by Lambert Dolphin

The church of Jesus Christ is described by at least seven symbols or figures in the New Testament. Jesus is the Great Shepherd and we are the sheep (Jn 10:1-18). He is the True Vine and we Christians are the branches (Jn 15:1). We are a "living stones" building built into a house which is a habitation for God---Christ Jesus is the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-7). The Lord is described as a merchant who finds and buys a single pearl of great price (Mt. 13:45). He is the Great High Priest over the household of faith, and we are his servant-priests (Heb. 4:14-16). The church is the Body of Christ, every one a member of every other, and all under the direction of Christ the Head of the Body (1 Cor. 12:12-14). Finally the church is the Bride of Christ and Jesus the waiting Bridegroom (Rev. 21:9).
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
"I am jealous over you with godly jealousy, for I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Cor. 11:2)
Dallas Seminary theologian Chancellor and retired President, John W. Walvoord writes as follows:
"The use of the figure of a bride to represent the church in her relationship to Christ has in mind the oriental pattern in which marriage is contemplated as having three major steps: (1) the legal marriage often consummated by the parents of the bride and the bridegroom in which the dowry is paid and the young couple are formally married in a legal sense; (2) subsequent to the legal marriage, the bridegroom according to the custom would go with his companions to the house of the bride to claim his bride for himself and to take her back to his own home; (3) the bridal procession would be followed by the marriage feast which would often last for many days as illustrated in the wedding at Cana (John 2). In the oriental marriage, there was no ceremony such as is common in western civilization, but the legal marriage was consummated by the parents in the absence of the bride and bridegroom."Taking this figure as a spiritual picture of the relationship of Christ to His church, it is evident that for individual Christians, the marriage as far as its legal character is concerned is consummated at the moment an individual puts his trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. In the case of the Christian, the dowry has already been paid in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and the bride has been purchased and claimed in a legal way by the Bridegroom. The church is, therefore, already married to Christ as far as the technical relationship is concerned. The day will come, however, when the Bridegroom will come for His bride and this is fulfilled in the rapture of the church. At that time the Bridegroom will claim His bride and take her to His Father's house. This is the background of the statements in John 14:2,3 where Christ said: 'In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.' This passage contemplates that Christ in the present age is preparing a place for His bride. When this is complete and the bride is ready, He will come to take the bride to her heavenly home which will be accomplished by the rapture and translation of the church.
.. "The church which is made perfect by the grace of God will be delivered from the earthly scene and presented to the heavenly bridegroom on the occasion of the rapture of the church. The marriage union thus contemplated will result in the church being forever with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17), and it will fulfill Christ's declared purpose "that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:3). The Word of God pictures the relationship of Christ to His church as the most beautiful of love relationships in human experience and contemplates unbroken fellowship throughout all eternity as the church enjoys the immediate presence of their loving Lord.
"Further confirmation is given that this is an event fulfilled in heaven rather than on earth in the millennium is the declaration in Revelation 19:7-9, at the time of the return of Christ to the earth to set up His earthly kingdom. The church is pictured as already the wife of the Lamb and as already arrayed in fine linen. The marriage of the Lamb is declared to have already come and now the invitation is extended to those outside the church, the body of Christ, to participate in the marriage supper (Revelation 19:9) which seems to be a spiritual representation of the millennium or at least its inauguration. As the marriage feast is the final stage, it should be clear that the Lamb has already come for His bride and claimed her previously in the rapture of the church. The marriage (Gr. gamos) is actually the entire ceremony subsequent to the coming of the bridegroom for the bride. In this marriage ceremony is the marriage supper (Gr. deitnon) which is the meal or supper proper." (John W. Walvoord, The Nations, Israel, and The Church in Prophecy, Zondervan, 1967)
Although the Old Testament does not reveal God's purpose in calling out a church comprised of Jew and Gentile, (Ephesians 3), a great feast prepared by God Himself for his people was described by the Prophet Isaiah nearly 700 years BC:
"On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined. And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." (Isaiah 25:6-9)
While the church as the Bride of Christ is nowhere spoken of in the OT, Israel was called the "wife of Yahweh." The prophets eloquently describe God's nurture, courtship and betrothal of Israel (e.g. Ezekiel 16). They also dealt with the nation's spiritual adultery-and finally divorce from the Lord---(e.g. the book of Hosea). In spite of this "divorce" under the Old Covenant God promises to restore his beloved wife at the close of the age in which we now live. This restoration of Israel under the New Covenant is clearly explained in Hosea, in Jeremiah 31, and Romans 9, 10, and 11 to cite only a few references.
Ray Stedman in his commentary on Revelation notes that the Bride of Christ as described in the New Testament includes more than just the saints of the church age since Pentecost who comprise the church:
"It is a great honor to be invited to a wedding feast. It is a feast to which the entire human race is invited---but only a fraction of the human race will attend. The invitation is the gospel, and the gospel has gone out to all men and women everywhere, in every age of history. Some accept the invitation. Some reject it....The Spirit of God has been calling men and women throughout the centuries, from Old Testament times through our own New Testament era and on into the future, even in the tribulation period. The invitation goes out to everyone: 'Come to the marriage feast of the Lamb!' What a privilege that will be, to see the Bridegroom face to face, to be a member of His beloved bride, to share in the intimacy of fellowship with the Lord Jesus!" (Ray C. Stedman, God's Final Word, Discovery House 1991).
When it came time for Isaac, Abraham's son, to be married (he was 40 years old), Abraham sent his eldest servant back to his native land to select a bride for his son. Chapter 24 of Genesis is a remarkable picture of the way God the Father would later send the Holy Spirit into the world to call out a bride for His beloved Son, our Lord Jesus that most commentators on Genesis take note of this. For example C.I. Scofield says:
"The entire chapter is highly typical. (1) Abraham, type of a certain king who would make a marriage for his son (Mt. 22:2, John 6:44); (2) the unnamed servant, type of the Holy Spirit, who does not "speak of himself" but takes the things of the Bridegroom to win the bride (John 16:13,14); (3) the servant, type of the Spirit as enriching the bride with the Bridegroom's gifts (Gal. 5:22, 1 Cor. 12:7-11); (4) the servant, type of the Spirit as bringing the bride to the meeting with the Bridegroom (Acts 13:4, 16:6,7, Rom. 8:11, 1 Thess. 4:14-16); (5) Rebekah, type of the Church, the ecclesia, the "called out" virgin bride of Christ (Gen. 24:16, 2 Cor. 11:2, Eph. 5:25-32); (6) Isaac, type of the Bridegroom, "whom not having seen" the bride loves through the testimony of the unnamed servant (1 Peter 1:8); (7) Isaac, type of the Bridegroom who goes out to meet and receive his bride (Gen. 24:63, 1 Thess. 4:14-16)." (Scofield Reference Bible notes)
Jesus suggested a great marriage feast would be part of his final return to earth to be with his own. He used a number of direct and indirect references to this festive meal. The marriage supper was anticipated when Jesus celebrated the "Last Supper" with his disciples:
"Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." (Matthew 26:26-30)
The universality of God's invitation for all men everywhere to come to the marriage supper is clearly implied by a famous parable related by Jesus in Matthew 22. The required wedding garment represents true righteousness imparted by faith which replaces that normal self-righteous we all have as a result of the fall:
"And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.' But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.' And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:1-14)
The wedding feast, celebration, and intimate union with the Lord of the universe---who is Himself Love---will be so joyful, fulfilling and marvelous that all efforts should be focused on getting ready to attend:
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour." "Jesus went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. And some one said to him, 'Lord, will those who are saved be few?' And he said to them, 'Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, "Lord, open to us." He will answer you, "I do not know where you come from." Then you will begin to say, "We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets." But he will say, "I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!' There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.'" (Luke 13:22-30
"Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 'When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come and say to you, "Give place to this man," and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, "Friend, go up higher"; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.' He said also to the man who had invited him, 'When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just." "When one of those who sat at table with him heard this, he said to him, 'Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!' But he said to him, 'A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, "Come; for all is now ready." But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, "I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused." And another said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused." And another said, "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, "Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame." And the servant said, "Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room." And the master said to the servant, "Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'" "Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, 'If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, "This man began to build, and was not able to finish." Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. 'Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill; men throw it away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'" (Luke 14:7-35)
