Monthly Archives: June 2020
Ten Reasons Based Upon the Book of Revelation to Believe in the Pretribulation Rapture of the Church
(Ver 1.1) This is now Part 7 in the important Bible study series concerning the “Rapture” also called the “Catching Away” of the Church. We have not studied together in this lesson series for a long time. But I felt led to share some new thoughts on this subject. I believe in the light of everything that has been occurring in the world recently with the coronavirus pandemic this subject should gain an increased value for our focus and awareness. Personally, I believe we are rapidly approaching the end of the church age. There are too many signs that are happening in rapid succession for us not to realize Jesus is coming back to get us very soon. Today’s subject is focused upon the catching away of the Church by Jesus Christ. The Church is His Bride, His Body and His Building (Temple) and we should be looking forward to His soon appearance coming in the air to take us up to heaven.
I will warn you that this is another long Bible lesson. Therefore, you may want to read and study it in sections. There are approximately 13 section topics. There are three foundational sections to begin the lesson, followed by ten reasons from the Book of Revelation to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. Each section could be divided into a single day devotional if that is how you would like to study it. Others might just like to read the entire lesson like a book. However you choose to study, please be blessed as we learn to understand the awesome Word of God!
THE BLESSED HOPE IN TIMES OF EVIL
We will begin with a truth written by the Apostle Paul to a Pastor named Titus. Paul was an encourager. Paul had endured extreme persecution like few have ever had to endure. Yet, Paul remained optimistic and positive throughout his life. What caused this hopeful optimism?
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Christians are experiencing and observing such a rise of evil in the entire world. But in the center of every evil, like Paul we can remain optimistic to expect Jesus could come and get us at any moment. What kind of evil had Paul been going through serving Jesus that caused Him to be so cheerful and positive writing to Pastor Titus? We can read in 1 Corinthians 11 that Pau had been given 39 stripes on his back, 5 times by Roman guards. Three times Paul had been beaten with iron rods. Paul was stoned at least once and dragged outside the city being left as dead. Three times he was sailing in a ship that was shipwrecked. Paul had to tread water for a long night and day in at least one of these shipwrecks. Paul was threatened by robbers repeatedly. Paul informs us that he had been in the condition of severe hunger and thirst frequently. He also described experiencing extreme conditions of cold and being without clothes. Paul wrote about all of this while in prison chained to guards. These were not all the listed trials and troubles that Paul endured, but these words were written to help us to be encouraged to endure.
How many of us today have come close to what Paul had to go through? Isn’t it amazing how encouraging Paul was despite all the evils that had been done to him? Notice in Titus 2:13 how Paul encouraged Titus nearly 2000 years ago. Paul instructs Titus to place his confidences in an unusual concept that was called the “blessed hope”. Paul defines this as the appearance of Jesus Christ our Savior. What does this mean to you?
Please allow me to tell what it means to me. “Looking for” is the Greek word G4327 that means “to wait patiently with confidence”. “Blessed” is the Greek word G3107 that means “to be supremely blest and happy”. “Hope” is the Greek word G1680 that means “confidently expecting”. “Appearing” is the Greek word G2015 that means “to come into visible manifestation”. And “Savior” is the Greek word G4990 that means “a deliverer”. So, what is a deliverer? A “deliverer” is the person that provides something that has been promised and is now expected to arrive at any moment to fulfill the commitment. Wow, why is this important? This is what the verse means to me:
Paitiently waiting for the great God Jesus Christ, my supreme blessing with all of my confidence expecting His glorious promised personal appearance to rescue me at any moment!
That is exactly what I believe God is saying to us in this verse. But can we confirm what was the promise given to us by the LORD Jesus that will be delivered, honored and fulfilled soon? I believe we can. Here is one essential promise made by the LORD Jesus that will be fulfilled to the church very soon to answer our blessed hope:
Joh 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
Jesus, our bridegroom tells us that he must go up to His father’s house to prepare a place for us. Before He goes, He promises us (His bride) that He will return for us. And then when He returns, He will “receive” us up to be where He is. Jesus does three things and tells us that we are the focus of what He will do three times.
|1. I go (ascension into heaven)|
|2. And prepare a place (at my Father’s house)||For you|
|3. I will come again (at the trumpet sound)||For you|
|4. And receive (rapture, take)||You|
|5. So that where I am (in heaven)||There you will be also|
Where is Jesus right now? According to New Testament Jesus went up to heaven (Acts 1:9). Now notice the word translated as “receive”. This is the Greek word G3880 and it is a compound word containing G2983 that literally means “to take” as in “to get hold of”. This verb implies a divinely forced departure and that sounds a lot like the rapture to me. Now remember what the angels told the church leaders while they were watching Jesus go up:
Act 1:11 … Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
No matter what you are experiencing today in the world, after reading this entire Bible lesson you should have this same confident joyful expectation of His soon appearance to take us up to be where He is away from all of this evil in our world today. Let us all divert our eyes off of the temporary troubles, trials and tests of this world to focus them on the eternal things and Jesus Christ. Let us move to the next reason to believe Jesus is coming soon.
SHOULD THE RAPTURE
TAKE CHRISTIANS BY TOTAL SURPRISE?
1Th 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
1Th 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
1Th 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
We have been experiencing a crisis in 2020 that literally has engulfed the entire planet very suddenly and unexpectedly. People on earth have been dramatically affected in one way or the other. The number of reported deaths from this plague seem to still be growing all around us. I believe we are witnessing a significant warning sign of things that are prophesied to happen during the tribulation. Major unexpected disastrous events and lawlessness will continue to arise with greater intensity and frequency. There will be plagues, famines, earthquakes, volcanos, droughts, floods, tsunamis, hail, tornados, cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons, meteors, etc. These will be occurring more frequently leading up to and during the tribulation. Here in 1 Thessalonians, Paul is writing to Christians in the church (you and I) and he says this time of tribulation will not come upon Christians like a thief as it will the rest of the world. This is because Christians should be aware of the Bible prophecies that inform us of the general timing of this end.
Christians should be wiser than the unbelieving world and be able to observe the indicators that are occurring around us (Mat 16:13). Christians must desire God’s illumination, receive His light, understand His light, love His light, and walk in His light in order to recognize these world events and to not be deceived by Satan’s attempt at darkening our minds.
I do not believe the church will leave this world as a beaten and defeated bride. But I believe that we must be ready and expectant of Jesus’ return at any moment. I pray we can agree and look forward to His soon return. This Bible study will stand by itself if you would like to read it alone. But, if you have not read this series from the beginning, you may want to go back and start with “Part 1”. Let us get into our lesson on the catching away of the church and why we can believe and have confidence that this will happen before the Revelation description of the tribulation event begins.
AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF LOT!
Today’s lesson will focus on ten key reasons from the Book of Revelation that the Rapture is a precursor (indicator, pointer, forerunner) event to the Tribulation and not an event that occurs during or even after the tribulation. I believe that we the people in Christ can come to the firm belief that a “catching away” of the church must occur before the seven years of God’s judgment and world tribulation can commence.
I know there are other good people that believe differently. I have heard several Bible teachers that claim the church is going through the tribulation either partially (mid-trib) or fully (post-trib). But those beliefs just do not balance with what the LORD has shown a lot of other Bible scholars. Even if you do not believe every reason that is given in this lesson, please at least keep an open mind and go and study what is stated here to see if this is what the Bible actually says.
Please allow me to provide a simple overview of basic end time eschatology as I understand it from my studies. Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom (Mat 9:15, Mar 2:19) that has gone up into heaven to His Father’s house (John 14:2) to prepare a place (John 14:3) for His bride (the church, 2 Cor 11:2, Eph 5:32). Suddenly without warning He is going to come back for us (1 Cor 15:52), and the church is required to make herself ready (Rev 19:7) for His unexpected appearing (Mat 25:10). Shortly after the catching away of the church the antichrist is revealed to the world (2 Th 2:3) and tribulation is initiated (Mar 13:19). This time of tribulation will continue a total of 2520 days, which is equivalent to 84 months (Rev 11:2 + Rev 13:5), which is equivalent to 7 years. While this judgment of the people on the earth is taking place (Rev 6:17), the wedding supper of the LAMB happens in heaven simultaneously (Rev 19:9). Then Jesus riding on a white horse returns to the earth with the church saints riding behind Him to rid the earth of all evil (Rev 19:14). Satan, the beast and the false prophets with all those that have taken his mark are cast into hell for 1000 years (Rev 19:20, Rev 20:2) while Jesus and His Saints rule a new kingdom of peace upon the earth. Satan is then released from hell to deceive anyone that he can (Rev 20:7-8). Satan with his new followers are finally defeated. The Great White Throne Judgment of all unbelievers takes place (Rev 20:11) with a permanent end to the surface earth dwelling of all evil being thrown into hell (Rev 20:15). This completes God’s recorded judgement of evil. And then the earth and the heavens will be burned with fire (2 Pet 3:7) and a new heaven and new earth is established (Rev 21:1). That was a lot of general overview information of end time events lacking many details.
