Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Wrath of God in Daniel's 70th Week

In my last article I gave my reasons why I think all of Daniel’s seventieth week should be considered Tribulation. The term “a great tribulation” was used by the Lord when describing the period of time proceeding from the Abomination of Desolation (Matt 24:21) and should not be thought of as simply persecution only occurring within the last half of the week. The full meaning of tribulation involves other forms of hardship and trials, including what are often referred to as “birth pangs”. But even assuming I am correct in my arguments, this alone would not exempt the Church from experiencing the 70th week. The Church has, and always will, experience tribulation in all its meaning, this side of the rapture.

The eschatological wrath of God is, perhaps, a different matter. There is somewhat of a consensus among the different viewpoints that, while the Church is not spared tribulation, it will not experience God’s eschatological wrath. Usually, various Thessalonian verses are evoked to make that point (1Th 1:10; 1Th 5:9-10). But I should point out that some pretribulationists do not agree that the wrath of God mentioned in these verses is eschatological, and Richard Mayhue is one good example of this. Renald Showers, on the other hand, devotes several pages in his book “Maranatha – Our Lord, Come!” arguing that the wrath of God spoken of in these verse is, in fact, eschatological because of the context.

I’m inclined to think that a person’s rapture view will predispose them to identify the wrath of God in diverse places in the 70th week, which is compatible with that individual’s assumptions. A pretribber will assume the wrath of God begins with the opening of the seals, whereas non-pretribulationists will argue that God’s wrath does not occur until after the 6th seal. Most posttribulationists feel that this occurs immediately after the 7th trumpet, coinciding with the rapture. The simple fact is that nothing happens unless the Lord opens the seals.

A frequent and persistent objection put forward by non-pretribbers is that the wrath of God isn’t mentioned until the 6th seal; therefore it hasn’t occurred in the previous seals. Furthermore, it is sometimes claimed that at the 6th seal, the wrath is still future – about to happen. I’ve addressed this assertion before but it needs to be dealt with again.

That a word isn’t mentioned somewhere does not preclude the concept’s existence in a particular set of Scriptures. The irony of all this is that the same logic can be directed at several non-pretribulational assumptions which reveals some inconsistencies in their methodology and criticism:

There is no resurrection or rapture mentioned between the 6th & 7th seals or 7th trumpet – therefore they do not occur there.

The second coming isn’t cited at that point – therefore it hasn’t occurred there.

The word “Church” is not used to describe the Great Multitude – therefore it isn’t the Church.

The word Church doesn’t appear anywhere between chapters 4 to 18 – therefore it isn’t there.

The wrath of man is never spoken of in the six seals – therefore it’s not there.

There is only one type of resurrection mentioned at Rev 20:4 (Tribulation martyrs) – therefore only the Tribulation martyrs are resurrected there. (Some will attempt to argue for a one-phase first resurrection and that the resurrection actually occurs retrospective to Rev 20:4, although it only appears in that verse).

Some presume that because man’s wrath or Satan’s wrath (Rev 12:12) is shown to be active during a particular period then it automatically means that God’s wrath cannot be simultaneously occurring. Real life scenarios would seem to contradict this conclusion. In any conflict there can be any number of parties exhibiting wrath concurrently. Moreover there is no Scriptural rule (or verse) that states that Satan, man and God cannot be wrathful within the same timeframe. But what is relevant is where the wrath of God begins - NOT by doing a word search but by examining Scripture.

In a previous article I looked at Rev 6:15-17: Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"

At the risk of repeating myself, the expression “the great day of his wrath is come” is in the indicative mood with the augment. According to Dana and Mantey “A Manual Grammar of the Greek new Testament” pp 193-94, normally, that kind of aorist tense verb refers to an occurrence of that event in the past unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

So what is the context in those passages?

Non-pretribulationists will argue that the context is in the future. I suggest the only futuristic context is an eschatological assumption for needing it to be so. If we look objectively at cause and effect and forget presuppositions, it’s patently obvious that the unbelievers are reacting to the earthquake; the darkening of the sun and the blood-red moon. The cause of the unbelievers’ consternation is not futuristic, but what has just occurred, and most likely exacerbated by the previous seals (Rev 6:3-8). They have only just come to a sudden, fearful realisation of God’s wrath but have no foreknowledge of the 7th seal or 7th trumpet (1 Thess 5:3-4). It also should be remembered that John is only recording the cry of the unbelievers. The expression – “the great day of their wrath has/is come” is NOT a divine revelation, although people consistently appeal to it.

