Posts tagged Prophecy
"Therefore Keep Watch" - Watching the Signs vs. Conspiracy Theorizing
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“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” – Jesus Christ, Matthew 24:42

Watching the signs of the times is not an optional matter but a direct command. Not only is watching a direct command but it is an enormous blessing as well. The blessing comes in how the signs divulge to us the immanency of Jesus’ return. Likewise, they
advise us to keep our priorities straight and rouse us when we are dispirited. Not watching, therefore, would not only be disobedience to Jesus’ mandate, but it would be foolish as well. Don Hosser, author of Jesus' Warning to "Watch" - Just What Did He Mean? put it well when he wrote:
Our God-ordained responsibility is to watch and pray. Ignorance comes from ignoring, and God does not want us to be ignorant and "in darkness" (see 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10). Our Master and role model Jesus Christ certainly understood the issues, politics and personalities of His day. We should do likewise.[i]
Jesus said, “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”[ii] In the same way that a New Jersey resident knows the summer is near because the cherry blossoms are sprouting up everywhere and a pregnant woman knows that the delivery is near because the contractions get closer and closer, Jesus says that we too can know when His return is near because of the signs that will be taking place. Therefore, we should watch and be vigilant.

But how exactly do we watch the signs of the times? Do we install a program in our computer that updates us whenever there is a natural disaster? Do we search endlessly for charts and data on modern epidemics and plagues? Do we scour through the newspaper each day looking for any possible hint of upcoming wars? Most importantly, do we enter the realm of speculation more commonly known as conspiracy theorizing?

In the past month I have written two articles dealing with the issue of Christians and Conspiracy Theories and Ellen White and Conspiracy Theories. My intention in writing these articles is not to contend negatively with anyone who finds great value in this type of activity, nor is it to judge, criticize or condemn. Instead, my intention is to call attention to what I believe is one of the most damaging diversions that affect Christians today. A Seventh-day Adventist pastor and theology professor who commented on the basis of anonymity stated,
There is a lot of speculative theorizing both inside and outside the church. It needs to stop. It does not help our witness at all, but turns people away from the truth as it is in Jesus.[iii]
I could not have said it better myself. While worldliness appeals to the love of the flesh, conspiracies appeal to the love of prophecy and the mandate of Jesus to “watch.” Many marvelous Christians caught up in this way of thinking do not even consider the material that they embrace as speculation or conspiracy thinking but view it as indisputable truth. I remember when I used to be fascinated with such things. In my opinion, those who rejected the “conspiracy theories” were foolish and had their eyes shut to what was truly going on. They were, in my estimation, delusional optimists who preferred their comfortable ignorance to the uncomfortable realities of our modern society, and as such would be easily deceived by the lies of governments and institutions. However, what I soon came to discover was that it was I who was deceived for in all of my zealous vindication of conspiracy theories (which I considered obvious facts and not theories) I had missed one crucial matter – the development of a Christlike character. I have since come to realize that not only was I un-Christlike but also everyone I knew who was engulfed in such profligate trumpery. Indeed, all of my “watching the signs of the times” had made me more like the wicked in character than like the righteous. While I won’t elaborate on the negative effects that brooding over conspiracy theories does to one’s character here, (I have already done that in the article Christians and Conspiracy Theories) I would like to point out that due to its harmful effects such activity cannot possibly be what Jesus meant when He commanded us to “watch.”
So how do you watch the signs of the times without being allured by the sensational speculations of brilliant men and women who claim to know “what’s truly going on”? In fact, it seems that in many cases, it is not even possible to watch without researching such material. In order to unravel this puzzle it is first necessary to explore the difference between Jesus’ mandate to “watch” the signs of the times and conspiracy theorizing.

Stephen Bauer, professor of theology and ethics, reminds us that “watching is commanded by Christ….” However, according to Bauer, “conspiracy theories speculate on how the end events may occur. This is not the same as looking for events themselves.”[iv] This distinction is seconded by professor of biblical studies Greg A. King when he states that, “watching the signs of the times, as it is biblically encouraged for us to do, would be viewing prophecies like Matthew 24 and the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation.” King encourages us to “be aware of the lines of prophetic interpretation” but simultaneously encourages not to “focus so much on the sensational or the spectacular events.” King reminds us that the true sign that Jesus is coming soon is not a political sign but the gospel being preached to all the world. This, according to King, should be our main focus.[v]

Thus, the primary difference between watching the signs of the times and conspiracy theorizing is that one focuses on clear biblical truths while the other speculates regarding those truths. A article on this topic got it right when it states that “conspiracy theories… place too much emphasis on worldly matters.”[vi] Not only this, but conspiracy theorizing places too much emphasis on the work of the devil. Sure, as Lance Winslow wrote, “conspiracy theories are fun to think about and they are interesting,”[vii] however, the reality is that they are not what Jesus had in mind when he told us to “watch.” Not once in the Biblical record do you find Jesus or his apostles speculating or preaching sensational things like conspiracy theories – and they would have had plenty to say! Each of them was persecuted by government and religious institutions yet you never find any chapters speculating about government secrets or plans to persecute the church. Instead, the Biblical writers always stick to the obvious, never going beyond what is clear, and even then they don’t give the work of evil too much focus. When Jesus commanded us to watch the signs of the times he intended that we would be aware of his soon return and not that we would be obsessed with the Illuminati, Freemasons, or the truth behind 911. Jesus said, “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near.” This is watching the signs of the times. Conspiracy theorizing, however, would be equivalent to using magnifying glass and a microscope to analyze every little detail in the tree. If you saw someone doing this, wouldn’t you think they were wasting their time?

