Glossary of Prophetic Terms – Definitions
This resource is provided to explain and define many commonly used and frequently referenced terms or expressions relating to Eschatology – the biblical study of End Times, Final Days, or Last Days.
The terms and phrases define many historical and current prophetic views held by various mainline denominations and independent churches. Other views are discussed and defined. However, I Am A Watchman Ministries offers the content from the perspective of our position on the particular subjects. The positions we hold will be reflected in the articles and content you read on the site. Other interpretations of Eschatology may be discussed for comparison, but the site content will reflect IAAW beliefs.
We understand that churches, evangelists and TV personalities espouse views which in some instances agree, and in others vary from I Am A Watchman. The glossary is not intended to disparage their views or dispute their books or sites. Where there is disagreement, we hold to the simple principle – “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Col. 3:14)
We believe in the visible, literal Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. We believe the Rapture is followed by a literal seven-year Tribulation. We hold that the Antichrist is a literal physical human being. We believe in the Post-Tribulation Second Coming of Christ to rule and reign for the 1000-Year Millennial Kingdom on planet Earth. We believe that a literal eternal Hell and Heaven exist—one the final destination of those who oppose God or refuse His offer of salvation; the other the final eternal place of celebration in God’s Presence reserved for those who accept God’s gift of salvation through Christ.
Additional information regarding our Statement of Faith and positions on other issues of Christian belief and doctrine can be found on our This We Believe page.
[TERMS AND SUBJECTS APPEAR IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER]
Abomination of Desolation: At the moment the Antichrist sits down in the rebuilt Third Jewish Temple and declares himself to be God, the Great Tribulation of 42 months begins. At the occurrence of this event, the Jews living in Israel are commanded to flee into the wilderness. All Tribulation saints will know, from that day on, they must now wait 1260 days before the Lord returns. (This return is the Second Coming, not the Rapture.)
Abraham’s Bosom: this term is used only once in the New Testament in Luke 16. It appears to in this passage to be a reference to that place where Old Testament saints are currently located, while they await the Rapture. After the return of Christ, they will be brought from that place up into Heaven to be with the Lord. Paul writes, “…then the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air…” (1 Thess. 4:17)
Abomination of Desecration: this is a literal physical event. Antichrist will enter the newly constructed Third Temple in Jerusalem (see Temple details below), sit on the throne in the Holy of Holies and declare himself to be God. He will do this with the help of the False Prophet (see definition below). Once he officially crosses that line of acting supernatural to declaring to the world that he IS supernatural, his fate is sealed. 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4 makes it very clear Antichrist is not just saying, “I’m a Marvel Comics Superhero.” He doesn’t claim to be ‘a’ god. No, the Antichrist makes it very clear what he means – I am God – ‘THE GOD’ – Yes, That God.
Agnostic: Someone who believes the existence of a greater power (such as a god), cannot be either proven or disproved; therefore, they neither believe or disbelieve in the Christian God or any other deity. It may sound similar to Atheism, but it is not the same. An Atheist denies that God exists. An Agnostic believes we cannot know – no denial necessary.
Age of Grace: Also known as the Church Age, and sometimes called the Parenthetical Period. The Age of Grace is the 2,000-year (and counting) prophetic interval which began when Jesus was rejected and crucified and continues through our time. During this period, Jews and Gentiles who receive Christ become part of the Body, the Bride, the Church. This age will continue until the Church is removed at the Rapture. [See Church Age]
Amillennialism: The belief that there will be no literal 1000-year reign of Christ. Thus Revelation 20 is taken symbolically, not literally, by adherents of this view. Amillennialists believe that Israel has been permanently set aside for all time and that God’s current plan of salvation involves only the Church.
Antisemitism: Hostility towards or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic or racial people group. Over the centuries it has included hatred, persecution, and genocide such as,
- Expulsion and persecution of Jews, Hispania Visigoda (492 AD)
- The killing of Spanish Jews (1391)
- Jews expelled from Spain after Spanish Inquisition (1492)
- The Cossack massacres (the 1640’s) hundreds of Jewish communities destroyed
- Anti-Jewish riots of Kishinev Bessarabia (modern Moldova)
- Stalin’s anti-Jewish propaganda and hate campaigns
- Hitler’s genocide, nearly 6 million Jews killed, including 1.5 million children
- Modern-day Neo-Nazis, and self-proclaimed “Superior Race” groups
Antichrist: The term antichrist appears seven times, all in 1st and 2nd John. He is an End Times fake messiah who aspires to, and likely achieves power over the whole planet. He has other names: Man of Lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:1-12), the boastful king (Daniel 7), leader who brokers a 7-year peace deal with Israel the breaks it (Dan. 9), rider on white horse (Rev 6:2), the first beast rising up from the sea, waging war against the saints and speaking proud blasphemes, receiving his powers directly from the “dragon” Satan (Rev. 13:1-7). Many will bow to the Antichrist believing he is god because of his ‘powers’ (2 Thess. 2:9-11). Jesus tells us some are merely deceived (Matt. 24:5). Others will be forced into submission or killed. Revelation 19:20; 20:10 detail Antichrist’s end – he and the false prophet burn for eternity in the lake of fire! The antichrist is associated with the number 666 which is called the “mark of the beast.” (Rev. 13:16-18) [See Mark of the Beast.]
