David Reagan - The First Half of the Tribulation
Is it possible to understand the book of Revelation, or is it a Chinese puzzle that no one can decipher? Stay tuned!
David Reagan: Greetings in the name of Jesus, our Blessed Hope, and welcome to Christ in Prophecy. My colleagues, Tim Moore, and Nathan Jones are in the studio with me today to answer questions about the book of Revelation. And I want to jump right into the questions so that we can cover as many as possible. So, fellas, let’s hit the ground rolling. Most of these questions have been sent in by our viewers. In some places I have their names, and some places I don’t, but they’ve come from viewers. And the first one is this: What would you say is the fundamental key to understanding the book of Revelation?
Tim Moore: Wow, that is a simple question, but really is more than one key, I will actually use three and I’ll go to four. I think the first key to use the plain sense as you are reading Revelation, not looking for any kind of nonsense or speculative, but the plain sense. I also think we need to understand that John lays out a template for Revelation in verse 1, excuse me, verse 19 of chapter 1, where he says, “Therefore write these things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.” So, understanding the template. The third thing I will say, and I know I am cheating, Dave, by using three keys is, to have a good scriptural foundation of Old Testament and New Testament understanding so that what John speaks of has meaning if you understand scripture. And really I am going to cheat and actually have a fourth, which you have to believe. In other words, Revelation is not hard to understand if you believe; it is hard to believe if you don’t have belief.
David Reagan: Okay, thank you. Well, let’s go to the second question: Did John write the book of Revelation nearer to 60 AD or was it like 95 AD? And what difference does it matter?
Nathan Jones: Well, it clearly was 95 AD because the early church fathers such as Eusebius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, they wrote about John being a whopping 97 years old in 95 AD, he died two years later being released from Patmos, he was back in Ephesus, and he was 99. So, it is without a doubt that the book of Revelation was written in 95 AD. Now, there is a group called the Preterist who believe that all Bible, found especially in Revelation, occurred in 70 AD when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. Now, that can’t be if John wrote the book 25 years later.
David Reagan: So, they argue that it was written before 70 AD?
Nathan Jones: Right.
Tim Moore: Yeah, but that argument didn’t arise until about the year 1600. So, when that argument came about they had to move back the writing of the book of Revelation to make their argument substantive, and obviously we know better.
Nathan Jones: Absolutely.
David Reagan: In the fact the type of persecution that is mentioned in there did not occur until Diocletian. So, it is obviously 95 AD.
Nathan Jones: Well, attested.
David Reagan: Okay, number three, this comes from Ray S. in Utah: If Christians are raptured before the Tribulation begins then why bother to study the book of Revelation?
Tim Moore: Well, I think why bother studying the Old Testament? We didn’t live in those days. But the Old Testament provides a foundation. It provides the prophetic fulfillment that Jesus manifest when He came to earth the first time with His First Coming, and His ministry. And it gives us an understanding of the sweep of human history from Creation all the way to the culmination at the end of the age. And so, God has provided this for us to better understand Him; it is revelation of Himself.
Nathan Jones: And I’d also add that you get a bonified blessing for, chapter 1, verse 3, “Blessed is he who reads, and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is near.” You are promised a blessing, if you study, read, and take to heart the book of Revelation.
David Reagan: Plus, the book of Revelation gives great hope, it assures us that we are going to win in the end.
Nathan Jones: Amen.
Tim Moore: And Jesus is glorified here on the earth in the end.
David Reagan: Absolutely.
Tim Moore: Yes.
David Reagan: Okay, the fourth question, this is from Jim G: What is the day of the Lord that John refers to in Revelation 1:10? Is he talking about Sunday?
Nathan Jones: Well, there are two references. What John is saying is that he was on the Island of Patmos on the Lord’s Day. So, the Lord’s Day is a reference to the early church being Sunday, so, yes, so John is saying, “On Sunday, Jesus Christ came to me, and then brought me up to Heaven to see the Day of the Lord.” So, you’ve got kind of a word play there. You’ve got the Lord’s day is Sunday, but then he was taken to see the Day of the Lord, which is another name for the seven-year Tribulation; the time of Jacob’s Trouble, or the Day of God’s Wrath, that is what he is referring to with the Day of the Lord.