So we know that watching the signs of the times is not the same as conspiracy theorizing, but at what point does a study on end time events become a study on speculation? One theologian put it well when he said,
…when one moves away from the facts to guessing about peoples’ motives or how things will turn out in the future rather than considering the events of the past or present, one moves into speculation.  It is critical when studying end-time events to stick to objective facts about the past or present, not speculating about the future or about motives of people or organizations.[viii] 
The rule of thumb is simple. Once you approach the tree (signs of the times) with a magnifying glass (conspiracy theories/ speculation) you have crossed the line between watching and speculating. Some may argue and say that it is not speculation or conspiracy theorizing if the evidence is insurmountable. However, this is the same as saying that so long as you are telling the truth about someone then it’s not gossip. It still is gossip because regardless of how true it is it is damaging and hurtful to those involved in it. Conspiracy theories may, in fact, be 100% accurate, but they are still damaging to those who pay them attention. Thus, the truth remains that “[e]ndless speculation about conspiracy theories is, at best, a waste of time.[ix] Always remember that speculation begins when you “go beyond the basic textual facts to try to figure out exactly… [what] will happen.”[x]

However, this brings up a fundamental question. It is necessary, when studying prophecy, to study extra biblical material such as history books. This extra-biblical material helps us understand the events, nations, and dangers that the prophecies are delineating. Extra-biblical material is, therefore, needful when studying prophecy. For example, the proper use of history helps Daniel 2 come alive. However, while there are tons of historical, political, and sociological books that can help us understand prophecy, “not all of it is valid, useful, or accurate. Evaluating sources of information that you are considering using in your writing is an important step in any research activity.”[xi] So how do we know when the extra biblical material we are using is reliable? The best rule of thumb is variety. “The more sources who see the same thing, the more credible.”[xii] For example, many Seventh-day Adventist evangelists have been known to tell a story with utterly no historical support besides protestant propaganda. This story is the one that purports that Constantine baptized his entire pagan army into Christianity by having them march through a river. Many Adventist evangelists could have avoided spreading an undocumented rumor if they had simply read more than one book from different sources. Many Christians end up with all kinds of odd theories because they read a book that supposedly reveals the real truth behind some issue. However, variety is not the only rule of thumb. While we should always remember to “[be] wary of one historian who is the only one who thinks X is the case,”[xiii] we should also remember that in our study “[t]here needs to be documentation from reliable sources.”[xiv] Peer reviewed scholarly sources are the most reliable because they go through a review process in which the claims and work of the author come under scrutiny by a variety of experts. This automatically gets rid of the vast majority of books claiming to unveil some secret conspiracy theory because “[c]onspiracy theories are not generally documented from reliable sources. They are speculative theories, generally put forward by people who do not have a balanced view and whose theories are not supported by mainstream media or reputable investigative reporting.”[xv] Finally, when choosing material for your research, always remember that “[i]f you believe everything you read you will begin to read everything you believe.”[xvi]

While all this may be helpful, none of it will make any difference to the individual who sees no harm in entertaining conspiracy theories. In Christians and Conspiracy theories I delineate a variety of harmful effects that such activity can promulgate. The reality is that “[m]any conspiracy theories feed fear and prey on ignorance and gullibility.”[xvii] A study published in The Journal of Social Psychology provides evidence of a connection between conspiracy theorizing and attitude change. In other words, entertaining and believing such things actually has an effect on our behavior.[xviii] In my experience, Christians who engage in conspiracy theorizing do exhibit behavioral change. A family member who commented on the basis of anonymity stated,
A very close relative of mine was the sweetest lady I had ever known, very Christlike, care free, positive, optimistic, fun, and happy. After being introduced by fellow Adventists (who would be considered extremists by the Adventist church) to conspiracy theories about 70% of her personality changed for the worst. She’s still sweet and would do anything for you if she could but she is more negative, afraid, and suspicious of everyone and everything, critical, anxious, pessimistic, and you rarely hear her commenting on the gospel anymore. Her focus is now on theories that are negative which has negatively affected her outlook on life. I’m not saying she’s a mean person but she’s definitely not who she used to be. When I myself started to get into conspiracy theories my attitude began to change the same way. Today I stay away from those sorts of things and in fact I actually hate them. Unlike before I now experience the abundant life that God promises to his children.[xix]  
What other dangerous effects of conspiracy theorizing are there? Stephen Bauer summarizes the dangers of conspiracy theorizing well:
1) We undermine Scripture by going beyond it, yet treating our speculations like they are Scripture.  Eve did this, adding the "don't touch" provision beyond what God said.  Thus, when the snake threw the fruit into her hands (as per Ellen White) and she touched the fruit without dying, it undermined in her mind what God actually said.  50-60 years ago, SDA evangelists included strong assertions that the Israelite nation would never be rebuilt. So the inception of Israel in 1948 destroyed their credibility to many minds.  Best not to over-claim [than to] be proven wrong. It will undermine confidence in Scripture and in the speaker! 2. It fuels a sensationalism - religion rooted in excitement and feeling instead of living quietly by faith. As such this undermines the principles of Righteousness by Faith.[xx]
In conclusion, Jesus expects us to watch the signs of the times, but delving into conspiracies is not what he had in mind when he asked us to watch and be vigilant. Therefore, when studying end time events we should keep a sharp eye as to when we are crossing the line between Biblical and historical evidence into speculation. A good way to avoid this is to be cautious during the research process, being intentional about seeking a variety of views, and utilizing only those materials which are reliable. Even if conspiracy theories are true, they shouldn’t commandeer our attention. Entertaining conspiracy theories is actually harmful – especially to those who profess faith in Christ. So when watching the signs of the times, or studying the apocalyptic literature of scripture, be careful to “[s]tick to descriptive, objective, well documented facts from the past and present. [And] [a]void predicting the future or judging motives.”[xxi] Even when studying Biblical prophecy do not let that overshadow the rest of scripture. Greg King put it well when he said that although we should study the prophecies we should also remember Psalms 23 – The Lord is my Shepherd.[xxii] Above all things, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you. God is our strong tower. So long as we let Him lead we can be sure that we will arrive safely to the heavenly shore.

