Q: Is the apocalypse the end times?
A: Apocalypse is our English version of a Greek word found in the New Testament. It literally means an unveiling, and it is often translated as revelation. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place” (Rev. 1:1). The last book in the Bible records the events of the last Days, with much of the book dealing with the Last Day or the 7th Day of God’s prophetic great Week. It is also known as the Day of the Lord.
What most people think of when they hear the word is a visual that comes from Revelation 6—the four horsemen of the first four seal judgments. Jesus first revealed these last Day events as signs for this current age—what we commonly call the 2,000 years of the Church Age. That may surprise some Christians who associate the horsemen with a future time—even if they sense that Christ’s return is near.
Revelation 6 actually reviews the signs of this age as Jesus taught them in the Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. The first horseman rides a white horse, and represents the false religions and religious wars described in Mathew 24:4-5. The second horseman rides a red horse, and represents the warfare, conflict, and ethnic cleansing described in Matthew 24:6. The third horseman rides a black horse, and represents the famine and lack described in Matthew 24:7. The fourth horseman rides a pale horse, and represents the pestilence and natural calamities described in Matthew 24:8.
In Revelation 6:8-11 we see the martyrs under the altar, crying out for judgment to avenge their blood. This fifth seal is the fifth sign Jesus identified; it correlates to the persecution described in Matthew 24:9.
What we need to see is that these are not future events. We are experiencing them now as the tribulation of this age. These tribulation signs last until the 6th and final sign that signals that this age is done and the Age to Come is about to dawn. It dawns with the rapture. The final sign of total darkness in the heavens are the same celestial disturbances of the 6th seal (Rev. 6:11-17).
This means we do not have to fear the four horsemen. We’ve been living with their actions throughout the history of the Church. What we need to be doing, instead, is alerting people that this age is quickly coming to a close.
Within this next decade we will see the 6th and final sign of total darkness. Our Lord told us that when we see this, our redemption shall be fulfilled—the rapture. We need to focus on winning the lost so they do not have to suffer through the rest of the seal and bowl judgments described in Revelation. All those who are Christ’s shall be delivered from the wrath of that Day.
Q: Is God Judging America?
A: If by judging you mean is He causing earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and any other kind of evil to happen, the answer is certainly not. If by judging you mean is He deciding between situations in which He has the right to intervene and exercise His saving power on our behalf, the answer is decidedly yes. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those ho heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
If we do not understand the concept of judgment, a foundational element of end-time doctrine, then we will give people the wrong impression of God. We will misrepresent Him to be a cruel disciplinarian, and be found preaching “another gospel.” There is only one Gospel, and it is literally the good news that Jesus died and rose again to save mankind from sin. It is the grace and truth of the New Covenant.
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
Scripturally speaking, God is not imputing the world’s trespasses against them, even though people often make it sound like He is. They make it appear that God is angry with the world. Did Jesus display any anger when He hung on the cross? No, instead He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Why, then, does God send people to Hell? He doesn’t; the Devil does. Or more accurately, people do by their own choice in rejecting Christ as their Savior. God is not a spiritual kidnapper. He is just, so He cannot take that which does not belong to Him. So if you do not belong to His family through Christ at the end of your life, God cannot bring you to Heaven any more than you have the authority to go into your neighbor’s house and steal their kids, no matter how cruel the parents may be to their children.
I can assure you that it breaks Jesus’ heart to lose people. He did everything within His just power to get them to Heaven. The saddest part is that anyone can avoid an eternity in the Devil’s Lake of Fire by voicing a simple heart-felt prayer to invite Jesus into their heart.
Jesus came full of grace and truth (John 1:14). The Apostle Paul gave both elements of that singular phrase in Romans 3:23-24. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”—that is the truth part. Too often we stop there when talking to unbelievers. The sentence continues though. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”—that is the balance of grace.
It is the goodness of God that draws people to Him (Romans 2:4). What are people hearing from Christ’s witnesses, His Body, the Church? Are they seeing His goodness? That is the power of the New Covenant.