowledge that heaven would be a real place. I remember talking to my camp counselor about it. I had the idea that heaven would be like a dream, but he told me that it would be just as real as our life now, and even better.
So that’s the early background I had in bible prophecy. Not a lot, but those few pleasant thoughts of the Rapture and heaven really took hold. I remember, along the way, that I read some books on the subject. One was by Hal Lindsey. I read parts of it, and it seemed interesting, but I think it overwhelmed me a bit. So, I chose not to strain my brain on the subject. For the most part, I just held to the belief that someday Jesus would come to take me away. That’s all I really needed to know.
Well, years went by and God kept opening the door to more and more prophecy teaching. In 1977 I began attending Northwestern Bible College in Minnesota. I liked all my professors; and one in particular, Dr. Edwin Hartill was a good prophecy teacher. The classes from him were all excellent: Hermeneutics, Bible Survey, and Revelation. He definitely believed in the pre-tribulation rapture, and he wasn’t afraid to teach it.
During the same time my church put on a week-long seminar by J. Dwight Pentecost (a professor from Dallas Theological Seminary). He was teaching from his new book, Things to Come. What a treat! What a great book! I remember him saying something like, when it comes to the Pre-tribulation Rapture, I am not only dogmatic about it, I am doubly dogmatic! His book lays it out quite well. I have the book, and whenever I want to know anything about bible prophecy, I can usually find it there.
A few years went by, and I think it was about 1993 when I began going to these bible prophecy conferences once a year. They helped me tremendously in my faith and kept me looking up. One particular speaker that everyone liked was Dr. David Larson. He was the pastor at First Covenant Church in Minneapolis.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been to a prophecy conference, but I do listen to Jan Markell’s weekly radio broadcast, where she hosts excellent speakers from all over the country. They are so good. I have also been doing some writing. This I think has helped me the most, because it has forced me to read and study the subject. So far, I have been able to write two books on bible prophecy: Biblical Evidence of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, and The Coming Millennial Kingdom. Both of these are self-published under my name, and printed by Lulu.com. I also have a another book coming out soon, called, After the Rapture: What Happens on Earth and in Heaven after the Rapture.
So there you have it: how I became interested in bible prophecy. And my interest remains strong. At the same time, I feel sad that so many have little interest in the subject and so many preachers purposely ignore the subject. I don’t know for sure, but I have been told that most of the Seminaries are teaching against the Pre—tribulation Rapture and are instructing their students that the subject of prophecy should be regarded as nothing more than a distraction.
I think I can see how this wrong teaching fits today—that is, how it is a sign of His soon coming. For we are told in 2 Peter 3:3 that in the last days there will be “mockers,” saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” And we also see in these days that people are not enduring sound doctrine, but are listening only to those who tell them what they want to hear (2 Tim. 4:3).
But I am determined to seek the whole truth, which includes bible prophecy. We must open our ears to all of the word of God. It is all inspired by God and we must pay attention to it. The truth is, Jesus is coming very soon. He said in His word, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12).