But some believe that even though Jesus knows about the judgement that is coming upon the earth during the tribulation, He is going to permit His future bride (aka His body) to stay here on the earth to be raped, beaten, or even killed by a brutal evil world ruler. They claim that “This will be used to test the bride before He can come save her”. What loving husband who is knowledgeable and who could save His bride from His own judgments upon the unjust world would sit idly and allow this to happen to her? Would any loving and caring husband who judges evil righteously do nothing to save His already justified and forgiven clean future wife? What kind of sadistic husband would this make our God and Jesus our covenant husband?
These are incredibly good questions to consider. Is God Love? Yes (1 John 4:16). Does Jesus Love His Bride? Yes! (Eph 5:25). If a sane natural husband would not permit this to happen to his future wife before the wedding, why would an infinitely greater supernatural God who is all knowing and all powerful not be far more gracious and kind?
Do you remember what Abraham asked God when he was negotiating for the life of his nephew Lot? Abraham asked God “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Wow, do we NOT know that this statement still applies today to the subject of the church bride and the tribulation? Abraham asked God in Genesis 18:24 and 25 these questions:
Gen 18:24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
Gen 18:25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
What wisdom Abraham displays before our LORD. Abraham is pleading his legal case before the supreme court of heaven and says to our JUDGE “To slay the righteous with the wicked, that be far from thee to do, shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”. Wow again! Yet we have Christian ministers even on TV that claim God will not do right and will commit or at least permit this kind of evil on His bride during the tribulation. What kind of God are we serving today? Is there a perverted justice system in heaven now? Has the Judge now changed to be a different kind of God than Abraham’s God? If our God has changed, then Malachi 3:6 is a lie. Malachi 3:6 says very clearly “I am the LORD and I change not”. Also, according to Jesus, we need to learn God’s commentary on this story of Lot. He says something that is truly relevant to our discussion of the rapture:
Luk 17:28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
Luk 17:29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Luk 17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
According to the words of Jesus our LORD and Savior, He claims “as it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be when He will be again revealed to the earth”. Jesus very clearly states the righteous were first taken out of the city before ANY judgments of God would begin. This is a noticeably historical clear pattern of the righteous being removed the judgement of evil people. This means this must be what occurs in any similar future situation before the judgment and demise of the unrighteous in the tribulation. I believe that is an excellent foundational reason to believe in a “Pre-Tribulation” rapture and we have not even started to read and study in Revelation.
Let us go and explore some more good reasons found in the book of Revelation to believe in this Pre-Judgment catching away by force (G726=Harpazo) of God’s righteous saints.
CHURCH NOT MENTIONED BY NAME AFTER CHAPTER 3
The church is explicitly mentioned by name 19 times in the Book of Revelation. Eighteen times the Greek word G1577 transliterated as “ekklesia” occurs in 18 verses of chapters 1, 2 and 3. This word literally means “a called-out people”. But suddenly this called out woman named the church is not referred to by name again until chapter 22 five verses before the end of the entire book. Therefore, the church is mentioned directly before the tribulation and directly after the tribulation at the end by name but never during the tribulation. Ask yourself this basic question. What happened to the church after Chapter 3 until chapter 22? Why is the Holy Spirit suddenly no longer speaking directly about the “ekklesia” after chapter 3 by name? Is this a hidden clue and indication for what happened to the church? I believe this is exactly what is happening by God’s design.
I believe this is very important and we must remember there are 18 direct named references to the church on the earth (called “ekklesia”) in the first 3 chapters of Revelation and then not again until the end of the book after tribulation is completed. Could this be a sign and a hidden clue for what will happen to us? I believe it is.
Also remember that there are 7 specifically named churches by physical location given to us in chapters 2 and 3. All the other references are general “church” or “churches” references. I believe that the direct mention of this name is a revelation that confirms the church is physically present on the earth before the tribulation commences but not after.
There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus was speaking to physical born-again people in these 7 letters to the churches. But beginning in chapter 4 a dramatic change takes place and none of these names or locations are referred to again. Not the 1) “ekklesia” in general or, 2) not the specific local church in Ephesus (Rev 2:1), 3) not the specific church in Smyrna (Rev 2:8), 4) not the specific church in Pergamum (Rev 2:12), 5) not the specific church in Thyatira (Rev 2:18), 6) not the specific church in Sardis (Rev 3:1), 7) not the specific church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:7) and finally 8) not the specific church in Laodicea (Rev 3:14). What must have occurred in the future prophecy starting in Revelation 4:1, for there to be no further direct physical mention of the church on the earth in the book of Revelation?
Ok, we are going to explore something new that also applies to our study. If we search the Bible, we will not find the literal name “church” in the Old Testament either. Why is the church name not found anywhere in the Old Testament? However, maybe you have read O.T. verses and can see that many of these do apply to the modern church. In fact, we should know that we can find many O.T. quotations in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit used to explain church principles, concepts and doctrines. But the church is never directly named in the O.T. This seems to indicate that the church was hidden and concealed in the O.T. and I believe this too is a pattern for why the church is not mentioned directly by name during the tribulation.
The only logical explanation that I have found for there to be no direct mention of the “ekklesia” after Revelation 3, is that the church has been taken up and off the earth into heaven by a divine forced sudden departure. This lack of mention of the church appears to be an indicator for the sudden exit from within the natural realm to now be only seen within the hidden spiritual realm. The lack of any further mention in Revelation provides us the foundation to believe we are hidden and concealed from natural human view and can only be seen by those in the spiritual dimension. Let us get back to Lot and end this introduction.
A pre-tribulation rapture fits perfectly with the pattern described to happen to Lot being taken out of Sodom first by angels. We could say Lot was saved by angels using a pre-fire and brimstone taking out. In other words, if Lot had been removed out of the fire by angels during the middle of the fire and brimstone falling none of them would have survived. Nor could Lot and his family be taken out after the end of the fire and brimstone judgment because survival would not have saved them. I hope we are seeing something new in this that we have never seen before.
Therefore, these parallels from what has happened to Lot in the past teaches us that the church must be removed prior to the tribulation. If this does not occur the pattern for what has occurred in the past does not align correctly with what must occur in the rapture of the church in our future (Ecclesiastes 1:9). I believe the church will be taken up into heaven by angels to be raised into an elevated new spiritual perspective. If we read the story of Lot after the angels removed them from the city of Sodom, they were also told not to stay in the plain to be destroyed but rather “to go up” into the mountains. Within typology “going up” into a mountain is like going up in a rapture event (Gen 19:17). They were also told never to look back at the destruction. I believe this is another of the direct parallel typology for us in the church while in heaven not being able to see the judgement that will be occurring on the earth. Finally, in Genesis 19:22 the angel informs Lot that the destruction of Sodom cannot begin until they have fully departed. All of this is types and shadows of things that will happen to us.
We will end this important foundational section with one final point. The Greek word G1577 “ekklesia” is formed by combining two Greek words. The first is “ek” G1537 and this was often times translated as “out”. This word represents a prepositional term that means “origin” as in the point where motion or action proceeds. I hope that did not pass you by. We need to understand that a rapture is a “motion event”, moving us from point A on the earth to point B up in heaven. The second Greek word “kaleo” G2564 literally means “to call aloud”. It comes from another Greek root word G2753 “to incite by word”. Two synonyms for incite could be to 1) “initiate” or 2) “cause” something to happen by speaking. This is like a king giving a command and expecting it to be carried out immediately. Is this name an accident or a divine design? I believe it is the later. We have just learned that the literal name of the church “ekklesia” signifies a rapture event. That just cannot be a chance occurrence. God is teaching us that our name “church” represents someone (God) giving a royal command to take us out of this world.
God’s word is filled with intentional connected design patterns. And all this information is one of the most profound revelations that teaches the church has been physically removed from the earth and has gone up into heaven to be hidden with our Bridegroom after the end of chapter 3 of Revelation.
WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS DIRECTLY TO THE CHURCHES
ENDS IN THE LAST VERSE OF CHAPTER 3
Rev 3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
There are 7 verses in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation where John writes a command to the churches. We can read this spoken command in Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13 and 3:22. This phrase always starts with “He that has an ear, let him hear”. Who are these people that are supposed to hear? We find out the answer by continuing to read the end of the verse command. “What the Spirit says to the churches” is how these verses all ended. Therefore, we in the church are required to hear what the Spirit is saying to us here on the earth right here and now. Some people who believe they are Christians do not believe the Spirit of God ever speaks to them. According to these verses He is speaking if we choose to tune our ears to listen and hear Him. That sounds like it is a personal choice to listen. It also implies God is speaking and trying to get us to hear even if we are not listening. Why are we going over these verses and why are they important to us learning about a pretribulation rapture? Great questions, I am so glad you asked.
Think about how the book of Revelation was laid out and designed by the Holy Spirit. There is not one word given that is there by random chance. Many Bible teachers and scholars believe that the list of 7 churches selected by Jesus to write to in Revelation 2 and 3, fit the pattern description of the entire 2000-year church age. If Jesus had listed the churches in any other order or selected any different church, the pattern would not match according to these teachers and scholars. While this is not firm evidence it is a significant matter to consider. If this selected church pattern is true, it would cause us to easily believe that the church age has ended after chapter 3 and what follows is a different dispensation of time outside of God’s ordered period of Grace.