Apostasy (the): The Bible predicts a rejection of truth or a complete departure from the traditional faith. At various times in history, this loss of faith has challenged parts of the world—think Dark Ages—but this time will surpass any rebellion or denial of God the world has ever experienced. The Greek word [ἀποστασία, ας, ἡ] is translated “apostasy.” It typically described revolt or military coup. (2 Thessalonians 2:3, Matthew 24:11-13)
Armageddon: Armageddon comes from the Hebrew word [Ἁρμαγεδών] meaning “the Mount of Megiddo.” This ancient fortress is in northern Israel; across the Plain of Esdraelon from Nazareth. Armageddon will be the site of the final battle between God and the armies of the Antichrist. (Revelation 16:16) Spoiler alert: God wins!
Atheist: A person who lacks belief in a god or gods. Individuals who use this definition categorize atheists as either negative or positive. Negative atheists, while they don’t believe in a god, do not positively assert no gods exist. Positive atheists, however, typically hold that no form of deity exists and therefore they (positively) do not believe in God.
Bottomless Pit: In the Greek this term is rendered “pit of the abyss.” It appears nine times in the New Testament. Every time it appears it references a place to restrain certain beings who are being held under the judgment of God (Luke 8:31). In Revelation 20 we are told it will be the holding place of Satan during the Millennium (Rev. 20:1-3).
Book of Life: At the Great White Throne Judgment, a book is opened. In it appear the names of every person who responded to God’s call of salvation (Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 20:12; 21:27). Sadly, many will not be there (Matt. 7:22), and no protest can change what is written, or not written in the Book of Life. Those whose names do not appear will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Ex. 32:32,33; Ps. 69:28; Rev. 20:15).
Book of Remembrance: This is the 2nd book opened at the Great White Throne Judgment. In it, God has recorded the deeds of people on earth (Malachi 3:16). These records will not determine eternal destiny (Heaven vs. Hell), it will determine eternal rewards and The deeds recorded there will be a source of comfort, but also embarrassment and shame (Dan. 7:10; Rev. 20:12). Both the Book of Life and the Book of Remembrance are totally accurate because God sees and knows every move we make (2 Chron. 16:9; Heb. 4:13).
Bride of Christ: The Church, which means the collective body of born-again Christians, is represented as a chaste virgin bride (2 Cor. 11:2). Christ, the Bridegroom expects His bride to live holy and pure lives. This relationship is depicted several places in Scripture, including Song of Solomon. The wedding will occur in Heaven, but the reception (Marriage Supper of the Lamb) will be held on earth. When Christ returns at the end of the 7 year Tribulation, the ‘honeymoon’ begins and lasts for a thousand years!
Church Age: The period of the New Testament church, often called the Church Age, began on the day of Pentecost and ends with the Rapture. Some dispensationalists believe the Church Age is the reason there is a gap between the 69th and 70th week in Daniel’s prophecy. (Daniel 9:24-27)
Damascus: The city, currently part of Syria, has existed for several thousand years. It has the unique distinction of never having been destroyed in battle. However, Isaiah prophesied the city would one day be destroyed. “…Damascus will no longer be a city, but a heap of ruins.” – Isaiah 17:1 (NIV)
Day of the Lord: Begins as the Tribulation commences and continues through the 1000 year reign of Christ, because the destruction of the world by fire is still called the Day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:10). Some confuse this day with the Rapture. It begins after the Rapture, which is the reason the Day of the Lord, comes “as a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2). It cannot be the Rapture because the Tribulation has a specific seven-year limit.
Dispensationalism: The view that God’s dealings with His creation have proceeded through well-defined time periods. They believe God has acted out of predetermined and assigned purposes which differ from period to period. Man’s response to God in each of these dispensations has ushered in the next.
The Dragon: This is one of the most accurate albeit symbolic names for the devil. Think of the depiction of Satan in the Garden of Eden. In Revelation 12:9 Satan is again described as, “that old serpent.” Dragon is a variation.
Eastern Gate: The Eastern Gate plays a pivotal role in Last Days prophecy. Currently, the Eastern Gate is the only one that is barricaded shut, completely blocked. Ezekiel prophesied it would remain closed and only be opened by “the Prince” referring to Jesus. (Ezekiel 44:1-3)
Eschatology: Eschatology is an academic theological term which simply means, the study of the final events in earthly human history. The study includes but is not limited to events, prophecies, and predictions related to ‘End Times,’ or ‘Last Days.’ The term is primarily used in the Christian Church.
