Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Featured Article: The End Times According to Jesus ... Part 1 - Jack Kelley -
The Olivet Discourse is the name scholars have given a private prophecy briefing Jesus gave to Peter, James, John and Andrew on the Mount of Olives. It's recorded in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13-14, and Luke 21.
John, while present at the briefing, did not include it in his gospel. John preferred to focus on the time Jesus spent with His disciples in the Upper Room on the night He was betrayed.
In reviewing the Olivet Discourse, we'll rely mainly on Matthew's account, it being the most detailed, adding excerpts from Mark and Luke where they add to or clarify the message. And we'll try to stay as close to the Lord's own words as possible to avoid reading any false conclusions into the passage.
As Matt. 24 opens, Jesus had left the Temple area and was headed for Bethany, where He and the disciples were staying at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. It was two days before the crucifixion.
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (Matt 24:1-3)
Based on His prediction that the Temple would soon be destroyed, the four disciples had three questions for the Lord.
Before we go on, their mindset in asking these questions is critical to our understanding.
While the Jews were in Babylon during the 70-year captivity, the angel Gabriel had told Daniel that Israel would be given 490 years from the date they received authorization to rebuild Jerusalem to wrap everything up. (Daniel 9:24-27) 483 of those years had passed. The Temple had been under construction for nearly 40 years and wasn't finished yet.
The disciples thought they were nearing the end of the age, and now Jesus tells them that everything will be torn down. There had never been any talk of a Church Age or a Rapture or of the disciples evangelizing the world. We know about all these things from hindsight, but they were probably in a state of great distress when they came to Him.
Even after the Resurrection they still didn't understand. This is confirmed by the question they asked Jesus on the Mount of Olives after the resurrection. "Lord, are you now going to restore the Kingdom?" (Acts 1:6)
It wasn't clear until James explained it 20 years later at the Council of Jerusalem. (Acts 15:13-18). He said the Lord was first going to take from among the Gentiles a people for Himself (the Church). After that He would turn again to Israel.
Back to our study.
In the Matthew account, the Lord ignored the first question and went straight to question 2. So for His answer to question 1, we'll go to Luke 21 where it's contained. Having begun like Matthew with an account of the End Times in verses 10-12, Luke backtracks to their first question in verses 12-24.
"But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm, you will gain life." (Luke 21:12-19)
Having told them what the rest of their lives would be like, and that their eternal destiny with Him was assured, the Lord finally answered their question about the Temple destruction.
"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24)
In what appears to be poor advice, He told them to get out of town when they saw the city being surrounded by enemy troops, an event that took place nearly 40 years later. The objective of a besieging army was to trap everyone inside so the plight of starving women and children would have a discouraging influence on the leadership.
Non-combatants were not allowed free passage through enemy lines for this reason.
But a strange thing happened in the siege of Jerusalem. After surrounding the city, the Roman army was suddenly told to abandon their position and prepare for an immediate departure to Rome. General Titus, who commanded the army, was the son of Vespasian, a man striving to become the Roman Emperor. Fearing he would need extra help in consolidating his power, Vespasian ordered Titus to bring the army home to assist. But before they could depart, another message arrived saying that all was in order and to resume the siege of Jerusalem.
For one week the siege lines had been abandoned. And during this time, Christians who heeded the Lord's earlier warning escaped. Although 1.2 million Jews died in Rome's defeat of Israel, according to the historian Josephus, not one Christian perished in the siege of Jerusalem. The Lord's advice had been sound and even strategically clever.
Roman soldiers were paid from the valuables they confiscated in battle, and the Temple was a huge prize. Titus wanted to preserve it, which would have deprived the soldiers of a tremendous bonus. Defending the Temple entrance with his sword raised against his own troops, he watched helplessly as a flaming torch was thrown over his head into the Temple starting a fire.
The ensuing blaze generated such heat that the gold plating covering the wooden plank ceiling began to melt and run down the stone walls, seeping into the cracks between the stones. When the blaze was finally extinguished, the soldiers dismantled the ruined walls to get the gold. By the time they had finished, not one stone was left standing on another, graphically fulfilling the Lord's prophecy to His disciples.
The Lord's prophecy concerning the duration of Jerusalem's captivity bears another look as well. Jerusalem either ceased to exist or was under Gentile authority from Roman times until June of 1967, when for the first time the Star of David flew over a unified city. This marked the end of Gentile Dominion, and a return to Israel as the focus of Biblical Prophecy, a clear sign that we're fast approaching the End of the Age.
Now, let's go back to Matthew 24 for the Lord's answers to their other questions, picking up the narrative in verse 4.
Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matt 24:4-9)
The coming Church Age would be characterized by the appearance of false messiahs, conflict between nations, natural disasters, and famine. Luke adds pestilence and great signs from heaven to the mix (Luke 21:11), as does the King James Version of Matthew. The comparison to birth pains reveals that while these events would occur all through the Church Age, they would be more and more frequent and more intense as the end comes nearer.
Next time we'll look at the clear signs marking the beginning and duration of the Great Tribulation. Until then, if you listen carefully, you can almost hear the Footsteps of the Messiah.
The End Times According to Jesus ... Part 2
- Jack Kelley -
"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt 24:9-14)
The words here are very similar to those in Luke 21:20-24 covered in Part 1, but in Matthew, the focus is clearly the End Times. It helps to remember that verses 4-14 are an overview of the End Times that cover the period from the beginning of the birth pangs to the 2nd Coming.
Believers will be severely persecuted at the End of the Age (Matthew's version) just like they were at the beginning (Luke's version) and because Tribulation believers are not promised Eternal Security like the Church was, many will turn away from the faith due to the intense persecution. Just before the Lord's return, the Good News will be preached in every nation to prepare the people of Earth for His coming and to deny them a plausible excuse for rejecting Him, or pleading ignorance.
"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel-let the reader understand- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again. (Matt 24:15-21)
In this portion, the Lord backed up to pinpoint the beginning of the Great Tribulation, a time of judgment whose very name comes from here (translated in the NIV as great distress), one that will surpass anything the world has ever seen. The Prophet Daniel had written of a time in the future when the Temple would be desecrated by an event he called "the Abomination that causes Desolation" (Daniel 9:24-27) and the Lord was now informing them that this event would trigger the Great Tribulation.
Since Daniel's time, something like it had only happened once. In 168 BC the Syrian Ruler Antiochus Epiphanes (the name means God made manifest), after muscling his way into Israel, seized the Temple and converted it to pagan worship. He erected a statue of Zeus in the Holy Place in his own likeness, requiring everyone to bow down before it on pain of death. The Jews called this desecration the Abomination that causes Desolation, borrowing language from Daniel 9:27. It so angered them that they rose up in arms against the Syrian invaders. The 3 1/2 year long Maccabean Revolt, as it was called, resulted in the Syrians' expulsion from Israel and a Temple cleansing and re-dedication ceremony that's still memorialized annually in the Feast of Chanukkah.
Today, students of the End Times see a frighteningly clear model of the Great Tribulation in the Maccabean Revolt, with a foreign invader calling himself God and demanding worship, a Temple desecration, and unbelievable persecution ending in a 3 1/2-year war of liberation. As we'll see, that's just what the Lord intended in mentioning Daniel's Prophecy.
193 years after the Maccabean Revolt, Jesus spoke of the Abomination that causes Desolation as something still in the future. And a careful reading of his 70 weeks prophecy shows that Daniel placed it in the middle of the 70th week, long after both the Messiah's arrival and rejection, and the destruction of the city and sanctuary. Since nothing like this has happened since the Lord gave His warning, it means that one day soon another foreign invader will muscle his way into Israel, calling himself God and demanding worship. There'll be another Temple desecration, and more unbelievable persecution ending in another war of liberation, only this time the entire planet will be affected, not just Israel. According to Daniel, it will begin half way through the last 7 years of human history establishing its duration as 3 1/2 years just like it's earlier model. In 2 Thes 2:4 Paul expanded Daniel's account, connecting it to the antichrist at the End of the Age. These things confirm that the sacrilege that kicked off the Maccabean Revolt serves as a preview to help people recognize the sacrilege that will kick off the Great Tribulation. (See also Rev. 13:14-17)
There are three factors here that underscore the "Jewishness" of the Lord's warning:
First there will be a desecration of their Temple, second the warning is given specifically to those in Judea, the region of Jerusalem in Israel, and third, there's an admonition to pray that it won't happen on the Sabbath, a day when Jewish law forbids traveling.
Clearly, the Lord was saying that there will be a nation of Jewish people observing His Law in Israel at the End of the Age and they will have rebuilt their Temple prior to His return.
If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.
"So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. (Matt. 24:22-28)
The Great Tribulation is the most specifically documented span of time in all of Scripture. In one place we're told it's 3 1/2 years long (time, times and half a time; one year plus two years plus half a year as in Rev. 12:14), in another, 42 months (Rev. 11:2) and in still another, 1260 days (Rev.12:6). Use the original calendar for Earth, 12 months of 30 days each for a 360 day year, and you find all three measurements identical from a time standpoint. Moreover, there isn't a single hint anywhere that it will be of a shorter duration. Most scholars who read the passage above literally, conclude that the phrase cut short means that for the sake of His elect the Lord will step in on the 1260th day and put an end to the warfare instead of letting it run to its logical conclusion; the destruction of every human on the planet.
