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The ‘Curse’ of Harold Camping August 4, 2011

Posted by Henry in Teaching Things They Ought Not.
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3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (2 Pet 3:3-4)

 

Harold Camping predicted that the rapture would occur on 21 May this year. Of course we all now know that the rapture did not take place then and that the day itself passed without event. It is of course presumptuous of Mr Camping to attempt to try and calculate the date of the rapture (or indeed the date of Christ’s return) particularly when scripture tells us that “no man knows the day nor the hour” when the Son of Man should put in His appearance. This however is not the main problem with Mr Camping’s prediction but rather the fact that by this act he has caused Christianity in general to be the laughing stock of the whole world and will no doubt cause some to reject Christianity. He has caused the way of truth to be evil spoken of by this foolish act.

 

Rather than be treated as a loose canon in the church or as a senile old man for that matter and be passed over, instead Mr Camping ceremoniously drew the attention of the World’s media, not so much because it cares about Christian thought but so that Christianity can be put on show to be jeered and mocked at once again. The reality is that the media cannot distinguish between truth and falsehood in Christendom so everyone who calls themselves Christians are lumped together and painted with the same brush in the media’s eye. The more discerning amongst us however know the truth that Christ will indeed return one day, when we think not. We also know from scriptures that despite this eternal truth, scoffers will be asking “where is the promise of His coming?” It is this same reaction that has been drawn by the worlds media which they then use to attempt to disprove the existence of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. People like Mr Camping however would do better in preaching the Gospel instead of attempting to calculate the date of Christ return, which no one can know. If Jesus Himself didn’t know the date of His return (as He said only the Father knew) it is very foolish of us to attempt to hazard any guesses as to the date.

 

As if once was not enough though, Mr Camping has again insisted on prolonging the charade by recalculating the date of the rapture and forecasting it to occur this time on October 21, 2011. Apparently he made a mistake with his first calculation and that this time his calculation is a dead cert. When this second prediction fails to materialize however (and it will) Christianity and the Church will once again be subjected to the ridicule of the world.

 

Perhaps someone needs to get the message to Mr Camping that he needs to desist from such foolish, vain and unfruitful works and to stick to preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, whilst waiting patiently for the Son of Man to be revealed in His time.

Pre-tribulation Rapture Myth and the Remnant of Israel May 24, 2011

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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I have done a number of articles in which I have attempted to dispel the myth of the pre-tribulation rapture but in this study I will attempt to approach the subject from a different angle than I have done before.

Numerous studies have so far been carried out and numerous books, articles and blog posts have been written concerning the end times scenarios yet many are completely wide of the mark concerning the realities of those times. One of the popular positions is that the church will be “raptured” (secretly, unbeknownst to the world) sometime prior to the opening of the first Seal mentioned in the Book of Revelations. Following this event it is believed Israel will go through a seven year tribulation period (supposedly Daniel’s 70th week, See Daniel 9). It is believed that at the start of this week (the seven last years of planet earth) the anti-christ will make a covenant with Israel and in the middle of the week (3.5 years later) the anti-christ will break the covenant and cause the sacrifice and oblation offered by the Jews in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem (The third temple) to cease. This will be followed by the setting up of the abomination of desolation in the temple culminating with great tribulation at the hands of the anti-christ. It is then believed that it is out of this “hour of trial” that Israel will be saved and will be gathered to meet Jesus at His full appearing when all eyes shall behold Him. This is normally the general view adopted especially by pre-tribulation rapture “theorists”. In my view however all of this is simply fancily suppositions by people who do not apply proper exegesis in interpreting scriptures.

The first glaring contradiction in the afore-mentioned scenario is that though it is claimed that Daniel’s 70th week marks 7 years of tribulation, in effect there is only 3.5 years of tribulation since the first 3.5 years are characterised by a period of peace. This point however is just an aside and is of little consequence to the business end of this study.

One of the important points to note is that in order for the “theorists” to arrive at their conclusions they make namely two false claims. First they claim that Israel rejected God and therefore salvation went to the Gentiles instead and therefore Israel will only be saved after having gone through the tribulation at the hands of anti-christ (the beast of Revelations 13). The second false claim is that the saints who are persecuted by the anti-christ are merely tribulation saints who are distinct and apart from the church which has already been raptured sometime before or at the start of the 7 year tribulation period. In support of this latter claim it is suggested that the Holy Spirit will no longer be on earth when the church is raptured and so these saints are saved perhaps through the preaching of the “Two Witnesses”. Of course none of this is supported in scripture and I will demonstrate why.

The first thing we should note is that salvation came to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles (Rom 1:16). The question here then is this: Did allIsrael reject the gift of salvation? The apostle Paul had this to say in Romans 10:

1Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

12For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

We know from these verses that there is no “special way” for the Jew (or Israel) to be saved but through the said Gospel that is available to the gentiles. So then howbeit that some argue that the Jew will only be saved at an appointed time during the so-called 7 year tribulation period? Are we to believe that no Jew (or Israelites) were saved though God purposed salvation to come to them first. God forbid. In verse 16 of the same passage of Rom 1 Paul went further to say this:

16But they have not all obeyed the gospel.

