Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Covenant Program in Biblical Covenantalism

See also HERE 

God's Wrath in the 4th & 5th Seals

This is a re-post. I still see people asserting that God's wrath does not begin until after the 6th seal. They continue to assert that the 5th seal martyrs are one proof of this. But I don't see where they properly respond to arguments set forth by Showers and Fruchtenbaum. Some of the links may be broken.

In a terse response to Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum's citation of Ezek 14:21 to show that God's wrath is present in the 4th seal (Rev 6:8), Dr. Charles Cooper once declared:

Fruchtenbaum fails to notice that these words are spoken against Jerusalem and not one fourth of the world as indicated in the fourth seal of Revelation 6:7...The issue is whether Scripture indicates that God will use these judgments in the future against one fourth of the world. There is no prophecy in the Old Testament that God is going to use these judgments against the world during the "great tribulation." Not one!

Fruchtenbaum well understood that the opening of the 4th seal by Jesus Christ inaugurates events which are called God's judgments in Ezekiel 14:21, and also wrath and anger elsewhere. Cooper failed to adequately address Fruchtenbaum's numerous points (When The Trumpet Sounds pp 385-387).  Robert Van Kampen stated that one needed more information to determine whether God's wrath was present in the 4th seal, rather than a comparison with Ezek 14.

...we cannot automatically conclude that these refer to the day of the Lord's wrath until all the data concerning the seventieth week is analyzed. ~ The Sign (pp 479-480). 

Van Kampen had the evidence he needed but couldn't accept the conclusion due to his system's preconditions that God's wrath must occur after the 6th seal, and only during the prewrath timing of the Day of the Lord. So he needed to find a way around the problem. Likewise, Chris White's presentation asserts that the 4th & 5th seals are Antichrist's wrath. He notes that the word for by in Rev 6:8 is different to the withs and can also mean under. According to White, the term "wild beasts" is "therion" which can simply mean beast and context determines which translation is best:

It’s used 39 times in the book of Revelation, and 38 times the term refers to either the beast (as in the Antichrist), or the false prophet (the second beast), or the image of the beast, and it correctly is translated there as “beast”; However the translators, attempting to clarify the meaning in Revelation 6:8 incorrectly translated the text as “wild beast”– the only time it is not translated simply as “beast” in Revelation –the only time it is not translated simply as “beast” in Revelation; There is no grounds for the translation “wild beasts” in Revelation 6:8; Both famine and plague are here attributed to the methods in which these “beasts” kill, that is in addition to the sword.

Either way, the hierarchy of authority in the verse is obvious. Death and Hades are subordinate to the Lord who opens the seals. Following on from that, the four judgments are the instruments of Death. Psalm 90:7-11 firmly establishes the relationship between death and God's wrath (see Showers, Maranatha - Our Lord, Come pp117-118). White echoed Van Kampen's arguments from The Rapture Question Answered (TRQA p147). It is crucial for them to contend that famine, pestilence and sword all come under the authority and wrath of the Antichrist-beast, rather than God's wrath. On page 147 Van Kampen claims that Death and Hell are given permission "to test and kill, if necessary, those who claim the name of Christ". Notably, he claims this "fourth" doesn't involve the unbelieving world (TRQA p145). In this instance he seems to have departed from his "face-value" understanding.

Darrel Cline sums up why his arguments are convoluted:

Rather than seeing the rather obvious meaning of the fourth seal as death to a fourth of the inhabitants of the earth as a consequence of sword (warfare), hunger (famine), death (Death and Hell), and the beasts of the earth, Van Kampen limits the meaning to only the professing Church (plus Judaism) and makes this the "wrath of Satan against the elect of God". He does this for two reasons. First, he does it to make his "parallelism" between Matthew 24 and the seals more "apparent", and, second, he does it because his construct will not allow the world in general to be subject to divine wrath at this point in the scenario. 

