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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Tribulation, Torment and the Two Witnesses

John Bradshaw - Tribulation, Torment and the Two Witnesses


John Bradshaw - Tribulation, Torment and the Two Witnesses
TOPICS: Line Upon Line, Bible Study, Tribulation, Torment, End times

John Bradshaw: Welcome to "Line Upon Line," brought to you by "It Is Written". I'm John Bradshaw, with me is Eric Flickinger. This is where we get to answer your Bible questions. How does that happen? Well, you send them to us, [email protected] That's the email address, [email protected] If they're nice and easy, I'll do my best to answer them. If they're difficult, I send them right there to Eric. So thanks very much for that, Eric.

Eric Flickinger: I get a lot of questions, a lot of questions that way.

John Bradshaw: That's for real. Good to see you. Thanks for being here.

Eric Flickinger: Good to be here.

John Bradshaw: I'll pitch this first question to you. It comes from Claudette. The wording is fascinating, but it is what it is. "Does God condone hell"?

Does God condone hell? I don't know if that's a verb that I would typically associate with a sentence like this, but I think I get the idea Claudette, that you're trying to get across, Let's step back for just a moment, and define hell for a second, because the idea that many Christians, and many non-Christians, have of hell is not necessarily what the Bible defines as hell.

And the whole concept of hell, it's pretty severe really. However it shakes out for you, this is it. There's no more tolerance for whatever it was. It's serious business. Now, let me ask you about this. It's commonly taught that hell is an eternally-burning place where unrepentant sinners go, and they spend forever in hell. I'd like you just to think about that concept. For many people, it's what they're raised with, and they never question it. Well, hold on a minute. Actually, I think that most people question it. And the reason most people persist in their belief that there is a forever-burning hell, is because they're rolling with the crowd. Everybody believes this. It's what my church teaches. Why would I want to rock the boat? Well there are several good reasons why you wanna rock the boat. One of them is chiefly to do with the character of God. Who really believes that God would burn somebody forever and ever? Do you know how long that is? Do you know how it hurts to be burned? Think this thing through, that God would be the worst torturer in the history of history. Cannot be.

He would be keeping people alive for eternity, for the sole purpose of torturing them. That would be why He would be doing it. Keeping people alive for eternity, for the sole purpose of torturing them. Doesn't sound like God is love.

I may be wrong about this. If I'm wrong, I'm probably not wrong by much. I think there's probably, I think no other teaching has turned more people away from faith in God than this idea that God is a tyrant and a torturer who tortures people forever. Now this does not mean there's no hell. We're about to say that there is. And to quote Claudette, or co-opt her words, God condones it if you like. But no, there is nothing in the Bible. Except, okay, shouldn't say there's nothing in the Bible. "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth forever and ever". All right, all right, we see that. We've read that. But you'll go to look at those verses and discover, it doesn't mean that God keeps people alive forever just to fry 'em forever. The effects are eternal, the effects are forever, not the burning itself, that's just not the case. So let's get on to the truth of the matter.

All right now, I wanna dig into a verse or two here, but if somebody wants to dig more deeply into this subject, kind of look at it in its entirety, where are some places that they could go to do that?

Excellent question. One, you go to itiswritten.tv. You go to Hope Awakens or Revelation Today. You can watch a one-hour presentation, a 40, 45, 50 minutes on this very subject. You'll find it in Hope Awakens and Revelation Today, on itiswritten.tv, that's our full-time channel. Or you go to itiswritten.study, and you'll find our study there on the subject of hell and "Hellfire: Would God Really Do This"? It's well worth going there, digging in, getting the Bible verses, and seeing what the Word of God has to say.

All right, so let's take a look at Revelation chapter 20 for just a moment, Revelation 20:9. Revelation 20:9 says speaking of the wicked, "They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints in the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them". So a couple of things here. We see that the wicked are on the earth. We see that the fire comes down from God out of heaven.

Yep.