Think with me and consider this fact from Romans 5:20 where God declares “where sin abounds, Grace does much more abound”. Where in reading the book of Revelation, does it ever appear that Grace is abounding to hold back the judgment of evil? Can we see the potential conflict, if the church remains on the earth during this 7-year time? Please do not misunderstand what was just said. There are elements of divine grace being displayed many times in Revelation, but these are provided during a time of the simultaneous descriptions of divine destructive judgements like we read about in the story of Lot. Did Lot have to hide in the city while the fire fell? Did God have to put a divine umbrella over Lot before or while the fire fell? No, the LORD took him and his family completely out of the city and then judgement started.
If the church is present during the book of Revelation judgments of God, that would appear to nullify verses found in Romans 5 and 6 and 2 Corinthians 8:7 and other that claim the Church is under God’s Grace. Let us continue and read another verse that will assist us in solving the issue of God’s grace versus His judgments and where the church is during this time of judgment:
Rev 13:9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
Here is another one of the main points that we need to see and understand. The phrase “He that hath an ear, let him hear” occurs a total of 8 times in the Book of Revelation. It occurs once in each of the letters to the seven churches where God includes the ending phrase “what the Spirit of God says to the churches”. But there is a similar phrase that is used by God in Revelation 13:9 where the complete phrase has been modified significantly. Let us analyze the two phrases to find the exact changes taking place by the Holy Spirit’s choice. I will give Revelation 3:22 with all the Greek words first from the KJV. Then we will see Revelation 13:9 from the KJV with all Greek words and then we will read from the NASB with all the Greek Words:
REV 3:22 He who has(G2192) an ear(G3775), let him hear(G191) what the Spirit says to the churches. (KJV)
(KJV)REV 13:9 If any man(G1536) have(G2192) an ear,(G3775) let him hear.(G191) (KJV)
REV 13:9 If(G1487) anyone(G5100) has(G2192_ an ear(G3775), let him hear(G191_ (NASB)
In Revelation 13:9 God adds at the beginning of the phrase a new word that means “whosoever”, “anyone” or “any man”. Then He completely removes the ending phrase “what the Spirit says to the churches” at the conclusion of the verse. This is a radical change to who this verse is being written and spoken to. It completely shifts the target audience that is instructed to listen and hear and converts the phrase to a conditional announcement with “If” in front of it.
In Revelation 13: 9 of the KJV God added one new Greek word G1536 and it is a composite of two other Greek words G1487 and G5100. G1487 occurs in over 300 verses and it is most often translated as “if”. If is a word that introduces conditionality to the next statement that follows. Conditionality simply means there are requirements for one or more instructions to be met. Wow, this was NOT the message given to the churches in the 7 church letters of Revelation 2 and 3 that had no conditions.
G5100 is the next compound word of G1536 and it is a word that is often translated as “any man”. The Strong’s definition says it means “any” or “some”. God appears to be asking “if any man” as in, “is there anyone that can still hear what I am trying to say on the earth? This is what I believe, is God’s plea for a human still living on the earth to seek His love, mercy, and grace to be saved.
Revelation 13:9 informs us that God is no longer speaking direct words to His saved church and has shifted His message to anyone else on earth that still desires to want to listen to Him. This clearly implies that the church is not present on the earth to hear these pleas but, it does indicate God is still available to save if any desire to hear Him.
What is God teaching us with this? It must be the fact of truth that the churches are no longer physically present on the earth to be spoken to during this 7-year time of tribulation. That is the only logical explanation of this clue that makes any common sense. The only people that could possibly hear what the Spirit was saying on the earth during Revelation 13 would be those that needed to hear and wanted to listen to potentially get saved by believing in Jesus. I believe this is the only valid interpretation for the shift of the intended audience from the exact same phrase “has an ear let him hear” being repeated 8 times in the book of Revelation. I pray that everyone will see and agree.
There is truth in every verse of the Bible but often it is overlooked because of our lack of understanding of God’s designed requirement for us to search for it (Prov 25:2). I do want to make a quick final point in this section. I believe some people will get saved during the tribulation. We can see indications of this in Revelation 7 when God speaks of 144,000 being sealed from 12 named tribes. There are also other verses that indicate this like Revelation 20:4 describing people who had their heads chopped off for having the testimony of Jesus Christ. Salvation will still be made available for anyone who has not taken the mark of the beast (Rev 19:20, Rev 20:4). Let us move to reason 3.
JUDGMENT BEGINS AT THE HOUSE OF THE LORD
Too many Christians today emphasize the Grace of God without balancing the Justice and Judgment of God. We are living at the end of God’s Church Age of Grace. However, the Bible clearly teaches that there are still consequences for Christian sin in the church today (Gal 6:7, Rom 6:23 1 Jn 5:16, Jas 1:15, Rom 6:16, etc.). A lot of people ignore these verses and that is sad. I could list many others for you, but I will focus on only a couple of scriptural examples that stand out in contrast to the extreme unbalanced Grace message. Acts chapter five reveals 2 Christians named Ananias and Sapphira that fell down dead in a long church service being preached by Peter. Extreme Grace teachers attempt to explain this away as two people that were not saved. That make this God’s judgement upon unbelievers and we should read Revelation to know this judgment will not occur until these 7 years. But if that were true and God judged sinners and liars in the world today, then everyone that ever lied or sinned would be dead and no one be available to get saved. This unfounded interpretation that these two were not saved Christians would mean God would be unjust if He did not judge everyone that committed the same sin with the same verdict of immediate death.
No, these two people had to be saved, born again people that made a huge mistake while a gift of the Holy Spirit (a Word of Knowledge) was in manifestation. I believe that Judgment fell on them as an example to other saved Christians in the church to not repeat the error. As a result, a great “fear” of God came upon everyone that witnessed this judgment or heard about it. This should include you and I also. You see a fear coming on the church would not result from a sinner’s death. If you do not believe this interpretation is correct that I just gave you, please keep reading to find out what Peter wrote about it in his letter to the churches. I will go into that after one more example.
Another judgment of a saved Christian in the church of Corinth took place in 1 Corinthians 5. Paul was not present in the flesh but still heard about a man that had taken his father’s wife so that he was committing fornication with his stepmother. Paul was writing about this to the church as a warning for us in the church to not commit the same immorality. Paul said I have turned him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh that his soul might be saved (1 Cor 5:5). Paul was speaking about a Christian man that was being judged for his sin while alive on the earth. Paul claimed that he was going to die young before his old age as a consequence for his sin. This is how God in the church age of grace operates. If you go and read and study 2 Corinthians, you may learn that this young man changed and repented and did not die young. This is a great example of how 1 John 1:9 works in the age of grace. Sin can be confessed to Jesus and God is faithful and just to forgive us.
Yes, God does show us grace. But God still says that sin has consequences if not confessed. Ok, this information is potentially offensive to a lot of Christians. I do not want to offend anyone. But like Peter and Paul taught us we in the church must be warned. Let us review a particularly important verse that applies to what this section is about. This verse applies directly to the example we reviewed in Acts 5 because the Apostle Peter was present then and this is what he wrote about judgment falling on the unsaved world. Uh oh, I mean the church. Read this verse very carefully and see how it applied to Acts 5 and 1 Corinthians 5:
1Pe 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
God is warning the church through the Apostle Peter that the time to be judged for our willful intentional sins has already commenced during this age of Grace. God is simply saying Christians should not be like the world. We should not be doing what the world is doing. According to this verse the world will not be judged during this age of grace, but the church will be judged for doing what they do. Wow, this is important. We all need to analyze what the world is doing and make sure we are not following them. Christians should be following the direction of the Holy Spirit and the Bible.
Notice what Peter wrote. He divided people into two categories. Those in the house of God and those not in it. Therefore, we know that God’s judgment begins in the house and family of God long before it is initiated to those that are not in God’s family. In fact, Peter implies that if it is hard for believers in Christ to be saved, how much harder will it be for those that do not obey at the end of age during the tribulation. Wow, again. Let us read another verse that comes to us from the next letter written by Peter.
2Pe 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
Here is another verse that compares God’s different types of dealings between the righteous opposed to the unrighteous. This verse again confirms that the righteous will not be judged and punished with the unrighteous people. Did you notice the timing of the unrighteous judgment? Peter wrote and called it the “day of judgment”. That phrase is used 9 times in the New Testament from Matthew to Jude to describe God’s time of judgment during the tribulation. Some might try to say this is the Great White Throne Judgment after the tribulation has ended, but that is a very limiting and restrictive definition of the phrase “a day”. A day can many times represent more than a 12-hour period of daylight. Figuratively a day can represent an entire period of time even up to a period of 7 days of years (one week of years).
Rev 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Notice we have a revealed angel that we will talk more about later in another reason. But he is going about the earth to preach the gospel to Christians. Whops, that was a sarcastic slip. No He was present on the earth to preach the gospel to “those that dwell on the earth”. This is a frequent term used in Revelation for people that are not saved. This angel is preaching to every nation, race, and language of unsaved people. That statement tells me the church is not here on the earth to hear this message. Let us read the next verse:
Rev 14:7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
Notice what this angel, says to the people that are left here dwelling on the earth during the tribulation. This supernatural being flying in the air about the earth uses the exact same Greek word G2920 that we read about in 2 Peter for “judgment” day. Here we have a more narrowed viewpoint on the timing for God’s judgment to be limited to an “hour”. I believe this still represents a greater expanse of time than just 60 literal minutes. I believe this is also a figurative expression connoting a longer time but a time that is significantly shorter than a day that we read about in Peter’s letter.