Wrath of man or God?

The 2nd seal (Rev 6:3-4) has peace removed from the earth through men slaying one another. Because this warfare is the result of human activity, non-pretribulationists claim that only the wrath of man is involved. However, there are clear examples that God has used men and nations as instruments of His wrath in the past - against Babylon (Isa 13:1-5, 9, 17-19; Jer 50:9, 13, 25); He raised up Syria and Philistia against Israel (Isa 9:11-12); He used Assyria as the rod of His anger against Israel (Isa 10:5-6) and the Babylonians against Judah (2 Chron 36:16-17; Ezr 5:12 and Jer 32:28-32).

Some other passages demonstrating that God uses the sword as an instrument of His anger are: Isa 51:17-20; Isa 65:12; Jer 16:4-10 and Jer 24:10. Note the use of the words devastation, destruction, famine and sword as results of God’s anger in Isa 51:17-20. See also Exo 22:24 (sword) and Eze 7:1-15 (sword, plague and famine).

There are distinct similarities in the expression of God’s anger in Eze 5:13; Eze 5:17 and Eze 14:21 to what is occurring in Rev 6:8.

Rev 6:8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Eze 5:13 'Thus My anger will be spent and I will satisfy My wrath on them, and I will be appeased; then they will know that I, the LORD, have spoken in My zeal when I have spent My wrath upon them.

Eze 5:17 'Moreover, I will send on you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you of children; plague and bloodshed also will pass through you, and I will bring the sword on you. I, the LORD, have spoken.'

Eze 14:21 For thus says the Lord GOD, "How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague to cut off man and beast from it!

I find the expression “four severe judgments” interesting in light of the FOUR horsemen of the FOUR seals. Why only four horses in Revelation? Why not seven? There is an unmistakable connection between the four judgments of Revelation and the four results of God’s wrath in Ezekiel 14:21.

Moreover, there is a compelling parallel to the four horses of the four seals in Revelation and the visions of the prophet Zechariah. In Zechariah’s visions we see different colored horses and chariots riding out on God’s command – they serve God’s purpose and they ride in judgment.

In reference to these horses and chariots, Tony Garland makes some observations:

Zechariah’s eighth vision has a greater bearing on the horsemen shown John. Zechariah sees four chariots which come forth from between two mountains of bronze (Zec. 6:1). In our commentary on Revelation 1:15, we understood that bronze is a metal which can withstand the heat of fire and often represents judgment. Each chariot is drawn by horses of different colors—much like our four horsemen: red, black, white, and dappled (Zec. 6:2-3). The chariots are said to be captained by “spirits” (or winds)—a reference to the Holy Spirit or possibly invisible messengers such as angels. There are four chariots, just as there are four horsemen shown John, indicating a global scope of activity…

….the similarities between Zechariah’s vision of the chariots and the horsemen shown John are:

1. Four different categories of horses ride with a global ministry.
2. The horses ride at the command of God—they serve God’s purposes.
3. The horses ride in judgment.
4. The horses have similar colors representing victory (white), bloodshed (red), black (judgment), and pale or dappled (sickness leading to death).

I recommend reading the entirety of Tony Garland’s article HERE

Finally, in his notes on Revelation, Chuck Missler also makes the following observation:

Horses = judgments (2 Kings 6:15-18; Jer 46:9-10; Joel 2:3-11; Nahum 3:1-7; Zech 1:8-11; 6:1-7).

Objection relating to the first seal

A common objection about the wrath of God involves the 1st seal. It goes something like this: if the first seal is the expression of God’s wrath then, because God is responsible for breaking open that seal, He is also responsible for the rise of the Antichrist; the false religious system; the Abomination of Desolation etc. That would mean God’s house is divided. Furthermore, it is argued that it is unreasonable to think that the Antichrist could gain control while God’s wrath is active.

