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The Rapture and the Revelation - Pete Garcia - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8118
Ever wonder why prophecy is contained in the Bible? Why does it make up approximately 1/3 of our Holy Scripture? Why did God even bother telling us things ahead of time before they happened? Why is the church so divided on the one topic that is seemingly only meant for the purpose of giving us hope? The answer to all these questions, depends I suppose on who you ask.
Some believe everything prophetic has already happened. Some believe that it is the Church’s mandate to bring the Kingdom to the earth. Others believe that the Church must go through part, or all of the seven year Tribulation. Still others, do not see the Church entering into that time at all. As the old saying goes, although we can all be wrong, we can’t all be right. Knowing the razor sharp, prophetic accuracy thus far contained in our Bible, we know it isn’t wrong…so who is right?
In man’s short history on this blue, round ball, mankind has accomplished many wonderful and terrible things. Everything from unlocking the code to DNA, to creating the Atom Bomb…there is no doubt that if man puts his mind to it, there isn’t anything he can’t do. (Gen. 11:6) There is one exception to this though, and that is being able to see into the future. God alone, reserves that right unto Himself. He says…
Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,’ Isaiah 46:9-10
So the answer to the former question, of why God tells us things ahead of time, is because He wants us to be assured, that the future, our future, is securely in His hands. In other words, it was meant as a means to comfort us, and to reassure us that no matter how bleak things may look in the here and now, the future of the believer is glorious beyond understanding. And for this very reason, Satan hates Bible Prophecy because it foretells what the future has in store for him.
Knowing that, and knowing that he knows what is actually destined to happen, he has used his ability to pervert and contort the scriptures, to rob Christians of the joy of fellowship, unity, and hope, by twisting Bible prophecy from what it was meant to be (our blessed hope) into something it is not…hopeless division.
Satan wants to rob, divide and destroy the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Satan has used many tools, tactics and people over the millennia to introduce what is known as, doctrines of demons. The intent behind these heretical doctrines is to confuse believers and keep the church divided. How Satan has done this has been very subtle and clever, in that he has introduced the idea that the Bible doesn't say what it really says. ‘Yeah, hath God said…’ Rather man is given the idea that he should be the one who interprets the meaning to whatever he or she sees fit to do.
If we look at the early church fathers, those men who were the disciples of the apostles, they largely viewed that Christ would literally return one day in rule and reign on the earth. Unfortunately, the further we move away from the first century, men’s views on these began to change. A literal reading of the Greek text began to blur as Satan began subtly introducing varying heresies into the Church, from well-intentioned men. Satan realized that in his intense fury to persecute and bludgeon the church from off the face of the earth, only caused it to spread faster. Which is why he found it much more effective to corrupt it.
Two points to consider; first, is that from AD70 until 1948, there was no nation of Israel. The second is that well-intentioned men began allegorizing (spiritualizing) the Scripture because of point number one. Men like Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Augustine did great damage to the hope and unity the early church fathers had, by taking liberties with the meaning and plain teaching of Scripture. From their writings, vast branches of Christendom formed and have led to wildly varying views of what the end of time will look like.
Within the end times study (Eschatology), there are two topics that have divided the church like no other, and that is the Rapture and the Revelation. The Rapture is the “catching up”, which is found in 1 Thess. 4:16 and 1 Cor. 15:51-55. Other Rapture events include; Enoch (Gen. 5:24, Hebrews 11:5), Elijah (2 Kings 2:10-11), Jesus (Luke 24:51; Rev. 12:5) Paul (2 Cor. 12:1-5) and John (Rev. 4:1-2).
The Revelation of Jesus Christ is the final book in our Holy Bible, and it was given from God to Christ, to the angels to John, to convey what the future holds for mankind. Apocalypse means in the English, the revealing, or unveiling of something hidden. The book is unique in that it claims itself to be prophecy (Rev. 1:3) and is the only book in the Bible that offers a promise of blessing, for those who read and take it to heart. The Revelation of Christ occurs in three places in the book;
The Pre-Tribulational view of the Rapture is and always will be the only legitimate and valid Eschatological view. I’m going to forego all the major differences between the Rapture and 2nd Coming that normally get ignored by those who willingly reject the obvious. But, if you’re curious, here is an excellent chart showing what they are.
But here is why the Rapture and the Second Coming are NOT the same event.
