YET FORTY DAYS!
Electronic Bible Fellowship
Jonah 3:1-4: And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
God told Jonah to declare, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” It has always been a mystery how God commanded His prophet to go to Nineveh and proclaim this statement as an absolute declaration. Despite all the negative sermons over the centuries discussing the rebellious prophet Jonah, we find in this case that he obediently did exactly as he was told: “Preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.”
For those individuals that want nothing to do with timelines when they share the teachings of the Bible, it is important to note that God does not seem to have any problem whatsoever with setting a time and having it declared to people. It is very revealing that God bid Jonah to preach what is obviously a timeline. We are not going to look at the Biblical nature of timelines right now, but what we are going to begin to think about is that when God commanded Jonah to declare, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” it did not fail to happen, as we, perhaps, have always thought.
The failure lies with our understanding of what was said and the truth is that we have never properly understood what God intended when Jonah cried out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” We are going to look at the very real possibility that the warning to the Ninevites still stands – no, not to the historical city of Nineveh and its people, but to those the city of Nineveh represented, which was the world itself. Nineveh is used in the Bible in a similar way as Egypt and Babylon are used. All of them can be types and figures of the world. For example, it says in Nahum 1:1:
The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
After letting the reader of the book of Nahum know that what is being said involves Nineveh, God then goes on to discuss the final judgment of the world, in Nahum 1:5-6:
The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.
The book of Jonah records God sending His prophet to Nineveh, which we can understand as though he is being sent to the world. The message Jonah preached to Nineveh is a message intended for the unsaved inhabitants of the earth. It was as though Jonah exclaimed, “Yet forty days, and the world shall be overthrown.” The message of God throughout the Bible is very clear and consistent concerning God’s intention of destroying the world and all the wicked people of the world at its end. Of course, the historical account in the book of Jonah offers some complications because the people of Nineveh did repent. And God lays down a law in the Bible that states that if a nation repents, He will not do the evil He said He would do unto them (Jeremiah 18:8). However, in the end, the only ones that truly repent and are spared destruction are God’s elect. The people of Nineveh that repented at the preaching of Jonah are therefore a type and figure of God’s elect, while the city itself remains an overall picture of the world. The gospel message of the Bible reveals that God will save His elect people out of the masses of the world, and then bring total destruction to the world and the rest of its inhabitants.
Basically, the book of Jonah records the fact that God saved His elect out of Nineveh. He did not save the non-elect. He only saved the elect people of Nineveh and there were certainly some people in Nineveh that God did not spare, in the sense that they died in their sins, although He spared them physically at the time He did not destroy the city in a literal forty-day period.
However, there is much more to the things we read in the book of Jonah than meets the eye. We will find that the 40-day warning still has application to our present time because we have not yet come to the end of the “forty days,” spiritually. You might be asking, “How can that be possible?” Although we do not know the exact date Jonah went to Nineveh, it was at least over 2,600 years ago and, certainly, the 40-day period would have elapsed long ago.
Let’s consider how it is possible for the forty days to have not yet expired.
THE ARRANGEMENT OF THE BOOK OF JONAH
The book of Jonah is arranged in a very interesting way. In order to see this arrangement, let’s begin by going back to Jonah 1:1-2:
Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
This was the first time God commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh. That is why it says in Jonah 3:1 that the Word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time. The first chapter records the first commandment by God to Jonah to go to Nineveh. Then it says in Jonah 1:3:
But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
This language is indicating that Christ became a man and entered into the human race. We know this is the case based on the phrase, “from the presence of the LORD,” which is mentioned twice in this verse. Let us go back to Genesis 3 to the time right after Adam and Eve first sinned and made fig leaves to cover their nakedness. It says in Genesis 3:8:
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
They fled “from the presence of the LORD” and that is the exact same phrase as we find in Jonah chapter one. What does it indicate? It means they had become sinful. Due to their sin, man is no longer in communion with God and, instead, man hides from God and seeks to go away from His presence. Jonah was commanded to go to Nineveh, but what did He do? He got on a ship and went “from the presence of the LORD.” It even said that he “went with them…from the presence of the LORD.” Clearly, Jonah is a picture of Christ here, as Jesus was born into the world and took upon Himself human form; He became a man and lived among mankind where all the world is going away “from the presence of the LORD” and it is as if Jesus is going with them “from the presence of the LORD.”
God’s first commandment to Jonah to preach to the city of Nineveh (people of the world) identifies with the birth of Christ in 7 B.C. When we look at the circumstances onboard the ship and how God controlled the sea and stirred up the waters to the point where the mariners had no choice but to cast him into the sea, it all relates to Jesus’ life and His time of ministry until the point of His death on the cross, does it not? According to God’s determinate counsel, He arranged circumstances so that Jesus must go to the cross just as He arranged circumstances for the prophet Jonah to be cast overboard into the sea. We read in Jonah 1:17:
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Again, chapter one begins with him receiving the commandment from the Lord to go to Nineveh. Although we might think he was a rebellious prophet going from the presence of the Lord, that is where mankind is “located,” so Jonah is an excellent picture of Christ as He entered the human race that was going in a spiritual direction that was away from God. Then, at the end of Jonah 1 it said, “And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” The Lord Jesus also referred to Jonah’s length of time in the fish’s belly in Matthew 12:40:
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
When was Jesus in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights? Literally, He never was, but, spiritually, His suffering began Thursday night in the Garden of Gethsemane, followed by Friday night in the tomb and Saturday night in the tomb, and then He rose early on Sunday. We know precisely when this took place: He was on the cross on April 1, in 33 A.D.
Therefore, chapter one of the book of Jonah covers the birth of Christ in 7 B.C. to the cross in 33 A.D. when Jesus finished His earthly demonstration of what Jonah had prefigured, which was His death at the foundation of the world. Then Jonah chapter two describes Jonah’s experience in the belly of the fish, or the things which Christ referred to as taking place in the heart of the earth. This means, based on the typology and language God used, that chapters one and two cover the period from 7 B.C. to 33 A.D., a span of 40 calendar years.
When Jonah 2:10 says, “And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land,” it can only identify with Christ’s resurrection in 33 A.D. To summarize, there are 40 calendar years (when going from a B.C. date to an A.D. date it is necessary to minus “1” because there is no year “0”) covered in chapters one and two. To be precise, it covers 39 actual years, yet 40 calendar years.
It is interesting that we also read in chapter three the phrase, “And yet forty days,” and the number “40” is in view, once again. At what point in Jonah chapters two and three does the 40 days expire? The answer is that it does not expire. When we read chapter three, we find that Jonah went into the city a day’s journey, which was very early in the 40-day period, but then we see that the Ninevites repented, sat in sackcloth and cried mightily unto God. That is how chapter three ends, as God says, “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”
Did the Ninevites know that God had turned from the evil that He said He would do to them? None of them knew it. It was a decree made in heaven and we do not find anywhere that God told Jonah or any other prophet to speak to them and tell them, “I have forgiven you because I have seen that you turned from your evil way.” The people of Nineveh had absolutely no knowledge regarding God’s reaction to the repentance taking place in their city. And since they had no knowledge that God had turned from the evil He intended to do to them, what would the Ninevites have continued to do? We can be sure that they would have continued to sit in sackcloth and cry mightily unto God. The Lord, for His own purposes, left the people of Nineveh in that humbled condition. How long would they have stayed in that condition crying out to God? What did Jonah tell them? “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Certainly, they would have continued humbling themselves, in some form or another, for 40 days.
In chapter four, after some discussion with God, Jonah goes out of the city. It says in Jonah 4:5:
So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
In a very interesting way, God tells us that Jonah is in a booth and the word “booth” is the same Hebrew word elsewhere translated as “tabernacle.” It is the same word for tabernacle used in the feast of tabernacles. We will not go into detail about this in this short booklet, but the feast of tabernacles was a feast designed by God to commemorate Israel’s dwelling in tabernacles, or booths, throughout their wilderness sojourn. How long did Israel dwell in booths in the wilderness? The Bible tells us that the Israelites dwelt in booths for 40 years.
For how long did Jonah sit outside the city of Nineveh? How long would you have waited? “And yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” That was the preaching He had been bidden to preach, so to find out what would happen to the city, Jonah would have certainly waited 40 days. But the book of Jonah, which is only four chapters, concludes without God telling us what happened after 40 days. After further conversation with Jonah, God said in the last verse in Jonah 4:11:
And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
This is where the book ends. It is a very unusual way to conclude a book. The reader is left with a “cliff hanger” or a mystery left unsolved. What happened to the city? What happened regarding God’s declaration through Jonah, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown”? We have always assumed that since the Ninevites repented, God did not destroy the city according to the preaching He had commanded Jonah to proclaim. Our assumption has always been that the 40 days came and went and God did not destroy the city as He had said He would do. We have concluded that God followed the principle laid down in Jeremiah 18:8-10:
If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
Apparently, this was the Biblical principal that God followed in the book of Jonah that permitted Him to not destroy the city of Nineveh.
But, then again, what if God’s commandment, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” had nothing to do, in the first instance, with the historical city of Nineveh? What if it was a deeper spiritual warning that involved the entire world and, likewise, the 40-day period was also meant to be understood in a spiritual way? In a way, that would extend the timeline for a period of time far greater than an actual 40 days. In such a spiritual understanding the 40-day period would not yet have come to an end. Biblically, is it possible for God to give an historical declaration like we find in the book of Jonah and, yet, have its actual application to be on a spiritual level?
Yes, indeed, God can give commandments in His Word that we would expect to have physical application, and yet they never do have any physical application. Let us look at an example of this where God is speaking to the nation of Israel, a type of the New Testament churches. It says in Deuteronomy 28:68:
And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.
