The Rapture of the Church – Our Blessed Hope in Jesus Christ

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Whether you have studied much or little about the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, I want you to be confident that this belief is well-supported by scripture.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

While we are watching the signs of rumors of wars, third Temple progress, attitudes in society and in the church, among others, the BIG EVENT – the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the transformation of living saints into resurrection bodies – is almost upon us. After the transformation from temporal to eternal, a literal “catching away” of those who believe in Jesus will occur. This is commonly known as the rapture, from the Latin translation of “caught up” – rapiemur (from rapio). The Greek word is harpazo (Strong’s 726). Both mean “we are caught up” or “we are taken away”, and suggest suddenness and aggressiveness. HELPS Word-studies defines harpazo as “seize by force; snatch up, suddenly and decisively – like someone seizing bounty (spoil, a prize); to take by an open display of force (i.e. not covertly or secretly).” (Source)

The rapture isn’t going to be a secret, but it will be sudden! Let’s examine the scriptures pertaining to this glorious event!

First, passages that promise to spare the saints from wrath:

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)

“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:9)

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 1 (Thessalonians 5:9-10)

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)

We are not destined for wrath! God has never poured out His wrath upon His righteous ones in the past, and He won’t do so in the future either. How is God going to spare us from wrath? It’s all a part of the gift of transformation from temporal to eternal.

Second, passages talking about our transformation from temporal to eternal:

Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed [allasso], in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place:

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Death, where is your victory?

Death, where is your sting?

(1 Corinthians 15:51-55)

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)

For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:14)

I would suggest that these two passages have a near and a far fulfillment, which is common in prophecy:

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29)

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

This transformation, or changing, occurs in the twinkling of an eye – instantaneously. The dead in Christ will be transformed – rise from the grave and be united with a resurrection body. Then, we who are alive and remain, will be transformed into our eternal bodies. Together we will all be caught up to be with the Lord. The dead who are not in Christ will be resurrected in the second resurrection – the one to judgment at the Great White Throne.

Because a lot of people have confusion over the resurrection events I will summarize:

First Resurrection

  1. Jesus and the Many Saints – approx. 32-33 AD – 1 Corinthians 15:20, Matthew 27:52-53 (note: the FIRST harvest of the Feasts of God – Unleavened Bread)
  2. Main Resurrection / Rapture event – hopefully this year 🙂 – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (note: will this be on the SECOND harvest of the Feast of God – Pentecost?)
  3. Tribulation Martyrs – between second coming and millennial kingdom – Revelation 20:4,6 (note: the THIRD harvest of the Feasts of God – Tabernacles)

Some believe that the Old Testament saints will be resurrected from the dead along with the church pre-tribulation, and some believe that they will be resurrected from the dead along with the tribulation martyrs post-tribulation. From our perspective as the alive body of Christ (the church), I would suggest this isn’t an issue to raise any ruckus about; what is clear is that they will be raised at some point and rule with Christ during the Millennial Kingdom.

Second Resurrection

Occurs after the millennial kingdom, in 1007+ years – Revelation 20:5,11-15, John 5:29b.  Includes all unbelievers from the beginning of time. It would also seem to include any believers who may have passed away during the Millennial Kingdom.

Third, passages predicting the “harpazo” of the saints:

Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment, so also Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him. (Hebrews 9:28)

“She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne” (Revelation 12:5)

“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

Note how Jesus said He will receive [Strong’s 3880] us unto Himself as you read the next passage:

Two men will be in the field; one will be taken [received, Strong’s 3880] and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken [received, Strong’s 3880] and the other left. (Matthew 24:40-41)

Interestingly, Strong’s Concordance states the word used, paralambanetai, #3880, has the common usage as “I take from, receive from, or: I take to, receive; I take with me”. HELPS Word-studies further adds that this taking is “aggressive; to take (receive) by showing strong personal initiative”. (Source) The ones aggressively taken, harpazo‘d, will be received unto the Lamb. There are those who disagree with this interpretation, but this is not a salvation issue so we can “agree to disagree”.

Fourth, passages containing the transformation, catching up, and sparing from wrath:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)

This is such an encouraging passage of scripture! The trumpet in the Old Testament (shofar) was used to summon for worship or to summon to battle. To believers, this trumpet blast will mean – Come Up Here! To angels, this trumpet blast will mean Prepare For Battle!

We see that the souls of those who have died in Christ are currently WITH GOD, and Jesus will bring them with Him when it is time for Him to call us home. (This refutes the concept of “soul sleep”). We then see Jesus descending from heaven with a SHOUT (not a whisper, this isn’t a secret!)! The bodies of the dead in Christ are then resurrected and transformed into an eternal body like Christ’s own. These bodies join their waiting souls! Then, all believers who are alive on earth will be transformed and caught up (harpazo) with them. (This refutes any notion of a time gap between transformation and catching up).  These words are to be an encouragement!!!

As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pains, so we were before You, Lord. We became pregnant, we writhed in pain; we gave birth to wind. We have won no victories on earth, and the earth’s inhabitants have not fallen. Your dead will live; their bodies will rise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust! For you will be covered with the morning dew, and the earth will bring out the departed spirits. Go, my people, enter your rooms and close your doors behind you. Hide for a little while until the wrath has passed. For look, the Lord is coming from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. The earth will reveal the blood shed on it and will no longer conceal her slain. (Isaiah 26:17-21)

Totally amazing Old Testament rapture passage. Isaiah 26 clearly reveals that the dead will rise and enter their “rooms” (where Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us), after which God will pour out His wrath on the inhabitants of the earth. Before the mystery of the rapture was revealed through the apostle Paul, no one understood the meaning of such passages – however, they were clearly there, waiting to be understood at the proper time. I personally believe that since Isaiah was writing to the Old Testament saints, this indicates that the they, too, will be resurrected PRIOR to Daniel’s 70th week.

Fifth, Other Passages Where People are Harpazo’d:

And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried [harpazo] Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:39)

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up [harpazo] to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up [harpazo] into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. (2 Cor 12:2-4)

And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force [harpazo] and bring him into the barracks. (Acts 23:10)

The teaching of a carrying, seizing, snatching, or catching up/away is found a number of times in scripture. In each case it is sudden and does not rely at all upon the person being carried away by the Spirit of God. Of note, the word is also used to describe how no one else is able to snatch, seize, or carry away:

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch [harpazo] them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch [harpazo – pluck, seize] them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:28-29)

God, in His omnipotence, is able to carry us away at His will. Also in His omnipotence, He is able to prevent anyone else (human or spirit) from taking us away from Him. How reassuring is that! We are safe in His hand.

 

Sixth, Salvation Before the Day of the Lord:

Note that God’s WRATH begins at the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is not defined by “tribulation” or “great tribulation” or “greatest tribulation”, but by God’s wrath encompassed in the Trumpets and Bowls. The “greatest tribulation” that Jesus mentions in Matthew 24 comes from the antichrist, who will be seated in the Temple proclaiming to be “god”. We will also be spared from this “greatest tribulation”, but that’s not why we are spared. We are spared from God’s wrath, which begins far earlier than the “greatest tribulation”. God’s wrath would seem to begin once the Yom Kippur ceremony has been performed in heaven (at the end of Seal 7), but all the world recognizes that the time of His wrath has come at Seal 6. I personally believe that all 7 seals open at the moment of the rapture, and their effects are felt throughout the entire 70th week of Daniel.

Consider all the below occurring within milliseconds:

  • the resurrection of the dead in Christ, their transformation, and uniting of their bodies and souls
  • the transformation of the living in Christ, and their catching up to be with Jesus
    the removal of the “Restrainer” from the earth (the indwelling Holy Spirit in the body of Christ)
  • Apocalyptic Horses 1-4 released from restraint and lunge forward to begin their tasks
  • The entire world recognizes that the wrath of the Lamb and God (one on the throne) has come

“When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:12-17)

Who can stand? Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord can stand.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)

This is also shown in Acts 2, when Peter quotes Joel 2:

“And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

Note that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved – when? BEFORE the day of the Lord begins.

[I understand that many within the pre-tribulation rapture watching community will disagree with the timing of these passages and that is ok. This is not a salvation issue. It isn’t even a rapture timing issue (we all agree in a pre-tribulation rapture, where no believer will face the wrath of God). I want you to understand that it’s okay to consider different possibilities for how exactly Revelation chapters 4-6 play out in a pre-tribulation way. NONE of us have it figured out 100% correctly! So please don’t throw out the rest of this article because you believe the rapture MUST be pictured with the open door in Revelation 4, with billions of us represented by only 24 elders.]

Subsequent to the resurrection / rapture event, the heavenly Yom Kippur ceremony begins:

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:1-5)

In the earthly Yom Kippur ceremony, performed yearly as a shadow to the heavenly ceremony, we see the following performed:

  • prayers, from all the people
  • half an hour of silence
  • the high priest enters the holy of holies only on this one day, the day of atonement
    he stands at the altar with a golden censer, offering incense to God, until the entire chamber is filled with smoke
  • the end of the ceremony is marked by the Tekiah Gedolah – a long, loud blast from the shofar

More on the Yom Kippur ceremony can be found on the Temple Institute website and Messianic applications can be found on the Hebrew For Christians website.

This pattern of rapture followed by the Day of the Lord can also be seen in 2 Thessalonians 2:

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him [the rapture], we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day [the day of the Lord] will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed… (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3)

The pattern is Rapture (our gathering together to Christ) – the man of lawlessness revealed (immediately post-rapture) – the Day of the Lord begins.

The rapture is an event, not a day. The rapture is not connected at all to the Day of the Lord. We are swept out of the way before the Day can begin. Whenever scripture mentions “that Day”, or “that great and terrible Day”, it is referring to the Day of the Lord, which is the time period of God’s wrath throughout the 70th week of Daniel (7 years). It culminates at the 7th bowl and the Second Coming of Christ. The Day of the Lord has to do with Israel, not the church.

 

Seventh, the Lord’s Prayer:

I want you to take a close look at the Lord’s Prayer with me:

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.”

(Matthew 6:9-13)

Your Kingdom Come

Jesus gives us the example to specifically pray for Him to come back and set up His Millennial Kingdom!

Your Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven

We long for Jesus to rule humanity, with His will being carried out upon the Earth. We are praying for the literal fulfillment of all biblical prophecies when we recite these phrases. There’s a lot more that could be said, but I’m going to keep it simple here – “Please come, Jesus, and fix everything better!!!” It’s the next two phrases I think we need to mine more deeply.

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

While Jesus promises not to allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear, are we really to pray not to be tempted at all? Scripture is clear that we *will* be tested and tried, throughout the church age. We are to consider these trials and tribulations a joy:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame (Romans 5:3-5)

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Is it possible then that “lead us not into temptation” doesn’t mean the regular trials of faith and life that we are certainly to encounter and are even to embrace? Let’s look at the interlinear to see!

LeadStrong’s 1533 eispheró – to bring or lead, to carry inward

TemptationStrong’s 3986 peirasmos – an experiment, a trial, temptation; trial, probation, testing, being tried; temptation; calamity, affliction. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon adds the additional insight of “adversity, affliction, trouble”.

Does a trial, testing, calamity, affliction, and trouble remind you of something you have probably studied often – the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7)? Could Jesus have been encouraging us to pray “do not carry us forward into the Times of Trouble”? Does He suggest this elsewhere as well? I believe He does:

“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

What about the word Jesus chose for temptation, that we are to pray to not be led into? It’s not the same as the “greatest tribulation”, that begins long after the rapture event. Instead, He uses the word for trouble and trial, which is also used here:

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial [peirasmos] that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)

then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials [peirasmos], and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment… (2 Peter 2:9)

Jesus tells us to pray that we will not be led into the hour of trial that is coming upon the whole world, that we will have the strength/worthiness to escape all these things that are going to take place! The only way we can be worthy to escape is through His blood as our covering – being born again into the family of God.

But Deliver Us From Evil

If we are to pray to not be led into the time of trouble on earth, what else are we to pray? That we are to be delivered from evil, in general? Or is there a more specific meaning here?

DeliverStrong’s 4506 rhuomai – to draw to oneself, deliver; I rescue, deliver (from danger or destruction). From HELPS Word-studies – “properly, draw (pull) to oneself; to rescue (“snatch up”); to draw or rescue a person to and for the deliverer.”

Note the term “snatch up”? Sounds kinda like the harpazo, or rapture, doesn’t it! Where else is rhuomai used? Let’s see!

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver [rhuomai] me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24)

When do we get delivered from this body of death? At the resurrection/rapture event!

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers [rhuomai] us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)

…and if he rescued [rhuomai] righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue [rhuomai] the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment… (2 Peter 2:7-9)

As in the days of Lot, we will be rescued before God’s wrath pours down on those who “refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10).

EvilStrong’s 4190 ponéros – evil, bad, wicked, malicious, slothful. It is also translated as “evil one”. From Thayer’s Greek Lexicon – ὁ πονηρός is used pre-eminently of the devil, the evil one: Matthew 5:37; Matthew 6:13; Matthew 13:19, 38; Luke 11:4 R L; John 17:15; 1 John 2:13; 1 John 3:12; 1 John 5:18f

It is important to note that in the Greek, there is a definitive article tou (the) in front of ponērou. Thus the translation is most accurately rendered “the evil (one)”. Thus we are to pray to be delivered from the evil one, satan, himself.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is teaching us to pray for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled, including that we would not be led into the time of trouble on earth (the “tribulation” or 70th week of Daniel), that we would be delivered from the evil one (satan, including his unholy trinity of the antichrist and false prophet), and that Jesus would come and establish His millennial kingdom on earth. Built in to the Lord’s Prayer is a plea to be raptured!!! Isnt’ that amazing!??!!

Do we see hints of this anywhere else in scripture?

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (2 Peter 3:11-12)

Peter speaks of waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God (the day of the Lord). We know from our scripture study above, that the rapture occurs BEFORE the day of the Lord, and so when we pray for the day to haste we are also praying for the rapture!

Summary:

I truly believe the scriptures above speak for themselves. God has not destined us for wrath, but for salvation. We are supposed to encourage one another with the words of our blessed hope – that we will be taken and received unto Jesus, to be with Him forever. We will be worthy to escape all these things that are coming upon the earth, through the blood of the Lamb. Church age believers will be snatched up into the Day of Christ, while those left behind on earth will continue on into the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.

As far as WHEN?

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read Blessed Assurance:  A Guide to Rapture Readiness.

it is well.jpg

 

Note:  This article was originally published June 1, 2017 here:  The Rapture of the Church – Our Blessed Hope.


Further Resources:

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

 

 

Is the Bridegroom Delayed?

I have been excited every year about the Feast of Trumpets for a number of years now. When I stumbled upon the Revelation 12 Sign this spring, I was so excited to see another major prophetic signpost! Perhaps the biggest one since Israel became a nation!

As it got closer to September 23rd, I wanted the interpretation of the sign as a possible rapture date BEFORE OR ON THAT DAY to be true as well. So badly so, that I allowed my emotions to run unchecked.  I never stated that I knew the rapture would happen then for sure, but I really (really, really) hoped so.  And watched, and waited, and prayed, and cried.

I still believe the Great Sign on September 23, 2017 fulfilled Revelation 12:1-2.  I also believe that it heralds the imminence of the rapture of the church and the time of Jacob’s Trouble for Israel!  Soon!  But how soon…. I don’t know.  I have educated guesses, but that’s all they are.   We stay awake, we watch, and we occupy until He comes!

I’m just tired of the corruption and suffering and pain in this world. I’m tired of the issues that I can’t do anything about in my own life.  It’s HARD here.  I really just want Jesus to take the reigns back and fix all this mess. The signs already indicated He was near (generation sign, among others). It’s hard not to be the child at the window, watching in the darkness for the headlights of a loved one’s car to turn that corner!

