Signs of the End: (Part 4 of 5) - Pete Garcia - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8230
Prelude to War: The Rapture
The next major event in which Christ breaks into human history is the Rapture of the Church. This oft-contested and vigorously debated event will absolutely happen. Where the confusion lies, is when. Some hold that it already happened in the past. Some hold that it is still yet future. Even some are either ignorant of, or care not, when and how it occurs.
Speaking to His disciples at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus revealed to His disciples that He Himself would build a Church (ecclesia). But this wouldn't be just any 'church', nor would it be a religion or denomination. This one could only be entered by God's grace, through our faith, and admittance could only be by the baptism of the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ Himself. This was no ordinary Church because the very gates of hell itself (appropriate imagery considering the location) could not prevail against it. This Church wouldn't be built by around traditions and rituals, but on one founding principle: that Jesus is the Christ, and the Son of the living God. (Matt. 16:17-20)
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3 NKJV
Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus further clarified that when He departed, He would go and prepare a place for them. But He did not leave them without hope. He said that when He left, He would send a Helper (the Holy Spirit) who would draw all men unto Himself. (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:7) This Holy Spirit would be the one who baptized those who believed into this multi-membered, singular, body of Christ. (1 Cor. 12:13) Believers would be 'sealed' until the day of redemption, and that day, being the day of Christ, the day of the Rapture of the Church. (Eph. 1:13-14, Philippians 1:6, 10, 2 Thess. 2:2)
So the disciples saw their Lord crucified. They saw Him risen from the dead. They witnessed Him walk through walls, eat, appear and disappear, be touched. They witnessed His ascension into glory, and they witnessed the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They witnessed and saw the power of God the Holy Spirit as He moved amongst God's chosen. And so it has been these last two thousand years. God drawing men, women, and children, from every tongue and tribe that has existed lo these many years.
Yet, this time of the church will not last forever. God very clearly through His apostles and His Son, lay out rather succinctly when and how this Church age will one day draw to a close. It's at this closing, that God will go back to settle His unfinished business with the Christ rejecting world, and bring Israel to the point in which they cry out 'blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord'. (Matt. 23:39, Rev. 1:7, Zech. 12:10, Jer. 30:7-11)
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up 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. 1 Thess. 4:13-18
It was given to the Apostle Paul to explain this mystery, a mystery (musterion) being something that had not yet been previously revealed in Scripture. Paul explained to the Thessalonians and later to the Corinthians, that the dead would still participate in the Rapture event. In fact, those believers who had already physically died, were in heaven already in their spirit form awaiting that Day so as not to continue on 'naked', or without a physical, glorified body. (2 Cor. 5:1-5) This is consistent with Paul's teaching that to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:6-8) Both Peter and Paul, alluded to the imagery that our bodies we currently inhabit, are as 'tents', compared to the glorified bodies (buildings) we will one day inhabit.
But one has to wonder, why...
1....are the dead included in the act of the Rapture? And if they (the dead in Christ) are already in heaven, why not just keep them where they are, and instantaneously transform them there?
2.Why are we meeting Christ in the air, as opposed to either earth or heaven?
3....is there even a Rapture event to begin with?
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12
I believe the answer to these questions are very much in line with that of a military operation. It is very much true, that as believers in Christ, our battle isn't with sword or gun, but with philosophies, with vain thinking, and with pseudo-"Christian" organizations who prey on the weak-minded and scripturally illiterate. We battle the satanic and demonic doctrines behind the men and women who are influencing millions. And thus, the Rapture is a formal declaration of war, by way of removing of His ambassadors unto Himself, in enemy territory, against the enemies of God. (2 Cor. 5:20)
'Vengeance is mine, I will repay' says the Lord. (Hebrews 10:29-31)
Those who have died in Christ since Pentecost will return with Christ to receive their reward of a glorified, immortal, imperishable body, in the air, to showcase them, along with the living, in front of the entire demonic host. This is why Christ calls us up to the air and not directly into Heaven itself.
This is why the dead are included in this event. This is why there is even an event like the Rapture to begin with. Clearly, both in word (Rev. 3:10) and in type (Rev. 4:1-2), the Rapture happens before God pours out His wrath (all 21 judgments) upon the earth. It is this author's belief, that prior too, or at, or just after the Rapture, Satan is cast out of Heaven once and for all. His access is caught off and being confined to earth, his fury is then directed squarely at Israel.
How is the Church kept from the very time of something that impacts the entire earth, and all those who dwell on it? Answer; the Rapture. If you read Revelation 12 and understand that it is a broad sweeping summary of thousands of years of history, you then understand that the woman is Israel, and that she gave birth to the Messiah. You'd see Jesus's entire life, death, and Harpazo (Rapture in Latin) captured in a single verse (12:5).
There then is a gap between His ascension and our deliverance now going on 2,000 years, as the next passage seemingly jumps into the last 3 ½ years of the Daniel's seven year, 70th week. We know somewhere between verse 5 and verse 6 there was 2,000 years of history, out of which, 1,878 years Israel spent in her own wilderness of Diaspora. It is this author's belief, that it is possible, that at the Rapture we displace Satan and his demonic host who once had access to the throne room of God to accuse us, has been cast down forever. (Job 1:6-12, Rev. 12:10)
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time." Rev. 12:7
In Revelation 3:10, Jesus says that the overcomers (1 John 5:5) are promised something... Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. This is that time, in which Paul corrected the Thessalonians about in 2 Thess. 2, that the antichrist (lawless one) can't be revealed until the Rapture occurs by removing the Holy Spirit's open presence in the planet, via the Church, through removing the vessels He's sealed into.
It's not that the Holy Spirit could be removed or set aside because He is God and He is omnipresent. But what is understood, that just as the Holy Spirit was present on the earth, prior to His given and fiery show at Pentecost, so too will He exist after the Rapture...it's just that His role will be different than it was during the Church Age. But until that Day, we keep looking up...
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Philippians 3:20-21