Saturday, June 13, 2009

RAPTURE: The WHO And WHEN Of It All - Part 2

Here is the Second Part of this article, and a final part will be completed soon!

Please understand, that it's not my intention to stir up strife or debate on this hotly debated issue, but to provide a perspective I share enthusiastically with others, and maintain that this indeed is The Blessed Hope of our Salvation!

Below is another link to youtube that manifests the very heart of this hope: to be delivered from this world of sin, from our very bodies that are wracked with the sin-nature, and delivered INTO the everlasting arms of our precious LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ!
(the song is sung by Jeremy Camp; I can't ever watch this feed w/o tearing up, longing for my Lord's Return!)

As stated previously, there are some I've spoken with that believe that the church WON'T be raptured out of this world UNTIL the temple is rebuilt, and that we may in fact witness the rise of the Beast, and as a proof text, they use Matthew ch. 24, and I would like to address this, and many other issues, in this second installment of "RAPTURE: The WHO and WHEN Of It All"

If you don't have your Bible handy, go get it! However, if you'd rather read this online, I can oblige you: Mat 24:1

Our Lord was just leaving the Temple with His disciples, and as they were marveling at the wonder of that building, the Lord Jesus said "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

When the disciples inquired about what He meant by this, they asked three questions:

1) When shall these things be?
2) What shall be the sign of Your Coming?
3) What shall be the end of the world?

The first question seems to be directly related to what Jesus said in regards to the Temple being destroyed.

The disciples would be keenly aware of their own history and the previous destruction of the Temple during the time when Nebuchadnezzar came with the military might of Babylon's army and wiped out the entire city, along with the Temple during the third (and final) campaign against Israel. It was during this last campaign that the people of Israel were either wiped out, or taken as captives, as a nation, back to Babylon.

The disciples recognized that such a destruction would certainly constitute a major paradigm in the affairs of the nation, and wondered if this would involve the end of the world, and if so, then the Coming of the LORD to inaugurate His rightful reign as Messiah-King.

The Lord then begins to elaborate on the events as they would transpire in the future. Note that there is no answer provided here in Matthew's account regarding the destruction of the Temple (He does address this issue however in Luke ch. 21 and I will deal with this later on).

The first thing the LORD says is "take heed that no man deceive you" and this is repeated again later. Its paramount that we hold tenaciously to God's Word, the ONLY Source of spiritual Truth on this planet! By God's Word, we obtain wisdom, insight, discernment, by which we, if we are born of God's Spirit, avoid any deception and deceit.

The LORD speaks of false Christs here who will deceive many, wars, and rumors of wars, then admonishes us to "not be troubled, for the end is not yet."

"Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom . . . " I used to think that this was a "Hebraeism" that is, a poetic form that stated the same thing, two different ways. This is a technique often used in scripture, especially in the Psalms and Proverbs.

Yet if you consider closely what this is saying, it reveals something significant. A nation could exist independently of a kingdom, like the Kurds of today, for they are a distinct ethnicity with a culture and language of their own, yet they don't possess their own homeland (though they are making an attempt to do so); so too was Israel prior to 1948.

A "nation" is a people of "common birth in relation to their distinct ethnicity" whereas a "kingdom" (or the 'king's domain') is a political entity.

Thus "nation against nation" would have to do with racial tensions, riots, etc. whereas "kingdom against kingdom" would entail political and military contentions.

Famines, pestilences, earthquakes in diverse places would all occur. Sceptics of the Bible point out that we have always had these things happening, and only 'doom and gloomers' would use such justification in proclaiming "THE END IS NEAR!"

However, it's verse 8 that is crucial to understanding these events: "All these are the beginning of sorrows," or birth pangs which we all know are events that transpire at the birth of a new born, beginning gradually, then increasing in frequency and intensity, and this is the key to understanding these signs. They would increase in frequency, and intensity, then resolve, only to begin again with greater and greater magnitude.

We see this happening evidently in today's world.

Take note that our Lord, when speaking, says "you": "take heed that no man deceive YOU" . . . ""YOU shall hear of wars and rumors of wars" . . .

"Then shall they deliver YOU up to be afflicted and shall kill YOU: and YOU shall be hated of all nations for My Name's sake."

When taken in context, one would infer that in vs. 15, the LORD said "When YOU therefore shall see the abomination of desolation . . . " that He is addressing the same people (and He is!). The question remains then, who is He speaking to?

The answer is obvious; He is speaking to the disciples (He says "you" seven more times after this).

If one infers that the time period that the LORD is addressing is about Christians (for these disciples were followers of Christ, thus Christians) enduring this time, and witnessing these things, and in particular, the Temple and events surrounding it, and the revealing of the Beast, one could conclude that we must wait for the rapture of the church until AFTER these things.