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With watching, as we see the Day approach, there are false starts and excitements. Did the watching community go a little overboard?  Maybe.  But I would rather be jumping at the window with excitement when Jesus comes than not watching at all.

That’s why we’re here, right? We’re the Watchmen!  The welcoming committee — for JESUS!! WE are the ones who have the bubbling up joyful anticipation. WE are the ones scouring the skies for Him to appear.  WE are the ones keeping our ears peeled for the hint of a trumpet call. We’re the cheerleaders!!!

When Jesus comes, will He find faith on earth?  Faith that He is coming?

YES!  Amongst His faithful Watchmen!  WE will be the ones leaping up at His call – not surprised, but bawling and laughing and shrieking and beside ourselves with joy.

I don’t think we will have very long to wait.  How long?  I’m not sure.  I would like to examine what He said about being late!

Somber Repentance

Between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement are 10 Days known as the 10 Days of Awe.  The overall atmosphere of these two Fall Feasts is somber REPENTANCE.  Could this possibly be a reference to 2 Peter 3:9?

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (ESV)

Second Peter 3:9 hints at an apparent (from our perspective) slowness for God to fulfill his promise of the coming Day of the Lord.  Earlier in the chapter, Peter also deals with the scoffers and mockers that will arise around this time, asking “Where is the promise of His coming?”  Since the Revelation 12 sign has brought both Watchmen and Scoffers out of the woodwork, maybe we should consider the connection between Scoffing and Mocking and a Delay in His Coming.

The Delayed Bridegroom, The Delayed Master

Are there any other passages suggesting that God may appear slow to fulfill His promise?

Yes, there are.  The most well known one is that of the 10 Virgins.  Normally attributed to the tribulation saints, is this really true?  Or could that parable apply to our time as well, as a type of dual fulfillment?  I think I can understand that parable in a whole new light.

10 Virgins are waiting for the appearance of the Bridegroom.  They all know about Him and are expecting Him.  5 of them are wise, and are prepared for His coming, and 5 are foolishly unprepared.  The Bridegroom is a long time in coming, and ALL the virgins become drowsy and fall asleep.  At midnight, a cry rings out (from the watchman!) that He is here!  The Bridegroom is here!  All the virgins wake up with a start.  The wise ones give their lamps a little trim and are eager and ready.  The foolish ones panic and realize they have no more oil – their lamps are going out.  The foolish virgins leave to try to go buy more oil.  However, while they are gone, the Bridegroom arrives.  He takes the virgins who are ready in to the wedding banquet, and shuts the door.  Meanwhile, the foolish virgins get back, see the shut door, and are horrified to learn they are too late!  They plead with the Bridegroom to open the door and let them in!  The answer is no – it’s too late.  (found in Matthew 25).

This parable is perhaps a picture of those who are true believers in Jesus Christ, and of those who are followers in name only.   Both groups know about Jesus.  They all are expecting Him to come at some point.  What divides the group into two is the flask of oil.  In the church age, we do not have to maintain our own oil.  At the time of salvation, the Holy Spirit seals us for the day of redemption. The truly born again can never run out of oil (it seems it might be different after the rapture).  Many people walk the walk the and talk the talk of the Christian religion, but never truly yield their heart to Christ.  They might find, when the alarm sounds, that they do not have the sealing of the Holy Spirit.  But by then it will be too late.  While all true believers will be raptured, not all who call Jesus “Lord” are known by Him (Matt 7:22).  It is by grace we are saved, through faith in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.  We can never earn, maintain, or be worthy of salvation or rapture by our own merit.

Jesus tells a similar parable in Matthew 24 and Luke 12:

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak…   But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk.  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 unbelievers.  (Luke 12:25-38,45-46 ESV)

Those who are dressed and ready are the ones who are clothed in Jesus’ blood and righteousness – true believers.  We are to be WATCHING (spiritually ready – not physically awake!) when he comes, even if it is at the middle of the night (midnight cry) or towards daybreak.  Note again that a delay serves to separate the true servant from the false servant.  Their true fruits are displayed in the waiting/watching period.

Delayed, Not From His Perspective, But From Ours

While Jesus can never be delayed from His appointed times from HIS perspective, is it possible that He has been delayed from OURS?  Many watchmen hoped the rapture of the church would occur either before or on the day of the Great Sign of Revelation 12:1-2.  But we are still here, and verses 3-5 haven’t happened yet.  At least, not as of today.  But we know that He is FAITHFUL and He will FULFILL HIS PROMISE!

Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good,  reject every kind of evil May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 ESV

If the Feast of Trumpets was a possible expected time, could the actual appointment be later?  Will it be on a feast day at all?  These are things we will continue to study!

Further Reading:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

The Day and Hour Unknown?

The Feasts of God – His Appointed Times

The Harvest of the Church and the Fulfillment of the Feasts of God 

Yom Kippur – Do We Go Up As Wrath Comes Down?

Jubilees, the Last Trump, and Yom Kippur

Jewish Traditions in the Fall Feasts

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

 

Is the Rapture Imminent (Could it Happen At Any Moment)?

The next prophetic event that concerns the church, true followers of Jesus Christ, is known as the rapture.  One day soon, Jesus will appear in the clouds and call us up to be with Him.  He is currently preparing a place for us, and that place will soon be ready (John 14:2-3)!  Traditional pretribulation teaching is that this event is, and always has been, “imminent”, in that it could happen at any time.  While popular and well-established, is that teaching true?

What is Imminence?

The doctrine of imminence, as it relates to Bible Prophecy, teaches that nothing has to occur before the rapture of the church.  Imminence means that Jesus could return at any moment, his return is impending, it is ever near.  Scripture teaches that we are to live in a state of constant readiness and expectation regarding the coming of the Lord.  We are to Watch.  We are to be Awake.  Imminence means that the rapture could happen at any time.

Has the Rapture Always Been Imminent?

Bible prophecy is fascinating in that it gives us just enough information to see the immediate road before us.  Each generation is able to understand just a little bit more, and apply it to themselves, until the time has come to fully comprehend that it has been fulfilled.  In this way Biblical prophecy always offers hope and promise.  The Word of God is truly living and active!

While I don’t believe the rapture was imminent before Israel became a nation in 1948, I do believe it is imminent now.

Examining the Case for Imminence

Even if we don’t know the Day, Hour, or Year, can we know that the rapture is Imminent?

First of all, we know from scripture that the rapture will occur when:

  • The Fullness of the Gentiles is Complete (Romans 11:25).  This is when all people predestined to be a part of the body of Christ (the church) have come to saving faith in the New Covenant.  Of course, we have no way of knowing how many people this includes.  We also know that God has complete control over this number and its’ timing, since He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  This does NOT mean that Gentiles cannot be saved after the rapture.  On the contrary, many will be.  However, the special sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit and the witness of the church ends at the time of the rapture.  (Note that the fullness of the Gentiles is separate from the “Times of the Gentiles”, which doesn’t end until the Second Coming of Christ.)

Let’s look at the signs in Israel and the nations, described by God as heralding his upcoming time of wrath on the whole earth.  We can see that most of these were not in place for the bulk of the church age, but they are in place now.  For further details on each sign, click on its name:

  1. The Fig Tree sign – Jesus tells His disciples that when they “see the fig tree leaf out”, they would know that the time of His coming was near.  Many prophecy scholars agree that this sign refers to Israel’s rebirth in May 1948.
  2. Israel Reborn – Regardless of whether or not the fig tree refers to Israel, Israel’s rebirth as a nation after 2000 years of not being one is a flashing neon light!  The Kingdom of Heaven is Near!!!
  3. Jerusalem Recaptured – Jerusalem features heavily in end times prophecy.  The 6 day war of 1967 was very significant prophetically!  It’s possible that war fulfilled Psalm 83; alternately, the complete fulfillment of Psalm 83 may be yet future.
  4. Jewish Aliyah – Along with the re-establishment of Israel as a physical/political nation, God’s chosen people are foretold to return to the Promised Land.  This has been slowly but surely occurring over the last 120 years or so, with approximately 45% of the world’s Jewry living in Israel at this time (2016).
  5. The Third Temple – We know from the book of Daniel, the gospels, and Revelation that there will be a functioning Jewish Temple during the “70th Week of Daniel“.  While the Temple has not yet been built, the plans are complete, Levite priests are trained, and Temple equipment/furniture is made.
  6. Apostasy in the Church – It seems that as we approach Christ’s second coming, churches will fall away from preaching sound doctrine. Instead, they will focus on a social gospel that “tickles men’s ears” (tells them what they want to hear to feel good).
  7. Immorality in Society – Society will move further and further away from God and His laws/morals.  We see this most clearly in the last several decades through Abortion (1.5 billion since 1980), Homosexuality (general worldwide acceptance in non-Muslim nations), and Human Euthanasia (legal in some nations, including Canada).
  8. As in the Days of Lot – Society will be marked by violence, homosexuality, and sexual immorality.
  9. As in the Days of Noah – Society will be marked by violence, DNA manipulation, and sexual immorality.
  10. Knowledge Will Increase – In the latter days, people will travel “to and fro” and knowledge will increase.  We are approaching a “technological tower of Babel” situation!
  11. The Gospel Will be Preached to All Nations – While there are still unreached people groups within nations, the gospel has been successfully taken to all nations around the globe.  The gospel will continue to be preached during the coming times of tribulation.
  12. God’s 7000 Year Calendar – While God is outside of time, He has allotted humanity 7000 years.  We are nearing the brink of 6000 years – the last 1000 years will be Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom!
  13. Specific Wars are Predicted – There are a number of prophetic wars  that will occur during the time of the end.  As the players maneuver into position, we can see that the time is near.
  14. A Great Sign in the Sun, Moon, and Stars – It appears God may be announcing the imminent rapture of the church and the nearness of His Second Coming through a great sign in the sun, moon, and stars described in Revelation 12:1-2.  This great sign appeared in the sky on September 23, 2017.  Interestingly, satan seems to think September 23 is an important date.
  15. The Generation sign – Jesus tells His disciples that “this generation will certainly not pass away before all these things are accomplished”.  The phrase “all these things” encompasses the signs He just mentioned, including the fig tree sign, the events during the “tribulation”, and His second coming.  Many prophecy scholars agree that this sign refers to the generation being born during the time of Israel’s rebirth, and that this specific generation will not die before Jesus’ second coming.  The length of a generation is defined in Psalm 90 as 70-80 years.
  16. Great Pyramid of Egypt – It appears that certain dates may point to the possible advent of Jesus – both His first and second comings – in the mathematics of the Great Pyramid.   The angles in the corridors of the pyramid point to certain stars/constellations only on specific dates and years.

Braxton Hicks to True Birth Pains

Once we know that we are in the season, we are to watch for signs of the beginning of birth pains.  Labor pains are often used to describe the beginning of the “end times”.  The beginning of birth pains, as defined by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, start with a collection of signs involving the opening of Seals 1-6 (wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, fearful events and great signs from heaven).  The beginning of birth pains is the beginning of the Day of the Lord.  Immediately as these birth pains begin we are to look up, for our redemption is near – imminent (Luke 21:28).  The beginning of signs gives us the specific DAY, but won’t be revealed until we are ON that Day, IN that hour.  So it seems that ON THE DAY, IN THE HOUR, we may know – if we are watching.  Literally, looking up.

I find Jesus’ statement to specifically look up when all these things begin very interesting.  In Luke 21, the beginning of the signs includes “great signs from heaven“.  Revelation 12 describes a “great sign appearing in heaven.  Revelation 12:5 seems to describe the rapture of the church – which is our redemption.  The sign itself occured on September 23, 2017 and is unique (it has never occurred before in human history and won’t occur again in the next several thousand years).

Imminence and the Revelation 12 Sign

A common stumbling block for people when it comes to the Revelation 12 Sign is if it destroys the understanding of imminence.  Greg at “A Little Strength” has written a great article on how the Revelation 12 sign might be connected with imminence here – The Exit Sign.  The language is a little strong sometimes but I think he makes a good point:

It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that some of the early dispensational Bible scholars began to identify the signs in Revelation 12:1–5 as including a depiction of the pre-tribulation Rapture; but even then, men like John Nelson Darby, William Kelly, William Blackstone, and Henry A. Ironside didn’t have the faintest idea exactly how or when the two great signs of Revelation 12:1–5 would actually be fulfilled.

These men obviously didn’t enjoy the luxury of having personal computers and sophisticated software programs like Stellarium that could do in seconds what would have taken them months of laborious effort. They succeeded in ferreting out the proper eschatological interpretation of this passage, but could go no further. Although they made progress by laying the groundwork, the actual fulfillment of the REV12 sign remained hidden.

In perfect harmony with the scriptural teaching that the Rapture is imminent, God, in His infinite wisdom, simply didn’t reveal the fulfillment of the REV12 sign. Imminence requires an absence of known signs—or perhaps I should say revealed signs. And for the last two thousand years, there were no revealed signs pertaining to the Rapture. For nearly two millennia the Church didn’t have the revelation knowledge to see any signs pertaining to the Rapture, let alone the capacity to see their fulfillment. My point is this:

The Rapture hasn’t been a signless event for
nearly two millennia because there is no sign.

It’s been a signless event for nearly two millennia
because God wisely chose not to reveal any signs.

But just a few years ago, God began to do just that.

SOURCE: http://alittlestrength.com/articles/2017/1705-exit-sign.htm#cont

It’s Imminent, All Right

So we have established that the rapture couldn’t really have been imminent for much of the church age (although the revelatory nature of prophecy would have made it appear that it could have been), but it certainly seems to be imminent now.  There is nothing that would impede the progression of our world into Daniel’s 70th Week and the Day of the Lord except for the Restrainer himself (the Holy Spirit in the temple of the body of Christ).

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

Is the Return of Christ Imminent? – Gotquestions

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

 The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  Be a Berean – examine the scriptures for yourself to see if these things are so!

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Yom Kippur – Do We Go Up As Wrath Comes Down?

The Fall Feasts of God are the next appointments on God’s calendar waiting to be  prophetically fulfilled (that is, unless we see Pentecost Part Trois).  As I write this, we are currently in the middle of their annual celebration – in the so-called “Days of Awe” or “Days of Repentance”.

The Fall Feasts – The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

The Fall Feasts – Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles – point to the future completion of God’s redemptive program through Jesus’ second coming.  An interesting study in the Watching community is currently underway.  It seems like this year (2017) may see the shadow, or “type”, fulfillment of these fall feasts.

Yom Teru’ah (Feast of Trumpets) – Tishrei 1 

The true/ substance fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets will be at the second coming of Christ.  Whether this is the Mount of Olives event (Zechariah 14) or the revelation as Warrior King mounted on a white horse for the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19), I am not sure.

If there was a shadow fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets this year, it appears that it may have been fulfilled through the warnings sounded by the watching community as well as through the Great Sign of Revelation 12:1-2 which occurred on September 23, 2017.  This Great Sign occurred right at the tail end of the Feast of Trumpets.  Here is a great description of this wake-up call sounded by the watchmen:

The Soapboxer – Revelation 12 Fulfilled:  The Midnight Cry

Yom Teruah never typified anything more than a warning of coming judgment, not the judgment itself. We know that judgment begins with the Church (1 Pet. 4:17); if anything, we should’ve considered the next festival, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the Jews’ holiest day of the year, a sombre day foreshadowing the ultimate judgment of souls. Yom Teruah is more of a wake-up call. It’s emphasis on the shofar—the only festival in which the shofar is to be blown—is supposed to stir people from their spiritual slumber, as with the awakening blast of the shofar—hence Yom Teruah, the Day of the Awakening Blast. It begins at the start of the month when the 10 Days of Awe begin, a time of critical repentance leading up to Yom Kippur. Yom Teruah and its distinguishing trumpet blasts act as the great shout of warning that your judgment day approaches, that is, in the sense of a rehearsal, foreshadowing what will one day take place during this exact time period in some future year. Each year, the drama is rehearsed by way of these festivals; one day, however, it will not be a rehearsal.