Use the original calendar for Earth, 12 months of 30 days each for a 360 day year, and you find all three measurements identical from a time standpoint. Moreover, there isn't a single hint anywhere that it will be of a shorter duration. Most scholars who read the passage above literally, conclude that the phrase cut short means that for the sake of His elect the Lord will step in on the 1260th day and put an end to the warfare instead of letting it run to its logical conclusion; the destruction of every human on the planet.
"Immediately after the distress of those days, " 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 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. (Matt.24:29-31)
In bringing the Great Tribulation to an end, the Lord cause the Sun and Moon to be darkened. Then His sign will appear in the sky, and finally He Himself will come in power and glory just as He promised Caiaphas, the High Priest, at His trial 2000 years ago (Matt. 26:64). All the nations will mourn because His appearance rings the closing bell for the Age of Grace. Too late, the people of Earth will realize that He is just Who He's always claimed to be, and they've missed their last chance at salvation.
At His signal, His angels will gather His elect (believers) from all over Heaven to return with Him to Earth to establish His Kingdom. This is one of two vague hints in the Olivet Discourse that there will be a body of believers in Heaven awaiting His 2nd coming. According to Mark's account, believers on earth will also be summoned (Mark 13:27) to witness His triumphant return.
"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matt. 24:32-36)
The fig tree is the last to bud, so when it does we know Summer's almost here. Through His disciples, the Lord told the people on Earth at the End of the Age that when all these things begin to happen, it means the end is very near. Indeed, of the 6000-year history of Man, only 3 1/2 will remain.
The Greek word translated generation also means race and can be interpreted as the Lord's promise that the Jewish race wouldn't be extinguished before the End comes. And that's remarkably true. The vicious and oft-repeated attempts to rid the world of Jewish people have all failed, and Israel has risen from the grave after a 2000-year absence to once again become the focus of world attention.
Yet there's also a sense in which the Lord's promise can be rendered, "I tell you the truth, the generation that sees the beginning of these signs will also see their culmination." In other words, they will all be concluded during the lifetimes of those being born as they begin. There's precedent for this too. All the prophecies concerning the Lord's first visit were fulfilled within the lifespan of the generation into which He was born.
Please note that if this view is the correct one, as I believe it to be, the Lord didn't promise that, once they begin, all End Times prophecies would be fulfilled before the next generation is born, but only that they would be fulfilled during the lifetimes of those being born at their commencement. A Biblical generation is nominally 40 years, but a lifetime is more like 70-80 years (Psalm 90:10). The folks who added 40 years to Israel's 1948 rebirth and predicted the Rapture would happen in 1988 were off on two counts.
1) They should have added a lifetime, not the length of a biblical generation, and
2) It's the 2nd Coming that will happen within a lifetime of the first signs. The Rapture could happen at any time prior to that.
If we're still here next week, we'll finish up this series and show you why those who are looking for signs of the Rapture of the Church in the Olivet Discourse are looking in the wrong place. Until then, if you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.
The End Times According to Jesus .. Part 3 - Jack Kelley - https://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/the-end-times-according-to-jesus-part-3/
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. (Matt 24:36-41)
Don't let this passage confuse you, like it has so many others. Note that the first sentence reads, "No one knows about that day or hour." Plenty of people on Earth at the End of the Age will know when the Lord is due to return. Remember, both the kick-off event and duration of the Great Tribulation are clearly and unmistakably described. On the day when the Antichrist stands in the Temple and declares that he's God, they'll just have to count off 1260 days and look up into the sky. First, they'll see the Sun and Moon turn dark and stars fall out of the sky. (Matt 24:29) That's the signal that the Great Tribulation has ended. Then the Lord's sign will appear in the sky. (Matt. 24:30) And finally, they'll see the Lord Himself coming in the clouds in power and glory. But the period of time required for this sequence to unfold is anybody's guess, and that's what this passage says.
Also, the Lord compared the time of His return to the time of Noah, so we should expect to find similar circumstances leading up to these two events. And we do. Both involve worldwide judgments that occur at a time when most people are caught unaware. Although in both cases the people of Earth are given repeated warnings of what's coming, those warnings are ignored by almost everyone. In the case of the Great Flood, judgment came in the form of rain, which fell on the Earth for 40 days and 40 nights. In the case of the Great Tribulation 21 separate judgment events unfold over a 3 ½ year period. This is why although only eight people survived the Flood, the Lord warned that the Great Tribulation would be the worst time of judgment in human history.