And it devours them. Now there are three things right there that don't seem to go along with the commonly-held belief about hellfire. Number one, it takes place on the earth. It's not down in some hole in the middle of the earth somewhere. Number two, it says it comes from God up in heaven. And number three, it says it devours them. Now what does devour mean? If I were to ask you to define devour,

Yeah.

what is devour?

Well, I mean, look, you sit down and you devour a meal. It's gone, it's consumed. And this fire consumes. Hebrews 12:29, "our God is a consuming fire," which incidentally is a quote from the Old Testament. Malachi chapter 4, "'The day is coming that burning like an oven,'" bottom line it says, "'they will be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I do this,' saith the Lord". The wicked are reduced to ashes. Yes, there's a fire, yes, it's hot, yes, it's awful, but hell doesn't burn forever. It burns for as long as it needs to burn, until the lost are reduced to ashes. It's still severe. I mean, it's still heavy duty. But it's not God being a torturer. It's God getting rid of sin, cleaning up the earth, getting rid of every last vestige of sin, so the earth can be recreated perfectly and beautifully.

He says, "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel"? He doesn't want people to be destroyed in hell.

Ezekiel 18, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die". That's verse 4, and I think verse 20. Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is," you tell me, "death". It doesn't say the wages of sin is to burn forever. It's death. Hellfire in Revelation 20 is referred to as the second to death.

You know, my favorite verse, and many people's favorite verse in the Bible, John 3:16, do you know it? Can you recite it with me? "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not-"

Perish.

you know the word, "perish, but have eternal life". So there are two options. Perishing, which is kinda like being consumed, and eternal life, those are the options.

Beautiful verse, 1 John 5:12, "He, or she, that hath the Son hath life. He that hath not the Son of God, hath not life". So the choice is between life and not life, otherwise known as death. When you choose Jesus, He gives you the gift of everlasting life. When you choose against Jesus, you have chosen for yourself the wages of sin, which is death. Very, very clear. When it's serious enough, but let's not turn God into a monster. Let's not drive people away from God. If you are learning this for the first time, this is liberating. Also might be confusing if you've heard all your life. But wait a minute. Doesn't God burn people for every, I'm glad to be able to tell you, no, He doesn't. And let's be honest, you're glad to hear it. Well, somebody once said to me, "If hell doesn't burn forever and ever, why should I get saved"?

You're looking at this from the wrong perspective.

Amen.

God is love. And why does He burn people in hell? Well, they wouldn't be happy in heaven.

It's true.

If they choose to hang onto their sins, being in heaven throughout eternity with nothing that they enjoyed would kind of be like hell.

It surely would. Eric, Melanie states, "I had an affair and am having trouble breaking it totally off". Sounds Melanie, and by the way, this is not Melanie's actual name, we changed that. But it does sound Melanie, as though you didn't had an affair. It sounds like you're having an affair. "It interferes with my relationship with God and understanding of the Bible". So I guess she's saying, what do I do?

Yeah, well, one would expect that that would indeed be the case, if you were heading down that direction. Yeah, that's gonna interfere with your relationship with God. So what do you do? Well, the simple answer is, you stop having the affair. That may be easier said than done. Actually it's not, you just, choose.

That's not really.

And that's kinda that.

You just say...

Yeah, there you are.

It's easy.

If God wants me to be His, I wanna be His, and I don't wanna have this other affair going on, because it's going to, as she stated, it's interfering with her relationship with God and her understanding of the Bible.

Easiest thing in the world for us to do right now, would be to say it's sin and it's wrong. And it's terrible, and you've gotta get out of that. And if we did say that, not that we would, but if we did say that, we would be absolutely right. You know something, immorality's become far too easy. It's become far too socially acceptable. It damages homes. It damages lives. In many cases, it damages health. It messes with you emotionally. It gets in the way of your relationship with God. But having said that, there are some fantastic Bible stories. A woman taken in adultery, described as having been taken in the very act. Oh, by the way, don't misunderstand what I'm saying, but go back to the Old Testament, and talk about how God described adultery. I was reading about that very thing this morning in my devotional time. And God's against it. In fact, He said back then that in certain cases, people should be put to death for adultery. We're not advocating that today. Don't even think for a moment that we are. We're just not. But I say that to illustrate how serious God takes this thing. In the Old Testament time, it was just so serious. And He couldn't have that thing spreading throughout Israel, and He wanted to protect His people, so He lowered the boom and He said, He said what He said. But Jesus met the woman taken in adultery, and He said, "Woman, where are your accusers"? And she's like, "Well, there are none". And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more". So He did say, you better break this stuff off. But He said, "I don't condemn you". And I want Melanie to know, that as unwise as her decision has been, Christ does not condemn her. When she reaches out to Jesus, she's troubled, she's burdened, I mean, she's watching "It Is Written". She cares. She loves God. And so God doesn't say to Melanie, "There's no chance for you. You've gone way too far". What does this tell you about God? How about the woman at the well? What about her?

