Apologetics

The Identity of Mystery Babylon

My question is about “Mystery Babylon”—“the great prostitute”—in Revelation 17. I notice similarities between Jerusalem and Mystery Babylon. Who is Mystery Babylon? Have the events concerning Mystery Babylon already taken place, or are they still future?

One of the seven angels with one of the seven bowls came and said, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries” (Rev. 17:1–2 NIV).

What is going on here is pretty interesting. When you read Scripture in light of Scripture, you recognize who is in view. Reading through the Old Testament, we see the prophets of God repeatedly speaking of the prostitution of Israel and the prostitution of Judah (cf. Exod. 34:11-16; Deut. 31:14-22; Jer. 3:1-10; Ezek. 16:1-59; 23:1-49; Hos. 1:1-2:13). The prostitution of the northern kingdom and the prostitution of the southern kingdom. In each case, the prophets use graphic language to depict Israel, who was called to be a light to the nations but instead prostituted herself with the nations.

When we get to Revelation, we recognize that Revelation is four-hundred-four verses with two-hundred-seventy-eight of those verses alluding to other parts of Scripture, primarily Old Testament passages. We should immediately think, the clue here is given to me by reading the other passages — Israel is in view here. Israel is the prostituted bride.

We have a grand metanarrative in Revelation—John’s version of the Olivet Discourse (cf. Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21)—in which we see a persecuted bride, the seven churches in the epicenter of a Caesar cult. There is also a prostituted bride. Some of the people in those churches, particularly those in Laodicea, were in bed with Rome, which is the Beast. The Roman Emperor wanted to be called “Savior and Lord” in place of Christ. You were supposed to say, “Caesar is Lord and King,” as opposed to saying, “Christ is Lord and King.” That answers the second part of your question. This is not about the twenty-first century. This is about what happened in the first century.

When you read Romans, you intuitively know that Paul is writing to Christians in a first-century epoch. The same thing is true with John in the Book of Revelation, his expanded Olivet Discourse. He is writing to seven churches — he says so in the introduction — seven churches in the epicenter of a Caesar cult and he is telling them to be faithful and fruitful. They are going to suffer for a short time, but their vindication will be an eternal vindication.

The Book of Revelation, then, was not written to us, but it was most certainly written for us. Just as there are prostitutes in Scripture, and Israel prostituted herself with the nations, so too there are those who act the part of prostitutes. They are not true to the Lord Jesus Christ. They give Him a kiss as did Judas, as opposed to saying with the thief on the cross, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following;

Who or What Is the Great Prostitute of Revelation 17? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Apocalypse When? Why Most End-time Teaching Is Dead Wrong (Hank Hanegraaff)

These bookstore resources are also recommended:

The Apocalypse Code (B1026) by Hank Hanegraaff

Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (B793) by Steve Gregg

This blog is adapted from the October 9, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Shedding Light on Tracy Morgan’s Vision of the Afterlife

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The headline in the USA Today newspaper caught my attention. It was titled, “Tracy Morgan’s Vision of Heaven.” The reason the article was in the paper is because Fist Fight is a new movie opening in theaters, but Tracy Morgan points out that his near fatal accident shaped his view of heaven, and brings back many, many memories. The article says, “When you survive a near-fatal accident like Tracy Morgan did,” I suppose, “you tend to have a sharper view of the afterlife,” or perhaps you won’t. Perhaps his view of the afterlife is based upon his own preconceptions.

What does Morgan think heaven will be like? In the article he is quoted as saying,

When I get to heaven, God is going to slap me on the (bottom) and say “Good job. Your parents and grandmom are back there waiting for you. Richard Pryor asked for you and Jackie Gleason is looking for you”…And it’s like “John Lennon, come here, I wanna ask you something!” That’s how I envision it. “George Carlin, is that you? Come here for a minute. Tell Jesus to stop playing that music, turn it down!”

This is the same George Carlin, the one supposedly seen in heaven, who during his life mocked the very notion of heaven. Carlin said,

Think about it? Religion has actually convinced people that there is an invisible man, living in the sky, who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry, forever and ever, till the end of time. But he loves you.

George Carlin who is no longer in flesh, he is absent from the body, but it is very interesting not only to hear his humor but to hear the masses laugh at his mischaracterizations of God, heaven, and hell. This is precisely why I wrote a book entitled Afterlife: What You Really Want to Know About Heaven, the Hearafter, & Near-Death Experiences. Tracy Morgan purportedly had a near death experience (NDE) when he was in a coma. He told Oprah about it.