In answer to this it should be pointed out that God’s house is not divided if the releasing of the Antichrist fulfils God’s sovereign purpose. God allowed His servant Job to be attacked by Satan (Job 1:8-12; Job 2:3-6) for His sovereign purpose. It was God’s purpose to raise up a pharaoh to achieve His sovereign plan for Israel (Exod 9:16; Rom 9:17). God also purposed to harden Pharaoh’s heart (Exod 9:1; Exod 9:12; Exod 10:1). Despite the fact that God despises certain practises and deems them abominable, Romans 1:18-32 tells us that He gave Gentiles over to these practises as expressions of His wrath against them. Yet in all this He did not oppose Himself. Moreover, the Lord’s opening of the 1st seal is totally in keeping with what Paul wrote in 2 Thess 2:6-8.

God has specific sovereign purposes for releasing the Antichrist into the world:

The judgment of Israel because they rejected their Messiah (Zec 11:10-14; Zec 11: 15-17; Dan 9:27). This will, in turn, back Israel into a corner and lead to their repentance (Dan 12:6-7; Rev 16:12-16; Zec 12:2; Zec 12:10; Zec 13:1).

God will also use the AC to judge a rebellious world. Isaiah 3:1-15 demonstrates that God sometimes removes good leaders and replaces them with oppressors and gives people up to delusion (2 Thess 2:10-12; Rev 13:3-8). And finally God’s sovereign purpose will be fulfilled by the defeat of the Antichrist and his forces and the resultant ushering in of the Messianic age.

Objections relating to the fifth seal

If the opening of the 5th seal is part of the wrath of God then that means God is the cause of the martyrdom. The first thing we should note is that there is no 5th rider or horse. When the seal is opened, the scene is revealed as having already taken place. God did not specifically orchestrate that event in the way the first four seals were. In other words, while God set into motion the events of the first four seals, the opening of the fifth seal only revealed an event perpetrated (presumably) by the Antichrist’s forces.

Rev 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: (KJV)

Rev 6:9 Now when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been violently killed because of the word of God and because of the testimony they had given. (NET)

Dr Renald Showers points out that the verb form translated as “were slain” is in the Greek perfect tense (Rev 6:9 KJV). A T Robertson and Dana/Mantey agree that because of this, the event has already occurred and is consummated before John’s phrase, “I saw”. Here God’s wrath is implicit in a future sense because of the promise found in Rev 6:10-11. So the 5th seal events are caused indirectly by the opening of the previous seals which are part of God’s wrath but the martyrdom cannot be directly attributed to God.

Another objection I’ve encountered relates to Rev 6:10. If the wrath of God is evident at this time then why are the martyrs crying out to be avenged and for God to judge those who shed their blood?

Given the events of the first four seals and how closely they parallel God’s wrath/anger in the Old Testament (Rev 6:8) it is obvious that God’s wrath is, in fact, in operation. Does the fact that the souls are crying out to be specifically avenged and their killers judged for these particular actions somehow preclude God’s wrath being already present? I don’t see how this could be argued logically.

If I was an angry, omnipotent ruler who wanted to punish and reclaim a land that belonged to me, I would proceed to take action against it. If, in the course of events, the leaders of that land decide to kill some of my loyal servants and some of them cry out for judgment and vengeance – that does not automatically nullify the fact that I am already taking some sort of action. In the first instance, I have my own objectives and in the second, I am going to honor my servant’s request in my own time. It should also be noted that Rev 6:11 informs us that there is a specific number that are to be killed until the martyrs are avenged, and the fact that Rev 20:4 has tribulation martyrs being resurrected indicates that this will be at the end of Daniel’s 70th week.

Dr Showers points out that God is addressed as despotes in Rev 6:10 – which means a husband; an absolute ruler (“despot”); Lord; Master. He also notes that: “the ancient Greeks used this word politically to refer to not only people who intruded into a land already occupied by someone else but also an absolute ruler who had ‘an unlimited possibility of the exercise of power unchecked by any law’” (Rengstorf, “despotes,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 2:44).

Interestingly, Robert Van Kampen taught that the 5th seal martyrs are not part of the Great Multitude. More recently, another pre-wrath scholar proposed that the martyrs included saints of all ages and the fact that they wore robes was not indicative that they had resurrection bodies.

