Friday, August 31, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 31 - Revelation 11:14-19

The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly. Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:
"We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth."
Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. (NKJV)

The Seventh Trumpet

Recount the number of woes, trumpets, and seals up to this point. 

We are now about to see the third of three woes, which is part of the seventh of seven trumpets, which is part of the seventh of seven seals. The last woe will contain seven bowls of God’s wrath, which are plagues. This is the beginning of the end. If there has been any doubt about when God’s wrath is poured on the world, it should be removed now. Heaven has said that His wrath has come but more important is that Christ will begin His reign. Unfortunately the nations don’t like it and the beginning of His reign will be with anger and judgment.

What will be the beginning of Christ’s rule over the earth be like? 

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isa 9:6-7 NKJV)  

We are very familiar with verse six since it is quoted many times at Christmas to celebrate Jesus’ first coming. However, I doubt that many people know verse seven which promises judgment or justice as some translations say. At the sounding of the trumpet, the prophecy of Isa 9:7 is about to be accomplished. Jesus is Prince of Peace, but we also have the reality of Rev 11:18 that says the nations are angry. The beginning of His reign isn’t going to be peaceful. 

The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet." (Ps 110:1 NLT)
But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God's right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. (Heb 10:12-14 NLT)  

It is clear that David was speaking of the Messiah, Jesus, when he wrote this psalm. Hebrews not only reiterates that Jesus is waiting for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet, but it adds some insight. Jesus first had to provide a sacrifice for sins that would be a once-for-all sacrifice. That sacrifice has made all believers prefect in Him and so He is also waiting for all who will accept Him to place their faith in Him to be made holy. 

How are Jesus’ enemies made a footstool under His feet? 

Many people believe that it is the job of the Church to make His enemies His footstool. They believe that the only way He will return is for us to preach the gospel to the entire world and subdue it. While I believe we are to preach to the whole world, I don’t think that the Church is God’s instrument to subdue the world. From long ago, God has announced that this was to be His work.  

"I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption has come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me victory, and my wrath upheld me. I trod down the peoples in my anger, I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth." (Isa 63:3-6 RSV)  

When Jesus begins His reign on earth, He will subdue the nations that are His foes. Just as there will be no one who can help Jesus pour His wrath on the nations, there isn’t anything anyone can do to save himself or anyone else for that matter. Jesus has paid the price and has provided our salvation. Only when we accept that it is entirely by His merit and not our own that we can be saved. 

The Lord will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying, "Rule in the midst of Thine enemies." Thy people will volunteer freely in the day of Thy power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Thy youth are to Thee as the dew. (Ps 110:2-3 NASB)
The Lord is at Thy right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country. (Ps 110:5-6 NASB) 

These verses also clear up who it is that will establish the kingdom, and how. The Lord will do it. It is at this point in the book of Revelation that He extends the scepter to Jesus and causes Him to rule in the midst of His enemies. We can see that it will take a battle. A description of the troops sounds like glorified saints or angels, but certainly not missionaries. We are now concerned for souls and spreading the word, not physically conquering our enemies. Yet the Lord makes it clear that He will crush and overcome the kings of the earth. 

Is Jesus currently the ruler of this world or is Satan?  

Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. (John 12:31 KJV)
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. (John 14:30 KJV)
Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. (John 16:11 KJV)  

Satan is currently in charge of the world. The trumpet announces that it is now given to Jesus. In John, Jesus reiterate that Satan is in charge of the world. However, He also marks Satan’s time as short. His influence is weakened as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus breaks his power and the power of sin over believers – but not the world. Just as he has no control over Jesus, he has no hold on us, at least as long as we abide in Jesus.

Satan has been condemned for almost 2,000 years; however the sentence has not yet been carried out. The trumpet is announcing that Jesus is now going to carry out the judgment that He announced to the apostles. However, Satan knows the end is near and is coming to do his worst even though he is condemned. 

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor 4:4 NIV)  

Satan is the god of this age and he has blinded people. This is why they did not repent in the first part of Rev 11.

Judging and Rewards

How are those who are to be judged described and why are they described in this way?
How are those who are to be rewarded described and why are they described in this way?

The time has come for judging the dead and rewarding His servants. Isn’t it interesting that the Lord has divided people into two categories – the dead and His servants?

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, (Eph 2:1 NASU)
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, (Col 2:13 NASU)  

Over and over, the New Testament makes it clear that all who do not believe in Jesus is already dead, even though they are physically alive. This concept is necessary for unbelievers to grasp so that they will know that they need a Savior, someone to make them alive. 

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26 NKJV) 

The opposite is true for those who believe in Jesus. We are alive and even though we may physically die, we will still live. Jesus’ question of Martha is one that every person needs to answer in the affirmative at some time before they die physically or they will stay spiritually dead forever.

Those who believe are called servants. This is something that must be emphasized over and over again. In a world where people are told that they can believe anything they want, it is easy for us to tell someone that all they need to do is believe in Jesus. While this is correct, the Bible also informs us that belief is shown by obedience (Luke 6:46-49). 