Notice that this angel during the tribulation claims the “judgment of the LORD has come” to the earth. That makes it sound like it is something new. But this is the same type of judgment that we were told which first started at the House of God way back when Peter wrote this in his letter nearly 2000 years ago. The only difference what is happening in the church today and what will happen in the tribulation then is the fact that the future judgment in the tribulation is only against the unrighteous (unsaved).
We just went through a lot of information that was not found in the book of Revelation to help us understand what the book of Revelation is saying. God is informing the church that we will be judged long before this end time 7-year tribulation judgment of the unsaved world begins. This is just another presentation of the evidence of God’s truth in His Word to say, “the righteous church will not be judged at the same time as the unrighteous world”. That belief would be unjust and would not align with Lot’s removal from Sodom. However, as we have seen that does not mean that we in the church will never be judged. It only means God is working on His bride now here on the earth to help clean us up so that we can be ready for his catching away.
I would highly recommend that you go and reread chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation. These 2 chapters contain the 7 letters written to the physical churches on the earth. Notice in the letters how Jesus speaks of what is good in the churches and what is not. If any changes are required to cause them to fulfill their purpose and call, Jesus is very direct in warning them to repent. For example, check out what Jesus says in this verse to a church:
Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
I am amazed at some modern extreme grace teachers who claim Christians never have the need of any repentance. Jesus very clearly teaches us that if He loves us, He will rebuke and chasten us. When Jesus does this to anyone, we need to listen, hear and obey to do what He says and be very quick to repent.
JESUS PROMISED US WE CAN BE SAVED
FROM THE TEMPTATION TO COME ON ALL THE WORLD
Rev 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
We have looked at this verse before in a previous lesson, but it is so incredibly good that we will review it quickly as another confirmation from the book of Revelation for our belief in a pre-trib rapture. This verse was written to the specific church of Philadelphia in Revelation chapter 3. But it technically applies to every church as does each of the letters because of the statement “what the Spirit says to the churches (plural)”. Notice what Jesus just said to this church in Philadelphia! This is a very profound promise. Jesus says because you have kept the Word of my patience, I will also keep you from the hour of temptation that will come to try them that dwell upon the earth. Remember we learned in the last section that “them that dwell on the earth” is a phrase that refers to unsaved earth inhabitants. That information alone separates the church from the unsaved to be treated differently.
We learned in Part 5 of the series that God is not the tempter or tester of humans. I will not repeat all the verses that were provided to prove that statement. Here we understand Jesus is speaking of saving us from a coming time in the future and we can begin to read about this in Revelation 6:
Rev 6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
Rev 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath (G3709) of the Lamb:
Rev 6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
These verses describe a horrific time to be alive on the earth. It includes everyone physically alive by the description of every bondsman and every free man. That leaves no one out. What do these people cry? They are crying for the mountains that they are hiding in to fall on them. Why would anyone that is sane want such a thing to occur? The answer is given to us in verse 16. They say, “Hide us from the face of Him that sits on the throne”. We could think that this is our Almighty God in general or God the Father in particular. But, the focus of who is sitting on the throne is narrowed to the “LAMB” by the Holy Spirit’s choice. Uh oh? Isn’t He the One the church is in covenant with? Isn’t He the Bridegroom of the church? It appears to me that “wrath” coming down from heaven, from the LAMB and occurring in the first 42 months of the tribulation proves His church bride is not present on the earth to be judged with the unrighteous.
We must see this because this is essential. The LAMB of God is pouring out His justice upon the earth and all its people. But He is our covenant making and covenant keeping faithful Husband. Does this sound right for Him to be pouring out wrath upon us with the world? What is He mad and angry with us about? I just do not understand why someone would claim the bride of the LAMB would be treated the same as the unsaved world. Let us confirm this with scripture:
1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us (the church) to wrath (G3709), but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (the LAMB),
Either God is a liar (NOT), or the church cannot be on the earth when Jesus our sacrifice LAMB pours out His wrath. The exact same Greek word G3709 for wrath is used here in 1 Thessalonians as was selected by the Holy Spirit in Revelation 6:16 describing the wrath of the LAMB. So, either Jesus Christ is not the LAMB (NOT), or the church is not in the flesh on the earth during these 7 years. Which one do you believe is the truth? Notice the Greek word translated as “salvation” in 1 Thessalonians is G4991 and this word could be translated as “rescue” or “safety”. It comes from another Greek word G4990 that is used for titles of the LORD Jesus and it was translated as “Savior” and “Deliverer”. We were introduced to this word in the first section of the lesson. This word translated as “salvation” informs us that we will be removed from the place of danger and hurt like Lot was rescued and taken to safety prior to the destruction of Sodom. Ok, Let us look at another verse that describes Jesus as “Savior” and confirm that we belong to Him.
Php 3:20 For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which also we are looking for the Savior (G4990), the Lord Jesus Christ,
Are you looking for your “Deliverer”? Are you expecting your “Savior” to come and get you? Are we expecting a “Rescue” out of the coming judgment wrath of the LAMB on this earth or are we expecting to be judged with the unrighteous? Those are great questions to ask and answer while we still can. I believe He is coming sooner than we think.
I would highly recommend that you go back and read “Part 5” in the series for more details on this subject of the church being saved from the tribulation to come. This belief and interpretation will align very well with the patterns that we have found describing Lot being taken out of the city before the judgment fell on the ungodly. God will NOT judge the righteous with the unrighteous. That behavior would violate HIS character and nature and would cause Him to be unjust. Since the judgement and penalty of our sins have been taken out on Jesus Christ on the cross, we will be spared from any future tribulation judgments. To judge the church again would represent “double-jeopardy”. God’s justice system demands that He does what is right and not judge the righteous with the evil people that have not accepted Jesus as Savior. I will end this section with one more confirming verse:
Joh 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Notice what Jesus says here. There are two different types of people being compared. One is called “believers” and other is called “unbelievers”. The believing group has “eternal life” and the unbelievers do not. Now notice the mention of our subject of “wrath”. This is the same Greek word as the previous verses. The Holy Spirit writes very clearly that it is ONLY the unbelievers that will have the wrath of God abiding on them. This is just another way of teaching us the church cannot be present when God’s wrath is being poured out. Remember this is Jesus speaking to us. Are you a believer? If you are not yet a believer, you can become one right now. Let us move to the next reason.
COME UP HITHER!
Rev 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
This is one of the strongest reasons for believing in a pretribulation rapture. I believe this is a major factor for trusting in the LORD to rescue His church before the tribulation of God’s judgment. Recall the design of the book of Revelation that was mentioned before. The book begins in chapter 1 with the revealing of Jesus and is then followed by His praises, directions, and admonitions spoken directly to His churches in chapters 2 and 3. After this , suddenly the references to the physical church on the earth stop. The church by no further direct references can be said to disappear from the book until the end. Wow, I believe this is a great general overview for the pattern of the entire church age. Let us see if this fits with the life of Jesus on the earth.
Jesus was born and revealed to the world in a manger in Bethlehem. After this He grew up in Nazareth in wisdom and age, was baptized by John when he was 30, and then he went about teaching, preaching, and healing everyone that would come to Him. After this, He died, arose from the grave and after 40 days went up to heaven. Does this seem to be a similar pattern for the church and the book of Revelation? Yes, I believe it does. Now let us see what God says by analyzing some of the details of Revelation 4:1, to learn how it could possibly fit into the pattern of the church age. Let us read the beginning of verse 1 in chapter 4:
Rev 4:1 After this ….
Notice how Revelation chapter 4 begins by God’s design. Verse 1 opens with the phrase “After this…”. I want us to focus and ask the question about the first two words of the verse asking “After WHAT?” This phrase “after this” indicates something that had previously happened has been terminated and something new is about to be initiated. “After this” represents a progressive sequenced order of events. This is like I did in the paragraph above describing the life of Jesus on the earth. What has just happened before this statement? Remember there are no chapter and verse divisions in the original writing. The answer is Jesus was just speaking to His church and suddenly stopped. These two words imply heavily what is about to happen next occurs only after Jesus has finished with His “church”. This implies that the church age is done, finished, and completed. The age of Grace has ceased. Uh oh! These two words appear to represent an important transition. Let’s continue to the next phrase.
Rev 4:1 After this I looked,….
I just want to focus quickly on the word “I looked”. This is G1492 and it means became aware, I saw, or I observed something. It is generally used in the past tense. It implies in this verse that John had observed something new that had not previously been seen or known to him. We also get this impression by noticing the next word in the phrase:
Rev 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold….
Now notice the word translated as “behold”. This is the Greek word G2400 that is used in 213 verses of the N.T. It is a word that denotes a measure of surprise or awe. Perhaps you noticed that I like to use the word “Wow” in my Bible lessons to express the same amount of emphasis and wonder. In many of God’s usages of this Greek word we can clearly see the immediate supernatural involvement of God or angels sent by divine direction to do something that is unexpected, new, and amazing. This word usage in Revelation 4:1 appears to imply that God is about to cause a departure from normal human affairs to do something supernaturally spectacular. I would recommend that you go read through these verses to get the concept being described. The idea being given to us by God in these combined initial phrases in Revelation 4:1 appears to say something sudden and unexpected is about to divinely occur at the end of and after the Church age. I wonder what that could be? Let us continue to read and find out:
Rev 4:1 …a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither,…
Rev 4:2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
Notice what just happened unexpectedly. God provides us a description of five-steps in a process:
1). a door in heaven will be opened,
2). a voice like a trumpet sounds
3). shouts “Come up here”
4). immediately John was in the spiritual realm
5). Having been “taken up” to stand before the throne of Jesus.
