(h) The Timing Of The Removal Of The Restainer
The restrainer has been variously identified by pretribs as the Holy Spirit who hitch-hikes with the Church when she is raptured pretribulationally, the Church herself, and human government which of course is functional throughout the 70th week, and cannot be removed until destroyed by Christ at Armageddon(Rev.19:17-21). How ridiculous? The fact the Church(ekklesia) is feminine and the restrainer masculine rules out the church. Dan.12:1 identifies the restrainer as archangel Michael who stands for the people of God. His identity has been known amongst Jewish scholars in antiquity. The identity of the restrainer is not germane to the validation or invalidation of any rapture view. The issue here is the timing of his removal. The pretribs do not make bones of this issue because it undermines their teaching that he hitch-hikes with the Church when she is raptured pretribulationally. The Scriptures make it clear that until the restrainer is taken out of the way, there shall be no Great Tribulation. Archangel Michael is the restrainer of evil on the Earth. He is the angel that stands for the people of God. He wrestled with Satan over the body of Moses(Jude 9). The angel that was sent by God to deliver the answer to Daniel’s prayer was withstood by the Prince of Persia until archangel Michael gave him relief(Dan.10:13). At the midpoint of the 70th week, he shall wrestle down Satan and his fallen evil angels from the Dark Void and Starry Heavens to the Earth, after which he shall “amad” or stand still. He will not restrain Satan any more.
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.”(Rev.12:7-9, 12-13).
Then evil shall run riot on Earth. Satan shall possess the antiChrist, invest Him with his power and authority. “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.”(Rev.13:2). He will declare himself God, demand worship of all mortals, and kill anyone who refuses to give him allegiance. Thus will begin the Great Tribulation.
“And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”(2 Thess.2:6-12).
The revelation of the antiChrist occurs after the removal of the restrainer. Up to now, the restrainer keeps evil at bay until removed at the midpoint of the 70th week, then shall evil run riot on Earth. There is a confluence of factors here. First, Satan and his immediate subordinates, the principalities, powers, and wicked spirits in the heavenlies shall be cast down to the Earth. Second, the restraining influence of Michael the archangel of God in charge of war shall be removed. Third, Satan angered by denial of his right and place of abode in the heavenlies shall have great wrath knowing that it would be a short time before he is cast into the abyss. From the midpoint of the 70th week, one can calculate the exact day Satan Shall be cast into the abyss. It will be three and one-half years plus 30 days which is the end of Armageddon, that is 1, 290 days. All these events occur at the midpoint of the 70th week. The cumulative effect is synergistic, resulting in the escalation of all forms of evil on Earth.
(i) The Tribulation Saints
The phrase “tribulation saints” is coined by pretribs to describe believers who according to them missed the first round up, and have to make it by the skin of their teeth. First, this teaching is contradicted by the parable of the Ten Virgins which teaches that there is no secondary entry once the bridegroom has entered and the door shut. Second, pretribs teach that all those who missed the first round up are weak believers who have to make it by paying with their lives. This is as it were, salvation by works through martyrdom which flies in the face of salvation by grace through faith(Eph.2:8). Thus they teach that the innumerable multitude in Rev.7:9-17, including the fifth seal martyrs are tribulation saints martyred by the antiChrist and his security apparatus. That they will be raised to reign with Christ for a thousand years in the Millennium. But not all the innumerable multitude in Rev.7:9-17 are martyrs. The angel described them as those who came out of the Great Tribulation. There is no evidence they were all martyrs. Some were martyred and others certainly not martyred.
In contrast, the fifth seal martyrs were all killed for the word of God and the testimony they upheld. On the other hand all the saints that were raised and reigned with Christ in Rev.20:4 were beheaded. There is no biblical justification to assume that all the Fifth Seal martyrs were beheaded. Some may have been beheaded, and others may not. The beheaded saints were those who were a torn in the flesh of the antiChrist. They not only refused the mark of the Beast, but went about persuading others not to take the the mark of the Beast. This infuriated the antiChrist who ordered their execution by beheading to serve as a deterrent to others.
We contend that the innumerable multitude in Rev.7:9-17 are the saints, both living and dead, raptured at the interlude between the end of the sixth seal and the breaking of the seventh seal, and that the fifth seal martyrs are part of this group as well as those beheaded for the word of God and the witness of Jesus(Rev.20:4). We contend that the fifth seal is the concurrent with the fourth, and does not advance the chronology of events in the 70th week. There is no distance in the realm of the spirit. The disembodied spirits and souls of these saints arrive in heaven as soon as they are killed, and are quartered under the golden altar of incense till the complement of believers to be killed during the Great Tribulation is reached, thereafter, the killing of the saints shall be terminated with the breaking of the sixth seal. They are subsequently raptured and are part of the innumerable multitude in Rev.7:9-17. On the other hand, the beheaded saints are raised to reign with Christ for a thousand years on the first day of the Millennium. This view expounded by Robert Gundry is shared by Marvin J. Rosenthal. However, Alan E. kurschner demurs, advocating that they were raptured prewrath together with all the saints at the appearance of the Shekinah in the Heaavens. And I concur. There is really no biblical justification for their resurrection to be deferred till the first day of the Millennium.
