The Two Witnesses of Revelation - by Jeff Van Hatten -
Scripture tells us that there are two witnesses who will testify and prophesy for three and one-half years (1,260 days) during the first half of the tribulation period whose primary purpose is to testify to Yeshua and denounce the Antichrist or Beast. Both witnesses are also able to cause the rain to stop and defend themselves with fire.
Have you ever wondered who the two witnesses of Revelation 11 might be? If so, you are in good company. Lately, there have been many that have tackled this subject, concluding that the two witnesses are two human beings. Favorites are Moses and Elijah, followed by Enoch and Elijah. But what if the two witnesses are not even human? Let's take a look at the possibilities:
Revelation 11:3-4 - "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands standing before the God of the earth."
Hebrews 9:27 - "It is appointed for humans to die once and after this comes judgment."
Scripture tells us that there are only two types of death. The first type is the death of the body when the soul is either assigned to Sheol [Hell] or ascends to be with Yeshua (Philippians 1:23). Most human's bodies only die a physical death once, but there are some who have physically died more than once. Lazarus is one example scripture gives us (John 11:43), and many have experienced what is called "Near Death." This first type of death is only temporary, as all will be resurrected.
Each human, once resurrected, will then be assigned to live eternally with Yahweh and Yeshua on the New Earth or in the New Jerusalem, or will be consigned to eternal death in the Lake of Fire. The second type of death is permanent.
Let's examine the possibilities of who those two witnesses may be, if they indeed be human beings:
Malachi 4:5 - "I will send to you Eliyahu the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible Day of Yahweh."
Elijah is considered to be the premier candidate for one of the two witnesses, as he would clearly represent the Prophets and/or the Jews for those who contend that the two witnesses portray either the Law and the Prophets, or the Gentiles and the Jews. As far as we are aware, he has never physically died, having been taken alive into heaven. Yeshua states that Elijah must come before the terrible and great day of the Lord, as prophesied in Malachi 4:5. He stood before Yahweh and stopped the rain from falling (1 Kings 17:1) and also was able to call fire down from heaven (2 Kings 1:10).
Elijah is considered to be the premier candidate for one of the two witnesses.
Deuteronomy 34:4-7 - "Moses the servant of Yahweh died there in the land of Moab, and was buried in the valley across from Beth-Peor."
Moses has only physically died once, as far as we are aware. Scripture clearly tells us that he died and was buried by Yahweh (Deuteronomy 34:4-7). His candidacy for being one of the two witnesses is based on the assumption that the two witnesses portray the Law and the Prophets. Moses, therefore, would represent Law. He also had the ability to turn water into blood and the power to plague the earth (Exodus 7:14-21), which the two witnesses will also be able to do. Matthew 17:3, Mark 9:4 and Luke 9:30 tell us that both Moses and Elijah appeared before Yeshua just prior to his crucifixion and resurrection.
Adding these three passages to the many scriptures above cause many to contend that Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses of Revelation.
Genesis 5:24 - "Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him."
Hebrews 11:5 - "By trusting, Enoch was taken away from this life without seeing death."
Enoch's primary qualification for being one of the two witnesses stems from his having been taken alive into heaven (Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5). He would portray Grace, for those who contend that the two witnesses portray Law and Grace. The first, second, and third century Church Fathers believed that Enoch would be the second witness to accompany Elijah.
Many others contend that the two most likely candidates are Enoch and Elijah. Both were men of righteousness who were raptured to Heaven alive, never having to experience the first death. Both were prophets. Enoch was a Gentile and Elijah was a Jew.
Amos 3:7 - "Surely Yahweh does nothing unless he reveals his secret counsel to his servants the prophets."
Scripture does not give us any indication that either Enoch or Moses are prophesied to return before the Day of the Lord. If either or both are one of the two witnesses, surely scripture would tell us clearly that they are.
Scripture does, however, indicate that Elijah is to return before the Day of the Lord. His mission: He will turn the heart of fathers to their sons, and the heart of sons to their fathers (Malachi 3:23-24). But wait; Yeshua clearly states that Elijah has already come! He says in Matthew 11:14 and 17:12, "If you are willing to accept it, John is Elijah, whose coming was predicted," then indicates that he will indeed come again, next time to restore all things (Matthew 17:11).
Further, at death, Moses was buried in the valley across from Beth-Peor in the land of Moab (Deuteronomy 34:6) - he did not go directly to heaven to stand in Yahweh's presence! Yeshua confirmed this by saying to Nicodemus: "No one has gone up into heaven; there is only the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man" (John 3:13). This means that he was not standing in Yahweh's presence when Zechariah's prophecy was given!
Humans who died before Yeshua was born were buried and were in the portion of Sheol called "Paradise," or "Abraham's Bosom." They did not ascend to Heaven to stand before Yahweh!
Let's examine the possibilities of who those two witnesses may be, if they indeed be someone other than humans:
Revelation 11:4 - "These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands standing before the God of the earth."
The two witnesses stand before Yahweh.
They will be clothed in sackcloth, a symbol of humbleness, which today might easily be similar to denim - a tough, durable fabric that could stand up for three years of service.
