Revelation - Lesson 12
The Tribulation, Armageddon, and the Millennium
Background Information for the Teacher
- The student can draw a chart depicting the pre-millennial view of last things.
- The student can use key scriptures to show the fallacy of the pre-millennial view.
- If you choose to use them, have ready your visuals-overhead projector and transparencies, PowerPoint, or chalkboard.
- Have enough copies of the chart of pre-millennialism to provide them to any not at the previous class meeting. It is on a separate document for downloading.
- Have copies of the Worksheet for Lesson 12 available.
- Have copies of the test ready
- Have pens/pencils ready for use.
- All students should have access to a Bible.
Having reviewed the general outline of the pre-millennial view, we are now examining several elements of that view and comparing them to scripture. Today we will look at the questions about the tribulation, war over Israel climaxing in Armageddon, and the millennium or thousand-year reign.
Lesson Plan for Conducting Class
Introduction: (10 minutes)
- Make the test available to students as they enter, if you wish. (Download test from Lesson 11 below.)
- Call the roll, welcome visitors, and make any necessary announcements.
- Songs (as desired)
- Hear, O Israel
- How Firm a Foundation
- Tell Me the Story of Jesus
- Prayer asking God to guide us in our study to find the truth of His Word and the application He would have us make to our lives.
- Give answers to Test 11. No. 1-raised, changed. No. 2-living, dead. No. 3-the living are changed. No. 4-good and bad are raised at the same hour. No. 5-John 6: 39, 40, 44, 54 (any of these). No. 6-many, 1st century. No. 7-opposes Christ, denies His divinity. No. 8-figurative, temple rebuilt after the Babylonian Captivity
- Ask students to get the worksheet for Lesson 12 and their Bibles ready.
Learning Experiences (32 minutes)
- Get out your chart of the pre-millennial view and let's review what we have seen so far. We have discussed whether Jesus failed to establish a kingdom, whether there are signs by which we can predict when Christ will return, whether there is a time of rapture when all living and dead Christians are taken to heaven while life continues on earth, whether there will be two anti-christs, whether the Jewish temple will be rebuilt. In today's lesson we look at the concept of tribulation, war over Israel, and the 1000-year reign.
- Fill in your worksheet as we go through this lesson. No. 1. According to the standard pre-millennial view, following the rapture is a period of seven years called the tribulation. No. 2. The seven-years comes from a prophecy in Daniel 9. Let's turn there for a brief study. Q: As Daniel 9 begins, what has Daniel been doing? (Reading from the book of Jeremiah.) Q: What has he read there? (That the desolation of Jerusalem will last for seventy years.) A good date for the taking of the first captives is 606 BC. Daniel is now living in about 537 BC. So, he takes note of the fact that the seventy years is nearly over. Q: So what does he do? (Prays to God confessing the sins of Israel and begging God to keep His promise to restore Israel to their land.) Q: As a result of his prayer, who comes to see him? v. 21. (The angel Gabriel) Gabriel has a revelation for Daniel. It is a prophecy about the return of the people to Jerusalem, its rebuilding, and its eventual destruction again.
- No. 3. Gabriel tells this story by using periods of time that are seven years, or thereabouts, in length. There of seventy of them, thus suggesting a time period of about 490 years. Some take this to be exactly 490 and others figuratively 490, but in either case, it is the story of the future of Jerusalem in these periods of seven years. Q: Into how many periods are the seventy sevens divided? (3) Q: How many "sevens" are in each? (7, 62, 1). No. 4. Q: The first seven begins with what? Apparently this period of seven sevens covers the return of the Israelites until a point where the city has been rebuilt. Then there is a long period of 62 sevens, and finally the last seven. No. 5. Q: According to verse 25, what event marks the end of the 62 seven period and the beginning of the last sevenperiod? (The coming of the Anointed One-that is the messiah.) This is a very important point because the pre-millennialist says that Jesus comes and dies before the period of 62 sevens ends, and thus has the last period of sevens left over. That period, they say, is the seven-year period of tribulation. Q: What does verse 26 say is something that happens after the 69th period is over? (The Anointed One will be cut off.) So the Messiah comes at the beginning of the 70th period and is cut off some time during it. Q: If the coming of the Messiah marks the beginning of the last period of seven, what marks its end? (The destruction of Jerusalem. The "abomination of desolation spoken by Daniel the prophet" which Jesus speaks about in Matthew 24:15.)