The Two Witnesses

Rev 11:3-7 "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. 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.

Rev 11:10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

Some (probably most) place the Two Witnesses in the second half of the week. I personally think it is unlikely to be the second half because they witness for 1,260 days which means they are killed at the end of the week, and I can’t visualize earth dwellers rejoicing during the trumpet and bowl judgments (depending on your eschatology) and in the throes of Armageddon. Moreover, the false prophet also brings fire down from heaven (Rev 13:13) and it would also compromise the totality of the Beast’s reign and the effectiveness of the Witnesses for all this to occur in the same time span (Rev 13:4, Rev 11:5).

Article by John Whitcomb

But setting that aside, and assuming for the moment that the witnesses emerge at the middle of the last week, the nature of their ministry is that they shut up the sky; turn the waters into blood; strike the earth with every plague and destroy their enemies with fire coming out of their mouths. The nature of these torments that they heap out on the earth dwellers (Rev 11:10) is reminiscent of God’s wrath in the OT. Compare the Egyptian plagues and Elijah’s ministry. Note as well that all this presumably begins at midweek when Satan’s wrath is also operational.

One obvious question that needs to be asked is this – given that God has used men and nations in the past as instruments of His wrath – is God’s wrath present in the ministry of the Two Witnesses? If the answer is no then the respondent needs to qualify that by explaining how this is so, given the OT examples of the nature of those judgments and the fact that it is God who empowers them. If the answer is yes then we should recognize that the wrath of God has already occurred at least midweek, which is problematic for some viewpoints.

Words used for God’s wrath

Sometimes the objection is put forward that the different words used for God’s wrath or anger are technical and should not be applied to His global eschatological wrath or the wrath reserved for Israel as opposed to the Gentiles. One such claim is framed around the word ebrah. It is claimed that it is the only word used for the day of the Lord wrath and only against Gentile nations – never Israel. In fact Eze 7:19 uses ebrah as the wrath of God against Israel in context of the day of the Lord. Another claim is that the various words used for God’s wrath vary in intensity as well as application. However, these assertions lack Scriptural support.

Some final thoughts

Apart from arguing that God’s wrath does not occur before a certain point in the 70th week, there has been a growing tendency for some to argue for a limitation/spiritualization of God’s judgments on the world. The same approach is used for the reign of the Antichrist. Some think the AC’s dominion will be restricted to the area of the Middle East and some surrounding nations and not extend globally. The reasoning for this is based on several presuppositions and interpretations of OT verses. Given this assumption, one of the meanings for the word earth in Revelation is invoked.

Earth gē ghay from Strong’s numbers contracted from a primary word; soil; by extension a region, or the solid part or the whole of the terrene globe (including the occupants in each application): - country, earth (-ly), ground, land, world.

So when we encounter the word earth in Rev 13:12, it is proposed that the meaning to be taken is “region” and not "world". Moreover, the ALL in tribes, tongues and nations of Rev 13:7 (KJV) is explained away because ALL has been used elsewhere in Scripture where it is argued that, in fact, not ALL was really meant (Synecdoche - figure of speech).

The problem with this reasoning is that it is based on dangerous assumptions. In fact there are many instances in Revelation where it is problematic to assume that the word earth "ge" means anything other than globe or world. See Rev 1:5; Rev 1:7; Rev 5:3; Rev 5:6; Rev 5:10; etc and finally Rev 21:1 and Rev 21:24. We might then argue hypothetically that consistency would demand that we could apply the regional meaning to all those verses as well. What's more, if the principle of synecdoche can be applied to Rev 13:7 then it can also be used for Rev 5:9; Rev 7:9 and Rev 14:6.

Rev 13:7 It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.

Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

I find it ironic that, on the one hand some criticize pretribulationists for “bad, escapist theology” that is deemed dangerous in the event the Church isn’t raptured, but on the other hand they attempt to minimize the gravity of Daniel’s 70th week and the extent of God’s wrath!

The following verses are quite sobering to me in the likely event that the Antichrist’s reign is, in fact, global in scope:

Rev 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

Rev 13:9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear.



