What About Our Co-Workers?
We are grateful to God that they are safe! We are so very thankful that He has given them a hedge of protection! Besides being safe and well, they are scattered and serving. They are scattered to various nations while still serving the Lord and refugees. Now they are themselves refugees and seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide them. At this point in time, we consider it best not to disclose where all of them are located, but we do try to keep in touch, and we want you to know that they are safe, serving the Lord, and seeking souls. The couple whose house and children were spared from destruction when a Russian missile landed in their yard left their home behind, but are going into dangerous areas with food, clothing, medicine, etc. to serve destitute survivors with humanitarian aid and the love and hope of the gospel of Christ. (By the way, that missile itself was a dud – but if it had hit either their car or the gas line a few feet away – there would have been a devastating explosion.) Out of love and appreciation, this couple keeps serving others. Praise God!)
What If I Remain Pro Millennial?
(Will You Accept Me as a Brother in Christ if I Don’t Accept Your Millennial Perspective?)
Are we supposed to understand everything in the Bible literally? Figuratively? Actually – neither one! Almost everyone with any knowledge of the Bible agrees that it is actually a library of 66 books inspired by the Holy Spirit with an all-pervasive theme of redemption, truth, and righteousness!
A library? Yes! And a library is known to have a variety of different types (genres) of writings – some mostly very literal, such as history, engineering, and math. Others highly figurative – as in poetry and apocalyptic writings. When we read a Psalm where the trees clap their hands – should we believe that the author intended us to take that passage literally – or that he is giving us a word picture of great joy? Even in portions of Scripture that are history, we occasionally find figurative language in the form of metaphors and similes (word pictures). Even in our everyday speech patterns, we often resort to figurative word pictures. For example, if someone says, “That blew my mind!”, should we take that literally? Did his brain explode? Is his mind splattered on a wall somewhere? If so, how can he be standing there describing to us his experience? One historical setting that I’m thinking of occurred shortly before our Revolutionary War – when our founding fathers had signed the Declaration of Independence. Wasn’t it Benjamin Franklin who solemnly said: “Gentlemen – we must hang together, or we will hang separately!”? Wasn’t he using the same word “hang” in both a figurative and literal manner in the same sentence? Everyone who heard it or reads about it can clearly understand what he meant.
For a Scriptural example, in His powerful Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” Matthew 5:27-30 (NKJV)
Did Jesus intend for us to take all of this literally – or was He using a graphic word picture? If literally – where are the mutilated members of the Body of Christ with gouged out eyes and cut off hands? (Sadly, some monks and other leaders did take Him literally and cut off members of their bodies to try to destroy sinful habits.) Wouldn’t we be much wiser to take note that Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles repeatedly taught us that sin is an inside problem that will not be solved with outward mutilations? For example: “So He said to them, ‘Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?’ And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.’” Mark 7:18-23 (NKJV)
All of this is introduction to my primary question: Wouldn’t we be wise to read (study) the Bible SERIOUSLY rather than ALL LITERALLY or ALL FIGURATIVELY? By seriously, I mean by praying for the Holy Spirit to lead us in illuminating His Word to us and asking: “Lord, what would You have me to understand? To believe? To do?”
I first read the Revelation of Jesus Christ (God’s title) when I was a teenager – and made the mistake of trying to read it as linear history. It was confusing! Since then, I have studied through the Bible many times – including Revelation – and I believe it all, but I do not understand it all. I believe that “He spoke – and it was done!” I believe that He caused the sun to stand still! I believe that Jesus was God in human flesh, that He humbled and limited Himself to be confined to human frailties like hunger and weariness – yet remained fully God in His nature and character. How? I don’t know! I can’t explain it!
In reading through Revelation over and over, I have received blessing over and over in that “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” reveals to me more and more His awesome power, glory, majesty, wrath, and grace. I do know that “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” is full of symbolic numbers – but I don’t yet see how all the pieces fit together. I do know that my Sovereign Lord knows – and I trust Him. The mystery of the gospel is clearly revealed – as in Colossians 1:24-29. But there are other mysteries that I do not understand – such as how Almighty sovereignly controls all final outcomes without violating the free will of man (created in His image). I have heard R.C. Sproul clarify his opinion and appreciate that he was not dogmatic about the contrary opinion of those who do not accept his view (along with that of Calvin, Luther, Jonathan Edwards, etc.). I am convinced that the sovereign will of God does not cancel the free will of man (as evidenced in His closing invitation in Revelation 22:17: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” – ESV)
I have also noticed that, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached the sovereign will of God and the free will of man as parallel truths without attempting to explain. Notice: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” Acts 2:22-23 (ESV) The result – 3000 souls repented and submitted to the Lord Jesus by being baptized into Christ. Wouldn’t we be wise to follow Peter’s example instead of the example of many theologians, who have debated the how of predestination for centuries? I wonder if any souls were ever won to Christ as a result of those debates! Let’s be “redeeming the time, for the days are evil!”