Wow, that is amazing! Why is all of this mentioned directly before beginning the description of the seven years of tribulation? Does any of these words help us in the church to understand God’s timing of events? I believe it does and that this literal past event that happened to John close to 2000 years ago, represents a prophecy of the soon coming event we call the “rapture” of the church. God does this repeatedly in the Bible. He uses one historic real and specific event to be a type, or we could call it a pattern of a greater future spiritual event that has not yet occurred. Asking good questions is essential to understanding the Bible. Therefore, let us ask some more good questions.
Why did God do this catching up of John? Was it necessary for God to give John this vision of what would be happening later at the end of the church age in heaven? Obviously, it was not necessary. For example, we can read about Peter receiving a spiritual vision of future a future event on the earth, while he was praying on a rooftop in Acts 10:9-10. There is no mention of Peter being taken up to heaven during this message from God. We need to understand the difference between these two visions within the early church leaders. Peter’s vision was given from the church’s perspective on the earth in the physical realm. But John’s vision was given to him from the perspective of the church being transformed into the spiritual realm standing in heaven with Jesus personally. Wow, that sounds important to know.
Also, I do not recall any O.T. prophet that was caught up into heaven to be shown what was going to happen to Israel in the future and then returning to the earth to write about it? Moses going up on a mountain to meet with God is the closest event like this that I know of. Can we see how John’s vision is a major change of how God had dealt with prophets many times before? I believe that is a significant clue. I will admit that Paul was caught up into the third heaven in 2 Cor 12:2-4. I believe that this was a confirming pattern of human experience for a future rapture event that could suddenly occurs to the church. In fact, these verses use the exact same Greek word G726 (harpazo) that that we have been looking at in this series. I believe 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 was given to us as a proof text to the fact that raptures have occurred in the past as well as it provides us evidence that they can and will happen again in the future. But I still believe that Paul’s experience was for a different divine purpose and experience than John’s in Revelation 4:1. I believe this because Paul was not permitted to write much about his experiences in any detail. I believe John’s experience of being taken up was for revealing God’s detailed plan for the timing of the rapture more than to just prove that a sudden going up could occur. We all have a choice to believe this or not, but I choose to believe it this way.
God’s placement of this catching up of John is at the perfect location in the book of Revelation to reveal a pretribulation rapture. I believe I have said this before but please notice that this catching away event occurs immediately after Jesus had finished dealing with the churches and before the beginning of the tribulation. I believe that there cannot be any better placement within the book of Revelation that God could more clearly represent a “pre-tribulation” catching away of the church without just openly stating it in the plain text.
Please stop looking for every truth to be plainly stated. That is NOT how God wrote the Bible. Jesus proved this by informing the Jewish people to “search their scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, but these are they that testify of me” (John 5:39). We can see from this one statement that the truth of Jesus was hidden and had to be searched out to find Him.
Rev 4:1 After this …. must be hereafter.
Ok we need to notice how the beginning and ending phrases of verse 1 match. Notice these were translated as “After this” and “must be hereafter”. The ending phrase “be hereafter” is identical to the beginning phrase “after this” in the original Greek. Both phrases come from two Greek words G3326 (meta) and G5023 (tauta). This phrase occurs several times in the Bible and it is often translated as “after this”, “after that” or “after these things”. This phrase teaches us the truth concerning a series of events limited within the fourth dimension of time that must occur in a precise determined order. We can learn that something new or different is about to happen that has followed something else that just concluded. In other words what will happen next is something fresh that occurs after what has past, and these previous things are now implied to have ended.
I am going to ask again to make sure no one missed it. What are the things that have ended that God was just talking about in chapter 2 and 3? The easy answer from what we read must be God’s dealing with the church on the earth has ended. That makes great logical sense to me. Then at the end of the verse God uses “meta tauta” again to say, “after this event”. What event did God just do to John? God took John up in a rapture into heaven to stand before the throne of Jesus. Therefore, what comes after this rapture by God’s design, begins to teach us of something brand new that has never previously occurred to this extent or in this order. These words and the combining of them with named precise events are describing the separate distinct and ordered pattern of events in succession that must occur. I believe this is the plan of God.
- Jesus deals with the Churches
- After this the Church Age Ends
- Followed by the Rapture of the Church
- Followed by the 7 years of Tribulation and Judgment of Israel and the world
Let us review some other important descriptive facts found in Revelation 4:1 to add to our consideration of why this verse represents the church rapture. If we read verse 1 carefully it appears to parallel the pattern description of the rapture found in 1 Thessalonians 4 because of God’s specific word usage and selection. Read this verse in 1 Thessalonians 4 and see if you can agree there is a divine connection between these two verse event descriptions:
1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump (G4536) of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (harpazo) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
God uses the exact same Greek word translated as “trumpet” both in Revelation 4:1 and here. This Greek word is G4536 and it is only found in 11 verses in the entire N.T. It occurs 4 times after Revelation 4:1 in chapters 8 and 9 dealing with 7 angels with 7 trumpets. These are called the trumpet judgements. After these verses, this Greek word is NOT used in any other verse of Revelation. Uh oh? I thought a great number of people believed in a mid or post-tribulation rapture? Why would there be only a mention of a trumpet rapture event before the tribulation begins describing someone going up into heaven? I think that should be a potential problem for believing in anything but a pretribulation catching away of the church. We could talk a lot more about this, but we will move on to another connection to consider.
Notice the fact that in conjunction with a trumpet being mentioned a shout occurs. 1 Thessalonians does not mention the shout phrase but it does say clearly it occurs. Now notice in Revelation 4:1 the actual shout is given “COME UP HERE!” but we are told it is a shout. That appears to confirm another very profound parallel to the same descriptions. Let us move quickly now to a rapture reference found in 1 Corinthians:
1Co 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1Co 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump (G4536): for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Notice the profound process being described here by the Holy Spirit. God writes this is a mystery. This teaches us that the message has been and potentially still is hidden. We all understand this because there is still such a great debate occurring in the church with us wondering when the rapture will occur. Notice what Paul writes. Paul says not everyone will die a natural death. But we shall be changed. Changed is a Greek word that means made different and we know this is speaking of becoming incorruptible and immortal by reading the context. Then the Holy Spirit says in a moment or a twinkling of the eye this change will take place. The Greek word G823 (atomos) means something that is indivisible. That is a description of such fast rapid event that we cannot even fully imagine it.
Notice the word selection of the Holy Spirit to select and use the exact same word found in Revelation 4:1 for “trumpet”. This word was translated as “trump” in Thessalonians, but it is the same Greek word we just read here. God is connecting these verses by designed divine word choice. Also note that this reference to the G4536 trumpet in Revelation 4:1 is the last trumpet blast used to call up people into heaven used by God. That would appear to match what we are reading here in verse 52 of 1 Cor 15 saying the “last trump”. The Greek word G2078 translated as “last” is not used this way in the book of Revelation at all. It occurs 7 times in Revelation, twice to describe last plagues and 5 times to describe Jesus Christ as the “first and last”.
What I am trying to say is that Revelation 4:1 appears to be the “LAST” trumpet to call up anyone in the book of Revelation. The other trumpet references appear to be judgments being released on the earth. This information just appears to help confirm the timing of the rapture to occur before the tribulation begins. Can we begin to see these parallels? I do not believe this is an accident. I believe all of this is a divinely designed pattern of repetition given to us by God to teach us. Let us move on to the next reason.
CHURCH IS REWARDED IN HEAVEN
AT THE BEMA SEAT DURING THE TRIBULATION
1Co 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
1Co 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
1Co 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward (G3408).
1Co 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
According to the New Testament there is coming a judging of the works of Christians. While works cannot ever save us, they do appear to cause us to be rewarded after this life is over. The Greek word G3708 that was translated as “reward” literally means “pay for service”. God is teaching us that we will receive a payment for what was done for His glory on this earth to fulfill His will. Many theologians view this rewarding like a prize for running our race of life well on this earth as Paul wrote of in 1 Corinthians 9:24. That could be a part of it. But these verses also speak of human works that will be burned up and consumed as if they did not matter to the reality of our eternal reward. For example, many people are doing nice religious things, but I believe they are in vain to just make them look important. A lot of Christians do not ask or want to know what the will of God is to hear His plan for their life. It is like the old joke, Jesus is Coming, look busy! Ok I will give you a list of a few of these earthly types of works that will cause a heavenly reward.
- We Endure Persecution or False Accusation While Rejoicing (Mat 5:11-12)
- When We Love Others that Hate Us (Mat 5:46)
- When We Give to Others or the LORD in Secret (Mat 6:1)
- When We Pray Privately Hidden from Public View (Mat 6:5)
- When We Fast Secretly Not Making It Known Outwardly (Mat 6:16)
There are a lot of other examples given to us in the Bible. None of these are normal human behavior that comes naturally. I believe these works are totally different than the types of works we do in the natural and must be learned and acquired by repetition. People go to work at a company and want to be acknowledged and praised by everyone. Natural humans are proud of their accomplishments, promotions and enjoy the recognition of other people. But, God’s reward system for what we will receive in heaven is far different.
