"RAPTURE", WHAT DO WE BELIEVE AND WHY?
By Alan Mitchell
What do we believe and why? In other words, is our rapture belief based on what we have searched through God's word and His Spirit has laid on our hearts, OR is it because a view, a doctrinal stand, or a personal belief was handed down to us from; parents, pastors, denominations, college professors, or whoever? I'm sure that many of you are like I was. I believed in a pre-tribulation rapture. I had been taught that the scriptures taught a "pre-trib rapture", both in the churches which I attended, and the bible colleges that I attended during the early 80's. I had also been raised in a church which taught God's Word in it's entirety, and the pastor told us not to believe what he said, but to search the bible to find out if what he said was true or not. Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
I believed in a pre-trib rapture. I had never really questioned it, until back in March, 1996. I spend a lot of time listening to various christian radio stations around the country. One day I was listening to a small, AM, christian radio station from the Denver, Colorado area. I heard two different authors interviewed on two different talk shows, who quoted several bible verses that seemed to indicate that the "rapture" was not before, but after the tribulation. I had also heard a pastor on a station out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, say the same thing a few days earlier, so this was the 2nd and 3rd time I had heard this in about a week! I don't believe in coincidences and these things really made me think! I said, "God if this is true, then I need to know." I didn't feel that I was strong enough, spiritually to go through the Great Tribulation standing firm. Mat. 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. This had troubled me quite a bit, but I wasn't ready to buy it. Quite frankly I didn't buy it and I set out to prove them wrong, I really didn't think that what they said was true, yet I really thought that there must be a reason why I heard this 3 times in a matter of days, when anytime in the past I had heard something of this nature I just blew it off. To put it bluntly, God had gotten my attention! That is how it started, I set out to find the answers, and it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be!
Many of you are familiar with the late Corrie ten Boom. I would like to insert a quote from her at this point to get the attention of some of you, who might be inclined to not really listen to what I am trying to say. She is a great saint, and patriarch of the post WW II church, who died in 1983. She is from Holland, and her family helped, hide and disguise Jews so they could get out of Germany during WW II. The Nazi's caught them and put them in the concentration camps. As I recall all her family died while in the camps, except herself. She was interviewed by Logos Journal in the Nov.-Dec. 1974 issue, the interview was also reprinted in the Sept. 96 issue of End-Times News Digest. The title of the article was "Preparing for the coming tribulation". The following excerpt appeared on page 2 of the article;
FALSE TEACHERS: There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world.
I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution. In China the christians [were] told, "Don't worry, before the tribulation comes, you will be translated--raptured." Then came the terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly, "We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution rather than telling them Jesus would come first." Turning to me he said, "You still have time. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes--to stand and not faint.
This Quote is very new to me, I have the entire interview for anyone who would like a copy. I found out about it in a phone conversation with author Dave MacPherson. Dave is the author of several great books. I have several copies of his book "The Rapture Plot", this book proves the true origin of the rapture teaching, anyone who would like to borrow a copy can call me and let me know. You can also call Millennium III Publishers at 1-800-967-7345 for your own copy.
It took me about 6 months to come to the point where I was confident and had no doubts about what I believe the bible teaches pertaining to when the rapture will occur. I started out by looking up all the passages that I could find that had anything to do with the rapture, the return of Christ, the last days, etc., and as I did this it confused me greatly. The bible seemed to me to really indicate that the rapture was at the end of the tribulation. I then dug into the commentaries and other books about end-times teaching and as I read them I felt reassured that it would occur before the tribulation. I began to realize that, it seemed to me that their arguments were really weak, they seemed to be grabbing at straws, taking some verses and convenintly ignoring others altogether. As it says above in Acts 17:11 we should "search the scriptures" to prove whether what authors, teachers, pastors, or any others say is true or false. So I had to acknowledge that God's word was not lining up with what the books said. I was still, however being stubborn, and I wasn't willing to give up my false hope to be taken out of the world before tough times came. I decided to call a former pastor, who was like a father to me while I was in the army almost 15 years ago. I asked him how sure he was about a pre-trib rapture. Then something happened that totally changed my willingness to accept what the bible was telling me. This pastor got, in my opinion, totally defensive and said that he was as sure of a pre-trib rapture as he was of anything in the bible. That did it, I knew that there was no way it was that plain, and in fact I had always been taught that the rapture was before the tribulation began, but I was also taught that it was not for sure because the bible wasn't clear on this subject. At this point it was plain to me that many people were not willing to consider what the scriptures said and they believed what they wanted to believe, based on their comfort zone. Then it all changed as I opened my heart and became willing to believe and to be wrong, based on what I had believed in the past. God began to give me a clear understanding of the verses that I had been troubled over. He also began to show me new verses on a regular basis that further helped me to prove that the "rapture" will occur at the "last (7th) trumpet" at the end of the Great Tribulation.
