The Rapture Question

The Rapture Question

The Rapture Question

A future event that continues to intrigue, dominate and
provoke discussion by Christians all over the world is the second
coming of Jesus Christ. This supernatural End Time gathering of
the Church promises to end our tenure on earth by means other
than death. Jesus will gather His people to Himself alive, caught
up in the air to meet Him, and to live forever with Him in
Heaven!

This huge interest in the Rapture of the Church has resulted
in hundreds of books being printed on the subject, from novels on
this theme to in-depth teaching. Films are made about it, and
tens of thousands of teachings around the world are available as
spoken word on CD. And why wouldn’t there be this level of
interest? Most religions teach an afterlife, but no religion in
the world has a climax quite like the Christian one.

In both letters to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul addresses
this subject of the Rapture, a word incidentally that does not
appear in the Bible. "Trinity" is also a non-Bible word, but in
both cases, they describe something the Bible clearly teaches on.
The first of these exciting Scriptures of hope is found in 1
Thessalonians 4 –

"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we
who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no
means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will
descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel,
and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise
first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up
together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And
thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one
another with these words."
NKJV

In Paul’s 2nd letter to the Thessalonians, beginning in
chapter 2, he introduces the subject of the timing of the Rapture
by saying –

"Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be
soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or
by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had
come."

Here Paul teaches of the conditions that must be met before
the Rapture can take place. The reason for Paul’s counsel
not to be troubled or shaken at this time is that some had been
teaching this blessed event had already happened. Now Paul
continues –

"Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will
not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin
is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself
above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he
sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is
God."

Most of our readers would have heard of the three major
theories and opinions of Jesus return - (1) Pretribulation
rapture, (2) Mid- tribulation rapture, and (3) Post-tribulation
rapture. These are phrases which describe whether Jesus comes
before the Tribulation begins, in the middle of the Tribulation,
or after it is all over. Thousands of godly men and women have
laboured over this question for centuries, yet we all know
instinctively and logically, there can be only one correct
answer!

I think it would be fair to say that most Christians would
agree there is a supernatural event awaiting us which will far
exceed the adrenalin charge and the rush of excitement of a
bungee jump. The opinions however, are unbelievably diverse as to
where in the prophetic plan these things take place. And there
lies the catch.

The only historical books of the N.T. and foundational to
everything that follows.

THE GOSPELS & ACTS
Matthew to Acts - 5
Books

CHURCH EPISTLES
Romans to 2 Thessalonians - 9
Books

All are addressed to Christian Churches and
are doctrinal and are distinctively Gentile.

PASTORAL EPISTLES
1 Timothy to Philemon - 4
Books

These 4 are not specifically written to Christian Churches but
are pastoral and personal.

HEBREW CHRISTIAN EPISTLES
Hebrews to
Revelation - 9 Books

Written to believers rather than Churches
these are distinctively Hebrew in their
standpoint, referring many times to OT teaching.

The parallel between the 2 groups of 9 Epistles is a study in
itself. Both start with a doctrinal treatise. (Romans for
Christian understanding and Hebrews for Jewish understanding)
Both end with an End-Times or eschatological unveiling. (1 &
2 Thessalonians and Revelation)

Romans, at the beginning of the first group, is speaking to
Christians, showing us that salvation in Christ is the
only way, whereas Hebrews at the beginning of the second
group, is speaking to Jews, showing that salvation through Christ
is the better way.

In Thessalonians, at the end of the first group, we see the
second coming of Christ especially in relation to the
Church. In Revelation, at the end of the second group,
we see the second coming of Christ especially in relation to
Israel and the Nations.

In our next issue I will show you one seemingly insignificant
word in Daniel 9 which has the power to turn our thinking upside
down regarding what we believe regarding End Time events.
However, in the above Thessalonian’s Scripture we have two
words which on the surface seem insignificant, yet in the same
way as Daniel shows, they are crucial to our understanding in
allowing us to find the correct interpretive key to unlock the
prophetic puzzle.

