We continue with the discussion of Rev. 11:15 here in Part 2 of the paper titled, "Some Comments on 'Prophetic Scriptures Yet to Be Fulfilled' by Bill Hamon and Acts 3:19-21 with Mal. 4:5, 6; Matt. 17:11; Rev. 10:7; and 11:15."
I'll quote Rev. 11:15 (NASB), "Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord [God the Father] and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and forever.' " The problem (for Hamon's viewpoint) is that Rev. 11:15 is speaking of the reign that BEGINS at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, the reign of the Lord Jesus (and the glorified raptured saints with Him) that will subdue the enemies of God AFTER the Lord Jesus returns.
I briefly discussed Rev. 11:15 above, when discussing part of a sentence I quoted from Hamon's page 26. (Revelation chapters 11-13, which are some of the most important chapters in the Bible on the end-times, are discussed verse-by-verse in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." They are also discussed, with less detail, in my paper, "Twenty-Four Articles on the Mid-Week Rapture," which serves as a good introduction for the book.)
We also need to discuss Rev. 10:7, which has a lot in common with Rev. 11:15. Bill Hamon discusses Rev. 10:7 and Rev. 11:15 on pages 160-165, for one place. I'll quote three sentences from what he says there, "I believe Revelation 10:7 is symbolic of the beginning of the Third Reformation, and Revelation 11:15 is symbolic of the finishing of the Third Reformation" (page 161). And, "The trumpet sound of the seventh angel is not one short blast, but the Scripture says, 'in the DAYS [Hamon's emphasis] of the sounding of the seventh angel.' Revelation 10:7 reveals what happens when the first sound begins, and Revelation 11:15 reveals what happens when the final sound is made" (page 164). The only thing I agree with here is that the events of the seventh trumpet will cover a period of time.
That trumpet (the seventh trumpet) will sound right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, and the Lord Jesus will return and the resurrection and rapture will take place (significantly, it is the same trumpet as the trumpets of Matt. 24:30, 31; 1 Cor. 15:52; and 1 Thess. 4:16, 17), but the events associated with the seventh trumpet will continue until God's work of saving and judging has been completed that is spoken of as the book of Revelation continues. It would be reasonable to say that the events of the seventh trumpet continue to the end of Daniel's 70th week, and that probably is the best way to understand the duration of the events of the seventh trumpet. However, the book of Revelation enables us to see that God's work of saving and judging will not be completed in the full and final sense until we are in the eternal state of Revelation chapters 21 and 22 (after the millennial kingdom, the Gog and Magog rebellion, and the great-white-throne judgment of Revelation chapter 20).
I assume that the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet will literally be heard by the people living on the earth in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, but I don't believe that trumpet will literally continue to sound for the next three and one-half years.
There are at least two reasons why we need to discuss Rev. 10:7 in this paper. (For more details see pages 167-172, 186, 290, 300 in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," and see my verse-by-verse study of Revelation chapters 1-10.) For one thing, the Greek verb "mello," which is translated "he is about [to sound]" in this verse, confuses the issue in that it can be, and often is, translated two different ways, including in this verse, ways that substantially change the meaning of this verse.
I'll quote the verse from the NASB, "but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound [the trumpet], then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets." The NIV; NKJV and other translations are similar, having the words "about to sound." That is one legitimate way to translate the Greek verb, but it is equally legitimate to translate the way the New Living Bible translates it (The NASB, for example, often translates "mello" with no idea of "about to"; it translates "going to" nineteen times, for example), "But when the seventh angel blows his trumpet [not when he is about to blow his trumpet], God's mysterious plan will be fulfilled. It will happen just as he [God] announced it to his servants the prophets." Other translations (including "The New Testament in Modern English" by J. B. Phillips and the "New American Bible") and many commentators agree with a translation like this one. It has always seemed clear to me that the idea of "about to sound" was not intended by the ultimate Author of the book of Revelation - this translation substantially confuses the issue.