Obviously the disciples were 'types' of future believers, for when the LORD says "you" it's evident that He can't be referring to them personally seeing these wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, etc. and the temple issues; but those who would follow after these disciples, i.e., believers in latter generations.

Now, it's vitally important to understand the persons that our LORD is addressing here. Proper exegesis (what does the text say) is essential in order for proper exposition (what does the text mean) to take place.

Were these disciples, Christians? What does it mean to be a Christian? Its a person who recognizes that Jesus is Christ/Messiah, the sacrificial Lamb of God, slain for the sins of the world, and as a result, receives the atonement for their sins and the Spirit of God, thus resulting in being born again.

However these disciples were not yet born again, for Christ had not yet died, nor was He risen again, nor had the Holy Spirit been given (see
Jhn 7:37-39). Christ indeed imparted the Holy Spirit to His disciples post-resurrection (see Jhn 20:22). Yet if they weren't Christians at this time, what were they?

They were those who seeing, could see, and hearing, could hear, and understand the Truth as presented by the Messiah, as opposed to those other Jews, who had rejected their Messiah. These disciples at this point in time, were 'Messianic Jews' as it were, and had like faith as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob which meant that they were saved, just as the forefathers were, who looked ahead to the time when Messiah would come, but not yet born again.

Why is this important? Because these disciples represent the believing Jews, saved Jews, Jews who will embrace Y'shua Ha Meschiach with all their hearts, who will in fact, see "all these things" that our Lord spoke about in this chapter. It may well be that these 12 apostles represent in their present state, the 144,000 Jews who will go forth during the time of Jacob's trouble (12,000 from each tribe) proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, the very message that the Jews in Jesus day, rejected.

Once again, when the fulness of the Gentiles is come in and God has taken for Himself a people (Gentiles predominantly) for His Name, He shall then turn and build again the Tabernacle of David, and Israel will again be dealt with by the LORD. Jews who come to faith in Y'shua Ha Meschiach (Jesus Christ) during the time of Jacob's Trouble, a.k.a. Daniels 70th week, will certainly be saved, but not born again, as this is a spiritual distinction exclusively for the church, which is neither Jew nor Gentile, but "one new man".

Thus verse 9 of Matthew ch. 24 takes on a different look: "YOU shall be hated of all nations for My Name's sake" refers to Jewish believers who are positionally speaking, identical to these disciples standing, as they were, before the LORD Jesus in this very chapter. They will believe in Y'shua as Ha Meschiach, and thus be saved, but not indwelt by God's Spirit.

In Israel's history, during times in which the Hebrew people fell away from the LORD, and He had to chasten, rebuke and correct His people, there seems to always be a faithful remnant. Even in the days of Elijah, when he was alone in that cave, and bemoaning the 'fact' that he alone served and loved the LORD; God had to inform him of the real facts! There were yet 7,000 that had not yet bowed the knee to Baal!

Throughout the Bible, there is mention of the remnant that held on to the Word of God, that believed the promises YHWH made to His people, and looked forward to their Messiah (
2Ki 19:4, 30-31; 2Ch 30:6; 2Ch 34:9; Ezr 3:8; Ezr 9:8; Neh 1:3; Isa 1:9; Isa 10:20-22; Isa 37:4, 31-32; Isa 46:3; Jer 6:9; Jer 23:3; Jer 31:7; Jer 42:2,15,19 and a host of other O.T. scriptures; note that not all verses that mention a "remnant" are a godly remnant, but there is always in every generation of Israel, those who God preserves, who remain faithful to Him.

Here is a critical verse speaking of the remnant that has to do with the last days, as this is the second (and prophetically, final) regathering of the nation of Israel:

Isa 11:11
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. (see also vs.16)

In the days of Jesus, His remnant amounted to His twelve, and women who were dearly devoted to their precious Lord; eventually all others had left (see
Jhn 6:66-67; interesting verse number in which this was written), and even His apostles fled when the Temple soldiers came and arrested Jesus.

Here are three N.T. verses on "the remnant":

Rom 9:27; Rom 11:5; and in regards to that remnant that endures the time of Jacob's trouble:

Rev 12:17
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (No doubt the 144,000 will be at least a part of the total number comprising this remnant; observe: this woman is a symbol of the nation Israel as in vs. 2-6 it speaks of how she gave birth to her child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron, that later ascended into heaven, to God and His throne)

In the last days, as stated in Part One of this article, two out of every three Jews will be wiped out in that terrible time ahead (this is one major reason why we are to pray fervently for the conversion of the Jewish people, that they may partake of Christ and be included in the body of Christ, thus escape this horrible calamity).