Full article HERE: https://kielandedmonds.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/revelation-12-fulfilled-the-midnight-cry/

The Great Sign of Revelation 12 and the Delivery of the Child

While we are fully aware that the Great Sign of Revelation 12:1-2 was fulfilled on September 23, 2017, we continue to await the fulfillment of verses 3-5 and beyond.  It seems that there will be some type of sign representing the dragon (Satan) which will appear right before or at the time the body of Christ is about to be born (raptured / harpazo).  Scottie Clarke is one who is watching for the Dragon – HERE.

The Birth Pains

I feel like the connection between the birth pains and the time of the end has been clearly established.  Most of you who follow me are well aware of the Revelation 12 sign and how the Great Sign of the woman in labor indicates our imminent birth as the body of Christ.  Many people are talking about the birth pains intensifying.

How will we know when “true labor” – the actual time of the end – begins?  The Bible speaks of the “time of the End” as being analogous to actual labor pains and childbirth.  When it hits, there will be no mistaking it.  It’s going to knock the socks off this planet we call home.

There are a number of passages related to birth pains, described in Braxton Hicks all throughout the church age, but here is one:

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,  for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenlyas labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 ESV)

We’ve already been hearing cries of peace and safety from world leaders and the United Nations.  When will the sudden labor pains begin?  The “beginning of birth pains” are defined by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse:

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24, ESV)  8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Mark 13, ESV) 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21, ESV) 

The birth pains begin when nation rises against nation, famines erupt, and earthquakes shake all over the globe.  There will be pestilences (disease outbreaks), terrors and great signs from heaven.

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) – Tishrei 10 

The true / substance fulfillment of the Day of Atonement will be at the second coming of Christ.  Whether this is the revelation as Warrior King mounted on a white horse for the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19), or the 7th Bowl Judgement (Revelation 16:17-21), or both combined, I am not sure.

If there is a shadow fulfillment of the Day of Atonement this year, I believe it will be due to the association of the wrath of God beginning.  If the wrath begins, that means we will be snatched, or seized, away from the time and place of His wrath!

To support this, I want to examine the following passages:

Leviticus 16, Yom Kippur ceremony on earth (shadow)

11 “Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself. 12 And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil 13 and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die.

Revelation 8, Seal 7 Yom Kippur ceremony in heaven (fulfillment)

8 When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

Note the parallels: Censer, incense as an offering, coals of fire from the altar, altar before God, smoke of the incense.

Seal 7 appears to be the initiation of the wrath of God upon the earth, starting the Day of the Lord.  The Day of the Lord is also known as “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble”.  The 40 Days of Repentance and the 10 Days of Awe are over.  Fates have been sealed, as per traditional Jewish interpretation of the Fall Feasts.

An excellent study of this can be found here, Jesus Christ initiates the Wrath of God (BeginningandEnd).

The Sun Will Turn Dark, The Moon Will Turn To Blood

I feel like many people are tossing around Joel 2 as well, citing the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 and the blood moon tetrad, or the smoky red moons of August 2017 as fulfilling this passage.  If you believe this is the time of Joel 2, then here is the real passage in Acts 2:

But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

[start of church age]

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

[church age]

19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

[end of church age]

The darkened sun and blood moon come at SEAL 6.  This is the ONLY place in scripture other than Acts 2 and Joel 2 that the Blood Moon occurs.

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood,  and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.  The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.  Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains,  calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,  for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”  Revelation 6:12-17

If you believe that now is the time of the dark sun and blood moon, then you believe Seal 6 is upon us.  And since we aren’t yet in the 70th week of Daniel or the “Tribulation”, then this is a pre-tribulation event.  Before the Day of the Lord.

Gaps – and – Pauses

While I have been studying the 6th Seal rapture for a long time, I also had previously seen a Feast of Trumpets rapture (along with many other watchers).  The gap between Feast of Trumpets and Yom Kippur (seal 7), I believed was explained by the “approximate half hour of silence” described in Revelation 8:1.  I tried calculating out how 1/2 hour might be translated into a period of days (or otherwise) using various criteria, such as a the “Day of the Lord” equaling 2520 days, or a day being 1000 years, or various other options.

Perhaps there is no code. Perhaps an “approximate half hour of silence” is exactly that, just like in the earthly Yom Kippur temple service.  Perhaps Seals 1-7 are ALL OPENED on Yom Kippur, with a literal approximately half an hour of silence before the Trumpets are given to the angels to blow.

What Could Cause Silence in Heaven?

What could cause silence in heaven???   Heaven, where the angels never cease to cry “holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come” – day and night (Revelation 4:8)?

Well, let’s go back to our Revelation 12 overview.  What comes right after the harpazo snatching of the newborn child, that could would be so jaw dropping crazy, to be able to cause silence in heaven?

The greatest angelic battle of all time.

Accuser Thrown Down – No One Left to Accuse

Once the child (body of Christ) is safely in heaven, there is no one left for Satan to accuse.  He is tossed down to earth – for good.

 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back,  but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.  And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Rev 12:7-11

The phrase “no longer any place for them in heaven” carries with it the connotation of purpose, as in, there is no longer any purpose for them to be in heaven.  There is only one moment in time when there will be no one to accuse, no believer in Jesus Christ.  The rapture.

Do we see a parallel passage anywhere else, that could apply to the resurrection / rapture of a vast crowd of believers arriving all at once?

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Revelation 7:9-10

Shortly after the rapture of the church, many new believers will come to Christ.  We know these as the “tribulation saints”, but they will likely still call themselves “Christians”.  The majority of these will be martyrs, but they don’t accumulate in robes as seen in Revelation 7.  Robes indicate bodies – our new eternal bodies.  The tribulation saints are seen standing in soul form on the crystal sea before the throne of God (Revelation 15:2).  They get their resurrection bodies at the start of the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 20:4).

It is right after the rapture of the church, when restraint is removed, that the dragon will begin to arise his “anti-christ” to power (discussed in Triumph: The Beast Rises to Power).

A Yom Kippur Rapture?

Listen, you guys, if there is a Yom Kippur rapture this year, then it means all the seals are opening.  Seal 7, as detailed above, is a picture of the Yom Kippur fulfillment at the BEGINNING OF BIRTH PAINS.  Precisely when we are to be looking UP, for our redemption draws nigh (Luke 21:28).

What About the Baby?

Another interesting connection to a Yom Kippur rapture is the idea that a male child is presented to the temple on the 8th day after his birth, for circumcision.  The woman, herself, is unclean for the 7 days after the birth.  It appears that WE may be presented to the heavenly temple on the 8th day after the Great Sign announcing our birth, as our flesh gets “circumcised” off us.  By waiting to present us to the temple for 7 days after the heavenly “birth” sign, this would fulfill the requirements of the Law.

Was the Church Born on September 23?  7 Day Warning

Revelation 12 Sign and the Circumcision Covenant – Midnight Hour Oil

When is Yom Kippur This Year?

This year, Yom Kippur would seem to be on September 29 (sunset) to September 30 (sunset) Jerusalem time, based on calculating 40 days from the August 21 solar eclipse (which occurred on August 22 Jerusalem time).  The day of atonement is also dependent on the start of the Feast of Trumpets, which defines 1 Tishrei.  Due to confusion over the celebration versus the sighting of the moon, this would put Yom Kippur in the range of Sept 29-30 evening to evening, or Sept 30-Oct 1 evening to evening.

I would suggest that Yom Kippur will be on the Sabbath, although I’m not positive, but would hypothesize so because of THIS VIDEO explaining why Jewish Rabbis expect the gathering of the saints to occur on a Sabbath.  Signs in the Heavens is a Jewish Eschatology (study of end times) book by Rabbi ben Mordecai.  In it, he references Matthew 23:39 – “For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”.  This will see its’ fulfillment in Zechariah 12:10, which from a study on the entire chapter 12 would seem to occur at the start of the Day of the Lord:

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

An interesting Jewish wedding tradition has a groom going to the Temple on the Sabbath before his wedding, where he announces “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord”.  Will our bridegroom come for us on a Sabbath?  The traditional time that the groom would snatch the bride would be at midnight.  Will we be snatched away around midnight Jerusalem time?

Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) – Tishrei 15-22

The true / substance fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles will be the Millennial Kingdom rule by Jesus Christ.

If there is a shadow, or type, fulfillment, it may be the sheltering of the body of Christ in heaven during the time of tribulation on earth.  The third spring feast, Firstfruits, did not have a shadow fulfillment, so there is precedence set that the third fall feast, Tabernacles, may not have a shadow fulfillment.

 

Further Resources:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

Jesus Christ initiates the Wrath of God (BeginningandEnd)

Rituals Performed on the Day of Atonement in Ancient Israel 

Signs in the Heavens – Rabbi ben Mordecai (book)

The Feasts of God – His Appointed Times

The Harvest of the Church and the Fulfillment of the Feasts of God

Further information on the Feasts can be found at Hebrew4Christians HERE.

 The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  Be a Berean – examine the scriptures for yourself to see if these things are so!

The Harvest of the Church and the Fulfillment of the Feasts of God

In my previous overview of the Feasts of God – His Appointed Times – I noted that while the 3 Spring Feasts have clearly been fulfilled by Jesus Christ at His first coming, Pentecost is a little less clear, and the Fall Feasts have certainly not yet been fulfilled.

What everyone wants to know, I’m sure, is how are these remaining feasts going to be fulfilled?  Because, according to the Generation Sign, it appears that they will be fulfilled in OUR TIME.

So let’s examine the remaining feasts.

Pentecost – A Third Fulfillment?

The Late-Spring (sometimes called Summer) Feast – Pentecost – establishes the body of Christ on the earth.  Note how this feast seems to introduce new dispensations – first, the Dispensation of Law (Mosaic covenant), then the Dispensation of Grace (Spirit of the Law).  Will it also introduce the interim dispensation of wrath (the Day of the Lord, commonly called the “Tribulation”, which seems to involve both Law and Grace)?  The summer feast stands alone, in between the 3 spring feasts and the 3 fall feasts.

Has this feast been completely fulfilled?  We noted that the shadow always points to the substance – who is Jesus Christ.  Jesus sent His Spirit to the church for this age, and that has been looked at as the definitive fulfillment.  Recently, however, Greg at A Little Strength has noted that the Holy Spirit isn’t actually Christ Himself.  Could it be that Jesus snatching his church on the day of Pentecost will be the ultimate fulfillment of this feast?  I cannot say I have a prophetic answer for this, but this interpretation is worth considering.

While the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the weekly Sabbath are tied to dates on a calendar, Firstfruits and Pentecost float.  These floating feasts are intricately connected – Pentecost is fully tied to Firstfruits.  Greg noted that just as our resurrection is intricately intertwined with Christ’s resurrection, it would make sense that Pentecost is intricately intertwined with Firstfruits.

What Greg also noticed was the pattern of resurrections given in scripture and wondered if they had connection to the pilgrimages Israeli men were required to make.  The specific pilgrimages were:  Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.  I believe that the Millennial Kingdom pilgrimages would support Greg’s hypothesis.  We read in Ezekiel 45 (v21-25) that the Feast of Passover/Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles will be celebrated, along with every Sabbath and New Moon.  Notably missing is Shauvot/Pentecost.

The problem with the pilgrimages/resurrections hypothesis is that Christ’s resurrection was on Firstfruits, which isn’t a listed pilgrimage (but falls within it).  However, he may be onto something with the connection between HARVESTS and RESURRECTIONS.  This is not a new connection, but it may need to be dusted off.

When Are Those Harvests, Anyways?

At Firstfruits, “many saints” were resurrected with Jesus as part of the firstfruits offering.  The spring harvest in Israel was typically barley (along with peas, lentils and vetch).  It would seem that the Summer Feast should maybe have a resurrection tied to it as well, that of the main harvest – the dead and alive in Christ.  The late spring/early summer harvest in Israel was wheat (along with barley, chickpeas, grapes, vetch, fruits).  Pentecost is called the “Feast of Harvest” in Exodus 23:16.  In the Fall Feasts, we know that the tribulation saints will be resurrected at the start of the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 20), as the “gleanings”.  The fall harvest in Israel includes grapes, figs, olives (along with pomegranates and millet).   It is something to consider for sure.  (Source: Harvest Seasons of Ancient Israel).

Here is a great post that ties together Pentecost/The Giving of the Law (Shauvot) and a discussion of Enoch, the book of Ruth, and the church.

The “many saints” of Firstfruits (Matt 27:52) are a type of first harvest sample. The 144,000 are the first fruits (Rev 14:4) for God and the Lamb, another type of first harvest sample.  The “many saints” are likely the first sample of the main harvest (rapture/resurrection event – 1 Thess 4:16-18).  The 144,000 seem to be the first sample of the remnant harvest (gathering of elect – Matt 24:31, and tribulation martyrs – Rev 20:4).  Are these harvests all on feast days?  I would say it seems highly likely they are.  As to summer versus fall feasts – I don’t personally know with certainty.

The Beginning and End of the Church Age

On Pentecost, Peter stands up and preaches.  In his sermon, he quotes a passage in Joel 2, which effectively teaches the beginning and ending of the church age:

(Pentecost, start of church age)

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

(Church Age Gap)
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’  (Acts 2:17-21)

We know the church age began at Pentecost.  The mystery is, on what day will it conclude?  Peter gives us the sign of the end to look for (Seal 6).  But what day will this occur?  Pentecost?  One of the Fall Feasts?  An unknown day?

The Fall Feasts – The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

The Fall Feasts – Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles – point to the future completion of God’s redemptive program in His second coming.  These feasts point to God’s rest when the process  of redemption is completed.

What we don’t know is if there will be a Shadow fulfillment of these feasts, or not.  The substance, ultimate fulfillment, will clearly be found in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

If there is a shadow, or type, fulfillment of the Fall Feasts, it will certainly involve the rapture of the Church.

Speculation – Fall Feast Fulfillment

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What this chart fails to indicate is that Shadow fulfillment should occur in the same year, and Substance fulfillment must occur in the same year, if God follows the pattern He set with the first 4 Feasts.  While there is obviously a gap between the Shadow and Substance, there is no precedence for a gap between Substance fulfillment of Feast Groupings.   Thus, if there is a shadow fulfillment of the fall feasts, it will involve at least 2 of the feasts, but possibly all 3.  The true fulfillment of the fall feasts will be at the time and in the year of the Second Coming.

Yom Teru’ah (Feast of Trumpets) – Tishrei 1

Shadow Fulfillment – awaiting – The shadow fulfillment of Feast of Trumpets has popularly been associated with the rapture of the church.  This is due to the association between the “blast of trumpets” (or shouting, whichever translation you prefer) and the “last trump” of 1 Corinthians 15:52 which announces the rapture of the church.  In Jewish tradition, the feast of Trumpets was a “day of blowing”, of 100 (or more) trumpet blasts.  The last blast was a specific note called the Tekiah Gedolah.  The Feast of Trumpets is also connected with sounding an alarm and calling for repentance during the days between this feast and Yom Kippur.

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”  Isaiah 40:3

True Fulfillment – awaiting fulfillment at the Second Coming – perhaps the Mount of Olives splitting (Zech 14); perhaps the Second Coming itself (Rev 19).

Links to Teachings on the Fall Feasts and their Possible Fulfillment (mainly Feast of Trumpet Possible Rapture Connection).  Note, I don’t agree that this is a sure connection, but it is interesting to study:

God’s Calendar – The True Meaning of Rosh Hashana

YHWH’s MOEDIM: The 7 Prophetic Jewish Feasts (Alan Horvath)

Feast of Trumpets – Mark Biltz

Tony Galli – Hebrew Roots – Day or the Hour

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) – Tishrei 10 

Shadow Fulfillment – awaiting – it appears that the shadow fulfillment of Yom Kippur will be the initiation of the wrath of God in the Day of the Lord.  This could also be a possible rapture date, as the church is snatched out of the way with great urgency as the wrath unleashes.  This is based on a study of Seal 7 and the heavenly Yom Kippur ceremony.