In this verse, God is speaking to Israel and He is saying that as a punishment for their disobedience, He will bring them into Egypt again with ships. It’s certain that Israel was disobedient to the point of being punished by God. However, can anyone disclose where that chapter and verse is found in the Bible wherein God brings Israel back to Egypt in ships and there they are unloaded and returned as bondservants in Egypt? You will not be able to find such a verse because it does not exist. And yet, this verse is not saying that this might happen to Israel, but God said it would happen. It is a matter-of-fact statement: “And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships.” Is it untrue? Absolutely not! This is the Word of God. It must therefore be true. However, the fulfillment was not on a literal level. It was spiritually fulfilled. What does Israel typify? It typifies the corporate church and God does liken churches to ships in Acts 27 where the destruction of a ship was a picture of the end of the Church Age. During the Great Tribulation, the Spirit of God departed out of the midst of the churches. Where have those people that are still in the churches been taken? They were taken back into spiritual Egypt or back into spiritual bondage because salvation ended in the churches and Satan (often typified by Pharaoh) ruled there during the 23 years of the Great Tribulation, as it says in Revelation 11:7-8:
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
The people of the churches, typified by Israel, have been returned to bondage to sin and to Satan. It is as if Israel of old had gone back into Egypt and returned to the house of bondage. Therefore, there was a spiritual aspect to the command in Deuteronomy 28:68 and God did, indeed, fulfill the command on the spiritual level.
Likewise, if God says, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” and, yet, He does not physically destroy the historical city of Nineveh in the 40-day timeline, but He does destroy the entire world after what the 40-day timeline represents spiritually, He will then have fulfilled the preaching He bid Jonah to preach. He will have done what He said He was going to do!
We saw that chapters one and two of Jonah involve a 40-year timeline of Christ’s first coming, which would identify with God’s command to Jonah to go to Nineveh (the world) the first time. Then chapters three and four involve a 40-day timeline with the second command to Jonah. The command is given in Jonah 3:1:
And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
Then Jonah went into the city only a day’s journey. But how many days’ journey was the city? It was said to be a three-day journey. If you only went into the city a day’s journey, but the entire city is a three-day journey, how much of the city have you reached? You have reached “one third” of the city. As we read the Bible, we find that God’s overriding concern is always with bringing His Gospel to His elect people. The command in Matthew 28:9, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” was accomplished when the last one of the elect became saved. There is no command to preach to unregenerate or non-elect people. What would be the purpose? There is no purpose in that.
But Jonah went one third of the way into the city because the elect are typified by the figure of “one third.” Remember the ratio the Bible lays out to represent the saved and unsaved people of the world? It is “one third” and “two thirds,” as it says in Zechariah 13:8-9:
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, the LORD is my God.
“One third” of the city hear Jonah’s preaching while “two thirds” do not hear. Of course, God does not make this distinction as we read the account in the book of Jonah. All we see is the reaction of the people of Nineveh as they sit in sackcloth and ashes and cry mightily to God. In doing this, they typify the elect’s reaction to the Gospel.
Let us go back to Jonah 3:3 to read the verse again:
So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
Let’s compare this verse to Revelation 16:19:
And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell…
Nineveh was said to be a great city of three days’ journey, but he went into the city a day’s journey and Revelation speaks of a great city that has “three parts,” so that ties in to a one third/two thirds relationship that the Bible mentions from time to time. The figure of “one third” typifies God’s elect and the figure of “two thirds” typify the unsaved of the world. By entering into the city of Nineveh only a day’s journey, God is greatly emphasizing that the Ninevites were a type of His elect people.
THE NAME JONAH MEANS “DOVE”
As previously mentioned, God commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh the second time, and we have already learned that the city of Nineveh typifies the world. At this time, it would be good for us to consider what the name “Jonah” means. It means “dove.” The Hebrew word is #3124 in Strong’s Concordance. The word translated as “dove” is Strong’s #3123. They are right next to one another in the concordance and both words have identical consonants along with identical vowel pointing, so I do not know why they differentiate the two because they are the same word. Now let’s ask the question: what does “dove” represent in the Bible? We will see that it very clearly represents the Holy Spirit. It says in Matthew 3:16:
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
You can read similar statements in the other Gospel accounts, too. The Holy Spirit is likened to a dove. This is the way in which God makes connections in order that we begin to see spiritual types and figures emerge. Typically, a defining verse arises that ties two Scriptures together and, in the process, establishes a Biblical typology. Here, the defining verse declares the Spirit is “like a dove.”
In chapter one, Jonah was told to go to Nineveh the first time. In chapter three, God commanded Jonah, the “dove,” to go to Nineveh the second time. Once again, since Jonah means “dove” and a dove pictures the Holy Spirit, our next step is to see if God’s sending of Jonah two times to Nineveh relates in any way to God sending out His Holy Spirit two times to the world. Previously, in our study of the Bible we have learned that there were two outpourings of the Holy Spirit in God’s salvation program. These two periods of sending forth the Holy Spirit were typified by two periods of rain that would fall to bring in God’s spiritual harvest, the salvation of His elect people, as it says in Joel 2:23:
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
Also, the Bible speaks of these “rains” in James 5:7:
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
It all began with the Lord Jesus who was born in the Jubilee year of 7 B.C. Following His birth, He fulfilled His 40-calendar-year ministry in the year 33 A.D. In that same year, He returned to heaven after showing Himself alive after His resurrection for forty days and then, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out the first time to begin the Church Age and to gather the firstfruits unto God. And, for all intents and purposes, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit continued over the next 1,955 years of the Church Age. All throughout this time, the early rain fell and the firstfruits of God’s salvation plan were being brought in through salvation.
But in 1988, God ended the early rain period along with the Church Age. At that time judgment began on the house of God as the Great Tribulation period got under way. For the first 2,300 evening mornings, from May 21, 1988 through September 7, 1994, there was “no rain” and no more firstfruits being brought in. It was the lack of rain which made that period of time so grievous. Then, finally, in September 1994, God set His hand again a second time to recover the remnant of His people with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during a period of time the Bible called “the Latter Rain.” The Bible describes the time of the final rain as a time of a great spiritual harvest in which a great multitude of people around the world would become saved. Let us look at Isaiah 11:11:
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
Once again, God began to evangelize the earth, during the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He saved people like never before, as He saved the great multitude that came out of Great Tribulation during the last (about) seventeen years of the Great Tribulation, from 1994 to 2011. It says in Revelation 7:9:
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
Then it says of this “great multitude,” in Revelation 7:13-14:
And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
We do not know how many people God saved during those years of the latter rain, but the language of the Bible indicates it would have been tens of millions all over the earth. After reserving the best for last and saving all whose names were in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lord concluded the Great Tribulation simultaneously with the Latter Rain and the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It all came to an end on May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!
VERY FEW SAVED IN O.T. HISTORY—NINEVEH, THE EXCEPTION!
When we read the Old Testament, do we find large numbers of people being saved? No, it’s normally the opposite and we read of very few being saved. How many people were saved on the ark? There were only eight souls out of the entire world’s population of that time. How many were saved out of Sodom and Gomorrah? The Bible reveals there were only three – Lot and his two daughters. Even Lot’s wife, who escaped the city initially, later perished. How many people were saved in other periods of Old Testament history? Again, and again, we read of only a small number of individuals that truly became saved, like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron. We read of individuals being saved, here and there, throughout the thousands of years of Old Testament history.
One of the greater references to people being saved in the Old Testament is found in the book of 1 Kings where God speaks of a group of seven thousand Israelites that had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18). This was a fairly large number for the Old Testament times, but it is nothing in comparison to the number of people we find that God saved out of Nineveh. The entire city sat in sackcloth and ashes and cried mightily unto God. Certainly, this was strong evidence that tremendous numbers of people in that great city became saved. But why, out of all the many opportunities to save various nations and people, did God reserve such a great display of salvation for the city of Nineveh?
As we study this question, the answer clearly appears to be that Jonah’s (the dove’s) warning to them was pointing to the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Historically, God sent His prophet Jonah to the Assyrian city of Nineveh. However, spiritually, it was as though God had stretched forth His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people. The saving of so many Ninevites was pointing to the outpouring of the Latter Rain during the last (about) seventeen years of the Great Tribulation, a glorious time when God saved a great multitude of people outside of the churches and congregations of the world. By saving many from a foreign city and nation like Nineveh (instead of saving many out of Israel), God was illustrating His plan to save many people outside of the corporate church, which Israel typified. This is why we read of this wonderful exception to the general rule that few were saved during the Old Testament period.
I do not know if we can say that 120,000 were saved in Nineveh (120,000 is a number God gives at the very end of the book), but, certainly, it is safe for us to say that there were more people saved in Nineveh than in any other instance found in the Old Testament historical record. There is no other account found in the Old Testament where so many were saved – the salvation of the Ninevites is the “great multitude” of the Old Testament.
Yes, there is an account in Ezekiel 37 concerning the valley of dry bones and it speaks of a great number coming together, but that was a vision. They were not real people. God did not bring dead bones to life again, but it was designed by God to be a vision to give instruction about His salvation program. As far as an actual historical account, there is nothing like what happened to the people of Nineveh after Jonah, the dove, was sent the second time to Nineveh. And, once again, it ties in with God pouring out His Spirit the second time to save the great multitude during the little season of the Great Tribulation.
Let us look at Matthew 12 where Jesus refers to those that were saved in Nineveh. After saying, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,” Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 12:41:
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
This statement from Christ leaves no doubt. Since they are going to rise in the resurrection, it can only mean that the people of Nineveh were truly saved. When we read in Jonah 3:5-9 about the king’s decree and the putting on of sackcloth, it was an actual reflection of their spiritual condition. God saved many people in Nineveh and He also used them to typify the great multitude that He would later save out of the Great Tribulation.