Although not all Israel believed the gospel the crucial point is that some did – a remnant of Israel did believe the gospel even though the majority might not have believed. First, John the Baptist preached to the Jews and baptized many unto repentance. Then Jesus came and preached the gospel to the Jews and sent His 12 disciples to the lost sheep of the Houses of Israel (the 12 tribes). The theorists seem to forget therefore that the early church largely comprised of Jews initially before the gospel was spread abroad to the gentile nations. It isn’t correct therefore to say that the Jews rejected salvation – whilst some did, not all did. God had purposed to save a remnant through the election of grace through the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 11:5, Rom 9:27). The point needs to be emphasized here that God will not save this remnant of Israel at the end of the tribulation period after gentile Christians had been “raptured” but they were being saved since the going forth of the Gospel. Paul refers to these as the “first fruits” in verse 16 (Note that the 144,000 males of the 12 tribes of Israel are also referred to as the “first fruits” to God [Rev 14:4] – Christ being the first of the first fruits).

Having now established that God had purposed to save a remnant of Israel through the election of Grace and that this remnant are regarded as a type of “first fruits” unto God we can now address the issue of the “pre-tribulation rapture”.  The pre-tribulation rapture is defined as an event where Christ will secretly come in the clouds and gather all those that are his prior to the beast of Revelations 13 establishing his [second] kingdom. Do the scriptures support this view? If there were to be such an event as a pre-trib rapture then surely the remnant of Israel that are saved through grace would surely be amongst those that are raptured during the “first resurrection and catching away”. However, Revelations 12 presents a serious problem for this argument [if indeed the events of Rev 12 are in the future and not already fulfilled]. The relevant verse says this:

17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Note here that the woman referenced is Israel and this can be gleaned if we read from verse 1. The poignant point here then is whether the Lord would indeed rapture the “second fruits” (the gentile Christians) and leave His “first fruits” who incidentally have also been saved according to the election of Grace (they have the testimony = Gospel of Jesus Christ) at the mercy of the anti-christ beast. If there were any rapture taking place the first fruits would most certainly have been among the first to be raptured. Similarly the 144,000 who are referred to as first fruits to God were sealed first before the great multitude were seen gathering before God’s throne at the opening of the 6th Seal (Rev 7). If the scripture says therefore that the remnant, which we understand to mean those Jews who accept Christ since the inception of the church, were left for the dragon to make war with them then you can rest assured that so too the rest of the church will be left at the mercy of the dragon. This remnant are not merely tribulation saints but they include those who have the election of grace since the gospel began.

Perhaps the Lord has a plan and a purpose for the remainder of the Jews [Israel] who have rejected Christ but the remnant will clearly face the dragon which has 7 heads, 10 horns and 10 crowns as per Rev 12:17. That remnant isn’t separate and apart from the church but they are numbered amongst the church.  This scripture clearly demonstrates that there is no basis on which a pre-tribulation rapture can be established. I pray that people will wise up to the truths of these end days.

Who are the 144,000? The elect? The “male child”? May 23, 2011

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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Whilst I venture from time to time into eschatology my main focus is not so much about unravelling end times prophecies but rather to emphasize the need for Christians to apply discernment especially in this area by demonstrating some of the erroneous teachings that have emerged contrary to scriptures.

One of the many “theories” that abound concerning the end times is the identity of a group of 144,000 people spoken of in Revelations. Some say the 144,000 are the church, others say these are the elect and an even more preposterous view is that these together are the “male child” spoken of in Revelations 12. The theory I want to focus on here is whether this group could indeed constitute the “male child” of Rev 12:5. Here are the relevant verses:

1

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

2

And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

5

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

6

And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

13

And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.

14

And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
     

We understand from reading other prophecies that the woman here spoken of in verse 1 isIsrael, which shall bring forth a “male child”.  According to the theorists therefore this “male child” are the 144,000 men that would be saved from the 12 tribes of Israel before the Lord’s return. Scripture tells us in Rev 14 that these are 12000 men of each of the twelve tribes of Israel (See also Rev 7).

Could these 144,000 be the “male child” referenced in Rev 12? The first thing we need to note here is that in verse 5 of Rev 12 the man child was caught up to God and to His throne. Following this event the woman (Israel) fled into the dessert for 1260 days (we could apply the principle of 1 day for a year here to mean 1260 years but the theorists say this is 3.5 years). If the 144,000 are indeed the “male child” at what point in history were they caught up to God’s throne? The short answer is they would have been “caught up” during the opening of the 6th Seal in Revelations 6:12-17, 7:1-8. It was during the 6th Seal that the heavens were opened, when the day of God’s wrath had come. Reading from verse 1 of Revelations 7 therefore we learn that 4 angels stood at the ready at the four corners of the earth to pour out God’s wrath but they were told by another angel not to hurt the earth till the servants of God (the 144,000) were sealed in their foreheads. So we know therefore that up to this point in history the 144,000 were still on the earth and could not have been caught up at any time previously since it is only at this point that they were to be sealed with the seal of God. If indeed this group were caught up then they could only have been caught up after they were sealed. So what does all this mean?