Further Reading:

[i] Hosser, Don. Jesus' Warning to "Watch" - Just What Did He Mean?
[ii] Luke 21:29, NIV
[iii] Anonymous, Professor Religion. e-mail to author, January 28, 2013.
[iv] Bauer, Stephen. e-mail to author, January 28, 2013.
[v] King, Greg. Interview. January 28, 2013.
[vii] Winslow, Lance. Conspiracy Theory Case Study - US President Is an Alien
[viii] Anonymous, Professor Religion. e-mail to author, January 28, 2013.
[x] Bauer, Stephen. e-mail to author, January 28, 2013.
[xi] Driscoll, Dana Lynn & Allen Brizee. Evaluating Sources: Overview
[xii] Bauer, Stephen. e-mail to author, January 28, 2013.
[xiii] ibid.
[xiv] Anonymous, Professor Religion. e-mail to author, January 28, 2013.
[xv] ibid.
[xvi] Grant, Victoria A. Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies! Article Source:
[xviii] Douglas, Karen M., & Robbie M. Sutton. The Journal of Social Psychology
[xix] Anonymous. Personal interview. January 31, 2013
[xx] Bauer, Stephen. e-mail to author, January 28, 2013
[xxi] Anonymous, Professor Religion. e-mail to author, January 28, 2013.
[xxii] King, Greg A. Personal interview. January 28, 2013.
The End Times and Conspiracy Narratives

The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, ‘Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble.'” – Isaiah 8:11-13
The current presidential campaign in the USA is insane. Trump is definitely the weirdest candidate to ever run for president, and the long list of ethical question marks on Clinton's profile have many wondering if she is any better. And as is true of all presidential elections, conspiracy narratives abound. In this article, I would like to share some wisdom on how we as Christians should approach conspiracy narratives. I am not here to suggest that they are or are not true and neither am I here to encourage passivity and a "head in the sand" attitude. Our world is wild right now and things are not looking good. Nevertheless, how should we as Jesus-followers, believers in the one who is sovereign above all things, respond to the numerous conspiracy narratives hitting us from every angle?

According to author Michael Tracey, “Conspiracy theories have always been popular in America to one degree or another.”[1] In my younger years (and I’m still young) I found myself captivated and attracted by conspiracy narratives. They were fascinating and the more I learned of them, the more I felt as though I had some “inside” knowledge that no one else seemed to have.

As a Seventh-day Adventist, I have noticed that many Christians tend to get wrapped up in conspiracy narratives. Certain preachers and ministries work hard to make conspiracy narratives especially attractive within our church and the rest of the evangelical world is not far behind either.

Conspiracy narratives are, nevertheless, harmful. My intention therefore is to suggest a balance when it comes to this issue.  Jennifer Schwirzer got it right when she said, “Conspiracy theories supposedly expose the dark deeds and covert alliances of governments, secret societies and prominent individuals. One feels very powerful in the role of “knowing.” But the knowing can degenerate into an unhealthy fascination with the mystery of iniquity leaving some so consumed with evil that they lose sight of the Savior.”[2]

Most proponents and supporters of conspiracy narratives are often under the impression that they are simply “watching the signs of the times” or “exposing the deeds of Satan so as not to be deceived.” There is something truly commendable here: The desire to be faithful to God. Understand that most who find themselves wrapped up in conspiracy naratives are not wackos or nut cases (though there are those as well). Instead, most of them (at least in Christian circles) are sincere disciples of Christ whose ultimate goal is to remain faithful and loyal to God. However, I would like to propose four reasons why conspiracy narratives, rather than helping, can actually hinder our Christian walk and damage our witness.

1. Conspiracy narratives distract from Jesus
Some may argue and say that they don’t. To those I would say, if delving into conspiracy narratives draws you closer to Jesus, then please don’t stop. However, I am certain that the vast majority of us are not really drawn closer to Jesus at all. We just feel as though we are.

Conspiracy narratives have a way of making us feel like we are more spiritual than others because of the information we have. I have noticed that whenever my spiritual life is suffering I tend to be more vulnerable to conspiracy narratives. This is because they create a false sense of spirituality. I may not be praying more or reading the Bible more or leading others to Jesus more but because I know who killed JFK and I know about the Illuminati, I feel more spiritual. This is self-deception.
Paul encourages us to, “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.”

Conspiracy narratives, rather than helping, actually hinder our spiritual growth because they distract us from Jesus while simultaneously making us feel as if we’re closer to Him. If there ever was a true conspiracy taking place right now it’s this one: Satan is working overtime to keep you as distracted from Jesus and His word as possible, and he will do whatever it takes to take your eyes off Him. Wasting time poring over conspiracy narratives is one of many ways he accomplishes this goal.

2. Conspiracy narratives generate a spirit of fear and anxiety
The opening text for this article comes from Isaiah 8:11-13. At this time Isaiah was prophesying to Ahaz, the King of Judah. The kingdoms of Syria and Israel had formed an alliance together to destroy Judah. Ahaz was so afraid of this conspiracy formed against him that he turned to the nation of Assyria and asked their king, Tiglath-pileser, for help. God was angry with Ahaz because he allowed himself to become afraid and instead of trusting in God, he turned to a man for help. God, speaking to Isaiah and Judah told them, “Don’t call everything a conspiracy… and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble.”

In this story we notice several things. Firstly, the conspiracy was not just a “theory.” It was real. Likewise, many conspiracy theories floating around may in fact be real. However, Ahaz and Judah became so distracted by the conspiracy that, instead of turning to God for help, they turned to the king of Assyria. In the same way, conspiracy narratives fill us with so much fear that we become afraid. Some stock their basements with canned food, run to the mountains, and do all kinds of bizarre things because they are afraid. Instead of trusting that God will take care of them they turn to the “Assyria within” for help. They trust in their own efforts and strength to save them in the time of trouble.

While there is nothing wrong with preparation for the coming crisis, moving to the country or mountains, and learning how to live off of the land, if one does so out of fear it is not the Spirit of God that is leading, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). “Don’t fear the conspiracies” is the message of Isaiah. Fear God. Satan wants everything that belongs to God, including fear, and conspiracy narratives is one way that he gets it.