In the parable of the Ten Virgins Jesus distinguished between professing and true believers. True believers have the endless resources of the indwelling Holy Spirit within them while those who have not yet enter a personal relationship with Jesus as Lord are merely enjoying temporary fringe benefits of associating with those who know Jesus personally:
"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." (Matthew 25:1-13)
The actual marriage supper of the Lamb itself is specifically announced in connection with the second coming (the epiphaneia) of the Lord Jesus:
"Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure"-for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are true words of God." (Revelation 19:6-9)
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb - Written by: Dr. Thomas Ice
Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God."
Revelation 19:7-9
Recently at a prophecy conference I was ask if there was a difference in the Bible between the marriage of the bride (the church) to the Lamb and the marriage supper of the Lamb. I answered that I believe that Scripture indicates that there is a difference in these things and that they are two events that will take place at two different times in history. Let me show you why I think this way.
The Marriage of the Lamb
According to Revelation 19:7, the bride, (which is made up of the corporate and collected members throughout the church age taken to heaven at the rapture), makes herself ready for an impending event. How is the bride or the church made ready? She is made ready by clothing "herself in the fine linen bright and clean," which is said to be "the righteous acts of the saints." This statement means that by this point in history (right before the second coming), the sum total of the bride, the body of Christ, is in heaven and has already gone through the bema judgment where church age believers are to be evaluated for their faithfulness to Christ during this present age (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10). The result of going through the judgment seat of Christ results in the bride being given fine linen that Revelation 19:8 says, "is the righteous acts of the saints." This is how "His bride has made herself ready." Ready for what? She has made herself ready for the marriage of the Lamb. Thus, within the framework of the symbolism being used in this passage, it means that the marriage (marriage ceremony) takes place right before the second coming.
Later, Revelation 19:14 says, "And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses." Thus, having been newly married to the Lamb, the bride begins her role in history of reigning at the right hand of Christ (Rev. 3:21) by accompanying her new husband in the heavenly accent from heaven on white horses in order to participate in the judgment of Armageddon at the second advent. Arnold Fruchtenbaum further explains as follows:
The wedding announcement will be made (v. 6) and the Bride will finally be made ready (v. 7). The reason the Bride will now be fully ready for the marriage ceremony is because she will have her entire bridal gown on (v. 8). . . . this also show that the marriage ceremony takes place after the Judgment Seat of the Messiah, when the saints are rewarded for their deeds on earth (1 Cor. 3:10-15). . . . This corresponds to the ritual cleansing of the Jewish wedding system. The ones present at the marriage ceremony are the "few," that is, only those in Heaven at that time.[1]
The Marriage Supper
It is at this point that many Christians today often confuse the marriage of the Lamb with the marriage supper of the Lamb. But they are two separate events that occur at two different times in history. Revelation 19:9 says, "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." This passage clearly has a forward look anticipating a future time. It cannot refer to anyone in heaven since the church (the bride) is the only redeemed entity in heaven. However, after the second coming when believers from other ages will be resurrected (Dan. 12:2) along with tribulation saints, both mortal and resurrected ones (Rev. 20:4), these will be the invited guest who will be guests at this celebration supper. I believe that the marriage supper will be during the first part of the millennial reign of Christ. Fruchtenbaum says:
Hence, the "many" who are bidden to attend the marriage feast on earth are all the Old Testament saints and the Tribulation saints resurrected after the Second Coming. While the marriage ceremony will take place in Heaven just before the Second Coming, the marriage feast will take place on earth after the Second Coming. In fact, it would seem that the marriage feast is what begins the Millennium or the Messianic Kingdom; the Church's co-reigning with the Messiah will start with a tremendous marriage feast.[2]
There are some New Testament passages that speak of Christ eating and banqueting in the kingdom are in my opinion references to the celebration related to the marriage supper of the Lamb. What are some of these passages which strongly imply that the celebration of the marriage supper commences in the millennial kingdom? Matthew 8:11 This passage says, "And I say to you, that many shall come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." Here is a picture of the redeemed of the ages (from Adam to John the Baptist) sitting down with Christ in the kingdom and enjoying a meal together. These are likely the invited guest that we see spoken of in Revelation 19:9, since they are redeemed human beings from the ages who are not part of the church, the Bride of Christ. In this way there will be guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb who will be able to celebrate the marriage of the second person of the Trinity to His bride-the church.
Luke 13:28-29
The statements made by Jesus in this passage have some parallels to the things He said in Matthew 8:11, but there are also some differences. It says, "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth there when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being cast out. And they will come from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God." This is in the context of Christ rebuking the Jewish leaders of His day who were advocating rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus to the nation. The leaders of Israel at this time thought that they were in league with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the prophets, when in reality they were opposed their message by not recognizing Jesus as their long promised Messiah. Therefore, others will come from the four-corners of the world and experience the fellowship of the kingdom. This dining with the Messiah will likely commence with the celebration that will take place at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Like in Matthew 8:11, these others are the invited guests mentioned in Revelation 19:9.
Luke 22:16-18, 29-30
This is an important passage in relation to the marriage supper of the Lamb. We read in Luke 22:16-18 the following: "for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes." This is called the Lord's Supper, which Jesus inaugurated for the soon to be born church to practice until His return to get His bride. Christ's promise not to not eat or drink again until He does it when the kingdom comes, means that He will not be celebrating His marriage supper in heaven before He descends at His second coming with His bride. Here He says the next time he eats and drinks will be at the coming of the kingdom, which will start at the beginning of the thousand years of His reign upon earth.
The above stated idea is reinforced at the end of the Luke 22 passage when Christ says the following in verses 29 and 30: "and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Once again, Jesus speaks of eating and drinking during the kingdom. This is the time when we will commence personal fellowship with our Saviour. Thus, it follows that this will be the time when the marriage supper of the Lamb, celebrating with the various redeemed of the ages Christ's taking of a bride.
When the two parts of Luke 22 are combined it supports the notion that the marriage supper of the Lamb, mentioned specifically in Revelation 19:9 will take place during the millennial kingdom time frame. Matthew 26:29 is a parallel passage to Luke 22 and says, "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."
Parable of The Wedding Feast
Matthew 22:1-14 does not teach about a supper or feast in the kingdom, but this parable does picture a wedding feast (verse 4) similar to what most likely will take place at the beginning of the millennial kingdom when the Father's Son celebrates the marriage supper of the Lamb. Thomas Figart explains the purpose how this parable pictures the marriage supper of the Lamb when he says:
At first glance it may seem inappropriate to refer to the "kingdom of heaven" as a marriage feast for the son (Christ) of the king (the Father) since the Church had not even begun. Indeed, how could Christ be presented to Israel in this royal fashion before His death? But when the parable is take as a whole, it can be seen as including the rejection of the Son, the destruction of Jerusalem and the judgment of unbelievers at the return of Christ to the earth. . . . The fact is the Jews had already rejected Him by the time this parable was given, and it is His way of showing some of the events which pertain to the succeeding years, even up to and including His return to earth.[3]
Thus, this parable is a picture of the wedding feast or supper that will take place in the kingdom, but many of those who thought they would be there (non-elect Israel) will be absent. Likewise, many who were thought to have not even been invited will show up as legitimate guests at this important event in history. This is why it says in Revelation 19:9, "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb."
Conclusion Though the marriage of the Lamb to His bride (the church) and the marriage supper of the Lamb are closely related, they are separate events, just as the wedding ceremony and the wedding reception of our day are separate events. In fact, these two events are often held at two different locations, just as the marriage of the Lamb will be in heaven right before the second coming (Rev. 19), while the marriage supper of the Lamb will commence with the beginning of the millennium. Perhaps some are confused and fail to make these distinctions because the word marriage is used to refer to both events. By comparing Scripture with Scripture and distinguishing the things that differ, it appears clear that they are two separate events. The most important thing for anyone to consider is whether they will be invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. I hear there are going to be some interesting guests there. Make sure you are one of them by trusting Christ's gift of salvation through simple faith in Him and His gracious work on the cross that paid for the sins of all those who believer. Maranatha! (Added 8/31/06)
[1] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Revised Edition (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), p. 597.
[2] Fruchtenbaum,. Footsteps, p. 597.
[3] Thomas O. Figart, The King of The Kingdom of Heaven: A Verse by Verse Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Lancaster, PA: Eden Press, 1999), p. 402.