The two words are "that Day." These words are to do with the
Rapture, because Paul begins the subject by saying, "Concerning
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…" The inserted chart
(to the left) not only confirms this but clarifies that these
words are written specifically to the Church, and not Israel or
the Jews. If this is so, then a 7 year Tribulation and a
pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church is impossible, because
Antichrist, whose rule is for 3.5 years, is already established
on his throne before the Day of the Lord comes! Study the chart
and these words for yourself. The key words to consider are the
fact - …that this day will not come unless the
Antichrist is revealed AND IS SITTING AS GOD IN THE
TEMPLE.

It is important for us to understand and emphasize that Paul
is writing to Gentiles, not Jews. This amazing manifestation of
God’s power will only be experienced by the End Time church
of true believers, the body of Christ, the Church of the
‘first-born ones, who have been washed and cleansed in the
Blood of Jesus and who are born-again by the Spirit of God. This
does not preclude the Jew however.

Every Jew who has received Jesus as Lord and Saviour, if they
are "alive and remain" at the coming of the Lord, will also "meet
the Lord in the air," fulfilling the New Testament doctrine that
there is "neither Jew nor Greek ….for you are all one
in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28

We might well ask, "Why are there so many opinions concerning
the timing of the Rapture." The simple answer is that certain
Scriptures support varying views. Correct Bible interpretation is
totally dependant on weighing EVERY Scripture on a specific
subject. One Scripture never makes a doctrine, for out of the
mouths of 2 or 3 witnesses are all things established.

So what does God think about those who have it wrong?" I wish
to address this issue before proceeding. There is a major
difference between basic doctrine and the realm of the prophetic.
Basic doctrine, such as the "blood atonement", "Jesus the only
way to God", etc., are non-negotiable, foundational truths. Go
outside of these and you are in heresy.

The prophetic is different. Because it is future and deals
with events rather than personal salvation and core doctrines, it
requires intensive study to gain understanding, and this is
exactly how God planned it to be. The reason the Bible is such an
absorbing book is because there are layers upon layers of
revelation and hidden truth which make it the book it is –
unique and set apart from all others in every way!

The prophetic is difficult, because we do not know everything,
and so by progressive revelation as the Holy Spirit brings
understanding, we find that over a period of years we learn more
because more is revealed. One significant example to illustrate
that principle is the regathering of Israel. How could a Bible
teacher of years ago, before 1948, teach in absolute prophetic
correctness, when the regathering of Israel, by that very
knowledge alone, changed much of prophetic teaching.

Some of the wonderful men of the past, such as Sir Robert
Anderson, Bishop Unger, Clarence Larkin, Philip Mauro, and scores
of others, can be seen today to have missed the mark with some of
what they taught in end time matters. Is God upset? Of course
not, because that is the nature of the prophetic. If we knew it
all, then human nature would have us just sit back until it was
about to happen, and God won’t allow that.

Consider this! In the 72 hours between Jesus arrest, His
trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection, 37 major prophecies
from the Old Testament were fulfilled. Yet the Disciples missed
it entirely. Did this make them heretics or affect their
salvation because they had not taught others correctly? Of course
not! Although they had sat at the Master’s feet for 3.5
years, when the time came, they scattered in fear, and it was
only on the Emmaus Road when Jesus appeared before two of them,
and began to expound the Scriptures, that they slowly began to
understand. Even then, they didn’t recognize Jesus, until
He broke bread with them.

Mary, Jesus mother, never fully understood Jesus prophetic
destiny. Nor did the believers who followed Him. By this, we
understand that the prophetic is deliberately veiled, and
although we may have the framework, the full master plan is not
seen in its entirety until the time comes. There is a lot we do
know, but much is hidden. However, I believe we can learn so much
more if we look for the types and shadows of the Old Testament,
which are there as signposts for our understanding.

THE 70 WEEK PROPHECY

v24 Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and your holy city,
To finish the transgression
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up the vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.

v25 Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and rebuild Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.

v26 And after the sixty two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.

v27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be the one who makes desolate,
Even unto the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate.