Going back to Revelations 12 we learn that after the man child was “caught up”, Israel fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God for her to be nourished for 1260 days. If the theorists are to be believe then what this means is that after the 144,000 (the supposed “man child”) are “caught up” at the 6th Seal, Israel flees into the dessert on “judgement day” for 3.5 years. We do not know the gap of time between the 6th and 7th Seals but it makes no sense to say that Israel is fleeing to the wilderness at a time when everyone else has “gone to heaven” including the great multitude that were seen after the 144,000 were sealed, and the wrath of God was about to be poured out on the earth. I do not need to make any suppositions here though as Revelations 12 makes clear that the time period when the “man child” is caught up and the woman fleeing into the wilderness is a distinctly different time period from the 6th Seal events. Reading to the end of Rev 12 we learn that after the woman flees into the wilderness the serpent cast a flood out of it’s mouth after the woman but the earth helped the woman by swallowing up the flood. What happened next is that the dragon tried to make war with the remnant of the woman’s seed:

17

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

 

Note therefore that the remnant were those that had the testimony of Jesus Christ. The serpent could only have made war with this remnant of the woman’s seed prior to the 6th Seal because at the 6th Seal all those that had the testimony of Christ were joined with Him and were gathered around His throne. The evidence is therefore clear that the 144,000 could not be the man child because the events that occur after the man child is caught up and that of the 6th Seal are in two separate time-frames. The man child is therefore none other than Jesus Christ as it is only He that has the distinction whereby He will rule all nations with a rod of iron (Rev 19:15). The 144,000 are 12,000 men from each of the 12 tribes who have not defiled themselves with women, and who are considered the first fruits unto God (Rev 14).

What I have presented here is an example of how false teachers read scriptures and interpret them in isolation, ignoring the glaring inconsistencies in their arguments, which goes against the grain of scripture. This is one of the reasons we need to apply proper discernment instead of being carried away with every wind of doctrine.

Daniel’s 70th Week: Another Prophetic Dilemma! May 27, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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The “traditional” view to interpreting Daniel’s 70th week also suggests that this “week” marks the 7 year tribulation reign of the anti-christ. In this regard it is believed that the anti-christ will make a covenant with Israel at the start of the “week” and that in the middle of the “week” (or 3.5 years later – 1260 days) the anti-christ will break the covenant and cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease by setting up the abomination of desolation. Israel will then flee into the “wilderness” (Rev 12:6) as a result for the remaining 3.5 years or 1260 days, until Christ returns. In looking at Daniel 9 (see below) this seems a reasonable conclusion but is this really so?

 Dan 9

26And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

 Of course one of the main problems with this view is that one would be able to accurately predict when Jesus Christ would return if they knew when the anti-christ came to power. However, in spite of the fact that Jesus knew that Daniel was already written and available to us He made clear that no one knew the day nor the hour when He should return (Matt 24:36). To confound the matter further there is a portion of scripture in Daniel 12, which is overlooked when interpreting Daniel 9:

 Dan 12

10Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. 11And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. 13But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

 Here, the scripture says that from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away through to the time when the abomination which makes desolate is set up, will be 1290 days. Now this surely does put a spanner in the works where modern eschatology is concerned. Assuming that the traditional view is correct and that the anti-christ did break the covenant in the middle of the 70th week (7 year tribulation period) then according to Dan 12:11 the abomination of desolation would not be set up until a further 1290 days had expired. Obviously the math does not add up here because the fleeing into the wilderness does not occur until after the abomination of desolation is set up (Matt 24:15-20). Going by the traditional view therefore we would have the abomination of desolation being set up 30 days after Jesus was due to return (according to some) at the end of the second half of the 70th week (1260 days).

 To summarise the timeline in accordance with the traditional view then and to factor in the account of Daniel 12, we would have:

 –         At start of 70th week anti-christ confirms a covenant with “the many” ( assumed to be Israel) (Dan 9:27)

–          In the middle of the week or after 1260 days anti-christ breaks the covenant and causes the sacrifice and oblation to cease (Dan 9:27)

–          After a further 1290 days abomination of desolation is set up (Dan 12:11)

–          Israel then flees into the wilderness for a further 1260 days from the setting up of the abomination (Matt 24:15-20, Rev 12:6)

–          Jesus due to return after the completion of the 1260 days of Israel in the wilderness?