THE SECOND TIME
It says in Jonah 3:4:
And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
Concerning the 40-day reference, there are a few times in the Bible where God speaks of 40 days and then ties it in with 40 years. For instance, it says in Numbers 14:33-34:
And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
This same kind of statement is made several times in the Bible. The 40 days are related to 40 years. In the case mentioned in Numbers 14, it was a judgment of God upon Israel because ten of the spies that searched out the land came back with an evil report. Therefore, the judgment was that they must wander in the wilderness a year for each day they had searched out the land. They searched out the land for 40 days, so they had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, from 1447 B.C. through 1407 B.C. Then in 1407 B.C., Moses died and they were prepared to enter into the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. We read in Joshua 5:1-2:
And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel. At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.
It was the second time. God said He would set His hand the second time to recover the remnant of His people (Isaiah 11:11). God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh the second time to preach the preaching that He bid him.
It is very interesting to us that at the end of the 40 days (a day for a year), God commanded to “circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.” Those that had come out of Egypt were circumcised at the very beginning of their journey, but the vast majority of them had perished in the wilderness. So these were the younger people that had grown up in the wilderness and God was making sure they were circumcised the second time before entering the land of Canaan, the Promised Land that often typifies heaven. It was at the end of 40 days/ 40 years, they were circumcised again the second time. In Jonah 3, it was at the beginning of a 40-day period that God told Jonah to preach a second time. It is interesting that we have 40 days in view in both places where a “second time” is mentioned. We know the preaching a “second time” identifies with the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
According to what we have learned from the Biblical calendar of history, when did God pour out the Holy Spirit the second time? It was in the year 1994 which was a Jubilee year, just as Jesus was born in 7 B.C., a Jubilee year. That is where Jonah begins when he went with them from the presence of the LORD. So Jonah chapter one begins in a Jubilee year and spans 40 calendar years in chapters one and two; then the third chapter of Jonah identifies with the second sending of the “dove” or Holy Spirit, and we know that identifies with the Jubilee year of 1994.
These are Biblical tie-ins or connections that the Bible makes and it comes from much study that has been done over many years now. These are things many of us are familiar with, but there may be someone that is not as familiar with it and they would have to do further Bible study, but in September 1994 when the Latter Rain began it identifies with the time when God began to save the great multitude, just as Jonah was commanded the second time by God to go into Nineveh. This connection between Jonah (the dove) and the Holy Spirit allows us to say that Jonah’s entry into Nineveh relates to the year 1994 and the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit which began at that time.
Since the Bible speaks of “a day for a year” and if we are looking at a period of forty days, then it is very possible it could be pointing to 40 years from the entry into Nineveh or the command for the “dove” or Holy Spirit to go forth and save many people. And 40 years from 1994 would be 2034 A.D. As far as we know, that year is not a particularly important year in God’s timetable. However, we have the historical precedent of Christ’s first coming, which identifies with the first two chapters of Jonah and the first command to rise and go to Nineveh. The first coming of Christ and the first outpouring of the Spirit of God, beginning in a Jubilee year, 7 B.C., covered 40 calendar years and 39 actual years. The precedent established by Christ’s first coming allows us to apply the similar timeline to the command for Jonah to preach, “Yet forty days,” or 40 inclusive years. It would not be calendar years because you do not call them calendar years unless you are going from a date in the Old Testament to a date in the New Testament, but it is 40 inclusive years from 1994 to 2033.
If you are wondering what an inclusive year is, it means you would start counting from 1994 as “year one,” rather than calculating from 1994 to 1995, with 1995 as “year one.” You can write it out, starting with 1994 and list all the years to 2033, with 1994 being “year one” and you will find that 2033 is the 40th inclusive year (see Appendix I), which is the identical time period from the birth of Christ in 7 B.C. to 33 A.D. when He went to the cross. In other words, from 1994 to 2033 is the identical time period (number of years) as 7 B.C. to 33 A.D. (see Appendix II). It was exactly the same and that relates to this whole idea in the book of Jonah. To begin with, Jonah went to Nineveh and he preached and there was a tremendous response to his preaching, like nothing comparable in the Old Testament. Then it is as if God takes the focus off the people of Nineveh and just leaves them there sitting in sackcloth and ashes while the 40-day period continues. It is as though God leaves the reader of the book of Jonah “up in the air,” without any conclusion or summation. It could be that the reason He leaves it at that junction is because the events taking place there really have spiritual application to a time in history that is more than two thousand years into the future, a time at the end of the world when there will be the final fulfillment of the 40 days!
Remember, back in Joshua 5:1-2, God commanded that they circumcise the children of Israel the second time. Let’s ask the question: how many resurrections are there in the Bible? The answer is, there are two resurrections. The first resurrection is the resurrection of the soul that takes place when a person is born again and the second resurrection is of the body at the end of the world. We know the Bible describes the first resurrection (of the soul) as salvation. Does the Bible view the second resurrection also as an act of salvation? Yes, because the body is sinful. Our soul was sinful and dead and we were spiritually dead when God saved our souls. It was a resurrection to “life” and circumcision points to that. When God resurrects our physical bodies, it is the completion of His salvation program and it is the “second circumcision” because He is going to cut off the sins that are in our flesh and equip us with new resurrected spiritual bodies. It says in Romans 8:23:
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
When will the redemption of our body come? It takes place on the last day. Therefore, we find that at the beginning of the second sending of Jonah, the dove or the Holy Spirit, there was a great salvation of the Ninevites (people of the world outside of the churches). This pointed to the great multitude that were saved in their souls during the little season of the Latter Rain which fell during the second part of the Great Tribulation, but in Joshua 5 it is at the end of the wilderness sojourn when they are about to cross the Jordan and enter into the land of Canaan, which can typify the new heaven and new earth. History continued, of course, and from that point on there was the conquest of the land of Canaan and the rest of the history of Israel, but this picture of Israel being circumcised the second time identifies with the second resurrection, which is the putting off of the sins of the flesh at the completion of God’s salvation program at the end of the world. It says in Joshua 5:5-7:
Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.
SPACE BETWEEN YOU AND IT, ABOUT TWO THOUSAND CUBITS
In Joshua 3:3-4 we read:
And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.
The ark went first and the Levites and the priests followed at the space of 2,000 cubits. When we take a closer look at these verses, we find that the ark is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and the river Jordan is picturing the wrath of God. It is necessary to cross over the wrath of God in order to reach the Promised Land, the new heaven and new earth. The ark (Jesus) is the first to pass over Jordan. We could say that, spiritually, Jesus was the first to experience the wrath of God, and it is because of His passing over first that a way is made for His people to cross over after Him. The people of Israel followed after the ark by the space of about 2,000 cubits by measure. The people of Israel would represent the Israel of God or those truly saved. Each child of God must also cross over Jordan (the wrath of God) in order to reach the Promised Land of the new heaven and new earth. As we consider God’s statement, “about two thousand cubits by measure,” the use of the word “measure” helps us to understand that time is actually in view. It says in Psalm 39:4:
the LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
The measure of time in view would relate the 2,000 cubits to 2,000 years. Once we understand all the types and figures God used in these verses, the deeper spiritual meaning becomes obvious. The ark (Christ) passed over Jordan (experienced the wrath of God during His demonstration on the cross) and will be followed by His Israel (the elect of God) about 2,000 cubits (2,000 years) after.
From the year 7 B.C. to 1994 A.D. (from a Jubilee year to a Jubilee year), how much time elapsed? It is a period of exactly 2,000 years (7 + 1994 – 1). It is interesting how many Jubilees, which happen every 50 years, have passed since Christ was born in 7 B.C. until the Jubilee in 1994. Divide 50 into 2,000 and you get 40 Jubilees from the first entry of Christ into the world, which identified with the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to 1994 when the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit began during the Latter Rain. It was exactly 2,000 years (40 x 50) since Jesus was born. Also, when Christ went to the cross in 33 A.D., it was all part of the first pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and when we go from 33 A.D. to 2033 A.D., it is again 2,000 years (2033 – 33 = 2000), exactly. It is as though God has one timeline running on this track over here with the first coming of Christ, from 7 B.C. to 33 A.D.; and over there, on another track, 2,000 years later, is a parallel timeline running from 1994 to 2033. An exact 2,000 years separates the dates and that is very significant because the Bible speaks of the Messiah coming the first time after 11,000 years of history, and the Bible also points to Christ coming the second time after 13,000 years of history. What separates 13,000 from 11,000? It is 2,000 years, so we have a parallel timeline running that matches perfectly with the first coming of Christ, which began with a Jubilee year in 7 B.C. And this final timeline also begins with a Jubilee year in the year 1994.
We can tie the statement, “Yet forty days,” with the second outpouring of the Jubilee or the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which began in the year 1994. So, let us ask a very important question: has the 40 days (40 years) that Jonah was commanded to proclaim to the Ninevites passed? The answer is, “No,” the time until the day of destruction has not yet passed.
I know these past few years of living through the Great Tribulation, and now living on the earth in the Day of Judgment, seems like it has been a long, long time to all of God’s people. It is certainly difficult to live in the world at a time when God has given it up and turned it over to sin and has also ended the Church Age. It’s even more difficult to live on the earth at a time when God has shut the door of heaven and ended His salvation program.
Yet, if we are correct, God has given us a timeline in Jonah 3 for the period of the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit all the way to its conclusion, which identifies with 40 days. Jonah was waiting for the 40 days to elapse all the while he was sitting under a booth. Remember the feast of tabernacles and its connection to the end of the world? We can’t help but see a possible relationship between a 40-year timeline and the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of tabernacles being accomplished. At this time, we are well into the 40-year (inclusive) period and there are possibly just a few more years to go, so it is a very definite possibility that God has given us the timeline that spans the Great Tribulation, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the Latter Rain, and now into Judgment Day itself—a timeline that will finally end with the destruction or the world 40 years from the point that the Holy Spirit was sent forth a second time to save the great multitude. At that point, spiritually, God will have fulfilled His Word that He commanded the prophet Jonah to preach: “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” The work of the Holy Spirit during the time of its second outpouring will be completed when the elect people of God receive our new resurrected spiritual bodies. That is the point when it may be said that salvation has been completed and we have, as it were, been circumcised a second time.