True Fulfillment – awaiting fulfillment at the Second Coming – perhaps the Second Coming (Rev 19); perhaps Bowl 7 Judgement (perhaps these both occur on the same day).

Links to Teachings on Yom Kippur and the Rapture/Judgement:

Brenda Weltner – Christ Fulfills the Day of Atonement Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Jesus Christ Initiates the Wrath of God – BeginningandEnd

Sound the Jubilee on Atonement – WatchForTheDay

Confusing Satan – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) – Tishrei 15-22

Shadow Fulfillment – awaiting – there may not have to be a shadow fulfillment of this feast, just as there was no shadow fulfillment for the spring feast of Firstfruits.  If there is a shadow fulfillment, it may represent the period of time the church spends sheltered in heaven during the time of tribulation on earth.

True Fulfillment – awaiting fulfillment – most definitely the Millennial Kingdom rule of Jesus Christ is in view here.

When is the Rapture of the Church?

I find Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, and Yom Kippur feasts all compelling possibilities for the possible rapture of the church.  However, taking into account my other studies of how the end times will unfold, I believe the Feast of Trumpets and Yom Kippur feasts to hold the highest possibility.  This is due to the interconnectedness of the opening of the Seals and the removal of Restraint, the connection of Seal 6 to the rapture of the church, and the connection of Seal 7 to the Yom Kippur ceremony.

Further Resources:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

God’s Divine Appointments

Hebrew4Christians – The Jewish Holidays

Messiah in the Feasts of Israel – Sam Nadler

Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts – Dr. Richard Booker

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

 

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  Be a Berean – examine the scriptures for yourself to see if these things are so!

 

 

Part 3 – The Apostasia [Departure/Falling Away] and the Revealing of the Lawless One

In our previous study, we noted that the Thessalonians were terrified that they had missed the event known as “the gathering unto Christ”, because they thought that the Day of the Lord had already come.  Paul had previously taught the Thessalonians that they would be delivered from the wrath to come via a resurrection of the dead in Christ and a transformation of the living.  These would be caught up together to be with the Lord forever, and this was to be a source of encouragement.  The Thessalonians knew that the “gathering” event was to come before the wrath in the Day of the Lord.  For more on this, please see:  Part 1 – That Day Will Not Come Until…

We will now continue our study in 2 Thessalonians 2 by discussing the apostasia, and the revealing of the Lawless One.  Let’s review our passage:

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day [the Day of the Lord] will not come, unless the apostasia comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?  And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.  The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,  and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,  in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 ESV

What Does “apostasia” Truly Mean?

Let’s examine the word Paul uses to describe what must occur before the Day of the Lord arrives – apostasia.  Often this word is translated as “falling away” or “rebellion”, but is that the correct meaning?  And what is it a falling away from?  Is it a falling away from the faith, as is so often assumed?  Or is it a falling away from something else?

Falling Away From the Faith

A common interpretation of the “falling away” event in 2 Thessalonians 2 is that it is a falling away from the faith.  The word apostasia only occurs twice in the Bible.  The only other time besides this, is when Paul has been informed that a certain group of Jews has been teaching other Jews to no longer follow the laws of Moses.  In that situation, a specific group of Jews were falling away from, or departing from, the teachings of Moses.  This was an identifiable instance in time, not a generic reference to how Israel was always stumbling off and on:

…and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake [apostasian] Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs.   Acts 21:21 ESV

Thus, the apostasia event in 2 Thessalonians 2 would also need to be a specific and definable departure from sound teaching.  Nowhere is it recorded that Paul taught the Thessalonians about a specific event of rebellion or falling away from the faith which would occur before the Day of the Lord.  However, we know from Paul’s teachings to Timothy that there would be some that would depart from sound doctrine in the latter days:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,  through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.  1 Timothy 4:1-3 ESV

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.   2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV

While the churches of today are certainly falling into unsound doctrine and sexual immorality, this had already been going on in the early days of the church (see the letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3).  Personally, I do not believe the current departure from sound doctrine is identifiable enough as an “identifiable event” or “specific instance” to qualify for the apostasia, but if you are committed to this definition of the word, I would suggest that you could show it has already been fulfilled.  A sample of articles that support a departure from the faith in our generation:

  • Study Shows that only 10% of Americans Have a Biblical Worldview – While over 70% of Americans claim to be Christian, only 46% state they have a Biblical worldview.  The American Culture and Faith Institute conducted surveys in 2017 to see how many Americans truly do have a basic Biblical worldview, and found the number to be closer to 10%.
  • Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians Over the Past 13 Years – The results of this study are astonishing – overall only 9% of Americans have a Biblical worldview, which is consistent with the ACFI study.  Among those who identified as “born again Christians”, only 19% actually possessed a Biblical worldview.  The results were consistent over the past 13 years, showing no statistical change.
  • Berean Research – Ecumenicism in the Church – Link to articles by the discernment group Berean Research on Ecumenicism.  Dictionary.com defines Ecumenicism as: “(Christianity) the doctrine of the ecumenical movement that promotes cooperation and better understanding among different religious denominations: aimed at universal Christian unity.”  This might sound good, but it involves compromising critical core doctrines which are essential to salvation.
  • Rise in Christian Persecution – Open Doors USA released a report in late 2017 that shows 215 million Christians are living with high levels of persecution for their faith.  Over 3000 Christians were killed last year for their faith and 800 churches were damaged in targeted attacks.  The full report can be downloaded here: World Watch List 2018.  This is astounding for sure, and unprecedented in recent history.  However, I would suggest that throughout the church age there has been ebbs and flows of marked persecution of true believers.  This can be tracked in Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs.

For further discussion on what Paul taught about the church in the latter days, please see:  A Picture of the Church in the Last Days.

Falling Away As A Departure

The apostasia that Paul describes in 2 Thessalonians 2 is also associated with a specific event, and not a generic long-term connection.  It also appears to usher in the Day of the Lord. Let’s keep in mind the record of Paul’s previous teachings to the Thessalonians.  He had previously taught them that they would be spared from the wrath that was to come in the Day of the Lord.  They knew they would be “caught up” to be with Jesus before the Day of the Lord began.

The word roots of apostasia are “apo” – from, and “istemi” – stand.  Dr. Thomas Ice suggests a more accurate translation of the word “apostasia” would be “departure” in both instances where this word is used in scripture.

This interpretation is well supported historically:

Just as Paul’s admonition to the Jews forsaking the teachings of Moses was a specific identifiable instance, Paul is describing a specific and identifiable departure that will occur before the Day of the Lord begins.  Unlike the previous example, Paul does not describe what this “departure” is from.  There is no mention of “the faith”, or “the teachings”, or “sound doctrine”.  Thus, he must be referring to something which the Thessalonians would understand – something he previously taught them about.  We discussed Paul’s previous teachings to the Thessalonians in part one of our study here: Part 1 – That Day Will Not Come Until…

Departing From What?

In 2 Thessalonians 2 apostasia would mean a departure, disappearance, or “away from” event, recognizable and at one specific point in time.

Let’s examine Dr. Thomas Ice’s article on the matter:

The Meaning of Apostasia

The Greek noun apostasia is only used twice in the New Testament. In addition to 2 Thessalonians 2:3, it occurs in Acts 21:21 where, speaking of Paul, it is said, “that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake (apostasia) Moses.” The word is a Greek compound of apo ” from” and istemi “stand.” Thus, it has the core meaning of “away from” or “departure.” The Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon defines apostasia first as “defection, revolt;” then secondly as “departure, disappearance.”

What precisely does Paul mean when he says that “the falling away” (2:3) must come before the tribulation? The definite article “the” denotes that this will be a definite event, an event distinct from the appearance of the Man of Sin. The Greek word for “falling away”, taken by itself, does not mean religious apostasy or defection. Neither does the word mean “to fall,” as the Greeks have another word for that. [pipto, I fall; TDI] The best translation of the word is “to depart.” The apostle Paul refers here to a definite event which he calls “the departure,” and which will occur just before the start of the tribulation. This is the rapture of the church.

So the word has the core meaning of departure and it depends upon the context to determine whether it is used to mean physical departure or an abstract departure such as departure from the faith.

Translation History

The first seven English translations of apostasia all rendered the noun as either “departure” or “departing.” They are as follows: Wycliffe Bible (1384); Tyndale Bible (1526); Coverdale Bible (1535); Cranmer Bible (1539); Breeches Bible (1576); Beza Bible (1583); Geneva Bible (1608). This supports the notion that the word truly means “departure.” In fact, Jerome’s Latin translation known as the Vulgate from around the time of a.d. 400 renders apostasia with the “word discessio, meaning ‘departure.'” Why was the King James Version the first to depart from the established translation of “departure”?

Theodore Beza, the Swiss reformer was the first to transliterate apostasia and create a new word, rather than translate it as others had done. The translators of the King James Version were the first to introduce the new rendering of apostasia as “falling away.” Most English translators have followed the KJV and Beza in departing from translating apostasia as “departure.” No good reason was ever given.

The Use of the Article

It is important to note that Paul uses a definite article with the noun apostasia. What does this mean? Davey notes the following:

Since the Greek language does not need an article to make the noun definite, it becomes clear that with the usage of the article reference is being made to something in particular. In II Thessalonians 2:3 the word apostasia is prefaced by the definite article which means that Paul is pointing to a particular type of departure clearly known to the Thessalonian church.

Dr. Lewis provides a likely answer when he notes that the definite article serves to make a word distinct and draw attention to it. In this instance he believes that its purpose is “to denote a previous reference.” “The departure Paul previously referred to was ‘our being gathered to him’ (v. 1) and our being ‘caught up’ with the Lord and the raptured dead in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:17),” notes Dr. Lewis. The “departure” was something that Paul and his readers clearly had a mutual understanding about. Paul says in verse 5, “Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?”

The use of the definite article would also support the notion that Paul spoke of a clear, discernable event. A physical departure, like the rapture would fit just such a notion. However, the New Testament teaches that apostasy had already arrived in the first century (cf. Acts 20:27-32; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; 2 Tim. 3:1-9; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; Jude 3-4, 17-21) and thus, such a process would not denote a clear event as demanded by the language of this passage. Understanding departure as the rapture would satisfy the nuance of this text.

(Source: Dr. Thomas Ice  http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/rapture-in-2-thessalonians-23 )

The apostasia that Paul is referring to is “our being gathered together to him”. 

For that day [the Day of the Lord] will not come, unless the apostasia [departure – our being gathered together unto our Lord Jesus Christ] comes first…

All true believers will depart from this earth and be gathered together unto Christ in the clouds, and so forever be with the Lord!  With the apostasia defined as a departure, Paul’s previous teachings on the catching up event are perfectly clarified.  The Day of the Lord will not begin until the departure event has occurred – which Paul calls here “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him”.  Note that this “coming” is a revealing – Jesus is revealed in the heavens and calls us up to be with Him.

Further posts discussing this departure event:

The Revealing of the Lawless One

Let’s now examine the second event that Paul teaches must occur before the Day of the Lord can come.

For that day [the Day of the Lord] will not come, unless the apostasia comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?  And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.  The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,  and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

From a straight, literal reading of the text, we can see that there is a man of lawlessness who will be revealed before the Day of the Lord begins.  From supporting passages, we can determine that the Lawless One is clearly the future Antichrist.  We discussed this in Part 2 of our study: Part 2 – The Restrainer and the Restrained in 2 Thessalonians 2.

Note that the word used in the Greek interlinear for “revealed” is parousia [Strong’s 3952].  I hope you recognize that word from our study on the revealing of Jesus Christ!  This word can mean presence, a coming, an arrival, an advent, or a visit.  It has associations with visits of kings or other high ranking officials, which is interesting in that the antichrist seems to arise as a king in the fourth kingdom, foretold to Daniel through a dream thousands of years ago.  Will the man of lawlessness be revealed as a Conquoring King, according to Jewish Messianic expectation?  It seems very likely.  For further study on this topic, see  Triumph: The Beast (Antichrist) Rises to Power.

How is the Man of Lawlessness Revealed?

The man of lawlessness will be revealed only when God chooses to allow him to be revealed.  Paul now reminds the Thessalonians that although the the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, the revealing of the specific “man of lawlessness” is being restrained.  We know that satan is certainly chomping at the bit to reveal his “man of lawlessness”.  He is, after all, the ruler of this present world (Ephesians 6:12).  But he cannot, until the fullness of time.  It is God alone who appoints a time for everything.

IMG_0703_530x.jpg

The Day of the Lord cannot begin until this man of lawlessness is revealed.  Commonly, people teach that the antichrist will be revealed at the event known as the “abomination of desolation” at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week.  Is this assumption correct?

I encourage you to read our passage again without any preconceived notions.  What will reveal the man of lawlessness?

  • The apostasia (departure) occurs, then the man of lawlessness is revealed
  • When the restraint on the man of lawlessness is lifted, he will be revealed
  • He will be revealed in God’s timing
  • When the “what” and the “one” who restrains him is out of the way, the man of lawlessness will be revealed
  • He will come by the activity of satan

The Thessalonians should already know from Paul’s previous teachings what is restraining the man of lawlessness (Do you not remember when I was with you I told you these things?).  The mystery of lawlessness is already at work, although he who restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.   There is a WHAT that is restraining the man of lawlessness, which is the same as a HE who is restraining the mystery of lawlessness.

Put another way, there is a HE [the lawless one] that is being restrained by a WHAT [the body of Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit], and a WHAT [the revealing of the lawless one, the full mystery of lawlessness] that is being restrained by a HE [the Holy Spirit].  The presence of the body of Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, is currently restraining the man of lawlessness.  The Holy Spirit is restraining the full expression of the mystery of lawlessness and will do so until He is taken out of the way.  We discussed this more fully in this post:  Part 2 – The Restrainer and the Restrained.

Our being gathered together to Jesus Christ at the departure event is what removes restraint from the man of lawlessness and the full expression of the mystery of lawlessness.  We can be confident that the man of lawlessness will be somehow revealed immediately upon the rapture of the church. 

This revelation will involve a spectacular display of supernatural signs and wonders, driven by satan himself.  I am sure it will be very convincing.  Part 4 – The Wicked Deception – “Aliens”?.  Please also see this discussion about the Jewish Messianic expectation, which I believe the anti-messiah will try to appear to fulfill:  Why Israel Rejected Jesus at His First Coming.

This revelation may also include a re-confirming of the Mosaic laws, or perhaps land and peace treaties.  Those possibilities are discussed more fully here: The Covenant With Israel – Who Confirms It?

The revealing of the lawless one, with the deceptive signs and wonders, will specifically be allowed by God because those left behind after the rapture “refused to love the truth and so be saved” through the catching away event.  Believers will not be sent a strong delusion from God, because they believe the truth.  There is only one point in human history when there will be no believers on the earth – immediately upon the gathering together of the saints into heaven.  And this is exactly when satan’s deception will be revealed with God’s strong deluding influence supporting it.

Yes, the antichrist will have to rise to power and at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week will seat himself in the temple and declare to be “god”.  However, that comes long after the event that triggers his revealing.

 


Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

Further Resources:

Studying the Prophetic Keys in 2 Thessalonians 2:

  1. Part 1 – That Day Will Not Come Until…
  2. Part 3 – The Restrainer and the Restrained in 2 Thessalonians 2
  3. Part 4 – The Wicked Deception – “Aliens”?

Triumph: The Beast (Antichrist) Rises to Power

The Covenant With Israel – Who Confirms It?

Part 1 – That Day Will Not Come Until…

Part 2 – The Restrainer and the Restrained in 2 Thessalonians 2

Part 4 – The Wicked Deception – “Aliens”?