 So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:17 NLT) 

How is it that these judgments and rewards are announced at what we thought was the midpoint of the tribulation? Shouldn’t they come at the end of the tribulation? 

Judgments and rewards sound like something that should be coming at the very end, not at the middle of the tribulation. This announcement could be similar to those we see many times in the Bible when God slips from near time prophecies right to the end. This occurs often when pronouncing judgment on a specific generation. Or, it could mean that it will take three and a half years to pour out His wrath on the earth while His raptured saints are being prepared to take over the kingdom.

We will have plenty of time to talk about the judgment, however it would make sense to stop and review the parables that Jesus told after a long discourse about end-times (Matt 24). The first was told to emphasize staying ready for His return (Matt 25:1-13), the second to demonstrate and emphasize that His saints will be rewarded and that those who disobey will be punished (Matt 25:14-27). The third is a description of the final judgment providing rewards and punishment (Matt 25:31-46).  

What are the rewards and punishments Jesus described in Matthew 25? 

you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master. (Matt 25:23 RSV) … inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; (Matt 25:34 RSV) 

 Jesus is teaching that there will be a time when the saints are in charge over much. This is something that has yet to come and it will be fulfilled on the earth as He has promised. It still boggles my mind to think that there will be a time when Jesus looks at what we have done and actually gives us charge over parts of His kingdom. We won’t see any more details of rewards in the Book of Revelation for several chapters. Before that occurs, there will much detail about the judgment to be carried out on the earth. 

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Matt 25:10-13 KJV)  

When the rewards will be handed out those who were not ready will be barred from the festivities. We will be enjoying the company of Jesus while the rest of the world will be knocking at the door wanting to get in, but it will be too late. I have a feeling that when this announcement is made at the seventh trumpet, there may not be any more opportunities for people to come to Jesus.


How should Christians regard and respect our world?

The term environmentalist unfortunately carries the connotation that the person who is concerned about protecting the environment has made it a political or philosophical issue so that it becomes a religion to him. Many put the environment above the needs of people and essentially worship creation instead of the creator.

This certainly isn’t the attitude Christians should have toward the physical world. The last phrase in Rev 11:18 points out that God is going to destroy those who destroy the earth. If we don’t have the proper regard and respect for God’s creation, then we will undergo His discipline. Those who disregard nature and do not know Jesus will suffer God’s wrath.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. (Gen 2:15 NASB) 

The first few verses in Genesis 2 describe the earth and the Garden of Eden when it was first created. Before the fall, man’s job was to take care of the beautiful creation that God had provided. After the fall, it became more difficult, but man’s responsibility to care for creation didn’t change.  

For the creation  was subjected to futility, not willingly, but  because of him who subjected it, in hope that  the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Rom 8:20-22 ESV) 

Because of the fall, all creation started to decay. As Christians, we must understand that while we need to care for our environment, we know that it is in a state of decay. That means that some species will become extinct despite our best efforts. We cannot, therefore, put their preservation above the needs of mankind. We must have the proper perspective regarding man and creation.

That perspective is provided in Psalm 8 as it states that God’s glory is manifested in His creation and mankind has been given dominion over it. But the psalm also put us at a higher level, just below the heavenly being. We don’t want to mess over God’s glory.

The Temple

What is the biggest difference between the temple in heaven and the one that was on the earth? 

When the door of the temple in heaven is opened, it is as if all on the earth could plainly see what it is that God expects. The Ark of the Covenant is on display. The Ark of the Covenant on earth contained the tablets of the Law, which must be completely obeyed in order for anyone to be declared righteous. It is impossible for any of us to keep every law for our entire lives. All it takes is one little white lie to fall into the category of sinners.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10 KJV) 

The temple on earth always reminded people of their sins and their separation from God. The temple in heaven reminds us that it is only by the blood of Jesus and His mercy that we can be saved. It reminds us that we now have access to God by the blood of Jesus and we are no longer separated from Him. 

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Heb 9:11-12 KJV) 
Mercy triumphs over judgment! (James 2:13b NIV) 

Jesus has already been in the heavenly temple and has cleared the way for all believers to come to God because He has sprinkled His blood on the mercy seat that covers the Ark of the Covenant in heaven. God’s mercy triumphs over the requirements of the Law as symbolized in the mercy seat covering the Ark of the Covenant.

When the heavenly tabernacle is revealed, it will condemn all who have decided to live without faith in Jesus and all those who have decided that they could live by the law, either the Mosaic Law or the law of their own consciences (Rom 2:12-24). Therefore, the law that is represented by the Ark of the Covenant in heaven will judge them. They will have no excuse since they have had the law within them.  

Some believe the Ark of the Covenant shown in heaven is the one that was lost on earth. How would you explain that this not correct? 

The Ark of the Covenant in heaven is not the ark that was lost when the temple was destroyed as some claim. The one in heaven was there before the earthly ark was made. The temple on earth and all the furnishings were made after the pattern that was shown to Moses. As the Heb 9:11-12 clarifies, the pattern wasn’t simply drawings, but the perfect tabernacle that isn’t man-made. While the earthly Ark was lost or destroyed, the one in heaven has always been there.