Tim Moore: I agree.
David Reagan: Okay. Fifth question: Revelation 1:1 says, the things described in the book, quote “must shortly take place” does this mean that the prophecies contained in the book were fulfilled in the First Century? That is a very good question.
Tim Moore: Well, I agree that it is a very good question. And I think it is important sometimes for us, even when we have a favorite translation to use other valid translations in our English language of Scripture. So, for instance, in the King James Version it says, “Must shortly come to pass.” And that creates a little bit different emphasis. It is not just that they are going to happen in a soon period of time, but they are going to happen quickly. If you go back to the original text those words that we translate shortly, or shortly come to pass, in Greek says, “must soon come to pass.” But it also means soon, quickly, shorty, and speedily. I think what John is saying is he wanted to emphasize the imminence of this period of the earth coming about, in other words the imminence of Jesus return for His Church. And then when it begins it will happen very quickly. Now, you say well, that’s been 2,000 years, that is not exactly speedily. But had John said, “Well, eventually these things would come to pass.” It would have had a completely different emphasis. So, I think the word that he used in Greek indicates that it will imminently happen and then when it does it will happen very quickly.
David Reagan: Well, not only that, not only what the word he uses, but just history itself proves that what he was talking about was imminence; that these were things that could happen any moment.
Tim Moore: Exactly.
David Reagan: And they haven’t happened, so we know he is speaking about imminence. Preterists take the position that because of this all of these prophecies had to be fulfilled before 70 AD. Where? How were they fulfilled? And the only way they can argue it is to spiritualize all of them to mean something other than what they say.
Tim Moore: Exactly right.
Nathan Jones: The Greek word is “en tachei” it means when it happens it will happen fast, and that is what John is referring to.
Tim Moore: Exactly right.
David Reagan: Okay, let’s go to the next one. This is from Johnny R. of Arkansas; we got the state here. And he says: Do the seven churches of Revelation represent time periods in Church History?
Nathan Jones: Absolutely. Let’s bear in mind though that Jesus wanted John to record a letter that would go to seven actually churches in Asia Minor: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
David Reagan: Every one of which was a different kind of church.
Tim Moore: Yes.
Nathan Jones: It was Asia Minor which is western Turkey, and it went in a circle all the way around and then back to Ephesus again. Now, each of these churches, though, now that we have hindsight we can look back and see they were different time periods. For instance, the legalistic church Ephesus occurred between 30 and 95. We see the persecuted church, Smyrna, between 95 and 312. We can see that the different personality traits that God gave it where He credited them for doing something good and admonished them for something bad.
David Reagan: Now, all of them existed during all that period of time, but the predominate one was.
Nathan Jones: Represents a time period, which would put us in the last one, Laodicea the apathetic church.
David Reagan: And boy are we ever there.
Nathan Jones: 1925 until today. You can find in every church really kind of one of these churches represented, and you can find in every believer is one of these churches represent too.
David Reagan: And every church that we have today.
Nathan Jones: Right. So, I think this was the template that you brought up early about the outline given in the Bible of what John saw, what is going on, and then what is the future, chapter 2 and 3 deal with Church history, all 2,000 years.
Tim Moore: I agree. And I think it is important to realize, as you said, we are in these last days, Laodicea thought it self rich, but the Lord said you are blind, wretched, and poor and naked. And surely that describes our culture even today.
David Reagan: One of the worst churches pictured in the Bible, and yet, on the internet one day I typed in Laodicea church and there are some churches that are named Laodicea. I don’t think they ever read the book of Revelation.
Tim Moore: Maybe not, know thy self, who knows.
David Reagan: Okay. Many promises are made to overcomers in chapters 2 and 3 in Revelation, in fact a whole bunch of them, about 14 promises are made. Who are overcomers?
Tim Moore: Well, I love the promises themselves because all of us can claim those promises for ourselves. Whether it is to sit on the throne of Jesus. Whether it is to reign with Him. To eat of the Tree of Life. To eat of hidden manna. Or this is what I love Nathan, to get a new name.