The Marriage Supper of the Lamb is not to be confused with the Great Supper of God which is an invitation for vultures and other carrion feeders to gorge themselves on the dead bodies of the wicked men of earth slain in battle during the campaign of Armageddon:
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, "Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great." And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who sits upon the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword of him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Revelation 19:17-21)
This same "sacrificial feast"---for the benefit of the birds of prey---is described in Ezekiel. The time is after the great Northern invasion of Syria and Russian satellite powers which many Bible scholars believe is part of the campaign of Armageddon during the last half of the tribulation period just prior to the triumphant return of Jesus Christ to establish his kingdom on earth. The Ezekiel passage describes the destruction of the invading armies as due to the direct intervention of the hand of God.
"As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field, 'Assemble and come, gather from all sides to the sacrificial feast which I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast upon the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth-of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And you shall eat fat till you are filled, and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast which I am preparing for you. And you shall be filled at my table with horses and riders, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors,' says the Lord GOD.""And I will set my glory among the nations; and all the nations shall see my judgment which I have executed, and my hand which I have laid on them. The house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God, from that day forward. And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt so treacherously with me that I hid my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions, and hid my face from them.
"Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for my holy name. They shall forget their shame, and all the treachery they have practiced against me, when they dwell securely in their land with none to make them afraid, when I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them from their enemies' lands, and through them have vindicated my holiness in the sight of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God because I sent them into exile among the nations, and then gathered them into their own land. I will leave none of them remaining among the nations any more; and I will not hide my face any more from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, says the Lord GOD." (Ezekiel 39:17-29)
See also:
Lambert Dolphin
August 23, 1993.


The New Testament View of Christ and Antichrists

Every generation certain currents of fear sweep the western world about the possibility that we are now in the time of the end when a great world ruler, whom some call the Antichrist, will come to power. Of course we are nearer that time now than ever before, and it could well be upon us in our generation. The Greek word antichristos appears only in the writings of the Apostle John, in fact only in his epistles. He speaks of the "many antichrists" who are to be the forerunners of the antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22; 2 John 7, 1 John 4:3). The word antichrist can mean "instead of Christ,"---that is a counterfeit messiah----or it can mean "one opposed to Christ, but assuming His role." Probably a combination of the two meanings in correct to the kind of man the Bible talks about as rising to power just prior to the final return of Christ to our beleaguered planet.

The "Seed Plot" of the Bible

In the Bible, the theme of the seed of the serpent opposing the seed of the woman begins in Genesis (3:14-15) and continues throughout the text. It is a complex and enigmatic subject. God declared to Adam and his wife, and to the serpent, that certain consequences will follow as a result of their eating of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowing of good and evil. The divine pronouncements included this strange word:

The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."
An archetypal conflict between good and evil which reveals this age-old conflict between these two "seeds" threads its way through the entire Bible. For example, in Psalm 37 the terms "the righteous" and "the wicked" appear repeatedly. If the word "wicked" is replaced with "wicked one" and "righteous" is replaced with "righteous one" in Psalm 37 the age-old struggle between two men, Christ and antichrist, will be made more clear.

The Line of Promise to Messiah

God's words of judgment (and hope) in the garden immediately led Eve to suppose that her first-born son, Abel, would be the promised Redeemer, but this hope was dashed when righteous Abel was murdered by his wicked brother Cain. The birth of Seth renewed the Messianic hope. Though Seth was not himself the promised seed of the woman who would bruise the head of the serpent, he was the legitimate heir as were his sons who came after him:

After the flood, God selected Noah's son Shem as the branch of the human family through whom Messiah would come. Though believers through whom great families of the earth would spring, Japheth and Ham were not chosen for this unique privilege that would later cause the Apostle Paul to write:
"They are Israelites, and to them belong , the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen." (Romans 9:4, 5)
With detailed care the Scripture (Gen. 11:10-28) records that the line of promise would pass to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,

When Jesus the Messiah was born, Matthew (1:1-17) and Luke (3:23-38) record the lineage of this son of Abraham, son of David, from the tribe of Judah. He is, we are assured the long-expected One. (Ref 1, 2).
Yeshua Hamashiach Warns Against Counterfeits

False Messiahs as well as False Prophets were the subject of special warnings given to his disciples in the famous Olivet Discourse of Jesus during the last week of his life as he sat opposite the soon-to-be-destroyed Second Temple with his disciples:

Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, "I am the Christ (Messiah)," and they will lead many astray...And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray...For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:4-24)
Two different classes of deceivers are warned against by the Lord Jesus.