Eternity: The everlasting state which has no beginning and no end. God has existed in eternity, eternally; having no beginning and no end. Eternity is also an attribute of God (Isa. 57:15; Psalm 90:2). When all ages are tallied, they add up to eternity. (2 Timothy 4:18).
False Church: Revelation 17:1-5 refers to the false church as the “great whore”; not a very nice description, but entirely accurate. During the first part of the Tribulation, this false church will support the Antichrist, actually facilitating his rise to world domination. They all submit to the Antichrist either voluntarily, or forcibly. Their compliance is short-lived because in the second half of the Tribulation the Antichrist destroys the False Church.
False Prophet: The False Prophet appears several places in Revelation. His primary function is to convince the world that the Antichrist is, in fact, the real Christ. He may also be the administrator of the one world church or False Church. The world will worship the Antichrist because of this evil prophet’s work. The False Prophet seems to have some Satan-infused “powers” of his own which lend credibility to his message and causes people to follow the Antichrist. He is present later when the Antichrist magically comes back to life after what appeared to be a fatal wound, possibly the result of an assassination attempt. (Revelation 13:11-14)
Gehenna: Hebrew: Ge Hinnom, (literally, “Valley of Hinnom”). The Valley of Hinnom is the modern name for the valley surrounding Jerusalem’s Old City, including Mount Zion. In Old Testament times it was Jerusalem’s garbage dump; kept perpetually on fire. Several evil Kings of Judah commanded the people to worship a false god – Baal. Worshipers of Baal would cast their children, screaming and alive, into the flames of Ge Hinnom as an offering to appease the false god. (Jeremiah 19:2-6) Because of its evil history, writers of the Old Testament used it to describe a place where evil belonged. Gehenna is also a place where there are degrees of punishment, meaning there could be more punishment or horror based upon ones evil deeds and the number of times they rejected Christ (Rom. 2:5; Matt. 11:23, 24; 23:14). [see also Hell, Hades, Lake of Fire]
Gog: Ezekiel describes Gog as being “…from the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.” (Ezekiel 38:2-3) In Ezekiel’s prophecy, Gog will lead an army of several nations who attack Israel.
Gog and Magog: There are two Gog Magogs (Ez. 38-39; Rev. 20:7-8), and two distinct wars. Gog and Magog in Revelation 20 is the namesake of the wicked Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 39. Revelation 20 uses the name as a comparison. The first battle doesn’t mention Satan, whereas in Revelation 20 he’s the central figure. Christians will not experience Act I as the Rapture precedes this war. Christians will be present for Act II, as part of the conquering army at Jesus side when the Antichrist is defeated and condemned to Hell.
Gog and Magog [Act One]: This war takes place in the first 3½ years of the Tribulation, before Antichrist’s rule, possibly right at the midpoint when Israel is living in peace (Ezekiel 38:8,11). Many believe a Russian alliance which includes Iran, Syria, and Turkey, attacks Israel. God Himself obliterates the coalition in the mountains. So many die it takes 7 months to bury them!
Gog and Magog [Act Two]: This is quite literally the war to end all wars. In Act I a few nations attack Israel. The second battle includes all the nations of the world under the rule of the Antichrist. This time the entire army is wiped out, and the leaders – Satan and Antichrist – are cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10). No mass burials because the dead are consumed by birds! (Revelation 19:17, 18, 21) Following this bloody mess, the first earth is destroyed, then replaced by a new Heaven and new Earth (Rev. 21:1).
Great White Throne: This judgment is a sad and devastating time in eternity where the unsaved face the irreversible choice to reject, ignore, or deny Christ. Every unsaved person who ever lived will stand before God. The Bible says “small or great” meaning the guy selling $5 bags of drugs to little kids in dark alleys, and the despots like Hitler or Kim Jong-un. Here, they face the One Who held the power they sought. All those who did not accept Jesus Christ will stand before God to receive their judgment.
The Bible says, “according to their works” but this should not be misinterpreted to mean the things they did determined their fate—if they’d only done more nice things they would have gotten off easier at the Great White Throne. (Revelation 20:11-15) No, this judgment is all about what they did not do—accept Christ as their Saviour. Hitler’s sentence to eternal damnation is not the result of murdering three million Jews. It’s all about Jesus, the One Jew he should have trusted.
Heaven: The eternal home of the Godhead, Heaven is a literal place and the eternal destination of those who trust in Christ as their Savior. Paradise and Heaven are used interchangeably in Scripture. Jesus referred to Paradise as He was dying on the cross, telling one of the two men by His side, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”(Luke 23:43) Jesus knew He would die and be taken to Heaven with His Father. Heaven and Paradise are equivalent. The description of paradise (Rev. 2:7; 2 Cor. 12:3-4) further clarifies the synonym. Over the centuries poetry, literature, and the arts have associated any place of love or delight with Heaven.