Van Kampen also asserted that Rev 3:10 means preservation within the tribulation (pp175-178), although he is vague as to the nature of this preservation. How can Rev 3:10 be preservation within when there are 5th seal martyrs and posttrib saints to be resurrected? Note that some prominent prewrath rapturists have now taken tereo ek to mean "kept out of" and have consequently migrated to the view that Rev 3:10 indicates a posttribulational-prewrath removal of the church. Here, again, their strategy is to restrict God's wrath to the trumpets and bowls. See also Robert Thomas' The Comings of Christ in Revelation 2-3 

We should ask why God needs to use Satan to sift the church when there's a sorting-out judgment at the end of the tribulation (Matt 25:32). Why does God orchestrate this uniquely terrible period in history against the church and Israel, only to cut it short to preserve flesh (Matt 24:21-22)? Could God not continue to "preserve" the "elect" within the entire tribulation period, including His wrath? Still another problem is that the Antichrist is slain at Christ's appearing (2 Thess 2:8), which is immediately after the tribulation (Matt 24:29-30; Rev 19:11-21).

This view conflates Jacob's Trouble with the "testing of the church", but then it cuts that period short for the church. Jacob's Trouble and the Antichrist's period of authority are stated to be three-and-a-half years, and an unprecedented time of trouble (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1, 7; Matt 24:21; Rev 13:5, 7, 12:6, 14). This is the time God uses to refine Israel (Hos 5:15; Zech 13:8-9; Mal 3:2-3 etc), not the church. Proponents of this system claim that Christ's warnings to the disciples are directed to the future church. Yet they finally differentiate between the church and Israel by having the former removed after a shortened great tribulation, while the latter remains on earth (Rev 12:6, 14).

Getting back to the 4th seal - there are very good reasons why translators render therion as "wild beasts". Aside from Ezek 14:21, Ezekiel 5 also references each of the four judgments mentioned in the 4th seal. Throughout the chapter they're referred to as God's judgment, anger (aph) and fury (chemah) e.g., Ezek 5:15.

So I will send against you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I, the LORD, have spoken Ezek 5:17 

If that isn't enough, in Ezek 7:3-19 we again find references to God's anger (aph), fury (chemah) and wrath (ebrah) associated with famine, sword and pestilence (v 15) and this time in context to the Day of the Lord's wrath (v 19).

Chris White also draws attention to the 5th seal:

The most interesting part of the 5th seal is that the martyrs are asking God how long it will be until He judges those that are killing them; This would seem to indicate that all that has happened so far in the seals (wars, famines, etc.), are not part of God’s judgment...

Pretribulationists point out that the martyrs' request is for God to avenge their deaths. God promises that this portion of His wrath will occur once the number of those to be killed has been fulfilled. However, there are martyrs waiting to be resurrected after God's wrath (Rev 20:4). As a solution, Van Kampen proposed that these were the 5th seal martyrs who weren't resurrected during the rapture (The Sign p 406). More recently, others have resorted to the posttribulational argument that Rev 20:4 is a recapitulation of what has occurred earlier.

The 5th seal does not preclude God's wrath from being present as part of God's sovereign plan to redeem the earth. In Isaiah 10:4-5 God states that He raised and used Assyria as the rod of His anger and indignation. Assyria is later punished for its actions (vv12-15). In When the Trumpet Sounds (p 394) Fruchtenbaum also cites Habakkuk chaps 1 & 2 to show that God actively (Hab 1:6) - rather than permissively - used the Chaldeans to punish Israel. Babylon was less righteous than Israel (Hab 1:13) and once God's will was accomplished, He also punished the Chaldeans (Hab 2).

According to Eschatos Ministries:

All pretribulationists (rightly) claim that believers will not experience the wrath of God (cf. 1 Thess 5:9). Yet this [5th] seal explicitly reveals that it is directed against believers, who have ended up as martyrs! So pretribulationists, according to their logic, have believers being killed by what they assume is the wrath of God. May it never be!