The two witnesses have the power to destroy their enemies with fire from their mouths, control the weather, turn water into blood, and cause plagues.
They will be killed in Jerusalem, and their bodies will lie in the street for three and one-half days.
They will be resurrected and ascend into heaven while all the world watches.
Zechariah 4:14 gives us further insight into who the two lamp stands may be. They are the "two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth." Isaiah 6:1-7 gives us another picture of who these beings are who stand beside Yahweh: "In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw Yahweh sitting on a high, lofty throne! The hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphim stood over him, each with six wings - two for covering his face, two for covering his feet and two for flying." 1 Kings 6:23 tells us "In the inner sanctuary Solomon made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high," and 1 Kings 6:32 tells us "He covered the two doors of olivewood with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers."
In both the Revelation and the Zechariah accounts, we see the same thing. The two olive trees were "two witnesses" or "two anointed ones" standing before Yahweh, and Isaiah and 1 Kings tell us who they are. So does the Ark of the Covenant. The two who sat at either end of the Ark were Cherubim, another name for the Seraphim! These may very well be the same two "angels" who accompanied Yahweh when He came down to investigate Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis chapters 18-19).
The two witnesses are never called sons of Adam, nor are they called human beings; scripture simply calls them lampstands and olive trees! We also noted that they have power to kill with fire from their mouths, and ascend into heaven while all the world watches. Not typically behavior demonstrated by humans, eh?
The two lampstands are the two Seraphim or Cherubim, carved of olive wood on the Temple doors and in the inner sanctuary - the Holy of Holies!
Those Who Called Fire Down from Heaven
Many have called down fire from heaven, but scripture never states that they breathe fire from their mouths. There are humans who have called down fire, and two who wanted to call down fire, but Yeshua did not allow them to do so. Even a beast who comes up from the earth calls down fire. They are:
Exodus 9:23 - Moses: Yahweh sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground.
2 Kings 1:10, 12, 14 - Elijah: prayed, and fire came down from heaven and consumed the captain and his fifty.
1 Chronicles 21:26 - David: called upon Yahweh, and fire from heaven came down upon the altar of burnt offering.
2 Chronicles 7:1 - Solomon: finished praying, then fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering.
Revelation 13:13 - The Second Beast: makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.
Luke 9:54 - James and John: wanted to because the people of the village did not welcome Yeshua, but did not!
True Fire-Breathing Beings
Revelation 11:5 - "If anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies."
Job 41:18-21 - "From Leviathan's mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap out. Out of its nostrils comes smoke, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. Its breath kindles coals, and a flame comes out of its mouth."
Isaiah 27:1 - "In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea."
Scripture only gives the ability to breathe fire from their mouth to Leviathan. And Leviathan is synonymous with the serpent, the snake, the sea monster, and the dragon. All apt descriptions of Lucifer, or Satan. And guess to what genus, phylum, and order Satan belongs: the order of Seraphim, or Cherubim!
Is Revelation giving us yet one more hint that the two witnesses are not human, but also of the genus, phylum, and order of Seraphim, or Cherubim? I say it is. What do you say?
The Hebrew Words
The Hebrew word translated dragon is tannı̂yn [תַּנִּין H8577]. It means: Dragon, serpent, sea monster, river monster, or venomous snake.
The Hebrew word translated Serpent is nâchâsh [נָחָשׁ H5175]. It means: Serpent, or snake.
The Hebrew word translated Leviathan is livyâthân [לִוְיָתָן H3882]. It means: Sea monster, or dragon.
The Ability to Kill the Witnesses
Revelation 11:7 - "When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them."
Scripture indicates that neither of the two witnesses can be killed by a human being. Only the beast can do so. The timing of their murder is at about the mid-point of the tribulation period; at about the same time that Satan, former chief of the Seraphim, is allowed to indwell the Antichrist. And the Antichrist, also referred to as the beast, is able to kill the two witnesses.
There is an old saying: "It takes a thief to catch a thief." Perhaps it takes a Seraph to kill a Seraph, eh? Is Revelation giving us yet one more hint that the two witnesses are not human, but also of the genus, phylum, and order of Seraphim, or Cherubim? I say it is. What do you say?
Death of The Witnesses
Hebrews 13:2 - "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."
Scripture indicates that neither of the two witnesses can be killed by a human being. Only the beast can do so at about the mid-point of the tribulation period; at about the same time that Satan, former chief of the Seraphim, is allowed to indwell the Antichrist. Can angels, Seraphim, or Cherubim become human and thus be subject to death and resurrection? Yeshua, who is God, came in human form, died a physical death, and was resurrected! Have we forgotten this? Scripture gives us many examples of angels who have taken on human form and interacted with human beings. Could the two witnesses be Seraphim / Cherubim who may come in human form, are killed, and are then resurrected? Perhaps so!
Matthew 12:25, Luke 11:17 - "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand."
Satan, too, was a Cherubim / Seraphim. Have we forgotten this? How appropriate and fitting that Yahweh might use two members over whom Satan once had authority to divide his house and lay it waste! Are these witnesses in truth dragons who do not lose their ability to breathe fire from their mouths, even in human form? Perhaps so!