Hades: Is a term comparable to Sheol. Hades, however, is a reference reserved almost exclusively to describe the place of the wicked dead. Regarding Eschatology, it would be the place where the evil dead – those who died without Christ – currently reside awaiting their eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire or Hell. (Rev. 20:14) In that final judgment, Revelation 19:20 describes death (Hades/Sheol), Hell, and all their inhabitants being cast into the Lake of Fire. [see also Hell, Tartarus, Gehenna]
Hell: Hell is the place of eternal damnation (punishment). When Jesus made reference to Hell, He was referring to a place of punishment. In Luke 16:23-26, Jesus told one story about a man in Hell as being in torment, flames, and pain. Some suggest it is only a parable, but this is not the case. Jesus told many parables but never used real names of specific individuals as He did here.
The word “Hell” as used in the Bible, has been interpreted from numerous terms in the original Hebrew or Greek. Gehenna and Sheol are used in the Old Testament, whereas the New Testament introduces the concept of a Lake of Fire. The Biblical understanding of Hell is based on the Hebrew and Greek historical references which can be translated differently based on the context. Two terms are translated Hell or Hades. [see also Hades, Tartarus, Gehenna, Lake of Fire]
Historicism: Historicism is the view espoused primarily by Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists, and the Jehovah Witnesses. Historicism is the theory that all current church ages should be interpreted using a days=years formula. For example, Historicism would teach that the 2300 days of Daniel 8 and 1290 days of Daniel 12 are not days, but years. They also teach that the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments in Revelation chapters 7-16 are historical events over the past 2000 years. This erroneous theory has led to multiple predictions of Christ’s return, none of which happened.
Israel: God’s chosen people – the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2 that of his seed God would build a great nation. Israel is the term used for both the nation and the Jews who live there. The nation, the people, the promise and the land of the Nation state. [see Nation of Israel, 12 Tribes of Israel]
Jacob’s Trouble: This event is referred to by Jeremiah as “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” Daniel calls it “the time of distress such as never before occurred” (Daniel 12:1). Jesus quotes this prophecy in Matthew 24:21, where He answers the disciples’ question about Christ return. The time of Jacob’s trouble will take place during the 3-1/2 year reign of Antichrist. It will be a time of great suffering on earth, brought on by the actions of the Antichrist which cause God’s wrath and judgment to be poured out on a sinful world. (Jeremiah 30:7)
Judgment Seat of Christ: Also sometimes referred to as the BEMA seat. The Apostle Paul used that Greek word in 2 Corinthians 5:10 translated, “judgment seat.” Historically and Biblically BEMA referred to a platform where winners of athletic events were awarded their crowns or medals—picture our modern Olympic Games. Paul made numerous sports references in his writings so it is not surprising he would choose this term. The BEMA seat of Christ is not a judgment which determines someone‘s eternal salvation; this judgment is where our devotion to Christ is rewarded. (1 Cor. 3:9-15) Later these crowns are given back to Christ in worship. (Revelation 4:10,11)
Kings of the East: In Revelation 16:12 we see the 6th angel pouring out a vial into the Euphrates River; which immediately dries up! This miracle made it possible for the Kings of the East (more about them later) to march into Israel. Although the Kings of the East are commonly interpreted to be the nation of China, the use of ‘Kings’ plural, could mean it also includes China’s heinous ally North Korea and others.
Lake of Fire: The specific phrase “Lake of Fire” is only found in Revelation (19:20; 20:10, 14-15) where it describes the final abode of the Devil, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and all their co-workers, both demonic and human. It is the ultimate and final Hell. In Matthew 25:41 Hell is described as a place of burning sulfur. All condemned to this inferno suffer unabated eternal torment. Those who have over history rejected Christ are currently ‘suspended’ in Hades or Sheol – the temporary abode of the unsaved dead. On that day, death and Hell (and all their inhabitants) will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:14) with its unspeakable agony and unrelenting torment (Luke 16:24; Mark 9:45-46). But that’s not the worst part. The worst, “the Hell of it” is what is not present—God. Without God, there is no love, forgiveness, joy, kindness, relief, hope, or pleasure of any kind. [see also Hades, Hell, Gehenna, Sheol]
Little Horn: In his vision, Daniel described a little horn which rose up from among ten other horns. The little horn is most likely another representation of the Antichrist. The Apostle John describes the Antichrist in almost the same terminology. (Revelation 13; Daniel 7:7-8,19,25)
Magog: Magog is one of the grandsons of Noah (Gen. 10:2) Magog’s descendants settled in what is now Europe and parts of Asia. Ezekiel refers to the people of Magog as skilled warriors (Ezekiel 38:15; 39:3-9).
