The rapture is an event that takes place at the end of this age when living Christians are taken out of the world by Jesus. They do not die, but are “caught up” into the air and taken directly to heaven. After the rapture a horrible seven year time period will begin. This time is called the Tribulation. During the tribulation the Antichrist will come to power, every person on the planet will be forced to worship the Antichrist and terrible catastrophes will unfold on the earth resulting in the death of billions of people and widespread destruction of the earth’s surface. At the beginning of the rapture there will not be a single genuine Christian on the planet (though there will be many who claimed to be Christian.)
The time of the Tribulation will be a time of intense religious oppression. The antichrist will seek to crush every religion but the worship of himself. The Holy Spirit will be less active in the world and Satan is given freedom to be more active. The antichrist and his chief of staff, the false prophet, will be great deceivers (Matthew 24:24; Revelation 13:14). Satan is a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44) During the tribulation he will be even more aggressive in attempting to keep men from the truth of salvation. On top this, the Bible teaches in 2 Thessalonians that God will send a strong delusion on those who live during the Tribulation. With all that the Bible says about the difficulty of coming to saving faith during the Tribulation, it would seem that none can be saved after the rapture.
But the book of Revelation specifically describes certain ones who will be saved. Revelation 7 and 14 speak of 144,000 Jewish men who will be specially marked out as servants of God during the Tribulation. These men will stand firm for the Lord in a world that is going mad with hatred for God. On top of this, the book of Romans says that all Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:26) The prophet Zechariah says that during the Tribulation many Israelites will be put to death, but God will be at work in the survivors to bring them to faith in Him. (Zechariah 13:9)
Despite great difficulties against faith and great persecution against Christians many in the Tribulation will trust Jesus as Savior. The terrible time of the Tribulation reminds us today of God’s wrath against sin. The Almighty God will bring to judgment all who persist in rebelling against Him. God will graciously forgive those who cry out to Him for mercy and salvation. Those who trust Him will not have judgement, but eternal life and eternal joy.
Pastor’s Roundtable: September 27, 2020
Pastor Dave Chambers
Pastor Joe Herr
Pastor Tom Schierkolk
Pastor Dave Ryerson
God is all-knowing. He knows all the works of His hands (Acts 15:18). He named every star in heaven and knows everyone of their trillion trillion of names. (Isaiah 40:26). He knows the number of hairs on every human head at any given time. (Matthew 10:30) He knows all the creatures on earth and never forgets one, even the least of birds. (Luke 12:6) God’s knowledge is limitless. He knows all that is and all that has been. Does God know what will be? Specifically, does God know the decisions a man will make?
Not everyone believes in the limitless foreknowledge of God. Some say that if God knows everything that will happen then man does not have a will that is truly free. If God knows all that will happen, then man will always do what has already been known that he will do. Foreknowledge then becomes a form of Divine determinism in which every moment of life is preplanned and predetermined by God and all man can do is what has been decided he will do.
Foreknowledge does not necessarily mean predetermination. A fan of mystery novels may read a book and know exactly how the book is going to end. Such foreknowledge does not mean the reader determined the ending. A reader’s knowledge of the author and the literature allows him to understand the story and correctly foretell the ending. This knowledge does not imply the reader is also the author. Foreknowledge can exist without infringing upon the ability of individuals to freely choose.
The Bible says God knows everything that is, was, could be and will be. In Matthew 11:21 Jesus told the towns of Bethsaida and Chorazin that if Tyre and Sidon had seen His miracles they would have repented. He then declared to Capernaum that if Sodom had seen the mighty works He did then it would have turned from sin. Jesus’ words reveal a knowledge of what could have been. His words were not mere rhetoric. Jesus is God the Son. He spake the truth of what could have been because He knows all things, including what might be.
God knows everything about a person before that person knows anything about themselves. Psalm 139 describes the infinite, intimate knowledge of God. Psalm 139:2 says, “Thou understandest my thought afar off.” God knows every thought of man while it is still far from fully formed in the person’s mind. While man is still thinking, God knows all that he is going to think. Psalm 139:16 says that when the person is still in the womb, before he has even begun to form, God knows him. He knows all his days before his days have even begun. God knows what a person is going to do and what that person will be long before he makes any decisions. God knows all the possibilities and He knows the choices men will make. The God of the Bible is all-knowing. His knowledge is unlimited and entire, encompassing past, present, future, what will be, what could be and what might be.
A reader recently asked the question, “Why is wine mentioned in the Bible when wine drinking is forbidden?” Below is a portion of the answer given.
The fact that the Bible talks about people drinking wine does not necessarily mean it approves of such behavior. Many actions are described in the Bible which are not necessarily approved by God. For example, the Bible never records a rebuke or condemnation of David for having multiple wives, but we know from other passages that his polygamy was a sin. (Deuteronomy 17:15-17) The fact that the Bible describes people drinking alcohol does not necessarily mean it approves of such behavior or encourages Christians to practice it.
The Old Testament Hebrew word and the New Testament Greek word that are usually translated “wine” are generic terms. Both Greek and Hebrew words refer to drink made from grapes. This drink could be fermented grape juice or it could be unfermented grape juice. The only way to know whether it is describing wine or Welch’s is from the context. At times the context is unclear and sometimes we only think it is clear because of our preexisting ideas. For example, in the account of Jesus turning water into wine, most people naturally assume Jesus made a big jug of Merlot because alcoholic wine is often served at weddings today. Who would serve their guests grape juice? Yet, other cultures drank fresh squeezed grape juice. One example from the Bible is found in Genesis 40 when Joseph was imprisoned in Egypt. He met Pharaoh’s cupbearer who told him of a dream in which he squeezed fresh grapes into Pharaoh’s cup and gave it to him to drink. Some of the details of the dream were a bit fantastical, but Joseph and the cupbearer seem to have thought grape juice a normal beverage for a king to drink.
When the Old Testament talks about alcoholic drinks it often uses one of two different terms: “wine” and “strong drink.” “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:31) The modern reader thinks wine is something like Chardonnay and strong drink is something like Vodka. This is impossible. Fermentation can only produce a drink with an alcohol content up to 15%. The only way to get higher concentrations of alcohol is through distillation. Distillation was not discovered until sometime after A.D. 600. The last book of the Bible was written over 500 years before anyone made distilled liquors. The Bible never speaks of any alcoholic drink stronger than the strongest naturally occurring alcohols. Therefore, strong drink is not 150 proof Whiskey. Strong drink is full strength wine with an alcohol content of, at most, 12-15%.
History and archeology also show that in ancient times alcoholic wines were commonly diluted before drinking. The usual ratio of dilution was one part wine to 3-5 parts water. This means that in Biblical times the average alcohol content of wine (not strong drink) was the same or less than that found in the average beer today. The wine drunk in Biblical times was not the same as the wine commonly drunk in America today.
I believe the Biblical warnings about alcohol are strong enough that no one should drink distilled liquors or modern day wine. When the Bible discusses the merits of drinking alcohol it almost always presents drinking as a course of action filled with many dangers. Without a definitive Biblical prohibition I cannot say the Bible forbids all consumption of alcohol, but I would warn those who drink low alcohol beverages, such as beer or wine coolers, to do so with great caution. In my opinion, the wisest position for the Christian today is to avoid drinking alcohol.
As Solomon said in Proverbs 23, “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”
Pastor’s Roundtable: August 23, 2020
Pastor Dave Chambers
Pastor Joe Herr
Pastor Tom Schierkolk