How does revealing the Ark in heaven with lightning, thunder, an earthquake, and hail relate to the earthly temple? 

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Ex 40:34-35 KJV)
And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. (Lev 16:2 KJV)  

When the Lord filled the earthly tabernacle even Moses, God’s friend, could not enter it. When Solomon brought the Ark into the temple in Jerusalem, the priests couldn’t minister because of the cloud of God’s glory filling it (2 Chron 5:14). Now His glory is being exposed to all of mankind. The result is the storm of His wrath.

Only the high priest was to enter the holy of holies where the Ark of the Covenant was. If anyone entered at any other time or in any other way, he was to die. If the whole world is now able to see the Ark of the Covenant, then they are about to die.

These are strong arguments that there will not be any more people coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus from this time through the end of the tribulation.

Summary – Preview

God has given us every chance to come to Him. The message has been made plain to all by these last two witnesses. The announcement that the last woe is about to come indicates that there is still some time before the end. In fact He will send three angels to make sure everyone on earth hears the message. His judgment has come upon the world. The next three chapters go into more detail of the last seven years as well as providing a historical summary of the battle between good and evil that has led up to this time. 

What will be the fate of those who haven’t sworn allegiance to Jesus before this time? How are they like many people today? 

Those who haven’t sworn their allegiance to the Lord Jesus by the time the seventh trumpet has sounded may be so hardened that they will never do so. The rest of the book indicates over and over that people don’t repent.

It is also the same with people today who don’t know Jesus and continue to reject Him. These are people who have heard the message many times and have never responded to the Holy Spirit. There comes a point in their life that they will not repent either. They have scoffed too many times at the claims of Jesus. They may have simply said tomorrow too many times thinking they can accept Jesus at their leisure. Like pharaoh of Egypt, their hearts have become hardened.  

For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God's mercy to us. For we know the one who said, "I will take revenge. I will pay them back." He also said, "The Lord will judge his own people." It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb 10:28-31 NLT)  

Those who reject the testimony of the two witnesses in Revelation will have trampled the Son of God under foot, treated His sacrifice as unholy, and insulted the Spirit of grace. Anyone who has repeatedly rejected the message of Jesus Christ is doing the same thing now! The seventh trumpet may sound for them at any time. While they will always have the opportunity to repent, they will refuse to do so.

If you haven’t turned to Jesus in faith, I urge you to place your faith in Him. Now!

Let those of us who know Jesus continue to do all we can to repeat the message.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 30 - Revelation 11:4-13

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. (4-6)
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. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. 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. (7-10)
But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. (11-13 NASU)

Two Witnesses

Who do you think these two witnesses are or represent? 

As the tribulation starts, God calls two men into a unique ministry that has parallels to some of the prophets in the Old Testament. They are called to proclaim God’s Word openly and in such a manner that evil people will try to silence them by killing them. Because of the parallels to the past, many believe that these men are reincarnations of the actual prophets.

Some believe that these two have the same spirit as two Old Testament prophets.

Others, who need to symbolize everything in Revelation, say they represent the Church because the Church is persecuted, but can’t be killed. They argue that when they are killed and resurrected the rapture occurs. I’m going to dismiss this theory because there isn’t any parallel in the Christian faith for us to pray for droughts, plagues, or for us to kill our enemies with fire.  

Why do some people believe the two witnesses are Elijah and Enoch? 

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Heb 9:27-28 NKJV)  

The Bible says that Enoch and Elijah didn’t die but were taken up to heaven. It also says that man is destined to die once and then face judgment. Many people therefore say that these two people are Enoch and Elijah coming back so that they also physically die. In these theories, Enoch and Elijah must come back because they have not yet tasted death. They were spared and now must come back to fulfill this Scripture.

Possibly Elijah

What are some other things about Elijah that would make him appear to be one of the witnesses? 

"Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse." (Mal 4:5-6 NLT)

The last recorded words in the Old Testament are a promise that God will send Elijah before the end. Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets. Elijah’s purpose is to restore family structure. If it doesn’t happen, God says He will come and curse the land. The scene in Revelation certainly fits this. Paul has described the scene much better than I could.  

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people. (2 Tim 3:1-5 RSV emphasis mine)  

Right in the middle is the key that Elijah is to try to start the process of repentance. Destruction of the family is at the center of the other sins. However, people are not listening to these witnesses and God is withholding the rain. Not only that, but the end is coming soon.  

"And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." NASB (Luke 1:16-17)  

This passage was a prophecy of John the Baptists’ ministry. How can Elijah be John and also one of the two witnesses? 

The angel of the Lord announced that John the Baptist would come in the spirit and power of Elijah. Now the question is, if Jesus came first to bear sin, and will appear a second time to bring physical salvation (Heb 9:28), can we expect Elijah to appear first to spiritually prepare people, and then appear a second time to usher in the physical kingdom of Jesus? If so, then this is a very compelling argument that one of the two witnesses is indeed Elijah or someone with his power and spirit.  