Opponents of the view that God’s wrath occurs prior to the 7th seal have problems acknowledging the OT examples where God uses nations and man as an extension of His wrath. The basis of their arguments is centred around denying the past tense Greek grammar of Rev 6:17 and appealing to future context. That context is dependant on assumptions regarding the timing of the day of the Lord; assuming that God’s wrath cannot occur before the narrow view DotL (end of week) and the expectation of a rapture either mid 6th and 7th seal or 7th trumpet.

A major thrust of their argument is that orge - which is deemed to be God’s wrath - is first mentioned at Rev 6:17 but anything prior to that is either Satan’s or man’s wrath. They deny that God uses anything other than direct means to implement this wrath. That this view is erroneous couldn’t be clearer in light of the verses below:

Rom 13:3-5 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings WRATH on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of WRATH, but also for conscience' sake.

The Greek word for wrath in the above verses is orge and this dovetails neatly with Rev 6:8.

“…Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.”


drk said...

Hmm. I was thinking the two witnesses were going to show up in the second half of the week, but you make good points, as does the article you link by John Whitcomb. Another thing to note is that the witnesses are not warning against getting the mark (which some presume is in the middle of the week), but rather it is a warning from an angel. Why not the two witnesses? I know it is argued that the witnesses minister in Israel or Jerusalem, and the angel is warning people on a global level, but I would expect the witnesses, if they were around, to also be issuing a warning...

mac said...

You could be right about the witnesses being in the 2nd half. Many scholars do have them there. Perhaps the main reason for that is where they’re first mentioned in Revelation, but I’ve never seen anyone - apart from Whitcomb - address the issue of the competing agendas with the AC.

I notice that some views have the 144,000 appear after the 6th seal based on the fact that in chapter 7 John said, “After this I saw”. I think John was only telling us that he saw something after that, not that it necessarily occurs afterwards. After the 7th seal is opened we get further information about other events such as the false prophet, the Antichrist, the mark etc. And yet those events actually precede the 7th seal in that same system. Chuck Missler points out that after every six events (seals, trumpets, bowls) there’s a narrative pause. This doesn’t automatically mean that those events proceed after that point.

Revelation is silent about the witnesses’ warning regarding the mark of the beast, but maybe they do warn people.

jib said...


wow excellent job! I am impressed. you've obviously been doing ALOT of reading. this is like being in a candy store. so much to read. with all the links you have it could take me weeks just to get through what you have posted here

just my two cents-most of the reading I have done squarely places the witnesses in the first half of the week. interesting that many of those you have read place them in the second half. as you said it doesn't really make sense. I think from comments you have made elsewhere that the book of revelation perhaps not being written in exact chronological order has some merit

mac said...

Thanks for the comment, Jib. Most of this stuff comes from notes I’ve accumulated since Joel’s days. To be honest, most of the material I’ve read has the Two Witnesses in the first half of the week. But one article (by a pretribber) I read recently claims that most hold to the latter half of the week. Practically all posttribbers and prewrathers have them later. Pretribulationist scholar Robert L Thomas, who has penned a two-part exposition of Revelation, has them in the last half as well. I was surprised to learn that Jack Kelley of GraceThruFaith has them appearing half way through the first half of the week. I’d love to hear a full account as to the reasoning for these views.

Timing Of The Two Witnesses.

As for the order of the seals – posttribbers believe they are concurrent. They believe the cosmic signs of Matthew 24 line up with the 6th seal signs which occur at the end of the week. I still don’t know where I lean there.

jib said...

that was about as clear as mud for clearing anything up. you're right it would be interesting to know how he exactly arrived at that conclusion.

Don't know though. If the main job of the witnesses is to minister to Israel and Jerusalem in particular how does one get around the fact that the Jews are are commanded to flee after the AOD which is at the half way point and we know the are killed in Jerusalem so who are they ministering to?. Further as you have noted they never say anything about not taking the mark which to me would put them in the first half and since the judgments of God get worse after the AOD and Satan is wrathful also doesn't sound to me like there will be much cause for rejoicing over much of anything.

mac said...

Here’s a kind response I received from Dr Fruchtenbaum answering a question I posed regarding the “First Resurrection” in the “last day” mentioned in several verses of John’s gospel (John 6:39, 40, 44, 64 and 11:24).