The Parousia (Appearances) of Jesus Christ (1 Second Coming in 2 Phases)

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

God’s Mosaic – Possible Sequence of End Time Events

In writing this I will tell you straight up that I likely have several events in incorrect order.  For some it is difficult to place them with precision; I will try to identify these as we go along.  Why write this at all, then?  Well, I have personally found it much easier to grasp details if I can hang them on an approximate visual timeline.  When starting out on this study it can be very overwhelming!  As with all my posts – search the scriptures for yourself to see if it is so.  *ALL* human interpretation is subject to error.  All prophecy will come into clearer focus as it unfolds.

Dispensations

God’s revelation and dealings with humanity can be broadly separated into “ages”.  This is the basis for Dispensational Theology.  It’s not perfect, but it helps us grasp how God has progressively revealed Himself and His redemption plan to humanity.  Here, I will just mention the dispensations that affect our generation:

Age of Grace (~32 AD to present)

Age of Wrath  (~7-10 years)

Millennial Kingdom (1000 years)

Eternity

What I have called the “Age of Wrath” consists of the 70th Week of Daniel and the Day of the Lord, which are distinct but overlapping.  This period of wrath isn’t part of the Age of Grace, nor is it part of the Millennial Kingdom.  It is this relatively short period that is the focus of much Bible Prophecy.  While it is short, it is incredibly significant.

Let’s add some further details.  This backbone is based on a literal scripture interpretation.

End Times Backbone

Pentecost

Church Age Begins At Pentecost – Holy Spirit Comes Down ~ 32 AD (Acts 2:17-18).

Church Age

The church age will be marked by wars, rumors of wars, “desolation” (scattering among the nations) for the Hebrews, general tribulation, and “false christs” (false doctrine in Christianity and false prophets).

Rapture

Church Age Ends At the Rapture – Holy Spirit Goes Up (Acts 2:19-21, 2 Thess 2:7).  We may truly not know the “day or hour” of the rapture.

God’s Judgments Start

After the rapture of the church, the effects of Seals 1-7 will be seen and the Trumpet Judgements will start.

Antichrist Revealed

The antichrist will be revealed at some point AFTER the rapture of the church.

Day of the Lord Begins

The Day of the Lord likely begins after a future Gog/Magog war (Ezekiel 38-39) when God Rises to Protect Israel.  The duration of the Day of the Lord is not given; however, it appears to be at least 7 years long based on “7 year burning of weapons” following the Gog/Magog war.  Alternately, the official Day of the Lord may not begin until later – what is clear, is that it starts at some point after the antichrist is somehow revealed (2 Thessalonians 2).  God’s wrath is contained within the Day of the Lord, which church age believers are promised to be spared from.

70th Week of Daniel Begins – 7 yr Covenant

The 70th Week of Daniel begins immediately upon the confirming of a 7 year covenant with Israel and “many” (duration 1260+1260 days).  The exact nature of this covenant is unknown.  Traditional interpretation states it is a peace treaty between the antichrist, Israel, and surrounding nations.  It’s also possible that it is GOD who re-confirms His Abrahamic covenant with Israel through sparing her from certain destruction at the Gog/Magog war of Ezekiel 38-39.  The 70th week of Daniel will overlap the Day of the Lord to some extent, or even possibly in entirety.

Abomination of Desolation – Midpoint of 7 yr Covenant

Abomination of Desolation = Covenant Confirmation + 1260 Days.   Regardless of who confirms the covenant with Israel, someone (the antichrist, false messiah) will declare to be “god” at this point and seat himself in the Jewish Temple.  He, or his false prophet, will set up some type of worship system for him in the temple.  This is an abomination to God.

Time of “Greatest Tribulation”

The time of greatest tribulation mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24, and mentioned in Daniel 9 and Revelation 12, is when the saints are handed over into the antichrist beast’s hand.  This is sometimes referred to as “Satan’s wrath”.  It begins at the Abomination of Desolation and ends at the Second Coming of Christ.  People near Jerusalem are welcome to flee to the wilderness (Petra?) to avoid this, but they must leave immediately.

Second Coming of Christ – Feast of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

Abomination of Desolation + 1260 Days = Second Coming of Christ and the Battle of Armageddon.  This fulfills the Feast of Atonement (Yom Kippur) – Judgment Day.

Sheep and Goats Judgment

This judgment of the living follows the Battle of Armageddon.  The Antichrist (beast) and his False Prophet become the first inhabitants of the Lake of Fire.  The living are sorted into “sheep” (true believers) and “goats” (unbelievers).  The “sheep” are ushered into the Millennial Kingdom, and the “goats” are banished to hell / lake of fire.  This might possibly take 30 days (1260 + 30 = 1290).

Millennial Kingdom – Feast of Tabernacles

The Millennial Kingdom, “God With Us”, fulfills the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths).  God will dwell among His people, and rule them “with an iron rod” for a period of 1000 years.

Millennial Temple Dedication – Hanukkah?

The millennial temple may be dedicated on Hanukkah, the feast of lights.  This feast  happens to fall 75 days after Yom Kippur.  Note 1260 + 75 days = 1335.  Hanukkah is the Temple Re-dedication holiday for Israel, and marks when the oil in the Menorah miraculously lasted for 8 days instead of 1 day.  Hanukkah is not one God’s appointed times, but it is a significant historical celebration for Israel that Jesus participated in when He was here the first time.

Final Rebellion

At the end of 1000 years, Satan will be released for a “little season” to gather humanity in a final rebellion against God.

Great White Throne Judgment

This is the final resurrection of the dead.  Believers from the millennial kingdom, and unbelievers of all ages, will be judged.  Those who are washed clean in the blood of the Lamb go to heaven; those who attempt to pay for their own debts will find that it is impossible, and thus will be sent to the Lake of Fire.

Eternity

God makes all things new.

 

We now have a structure on which to hang further details.  Here is where I will add in my speculations and possible dates for the “Age of Wrath” that will likely affect most people alive today.  This sequence is based upon my best and current understanding, but will likely be wrong on some points.

God’s Mosaic – Possible Sequence of End Times Events

Pentecost ~32AD

Church Age

Beginning of Birth Pains

It appears from the sequence of Seal 6, which is a detailed description of the “beginning of birth pains” Jesus referred to in His mount of olives discourse, that the church might be here as the time of trouble just BEGINS to be unleashed upon the earth.  This might include:

  • nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (WW3)
  • earthquakes
  • volcanic eruptions
  • tsunamis
  • meteor showers / asteroid impacts
  • famines
  • pestilences (infectious disease outbreaks?)
  • “terrors and great signs from heaven”

Rapture

  • Possible “high watch” days include Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur, and coincidence with the Ezekiel 38-39 war.  Or, possibly day and hour are truly unknown (imminent).
  • The Feast of Trumpets may have dual fulfillment with the rapture of the church, and the Mount of Olives cleaving for the Elect Remnant of Israel ~7 or 10 years later.
  • Restrainer (Holy Spirit sealing within the true Church) is removed from the earth (2 Thessalonians 2)
  • Seal 1 – Unrestrained antichrist – the lawless one is freed to rise to political and spiritual power (2 Thessalonians 2, Revelation 6).  How quickly he arises is unspecified, but within about 3.5 years he will declare himself to be “god”.
  • Seal 2 – Unrestrained Violence and/or War – Possibly WW3, Ezekiel 38-39, and the wars the antichrist fights as he rises to power (described in Daniel 7&11).  Possibly includes the violence as people fight for survival.  This violence begins now but continues until the Second Coming of Christ.
  • Seal 3 – Unrestrained Economic Control and Famine will occur  as a result of the events that are being unleashed.  The ultimate economic control will be seen in the “Mark of the Beast” system at some point after the antichrist declares himself to be “god”.
  • Seal 4 – A result of Seals 1-3 – Death via sword, famine, infectious disease (pestilence), wild beasts.  Death is followed by Hades (hell); as such, it does not affect Believers in Jesus Christ.  The gates of hell do not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18).  A fourth of the earth will be killed, beginning at the opening of the seals and extending for some unspecified period of time.  I would assume a short time, based on the fact that many people WILL become true believers shortly after the rapture when they realize that the Bible is true.
  • Seal 5 – The dead in Christ arise (resurrection and rapture) and enter their rest (Isaiah 26).  Meanwhile, the number of martyrs will continue to collect again until the full number of martyrs is complete.  Unrestrained antichrist religion will result in martyrs for the true Christ.  The martyrs’ blood will not be completely avenged until later, when the 7th bowl judgment is poured out.
  • Seal 6 – great earthquake, which moves every mountain and island; sun is blackened; moon turns blood red.  I believe the earthquake causes volcanic eruptions as a chain reaction, and the smoke and ash in the air darken the sun and make the moon appear blood red worldwide.  In Joel 2 we are told this occurs BEFORE the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord begins.  I believe this earthquake is likely CAUSED by the nuclear transformation of the physical into the eternal (resurrection/rapture event).
  • Seal 6 – sky vanishes like a scroll being rolled up – I believe this is the third heaven opening up to allow the entrance of billions of resurrected and live believers to enter heaven.  This may come after the great earthquake.
  • Seal 6 – the left behind, every human left from rich to poor, hide among the caves and rocks to attempt to hide from the wrath of him who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb, “for the great day of their wrath has come”.
  • Seal 6 – stars of the sky fall to earth – I believe this parallels Revelation 12:9 – “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”  This may be the basis for an “excuse” of what happened to believers, and may involve “aliens” (fallen angelic deception).  Alternatively, this could be asteroids/meteors, or the fallout from a near-collision with “Planet X / Nibiru”.
  • Seal 6 – 144,000 Israelites are sealed on their foreheads, to accomplish God’s purpose on earth.  They will become the firstfruits unto God of the remnant of Israel that will be saved.  I believe these are literal bloodline Israelites, from the 12 tribes as detailed in Revelation 7.
  • Seal 6 – Believers from all nations, tribes, tongues, and peoples are seen in heaven worshiping the Lamb and the One on the throne.  These are the raptured and resurrected saints.

Pause

  • Seal 7 – Silence in heaven for “about half an hour”, then it appears that the Yom Kippur Ceremony takes place in heaven.  This half hour of silence may represent the “10 Days of Awe” between the Feast of Trumpets and Yom Kippur, it may be a literal half hour, or it may represent some other sum of time.
  • 2 Witnesses appear.  They are expected BEFORE the Day of the Lord.  Jews are expecting Elijah; whether this will truly be Elijah or someone “in the spirit of Elijah” I am unsure.  The other person could be Moses, or Enoch.  Or it could be Zerubbabel and Joshua… Whoever they are will be clear because they are granted authority to do certain signs and wonders, and they will be clothed in sackcloth.  Their ministry lasts 3.5 years (1260 days).

NOTE: There is possibly a TIME GAP between the rapture of the church and the confirming of the covenant with Israel that begins the 7 year 70th Week of Daniel.  This time gap may be approximately 2 months OR approximately 3 years and 2 months in duration OR some other possibility?  Or, there may not be a gap at all.

God’s Judgments Start – Yom Kippur?

After the rapture of the church, the effects of Seals 1-7 will be seen and the Trumpet Judgements will start.  These may be coincident with the antichrist being revealed and the Day of the Lord beginning.

Antichrist Revealed

The antichrist will be revealed at some point AFTER the rapture of the church.  Whether this is through him fighting and winning wars for Israel, through confirming a peace treaty with Israel, or at the time of his apparent death and resurrection, it is not entirely clear.

Day of the Lord Begins ~ Yom Kippur?

  • Yom Kippur represents “Judgment Day”, and seems a fitting start to God’s Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.  I believe Yom Kippur may have dual fulfillment, marking both the START and END of the Day of the Lord.
  • After the ~ 1/2 hour of silence in heaven, there is thunders, rumblings, lightning, and an earthquake.
  • The effects of the Seals opening continue on.
  • Trumpet 1:  Hail and fire, mixed with blood.  1/3 of earth and trees burned up.  All green grass burned up.  This description is paralleled as one of the fallouts of the Ezekiel 38-39 war, so the Gog/Magog war may be at this time.  Or this judgment may occur twice.
  • Trumpet 2:  Something like a mountain burning with fire (asteroid?) thrown into the sea.  1/3 sea becomes blood, 1/3 sea creatures die, 1/3 ships destroyed.
  • Trumpet 3:  Great star (asteroid?) falls from heaven, blazing like a torch.  1/3 rivers and springs are poisoned by “wormwood”.  Many people die (from either poisoning or thirst).
  • Trumpet 4:  1/3 of the light from the sun, moon, and stars are dimmed.  1/3 of day is dark, 1/3 of night is dark.
  • The 1/3 judgments seem to reflect back upon the 1/3 of angels who fall with satan (Revelation 12).  I believe these are cast down to earth at or right after the time of the rapture; and thus, these 1/3 judgments would seemingly reflect, or announce, their arrival on earth.
  • Are trumpets 1-4 related to “Planet 7X” “Nibiru” “Planet X”, if such a thing really exists?  If it is indeed a planetary system, then God created it for a specific time and purpose.
  • I am guessing Trumpets 1-4 occur close together, to form somewhat of a unit of judgment, near the beginning of the Day of the Lord, perhaps before the 70th Week of Daniel starts.

70th Week of Daniel Begins – 7 yr Covenant Confirmed With Israel and the Many

  • This is the most speculative estimation for dates.  However, since I believe Jesus’ Second Coming will be on Yom Kippur, and I believe the 70th Week of Daniel lasts 2520 days, then counting back from Yom Kippur places the covenant confirmation around November 3.5 years earlier.  If Yom Kippur 2028 is the Second Coming, the covenant signing would occur around November 6, 2021.  It’s hard for me to imagine it taking that long, though, with the rate things are happening in Israel these days.
  • Trumpet 5 – Woe 1 – Satan is given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.  A demon army comes up like locusts/scorpions to “sting” humans for 5 months.  The pain from this will be unbearable and people will seek death, but death will not be allowed.  The sealed 144,000 Israelites will be untouchable from the “stings”.
  • Trumpet 6 – Woe 2- 200,000,000 demon army kills 1/3 of humanity via fire, smoke, and sulfur. These may be the fallen “watchers” (fallen angelic beings) mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6, who are being kept in chains until the “judgment of the great day”.  This trumpet judgment begins at some point after the Trumpet 5 locust demon army, and ends after God’s 2 witnesses are killed and resurrected.  The “abomination of desolation” likely occurs while the 2 witnesses are laying dead in the streets of Jerusalem.

Beast Killed and Resurrected (April?)

It is insinuated in several passages that the antichrist/beast is killed via a mortal head wound and then is resurrected from the dead.  The timing of this is likely shortly before the antichrist declares himself to be “god”, because it probably is one of the reasons that he seemingly CAN claim to be god.  This is an attempt to parallel Jesus’ death and resurrection, and thus it seems very possible that it might occur on Passover/Firstfruits.  The antichrist is resurrected from the dead by the power of God, when Satan is allowed to take possession of his body.

Abomination of Desolation – Midpoint of 7 yr Covenant (April/May?)

The Abomination of Desolation occurs at the Covenant Confirmation + 1260 Days.  Someone (the antichrist/beast) will declare to be “god” at this point and seat himself in the Jewish Temple.  This is an abomination to God.  An image will be set up in the Temple for people to give worship and sacrifices to the antichrist, which is also an abomination.  Old Testament style sacrifices will cease.  This may be an attempt to copy Jesus, who was the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system.

2 Witnesses Killed – Resurrected After 3.5 Days (end-April/early-May?)

Likely one of the first things that the newly resurrected antichrist will do is kill God’s 2 witnesses.  He’s probably been trying to kill them all along, but until now they’ve been untouchable.  The 2 Witnesses will lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem for 3.5 days, then be resurrected from the dead and called up into heaven.  It is at this point we also see the 144,000 previously sealed Israelites on the heavenly Mount Zion.  So it is possible that the antichrist turns on these along with the 2 witnesses when he proclaims himself to be “god”.  This would make sense, since they will be proclaiming the true Christ as the only way to the One True God.