 So then what we have chronologically speaking is not 7 years or 2520 days but 3810 days in total to mark the period of the “tribulation”. The dilemma for interpreters therefore is how do you factor in the 1290 days which spans the time from the taking away of the sacrifice through to setting up the abomination of desolation?

Who are the ‘elect’? April 20, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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There seems to be much confusion particularly amongst pre-tribulation rapturists concerning the identity of the “elect” in Matt 24:

 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

 Could the elect mentioned here be Israel as some ministers teach? Indeed in we know from the scriptures that Israel God’s elect:

 4 For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. (Isaiah 45:4)

 So clearly under the Old Covenant, at least, Israel was very much God’s elect. But under the New Covenant dispensation is it only Israel that constitutes God’s elect? According to the scriptures the answer to that is no. Here are some scriptures which defines God’s elect as pertaining to the New Covenant:

 1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; (Tit 1:1)

 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. 7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (Rom 11:7)

 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; (Col 3:12)

 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 1:10-11)

 We can now see from the above scriptures that the faith of God’s elect is the gospel of salvation which Paul was made an apostle of. We also see that we can only obtain this faith through the election of grace and we are called to put on the fruits of the spirit (mercy, kindness etc) as God’s elect and give due diligence in making our calling and election sure. It is clear then that the elect as pertaining to the New Covenant is the church, which includes a remnant of Israel but who are no longer regarded as Jews (see Rom 11). We should remember here that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek (Gal 3:28, Col 3:11). The elect which are mentioned in Matt 24 which Jesus will gather at His coming are therefore the church. There can be no doubt about this since the Old Covenant decays and vanishes away and under the New Covenant there is neither Jew nor Greek (or Gentiles).

A Brief Perspective on Luke 21:36 and Rev 3:10 March 16, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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I have decided to put this post out to address those two verses which are used to support the pre-tribulation rapture viewpoint, primarily because I do not want to be accused of running away from “key” evidence. On the face of it these two scriptures might imply that believers will somehow escape the prophesied events leading up Christ’s physical and bodily return earth. However these verses should not be read in isolation but be read in conjunction with the other verses of the passage. In Luke 21: 31 for example Jesus says, “when you see these things happening (the signs of the end), you know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Emphasis mine)

 If Luke 21:36 therefore meant that the church would not witness the signs why ever would Jesus say “when you see these things happening”. Here are the scriptures:

 Luke 21 

30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32“ I tell you the truth, this generationb will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 34 “ Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (constrast with Rev 6:15-17)

 Again looking at verse 36 Jesus admonished the Disciples (and the rest of the church) to watch. If Jesus’ return is “imminent”, and He can come at anytime without warning to rapture the church, why does He give this exhortation to watch? Clearly the exhortation to watch is in relation to the signs given and this is supported by verse 30 where Jesus related the sign of summer when the trees start to sprout leaves. It must be noted though that the admonition to watch is also in relation to the condition of ones heart and state of readiness to meet Christ as per verse 34. So then if the church were to “escape” these things by way of the rapture then there would not be a need for watching for these signs. Could the use of the word “escape” mean something different then? Perhaps a clue to the meaning can be gleaned from 1 Cor 10:13:

 1 Cor 10:

11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

 In this portion of scripture we learn that God will not suffer us to be temted above what we are able to bear and that with the temptation He will also make a way to escape that we may be able to bear it. Note here that though there is a way of “escape” this does not mean one will not witness the temptation but the “escape” allows us to be able to bear it. Could it be then that the same thing was meant in Luke 21:36, in that we will not be miraculously whisked away from the evils of the day but that the Lord will enable us to bear it by means of an “escape”? Bear in mind that the scripture of Luke 21 is saying “when you see these things” when it uses the term “escape”.

 So then in relation to Rev 3:10, could the term “keep you from the hour of trail” have a similar rendering to the use of the word “escape” in 1 Cor 10:13 above?

 Rev 3

10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it.

 This verse of Rev 3 however should really be conflated with Rev 2:10 for further understanding:

 Rev 2:10

10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

 Is there any promise here that the church of Smyrna will miraculously escape these things by way of a rapture? No! Yet Jesus is saying to them to fear none of the evil that will befall them. Could it therefore mean the “escape” relate to Jesus aiding them to be able to bear what shall befall them?

A Review of the Olivet Discourse – Matthew 24 March 8, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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There has been a lot of confusion surrounding the Olivet Discorse prophesies of Matthew 24 and one of those confusions reside in the assertion by mainly “preterists” that the prophesies Jesus spoke were to be fulfilled in the Disciples lifetime. However is it plausible that these prophesies could have been fulfilled in the Disciples lifetime? It is important to be able to understand this passage especially in relation to who Jesus was speaking and it’s implications for us today. The key to unlocking the passage though resides in verse 3:

 3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

 From the beginning of the chapter Jesus started out by relating to the disciples what would befall the temple in Jerusalem, in that it would be destroyed at an appointed time. Now the desciples proceeded to ask Jesus to, ”Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” There are three separate questions rolled into one here. First, when shall these things be, i.e., the destruction of the temple; second, what shall be the sign of thy coming; third, what shall be the sign of the end of the world? The two last questions are obviously interrelated however.