Of interest to our discussion is that he, also, has the Two Witnesses appearing in the 1st half of the week.

Dr Fructenbaum:

I do not think the phrase “the last day” in the Gospel of John can be used to argue in favor of a one-time first resurrection at Revelation 20:4. The phrase “the last day” refers to a period of the end times and does not by itself emphasize only one day or emphasize all events in that one day.

For example, if you simply look at the ones being resurrected in Revelation 20:4 you will notice that he limits the resurrection to those who did not worship the beast or his image and did not receive his mark and so those resurrected in this passage are only the Tribulation saints and no one else. The point of that passage is that the resurrection of the Tribulation saints will complete the first resurrection, since no other believers will need to be resurrected thereafter, and the following resurrection is of unbelievers only 1,000 years later.

Furthermore, we can see from Revelation 11:3-13 that the resurrection of the two witnesses occurs in the middle of the Tribulation which makes it quite distinct from the resurrection of the church and the resurrection of the Tribulation saints. In fact, the time period between the resurrection of the two witnesses and the resurrection of the Tribulation saints is a break of three and a half years. By the same token there should be no difficulty in saying there could also be a break between the Rapture and the resurrection of the Church saints from any resurrections thereafter from different groups of saints.

So I do not think the post-Tribulation is a really good argument here.

Yours for the salvation of Israel,

Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum


mac said...

Just stumbled upon this:

Are You Looking For The Christ Or The Antichrist? A Biblical Analysis Of The Time Of The Rapture by Dr. Renald E. Showers

jib said...

Questions I asked of Frucht

The first cycle of feasts if I understand correctly were fulfilled literally and on the exact day and in one case time of those feasts/holy seasons at the first coming of Christ and moreover were fulfilled in the same year as each other. E.G. in your discussion of Passover you relate that Christ was nailed to the cross at the exact moment in which the Passover lamb was offered up at the Temple. which leads me to my 1st question

1-In your Q&A section under one question about the Rapture you clearly state that the Rapture does not have to occur on any Jewish festival yet you clearly teach that the Rapture fulfills the feast of Trumpets which is entirely logical. So if the Rapture is indeed the fulfillment of the feast of Trumpets can one not say (as with the first cycle of feasts) that the Rapture will occur on the exact day of the feast of Trumpets at the exact time the last of the 100 trumpets is sounded? I know the Bible says we can not set a date-and I'm not, it could be any feast of trumpets we just don't know which one thus preserving the doctrine of imminency to an extent. As a corollary since Paul was writing to what I would presume was a mostly gentile audience rather than a Jewish audience in both Thessalonians and Corinthians, were Jewish customs of the day so well known that his audience would have realized that Paul was indeed referring to the last trump sounded on the feast of Trumpets?

the second part of my question relates more to length of time.
2-Why would all the first cycle feasts be fulfilled within days of each other and yet the second cycle of feasts in their fulfillment be separated by an unknown period of years as the Rapture may precede the Tribulation by an unknown period of time-hours, days, weeks or years and the national regeneration of Israel by at least 7 years (the entire time of the Tribulation)? Should not the feasts of the second cycle all be fulfilled in the same year as well? if not why not.

3-Also my understanding of the Rapture has been that it is not technically part of the Second Coming of Christ since that Rapture does not actually involve a physical return to earth of Christ which the second coming does entail. The reasoning here being that if the first coming involved an actual physical coming to earth then the second should also involve a second coming physically to earth. So since the Rapture does not actually entail Christ physically coming to earth why would any of the second cycle of feasts apply? This line of reasoning however would then make all of the second cycle of feasts be fulfilled with the second coming at the end of the Tribulation.

I like to make puzzle pieces fit and I am having difficulty making these puzzle pieces fit in a nice orderly fashion. I must be missing something somewhere or my understanding of something must be faulty. I will admit that although I realized that Christ fulfilled the Passover feast I really was unaware of the rest of the prophetic significance of the feasts until the last couple of years and I am struggling in my understanding. I really look forward to your answers because I know it will give me more to chew on and digest and increase my understanding.

answer to follow second post

jib said...