Nathan Jones: Absolutely.
Tim Moore: My parents gave me this name, but the Lord is going to give me a new name. John tells us in 1 John, I’ll actually go back there, chapter 5:4-5, he says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
David Reagan: Amen. Amen.
Tim Moore: So, if you put your faith in Jesus.
David Reagan: You are an overcomer.
Tim Moore: I am an overcomer. As are you, and you and anyone else watching today who has put their faith in Jesus Christ.
David Reagan: Okay, great, number 8: Where is the Rapture in the book of Revelation?
Nathan Jones: Well, people look for the Rapture in the book of Revelation. I find it particularly in chapter 3 verse 10, where the Church is promised to not have to endure those days. It ties with 1 Thessalonians 1:10, and 5:9, and other verses where the Church, the Bride of Christ, is promised not to have to endure it. So, there is a reference to the Rapture there. But if you are looking for a symbolic example of the Rapture, when John was caught up, and that is what Rapture means, caught up, and taken to Heaven to see the Tribulation, and the Millennial Kingdom, and the Eternal State that would follow. That is a form of the rapture of the Church.
Tim Moore: And that happens in chapter 4, verse 1, and it says, “Come up here.” And immediately he is taken up and sees all the things that transpire during the Tribulation.
David Reagan: Okay, here is a wonderful question from Leah N., it says: Do chapter 6-19 represent the wrath of God being poured out on the earth, or is the wrath of God limited only to certain judgments during the seven years of the Tribulation?
Tim Moore: No, all of that is the wrath of God in this sense, we are told that in chapter 6, verse 1, it is Jesus Himself who breaks the seals.
David Reagan: That’s the Seal Judgment. Yeah.
Tim Moore: He breaks every seal. In chapter 6, verse 16 the people on the earth recognize that this is the wrath of the Lamb. So, they understand that. We are told that the angels are commanded by God to blow trumpets. And so, the trumpet judgments, that is the wrath of God. All of this is God pouring out His wrath to restore people, or bring them to repentance, and obviously to punish those who are in rebellion.
David Reagan: And that is a very important point because when people argue that only certain things are the wrath of God like the Bowl Judgments at the end, then they can argue that the Rapture is going to occur in the middle of the Tribulation because we are only protected by the wrath of God, and the first part is the wrath of Satan, or the wrath of man, or something like that.
Nathan Jones: But there is some very clear wording that tells us that like Revelation 6:17 calls it the Great Day of His Wrath, Greek “hamera”. In other words, the wrath began with the Seal Judgments. You get to the Bowl Judgments and it says this is the end of His wrath. Here it is ending.
David Reagan: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.
Nathan Jones: So, clearly everything that came before is wrath as well.
David Reagan: Okay very quickly from Jean S.: Throughout chapters 6-19 there are references to Saints, is this speaking of the Church? And if so, doesn’t this refute the idea of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture? Good question.
Nathan Jones: Well, there’s always been Saints. You’ve got Old Testament Saints. You’ve got Church Age Saints. These are the Tribulation Saints. These are the people that after the Church has been raptured will get saved after that.
David Reagan: Okay. Are the series of judgments in Revelation 6-19 presented in chronological order? We only have a few second fellas.
Tim Moore: I think there is no reason to believe otherwise. In other words, if you step through even the seal judgments for instance we have the false Christ manifesting himself, which leads to war, which leads to famine, death, and then martyrdom. That is a very chronological flow. And I think there is no reason not to think that the entire book of Revelation and the judgments are chronological in order.
David Reagan: Folks, I’ve never heard these two guys talk so fast in all my life. We got a lot of questions covered; we are going to cover more. We are going to take a brief break for a special announcement, and then we will be right back with more questions, and more answers concerning the book of Revelation. So, hang on.
David Reagan: Welcome back to Christ in Prophecy and our responses to questions about the Book of Revelation. And let me emphasize something, we could talk an hour about everyone of these questions. But what we are trying to do is to cover as many as possible and just give you the fundamental facts, or truth about each question. So, fellas let’s get back to it. The first question that I want to ask is one about whether or not the book of Revelation is in chronological order.
