Edition 10. 14th September 2009
By Joel Joseph
John 16:13 "When He the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth...and show you things to come"
In this edition:
●The rapture of believers
The rapture of believers:
By way of testimony, in 1980 after being saved for four years I walked into a Christian coffee bar and met a mad Jewish hippie-type believer, who asked me what I thought of the rapture. (He is still a friend) I had no idea what he was talking about. After filling me in a little, I realised how absolutely ignorant I was of many important issues of eschatology. I was enraged at my own ignorance and even more enraged at the fact the church I was in then had never so much as even mentioned these things!
I got out of that stone-dead church fast and embarked on a glorious, never ending journey of getting to know my Lord and His word! I didn't have enough hours in the day to pray and study, so I resigned from my successful job to do more. A few weeks later my father, who I'd been witnessing to got saved and bought me a house as a thank you gift and supported my studies for many years. Thank you Baruch and my long departed dad.
This is a controversial subject, but if we stick to the pure truths of the Bible it's really a wonderful, glorious, soon coming reality. Our God is not a God of confusion, Satan is!
This edition is a follow-on from edition 9, the previous one, which I encourage you to read through and study.
Firstly, lets define our terms so that we know what we're talking about. The rapture is the general term used for the catching-up, of believers to be with the Lord, while non-believers are left on the earth.
The two main positions are a pre-tribulation rapture or a post-tribulation rapture. Some believe that this event will take place at the very start of the seven year tribulation period, soon to begin on the earth, while others believe that it will occur at the end of the tribulation during the events of the second coming.
There are other views on the subject, including a mid-trib, a mutli-rapture and a no-rapture position. Some including those that adhere to the a-millennial position don't even accept the literal second coming, never mind a rapture.
I won't even dignify these with a response. There are only two possible scenarios, the pre and post trib position, if you believe the Bible.
I have gone through many books and many teachings by many on this subject since 1980. I've also studied it extensively by going through every single portion of scripture relating to the subject and checking out meanings of original words used in the scriptures.
I can see where those that adhere to the post-tribulation position are coming from and also just where they are mistaken.
Common misconceptions and some warnings:
1Thesselonians 2:4 "Concerning the coming of the Lord and our gathering to Him...don't be deceived" In addition to this our King on the Mount of Olives speaking of the signs of His coming warns of coming deception five times just in that discourse! These sections of scripture show that there will be a particularly dangerous degree of deception around this issue as the coming of our Messiah get nearer.
A good thing to remember is that anything that is really important relating to the putting down of Satan and the end of his rule will be opposed by him.
2 Peter 3:3-6 Speaks of "Scoffers in the last days saying where is the hope of His coming, everything will continue as normal"
These scoffers and sceptics, many who are believers, are subtle workers of iniquity, who go about discouraging people and turning their eyes from the coming of our Lord to the things of the world.
Acts 2: 23 says "Those who will not hear that Prophet (Yeshua/ Jesus) shall be utterly destroyed from among the people." This is an incredibly severe warning. Ignore prophecy at your peril!!
Some say that the rapture / start of the tribulation period will occur without any warning at all. This may true in terms of the exact time. but our God is a God of order. These events will most probably be kicked off at a soon coming feast of trumpets (see previous edition)
Some say that every believer will go in the rapture. The question should rather be...what or who is a believer? The Bible says even the demons believe and shudder at their destiny! All true believers will be raptured, but not all who think that they are believers are!
A true believer is one who has been born again of the Spirit of God. In other words a regeneration has taken place in the heart at some specific time (just like a natural birth) A true believer is one who has an inner desire to know, speak with, and be with our Lord.
We need to know Him and He must know us. The Bible says that in the day of judgement many will say "Lord, Lord we did this or that in your name, even prophesied in your name, and He will say to them, depart from Me, I never knew you"!
The Rapture, the delight of the age
There are many major differences between the two comings of the Messiah, making it impossible for them to be the same event.
We must separate between the two future comings of our Lord. The second advent, or second coming is the event that culminates in the end of the campaign of Armageddon, the closing of the tribulation period, the lifting of the curse on nature, and the setting up of the millennium. In this event our Lord returns slowly to the earth with His saints. He will return in the same manner as He left, says the Bible, which was slowly from the Mount of Olives up into the air and beyond, with people seeing Him ascend.