Think about the other person that he mentioned—John Lennon. What is his conception of heaven? Remember the lyrics to imagine?

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today.

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Is heaven populated by people who rejected God during their lifetimes? How are we to think about heaven and hell? There is no more important subject for anyone in the flesh to know about. Think about it. Your life is but a vapor (Jas. 4:14). Here today, gone tomorrow. There is no more important subject for you to comprehend.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28-29, NIV).

For further related study, please see the following at equip.org:

Celebrity Death and the Meaning of Life (Robert Velarde)

Heaven is Real (Hank Hanegraaff)

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Dark Side of Eternity: Hell as Eternal Conscious Punishment (Robert A. Peterson)

The Contradictory Recollections of Near Death Experiences (Hank Hanegraaff)

This blog adapted from the February 16, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Making Sense of the Binding and Releasing of Satan in Revelation 20

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You mentioned that the thousand-years referred to in Revelation 20 is synonymous with forever or eternity. If that is they case, why does it say Satan will be released after the thousand years? How is that so?

The question really gets into trying to make a metaphor walk on all fours, particularly a metaphor that is in the context of apocalyptic literature. The metanarrative that you have in John’s Apocalypse is about Satan, who has been defeated by Christ. If you look throughout the Scriptures, you see how Christ comes, and He makes a spectacle out of the principalities and powers of darkness (Col. 2:12). He triumphs over them by the cross and that triumph is not a temporary triumph. It is an eternal triumph. It is a triumph that will forever demonstrate that Christ is victor and that Satan is defeated.

Now, within the context of the metaphor, within the context of the overall metanarrative as well, you have Satan released for a short time. After his eternal vanquishing, he is released for a short time. This is tantamount to saying that after Christ has made a spectacle of principalities and powers of darkness, with the domain of Satan being defeated, Satan has yet a short time, in this metanarrative a short time. This is part of the narrative communicated in apocalyptic language and you cannot try to make the metaphor walk on all fours.

The whole idea of thousand is used in many different ways metaphorically. It can be used to say that God owns all the cattle on a thousand hills (Psa. 50:10). In other words, this is a way of saying God owns everything. It can also be used to say that God’s loving kindness is to a thousand generations (Exod. 20:6), i.e. an everlasting lovingkindness. You cannot try to make the metaphor walk on all fours. If you do, you end up with loose strings popping out all over the place.

I mentioned this before, but it is sort of like someone saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” and you start asking “What size are the dogs?” and “What color are the cats?”

The grand metanarrative of John’s expanded Olivet Discourse, which is the Book of Revelation—No Olivet Discourse appears in the Gospel of John but the Synoptic Gospels record them (Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21)—John’s Apocalypse gives you an expanded Olivet Discourse. Within this expanded Olivet Discourse, he says

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-2).*

This is a way of saying that Christ eternally defeats the powers of darkness through His triumph. This is a way of talking about Christ defeating Satan. Yet, in the narrative of the Apocalypse, the people of God are going to suffer under Satan, the Beast, and the woman who rides the Beast. John is telling the readers, Satan is going to be set free for a short time. He is going to continue to wreak havoc upon the earth. That is what is going on in the story.

The thousand years is indicative of everlasting and complete defeat. As the metaphor continues, God keeps His covenant to a thousand generations, indicative that His mercy is forever, so too Satan is forever defeated, but John is saying the worst of the tribulation still looms on the horizon; therefore, Satan must be set free for a short time, he must surround the camp of God’s people, the city He loves, before Christ coming in judgment

He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time and ultimate vindication.

Think about the language of Revelation 20—many years ago I took the time to memorize the passage and cogitate upon the passage for hours upon hours as I would walk and think about it—you have an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key to the abyss, and having in his hand a great chain, how does an angel, if you are pressing the language, hold in his hand a great chain? An angel is a non-corporeal being. Then he takes the Devil, and throws him into the abyss, then locks and seals it, how is that done? Did he really throw Satan into some kind of container and then put a lid on top of it? If you take apocalyptic language and you try to make it walk on all fours, you end up with unmitigated nonsense. You got to read the language in which it is intended.