Here's where the second hint of a body of believers in Heaven awaiting His return appears, and this one's even more vague than the first one, back in Matt. 24:31. You see, both the Great Flood and the Great Tribulation have three components: judgment, preservation through judgment, and escape from judgment. In the Days of Noah, the unbelievers were judged, Noah's family was preserved through the judgment, and Enoch escaped it altogether. At the End of the Age, unbelievers are judged, the remnant of Israel is preserved through the judgment, and the Church escapes from judgment.
Now let's consider those words taken and left in Matt. 24:40-41 a little more closely. The Greek word translated taken literally means received, and the one translated left means put away. They refer to the disposition of those remaining alive on Earth when the Lord returns-the Tribulation Survivors. Those who've become believers will be received into the Kingdom, and those who haven't will be put away into the place prepared for the devil and his angels. Folks who try to find the Rapture of the Church in these words are simply looking in the wrong place.
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matt. 24:42-44)
This warning is given primarily to those Tribulation Survivors who are not believers. As I stated above, once the Great Tribulation begins, all believers on Earth will know when it will end. The sequence of events that follow is also clear. The only thing they won't know is the exact day and hour of His Coming.
No, this warning is to the undecided, who aren't counting up the prophecies being fulfilled around them, and don't realize that if they waver too long, they'll be taken by surprise and miss their last chance at salvation. Don't get me wrong, they'll be only too aware of the massive disruptions to their lives caused by the End Times judgments. They just won't understand what's behind it all. Remember, confusion and deception will be the order of the day.
Think about the analogy of the thief. As the Lord returns unexpectedly (like a thief), He'll be breaking into a place the enemy thinks belongs to him and his followers. "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Phil 3:19-20) He won't be coming as a thief in the night as far as believers are concerned, stealthily breaking into their world. They'll be eagerly watching and impatiently waiting, counting the days, praying for His coming, longing for Him to take them home to be with Him forever.
"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 24:45-51)
The worst punishment is reserved for those in charge, heads of organized religions who, instead of "feeding" their flocks with the Bread of Life and encouraging them with the promise of His return, confuse and deceive them with false doctrines, and deny the validity of God's prophetic Word. By their actions, they demonstrate the depravity of their own souls, showing themselves to be devoid of the Holy Spirit and worthy of punishment. Knowingly or not, they're infiltrators from the enemy's camp, like tares among the wheat.
Having forsaken the truth, they no longer watch for the Lord's return, ignoring the obvious fulfillment of prophecy all around them and ridiculing those whose child-like faith sustains them. These "Christian Atheists" as they sometimes call themselves, are worse than the enemy because they look and talk like friends. They're like the one John describes as appearing to have the authority of the Lamb but who speaks the words of the Dragon (Rev. 13:11). They will be also be assigned to the place prepared for the devil and his angels.
But the Lord will elevate to a place of authority in His Kingdom those who keep the word of God through the intense hardship and persecution of the times, and teach sound doctrine to the flocks entrusted to them. Just as some among the common folk alive when the Lord returns will be received into the Kingdom with honors, while others are put away in everlasting shame and contempt, so it will be with their leaders.
In chapter 25, Matthew recounts two parables, the Ten Bridesmaids and the Talents, and a warning to Tribulation Survivors, the Sheep and Goat judgment. In all three, the emphasis is on separating the faithful from the unfaithful following the Lord's return. The faithful will be received with honors into His Kingdom, while the unfaithful are left out to be judged. Since all three include a reference to time that places them in the aftermath of His 2nd coming, the entire chapter expands on the "taken and left" statement of Matt. 24:40-41.
Because there's been so much confusion, let's make this perfectly clear. Of all the views on the timing of the Rapture of the Church, none place it after the 2nd coming. But look how clearly that time frame is indicated in each portion of Matt. 25. Backing up a little to establish the order, we read;
"Immediately after the distress of those days," signs in the Heavens after the end of the Great Tribulation (Matt 24:29)
"At that time," His appearance in the sky after the end of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:30)
"No one knows about that day," the day of the 2nd Coming, after the Tribulation (Matt: 24:36)
"At that time," connecting the parable of the ten virgins to the 2nd Coming (Matt 25:1)
"Again," referring to the same time frame in beginning the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14)
"When the Son of Man comes in all His Glory," beginning the Sheep and Goat judgment which describes the judgment of Tribulation Survivors after the 2nd Coming (Matt 25:31).