1) Mystery: The Apostle Paul referred to the rapture ‘catching up’ as a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51). A mystery in the biblical sense of the word is a truth that had not yet been previously revealed to mankind. So if the Rapture and the Second Coming were the same event, and Jesus had already discussed His Second Coming at length in His Olivet Discourse some twenty years prior to Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians (AD48-51), then Paul would not be revealing a mystery, but simply expounding on something that Christ had already explained, and thus, he would have been incorrect in calling it a mystery. But he wasn’t, because this was a new revelation that had been given to Him, by Christ, years after Christ had ascended. (Gal. 1:11-12)
2)Wrath: Throughout the New Testament, a reoccurring theme is that although the church experiences trials and tribulation in this life, we will not experience God’s wrath, but rather be delivered from it. (1 Thess. 1:10, 5:1-4, 9; Col. 3:5-7; Romans 5:9; Rev. 3:10) Even more so, is the picture that is repeatedly painted throughout the Bible, that God delivers His own before He pours out His wrath upon the earth. Remember Enoch? Remember Noah? Remember Lot? What He is delivering us from, is the wrath to come, that HE is pouring out on the Christ-rejecting earth. (Isaiah 26:19-21; Jer. 30:7-11) So if we are delivered from God’s wrath, when does the wrath begin? Rev. 5:1-4 explains when and how…
And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.
So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
3) Grace, not works: Inarguably, the major theme for the believer in the Church Age, is that our Gospel is that of Christ Crucified (1 Cor. 1:23, 15:1-5) and our salvation is by grace through faith, and NOT of works. (John 3:18, 36; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5) Believers in this age, are sealed by the Holy Spirit UNTIL our redemption. (2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:11-14)
Daniel’s 70th week (all seven years), will be a period of intense testing for all the inhabitants of the earth. (Matt. 25:1-13; Rev. 3:10) Believers at large will no longer be afforded the sealing by the Holy Spirit, but will have to maintain their salvation at the cost to their own lives. (Rev. 14:12-13; 16:15) The only ones who are sealed, are the 144,000 Jewish male virgins from the 12 Tribes of Israel. (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5) Along with that, the world will no longer have the restraint provided by Him to hold evil at bay. (John 16:7-10; 2 Thess. 2:7)
Since the Holy Spirit is God and is omnipresent, it’s not that He ceases to exist on the earth, it’s that His role during this short period of time, reverts back to the way it was prior to that first Pentecost when He descended down as ‘cloven tongues of fire’ in Acts 2. No one will argue that the Holy Spirit existed prior to Pentecost, and yet, there was a distinct change in His interaction upon the earth from then until now.
Just as believers in the Old Testament were not guaranteed their salvation, (Psalm 51:11) so too will those who miss the Rapture and enter into the Tribulation. The mark of the beast system that the Antichrist imposes upon the entire earth will absolutely force you to either suffer under extreme duress (can’t buy or sell anything), or suffering martyrdom. And since you cannot both take the mark of the beast and be sealed by the Holy Spirit, there was to be a period of separation between the two eternal sealings. (Rev. 13; 14:9-10)
Jesus also spoke of ‘enduring to the end in order to be saved’. This salvation is not in the spiritual, eternal sense, but in the physical sense (as deliverance) into the Messianic Kingdom which is initiated at the end of the Tribulation, if they make it through the Sheep and Goat judgment, which precedes the Millennial Kingdom. (Matt. 24:13, 22; 25:31-46)
So what is the ‘so what’ of all this? I mean, won’t the Rapture (when it occurs) sort all this out? Yes, it will. But God told us ahead of time, what will occur, so when it does happen, we would believe. (John 13:19) When people and churches promote faulty interpretations that lead the believer away from what the Scriptures actually teaches, it steers the believer off course. Views that put the Church inside the 70th Week, can only do so, by doing great interpretative damage to other parts of the Scripture, either confusing the Church with Israel, or denying the unique nature of the Church, of which Christ built, and who He is the Head of. (Col. 1:24-26)
While knowing or not knowing the order of end-times events is not critical to one’s salvation, it is critical to one’s sanctification. If one holds to an errant view of Eschatology, and Eschatology is the capstone by which all other doctrines find their culmination, then one cannot mature in the faith into that ‘perfect man’ that each believer in this dispensation is destined to become. It is because of this…
…He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ--Eph. 4:11-15
Even So, Maranatha!