The language itself is very, very interesting, because it is not just an apocalypse in the sense of an unfolding, but it is a linguistic matrix that has its roots in the rest of Scripture. What makes Revelation so easy to understand is the overall understanding of Scripture as a whole. In other words, if you understand the Scriptures as a whole, Revelation does not come out of left field. Think about it. Revelation is only four-hundred and four verses with two-hundred-seventy-eight being direct allusions to Old Testament passages. Those who are familiar with the Bible, right away see what is going on in the apocalyptic language because it has its roots in the linguistic matrix of the rest of Scripture.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Learn more about understanding end time passages in the Bible in Hank Hanegraaff’s books The Apocalypse Code and Has God Spoken.

This blog adapted from the May 11, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

*All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984).

Apologetics

Is Amillennialism Scripture Twisting and Heresy?

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Do you think amillennialism a heresy that comes as the result of Scripture twisting?

The timing of the tribulation or the meaning of the millennium is not something that we want to affix the word “heresy.” This is something that we can debate vigorously as Christians but we simply do not have to divide over. Therefore, I would not affix the word “heresy” to this.

There are Christians who believe that the millennium is a period of time between the first and second comings of Christ, so they still associate an indiscriminate amount of time, perhaps two thousand or more years, to this time frame (i.e. amillennialism). We do not at this point or an amillennial cannot tell you exactly how much time will lapse because the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has not yet taken place.

Some Christians take the millennium to be a kind of semi-golden age that comes about either before (postmillennialism) or after (premillennialism) the return of Jesus Christ.

The premillennial position is a position which says that after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ people will be saved, and there will be a one-thousand-year semi-golden age with a rebuilt temple and reinstituted temple sacrifices, and some even say that those temple sacrifices will atone for sin. Then there will be a great apostasy at the end of this millennial age and then the eternal state.

I personally do not agree with the millennium being a period of time. What Revelation is communicating is not quantity of time, but a quality of vindication for the martyrs. In other words, they will suffer for a short-time their vindication will be an eternal vindication.

The most well known use of the symbolic number “thousand” in Scripture is found in John’s encouraging promise to the persecuted first-century church that the saints who would be martyred for resisting the mark of the Beast would reign in glory with Christ for “a thousand years” (Revelation 20:1-7). Failing to read Revelation in its appropriate historical and literary context, many have misconstrued John’s words in Revelation 20 as a literal prophetic chronology according to which Satan will literally be bound for one thousand years while the resurrected martyrs reign with Christ until the end of the “millennium” at which time the rest of the dead will be raised and Satan will be released to wage war against Christ and the resurrected saints. Rather than allowing one metaphorically rich passage in the apocalyptic letter of Revelation to override the rest of the clear passages in Scripture that teach a single, general resurrection of the dead (e.g. John 5:28-29; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17), we must be willing to interpret this markedly symbolic passage in light of the rest of Scripture. When we do so, it becomes clear that in keeping with the traditional use of “a thousand” as a numeric symbol of ultimate completion, John is simply here promising his readers that though God would allow the Beast to execute his reign of terror for “ten days”—a relatively short time—God would vindicate the martyred believers by allowing them to reign with Christ for “a thousand years”—a comparatively limitless time. By suggesting that Satan would be bound during this period and that the rest of the dead would not be resurrected until after the thousand years had ended (vv. 2-3, 5, 7), John was simply using symbolic chronological bookends to highlight the qualitatively (as opposed to quantitatively) unique vindication that the martyrs of this great persecution will experience at the general resurrection of the dead. John’s vision of the vindication of “the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God” (20:4) is thus the climactic answer to the prayer for vindication—“How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”—that was called out in chapter six by “the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained” (6:9-10). (Hank Hanegraaff, Apocalypse Code: Find Out What the Bible REALLY Says About the End Times…and Why It Matters Today [Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007], 256-257)

Now I think ultimately to settle this in your mind requires something that I think few people spend enough time with, and that is an understanding of the art and science of biblical interpretation. To understand the Book of Revelation —this includes Revelation 20 where this idea of thousand years is repeated six times—you have to have a good understanding or good grasp of the Old Testament Scriptures. If you do not, you might get caught going off on a fantastic fantasy journey as opposed to grounding yourself in the well-spring of the Old Testament.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Learn more about understanding end time passages in the Bible in Hank Hanegraaff’s books The Apocalypse Code and Has God Spoken.

This blog adapted from “What’s your view on Amillennialism, is it heretical?