- So the prophecy here is a message to Daniel about the city of Jerusalem from its rebuilding after the Babylonian Captivity until its next destruction by the Romans in 70 AD. Generally this period of time is divided into the time of rebuilding (7 sevens), the time between then and the coming of the Messiah (62 sevens) and the time of the Messiah and destruction of the city (1 seven). Three things show that the last seven happened in the first century: (1) the Messiah came at the beginning of the last seven, (2) the Messiah was cut off sometime after the end of the 69th seven and thus during the last seven, and (3) the city of Jerusalem was destroyed at the end of the last seven. No. 6. All of this has been fulfilled and so no time remains in this prophecy. Thus, putting a 2,000 year gap between the 69th and 70th seven is not a proper interpretation of this passage.
- Two major things are said to happen during the seven years of tribulation: (1) rebuilding the Jewish temple, which we have already discussed, and (2) war over Israel climaxing in the battle of Armageddon. We have already discussed the meaning of "Armageddon" in Revelation 16:16 where Satan's forces seek to resist God's pouring out of the destruction on the Roman Empire. As a symbolic way to express this resistance, they "gather their forces at Armageddon." But, the seventh bowl is poured out and a voice from the throne says, "It is done." This is a highly symbolic passage about the destruction of Rome and not a passage about the end of the world.
- But what about war in Israel? Does the Bible predict that there will be a war in Israel just before the end of time? God promised the land of Israel to Abraham but that promise was conditioned upon the faithfulness of Israel. No. 7. As Jesus often said in His parables, as in Matthew 21:43, "the kingdom of God will be taken away from you." There are no more promises to Jews about the land of Israel. They forfeited such rights by their treatment of their Messiah. Whether, then, Jewshave a place to live in Israel is purely a matter of politics and not a question prophecy.
- No. 8. Pre-millennialists, however, take a scenario from Daniel 11 which tells of war over Israel and make it apply to the time of the end. Actually it is a wonderful prophecy about war over Israel during the time between the Testaments, the time when the Egyptians, king of the south, and Syrians, king of the north, fought each other and caught Israel in the middle. These prophecies are marvelously fulfilled by such kings as the Ptolmeys, of Egypt, and Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria. There are no remaining prophecies from Daniel 11 to be fulfilled and there is no prophecy about further war over Israel remaining. As evidence of this, look at how many times the pre-millennialists have said that some event related to Israel was the fulfillment of prophecy and how many times this has been wrong. They said that the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948 was a big marker date and was the beginning of the final 40 years before Jesus returned in 1988. They were wrong. Then Desert Storm was going to be the beginning of the end of time and that did not happen. It is futile to try to tie the current nation of Israel to Bible prophecies. So, their theory of the seven year period from Daniel 9 is mistaken and their theory of war over Israel from Daniel 11 is mistaken.
