Looking Back: The Glory Years of NASA – America on the Moon

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By Mark Norris

 Apollo 11 25th anniversary seal. Middle: Dr. Wernher von Braun; Mariner 10 space probe. Bottom: Apollo 11 navigator, Buzz Aldrin, on the lunar surface; Lunar mission view of earth from the moon.

“The earth is uncommonly lovely. It is the only warm living object that we saw in space on our trip to the moon” (Jim Irwin, Apollo 15).    

this July marked another anniversary of America’s greatest technological achievement. On July 20, 1969, 49 years ago, a manned spacecraft rocketed 240,000 miles out of earth’s atmosphere to land on the moon. One calculated thruster burn over the Pacific, and the three-spacecraft configuration of America’s eleventh Apollo mission coasted to, and landed, on the moon.

Moonwalkearth

The Apollo 11 mission was not without its technical difficulties. Twelve minutes away from the lunar surface, the Eagle landing module’s guidance computer failed, forcing a totally manual descent. Lunar Module pilot Neil Armstrong landed the craft blinded by its stirred up lunar dust with less than thirty seconds of descent fuel to spare. Five hours later, the former X-15 and Gemini test pilot stepped outside the fragile landing module to become the first of twelve Americans who would walk upon the moon.

Other technical difficulties lying along man’s lunar flight path took the lives of America’s first three Apollo astronauts, Gus Grissom (famed second American in space), Roger White (first American to spacewalk), and Ed Chaffee.

Despite Grissom’s many qualified criticisms of their craft’s incomplete design (he was a skilled engineer), the three suffocated to death as flames swept through their Apollo 1 capsule in January of 1967 during routine equipment checks.

But Apollo was the official undeclared war of the United States and Russia’s epoch Cold War Space Race. And wartime deaths, few though there were, were to be expected. It was Apollo’s mission to wage the culminating battles of these two greatest military powers ever formed on earth in their struggle for its highest ground.

Handed the technical baton from their Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo predecessors, Armstrong and Aldrin’s amazing lunar pictures televised 48 years ago achieved the conqueror’s end to the 12 year space epoch most of the world had watched.

“Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.” Mankind’s greatest adventure reached its summit. The space race had a winner. America won. And there was more to the victor’s spoils than planted flags and bragger’s rights. Along the way to the race’s finish, modern space science grew in size and stature establishing American technology as preeminent on earth.

The powerful rocket engines and their successive missile casings that exploded America out of earth’s atmosphere were the brainchild of German rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun. Since surrendering his Third Reich V2 rocket team to America at the end of World War II, von Braun possessed the scientific expertise and vision to put America in space first. But he was denied his continued requests to do so by President Eisenhower, who disdained the thought of former Nazi functionaries putting Americans into space.

A generation earlier American rocket scientist Robert Goddard innovated many of the concepts incorporated by von Braun’s V2 team, and after Eisenhower’s election, he was hoping for a successor. The former Nazi rocket scientist worked with the Truman Administration to develop a nuclear ballistic missile. Beyond that, America had no special plans for space. But when Russia launched the first orbiting satellite in October of 1957, Eisenhower authorized and funded von Braun to produce every rocket in America’s arsenal and space program from the Redstone that carried Alan Shepard (first American into space), to the gigantic Saturn V that rocketed Apollo to the moon.

 first_seven_astronauts

NASA Langley Research Center located in Hampton,Virginia provided the burgeoning American space program with its technological base. It was at Langley that the “Right Stuff” Mercury astronauts received their training giving the Space Race its first dose of fame.

But there was more to these adventures than mere politics could see. There was discovery in the air, and a host of new space technicians endowed with exorbitant NASA funding to get America “up there” for a celestial look around.

Satellites, Robots, and Probes 

As soon as von Braun’s rockets would allow, America began closing Russia’s five-year race lead by blasting into earth orbit a 31 pound mini-laboratory devised to study cosmic rays. Launched on January 31, 1958, the satellite Explorer 1 measured outerspace temperatures and discovered two ring-shaped bands of radiation trapped by an earth encompassing magnetic field between 620 to 3,000 miles up.

Subsequent discoveries by NASA’s Pioneer space probe program proved this belt to be the innermost area of another magnetic band 40,000 miles out that served as a shield of the earth’s thin atmospheric envelope from the Sun’s solar winds. Discoverers awed at its precise purpose and placement, named it the magnetosphere (also called it the Van Allen Belt for its chief scientific discoverer), and American space science was birthed.

Focusmagplanets

Earth’s closest solar system planets, Mercury, Venus, and Mars soon became prime space probe targets as a host of elaborate space gizmos emerged from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories in the early ’60s and ’70s. Culminating with the amazing Viking Mars orbiter and landing mission in 1976, NASA’s Mariner explorations of these innermost planets showed them to be rocky globes similar to earth, but possessing very alien environments.

Mercury proved to have no measurable atmosphere at all, with surface temperatures ranging between 800F and -300 degrees. Venus’ poisonous atmosphere of carbon dioxide enshrouded by clouds of sulfuric acid proved to enclose constant surface lead and tin melting temperatures of 900 degrees. And Mars, though proving to possess a tilted axis and seasonal rotations similar to earth’s, exhibited a poisonous atmosphere of carbon dioxide with lifeless surface temperatures ranging between -240 and 32 degrees. 

The awesome wonders of earth’s outer planets, the four “gas giants” Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, were sensationally revealed as rocky-cored planets overlaid by magnificently colored spheres of hydrogen, helium, and methane gas. Wowing millions with their startling space images and data since 1977, NASA’s Voyager probes brought these enchanting ringed planets into the nation’s front rooms. But as for the search for other planetary life, and it was going on, the hunt drew a resounding nil. 

