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Back to basics

I agree with Keith and Candace Malcolmson that we may soon witness a decreased emphasis on church buildings (‘Time to prepare for persecution’, June/July issue).

The modern Church has less time for the Kingdom of God because it is too focussed on maintenance, choosing songs and balancing the books. The New Testament churches not only gathered for corporate worship, but also spent time building up the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12).

Perhaps God wants the church buildings to be gone and everyone to meet in homes again, where the focus is on prayer and the Word of God.

Richard Smart

St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex

Is Britain Tarshish?

Derek Walker believes that Tarshish refers to Great Britain (Aug/Sept book reviews).

That’s an attractive theory, but not supported by 2 Chronicles 20:35-36: “After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted very wickedly. And he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion Geber.”

Anyone building ships to trade with Britain would build them on the Mediterranean coast, for example in Jaffa, Tyre or Sidon – because that would be the most direct and familiar route. No-one would build ships bound for Britain at Ezion Geber on the Red Sea, in the area of modern Eilat, because they’d need to sail 10,000 unnecessary miles around Africa!

Tarshish probably doesn’t refer to one specific country, but to any distant ‘paradise land’ which was a source of mineral or other wealth. This view is also compatible with Jonah fleeing to Tarshish from Jaffa.

Peter Jones

Melrose, Scotland

“All Israel will be saved”

I am not sure what Eldo Barkhuizen was trying to prove when he quoted several Scriptures relating to the Jews (Letters, Aug/Sept). Was he trying to discredit the Jews as God’s chosen people?

The rite of circumcision was God’s covenant sign to mark the Jews out as his chosen people. However, it was never a sign of salvation. In this sense, it is only those Jews who have truly believed in Yeshua who are ‘true’ Jews, otherwise called the “remnant” (see 1 Kings 19:18).

On the other hand, in Romans 11, Paul addresses the subject of those remaining Jews who have not believed, and clearly predicts future their salvation. Paul presents a three-stage process in verses 25-26:

  1. Israel has experienced a temporary hardening “in part”.
  2. This period will last until the Gentiles have been saved.
  3. At that time, “all Israel will be saved.”

He concludes: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (verse 29). God is bound by covenant love to bring Israel to salvation.

The Jews have now been restored to the land of Israel physically, and soon God will breathe his life (the Holy Spirit) into his people and they will truly live (Ezekiel 37). This follows the pattern of Adam, whose body God breathed into before he became a living soul.

Have no fear, God is watching over his Word to perform it. For Israel, the best is yet to be.

Rev Mervyn Tilley
Romford, Essex

Patriotism: the new taboo

The Archbishop of York has criticised the London “metropolitan elite” for looking down on people who are proud to be English (Daily Telegraph, 6 August).

He questioned why being patriotic has become taboo and said patriots should not be treated as “backwardly xenophobic”. He added that English sports teams should sing a national anthem of their own, as the Scottish and Welsh teams already do. Perhaps they could sing ‘There’ll always be an England’, ‘Rose of England’ or Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’.

Ann Wills
Ruislip, Middlesex

Darkness and deception

Thank you for having the courage to speak the truth which so few, especially most churches, are willing to do!

We are both shocked and amazed at what is taking place. Sadly, it seems the father of lies has deceived the world. However, it is refreshing to see God’s people carrying out his will and seeing miracles in such dark times.

Ben and Amber McDermott 

Havant, Hants

The rapture resolved?

Why I believe a post-tribulation rapture is likely

Eldo Barkhuizen
Eldo Barkhuizen

The snatching up of Christians to meet Jesus in the clouds is called the ‘rapture’ – an event tied to the ‘great tribulation’. But does the rapture occur before, in the middle or after the tribulation?

Many believe that the tribulation, a future time of turmoil, lasts seven years. But the Bible says it spans just three and a half years.1 Soon the Third Temple will rise in Jerusalem, and three and a half years after the sacrifices and offerings begin there, the Antichrist will end them and sit in that Temple pretending to be God.2 This is the start of the great tribulation.3

The Church will be raptured when Jesus returns,4 a coming that will be “with power and great glory” on the clouds of heaven, and “every eye will see Him”.5 A trumpet will blast and God’s holy children will be gathered from the “four winds” to meet Jesus in the air.

The Bible says Jesus will come back just once, after the great tribulation

JN Darby, a 19th century leader of the Plymouth Brethren, taught that before the tribulation Christ will come secretly for his saints, who will go with him to heaven and escape the seven-year tribulation. Then, after the seven years, the saints will return publicly with him to earth. However, the Bible says Jesus will come back just once, after the great tribulation.

Many often quote Paul’s words: “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation”6  to claim the Church will be raptured before the tribulation, the time of God’s “wrath”. But the “wrath” named here is God’s eternal wrath.7 When God in his wrath struck the Egyptians, his people were still in Egypt, inside their blood-splashed homes.8

If Christians are raptured before the tribulation, then how can the Antichrist “make war with the saints” and “overcome them”?9 Also, there will be “a great multitude which no one could number” standing before the heavenly throne, and these “come out of the great tribulation”.10 And during the tribulation there will be Christians who refuse to worship the Antichrist or receive his mark, who will have their heads cut off.11

My own understanding is that the Church is raptured at Jesus’ second coming.12 Since the second coming occurs after the tribulation,13 the rapture must also occur after the tribulation.

