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Another Look at the Rapture: By Vernon Gray - email@example.com
Can we agree that one hundred percent sincerity in what one believes does not make it right? Simply believing something does not make it true. Hindu’s, Moslems, and scores of other religions all “believe,” but that does not make what they believe the truth.
My wife and I have studied the Scriptures seriously for several years now. For instance we have spent hundreds of hours reading, studying and discussing the Book of Revelation.
At the end of it all I have to say this…It has not been given to us to understand everything that is written in the Scriptures at this time.
We as the Body of Christ certainly know a lot more than we did years ago, but there are so many unanswered questions. One point worth mentioning is that the Word of God is not as yielding if one studies it on a purely intellectual level.
The Bible is a living entity that is “quickened” by the Holy Spirit to our spirits (Rhema) so that we can come to know Christ and our God through His Word. This is a spiritual process and not an intellectual one.
Likewise believing the gospel is not an intellectual process, it is a decision of the heart; it is the will.
2 Timothy 2:15 admonishes us, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Taking the time to study the Bible does not necessarily mean that the Scriptures will open up to you and reveal all that there is to know. God imparts “nuggets” to whom He will; however God “approves” of the diligent Christians who take Him and His Word seriously.
Aside from God’s approval, you will be able to “rightly divide” or correctly understand what the Scriptures are saying.
John 2:27 tells us…“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
This does not mean that we cannot learn from each other. But we are responsible for our own relationship with God. We are to take the time to learn whatever we can from the Bible in order to serve our God in righteousness, truth, faith and love.
And by the way; we are ALL anointed. No one gets a SPECIAL anointing to be a miracle worker or to perform wonders. The least in the Kingdom of God has as much “anointing” as the highest ranking Christian.
Much of the Church today has what is called Folklore Theology. Their theology is based on traditions, myth and folklore. They uncritically and unreflectively construct a Bible View from what they have heard and not from what they have studied or researched. Very often unproved tradition plays a major role in their theology.
People who cling to this kind of theology tend to be most dogmatic because they cannot defend their position from the Scriptures. The elevated voice is a sure sign that they are guided by passion rather than by the truth.
A simple example of Folklore Theology would be “What does Jesus look like?”
Anyone throughout the world if shown a picture of the Catholic “Jesus” would immediately recognize the picture as that of Jesus. But the real Jesus does not look like the Catholic Jesus.
The picture is embedded in our traditions and lore which almost anyone can recognize.
To have an uncritical acceptance of mans teaching is dangerous to spiritual growth.
Personally I come from a Pentecostal background (for which I am grateful), but now years later I realize that even in “Biblically solid” institutions there can be false theology.
When you invest so much time and energy into something that is in fact false, you are not willing to let it go. You become unwilling to reason and you would rather accept the comfort of the lie than embrace the harsh truth. The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.
The time has come when they do not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; wanting to soothe their consciences with sweet comforting words. They have turned their ears from the truth, and believe the fables of ministers who appear to be ministers of righteousness. This is the age of apostasy.
And so I would say to you the reader… “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.” (2 Timothy 2:7)
Rapture – The common view
For the sake of time we will deal with the Pre-Tribulation Rapture only.
This as we understand it is an event that will take place before the Tribulation which will plunge the world into terrible chaos and God’s judgement will fall upon a wicked unbelieving and unrepentant world.
At some point in time we will hear a trumpet sounding and in the twinkling of an eye we will be “caught up” in the air to Christ.
The dead in Christ will be raised first and then we which are alive will join them in the air to be with our Saviour forever.
There are variations of this view such as Mid-Trib, Pre-Wrath etc., but the Pre-Trib Rapture is what we will be discussing here.
When will it be?
The timing of the Rapture has been the subject of many a book and numerous debates.
The Rapture, unlike the Second Coming is signless. Predicting the Rapture has inspired many a fertile mind with speculation and assumption. Date setting and wild supposition has done much harm within the Church because honest sincere people have believed (perhaps wanted to believe) that the Rapture would happen on a certain day. When nothing happened as set out by the “scholar,” they are disappointed and hurt because “God” did not show up as expected.
This attitude is immature and dangerous because God did not tell you that the Rapture would happen at such and such a time – the deceived “scholar” told you and you believed him or her. God had nothing to do with your own self-inflicted stupidity.
God has given you His word. Weigh everything and test everything against what God said, NOT what some deceived date setter has told you.