"The term 'antichrist' does not indicate someone who is openly against Christ, like an atheist or a pagan. Rather it is one who appears instead of Christ, and in this sense opposes true Christianity. It is a counterfeit Christ. Of course it includes the originators and propagators of all the false cults which have arisen throughout the course of the age, beginning in the first century. We have witnessed the rise of many in the last few decades, especially those with the label 'Made in America,' like Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Christian Science, Moonieism, Scientology and others. These are outwardly Christian in language and activity but their basic message is antichristian, rejecting the true Christ...
"But by no means are these the most deceptive of the antichristian voices. Perhaps our Lord is thinking of even subtler expressions. We will miss the full meaning of his words if we look only for those who actually say, 'I am the Messiah," or 'We have the true Christian message.' Are they not more dangerous who claim to do what only Jesus Christ can do? "I am the Way,' says lonely Man who died forsaken upon the cross. 'We are way,' say all the many voices that attract today: politics, patriotism, social work, literary crusades. These are often really fine works, but when they claim to meet the basic problem of human life, they become antichristian. Their claim is false, and many are deceived throughout the course of the age...

"In close connection with this Jesus adds, 'And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold.' Here the peril is cynicism. It is a cold and brutal indifference which arises out of the teaching of 'false prophets.' Do not read this as though they are religious men, necessarily. The false Christ's the Lord had mentioned earlier were unquestionably religious, but here he uses the term 'prophet.' It refers to any who speak authoritatively---philosophers, professors, scientists, statesmen---those leaders of thought who shape and mold the thinking of the common man. What they will teach is the sanctity of self-interest, the insistence on having 'my rights' no matter what happens to the other fellow. The true prophet insists on the rights of God, but the false prophet upholds only the rights of man. Jesus predicts that a tragic and inevitable sequence will follow. First, many will be led astray by the false teaching of the leaders of thought: 'because [of this] wickedness [will be] multiplied' (the Greek word here is anomia, lawlessness); and the result of lawlessness is, 'most men's love will grow cold" (Ray C. Stedman, What's The World Coming To, Discovery Publications, 3505 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306, 1970.

Many diabolical and cruel world political leaders can be traced during the past 2000 years beginning with several of the Caesars (such as Nero) and including most recently men like Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein. Evil men do not necessarily appear to be evil in their time, but can seem to be saviors and benefactors widely and enthusiastically hailed by the populace, as Hitler was in his early days of power. While such men have indeed come under the full control of Satan, so also have their constituents, else they would not succeed in doing such damage in the affairs of men. The cooperation of the masses is required to give them unquestioning, blind allegiance.

A Final "Man of Sin"---The "Lawless One"

Rather than referring to the final antichrist by that name, both Jesus and Paul spoke of a man of sin or a lawless one who would dominate much of the world at the close of our present age. Chapter One of 2 Thessalonians speaks of the coming of Christ to earth again in power and splendor, all aspects of his return being clumped together in terse, concise language. Paul next urges the Christians in Thessalonica (Greece), in the first century, not to be unduly alarmed by current events in the Roman Empire, or by rumors to the effect that the Day of the Lord had begun:

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion (apostasia) comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God (in Jerusalem), proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this?
Bible scholars are divided somewhat regarding the interpretation of this passage. Some think the word apostasia should be taken literally. The clearest indication that the time is at hand will be the falling away from the church of many, or even most, professing Christians. The times in which we now live at the very end of the 20th Century are certainly full of apostasy in the church. Surely we are living in the age of the lukewarm church of Laodicea described in Revelation Chapter 3.

We do know from Scripture that professing Christendom as a whole will become fully apostate after the removal of the true church, the Bride of Christ, at the rapture. After that the "Christian" church on earth will be synonymous with the harlot church of Revelation 17.

The second widely held interpretation associated with the above passage is that it is the departure or rapture of the true church that allows the antichrist to be revealed. This is because the restraining power of the Holy Spirit in the present age is exercised primarily through the church. The removal of the church at the beginning of the end-time period is known as the pre-tribulation, pre-millennial view of eschatology, and is the position held by the authors. It is reasonable to suppose that the Lord will return for his church at a time of intense pressure on believers causing many to abandon their faith and at a time when the church's witness has been rendered mostly ineffectual. Paul's discussion continues,

And you know what is restraining him (the man of sin) now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is taken out of the midst. And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing (epiphaneia) and his coming (parousia). The coming of the lawless one by the activity (energeian) of Satan will be with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood, and with every deceit of unrighteousness in those who are to perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. On account of this God will send upon them a working of error (or delusion, for example a continuous barrage of propaganda), to make them believe what is false (literally, "THE lie"); so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
According to careful interpretation of this passage, the Holy Spirit---present in the world through the Body of Christ, through the minority of true Christians acting as salt and light---is the restraining force in every generation preventing the appearance of the antichrist. The removal of the true church leaves only an apostate church on earth. After the calling out of the bride of Christ, there is no longer any force restraining the "man of sin" so he is free to appear---accompanied by a widespread and universal propaganda to the effect that the world is about the enter a great golden age of peace and prosperity.

Israel's Return to Center Stage of World History

When "the full number of the gentiles has come in" to the church (Romans 11:25), Israel will once again become the center of the stage for God's view of history, as she was before the times of the gentiles began in the Babylonian Captivity period (~600 BC). The transition back to Israel being once again at center stage of world history has already begun in our time, but the shift will be very dramatic after the completion and removal of the true church.

First Thessalonians, Chapter 4, describes the first of two aspects of the second coming of Christ:

But we would not have you ignorant, brothers, concerning those (Christians) who are asleep (have died), that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming (parousia) of the Lord shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command (to wake the dead), with the archangel's call (to deliver and revive the nation Israel), and with the sound of the trumpet of God (to call the living saints). And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The Translation of the Bride of Christ

Like the great passage concerning the resurrection of the dead in 1 Corinthians 15, this text says that God will grant all Christians, living and dead, their resurrection bodies at the same time. These new redeemed, glorious, sinless bodies will be like that of Jesus, most likely be bodies capable of space and time travel.

When a believer dies he leaves earth's one-dimensional time frame and enters eternity. (Ref 3). All other believers, regardless of when they die, meet in eternity at the same point, namely the event known as the first resurrection. In the experience of every Christian death is identical to this coming of Christ for his church. This is made clear by the Apostle in 2 Corinthians 5.