The Ascension into Heaven
Revelation 11:7 - "I heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here!' They went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies saw them."
Once again, we see a "rapture" or a going up into heaven witnessed by many, just as Enoch, Elijah, and Yeshua were witnessed going up.
Revelation makes no mention that the two witnesses are carried up to heaven, as was Elijah - they simply went up. If they are Seraphim, then they can easily fly up to heaven using their own wings!
Is Revelation giving us yet one more hint that the two witnesses are not human, but also of the genus, phylum, and order of Seraphim, or Cherubim? I say it is. What do you say?
Can Heavenly Beings Die?
Isaiah 28:10 - "Precept by precept, precept by precept, line by line, line by line, a little here, a little there."
Matthew 10: 28 - "Do not fear those who kill the body but are powerless to kill the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gei-Hinnom."
Psalm 82:1 - "Elohim has taken his place in the divine assembly; he judges among the gods."
Psalm 82:6-7 - Yahweh says to the gods: "My decree is: 'You are gods, sons of the Most High all of you. Nevertheless, you will die like mortals; like any prince, you will fall.'"
Pastors, especially sharp pastors who know their Greek and Hebrew, and who know scripture from beginning to end, or should I say from aleph to tav, are a blessing to all. One major objection has been raised by just such a pastor to the question: "Can an angel, seraph, or cherub really be killed." So, can heavenly beings die? Indeed, they can. My thinking on this stems from several scriptures, but primarily from: Isaiah 28, Psalm 82, and Matthew 10.
One must combine several concepts throughout scripture to make the above comment that a heavenly being can be killed while on earth, whether in human form or not.
Matthew 10 tells us that Yahweh can destroy not only bodies, but souls as well. The real question is: Does this apply to heavenly beings that may or may not take on human form? I say perhaps so!
Psalm 82 makes it very clear that the heavenly beings, here called gods and Sons of the Most High, can indeed die like a mortal human being, if Yahweh makes that decision.
The Two Witnesses will one day be revealed. The Two Witnesses may (or may not) be in human form during their three-year stint here on earth. I am not sure it makes any difference, and I am not dogmatically stating that the Two Witnesses are Seraphim, but Revelation gives us some very strong hints that they may indeed be the two Seraphim that stand before Yahweh.
If so, then they are of the genus, phylum, and order of Seraphim, or Cherubim - the same genus as Satan. If so, they may take on human form when they come to testify of Yeshua and denounce the Antichrist or Beast. In their earthly form, do they, too, face death and resurrection just as did Yeshua? Perhaps so! With Yahweh, all things are possible.
When the Two Witnesses are killed, however, it is my contention that it is only their bodies that die just as it is only a human's body that dies; their spirit lives on. Three days after the Two Witnesses' bodies are killed, their spirits re-enter their bodies, the bodies resurrect, and they rise into heaven using their own wings to do so.
Revelation hints that the two witnesses are not human, but are of the genus, phylum, and order of Seraphim, or Cherubim. What do you say?
The Long Shadow - By Pete Garcia -
Shadows are interesting things. They communicate a reality, yet, they themselves are not really real. They indicate the thing that is coming, yet, they are not the things themselves. Pastor Ken Ortize (Calvary Spokane)
There is a day coming, which will turn the world upside down. That day is known to us, as the Rapture of the Church. While it is true that no man knows the day or hour, it is also true that the Bible states we would see that day approaching. (Matt. 16: 1-4, Thess. 5:1-9, Hebrews 10:25, Rev. 3:3). The only way that is possible to know and not know, is to see the shadow of the event before it arrives.
The Rapture, for both its attractors and detractors, remains a highly contested event amongst believers and non-believers alike. Non-believers simply look at the Rapture as a joke or something to mock and ridicule, if they think about it at all. To the believer, however, there is much divergence of opinion as to the nature and timing of the event. However, one would be hard-pressed to state that the Bible does not mention this event as a certainty. Only a true heretic would deny what the Bible clearly teaches, because it is found throughout scripture, both in word and type. To deny that, would be to deny what is clearly written in Holy Scripture.
However, the divergence of thought can find more solid footing as to determining when exactly the Rapture will occur, and that is ok. If God had wanted man to know exactly when a thing was to occur (or how), He would have had the writers state as much. Instead, God uses type (foreshadow) and doctrinal congruity to strongly imply as to the nature of the Rapture event itself. It is a divinely appointed happening showcasing God's supernatural ability to rescue His own, prior to unleashing His wrath and judgment He pours out upon the earth.
Thus, we have lived in this long shadow since that first Pentecost. This is where the Holy Spirit was given to mankind in an extraordinary fashion as 'cloven tongues of fire' descending upon the disciples (Acts 2:1-4). However, just prior to that, Christ ascended from the earth in front of His disciples in an equally glorious fashion. As they stood gazing intently into the sky, presumably, wondering if He would return in short order, two Angels appear and communicate with the disciples gathered there.