Maranatha: An End Times term used as a watch word. First century believers used the term to express the thought “Our Lord cometh.” (See 1 Cor. 16:22) The same thought is expressed in Revelation 22:20 where John writes, “Even so come, Lord Jesus.”
Mark of the Beast: [see also Number of the Beast, 666] Each person alive during the reign of Antichrist will be required to be marked. The mark is related to commerce possibly replacing all currency and credit. The mark will be displayed on each person’s right hand or forehead (Revelation 13:16-18). No transaction will be possible except with the mark: income, food, movement, and personal safety will all be subject to it. Accepting the mark will not be optional, refusal is punishable by death! The penalty for receiving the mark is also death – in Hell (Revelation 14:11). It is 2018 as this is written; many such devices and technologies already exist. Revelation 13:18 says, “This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.” Many have tried to say definitively what the number 666 means. No one will know for certain until the beast arrives. [see also Number of the Beast]
Messiah: In the first century the Jews missed their Messiah Christ the Savior. The Jewish prophets had described Him in minute detail, yet they did not recognize Him when He came. One day He will return and end war, establish a government for Israel, and the world. Midway through the Tribulation, the Jews will recognize Jesus Christ as Messiah thanks to the 144,000 Jewish witnesses.
Mid-Tribulationist: A Mid-tribulation position describes a Rapture which will occur at the midpoint of the seven-year Tribulation. A Mid-trib position accepts that God will force Christians to endure the events and persecution of the first 3½ years of Tribulation then rescue them from the destruction of the 2nd half. This Eschatological belief is in comparison to Pre-trib – before the Tribulation begins, and Post-trib – after the Tribulation ends.
Millennium: After the Tribulation, Jesus Christ will return to Earth with His saints – all the people who have ever given their lives to Christ. Jesus will set up an earthly Kingdom where He will rule over a peaceful planet for one thousand years (Rev. 20:3-4).
Nation of Israel: According to the Office of Historian, US State Department, Israel was established as a nation on May 14th, 1948, when David Ben-Gurion, head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. President Harry S. Truman officially recognized the new nation the same day. The borders of the country have been disputed ever since that day. (State of Israel used interchangeably with ‘Country’). The Israel Science and Technology Directory notes that Israel is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. The inhabitants of Israel and descendants of the 12 tribes are commonly referred to as Jews. Israel in the End Times study is the central focus of prophecy. They are, have been, and always will be God’s chosen people.
New Heaven and New Earth: A detailed picture of the New Heavens and New Earth is recorded in chapters 21 & 22 of Revelation. The reference is to a re-created place which will be the eternal home many simply refer to as “Heaven.” Some confusion has developed over the years regarding details in each place. The streets or gold and pearly gates (Rev. 21:21) will be in the New Jerusalem, which will actually be located on the new earth, not in heaven. The “New Heavens” will likely include a completely re-imagined universe. We have only begun to understand fractions of the one we currently inhabit, and soon we will get a new one! With the magnitude and splendor of the first ‘heavens,’ it is not even possible to conceive what God could do now that He’s had a little practice!
Number of the Beast 666: When Antichrist sets up his one-world governmental system he will have complete monetary, military and statutory control of every country. Every human on the planet will be identifiable by a number – the number 666 Rev. 13:16-18). Much speculation and mystery surround the number reference. Some suggest it refers to a computer because most Bible translations use the word “count” or “calculate” (Rev. 13:18). A supercomputer would be required, because all humanity “small and great, rich and poor, slave and free” will be included (Rev. 13:17). [See also Mark of the Beast]
Pearly Gates: The “Pearly Gates” have often been used to depict Heaven, in myth, legend, cartoons, and even misrepresented by some teachers. The gates of pearl are not in heaven at all. They are the gates of the New Jerusalem which comes “down out of heaven” but is technically not heaven itself. One other point is, the pearly gates do not bar the entrance into heaven. The gates will always be open. They will “…never be shut by day, and there will be no night there.” (Revelation 21:22-25)
Pentecost: In Judaism, this holy day, 50 days after Passover, celebrates the harvest of first fruits and Moses receiving the Law of God – the Torah – at Mount Sinai. Christians remember Pentecost as the day the Holy Spirit filled the Apostles with the power to speak in tongues, perform miracles, and preach the Gospel to the world.