Frucht's answer with a some thoughts of min in italics toward the end

While it is true that the first four festivals were fulfilled on the day in which they fell, it does not mean that everything else must happen the same way, and you can see that from just one example. While the Day of Atonement as a national atonement for Israel will be fulfilled only when the whole nation comes to faith, according to Hebrews 9:11-12, the fulfillment of the actual Day of Atonement sacrifice was already fulfilled when Messiah died. However, He did not day on the Day of Atonement, He died on Passover. So on one hand, His death did fulfill the Feast of Passover, but also fulfilled the sacrifice for the Day of Atonement though the fulfillment of the national application of the atonement will be fulfilled only when Israel returns to the Lord. There is no reason to assume the Rapture has to fall on the Feast of Trumpets. While Jewish customs would not have been well known among the unbelieving Gentiles, Paul would have been in the process of teaching these truths to Gentile churches and I Corinthians is good evidence of that. For example, in I Corinthians 5:6-7 he dealt with the Passover. In I Corinthians 5:8 he dealt with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In I Corinthians 15:20-23 he dealt with the Feast of First Fruits. In verse 50-58 he deals with the Feast of Trumpets, so it is obvious he taught them these various truths when he was with them as part of his teaching ministry.

2. While the first four festivals were fulfilled within 50 days of each other, within the same year that would not be quite as possible with the following festivals. For example, the Day of Atonement is fulfilled by the Tribulation, and Israel’s national atonement in the Tribulation. In the Mosaic calendar five days later begins the Feast of Tabernacles which will be fulfilled by the Messianic Kingdom, but as Daniel 12:11-13 shows, the time between the end of the Tribulation and the start of the Kingdom will be a 75-day period, which already lends to a time much larger than it was within the calendar of Leviticus 23. The Rapture will come at least seven years before Israel’s national salvation. So again, we cannot try to prove something by analogy but by the clear statements of Scripture and the last three holy seasons will not be fulfilled quite in the same time element as the first four were though it will be fulfilled in the same order.

3. You are quite correct, the Rapture should not be classed as part of the Second Coming since He does not come to the earth for the purpose of establishing the Messianic Kingdom. However, this does not require everything to be fulfilled on earth either. Again, one cannot use an analogy to prove a biblical doctrine per se. So the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets can be fulfilled in a way that would not necessarily be His presence on earth, though it will involve removal of the saints from the earth to bring them to Heaven. The focus should be on the fulfillment in the same order as outlined in Leviticus 23 but not necessarily within the same time zone per se as the fulfillment on the Day of Atonement sacrifice shows.

I hope this helps to clarify things. Maybe or maybe not as I find some of his reason somewhat circular. In hindsight we know that Messiah fulfilled the first four feasts and how but that isn not something that they knew or even anticipated at that time. Who is to say that we have it correct now? And why do we think that the feasts have to be fulfilled at the start of His second coming when the first ones weren't fulfilled until the end of his First coming?

Yours for the salvation of Israel,

Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum

jib said...

interesting and very succinct article, very well thought out and presented also

mac said...

Hey, Jib, I’m planning to do an article on the Olivet Discourse addressing some of the problems pre-trib allegedly hasn’t answered (or cannot answer). You know - imminency; the gathering of the elect; the rapture in Matt; the “unfulfilled” great commission etc. Are you going to fire off a multitude of questions at me too? I think I’m already scared before writing the thing ;-)

Renald Showers gives 4 possible meanings to the term the last trumpet – one of them being the Feast of Trumpets. If I wasn’t feeling so lazy I’d do a quick summary.

I actually know little to nothing of the feasts and tend to shy away from speculation that the rapture may occur at this or that time. That doesn’t mean that I’m not interested by the way. But every time someone comes up with some pre-trib timing theory like Pentecost or future Blood Moons, the anti pre-trib mockers go to town. As Alesia would tell you, I can get quite animated at times.

