Thursday 24 September 2020

What Jesus Meant When He Said, "For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together." Part 5


Another important fact that begs our attention is the identity of the glorious kingdom mentioned in Daniel 11:20. Is it the kingdom of the North or Israel? There is nothing new or illegitimate about a ruler imposing tax on his own country. Of necessity all rulers have to do that. Therefore, it needs to be asked why the fact is highlighted that the king who arises before the Antichrist imposes tax on the glorious kingdom. In fact, that is the very mark that identifies this king. Is it because the country on which he imposes tax is not his own? If he belongs to the line that rules over the kingdom of the North, then it simply means that the glorious kingdom does not refer to the kingdom of the North or the taxes he imposes on it crosses all bounds of legitimacy.

In other words, he might be a tyrant. Looking at the present situation of the global economy, it cannot be ruled out that he is forced to take such measures out of economic compulsions. But if the glorious kingdom refers to Israel, then it simply means that Israel will lose her sovereignty even before the king comes to power that imposes tax on her. And if this is the case, then we have to acknowledge that the king who comes immediately before him, who stands in the Glorious Land with destruction in his power, is the one in whose time Israel loses her sovereignty! The implication is that the prophecies concerning this king are not already fulfilled as it was suggested before! But for reason already discussed before, he spares her from destruction. In other words, he postpones it. Do we now see how important it is for us to know which country is this glorious kingdom?

As it is, if the above mentioned possibility comes true, then this king never again gets the chance to destroy Israel; because he stumbles and falls and is not to be found anymore. Even his successor does not get chance to do anything more than impose tax on Israel. But things change and become clear from the time that a vile man takes proceedings into his hands and sits on the throne of the kingdom of the North. In spite of the challenge that the king of the South puts up before him, this king is focused on waging a battle that is against the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And his main target remains to destroy the Abrahamic covenant, wherein the hope of entire humanity lies. He wants nothing less than His throne and establish the rule of sin and death sitting on it. In him we see the antagonism towards Christ reaching its culmination.

Interestingly, he finds himself fighting against God bound by physical limitations. Roughly 2000 years back, Jesus too was fighting against Satan while in bodily form. This was the only time in eternity that Satan saw his chance to win his battle against the Almighty. So he summoned all his strength to trap Him in the weakest moments of His life, and learned by experience that he was not His match even at the weakest time of His life. At that time, the Devil himself was not bound by any physical limitations; because he was fighting as an evil spirit. As it is, the body of Christ weathered the worst that the Devil could do to Him, and emerged victorious both on the cross and in the Resurrection.

Toward the end of the Age, the table is turned and now it is the Devil who finds himself fighting against God while bound by the limitations of flesh. This time when he faces the Son of God, he will see Him in all the power and the glory that God the Father granted Him before the creation of the world. So, even at this time the Antichrist is not ready to fight directly against God; rather he characteristically chooses to assail Israel that exists as fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, and the Body of Christ, that is, the Church that will be existing during the time of the Great Tribulation.

Just as the raptured Church, the Church during the tribulation period will also be inseparably bound to this Abrahamic covenant, referred to in Daniel as the holy covenant. That, exactly, is the reason why the Antichrist is hell-bent on destroying the holy covenant.

For this he relies heavily on the god of the fortresses that is none other than Satan. Fortress is a name given to a place of worship dedicated to any god anywhere in the world. This man of sin wants that Satan should be worshiped as god and no other god beside him should be worshiped. Therefore, he works against all gods of all the nations of the world. In other words, he will put all religions under ban and overthrow the temples dedicated to the gods – both known and unknown. But of paramount importance to him is to establish himself above the God of gods, that is, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whose sanctuary fortress will be in Jerusalem. That’s why though being constantly challenged by the king of the South, he invariably turns to Israel after dealing with the king of the South. And he tries to hurt Israel because of the holy covenant. He is against the holy covenant because he is unholy and is against the God who is holy.

The main reason why a reader gets confused when he reads Luke 17:30-31 is that the Gospel according to St. Luke is focused on God and not on His arch enemy. He shows God in action and not the Devil. He is entirely dealing with God’s plan and how He implements on it. It is when we come to read other prophetic books of the Old Testament and the New Testament that we get to know about the other elements that get involved to fulfill it. We are in a position to understand better the reality as it is presented by St. Luke when we read it along with other texts of the Bible.

For instance, when we read 2 Thessalonians 2, we come to know that even the Antichrist receives power to dominate the world as a part of the divine punishment on all who have chosen not to believe in the Truth and to find pleasure in unrighteousness. It is a good news to all believers that at no point of time the Devil is able to do what he wants to against God’s will. According to Revelation 12:12, he also knows that he has a short time to do all that he wants to. Therefore, when he is bent on doing it, he tries the worst he is capable of.