THE USE OF THE WORD “ABOUT”
One last thing we must consider is why God uses the word “about” in Joshua 3:4. Since the main date for Christ’s first coming is 33 A.D., and if He brings His people into the new heaven and new earth exactly 2,000 years later in the year 2033 A.D., why was the word “about” used?
Actually, the answer is not that hard to understand. It was in the year 2011 A.D. that the elect children of God, along with the rest of the world, first entered into the Day of Judgment. Remember, the Jordan river typified the wrath of God. The ark (Christ) entered first, and the people of Israel (the elect) were to follow “about” 2,000 cubits (2,000 years) after. God’s wrath began to fall on the world on May 21, 2011. The year 2011 is separated by 1,978 years from the year 33 A.D. All the elect people of God were left alive and remaining on the earth to go through the judgment period. While it is true that the conclusion of the prolonged Day of Judgment may take us to the year 2033 A.D., a date exactly 2,000 years from the cross of Christ, yet its beginning point of 2011 was 1,978 years from the cross, a time period that is close to 2,000 years, but is not quite 2,000 years, and therefore, God accurately used the word “about” to describe it.
The Elect’s Appearance
Before the Judgment Seat of Christ
Electronic Bible Fellowship
Copyright © 2017 by Chris McCann
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.
First Edition: July 2017
Second Edition: August 2018
Electronic Bible Fellowship
P.O. Box 1393
Sharon Hill, PA 19079-0593
A copy of this book may be freely obtained by sending an e-mail to:
Chapter 1: The Elect’s Appearance Before the Judgment Seat of Christ 5
The Word “We” 5
Here is the Patience of the Saints 8
Chapter 2: Isaiah 24 11
Additional Biblical Evidence 12
We Which Are Alive and Remain 14
Chapter 3: God’s Plan to Judge Both Saved and Unsaved Alike 17
The Quick and the Dead 17
One Event to All 19
Christ Prays that His People NOT be Taken Out of the World 21
Chapter 4: The Judgment Seat of Christ 25
Rule them with a Rod of Iron 27
Feed them with a Rod of Iron 29
Chapter 5: We Must All Appear 33
The Manifestation of Jesus in History 35
The Elect (Saved) Have Already Been Judged in Christ at the Foundation of the World 37
Chapter 6: We Shall All Stand Before the Judgment Seat 41
Who Shall be Able to Stand? 42
The Wicked Will Burn, the Righteous Will Endure the Fire 44
Chapter 7: God Gets the Glory 47
Scripture Index 52
Perhaps the date of May 21, 2011 has faded from your memory? It should not have. The Bible and its Biblical calendar continue to insist that that day was indeed the beginning of Judgment Day for this world.
E Bible Fellowship and many of God’s elect people have spent a great deal of time searching the Scriptures to find our error or to find correction regarding the date and declaration that was proclaimed to the world: “May 21, 2011, Judgment Day!” Despite all of our searching and questioning, we cannot find any fault with the timeline of history and the Biblical calendar that directed us to arrive at that date with such confidence that we dared to boldly share it with the world by using an exclamation point.
Since our diligent study of the Scriptures continues to show that the Bible will not budge or move off the date May 21, 2011 as the Day of Judgment, this can only mean that the Bible is still insisting that the final judgment of mankind did begin on that day.
Because God’s elect people believe the Bible above all (even over what our own physical eyes tell us), we have returned to the Word of God with the understanding that it is Judgment Day. Knowing this, how then can we explain certain things that have been going on since May 21, 2011? For instance, why was there no physical earthquake or any physical destruction of any kind? The answer to these questions is that God often brings spiritual judgments to pass. As a matter of fact, some of the most important and major judgments recorded in the Bible were all spiritual judgments: man’s fall in the garden of Eden, Jesus’ drinking of the cup of wrath while in the garden of Gethsemane, and God’s judgment on the corporate church, are all examples.
Next, we searched the Bible with the question in mind: if May 21, 2011, was Judgment Day, then why are we still here several years later? Is it possible for Judgment Day (singular) to be more than one day? And again, the Bible provided an answer that permitted us to move forward. Indeed, there are times when God does speak of long periods of time as a single day (see Hebrews 3:8-9).
This led us to a very important question—one that personally impacted each person that God had saved—if God has brought the world into (spiritual) judgment and its Judgment Day (although a prolonged and drawn out judgment period), then how is it possible that the elect are still living and functioning on the earth? Should they not be raptured before the judgment? That’s what we have long been taught by reformed theologians: that God will remove His people out of the world before proceeding to judge and punish its unsaved people.
Yet, again, if May 21, 2011 began the final judgment process, and since the elect were obviously not raptured out of the world, would not that mean that they were going through the judgment?
This booklet has been written in order to answer this very interesting question. We will find that the Bible has long taught, and in many Scriptures, that it has always been God’s plan to bring all the elect people before His judgment seat, and to do so for a very special reason and purpose. At this time, the people of God are alive and remaining on the earth while God works out His end-time judgment program.
1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17) 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.
18) Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Our hope for the reader is that you will, ultimately, be comforted by the information found in this booklet and realize that no mistake was made concerning the date of May 21, 2011 as the beginning Day of Judgment. And because no mistake was made we can be sure that each one of us is exactly where God wanted us to be.
The Bible presents to us an incredible truth in the second epistle to the Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ …
We are filled with questions after reading this statement. The first thing we wonder is: who are they which must make this appearance before Christ’s judgment seat? The plural pronoun “we” seems fairly ambiguous. It seems like it could be referring to anyone at all.
However, a closer look at the context of 2 Corinthians chapter 5 reveals something very interesting and helpful to us in our desire to identify exactly who is in view by the use of the plural pronoun.
Let’s begin by reading all the verses leading up to verse 10:
2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2) For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
3) If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
4) For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
5) Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
6) Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
7) (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
8) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
9) Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
The plural pronoun “we” is used 14 times in the above passage. The 14th time, in verse 10, the statement is made that “we” must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
The 13 times the plural pronoun “we” is used leading up to verse 10 can all be shown to point exclusively to God's elect:
v.1 “we know...we have a building of God...”; v.2 “we groan...desiring to be clothed...with our house...from heaven; v.3 “we shall not be found naked”; v.4 “we do groan...not that we be unclothed, but clothed upon...”; v.6 “we are always confident, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord”; v.7 “we walk by faith, and not by sight”; v.8 “we are confident, and willing, to be absent from the body...”; v.9 “we labor, that, we may be accepted of Him.”
After reading all of the statements made in this passage, it becomes obvious that the plural pronoun “we” can only refer to God’s elect in each case. It is certain that the unsaved people of the world are NOT groaning and desiring that their earthly house (their body) be clothed from heaven (i.e., to die and go to heaven). And it is certain that the unsaved people of the world have no confidence in the Biblical truths concerning life after death. And it is absolutely certain that none of the unsaved people of the world “walk by faith and not by sight.”
It quickly becomes apparent to the reader that each and every statement made in verses 1 through 9 applies exclusively to God’s elect people. This means that all 13 instances that the plural pronoun “we” is used in the first nine verses identifies only with God’s elect.
Therefore, we can rightly conclude that the reference to “we” in verse 10 is also directed solely to the elect people of God:
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ ...
This observation is correct but nonetheless astounding to us. The people of God have long thought that they would be raptured out of the world before the Day of Judgment began. For over a millennium, theologians have taught that those people that God saved would NOT remain on the earth to go through the final judgment.
Of course, many of the same theologians also taught us that the elect people of God would not go through the Great Tribulation period. Commentaries have laid out elaborate scenarios in which the people of God are raptured out of the world and then, at that point, the Great Tribulation begins.
Yet we now know absolutely that that teaching is incorrect. In fact, we have already gone through the entire 23-year Great Tribulation period. The Lord foretold this would be the case in the book of Revelation:
Revelation 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
8) And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
10) He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
In Revelation chapter 13, the Lord is discussing the loosing of Satan (called “the beast”) during the time of the Great Tribulation period. Notice that in the context of Satan’s loosing and overcoming of the saints (churches), God takes special care to let us know that that will also be the time of the “patience and faith of the saints.” Obviously, if the saints (elect) were raptured prior to the Great Tribulation then their patience and faith would not be a point of emphasis. The reason the patience and faith of the saints are highlighted here is only because they remained on the earth to go through the Great Tribulation period. The use of the word “here” in the context of the loosing of Satan (the beast) and his victory over the camp of the saints serves to illustrate the point that God’s elect are indeed present in the world at that terrible time of Great Tribulation.
Amazingly, in the very next chapter of the book of Revelation, we find a similar statement to what we read in chapter 13 concerning the saints. To begin with, we see that the context in view in chapter 14 is the final judgment of mankind. The language found there is clearly depicting Judgment Day:
Revelation 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11) And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Everything about these verses points to the Day of the Lord’s wrath. It even says so in verse 10, “…the wine of the wrath of God.” The verse also mentions “the cup of His indignation” and “tormented with fire and brimstone.” The next verse (11) goes on to speak of “the smoke of their torment” and “they have no rest day nor night.” It is all terrible language that anyone familiar with the Bible will soon recognize as the language often used in connection with the Day of the Lord, the final judgment of the unsaved people of the earth.
“Okay,” someone may say, “I see that, but so what? What’s your point?”
The point comes into view with the very next verse:
Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
Wait a second. That’s very similar language to what we read in the previous chapter, in Revelation 13. In that chapter dealing with the Great Tribulation, God told us of many awful things that the beast was going to do during that time period, and then inserted the Scripture that declared:
Revelation 13:10b … Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
Once again, we realized that this statement was made to indicate the presence of God’s elect on the earth during the Great Tribulation period. But this passage in Revelation 14 isn’t addressing the Great Tribulation period at all, it has to do with the final judgment of mankind at the end of the world. Why would God insert a statement concerning the patience of the saints in the context of the end of the world?