Nathan Jones: Well, to follow up what Tim said, absolutely. The Bible from beginning to end is chronological order. The Seals, the Trumpets, and the Bowls aren’t iterations of the Seal Judgments, they are separate judgments. But there are times where it looks so terrible, and everyone is panicking and you don’t know if you want to keep reading Revelation, that Jesus stops it, He gives you a flashforward in Revelation 10, and other chapters where He stops. There is a parenthesis there. They flashforward to the end to see Jesus’ victory, to give the reader hope that everything is going to turn out okay.
David Reagan: Yeah, I think that’s the problem that people have, we are used to flashbacks in movies, flashbacks in novels, but not flashforwards.
Tim Moore: No.
David Reagan: But God knows the future, and so He gives us flashforwards, and you have to watch for those in the book.
Tim Moore: I think it is beautiful even in the first chapter in verse 4, and in verse 8 John captures the fact that he is talking to and recording, he’s being dictated these letters for instance from Him who is, who was, and who is to come. And so, Jesus right there captures in His own title the fact that He is, He was, and He is to come. Past, present, and future.
David Reagan: There you go.
Tim Moore: So, Revelation has the whole overplay of human history, and God can see it all for a God’s eye view if you will.
David Reagan: Next question: The seventh chapter of Revelation mentions 144,000 persons who are going to be sealed by the Holy Spirit and serve as special servants of God during the Tribulation. Most commentaries say this is a symbolic reference to the Church, others say it is the Jehovah’s Witnesses, what about it?
Tim Moore: I cannot imagine in all honesty how someone could read chapter 7 and see reiterated over and over again that these are 144,000 sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. And just incase you didn’t understand that point then the Lord goes on to say, “From the tribe of Judah. From the tribe of Asher. From the tribe of Manasseh.”
David Reagan: Yet, most commentaries say they are the Church.
Tim Moore: Yeah, well, you know what that is a commentary that has spiritualized the clear text of scripture.
David Reagan: And it is also a reflection of Replacement Theology.
Tim Moore: Oh, it most certainly is.
David Reagan: We don’t have any purpose for the Jews.
Tim Moore: And quite frankly it is a reflection of a degree of Anti-Semitism that has resented the Jews, and resented God’s blessing on them. And denies Romans 9-11. Denies many other promises that are still to be fulfilled. Not because of Jewish faithfulness, but because of God’s faithfulness. And really a person who would comment that this is just to be appropriated by the Church, is dismissing the very promises of God, and emptying God’s faithfulness.
David Reagan: Okay, let’s go to the next one. You wrote an article about this recently, so I am going to address this to you, Nathan.
Nathan Jones: Okay.
David Reagan: The war of the Antichrist that begins in chapter 6 with his attempt to conquer the world seems to morph into a nuclear war beginning with the Trumpet Judgments in chapter 8 where it speaks of one-third of earth being burned. Could this be the case?
Nathan Jones: Absolutely. Clearly the nuclear arsenal, we have enough nuclear weapons to incinerate the world over 40 times. And it is being held back by the hand of God, the restraining influence you’ve read in the Bible. But as you read through the Bible, take for instance here in Revelation 6:14, “Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain island was moved out of its place, and the kings of the earth, and the rich men they all hide themselves in caves and cry out for the wrath of the Lamb to stop.” That is an exact description of what a nuclear explosion looks like as the sky rolls away. So, as the Antichrist conquers the world and sets up his kingdom. And a quarter of the world population dies, we know that the nuclear arsenal at some point will be let loose on the earth.
David Reagan: Yes, and in Luke 21 verse 26 Jesus said, that in that time men will faint from fear over the expectation of things coming upon the world for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. That sounds like a nuclear war to me.
Tim Moore: It does.
Nathan Jones: Absolutely.
David Reagan: Okay, next question: The fifth Trumpet Judgment is presented as a plague of locusts that is allowed to torment mankind for five months with horrible stings. What are these locusts? Are they some sort of special locust, or are they a first century picture of modern day drones? Or could they be demons? This is from Martha C. Good question.