He answered, "Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. (Matt 17:11-13 ESV)  

Jesus affirms that Elijah will come again, yet He said that he has already come as John the Baptist. He must come again because there is something still unfulfilled in the prophecies about Elijah. The whole story hasn’t been told yet. What Jesus said of Elijah and John the Baptist doesn’t mean that Elijah must appear physically any more than He meant that John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elijah.

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. (James 5:17 NIV)  

The two witnesses’ ability to withhold rain is one of the things that Elijah did. This is also used to support the theory that one of the two is indeed Elijah or rather has the same spirit and power. Is it only a coincidence that it didn’t rain for three and a half years and this is also how long the two witnesses are to preach? I don’t think so.

Elijah replied to them, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. (2 Kings 1:12 NASU)  

Elijah was also able to call down fire from heaven to destroy his enemies. While the two witnesses have the ability to kill their enemies with fire, it comes from their mouths, not from heaven. The similarity is sufficient, however, to add even more credibility to one of the men’s identity as Elijah.

How is the fire that comes from the witnesses’ mouths like the witness of all Christians? 

Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: "Because you speak this word, Behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire, And this people wood, And it shall devour them. (Jer 5:14 NKJV)  

As prophets spoke the word of God, it burned within those who heard. That is why Christians have such a strong affect on the unsaved. That is why some people cannot stand to be around Christians. The Lord is going to use these men to deliver His final decree to the people of the earth. They will know it is the Word of God just as all will know about their death. Unfortunately, those who gloat over their death have rejected the message.

Identity of the Other Witness

What biblical events would indicate that the second witness is Moses? 
Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus' appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus. (Matt 17:1-3 NLT)  

Since Moses appeared in glory on the mountain with Jesus and Elijah, people have argued that the second witness is Moses. The witnesses have the ability to turn water into blood and bring plagues just as Moses did. The case for the second witness being Moses is much less compelling than for one being Elijah. The only case for the second to be Enoch has already been stated. It isn’t very compelling either. 

Why was the impact of Moses’ first signs before Pharaoh diminished and how does that relate to the same thing happening with the two witnesses and even today?

When Moses confronted Pharaoh, it was a time when Pharaoh was in strong control, and people thought he was a god. Magic was rampant as demonstrated by the magicians’ ability to produce some of the miracles that Moses did (Ex 7:11-13). 

The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2 Thess 2:9-10 RSV)  

Some of the impact of the witnesses will be weakened because Satan is able to duplicate turning water into blood as well as other so-called miracles. We see the preparation of this through movies, TV, and even Saturday morning cartoons. Because of the futuristic, spiritualistic movies and TV programs being produced, kids today are being raised in an environment where their imaginations are not limited by physical realities. We have always had this in the realm of fairytales, but the intensity and believability is mounting. Only by becoming a Christian can anyone hope to be able to tell where these powers are truly coming from. In the time of Elijah, it was a time of cruelty and open idol worship. Even though he should have known better, Ahab worshiped Baal. Nobody today would be surprised if the head of a modern nation were to announce that he was a follower of one of the new spirit guides.

Who They Really Are

There is nothing in Rev 11:3-12 that says they are returned prophets or that they have the spirit of O.T. prophets in the same way that John the Baptist was identified. We also need to look more closely at the concept of having a spirit of a previous prophet.

What does it mean when we say that someone has the same spirit as with Elisha? 

Now it came about when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you." And Elisha said, "Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." (2 Kings 2:9 NASB)
Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho opposite him saw him, they said, "The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha." … (2 Kings 2:15 NASB)  

Elisha was given a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. Now it doesn’t say that Elisha received double of the Holy Spirit but of Elijah’s spirit. It is also interesting to note that the other prophets recognized that the spirit of Elijah was resting on Elisha. This is a strong argument, along with Jesus’ statements, that the spirit of a person can be given to another person. I don’t think that this means that Elijah came and took control of Elisha, because they were very different men. Elisha didn’t show any of the fear that Elijah exhibited when he ran from Jezebel. John the Baptist was not Elijah physically nor did he show the fear that Elijah did. We know when he was born and who his parents were. So it is probable that these witnesses are not actually Elijah and Moses, but because of the types of miracles performed, they have been gifted by God to perform the same types of work in the spirit or character of these prophets. 

What would be some problems if these two witnesses were actually O.T. prophets raised from the dead? 
Now some people still argue that these two are physically returned prophets. They say that just as they returned on the mount when Jesus was transfigured, they will return for 1,260 days to witness. This appears to be the theory in the “Left Behind” series. The problem with this theory is that both will die. This isn’t a problem for Elijah because he never died and conceivably, he could still have an opportunity to die. But for Moses, it would mean a second death which contradicts Heb 9:27. So instead of Moses, some people argue that Enoch is the second witness. 

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (Gen 5:24 KJV)  

In a long list of people, each is said to have died except Enoch. The difference stands out so much that most people believe that he was essentially raptured. Enoch would make a better choice as the other witness than Moses because he apparently never died. While it makes sense that Moses shouldn’t die twice, we have other cases where people died and were brought to life again (Mark 5:41, Luke 7:14, John 11:44, Acts 9:40). Lazarus was raised and died a second time, therefore there is no problem with Moses being brought back to life and dying again – except for one thing; Moses was in another realm, physically as well as spiritually for thousands of years before he appeared on the mountain. All the other examples were temporary deaths with their mortal bodies, which had not yet decayed to dust, being made alive again. With Moses and Elijah appearing on the mount of transfiguration, and then disappearing, it is clear that neither had their old physical bodies. 