As you see, they all occur chronologically after the Tribulation and 2nd Coming, and all describe the situation on Earth following the Lord's return. Therefore none of them can be used to describe the Rapture or any other aspect of the Church. The Church Age ends with the Rapture and that occurs before the Second Coming.
It's clear that the only questions the Lord answered in the Olivet Discourse are the three the disciples asked. "When will these things happen? What will be the sign of your Coming and of the End of the Age?" Having chosen to delay the announcement of the Rapture of the Church until nearly 20 years after His resurrection, the Lord neither taught it to His disciples nor, as we've seen, did He address it in the Olivet Discourse. No, the Olivet Discourse was a summary of Jewish Eschatology given to Jews in Israel, not intended for the Church.
So in coming to the end of our commentary, we're left with one big unanswered question. Why didn't the Lord teach something as important as the Doctrine of the Rapture to his disciples somewhere else in the Gospels? Obviously, there's a good reason, and I'll explain it next time. That way we'll keep something intended exclusively for the Church separate from this very Jewish passage of Scripture we call the Olivet Discourse. In the meantime, if you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.
The End Times According to Jesus, Part 4-Why Didn't He Mention the Rapture?
- Jack Kelley -
In 51 AD, almost 20 years after the Resurrection, the Apostle Paul became the first to reveal the incredible secret that would become known as the Rapture of the Church. He did this in his earliest written communication, his first letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thes. 4:16-17), repeating it four years later in a letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:51).
From Thessalonians we know that at the Rapture, the dead in Christ will rise first to be followed immediately by believers who are left and still alive.
Concerning living believers, Paul's letter to the Corinthians explains that in the twinkling of an eye, we'll be changed from mortal to immortal, bypassing death altogether. Either way, in less than an instant we'll all arrive together in Heaven.
As an aside, those who dispute this doctrine claim that the word rapture doesn't appear in the English translation of either of Paul's letters cited above (nor anywhere else in scripture for that matter) and of course they're correct. The original Greek word Paul used to describe the rapture in 1 Thes. 4:17 is harpazo, usually rendered "caught up" in English translations.
Because of the growing dominance of the Roman Empire in Biblical times, Latin was fast replacing Greek as the world's common language and so about 400 AD the Bible was translated from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. Harpazo became raptus, the Latin root of the English word rapture. It means "the transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven." So it's the Latin version that gave the event its name. Our current English translations are taken directly from the earlier Greek texts, and that's why the word rapture doesn't appear in them.
Why The Delay?
But why didn't the Lord announce the whole issue of salvation for the Gentiles including the Rapture of the Church during his time here? Two reasons. First, Israel had to receive a bona fide offer of the Kingdom. His commitment to them was clear. The first time He sent the disciples out to minister, He told them, "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. (Matt. 10:5) And later when the disciples asked Him to respond to a Gentile woman whose daughter needed healing, He at first declined saying, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." (Matt. 15:23-24) Before He could expand His ministry to the Gentiles, He had to fulfill His promise to Israel.
So just as he had offered reconciliation to the Amorites in Abraham's time, knowing in advance that they would reject Him, (Gen. 15:16) the Lord extended His offer of a Kingdom to Israel. And of course Israel did reject His offer by attributing the power behind His miracles to Satan, (Matt. 12:22-37) and eventually accusing Him of blasphemy (Matt. 26:65). This rejection was confirmed to them in the parable of the tenants (Matt. 21:13-44). But the pre-determined order of first the Jew then the Gentile (Rom. 1:16) had to be observed. (Prophetic Scriptures tell us Israel will get another chance, and the next time they'll accept.)
Second, knowing before history began that the Jews would reject Him the first time, the Lord had always planned to extend His offer of salvation to the Gentiles, and that meant something really dramatic had to happen. Gentiles were even worse sinners than Jews, who at least made periodic attempts to obey. But for 4000 years the Lord had demonstrated through His people that no level of excellence in human behavior could ever meet His requirements for salvation. And even with the most complex religious system ever devised, the most expensive house of worship ever built, the most detail conscious people ever created, and the most aggressive sacrifice of innocent blood ever undertaken, the final score at the end of the Dispensation of Law was zero souls saved through religious works. (Rom. 3:20)
At Least Somebody's Listening
Well, He didn't convince them but He did convince Satan, who believed that eventually all of humanity would wind up with him in the lost column of the ledger, Jew and Gentile alike. Surely then the Lord would have to rescind his judgment against Satan (Isaiah 14:16-21). After all, was he any worse than sinful mankind? Hadn't they also rebelled, tried to set up their own kingdoms, and even tried to become their own God? The God Who is Love couldn't stand by and let all his precious children go to hell just to punish Satan, could He? And if He bent the rules for them, He'd have to bend for Satan.