Is the Lord insinuating that the elect will be in the world at the time the final judgment of the wicked is taking place? Is it possible that by explicitly saying, “Here is the patience of the saints,” right after discussing the torment of fire and brimstone, that God is letting us know that the elect will be left on the earth while it is happening? And that this shocking experience will try their patience?
What an amazing thing for God to say in that awful context. What are we to make of this statement? Is there any other Biblical evidence that might support the idea that God’s elect (saved people) would be present in the world during the outpouring of the wrath of God upon the ungodly?
The answer is, “yes.” To our surprise, as we search the Bible we find quite a bit of additional Biblical support for this conclusion. In the next chapter, we will take a look at some other Scriptures that tie in with this incredible information that we are beginning to learn from the Bible.
We discover, in the book of Isaiah, that God has moved His prophet to record a chapter which is completely focused on the final judgment of this world. It is Isaiah chapter 24. As we read through the chapter numerous statements confirm that the object of God’s wrath is indeed the whole world:
Isaiah 24:4 The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.
5) The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
In just the two verses shown above, the word “earth” is mentioned three times, and the word “world” once. The emphasis on the judgment of the world cannot be missed. The next verse, though, tells us something astounding in regards to this final judgment of the earth:
Isaiah 24:6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
Twice more we find the word “earth” is used. The language of God’s wrath upon the earth is unavoidable: “the curse devoured the earth,” “they that dwell therein are desolate,” and “the inhabitants of the earth are burned.” Awful, ugly language. This verse is surely telling us that something horrific has happened to the inhabitants of the earth in the Day of Judgment. There is no doubt that it is all bad for them (cursed, desolate, burned) and yet, incredibly, we also read something that stands out in a remarkable way at the end of verse 6:
“… and few men left.”
Immediately our mind fills with questions. How is it possible that all the rest of the inhabitants of the earth are burned and yet these few men remain? Why weren’t they burned? Who are these few men? And why are they left?
First, let’s try to identify exactly who the “few men” are. We don’t have to look too hard in the Bible before we find that God provides Scriptural confirmation regarding their identity.
Matthew 20:16b … for many be called, but few chosen.
The few who are chosen are God’s elect. Out of mankind, God chose (elected) a certain number to become saved. They are only a tiny remnant out of the whole. The “few men left” in Isaiah 24:6 must be God’s elect.
Therefore, we can know the following things about Isaiah chapter 24:
These conclusions are very interesting to us because they agree with the information we learned from Revelation 14:10-12 and from 2 Corinthians 5:10. Isaiah 24 offers strong support for the idea that God’s elect will be left on the earth at the same time God is pouring out His wrath on the wicked (“the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left”).
The idea we’re examining is brand new to us. Theologians of the past, even the few faithful ones, did not present the teaching that God’s elect would go through an intense period of spiritual judgment as they made an “appearance” before the judgment seat of Christ. This is something never previously understood. Therefore, we want to look at everything we can possibly find that relates to this question. Is there anything else in the Bible for us to look at?
Yes, there is. The Bible also makes a curious reference to God’s people being left in the book of Zechariah:
Zechariah 13:8 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.
9) And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
To begin with, the word “land” in verse 8 is also translated as “earth” from time to time. Actually, it is the same Hebrew word translated as “earth” 13 times in the chapter we were just looking at (Isaiah chapter 24), which means that this verse could legitimately say, “that in all the earth.”
Also, the figure of two-thirds is used in the Bible to represent the unsaved. We see this in the following passage as David (a type of Christ) shows mercy to one-third (picturing the elect) and pronounces judgment to two-thirds (the unsaved that experience the wrath of God):
2 Samuel 8:2 And he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive. And so the Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts.
There’s no question that the one line (one-third) that are spared point to those that Christ has saved, and the two lines (two-thirds) point to those that never do become saved.
Likewise, Zechariah 13:8 tells us that in all the land (earth) two parts are cut off and die (experience death), while one-third is LEFT THEREIN.
Yet again we find a reference to the elect (one third) being left. Where are they left? The answer is: therein! That is, in the land, which can only be the earth. They have been left in the same location where the two-thirds have been cut off and died. We can quickly see how Zechariah 13:8 fits in with what we read back in Isaiah 24:6. We find both unsaved and saved going through a similar experience. Only the unsaved do not survive it (they are burned, or cut off and die), while the saved do survive it (they are not burned and they are not cut off –but somehow endure it and are left alive).
Does this idea of being left, or remaining, while others are destroyed, sound familiar to our ears? Where else in the Bible have we read language concerning God’s elect people being left and surviving an awful judgment?
The book of 1 Thessalonians records one of the most straightforward passages found in the entire Bible regarding the return of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the world:
1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17) 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.
Significantly, in this well-known New Testament passage, God makes a point of emphasizing that when the Lord Jesus Christ returns on the last day, at the end of the world, He will gather up all His people that are ALIVE and REMAINING on the earth. Immediately we wonder, why does the Lord stress this point to the degree that He does? Twice He refers to those that are “alive and remain.” Remain from what? To remain implies that you are left over from something. It implies that this group of people have gone through something. Or, more accurately, they have experienced something extremely terrible and have endured it.
The reason that God states twice that Christ comes at the very end of the world to rapture His elect who are alive and remaining on the earth is not because they have been raptured out of the world prior to Judgment Day, but because they have already gone through and completed the judgment program of God and are being raptured out of the world at its conclusion. The fire of God’s wrath has been put to them as well as the rest of the unsaved inhabitants of the world. Only, the unsaved were destroyed by the fire. These blessed souls that are alive and remain at its end point were not destroyed by it. Instead they were purified by the experience of it.
1 Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13) Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14) If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
Once more, those people found to be alive and remaining at the return of Christ at the very end of the world, will be the ones that have gone through the trying fire of Judgment Day and as a result will have proven, to the glory of God, to be spiritual gold, silver, and precious stones.
Isaiah 24:15 Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea.
So far, we have seen that by the use of the plural pronoun “we” in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, the Lord is letting us know that it is His plan for the elect to make an appearance before the judgment seat of Christ.
Also, we have learned through several Scriptures that the Bible reveals that it was always God’s intention for the elect to be left on the earth in order to go through the experience of the final judgment of mankind.
But this information is so new to us, and it is also so enormous in its implications, that we wonder if there is anything further in the Bible that might support it. Can we find any other Scriptures to support this frightening idea that God’s elect will be left on the earth in order to make an appearance before the Lord’s judgment throne in the time of the world’s end?
The answer is yes indeed, the Bible does offer additional confirmation. Let’s take a look at some other verses that also teach this truth.
Acts 10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
2 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
1 Peter 4:5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
The old English word “quick” is a translation of Strong’s #2198 (zao). Besides “quick,” it is also translated as “life,” “lifetime,” “live,” “alive,” and “lively.” In fact, the Greek word translated as “alive” in 1 Thessalonians 4:15,17 (“we which are alive and remain”) is this same Greek word zao translated as “quick” in these verses. We could correctly translate these verses by saying, Christ “shall judge the alive and the dead.”
We find that this particular combination of words (alive and dead) is also used in another very helpful Bible verse:
Matthew 22:32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
God declares that He is not the God of the dead but of the living (#2198/zao). It’s important for us to realize how God views the unsaved people of the world: even though they may be physically alive, He views them as being dead because they have no life in their soul. This is how we can understand this seemingly contradictory statement:
Matthew 8:22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
Of course, a physically dead person cannot, in any way, bury another physically dead person. It is impossible to understand this Scripture until we realize that the Bible, at times, may speak of someone that is physically alive, yet because they are in an unsaved condition, refer to them as being dead. Once we understand that truth, we can readily understand verses like Matthew 8:22. Basically, Jesus declared, “let the (spiritually) dead bury the (physically) dead.”
We have gained insight into the possibility that God may speak of spiritually alive people and spiritually dead people, and yet give no indicator that He is referring to the spiritual condition of people, and not their physical condition—once we understand this we can begin to understand the declaration that Christ is the judge of the quick (those people alive in their souls, or the saved) and the dead (those people dead in their souls, or unsaved).
Let’s put this to the test. Does the Bible speak of God judging the unsaved (dead)? Yes! Absolutely. Isaiah 24:6 says the unsaved are burned. Zechariah 13:8 says they are cut off and die.
Does the Bible speak of God judging the saved (alive)? And again, the answer is yes! Absolutely. The saved go through the fire (Zechariah 13:8) and are not burned (Isaiah 24:6). We also read that we (the saved) must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
The Biblical evidence is mounting, but is there anything else we need to look at?
As we study the Bible we find that God is no respecter of persons. We are told that He sends the rain on the just and the unjust. We also find that the Bible tells us that there are not one set of circumstances for the saved and a completely different set of circumstances for the unsaved. Actually, God goes out of His way to make sure that all understand the equality of His actions:
Ecclesiastes 9:2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
3) This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all …
After reading Ecclesiastes 9:2-3, let’s ask a couple of questions. First, what comes alike to all? The answer the Bible gives is ALL THINGS.
Secondly, all things come alike to whom? And again, the Bible answers TO ALL. With “all” referring to the righteous and the wicked.
Let’s ask a third question: is there one event to the righteous, and a completely different event to the wicked?
No, not in any way. According to the Word of God, there is ONE EVENT TO THE RIGHTEOUS, AND TO THE WICKED. This means that the same event comes to both alike.