Getting back to Matthew ch. 24, if one asserts that these disciples are 'types' of Jewish believers who will endure Daniel's 70th week, rather than the church, it then makes sense that "they that endure to the end will be saved" vs.13, that is, not the saving of their souls, but of their physical lives by the arrival of Y'shua at His Second Coming.

Further, those that see the abomination of desolation as spoken of by Daniel . . . (recall that the prophecy given to Daniel regarding this blasphemy and related events is to his people [Israel] and his holy city [Jerusalem], these events transpire in a day and time in which God deals with Israel) . . . are admonished to flee Judea. vs. 15.

(Please note: the building of the temple for the Jewish people, in my opinion could happen any day; we the church may well witness its construction. I think this is probable, as the covenant of the temple is enforced by the Beast at the BEGINNING of the 70th week, then broken half way through. It seems improbable that the Temple therefore would be built during the time of the tribulation. What I don't believe we will see, is its desecration, as this happens half way through Daniel's 70th week.)

If He were addressing Christians, what would be His instruction for those who did NOT dwell in Judea? There is an absence of any instruction here for such would-be Christians living at this time.

Also, such Christians would not find "the sabbath" an impediment to their attempt to escape these things, but Jews who follow Y'shua would, as they would still hold to the Torah. The complexion of this passage is distinctly JEWISH, not Christian!

Within the context of this passage of Matthew 24:4-31, it speaks of things that will transpire before and during Christ's physical return to Earth, when He rescues Israel from the Beast and his forces, as they're gather together in Megiddo, and proceed to Bozrah where the remnant will be in hiding (see
Isa 34:6; Jer 49:13,22); and also:

Mic 2:12
I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.

Isa 63:1
Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. (see also Rev 19:11-21)

Zec 12:10
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Zec 13:6
And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

Also something interesting to note: In Hosea 5:15, it states the following:

Hsa 5:15
I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.

If one reads the passage in context, its determinable that the speaker here is God Himself: God is saying, I will return to My place. . . In order to return to His place (heaven) He would had to have left it; this He did when He became incarnate and walked among us. After His ascension, He returned to His place until . . . until when?
". . . they acknowledge their offence". That word 'offence' is in the singular: its a specific offense. What could it be? I believe it was the national rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, the King!

It continues in ch. 6 of Hosea . . .

Hsa 6:1-3
Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter andformer rain unto the earth.

I believe this is highly suggestive that its when this godly remnant of Israel petitions the Messiah to return, that the LORD will do so! No wonder Satan has such a vested interest in their destruction! If he can accomplish this (but he can't!) he could prevent the fulfillment of prophecy (lotsa luck buddy!).

Getting back to Matthew 24: therefore if one understands that the "you" that the LORD is addressing, are saved Jews, redeemed after the rapture (thus excluded from the church) the parable spoken of the fig tree makes sense. When its leaves are budded, we know that summer is near, and likewise . . .

"When you, when you shall see these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." The Lord then says something interesting about the witnesses of 'the fig tree':

Mat 24:34
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

The very same generation that sees these things won't pass away until all things are fulfilled. We know that from the time of the erection of the abomination of desolation to the coming of Christ Jesus will be 1,260 days or 3.5 prophetic years.

Dan 9:27
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Therefore any who witness these events re: the Beast and the Temple being defiled will be able to calculate and learn the day of the LORD's return. Yet prior to Daniel's 70th week, no one will know the day or the hour of the Second Coming.

Just as no one will know the day or the hour of the rapture, because no one knows when the church will be completed, save for our Father.

And now in regards to Luke ch. 21, an identical account of what was read in Matt. ch 24 . . . or IS IT?

There is an interesting difference between these two passages of scripture that often get lumped together, as text that more or less describes the same events, when in fact, they do NOT in their entirety!

In Matthew 24:7-8 it speaks of events that match Luke 21:10-11: "false Christs, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, etc."

In Matt. 24:9 it says " . . . Then shall they . . ." That is, what follows from vs. 9 on will occur after vs. 8.

In Luke 21: 12, it says " . . . But before all these . . ." That is, what occurs from vs.12-24 will occur before vs. 12. In this portion of scripture we witness a fulfillment of what happened in Israel and in Jerusalem specifically, around the time of 70 A.D. when the Temple was destroyed.

See: Luk 21:12 -24

Note especially vs. 20 through 24 -

And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.

For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

The time of the Gentiles is also prophetically relevant (and not to be confused with "the fulness of the Gentiles": they are two very different events) because this is a period of time that started with Nebuchadnezzar, when Babylon dominated and "trod down" Jerusalem until the fall of Babylon, at which time it was under the domination of the Medo-Persian empire, then the Grecian empire, and finally the Roman empire. Yet after the dispersion of 70 A.D. when Israel was "led away captive into all nations" and then finally regathered back into the land in accordance with Isaiah 11:11, Jerusalem continued to be trodden down by the nations, Islamic and European both.