 

Apologetics

Death, Eternity, and the Armor of God

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Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Eph. 6:14-18).*

This morning I was thinking about the breastplate of righteousness as a spiritual heart protector, but the helmet of salvation is a spiritual head protector. It is the covering that protectors our minds so that we do not become disoriented in the throes of spiritual warfare. The helmet of salvation blunts the blow of death. It enables us to view our circumstances from the perspective of eternity.

How different is postmodern culture which seeks to deny death by driving death into the closet, or by trivializing death treating it irrelevantly, or circumventing it through the use of cleaver clichés. In such sharp distinction, Christianity demonstrates that death is defeated. Cultural thanatologists may urge us to accept death as a friend, but Christian theology sees death as the enemy (1 Cor. 15:26).

That’s the message that radiates from the lips of righteous Job. Satan had wielded the sword of death with devastating fury. He had butchered Job’s livestock. He had murdered Job’s legacy. If God had permitted him to do so, he would have snuffed out Job’s life. The Devil’s devastation was so complete that Job’s wife lost all perspective, and with her mind careening out of control, she cried, “curse God and die” (Job. 2:9).*

Job, however, saw his plight from the perspective of eternity. He had donned the helmet of salvation. He was empowered, therefore, to say, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me (Job. 19:25-27). That ultimately was the perspective of Job. The certainty of salvation not only assured him that in his flesh that he would see God but it assured him that in his flesh he would once again see his children.

Thinking about all of that and more as tomorrow morning I am doing the funeral for my son-in-law who died at age forty-seven. The whole idea that I am going to be communicating is that life afterlife, afterlife is not a crutch. It’s not a copout. It is a certainty. As Christians, we stake our lives on the hope that God will transform our lowly bodies so that they would be like His glorious body (1 Cor. 15).

Death is the enemy. There is nothing wonderful about death. But, the Christian does not grieve like the rest of those who have no hope, because we know that Jesus died and rose again, and so we know that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in the end (2 Thess. 4:13-18).

I was taught that the belt of truth is the Bible. Can you give me more insight on this sword of the Spirit, I thought it is something about prayer, but I’m not quite sure?

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. That is how the sword of the Spirit is defined by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6.

As far as the belt of truth is concerned, it is like all the other pieces of the full armor of God. It is an aspect of the nature of God Himself. Therefore, to put on the belt of truth is tantamount to putting on Christ (Rom. 13:14). As the Bible points out, Christ is truth (John 14:6), and as Christians we are called to be the bearers of truth (Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9-11; Zech. 8:16). The moment we drop the belt of truth our view of reality becomes seriously skewed. The belt of truth, therefore, is essential to a realistic worldview. I often say, “When it’s buckle breaks, the covering crumbles, reality is clouded, and the unthinkable happens.” We live in a postmodern culture that denies truth, and in many cases, it makes truth nothing more than a social or cultural construct. But, truth is ultimately rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ Himself.

In terms of the sword of the Spirit—as I mentioned earlier—it is defined by Paul as the Word of God. I’ve often talked about the ultimate spiritual battle where the Creator was alone and hungry and the most powerful creature in the universe poised and ready to strike. Remember Jesus had fasted forty-days and forty nights and sensing His vulnerability, the tempter seized the moment. The words are epic, the Devil said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Matt. 4:2). Well, Jesus could have responded by unveiling His divine glory, but He did not. He took up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I have often thought how that ought to be the template for us as well. What does that mean? It means that we should memorize the Word of God. We should meditate on the Word of God. We should mine the Word of God for all its wealth. The Word of God ought to be central in our life because ultimately we know what is true. We know that which corresponds to reality because we have a test for truth and it is the Word of God. Again, the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.

—Hank Hanegraaff


This blog was adapted from the October 24, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.

Apologetics

Making Sense of the Tormenting Locust in Revelation 9

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-rev-9-6-locust“During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them (Rev. 9:6)”1

After the fifth trumpet blows there is five months were these locust creatures are tormenting people and the people cannot die (Rev. 9:1-12). Can these people die like if somebody shot them? Is it just because of the locusts? What happens to believers can they die? 

What’s really important when you get to apocalyptic language is that you learn to read apocalyptic language in the sense in which it is intended; otherwise you end up with all kinds of nonsense. This is a way of speaking and it’s very familiar to people who read through the Old Testament. It’s a familiar way of talking about how horrible judgment is going to be when apostate Israel is judged. This judgment is going to be horrendous.