To fully understand the Rapture, and the End Times events that
the Church will experience, it is first necessary to learn from
the Book of Daniel, the prophetic companion of the book of
Revelation. One single chapter in Daniel is the key to all Bible
prophecy because it sets out vital information about the first
and the second advents of the Messiah. Yet this chapter has
proved to be a stumbling stone to a majority of Bible expositors,
and because of this, the time element that is so necessary for
correct interpretation has been mishandled. Vital also, is the
need to correctly identify a major character mentioned in Daniel
9, for a mistake here, and it has been made by many, will throw
the whole prophetic picture out of whack.

We only have space in this issue to lay a background of the
reason for the blocks of time spoken of in Daniel 9, to comment
on the groupings of them, and whether or not they have been
fulfilled at this point. This will enable us to show you in the
next issue some amazing facts concerning the length of the
Tribulation and the timing of Jesus return for His Church. In
this one chapter, we have the keys to unlock information
concerning the two advents of Jesus, the Rapture of the Church,
the Tribulation period, the revealing and the rule of the
Antichrist, the Jewish question and the Millennial reign.

Let us now look at the events that lead up to what I consider
to be the greatest prophecy ever recorded, which is found in
Daniel 9. This is my favourite chapter in the entire Bible, which
I never tire of studying. If we don’t understand the
scenario of Daniel 9, we will not understand the prophecy. The
setting of this chapter has the Nation of Israel held in
captivity by Babylon. This captivity was a direct result of
Israel’s continuing disobedience to God in relation to the
observation of the Sabbath.

God rested on the 7th day of Creation, and we should too.
After all, if God has decided He needs to rest, and instructs us
to do the same, anything less is disobedience and rebellion! The
amazing thing is this – it’s not just humans that God
provided rest for. God ordained rest for all His Creation
also.

Back in Leviticus 25 and 26, the Jewish people were given as
part of the Law, the instruction that they should observe each
7th year as a Sabbath or Sabbatical year, by letting the land
rest for a full year without crops being planted and harvested.
God told them on the sixth year, he would triple the crops, so
that the land could lie fallow on the 7th year and take
it’s rest. This would allow Israel to spend time meditating
on God’s grace without having to work hard to provide for
themselves. This bounty would extend to the eighth year, as they
would need to rely on stored food, while they re-sowed and
re-planted once again. May I recommend you read these
chapters.

From the time the law was given, 490 years had since passed,
and not one sabbatical year had been observed, although if Israel
had been obedient to God’s instruction, 70 separate
sabbatical years would have occurred and been observed up to that
point. Therefore after many warnings brought by Prophets to the
Nation, God’s patience finally ran out, and Israel was
defeated by Babylon in battle and taken out of the land as a
direct act of God’s judgement.

The land would now have its rest all at one time and lie
fallow for the next 70 years while Israel was in captivity as
prophesied in Jeremiah 29:4-10. We can see two things here - God
is long-suffering with His people but just as surely, God is not
mocked! God removed a whole nation from its own land just to
allow the land to rest.

Now that we understand the reason for Israel’s captivity
in Babylon, we can take up the story as set out in Daniel 9.
Verse 1 tells us that Darius was in the first year of his reign
as King of the Chaldeans and Daniel, an Israel captive and a man
who honoured God, was reading the Scriptures of Jeremiah the
Prophet.

As Daniel was reading, he came across the prophetic words of
Jeremiah which stated that Jerusalem would be desolate for a time
of 70 years. This got Daniel’s undivided attention, because
he knew that they were in the 69th year of captivity. This could
only mean that their release by whatever means must be just about
to happen. Can you imagine how excited Daniel must have felt? He
immediately realized that Israel, as a nation, was on the
threshold of seeing specific prophecy fulfilled, and a new future
revealed. Even more exciting, if they were released, it would
allow them to return to Jerusalem, a place many had never
seen.

However on searching the Scriptures thoroughly, Daniel came to
realize that the means of their release and the future of the
Nation were not mentioned, so he did the most obvious thing that
a God-fearing man would do. He sought God in prayer!