In the fulfillment of God’s time, when he comes to establish himself as an abomination of desolation in the temple in Jerusalem, that is the time when the Jew run away from the holy city to save themselves from him.

This raises one very important question about what will happen to the Church while Israel is secured in her refuge for the period of three and a half year? The answer to this question is that the Church - or rather the Believers - during the Tribulation period will face the troubles and trials that would mark this period. The solution God that has for them (the elect) is probably shortening the days of trials that Jesus talked about in Matthew 24. The question is: How God would shorten these days of trials for the sake of elect? Does the answer to this question lie in the following passages from Revelation 8:12 and Revelation 11:15-18? Let me quote these two passages:

"Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night." (Revelation 8:12)

"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.” (Revelation 11:15-18)

The passage from Revelation 8 may mean shortening of days in one way. This may, in its turn, speed up the events described in Revelation 11. Acceleration of Divine Plan is expected from Revelation 8 onward. Interestingly, in the time when the seventh Angel sounds his trumpet, the mystery of God is FINISHED! And it is also the time to reward those who are His and punish those who are against Him. He has taken the reign in His hands and has started ruling. The one surprising element in the utterance of the 24 elders is the way they address God:

"The One who is and who was and who is to come..."

It simply means that though God's rule has started, His coming is yet to take place. What does this mean? Probably, His Second Coming is referred to here. It would conclude the judgment on the renegade world. But it is not the same as the Rapture. In that case, what would happen to the Believers who would be living during the time of the Great Tribulation. One possible explanation may be that they might be living during the Great Tribulation but they may not live through it. The reason why I think along this line is that at this juncture, that is, the time of the Seventh Trumpet, is indeed the time of the judgment of the dead and of reward to be given to Gods servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear His name, small and great. This is clearly indicated in this verse: 

"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..."

It simply means that from now onward it is the time of reward, not of labor, for the people of God. What does this mean? And what exactly is the time when He takes reigns in His hands? I choose not to answer the first question first. Rather I choose to answer the second question first for the reason that you would know. Time is an extremely important factor in understanding these prophecies. Otherwise the events taking place in the context of time will be cast into utter darkness. But, again, I would stress that I have no assertion to make here. I am talking about the possibility. It leads me to think that the time when God and the Messiah take control of power and execute judgment may be the time when John sees the Lamb stand with 144,000 on Mt. Zion. See Revelation 14.

This thought extremely confused me. Because I have been thinking that Jesus would actually descend on the earth at the end of the Great Tribulation. Before this He would appear in Heaven at the time of the Rapture to gather together the elect to Him. When He would descend to the earth at the end of the 7-year tribulation period, the world would see Him fight the Battle of Armageddon. Possibly, at this time it would see Him stand on the Mt. Olivet, not on Mt. Zion. See Zechariah 14. When the Feet of Jesus stand on Mt. Olivet, He is accompanied by all the saints, not just 144,000. The events of the Lamb standing on Mt. Zion with 144,000 and the Lord coming with all the saints to Mt. Olivet are different and indicate different times in which they are framed.

What I am driving at is that Jesus may come down to the earth after the Seventh Trumpet is sounded and the First Bowl of God's wrath is poured on the earth. This may be the time indicated in Luke 17:30. It is possible that the Rapture is completed during this time - if the first one was partial. There must be a lapse of time between His coming (Luke 17:30) and the escape of the Jew (Luke 17:31).

The day that the Son of Man is revealed in Luke 17:30 is made a little bit clear with its comparison with the time when Noah and his family were taken into the Ark before the flood came and destroyed entire world. Noah entering the Ark sounds very like the Church taken out of the world by Jesus. The remainder of the Great Tribulation may show the execution of judgment on the world that culminates in the Battle of Armageddon and casting of the beast and the false prophet alive into the Lake of Fire and shutting Satan up in the prison for the period of thousand years.

The tribulation of those days spoken about in Matthew 24:29-31 seems to be indicating the tribulation time that is covered by the period of the Seven Seals. It may include the time that lies between the First Seal and the Sixth or between the Fifth Seal and the Sixth Seal. Because the signs that, according to Jesus in Matthew 24, immediately precede His coming to take the elect out of the world are almost the same as those given in Revelation 6:12-13.

The events described when the Sixth Seal is broken are quite interesting; because we read something amazing here. Let me quote it:

“Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’”

It is a rational question to ask, If the sky is rolled up like a scroll, then how can we explain the things that happen at the time of the Fourth Trumpet:

“Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.”