Rapture or Second Coming?
The biggest pitfall today when applying Bible verses to the Rapture Event is the misapplication of Scripture. There are verses in the Bible that refer to the Rapture of the Church AND there are verses that refer to the Second Coming of Christ. Often these verses are confused. One cannot muddle these two distinct events by applying the wrong Scripture to the wrong event.
Let us look at the verses and passages that are usually quoted as referring to the Rapture and those which refer to the Second Coming and compare them to what the Bible says.
Wise and foolish virgins
A good example of this would be the parable of the 10 virgins.
Many believe that five wise and five foolish virgins are the Church waiting for the groom (Jesus) who came at midnight. They incorrectly apply this parable to the Rapture of the Church. The fact is that these virgins are Tribulation Saints. They are not part of the Church which is no longer on the earth.
After the Rapture of the Bride of Christ many half-baked Christians will suddenly realize that they have missed it. Many will have been witnessed to and encouraged by friends and family. But they had rejected or ignored the warning signs all around them. Now they realize that everything these Christians were telling them was in fact true. Many will get saved because of the Rapture, but their salvation will cost them dearly.
(Perhaps this is the “Great Revival” expected by the Charismatic Movement. The great revival they speak of is not found in the Bible.)
As of right now salvation is a free gift from God.
To accept it is to have God living within you FOREVER.
After the Rapture, “Church Age” salvation will come to an end and salvation will revert to the Old Testament style of salvation where you are not filled with the Holy Spirit.
Righteousness for the Christian right now is imputed to by Christ to all who believe in His death and resurrection. From the Tribulation onwards righteousness will have to be earned which is why the five foolish virgins had to “buy” oil. They did not have the infilling of the Holy Spirit as do Christians. They had to keep their garment clean by works. This is not so for the Christians today.
The hour or the day
People love to quote Mathew 24: 36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
The same idea is found in...
Matthew24: 42 “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”
Mathew 24: 44 “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Matthew25: 13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
Are any of these verses speaking of the Rapture? The answer is NO!
This verse is speaking of the Second Coming. How do we know?
Firstly the context of the entire passage is the return of Christ at the Second Coming.
Secondly if this were about the Rapture, how can we balance it with 1Thessalonians 5:1 – 4 “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.
2) For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (Speaking of the Second Coming)
3) For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. (Speaking of the Second Coming)
4) But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.” (Which day?)
Ok, you might say, so if we are not in darkness when is the Rapture because I don’t know and the Bible says that I am not in darkness about it?
This is a fair question.
We know from study that we are without question in the last days. Even the atheist agree that the world is at a crossroad of sorts. We know for a certainty that 2000 years have passed since the Cross, Resurrection and Ascension.
Jesus is soon coming to rule as He promised. THIS IS FACT.
We certainly do not know the day of the Rapture, this is true. But if we are to believe what this verse says, we will be given notice of it beforehand. This verse suggests that like Noah and Lot we will be given notice that the Rapture Event is imminent.
What is the premise for such a statement?
Noah, a type of the Church was given notice before the rains came down.
• Enoch, a type of the Church knew that he was to be Raptured.
• Noah and his family (a type of the Church) was given seven days notice.
• Lot was given notice before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.
• Although not a type of the Church, Elijah was also given notice of his imminent Rapture.
I have not found anywhere in the Bible that we will be given notice or warning of the Rapture.
However, if the patterns are the same and if the types given to us in the Word of God are to clue, there is no reason that we might be given some form of notice before the actual rapture Event. It would not be “unscriptural” to consider the possibility that God will do the same now as He did in the past.
Where is the promise of His coming?
2 Peter 3: 4 “...and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’”
Never before has this verse been as fulfilled as it is today. Waiting for Christ to return means getting your life right before God.
It means walking in righteousness and faith.
It means walking in the Spirit and not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.
It means restraint and obedience to the Word of God.
During the Tribulation there will be no restraint. Men will do as they please.
They will not even believe that there is a Christ. In fact, if they do, they will probably believe that the “Man of Sin” is the Christ.
“Where is the promise of His coming” applies to the Laodicean Church who is bloated with excess’ and false doctrine to the point that they do not want there to be a Rapture event.
A Rapture event would expose them and their lies; people who have supported them will probably turn on these false teachers when they realize that these old fashion Believers were right all along.