How God’s sovereign will does not cancel the free will of man is not clear to me – but I choose to believe God’s word about both subjects and leave the mystery of “how” to His care. Likewise, I do not know how the 1,000 year/7 year/3 ½ year fits into His big plan – but I trust Him to do it just right!
Concerning “the great tribulation” – some of it is also still a mystery to me. I notice that John wrote: “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” Revelation 1:9 (ESV)
I also notice that Jesus said to the church in Philadelphia in the 1st Century: “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” Revelation 3:10-12 (ESV) I also noticed that “the great tribulation” is mentioned in the seventh chapter of Revelation, where it is written: “Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’” Revelation 7:34-14 (NKJV) In the top margin of my Bible I made this notation: “He does not say ‘were raptured away from the great tribulation…’” The context very strongly indicates that they came out of the great tribulation as martyrs who had been persecuted to death for their faith in Jesus.
Also, I know that believers in Nigeria, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. are currently going through great tribulation. Is there a worse, greater tribulation still pending? Possibly! What I do know is that He tells us over and over, “Be ready!” And I know I can trust Him.
Since the Holy Spirit inspired John to quote the Old Testament prophets extensively in the Book of Revelation, I believe that a valid understanding and exposition of the book involves a good grasp of the Old Testament prophets and their use of apocryphal language with its vivid symbolism.
I have read and heard expositions of the various millennial theories and have noticed in every one of them a significant amount of human speculation. I don’t have an alternative theory to offer – and I don’t have the illusion that my speculation is better than anyone else has. So, at this point in my level of understanding, I can honestly say that I believe all Scripture is profitable for correction, teaching, reproof, for training in righteousness – but I am not yet prepared to teach a seminar on Revelation 20. I’ve read that Sir Isaac Newton, after his amazing scientific accomplishments (and after writing more about Scripture than about his scientific studies), said that he felt like he was still standing in the shallow waters of the vast ocean of knowledge of what could be known. I can relate to his feeling – but I’m still in much shallower water than he was.
Literal 1000 Years?
Yes, Revelation 20 does mention six times “1000 years”! Does this mean to us that the term “1000 years” is a literal number? The context also tells us about “the key to the bottomless pit” and “the dragon” being bound by the angel with a great chain and thrown into the bottomless pit. If we believe that the 1000 years is a literal number, aren’t we compelled by consistency to take all of this literally? If not – why not? The text tells us that the dragon is Satan. Isn’t Satan a spirit being? How is it possible to bind a spirit being with a physical chain? To hold him captive in a literal pit? Bottomless pit! Is it literally possible for a pit to have no bottom? These are pertinent questions if we are determined to interpret “1000 years” as literal! Also, is there any significance to the fact that “1000 years” is mentioned six times rather than seven?
With this background, I want to return to my original question about the millennium – what is it? Here are pertinent questions for us to consider:
- As far as I know, the first mention of one thousand is in Psalm 50:10. It reads: “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” (NKJV) Did the Holy Spirit intend to inspire Asaph to write this so we would know that “every beast in the forest” belongs to Almighty God – but when it comes to cattle, His ownership is limited to 1000 hills? Or – is this an example of Hebrew parallelism (saying the same thing in two different ways for emphasis)?
- Are we aware of the fact that 1000 was the biggest number in Hebrew writings? This is why for vast numbers they would say thousands of thousands or 10,000 times 10,000! They did not have a word for millions, billions, or trillions (and Israel didn’t have a national debt in trillions of dollars!).
- Are there any symbolic numbers in the book of Revelation? What about 3? 7? 10? 12? 144,000? 1000?
- What is the meaning of Revelation 1:1 – “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,” (NKJV) What does “signified” mean? Couldn’t it mean to us that He spoke His Revelation of Jesus Christ in signs and symbols?
- What type of writing is the Book of Revelation? Apocalyptic! Is apocalyptic language intended to be taken literally? Isn’t it a form of writing that contains highly symbolic word pictures – such as locusts with heads like horses and tails like poisonous snakes?
- The phrase “1000 years” is used six times in the twentieth chapter of Revelation – but to my knowledge nowhere else in Scripture. So, my question is – did the Holy Spirit intend for us to take this phrase literally even though it is given to us in a flurry of apocalyptic descriptions?