The Pretrib notion that all the so called “Tribulation Saints” have to be killed in order to make heaven is absurd and unbiblical. It sounds like salvation by works. The Scriptures make it clear that the Great Tribulation will be cut short in order to preserve some saints alive for translation at the rapture. If the Great Tribulation were to be permitted to run its full course to the end of the three and one-half years allotted to the antiChrist to reign, no believing flesh or anyone without the mark of the beast shall survive the Great Tribulation. But there are survivors of the Great Tribulation. Apart from the living saints who are translated at the rapture at the appearance of the Shekinah in the heavens, there are the 144,000 who are sealed for protection, and the surviving remnants of Israel who go through the first six trumpets and are reconciled to God on the third day of the 30-day Reclamation Period. Besides, those Gentile survivors of the Great Tribulation, who appeared at the Sheep And Goat Judgment do not have the mark of the Beast(Matt.25:31-46). If they had, they would have been killed at Armageddon or else executed instanta whenever apprehended. The essence of the amputation of the Great Tribulation, in addition to preserving some saints alive for translation at the rapture is to save some Gentiles alive in order that they may repopulate the Earth in the Millennium alongside their Jewish counterparts who survived both the Great Tribulation and the first six trumpet judgments of the wrath of God. To teach therefore that every true believer is murdered during the Great Tribulation, thus obtaining salvation by martyrdom, or that all Gentiles without the mark of the Beast were wiped out during the wrath of God, leaving the surviving Jewish remnants to repopulate the Earth in the Millennium, has no biblical merit, and therefore indefensible.
(j) The Mark Of The Beast
The mark of the Beast is the number of the Beast. It is the number of his name. It is the number of a man. It is described by John the revelator as 666. “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: 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. 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.”(Rev.13:16-18). It is described in conjunction with the carrier of the enforcer of the Beast, the false prophet. It is a computer chip with an 18-digit bar code with other biometric data specific to the individual which shall be implanted in the right or left hand or forehead as a mark of allegiance to the antiChrist, the First Beast(Rev.13:16,14:9, 20:4). It shall be implemented worldwide because power shall be given to the antiChrist over all peoples, tongues, and nations. “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”(Rev.13:7). Anyone without this mark shall not be able to buy or sell or engage in other transactions under the reign of the antiChrist.
Biometric implants have been used in animal husbandry for decades. Cattles are branded to identify and indicate ownership, track growth, and determine age, etc. They are now being used in humans. Branding has been in practice for hundreds of years. Slaves have been branded even in ancient times. Branding indicates ownership, authenticity, protection, security, preservation. Over 50,000 people have been chipped worldwide with RFID. Good things can be put to bad use. Those in government have the responsibility to protect the citizenry. RFID can be used to identify criminals and felons, track the whereabouts of felons and sex offenders such as pedophiles, and those with dementia and mental illness. It will make cashlessnes possible which has a number of uses. Therefore it is most probable this practice shall have been accepted worldwide before the emergence of the antiChrist. The antiChrist will legalize it and also make it compulsory. It shall be strictly enforced. Satan is not dumb. No one will be chipped by force. He knows it will not count. But people can be coerced into accepting the mark of the Beast. Those who do not have this mark shall be denied food stamps. Those who have it will have plenty to eat and drink. The antiMessiah shall put chicken in their pots. Those who take the mark of the Beast shall have fiat money credited to and lodged in their accounts.
Besides, those who do not have this mark shall be ferreted out, coerced to take the mark or be killed on refusal to coöperate. There will be robotic images of the Beast, equipped with artificial Intelligence(AI) and Near Field Communication(NFC) to identify those who do not have the mark of the Beast, coerce them to accept it, or be killed on refusal of the mark of the beast. The Scripture makes it clear that anyone who takes the mark of the Beast is doomed for eternity; “the wrath of God abides on him.” This is the message of the third angel made at the midpoint of the 70th week at the commencement of the Great Tribulation.
“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”(Rev.14:9-12).
Apart from teaching for nearly two centuries that the rapture will take place before the commencement of the 70th week, thus making believers unprepared and vulnerable to face the horrors of the Great Tribulation, some pretrib teachers like Brannon Howse, Jimmy De Young, and John MacArthur have of late been propagating the teaching that it is possible to take the mark of the Beast, and repent later on. This teaching flies in the face of the Scripture that clearly indicates that anyone who takes the mark of the Beast is doomed for eternity because the wrath of God abideth on him for ever. This development is very dangerous, and must be denounced with utmost vehemence. It is to make believers utterly vulnerable. The Pretrib teaching that the Church will be raptured before the commencement of the 70th week makes believers unprepared for the horrors of the Great Tribulation, but the teaching that believers can take the mark of the Beast and repent afterwards makes them think they can eat their cake hot and have it all the time. It makes believers think they can be part of the antiChrist system of government, enjoy the benefits, and afterwards stroll into the kingdom of God. This is unthinkable and must be refuted because it is a very big lie. It is true that God will forgive them if they repent. It is also true they are unwilling to repent. They have sinned beyond repentance. It is therefore very dangerous to tinker with the notion that anyone who takes the mark of the Beast will repent later on.