 Where confusion arises however is that in verse 34 of the passage Jesus said, “This generation shall not pass till all these things (everything He outlined in the previous verses including His return) be fulfilled.” Based on this verse, the assumption is therefore made that Jesus meant that the prophesies he spoke would be fulfilled in the Disciples lifetime. Some interpreters may wrongly claim also that Jesus only meant the destruction of the Temple would occur in “this generation” since we know with the benefit of hindsight that this occurred in 70 A.D. when the Roman general Titus sacked Jerusalem. But this ignores the fact that Jesus said “till all these things be fulfilled”. To “confuse” the matter Jesus told the disciples in John 16 that: 16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. This again gives weight to the preterist’s arguments, if taken literally, that Jesus had to return in the Disciples lifetime. The first question to be answered therefore is what did Jesus mean by “this generation shall not pass”? Secondly, what did Jesus mean in John 16:16? Would the Disciples really see him after a little while and how long is a “little while”?

 In answer to the first question aforementioned I would venture to suggest that by “generation” Jesus meant the generation of New Testament believers – in other words the dispensation of the New Covenant constituting a “generation”. It is clear from scripture that there will not be another dispensation given to man in this life before the end comes. In verse 14 of Matthew 24 for example, Jesus said:

 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

 Since “this generation” shall not pass till the end comes and the end cannot come until “this gospel of the kingdom be preached in all the world”, then “this generation” must necessarily mean the “generation” of the church age and not generation in terms of age groupings. To reinforce this point however we can look at an example from the Old Testament. In Gen 17 God made a covenant with Abraham pertaining to circumcision. Looking at verses 9 and 13 it says:

 9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

 We see here that the covenant of circumcision was to be an everlasting covenant in the flesh unto Abraham and his seed in their generations. However, was circumcision an everlasting covenant to this day and to the end of time or was it a covenant for the period appointed, i.e. their generations? To answer this we may look at Acts 21:20-21

 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: 21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

 If therefore the covenant made with Abraham regarding circumcision was meant to be everlasting why was Paul teaching the Jews not to observe circumcision? Clearly the covenant was appointed to the generation/s of that dispensation only and it was therefore everlasting to them.

 The other point of contention therefore is what did Jesus mean in John 16:16 when He said, “A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me”? Scripture tells us in 2 Peter 3:8 that a thousand years is like a day with God: 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. It is also interesting to note that Peter said this when he warned that in the latter times there will be scoffers asking where is Jesus’ promised coming (see verse 4)? So then a “little while” to Jesus might be thousands of years to us. But if Jesus were to return thousands of years after the Disciples death why then did he say that they will see Him? The answer clearly is that those who died in Christ will be resurrected at His coming and so if they regain their life then they will of course see Him. John puts it this way:

 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

 In summary therefore it is clear that when men misinterpret Jesus’ words they technically make His word into a lie and this is why we need to be careful how we read the scriptures and what interpretations we accept. Jesus sets out a chronology of the events that would precede His coming and He stated clearly that all these things will be fulfilled then the end comes. Evidently the end could have come around the Disciples lifetime because Jesus said no one knows the day nor hour of His coming, not the Son but the Father. So if He didn’t know it wasn’t unreasonable of the Disciples to expect His coming in their life-time. But with the benefit of history we know that all these things have not yet been fulfilled, though some have, but can occur at anytime into the future. One question I would like readers to ponder however is to put themselves in the Disciples shoes and ask themselves whether the Disciples felt from having heard Jesus’ words on the Mout of Olive, that they would be raptured before the promised tribulation.

The “Mystery” of the Four Horsemen March 2, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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In my previous post on “The Pre-tribulation Rapture Revisited: The Seven Seals” I deliberately neglected to address the four horsemen which begins from the opening of the first seal in Rev 6:1 so as not to overcomplicate the issue. In this rather brief outline therefore I will attempt to present the scriptures so that they speak for themselves in unraveling the mystery of these four horsemen which no doubt strikes many people with fear and dread. This is particularly so because these horsemen are not understood. I believe the key to unlocking the whole mystery however resides in Matthew 24 where Jesus outlined the signs which precedes His coming. I also believe that this discussion also lends itself to the pre-tribulation rapture debate as well and for all intents and purposes we are possibly already witnessing the rise of the four horsemen. But would this not mean that the pre-tribulation believers as well as the rest of “missed the boat” since they claim that the rapture had to occur before the opening of the first seal? Nevertheless these issues will be explored in the following outline.

Firstly, we should recall that the Disciples asked Jesus in Matt 24:3, “when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

Jesus then began to outline the signs that preceded His coming in the verses following, which some refers to as the so-called Olivet Discourse. This should be borne in mind then as we examine the mystery of the four horsemen and note also that it is Jesus Himself who opens the seals.