In truth, the farther away from man’s planet observable science would search, the more humanly uninhabitable and alien it proved. “No life here,” came the answer to NASA’s extraterrestrial life inquisitors as their fact-finding quest of science bore witness to an amazing earth life design.  

Earth itself would become a planetary discovery as manned space flight hurled men toward the moon. In fact, the most compelling of space experiences encountered by Apollo’s chosen few was their privileged view of earth from the lifeless vacuum of space. Some were changed forever.  

Commander of the Apollo program’s first mission to the moon, Frank Borman, related his view of earth’s living, blue image from the extraterrestrial darkness of space as being responsible for the “final leg” of his own religious experience of encountering Jesus Christ.

“When viewing the earth from space,” Borman said in reminiscences of Apollo 8, “the question of Christian belief becomes utterly absurd. The question from that point seemed more properly reversed. I saw evidence that God lives.” 

Jim Lovell, Borman’s Apollo 8 crew mate and the country’s first official moon guide described his view of earth from lunar orbit as “a grand oasis in the vastness of space.”

apollo11earthscape2
On the December 24th of their grand 1968 adventure, Borman’s third crew mate, Bill Anders, inspired the most memorable Christmas Eve the mission’s global TV audience would ever enjoy. In their book, “Moonshot,” former NASA manager/ astronauts Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton remember the event like this:

“Christmas Eve was like none other in the long history of celebrating that occasion. While millions of people brought families together in homes throughout the planet, the three men orbiting the moon continued taking sharp motion pictures and hundreds of clear color photographs that would later enable them to share with those on earth their fabulous adventure.

“Then Bill Anders spoke, not just to CapCom, but to all the world listening to his words from so far away. ‘For all the people on earth,’ he said, his emotions unmasked, ‘the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you.’ A brief pause, and then Anders stunned his audience as he began reading from the verses of the Book of Genesis:

‘In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth….’ As Anders concluded the fourth verse, Lovell read the next four. Borman concluded by beginning his reading of the ninth verse, and then sent to the world a special Christmas message: “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth…’ “

Focusmaggenesisreading
Official NASA Apollo 8 Dec 24 1968 Christmas Eve broadcast:

William Anders:

“For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you”.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

Jim Lovell:

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”

Frank Borman:

“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”

Borman then added, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.”

The crew’s joint reading of Genesis was a totally unplanned event. Borman would also read from Psalm 8 before leaving earth’s view from the moon:

“0 Lord…when I look at Thy heavens.., what is man that Thou art mindful of him?”

The view of earth from its Creator’s tapestry of oxygenless, colorless space was an overpowering experience for America’s star voyaging spacemen. Apollo’s astronauts of missions 8 and 10 through 17 had been afforded a special vantage point. They were privileged a view of the Bible’s stated “general revelation” of God’s creation (Romans 1:20) as none had ever seen it.

For since the creation of the world His invisible
attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have
been clearly seen, being understood through what has
been made, so that men are without excuse.
-Romans
1:20

**Houston Chronicle: Christmas Miracle from High Above
(Includes actual voice transmission of Christmas Even Apollo 8 reading.)  

24 Dec 2013-wjct News 

On Anniversary Of Apollo 8: How The ‘Earthrise’ Photo Was Made

In fact, though not a part of NASA’s official public record, one third of Apollo’s twenty-four astronauts, eight in all, would encounter differing spiritual experiences because of their missions to the moon.

The ordeal of the eight Apollo astronauts admitting spiritual enlightenments ran a gamut of experience. They ranged from the extemporaneous Bible readings of Apollo 8; to Apollo 15 commander David Scott’s simple action of leaving a Bible on his lunar moon rover; to Apollo 15 lunar module pilot Jim Irwin’s dramatic Christian re-dedication on the surface of the moon.

Very few knew of Buz Aldrin’s private communion service held shortly after Apollo 11 touched down. Or of Apollo 14 lunar module pilot Ed Mitchell’s “space epiphany” that led him into mind science in the hope of scientifically proving the existence of God.

Jimirwin

The most prominent of the lunar landing’s spiritual apologists was Apollo 15 lunar module pilot, Col. Jim Irwin, the astronaut turned evangelist upon his return from the moon. In his 1973 book, “To Rule The Night”, Irwin wrote:

“It is not an accident that the lives of the lunar module pilots have been more changed by the Apollo flights than the lives of the commanders or the command module pilots. The people in my slot were sort of tourists on these flights. They monitored systems that were, for the most part, not associated with control of the vehicle, so they had more time to look out the windows, to register what they saw and felt, and to absorb it.”

On the Moon
“I felt an overwhelming sense of the presence of God on the moon. I felt His Spirit more closely than I have ever felt it on the earth, right there beside me, it was amazing. When we were struggling with the difficult tasks on the EVA (extra-vehicular activity), a key string broke and I couldn’t get the science station up, I prayed. Immediately I had the answer. It was almost like a revelation. God was telling me what to do. I never asked Houston because I knew there would be a delay. I prayed, and immediately I knew the answer. I am not talking about some vague sense of direction. There was this supernatural sensation of His presence.”

On Earth
“The most important thing I can say to you today is not that Jim Irwin walked on the moon, but that the Son of God Jesus Christ, the Creator of the Universe,walked on the earth.” 