The return of Christ has two aspects: his silent, unseen return for his church and his coming in glory with his church seven years later. Both aspects of his second advent are combined as one event in 2 Thessalonians 1, and in 2 Peter 3. This difference in the two aspects of Christ's return is reflected in the Greek text of the NT by the use of different words. Parousia is from the word para meaning with or alongside of, and ousia, being, hence being with, coming and remaining with someone. (See Matthew 24:3,27,37,39; 1 Thess. 4:15, 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1; James 5:7,8; 2 Peter 1:16,3:4; 1 Cor. 15:23). Epiphaneia from epi and phaino means a shining forth. (This word is used in 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1,8; Matt. 24:27, 2 Thess. 2:8; Titus 2:13). Both words are combined in 2 Thess. 2:8. Jesus will destroy the man of sin by his appearing and his coming.

In the Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, Jesus outlined for his disciples the major events that would precede the second aspect of his second coming, namely his visible unveiling (apokalupsis) to the world as true Messiah and rightful King of Israel. After speaking to them about the future destruction of the Second Temple then standing across from the Mount of Olives where they were seated, the disciples asked,

Tell us when will this be, and what will be the sign of your appearing (parousia = presence, that is a period of time when he was back on earth, encompassing seven years) and of the close of the age?
Jesus answered them, "Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, `I am the messiah,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the sufferings. Then they will deliver you (disciples) up to tribulation, and put you to death, and you (Jews) will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached (once again this time by the 144,000) throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel standing in the Holy Place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. And alas for those who are with child and those who give suck in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Then if any one says to you, `Lo, here is the Messiah!' or `There he is!' do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Lo, I have told you beforehand. So if they say to you, `Lo he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west so will be the coming (epiphaneia) of the Son of man. Wherever the body is there the vultures will be gathered together.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man (the Shekinah, or cloud of glory) in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming (parousia) of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. (Luke's gospel adds here mention of the days of Lot). Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two men will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. (Luke adds mention of two men in the same bed, one taken and one not, indicating that this event occurs world-wide when some are awake and working and others asleep at night). Watch therefore for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, (Israel my brethren), that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you (Israel) do not expect...

Understanding the "Time of the End"

Bible scholars refer to the end-time period as "the tribulation period." From the book of Daniel that we know this period encompasses just seven years of history on earth. The mid-point of this period is when the man of sin enters the Holy Place in the new Third Temple in Jerusalem, setting in motion a terrible time of world upheaval known in the Old Testament as the time of Jacob's trouble (see Jeremiah 30). The last half of the 70th week of Daniel is also called in the New Testament "the great tribulation."

Where will the church be during this time period? The Body of Christ, inseparable from the Head of the Body (Jesus) will evidently be on the earth, behind the scenes, directing the course of final events until His open public appearing in glory. That is, during the entire seven year period Jesus will on earth, with his church, but invisible---resurrection bodies allow for this kind of "appearing and disappearing"---moving out of the spiritual realm into the physical as Jesus did many times during his 40 day stay in Israel after his resurrection, but before his ascension.

One example of this secret presence of the church on earth is given in Revelation 14:1 where the Apostle John sees "the Lamb standing (present tense) on Mount Zion with the 144,000..." This incident occurs during the tribulation period. (The 144,000 are Jewish followers of Jesus during the tribulation period who are charged with communicating the gospel to the world after the departure of the church during the tribulation period). What is fascinating about this passage in Revelation is that the 144,000 gathered together hear a "new song" from heaven, "like the sound of many waters." Those who sing are "in heaven," or "in the heavenly places" which is the same thing as saying that this choir consists of those who have already received their resurrection bodies (i.e., the church). Their great hymn of redemption, heard only by the 144,000 encourages these Jewish evangelists of the tribulation period who labor under terrible persecutions to win multitudes to Yeshua at the very close of the age. (Ref 4).

Evidently the majority of the people on earth are unaware of the secret presence of Jesus on earth except for the commotions resulting, "where the body is there the vultures are gathered together." At the close of the last half of the seven year period of terrible world suffering, nuclear holocaust, plague, famine and natural disasters that Jesus unveils himself visibly from the summit of the Mount of Olives as described in Zechariah 14. The same event is described also by John in Revelation 19:11ff. This is the time of the Lord's coming with his saints.

Two Evil Men, Not One

The problem of the antichrist is more complex than the simple appearance at the close of our age of a world-dictator, because during the end-time period spoken of in the Bible there are not one but two major world rulers who seem to fit the description of the man of sin. Various commentators call one or the other of these individuals the antichrist. No doubt both men on stage will be brilliant, eloquent, charismatic and powerful. But, the Bible describes them both as "wild beasts," which gives us, evidently, God's view of these men. John writes in Revelation 13,

I saw a beast rising out of the sea (the sea symbolizes the gentile nations in Scripture), with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon (Satan) gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast saving, `Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?' And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for 42 months (3.5 years); it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven (the true church). Also it was allowed to make war on the (tribulation) saints (on earth) and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. If any one has an ear, let him hear: If any one is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone slays with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
Then I (John) saw another beast which rose out of the land (the land symbolizes Israel); it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven in the sight of men; and by the signs which it is allowed to work in league with the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them to make an image (eikon) for the beast so that the image of the beast should even speak, and to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both slave and free, to be marked on the right hand or on the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell (economic controls) unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.

The second beast fits well the man predicted by Jesus in John 5:43 who is also the false shepherd of Israel spoken of by the prophet Zechariah (11:15-17). Jesus said of this man,

"I have come in my Father's name and you (Israel) would not receive me. Another will come in his own name, him you will receive."
This leader is also described as like a lamb, that is a counterfeit to the real Lamb of God. He is to be a religious leader---while the first beast is a military/political leader. This becomes more evident from studying the rest of the Book of Revelation where the first beast is a likened to a Roman Caesar leading the western nations centered in Europe. The last and final form of the revived Roman Empire and its rulers is that foreseen in Daniel 2 and 7. In summary, the end-time period is marked by the presence of a great and powerful military leader in the West and an outstanding religious leader in Israel who works in league with him.

In the Old Testament (and during the end time when the church is not the central focus of God's activity in the world), God's way of looking at the world is with Jerusalem as the center of the earth. Israel dominates the world-stage and the goyim or gentile nations are on the periphery. Directions in the OT are referenced to Jerusalem, the great sea is the Mediterranean, the salt sea is the Dead Sea and so on. The last week of years in Daniel's prophecy of Israel's 70-week history is the seven-year tribulation period just described, the prophet says,

And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one (Messiah) shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come (i.e. the Romans), shall destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the second temple). Its end shall come with a flood (both in AD 70 and in the end-time), and to the end (when Christ returns) there shall be war; desolations are decreed. And he (the prince that shall come) shall make a strong covenant with many for one week (seven years); and for half of the week he shall cause sacrifice and offering (in the Third Temple) to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator. (Daniel 9:26, 27).
From this passage it can be seen that the future great world ruler of the West, the first beast, will succeed in making an international treaty with Israel for seven years guaranteeing some sort of Middle East peace settlement with the Arab nations and the western nations. This will occur presumably after or associated with the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and the restoration of temple sacrifices. Temple services will be interrupted only when the man of sin (the second beast, i.e., the false prophet) steps into the Holy Place and declares to the world that he is God. Israel's participation in a mid-east peace treaty with the antichrist is called her covenant of death (or sheol) in Isaiah 28:15.