To begin with we look at the characteristics of the four horsemen in turn which proceeded from the opening of the first four seals:

First Horseman

2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

Second Horseman

4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

Third Horseman

And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

Fourth Horseman

8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

I have highlighted the main characteristics of these horsemen but to summarize we see the first going out to conquering and to conquer; the second was given a sword and he takes peace from the earth, causing people to kill one another; the third had a pair of balances in his hand and this signifies judgment (not to be confused with the final judgement); and the last horseman was given power over the fourth part of the earth (the earth is described in scripture as having four corners), to kill with sword, hunger, death and with the beasts of the earth.

Thus these four horsemen precedes the return of Jesus Christ, which occurs at the opening of the 6th seal. So how does these four horsemen relate to the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24? We read from verse 6:

6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars (horseman 1): see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (horseman 1): and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places (horseman 4). 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake (relates to horseman 3 – judging the saints and horseman 4). 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another (horseman 2). 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Looking at the underlined portions here in Matt 24 and conflating them with the characteristics of the four horsemen of Rev 6, we can ascertain that these events are the same, which precedes Jesus’ coming. This is the mystery of the four horsemen. But aren’t some of these things already happening even in our day or perhaps we are not able to discern the signs of the times? What then, has the pre-tribulation rapture taken place already? Noting that the scripture left us in no doubt that these were the signs that the disciples and consequently the church should look for in order to know that Christ’s return was near.

“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved”! Amen

The Pre-tribulation Rapture Revisited: The Seven Seals March 1, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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I have decided to do a further, hopefully in-depth, study on the issue of the pre-tribulation rapture primarily because a number of posters have raised certain points which I did not touch on in my previous post here. In order to avoid confusion therefore I have decided to revisit this topic.

 Firstly there seems to be some confusion amongst pre-tribulation believers that God’s wrath begins from about the opening of the first seal in Revelations 6. But this is not the case. The wrath of God is not poured out until the seventh seal is opened and we see this from Rev 8:1 onwards. The wrath of God is further elaborated on in Rev 15 and 16 and so on. It is clear from scripture that the church is not appointed unto wrath (1 Thess 5:9) and therefore will not incur the wrath of God which constitutes the outpouring of the seven vials (note difference with the seven seals) by the seven angels. However, we are appointed unto tribulation which is distinct from God’s wrath. But what is the timing of the tribulation and what do we glean from Rev 6 regarding the timing of God’s wrath? Note that Revelations chapter 6 and 7 both mirror and expand on the events that Jesus spoke of concerning His return in Matthew 24 (or Mark 13).

 In Rev 6:9 therefore we see the opening of the 5th seal. Here John saw the souls of them that were killed for the word of God and the testimony they held, under the altar. These souls were asking God how long it would be before He avenged them. The reply we can see in verse 11:

 “and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”

 These souls were to wait until their fellowservants and brethren be killed as they were before God avenged them (We will come back to this). This was the tribulation or at least part of it because we know that the tribulation precedes Christ’s return and God’s wrath does not come into play yet until after these things were fulfilled. The first 4 seals then cannot be considered God’s wrath. We also know that the two beasts of Rev 13, which is the anti-christ’s world government which made war with and overcame the saints is in establishment at the time of Christ’s return. Therefore the tribulation period is synonymous to the last world kingdom on earth leading up to Christ’s return.

 Following in the timeline of the seals, in verse 12 of Rev 6 we see the opening of the 6th seal which sets off a great earthquake and the sun turned into darkness and the moon into blood, whilst the stars fell from heaven just as Jesus said in Matt 24:29-31. Note however that Jesus said in Matt 24:29 that these things occur immediately after the tribulation of those days. Continuing on from Rev 6 we read then that the heavens rolled away as a scroll and the people of the earth fled and tried to hide their faces from He that sat upon the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. Why? We see the reason in verse 17: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

 When does the wrath of God occur then? After the sun was turned into darkness and the moon into blood etc! When did these events occur?  They occurred after the tribulation of those days and not midway through or before. So then what can we conclude? The day of the wrath of God is NOT synonymous to the tribulation because the day of His wrath occurs after the tribulation. To say then that if the church were to be in the tribulation they would also be at the mercy of God’s wrath is completely wrong. God’s wrath begins with the opening of the 7th seal (See Rev 8:1 onwards) and therefore does not run concurrent with the tribulation which occurs at the 4th and 5th seals. This therefore means that the church can very well go through the tribulation without being at the mercy of God’s wrath at the same time. As outlined previously then, it is at the 6th seal that Christ comes and take the saints out of the way after which time the 7th seal, which is God’s wrath is poured out. The problem for pre-tribulation believers however is that they wrongly coincided Gods wrath with the first 4 seals (instead of to the 7th only) and thereby presumes that the church is raptured before these 7 seven seals are fulfilled. Thus they designated the elect of Matt 24:31 as tribulation saints (or “invited guests” to the marriage supper of the Lamb) instead of considering them as part of the church. We shall soon find out however if these claims are true.