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11
This shadow indicating Christ's return, perhaps only a sliver, was not even discernible then. Before He left, Christ's mandate to the disciples indicated that while His return was absolutely certain (John 14:1-3), it may have some time built into it. They were to go into all the world, making disciples of all nations.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen - Matthew 28:18-20 (emphasis mine)
In the centuries which followed, time began to form a wedge between the believer's eager anticipation of Christ's return, and the certainty of the event itself. During high times of persecution (60-312AD), the church fervently held to the belief Christ would return quickly and it sustained them. This served as a powerful preservative to those early Christians. Satan, who, having been defeated at the Cross, discovered that the more he persecuted the church, the faster it grew. Thus, he had to change his strategy. He needed a more subtle approach, much like he did with Eve in the garden.
"Hath God indeed said...?"
...He would indeed return?
Satan knew/knows he cannot defeat the Church (Matt. 16:7-19). However, he knows humans are easily corruptible. If he couldn't destroy the Church, he would need to neutralize the Church. He knew (knowing human nature) that if he could get the Church focused on this life and not the next, he could corrupt them. This distraction came in the form of a hermeneutical (interpretational) corruption that began with the early church father Origen (184-253 AD) and continued with the conversion of Emperor Constantine in 312AD.
His conversion (true or not) allowed for Christians to come out of the shadows and begin living openly in the still largely pagan empire. Eventually, a North African Christian convert named Augustine of Hippo (circa 390AD), produces a popular, yet heretical, form of eschatology known as amillennialism. It began to emerge as the predominant viewpoint within Christendom. This view (Amillennialism) posited that the Church was now both Israel (who was then in diaspora) and also the physical manifestation of the promised Kingdom-Come. Thus, inheritors of all the Old Testament blessings and promises.
This new variation of Christianity then began absorbing many of the Roman's pagan rituals, temples, and even clergy as their own to make it more palatable to a still largely pagan empire in decline.
And the shadow grew.
However, this hijacking was not unforeseen by God. Christ had predicted as much in His seven Kingdom Parables (Matthew 13). The most obvious one was with the Parable of the Mustard Seed.
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches." Matthew 13:31-32
In the context of all these parables, the birds are viewed as unclean and evil things. In the first parable (Sower of the seeds), the birds devour all the seed (the new converts) that fall to the wayside. Later, the Apostle Paul would call Satan 'the prince of the power of the air,' (Eph. 2:2) indicating where Satan's domain really lay.
However, if we stay in context with the symbolism given here, the birds (unclean) take shelter into a tree (the church) that grows unnaturally larger than it should (Mustard trees are not large at all). Thus, instead of the church taking the gospel into the world, Jesus said the world would come into the church and began trying to corrupt it.
An interesting side note that indicates the direction the Gospel would take root, is in the ordering of numbers given in Matthew 13:8 (100, 60, and 30) and Mark 4:20 (30, 60, and 100). As Matthew was written with a Jewish audience in mind, it would indicate a decline in Jewish converts. Mark was written with a Gentile audience in mind, and prophetically reverses the numbers indicating that the gentiles would now become the harvest.
And the shadow grew.
Remember back to Jesus' parting statement in Matthew 28. He still has all authority in both heaven and on earth. This worldly form of Christendom quickly assumed (and consumed) what had been the extents of the Roman empire. However, this was to be short-lived. Since Jesus knew Christianity would be hijacked into this whorish variation of paganism and Christianity, He allowed a new force to arise that would quickly put an end to the worldly-minded Holy Roman Empire. The Muslims began to conquer and take hold of the lands that were once "Christian" (nations can't be Christian-only individuals can). However, as Islam began to dominate, it too began to splinter into a million tiny factions, all vying for control.
As the persecution intensified, Christendom began to splinter into two factions; those who wanted to remain in the largely pagan Holy Roman Empire, and those who did not. While the Holy Roman Empire (now the Roman Catholic Church [RCC]) maintained its foothold largely in Europe, true Christians continued to spread throughout the world.
The RCC was satanically covetous of the power and spread of true Christianity, and began to declare through papal bulls, that anyone who did not follow the RCC, were heretics. These heretics were to be excommunicated, imprisoned, wealth confiscated, tortured, and ultimately killed (usually by burning) in a 700-year period known as the Inquisition. Examples of the persecuted groups largely centered on both Jews and believers (e.g., Waldensians, Anabaptists, Lollards, etc.)
From a sliver in the first century, to now taking some form, the shadow continued to grow slowly, but surely.
The second example of this shadow and the time built into Christ's return was given to us by Christ Himself in His Seven Letters to the Seven Churches (Revelation 1-3). The seven churches Jesus addresses in Revelation were literal churches in John's day. By 95AD, there were thousands of churches. The Lord could have used, literally, any number of churches as examples to convey His messages. However, because He only uses seven (as opposed to 13 or 82) means, that there was a specific reason He did so. Furthermore, the churches He chose were chosen for specific reasons. There were larger congregations at that time in places like Corinth, Galatia, Rome, Antioch, Jerusalem, etc. He chose the quantity, type, and location for very specific reasons. He then gave them to John in a particular order because God does not do things arbitrarily or accidentally. These seven were not selected because they had issues only unique to themselves, but to all churches (he who has an ear). Furthermore, as the number seven holds (biblically speaking) to the number of plenitude or completion/perfection so that the seven churches then represent all churches, of all time.