The fact that the number of the beast is 666 always arouses much speculation in every generation. Six is the number of man in scripture and three the number of God. Therefore 666 symbolizes man proclaiming himself to be God in contrast to the Son of God who became a man by means of the incarnation. According to scriptures there is no way of anyone identifying the antichrist ahead of time. He can not be revealed until the departure of the church, when the Restrainer allows him to come forth.

Daniel lived and wrote in the Sixth Century BC while the prophet was in Babylon with his people during the 70 years' captivity following the destruction of the first temple and the city by Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel (Chapter Two) he interprets a dream of Nebuchadnezzar in which the king saw a great image with head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay mixed together. In the dream a great stone cut out without hands smashed the image, the stone then became a great mountain that filled the earth. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he was the head of gold ruling over the first great gentile world empire, Babylon. Next, he said, would come Medo-Persia followed by Greece, then Rome. The legs represent the two divisions of the old Roman empire represented up to 1917 in our century by the Kaisers of Germany and the Czars of Russia. The feet represent the last period of western civilization. Iron is symbolic of military and industrial might and clay symbolizes the weak form of government by the people (as opposed to a strong central monarchy).

The "smiting stone" in Daniel is God's Messiah. He will set up enduring his kingdom breaking down all other kingdoms in the process, in the days of the last ten kings (the ten toes). So caught up in his own sense of power and self-importance was Nebuchadnezzar when Daniel told him the meaning of his dream that he ordered a great statue of himself erected (all of gold) and he ordered all in his nation (including the Jews) to worship the image. This event is very much suggestive of the image of the beast described in Revelation 13 which will be set up in the Third Temple in Jerusalem in the end-time by Antichrist.

Daniel had other visions of world empires that would follow his time, for example the visions recorded in Chapter 7 are on a parallel track to those seen by John and recorded in Revelation. From the description of the fourth terrible beast of Daniel Chapter 7, (symbolizing the Roman empire), we find that a future great Roman leader will arise,

And he (the first beast) shall speak great words against the Most High, and think to change the times (calendars) and the laws; and the saints shall be given into his hand for a time, and times and the dividing of time (3.5 years, the last half of the tribulation period).
A very important once-fulfilled prophecy of Daniel is given in Chapter 8. It concerns a struggle between a ram and a he-goat, symbolic of the overtaking of the Persians by the Greeks. The he-goat had four horns, representing the division of the Greek empire between four generals upon the death of Alexander the Great:

The he-goat grew very great and when he was strong, the great horn (Alexander) was broken, and replacing it came four notable horns towards the four winds of heaven. And out of them came forth a little horn, which grew exceedingly great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land (Israel). And it grew great (ascending) even to the host of heaven (the angelic host); and it cast down some of the host of heaven (the angels) and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. He magnified himself even up to the prince of the host; and the continual burnt offering was taken from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. And the host was given over to it together with the continual burnt offering by reason of transgression, and truth was cast down to the ground, and the horn acted and prospered. Then I (Daniel) heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said of the one that spoke, `For how long is the vision concerning the continual burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled under foot?' And he said to him, `For two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be restored to its rightful state.
Historically the details of this prophecy were fulfilled (the first time) when a cruel Syrian ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes (his name means the illustrious one), a Selucid, profaned the temple in Jerusalem in 168 B.C. by offering a sow upon the altar and murdering many of the Jews in an attempt to wipe out their religion. Antiochus Epiphanes is called a type of antichrist because Daniel was given an explanation of his visions by the angel Gabriel who told him that a king of fierce countenance, like Antiochus Epiphanes would arise at the end of the days. Gabriel said,

Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation; for it pertains to the end of the appointed time of the end. As for the ram which you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. And the he-goat is the king of Greece; and the great horn between his eyes is the first king. As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his rule, but not with his power. And at the latter end of their rule, when the transgressors have reached their full measure, a king of bold countenance, one who understands riddles, shall arise. His power shall be great, and he shall cause fearful destruction, and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people of the saints. By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall magnify himself. Without warning he shall destroy many; and he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes (Jesus); but by no human hand, he shall be broken. The vision of the evenings and the mornings which has been told is true; but seal up the vision, for it pertains to many days hence. (Daniel 8:20-26).
Some Bible scholars take this man to be the Roman beast, others the last king of the north and still others, the beast out of the land (the false prophet). Since both beasts in Revelation 13 are fully possessed and controlled by Satan it is perhaps not too important which one is labeled the antichrist---though usually commentators regard the last Roman ruler rather than the false prophet (the counterfeit messiah of Israel) as the antichrist. The latter individual is subservient to the former.

The Consummating War

The last major passage in Daniel relevant to the antichrist is found in the closing verses of Daniel 11. All the prophecies up to verse 35 of Chapter 11 have been accurately fulfilled in history but not the verses beginning with 36. Thus Bible scholars like to call the entire age of the church the great parenthesis since this is one of several instances recorded in the Bible where the continuous thread of the history of Israel's redemption can be seen to have been interrupted by a long delay. This interval is also the time between Daniel's 69th and 70th week when the prophetic clock with regard to Israel has been stopped.

Chapter 36 of Daniel, in historical context, deals with long wars between the Selucids (kings of the North) and the Ptolemies of Egypt (the kings of the South). These kings succeeded Alexander the Great after his death in Babylon at age 33. Long drawn out wars and conflicts (330-63 BC) were fought to and fro across the holy land by men who were unconcerned about God's ultimate purposes for Israel. Finally the Roman Empire came into being and began to exercise sway over the holy land in time for the first advent of Messiah. There is yet to come one last great king of the north who appears to be a Syrian ruler in league with Russia, and one last king of the south, an Egyptian military ruler. The end-time events associated with the beginning of the last war in the Middle East seem to be described beginning with verse Daniel 11:36:

And the king (of Israel, the second beast?) shall do according to his will: he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished, for what is determined shall be done. He shall give no heed to the God of his fathers (Elohim), or to the one beloved by women (Messiah?); he shall not give heed to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all. He shall honor the god of fortresses (the military power of the west), instead of these; a god whom his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He shall deal with the strongest forces by the help of a foreign god (the first beast); those who acknowledge him he shall magnify with honor. He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land (of Israel) for a price (i.e. to obtain peace with the Arabs).
At the time of the end the king of the south (Egypt) shall attack him (the king of Israel), but the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships; and he (the king of the north) shall come into the countries and shall overflow and pass through. He (the king of the north) shall come into the glorious land (Israel). And tens of thousands shall fall, but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites (Jordan). He (the king of the north) shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the precious things of Egypt; and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall follow in his train. But tidings from the east and from the north shall alarm him, and he shall go forth with great fury to exterminate and utterly destroy many. And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea (Mediterranean) and the glorious holy mountain (Jerusalem); yet he shall come to his end with none to help him.