Pre-Tribulation: Sometimes referred to as Pre-trib or Pre-tribulationalists. This author is a Pre-trib Rapturist. This is the position or belief that the Rapture will occur before the seven-year Tribulation begins. This theological position on Eschatology is in comparison to Mid-trib, and Post-trib which teach the Rapture at the middle or end of the Tribulation respectively.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 describes Christ’ return as a “meeting in the air.” All believers will be caught up to meet the Lord: first, Christians who have died throughout history will be called out from where their spiritual being has resided since death. Their mortal bodies will be resurrected, perfected and caught up to meet Jesus. Christians who are still alive will follow these resurrected saints to meet the Lord. This takes place “…in a flash, the twinkling of an eye.” (1 Cor. 15:52)
Post-Tribulationist: This position anticipates the Rapture at the end of the seven-year Tribulation, meaning Christians will be required to suffer through the plagues, wars and natural disasters of Revelation. The terms ‘Rapture’ and ‘Second Coming’ can be used interchangeably to describe this position. This Eschatological belief is in comparison to Pre-trib – before the Tribulation begins, or Mid-trib – at the Tribulation midpoint.
Preterism: This is the belief that nearly all prophetic events, as interpreted in light of this philosophy, have already happened. Many Preterists believe events in the year 70 AD fulfilled the book of Revelation. Now they await only Christ’s return and thousand-year reign.
Rapture: The Lord Jesus will descend from Heaven to gather His saints. While remaining in the air, He will retrieve His Bride, the Church – finally able to abandon a sinful world. All those saints will accompany Christ to Heaven for a 7-year wedding feast. This exit of the Church makes way for the rise of Antichrist fulfilling Daniel’s final 70th week. (Matthew 25:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54)
Red Heifer: Weird alert! Some believe that the Tribulation Temple Mount must be “cleansed” before the Third Temple can be built. For this process, the Jews will need the ashes of a pure red heifer. That speculation comes from Numbers 19 where King Solomon cleansed the first Temple with the ashes of a specially prepared red heifer. (Numbers 19:2-9) NOTE: Don’t start a cattle ranch.
Replacementism: Replacement Theology holds that Israel, having failed God, was replaced by the New Testament Church around the year 70 AD, when the Temple was destroyed. They believe the Church is “Spiritual Israel” or “Spiritual Jerusalem.” This position claims that all the promises and blessings, in fact, Israel’s entire inheritance, now belongs to the Church. However, don’t worry, all is not lost; Israel gets to keep all the curses.
Restrainer: The Holy Spirit resides in all born-again believers. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 teaches us that the Presence of the Holy Spirit on Earth restrains the forces of evil. Because the Holy Spirit lives within us, all power, giftings, and manifestations which existed in the First-Century are available in the Church Age. (Acts 1:5-8) When the Church leaves at the Rapture, the restraining power of the Holy Spirit will also depart (Matthew 5:13).
Rosh Hashanah: On the first and second days of Tishri (September), Jews celebrate the Jewish civil New Year (not the calendar New Year). Specially designed shofar trumpets are blown beckoning God’s people to repent. Some Christians expect the Rapture to be associated with Rosh Hashanah (Numbers 10:1-10).
Second Coming: This is the event when Christ will return, vanquish the Antichrist, and set up his 1000-year earthly reign. It’s important to understand the Second Coming is not the same as the Rapture. The Rapture takes place 7 years before the Second Coming (making it technically the Third Coming). There is another significant difference between the two – the Rapture could occur at any moment. We know the Second Coming arrives 42 months (7 years) after the Antichrist defiles the Temple declaring he is God (Revelation 13:5; Matthew 25:13).
Sheep and Goat Nations: Following Christ’s victory at Armageddon, the Lord Jesus begins judging nations (Matt. 25:31-46). The rebels—goats nations—are ‘purged’ and enter into judgment and punishment. Those who have been converted by the 144,000 witnesses are characterized as sheep who go into the millennial reign of Christ. (Revelation 7:14; Acts 2:21). As in other places, those who rejected Christ are lost, just as any sinner in any dispensation is lost because they reject the Savior.
Shekinah: The visible majesty of God’s Presence. Shekinah is pictured throughout Scripture in various forms: It surrounds Mount Sinai where Moses received the ten commandments. It hovered over the yet unformed Earth in Creation. It followed the nation of Israel through the desert as a cloud by day, and fire at night. It was often seen as a brilliant light or shimmering shadow around the Holy of Holies in the Temple. It rested between the cherubim in the Tabernacle, in Solomon Temple, and over the Ark of the Covenant. Shekinah was a term initially used by Jews, but Christians often use it to describe the tangible but invisible presence of God.
Sheol: Is the Old Testament term which is also sometimes translated ‘grave’ based on the context of the particular verse, story, or regular use of the individual writers. When it is translated as Hell, it means the Jewish understanding of a place of eternal punishment. It is never used figuratively – as in a predicament or untenable situation. (It is also not used as a platitude or curse word.) Sheol appears 13 times in the OT, and in 11 of those references it is translated by the King James translators as ‘grave.’ In the two instances where it is not, the reference is obvious from the context that the author does not mean a grave where dead bodies are. [see also Hell, Abraham’s Bosom]
Statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream: Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about a massive, spectacular statue. It had a head of gold, its chest and arms were silver, it had a bronze belly and thighs, two legs of iron, and feet composed of part iron and part baked clay—tall shiny and ugly. Out of nowhere a huge stone block comes flying down and smashes the giant’s feet, which causes the massive statue to crumble to the ground; where it turns to dust and blows away. After detailing the dream, Daniel tells the king God has shown him the future, and then Daniel explains the future Nebuchadnezzar saw. (Daniel 2:31-35) This one is long, so more about it later.