3. Conspiracy narratives generate a spirit of distrust.
John F Kennedy once said:
"They [conspiracy proponents] look suspiciously at their neighbors and their leaders. They call for a ‘man on horseback’ because they do not trust the people. They find treason in our finest churches, in our highest court, and even in the treatment of our water."[3]
As Kennedy so eloquently pointed out, those who focus on conspiracy narratives eventually become distrustful of everything and everyone. They can’t see the world the same way again because their “knowledge” has opened their eyes to the “truth.” As a result, nearly everything that happens is a conspiracy of some sort.

Those who focus on conspiracy narratives become so distrustful that nearly everything becomes a conspiracy. The logo for Taco Bell supposedly has Free Mason symbols. The latest movie has Illuminati undertones. The pastor’s wave looks like the hand sign of a secret society. The U.S. president is going to become a dictator and oppress Americans. The General Conference of the church is in league with the anti-Christ.  Protestant universities are now under the control of the Jesuits who have introduced heresies to our theology majors. The church has rewritten its history to deceive us. There are secret agents for the papacy in each of our Protestant churches. The government listens to all of our phone calls and reads all our emails. The Catholic Church is responsible for all the new versions of the Bible because they want to erase true doctrine. Everyone is out to get you. Don’t trust anyone. And on and on. Perhaps the same kind of thing was happening in Judah during the days of King Ahaz which is why God told them, “Don’t call everything a conspiracy.”

4. Conspiracy narratives damage our character and our witness.
I have a friend who is not a Christian but has Christian family members. Some of them are high on conspiracy narratives to such an extent that they always seem fearful, worried, and anxious about something. How do you think their non-Christian family member feels? This person looks at them and wonders why they worry so much when they are supposed to trust in God. Other conspiracy theorists seem full of pride, arrogance, and a “holier-than-thou” attitude. While not all conspiracy proponents are like this. many of them are, and those who aren’t, seem to attract and produce followers of that nature. Thus, many begin to think that all Christians are like this, and that, if they were become a Christians, they would be the same. Their natural reaction is to stay as far away from Christianity as possible.

Ellen White warned us of this when she wrote,
“We should never give to the world the false impression that Christians are a gloomy, unhappy people. If our eyes are fixed on Jesus, we shall see a compassionate Redeemer, and shall catch light from His countenance. Wherever His Spirit reigns, there peace abides. And there will be joy also, for there is a calm, holy trust in God.”[4]
Conspiracy theorizing ruins our credibility and witness among thinking people. Many conspiracy proponents are actually brilliant professionals who could do much good for the church, however their credibility has been deeply damaged by a focus on conspiracy narratives and division rather than revival follows them wherever they go. Some conferences and many pastors don’t want these presenters in their churches – not because they speaks the “truth” and they don’t like it – but because they speak conspiracy narratives that do more harm than good. While these presenters may have reached a lot of people for Christ, they would accomplish a much greater work if they were to focus on biblical truth.

Not only do conspiracy narratives damage our character and our witness but they reduce our ability to engage in evangelism. In many cases this is due to an inability to get along with others who don’t share the same views. In other cases it is due to a lack of interest – preferring to speak of how the U.S. invaded Iraq for their oil – rather than of the cross of Christ. In his article ‘Why Some Christians Still Love Conspiracy Theories,’ former pastor and author John H. Armstrong said,

What’s the harm in a little innocent speculation, or such conspiracy thinking?’ The short answer is that this conspiracy business keeps people from living the really important eschatological aspects of biblical teaching…. if we remain focused on all these conspiracies we will miss the present opportunity ‘to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God’ (Micah 6:8). I am convinced that most Christians who are preoccupied with conspiracies, whether the secular or religious variety it does not matter, will be rendered fairly useless to the real work of the church in the world today. They have no deep and abiding interest in the missional mandate of Jesus.[5]

Not everything is the result of a conspiracy
If you believe in conspiracy narratives, I want to appeal to you right now: Not everything is a conspiracy. Not everyone is out to get you. And no I am not a Luciferian posing as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor to “deceive” you and lead you into error and eternal doom. There are evil people in the world who do evil things to get their evil way. But there is no need for us, as God’s people, to concern ourselves with those “secret” things and become so obsessed that we turn into worry warts instead of mighty warriors for God.

Some conspiracy proponents argue "they are not theories, they are facts!" and they could very well be right. The point is not whether the theory is fact or fiction, the point is that regardless of how true it may be such things are, nevertheless, meaningless and speculative. Scripture tells us, “We should not indulge in useless speculation that takes time and effort away from our work for Christ…”[6] 1 Timothy 1:4 says, “Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees [genealogies]. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.” While this text is not talking about conspiracies – much like myths and spiritual genealogies, conspiracy narratives also lead to “meaningless speculations.”

So is the solution then to be gullible and believe everything the media tells us? No. We shouldn’t walk around as if everything is perfect. There is a real battle going on between good and evil. Everything is not OK. The west is under the spell of consumerism, the papacy is regaining its universal influence and political power, and current events clearly show that the world is being prepared for a showdown against God. Revelation 13 seems more possible today than it ever has. But we need not fear, for “if God is for us who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?”

Rather than entertaining conspiracies, as Christians we should be students of prophecy. Biblical prophecy exposes much of what will happen behind the scenes in the end times and prepare us for the coming events.

What’s different between studying prophecy and conspiracy narratives?
There is a world of difference. One is biblical revelation that was given to inspired writers by God Himself. The other is the pursuit of rabbit trails, obscure history, and limited data in order to arrive at a conclusion that supposedly reveals the absolute truth. One has Christ at the center and consistently uplifts the risen Savior while diminishing the forces of darkness. The other has pride at the center and consistently uplifts the forces of darkness. One is truth. The other is speculation.