Today they are being oppressed by the E.U. as well as the U.N. and even the United States!

This "time of the Gentiles" will culminate when the Beast assumes world authority and she will know her greatest misery at this time, but this time will also terminate once the Prince of Peace arrives, declaring war and victoriously overcoming the Beast and his forces without so much as breaking a sweat!

Why is it that people refer to 2 Thess. 2:7-8 as a proof text that the church won't be here for the Tribulation time, or that seven year period known as Daniel's 70th week?

Examing the text it states plainly that . . .

2Th 2:7-8 the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

The "he" spoken of must be God, for He is the only One who ever restrains iniquity and wickedness.

The LORD did so in Genesis ch. 6 during the time when there was tremendous wickedness involving the fallen angels and human females, creating an abomination: an angel/human hybrid that resulted in giants or 'nephilim' in the land. Listen to what the LORD said in this passage:

Gen 6:3
And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

The word "strive" in Hebrew is "duwn" meaning: "a settlement of what is right, to rule, judge, , also to strive (as at law), contend, execute (judgment), judge, minister judgment, plead (the cause), strife, strive". Its an act of judgment which determines man's position and destiny.

Note that God says that His Spirit shall NOT ALWAYS strive with man . . . implying that there is coming a day in which God will take His hands off of man, and no longer interfere with the bounds of iniquity that he yearns for.

Then there is the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 11; God gave instruction to go forth and multiply, yet what did man do? He remained together, rather than obey God and spread out. They built a city and a tower, and the people were one.

Gen 11:6
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.

God realized that if man remained in this environment, with such unity, "nothing will be restrained from them", so He goes down and does some 'restraining' by confounding their languages. Once again God had to interfere with mankind in order to prevent such wickedness that would be the ruination of His creatures.

Then once again in 2 Thess. 2: 7-8 God "letteth" that is in the Greek: "katecho" - "to hold down (fast), keep, possess, stay, take, have, make, let, retain, seize on, withhold. The word stresses holding fast in order to hinder the progress or course of something or someone.

So how is it that people connote this passage with the removal of the church?

Because the church is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and as the body of Christ serves very much the same function in this world. The LORD called us, His church "salt and light" in Mat 5:13-14

Both salt and light are elements that inhibit corruption; thus spiritually we as the church, possessed of God's Spirit, and if rightly related to our Lord by walking in His Spirit (which there seems to be precious little of in todays post-modern, now emergent churches and fellowships) restrain iniquity and lawlessness in this world.

Thus indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we would be a restraining influence that the man of wickedness (almost exactly the same word used for iniquity in the Greek: anomia for iniquity, anomos for wicked).

This is not to say that the Holy Spirit won't be present on this Earth as a Convictor of sin, or a Baptizer of God's power for those who minister during that time, or a Comforter, but His restraining influence will no longer be present so as to allow the beast to be revealed. It's my contention as the salt and light of this world, we likewise will no longer be present on this Earth at this time.

In the next article I will examine various passages of Revelation and see if I can spot the church in any duration of time contained within Daniel's 70th week, and further take a look at passages in the New Testament that would seem to encourage the church to expect Christ's return (for His bride) at ANY MOMENT!


may the LORD Jesus Christ bless ALL of YOU SAINTS . . . WAY TOO MUCH!

yours in the battle,

Nikaeo Aionios A.V.R.A.S.

brother James FIRE


Greg Polla / A.M. Kisly said...

Hey Jim,

Thanks for this in depth look at the Scriptures, regarding the Rapture of the Church.

I have encountered many Christians who either don't believe in the rapture of the Church; or just think it's escapism of sorts.

Interesting view, but never backed up by Scripture.

In addition to your wonderful in depth study on this event, God has been faithful to save his people from judgement throughout the entirety of the Bible: Noah, Lot . . .
1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Day of God's Wrath will indeed come, but will be poured out on a world who has rejected Him and who worship the Anti-christ.


James J. Fire said...

Precisely right: The time of God's Wrath is against a CHRIST-REJECTING
world, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. The difference between these two is that Israelas a nation (at least the faithful remnant of the nation) will come around, and realize their mistake, and embrace Y'shua Ha Meschiach.
Somehow this escapes Post-Tribulationalists; they believe that we, the church will be here for all of this 7 year period, but that God will preserve us THROUGH it. Yet the Bible states that we are kept FROM this hour of trial that is to come upon all the earth.

Oh, by the way, how do you like the new look for MIND of FIRE blog?
I needed a change.