Streets of Gold: There is only one reference to streets of gold in Revelation 21:21. The streets of gold are not in heaven as commonly misquoted; they are in the New Jerusalem which is on the New Earth. There are some who have questioned the passage pointing out that gold is malleable (soft) and easily worn by something such as the foot traffic which will no doubt happen with the number of people who will inhabit the city. It is a general rule in interpreting Scripture, that we take it literally first, and if there is significant reason to question it, we do further study. In this instance, John uses the Greek word chrusion, which in other places is translated ‘gold, gold jewelry, or gold overlay.’ Later in chapter 21, John measures the city with an actual measuring device (verse 15). He describes other specific gemstones in the foundation of the city (verses 19, 20), and the walls made of Jasper and gold (verse 18). One final note: in a city where the ultimate focus is God and His glory and significance, the earthly value of gold will pale in comparison.
Tabernacle to Temple: During the desert wandering the Jews transported the Tabernacle, a giant open-air courtyard of deconstructible curtain walls, and chambers, the innermost was called the Holy of Holies – the place where the visible glory of God dwelt. It was only entered by the High Priest, and only on certain occasions. Eventually, the Jews conquered Canaan and Jerusalem became their permanent dwelling. No longer a nomadic people, the Tabernacle was tucked away, and King David ordered a permanent Temple be built on Mt. Moriah, the location of the threshing floor he purchased from Araunah (2 Sam 24:24). Each Temple has a prophetic place and purpose.
Temples – First Temple: Solomon’s Temple bears his name because he commissioned and oversaw its construction to the exact details given to him by his father, King David. The Temple was completed around 987 B.C. Its opulence was Israel’s love and devotion to Jehovah on display! The temple was known across the entire region. Rulers of other countries came to see it’s grandeur. 1 Kings 6:1-38 records the Temple construction project took 185,000 men seven years to build! Calculating the precious metals, finest cedar, gemstones, food for 185,000 men for seven years, it’s impossible to calculate the total price tag. With current precious metals prices, cedar, gems, stone, and labor costs, to rebuild Solomon’s Temple today would cost more than $1.3 Trillion dollars.
Roughly 400 years later in 587-586 BC, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem torched the entire city and exiled the Judean leadership to Babylon. He destroyed everything including Solomon’s Temple. (2 Kings 25:8,9)
Second Temple: In 539 BC, King Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon. He subsumed the empire under his own rule and permitted the Judeans to return to the land and rebuild the Temple (read Ezra 1). It was completed under the reign of Darius as chronicled in the book of Nehemiah.
The first two temples were built in Zion “The City of David” on the site of the threshing floor which King David purchased from Arnon. (2 Chronicles 3:1) Zerubbabel and King Darius rebuilt the Temple in the same location. The temples were not geographically located in the area currently known as, “The Temple Mount.” The historic Zion was not the entire city of Jerusalem, it was located in Jerusalem. Recent archeology has unearthed the possible location of Zion about 1000 feet south of the Temple Mount.
The prophets Haggai and Zechariah urged the people to rebuild Solomon’s Temple, but the work was interrupted when enemies reported to Cyrus that the Judeans were rebelling against his kingdom. The book of Nehemiah chronicles the completion of the Second Temple in 516 BC under the reign of King Darius.
During the early First-Century Herod, the Roman-appointed head of Judea made substantial modifications to the surrounding area, expanding the size of the Temple. In 70 AD Roman general, Titus, in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24, destroyed the entire Temple complex. First Century historian Flavius Josephus witnessed the destruction first-hand. He recorded that the Temple was so completely obliterated, and the area so leveled, that had he not been present and personally witnessed its destruction, he would not have believed it was ever there. He noted,
“…it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited.” [Jewish Wars VII 1.1] (Whiston trans., italics, bracketed words added)
Where was the Second Temple built? The newly flattened area likely became desolate and weed-covered. During the Byzantine Period Jerusalem’s Biblical name “Zion” shifted to the southern portion of the Western Hill which is called Mount Zion to this day. The Byzantine Church of Holy Zion only reinforced the error. All that to say what?
Jesus explicitly stated the Temple would be so eradicated that not one stone would remain atop another (Matthew 24:1,2). If the Temple Mount was the Second Temple site, Jesus was wrong because Jews believe the “Wailing Wall” survived the destruction. If Jesus was right (and He was), the Second Temple was not on the Temple Mount.