Time of “Greatest Tribulation” – 1260 days

The time of greatest tribulation mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24, and mentioned in Daniel 9 and Revelation 12, is when the saints are handed over into the beast’s hand.  Satan is allowed 1260 days to rule over the kingdoms of the world.  This is sometimes referred to as the time of “Satan’s wrath”, when he pours out all his hatred of Christ onto Christ’s followers.  Martyrdom will be extremely common.  The Time of Greatest Tribulation begins at the Abomination of Desolation and ends at the Second Coming of Christ.  People near Jerusalem are welcome to flee to the wilderness (Petra?) to avoid this, but they must leave immediately after the antichrist declares himself to be “god”.  Note that many will be following the antichrist and willingly worshiping him, and these will not be persecuted…yet.  The time of Greatest Tribulation, the Antichrist’s rule, lasts 3.5 years.

Mark of the Beast

At some point after his rule is established, the antichrist will institute his “mark of the beast” system.  This will show allegiance to him and will be required for all economic transactions.  An angel from God will warn the earth not to take this mark, as it will render whoever accepts the mark to be “unsaveable”.  As to what it could be, it may affect human DNA somehow.  Jesus died to save humanity alone – those who bear His image.  Our very humanity is defined by our DNA.  This is speculative, but I am guessing that it will come near the very end of the beast’s rule based on the timing of the Feasts of God and the messages of the 3 Messenger Angels.

Mount Olives Split – Feast of Trumpets?

Trumpet 7 is also Woe 3  and includes flashes of lightning, rumblings, thunders, an earthquake, and heavy hail.  I am speculating that the Feast of Trumpets is when Trumpet 7 is blown.  Trumpet 7 releases the 7 Bowls of Wrath.   For this reason, I imagine it is blown near the end of the antichrist’s rule.  Zechariah 14 tells us that before Jesus comes with His holy ones, the Mount of Olives will be split into two – from East to West – to allow the Hebrews to flee before a great (the greatest ever) earthquake occurs.  I’m postulating that the earthquake of Trumpet 7 is the one that splits the Mount of Olives.  I believe this is Jesus calling to the elect remnant in Jerusalem, “Come Out of Her, My People!”, right before the destruction of Mystery Babylon (end-times city of Jerusalem).  Anyone who obeys would be spared from God’s final outpouring of wrath.  It seems that half the city goes out into exile to obey.   Perhaps this is because the messenger angel #1 just flew over proclaiming the eternal gospel?

This would seem to be a second fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets, if the rapture occurs on the Feast of Trumpets as well.  Another chance for the elect (this time Israel) to escape wrath.  Or, is it possible that the earthquake that divides Mount Olives to provide an escape route for the remnant of Israel will occur 3 days after the darkness of Bowl 5?  This would parallel God’s deliverance of Israel after 3 days of darkness at the first exodus.

Messenger Angels (Days of Awe?)

Once the 2 witnesses and the 144,000 sealed Israelites have been killed/taken up into heaven, God will use 3 messenger angels to communicate with humanity.  These will deliver their messages at some point after the abomination of desolation, but before the bowls of wrath.  Because the second angel announces the imminent fall of Mystery Babylon, which is right near the Second Coming of Jesus, the timeline of the Messenger Angels is likely near the end of the 1260 day beast-rule.  I’m suspecting the messenger angels (3) plus the bowls of wrath (7) might fulfill the 10 Days of Awe between the Feast of Trumpets and Yom Kippur.

  1. Eternal Gospel Proclaimed to Every Nation and Tribe and Language and People
  2. Fallen, Fallen is Babylon the Great (Mystery Babylon)
  3. Warning Not to Worship the Beast or Its Image or Take Its Mark Under Penalty of Wrath and Lake of Fire

Destruction of Mystery Babylon

At some point near the Second Coming of Christ, Mystery Babylon (end-times city of Jerusalem) is destroyed.  This is where the antichrist and his confederacy turns on her.  It must occur after the Mount of Olives splits, to allow the believing remnant to flee.  It occurs with enough time for the kings of the earth (not included in the beast’s confederacy) to mourn for their loss of income at her destruction.  Does it possibly happen on the second Day of Awe when the angel announces “Fallen, Fallen is Babylon the Great”?

Bowls of Wrath  (Days of Awe?)

The Bowls of Wrath will begin at some point after the Mark of the Beast system is instituted.

  • Bowl 1 – Harmful and painful sores occur on people who have taken the mark of the beast.
  • Bowl 2 – Entire sea turns to blood, all sea creatures die.
  • Bowl 3 – All rivers and springs become blood.
  • Bowl 4 – Sun scorches people with fierce heat.
  • Bowl 5 – Kingdom of the beast is plunged into darkness.  People in anguish over their pain and sores (continuing from Bowl 1).
  • Bowl 6 – The Euphrates river is dried up to allow humanity to assemble for the battle at “Armageddon” (Jerusalem?).  The antichrist and false prophet send three deceiving frog-like spirits go out into all the world to collect the people.

Second Coming of Christ + Battle of Armageddon = Feast of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

Bowl 7 wraps up the destruction of Mystery Babylon and the Battle of Armageddon.  It includes lighting, rumblings, thunder, the greatest earthquake of all time, and 100 pound hailstones.  Abomination of Desolation + 1260 Days = Second Coming of Christ and the Battle of Armageddon.  This fulfills the Feast of Atonement (Yom Kippur) – Judgment Day.  Zechariah 14 describes this as “a unique day, with no light, cold, or frost….neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light” (v6-7).  I speculate that this is the sign of the Son of Man – when Jesus appears in heaven with eyes blazing, mounted on a white horse and flanked by His holy ones (Revelation 19).  Jesus kills the armies of the beast via what seems like some type of nuclear event.  Flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder are followed by the greatest earthquake ever.  Jerusalem is split into 3 parts, all the cities in the nations fall, all islands disappear, and all mountains are flattened.  100 pound hailstones fall from the sky.  Jerusalem is elevated onto a broad plain.

Gathering of the Elect

Angels gather the remnant of Israel.  All bloodline Hebrews who have survived the 70th Week of Daniel (1/3) are now believers and will be ushered into the Millennial Kingdom.  “And so all Israel will be saved”.

Sheep and Goats Judgment

The Gentile Sheep and Goats judgment follows the Battle of Armageddon.  The Antichrist (beast) and False Prophet become the first inhabitants of the Lake of Fire.  All remaining living humans are sorted into “sheep” (true believers) and “goats” (unbelievers).  The “sheep” are ushered into the Millennial Kingdom, and the “goats” are banished to hell / lake of fire.

Satan and Demons Banished

Satan and his demonic horde are banished to the abyss for the duration of the Millennial Kingdom.

Resurrection of Tribulation Martyrs

Tribulation martyrs that died in Christ will be resurrected and reign with Christ during the Millennial Kingdom.  I am not sure if this includes all the tribulation saints or just those who were martyred.

Millennial Kingdom – Feast of Tabernacles

The Millennial Kingdom is the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles, and as such would be expected to begin on this feast date.  While the feast lasts 7 days, the Millennial Kingdom will last 1000 years.  7 is the number of completion, or perfection.

Temple Re-dedication – Hanukkah

The Temple may be cleansed and restored, or at least the sacrificial altar, in time to be dedicated on Hanukkah, which happens to fall at 1260 + 75 days = 1335.  Hanukkah is the Temple Re-dedication holiday for Israel, and marks when the oil in the Menorah miraculously lasted for 8 days instead of 1 day.  Hanukkah is not one God’s appointed times, but it is a significant holiday for Israel.

Final Rebellion

At the end of 1000 years, Satan will be released for a little season to gather humanity in a final rebellion against God.  This will complete humanity’s 7000 year story.

Great White Throne Judgment

This is the final resurrection of the dead.  Believers from the millennial kingdom, and unbelievers of all ages, will be judged.  Those who are washed clean in the blood of the Lamb go to heaven; those who attempt to pay for their own debts go to the Lake of Fire.

Eternity

God makes all things new.

__________________________________________

Everything mentioned in this post is discussed in further detail on this site.  Please see the  Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model.

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details, some of which I think might need to be adjusted slightly.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

Is It Better to Be TAKEN or LEFT?

In examining rapture views, I noticed there was disagreement between scholars about whether it was better to be “taken” or “left” in Matthew 24.  One view is that believers are “taken” into heaven (raptured), and the ones who are “left” remain to face judgement.  The other view is that unbelievers are “taken” to hell/judgment at the sheep and goats judgment following Jesus’ Second Coming, and believers are “left” to enter the Millennial Kingdom.  I decided to follow this trail to see where it would lead me.

In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus gives a sweeping overview of the “latter days”.   I truly believe the entire discourse should be examined in sequence instead of bit by bit, and I have done so in THIS POST.  However, it’s really long, so if you are just wondering about the Taken and Left portion when Jesus refers to the days of Noah and Lot, I will summarize that here.

Both Matthew 24 and Luke 17 cover the Taken and Left segment of the Olivet Discourse.  From Matthew’s version, and the corresponding passages in Luke 21 and Mark 13, we know that in the sermon’s progression it follows the Fig Tree Parable, the Terminal Generation Parable, and the introduction that “No One Knows the Day or the Hour” when the Taken and Left will occur.

Let’s read the passages in question.  Matthew’s version is shown in Teal, Luke’s in Purple, and my commentary is in black:

Matthew 24 / Luke 17 (all scripture in ESV)

37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 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; 39 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 [parousia, Strong’s #3952, can also mean presence] of the Son of Man.

26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building,29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed [apokalyptetai, Strong’s #601].

Who is Taken?

In the parallel passages above, we note that in the days of Noah, Noah enters the ark then the “flood came and took them all away”.  Thus, it was the judged who were taken away by the flood.  In the days of Lot, it is the opposite.  Lot is taken, literally dragged away by angels, then those who remain – the left behind – are pummeled with judgment.  The pattern in both situations is:

righteous ones are protected THEN those who remain are judged with great wrath

Noah was not taken away by the flood, but he was removed off of the earth and received into the ark.  Note this removal and receiving  language which we will visit again in a bit.

What Are People Doing?

Jesus compares the “coming” (or “presence”, Matthew) or the “revealing” (Luke) of the Son of Man as like the days of Noah and the days of Lot.  When He is revealed, people will be:

  • eating and drinking
  • marrying and giving in marriage
  • planting and building
  • buying and selling
  • knowing nothing about what will happen

These seem like regular, mundane, everyday activities including planning for the future (marrying and giving in marriage, planting and building).  Everything is continuing as it always has been.   While Noah knew well in advance that judgment was coming, Lot did not.  Lot would have been participating in everyday activity until the evening before the destruction, when the angels came to warn him.

Warnings of Future Judgment

Note that apart from Noah and Lot, the people knew nothing about what would happen when the judgment came.  This is not because they hadn’t been warned in Noah’s day, as he had been a preacher of righteousness during all the time of his decades of ark-building.  This brings to mind a passage in 2 Peter:

“…knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God,  and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.  But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:3-10 ESV)

In the latter days, when the world is about to be deluged in fire, people will be saying “Where is the promise of his coming?  All things are continuing as they were….”  The upcoming judgment upon the world by fire is known in scripture as The Day of the Lord.  The Day of the Lord is a period of time that has a Beginning, a Middle, and an End.  In it, God pours out His judgment and wrath upon the world.  Church Age believers in Jesus Christ are promised to be spared from this time of judgment and wrath.

When Does the Trap Spring?

At the beginning of the Day of the Lord, when Christ comes to deliver His body, He will be revealed.  This event will spring like a trap upon the unbelieving world.  It will be as in the days of Noah and Lot, who were pulled out of the path of destruction while the end to the rest of humanity comes on “like a flood” – severe and sudden (Daniel 9:26).  This passage emphasizes the unexpected nature of the beginning of the Day of the Lord.  Elsewhere it is referred to as “the beginning of birth pains” which have no escape.  It will be life as usual, until WHAM!  The Day of the Lord begins.

This stands in stark contrast to the End of the Day of the Lord when the Son of Man returns.  At the battle of Armageddon (the END of the Day of the Lord), life will not have been continuing on as usual.  The “flood by fire” will be almost over – well over half the human population will have died by that point.  Everyone will know about what has been happening on the earth.  Everyone will have been affected.  It won’t be a surprise that Jesus is coming, because people will have gathered deliberately in expectation to fight Him (Bowl 6).  They KNOW He is coming.  So this passage that suggests life as usual and the surprise element in Noah’s and Lot’s days MUST be referring to the beginning of the Day of the Lord and not the End.

Remember Lot’s Wife

The passage in Luke 17 continues:

31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back.32 Remember Lot’s wife.33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.

We know this part about Lot’s wife turning back isn’t the same as Matthew’s mention of the abomination of desolation fleeing (v15).  We know this because there is no mention of fleeing here – instead, it is inserted in between two different “taken” and “left” statements.

The “remember Lot’s wife” part terrified me for awhile – at the rapture would I turn back????  I prayed about it a lot.  I believe that what this is referring to, Jesus also teaches in Luke 9:62. Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Lot’s wife wasn’t looking back for family, for her kids – they were with her.  She was looking back longingly, because her heart was in Sodom.  It’s all about the heart.

Luke 21:36 Jesus admonishes us to pray that we are “worthy to escape all these things.” How can we be worthy to enter the kingdom of God?  Jesus teaches over and over again that we must love Him more than life itself (Matthew 10:39, 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; John 12:25).  Our hearts must be with HIM, not in the world.  Where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.  We should examine ourselves, to see if we are in the faith!  We are worthy to escape all these things by being clothed in the righteousness of Jesus – true Christ-followers.

Further Examples

The passages continue with more examples:

40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”

Here we see people:

  • men in the field (perhaps planting as mentioned earlier?)
  • women grinding with a hand mill (to make flour)
  • sleeping in bed

Again, more every day activities.  These activities emphasize the sudden nature of the rapture – it will happen in the twinkling of an eye – we will be changed, and then snatched.  There won’t be time to actually turn back at that point (don’t worry!).  But nor will there be time to repent and join in.  Men and women, the body of Christ, will be taken to heaven.

Taken… and Received?

No, God doesn’t use the word “harpazo” here.  There seems to be more than one way to express our disappearance.

Interestingly, the word used in these passages, paralambanetai (Strong’s 3880), is used elsewhere to represent “received”, not “taken”.  As in, the ones taken will be received unto the Lamb.

Let not your heart be troubled: ye 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 am coming again and will receive [paralempsomai (Strong’s 3880)] you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:1-3 ESV)

We are seized (harpazo) from the earth, and received (paralambanetai) into heaven.

The ones who are taken will be received into heaven and will STAND before the throne of God and the Lamb (Luke 21:36 & Revelation 7:9-17).  The ones who are left behind will suffer the wrath of God.

Vultures and Corpses

In anticipation of questions surrounding the subsequent verses we will continue:

37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

At first this seems like a strange reference, out of the blue.  We dig in scripture to find the key.  There are two instances in prophetic verses where God prepares a banquet for the birds of prey and wild animals.  There is one at Armageddon, yes – at the END of the Day of the Lord.  However, there is also one at the Gog/Magog war at the BEGINNING of the Day of the Lord.  This passage, among other keys, connects Ezekiel 38-39 with the BEGINNING of the Day of the Lord, as well as the rapture. Ezekiel 39:17 “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood.”  (Notably, this also connects into the death by “wild beasts” of seal 4).

The Thief in the Night

Matthew, however, continues his passage with the thief in the night analogy:

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 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. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Jesus will come unexpectedly to those who are not AWAKE and WATCHING.  This is explained very well by Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians (bolding mine):

“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 ESV)

Believers are not in darkness.  The Day of the Lord will not surprise or overtake us if we are AWAKE and WATCHING.  We have the hope of salvation!