Regardless of any statements or the personal beliefs of his fellow moon voyagers, Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan probably summed up their exclusive views of earth best in a public statement made in 1985:

“When I was the last man to walk on the moon in December 1972, 1 stood in the blue darkness and looked in awe at the earth from the lunar surface.What I saw was almost too beautiful to have happened by accident. It doesn’t matter how you choose to worship God…He has to exist to have created what I was privileged to see.”

Of course the Bible that astronauts Borman, Lovell, and Anders read their 1968 Christmas Eve message from affirms the God you choose to worship does matter. The choice to worship mankind’s Creator revealed in the Bible is the most important choice men and women make during their time on earth. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was God incarnate and that He created mankind, our animal and aquatic co-inhabitants, the earth, heavens, sun, and moon (John 1:3). It affirms that Jesus is the only way to God through the sacrificial offering of His life (Romans 6:23). And it teaches that all men and women must accept His sacrifice to receive His life-giving Spirit to be reunited with Him (Galatians 3:13,14).

The Apollo astronauts saw His handiwork. And because they did, so did we.

After six successful moon missions Congress lost interest, canceling their last two scheduled moon flights in 1972. It was expensive to visit, and there wasn’t much to find there except dust and rocks.

But while we were up there, Apollo really took America on some kind of ride. We took on the Soviet Union in history’s greatest race and soundly defeated them with the brains and determination of what Tom Wolfe’s epic Space Race novel would later call, “The Right Stuff”. And we did it from a distance of five years back.

All the same, it makes one wonder, after our space probe missions that revealed the truth of our inner planets, what we were looking for up there once we planted our flag in the dust?

Maybe we were up there simply for the view.

The heavens declare the glory of God and their expanse declare His handiwork.
-Psalm 19:1

It’s Time Again for the October Feasts

tabernace

It’s time again for the Old Testament October feast that speak of New Testament salvation. If you’ve never appreciated what each of these holdays mean to you, you can know this year and experience their joyous call to Divine fellowship in them. They are the Feast of Trumpets (October 1), the Day of Atonement (October 10), and the Feast of Booths (October 15).

As with Passover that was fulfilled by Jesus’ sacrifice during Passover (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 19), all three October God-ordained holy times speak of mankind’s salvation and restoration into His presence. Trumpets and Atonement were fulfilled in part under the Old Covenant, then in total once Jesus bore the cross. The final one in the month, the Feast of Booths, is prophesied by Zechariah to continue into the Millennium, so it has eschatological implications. In that day, says the prophet, every human that survives the Eschaton’s plagues will be required to come into God’s presence in feast observance, and those who don’t will suffer drought.

Zechariah 14:16-19
16     Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
17     And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.
18     And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
19     This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

Intimate relationship with the Father is the theme of all three feasts, as He invites through James, “…draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). While there His purging presence always cleanses and makes us new.  So take advantage of these ancient times to draw near this special month.

First of all, October 1 is the Day God determined for the Feast of Trumpets.

Trumpets: “the first day of the seventh month”

shofarBecause there is so little said about this brief one day of solemn  assembly, some have read their own interpretations into it. Modern day Jewish thought places Rosh Hashanah in its timeframe rotated in modern culture (as is Easter) with the lunar calendar. It stands as the Jewish new year, and is promoted as a time of  repentance, reflection, and prayer. This certainly fits within the intent of Moses’ declaration. Contemporary rabbinical leaders in Israel today also teach that Rosh Hashanah was the day that God created Adam, and the day that God gave the gift of motherhood to Sarah and Hanna. But since most Jewish culture today has yet to receive Jesus as their Messiah, the celebration is man-made, and incomplete, at best. Others have manipulated the invented holiday to predict the Second Coming, to the embarrassment of all who both taught and believed it.

Leviticus 23:24,25
24   “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month of the first of the month, you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.
25      ‘You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD.'”

From the literal intent of Scripture, the holy convocation determined on the first day of the seventh month was to serve as an alert to repentance in honor of God’s fellowship commandment. The shofar spoken of in Scripture was commanded Israel’s use for congregational gatherings and as a call to battle. Its general use was that of alarm, to grab the peoples’ attention. Succeeding feasts in the holy period would require everyone to act in drawing near to God. But first, repentance was necessary. This is as much as can be interpreted from this quick Leviticus verse.

The Day of Atonement: the tenth Day of this seventh month”

Leviticus 23:27
27     “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD.

Following Trumpets is the Day of Atonement, a powerful day on God’s Old Testament calendar that spoke of everything Jesus did for mankind to bring us back to God. Biblical expositors call Moses’ tabernacle, “The Gospel of the Eye,” because of the rich preordained significance each of the offerings, ordinances, and furnishings held in reference to Christ.  Everything in the tabernacle, from the eight-foot tent that made entrance through the front gate the only way to salvation, to the bronze altar, the laver, the lampstand, table of shewbread, cherubim embroidered holy of holies veil, the golden altar of incense, and God’s cherubim protected Arc behind it, spoke of Jesus’ ministry of salvation. 

Hebrews 9:24
24     Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.    

Every atoning tabernacle blood sacrifice directed by God through Moses was a type and shadow of His Son’s ultimate fulfillment of them all on the cross.

The Day of Atonement was the one day of the year the High Priest could enter behind the Holy oftabernace Holies veil. Two goats were brought before him. One was freed, the other killed, and its blood sprinkled before the Arc of the Covenant. The one granted its freedom was called the goat of removal (scapegoat) typified by the Passover release of Barabbas. The one sacrificed spoke of Jesus’ vicarious substitution that paid the penalty for mankind’s sin (Mark 15:15).