When you are comfortable in your existence and have need of nothing, a rapture event would ruin everything. Many anti Rapture teachers who scoff at the Rapture do not want it to be true. 2 Peter 3: 3 “...knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,”
2 Timothy 4: 3, 4 is another rather sobering passage which describes the present Laodicean Church perfectly... “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Two men in a field – one taken the other left
Luke 17: 34 – 36 “I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.”
Again here this passage is used a Rapture passage but this passage is speaking of the Second Coming.
The word "taken" in this verse is NOT the word harpazo which describes the Rapture.
Here the Greek word is paralambano. It is used which means "to take into close association, 'take (to oneself), take with/along,' " not always in a positive sense.
The word "left," Greek aphiemi, on the other hand, means "leave, depart from ... abandon."
Taken where? Left to what purpose? The context in Luke is pretty vague.
When we look at the parallel in Matthew 24 we get a hint of what Jesus might have meant.
“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come..."
(Matthew 24:37 – 42)
In Matthew, Jesus has just talked about Noah entering the ark. We know that he took his family and a pair of every animal with him. Those who are taken along with him are saved from the catastrophe, but those who are left are destroyed by the impending judgment.
“And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." (Matthew 24:31)
“And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.” (Mark 13:27)
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed -- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
(1 Thessalonians 4:17)
“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers....” (2 Thessalonians 2:1)
The Gates of Hell
Jesus said in Matthew 16: 18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
When Jesus said that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against the Church, it sounds like the Church is in a weak position with the gates of Hades getting an upper hand. If we read it correctly, it is the exact opposite that takes place. The Church is pounding the gates of Hades and it cannot stand against such a powerful force.
Now we read in Revelation13:7...“It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.”
So which is it? Do the saints overcome or are they overcome?
Both are correct. The problem is in understanding the word “saints.” The Church is made up of “saints.” But there are others apart from the Church who are also called saints.
For example there are Old Testament saints and then there are Tribulation saints.
These saints spoken of here in Revelation 13: 7 are the Tribulation saints. They are NOT part of the Church which has been removed from the earth in the Rapture Event.
Old Testament verses relating to the Rapture
In particular I would like us to look at Isaiah 26:19 - 21 “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.
20) Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.
21) See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the bloodshed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.”
The flood had already passed and the next judgment in which God pours down His wrath on man concerning the whole earth is in the last days.
I believe Isaiah 26:19-21 fits right in line with the Pre – Tribulation Rapture theory.
There is a crown for those who love His appearing. Why? Because if you love the idea of Jesus coming back right now, you are probably trying to live for Him and are excited to see His return.
Zepheniah 2:3 “Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD's anger.”
Isaiah 24 is talking about the Tribulation.
Verse 21 speaks of binding Satan and his hordes.
Verse 23 speaks of the moon being confounded and the sun ashamed.
Often the chapter and verse divisions in the Bible can obstruct the train of thought being conveyed by the Holy Spirit. If we ignore the chapter divisions, we carry on into Isaiah 25 with the same thought and context. The first five verses of Isaiah 25 are a song.
They are a celebration of the final over throw of Babylon that will never be rebuilt.
Isaiah 25: 8 says “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.”
Paul quotes this passage from Isaiah in 1 Corinthians 15: 52 - 54 “...in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54) So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”
Also we read in 1 Thessalonians 4:16
“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.”
Let’s move onto verse 20 of Isaiah 26. It speaks about enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you. This could mean the Jewish people he is talking to could be hiding, possibly sealed, when the Lord displays His wrath. However, a verse that also comes to mind is this one.
John 14:2, 3 “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Does this indicate that we will go to be in our rooms, or mansions, as the KJV states?
Then after the wrath, we come down with God at the end of the Tribulation?
At the rapture you receive your resurrected body, so one could enjoy his new heavenly dwelling with a new body.
It makes no sense if God raises the dead for a new glorious life in which they are rejoicing, and then have to shield or protect them during His wrath.
Zepheniah 2: 3 “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.”
Psalm 27: 5 “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”
Hosea 6: 2 “After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”
The above scripture needs a little explanation. A day is as a thousand years to God.
2 Peter 3:8 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
After the Jews rejected their Messiah 2000 years ago, God has put them aside while (they are temporary blinded) He deals directly with the Church.
(The Church and Israel are mutually exclusive.)
“After two days (2000 years) will He revive us: in the third day (the 1000 years of the millennium) He will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”
Isaiah 57:1 “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.”
Zepheniah 2:3 “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his
judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.”