One final word.  Remember that the apostles didn’t know that there would be gaps of any type at all in Jesus’ prophecies. Upon His ascension, they were still anticipating His setting up His earthly kingdom. Of course, if Jesus had told them it would be roughly 2000 years from then, that would have been very disheartening to all believers between then and now.   God, in his mercy and wisdom, gives us just enough light to illuminate the path in front of us.  The very fact that we can see the events of the latter days so clearly, indicates their nearness.  He is near, at the very gates!  Maranatha!

A Second Coming Passage?

I hope I have shown by now why I believe that the “taken/left” passage in the Olivet Discourse refers to the rapture and not the Second Coming.  However, to further clarify, I just want you to consider if it WAS at the second coming.  This would mean people are:

  • eating and drinking
  • marrying and giving in marriage
  • planting and building
  • buying and selling
  • knowing nothing about what will happen
  • men in the field (perhaps planting as mentioned earlier?)
  • women grinding with a hand mill (to make flour)
  • sleeping in bed

AFTER Armageddon.  Remember that the order goes Seals – Trumpets – Bowls – Second Coming/Armageddon THEN Sheep and Goats Judgment.  If the Taken is to Hell (goats) and the Left Enter to the Millennial Kingdom (sheep), how on earth did all these people miss the flood of fire that had been occurring over the last 7 years?  They knew nothing about what would happen?  They are eating and drinking, marrying, planting, building, buying and selling – POST ARMAGEDDON?  With well over half the human population dead and rotting around them?  Going to bed, working in the field, grinding grain, hanging out after the world has been decimated, and shocked by being taken or left????

2525247-armageddon-wallpapers.jpg


Further Reading:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

PEOPLE MEN-WORKING IN FIELD-7X4

Braxton Hicks, Labor Pains, and the Time of the End

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  Romans 8:22 ESV

I’m not a pastor.  I’m just someone who has given birth.  I know that all births are painful, and that many babies have particularly challenging births.  My kids were of those.  Subsequently, the references in the Bible to creation “groaning in the pains of childbirth” and “the beginning of birth pains” have taken on a lot more meaning for me.

“Practice” Labor – Braxton Hicks of the Church Age:

First, let’s think about what pregnancy is like.  Sure, some women have it easier than others, but being pregnant is uncomfortable for all women at times.  For some women, pregnancy is quite unpleasant.  For a few it is even life-threatening.  This is a good description of the trials and tribulations of the Church Age:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 ESV

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 ESV

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. 2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 ESV

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too… For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:1-3, 8-9 ESV

God allows trials and tribulations in our lives to grow us more into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).  Some of us have few trials, some of us have many trials, and some of us are jailed, tortured, or killed for our faith.  This has marked the entire church age (see Foxe’s Book of Martyrs).   I like to think of these trials as “Braxton Hicks contractions”.  Wikipedia defines Braxton Hicks as:

Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as prodromal labor or practice contractions, or false labor, are sporadic uterine contractions that sometimes start around six weeks into a pregnancy.  However, they are not usually felt until the second trimester or third trimester of pregnancy.

Braxton Hicks contractions are often infrequent, irregular, and involve only mild cramping.  As pregnancy goes on, Braxton Hicks contractions go from unnoticeable amounts of pain signals to irregular, infrequent cramping to strong frequent cramping and then finally labor pains.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braxton_Hicks_contractions

Jesus describes the false labor of the Church Age in one broad sweep:

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. [“See that you are not led astray” v8] [“See that no one leads you astray” v5] For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ [“the time is at hand” v8] and will deceive many. {23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them.} [Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. v6-7] And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once. 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.  Matthew 24 / Luke 21 / Luke 17 / Mark 13 ESV

The Church Age will be marked by false messiahs, false doctrine, wars and rumors of wars, and trials and tribulations of many kinds, but the end is still to come.  Indeed, there have been many offshoots from Christianity proclaiming “partial truths” throughout the last 2 millenia – bearing the name of Christ but not acting in Godly character nor professing salvation through Jesus’ atonement alone.  There are many religions (including “Christian” ones) who have added prophets or books or personal interpretations onto the Bible.  We can also think of horrible atrocities that have been done (and are still being done) in the name of religion.  Even though many of these were done in the name of “god”, I can assure you that they were not done for the One True God.  These things will all be present in the Church Age… but the end is not yet.

“Hard Labor” of the “Tribulation”:

How will we know when “true labor” – the actual time of the end – begins?  The Bible speaks of the “time of the End” as being similar to true labor pains and childbirth.  When it hits, there will be no mistaking it.  It’s going to rock the socks off this planet we call home.  These are the passages:

Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.  Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame.  See, the day of the Lord is coming —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.   Isaiah 13:6-9 ESV

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,  for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 ESV

These are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah:  “Thus says the Lord: We have heard a cry of panic, of terror, and no peace.  Ask now, and see, can a man bear a child? Why then do I see every man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor?  Why has every face turned pale? Alas! That day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it. Jeremiah 30:4-7 ESV

Labor and delivery, for me anyways, involved a lot of screaming, writhing, and pain.  Unmistakable and incomparable.  The “beginning of birth pains” are defined by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse:

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24)  8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Mark 13) 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21) 

When the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (“Tribulation”) arrives, it will be marked all at once by the arrival of widespread war, global earthquakes, famines and pestilences, terrors and great signs from heaven.  Collectively, “all these” are the “beginning” of the birth pains.

The labor pains continue throughout the time of tribulation (~7 years). These pains include all the effects of the seals, as well as the trumpet and bowl judgments of God.  It also includes the deception and wrath of satan. The last 3.5 years involve the worst pain – For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.”  (Matthew 24:21 ESV)  Finally, at the Second Coming of Christ, the earth will be delivered of its’ suffering.

But Wait!  Early Delivery Option:

The start of the Day of the Lord / Tribulation will come like a trap upon those on the earth, but there is an escape route:

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  (Luke 21:24-26 ESV)  

The escape route is detailed by following God’s “birth plan”.  An overview of God’s “birth plan” is found in Micah 5:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lordin the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace. Micah 5:2-5 ESV

Out of Bethlehem, the Messiah came forth.  He is the one who will be ruler over her, but because it did not happen as she imagined, Israel rejected Him.  Israel was thus scattered among the nations as prophesied. We see this foretold throughout the Old Testament as well as by the prophet Ezekiel.  This is the mystery of the “partial hardening” of Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles is complete (Romans 11:25).  The fullness of the Gentiles will be complete when the last one has entered into the new covenant in Jesus’ blood, at which point the body of Christ will be fully formed.

Israel will be given up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth, then Israel will be regathered.

It is at this point that we examine the labor and the birth, which I believe points to Revelation 12:1-2,5:

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne... (ESV)

Using an interlinear translation, we see the woman give birth to a male huion arsen (Strong’s 5207 and 730).  This male child is to shepherd the nations with a rod of iron.  The woman is  identified as Israel (the corporate entity), who brings forth Jesus (the male child – huion arsen).  A child, teknon (Strong’s 5043), is then caught up to God and to His throne.  Now here’s a question for you – is the child who is birthed the same child that is caught up?

Who’s The Baby?

What about Jesus’ ascension?  Was Jesus caught up and snatched out of imminent danger from the dragon?  Acts 1:9, Jesus is lifted up (eperthe – Strong’s 1869) until He is hidden from view.  We see this in 19 other instances and it means exalts or lifts itself, lifting up voice or eyes, lifting up, turning gaze.  Jesus, at His ascension, went calmly and was in no distress from a dragon trying to devour Him.  The child that is birthed here will be “caught up”.

The child in Rev 12:5 is herpasthe (Strong’s 726), not eperthe .  Where else do we see Strong’s Greek 726?  1 Thessalonians 4:17 – Those who are alive and remain will be caught up together…; 2 Cor. 12:2, 4 Paul is caught up to the third heaven; Acts 23:10 – take him away from them by force; Acts 8:39Philip is snatched by the Spirit of the Lord.  There are 14 instances of this word and it means plucked, seized, snatched suddenly and forcefully.  There is quite a difference between being lifted or raised and being snatched or seized, isn’t there?

So what does this mean?  Well, let’s take a look at the child who is snatched.  Is it the same child as the male child – huion arsen?  Well, no, in fact, it isn’t.  This child is teknon (Strong’s 5043).  This is a commonly used word to mean children, child, descendant (gender neutral).  Who could this be?  If the woman represents the corporate entity of Israel, the child (neutral gender) represents the corporate entity of the church – Jew and Gentile made one in Christ.  The church that is snatched up, suddenly and forcefully.  For an excellent discussion of the child in Revelation 12:5, please see – Who is the Male Child in Revelation 12?

Jesus, the male child, is birthed first, as the Head.  Next we see the gender neutral corporate child born, the Body.  Just as in typical childbirth, the Head precedes the Body.  I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that often in the New Testament Christ is referred to as the Head of the Church and we are the Body of Christ!  (It’s also possible that Revelation 12:5 is *only* talking about the church as the child)

When the body of Christ is fully formed, it will be birthed.  This is the second birth foretold in Micah 5:3.  We also see this in Isaiah 26:

Like a pregnant woman who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she is near to giving birth, so were we because of you, O Lord; we were pregnant, we writhed, but we have given birth to wind. We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen. Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the deadCome, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.   (Isaiah 26:17-21 ESV)

Before the labor pains of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble start, right before God comes out to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their sin and unbelief, the earth will give birth to the dead.  We see this in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (ESV)

The resurrected dead, combined with the living believers, then enter their chambers:

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:2-3 ESV)

Isaiah 26 is particularly interesting in that it is an Old Testament passage that connects the dead rising (resurrection) and God’s people entering their chambers to hide (rapture) right before God’s wrath begins.

From Isaiah 66 we know that “before she was in labor she gave birth”.  This is entirely consistent with Jesus telling us that when we BEGIN to see all these things (the beginning of birth pains sign He describes on the Mount of Olives), that our redemption draws near.  As Israel enters her birth pains, the time of Jacob’s Trouble, the body of Christ will be delivered.  The nation that is born in one day is the body of Christ (1 Peter 2:9). 

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Romans 7:24 ESV

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

Examining God’s Birth Plan, believers in Christ have been “born again” (sealed) of the Spirit.  A time is coming when we will be “born again” physically as well:

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  John 3:3-4 ESV

For further support for this model, note in Rev 2:26-27 that the overcomers in Thyatira – but applicable to all believers – will receive authority over the nations and rule them with an iron rod, just as Jesus received authority from His Father.

Our birth is “already but not yet”.  Once the body of Christ has been birthed, THEN “the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel” (Micah 5:3).  This regathering of Israel occurs during the 70th week of Daniel (the “tribulation”, “time of Jacob’s trouble”), and is completed at the Second Coming of Christ.  God will deliver the remnant of Israel as foretold, right before Jesus is inaugurated into His Messianic Kingdom (Micah 5:4-5).

When’s Our Due Date?

One of the first questions a pregnant woman asks is – “When am I due?”  Initially, we ask this in eager expectation of the coming promise.  As the pregnancy progresses, the woman begins to ask when she is due because she yearns to be delivered.   Following God’s Birth Plan comparison, we eagerly anticipate our deliverance – which IS the coming promise:

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  (Romans 8:23 ESV)

I personally believe that the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948 has given us a possible gestation of 70-80 years based on Psalm 90.  This would place our “due date” in 2021 (or 2020 if correcting for 360-day-years).  I hope, though, that Israel goes into labor early. 😉  For more on our due date, please see:

The Pregnancy Journal

All of creation has been yearning to be freed from death and decay since the fall of humanity.  The church age has been marked by the “practice contractions” of tribulation.  These have been ramping up for some time now – increasing in frequency and severity.   For Israel, the church age is marked by God’s silence towards them.  It seems that God will remain silent towards Israel until the birth of the church.  At some point soon, Israel is going to enter the birth pains of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.  But before she labors, the body of Christ will be truly “born again” and safely delivered to heaven. At this point God will again turn to Israel and focus on bringing His chosen people back to Himself – “as a hen gathers her chicks” (Matthew 23:37).

I encourage you to watch the last 8 minutes of Scott Clarke’s exposition of the conception  and birth of the church HERE.  He suggests that we are “conceived” at our salvation, and “birthed” at our redemption; this is an interesting picture because if the “seed of the woman” isn’t fertilized by the “seed of the Father”, it is destined to die.  What a somber picture of those who reject God’s offer of eternal life.

 


Further Recommended Reading:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

Woman in Labor in the Bible – Revelation 12 Daily

Micah Prophecy – Daniel Matson

Micah 5 Timeline – Revelation 12 Daily

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

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God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

The earth is wobbling like a top ready to spin out of control.  Can you feel it?

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We are rapidly approaching the point of no return where humanity’s actions will tip the scales of God’s wrath.  Life as we know it will come crashing to a cataclysmic halt.  Christians know it, other religions know it, secular observers know it.  “The Apocalypse” is almost upon us.  It will be a time of chaos, destruction, and confusion.

Fortunately, God has not left us in the dark about what is to come.  God’s prophetic tapestry is woven through like threads in both the Old and New Testaments.  Close up, the intricate designs can seem confusing and even contradictory.  God has intentionally designed a pattern that is complex.  He leaves for us a trail of puzzle pieces, not unlike the parables Jesus told, and exactly like at His first coming.  It is only through rigorously searching and praying through the Scriptures that keys emerge, pieces fit together, and the big picture is revealed.  Keep in mind that these things were written 1900-3000 years ago!!!

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Over the course of history, God has dealt with humanity in a few different ways.  These ways are known as Dispensations.  In the garden of Eden, God met with Adam and Eve in human form.  Here, the very first prophetic word was uttered by God – “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV)  After the fall of humanity, God continued to speak directly to the early patriarchs.  This continued through Noah and the global flood until the time of Abraham.  The nations had been dispersed at the tower of Babel, and God selected one man, Abraham, to seed the nation of Israel – His nation, His people.

Israel’s purpose was to be set apart, to be a beacon of God’s light in the world and draw the nations back to Him.  Israel, for the most part, failed miserably.  God could rely only on Himself.  Thus, in the fullness of time, God became as one of us in the form of Jesus.  Jesus succeeded where Israel had failed, and set in motion the reclaiming of the nations unto God.  Israel expected this to happen all at once, but the mystery was that this reclaiming would now be done through the “church” – a body of Jews and Gentiles called by God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 11:25).  The church was now set apart as God’s salt and light in the world.

The time is very quickly approaching when this mission of the church will suddenly end.