 Now moving on to Revelations 7 we see from verse 1 and 2 that the four angels were given instructions not to hurt the earth until God’s servants were sealed. In other words this sealing had to occur before the pouring out of God’s wrath which occurred later in Rev 8. This process was part of the gathering of the elect from the four winds as outlined in Matt 24:31. First we see the 144,000 who were sealed then we see from verse 9 a great multitude of people from every nation kindred and tongue clothed in white and standing before the throne of God. We know who the 144,000 are from Rev 14 but what of the great multitude clothed in white robes which no man could number? Note here that the elect of God was gathered after the tribulation as per Matt 24:31. Bearing that in mind we read from Rev 7:13:

13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 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 them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. (Emphasis mine)

So then the elect which are gathered after the tribulation are the same as the great multitude clothed in white and standing in front of God’s throne. Could these be “tribulation saints” only or merely “invited guests” to the marriage supper? It would be expedient to introduce 1 Thess 4 here for further light and we read:

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.

Can I here a halleluiah? Bless God, the mystery is solved!!! The scripture here says those that were dead in Christ and those that are alive (even those through the tribulation) unto the coming of the Lord shall be caught up together with Jesus and the key here is the phrase, “and so shall we ever be with the Lord”. Now going back to Rev 7:13-17 quoted above, who do we see the Lamb (Jesus) sitting and dwelling amongst, paying particular attention to the phrase, “and so shall we ever be with the Lord”? We see that it is the great multitude which came out of great tribulation that serves Jesus night and day in the temple and that Jesus is sitting and dwelling amongst. Further, it is this multitude that Jesus is seen feeding. This is the marriage supper of the Lamb!! To God be the Glory for revealing His Word. If this multitude were merely “tribulation saints” or “invited guests” to the marriage supper, where is the church? There is no mention of any other group from earth anywhere in the text. Maybe the Lord put them somewhere else with the intention to visit them later? But that would violate the phrase “and so shall we ever be with the Lord”. It should be clear then that the church is the same as the elect (or part of the elect) and is the same as the great multitude which Jesus can be seen dwelling amongst and feeding around the throne. If this is true then where is the pre-tribulation rapture? Noting that 1 Thess 4:15-17 is used as part of the supporting evidence. In addition, the conspicuous absence of the term ecclesia from Revelations chapter 3 onwards cannot be used as evidence for a pre-tribulation rapture as this is mere speculation.

 Now let’s return to the “Marriage Supper” which occurs in Rev 19 to see how it fits in with the events of Rev 6 and 7 and indeed if it constitutes a separate event. It should be noted here that the pre-tribulation believers suggest that the “marriage supper” occurs at the rapture which they say occurs before the tribulation. Therefore they attempt here to make the church distinct from the elect who are gathered after the tribulation. So what does Rev 19 tell us? We read:

7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints

We know from scripture that the Church has always been described as the bride of Christ, so therefore the marriage of the Lamb constitute the church being united with Jesus Christ. The church therefore we can see be seen here in verse 8 clothed in white linen at the marriage which occurs at the time of the judging of the great whore and at the time when God avenged her for the blood of the saints (see verse 2). Recall that at the opening of the 5th seal the souls under the altar asked God how long till He avenged their blood. The response was that they should wait till their fellowservants and brethren were to be killed by. Now we can see that these fellow servants and brethren were they that were to be killed by the great whore which existed at the time of the anti-christ’s reign. The marriage of the Lamb therefore occurred at the opening of the 6th seal as clearly it is at this point we see the multitude clothed in white before God’s throne.

 In summary it is clear then that if we place scripture upon scripture, line upon line, we can come to the knowledge of the truth. What we must never do is to hold to a belief then to seek evidence to support that belief even to the point of conjecture and innuendo but rather to look at what the scripture tell us. If we follow the timeline of the 7 seals, especially from the 5th seal onwards we can see clearly that there is no room for a pre-tribulation rapture argument. There is no scripture in the Bible which supports that argument and if it did exist it would run contrary to all the scriptures I have presented here. The fact that the idea of a pre-tribulation rapture is appealing and comforting to us should not give us reason to stretch scripture and resort to conjecture in order to build a doctrine.