The rapture happens simultaneously around the world in a fraction of a second. Our Messiah "catches up" believers to meet Him in the air. There is no gradual decent to the Mount of Olives or anywhere else. This happens at the last trumpet (see previous edition) and in a "moment, a twinkling of an eye" 1Corinthians 15:51
The rapture sees the Lord catching the saints up to meet Him in the air at the start of the tribulation, while the second advent sees Him return with His saints. At the rapture there is no end put to the wicked, while at the second advent, the wicked are removed from the earth.
Many ignorant teachers say the word 'rapture' is not in the Bible. They then presume that there won't be one! This is ignorance of the first degree! In fact people who teach this deserve to be deceived!
The word 'rapture' isn't in the modern English translations of the Bible, but the root word 'harpazo" is. In fact it occurs nine times in the New Testament. This is the original Greek word used and means literally to 'catch up, away or snatch away by force'.
The clearest verse of scripture using the word 'harpazo' is 1Thesselonians 4:17 "Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air..." The words 'caught up' is the word 'hapazo' in the original Greek. 'Caught up' and rapture mean the same thing!
Some people say that the rapture is a modern teaching. No it isn't! It was taught throughout history. Joseph Mede taught it in the 1500. Morgan Edwards taught a pre tribulation rapture in 1722, Darby taught it in 1800 and there are dozens who taught it in the early church period.
The big issue:
The book of Revelation is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. He is the Head, we are His Body, this is why the Revelation reveals the body / church right up front in the first three chapters of the book. The messages to the seven churches are so incredibly rich. These messages have a historic significance, a present significance and a future or prophetic significance. In fact they plot the course of church history from its formation right through to the close of the age. (I will deal with this spectacular subject in another edition)
We need to bear in mind that there is a huge difference throughout the Bible between the true church and the professing church! The rapture will remove the true church only.
For now though let's look at just two of the verses relating to two of the churches. The first one is part of the message to the church of Philadelphia (highly favoured) and the second, the church of Thyatira (condemned)
Revelation 3: 10 "Because you kept My word to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial (tribulation), which will come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth."
The term "keep you from" is the Greek word 'ek', in the original, which means 'clean out away from'. Some scholars interpret the 'ek' as 'to escape in safety out of' The term 'hour of trial' can also be described as the tribulation period, because this word 'hour' is also sometimes interpreted as a short season in other places. This is not the original word for a literal hour.
Revelation 2:22 "Indeed I will cast them into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds." 'Sickbed' and adultery' are references to false doctrine in the church.
So, here we have two incredible verses of scripture. In the first one, believers are promised to be kept out of the tribulation and in the second one false believers are told they will be cast into the tribulation! Kept from or cast into...this is what will be happen depending on your church affiliation, or rather the state of your heart!
If we are all going through the tribulation, these verses don't make sense.
The Wrath of God:
The tribulation period is called the "Wrath of God" - numerous verses.
In the context of the tribulation 1Thessalonians 5: 9 says that "We are not appointed unto wrath"
1Thesselonians 1:10 says, "we are delivered from the wrath to come"
Naham 1:2 says "He reserves His wrath for His enemies"
These verses are self explanatory
Characteristics of the tribulation:
The tribulation is really the completion of the Old Testament. It is the 70th week (of years) of Daniel 9. There are very many characteristics of the Old Covenant that are again seen in the Tribulation period. One of the most amazing characteristics is that the church is not found in any of the scriptures relating to the tribulation.
We see many people both Jew and Gentile getting saved in the tribulation, but these are called tribulation saints. Those who are commissioned to perform evangelism are all Jews! Where is the church? The 144,000 of Revelation 7 & 14 are all single male Jews. The great commission was given to the church, so why is this job now given to these Jews? Well, the church is gone!
Zechariah 14:5 speaking of the tribulation period declares "Thus the Lord my God will come And all the saints with You" This indicates that at the second coming, the "saints" return with the Lord.