Now I would like to share the passages that I believe God has used to remove all doubt from my heart and mind. Most are very easy to understand. The first thing we all must remember is that if a person is born-again, then they have God's Holy Spirit living in them. The second thing is if they do not have unconfessed sin in their life, and they are being obedient, to God's word and to the leading of His Spirit then they can understand scripture, whether they are a bible scholar or not. You don't need commentaries to understand the scriptures, they may be helpful, but we can understand God's word on our own and we are commanded to KNOW HIS WORD.
The passage I would like to begin with was the one that really began to make it all fall into place for me. I Cor. 15:51-52 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Notice the phrase "at the last trumpet", what does it mean? I have had men of God, far, far wiser than I, tell me that they had never even noticed that it said last trumpet. I've also had a very wise, well respected pastor tell me that he had never really considered it. Most people have never considered what it means. I believe that the only reasonable answer is that it refers to the last trumpet in the book of Revelation, the seventh trumpet. The seventh trumpet is blown right before the second coming of Christ, right before the beginning of the 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ begins. To further explore whether it could be the seventh or last trumpet of Revelation that I Cor. 15:51-52 is referring to, let's look at the next two passages. These are the two passages in Revelation that coincide with the end of the tribulation and the beginning of the 1,000 year reign of Christ.
Rev. 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 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 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. 19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. This is the end of the tribulation when Christ's Kingdom is set up on the earth. Notice that it says that it is the time for the "dead to be judged", and time for "reward" to be given to God's servants the prophets (NASB says "Thy bond-servants the prophets"). It then says "saints" and those that fear the Lord, "small and great". It is too much for someone to convince me that this is referring to only those who just happen to get saved after the church is raptured out. This passage is ALL saints from Adam to you and I, and beyond getting their reward.
Now let's look at the other passage in Rev. that is referring to the beginning of the reign of Christ, just from a little different angle. Rev. 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. Vs. 4 is clearly speaking of those martyred during the tribulation, and then the 2nd half of vs. 5 says "This is the first resurrection." If this resurrection at the end of the tribulation is the first resurrection, then how could it be 7 years earlier when the pre-tribulation teaching dispensationalists say that the rapture occurs. Let us remember what I Thes. 4:13-17 says: 13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. It states that the dead in Christ shall rise first. That is a resurrection (a lot of people) and Rev. 20:5b says that when the martyred, tribulation saints are resurrected that it is the "first resurrection" If that is the "first resurrection" then the rapture has to happen a split second later, at the END of the tribulation! I knew that some would say "well maybe it isn't called a resurrection" and I searched to see if I could prove that it would be called a resurrection. Look at the passage in John when Jesus raised Lazurus from the dead. I didn't know why God brought this to my attention, but I looked it up. When I found the passage my heart leaped inside me, I believe that this passage proves that when the dead in Christ rise before the resurrection, it is called a resurrection! Please look with me at what Martha says, and Jesus doesn't correct her. John 11:20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the RESURRECTION at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. So according to Rev. 20:5 the first resurrection is the one when those martyred during the Great Tribulation are resurrected and then we which are alive will be caught up in the air with Christ. This is commonly called the "rapture".
Now let's look at II Thes. 2: 1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; This very important passage proves several things; first is that the "coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I believe this is the second coming) and the "gathering together unto him" is the same event. In verse 1 it says both phrases as if they are 1 event. In verse 3 it says "that day" they both happen in the same day not 7 years apart! The second thing these verses prove is that there will be "a falling away first" and that the anti-christ will be revealed prior to the rapture! Some may try to say that "falling away" speaks of unbelievers turning away from God. I say that is impossible, God never refers to unbelievers as anything but unbelievers, how can someone who is already serving satan, who knows not Christ, turn away? He is already turned away.
If you are, like I was at first, skeptical about the word "coming" in verse 1 being in reference to the 2nd coming and not the rapture, I refer to Strong's Concordance. According to Strong's the word coming in II Thes. 2:1 is #3952 which comes from the Greek word parousia. The definition is: a being near, i.e. advent (often, return; specific of Christ to punish Jerusalem, or finally the wicked); (by implication) physical aspect; coming, presence. This is a word in the Greek that implies a physical presence, not up in the clouds, it also refers to judgment of Jerusalem or the wicked. This is the second coming not something that they say is 7 years before!
Now I would like to discuss a passage, that, contains one of the most abused and misquoted phrases in the bible. Let's look at I Thes. 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. (I think Paul is basically saying "I've explained this before, and you should understand it") 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. (People quote the phrase, "thief in the night", as referring to the rapture and they believe that the rapture is at the beginning of the tribulation, while they believe "the day of the Lord" is at least near the end of the tribulation. Verse 2 proves that the phrase, at least in this verse is in reference to "the day of the Lord", not the rapture.
As I stated before I don't accept the belief that we are raptured at the beginning, I believe the scriptures prove over and over again that, 1) the dead in christ are resurrected, 2) we are gathered to him/caught up/raptured up to be with Christ in the air 3) we then all return with, Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah to The Mount of Olives as it is split from east to west, Zech.14:4, to watch the spectacular event as Christ destroys all the nations armies that are arrayed against Jerusalem.