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God’s timeline for humanity proceeds right on schedule.  The end of this age will come abruptly to a halt with the noisy, not-so-secret rapture of the church.  The dead in Christ will arise, and the invisible body of Christ will be transformed in the blink of an eye.  Together they will be snatched away from what is coming on the earth, safely hidden in heaven.  A parable of this can be seen in the ritual of the Jewish Wedding.  We may not know the day or the hour, but there are definite clues to the season.  We can watch for the signs to occur that point to this event.  You may agree or disagree with some of these signs but what is clear is that prophecy scholars agree that there is a convergence of signs:

  • The Fig Tree sign – Jesus tells His disciples that when they “see the fig tree leaf out”, they would know that the time of His coming was near.  Many prophecy scholars agree that this sign refers to Israel’s rebirth in May 1948.  This was predicted in scripture over 2500 years ago.
  • Israel Reborn – Regardless of whether or not the fig tree refers to Israel, Israel’s rebirth as a nation after 2000 years of not being one is a flashing neon light!  The Kingdom of Heaven is Near!!!
  • Jerusalem Recaptured – Jerusalem features heavily in end times prophecy.  The 6 day war of 1967 was very significant prophetically!  It’s possible that war fulfilled Psalm 83; alternately, the complete fulfillment of Psalm 83 may be yet future.
  • Jewish Aliyah – Along with the re-establishment of Israel as a physical/political nation, God’s chosen people are foretold to return to the Promised Land.  This has been slowly but surely occurring over the last 120 years or so, with approximately 45% of the world’s Jewry living in Israel at this time (2016).  According to Jewish tradition, conditions are set for prophets to appear when at least 50% of the world’s Jewry is located in Israel.
  • The Third Temple – We know from the book of Daniel, the gospels, and Revelation that there will be a functioning Jewish Temple during the “70th Week of Daniel“.  While the Temple has not yet been built, the plans are complete, Levite priests are trained, and Temple equipment/furniture has been made.
  • Apostasy in the Church – It seems that as we approach the time of the end, churches will fall away from preaching sound doctrine. Instead, they will focus on a social gospel that “tickles men’s ears” (tells them what they want to hear to feel good).  Sexual immorality will be tolerated.
  • Immorality in Society – Society will move further and further away from God and His laws/morals.  We see this most clearly in the last several decades through Abortion (1.5 billion since 1980), Homosexuality (general worldwide acceptance in non-Muslim nations), and Human Euthanasia (legal in some nations, including Canada).  There are many examples of immorality and corruption.
  • As in the Days of Lot – Society will be marked by violence, homosexuality, and sexual immorality.  Interestingly, the LGBTQ community has adopted the symbol of God’s promise “in the days of Noah” as the symbol of their pride.
  • As in the Days of Noah – Society will be marked by violence, DNA manipulation, and sexual immorality.
  • Knowledge Will Increase – In the latter days, people will travel “to and fro” and knowledge will increase.  We are approaching a “technological tower of Babel” situation!
  • The Gospel Will be Preached to All Nations – While there are still unreached people groups within nations, the gospel has been successfully taken to all nations around the globe.  The gospel will continue to be preached during the coming times of tribulation by the 2 Witnesses, sealed 144,000 Hebrews, and an angel from God.
  • A Great Sign in the Sun, Moon, and Stars – It appears God may be announcing the imminent rapture of the church and the nearness of His Second Coming through a great sign in the sun, moon, and stars described in Revelation 12:1-2.  This great sign appeared in the sky on September 23, 2017.  Interestingly, satan also seems to think September 23 is an important date.
  • The Great Pyramid – The Great Pyramid in Egypt seems to have been specifically designed to point to the First and Second comings of Jesus Christ.
  • The Feasts of God – God has appointments on His calendar.  He calls these His “moedim”, or appointed times.  The next appointments on His calendar are the Fall Feasts.  There is some question, however, if the late spring feast of Pentecost has fully been fulfilled…
  • “Balaamic Prophecies” – Secular society can’t help itself but advertise that the “end is near”
  • Nonspecific Signs – God may be issuing His final warnings via nonspecific signs (i.e. August 21,2017 solar eclipse, Planet X)

A summary of some of these signs and more can be seen in this article:  Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign – The Convergence is Now.

The Path Diverges

A great divide exists; there are two tracks that humanity will take.  Those who took the narrow road will be a part of the heavenly track:  the body of Christ will be in heaven for the time of “tribulation” on the earth.  They will participate in the Day of Christ (judgment for rewards).  Meanwhile, the Day of the Lord is the track on earth for those who were on the broad road leading to destruction.

 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,  in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.  2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV

God’s judgment will be poured out in full force on a wicked and Christ-rejecting world.  However, God will not leave the world without witness.  He will call forth 2 Witnesses who will function similarly to the Old-Testament prophets.  Additionally, with the sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church complete, the Holy Spirit will immediately move to supernaturally seal 144,000 specially chosen Hebrews.  God will use these witnesses to call forth His elect – a third of Israel along with many “gentile” followers.

Prophesied Wars

Before we get any further, there are several prophesied wars involving Israel that will occur in the future.  The timing of these is broadly in “the latter years”.  Several of these may occur before the rapture of the church (Nation Rising Against Nation – WW3; The Destruction of Damascus; Arab-Israeli Promised Land War).  One of these may occur during or shortly after the removal of the true church from the earth (Gog and Magog War – many nations rising against Israel).  These wars may blur together and occur in a short span of time.

Regardless of the exact timing, God Himself will intervene to save Israel in these wars.  As a result, Israel will want to re-institute their Temple worship of God with Old Testament-style sacrifices.  The person (or ‘being’) who arises and takes credit for winning these wars won’t be God, but he will end up claiming to be.  It is certain that one war will occur approximately seven years after the rapture, in which this god-imposter will be destroyed (The Battle of Armageddon).  See here for an overview of all these wars.

The 7-Year Tribulation Begins

With the body of Christ safely tucked away in heaven, let’s go over what’s going to happen on earth.  When Jesus rose from the dead, great power was released in some type of nuclear transformation event.  This triggered an earthquake.  When the dead in Christ rise, it is possible that this event will trigger similar earthquakes on a global scale – wherever the dead in Christ lie.  The earthquakes will then trigger volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.  The sun will be darkened and the moon appear blood red from smoke and ash in the air (I believe this is the prophetic “blood moon sign”).  In a short span of time, 25% of humanity will die from famine, war/murder, disease outbreaks, and wild animals (emboldened by severe food shortages) – the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

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Throughout the church age, followers of Christ have been indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit.  When these true believers are removed from the earth, the Holy Spirit’s restraining influence over evil and the powers of darkness will be removed.  At this time, a cosmic war erupts between the holy angels and the fallen angels.  Satan (the name given to the fallen spirit-being opposing God), represented as a dragon and a serpent, and his demon horde (fallen angels) will be defeated and lose their access to heaven.  They will be granted authority by God to deceive humanity, for the sake of accomplishing His divine purposes.  We are not told exactly what this involves but we do know that satan has been hard at work preparing for it (likely, “aliens”, which are fallen angelic beings).  He knows the time is close.

The combination of the removal of living believers to heaven and the disasters of the 7 Seals will leave the world reeling.  A great power vacuum will exist in the world as social and economic structures collapse under the burden of disaster. A man or being will rise to power quickly, to bring “peace” and “unity”.  This man is known in the Bible as “the lawless one”, “the antichrist”, “false christ”, “false messiah”, and “the beast”.  The “antichrist” will participate in ushering in a new world order.  Wars will be involved as nations and leaders try to sort out a semblance of order and power.  There are several opinions as to how this might play out, but I will give my understanding here.

A New World Order

First, shortly after the rapture, it appears that either the “antichrist” or the “false prophet” will enter into a covenant with Israel.  The covenant may be made for 7 years (peace agreement), or it may be presented as eternal (a “new messianic covenant”).  It is also possible that God reconfirms His Abrahamic covenant with Israel through supernaturally protecting them from annihilation at this point.  The confirming of this covenant, whatever it turns out to be, will start an event known as the 70th Week of Daniel.  This 70th Week pertains directly to the nation of Israel and ethnic Hebrews, and is generally known as “The 7 Year Tribulation”.  The Third Temple will be built in Jerusalem (or Shiloh? or the city of David?) at this time.

Concurrently, the world will first be divided into four parts (“kingdoms”). Two kingdoms may be ruled by singular rulers. One kingdom will be ruled by 4 “kings”. The fourth kingdom will be ruled by 10 “kings”. In this fourth kingdom, three of these 10 kings will be quickly displaced by the man who will become the “antichrist”. This fourth kingdom, led by the antichrist, will take over the other 3 kingdoms over the next few years.  While people often talk about the antichrist ushering in a “peace treaty” and “false peace”, I personally don’t see the first half of the “Tribulation” as peaceful at all.  World leaders will be posturing and fighting trying to both rise to power and establish control and organization following the massive destruction of the opening of the Seals.

By the midpoint of the “Tribulation”, the antichrist will have successfully achieved world rule.  This antichrist (“beast”) kingdom will then be granted global rule by God for a period of 1260 days. God will oversee and allow this as part of Israel’s purification.

The “antichrist” will be supported by a false prophet.  The false prophet may identify himself “Elijah”.  These two, and their entourage, will be extremely convincing and will be accompanied by all kinds of miraculous signs and wonders.  They will be empowered by none other than satan – forming an “unholy trinity”.

At some point, the “antichrist” will likely identify as the Jewish messiah.  He may also identify as the messiah for other religions as well, explaining that everyone had different understandings of the same thing.  He may encourage Old Testament-style worship of God… at first.  Some of Israel (up to 2/3) will embrace this man as their anticipated messiah, here to usher in the messianic kingdom.  They will believe the events that will have already transpired (wars in which they survived, the building of the Third Temple, sacrifices restarting) have fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies.  They will believe that a time of peace and prosperity for Israel, the millennial kingdom, is nigh.  In reality, their time of testing is just beginning.

The First Half – God’s Witnesses

Meanwhile, right after the church has been taken to heaven, God will have sent witnesses to declare the gospel.  There will be two special prophets for God who will proclaim truth.  They will speak out against the “antichrist” and his deception.  There will also be 144,000 Hebrews who come to faith in Jesus Christ.  These 144,000 will be sealed by God and protected from some of the cataclysmic events that take place.

Remember the four horsemen?  The effects of the opening of the seals will be playing out upon the earth during the first half of the “Tribulation”.  Cataclysmic disasters will continue and supernatural beings will appear.  There are 7 specific “Trumpets of Judgment” that will take place.  The first 4 involve death of trees and green grass, contamination of the oceans, contamination of fresh water, and dimming of the sun, moon, and stars (possibly from atmospheric contamination).   These 4 possibly occur very shortly after the rapture of the church.  Trumpet 5 involves a 5 month long torment of humanity by a demonic army, where people will seek death (suicide) but it will not be found.

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The truth of the gospel will not be popular, and the Two Witnesses will be killed after 3.5 years of ministry (42 months / 1260 days) by the “antichrist”.  Most on the earth will celebrate their deaths by giving gifts.  This is the only celebration mentioned in the book of Revelation.  The 144,000 may also be killed around this time.  Trumpet 6 involves another demonic army that begins at some point after the 5 month torture ends.  This army kills 1/3 of humanity over a period of time ending when the two witnesses for God are resurrected from the dead – 3.5 days after their deaths.

In total, over 50% of humanity has now been killed (over 3 billion people), by the midpoint of “The Tribulation”.  The “Great Tribulation” – that period of time when the antichrist is given global rule for 1260 days and is allowed to persecute and kill those who do not worship him – will have not yet begun!  The massive death tolls from war, famine, plagues, wild animals and demonic armies, will focus much of humanity’s efforts on mere survival.

The Second Half – Antichrist’s Rule

Near the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week, the “antichrist” will be killed. It is likely that the he will die via a head wound.  He will miraculously rise from the dead with God’s permission.  His first course of action will be to kill the Two Witnesses. At some point (likely upon their death), the “antichrist” will set himself up in the Jewish temple, proclaiming to be “god”. He will stop all sacrifices to God and desecrate the altar. This is the trigger for Jews who know their Tanach (Old Testament) to flee to the wilderness.  The warning is given both in the books of Daniel (OT – Daniel 9:27) and Matthew (NT – Matthew 24:15-21).

When Jesus came and revealed Himself to be God after 3.5 years of ministry, Israel killed Him. When the “antichrist” reveals himself to be “god” 3.5 years into Daniel’s 70th Week, it appears that Israel embraces him.  This is foretold by Jesus in John 5:43 – “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.”

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While the “antichrist” is celebrating his victory, the 2 bodies of God’s witnesses will lay in the streets of Jerusalem. 3.5 days later, they will rise from the dead and God will call them up to heaven. A great earthquake will result and 7000 people will die. This ends the 6th Trumpet judgment (the “second woe”).  The 7th trumpet blows at some point after the “antichrist” declares himself to be god.

The “antichrist” will establish world rule at this time, merging religion, economy, and power.  He will set up an economic system which requires taking his mark or pledging allegiance to him to be able to buy or sell.  Will this mark alter DNA in some manner?  An angel will warn mankind not to take this mark – this is the final warning before God outpours the final 7 Bowls of His wrath.  True salvation is still possible up until taking the mark of the beast.  Choose wisely, your eternal soul is at stake!

Once the mark system has been set up, at some point the 7 Bowls, which complete God’s wrath, will be outpoured.  These judgments involve painful sores appearing on people who have taken the mark of the beast; the entire sea turning to blood and all sea creatures dying; all rivers and springs becoming blood; scorching by the sun; the kingdom of the beast being plunged into darkness; the Euphrates river drying up to allow humanity to assemble for a final battle against Jesus; and finally, the greatest global earthquake ever will resurface the planet, accompanied by a severe thunderstorm and 100 pound hailstones.

The Ending is Decreed, It Will Come to Pass

As the 6th Bowl of wrath is poured out, the “antichrist” will send deceiving spirits to gather the world for a war against Jesus Christ.  My guess is that he will state that this is the final battle before humankind’s evolutionary transformation can be completed… but that is speculation… Once everyone is gathered, they will prepare for the Battle of Armageddon.  It appears that God will provide a final escape route for those dwelling in Jerusalem via the Mount of Olives splitting, before the Battle of Armageddon ensues. The battle will occur 1260 (or possibly 1290) days after the “antichrist” declares himself to be god and sets up the “abomination of desolation” on the Temple altar.

The ending is decreed and it will come to pass – Jesus Christ will appear with His heavenly armies (angels and human followers who were taken at the beginning of this tribulation).  It won’t be a battle though, Jesus will simply open His mouth and defeat all who are gathered by a Word.  All the armies gathered against Him will be defeated in one big wallop by the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God.

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The beast (“antichrist”) and the false prophet will be thrown alive into the lake of fire.  All humans opposing Jesus Christ will be killed.  It’s not going to be a good death – And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. And on that day a great panic from the Lord shall fall on them, so that each will seize the hand of another, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other.  (Zechariah 14:12-13 ESV).  Satan will then be thrown into the abyss and chained for 1000 years – the duration of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.

This completes the Day of the Lord and the 70th week of Daniel.

The Millennial Kingdom and Eternity

Once the Battle of Armageddon is complete, humanity will be judged on whether or not they can enter the Millennial Kingdom.  This is known as the “Sheep and Goats Judgement” and the separation of the “Wheat and Tares”.  Believers during the “Tribulation” will not be sealed by the Holy Spirit and will be responsible for ensuring they remain in the faith until the end.  They also are required to demonstrate their faith through good works.  True believers, the “sheep” and “wheat”, will be ushered in to the Millennial Kingdom.  Unbelievers, or those who lost their faith, the “goats” and “tares”, will be killed and sent to hell to await the Great White Throne judgment.

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The true Messianic Kingdom will then be ushered in by Jesus, and will last 1000 years. During this period of time, the Earth will be restored to near-Eden-like condition with most aspects of the curse reversed.  Longevity will be restored.  Only the “sin nature” will remain.  Remarkably, even under the direct rule of Christ, humanity will still be filled with rebellion.  A number too high to count will rise up at the end of this time period when Satan is released for a “little season”.  They will gather against Jesus, yes, again, and the Last Battle will ensue.  Humanity still hasn’t learned that you can’t beat God, and they will all be destroyed with no actual fighting.

This form of heaven and earth will pass away, followed by the Great White Throne Judgment.  The Great White Throne judgment will see the resurrection of all humanity from the dead to face the living God.  This does not include those who participated in the “first resurrection” – all those in Christ prior to the Millennial Kingdom.  Followers of Christ (from the Millennial Kingdom) will enter eternal life; those who rejected Jesus will be cast into the eternal Lake of Fire.

Once judgment is complete, Eternity ensues.  Humans are eternal – our souls never die.  Where your soul will spend eternity is completely up to you, but it can only be decided while in your physical body.

There is only ONE road that leads to life, and that is through Jesus Christ.  Those who have not had their sin debt paid by the blood of Jesus will face God’s wrath and judgments.   Please consider carefully if your heart has truly been transformed (“born again”).  There is a difference between religion (including intellectual knowledge and the traditions of man), and relationship with God!  Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

Matthew 16:26 ESV

We urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.  For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 ESV


For Further Reading:

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details, some of which I think might need to be adjusted slightly.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!