The other reason we need to discuss Rev. 10:7 here is that "the mystery of God," which "He preached to His servants the prophets [referring to the Old Testament prophets, as in Acts 3:21]" has much in common with the words, "the restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient times" of Acts 3:21. The "mystery of God" and the "restoration of all things" both include God's plans to glorify the believers (the elect of God; those whose names have been written in the book of life [cf. Rev. 21:27]), to remove all the unrepentant rebels (including the devil and his angels and demons, and all of the people who continue to follow the devil in his rebellion against God), and to bring about the millennial kingdom and then the eternal state pictured in Revelation chapters 21, 22.
We need to understand that the word "mystery" in verses like Rev. 10:7, and throughout the New Testament, isn't used in the sense we typically use the word in our day. In the New Testament the word "mystery" is typically used of something that was a mystery - it was known by God, but it wasn't known by us - BUT NOW IT IS KNOWN BY US BECAUSE GOD HAS CHOSEN TO REVEAL IT TO US. This is important, and I have found that many Christians don't know this, so I'll give several examples to demonstrate this point: "Jesus answered them, 'To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted' " (Matt. 13:11); "For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery - so that you will not be wise in your own estimation - that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; (26) and so all Israel [the end-time remnant of Israel] will be saved..." (Rom. 11:25-27); "Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, (26) but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith, (27) to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen" (Rom. 16: 25-27); "Behold I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep [that is, the true Christians who are living on the earth when Christ returns will never die], but we will all be changed [all the true Christians will be glorified], (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet [the seventh and last trumpet of the book of Revelation]; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead [the believers who will have died before that time] will be raised imperishable and we [the believers who are still alive when Christ returns] will be changed. ..." (1 Cor. 15:51-53); "...and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel [Now the gospel, which was formerly hidden in the mind of God, has been revealed/made known to us.], (20) for which I am an ambassador in chains..." (Eph. 6:19, 20); "As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands; the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches" (Rev. 1:20); and "And the angel said to me, 'Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns" (Rev. 17:7).
So, because of the revelation from God given throughout the Bible, very much including the super-important revelation contained in the book of Revelation, we know and understand a lot about the "mystery of God" of Rev. 10:7. It isn't a mystery at all, using the word mystery the way it is typically used in our day.
I'll quote a long paragraph from Bill Hamon, "Prophetic Scriptures Yet to Be Fulfilled" (page 100) where he quotes from Ellicott's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. 7 (Zondervan, 1954) on the book of Acts.
The commentator for the book of Acts was E. H. Plumptre (who was a scholar from England, who was ordained in 1847 and died in 1891). Hamon also included this quotation in his book, "The Eternal Church" (including the revised edition of this book, 1981, 2003) and "The Day of the Saints" (2002). "Of all the major commentaries I have read, I feel the following comments give the best explanation of Acts 3:21. [Hamon begins to quote from Plumptre here and continues for a long paragraph.] 'Whom the heaven must receive.' The words have a pregnant force 'must receive and keep.' 'Until the times of restitution of all things.' ... This is the only passage in which the word translated 'restitution' [KJV (King James Version)] is found in the New Testament. Etymologically it conveys the thought of restoration to an earlier and better state, rather than that of simple consummation or completion, which the immediate context seems, in some measure, to suggest. It finds an interesting parallel in the "new heavens and new earth" - involving, as they do, a restoration of all things to their true order - of 2 Peter 3:13. [[I had a footnote: I am not sure what Plumptre meant by referring to 2 Pet. 3:13 here (apparently nothing like what Peter meant in 2 Pet. 3:10-13; see 3:10), but I am sure that what Peter meant by "new heavens and new earth" in 2 Pet. 3:10-13 (cf. Rev. 21:1, which refers to the "new heaven and new earth" after the millennium) takes us way beyond any restoration (restitution) that will take place BEFORE the Lord Jesus returns. Hamon interprets Acts 3:21 to say that the restoration (restitution) of all things will take place BEFORE Jesus returns, but he (wrongly) does not include the resurrection, glorification, rapture, end-time judgment of the world that will take place after the Lord Jesus returns, the millennial kingdom, or the creation of the new heaven and new earth of Revelation chapters 21 and 22 in the restitution/restoration of all things of Acts 3:21. Like I said, I am sure that Acts 3:21 is speaking of a restoration of all things that will take place AFTER Jesus returns.]] It does not necessarily involve, as