Not only did he just pray but he prepared to do so beforehand
by firstly fasting and covering himself with sackcloth and ashes.
Now Daniel obviously realized that the answers he was seeking
would affect Nations. However his heart was for Jerusalem,
God’s holy city, and he prayed long prayers of repentance,
asking forgiveness for the sin of Israel. Daniel 9, verses 4 to
19, record the earnest prayer of Daniel, who prayed a powerful
prayer of confession, repentance and contrition before the Lord
on behalf of his people.

I wonder how we would feel if we were to experience what
happened next? The messenger/announcing Archangel Gabriel stood
before him as a direct result of God’s direction and told
him that he was commanded to come (v23) even as Daniel began
praying.

Incidentally, Daniel was the only recorded Old Testament
figure to see and talk with Gabriel. In the New Testament
Scriptures only Mary and Zecharias had such a visitation, and a
powerful one too, especially when the Angel identified himself as
Gabriel who stands in the presence of God !

Gabriel then said he had come to give Daniel skill and
understanding regarding those things that Daniel had enquired
about in prayer – 1- the future of Jerusalem and 2 - the
future of the Jewish people.

The verses 24-27 in Daniel 9 then record this magnificent
Prophecy and Daniel is told to consider the matter and understand
the vision. I wonder how Daniel felt after this. It’s not
every day an Angel stands before you and gives a Divine message.
Daniel’s life must have changed immeasurably.

The Prophecy of Daniel 9 is displayed nearby. The prophecy
deals with two main things.....

1 - the Jews and Jerusalem, and 2 - definite allotments of
time. (v24)

SABBATICAL WEEKS OF YEARS

We need to understand something that Daniel already knew, and
that is the time period we are dealing with, which is "sabbatical
weeks of years." You may wish to make a more comprehensive study
of this subject but by way of quick and easy explanation we can
say that the Jews were familiar with this type of terminology
where a ‘week of years’ was a period of 7 years, just
as a week of months would be 7 months.

We just learnt that Israel had missed observing 70 weeks of
years which covers a time span of 490 years. (70 x 7) In other
words, they had failed to observe a Sabbath year which should
have been observed every 7th year for a 490 year continuous
period of time since God had instructed them to begin this
observance.

BUT GOD NOW ALLOTS 490 MORE YEARS TO THE NATION OF ISRAEL IN
WHICH 6 GREAT THINGS WILL BE COMPLETED ! (see v24) ALSO
PROPHESIED IS THE FATE OF JERUSALEM AND THE TEMPLE.

It is extremely important for us to realize that these are the
specific number of years that God has allocated to dealing with
His people Israel. Part of this allocation of time was seen in
the ministry of Jesus. Matthew 15:24 says, "But He (Jesus)
answered and said ‘I was not sent except to the lost sheep
of the House of Israel."
This is not a time allocation to
the Gentiles, but to the Jews! Every one of the 490 years must
have a connection with the Jewish people. The time given is
broken into 3 parts or segments...

In v25 there is
A. 7 weeks (=49 years)
B. 62 weeks (=434 years)
TOTAL 483 YEARS

All the things mentioned therefore in v25 were prophesied to
happen within a time frame of 483 years. Then in v27 we have

C. 1 week (=7 years)

GRAND TOTAL 490 YEARS

This single week of years is connected with another series of
events which appear to be set to happen in another, separate time
period. If you glance again quickly at v25 and v26, you can see
that this time period contains a part of history in which the
Messiah will come to Earth and immediately after this time frame
he shall be ‘cut off’ which is a Hebrew way of saying
that he will be killed.

THE FANTASTIC THING ABOUT ALL OF THIS IS THAT THE JEWS WERE
TOLD THE EXACT NUMBER OF YEARS THAT WERE TO ELAPSE FROM THE
GIVING OF PERMISSION TO REBUILD THE TEMPLE TO THE COMING OF THE
MESSIAH!

Here we have a nation whose belief system, tradition and hope
lay around the knowledge that God had promised he would send a
Messiah to his chosen people. He would be one who would come and
set up an everlasting Kingdom of peace and righteousness. What a
momentous word Gabriel brought to Daniel.

In the next issue, we shall record how those years elapsed
historically and we will pinpoint that elusive word we wrote
about earlier.