While perhaps there might be some circular reasoning in Dr Fruchtenbaum’s response in this case, I’ve seen much worse from the other camps. He may actually have more complex reasons which he hasn’t stated. For example, I found a good answer to the question I’d asked him, in his book “Footsteps”. The response he e-mailed me was additional data.

jib said...

you funny. as to questions maybe maybe not. might make additional supportive comments! I was always taught that the Olivet was talking about the Rapture but I don't think so anymore or have significant doubts at this point. I think those things will be true of the time of the Rapture but only because I think things that are true of the time of the Second Coming will also be true of the time, to an extent, of the time of the Rapture. I forget where I read in the last day or so something rather intriguing about the signs mentioned in Matthew 24 as being the results of the first few seals in Revelation. It was either something posted elsewhere in the last 24 hours or something posted at the Prophecy blogspot. sorry if I remember I'll let you know. I learn by the Socratic method in case you hadn't guessed:-)

I also get a little animated by the whole it has to occur on this feast day etc. I agree about the circular reasoning.

Regarding reasoning that Frucht didn't mention I do think it is because we did listen to his teaching on the Rapture. He mentions in that teaching that one of the reasons he thinks that the Rapture is the Feast of Trumpets is that unlike the other feasts God really didn't command that anything be done other than sound trumpets. no additional sacrificial things, no commands about fasting, feasting etc. Just the sounding of the trumpets. Most of what the feast is felt to represent in Judaism is from rabbinic tradition and is not actually scriptural at all. The only thing God commands is the sounding of 100 trumpet blasts with the last blast being the most significant and being done with a different horn than the others. Apparently there are if memory serves 4 different types of horn blasts on this day with the final blast being longer than the others and I seem to recall being done specifically with the shofar although I may not be remembering correctly on that last part. So his take was because the actual reason for the feast is actually a mystery and seldom mentioned in the OT as to observance that it must represent the Rapture since the church was an unknown entity in the OT. I can't fault the reasoning but one could just as easily say that it represents the Second Coming with the 100 trumpet blasts being the sign of the Son of Man. It is only clear in retrospect that the prophecies refer to 2 comings of the Messiah and not one and perhaps if God had said that Messiah will be coming with 100 trumpet blasts it would have further confused the issue? Plus we can only speculate as to what the sign of the Son of Man in Revelation actually is. Also a mystery. So using his reasoning that because the feast is a mystery both are equally likely. Personal opinion.

mac said...

I had to look up the definition of the Socratic Method. I learn something new every day – and sometimes promptly forget it:

The Socratic Method (or Method of Elenchus or Socratic Debate), named after the Classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate rational thinking and to illuminate ideas. It is a dialectical method, often involving an oppositional discussion in which the defense of one point of view is pitted against another; one participant may lead another to contradict himself in some way, strengthening the inquirer's own point.

I’m pretty sure that my inquiry into the timing of the rapture involved some (not all) of the elements above. I learned a lot by visiting websites holding opposing rapture viewpoints and also noting how they refuted pretribulationism. Then I compared how the likes of Frucht, Benware, Stanton, Showers etc defended pre-trib and refuted other systems. Most sites have a series of rebuttal points to pre-trib. About a year ago, during research, I emailed one site owner regarding the discrepancy where pre-trib was being criticized over teaching a two-stage second advent, yet his system actually teaches a four-stage return of the Lord. The answer I got was that Christ can be omnipresent. Hmmm.

"I think those things will be true of the time of the Rapture but only because I think things that are true of the time of the Second Coming will also be true of the time, to an extent, of the time of the Rapture."

Yep, I think you could be right.

jib said...

I had to chuckle over your comment. And I'll just bet that he didn't see the inconsistency of his position at all.

I do look forward to seeing what you've gleaned from your study since it is an area somewhat in flux for me.

I don't always have all the points either but it is a really good method to learn and for learning although not the best for everyone I'll admit.

mac said...

I think Dr Showers sums up this issue very well in this article. I've read many commentaries from those who claim Rev 6:17 proves the wrath of God occurs after that point. Typically, the aorist tense timing in this verse is argued to be determined by context. One article I read recently went to great pains to point this out. Yet what the author ultimately failed to do was demonstrate the context within his position.

How Will God Express His Wrath Upon the Earth? by Dr. Renald Showers

jib said...

nice link Mac. I've always thought the arguments stating that God's wrath doesn't start until the 6th seal or later are rather artificial and used more to force some sort of support for a view that Scripture actually doesn't support

btw I told GG5 about your site and she is quite impressed. I hope you don't mind. I have told no one else however.

mac said...

No problems, Jib. Thanks for the comments.