The particular detail that begs our attention the most is the fact that in the time of the Sixth Seal the world is seeing God the Father and God the Son directly, the curtain of the sky being rolled up. And the people of the world are trying to hide from them, saying, “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” It is clear that ‘the great day of His wrath’ is not the only great day of the Lord.

Another important thing to notice here is that the events in Matthew 24:29-31 and Luke 21:25-27 are global in scale, not local, limited to the land of Israel.

Still another important thing to notice is that the Kingdom of God also comes in stages. The first stage of its coming is announced in the time of the Sixth Seal (See Revelation 6:17) and it is shown as established in Revelation 7:9-12. The second stage of its coming is proclaimed in Revelation 11:15-18. The third stage of its coming is proclaimed in Revelation 20:4-6.

People will run away from the abomination of desolation. Their flight will be just in time; because when the one who makes desolate is there, he inaugurates a dispensation of lawlessness that is directed towards destroying the Abrahamic covenant. It covers the period of second half of the seven year tribulation period. The first half of the tribulation period will be marked by establishment of several ‘unholy’ covenants, which, in keeping with the spirit of lawlessness, he would break. When at the end of the first half of the tribulation he breaks one of these covenants which he would be establishing with Israel, he will cause the sign of abomination of desolation to appear in Jerusalem.

This can be explained only if the day that the Son of Man is revealed is the time of Rapture. It is very much possible that with the catching up of the Church in heaven the day is over and the night begins, and with night also the time for Jacob’s distress. It is the time of revelation of the man of sin and it is from the man of sin that Israel is to save herself.

1. In Luke, there is no mention of the people of Judea who, in Matthew, are asked to run away to the mountains. So, it is possible that the instruction Jesus gives to people who will be on housetops or in their fields applies to those who belong to other parts of Israel.

2. The time for the taken and the left is specifically given. Jesus says ‘in that night’ one of the two men in bed will be taken and the other left; one of the two women grinding will be taken and the other left; one of the two men in the field will be taken and the other left. In other words, when the night starts, it is the time when the wrath of God starts pouring on the world. Even the rule of the Antichrist is part of God’s wrath on the people who rejected the truth. The left are the people who will find themselves stranded in the night. This is not to say that they wanted to escape night!

They were stranded in the night because, just like the taken, the left are also a part of the night. They are children of night. The only difference between the taken and the left is that the taken are not left and the left are not taken. But if the left are not taken, it does not tantamount to their being at an advantage compared to the taken.

3. Jesus drew parallel between the time of Lot and the time of the end. Drawing parallel between Noah’s time and the end-time is one thing; and drawing parallel between Lot’s time and the end-time is quite another. This becomes quite evident when Jesus asks His disciples to remember Lot’s wife. And it is in connection with Lot’s wife that Jesus made this sentence: “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”

As it is, as soon as the Angels brought Lot and his family out of Sodom, they ask them to escape for their life. (The same instruction Jesus gives to the people of Israel when they see the sign of abomination of desolation standing in the holy place.) Also, they warned them against looking back. Lot’s wife worked against this warning and became a pillar of salt. In Luke 9:62 Jesus says, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” And Lot’s wife looked back because what she left behind her was no small treasure. And, it was not just the treasure that she left behind; she also left behind a way of life. That’s how serious it is! Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Her heart was not set on things having to do with the kingdom of God.

In Matthew 19 a rich young man came to Jesus and asked Him what he should do in order to have eternal life. When Jesus asked him to follow the commandments, he replied that he had been doing so from a very young age. Thereupon, Jesus asked him to give away all that he had to the poor and follow Him. When the rich young man heard this, he went away sorrowful because he had much wealth and his heart was set on it. And just consider what idea he must be having about following Jesus vis-à-vis his possessions! It is reflected in his decision to choose his possession instead of following Jesus.

The instance of Lot’s wife seems to explain what Jesus might have meant to say in Luke 17:33. The time in context of which Jesus says this, will be the time when the Antichrist will establish himself in Jerusalem and unleash blasphemies against God and a rule of terror over the people who are committed to the holy covenant, and spread lawlessness among people who either forsake the holy covenant or work against it. The elect will have to choose between life and eternal life. Their choice will place them on the altar.

While the darkness continues in its attempt to overcome the light until the time comes when a burning torch and a smoking furnace appear and pass through the carcass. Isaiah 31:9 seems to have something important to say about fire and furnace:

“’He shall cross over to his stronghold for fear,

And his princes shall be afraid of the banner,’

Says the LORD,

Whose fire is in Zion

And whose furnace is in Jerusalem.”

Please note that the entire 31st chapter of Isaiah is about God’s defense of Jerusalem. Of course, I don’t know about the time the above mentioned verses refer to; but I am sure about the fire and the furnace talked about in them that they are in Jerusalem.


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