The woman at the well had quite a past. She wasn't on her first or second or third husband. And the guy that she was with wasn't her husband. And yet she realized in the message that Jesus had to share, that there was hope. And if there's hope for the woman caught in adultery, and there's hope for the woman at the well, Melanie, there's a lot of hope for you. And the fact that you are watching "It Is Written," that you want to have a deeper relationship with God, that you want to understand your Bible better, that's phenomenal, and God will bless you for it. But it does take a choice on your part, a choice to turn away from sin and to turn to God.

John Bradshaw: Okay, so Melanie, here's some practical things for you. You are gonna commit yourself to God. You are gonna believe that God is committed to you. You're gonna surrender your life to God every day. You start every day on your knees. You say, "God take my heart. I cannot give it. It is your property. Keep it pure, because I cannot keep it for you". It's the prayer you're gonna pray. You're gonna read the Bible, and listen for the voice of God speaking to your heart. You're gonna go through the day, and when the devil condemns you and accuses you, you're gonna just, you're gonna say, "No, I'm not listening, because there's a Savior who loves me and accepts me". You're gonna memorize Bible verses that you can call on to give you strength in a time of need. You're gonna choose new friends, in some cases. And you're gonna communicate to the other party, this is over, over, over, over. And then you're gonna go on, confident, knowing that God has given you a new heart, a new life, new hope, a new purpose. God bless you as you resolve to serve Him. We'll be back with more of your questions in a moment. This is "Line Upon Line," brought to you by "It Is Written".

John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Line Upon Line," brought to you by "It Is Written". Thank you once again for your questions. And we've got another one here, this one from Morline.

And here it is Eric, listen to this. "In Revelation, chapter 11, who are the two witnesses that lie in the street for three days"? The two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11.

All right, this is a fascinating study, and we'll hit the high points here. But it really is something that you can dig into, sink your teeth into, as it were. Let's take a look at Revelation 11:4. Eh, let's go back to verse 1, get a little context, always good. John says, "Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood saying, 'Rise and measure the temple of God, the alter, and those who worship there. But leave out the court, which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.'" That sounds like a familiar time period.

It does, doesn't it?

We've come across 1,260 days before.

Yeah.

Eric Flickinger: Then in verse 4, "These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth".

Which is interesting, 'cause in Zechariah, the olive trees are equated to being the Holy Spirit.

That's right, let's take a look at Zechariah. Over to Zechariah now. Zechariah chapter 4, here we go. Zechariah chapter 4, see if this sounds a little bit familiar. Zechariah 4:2, "And he said to me, 'What do you see?' So I said, 'I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it. And on the stand, seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one to the right of the bowl and the other at its left.'" Now we're gonna drop down to verse 6 for a second. "So he answered and said to me, 'This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel.'" Now drop down to verse 11. "Then I answered and said to him, 'What are these two olive trees at the right of the lampstand and at its left?' And I was further answered and said to him, 'What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes, from which the golden oil drains?'" So what we have here is a picture in Zechariah, and over in Revelation chapter 11 of the same things. And what is it? He says, it's the Word of the Lord. So as we understand these two witnesses, we're looking at the Old and New Testaments, the Word of God. For 1,260 days, ah, that's a prophetic time period from 538 to 1798, as you look at other historical prophecies of the Bible, a time in which the Word of God was suppressed and essentially, you know, pushed away, pushed down.