The brazen altar sin offering presented at the gate of God’s Old Testament House typified Jesus’ Passover sacrifice that gave mankind entrance into God’s New Testament House (Leviticus 29:10-14; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 9:24).

The Old Testament burnt offering that required the total consumption by fire of a sacrificial ram typified Jesus’ innocent sentence to the fires of hell. Everyone of the fire consuming sacrifices, especially this totally “burnt” one typified Christ’s destiny to suffer the fires of hell as mankind’s vicarious substitution (Genesis 2:17; Leviticus 29:15-18; Matthew 5:22, 23:29-33; 1 Peter 3:18-22).

The unleavened bread wave offering disclosed in Leviticus 28:23-25 was also totally consumed by fire, typifying Jesus’ sinless nature and his subsitutionary offering in the nether world of hell, the regions of the damned.

The same foreshadowing of Jesus can be seen in the red heifer sacrifice that was to be offered outside of Jerusalem’s city gates (Hebrews 13:11,12). And in every meal and oil sacrifice that spoke of mankind’s need to consume Him as our Passover lamb, feeding on His truth (John 6:52-58). 

Because Jesus fulfilled every one of the Old Testament sacrifices to make a, “new and living way,” everyone who has received God’s grace in salvation can enter boldly into His presence shadowed as Moses’ tabernacle that typified the body of Christ.

Hebrews 10:19-23
19     Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
20     by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,
21     and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22     let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Read Hebrews 10 to celebrate the Day of Atonement on October 10 and beyond this year. Without Paul’s revelation in this choicest of all New Testament books, none of the Old Testament’s blood rites and ceremonies would make any New Testament sense. Once you’ve read chapter 10, go back to 8 and read up to 10 again. Then celebrate the day by taking communion, because Jesus fulfilled this feast with the shedding of His blood. 

Leviticus 16:24,25
24   “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month of the first of the month, you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.
25      ‘You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD.'”

The Feast of Booths: “the fifteenth day of the seventh month”

_ScrollLeviticus 23:29-24:1
29  ‘On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate a feast of the Lord for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.
42 “You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths,
43  so that your generations may know what I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord Your God
44  So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of the Lord.

Finally, October 15 brings with it the most exciting fall Feast of them all during which God’s familyis called to presence with Him. Also called, Tabernacles, the people were commanded to make and dwell in tents to commemorate their Exodus out of Egypt. It was at this Feast that Jesus gave his astounding teaching on the new birth.

John 7:37-39
37     Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.
38     “
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'”
39     But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

It was also during this feast, I believe, because of the nature of Jesus’ earthly ministry, His teaching in John 7:38, and the revelation of John 1:14, that Jesus was actually born. What do you think?

John 1:14
14     And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Leviticus 23:34-44
34     “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD.

35     ‘On the first day is a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work of any kind.
36     ‘For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the LORD; it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work.
39     ‘On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.
40     ‘Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.
41     ‘You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
42     ‘You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths,
43     so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'”
44     So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of the LORD.

eldersmarvenkoThe act of faith connected with this time of holy remembrance was a commemoration of the family fellowship the twelve tribes experienced with Jehovah when He led them out of Egypt into their promised land. As the people dwelt in their booths (tents) God dwelt among them. 

When Jesus revealed Himself as God among men, He adopted twelve men to intimately fellowship with. So the ultimate Old Testament dwelling God convened among men finally took place during His earthly, fleshbound ministry.

Through Jesus’ disciples, the world learned what He taught them, and God’s family grew from Jerusalem, to Samaria, to the uttermost ends of the earth. Eschatologically, The Feast of Booths won’t be completely fulfilled until the Millennial reign of Christ, when its observance will be required of all people (saved and unsaved) living in that era. In that day, prophesies Zechariah, every human that survives the Eschaton’s plagues will be required to come into God’s presence, and those who don’t will suffer drought in their regions. 

Zechariah 14:16-18
16     Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and celebrate the Feast of Booths.
17     And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.
18     And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

Once heaven and earth are recreated beyond the Millennium, and man is once again like Adam, God Himself, without the agency of His mediator Jesus, will tabernacle among men.

Revelation 21:35
35     And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them”…

This is the blessing of eschatology: the prophetic life-line of God that has pulled man back into fellowship from the outward ordinances of the Old Testament – to our current New Testament age. Today those who receive Christ become His New Testament temple. Tomorrow we will be transformed as resurrected persons as Jesus is today. In “that” day we will be recreated back into Adam’s original image – when God will again dwell with us as He did with Adam in the garden.

 

Revelation 21:4,5
4     …and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
5     And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

Today the Feast of Booths is hosted by the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem as the Feast of Tabernacles. Christians from around the world come to participate. Tomorrow, all men will be required to participate.

I hope to see you there.

Mark Norris, Publisher, Eschatology Today MA

The Battle of Gog

magogThere is a prophesied end-times war in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel that will once again  unleash God’s divine power to utterly destroy an enemy that comes against Israel. Ezekiel says God will turn this enemy about and put a thought in his head to come out of the north to attack. He adds God will route this enemy (plant a maddening thought) causing its forces to turn their weapons on one another.  And he says a tremendous earthquake that crumbles surrounding mountains and fire from heaven will finish this enemy off. The enemy prophesied is Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Russia, who will deploy out of his country to partner with an unholy alliance to take Israel as a spoil.

Gog of the Land of Magog

Ezekiel 38:1-6
2  “Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him,
3  and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.
4  “And I will turn you about, and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding  swords;
5 Persia (ancient Middle East), Ethiopia (ancient Africa), and Put (northern Africa) with them, all of them with shield and helmet;
6 Gomer (Armenia and portions of Turkey) with all its troops; Beth-togarmah (Gomer’s son with him) from the remote parts of the north with all its troops-many peoples with you. See: Turkey Drawing Away from NATO – Warming Ties with Moscow.