This equality concerning events was tested during the Great Tribulation period. Were the righteous (elect) taken out of the world before the Great Tribulation period so they would not have to go through it while the unsaved were left and did have to go through it? No way. We read in Revelation chapter 13, “here is the faith and patience of the saints,” revealing to us that the elect were indeed present in the world and went through the tribulation just like the wicked. And since we know that the Great Tribulation period concluded on May 21, 2011, our very own experience testifies to the fact that the righteous (God’s elect) went through the entirety of it just as the wicked did (those not elected to salvation)
What about Judgment Day? Will the saved be taken out of the world in order that they might escape that awful day, while the unsaved remain behind and are punished? Again, the answer must be a resounding NO. “Here is the patience of the saints” is also found in Revelation chapter 14 in the context of Judgment Day.
One event comes to all. One event comes to the righteous (saved) and to the wicked (unsaved). Both experience the same thing. This is why we find that the Bible also says:
Ecclesiastes 3:16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
17) I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.
Notice that Ecclesiastes 3:17 tells us that God will judge the righteous and the wicked. That is, to say it another way, God will judge the quick and the dead.
Yet again we find this same truth is stated. How is it possible that these numerous direct statements expressing God’s intention to judge the elect with the non-elect were missed for so long and by so many theologians? How is it possible that even God’s own elect people missed the Bible’s teaching on the necessity for them to remain on the earth and to go through the experience of the final judgment?
We know that God is the One in complete control of the Scriptures and the things His people understand or fail to understand. He is in complete control of the opening up of truth to the understanding of the minds of His elect people. And He is in complete control of the times and seasons in which His people are granted understanding, by the opening up of their minds to the hidden and deep mysteries of the Word of God.
For whatever reason, it has not been God’s will to reveal these things to generations past. He has kept them under wraps until this present time of the final judgment of mankind. We know that the Bible has revealed and broadcast to all that the Day of Judgment began on May 21, 2011. Further, the Bible insists that the world has been operating under the wrath of God since that time. And therefore, the Bible also insists that the judgment seat of Christ was set up on that date and has been in operation ever since. This means that God’s elect have also been making an appearance before the judgment seat of Christ for several years up to now, and according to mounting Biblical evidence pointing to the end of this prolonged judgment occurring in the year 2033 A.D., it is very likely we will continue to appear before His judgment seat for several more years.
In the gospel of John, chapter 17, Jesus prayed for His people in a very unusual way:
John 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
To begin with, Christ prays NOT that God should take them out of the world, but “that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” This appears to be a rather strange prayer, does it not?
This verse is interesting to us because we have spent considerable time looking at several Scriptures touching on this very same idea. We were expecting to be taken out of the world, via a rapture, to escape the final judgment, and yet, that was not God’s plan. Instead, the Lord has purposefully kept His people in the world, in order for them to go through the final judgment process. Many of the things we are learning today regarding the elect making an appearance before the judgment seat of Christ and experiencing the judgment of God in a tableau, have been learned as a result of our beginning to realize that God has left us on the earth to experience these things.
In John 17:15, Jesus also prays to the Father that His elect people should be kept “from the evil.” But what evil is He talking about? We don’t have to look very long in the Bible before we find our answer:
Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil …
The above verse is a line taken from the Lord’s prayer. Primarily, this petition is a request for salvation to escape the Day of Judgment (the evil).
The book of Ezekiel equates evil with the time of the end:
Ezekiel 7:5 Thus saith the Lord GOD; An evil, an only evil, behold, is come.
6) An end is come, the end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold, it is come.
Judgment Day is described as an evil day because it is a time of destruction for unsaved mankind. The Bible views anything bad happening to mankind (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.) as being evil. Of course, there cannot be anything worse for mankind than the time when God executes judgment upon them.
Now, only due to the fact that God is revealing His judgment program to us, we are able to see the enormous ramifications of Christ’s prayer. “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world…” —again, this means that the elect people of God are not to be raptured out of the world and escape the final judgment — “…but that Thou shouldest keep them from THE EVIL.” Jesus is praying for the protection and safekeeping of all of those that He saved as they go through the evil day of God’s wrath. To be kept from the evil is language expressing God’s intention to preserve His people from the destructive flaming fires of His vengeful wrath.
The Biblical language is becoming quite clear to us regarding the people of God remaining on the earth to go through the last judgment. The Bible is also clear that it is God’s plan to judge the righteous as well as the wicked. But we wonder why? Why is this God’s plan? Why is He requiring those already saved to make this appearance before His judgment seat?
In order to adequately answer this question, we are going to look more deeply into two things: first, what exactly is this judgment seat of Christ? And, secondly, what does God mean by His use of the word “appear” in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 10?
Let’s read the verse in question from 2 Corinthians chapter 5 once again:
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Due to our advantageous position of going through the entirety of the Great Tribulation period, and continuing to live on the earth in those days after that tribulation, we now know that the Bible reveals the following information concerning God’s program for Judgment Day:
What exactly is the “judgment seat of Christ”? Does the Bible give us any indication regarding how it has been set up and functions in the world?
We know that the judgment throne and judgment seat are synonymous.
Daniel 7:9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
10) A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
In every verse where we find reference to the judgment throne or judgment seat, we also find that an emphasis is placed upon God “sitting” during the time of the world’s final judgment.
Why does God emphasize the fact that He sits upon His judgment throne or seat?
In order to answer that question, let’s first consider the spiritual meaning of “sitting” in the Bible. The Bible relates the act of sitting with that of ruling. We see this, for instance, in those that God has saved:
Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
We sit together in heavenly places with Christ because He has made us to be spiritual kings with Him. Therefore, we rule as kings with Him:
Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
When kings sit upon their thrones they exercise rule over their kingdom. The spiritual meaning of sitting can also be seen in the language used regarding the man of sin:
2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4) Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
The man of sin (Satan) was given rule over the world’s churches and congregations. Therefore, he is pictured as taking his seat in the temple.
Since sitting spiritually represents ruling, we need to consider this Scripture once again:
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ;
This statement can also correctly be read this way: “For we must all appear before the judgment RULE of Christ.”
As mentioned previously, the plural pronoun “we” is referring to God’s elect. Therefore, God’s elect must all appear before the judgment rule of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The idea of a judgment “rule” of Christ is an interesting idea for us to consider because the Bible has also shown us that the time of the final judgment is actually a prolonged period of time, encompassing several years. And a time in which Jesus Christ is said to rule over the nations:
Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
2) While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:
Revelation 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16) And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
This verse in Revelation chapter 19 would not make much sense to us if we had not learned a great deal more about God’s judgment program. Before, we used to think that Christ came and the world instantaneously ended. Yet, how could an immediate end of the world (at Christ’s coming) be reconciled with the language found in Revelation 19:15? Yes, we could understand that in an immediate judgment and destruction Christ smites the nations, and that He treads them under His feet in the winepress of His wrath. All of that would still be understandable. But how could we ever have understood the phrase that “He shall rule them with a rod of iron”?
It’s only now, from our unique perspective of going through the time of Great Tribulation, and of continuing to live on the earth for quite a lengthy number of days after the tribulation, i.e., the period of years called Judgment Day, that we can clearly see how it is that Christ smites the nations, while simultaneously ruling them with a rod of iron.
Of course, Jesus’ rule over the nations of the world in the Day of Judgment is not a beneficial rule in any way. He is not ruling them for their good. Rather, He is ruling them with the intent of punishing them for their wickedness:
Psalm 2:9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
The rod of iron is a weapon of destruction toward the unsaved inhabitants of the earth. Yet, amazingly, we also see something wonderful in view when it comes to the rule of the Lord Jesus Christ in the time of the world’s judgment.
The Greek word used by God to describe the outpouring of God’s wrath in Revelation 19:15 is the identical Greek word used elsewhere in a positive sense concerning the spiritual feeding of the people of God. The Greek word poimano (#4165) is the word translated as “rule” in “rule them with a rod of iron.” It is also the same word used in the Gospel of John, after the great catch of fish:
John 21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed (#4165) my sheep.
The use of this word in these two places is highly significant. Both Revelation 19:15 and John 21:16 have the same time period in view. Revelation 19:15 is describing the awful events of Judgment Day, the day that came immediately after the 23-year Great Tribulation period. Revelation 19:15 is, therefore, referring to May 21, 2011, and all the days after until God destroys this universe and creates the new heaven and earth.
Again, John chapter 21 has the same time period in its spiritual context. The great catch of fish points to the completion of God’s salvation program that was accomplished by the end of the Great Tribulation period. The great catch of fish identifies with the great multitude that were saved out of Great Tribulation.
And that means that Jesus’ command to Peter after the 153 fish have been safely brought to Him also identifies with the days after the tribulation, or Judgment Day.
So, we can see how the use of the Greek word poimano has everything to do with the time of God’s final judgment on this world. Yet, it is being used in two drastically different ways. The first way, in Revelation 19:15, involves the wrath of God. When we read that Christ will smite the nations and rule (poimano) them with a rod of iron, there is nothing at all good or positive about it.
On the other hand, when Jesus commands Peter, “Feed (poimano) My sheep,” it has nothing to do with punishing the sheep. The feeding of the sheep is meant as a helpful and good command, something that will certainly benefit them.
How is it possible for God to use the same word and yet have two vastly different meanings attached to it, dependent upon whether an individual is saved or unsaved? That’s the nature of the Word of God. And we do recognize that the Word of God is what is in view in both cases. It is the Word of God that rules with wrath over the unsaved people of the world in the Day of Judgment. And it is also the Word of God that serves to feed the sheep of God. One Word, yet it accomplishes two entirely different things for different groups of people.
The Greek word poimano is used one other time in relationship to the end of the Great Tribulation period:
Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
14) And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15) Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
16) They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17) For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed (#4165) them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
We can only be astonished as we read this passage. We find similarities with John 21, in the sense that a great multitude became saved (great catch of fish), and they are said to have come out of Great Tribulation (the great catch of fish also ties in with the Great Tribulation period), and we also read that the Lamb (Christ) will feed them (feed My sheep).