- Now to the thousand-year reign. We have studied this in detail when we studied Revelation 20. Q: What are the four questions to ask about this reign of Revelation 20:4-6? (Who reigns-martyrs of the Roman persecution. Why do they reign-to celebrate their victory over the Roman Empire. Where do they reign-in heaven. When do they reign-from the fall of Rome until almost the end of time.) But let's look at another passage that shows the pre-millennial theory about a coming, earthly reign of Christ is not taught in scripture. No. 9. Turn to 1 Corinthians 15:22-26 and someone read it. No. 9 a. Q: Who is the first one raised never to die again? (Christ) No. 9 b. Q: Who is raised at His coming? (Those who belong to Him.) Q: Will there be others raised later? (No. As we saw in John 5:28-29, all are raised at the same time. No. 9 c. We also learned in John 6:40, that the righteous are raised on the last day, so there cannot be a resurrection after those who belong to Christ are raised.) No. 9 d. Q: When Christ returns and raises the dead, we have come to what? (The end.) Q: What happens at this end point? (Christ returns the kingdom to God.) So when Christ returns does He end or begin His reign as king? (He ends it.) The pre-millennialist says Christ is not reigning when He comes back but will begin a reign at that time. The Bible says He is reigning before He returns and will end His reign at that time. No. 9 e. Q: Who is the last enemy Christ must conquer? (Death) Q: When is death conquered? (When all are raised.) So Christ has no reason to reign after He returns and, thus, returns the kingdom to God for the eternal, heavenly kingdom.
- No. 10. Now look at the chart. According to the theory, there is a third resurrection after the thousand years-the bad dead-who are then judged in the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20:11-15. Q: Is the judgment pictured in Revelation 20:11-15 of the wicked only or of both good and bad? (Both. Some have been written in the book of life.) So this is the final judgment of all. Q: On what day are the righteous raised and the wicked judged? (Last day) And that is what is pictured in Revelation 20:11-15-the final resurrection and judgment of all.
- Now look at your chart. Over the last three lessons we have looked at the various elements of the proposed theory and have found they do not match with scripture. Look at your chart as take a quick review.
- Christ did not come to earth to establish a physical kingdom over Israel. Had he done so, the Jews would readily have accepted Him. That they turned Him down, is clear evidence, along with many scriptures, that He came to be a spiritual king-and became one. Remember John 6:15 and John 18:36.
- The so-called "signs" of Matthew 24:4-14 are not a list of events which re to build up just prior to the rapture and second coming of Christ. They are, rather, a list of events that will be happening between the time Christ made this prediction and the fall of Jerusalem some 40 years later. He tells His disciples, do not be deceived by these events but, rather, wait to take any action until you see the real sign, the coming of an army to surround Jerusalem. Then flee to the hills. Remember Matthew 23:36; 24:15; 24:34; 24:36.
- The concept a rapture when all living and dead Christians will be taken to heaven in their new bodies and, after seven years, will return to earth is not the teaching of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 nor any other passage. Remember John 5:28-29; 6:40; and 12:48.
- The Bible's use of "anti-christ" does not match that of this theory. Remember 1 John 2:18-22.
- The promise of Ezekiel about the rebuilding of a temple had reference to the rebuilding that would happen after the return of the Jews from Babylonian Captivity and not to a temple at some time over 2500 years later. Remember Ezekiel 36:8 about "soon" and Ezekiel 47:8 showing the figurative nature of the passage with thedescription of the Dead Sea becoming fresh.
- Getting a seven-year tribulation period from Daniel 9:24-27 is a misuse of that passage.
- Getting a war over Israel just before the end of the world is a misuse of Daniel 11 and suggests that God still has a special interest in Israel as a nation which time Jesus, in Matthew 21:43, said was over.
- Having Jesus reign after His second coming violates the message of 1 Corinthians 15:22-26 and Colossians 1:13 that says He had a kingdom in the first century.
- Your worksheets, which I hope you will save, give you even more than this quick review about the fallacies of the pre-millennial theory.
Application: (3 minutes)
- This part of our lesson has not been about personal living but we can make the application of the need to study each Bible passage carefully and to be sure we do misunderstand it and, thus, get some incorrect meaning.
- We should always look carefully at the context of a passage and not make it mean something that would have been out of harmony with what God expected those who first received it to understand.
- We should respect the views of others, even if we disagree with them, and we should never treat those views lightly. At the same time, we do have a responsibility to them, and they to us, to study together our views so we can help each other come to a better understanding of scripture.
- Study your worksheet over this lesson in preparation for the quiz next time.
- Our final lesson in this series will be over what the Bible teaches about the second coming of Christ.
- Test over the material.
- Some oral review at the end of the lesson
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