KremlinredToday those on the Russia Gog watch are focusing on former KGB Colonel and current Russian President Vladimir Putin who continues to arm the radical factions of Islamic Jihad that will join Gog in his Ezekiel 38,39 battle. (See: Syrian official answers Netanyahu: We will use all available means to recapture the Golan; Iran Commander: We’re Getting Prepared to Overthrow Israel – Israel wary of Russian military build-up in Syria;  Putin’s Sinister Role in Failed Turkish Coup. If Putin is Gog, Ezekiel 38:3, 4 says God is “against him” and will “turn him about and put hooks in his jaws to bring him and his forces  into the land restored from the sword” (vs.8) where he and his allies will be destroyed. Revelation 16:13-16 gives more detail on this “hooking” of God’s prey as John reveals demonic influence that draws the victims of Armageddon to their doom. When God says, “Behold, I am against you,” and says it twice, that’s doom-frightening, because Peter says the “Lord is patient, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  Reference the Great Flood and decimation of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gem 7; 19). Zechariah 14:12 describes a last-days battle in which God’s enemies’ tongues rot in their mouths, eyes rot in their sockets, and flesh rots where they stand. Ezekiel says there will be a great earthquake that crumbles the mountains (Ezekiel 38:19,20) and describes a routing (God provoked thought-inducing madness) that will pit Gog soldier against Gog soldier (as occurred in Jehoshaphat’s war with Moab and Ammon [2 Chronicles 20]). Divine fire from heaven will finish Gog and his allies off (Ezekiel 38:21). After, their bodies will be offered to the birds of the air as a sacrifice (39:4), burial will take place for seven months in the valley of Hammon-Gog, and the battle’s weapons will be burned for seven years (39:11-16).

The prophet describes the battle’s end and purpose in the following verse:

Ezekiel 39:28-29
28 “Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. 29 “I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares the Lord God.

Russia’s had a murderous, strangling. stronghold throughout its history. The 1917 communist revolution was in response to theirPro-Russian-separatist royals’ tyranny. The Tsar was a murderous despot. The torturing, murdering, communist regime that followed made the Tsar look like an Eagle Scout as they terrorized and killed any who thought unpolitically correct thoughts. Like his 20th-Century predecessors, Putin is no one to be trifled with, and is having a heyday with the West’s weak resolve. He wants to conquer and reintegrate former Warsaw Pact countries they enslaved after WWII then lost when the USSR folded. And he viewed the past White House as a pawn on a chess board he could easily move. The Trump Administration is moving as quickly as possible to repair the situation. The Obama Administration’s astounding alliance with Iran at the expense of America’s historic pacts with Israel and Saudi Arabia produced Saudi Arabian airstrikes on Yemen. They are the inquisitive onlooking accusers in Ezekiel 38:13 who are identified as Sheba and Dedan (born to Abraham’s second wife Ketura). Today they are moving closer in alliance with Israel for their disdain of Iran. Prince Mohamed Bin Salman has made impacting nation changes moving them away from hardline Islam and recently called Iran’s leader the New Hitler. Very interesting. Also See New Saudi Prince Commits to Eradicating Terrorism and Revolutionary Guard-head Accuses Saudi Arabia of Treachery Against Islamic World. And see Saudi Crown Prince Says Iran’s Supreme Leader Makes Hitler Look Good and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince slams Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, backs Israel’s right to exist.

Ezekiel 38:13
“Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish with all its villages will say to you (Gog), ‘Have you come to capture spoil? Have you assembled your company to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to capture great spoil?'”‘

So eschatology is on the move.

Citizens on the ground today say there is no Russian nationalist threat in Ukraine, and never has been since the USSR disbanded. Putin’s propaganda plan states the opposite, claiming Russia’s nationalization of Ukraine, like Crimea, will bring protection and peace to the propagandized unrest. The drop of oil prices recently brought Putin to the UN negotiation table to stop his Ukraine invasion. The huge men in the black ski masks aren’t pro-Russian Separatists; they’re Russian Special Ops. Only the naive could think otherwise. Attacks continue after his agreement to cease. His alliance with the Syrian government just saw Russian troops deploy to that country Russia Puts Boots on the Ground in Syria. Once this all boils down, and it will, maybe Putin will have fulfilled his initiation as the Eschaton’s antichrist. Ezekiel’s battle is probably one in the same with John’s Revelation 16 and 19 Battle of Armageddon.  Let’s speculate. Why would there be a second battle after Ezekiel’s battle culminating words?

Ezekiel 39:28-29
8 “Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. 29 “I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares the Lord God.

The mushrooming alliance is staring us in the face, and anything could break tomorrow. Possibly Putin will fade from the scene before Ezekiel’s battle and a successor will fulfill the role. Regardless of his presence, hermeneutic key words and events of the two biblical battles certainly connect.

RussiaIran Possibly western mission creep will allow the former KGB colonel to evolve to a pinnacle of political power where he affects Daniel’s 9:27 week of peace  initiating the Abomination of Desolation (Great Tribulation). He has great influence with the anti-Israel nations of Iran and Syria. He recently forged a new military pact with Iran. See Russia & Iran forge military compact as Iran & Hezbollah vow massive attacks on Israel’s northern tier; and The Iranian Dream of A Reborn Persian Empire; Russian Missile Sales to Iran Cross “Another” White House “Red Line”; and  Iran is massively ramping up arming of Hezbolla in preparation for a major assault on Israel.  Also see my article: Iraq in Prophecy? the Iranian Dream …and now the President Trump has committed to moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Iran Commits to Defending Palestians. If Putin is able to affect such a covenant as foretold in Daniel’s prophecy, it won’t be by his own power, but by God’s who will be working His final move of worldwide salvation through His latest political tool.