- In going over and over “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” in my own studies, I see four very big, dominant messages:
- The awesome majesty and power of our Lord Jesus Christ – Creator, Redeemer, Sovereign Ruler – King of Kings, Lord of Lords – The Worthy One! “And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’” Revelation 7:11-12 (ESV)
- He is coming again! Be ready! His wrath against sin and rebellion will be unleashed against all ungodly sinners (which includes everyone who neglects and refuses to receive His blood-bought payment for sin)! For those in Christ it will be wonderful – the glorious appearing of our Conquering Christ!
- His invitation is still open to those who will repent and accept Him as their Savior and Lord – but the day of grace and forgiveness will close when He comes again! “’And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.’ Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. ‘I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.’ And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:12-17 (NKJV)
- Those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior – submitting to His leadership receive all the promises of eternal life, glory, and joy portrayed vividly in Revelation chapters 21 and 22! Victory in Jesus! What a glorious future!
Now I want to share some great insights from the late Gorden Patten, missionary, professor, pastor/teacher:
“This godless, atheistic, materialistic world comes to its bloody end at the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is a mystery to us to see how successful Satan is in leading hordes and masses into Hell by employing the same old tricks and lies. But he is… The mystery of Jesus’ victory over sin, death and the Devil is unveiled so clearly to all who read this book… Jesus unveiled this mystery. If we really want to learn, we can learn from Him.
This is the Unveiled Mystery.
It is solved.
It is understandable.
It is authentic.
It is dependable.
It will stand the test of time.
It will stand the test of judgment.
It will stand the test of fire.
It will stand the test of eternity.
The Question is –
Will you profit by it?
Will you heed it?
Will you accept it?
Be sure of this: you are not left in the dark. The one problem for all mankind of every age is solved. We have The Unveiled Mystery!!!” – Gordon Patten
When the apostle John wrote out for us his vision of the Throne of God, he recorded the crescendo of praise he heard from before the Throne: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created… Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 4:11; 5:12-14 (ESV)
This reminds me of the apostle Paul’s crescendo of praise at the conclusion of the doctrinal section of his systematic theology thesis to the church at Rome: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?’ For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:33-36 (NKJV)
Valuable Birds, Pertinent Question!
I recently heard an interesting illustration on one of Greg Laurie’s broadcasts about a young man who loved and appreciated his mother very much. He bought special, thoughtful gifts for her, but her birthday was approaching, and he had run out of ideas. However, he did find a unique pair of birds that could sing, dance, and speak, so he swallowed hard and paid the expensive price for them (along with special delivery). After her birthday, he called to ask her if she was enjoying her birds. She told him, “Yes! I enjoyed them very much! They tasted great!” The young man was horrified and asked, “Mom! Did you eat those birds?” She responded, “Yes, of course! What else was I supposed to do with them?” He replied, “They cost me $5,000 – and were for your ongoing entertainment! They could sing, dance, and speak!” Her question: “Then why didn’t they speak up?”
Fellow Americans, our freedom was not free! It cost the blood, sweat, and tears of most of our founding fathers, plus millions of our American military since then. Isn’t it time to speak up before we are forced to “forever hold our peace”? And our salvation from sin, death, and hell is a free gift of God’s grace to us – because our Lord Jesus paid the price with His blood!
From Our Mailbox
“Hi Rick, I grabbed some time to read your recent reflections. As to your question regarding whether or not this will create unity, I believe anyone who reads your reflections with an open mind will see just what you have said: these are YOUR reflections and not considered binding upon people for the purpose of salvation. It is written for the purpose of inspiring devotion to Christ!
Most of what I read is information available in many publications regarding amillennialism versus the other millennial views. I didn’t find any significant aspects of this different from what I have read in other places. Nor did I see much of anything with which I could disagree.
You have always had a heart for connecting the truth of the gospel with people willing to listen. I can see how these reflections can reflect that passion of yours. To quote a famous line from the Pharaoh, in Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments movie: ‘So let it be written, so let it be done.’ Or as they say in the newspaper business: ‘PRINT IT!!’
BTW: Chuck McCoy has some very insightful videos available for people to watch on his website: TruthCatmedia.com
I don’t hesitate recommending these videos to anyone seeking a good, solid biblical teaching from the book of Revelation regarding the end times, etc. You may want to recommend these to your readers. Chuck has been teaching on the book of Revelation for several decades now! I like his biblical insights to this evangelistic letter to the church.