Even within each type of church, we can see the different types of believers represented by the corporate image of each church. For example, within the Sardis-era, (the era in which one type of church dominates Christendom) we can see Philadelphian or Laodicean types of believers. We also note that Jesus had seven kingdom parables, which overlap with His seven letters, which can be overlapped with Paul's epistles to seven churches (excluding duplicates, personal letters, and Hebrews [which remained unsigned]).
Now here is the rub. Here at the end of the age, not only is this prophetic shadow present, but its darkness has covered the world. Things appear dark, because we are now in the shadow of the 70th Week of Daniel (Dan. 9:27). It is a foreboding time, pregnant with great horror, abominations, and wickedness that is only recognizable to those who have been filled with the Holy Spirit and have eyes to see, and ears to hear. The Bible states emphatically that the world at large, would not see the day coming, just as those Pharisees could not see their Messiah in front of them (Matt. 16:1-4). Just like before the flood, that antediluvian population assumed that things would continue on as it always had since creation. But the Bible says otherwise...
For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:38-42
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4
Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:4-7
And finally, to the church of Sardis, Jesus warns...
Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. Revelation 3:3
This warning was reserved to the third to the last church, who, if in chronological order, represents the Protestant Reformation era church onward. This signaled that mankind was entering into the final period before His return. Here, the church was to be on the lookout for Christ's soon coming...yet, they would not look. Interestingly, when the Protestants broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, they brought with them, the Roman Catholic eschatological view of Amillennialism. Fast forward to the 2000s, and we see most of the mainline denominations capitulating to moral depravity, even going so far as to ordain homosexuals and transgendered clergy.
By the 1730s, we finally, we see the remaining two church epochs (Philadelphia and Laodicea) we begin to emerge onto the scene.
Philadelphia: (1730-Present). Out of the smoldering coals of the dying Reformation fires, came a Spirit-driven spiritual revival in Europe and America called the First Great Awakening. Here, we see the great missionary movements begin to set out unto all the world, sharing the light of the Gospel to every nation. This was followed by the Second Great Awakening beginning in the 1790s, and the Third, in the 1850s. At this time, the United States and Europe were essential Acts 2 (largely homogenous with Judeo-Christian) audiences. As time moved on, the Awakenings would get smaller and smaller as the West became increasingly an Acts 19 culture (largely divergent without Judeo-Christian roots). Out of all the letters, only this one has a promise to remove the Church altogether from this world. The rest of the letters, when taken in context, offer no such promise.
Laodicea: (1900-Present) unsurprisingly, as the Great Awakenings began to spring up across the nation, pseudo-Christian groups also began to leech on and lead many astray. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when these apostate movements began to make serious headway, but by 1900, they were firmly entrenched into Western society through the Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and so forth. We also see the birth of the Charismatic movement, beginning around 1906 with the Azusa Street Revival.
While not condemning the charismatic movement writ large as there are still many good Pentecostal churches out there; most of the false teachers today (health & wealth, prosperity, dominionist gospel, as well as Hebrew Roots, and Emergent church movements) seemingly have their roots connected back to someone in the charismatic movement. Through the Emergent Church, we see a concerted effort to insert Eastern-mysticism into Christendom. Through the Hebrew Roots, we see a church departing from the Pauline teachings of the New Testament, for the Mosaic Laws (and oral traditions) of the Old Testament. Through the Health & Wealth / Seeker Sensitive churches, we see a church willing to compromise on just about everything in order to stay relevant. However, this church believes they lack nothing but are poor, blind, and naked in Christ's view. No promise is made by Christ to come, only a severe rebuke and chastening to repent. Christ stands outside this church knocking on the door.
However, the decline of Western Christendom and the intense ramping up of persecution against Eastern Christendom was foretold by Scripture. None of this was by accident or surprise to God. We with eyes to see and ears to hear, should take some comfort living through these darkened days, because they are only darkened, by the shadow of what's coming...our deliverance. And finally, to the faithful church, to whom Christ has no point of condemnation with, He states,
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 3:10
Are You Ready?
The Evil Day - By Pete Garcia -
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:12-13
Is there a limit to how evil the world can get before Christ returns? Perhaps a better question is, how evil did God allow Noah's world to become before the flood came? In what we call the Antediluvian Age (the time before the Flood), God allowed men to live for centuries, which naturally contributed significantly to the population explosion of the human race. Being omnipotent, God of course already knew that should man live for centuries, this would come to a predictable outcome. So why did He allow it?
First of all, when God created Adam and Eve, they were made perfect. That means that they were created with perfect mental faculties, perfect physical attributes, which means they were created genetically perfect. Even though they rebelled, causing sin and death to enter into the human race, physically and genetically, they were still far superior (physically and genetically) to any of their descendants (save Jesus). However, after they sinned, instead of remaining immortal, their bodies were now allowed to age and die. Albeit, this process would take much, much longer than would their succeeding generations. The only way that God could have immediately shortened man's lifespan after the fall, would have been to create physically and genetically inferior humans from the outset...which of course, could not happen.