When does this judgement of fire for rewards occur? There are some who believe it occurs after the tribulation. There are two main judgements described in the book of Revelation. The final judgment occurs in Revelation 20:11 and it is called the Great White Throne Judgment (GWTJ). This is the judgement that occurs for all unbelievers that have rejected God’s gift of salvation. Their names are not recorded in the book of life (Rev 20:12). This GWT Judgment is for the spiritually dead and not for the spiritually living.
We also should know that there is a judgment for believers. This is called the Bema Seat Judgment (BSJ). This judgment is for believers in Christ Jesus only. These believers are the symbolic “wheat” and “sheep” that are gathered to be saved. They are compared with the rejected tares and the goats in the parables that Jesus taught on about the division of people on the earth (Mat 13:25-31, Mat 25:32-33). The righteous are described to be on His right hand and the unrighteous were on His left hand and these are the ones that will be judged in the GWT Judgment and then cast into hell. It appears that we should all seek and learn how to be in those that are on His right hand. So, let us analyze if there is any indication from scripture when this Bema judgement occurs. Here is an especially important verse to learn:
Rev 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward (G3708) unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
God describes the church being judged, during the tribulation here in Revelation 11:18. It would be logical for Christians to conclude that the church must already be present in heaven for this described event to occur. How do we know we are there? We can use the words given and search for them in the N.T. to see if the church is ever called by these names and titles or described with these characteristics. For example, the Greek word G40 which was translated as “saints”. This word is referred to multiple times in the New Testament and it is used to describe Christians. Paul uses this word in almost every letter written to church members as a title and description of their character. I would recommend you do a search and read these verses. But I will list a few to get you started. Read Romans 16:15, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 6:2, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, 3:8, Philippians 1:1, Colossians 1:2 to name a few that confirm how church members are called “saints”.
Next notice the key word G3708 that is again translated as “reward”. This word alone connects us directly to what God described in 1 Corinthians 3. Here are the “rewards of payment” for our labors on the earth being given out to His servants and saints. The Greek word G1401 translated as “servants” is used in Acts 16:17 by a demon possessed woman screaming near Paul and other Christians. She cried, “these are servants of the Most High God who show us the way to salvation”. I can imagine that she was saying it in a mocking way and not in a complimentary promotional way. But nonetheless she has labeled them correctly as servants of Jesus the exact same word used to describe those being rewarded in heaven in Revelation 11.
Paul calls himself a servant in Romans 1:1 and Galatians 1:10. I believe we can see the connection between Christians being labeled as “servants” and “saints”. Finally, the last phrase that should seal the truth that God is speaking of the church rewards is G5399. This Greek word G5399 means to “fear or revere as in awe”. It describes a person with a respectful attitude for God’s omnipotence (power). G5399 is the opposite of people who take God’s name in vain swearing or cursing Him.
G5399 is used directly in Acts 10:2 to describe Cornelius the centurion that was sent and angel messenger from God to go and get Peter. Servants of Cornelius came to the house where Peter was receiving a vision of God instructing him about the people that were coming to see him and why. Peter followed them and went to Cornelius house. Peter preached Jesus to Cornelius and his family and they were the first Gentiles saved in the book of Acts. Therefore, we know God is speaking of people who honor and believe in Him and are saved. Christians are commanded to fear God in Colossians 3:22 and 1 Peter 2:17 to provide just two confirmations of how the church should be in awe of God.
Ok, I am going to go over quickly another important factor on this subject of timing. This Bema Seat Judgment appears to be referenced somewhere near or after mid-trib. The beginning of chapter 11 to verse 18 describes the event of God sending two witnesses that stand in the streets of Jerusalem prophesying the Word of God to everyone still on the earth. We will talk more about this later in reasons #6 and 7. But understand that the two witnesses preaching spans the entire first half of the tribulation. Therefore, chapter 11 represents a new overview from a different perspective during the same time found in the description of chapters 4 through 10. God simply singled out a specific event which overlaps with the entire 42-month first half tribulation period. What I am trying to say is that when the tribulation begins God sends two witnesses and they remain through all of the events reported previously in chapters 4 through 10 when they are killed, and their bodies lay in the street for 3 ½ days and then they are raised from the dead to stand up and then they slowly are caught up into heaven after God says “Come Up Here”. This calling up to heaven is remarkably like what we read about in Revelation 4:1 for John’s catching up. However, this description uses the Greek word G305 which implies a slow ascent that can be visible to any human that is looking on them as they go up. Also, notice in chapter 11 there is no mention of any trumpet. Therefore, this event is not the “harpazo” for a sudden unseen disappearing. This event just does not match with the description of the rapture as we have seen. We just cannot say with great confidence that this going up slowly of the two witnesses represents a type of the rapture of the church. We will see this more clearly as we continue to study.
Therefore, we can conclude that somewhere in the middle of the tribulation it appears Christians will be rewarded for their works done on the earth. This does imply that our works were completed and that we are present in heaven to receive them. Some will try to stretch these 2 witnesses going up to heaven to represent the church is raptured at mid-trib but there are too many issues that do align with scriptures to cause that belief to be accurate.
RAPTURE OF CHURCH TO HAPPEN SUDDENLY
This reason is an extremely basic common-sense explanation for a good belief in a pre-tribulation rapture event using the type and pattern of John’s sudden unexpected rapture in Revelation 4:1 as our representative. Did John expect to be shouted up into heaven in Revelation 4:1? If He did it does not say it. No, I believe Revelation 4:1 was a sudden unexpected departure from earth. We should know that John wrote the book of Revelation at close to the age of 92 while a prisoner of Rome on the penal colony located on the Isle of Patmos. It was while he was a prisoner that this vision of the future was given to him. While we might expect John was anticipating removal from the island, I don’t believe he was expecting it to be a direct trip to heaven without seeing physical death first.
This concept of sudden unexpected removal is based entirely upon the dominate belief from basic church doctrine called “Imminence”. That is a word that we do not use very often in modern conversations or hear preached often from many pulpits. This basic doctrine teaches us that Jesus’ coming in the air to catch away the church is not dependent upon any other Biblical event that must happen first. Imminence means Jesus’ coming is close, near and could happen at any unexpected moment. This means it could literally happen while you are reading this Bible lesson. Did the Apostle John the writer of Revelation, believe in the doctrine of Imminence? I believe if you read what he wrote you will say that he did:
Rev 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
John begins the book of Revelation with a reminder that this prophecy will be fulfilled in a time that is very near. This Greek word G1451 that was translated as “at hand” literally means “it is near”. If it was close 2000 years ago can you imagine how close it is now? That was the beginning of the book of Revelation and at the end Jesus gives us a further confirmation:
Rev 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
The Greek word G5035 was translated as quickly and it is defined as “shortly, without delay, suddenly and soon”. Therefore, the book of Revelation begins and ends with the warning of this prophecy coming upon the world quickly and unexpectedly. It is also important to understand the rapture of the church is NOT the 2nd coming of Christ. These are two separated events that occur 7 years apart. In the rapture Jesus does not set foot on the earth and the church is called up to meet Him in the air. This is also not a yo-yo rapture trip where we are called up to quickly come back down to rule during the millennium. No, the rapture event is the only prophesied event that is not dependent upon anything, the 2nd coming is completely dependent upon many other prophesies that must be fulfilled first.
If we do not believe in “imminence”, that could be a major problem that distorts our belief of Revelation. This non-belief in imminence would also allow Christians to live any lifestyle they want or desire without the fear of God. If everyone knew when the rapture would occur, we could all just fall on our knees and repent a few seconds, hours, or days before and then expect to be taken up to be with Christ. But if we do not know when it will occur there is no other way but for us to focus and stay ready, prayed up to be following the Holy Spirit every second because He could come when we did not expect Him.
Mat 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Mat 24:37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Mat 24:38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
Mat 24:39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Mat 24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Mat 24:41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Mat 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
This is only one passage that confirms the Church “Doctrine of Imminence”. But it is always one of the clearest references to being ready, that I know of. This passage of scripture should not be overlooked concerning the rapture of the church. Notice Jesus said He did not even know when He would return exactly. This makes me laugh at all the preachers and teachers that try to calculate dates and times. You may recall a few years ago a man that I will not name predicted May 21, 2011 as the return of Jesus day. Wow, that day came and went, and this man looked very foolish to many that were paying attention. His belief denied the existence of the “Doctrine of Imminence”. According to this man all the days between his day of prophecy and that specific calendar date had to pass before Jesus could come. Do you understand the basic “Doctrine of Imminence” better now? Can you see how this will fit within our knowledge of the outline of the book of Revelation?
Please go and read the entire book of Revelation again from beginning to end. God gives us the description of the entire seven-year tribulation period in graphic detail using an ordered sequence of events. In Revelation 6 we begin to see Jesus opening a scroll with seven seals in heaven. Each seal in the numbered order is broken and each triggers an event occurrence that is not good for the people left on the earth. During this opening there are also four horsemen described, one white, one red, one black and one green. Each is released in the specific order to bring on other specific events of judgments on the earth. All of this is required to happen in the first half of the tribulation.