As puts it,
Speaking up and uncovering the truth is certainly biblical. The prophet Nathan uncovered David’s conspiracy to cover up his sin of murder (2 Samuel 12). Paul’s nephew uncovered a plot to assassinate Paul, and his knowledge foiled the attempt (Acts 23). Wickedness likes to hide. John 3:20 says, ‘Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.’ We should always seek the truth. ‘Love truth and peace’ (Zechariah 8:19)…. [However, while] [e]xposing the truth is good. Obsessing over rumor and hearsay and half-proven theories is harmful. Ephesians 5:11-14 is an excellent guideline. Verse 11 says to expose ‘the fruitless deeds of darkness.’ But verse 12 says not to mention them. How do we expose them? Not by conjecture or worry or fear or never-ending deliberation, but by waiting on the words of verses 13 and 14: ‘Everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.’ Speak the truth and wait for God’s timing.[7]
Focus on Jesus instead
I am not condemning those who believe in conspiracy narratives. But I appeal to you to devote the time, intelligence and energy now devoted to conspiracy narratives into knowing Christ more and proclaiming the good news of salvation. Whether the conspiracy narratives are true or not, whether the governments and the police are out to recreate Hitler’s Holocaust on U.S. soil, or whether Hollywood is conspiring to deceive the world into thinking that Jesus is evil and Satan is good, should not make us lose sleep or precious time.

Do not be overcome with fear, anxiety, and worry. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Preach the gospel. Proclaim the prophecies. Lift Christ up and let God worry about the wicked. Don’t fret over their plans and purposes so much. Don’t freak out over their evil deeds and secret activities. No matter how powerful they are, or what they plan or conjure up, it is written, “The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord…. But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them” (Psalms 2:2, 4).

Halleluiah! We have nothing to fear.

[1] Tracey, Michael. The Explosion of Christian Conspiracy Theories in Obama’s America. 
[2] Schwirzer, Jennifer. Conspiracy Theories or Prophetic Facts? 
[3] Kennedy, John F.  
[4] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 153. 
[5] Armstrong, John H. Why Some Christians Still Love Conspiracy Theories. 
[6] Should a Christian be interested in conspiracy theories? 
[7] Should a Christian be interested in conspiracy theories? 
What Adventists Get Wrong about the U.S. in Prophecy

What Adventists Get Wrong about the U.S. in Prophecy
by Jeff Boyd 

In church this past Sabbath, I listened to a sermon about the United States in biblical prophecy. The sermon was part of a prophecy series (Unlock/Unlocking Revelation) that is being preached across the Lake Union Conference, not just in our single congregation (Media: WNEM5, MLive). I was told there are over 170 locations running the series simultaneously.

I like our local pastor. I respect him. My frustration with the sermon is not about him (I don’t believe he wrote the sermon). My frustration is about a very white-centric view of U.S. history. For context, the pastor is white, I’m white, and the majority of the small congregation is white (more so now than when we began attending three years ago).

After writing an initial draft of this blog post, I shared it with him so he could comment before I posted it. I’ve made a few revisions based on that hour-long conversation.

The basic theme of the sermon—and this is an overly simplified summary—was that the U.S. started as a good Christian nation, but now our laws are becoming bad, which is clear since we are losing our Christian freedoms. The breakdown of the family and laws that allow this were the key example of the current problems. Presumably this related to same-sex marriage, but this wasn’t stated outright. This degradation was paralleled with the second beast of Revelation 13, the one that has horns like a lamb but speaks like a dragon.

So what the sermon was really saying by describing a fall from good to bad was that slavery did not discredit the early great Christian version of America. The U.S. was still godly. But today U.S. laws don’t support a certain version of Christian ideals relating to the family, so now we’re falling. However, this disregards the generations of families in slavery who were ripped apart as they were bought and sold (more than 10 million ^arrived^ in the New World, plus those born here; besides all those who died or were killed while crossing the Atlantic). How’s that for “Christian family values”? The abuse of those families didn’t invalidate the great Christian start to this country, but gay marriage does?

If our biblical interpretation demands that we disregard the violent injustice experienced by millions of people, then based on the centrality of justice to God’s Word, I propose that we reconsider our interpretation, or at least add a bit of nuance.

If one accepts the overall Adventist understanding of Revelation 13, then I propose a simple alteration of the sermon’s message: understand both features (lamb-like horns and dragon-like speech) throughout its history instead of saying one was earlier and the other was later. That is, at its start the U.S. had an appearance of godliness (lamb-like appearance), but it spoke like a dragon (slaves not treated as humans, at best counted only as three-fifths human). Injustice in word and action despite a religious appearance have continued in different forms ever since, and these require a persistent critique. To this end, I shared a small book with the pastor—Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.

This approach is in line with early Adventist views (not that early is necessarily right or best, but merely demonstrates that my proposed interpretation is hardly novel). Adventist historian Doug Morgan writes about those Adventists:

Challenging the prevalent postmillennialist conception of the United States as an instrument of progress toward the millennium, they asserted that apocalyptic Scripture cast the Republic as a persecuting beast. They pointed to slavery and the Protestant establishment’s intolerant treatment of dissenters as evidence of the fulfillment of prophecy. (Adventism and the American Republic, 2001, p. 11).

After our conversation, the pastor decided his interpretation could have been kept in place while being supplemented with the admission that the ideals expressed in the nation’s founding documents are the key point while also admitting we have not done a good job of living up to those ideals.

This racial issue was my main disagreement with the way U.S history and God’s values were portrayed, but there were three other points that were less central to the sermon’s main arguments. First, and I don’t remember the exact wording, the violent entrance of Columbus and the conquistadors was greatly minimized (something like: they joined the people already here).

Second, yes the Bible says there will be persecution, but I’m frustrated when American Adventists accept the view that American Christians are being greatly persecuted today. Allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry is not persecuting Christians; Christians are still free to worship however we like. There is a difference between being persecuted and simply not being able to force one’s values or morals on others. We want our civil and religious freedoms, so let’s extend that concern to all others as well.