The way of talking about how horrible is to say that death would be preferable to life in this kind of condition. Again, you have this kind of language used by Jeremiah, who prophesied, “Wherever I banish them, all the survivors of this evil nation will prefer death to life, declares the Lord Almighty” (Jer. 8:3). So it’s familiar language

What is so important when you get to the Book of Revelation is this: Once you go down the path of trying to take apocalyptic judgment language and read literal meanings into it you are going to end up like Tim LaHaye or Hal Lindsey. For example, Lindsey thinks Revelation14:20 tells us that “so many people will be slaughtered in the conflict that blood will stand to the horses’ bridles for a total distance of 200 miles northward and southward of Jerusalem.”2 There isn’t that much blood on the face of the earth. Now a lot people realize the force of that but they want to take this literally. LaHaye’s solution is to say, “Hailstones weighing ‘a talent [ca. 100 pounds]’ will fall from heaven (Rev. 16:21) which, with the blood of this massive army, will create a river of blood that reaches up to the horses’ bridles.”3 You know this again is failing to recognize that this is a judgment metaphor.

Interestingly enough, by the way, if you read first century extrabiblical literature, you will find it is a common judgment metaphor, such that when we say, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” that is just as common today as the judgment metaphor as the blood to the horses’ bridle was in the first century. For example, 1 Enoch 100:3 states, “The horse shall walk through the blood of sinners up to his chest; and the chariot shall sink down up to its top.”

Here is the point: This is going to be horrible time of judgment when people will want death but death will elude them. In other words, life is so traumatically painful, and judgment so severe that the idea of death seems more palatable than continuing in this existence.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Was Revelation Written Before or After the Destruction of the Temple in AD 70? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What Does it Mean to Interpret the Bible Literally? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Who are the 144,000 of Revelation? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Who are the two witnesses of Revelation? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Who is the Antichrist? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What is the Meaning of 666? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is the Mark of the Beast a Microchip? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Who or What is the Great Prostitute of Revelation 17? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Who Wrote Revelation? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Apocalypse When? Why Most End-time Teaching Is Dead Wrong. (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Perils of Newspaper Eschatology (Elliot Miller)

Notes:

  1. All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.
  2. Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970), 165-166.
  3. Tim LaHaye, ed. Time LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000), 1040.

* Blog adapted from “What are the locusts in Revelation and why can’t those who are bitten by them die?

Apologetics

Why Second Chances Are Impossible in the Afterlife

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Can a person die and have a second chance for salvation? If somebody dies and they either never had the chance or were unwilling in their lifetime to accept God’s love and forgiveness, could after they die God still accept them into the kingdom of heaven?

There is no one who desires a relationship with God who will ever be turned away. But that does not mean that the Bible in any way teaches postmortem evangelism or salvation. It does not. It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment (Heb. 9:27).

Here is the situation. In this life we have the light of creation, we have the light of conscious, in other words the knowledge of God written upon the tablet of our consciousness, and if we respond to the light we have been given, then we will receive the light of Christ. Paul makes that clear in Romans 1-3.

The problem is as Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).* It is not that men do not have enough light; instead, it is they love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. It is not the absence of knowledge that damns us, it is the despising of knowledge that damns.

Those that do not have a relationship with God in eternity are those who do not want a relationship with God in time. That those who live a life apart from Christ now are not going to want to be dragged into His presence in eternity. In other words, this is what they want now, and God ratifies their choices. There is no gospel of the second chance in the Scripture at all, and again there’s a reason for it—the reason that I just explained. Those that live apart from Christ here will wish to do that in eternity as well. They’re hearts are hardened against the Savior and His message.

God does not impose Himself on them in eternity; rather, what He does is continue to sustain them in existence, albeit apart from His loving goodness and grace.

The biblical idea is always that God makes salvation available to all. He woos us all through the power of the Holy Spirit. We have to respond to that wooing, or we can reject the wooing of the Holy Spirit. Those who respond to the wooing of the Holy Spirit have everlasting life, those who reject it have precisely what they want. That is why I’m fond of quoting C.S. Lewis at this point, wherein he makes it clear that:

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell” (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce [New York: Harper Collins, 1946], 75).