Now, remember what we read in Revelation 11? We read two witnesses had to preach for exactly 42 months and then they were called up into heaven and then the Bema Seat Judgment commences. But this knowledge defeats the belief of mid-trib and post-trib raptures because they both fail the “Imminence” test. If mid or post-trib was when the rapture occurred, we would all watch the two witnesses for 42 months, see them get killed, lay in the streets for 3 ½ days then we would know that we needed to repent and get right with God to be taken up and judged. We could literally almost set the date of departure and judgment. God gives us the precise number of days the two witnesses preach. This is 1260 days. Just get your calendar and start marking the days. But that is like the preacher saying Jesus is coming on May 21, 2011. That does not work with the solid “Doctrine of Imminence”. The conflict completely disqualifies a mid-trib or post-trib rapture.
When we read the entire book of Revelation. We need to notice in Revelation 7:1 that God gives the identical phrase “meta” + “taupa” again? This teaches us God’s standard of a specific ordered sequence of events is still taking place throughout the first half of the tribulation. Next in chapter 8 after the seventh seal was opened and 7 angels were given 7 trumpets, and this begins another set of judgements upon the earth. These also are given to us in the order that they will literally occur. There is considerable hardship and death described in the book of Revelation and it will be a time like no other in the history of mankind. Finally, we get to Revelation 16 and the 7 bowls of God’s wrath that will be poured out again in ordered sequence. The term “meta” + “taupe” (after this) occurs in Revelation 7:1, 7:9, 9:12, 15:5, 18:1, 19:1 and 20:3. All of these references describe events that occur in chronological order within the seven year time frame called the tribulation.
We could map out and link together one event after another from all this information and many have done this. Using this specific timeline of events we may not be able to place the mid-trib or post-trib rapture of the church to an exact minute or second, but we could get it close enough to know when we needed to get ready for Him to come. But before this, we just need to sit back, hide and wait for Him. I think that is a major problem with NOT believing in an unexpected imminent appearance of Christ to take us out of the world. Can you see how believing in a mid-trib or post-trib catching away becomes dependent upon so many specific events occurring within the dependent given order? If these events listed in Revelation have not occurred, we could just sit by and wait for them to happen and then get all ready. Only a pre-tribulation rapture which could occur at any given moment in time makes any sense to believe in.
Perhaps you still do not believe in a sudden unexpected departure? I would recommend that you go and read the parable story of the 10 Virgins in Matthew 25. Because this is another example of an unexpectant imminent rapture event. In this parable a man that is a type of Jesus suddenly comes to his bride and only half of them are prepared to meet Him with full burning lamps, and only they enter into the open door before it is closed. This is a perfect example of a rapture based upon the parable typology and the traditional accounts of the Jewish wedding ceremony. This coming of the bridegroom happens while the other virgins went away to get ready by buying lamp oil for the groom’s (Jesus) sudden coming at midnight. Ok, lamps are symbols of the church. Oil in the lamps are a symbol of being full of the Holy Spirit. However, when the foolish virgins return to the wedding the door is locked, and they are no longer able to enter the wedding feast. Even when they knock, Jesus says depart I never knew you. Wow, that is a perfect example and pattern of a door in heaven suddenly opening and only John going up to enter into it.
The traditional Jewish wedding is the same process. The man sees a woman that he is interested in and approaches her to make the proposal. Gifts and payments are made to her family. A marriage contract is entered into and the groom goes away to prepare a place for his wife. The woman prepares herself to be ready because at any unexpected moment he may come to take her into the wedding feast at his father’s house. This Jewish wedding feast continues for 7 days or one week. This is the reason why, in John chapter 2 Jesus was called upon to turn water into wine by Mary because they had run out of the wine that was supposed to last all week. This was a very quick overview of the traditional Jewish wedding, but it fits the marriage of Jesus and His bride perfectly. There are so many N.T. verse that confirm this and I’ll give you a homework assignment to go and find them all.
Remember what Jesus taught us in Matthew 24 about only one being taken and the other left as they both slept. Or one was taken and one left from the two that were grinding at a mill. Or one was taken and one left as they were working in a field. Again, these examples are a 50% parallel reaffirming the 5 wise virgins and 5 foolish virgins’ percentage. I am not making any predictions, but it is possible that only 50% of people who say they are Christians could be taken and the others may be left on the earth. Also notice how these people that were taken were on two sides of the planet and everyone that was qualified was taken simultaneously whether sleeping in darkness or working in the daylight. Finally, notice that there is NO way that any of this description fits anything that is happening during the 7-years of tribulation. Everyone being described by Jesus is living life doing normal everyday activities like it was during Noah’s day before the sudden destructive flood of judgment.
This is another reason why I know this coronavirus is a quickly passing pandemic. I do not see how everything we have just read that was spoken by the LORD Jesus or is found in the book of Revelation could fit anything but a pre-tribulation rapture event based upon the “Doctrine of Imminence”. The sound doctrine of imminence nullifies the pattern a MID-TRIBULATION or a POST-TRIBULATION catching away event because of the stated events that must first occur that everyone will see in plain sight. So, if anyone is a mid-trib or a post-trib believer it must be a very sad day because it is impossible for Jesus to come back today!
WHY SEND TWO WITNESSES?
Rev 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
Here is another great reason why I believe the church must be raptured up to heaven before the beginning of the seven years of tribulation. God sends two witnesses that some believe are Enoch and Elijah and others believe they are Moses and Elijah. But whoever they are they appear in the streets of Jerusalem for exactly three and half years, also known as forty-two months, or it can even be known as 1260 days. These are all the same way to describe the first half of the 7 years of tribulation. God very clearly informs us in Revelation chapter 11 that He will send two witnesses to the city of Jerusalem in order to prophecy to the world.
Now may I suggest that we all think about what is being revealed by God in this verse? What was the great commission given to the church right before Jesus ascended into heaven? Didn’t Jesus command the church to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mar 16:15)? It appears to me that the only logical reason that God would need to send His two witnesses back to the earth from heaven would be because the church is no longer on the earth to preach to anyone on the earth. Wow, I do not know how anything else could possibly be true. Did the church suddenly all get murdered? Did the church all go into silence and hiding in bunkers? What else can it be? Think about it! For 42 months these two witnesses are declaring the Word of God to the people of Jerusalem and the earth. Suddenly they are killed, and their bodies lie in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 ½ days and then what happens? The world sees them be raised from the dead and then they go back up slowly into heaven. If the church is still present on the earth, then the word of God is still being preached but if not, then what happens in the book of Revelation next after the two witnesses? Does the gospel of Jesus just stop? We will find our answer in Revelation 14:
Rev 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Why would God almighty have an angel preach the Gospel if the people in the church were still on the earth? This just does not make any logical sense. The only reasonable explanation for this need to preach from two witnesses or an angel must be because the church would not be here on the earth to do what Jesus commanded us to do. That is what I believe. So, we have just learned of two different types of preachers that are found on the earth during the tribulation besides the church. There were the two witnesses that preach the first 42 months and there is the angel preaching to humans somewhere in the last 42 months. This is profoundly amazing. The church must be gone! Praise the LORD!
THE BOOK OF REVELATION IS THE JEWISH 70TH WEEK
To correctly interpret the book of Revelation there is a dependency to first understand the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel was written years before Jesus’ first physical entrance on the earth. But these words were hidden and sealed from understanding until the time of the end (Dan 12:9). However, the book of Revelation we are told was not sealed because the time was near at hand (Rev 22:10). Therefore, the book of Revelation helps us to unveil the book of Daniel and vice versa. Too many Bible students fail to go back to understand the Book of Daniel. In chapter 9 of Daniel it contains key information that informs us of important details of the tribulation period in Revelation. Daniel teaches us that this period of time during the tribulation is a length of seven years and that it is primarily focused upon God’s dealing with the natural people of the nation of Israel. Knowing this information provides us a good foundation for why the church is not explicitly mentioned by name after chapter 3. This also helps us to understand that the “rapture” of the church must have already occurred.
Let us talk very briefly about why these two books are intimately connected. One distinct connection are the references to a beast with 10 horns. We see this in Daniel chapter 7 and in Revelation chapters 13 and 17. The horns we are told represent kings but that is not important for this lesson.
There are several direct connections but one that is significant is the connection of the term “Time”, “Times” and “Half a Time” (aka dividing of time). This phrasing is an incredibly unique terminology that I have only found in the books of Daniel and Revelation. Most scholars that I have heard teach on this subject, agree that this phrase is speaking of 1 Year + 2 Years + half a Year. Adding those together we get 3 ½ years total. That matches perfectly with the references to 1260 days (Rev 11:3, 12:6) and 42 months (Rev 11:2, 13:5) and 3 ½ years (Rev 12:14) all found in Revelation. We can also read this specific phrase “time”, “times” and “dividing time” in Daniel 7:25 and in Daniel 12:7 where we find “time”, times” and “a half” and this matches Revelation 12:14.