Third, the quick rise of U.S. power was described as a blessing from God. I cringe a bit when I hear this argument because I believe slavery was a key factor in our economic development. Later military dominance became another unjust tool for economic expansion. For starters, consider Smedley Butler,* John Perkins, or the case of the United Fruit Company in Guatemala (Wiki, GWU). To say that growth of the U.S. economy and our subsequent place of power in the world is simply because of God’s blessing is to sweep too much history under the rug.

In conclusion, if the Adventist interpretation of prophecy is correct, then surely it can be presented in balanced and meaningful ways that don’t (a) ignore gross injustices such as slavery and imperialism and (b) accept popular definitions of Christian victimization in the U.S. that ring hollow compared with true persecution seen in other times and also in other places today.

– – –

*My favorite Smedley quote: “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

Note: This article was originally posted on Adventist Peace Fellowship blog under the title "Unlocking Revelation & U.S. History". It has been republished with permission.
Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Sharing Prophecy

Be guarded. In bearing the message, make no personal thrusts at other churches, not even the Roman Catholic Church. Angels of God see in the different denominations many who can be reached only by the greatest caution. Therefore let us be careful of our words. Let not our ministers follow their own impulses in denouncing and exposing the "mysteries of iniquity." Upon these themes silence is eloquence. Many are deceived. Speak the truth in tomes and words of love. Let Christ be exalted. - Ellen G. White, EV 576
The last few weeks have been pretty intense in the religio-political world. The arrival of Pope Francis in America has elicited all kinds of responses. For some, he is a breath of fresh air. For others, he is no different from any other Pope apart from his "terrific PR".[1] 

Regardless of which position you may take, one thing is certain - Pope Francis is a historic Pope. He is the first Latin-american Pope and the first Jesuit Pope. In addition "[h]is tour [in America] marked several firsts for the papacy: Francis was the first pope to address a joint sitting of US Congress. He also [conducted the]... first canonization to occur on US soil."[2] And if that weren't enough, Christianity Today recently published an article titled "From Antichrist to Brother in Christ: How Protestant Pastors View the Pope" which reveals the results of a Life Way Research project which discovered that "[m]ore than half of evangelical pastors say Pope Francis is their brother in Christ."[3] This is a long shot from Luther, the father of Protestantism, who emphatically declared "I am entirely of the opinion that the papacy is the Antichrist."[4]

Those who share the apocalyptic-consciousness that Luther and the reformers proclaimed continue to view the papacy (not necessarily the pope) as the Antichrist.[5] This consciousness - or state of awareness - is arrived at through the historicist reading of apocalyptic literature. In the Bible, this interpretation chronicles an unfolding of end time events in which spiritual fraud forms the overlying strategy of scriptures protagonist - Satan. At the center of this strategy lies the Roman Papal system and the story that this system tells. A philosophy which, taken as a whole, forms a counter-narrative to the story that Jesus came to tell.

As a result, those who share this consciousness feel a responsibility to warn the world. Thus, while the masses may engage in ardent adulation of Romes pontiff, this group finds itself swimming against that stream. As a historicist I find myself in that very position and wonder, how can I effectively share this story with those who do not share my worldview? And while I have yet to arrive at a complete answer, the last few weeks have taught me 3 things I certainly do not want to do.

False Accusations
The first item on my list is false accusations. I cannot tell you how many Facebook posts I have seen that level false accusations against Pope Francis. The worst of all would have to be a recent article accusing the Pope of declaring Jesus' work on the cross a failure. If this were true, it would be very significant. But it turns out, that's not what Francis actually said. His exact words were: 
The cross shows us a different way of measuring success. Ours is to plant the seeds. God sees to the fruits of our labors. And if at times our efforts and works seem to fail and not produce fruit, we need to remember that we are followers of Jesus Christ and his life, humanly speaking, ended in failure, the failure of the cross.[6]
The relatively unbiased and careful reader would note that the interpretation of this passage rests on the phrase "humanly speaking". In other words, we are not to measure success by way of human standards because "humanly speaking" Jesus' life ended in failure. To say the Pope was actually saying that Jesus was a failure is clearly a false accusation. While such an accusation may convince the sensational and overtly biased it fails to bear the test of scrutiny.

Antichrist or not, Christians do not have the right to label false accusations against Pope Francis. Exodus 20:16 clearly states "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." And last I checked Pope Francis is my neighbor. While I may not agree with his meta-narrative he is still a child of God. And while I may fully embrace the apocalyptic warning concerning final events that does not give me licence to break the commandments in the name of "I'm just warning people". If we are going to warn people against deception, lets not resort to deception. If we are going to proclaim truth, lets do so in the Spirit of truth and not vindictiveness and hatred. Our words and discourses regarding this matter should stand the test of scrutiny. As Ellen White said,
It is important that in defending the doctrines which we consider fundamental articles of faith, we should never allow ourselves to employ arguments that are not wholly sound. These may avail to silence an opposer, but they do not honor the truth. We should present sound arguments, that will not only silence our opponents, but will bear the closest and most searching scrutiny. . . .[7]
Hateful Rhetoric
Rhetoric is defined as "the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other compositional techniques."[8] Combine that with "hateful" and you have got yourself one nasty piece of literature. Paul tells us in Colossians 4:6 "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." With such a clear command one would expect Christians to exercise caution when it comes to the kinds of rhetoric that they engage in regarding any topic - including the Pope. And yet, it is from Christians that I have witnessed some of the most hateful rhetoric around. From sarcastic memes to outright insulting statements the internet is crawling with the greatest exhibition of Christian hate that I have seen in a long time. Sadly, most of what I have seen is being promulgated by my Adventist kin. In many ways some (not all, of course) of my own brothers and sisters in faith have become, in the words of Adventist evangelist Roger Hernandez, "the kind of Christian other Christians have to apologize for.”[9]

Examples of hateful rhetoric can include articles and memes insulting the Pope with phrases such as "Marxist", "idolater", "blasphemer", or "man of sin". Now some may argue "but that's what the Bible calls him!" To which I would say, no. That's what we call him while borrowing scriptures language. Truth is, we don't know who the Antichrist is. While I share the conviction that the Antichrist is certainly the papacy, that does not automatically mean that a particular Pope is the Antichrist.* But even if Francis were, what have we accomplished by promulgating this? By calling someone "Antichrist" outside of Revelations narrative does nothing but offend those who do not share our worldview. If we want people to know who the Antichrist is its not about slapping Antichrist on a picture of Francis and sharing it all over social media. Its about inviting people into the story of Daniel and Revelation and lovingly helping them to see the entire tale unfold - a tale which has Jesus, not the pope, as its central theme. If we skip this and instead opt for the shallow meme or the anti-Catholic propaganda, what have we really accomplished? Have we led people to see the beauty of Jesus? Have we drawn people to the truth of the cross? Or have we attempted to simply convince them of the Papacy's evils through our own brand of evil - our hateful words?