The divine judgements that vanquish God’s foes in Ezekiel 38, 39, and Revelation 19 are definite key event connections. However, there are different events mentioned by Ezekiel and John. And to be theologically practical, any good eschtatologian must look at them.

First, unlike John’s Battle of Armageddon where the antichrist and false prophet are instantly cast into hell while their allies are killed by the sword of the Spirit in Jesus’ mouth (Revelation 19:20,21): Ezekiel predicts a seven month burial of Gog’s dead that will be conducted by Israel over a period of seven months (Ezekiel 39:11-16). The carcasses of the dead at Armageddon and Ezekiel’s battle are both eaten by the birds, but it is in Ezekiel only that the burial and, and burning of Gog’s weapons is mentioned (Ezekiel 9:9,10). Could this happen understanding John’s revelation simply kept it out? Though it seems strange, the first seven years of the Millennium that follows the Second Coming of Jesus could see the burial of the Second Coming’s dead over a seven-year period.  The Bible’s prophetic record has always flowed through human vessels, and like the Gospels, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John share the Holy Spirit’s account,10 Destruction in Nature but with differing events. Only in John do we see the resurrection of Lazarus. Only in Matthew do we see the resurrection of saints in Jerusalem when Jesus gave up His Spirit. The four synoptic Gospels also give different accounts of Christ’s miracles. And only Luke tells us of Jesus’ appearance on the shore of Galilee where he ate before the disciples and showed off His resurrection body.  This is why Ezekiel and John’s revelations of the Second Coming, each sharing differing events not revealed by the other, could be the same event. Again, hermeneutics, not special revelation, make sense of the texts.  Study the key events revealed by both prophets and judge for yourself. You do the study. You make the call.

Events are lining up in the Middle East that show the alliance of Gog with Persia (modern Iran, the former entire Middle East) as suggested in Ezekiel 38 building on front page news. The American Administration’s rejection of former strong ties with Israel in favor of its mortal enemy Iran further builds a case for Ezekiel’s coming battle. It is up to us, the church, to recognize and pray for God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. Yes, we do see through a glass darkly now in our present age. But we can see. The Battle of Gog is coming. Let’s keep looking up.

Eschatology Today Publisher, Mark Norris, MA

 

 

Christ in You – the Hope of Glory

Altar IV images

 John 13:20
20   “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”

Hermeneutics; ahh…the art and science of biblical interpretation…the sound of rational comprehension.

You can study world history with the study method’s sound principles, including your local newspaper. And you can study Milton’s Paradise Lost (so as to not get lost in it).

But the inductive study method is particularly suited for studying Scripture because of the many different audiences and messages God breathed into His text.

Context is the foundation on which the house of biblical hermeneutics rests. (See “Interpreting the Rules of Revelation,”  “Apocalypse Now!” and “Hunting for Key Words the Inductive Way”). Who was being spoken to, what was being said, when and where it was said, and why it was said are the “rightly dividing” measure rods (2 Tim. 2:15) for serious Bible students. Key words, key events, general and local truth, and the anointing of God’s Spirit are all key ingredients in the interpretive process.

The rejection of these foundational principles is the reason the Mainstream Prophetic Press has flourished for so long.

Want to know what’s happening in the world? You need to read. Just because a talking head on television reports something as news doesn’t necessarily make it truth.

The same is true with prophetic news. You can take the mainstream prophetic press’ “expert positions” as gospel (as too many do without studying the matter out for themselves). Or you can study other resources to weigh the accuracy of his or her truth. There aren’t too many places you can do that, so Eschatology Today is here to help you gather some facts. Working hand in hand with Scripture and prophetic world events, Eschatology Today can equip you to study the Bible’s text, and discern God’s mind in the last days.

In this article I offer a hermeneutic look at one of our Lord Jesus Christ’s most revealing teachings, the incarnation, which tradition over the years has misinterpreted as the Rapture.

We all want to be raptured. I certainly do. But the interpretation of Jesus’ rapture teaching in John 14 shrouds the most impacting New Testament revelation Jesus disclosed in the Gospels: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s born-again church. Today when John 14 is taught, the Rapture is the emphasis, not this most important of all New Testament truths. Let’s take a look. You be the judge.

The Who, What, Where, When, and Why’s of Biblical Hermeneutics

ChristEmmaus2Again, I like the idea of being raptured to be home with the Lord MORE than the next. But a hermeneutic study of John 14 doesn’t prove this out. Remembering the 5 W’s of hermeneutics (who, what, when, where, why), applied to this passage:  Who Jesus was speaking to in John 14 were His disciples. What was being said was His return to be the Father. When was on the eve of His crucifixion. Where, was at the Last Supper. The when and where’s of this chapter’s revelation are real interpretive zingers. Considering the local truth[1] of the setting: Jesus the Passover Lamb was celebrating Passover with His Passover people in the Passover city. Ten hours later He would die on the cross for your and my sins.

John 14:2-3
2    In my Father’s house are many mansions  if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3    And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (KJV)

The popular rapture teaching based on this amazing passage is commonly taught with the King James translation of “mansion,” which literally means, dwelling place. Modern expositors interpret the word as a heavenly dwelling place and suppose the Rapture as the topic of Jesus teaching. But please consider the hermeneutics of what Jesus was actually teaching.