And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: Luke 17:26
So what were the similarities between the Antediluvian era and today? Jesus stated that before His immediate return, the world would be like the days of Noah, although, we don't have a lot of specific information about those days. Jesus also said the days before His return would be like the days of Lot, of which, we do have some specific information. So let us look into both examples, the first Antediluvian, and the second, Post-Diluvian.
Bible experts have long wondered how big the earth's population was before the Noahic Flood. With the rise of information processing, data modeling has greatly enabled us to simulate just how fast the human population could have grown.
Some people believe the population was relatively low. The Bible explains that people were extremely corrupt and violent prior to the Flood. It is not hard to imagine the world being filled with wars, diseases, and other factors that would keep the population in check.
Others believe that Earth's population was much higher. If the growth rate in the pre-Flood world was equal to the growth rate in 2000 (0.012), there could have been about 750 million people at the time of the Flood. However, given the extremely long lifespans prior to the Flood, the growth rate could have been much higher. Increasing the rate by just 0.001 would put the population at close to four billion at the Flood.
If we take a broader look at population growth, we could simply look at the 20th-century to see how fast the human population could grow. Beginning in 1900, the world population roughly stood at 1.65B people. The world population by the year 2000, was 6B. This explosive growth takes into account the reduced infant mortality rate, as well as longer lifespans as afforded by modern medicine, vaccines, and better medical practices, all of which have improved the general quality of life for much of the modernized world.
That overall growth has more than tripled for just 100 years. The timeframe from the fall of Adam to the Noahic flood was roughly 1,656 years. With humans living for centuries due to an enriched environment and superior gene pools (less corrupted than today), it is easy to believe that the world population at the time of the flood was closer to 4B than 750M.
The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. Genesis 6:11
The world that was then, was filled with violence. Since the flood all but washed away the antediluvian world, we only have what scripture records to tell us what life was like then. One of the decision points God made after the flood with Noah (the Noahic Covenant) was in reference to this violence. We know that after the flood when a civilization became so corrupted that murder and violence were not dealt; that civilization was in its final stage of collapse.
Thus far, life in the 20th-century has been the bloodiest century on record. In fact, more people died in the 20th-century due to war and violence, than in all the wars previously combined. Violent crime impacts every nation on earth, and formerly peaceful societies are quickly being inundated with violence due to liberal immigration policies bringing in peoples from the war-torn regions of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Africa.
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Gen. 6:5
The world that was then, was filled with wickedness. One would be hard-pressed today to deny that the level of overall wickedness has not risen dramatically in the past 40 years. Abortion on demand in most western nations is the single biggest source of bloodshed on the planet. Crime and criminal networks are rampant in every nation on the planet. The entertainment industry is producing the most violent, vile, and pornographic movies and television shows of any era. Divorce (based on convenience) has wreaked havoc on the traditional family unit.
Adding insult to injury, the LGBT movements have sprung up in almost every nation, with most of the western nations capitulating to the normalization of this behavior. While not to say that all LGBTQ? Etc. persons are evil and violent, what they are demanding, is the redefinition of the foundational norms for marriage and family. When you deconstruct marriage and the family unit in a society, you open Pandora's Box, which allows for every evil imaginable.
This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. Gen. 6:9
This passage singles out Noah and his biological sons as being genetically perfect, not morally perfect (as he was under the same curse as all mankind after Adam). This leads to several conclusions.
We live in a world today (as of 1953) where mankind can again, begin tinkering with our genetic makeup. Once man figured out what DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), he began to understand the complexities of the human body. This was a double-edged sword for science, a) it began to deconstruct the long-accepted model of Darwinian Evolution, and b) gave rise to the thought of forcing a new kind of evolution in the form of upgrading the human body. Now thanks to the technology of CRISPR, the issue is not if human genetic research and gene-editing will ever happen, but how to regulate it. Regardless, the last time genetic manipulation had been seen on the earth had been in the days before Noah.
The myth that man has evolved into a higher being (e.g., we today) is just that...a myth. The truth is, man has de-evolved. We are much smaller, weaker, and genetically inferior to our pre-history predecessors. The simple reason is, they were closer to the perfect genetic originals than we are today. We are copies, of copies, of copies, (add thousands of generations) who have accumulated inherited genetic defects along the way. Man is desperately trying to regain what was lost in the Antediluvian world.
Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose...There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Gen. 6:1-2, 4
Author's Note: This point comes with much contention amongst Bible scholars as to the exact nature and identity of the sons of God Moses mentions here. Although the term sons of God is used in earlier scripture [Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7] and are referred to as angels, it is used similarly in much later writing of Hosea 1:10 as referring to Israel. I am of the belief (I could be wrong) that in writing Genesis, Moses (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) uses the earlier version of the term. Thus, sons of God refer simply to one who was a direct creation of God (as opposed to human offspring). Granted, this is certainly the case (and will be) for all who become born-again believers regenerated from death unto life by God the Holy Spirit. Some have argued why other living beings such as plants and animals at creation aren't also listed as "sons of God" when they too were direct creations, but they were not created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26).