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thess 4:17 KJV)  

Another argument against the need for Elijah or Enoch to come back and die is the hope that we all have in being here when Jesus returns. Since we will not all die there is no scriptural requirement for Elijah or Enoch to come back physically just to die. This, however, opens up the whole question of just what does Heb 9:27 mean. It means just what it says. The normal course for most people is to die then face judgment. God has His exceptions in the rapture as well as those whom He brought back to life for a period of time before they died a second time.

How might the timing of the rapture (before the tribulation or at the midpoint) affect our concept of who the two witnesses are? 

The rapture does bring up another difficulty. If it occurs before the two witnesses appear and they are indeed Elijah and Moses, then I think they should have transformed bodies as I alluded to earlier. How could they die again? If the rapture occurs after their witnessing period is over, then it would make sense that they too, would come back to life.

Tom, Dick, or Harry

And he said to me, "What do you see?" I said, "I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left." (Zech 4:2-3 ESV)
Then he said to me, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. (Zech 4:6 ESV)
Then he said, "These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth." (Zech 4:14 ESV) 

How do these verses in Zechariah help identify the two witnesses? 

These verses apply to the Spirit of God who is supplying the power and ability for His two servants, Zerubbabel and Jeshua, who rebuilt the temple after the Babylonian captivity. Just as these two were anointed to do the work and were the servants of the Lord of the earth, the two witnesses are doing the work of the Lord of the earth to rebuild the spiritual temple of the Church. This may be very necessary because the rapture has already occurred and there are no spiritually mature people left on earth to take this role of leadership for those who believe and accept Christ during the post rapture period.
The two witnesses could be any Tom, Dick, or Harry. They will be two very ordinary people whom God calls and anoints with power to minister with the same strength and power that Elijah and Moses had. They will be like John the Baptist, who was a unique individual, yet Jesus called him Elijah.

Their Death

Who kills the two witnesses? 

The beast that comes out of the abyss is the only one who can overcome the witnesses. This is a spiritual battle unlike any we have ever seen. There are several references to beasts in the book of Revelation. It’s pretty hard to figure them out and determine who is who. However chapter 17 finally identifies this beast as the Anti-Christ. Since there are many references to the beasts and they start in chapter 13, we’ll try to tie them all together then. 

Where do the witness minister and where do they die? 

The two witnesses are brought to Jerusalem where they will die together. There isn’t anything in these verses that limit their ministry to Jerusalem until they are killed. Jerusalem is identified because it is where Jesus was crucified. Since it is the birthplace of Christianity, is seems very strange to refer to the city as Sodom and Egypt. This probably indicates that the opposing powers Moses had to deal with in Egypt are now centered in Jerusalem along with the source of all sexual perversions that was centered in Sodom. We are informed by these two figurative names that the capital of sin is now in Jerusalem. 

Why will the world gloat over the death of the witnesses? 

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
They have given the dead bodies of your servants as food to the birds of the air, the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth.
They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead.
We are objects of reproach to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us. (Ps 79:1-4 NIV)  

This psalm gives an indication of the disgust that accompanies the unburied. It is the ultimate disgrace for someone, after they are dead, to have their body left for animals to feed on. To make it even worse, these will make sure that their bodies are displayed to the whole world. This disgrace demonstrates that the world will then think that their troubles are over because the last thing to prick their conscience has been removed. It is possible that there are no more Christians, the two witnesses are dead, now is the time for sin to reign supreme. All semblance of God’s righteousness has been removed from the earth and the wicked are going to party for three and half days. 

How might their death and resurrection relate to the rapture of the Church? 

They stand before God and He gives them special protection and power for 1,260 days. They use the power so dramatically to point to God and bring punishment on the earth that the beast can no longer put up with it. He is the only one who is given permission to kill them. He does this at the end of the 1,260 days of their ministry. I believe that along with them, there will be a wholesale slaughter of Christians if the rapture doesn’t occur at that time or hasn’t already occurred. It will probably happen much as Haman planned for the Jews to be slaughtered in the book of Esther. The celebration by inhabitants of the earth will be unprecedented.

Some believe that unbelievers will be so joyful that they will publicly broadcast the scene of the bodies in the street on worldwide television and also on the Internet. But then God raises them to life and catches them up in the clouds while the world is watching. It sounds a lot like the rapture and could add to the arguments that the rapture occurs at the middle of the tribulation. In opposition to this argument, the precision that has been provided for us about the events would allow us to pinpoint the date of the rapture if this were true. We would be able to date the rapture by finding out when these two start their ministry. When we see them killed, we would know there would only be three and half days until the rapture. This is a good argument that the rapture isn’t coincidental with the resurrection of these witnesses. However, another possibility is that the rapture has already come and this will be an announcement to the world of what the rapture really was.