The local truth of Jesus’ suffering that would begin the next morning at the hands of his floggers and on the cross. The suffering He would endure in the bowels of Hades as mankind’s perfect sin and burnt offering; and His resurrection that would take place three days later—were all focused issues on our Lord’s mind at that time, with one end in mind: the spiritual birth of His New Covenant Church. (Take a few minutes right now to read John chapters 12 and 13 and reconsider Christ’s Cross-headed thoughts.)

Many Mansions
There are also a number of Greek words to consider when studying John’s chapter 14 text, especially the word translated, “mansion.” The King James Version’s popular use of this word in this chapter has etched the idea of millionaire-like heavenly mansions perpetually in Christian thought. Mone[2] is the Greek word translated, which actually means, “dwelling place.” It is used twice in Jesus’ John 14 message (vvs. 2 and 23) and would quite frankly undo the “prophetically correct” rapture message in this passage if honestly interpreted in context.

John 14:2
2    “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places (mone); if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.

John 14:20
20   “In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

John 14:23
23    Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode (mone) with him.

The literal interpretation of verse 23 reveals the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (the Trinity, we, would come to us; NOT us going into heaven to Him. Verse 20 says in that day we would know that they would live in us, on earth.

In My Father’s House…

bibleHermeneutics also forces us to stop and look at the where of these dwelling places. Jesus located them in “My Father’s House.” The Greek word translated house, oikia, in this passage means a residence, and by implication a family. Understanding the meaning, therefore, of three of the four key words in this key gospel passage: “mansion”: (mone); “dwelling place”;  and “house”: (oikos) “a family, a residence”; you could honestly transliterate verse 2 like this:
2    “In My Father’s family are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.

I Go to Prepare A Place… 
The third key word in John 14:3,  “place,” topos, can mean “a spot, location” or figuratively, condition, opportunity.” Demonstrated by the worship practice in the Hebrew tabernacle, there was a place for man in God’s presence, one time annually (Lev. 16; Heb 9:7). Taking into account the local truth of this passage, a new place had to be prepared for mankind’s restoration into God’s presence, and Jesus was on His way to provide it.

Heb 10:19-26
19   Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
20   by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,
21   and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22   let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hagion the neuter of hagios; a sacred thing (i.e. spot) is the word used in this passage. It is not the same Greek word used in John 14, but is translated place in the NAS in context of Jesus’ redemptive ministry.

The revelation contained in this invaluable book also sheds some light on the concept of God’s oikos house: christeye

Hebrews 3:6
6   but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

Understanding this great blood redemption truth (Eph 2:13,18) can confirm and also clarify the where of Jesus’ answer to Peter’s question in John 13:36:

36   Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you shall follow later.”

Where was Jesus about to go? To the Cross. In a few hours He would be sweating blood in agony over its coming. The crucifying acceptance of its life-giving salvation must precede the coming of His Spirit in every repentant heart. It is the place where self must die before God imparts life, and Peter would soon face it.

But again, the real kicker in rightly dividing this passage is the word mone;  “dwelling place.” Jesus was still talking in context the second time He used it when completing His “in that day” prophecy in verses 20-23.

John 14:20
20   “In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

Again, notice Jesus’ declaration in verse 20, and the action in verse 23. In “that day” Jesus was looking toward in verse 20 the disciples would know Jesus was in the Father, and the disciples would be in Jesus, and Jesus in them.

John 14:20
20   “I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

Picture 1434The coming or going in verse 23 is done by Jesus and the Father, to make their mone (dwelling place, mansion, abode) in those who loved Jesus and kept His word. Why the New American Standard version scholars didn’t translate mone either “dwelling place” or “abode” consistently in vvs. 2 and 23 is beyond me. What is consistent is the prophecy of a dwelling place located in the believer where Jesus and the Father would take up residence.  (Do a “I, Me, He” key word search in John 14 and your mind will boggle as you see how easily Jesus went from first, to second, to third person singular in describing the indwelling presence of the Trinity.)
This is incarnation (indwelling), not rapture (second coming), talk. And there’s even more in succeeding chapters that strengthens this local truth. Continuing His incarnation teaching in chapter 15, Jesus used the parabolic language of a vineyard.

I’m a Vine, You’re Branches
John 15:1,2
1    “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
2    “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.

“Okay men,” He said as they walked on in John 15 to their campsite for the night. “I know this is a hard teaching for you right now. So look at it this way: The Father is a farmer, I’m His vine, and you are vine branches. Without our life presence living in you, you will wither and die, like a dead, crumpled branch. Those of you who live, get ready to be pruned, because in you, My Father and I will perform and continue My work.

In chapter 16 Jesus prophesied the coming of His Holy Spirit.

John 16:13
13    “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

Then, finally,  in chapter 17, He prayed for our joint incarnation with the Father as one with them. Notice within the context of this prayer how Jesus didn’t pray to take His disciples out of the world to be with Him in heaven, but to empower them to live victoriously on earth.

John 17:15,21
15 “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 21…that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
03 Christ Amidst theLampstands
The concept of Christ’s body enjoining many human members is “the” astounding revelation of the New Testament Church. Without Paul’s writings we wouldn’t understand it. Without Jesus’ life and teaching, we couldn’t apprehend it. Was Jesus really interested in an event He knew would take place two thousand years from that time in when He was preparing to suffer the Cross to give birth to His church?  Or was He concerned with the culmination of His first coming that would give spiritual birth to His church?

You decide.

Eschatology Today publisher, Mark Norris, M.A.