The church is mentioned 22 times in the first three chapters of the Revelation and then not again until the very close of the book. This indicates that the true church is not here during the events of the tribulation.
John is called to "come up here" in Revelation 4:1 (a rapture) he then sees the 24 elders already in heaven with their rewards / crowns. The tribulation events follow.
Revelation 19: 8-14 Sees the armies of heaven clothed in fine linen, follow our Lord from heaven at His second coming. Verse 8 says that the "fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints" These are therefore not angels as some teach. For the believers to follow the Lord from heaven at the second coming they need to be there first!
2 Thessalonians 2:7 says that "He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way and the lawless one is revealed." Some believe that this "restrainer" is the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is omnipresent. This restrainer is the true church indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This indicates that the tribulation or wrath of God can't begin until the righteous are removed. This is consistent with other verses demonstrating this principle.
Jude 1:14 declares "Behold the Lord comes with ten thousands of His Saints to execute judgement on all who are ungodly" These 'saints' are not angels but believers who have already been to the marriage supper of the Lamb!
A wonderful comfort:
1Thesselonians 4:17 speaking of the rapture says " We who are alive and remain shall be caught up (raptured) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words". What comfort is it to know that we are going through the tribulation period, which will be the worst time of judgement upon the earth that it has ever known. The tribulation will see the wrath of God, the wrath of man and the wrath of the devil all operating together. Billions of people will die in the most horrendous waves of wrath and judgement!
2 Peter 3:10 "But the Day of the Lord will come as a thief..."
1 Thessalonians 5:4 "...But you brothers, are not in darkness so that this Day should surprise you like a thief" This indicates that it is not only possible but required, not to be in darkness about these things. This of course brings comfort.
Rapture types in scripture:
●Noah and family were sealed by God in the ark and raised above the wrath of destruction which 'rained' on the wicked! Our Lord also says that His second coming will be in days that resembled the days of Noah in terms of wickedness. This also indicates that we could have a similar thing happen again at the events before and up to the second coming. In other words, the true church raptured to heaven, above the wrath of God on the earth below.
●We had a similar story with Lot. In fact there is a very powerful type in this story. Genesis 19:22 says that Lot was to "Hurry to escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there (Zoar)...then the Lord rained fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah out of the heavens." The presence of one righteous man (Lot) prevented the outpouring of the Lords wrath and judgement on those cities! In terms of typology, this implies that the true church needs to be removed before the wrath of God can begin.
●The children of Israel were given safe passage through the Red Sea to the promised land while the wrath of God destroyed their enemies.
●Elijah never saw death and was raptured or 'caught up' alive.
● Enoch was raptured! Hebrews 11:5 "By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death"
●Moses died, but his body was caught up and taken. Moses and Elijah are types of the living and dead in Christ being caught up to God.
●The apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12: 2 "I know a man in Christ ...weather in the body or out of the body... who was caught up to the third heaven".
●John the apostle was caught up to heaven to receive the Revelation. Revelation 4: 1
We are now close to the final act and the unfolding of the greatest drama of world history!
Collectively, the verses of scripture I've used in this edition, plus the explanations paints a clear picture.
The pre-tribulational rapture position is consistent with and rests essentially on one major premise - the literal interpretation of scripture. The other views use the allegorical interpretive method, which is shabby, inconsistent and makes the interpreter God's editor!
The post tribulation rapture does not fit in with many verses of scripture, whereas the pre-tribulation rapture fits in with all.
This edition is only a small, short taste of the subject, which is extensive and lengthy. Please take this study further yourself.
For those interested in taking this study further, I strongly recommend the monumental 700-page book by Dwight Pentecost called "Things to come" published by Zondervan. (It was written in the early 1950s so may be difficult to obtain.) There are thousands of other amazing signs and indications of the pre-tribulation rapture position wonderfully presented in this book.
In closing here is a marvelous rendition of the prophet Noah. The ark-story is a rapture-type. The painting was done by Nooshin Fathian from Iran. She is well known and exhibits regularly in Iran, the Middle East and also in Canada. She also lectures in art.
Kind regards and many blessings...Shalom and hang in there!