But no one knew what the Lord had cooked up to solve this problem. Having known from the beginning that we couldn't save ourselves by our works, He had determined in advance that He would save us by our faith. That meant someone qualified to do so would have to step up and pay the penalty for our sins for us. Then God could promise us that if we accepted this substitution in faith, we would be saved.
Of course the only One qualified to do this for us was God Himself. So He did. He Who had no sin was made a sin offering for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21) And as a special blessing for "believing though we have not seen" (John 20:29) He even went so far as to make His Church a separate classification of humanity, (Ephe. 2:15) giving us a pre-imminent place in His Kingdom, and promising to take us out of this world to be with Him forever in a secret, sudden departure we now call the Rapture. And though we can look back and see hints of His plan all through the Old Testament, (Isaiah 49:6 for example) neither Satan, the leaders of Israel, nor even the Lord's closest disciples realized that His death on the cross was intended to accomplish all this.
"None of the rulers of this age understood it," Paul wrote, "For if they had they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory." (1 Cor. 2:8) Implicit in the phrase "rulers of this age" is a reference to Satan, whom Paul called "the god of this age" in 2 Cor. 4:4. If Satan had known that his efforts to defeat the Lord by killing Him would result in his own total defeat, he would have done anything he could to prevent it.
I've Got A Secret
For these reasons the Rapture of a largely Gentile Church had to be kept secret. It was part of God's secret wisdom, Paul said, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began (1 Cor 2:7). Paul was not authorized to reveal this until nearly 20 years after the Lord's death, when it was too late for anyone to do anything about it, but it's what he meant when he wrote to the Colossians, "And having disarmed the powers and authorities (by paying the penalty for our sins) He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." (Col. 2:15).
(It's easy to forget that up until Peter's vision and subsequent visit to the home of Cornelius detailed in Acts 10, most believers had come from among the Jews. The acceptance of Gentiles into the Church didn't become official policy until the council at Jerusalem 13 years after that in Acts 15.)
What was to have been Satan's great victory has resulted in his total defeat. Now the only ones on his side of the ledger will be those who choose to be there by rejecting God's offer of pardon. Their choice relieves God of the responsibility. He still grieves over them, but can't override their sovereign right to choose their own destiny. And since they've chosen to join him, Satan can't use them as leverage to get a better deal for himself.
In Closing ...
The enormity of God's Gift of Grace, made available to Jew and Gentile alike and sealed with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, is something so unbelievable that neither Paul nor any other Apostle was ever able to adequately describe it. The best Paul could do was to borrow a passage from Isaiah, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9). Amen to that.
And so one day soon, with no prior warning and at a time when the world least expects Him, the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 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 Thes. 4:16-17) There is no precedent condition, nothing that must happen first, except that if you want to be included you have to give your heart to Him who's coming before the trumpet call sounds. Better do it right away, for if you listen carefully you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.
Why Can God Seem So Distant? - Nathan Jones -
Have you ever attended a White Elephant Party?
No, I'm not talking about some pale pachyderm popping out of a pastry. Rather, these are parties where attendee gifts are more likely to be of the flea market persuasion, and the more creatively weird the better. It's all a lot of fun, that is, as long as the receiver of these kinds of gifts isn't a birthday boy or your wife. If they are, and they're receiving Great Aunt Betty's pig-shaped soup bowl, then well, you'll likely end up visiting the dog house. For these important people in our lives, especially on their special day, only the best gifts will do.
Once there was a people who believed they only needed to give God white elephant gifts. It's a fantastic little story found in the last Old Testament book of Malachi. The Minor Prophet uncovered poignant insights into the heart of a Heavenly Father who had been receiving second, and even third, best.
Facing the Menagerie
One day the Prophet Malachi had been standing outside of the Temple, mouth agape, watching with incredulity as the priests readily accepted one sorry excuse of a sacrifice to God after another. Mosaic Law required the best of the flock, the unblemished and the healthy. Instead, the people reluctantly dragged in shabby goats with broken horns, sickly lambs with eye infections, and bulls so old they might just die before reaching the butcher block. Burdened to the point of exasperation, God's prophet readied himself to set the stingy bunch of worshipers straight about what loving God truly meant.