 


[1] See Interpreting the Rules of Revelation, front page.
[2] If you don’t have them get Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Concoordance and Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Greek Words to open the original language of God’s book.

A Word to the Wise Is Sufficient

04 The Open Door to HeavenEschatology Today launched in 2001 with the intent of giving the church the knowledge of inductive Bible Study to find the literally revealed truth of Bible prophecy in Scripture. Allegorical cut and paste views intended to substantiate a favored Rapture position are all too common. Our currently published, “The Truth About the Rapture”, and regularly published front page articles on The Rapture  (pre-, mid-, pos-trib, linked at the bottom of this article) are based on the the scholarly art and science of literal biblical interpretation, or hermeneutics. Where the Word of God Is Bound, So Are We, Where It’s Not, We Are Free is the basic rule of the study discipline. Hermeneutics and biblical theology were the two greatest take-aways in my Theology B.A. Based on this solid foundation, the most important point in each of these articles is, to STUDY God’s Word for yourself.  The Rapture is the most sought after subject in eschatology (the study [ology] of last [eschaton] things). Our “About Us” section examines the need to stay away from the “prophecy parrot” approach to intelligently defend the Scripture’s revelation of things to come. Only the Bible contains such revelation, setting it apart from other “religious” works that are written by man, not the Holy Spirit. If you’re a pretribber, you should be able to defend your position with the whole counsel of Scripture. The same is true of the mid and posttrib positions.  If you believe the trumpet in Revelation 4:1,2 is Paul’s 1 Corinthians 15:52 “last trumpet” that will bring about the mystery “change” (15:51 Gk: allaso) revealed only in Paul’s Corinthian passage of Scripture, defend it.  Because of the tremendous mystery surrounding most of eschatology, it is possible that trumpet is a last trumpet which may be connected with Jehovah’s annual October Feast of Trumpets that we have no other revelation to substantiate. I doubt it, but I’ve been at this long enough to understand even with “my Last Trumpet” Rapture eschatology based on Paul’s 1 Corinthians 15:50-52, and John’s Revelation 10:7 voice of the seventh angel, there could be more to the event than is revealed in text.

When the Spirit says in Revelation 10:7…in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets, I key word connect that word, Mystery (GK: Musterion), with Paul’s 1 Corinthian 15:51 Musterion. Their resurrection/rapture following 3.5 days of lying dead in the streets is another key word connection. The time frame possibly types the first half of Daniel’s 70 weeks with 3.5 years that will culminate with the Rapture and Bema Seat of judgment/rewards for the saints (Revelation 11:15-19). Once the church is gone the bowls start pouring and the Great Tribulation in Revelation 13 begins. I am hermeneutically confident in my view, basing my Midtext Pretrib position on these key word and event assessments. Nevertheless, now 28 years into the serious study of eschatology, I understand I could be wrong. The angel’s15 Angel with Small Scroll  seven peals of thunder heard in Revelation 10 that John was commanded to strike from his record shows the mysterious nature of God’s last-days revelation, leaving me vulnerable to unknown revelation God chose to withhold from the church.

“Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.”

Revelation 10:1-7
1 I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire;
2 and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land;
3 and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices.
4 When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.”
5 Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven,
6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, WHO CREATED 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,
7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.

02b John TurningWhatever the angel revealed, Jesus didn’t want the church to know.  I remember in 1988 when a NASA scientist convinced much of the church the Rapture would take place in September, many charged up their credit cards thinking they would be raptured with no accountability to pay them back. You figure it out.  When the Last Revelation Trumpet blows (you will only find a sequence of trumpets that you can identify a last trumpet with in the Book of Revelation), the Ark of the Covenant appears in heaven with lightening, thunder, and an earthquake. What’s that all about? Though the New Testament antedates its purpose,  it could be a message of then entering into  God’s presence.  The time for judgment of the dead and the reward of God’s bondservants, prophets, and saints occurs at that time with “God’s reign”. As is true that the Book of Hebrew’s  revelation is essential to understand the Old Testament Hebrew sacrifices: Paul’s  Rapture/Ressurrection eschatology in Thessalonians and Corinthians are essential to understanding John’s Revelation. Yet,  today, we look through a glass darkly. Then, when we will see and know Him, face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12). As is true of Bible study in general, as we look to Jesus’ return and study the prophetic Scriptures, His presence empowers us to know Him better in the NOW, and opens our minds and spirits to discern His return.  Squabbling over a rapture position defeats the reason for John’s revelation in Revelation 1:3: Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. Knowing that Jesus will one day return (Rev 1:7 BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be) should inspire a consecration in our lives. Jesus’ parable of the minas (Luke 19:11-27) promising age to come rule is a weighty revelation, and a powerful reason to be ready for His return – whenever that might be. The church has been waiting for it since Jesus was raptured off Bethany (Acts 1:6-11). It’s easy to get caught up in the weeds and arguments of a rapture position. So keep studying with us! Know what you believe, get out of the position-slamming business, and continue with all of us getting ready for His return. Maranatha!

Mark Norris, Eschatology Today Publisher, MA

Click on the following articles to develop your own (not some expert’s) Rapture view.Eschatology Today Three

About Eschatology Today

Eschatology and the Kingdom of God

Interpreting the Rules of Revelation

Hunting for Key Words the Inductive Way

Parables, Anointings, Visions and Dreams

The Truth About the Rapture

Rapture Right or Wrong, Are You a Pretribber?

Rapture Right or Wrong, Are You a Midtribber?

Rapture Right or Wrong, Are You a Posttribber?

Apocalypse Now!