God bless! Rich (Schell)”
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Thank you so much for taking the time to read and reply to my inquiry – plus for the encouraging words about the passion of my heart for the gospel and the unity of the body of Christ for the outreach to the world. Oh yes, also for the input about Chuck McCoy’s insightful materials. I’m planning to share your email in our August prayer letter. BTW – I believe the term amillennialism is inaccurate and therefore misleading.
Respectfully yours & His, Rick
Note: Rich is scheduled for knee replacement surgery August 1. Please pray for successful surgery and recovery.
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I’m passing on to you a couple of the letters to Victor Knowles (editor of One Body magazine). Bob Chambers has written several very encouraging letters to us for Overseas Outreach and Gerald Holdman was a classmate of ours at Boise Bible College about 60 years ago. If you are not receiving One Body magazine or the Knowlesletters, please let us or Victor know. We are Northwest representatives for POEM.
“Having just finished reading the Spring 2022 issue of One Body, I am pleased to renew my subscription and also request a gift subscription for a friend. This issue was excellent. Brother Mouton always ‘rings the bell,’ but this article [‘No Other Foundation But Christ’] was one of his best – if not the best that has come from his pen. Rick Deighton’s ‘The Foundation of Science and Truth’ was so logical and powerful. The report from Jim Tune [‘If the Foundations Be Destroyed’] concerning the new restrictions in Canada is frightening! Gene Shelburne always has keen insights. The articles by Bill Paul, Bob Russell, and Victor were ‘tops!’ May God greatly bless all of you who write for One Body! ~ Bob Chambers, Joplin, MO”
“God bless you! One Body is the best periodical I get! Keep on the cutting edge! ~ Gerald E. Holdman, Rushville, IN”
- I do believe that Russia is a grave threat to Ukraine, and that the suffering in the war zone has already been terrible. I also believe that both NATO and the LGBTQ corruption of western Europe are threats to Ukraine. It looks like America is not the only country between a rock and a hard place! Maybe God also has Ukraine exactly where He wants her. Let’s earnestly pray that Ukrainians will choose the Rock of Ages! Let’s pray for massive spiritual awakening in both Ukraine and America!
- The real and present danger for USA is far more from Communist China than Russia both externally and internally. The biggest, most dangerous threats to America are:
- Traitors internally pushing the cult of Marxism in every possible way.
- Arrogant self-sufficiency that assumes that we can handle this without trusting completely in intervention by Almighty God.
- Apathy and negligence of the conditions for spiritual awakening and the healing of a nation which God clarified to Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – ‘if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’ (NKJV)
- Compromises with cultural corruption in the churches of America and neglect of obedience to the Great Commandment and Great Commission. Earnest prayer is our most urgent need!
- Ignorance and apathy toward Islam.
- Over the past few years, the persecution of Christians in India by the Hindu president and radical Hindu groups has increased exponentially. However, parallel to the persecution is exponential growth of the number and effectivity of bi-vocational church planters sharing the gospel. David Witt, founder of Spirit of Martyrdom, has a new book about this entitled God’s Global Grace Movement (Hope Rising from an Awakening in India). Some of what I read in this moving report reminds me of the Cane Ridge Revival in the early 1800s in America. You can access this book digitally through Spirit of Martyrdom links: PDF (1.66M), Mobi (Kindle) (1.13M), ePub (Nook) (1.09M). Also, if you prefer a print copy and live in USA, you can write to us for a gift book.
- Please pray healing and recovery for Della. Her neuropathy pains have gotten worse – including pains in her one kidney. Recently, a naturopathic doctor in our area tested her and told her what her symptoms are before she could tell him. She is now using a set of natural supplements that he recommended. We hope and pray this works!
- Please pray for healing and recovery for our friend, Adrian Mansayon, who fell on Monday, July 18, landed on asphalt, and got a deep gash on his forehead above his right eye (which took 21 stiches). Adrian had a massive stroke about 15 years ago and another smaller one before moving back to Nampa from Montana a couple years ago.
- My older sister, Elinor, who had lived alone as a widow for nearly 21 years and survived cancer twice, then was dealing with dementia, fell during the night between the evening of July 12 and the morning of July 13. She slipped from this life into eternity about 7:00 a.m. Thursday morning, July 21. Please pray for her son, Greg, and three daughters: Judy, Karen, and Janni, and the rest of her family and many friends. We miss her, yet we are thankful that she is no longer in agonizing pain and is in the arms of our loving Heavenly Father.
“Only one life will soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Like the interwoven bands above, Overseas Outreach is dependent on many of you who are so faithful.
This ministry could not exist without your prayers and financial contributions!
Your partnership has allowed us to continue to send help to Ukrainian brothers and sisters through
several different avenues, including our co-workers, Mulberry International, and Love Cradle.