My belief is that as the barrier/separation between the spiritual and physical realms seemed to be non-existent back before the flood, fallen angels were seemingly able to physically couple with human women. That seems a bold statement given that angels are spirit-beings. However, we know they can take on the appearance of humans. Does that mean they can also take on our DNA and reproductive capabilities?
I don't know.
Neither does anyone else.
I simply look at the context of the Genesis passage, along with other corroborating scriptures (Jude 1:6; 2 Peter 2:4), and match the justification for the type of judgment God issued out. The most logical conclusion I can come up with was that Satan's intent was to corrupt the human gene pool, so that mankind could not produce someone who could crush Satan's head (Gen. 3:15).
Therefore, if my theory is correct, then the offspring of this unholy union, were neither fully angel (which were direct creations of God), nor fully human. These were hybrid (fallen) creatures known as the Nephilim (Hebrew-fallen ones). The Nephilim then become the 'men of renown,' which speaks more to their superhuman capabilities (and size) than simply being popular or charismatic leaders. These supermen if you will, were evil, corrupt, and vicious. They were viewed or possibly made themselves out to be worshipped as gods or demigods and infected large swaths of the population with their own contaminated seed like the outbreak of a viral sexual disease. This is the point of Genesis 6:9 when God comments that by the time of the flood, only Noah was found perfect in his generations, genetically speaking.
As to how the Nephilim appear again after the flood, as my friend Steve Schmutzer concluded, this eventuality came about through one of the wives of Noah's sons...a non-blood relative. Considering that Jesus traces His lineage through Shem (Vis Abraham), and not much is mentioned of Japheth's descendants (other than at the table of nations). However, this leaves the wife of Ham as being a carrier of this dormant corruption.
It is Ham's lineage that the Bible emphasizes. Of Ham's four sons, three are demonstrated in the Biblical narrative to produce Nephilim descendants, and of those three sons, it is Canaan that the Scriptures focus on the most. All said we can reasonably conclude it was Ham's wife that carried a latent Nephilim gene.
From the point Ham exits the ark in Genesis 9:18 to the point the Nephilim are once again mentioned by name after the flood in Numbers 13:31-33, it is the descendants of Ham that the Bible traces very precisely. Specific individuals within that lineage, and their activities, are expanded on (Gen. 10:6-11) until we get to the report of 10 of the 12 spies that Joshua sent to scout out The Promised Land in Numbers 13:31-33.
I would be remiss to neglect the fact that it wasn't just humans these fallen angels were monkeying with (literally), but all species. While they didn't use microscopes and test tubes to conduct their genetic experiments, they did it the old fashioned way through breeding. They bred all sorts of species together to see which would produce mutations and then kept interbreeding those with the mutation. Thus, God had to reboot all of the creation due to this vile attempt to prevent His plan from moving forward.
In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights. Genesis 7:11-12
Massive geological changes in the earth structure from the flood. It wasn't just the rain that helped to flood the earth, but the Lord opened up the waters under the earth. Whenever someone mocks the Noahic Flood and asks where all the water went, I simply point to the oceans on the map, which usually shuts them up. However, it does give one pause to wonder if those waters were already there under the thin layer of earth-crust, and land simply collapsed down forcing the water upwards, or if the water was elsewhere and simply fill out the low spots on the earth after the tectonic break-up? Either way, we know that water is trapped in our biosphere and is cyclical in nature: drainage from rivers and streams (liquid) evaporates (gas) and goes up to the atmosphere, where it eventually returns back to earth (liquid) by way of precipitation (rain/snow/ice).
However, when the fountains of the great deep were broken up, this must-have caused huge geological changes to the earth's surface. Before the Flood, there were likely little to no mountain ranges. After the flood, as the scriptures state, Noah's ark landed on Mount Ararat (what was known as Ararat in Moses's day). There earth before the flood may have largely been land and not water. Afterward, the land was broken up into continents surrounded by huge areas of water (now seas and oceans). Lastly, the ice-water layer that surrounded the earth, had now been depleted in the form of 40-days and nights of rain. This removed the natural barrier that shielded the earth from the full blast of the sun's heat and radiation.
Author's note: There is a caveat to this. We know that during the 70th Week of Daniel, the physical world will suffer greatly under the divine judgments. The oceans will die. The world's freshwater will become undrinkable. Most of the world's plant life will be burned up. Massive earthquakes will move islands and mountains out of their place. Lastly, the sun and moon will become so obscured as to no longer yield their light.
Whoever sheds man's blood,
By man his blood shall be shed;
For in the image of God
He made man. Gen. 9:6
As previously mentioned, there was likely a huge human population before the flood. As far as we know, there were not any previous forms of human government prior to the flood, as everyone did what they thought was right in their own eyes. This allowed for great wickedness and violence to prevail upon the earth. It wasn't until after the flood, that God gave Noah the mandate should human blood be shed, the person (or animal) who shed the blood would be required as payment. This puts the onus on humans to police other humans as a punitive measure for committing murder. This is largely how things have operated ever since. However, when a civilization gets to the point where it can no longer manage to contain the violence or chooses to ignore it, that civilization is on the verge of collapse.