The worst part of engaging in hateful rhetoric is that ultimately we are the ones who suffer, not our target. By engaging in hateful rhetoric against the Pope we are sending a message to our friends and neighbors that we are intolerant, unloving, unhealthy, and fanatical. While Pope Francis pours his energy into relieving the suffering of illegal immigrants we raise our hate-speech banners all over Facebook to let everyone know where we stand.[10] In the end, we accomplish nothing of value. Instead, we succeed in making ourselves look like the biggest fools on earth and do damage to the cause of Christ.

Thirst for More
The final point I would like to mention is our seemingly insatiable thirst for more beast and more Antichrist. I recently came across an article which, while rejecting the Catholic worldview, attempted to highlight the areas of Pope Francis' philosophy that all Christians - especially Adventists - can embrace. The author focused exclusively on Francis' appeal to social action, acts of charity, and stewardship of the earth. In the end he concluded that in relation to these positive and necessary pursuits we were in full agreement with Francis. I enjoyed the article and found it to be both balanced and thought provoking. What I found alarming where the comments that followed. Beginning with the very fist comment all the way down the page was one complaint after another on how the author had failed to mention how the Pope is the Antichrist, the beast of Revelation 13, and how he is using social justice as his mask for the Sunday law. 

As soon as I read those comments all I could do was ask, "Haven't you read enough of that already? Do we really need another article on the Antichrist agenda? Do we really need to be told again and again?" 

The article did not deal with the apocalyptic narrative of Revelation 13. Instead, it approached the issue from the angle of "common ground" and called Adventists to recognize the value in social action. In my estimation, this is an angle that is painfully overlooked. Revelation 13 has been extrapolated in countless sermons, articles, documentaries, and books. Do we really need another article repeating the same stuff? And here I discovered one of the greatest dangers to avoid in this whole discussion - the thirst for more. Some, it seems, are constantly and endlessly craving more anti-Catholic and anti-Pope ideologies. It's like we can't get enough of it. Like addicts, we freak out when someone writes an article about the Pope that is not anti-Pope. "I want more anti-Pope!" is the cry of our "itching ears"[11]. And the more we go down this path the more susceptible we are to fanatical conspiracy theories, an imbalanced apocalyptic-consciousness, apocalyptic paranoia, and an unhealthy witness.[12]

So here is my main objective with this article. I wholeheartedly embrace the reformers historicist interpretation of Daniel and Revelation. I am all for giving the warning. I am all for preaching final events. But it can never be done via false accusations, hateful rhetoric, or a continual thirst for more anti-Papacy discourses which leave the avenues of our souls wide open to the dangers of apocalyptic paranoia. When discussing Revelations narrative we must remember that it is the "Revelation of Jesus", that our words should always be seasoned with salt, that we are never to bear false witness,** and that if there is one thing that we should thirst for more and more it is Jesus and Jesus only. Psalm 42:1 says "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God." May this prayer be ours.


* Some have raised significant concern over the statement "We don't know who the antichrist is". I have added this footnote to clarify any misunderstandings. The above statement does not negate Adventisms prophetic understanding concerning antichrist. Adventism has never sought to identify a particular or specific individual as antichrist. It is the system of papacy that we identify as antichrist but that does not mean we know exactly who the climactic antichrist will be. Does the Pope - as the visible leader of Catholicism - fill an antichrist role? Undoubtedly yes. But that does not mean that he is the climactic antichrist. The identify of this individual we simply do not know. According to the Amazing Facts study guide Who is the AntiChrist?:
Antichrist is an organization--the papacy. The words "eyes of man" in Daniel 7:8, however, do point to a leader. Revelation 13:18 speaks of man with a number being involved. In Daniel chapter 8, Greece is represented by a goat and its leader, Alexander the Great, is symbolized by a horn. The same is true of Antichrist. The organization is the papacy. The pope in office is its representative. The prophecy of Daniel chapter 7 is not saying that popes are evil and that Catholics are not Christians. There are many warm, loving Catholic Christians. The system, however, is called Antichrist because it has usurped Jesus' authority and attempted to change His law. (Emphasis added)
The view espoused here is the same view that I and many other SDA pastors, theologians, and scholars hold. The papacy as a system is antichrist. But the personal identify of the climactic antichrist remains unknown.

** One of the main reasons why false information continues to spread is because many have not educated themselves on how to identify it and evaluate it. Here are 3 articles which should be of help with this endeavor:

"Therefore Keep Watch" - Watching the Signs vs. Conspiracy Theorizing
Does LOL Really Stand for "Lucifer Our Lord"?
Bruno Mars’ Masonic Baby Haircut and 5 Ways to STOP Misinformation on the Internet

[11] "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." - 2 Timothy 4:3
[12] See: Christians and Conspiracy Theories -
Who Are The 144,000? (part 2)

In part 1 we saw who the 144,000 are in Revelation 7. Revelation 14 begins by revisiting the 144,000. This time rather than John hearing the name 144,000 he looks and sees them. One could argue this is evidence for the literality of the 144,000 but such is not the case. At this point John has already heard the number 144,000 and seen that it represents the numberless multitude. Rather than say, “Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him a numberless multitude that no man could number who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads” John used the nickname for this group and instead said, “…and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.” John is not here saying that he saw a literal 144,000. Based on previous evidence it is clear that the number 144,000 refers to all of the saved of all ages. Therefore, John saying he looked and saw 144,000 is a simplified way of saying he looked and saw the numberless multitude of the redeemed. He is simply making use of the symbolism in the same way the angel made use of it in chapter 7. 