Eldo Barkhuizen

Conwy, Wales

Eldo is an author, researcher and copy editor of theological books. For further reading, see chapter 9 of his book, ‘Six Foundation Stones’


  1. Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 11:2-3; 12:6, 14;13:5
  2. Daniel 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:4
  3. Matthew 24:15-21
  4. Matthew 24:29-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1
  5. Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7
  6. 1 Thessalonians 5:9
  7. Romans 5:9
  8. Exodus 12:23; Isaiah 26:20
  9. Revelation 13:7
  10. Revelation 7:9, 14
  11. Revelation 20:4
  12. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
  13. Matthew 24:29-31

Repentance for historic wrongs smacks of wokery

Charles Gardener was wrong to state that Protestants in Northern Ireland need to repent of the 1912 Ulster Covenant (‘Irish troubles’, Prophecy Today section of HEART, Aug/Sept).

He claims that the covenant was “a man-made rebellion against authority set up by God, and has driven much sectarian violence ever since”. However, this presents a distorted view of Ulster Protestantism.

Today, there are no living signatories to that covenant. The idea of repenting of something you weren’t personally involved with smacks of today’s wokery, which requires us all to repent of slavery and other historical wrongs.

Many identified themselves as Protestants politically, but did not have a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ

Before the partition of Ireland, the violence between the two communities was extremely unpleasant. Then, as now, there were many who identified themselves as Protestants politically, but who did not have a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, there was justifiable concern among true Protestant believers that “home rule” meant “Rome rule”. In December 1912, Father Gerald O’Nolan told Catholic students at Queen’s University Belfast: “We shall have a free hand in the future… Let us use it well. This is a Catholic country, and if we do not govern it on Catholic lines, according to Catholic ideals and to safeguard Catholic interests, it will be all the worse for the country and all the worse for us.”

The Ulster Covenant, which saw thousands of Ulstermen sign a document opposing self-government for Ireland, must be seen in the context of the persecution of evangelical minorities in majority Catholic countries. In Spain under General Franco, Catholicism was the only religion to have legal status; other worship services could not be advertised, and no other religion could own property or publish books. In 1961, when Spanish priest Francisco Lacueva embraced evangelical truth and resigned the priesthood, he had to flee the country.

The Reformation was one of the mightiest moves of the Holy Spirit which Western Europe has ever seen

In contrast, Northern Ireland’s Protestant majority were very happy with the status quo as part of the UK – in particular, freedom of worship. The Ulster Covenant was intended to express their sense of betrayal by the government in London.

Mr Gardner also speaks critically of the Reformation, accusing it of a “spirit of sectarianism”. It is true that several different churches emerged post-Reformation – including Lutheran, Reformed and Anglican. Sadly, it is also true that these denominations have not always seen eye to eye.

Yet the Reformation itself was one of the mightiest moves of the Holy Spirit which Western Europe has ever seen. Countless numbers were saved, and it even touched members of the English and French royal families.

While everyone must welcome the relative peace which Northern Ireland has known since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the fact remains that Roman Catholicism, for all the window-dressing of Vatican II, is a false religion, deficient in many essential doctrines of Christianity including justification by faith alone.

Although there are true believers within the Catholic Church, they are saved in spite of, not because of, its doctrines. Catholics who have found true faith in Christ should be encouraged to join a faithful evangelical church, of which Northern Ireland still has many.

John Petley

Heathfield, East Sussex

Was lockdown God’s response to Sunday trading?

Rev Dr David Pennant
Rev Dr David Pennant

“God has everything under control” – I have believed that for decades.

So when Covid-19 struck, my question was, what is God saying and doing?

My attention was drawn not only to our nation’s shedding of innocent blood (one in four UK pregnancies ends in abortion), but also our failure to observe the Sabbath.

I was not too bothered about the Sunday Trading Act when it passed in 1994, but I now realise that far from being a ‘progressive’ move, it was a nasty development. It is only the poor who work on Sundays – sweating and labouring, while the rest of us put our feet up.

The Old Testament Babylonian empire lasted 70 years: one year for each week of the 490 years in which the people had trashed the Sabbath. In the same way, I wondered whether our present exile from normal life might last one seventh of the time since we passed the Sunday Trading Act, ie three and a half years. That would be from March 2020 until
November 2023.

Providentially, I then made contact with Chris Bright, a Prophecy Today reader. He sensed that he should consider Daniel 12:12: “Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the 1,335 days.” He discovered that exactly 1,335 weekends – ie 1,335 Sundays – had elapsed between the passing of the Sunday Trading Act and Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement (Friday 26 August 1994 to Monday 23 March 2020).

I believe we now have an endurance test ahead of us. Whether we are in the throes of the grim three-and-a-half-year period spoken of in Revelation, or whether it is simply a three-and-a-half-year period like Elijah’s drought, does not concern me personally. The attitude I need for both is the same.

I must make sure my trust in Jesus is firm whatever happens. God will provide, as he did for Elijah by ravens and a widow, however hairy things become along the way.

I am expecting Christians and non-Christians alike to end up groaning in our slavery before the end (Exodus 2:23). I am determined not to worry, but to lift my head high as Jesus asked. Ultimately, God has everything under control.

Readers may be interested in the site I created when the pandemic hit: www.turntojesus.co.uk. Note the feedback page. I have also created a Kindle out of the 21 articles that I wrote since March 2020 called ‘Earthquake Tremors’: what is God saying now? (80p).  I can be contacted via https://www.pennantpublishing.co.uk/1335days.htm

Rev Dr David F Pennant

Woking, Surrey