Malachi shouted out so that the unruly crowd of half-hearted devotees could not miss him, "The Lord says, 'I have loved you!' Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?'" Thus Malachi had begun a series of seven literary disputations, where God pronounced a statement and the people responded by brazenly questioning the truth of God's claims (1:1-5). In each case, the people threw God's statements back at Him like moody teenagers questioning their parents. And these people were at the Temple to worship!
In His first statement, God reminded the people just how special Israel had been to Him over the centuries, giving historical examples of His great love. But, the people, they just wanted to know what God had done for them lately.
Malachi presented God's second statement, this time against His own corrupt priests (1:6-2:9). "If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?" The priests questioned, "In what way have we despised Your name? In what way have we defiled You?" God responded by pointing out the obvious - the sacrificial animals were appalling! Blind, lame, sick, and even stolen, the guardians of God's grace that covered the people's sins were shaming Yahweh's name.
Aghast at the obvious, Malachi spit forth God's third statement (2:10-16). "Judah has profaned the Lord's holy institution which He loves." The people scoffed with, "For what reason?" The holy covenant of marriage was being treated with casual contempt as divorce rates skyrocketed, demonstrating the treacherous people were unfaithful. Therefore, God rejected their offerings. Even if they were to weep and wail, which they wouldn't, God would ignore their faithless sacrifices.
God sighed deeply in utter weariness at His people's hard hearts and constant questioning (2:17-3:6). The prophet in this fourth statement revealed, "You have wearied the Lord with your words." Demonstrating no sympathy, the congregants squealed, "In what way have we wearied Him?" And with a snap remark they added, "Where is the God of justice?" Ouch! The insolent people just accused the God of the Universe of delighting in evil. Patiently, God promised true justice when the ultimate Judge - the Messiah - arrived.
Malachi presented God's fifth statement, this time a magnanimous plea (3:7). "Return to Me, and I will return to you." Like an angry toddler who doesn't get the toy he wants, the stubborn people spit, "In what way shall we return?"
In His sixth statement, God leveled an accusation, "You have robbed Me!" (3:8-12). The guilty people merely hid their pathetic animals behind their backs, batted their eyes, and replied innocently, "In what way have we robbed You?" God challenged them that if they sacrificed with generous hearts, He would bless them beyond measure. Sadly, the people's hearts were stingy, for they didn't trust God to follow through.
In the seventh and final statement, God lamented, "Your words have been harsh against Me" (3:13-15). In an embarrassing display of ignorance, the people scoffed, "What have we spoken against You?" And then they immediately spoke against Him: "It is useless to serve God."
Defining the Distance
God had enough of these faithless people and their casual indifference to His Law. They had spurned God's love, so God would shut His mouth... for 400 years!
While a majority will always reject God, just emotionlessly going through the motions of worship, a believing remnant always exists that responds positively in repentance to God's Word. Malachi ended with a promise to the faithful few who feared the Lord: "They shall be Mine" (3:16 - 4:6). When the Day of the Lord's judgment finally arrives, God's "jewels" shall be spared.
God will always seem distant to those who, in truth, want Him to be distant. But, for those faithful who love the Lord and give Him their best, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
As We Wait For Our Bridegroom Let Us Study His Word - By Geri Ungurean -
Those of us who have discernment and can clearly see that the end of this age is rapidly approaching, know these things by the reading of God's Word. All one needs to do is to read news reports regarding the Middle East and search the Scriptures. God's Word jumps off the page for those of us who are truly watching and waiting.
But brethren, as we wait for our Blessed Redeemer, we must continue to be edified and strengthened by the reading of His Word. We also will be encouraged to share Salvation with others who are lost and cannot find their way.
From gotquestions.org 
I use gotquestions a lot in my articles. I have found them to be sound and grounded in Scripture. I will be outlining their answer to the following question:
Question: "Why should we read the Bible / study the Bible?"
We should read and study the Bible because it is God's Word to us. The Bible is literally "God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16). In other words, it is God's very words to us.
We should read and study the Bible because it is totally reliable and without error. The Bible is unique among so-called "holy" books in that it does not merely give moral teaching and say, "Trust me." Rather, we have the ability to test it by checking the hundreds of detailed prophecies that it makes, by checking the historical accounts it records, and by checking the scientific facts it relates.
We should read and study the Bible because God does not change and because mankind's nature does not change; it is as relevant for us as it was when it was written.
We should read and study the Bible because there is so much false teaching. The Bible gives us the measuring stick by which we can distinguish truth from error.
The Bible equips us to serve God (2 Timothy 3:17; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). It helps us know how to be saved from our sin and its ultimate consequence (2 Timothy 3:15).