Rev 12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
Now let us read one of the key verses that is required for understanding the seven-year tribulation we can also labeled as God’s last week dealing with nation of natural Israel:
Dan 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people (natural Israel) and upon thy holy city (Jerusalem), to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
There are a lot of Bible scholars and teachers that agree this verse is speaking of seventy weeks of years and not seventy weeks of days. A Week is a representation for the number 7. Therefore, if we multiply 70 times 7, we arrive at 490 years of total time that God is referring to for the nation of Israel. However, these 490 years do not occur in consecutive order. You see in verses 25 God begins to describe that there will be 7 weeks of years before the city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt. Next will follow 62 weeks of years (=434) and then Messiah will appear in the city Jerusalem. In fact, someone has done this calculation and found that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on the exact day when these 469 years were fulfilled. Now let us look at the specific tribulation week that we are concerned with in Revelation. It is being described by Daniel in chapter 9 and verse 27:
Dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
This verse is concerning a prince called the anti-Christ. Most educated Bible scholars agree this verse is teaching events that occur within the 7 years of tribulation using the term “one week”. We are told that this man will make a covenant with the Jewish people on the earth and this is presumed to be a peace treaty of some type. But, according to this verse in the middle of this 7 years (3 ½) he appears to break the covenant and bring desolation upon the earth. I am unable to go into every detail in this very quick overview format of the book of Revelation. Therefore let’s wrap this section up.
Please just understand the connections being made and how Daniel was a book written about God’s dealing with the natural nation of Israel for a total of 490 years. I believe that this information helps us to understand why the church on the earth is not mentioned after chapter 3 by direct name. I believe since God is dealing with natural Israel primarily in this book of Revelation the church must have been taken into heaven before this week of years can begin. We know this because we have just seen that God sends two witnesses to stand up and preach in the city of Jerusalem for 3 ½ years. Now remember what happens to them at the end of these 42 months. These two witnesses are suddenly killed, and their bodies lay in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 ½ days and then they are raised back to life. This seems to correspond to what we just read in the book of Daniel about the anti-Christ breaking the peace covenant and this is when the “Great Tribulation” breaks out and angels are then revealed to be preaching the gospel. Wow, this sounds like we are now understanding more of why the church is not mentioned after chapter 3. Let us go to the final reason in this lesson for why I believe the church has been raptured from the earth while these 7 years are taking place.
THE CHURCH MUST RETURN TO THE EARTH WITH CHRIST
AT THE END OF THE TRIBULATION
HOW AND WHEN DID WE GET THERE?
This reason is another common-sense revelation. This reason for believing in a PRE-TRIBULATION rapture is based upon what was given to us in Revelation chapter 19 and then what is implied but was not explicitly stated to how it occurred. We will begin reading in verse 6 and then go through verse 14. The passages begin by describing the church in heaven at the marriage supper of the lamb in verses 6 through 10. Then this is immediately followed in verses 11 through 14 with Jesus coming back to the earth with the church riding behind Him to rule and reign with a rod of iron for 1000 years.
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
Rev 19:6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Rev 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Rev 19:9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
Rev 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
The Rider on a White Horse
Rev 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. Rev 19:12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
Rev 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
Rev 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
OK, we just cannot go through every verse and every word found in the Greek because it would take too long. Focus on verse 7 to begin. We have the marriage of the Lamb and the mention of His wife having made herself ready. This corresponds very well with Jesus’ description of the bridegroom coming suddenly to the five wise virgin that had made themselves prepared and ready for His coming. It also corresponds to Ephesians chapter 5 in discussing husbands and wives where God speaking of this as being a great mystery concerning Christ and the church. In Ephesians 5:26-27 Paul writes of Christ sanctifying and cleansing His bride with a washing of the water of the Word of God. I cannot teach that subject fully either. You can go and read about the bride of Christ in other series on this website. Notice how this woman is described in Revelation. She is clothed in fine white linen in verse 8. Then notice these people are clothed in the exact same garments that are coming back riding on white horses with Jesus in verse 14.
I believe verse 11 is also relevant to take note of. Verse 11 teaches that heaven must be opened for Jesus and the church to return. That sound like the parallel to the 5 foolish virgins knocking on the door after it was locked shut and Jesus saying, “depart I never knew you” (Mat 25:12). I would recommend you read and study the subject of weddings in the Bible. The wedding feast is also described in a parable given in Matthew 12:1-14. We don’t have time to read and study that either but know this is message spoken to Jews about a King (God the Father) inviting the Jews to come to the wedding of His Son (Jesus) and they did not come so He commanded His servants to go and invite others (Gentiles) to come into the wedding feast that had been prepared. In this parable one man comes into the wedding without the proper wedding attire and he is promptly discovered, questioned and cast out to regret not having the proper wedding clothes.
If these people being described in Revelation are wearing the proper wedding garments we can easily believe they are the church and we are coming back to the earth with Jesus after this wedding feast. Therefore, how and when did the church go up to be with Him in heaven? We had to be there in heaven for longer than a quick snack and rapid return? In other words, a POST-TRIBULATION sudden taking up and an immediate coming back down just cannot fit what many teach. In fact, a MID-TRIBULATION 3 ½ year pattern of going up and coming back does not fit the wedding feasts Bible pattern either. Let’s quickly establish verses that teach the church is coming back with Jesus to rule:
1Th 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
God clearly describes the church will be returning to the earth with Jesus in this verse. Holiness is a pattern description for a pure bride wearing white and clean garments that we were reading about in Revelation 19. Also, it is interesting to see the word “all” describing His saints. This Greek word means the whole. There is another New Testament prophecy concerning this return to the earth found in the book of Jude:
Jud 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
Jud 1:15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
I believe these verses are describing the exact Revelation 19 return to the earth of Jesus and His church, but only in greater detail. It is remarkably interesting to note that we are coming with Him to judge the ungodly sinners. This is just further confirmation that the church is not present on the earth to be judged with them.
When did the church get to heaven to return to the earth with Jesus in Revelation 19? I cannot find a catching away in the mid-tribulation theory found in Revelation. I certainly cannot agree with a post-tribulation catching up of the church to be immediately returned either. Neither of these beliefs match the typology of Noah’s flood or Lot’s taking out of Sodom. In both examples the righteous were taken out before any of the judgment of the wicked began.
The only legitimate answer that fits typology and and patterns found in ancient Jewish wedding feasts is the pre-tribulation catching away of the bride. In the ancient Jewish wedding ceremony several things occur in a specific order. I will list this so that we can see how they match the pre-tribulation rapture.
- The Groom approaches the Bride and proposes marriage
- Gifts are given to the bride’s family
- A legal contract agreement is accepted by both husband and wife
- The bridegroom promises to go to his father’s house to prepare a place for his new wife.
- He leaves her and does not see her until the father instructs him he is ready to go and get her.
- He leaves the father’s house to go and get his bride
- The bride never knows when he will return for her so she must be constantly ready and expecting him with eager anticipation.
- The bridegroom sends his servant ahead of him to announce his appearance.
- The bride rushes out to meet him and they immediately depart for the father’s house.
- A wedding feast then commences at the father’s house.
- This wedding feast normally lasts for 7 days where they eat and drink and celebrate the marriage has come.
- Now the bride and the bridegroom leave the father’s house to enter into their new house to be together forever.
This was just a fast overview of the process. But, please notice the parallels that are given to Christ and the church.
The only balanced timing for the church rapture event that matches all of the patterns given to us in scripture is found in Revelation 4:1 (pre-tribulation). God provides us a profound clue to the timing by using John being caught up into heaven before he was shown the future events transpiring in the tribulation. This was a divine pattern for the “PRE-TRIBULATION” rapture. I have become convinced that this is only event time that matches typology taught by Jesus in Matthew 24, the doctrine of Imminence, God’s dealing with Israel during the 70th week and the end of the church age of God’s divine Grace. We have just read 10 direct and indirect reasons that help us establish an incredibly good solid foundation for the belief in the PRE-TRIBULATION rapture! We could have found others. For example, we did not speak of the Jewish wedding pattern. Weddings in Jesus’ days on the earth were usually a 7-day feast celebration with food and wine. This is why, Jesus was asked to turn water into wine in John 2 by Mary. Jesus turns 6 very large containers full of water into wine because there were more days to celebrate than the day He performed the miracle. Seven days is a week, right? Why does God call this a week of years in Daniel? Is this another clue to our covenant marriage event occurring in heaven? Could it be that our Covenant Wedding feast will be celebrated for the entire week of tribulation on the earth? I believe it will.
I pray you were blessed and are willing to go read and study these verses for yourself to confirm if this is what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. If you believe there are any challenges to what was written here, then please share them in a comment. If the Holy Spirit bears witness with your spirit, this is truthful, then please leave that as a comment. God bless you and let us all know that Jesus is coming soon!
~WHAT WOULD HAPPEN, IF I DIED TODAY?~
Today, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal LORD and Savior or you do not have the full confidence that you KNOW what would happen if you died suddenly, it is time to get your life in order. I believe NOW is time to resolve your fear of an uncertain eternal destination after this life ends and before it is too late. Some might think I’m not a bad person and have not committed any bad crimes, but God says our righteousness is like filthy rags compared to His standard of Holiness. By default, without making a choice we are all headed to a lake of fire that burns very intensely to be separated from a loving God that already forgave us. That is a very sad reality. One wise man has said NO ONE is ready to live, until they are ready to die. Please go to “Salvation” and read and pray the prayer to receive the free gift of forgiveness & eternal life. This will be the greatest decision that you will ever make. Thank you and God bless you.