some have thought, the final salvation of all men [[I had a footnote: Some have used this verse to back up their idea that all people (or almost all people) will ultimately be saved, very much including those who have died. I'll quote part of what J. A. Fitzmyer says here ("The Acts of the Apostles" [Doubleday, 1998], page 289), "On this text Origen built his theory of 'Apokatastasis' [which is the Greek noun translated restoration/restitution in Acts 3:21], the doctrine about the restoration of all creation [probably even including the devil] to its original, purely spiritual state before the end of the world...but that doctrine goes far beyond what Peter means here. [Yes!] ...."]], but it does suggest a state in which 'righteousness,' and not 'sin' shall have dominion over a redeemed and new-created world; and that idea suggests a wider scope as to the possibilities of growth in wisdom and holiness, or even of repentance and conversion, in the unseen world than that which Christendom has too often been content. [[I had a footnote: Having spent some time in Plumptre's book, "The Spirits in Prison," I'm confident that he was referring to the realm of the departed spirits of people who have died when he mentioned the "unseen world." I'll comment further on Plumptre's viewpoint as we continue.]] The corresponding verb is found in the words. 'Elijah truly shall come first and restore all things' [Matt. 17:11]." [[Plumptre showed that he was referring to the verb "restore" by putting it in italics. Hamon quit quoting Plumptre here. As Plumptre continued he referred to Matt. 17:11 by saying that we should see his comments on Matt. 17:11 in this same commentary (see Matt. 17:9-13; also see Mark 9:9-13 and Mal. 4:5, 6).]] It might seem at first that these last words about Elijah restoring all things support Hamon's view that all things will be restored through the Christian church BEFORE the Lord Jesus returns, BUT IT IS CLEAR, I BELIEVE, THAT ALL OF THE RESTORING OF ELIJAH WILL TAKE PLACE BEFORE THE RESTORING THAT ACTS 3:21 SPEAKS OF. We'll discuss the restoring of Elijah as we continue.
Two viewpoints that have helped influence some Christians to misinterpret Acts 3:21:
I believe that we can say that at least most of the Christians who (from my point of view) misinterpret Acts 3:21 are influenced in that direction by other considerations. I'm not suggesting that any true Christians willfully misinterpret the Bible, but, for one thing, most of us are motivated to find verses to support what we believe. Also I am quite sure that some Christians use verses they realize do not support their viewpoint, in order to better argue for a viewpoint they are sure is true. Things like that confuse the issue. We should never misinterpret the Bible. We desperately need to understand, to believe, and to live in line with the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches.
One viewpoint: All people, or almost all people, will be saved along with God's restoration of the world:
Origen (AD 185-255) is an example (Origen was briefly discussed in a footnote on the preceding page), and many have taught, and many still teach, that all people, or at least most people, will be saved. Plumptre didn't argue that all people will be saved (see pages 13-15, 22 [I'll include a quotation from his page 22 as we continue] of his book, "Spirits in Prison" [see at the end of this paragraph]), but he did argue that eventually very large numbers of people (probably most) will repent and be saved, very much including unrighteous, ungodly, unbelievers who have died, including very large numbers (probably most) of those who died in Noah's flood, and this viewpoint undoubtedly influenced his interpretation of Acts 3:21. Their repentance and salvation would be a very important part of the restoration (restitution) of all things. And it was very convenient for him to see all these people who would eventually be saved repent/be brought to repentance (to be restored) BEFORE the Lord Jesus returns to judge the world, including all mankind. See his book, "The Spirits in Prison and Other Studies on the Life After Death" [published by Thomas Whittaker, 1894].
With the words "Spirits in Prison," Plumptre is referring to 1 Pet. 3:19, 20; 4:6. He says, quite wrongly I believe [These verses from 1 Peter are discussed on pages 28-35 of my paper, "More Regarding God's Salvation Plans for the Gentiles/Nations."], that these verses teach that Christ, after His death, went and preached to those spirits who had perished in the flood, and that very large numbers (probably most) were converted. (And if very large numbers [probably most] people from that extremely sinful generation repented and are saved, what about most other generations?) I'll quote a few sentences from what he says on this topic (on page 5 of "The Spirits in Prison"), "Others, worthy of but a lower place [in God's heavenly kingdom], had yet found mercy. They had perished in God's great judgment, when the flood came upon the world of the ungodly, but they had not hardened themselves against His righteousness and love, and therefore were not shut out utterly from hope. In His Father's house there were many mansions, and there was a place found there for them." He doesn't specify here how many of them repented; he apparently was thinking of very large numbers (probably most) of them repenting and being saved. Further quotations from Plumptre will confirm that he believed that very large numbers (probably most) of those who have died (including those who died in the flood) will repent and be saved.