The Coming One World Government – Part 1 February 23, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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The events that have been prophesied of, particularly in the book of the Apocalypse (Revelations), which marks the beginning of the end of the age is both terrifying and intriguing for most people. One of the reasons for this is that throughout history many people believed that at least some of these events would occur in their own lifetime and the prospect of this fills one with fear and dread. This is no exception in our day. Imagine having to live under the rule of the anti-christ and at a time when the mark of the beast is being issued? Of course pre-tribulation rapture proponents believe they will not be in the world to witness the rise of the anti-christ. There are also others however who will argue as a way of escape that these events are not likely to occur until years into the future when they are long passed from this world into death. As Christians however, what can we learn from scripture in regards to the signs of the end? Are there any discernable signs today from what we see on the geo-political landscape? In Mark 13:33, after outlining the signs of His coming, Jesus warned us to watch and pray for we know not when the time is. Jesus emphasised this point again in verse 35 through to verse 37 of the passage to demonstrate how crucial it is to watch. Jesus used the illustration of the fig tree in Matt 24:32 to say that when we see the twigs get tender and the leaves come out we know it is summer. If we are watching therefore we should be able to discern some of the signs that precede Jesus’ return, not least the signs leading up to the revelation of the anti-christ and the system of the beast. This article therefore attempts to look at some of the events that are presently happening on the world stage and how they might relate to Bible prophesy concerning the end times.

 As aforementioned the Book of Revelations contains some profound prophesies concerning the events leading up to the end of the age, which the Apostle John received whilst exiled on the island of Patmos. However, many theories abound as to what these prophesies mean and indeed concerning the timing of these prophesies. One theory for example suggests that the events outlined in the book have already occurred. This of course is implausible since Christians are still awaiting the return of Jesus Christ and there are prophesies that are yet to be fulfilled prior to Jesus’ return. As Christians who are watching therefore, what can we discern from the Book of Revelations concerning the end? It would be beyond the scope of this article to look at the whole of Revelations so this article will concentrate on namely Revelations 13 but more precisely verses 15 to18, which says:

 15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

 In the preceding verses John started out by relating a vision of a beast rising up out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns.  John also saw another beast which rose up out of the earth having two horns like a lamb but which spoke like a dragon. These beasts however aren’t literal beasts but symbolic beasts and it is not until we go to the book of Revelations 17 and 19 that we learn what these symbols mean. The seven heads of the first beast represents seven kings but also seven hills on which a woman sits but more about that later. The ten horns also represent ten kings who are yet to come and haven’t been given a kingdom yet. Once these kings, who are of one mind, have been given their authority they will give their power to the first beast. The sea that the beast comes up out of represents the nations, kindred and tongues of the world. The beast with the two horns represents a false prophet which exercised the power of the first beast and caused those whose names were not written in the book of Life to worship the first beast, and he was able to achieve this by performing deceitful miracles such as bringing down fire from heaven (see Rev 19:20 for the identity of the second beast).

 The implication of the verses of Revelations 13:15-18 outlined above therefore is that towards the end of the age a universal world power will rise up and its main characteristic is that it will be both a pseudo-religious and political power. It should be clear from the scriptures that this will be a unified world power because the 10 kings for example, who are of one mind formed an alliance with the beast by giving their power to it. We also know that the beast will be a pseudo-religious power because the second beast, the false prophet, caused many to worship the image of the first beast and put to death those that will not worship it. A second implication here is that within this universal world system there will be a system of monetary union (or a world single currency) which will be governed through the issue of the mark of the beast. This implication is clear because none will be able to buy or sell without the mark, name or number of the name of the beast. Money as we know it today will therefore not be of value and unless one accepts the mark one will not be able to function as a member of society. The third implication here therefore is that in conjunction with the one world power of the first beast, there will also be a one world religion which is being promoted by the false prophet through his lying signs and wonders. This single world religion is characterised by the woman who is a prostitute and who rides the beast having the seven heads and ten horns, as alluded to earlier. This woman represents an apostate church that fornicated with the kings of the world and who is drunk with the blood of the saints (see Rev 16).  The false prophet therefore represents this apostate church. Another scripture which lends support here is 2 Thess 2:3 which says the Lord cannot return until there is first a falling away (into religious apostasy) and that the man of sin, the son of perdition is revealed.

 It is interesting to note that there are individuals in our day who are not necessarily Christians but who recognise that there is a certain “force” enveloping the globe even at this present time. This force which is being driven by globalisation they call the New World Order. The NWO got its name from world leaders like Sir Winston Churchill, a former British Prime Minister, who uttered the words in a speech following the end of Word War Two.  Perhaps it could be argued that this force has been with us since the dawning of humanity but in more recent times it has manifested itself in the formation of the League of Nations after the First World War and which later became the United Nations after the Second World War. The stated goals of these organisations were to facilitate peace and global corporation amongst nations to ensure stability and prevent wars such as the two Word Wars. In conjunction with these organisations there was also a global monetary system governed by Bretton Woods which eventually became the IMF and World Bank. Although these organisations seem quite benevolent NWO sceptics see them as morphing into what will eventually become a fascist one world government lead by a tyrannical leader. To this end such sceptics are branded as conspiracy theorists and whose voices are largely drowned out from mainstream media. What should be clear for a Christian however is that the NWO is synonymous with the one world government under the anti-christ’s rule. What then are the evidence which points to a future world government, monetary union and one world religion?

 Watch out for Part 2