That the Syrians/Russians will invade Israel and be destroyed by direct intervention of God, is described in Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39. Whether this occurs before, at the beginning of the tribulation, or in the last half of the tribulation is disputed by many Bible scholars---with reputable and competent men represented in each of these three camps. Some believe this invasion will occur in the first half of the tribulation period. Ezekiel says God will rain fire on both Moscow and the coastlands (a term for the Japhetic western world nations, or the continents) at that time---nuclear exchange seems to be the probable scenario. There is also a great earthquake described in Ezekiel 38 which shakes the land of Israel with terrible devastation in connection with the Northern invasion.

The events described in the closing verses of Daniel 11 evidently bring an intervention by the western European nations who invade Israel at the time the Russians sweep through into Egypt. An invasion from the east is also described in scripture. These events are the tidings that concern the last king of the north so that he entrenches himself between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean where he meets his final end. The so-called battle of Armageddon is really a series of campaigns in the final war culminating in one last great battle on the plain of Esdraelon inland from the port of Haifa (Revelation 16, 19 Joel 2, Isaiah 24. etc., Iraq is also involved---see Chuck Missler's Briefing Package The Mystery of Babylon.). The Last World-War campaign progressively draws in more and more of the world's armed forces. This is the reason the third group of Bible scholars holds that the God/Magog war is but one phase of the final world war.

"Unless Those Days Were Shortened..."

During the last attempt by world leaders to bring this war to a close before the total destruction of the human race, Jesus Christ will return in open power with the armies of heaven behind him. Many scholars believe the approaching second coming of Christ will cause cosmic disturbances. The armies of the world on earth invading Israel at that time will believe this to be an alien invasion from outer space. They will cease fighting one another and all unite to fight against the Lord. This is consistent with the Biblical view that unregenerate men actually hate God more than they do one another. In the view of a secular world, God is man's ultimate enemy.

And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who sits upon the horse (Jesus) and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he had deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone. And the rest were slain by the sword of him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Revelation 19:19-21).
There are a number of types of Antichrist in Scripture. For example A. W. Pink discusses Nimrod as a type of Antichrist in his book Antichrist (Kregel Publications 1988). Nimrod founded Babylon and Ninevah in what is today the nation of Iraq. Nimrod was responsible for introducing the powerful system of religious error which later diffused throughout the world and still greatly affects our modern cultures. The Assyrians of this fertile crescent area are noted throughout history for their violent hatred of Israel. Saddam Hussein who likens himself to a new Nebuchadnezzar is also attempting to rebuild ancient Babylon in our time. In Scripture Babylon is both a literal city, but also an entire global religious and economic world view (weltaungshaung) based on the Babylonian Mystery religion of Nimrod.

The various antichrists down through history is that they are fully instruments of God. God will allow evil to find a full and consummate expression in the final antichrist and his followers as the age closes. The reason for this is the stubborn refusal of men to respond to the truth about God as He really is. When men refuse the truth, God gives them over the lie that they can be their own gods and masters of their own fate. Scripture clearly teaches that man can not set dates for the commencement of these events nor the time of return of Jesus. However the structuring of the stage-settings in the Middle East the last century surely indicates that these events may well unfold in the next few years. Whether soon or many long years away Christians should remember the high calling of Jesus and the rich inheritance offered to them by His gracious love and full provision for their lives now and forever.

End Notes

1. A helpful wall chart of the family tree connecting the two Adams is available from the Good Things Company, PO Drawer N, Norman, OK 73070.

2. The uniqueness of the branches of the human race springing from Noah is discussed in detail by Arthur Custance in his book, Noah's Three Sons. Dr. Custance analyzes in great detail the lineage of Jesus through the entire Old Testament in his book The Seed of the Woman, showing the gaps in the genealogical record can all be filled in from the Bible and that the line of promise leading to Jesus has been carefully preserved for us on both the side of Mary and Joseph.

3. Ray C. Stedman, Authentic Christianity, Chapter on Time and Eternity, Discovery Publishing, Palo Alto.

4. See Ray C. Stedman, God's Final Word: Understanding Revelation,Discovery House, Grand Rapids, 1991, pp 260-262.

5. The "wicked one" is described by some fifty titles or descriptive terms in the Bible. Most of what we know about his origin, role, career, and destiny, is found in the Old Testament. At times the "first beast" best fits the reference, at other times it is the "second beast." Scholars often refer to a final Satanic trinity: The first beast corresponds to the Father, the second to the Son and Satan himself corresponds to the third member of this Satanic trio. Satan has sought to possess, control or even incarnate himself in man, and throughout history he has partially succeeded many times. Finally, God will allow him his day and the final man of sin, fully possessed by Satan will enjoy his brief reign as the visible human ruler over the earth.

Old Testament

Adversary---Ps. 74:8-10; Isa. 59:19, Lam 4:11, 12, Amos 3:11
Assyrian---Isa. 10:5, 12
Belial---Nahum 1:15
Bloody and Deceitful Man---Ps. 5:6
Branch of the Terrible Ones ---Isa. 25:5
Chief Prince---Ezek. 38:2
Commercial Genius---Dan. 8:25, Rev. 13:17, Ps. 52:7, Dan. 11:38,43; Ezek 28:4, 5
Crooked Servant---Job 26:13
Cruel One---Jer 30:14
Destroyer of the Gentiles---Jer 4:7
Enemy---Ps. 55:3
Evil Man---Ps. 140:1
Governmental Genius---Rev. 13:1,2; 17:17
Head over many countries---Ps. 110:6
Head of the Northern Army ---Joel 2:20
Idol Shepherd ---Zech. 11:16,17
Intellectual Genius---Dan. 7:20, 8:23, Ezek. 28:3
King of Princes--- Hos. 8:10
King of Babylon---Isa. 14
Little Horn---Dan. 7:8-11,21-26;8:9-12, 23-25
Man of the Earth---Ps. 10:18
Mighty Man---Ps. 52:1
Oratorical Genius---Dan 7:20, Rev. 13:2
Prince that shall come---Dan. 9:26
Prince of Tyre---Ezek. 28:2-10
Profane Wicked Prince of Israel---Ezek. 21:25-27
Proud Man---Hab. 2:5
Religious Genius---2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:3, Ps. 10, 52, 55; Isa. 10-14; Zech 5; Rev. 17-18.
Rod of God's Anger---Isa. 10:5
Seed of the Serpent---Gen 3:15
Son of the Morning---Isa. 14:12
Son of Satan---Gen. 3:15, Isa. 27:1, Ezek. 28:12-19, Rev. 13
Spoiler, Destroyer---Isa. 16:4,5
Vile Person---Dan. 11:21
Violent Man---Psa. 140:1,10,11
Wicked, Wicked One---Psa. 9:17; 10:2,4; Is 11:4- Jer. 30: 14, 23
Willful King---Dan. 11:96

New Testament

Angel of the Bottomless Pit---Rev. 11:9
Antichrist, Pseudo Christ---1 John 2:22
Beast---Prov. 11:7
False prophet---Rev 13
Father of lies---John 8:44; 2 Thess 2:11
Lawless One---2 Thess. 2:8
Man of Sin---2 Thess. 2:3
One who comes in his own name John 5:43
Son of Perdition---2 Thess. 2:3
Star---Rev. 8:10
Unclean Spirit---Matt. 10:43

Lambert Dolphin
Revised June 2, 1995.