If you do not want a relationship with God in time, God will not force Himself on you in eternity. Think about it this way: If God did force people to enter into heaven against their will, heaven would not be heaven, heaven would be hell. The righteous would inherit a counterfeit heaven, and the unrighteous would be incarcerated in heaven against their will, which would be a torment worse than hell.

Now there is one other thing I would add this to the equation: The biblical text in Acts 17, where Paul is at the Areopagus, and he sees a monument to an unknown God, and he begins to preach. In that sermon, he makes this incredible statement. He says,

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:26-27).

In saying that, Paul is making abundantly clear that God puts all of us in unique circumstances so that we can respond to His goodness and to His grace. There will be none in eternity that says, “You know God if only…” No, people get what they want. If they want a relationship with God, God did all that could be done to facilitate that. He suffered more than any man. He suffered more than the cumulative sufferings of all human kind so that we can be reconciled to Him for time and for eternity.

The one God revealed in three persons who are eternally distinct has given us every opportunity to know to love and to receive Him or to reject Him.

It is very clear in Scripture that this our opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior of our life (Matt. 4:17; 10:5; Mark 1:14; Rom. 13:11-12; Eph. 5:12-14). This is the opportunity to say Jesus is Lord not Caesar or the world is Lord. If we don’t take that opportunity in this life, we are not going to want to take that opportunity in the life to come either. What we want now is indicative of what we want for all eternity.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Is Jesus the Only Savior? The Answer to Religious Pluralism (Ronald H. Nash)

Is Belief in Jesus Necessary? The Answer to Religious Inclusivism (Ronald H. Nash)

Is There Salvation After Death? The Answer to Postmortem Evangelism (Ronald H. Nash)

Universalism Isn’t for Everyone(Doug Geivett)

What about Hell? The Doctrine of Hell (Douglas Groothuis)

The Dark Side of Eternity: Hell as Eternal Conscious Punishment (Robert A. Peterson)

C.S. Lewis on Hell (Louis Markos)

What Happens to a Person who has Never Heard of Jesus? (Hank Hanegraaff)

How were People who lived Before the Time of Christ Saved? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Why Should I Believe in Hell? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here (Hank Hanegraaff)

Blog adapted from “Is there a chance for salvation after death?” and the June 4, 2013 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.

Apologetics

Making Sense of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of the Statue in Daniel 2

Hanegraaff, Hank-Making Sense of Daniel 2

31 “You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. 32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth (Dan. 2:31-35).*

Q: What are your thoughts on Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue divided into different sections and materials in Daniel 2.

Hank Hanegraaff: The interpretation of that dream by Nebuchadnezzar is given by Daniel while in Babylonian exile. Daniel is able to do what the diviners and enchanters cannot do. He is able to give the interpretation to that dream.

The interpretation of that dream to Nebuchadnezzar is that this great statue represents a succession of nations. That succession of nations is articulated in different visions throughout the Book of Daniel.

I have been reading, listening, and studying Daniel over and over and over again, and very clearly, what we have is an interpretation given by Daniel that Nebuchadnezzar is the head of gold. But, after Nebuchadnezzar there’ll be another king that is as inferior to Babylon as silver is inferior to gold. And what happens after Nebuchadnezzar’s death is, though Babylon continues to exist, it exists under inferior leadership and another nation rises up. It’s the Median nation that becomes the top nation, as it were, and it’s preeminent up until the time that Babylon is destroyed by a coalition of the Medes and the Persians—the Medo-Persian Empire. The Medo-Persian Empire is described here as a bronze empire that will rule over the whole earth. Now one thing we know is that was not true of Babylon nor was it true of the Median Empire, but it certainly was true of the Medo-Persian Empire with respect to the ancient world. After that you have the Grecian Empire and in many different ways throughout Daniel the Grecian Empire, Alexander the Great and Antiochus IV Epiphanes, are described in incredible detail, throughout the Book of Daniel.

“No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (Dan. 2:27-28).

For further study, please see the following:

Did Daniel Accurately Predict a Succession of Nations? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Did Daniel Prophesy a Seven-Year Great Tribulation? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Apocalypse When? Why Most End-time Teaching Is Dead Wrong. (Hank Hanegraaff)

This blog adapted from “Clarify Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2?

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984).

Apologetics

The Abomination of Desolation of Past Futures

Abomination of Desolation of Futures Past

Are Jesus and Daniel talking about the same thing in Daniel 9:27 and Mark 13:14?