How will the witnesses’ resurrection be different from the rapture? 

\The raising of the witnesses is timed to ensure that the whole world knows what is going on. First, it takes three and a half days. By this time a body would probably start to bloat and smell badly. There will be no doubt that they are absolutely dead before they are raised. Everyone will also be able to hear the voice from heaven. Unlike the rapture, they first stand up on their feet. It won’t be in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor 15:52). Everyone will have time to see it and know exactly what has happened. The earthquake is there to ensure that people know what has happened is from God and God alone. The fear of unbelievers will be very great. 

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:9-11 KJV)  

We will see a fulfillment of this verse as everyone who survives the earthquake gives glory to God. The only problem is that it will still not be a saving knowledge of God.


What have you learned from this lesson about God and what is your response to what you have learned?

God calls these two guys to minister in a unique way and we get all tied up in knots trying to figure out who they are. We try to fit them into a scriptural box of our own understanding. The thing that I have learned from this is that God has always provided miraculous exceptions in His Word. These two witnesses are good examples. They could be any or all of the people listed above. God is not limited. In His Word, He has described some things that we will never fully understand until we see Him face to face. 

So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. (1 Cor 3:7-9 NASU) 

This is more important than knowing who the workers are or when the rapture occurs. Just as these two witnesses are faithful to their calling, even knowing they will die at the hands of the Anti-Christ, let us be faithful to the work to which He has called us.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 29 - Revelation 11:1-3

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told: "Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant my two witnesses power to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." (RSV) 

The Temple

What is the purpose of measuring the temple?

So he measured the length thereof, twenty cubits; and the breadth, twenty cubits, before the temple: and he said unto me, This is the most holy place. (Ezek 41:4 KJV)  
Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: (Ezek 43:10a)
In Ezekiel chapters 41 and 42, Ezekiel watches in a vision as a “man” measures the temple that was supposed to have been built some time after the Babylonian captivity. Ezekiel is finally told that the detailed description in his vision is to inspire the Israelites to be ashamed of their sins. The inner temple and the outer temple are carefully measured and a detailed description of the temple is provided. Only the priests could enter into the inner temple for it was holy. When they returned to the outer temple areas they even had to remove their holy clothes and put on common clothes. The holiness of the temple was in stark contrast to the sins of the people.
Why is there a distinction between the inner and outer areas of the temple and how does that relate to believers today?
What might this tell us about the existence of believers on earth during this part of the end times?

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9 NASB)
Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor 3:16 NASB)
The distinction was a reminder that access to God was only available to holy people. Holy people are separated or set apart. Today, all Christians are members of the priesthood. We are temples with God living in us and not in a physical building. This all leads me to believe that when John measures the temple and counts the worshipers, God is showing us that there are still true Christians left on earth at this time. They have separated themselves from the “world” and kept themselves holy.
Excluding the outer temple and giving it to Gentiles to trample could then indicate that God has not yet intervened to bring about His kingdom on earth. He is still letting evil trample over all that is holy. Christian persecution will be increasing and if everything continues the way it is going, Christians will be eliminated from the earth. However, we need to remember our previous lesson that explained God will shorten the days so that His elect will survive. It also shows that the Anti-Christ hasn’t yet been given permission to wage war against the saints and conquer them.
Measuring the temple also confirms one thing that must happen before the end-times start. What is that requirement?

There will also be a physical temple in Jerusalem during the end-times and measuring it is an indication that God will protect it to accomplish His purposes and fulfill Scripture. The exclusion of the outer temple and trampling of the holy city means that Jews are not in control of Jerusalem. They may lose what they now have in that area or it may remain a divided city.

Forty-two Months

When the Bible uses measurements of time simply with the word “time” or “times,” how do we know what it means?

… It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. (Dan 4:24-25 ESV)
The use of the word “time” was used to represent a year. The prophecy about King Nebuchadnezzar came to pass and substantiated this. How do we know that it was seven years and not seven months, days, hours, or seconds? It isn’t recorded in any history books that I can quote even though I’ve heard some ancient references indicate a large gap in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. However, if we look at what happened in Dan 4:33, we can see that his hair was long as eagle’s feathers and fingernails grew long like bird’s claws while he was in exile. This would have taken much longer than seven months.
How does the three and a half years of Daniel 7 relate to the forty-two months of Revelation 11?

As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. (Dan 7:21-22 NIV)
He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. But the court shall be seated, And they shall take away his dominion, To consume and destroy it forever. (Dan 7:25-26 NIV) 
The vision Daniel received clarifies that there will be a future time of three and a half years when the Anti-Christ will subject Christians to persecution. But the war ends when God steps in, takes the Anti-Christ’s power away, and hands the kingdom over to the saints. The 42 months described in Revelation 11 appears to be the first half of the tribulation.
Because Revelation now introduces a specific period of time, it is appropriate to dig further into the book of Daniel and try to get a better handle on the time line of events of the tribulation and why it is seven years, or two sets of 42 months.
24 Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
24 Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.
26 And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate. (Dan 9:24-27 NKJV)
What is the main concept presented in verse 24?
What role do Jews have in this?