Even more astonishing is the fact that the throne of God comes into sharp focus in Revelation 7, and “he that sitteth upon the throne” is the One that feeds the sheep. Remember our earlier discussion concerning the judgment seat of Christ, or the judgment rule of Christ, as He rules upon the throne in these days after the tribulation.
Revelation 7 illustrates the two simultaneous and great truths of Christ ruling with a rod of iron. First, He rules with His Word, the Bible, to punish and to destroy the wicked. Secondly, He uses the very same Word to feed the great multitude that He saved and brought out of Great Tribulation. The Word of God, the Bible, accomplishes this dual purpose throughout the entire prolonged judgment period.
There is one more Scripture, in the book of Isaiah, that brings this duality into sharper focus for us:
Isaiah 40:10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
It’s clear from this verse in Isaiah that God is speaking of His coming at the end of the world. “The Lord GOD will come” is fairly straightforward language describing the coming of the Lord at the time of the end. It matches what we read in the book of Revelation:
Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
After Isaiah 40:10 tells us that the Lord GOD will indeed come, and adds, “His arm shall rule for Him,” which reminds us that Jesus rules with a rod of iron at the time of the end, it goes on to state the following in the very next verse:
Isaiah 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
We can only stand in awe when we see things like this in the Word of God. In the New Testament, we find that God ties together two English words (“rule” and “feed”) via the use of the Greek word poimano. God also ties them together by using them both in the same time period of after the Great Tribulation and the entry into Judgment Day. From the manner in which God uses these two words, we discover His plan to punish the wicked (rule with a rod of iron) while simultaneously provide spiritual food for His elect people (feed My sheep).
As though these wonderful truths were not enough, we now find as we turn back into the Old Testament book of Isaiah, that God foretold of a time when He would come in judgment (“the Lord GOD will come”) and rule (“His arm shall rule for Him”). Additionally, He also declared His plan to feed sheep at the same time (“He shall feed His flock like a Shepherd”). How can we stand before such a Wise and Holy and all knowing God? By putting these two ideas together in Isaiah 40:10-11, the Lord is clearly demonstrating to us His glorious omniscience. He truly does know the end from the beginning.
By seeing how God uses the Greek word poimano, we can also see exactly how we are to go about feeding the sheep. The very same Biblical information about judgment—information that brings utter destruction to the unsaved—provides spiritual food and nourishment to those that God has saved, His sheep. The Scriptures that teach concerning a shut door of heaven, or a darkened spiritual sun, are instrumental in Christ ruling and smiting the nations with a rod of iron. But the identical words, the identical doctrines, not only cause no harm to the true child of God, they actually serve to accomplish the reverse. These bitter words become a source of spiritual food for those that God saved and brought out of great tribulation.
We have one last question to answer: Why does God want His elect people to appear before His judgment seat, or before His judgment rule? We will attempt to answer that question in the next chapter.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ …
Are only the elect being spoken of in this verse? Or do all people have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ?
We have to use some caution in answering that question. While it’s true that all the unsaved are brought before God’s judgment throne for punishment in the time of the final judgment, it is also true that only the elect (saved) people of God make an appearance before the judgment seat.
That sounds contradictory. How is it possible for the unsaved to come before God’s throne of judgment to be punished, and yet, for only the saved to make an appearance before the judgment seat?
The answer is found through careful analysis of the Greek word translated as “appear.” It is the word phaneroo (#5319 in Strong’s Concordance). Phaneroo is used 47 times in the Greek New Testament. Here are a few places it is found:
Mark 4:22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested (#5319) …
The word “manifested” is the word phaneroo. We see from its use in Mark 4:22 that it is a word that describes revealing something that was previously hidden or unknown.
This word is also used in the Gospel of John:
John 7:4 For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew (#5319) thyself to the world.
Again, we see that the context is referring to things that are secret or hidden, and that the Greek word phaneroo is used to express its revealing or showing.
We find this word also used in relationship to Christ’s resurrection:
John 21:14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed (#5319) himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
The resurrection of Christ was very mysterious. The very idea of it was strange and almost unheard of. Jesus did rise from the dead early the third day, but if He had simply gone to heaven from that point, many people would not have realized the tremendous thing that happened at His grave site early Sunday morning. Therefore, God arranged for Jesus to show Himself (phaneroo) to various people. We can clearly see that the point of this “shewing” of Himself was to demonstrate the fact that He had indeed come back to life. He had truly risen from the dead.
So far, we’ve seen that phaneroo is a word used to reveal things previously hidden, or things secret, or things that require further demonstration (like the resurrection of Christ in 33 A.D.).
This use of the word is fairly consistent in the following Scriptures:
Romans 16:25 … according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
26) But now is made manifest (#5319) …
Ephesians 5:12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
13) But all things that are reproved are made manifest (#5319) by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest (#5319) is light.
Colossians 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest (#5319) to his saints:
Again, and again, this word is being used by God in a remarkably similar way. To show forth, to reveal, or to demonstrate something that has been previously mysterious or hidden.
A few years ago, serious Bible students were astounded to learn the incredible truth that Jesus Christ had actually died for the sins of His people, and made payment for those sins, at the foundation of the world. We really should not have been shocked at all by this information, because the Bible plainly stated that this was the case:
Hebrews 4:3b … although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Revelation 13:8b … the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Yet it was an incredible surprise to the people of God because God did not open up the understanding of His people to this teaching until the time of the end was reached. Then, the Spirit of God showed us (through the comparison of Scripture with Scripture) that Jesus performed His atoning work from the foundation of the world. It was at that point that He died and paid the law’s demands (of death) for the sins of His chosen people.
We also learned that Jesus’ entry into the world, as He was born of the virgin Mary, and walked as a man among the people of the earth, was done in order to demonstrate His mysterious atoning work, or hidden work, performed before this world was ever created. Since His glorious works were finished before mankind was even created, no one could have witnessed them. As a result, these works were secret things insofar as the creature man was concerned.
However, God developed a plan to reveal the majestic atoning work of Christ to mankind, to demonstrate it to all the world. His plan included Christ, eternal God, entering the human race and becoming a man. This would produce the manifestation of the Saviour in the flesh:
1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest (#5319) in the flesh …
More than this, though, God further planned to demonstrate the completed work of the atonement by having Jesus illustrate the things done at the foundation of the world in a living tableau.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25) Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26) For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared (#5319) to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
A proper reading of this passage helps us to see that it speaks of Christ suffering once at the point of the world’s foundation to pay for sin. And once in time (33 A.D.) to make manifest that suffering for all to see.
Perhaps the plainest statement regarding Christ’s manifestation to showcase the atonement accomplished at the world’s foundation is seen in the first epistle of Peter:
1 Peter 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20) Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest (#5319) in these last times for you,
We see that verse 19 tells us that Jesus was as a Lamb, foreordained before the foundation of the world, which agrees with the statement in Revelation 13:8 that Christ was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
Additionally, we find that 1 Peter 1:20 goes on to explain:
… but was manifest (#5319) in these last times for you.
Once again phaneroo appears. Remember it is used to shine the light on things mysterious, or secret, or hidden. Phaneroo is the word that serves almost as an illustration of whatever is being discussed. It is a word that conveys a demonstration is in progress.
Christ made payment for sins at the foundation of the world; but made manifest (shewed forth) that mysterious work in time.
Okay, you might be saying, fine. We already know these things. What does Jesus’ manifestation have to do with the elect’s appearance before the judgment seat of Christ?
Jesus’ time of being made manifest has a great deal to do with our present time period of Judgment Day. The reason it is so significant is that God uses the same Greek word phaneroo (#5319) in the verse that we’ve been looking at:
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear (#5319) before the judgment seat of Christ …
The use of phaneroo drastically changes our understanding of this verse. To begin with, we can immediately see why this verse can only be speaking of God’s elect making an appearance and not unsaved people. We are going to take a little time in order to explain how we can know, with utmost confidence, that those making an appearance before Christ’s judgment seat are only those that He has saved.
We looked at a couple of Scriptures earlier that showed that Christ died, and His works were finished, at the foundation of the world. It was at that point in eternity past that Jesus was laden with the sins of all those people (His elect) that He intended to save. The Bible tells us that God selected everyone to be saved before this world even began:
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
The Bible also reveals to us that all these chosen (elect) people are counted to have died, as it were, in Christ, at that point of the world’s foundation:
Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death …
When we read about baptism in the Bible it has to do with having our sins washed away. All those predestinated to salvation had their sins laid upon Christ, again, at the foundation of the world; and God then put to death God (in a way we simply cannot understand) as Christ died for the sins of His people. His death provided payment which satisfied the demands of the law of God for the many sins laid upon Him (the law’s demands for transgression is death). As Jesus made that awful payment, He cleansed all those people whose names were written in the Lamb’s book of life from their sins. As a result, we were baptized (had our sins washed away) in Him.
Since the demands of the law of God regarding our sins was satisfactorily met, we became free from the law. By paying for our sins, God obligated Himself to apply that salvation to each and every one of us at some point during our lifetimes as history would later unfold.
Well, if all the sins of all the elect have already been paid for, then why in the world are they making an appearance before the judgment seat of Christ at the time of the end of the world?
This is exactly the point of focus that the Greek word phaneroo brings to us. Remember, Jesus made payment for sins at the foundation of the world. He died and His death completely satisfied the law’s demand for the sins of all those that were laid upon Him.
Nonetheless, Jesus still entered into the world and showcased the things He had done before the world was, by demonstrating them to the world in a living tableau. He made manifest His death and payment for sin by going to the cross in time and showcasing His saving work in human history.
God’s elect people are said to be the body of Christ. The Bible closely identifies those that Christ has saved with the Saviour Himself. In fact, the Bible speaks of the body of Christ (the company of elect true believers) filling up the suffering of Jesus.