Absolutely right. This is the time period that lines up with those 1,260 years, where the papacy was supreme, and the Word of God was literally kept away from people. You could be burned at the stake for possessing even a scrap of the scriptures, or something that was written down outta the Bible at times. So that that 1,260 year period, well, it says days, in prophecy a day represents a year, pops up seven times in the Bible, twice in Daniel, five in Revelation. It refers to that same time period every time, from 538 to 1798. So there's the historical bookends, what took place during that time, the two witnesses prophesied in sackcloth. They weren't able to rear up on their hind feet, and proclaim boldly, because of what the church had done to the Bible.

There's also an interesting passage in verses 9 and 11, that it says that they would be killed and lie dead in the streets for 3 1/2 days.

John Bradshaw: Okay, so what's that?

So when you look again historically at this time period, if you look at the time period from 1793 to 1797, that's the time of the French Revolution. And during the time of the French Revolution, France basically abolished Christian, they abolished God. It said there is no God. Essentially atheism arose, and it didn't work so well over there in France. And it really hasn't worked throughout history. But that's the two witnesses, Old and New Testament. And by the grace of God, they're shedding some light in the world today.

I was talking with a friend recently about this. If you see this in Revelation for the first time, and somebody says that 3 1/2 years equates to the time of the French Revolution, it'd be easy to say, well, that's random. Look at the world today. The number of churched people, down, down, down, down, down. Society's become much more secularized: philosophy, atheism, materialism, relativism. There were really rather recent phenomena. The impact and the effect of what took place during the French Revolution, where people were killed en masse, and the church was ousted, the Goddess of Reason was set up. Man, you can see that philosophy carrying on from that day, right down to today.

That's right.

And growing, becoming stronger, you know, Darwin with his Darwinism. To begin with, this idea was relatively small. And now, the idea of creation is sort of, I don't wanna say it's the minority idea, because I don't know whether for a fact, if it is or not. But atheistic, evolutionary theory's just taken over.

And you see socialism rising today in popularity, Marxism rising in popularity today. So there's a lot of parallels to what led into the French Revolution and what came from it, and what we're seeing in the world today.

Yeah, that idea, there is no God, as you've said, there are whole political systems. Imagine living in the Soviet Union during those years. We both know people who fled, who hid, whose families were persecuted, who had family members who died or were killed. I've a friend, her husband was taken up onto the roof of a building, was thrown off to his death. He was a pastor, and he wouldn't stop being a Christian. Of course the authorities blamed his drinking problem. He never drunk in his life. That was in a former Soviet Socialist Republic. It's very real, and this all goes right back to that French Revolution time and that theology. So if you looked at that, and you thought, well, that's a little obscure, think again, and see how that theory, those ideas, have really strongly permeated society. All right Eric, here's Donna, with a question. "Jesus said we are the salt of the earth, a good thing. Lot's wife looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah, and she turned into a pillar of salt, a bad thing. Why salt? Why does salt represent for Lot's wife"? I'm sure this means why does it represent both God's people and Lot's wife?

And Lot's wife. Well, you can be pretty certain that salt doesn't represent the same thing in both cases. God's not trying to tell you to be like Lot's wife. He doesn't, when in fact Jesus said, "Remember Lot's wife," and not in a good way. So what's salt in the Bible, if you are to be the salt of the earth? Salt is a seasoning, it brings out the flavor. Salt is good, to some extent, if you spread it around. You don't wanna just eat a block of salt, or a spoonful of salt. But when you sprinkle salt lightly on something, it brings forth the flavor of it. We as Christians, are supposed to spread the flavor of Christianity wherever we go. Now, what about Lot's wife? She turned into a pillar of salt. We don't wanna be that kind of salt. One case being salt of the earth. That's kind of an analogy, if you will. But Lot's wife, she turned into a bonafide, genuine, real pillar of salt. So salt's used in both cases, but used to represent different things.

All right, excellent. Next question.

Next question we have, this one comes from Helen. Helen says, "Does the church go through the tribulation of Revelation 18 and 19"?