I'll quote what he further said about those who perished in the flood on pages 19, 20: "That which was 'preached also to them that are dead' [1 Peter 3:19, 20; 4:6] was nothing else but a gospel - the good news of the redeeming love of Christ. And it was published to them, not to exempt them from all penalty, but that they, having been judged, in all that belonged to the relations of their human life, with a true and righteous judgment, should yet, in all that affected their relation to God, 'live in the spirit' [referring to 1 Pet. 4:6; like I said I believe Plumptre misinterprets 1 Pet. 3:19, 20; and 4:6; see my discussion of those verses in my paper that I mentioned.] Death came upon them, and they accepted their punishment as awarded by the loving and righteous Judge, and so ceased from the sin to which they had been slaves, and thus it became to them the gate of life."
I'll include two more brief quotations from Plumptre. "There may be, even in this life, that terrible hardening of the soul and searing of the conscience - that antagonism of the soul to light as light, good as good, God as God, which in its own nature excludes repentance, and therefore forgiveness also. BUT WITH THE VAST MYRIADS WHO DEPART THIS LIFE IT IS NOT SO [my emphasis]" (page 22). And, "will it not be truer to our intuitive conviction, to the teaching of Scripture, to the analogy of God's moral government in this life, to the lessons of experience, to believe that the state into which the soul passes at death is one which admits of discipline, change, progress - that there also the love which does not will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance [cf. 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4], proclaims evermore to the 'spirits in prison,' as during those hours of the descent into Hades, the glad tidings of reconciliation?" (page 23).
Based on the three quotations, which I'll give in the next paragraph, Bill Hamon doesn't agree with the idea that any people who died in unbelief and ungodliness will have a place in heaven, but I am somewhat surprised that he quoted from Plumptre (as giving "the best exposition of Acts 3:21"), and especially that he quoted this long sentence that includes the words, "It does not necessarily involve, as some have thought, the final salvation of all men...suggests a wider scope as to the possibilities of growth in wisdom and holiness, or even repentance and conversion in the unseen world than that which Christendom has too often been content." ((In the quotation dealing with Acts 3:21 from Plumptre in his book, "The Day of the Saints," Hamon even put the words starting with the word "suggests" in bold print. I assume that he didn't understand what Plumptre was saying here. For the record, I left a question on Hamon's Christian International website asking what he thought these words meant, but I didn't receive an answer. He probably never received the question, and I realize he is a busy man. I have found that not getting a response is a typical response from many large ministries.))
On page 99, Hamon says, "The Bible talks about the Church being restored, Israel being restored, and the earth being restored. But no mention is made of satan, fallen angels, demons, or any wicked dead human soul being restored back to God." On page 280 he says, "All non-Christians will lose [not win; the (true) Christians will win] and be cast into the lake of fire with their master, the devil, and all his evil spirits." And on page 266 ("The Day of the Saints") Hamon says, "Persons who lived unrighteous lives will be resurrected with indestructible bodies and cast into the lake of fire to suffer eternal torment for endless eternity (Rev. 20:14-15)."
I should mention that I lean toward the idea, without being dogmatic, that the names of some people who died without ever being confronted with the gospel will be found in the book of life of the Lamb at the great-white-throne judgment of Rev. 20:11-15, and that they will have a place in God's new heaven and new earth of Revelation chapters 21 and 22, as part of the nations (the nations being distinct from the people of God's true Israel, which includes all true Christians, who will be reigning with God the Father and His Son). I'm not speaking of people who have rejected the gospel of new-covenant salvation, or of people having a second chance to repent and submit to God (the God of creation, the God of the Bible).