Signs of the End or Signs of the Times?

Lambert Dolphin

It seems that every unusual hurricane, flood or earthquake elicits a flurry of speculation about the approaching end of the age. This is true in our time but it has also been characteristic of the entire 2000 year history of the church. In the first century the Apostle Paul found it necessary to quiet the concerns of the Thessalonian congregation,
"Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come..." (2 Thess 2:1-2)
It is helpful to note that momentous events, great miracles in the Bible, did not cause people to flock to God. The resurrection of Jesus--the most momentous event in all of history--could hardly escape great notoriety in the First Century Jerusalem Post, but no new conversions are recorded.
In Jesus' day the religious leaders asked Jesus to please tell them the signs of the times in which they lived,
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, "When evening comes, you say, `It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, `Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." Jesus then left them and went away. (Matthew 16:1-4)
The rebuke of Jesus clearly suggests that any aware person who simply watched the weather, read the news, and was aware of what God has already told us in the Bible, should easily be able to figure out that nature of the times in which they live. The only sign Jesus said would be a clear public indicator of the momentous times in which the Son of God came to earth--would be His resurrection. As we have noted, this sign came and went and was ignored by the multitudes!
Many have thought that Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25) gives a list of signs of the end of the age. This is actually not the case. Jesus gave instead signs of the age!Wishing to strengthen His disciples and knowing He would be away from them for 2000 years, in broad brush strokes He told them that the entire time period between His two advents would be marked by
"...wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth-pains (arche odinon). Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Mt 24:6-14).
These, he said, were not even the actual birth pangs that marked the end of the age, but the beginning of the birth pangs!
The Olivet discourse begins with three questions from his disciples. Jesus answers all three.
"Do you see all these things [the temple]?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (Mt 24:2-3).
The destruction of the temple he told them (Luke 21:20) would come at a future date when Jerusalem was surrounded by armies. This came to pass in AD 70. The disciples wished also know the sign of his coming and the sign of the end of the age.
Jesus answers these questions in reverse order: The sign of the end of the age will be the desecration of the Third Temple by the coming man of sin, (Mt. 24:15) and the sign of His coming (epiphaneia) would be His visible appearing in glory on the clouds of heaven from the Mount of Olives. (Mt. 24:30)
What this means is that the age we live in, with all its violence and unrest, will continue past the rapture to the mid-point of the tribulation. It is then that the actual birth pangs of the coming new world order will begin!
Every year I read articles by Christian writers who raise alarm signals about rising ocean temperatures, greater-than-ever hurricanes--and what is most common, authoritative claims that the number of earthquakes is increasing--a sure sign of the end.
Being a trained and experienced scientist I thought the increasing-earthquake claim would be something I could easily check on the basis of readily available data. Sure enough, there is no evidence that earthquakes are on the increase. (See Earthquakes and the Bible)
It is quite true the Bible has a lot to say about big earthquakes. The end of the age when Jesus stands upon the Mount of Olives is marked by will surely be the greatest earthquake experienced on earth. Even now stress is evidently building up world-wide in anticipation of this great event. I believe we have descriptions of this one mammoth world-wide earthquake in Zechariah 14:4ff, Ezekiel 47:1-12, Joel 3:18 and in Revelation 6:12, 8:5, 11:19 and 16:18-21. In fact, the Revelation passages help us to anchor the sequence of cascading judgments God calls down upon the earth during this period--because they all culminate in this one great earthquake as a clear marker that Christ has now commenced His reign on earth.
World population is soaring out of control in our time (See World Population Since Creation). This means that famine, wars, border disputes, social problems, and man's effect on the environment will all increase. These are natural social consequences one would expect from merely the fact that more people than ever now live on our small planet.
I do not believe, therefore, that God has given us special signs that help us identify where we are with respect to His return--the Second Advent. But we can observe the weather! Merely reading up on the events in the Middle East in the last 100 years and being familiar with our Bibles can not help but show us that "He is at the very gates." There is no reason for us to be caught off guard by the sudden return of our Lord Jesus Christ--at any time.
The next event of prophetic significance to occur on earth--completely unannounced, will be the silent, secret removal of the true church (the rapture), by Jesus Christ. A period of at least three and a half years of what appears to be world peace and prosperity will ease into place under the skillful deceit of the two beasts of Revelation 13--Europe's political/military leader, and Israel's false Messiah. The Third Temple will be build in Jerusalem, it will be dedicated and placed into service with animal sacrifices and a fully functioning Levitical priesthood. For most people on the earth, it will be life as usual, perhaps with even a little more hope for a rosy future than exists now.
Then the end of the age will suddenly come--when the false messiah steps into the Holy of Holies of the Third Temple and announces that He is God. This, Jesus' said, would the one and only sign of the end of the age given from God to alert the world. Only one sign in two thousand years! The time between the two Advents of Jesus has been marked by wars, violence, disasters, plagues, famines and disasters. These are signs of the age--not signs of the end!
Jesus continued, after describing the desecration of the temple and warning His followers in Jerusalem and Judea to flee for their lives,
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no-one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!' or, `There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, `There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, `Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. Immediately after the distress of those days `the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:21-30)
The world around us is violent and uncertain now, as it has been for 2000 years. The evening news seems to get worse and worse. The purpose of Jesus' words to His disciples in the Olivet Discourse was not to alert them that the end was near, but to stabilize them--the entire 2000 years between His two advents would be filled with wars, rumors of war, natural disasters, with great deceivers on both the religious and the secular scene. We are to watch--and to be ready at all times!
 The Norwegian Academy of Sciences has determined that since 3600 B.C. there have been 14,531 wars and only 292 years of peace. This is approximately 2.6 wars per year, and one year of "peace" out of every two decades, or a little over 36 hours of peace per month, or about one minute of peace every four hours.

 Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your hearts be troubled,
neither let them be afraid..."

"I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you have tribulation;
but be of good cheer,
I have overcome the world." 
(John 14:27, 16:33)