Oh Helen, I could soften you up, but I'm not going to. No, ah, yes. Oh, I said the wrong thing, didn't I? Yes, the church goes through the Tribulation. Here's the question. What's the Tribulation? There are those who teach that there's gonna be a seven-year period of tribulation, down at the end of time. To get that, they cut the 70th week off, the 70 weeks found in Daniel chapter 9. There's no theological rationale for doing that. And they claim that this seven-year period is down at the end of time. It's gonna be terrible, persecution and so forth. Not too far from the truth, in as much as there'll be persecution at the end of time. But we don't know if it's seven years, seven weeks, seven months, or seven what it might be. So, the Bible says there's coming a "time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation". And Eric, I've searched the Bible. I believe you have as well. I haven't found, nor have I heard from anybody else, that God's people don't go through Tribulation.

Right.

Look at it historically. There were the 10 years of Tribulation, 10 days in Revelation chapter 2, a day for a year, God's people went through that. The time of the Middle Ages, the Reformation time, God's people didn't get out of that. There was terrible, terrible trouble in many, many places. Jesus said, "In this world, you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I've overcome the world". So, does the church go through the Tribulation in the end of time?

Absolutely they do. But the good news is, Jesus goes through it with them.

Amen.

He has always done that. Why? Because He loves His people. He loves His church. He loves you. And He wants you to be ready for Him when He comes back. Walking with Christ is not a cake walk. Yeah, we might wish it was, but there are challenging times. When you stick up for Jesus, there are gonna be people who don't like what you have to say and what your life stands for. But the good news is you don't have to worry about them, you worry about Jesus. And if you worry about Him and put Him first, you'll be in good shape. He will help you get through the difficult times ahead.

It's interesting that Helen wrote about Revelation 18 and 19. And you know, I don't know that you'd describe that as the Tribulation. In Revelation chapter 19, you've got Jesus coming back. That's the return of Jesus, the Second Coming from verses 11-16. And then you've got okay, the great supper of the Lord. And we don't have time to go into what that really, actually represents right now. Then you have the beast and the kings of the earth, and so forth, who are taken and cast into the lake of fire. But that's not the time of trouble either. That's after the millennium, after the holy city comes down to the earth. Man Eric, there's just a lot of confusion about certain things that just shouldn't be confused.

Yeah, well there are popular things that are taught without a whole lot of real good, solid biblical support. Now that doesn't mean that there aren't Bible versus used to support these ideas, and you can kind of cherry pick whatever you want, and stick a Bible verse to make it sound like what you want it to sound like. But when you really study the Bible, and pull the pieces together the way that they should, there is a time of trouble coming, a great time of trouble. But God's gonna be with his people through that.

I think it's important to have that kind of assurance. Let's just set that to one side. People are experiencing a time of trouble all the time. Somebody just got a cancer diagnosis. Man, for you, the bottom just fell outta your world. You wondered about your wife or mother or grandma, and your worst fears were realized, and it's dementia. And it's not gonna be good. Someone comes down with Parkinson's, or was diagnosed with Parkinson's, and you look into the future and you say, man, that's tough. That's a time of trouble. I'm co-opting the term. I'm not trying to say that's the biblical time of trouble. It's real stress in your life. You lose a job, house burns down, family member dies. These are awful, awful things. What's gonna get you through? Faith in Jesus will get you through. God will get you through. No, no, no, don't think for a moment that you cannot go on, you can. Because Jesus is gonna go on in your life. So get into the Bible, whatever you're facing. Get on your knees. tell God you trust Him, that whatever takes place you're not gonna turn your back on Him. You're gonna continue to yield your heart to Him. Life is challenging and difficult, but as Eric said, Jesus goes through you with it. So keep your focus on Jesus. Get into the Word of God, and trust that God has you. Hey Eric, thanks very much.

Another great program. Good questions.

Good questions. Keep them coming. Email us [email protected] We look forward to seeing you again next time. With Eric Flickinger, I am John Bradshaw. This has been "Line Upon Line," from "It Is Written".
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