The main concept of verse 24 is that God has set a time limit on bringing salvation to the world. Salvation is from the Jews as Jesus told the woman at the well. This was not something new.
Some think that because Jesus has atoned for wickedness, that there is nothing more for the Jews to do. These verses would indicate otherwise. Transgression must be finished and all sin ended. This will only be accomplished when Jesus comes back again. However, in accomplishing this, there are many promises to the Jews that still need to be fulfilled.
How are these seventy weeks to be interpreted?

By looking at history, we can discern that these weeks are groups of seven years. From the time of the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to its accomplishment was 49 years. These were years of 360 days (Jewish calendar of the time), not our year of 365 days. In 455 BC the decree was given. From then until 32 AD was 447 years as we count. Converting to 360-day years, it comes out to 483 years. This is exactly 7 “weeks” plus 62 “weeks.” This is the very year that Jesus, the Anointed One, was crucified. The title “Anointed One” is the Hebrew word from which we get the word Messiah. The Greek word used in the New Testament is Christ.
 Mashiyach (maw-shee’-akh); anointed; usually a consecrated person (as a king, priest, or saint); specifically, the Messiah:"[1]
Christos (khris-tos’); from NT:5548; anointed, i.e. the Messiah, an epithet of Jesus:"[2]

Is there any question that Daniel’s vision was referring to Jesus? 69 “sevens” passed by from that decree to rebuild Jerusalem until Jesus was crucified. There has been many more than one “seven” since then.
What happened to the 70th “seven” and the promise to put an end to sin?

Even though Jesus died to pay the penalty for sin, sin still exists. For some reason God has interrupted this timetable for the Jews.
I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. (Rom 11:25 NLT)
That reason is so that the full number of Gentiles (most of us) will have an opportunity to be saved and come to Jesus. At some point, God will determine that it is no longer the time of the Gentiles and will again focus His attention on the salvation of the Jews. When that happens, the timetable will start again. This leads many to believe that the rapture must take place before the last seven years as a mark that the time of the Gentiles is finished. While that sounds very attractive and makes sense, it is not a reason that the rapture would have to mark the end of the time of the Gentiles.
Consider these verses in Daniel along with previous ones we’ve examined in this lesson.
Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host [of the saints] and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Dan 8:9-12 NIV)
He said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated." (Dan 8:14 NIV)
As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. "Son of man," he said to me, "understand that the vision concerns the time of the end." (Dan 8:17 NIV)
What are some distinct prerequisites that must occur before the last seven years and after Jesus is crucified as we’ve seen in Daniel?

1.                  Jerusalem and the temple must be destroyed. The people of the ruler who is to come will destroy it. This ruler can be identified in the verses above as the Anti-Christ. History has already recorded this destruction was done by Rome in 70 AD. This first requirement has already been fulfilled and also identifies that the Anti-Christ has to be of Roman descent. Some well known Christian leaders have said the Anti-Christ will be Jewish. In light of these verses, I have no idea how they determine this.
2.                  There must be a time of unprecedented peace. This would be the covenant that the Anti-Christ establishes with “the many” (see Dan 9:27 and the white horse in Lesson 20). It is possible that part of this peace is what enables Israel to rebuild the temple.
3.                  Also, the temple must be rebuilt. It could be rebuilt after the last “seven” starts or anytime before. We know the temple is rebuilt because the Anti-Christ will stop the sacrifice and offering, which can only be done in the temple. He also sets up an abomination in the temple. By implication, Israel must be restored as a nation. The only way to build a temple in Jerusalem would be for Jews to be in control of the nation and the city.
How do the 2,300 morning and evening sacrifices in Dan 8:14 fit in the end-time scenario?

In the vision recorded in Daniel 7, Daniel was also given information about the end times. The additional information in chapter eight can either clarify or confuse the time line, but they are part of the puzzle. From his vision in chapter seven, we are first introduced to a three and a half year period that ends with the Anti-Christ losing his power forever. These verses specifically indicate that 2,300 mornings and evening sacrifices will be made to the Anti-Christ rather than to the “Prince of the host.” After these stolen sacrifices, the sanctuary will be reconsecrated which can only happen after Jesus comes back and the Anti-Christ is defeated.
One explanation is that the removal of the sacrifices mentioned in Daniel 8 is what happened when Antiochus Epiphanes invaded and took away the elements in the temple. The confusion occurs because this prophecy is very much like the prophecies against the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14 and the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28. There is a near term fulfillment and as well as an explanation of what happened to Satan in the past.
When we look back at history, we can see that, in accordance with the interpretation of the vision, Alexander the Great conquered Persia and one of the four generals that succeeded him, Antiochus Epiphanes, fulfilled some of it – removing the sacrifices for 1,150 days. However, the prophecy also speaks of reaching the host of heaven and throwing them down to the earth. This is clearly not Antiochus.
The prophecy also says that the sacrifices were given over to him. This appears to be a reference to a future instance not, what happened with Antiochus, which is why I’ve included this reference in the time line of the tribulation.
Another explanation and to find a logical time when the sacrifice is taken away requires that we count backward from the end of the tribulation by 2,300 sacrifices, one in the morning and one in the evening. To confuse the issue, some Bible versions translate this as 2,300 days, which is incorrect. Since the reference is to both morning and evenings it would be 1,150 days. This is roughly the “middle” of the seven when the sacrifices are stopped would be about 38 months. The word used for middle is also used to mean divide into more than two parts or even in the midst. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be exactly in the middle of the “seven” or at 42 months.
This means that from the time the Anti-Christ breaks the covenant, it will be 110 days before he sets himself up in the temple as god.
Now look at these verses in Daniel twelve that also refer to the end.
The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven; and I heard him swear by him who lives for ever that it would be for a time, two times, and half a time; and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be accomplished. (Dan 12:7 RSV)
And from the time that the continual burnt offering is taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits and comes to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. (Dan 12:11-12 RSV)
How do these references to 42, 43, and 43.5 months fit in the time line?