Another evidence is found in the description of this group. John says, “These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.” There is nothing in this description that demands this be a “special” group. This description can easily apply to any Christian. Take the Apostle Paul for example. Did he "not defile himself with women" (false doctrines)? Did he not "follow the lamb wherever he goes"? Was he not "purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb"? Can it not be said that "no lie was found in his mouth and that he was blameless"? It is clear, the description of the 144,000 presents no evidence of a special elite group of last day Christians who have attained a perfection that no one else has ever attained before.

But why did the angel choose the term 144,000? Couldn't he have chosen a less confusing symbol? While there may be many answers to this question allow me to propose one that I believe is very significant. 

In Revelation 11:1 John is "given a reed like a measuring rod" and told to measure the temple. We see this same picture in Ezekiel 41. The act of measuring is a symbol of judgment. That which is being measured is being inspected. The same scenario takes place in Revelation 21:16-17 when the angel measures the New Jerusalem. John says, 
And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.
Notice that the height of the city is 12,000 furlongs.  Its breadth is 12,000 furlongs. Its height is also 12,000 furlongs. All of the measurements are equal. The number 12,000 is used by the angel when describing the 144,000 in Revelation 6:5-8
of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed... etc.
Notice also that when the angel measures the wall of the city it is 144 cubits, a number which parallels the 144,000. When the inspection is over the New Jerusalem is described as a beautiful city with walls of jasper, streets of pure gold as clear as glass, twelve gates made of 12 pearls etc. In the end the angels inspection revealed how beautiful the city was. The interesting part is that the earthly Jerusalem was a city of rebellion and apostasy and yet here we have a New Jerusalem that has been measured and is a symbol of loyalty and beauty. 

Likewise, I believe the angel refers to the saved as 144,000 because they too have been measured ("inspected" or "judged") in the pre-advent judgment. The inspection has revealed how beautiful they are, arrayed in the white robes which they made white in the blood of the Lamb. They were not defiled, they follow the Lamb wherever He goes, in their mouth was found no deceit, and they are without fault before the throne of God. Thus the term 144,000 is not used to describe a literal number of a group of last day super saints, but it is used to describe the all sufficiency of the blood of Jesus to cleanse and transform a filthy sinner of any age, of any tribe, and of any culture into a beautiful creature. Like the New Jerusalem which replaces the earthly Jerusalem, the 144,000 are "new creatures" in Christ. The number 144,000 is not a numerical description of people but a redemptive description of all the saved. It is a number that symbolizes measurement, inspection, and judgment which reveals the beauty of those who were once sinners and are now saints. The number testifies to the promise of scripture:
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (1 Cor. 5:21).
How sad that many waste their time debating back and forth over whether the number is symbolic or literal. While these discussions are good and beneficial, if we focus on them at the expense of the gospel message, at the end of the day we miss the true meaning of the 144,000. They, like the city, have been measured and the act of measuring has revealed God's saving grace in taking these sinful human beings and transforming them. It is a testimony to the power of grace and it is beautiful. 

So who are the 144,000? They are the saved of every age who, by virtue of the blood of Jesus, have been found spotless and who, by virtue of the power of grace, have been transformed into beautiful new creatures. Ah yes, heaven is all about the new. New heavens and new earth. New bodies and new life. New Jerusalem and new humanity. Jesus says, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5). And its all because of grace.
Who Are The 144,000? (part 1)

Revelation 7, the chapter that deals with the 144,000, has been a very divisive chapter in Adventist history. Several years ago I became interested in the topic so I listened to two popular Adventist speakers present on it. One of the speakers said the 144,000 was a literal number. The other said it was symbolic. I was frustrated. Which one is it? Another theory I heard attempted to the merge the two by saying that the number was a literal number of end time leaders of Gods people but not a literal number of all of the faithful in the end time.Today I am certain, based on Revelation 7, that the term 144,000 is not a literal number. Here are the reasons why:
The first thing to notice is that John did not see the 144,000, he only heard the number “Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000”.
The second thing to notice is that John specifically says that this group of people are Jews, “144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.” He then proceeds to give a very detailed list of which Israelite tribes the 144,000 come from and how many come from each tribe (12 tribes with 12,000 from each tribe). If we are to take the number 144,000 literally then we must also conclude that they are all Jews and that they all come from 12 different tribes within Israel even though those tribes no longer exist. 
So who are the 144,000? The answer comes to us in verse 9 which says: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count.” While John heard the number 144,000 when he looks upon the scene he does not say he saw 144,000 but “a great multitude which no man could number.” John then goes on to say, “from every nation, tribe, people and language.” In other words, they are not just Jews from Israel but a diverse, multi-ethnic parade of saved people who are “standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” While John “heard” that there were 144,000 from Israel he “saw” a numberless multitude. And while John "heard" they were all Israelite's he "saw" people from all over the earth. The 144,000 is a symbolic number which refers to all of the saved of every culture of all time.

The final evidence I see for the rejection of a literal interpretation is the description of this group at the end of the chapter. The description John writes includes 1) They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands, 2) they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God…” 3) they… have come out of the great tribulation, 4) they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, 5) they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple, 6) he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence, 7) Never again will they hunger…[or] thirst, 8) The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat, 9) the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, 10) ‘he will lead them to springs of living water, 11) And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Notice that nothing in this description gives the impression that the 144,000 are a “special group” of people. They are not super saints. They have not suffered more or less than other saints in history. And they receive the same blessings that we can find elsewhere in scripture as being promised to the whole of the redeemed. However, what about their description in Revelation 14:1-5? Doesn't that do away with this entire argument? I will cover that in the next post.

Further Reading: Who Are the 144,000? (part 2)