Third Temple: The Third Jewish Temple will have to be completed before the Antichrist comes to power in the first half of the Tribulation because that Third Temple is where the Antichrist will sit when he declares himself to be God. (Amos 9:11; 2 Thess. 2:3,4) There is much debate among Bible scholars about where Jews will construct the Temple. Many believed it would be on the Temple Mount in modern-day Jerusalem. However, recent archeological projects indicate the Second Temple was more likely located about 600-1000 feet south of the Mount.
It should be noted that the Western Wall, or “Wailing Wall” as it has come to be known, cannot be a remaining portion of the wall of the Second Temple as some believe. It would be Biblically impossible for the Second Temple to have been located there because Jesus explicitly stated the Temple would be so obliterated that not one stone would remain atop another. (Matthew 24:1,2) The Second Temple was destroyed by the Roman Emperor Titus in 70 AD. If the Temple Mount was the Second Temple site, Jesus was wrong because Jews believe the “Wailing Wall” survived the destruction. If Jesus was right (and He was), the Temple was not on Temple Mount.
Tribulation: The seven years following the Rapture comprise the Tribulation; divided into two halves. The first 3-1/2 years will be a time of false peace, a False Prophet, and a false Christ with a false sense of absolute power. The second 3-1/2 years will be the complete opposite – the greatest suffering in human history. God’s wrath is poured out on the Antichrist and his compatriots who are defeated at Armageddon. (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:21)
Two Witnesses: During the Tribulation, two men will prophesy in the streets of Jerusalem. These two witnesses will have the power to call fire down from Heaven, to prevent it from raining, to turn bodies of water into blood, and to command numerous plagues. (Revelation 11:5,6) Many scholars believe the two men are Moses and Elijah which would make sense because one called down fire from Heaven in 2 Kings chapter 1, and the other spoke the plagues over Egypt 2 Kings chapter 7. Their preaching, 42 months of it, enrages the Antichrist who has them killed, or at least he thought so, but three and a half days later they are resurrected and ascend to Heaven.
Wormwood: A star of meteor named Wormwood will impact earth and poison one-third of the world’s water supply. God created the stars (Job 9:9) and knows the whereabouts of each of them. The star named Wormwood is no different. God will use it at His pleasure. (Jer. 9:15). Side note: in the Ukranian language the word for Wormwood is “Chernobyl.”
Wrath of God: During the Great Tribulation the Wrath of God is released on all humanity in gruesome and terrifying judgments. Not only the people, but the very planet will endure these hardships, diseases, plagues, and death. God’s wrath is released because the world refuses to abandon its wicked ways. Some will face His wrath because they accepted the Antichrist’s mark. (1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9; Rev. 14:9-11)
10 Toes Horns and Kings: Daniel and John prophesy about the leaders (Kings) of various parts of what was once the Roman Empire. They are referred to like different parts of a beast, with ten toes, and ten horns. These ten leaders could lead ten countries or ten regions of the world, but it appears their sole purpose is for each to surrender all their authority and territory to the Antichrist. (Daniel 2:41-44, 7:20; Revelation 17:12,17)
12 Tribes of Israel: The twelve tribes of Israel bear the names of the twelve sons of Israel – the name God gave Jacob. Those twelve sons and tribes are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Isacaar, Zebulun, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin (Ex. 1:1-4)
24 Elders: These 24 figures appeared around God’s throne in John’s vision. This group is believed to represent the pivotal characters and groups in the New and Old Testaments. Later John refers to the Holy City. In his description he notes that the names of the 12 tribes of Israel are posted on the gates, while the names of the 12 apostles are inscribed on the city’s foundations. In Revelation 4:10,11 the saints of all the ages are praising the Lamb for shedding His blood and casting their crowns before Him.
144,000 Jewish Saints: God will appoint (‘seal’) 144,000 Messianic Jewish evangelists, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes. Some passages seem to indicate God will send an angel to in some way mark their foreheads, much like the Antichrist requires in false worship. Before the Antichrist enforces his mark, the 144,000 sealed Jews will be sent out to be witnesses to the unsaved during the Tribulation. (Revelation 7:2-8)
200 Million Man Army: Some reference Revelation 9:14-16 to determine that during the second half of the Tribulation, under the command of the Antichrist, an evil army of 200 million soldiers will be amassed. Loyal to the Antichrist, and deluded in their belief, they will cross into the Middle East by crossing over the area which was the Euphrates river but has dried up or been dammed up. Four demons will lead this torturous army who will ultimately kill one-third of all humanity. (Revelation. 9:14-16; 16:12)
70th Week: This is the final seven years of what might be called “Gentile domination” of Israel and more specifically Jerusalem as prophesied by Daniel (Dan. 9:26-27). Some hold that the last ‘week’ or literally the last 70 weeks of years (490 years), of Daniel’s prophecy will commence after this long delay. (Dan. 9:27)
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