I'm speaking of God's plans before the foundation of the world; at least I'm putting the emphasis here. For one thing, God knew the hearts of all people before the foundation of the world when He wrote the names of the elect in the book of life (cf., e.g., Rev. 13:8; 17:8; and Eph. 1:4). I have discussed these things in some detail in my writings, very much trying to give the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. That's what we need! ((For one thing, we must understand that we have a definite and continuous role to play in our salvation. We must respond to God's Word, especially the Word of the gospel, and to His grace, with repentance and faith, and we must continue in faith, by grace, until the end, which is far from being automatic. God doesn't give us faith to begin with (see my "A Paper on Faith"), but we couldn't have faith if God didn't send the gospel to us, convict, draw, reveal, etc. And God doesn't compel us to continue in faith to the end (see my paper, "Once Saved, Always Saved?"), but He will enable us to be strong in faith. God must be given all the glory for our salvation, but once we get beyond the verses that emphasize God's role in our salvation [thanks be to God for those verses!], we can see that there are a very large number of verses that show that we must continuously cooperate with God's grace through faith.)) See my paper on Revelation chapters 20-22; see under Matt. 25:31-46 in my paper on Matthew chapter 25; and see my paper "More Regarding God's Salvation Plans for the Gentiles/Nations." More references are cited there. The papers are all available on my internet site.
I didn't take the time to read much of E. H. Plumptre's 440 page book, "The Spirits in Prison and Other Studies on the Life after Death," but I would undoubtedly agree with some points that he makes, but (from my point of view) he goes way too far on this topic, starting with a misinterpretation of 1 Peter 3:19, 20; and 4:6.
I want to believe that there won't be any people in hell, the lake of fire, who would really want to be in heaven ON GOD'S TERMS. To be there on God's terms would be unbearable for the chief rebel, the devil, and those who have chosen to follow him. And I am totally sure that God won't make any mistakes and permit any rebels in heaven (that is, those who persist in their rebellion; all of us were sinners/rebels at one time). Rebels, by definition, destroy divine order, and heaven wouldn't be heaven without God's order.
Another viewpoint: The postmillennial view of eschatology.
The postmillennial viewpoint, which teaches that the Christian church will progress and grow until the whole world has been converted and then the Lord Jesus will return, can find some support in a misinterpretation of Acts 3:21. I'm confident that that eschatological viewpoint has influenced some to misunderstand Acts 3:21. I'll give an example below of David Brown's postmillennial interpretation of Acts 3:21. (On page 266 Hamon says that his book "presents a portion of the postmillennial view of a restored, victorious Church at the end of this age of the mortal Church." He goes on to mention that it "presents a portion of the pre-mill view that after the Church saints are resurrected/translated, they will rule and reign with Christ on earth for a thousand years" and of the a-mill view; of the futurist view; and "a portion of the preterist view that some of the prophecies in Matthew 24 were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70."
Bill Hamon (unlike most who have held a postmillennial viewpoint) is strongly influenced by his view that the renewed ministry of apostles and prophets [[I had a footnote: Bill Hamon is a key leader in the movement to restore apostles and prophets in our day. For example, on page 211 ("Prophetic Scriptures Yet to Be Fulfilled") he says, "Through our Christian International [a ministry which he founded] ministers, we have taught and activated more than 250,000 Christians in prophetic ministry who have in turn trained hundreds of thousands around the world." On page 185 he says that he is "an apostle of restoration." On page 165, "I served with Peter [Wagner] as one of the Apostolic Council members from its founding to the present. ...I was the Bishop/Apostle over my Christian International Apostolic Network with hundreds of churches and thousands of ministers with international headquarters on every continent of the world."]] and a gigantic increase in the manifestation of spiritual gifts and the power of God working in large numbers of Christians will result in unprecedented worldwide revival and restoration before the Lord Jesus returns. And he would be quick to say that he has been influence by revelations he (and other apostles and prophets; he says he is an apostle and a prophet) have received. I'll quote the first sentence from what Hamon says ("The Day of the Saints," page 312) under the heading "Prophecy Transforms Lives," "I can personally testify that 85 percent of all my vision, knowledge of my personal gifting, and calling came from the voice of God through His prophets."