Reading and studying the Bible helps us see beyond the attractive "bait" to the painful "hook" in sinful temptations, so that we can learn from others' mistakes rather than making them ourselves.
The Bible is a book that is not merely for reading. It is a book for studying so that it can be applied. Otherwise, it is like swallowing food without chewing and then spitting it back out again-no nutritional value is gained by it.
Read entire Gotquestions article here 
I will add another reason we need to be in the Word of God as we wait for our Blessed Hope:
God cares so much for us, that He left us His Word - a Letter of Love to us. He knows that in these bodies we will have so many trials and troubles. He knows that we will be tempted to sin, and sometimes we will stumble and fall.
"For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14).
He cares and loves us so much, that He made a way to be reconciled to Himself. He cannot be in the presence of sin. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to make a way for us to be reconciled to Him. When God looks at those who are saved, He sees Jesus.
In reading His Word, we can see from Genesis to Revelation, His plan of redemption for mankind. We are edified when we read and study God's Word. He equips us to share His Amazing Agape Love with others, so that their eyes may be open to His Truth and be saved.
So as we wait for Jesus, let us be nourished and edified by reading and studying His Word!
Video of Adrian Rogers: "The Amazing Word of God"
All articles at grandmageri422.me
Daily Jot: Christianity preserves a free society
- Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
As we enter the weekend when we celebrate our independence and freedom, there are those who wish to abolish the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and remake our country into a communist utopia. There are reports, for example, that Antifa, an anarchist anti-fascist group, will march on Gettysburg and desecrate Confederate graves. Sounds like fascism to me. This is the same group that has been violently attacking conservatives across the nation. It is essentially the military arm of the left. This is just one example. As we celebrate this weekend with family and friends over a 'burger or a 'dog, let us remember the price of our freedom and the role of Christianity in preserving it.
With the immoral and amoral trying to place a death grip on our free society, Christians must stand otherwise freedom will cease to exist. "Freedom sees in religion the companion of its struggles and its triumphs, the cradle of its infancy, the divine source of its rights. It considers religion as the safeguard of mores; and mores as the guarantee of laws and the pledge of its own duration."--these are the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, a French aristocrat who came to America in the 1830s to observe what made the country so great. His "Democracy in America" is considered a historic treasure about the unique success of the United States. Tocqueville wrote that America is free because of its collective Christian religion.
He pointed out that the laws that governed the Plymouth colony were derived from the Hebrew texts. In the later 1600s, even the law of Connecticut stated that man shall not "have or worship any other God, but the Lord God." He said that Americans "have succeeded in incorporating somehow into one another and combining marvelously...the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom." Tocqueville believed America was unique in this very way. As we look around the world and see the devastation of modern human trafficking-slavery-it is non-Christian states, such as Islamic nations and others that have no defined connection to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who are perpetrating humans in bondage.
Cotton Mather wrote in 1820, "There is a liberty of corrupt nature, which is affected both by men and beasts, to do what they list; and this liberty is inconsistent with authority, impatient of all restraint; by this liberty we are all inferior; 'tis the grand enemy of truth and peace, and all the ordinances of God are bent against it. But there is a civil, a moral, a federal liberty, which is the proper end and object of authority; it is a liberty for that only which is just and good; for this liberty you are to stand with the hazard of your very lives." Galatians 5:1 says, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." As Christians we must demand and accept no other form of liberty.
Daily Devotion: Faithful in Small Things
- By Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. -Luke 16:10
I still remember the day I went to Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa and volunteered my services to Pastor Chuck Smith. I was nineteen years old, and I said, "Pastor Chuck, I want to be used by God. I will do whatever you want me to do around here."
I thought he might ask me to preach at one of the midweek services. Instead he said, "I have a man I want you to talk to-Pastor Romaine."
I didn't know who Pastor Romaine was at the time. But I learned that he had been a drill sergeant in the Marine Corps, and he took a special delight in whipping young bucks like me into shape. My job, basically, was to do janitorial work for free.
I thought, "Wait a second. I thought they were going to let me serve the Lord."
They were. Effectively they were saying, "Be faithful in the little things, and if you aren't, then we won't give you anything else to do." So I went about faithfully doing whatever was set before me, and in time, they let me go and do a Bible study here and there. I preached in some pretty interesting places, including mental institutions. And when all the pastors went out to lunch, I would ask the secretary to route the calls to me from people who called in for counseling. Little did people realize that when they were calling the church for advice, they were talking to a nineteen-year-old kid. I was anxious to do whatever I could to serve the Lord.
I have found that if we want to be used by God, then we have to be willing to do the little things first. Because we can never be too small for God to use-only too big.
FROM THE HEART
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