 When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, then it will be three and a half years. Looking back at the other descriptions of the end times ties together these events so that we can only know that they start somewhere around the middle of the tribulation or the last “seven.”
Time line for the last “seven” or the Great Tribulation.
·         The Start of the Seven Years
o   Covenant With Many (Dan 9:27)
o   Gentiles Trample Outer Court for 42 Months (Rev 11:2)
o   Two Witnesses for 1,260 Days (Rev 11:3)
·         The Second Half of the Seven Years
o   Saints Handed Over to Anti-Christ For 3 1/2 Years (Dan 7: 25-26)
o   Daily Sacrifice and Saints Handed Over to Anti-Christ for 2,300 sacrifices (Dan 8:12,14)
o   Sacrifice Stopped and Abomination Set Up for 1,290 Days (Dan 12:11)
o   Woman Flees to Desert For 1,260 Days (Rev 12:6, 14)
o   Beast Given Authority for 42 Months and Wages War Against Saints and Conquers (Rev 13:5, 7)
o   Start Abomination That Causes Desolation Continues Until His End (Dan 9:27)
o   Power of Saints Broken After 3 1/2 Years (Dan 12:7)
·         After Second Half
o   Temple Reconsecrated (Dan 8:14)
o   1,290 Days After Sacrifice Stopped and Abomination Set Up (Dan 12:11)
o   Blessing for Those Who Reach the End of 1,335 Days (Dan 12:12)
How do you explain the 1,290 days and 1,135 days that extend past the end of the tribulation (Dan 12:11)?

The sacrifices aren’t restarted immediately after Jesus comes back at the end of the tribulation. Dan 12:11 clearly says that they are stopped for 1,290 days implying that they are restarted. Many believe that there will be sacrifices offered during the millennial reign of Christ as described in the book of Ezekiel. This would support that. It is possible that cleaning and restoring the temple will take 30 days.
These sacrifices will obviously not be to remove sin, since Jesus has already done that once for all time. They will be ceremonial feasts that will proclaim all that Jesus has done. Some think that during the millennial reign, we will all be vegetarians and not kill animals for food. However it looks like we will be enjoying meat and that will be part of the festivals as they were also enjoyed in the Old Testament.
The second part of the question is the introduction of 1,335 days, which is a real mystery. Does something happen 75 days after the end of the tribulation, 45 days after the sacrifices are reinstated? The answer to this seems to be the things that have been sealed up.
Where does the rapture fit into this picture?

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thess 2:1-4 ESV)
For God has not destined us for  wrath, but  to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10  who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thess 5:9 ESV)
These are probably the most compelling verses to suggest that the rapture occurs at the middle of the tribulation. The timing says that it will not occur until the rebellion happens. Dan 8:12 ties the rebellion and the persecution of the saints to the last half of the tribulation. The man of lawlessness or the Anti-Christ isn’t completely revealed until he establishes his worship in the temple.
I believe the reason for the rapture is to remove all believers so that they won’t suffer God’s wrath. If I’m right, then I would expect that God’s wrath would begin at the same time. The power that the Anti-Christ has over the saints will be over those who come to Jesus after the rapture. However, I’ll be hasty to add that I could be wrong. I have gone over these verses many times and there is enough ambiguity to say that no one can be 100% sure. I could even change my mind next week after more study.
This lesson has been a bit cerebral, so what is the point? How does it help you in your Christian walk?

Hopefully, this lesson points out that God has known exactly what will happen long before it occurs. He is the One who knows because He is the One that ensures it will happen. If He can ensure that Jesus came at exactly the right time, He will also be able to bring all the rest of these events at the right time. The Anti-Christ will try to change the set times but he will fail. If you have put your trust in Jesus, then you can also know that you will be with Christ forever. If you haven’t, then you can know that you will be with the Anti-Christ for eternity – in hell. If you are waiting for the right time to turn your life over to Christ, then, think about the fact that we can’t determine the exact time of the events at the middle of the tribulation much less the time the tribulation will start. In the same way, you can’t be certain you will have an opportunity in the future to trust Christ. You must do it now while you have the chance!
May we be comforted by His control and may we be even more urgent in sharing the good news so that as many as possible will join us in the rapture and escape God’s wrath.

[1] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.
[2] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.