Jesus died twice for sin—once to pay for it and once to demonstrate that He paid for it. Likewise, the body of Christ (elect true believers) also experience a two-fold process for their sin—they are judged once in Christ as He paid for their sins at the foundation of the world, and they are also judged once in time (beginning May 21, 2011) in order to demonstrate the fact that Jesus had indeed already paid for their sins.
The Greek word phaneroo can only refer to God’s elect because it is only God’s elect that previously experienced the judgment of God (in the Person of Christ). The sins of the unsaved people of the world were not laid upon Jesus at the foundation of the world, and therefore they did not experience the judgment in Him at that point. And since the unsaved have not had any previous encounter with God’s judgment upon them, their coming before God in the time of the world’s final judgment is not a manifestation (that is, showing forth a previous judgment), because it is the first time they are experiencing it.
Therefore, it is only possible for the elect people of God to make an appearance before the judgment seat of Christ.
When trying to discover truth in the Bible, it is necessary to always search the Scriptures in order to find all pertinent information related to the subject that you are interested in examining. In this case, our subject matter involves the judgment seat of Christ. We’ve spent some time looking carefully at the statement found in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 10, but there is also a similar verse recorded in the book of Romans:
Romans 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
We see some of the same language that we saw in 2 Corinthians 5, yet there are also some differences. One main difference between Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 is that instead of appear, we find the word stand. The Greek word translated as “stand” is #3936. It is a compound word—para (#3844), a preposition, and histemi (#2476), to stand—that can also be translated as “brought before” and “present,” as we find in these two verses:
Acts 27:24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before (#3936) Caesar …
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present (#3936) your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
The primary Greek word, histemi (#2476), has been placed by God in some very interesting passages of the Bible:
Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
35) For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
36) Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand (#2476) before the Son of man.
There’s no question that the context of these verses in Luke 21 is the time of the final judgment of this world. And it is at that point in time that the Lord makes reference to those that should watch and pray, to be accounted worthy—to “STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN.”
Since we’ve been studying this issue, we are now more adept at recognizing this type of language. We see right away that the context is the end of the world and Judgment Day. And yet the prayer God encourages people to make is not to escape the judgment, but instead, it is an encouragement to pray so that you can stand before the Son of man. The implication is that one cannot escape the judgment itself. Again, as we’ve seen the Bible stress, there is one event to all. God’s plan is to judge the righteous and the wicked. The elect are not removed out of the world to escape it—they are left to go through the spiritual fire of that awful day.
The implication we find in Luke 21:36 is that it is a good thing if one is able to stand before the Son of man. Since this kind of thinking goes contrary to what we’ve previously thought and understood, we want to slowly consider why this is so.
A passage detailing the end of the world located in the book of Revelation will help us to understand why the Bible is viewing the idea of “standing before the Son of man” as a positive thing:
Revelation 6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15) And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16) And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17) For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
From this passage, we quickly see that the point of the question, “who shall be able to stand?” has to do with surviving or enduring the time of the outpouring of the wrath of God. If a man could stand and go through such a terrible experience, then He would not be destroyed—he would live. Of course, the sorrowful fact for all of the unsaved inhabitants of the earth is that none of them will be able to stand. None of the wicked will endure the great day of His wrath. All unsaved people will be utterly wiped out. This is what the Bible declares elsewhere as well:
Psalm 1:4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5) Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
The ungodly will NOT STAND in the JUDGMENT! In other words, the ungodly will not endure to the end. They will not survive its conclusion. At the end of the prolonged Day of Judgment, the unsaved people of the world will be annihilated—they will be burned up, perished forevermore.
The elect believers have always known these things insofar as the wicked are concerned. There is nothing new about that. However, what is new is that we have not known nor understood that the people of God, the righteous children, the elect people, will also stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And yet, since God says we will stand before the Son of man, He is also letting it be known that His people will endure the grievous Day of Judgment. They will go through the fire and successfully come out the other end. They will endure to the end:
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand (#2476) against the wiles of the devil.
13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (#2476).
The Greek word histemi is found two times in the verses above. The reference to the “evil day” is a reference to Judgment Day. The fact that the elect people of God are clothed with the armor of God indicates that they are sufficiently equipped to stand, or endure, through the final judgment process the Lord has planned for this world.
Any soul that has not been truly saved lacks the necessary spiritual armor to protect itself against the incessant fires of the wrath of an angry God. As a result, they will ultimately burn up.
Malachi 3:2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
3) And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
1 Corinthians 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13) Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14) If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15) If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
2) But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
3) And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.
The Bible’s language is remarkably consistent concerning the time of God’s final judgment. The wicked will be burned up and perish. The righteous will survive. They will endure. They will stand at the day’s end.
In Ephesians chapter 6, we’ve already seen that the reason these few will be left alive, remaining on the earth, finally to be raptured on the last day, is because they possess the proper protection or armor of God. This same truth is found in other places also, but stated a little differently:
2 Corinthians 1:24b … for by faith ye stand.
1 Peter 5:12 … I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.
We stand by faith, and we stand in grace. The people of God endure to the end only because of the great mercy, love, and compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ in saving them.
Matthew 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
We no longer have to wonder why God says that those which endure to the end will be saved. The Bible is clear: anyone that stands and remains through the fires of this terrible, terrible time, does so only because they have had their sins paid for by Christ at the foundation of the world. God has established His end-time judgment program so that no one else but the truly saved will be able to stand. And none else but those whose sins were washed away will endure to the end.
We have come to understand God’s program of salvation and its outworking in time over the course of many hundreds and hundreds of years. Actually, God has been busy faithfully fulfilling His salvation program over thousands of years. And yet, when it comes to God’s end-time plan for an extended judgment being carried out over several years, it somehow seems to be too long for us. When some believers hear that Biblical evidence is pointing to a prolonged judgment period of perhaps as many as 22 years (23 inclusively), they sadly shake their heads at the thought of going through such a long period of time. It all sounds very discouraging to them.
Many of God’s people hear of the things we’ve been discussing in this booklet and they wonder why it has to be this way. Why must this be such a long process? Why doesn’t God simply destroy the wicked in an instant and be done with it? And why make the elect children of God go through this terrible ordeal?
We have tried to answer some of these questions throughout this study. But there is one aspect to this whole thing that we haven’t spent enough time on, and that is that the events of this prolonged Judgment Day have been designed by God to bring glory to Himself.
For example, in Isaiah 24, in the middle of this frightful chapter wherein the Lord is describing the final judgment of this world again and again, the Lord makes this statement:
Isaiah 24:15 Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea.
The fires are the fires lit as a result of God’s furious anger over the sins of mankind. It is the fires of the final judgment. In those very fires, God calls out to His people that they bring glory to Him. Glorify the LORD in the Day of Judgment.
We have spoken concerning the truly saved people of God standing before the judgment seat of Christ and enduring that awful, evil day. The fact that the elect will endure the fire is what will serve to bring God the glory due unto His name.
Let’s take a look at a verse in Proverbs that relates to this idea:
Proverbs 12:7 The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand.
After seeing several Scriptures earlier in our study, we immediately recognize that this verse is speaking of the Day of the Lord, the time when the wicked are overthrown:
Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;
25) And he overthrew those cities, …
And once again, we see that in the Day of the Lord’s wrath that “THE HOUSE OF THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL STAND,” which exactly matches the many Bible verses we have previously looked at. One event to the righteous and to the wicked. One event to all.
This proverb, however, reminds us of something we read elsewhere in the Bible. It reminds us of the parable that Christ spoke in the Gospel of Matthew:
Matthew 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25) And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26) And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27) And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
As we carefully examine this parable, we find Jesus making reference to two houses: one house was built by a wise man, and another house was built by a foolish man.
We can see how the wise and foolish relate to the righteous and the wicked, or to the quick and the dead, or to saved people and to those that are not saved.
We’re not saying too much when we say that the one house represents the people that God saved. As a matter of fact, that’s precisely the Biblical language:
Hebrews 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Notice that both houses—the house of the wise/righteous, and the house of the foolish/wicked—were subjected to a vicious storm. When reviewing the passage, you will find that the destructive force of the storm was equal against both houses.
The storm that beat upon both houses was a picture of the outpouring of the wrath of God in the Day of Judgment. Christ’s parable was given to illustrate the wonderful truth that even though the righteous and the wicked alike experience the powerful forces at work in that evil day, the final result will be that only the house of the wicked is overthrown. The house of the righteous will be left standing at the end.
Why, though? Why does one house fall and not the other?
The Lord Jesus’ parable gives us the answer:
The only reason one man’s house stands, while the other falls, is because one house was built upon a Rock. Christ is the Rock. Christ is the foundation for the spiritual house He constructed. And since Jesus is their foundation they are able to withstand all that comes against them. Ultimately, at the end of the prolonged Day of Judgment, all the saved people of God will have endured before Him, not for any strength or power in themselves, but only because Christ kept them safe and secure and enabled them to endure the storm and see it through until its completion. Thus, the deep penetrating gaze of God upon His judgment throne was sent to look deeply within each one of them for the slightest bit of sin, and yet was unable to find any guilt or wrongdoing that had not already been paid in full. The Rock thus supported them through the storm until it ran its course.
As the Lord’s people arise out of the depths of this judgment, and are then equipped with new resurrected bodies and souls, and are exalted to enter into the new heaven and the new earth—in that day God will receive all the glory for their continuance in the faith and endurance unto the end.
John 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
18) Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19) This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him,
Book / Verse(s) Page(s)
24 11, 12, 13, 47
24:6 11, 12, 13, 19
24:15 15, 47
40:10 31, 32
40:11 31, 32
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13:8 13-14, 19
21 29, 30
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5 4, 17, 41
5:10 5-7, 12, 23, 25, 27, 33, 37, 41
6:11, 13 43, 44
4:15-17 14, 18
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7:9, 14-17 30
13 7, 9, 20
13:7-8, 10 7
13:8 35, 36
14 8, 9, 20
14:10-12 8, 12
19:15 28, 29