Tim Moore: That is a good question. I will actually use an analogy of what we are experiencing right now, the reason our hair is a little long, as Nathan and I were commenting. Our world has seen a novel coronavirus, something we’ve never seen before come upon us as a pandemic. And so, even here in the modern era we have new, and I won’t even call them improved, but new and deadly forms of viruses. This will be something new, and I won’t even call it deadly because the Lord says that these locust will not be able to kill anyone, they will just sting and torment. And it also says that they are restrained in terms of their power, so they can only inflict those who do not already have the seal of God upon them. And so those who have rejected Jesus Christ will be tormented, they will wish that they could die, but they will not be able to. So, whether this is a natural pestilence, or whether this is a spiritualized demon, I don’t think scripture is exactly clear on. And so, I am not going to speculate, but it will be a novel form of tormenting that the world has never seen.
David Reagan: The sixth trumpet introduces an army of 200 million that kills one-third of mankind. Is this a real army, or is a supernatural army of demons? Good question.
Nathan Jones: Well, I would piggyback on what you said about the demons. At least in my interpretation I land on that what is released out of the bottomless pit is we have demons that are disembodied and torment mankind. But there are special demons kept in this place called the Bottomless Pit, in Hades that separates Paradise.
Tim Moore: Yeah, I lean that direction as well.
Nathan Jones: Yeah, I thought you did.
Tim Moore: Yes.
Nathan Jones: And they are let loose. So, we are talking about a 200 million man army. We are talking about four generals who ride these chimera like creatures, and these locust demons, all released out of the Bottomless Pit to torment people during the Trumpet Judgments. And so, to me it is an interpretation that this isn’t a 200 million man human army, now this army from the east which we read about later in at the end of the Tribulation that’s human, but this appears to be demonic in nature.
David Reagan: Okay. Next question: In Revelation 10 there is a reference to seven peals of thunder. What are these?
Tim Moore: You know this is one of the mysteries that we do not know for sure in this regard. John was about to record what the thunders actually said, and he was told, “No, don’t write that down.” So, we don’t even know what it was that they said. I think it is important to recognize though that these seven peals of thunder come in response to the lion roar of the Strong Angel, Nathan, one of your famous Strong Angels that comes down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud, with rainbow upon his head, his face like the sun, his feet like pillars of fire. And when he roars like a lion, then these seven thunders peal in response. We don’t know for sure; it could be very much the earth itself crying out a response of rejoicing and celebrating that finally it is about to be restored as was promised. There will be no more delay we are told in verse 6 once this occurs. So, as soon as the thunder peal, whatever the words were in response to this roar, we are told that there will no longer be a delay for the restoration of the earth, as it says, the angels says, “And swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created the heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer.” In other words, it is finally time for the earth to be restored. So, what the thunder said, we do not know, but it is a rejoicing celebration that the time is now come.
David Reagan: Okay, anything to add to that, or we go to the next question.
Nathan Jones: Well, I was really disappointed when I read that because you get to this climatic scene and these thunders say something, and then the angel says, “John, don’t write that. Don’t let people know.” And you are like, aw, man. So, yes, it is very disappointing.
David Reagan: Okay. Revelation 11 says there will be two witnesses in Jerusalem who will be preaching during the first half of the Tribulation calling the world to repentance. Who will these two men be? Boy, I get that question all the time.
Nathan Jones: Yes, well there are a few theories, mostly people land on Elijah because Elijah was promised to proceed Jesus’ return, although John the Baptist did that, so could it be Elijah? Some say Moses because Moses didn’t die. But he did die we read in Jude, so I don’t think it’s Moses. Others look to Enoch who was raptured before the Flood. So, you got Elijah and Enoch who didn’t die, they would be logical candidates. There is also third, not as popular, but they are just two men, two Jewish men who got saved after the Rapture and they fulfill the role of prophet.
David Reagan: Yeah, the early church fathers were almost unanimous in saying that they thought it was going to be Elijah and Enoch. In modern day times more people are talking about Elijah and Moses because of the type of miracles that were performed, and because those were the two who appeared at the Transfiguration with Jesus. But we don’t know for sure.
Nathan Jones: No.
David Reagan: We just don’t know for sure. You want to add anything to that?