If you look at Matthew 24, you have Jesus actually saying, “When you standing in the holy place the ‘abomination that causes desolation’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel —let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (vv. 15-16, NIV) and so forth. (Matthew 24 is the equivalent of the Mark 13 passage). Jesus of course applies it to His own generation. He says, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (vv. 34-35, NIV).

The abomination of desolation spoken of by Jesus was prophesied six centuries earlier by Daniel. And Jesus now takes what happened in the second century under Antiochus IV Epiphanes, his desecration of the temple, and applies it to what is going to happen when the temple is not just going be desecrated but it is actually going to be destroyed. So in the fullness of time, what Jesus declared desolate, was desolated by Roman infidels, they destroyed the temple fortress, they ended the daily sacrifice, and this time, very much unlike the time of Antiochus, the blood that desecrated the sacred altar didn’t flow from the carcasses of unclean pigs but from the corpses of unbelieving Pharisees. This time the Holy of Holies was not only desecrated by the defiling statue of a pagan god, but it was destroyed by the greed of despoiling soldiers, and the temple would never be rebuilt again.

Jesus wasn’t talking about future desecrations?

Christ looked forward a generation and prophesied what would happen forty years hence. So He looked forty years into the future and said this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have been fulfilled. So it’s past to us, but it was future at the time Jesus spoke.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further study:

Apocalypse When? Why Most End-time Teaching Is Dead Wrong (Hank Hanegraaff)

Response to National Liberty Journal Article on The Apocalypse Code (Hank Hanegraaff)

Did Daniel Prophesy a Seven-Year Great Tribulation? (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Perils of Newspaper Eschatology (Elliot Miller)

When the Truth Gets Left Behind (Gene Edward Veith reviews the Left Behind Series by Tim La Haye and Jerry Jenkins)

Is “Coming on Clouds” a Reference to Christ’s Second Coming? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Which Generation is “This Generation”? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Recommended resources for your eschatology library:

The Apocalypse Code (B1026)
by Hank Hanegraaff

The Apocalypse Code – MP3 Audiobook (M407)
by Hank Hanegraaff

Has God Spoken (B1045)
by Hank Hanegraaff

Has God Spoken – MP3 Audiobook (M405)
by Hank Hanegraaff

Last Days According To Jesus (B512)
by R.C. Sproul

Is Jesus Coming Soon? (B940)
by Gary DeMar

The Last Disciple – paperback (B817)
by Hank Hanegraaff and Sigmund Brouwer

The Last Sacrifice – paperback (B835)
by Hank Hanegraaff and Sigmund Brouwer

The Last Temple – paperback (B1058)
By Hank Hanegraaff and Sigmund Brouwer

This blog was adapted from the Ask Hank feature: Are Jesus and Daniel talking about the same thing in Daniel 9:27 and Mark 13:14?  

Apologetics

What is dispensationalism?

Dispensationalism2Dispensationalism: an eschatological viewpoint according to which God has two distinct peoples (the Church and national, ethnic Israel) with two distinct plans and two distinct destinies. Dispensationalism is distinctive for its teaching that the Church will be “raptured” from the earth in the first phase of Christ’s second coming so that God can return to his work with national Israel, which was put on hold after Israel’s rejection of Messiah. God’s renewed working with Israel is thought by many dispensationalists to include a seven-year period of tribulation under the Antichrist in which two-thirds of the Jewish people will be killed, followed by the second phase of Christ’s second coming in which Christ and the martyred “tribulation saints” will rule for a thousand years from a rebuilt Temple with a reinstituted sacrificial system. Dispensationalism was first conceived by John Nelson Darby in the nineteenth century and popularized by prophecy pundits such as Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye in the twentieth century. 1

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further study, please see the following:

Does the Bible Make a Distinction Between Israel and the Church? (Hank Hanegraaff)
Apocalypse When? Why Most End-time Teaching Is Dead Wrong. (Hank Hanegraaff)
The Perils of Newspaper Eschatology (Elliot Miller)
Is Dispensationalism Indispensable?  (Steve Gregg)
One Shot, One Book, One God: Apologetics and the Unity of the Bible (Dean Davis)
Who’s Been Left Behind? (Steve Gregg)
Response to National Liberty Journal Article on The Apocalypse Code (Hank Hanegraaff)
When the Truth Gets Left Behind (Gene Edward Veith)

Notes:

1. Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code: Find out What the Bible Really Says about the End Times and Why it Matters Today (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 272