That is an odd statement about "logic" and assumptions considering Van Kampen's assertion that the 4th seal is authorized by God specifically against the church (and Judaism) and which results in martyrdom. This view posits that the church is exempt from God's wrath; therefore it cannot be present there. Authorizing these same OT-wrath judgments to be inflicted on the church appears to be okay, as long as God's motive isn't wrath. That is circular reasoning.

Pretribulationists note that the 5th seal reveals what has already taken place (see Showers' Maranatha pp 109-110). Unlike the previous seals, there is no hierarchy of authority administering punishment through a rider and horse. The reason for the saints' martyrdom is because of their testimony (Rev 6:9), not because of the seal.

Moreover, the prewrath position must have post-rapture unbelievers coming to faith in order to enter the millennium in their physical bodies. According to that view the 144,000 are saved immediately after the rapture of the church. At Rev 14:6, an angel preaches the everlasting gospel to those dwelling on the earth. Hence, contrary to the above objection, that view also has saints on the earth experiencing the "trumpets and bowls wrath". One might then ask - should the existence of these intra-wrath saints preclude a prewrath rapture? If not, then how does the existence of newly-saved tribulation saints, experiencing earthly conditions under God's wrath, disqualify a pretribulational rapture?

Finally, the Two Witnesses' ministry spans 1,260 days of the 70th week. Of these, Robert Thomas notes that: "Their power to accomplish their mission is phenomenal" (Revelation 8-22 p 90). Fire proceeds from their mouths; they can stop rain; turn water into blood and strike the earth with plagues (Rev 11:5-6). The scope of their ministry is so broad and effective that "the peoples, tribes, tongues and nations who dwell on the earth" celebrate their deaths because of the torment inflicted upon them by these prophets (Rev 11:9-10). Fire, plague and water into blood hearken back to Old Testament examples of God's wrath. The Two Witnesses are instruments of God's wrath.

I doubt that any of the above will sway someone who is predisposed to their preferred position. But claims that pretribulationists don't use scriptural arguments are way off the mark.

Further reading:

Myron Houghton's review of The Rapture Question Answered

Darrel Cline's The Rapture is When?

The Chronological & Sequential Structure Of Revelation

Alan Cole's Reviews Part One & Part Two

Cole's critique of the Pre-Wrath DOL

The Chronological Relationship of the Three Septet Judgments of the Tribulation
To Daniel’s Seventy Weeks

A Comparison of the Synoptic Eschatological Discourses
and Revelation 6–20

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

How Many Second Comings Are There?

Pretribbers are often said to hold to more than one future coming of Christ. There is some irony to this accusation - a topic I've written about before. Anyway, interesting thoughts by Jim McClarty

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Words of the Covenant - Book Review

My review of Dr. Paul Henebury's book - The Words of the Covenant: A Biblical Theology (Volume 1 – Old Testament Expectation) - can be read HERE  You can read more from the author at his blog HERE 

There's a lot of work in reading the book and doing it justice. It's well written and not too academic, but there's a lot to digest. My hope is that it attracts more interest because it is an important contribution to biblical theology. And note that this is Volume One. Volume Two (New Testament) is forthcoming.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Most Men Cave . . . Jesus Didn’t

Jon Harris on a warning from a secular source...

Jon talks about the book “Ordinary Men,” which illustrates the fact that most people do the wrong thing when forced. He then relates it to the current situation and encourages people to know their convictions and stand with others who have proven themselves already.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Thoughts on Socialism and the Bible

Socialism is becoming popular in the United States, especially among the younger generations. One poll noted that 61% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 thought positively of socialism. Another poll said that 43% of Americans thought some form of socialism would be a good thing for the United States. The popularity of socialism in the United States is due in part to the political popularity of politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but it also seems that many young people embrace socialism without really understanding what socialism is...keep reading