Tim Moore: No, sir, I agree that we don’t know for sure.
David Reagan: Okay. Chapter 13 of Revelation contains a lot of symbolic imagery. What do the women and the child represent?
Tim Moore: Well, I think that is a good example back in chapter 12 where the woman and the child are presented, that scripture defines itself. And so, it talks about this woman and the child and yet as you read the description of the woman she is a woman who has the sun and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars, and she gives birth to a male child, and of course the dragon stands above trying to devour the child. But the child she gives birth to is a son, a male child who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. And the child was caught up to God and to His throne. Well, clearly that child is none other than Jesus Christ.
David Reagan: Jesus Christ. And yet, recently we had prophecy experts saying it was the Church.
Tim Moore: Oh, yes.
David Reagan: That this was evidence of a Rapture that was about to occur.
Nathan Jones: Well, they were looking it as astronomical signs, they call it the great sign of Revelation 12, the Jupiter, moon and...
David Reagan: That is the kind of speculation that drives me nuts.
Tim Moore: It drives me crazy as well.
Nathan Jones: The Bible interpreted it right there.
Tim Moore: Right there it did.
Nathan Jones: So, clearly the woman is Israel, and the child is Jesus.
Tim Moore: The woman is Israel, and the Lord speaks to Israel as a woman, and calls her at times and in the past as a harlot.
David Reagan: And in fact, that is not the first time that imagery is used of Israel, it is used by Joseph in one of his dreams.
Tim Moore: Exactly right.
Nathan Jones: Absolutely.
Tim Moore: So, Israel being called a woman, the Lord Himself referred to her as a harlot, when He said, “You have been unfaithful to me.” He had prophets that spoke to that evidence in the past. And so, I think the woman is Israel, I don’t just think, scripture says, and the child is Jesus Christ.
David Reagan: Okay. We are about out of time, one last question: Revelation 13:14 says that in the middle of the Tribulation, a remnant of the Jews will be saved from the Antichrist, quote “on the two wings of a great eagle.” Is this eagle a symbol of the United States? And if so, does that mean that our nation is going to provide the end time airlift that will save the Jews? Sent by Kathlyn C. of Washington State, and a question I get all the time.
Nathan Jones: Well, in context Israel is fleeing out of Jerusalem because the Antichrist desecrates the Temple, and they are taken under two wings of a great eagle and protected in the wilderness. People say, “Oh, well, America’s symbol is the eagle. Therefore, America flies in and we rescue the Jews, and we bring them out.” But again, symbolic Bible prophecy, interprets itself, you just have to go back to Exodus 19:4, Deuteronomy 32:11, Ruth 2:12, it is talking about the Holy Spirit’s protective wings over its chicks.
Tim Moore: Amen. And there are eight nations in the world today whose nation symbol is an eagle.
Nathan Jones: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Tim Moore: Mexico, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Egypt.
Nathan Jones: Zimbabwe is going to sweep in.
Tim Moore: Yeah, Zimbabwe could sweep in. And we know from Zechariah chapter 12:3 that all of the nations of the earth will come against Jerusalem, against the Lord, as He returns. And so, that will include the United States if we are still here. We are not that eagle nation.
David Reagan: Well, folks, those were the questions that we had for this program. I hope you will be back with us next week because then we are going to look at some more questions concerning the book of Revelation concerning the second half, these have all been concerning first half. And then we are going to have a third program that is going to focus on the last aspect of Revelation, that talks about the Eternal State. So, stay with us over these weeks. God bless you!
David Reagan: Well, folks that is our program for this week. I hope it’s been a blessing to you, and I hope the Lord willing that you will be back with us next week when we will continue to respond to questions about the book of Revelation. This week we have managed to get to only the middle of the Tribulation, so we have a lot of territory yet to cover. Next week, Lord willing we will take a look at questions concerning the second half of the Tribulation. And the week after that we will take a look at what the book of Revelation has to say about the Millennium and the Eternal State.
Tim Moore: Until next week, this is Tim Moore speaking for Lamb & Lion Ministries saying, “Look up, be watchful, for our redemption is drawing near.”