And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you.
Matthew 24:4 (see also 24:5, 11, 24)
Some of the pre-history architecture (megaliths, ziggurats, temples, drowned sites, etc.) that we have found around the earth this past century, were very likely built prior to the flood. (Ex. Atlit Yam, Baalbek, Great Pyramid at Giza, etc.) How many remain from that era we cannot say for certain, but there is enough to assume that what the Antediluvian world lacked in modern technology, they made up for with supernatural help and the advanced human condition (i.e., they were stronger and lived longer). Our technological advancements have really only come about in the past two-centuries beginning with the harnessing of the power of water. Prior to that, man was limited to the speed of horse for the previous 4,000 years. Since the late 1700s, we have undergone four technological revolutions:
We are now in the age of information, which interestingly, ties directly into the exact warning Christ gave us (along with the apostles) regarding how grave the deception would become. We live in the age of information, which, means that we are being bombarded by messaging all day long from every possible venue. Jesus said the last days would be the greatest time for deception that ever existed.
Here in the 21st-century, we have layers upon layers of false philosophies and ideologies permeating every crevice in our global foundation. Everything from Darwinian Evolution to manmade climate change; from the Big Bang theory to revived mythology; from Communism and Marxism, to every variant of socialism and democracy; from pantheism to Islam; from Keynesian economics, to corporate capitalism; from hedonism, to nihilism; from orthodox Christianity to heterodox and heresy...the world is inundated with false ideologies. Adding to that, the ever-increasing information processing platforms and mediums by which these false ideologies can proceed from.
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. Revelation 13:16-18
For the first time in history, the world has entered into an era where all the buying and selling could potentially be controlled by a single entity. We are not quite exactly where this will happen, but I believe that with the right nudge, the world will overwhelmingly embrace this new, digital system. As impossible as this might seem, we are even now seeing just how feasible this actually is. There are three legitimate reasons why this could happen in the not too distant future.
Just recently, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to crack down on the massive tax evasion that was occurring within the Indian black markets and end it by demonetizing the 500 and 1000 rupee notes. In a nutshell, the Indian government said that after a fifty-day period, all 500 and 1000 rupee notes would no longer have any value. This meant, that if you were saving these, they would have to be turned in order to get them cashed out before they became worthless.
If the world's second-most populous nation could do this, how hard would it be for other nations to do this?
Secondly, the world has been wooed by the convenience of online banking and shopping and has become conditioned to accept the rapidity of instant transactions. Although fiat currencies are still used globally, almost all purchases above a thousand dollars (or pick the currency equal to that) are paid digitally. In fact, fiat (or paper) currencies are becoming extinct largely due to the exploding national debts (which devalue the currency), and are now being associated with the underworld and black market operations because of the anonymity it gives. This is an unacceptable condition the leaders at the United Nations find unacceptable.
Lastly, smart stores and devices require digital currency to function. Since more and more of all money being spent, is being done online (eCommerce), it is only a matter of time before that threshold (increases about 15% per year) makes a full conversion a matter of when not if. Digital currencies (and cryptocurrencies) offers a level of security that is no longer feasible with paper/fiat currencies.
Returning back to the original question of how much worse it will have to get before God Raptures His Church remains unanswered. The truth is, we don't know exactly how bad it got before God flooded the world the first time. However, we have a general understanding that the entire world was evil, and that man's thoughts had become evil continually. Although things have grown considerably worse since 2001, as long as the Church remains on the earth, we will always act as a restraint against evil and prevent it from completely taking over.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Matt. 16:19
I think were God to Rapture the Church, what remained, would be the world (minus a remnant) of people who would be given over almost immediately to the basest desires. Almost overnight, the world would descend into a cesspool of anarchy and lawlessness. It will at that point, become just as wicked as that Antediluvian world was just prior to the flood.
This, of course, has to be balanced against what we see in the Fifth Seal of Revelation 6 (the martyrs), along with their description in Revelation 7 as being killed in great numbers (See also Rev. 13:7). My theory on this is that these people who come to saving faith just after the Rapture were either completely ignorant of the Gospel (many within the 3rd World) or just morally decent non-believers who perhaps thought they were Christians all along because they went to church and belonged to a denomination.
I can see a great many Mormons (who are generally decent people), along with many in the mainstream churches who got good at playing Christian without being truly born again Christians, finally having the lightbulb come on. These are those who see the Rapture happen, and it finally clicks that they were on the wrong track all along and finally get serious about their faith. Unfortunately for them, they will have to accept this saving faith largely at the cost of their life.
We see the similarities between the beginning of man's history, as well as at his ending. We see how even the differences factor into these NOT being showstoppers but enhancing the magnitude of tribulation and evil that will be present in these last days. Although we cannot know specifically when...we see the storm clouds gathering overhead as the evil day approaches. This is exactly the time that the Apostle Paul warns us of, to gird up our loins, and to fight, stand strong, and to be cognizant of the spiritual battle escalating all around us. All we can do at this point is to endure to the end.
Are you ready?
Even so, Maranatha!