Based on this, I do believe that the phrase "thief in the night" is aimed at the event of the "rapture", but not as most apply it. Most people, books, etc. say or infer that Christ comes as a "thief" to His bride, let's look at verse 3 - 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. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Verse 4 & 5 tells us that since we are "not of darkness" and "not in darkness" so "that day" should not "overtake you as a thief". We will not know the exact time, but we are not meant to be surprised by any event to do with end-times. Matt. 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. I have had people tell me that this verse means that no one will ever know the week, month, year or anything and base it on this verse. Be careful, Jesus says: "day or the hour". Don't forget Rev. 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. This doesn't directly apply to Matt. 24, but the principle sure does! Now look at the next 3 verses, Matt. 24:37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 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, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. I don't believe that Noah and his family were surprised when it started to rain. God told them to go into the ark and He closed the door 7 days before it started raining! It was the world, the lost, who were taken by surprise. Just as it will be when the time of God's Judgment (the day of the Lord), comes. I will address Matt. 24 more later.
I would like to pause here and point back to verse 3, "when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them", one thing, of many, that was ignored by the "christian" media, and 99% of the churches in this country in regard to the recent elections in Israel is that: Prime Minister Netanyahu's campaign slogan, during the election was "Safety and Peace". Former Prime Minister, Shimon Perez, the looser in Israel's election, (thank God! -we are commanded in the bible to pray for the peace of Jerusalem) had a very similar slogan, it was "peace and safety". According to Strong's Concordance the Greek word that is translated "safety" is #803, "asphaleia", and it comes from the word "asphales" #804 which means "security". It sure seems to me that "they" are saying "peace and safety"! At times it seems like every other word out of Bill Clinton's mouth is "peace", but there is no peace! Is. 57:21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. Ezek. 13:10 b. Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace;.
Now if we could touch on a few other points in I Thes. chap. 5. I Thes. 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. These verses are contrasting those that are of the light vs. those that are of darkness. Verse 4 clearly ties those who are of the darkness being taken as a thief in the night,yet we are not of darkness, but of the light.
Now look at a very significant verse in the position of most pre-trib rapture teachers. I Thes. 5: 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, this use of the word "wrath" is #3709, orge, it is only used as far as I can tell, as describing God's Wrath, not the wrath of men. It doesn't mean or refer to trials, tribulation, or persecution at the hands of satan. I believe that there is a clear difference between the trials and tribulations brought on believers by satan, and God's Judgments, which come at the end of the Great Tribulation. We are to expect to be persecuted by satan, John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. Rev. 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
Daniel was not appointed unto wrath, but God didn't keep him from the lions den, he kept him safe through, and inspite of, the lion's den. It says that "God sent His angel and shut the lion's mouths" Dan. 6:22. Daniel had "no injury" because he "trusted God". Consider Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they didn't even smell like smoke Dan. 3: 27, God protected them in the fire, He did not rescue them from the fire! If we look at the plagues that God brought on Egypt in Exodus, they didn't touch the Israelites, only Egypt. Please consider the miracle of God concerning the light, God brought darkness on Egypt yet Israel had light. Have you ever tried to stop light? It spreads on its own, even a little light permeates the darkness. Keep in mind though, when the angel of death came through, the Israelites were required to be obedient, if they didn't put the blood of the lamb over the door, their first born would have died, as well as their first born livestock.
Now please consider with me one fact, NO WHERE in the Gospels does it even hint that we are taken out BEFORE the tribulation. In other words in all of Jesus' words and teachings, we find no statement or hint that we should expect a "secret", rescue from the Great Tribulation! I challenge any and all to prove this to be false. In fact, if we look at Jesus' words it says the opposite. Look at Matt. 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Is the end the end or what? Some would try to say that this means the end of this time before the tribulation, or this dispensation, well some try to make anything say anything they would like! Look at these next verses. Matt. 24 vs.3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? vs.6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. vs.13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. vs.14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. Please don't be confused by what we have been taught by men, that may or may not be right. Look at Jesus' words. The Greek word in all of these verses is the same word, # 5056, telos, and it is a word relating to the END, not the end of a dispensation.
Please look with me at a passage that I feel has the keys to understanding the sequence of events (in the last days) as they pertain to us. I also believe that this passage will instruct us, from Jesus Christ's own words, what we should expect, as well as what actions we should take in preparation for what He called the greatest tribulation anyone would ever face, Matt, 24:21.
Matt. 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Why would Christ say: "And ye shall hear of wars and ..." since there were going to be no christians going from the new testament era into the Great Tribulation, Jesus is talking to us who are likely to need to TAKE HEED to these instructions! 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (NASB says various places) 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. Please explain to me why Jesus would say this verse if all "new testament christians" would be gone prior to this occurring? Does this sound like we are out of here before this? 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Remember what Corrie tin Boom said, she believed that this verse was referring to the pre-trib teaching.12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. 15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Why, if all Christians are gone, does Jesus continue to say, to his diciples, "ye and you", when He is speaking directly to his disciples? Brothers and sisters, it is time that we turn on our brains and use some common sense and discernment! God is a God of logic and reason, if you don't think so read the book of Numbers. The prophecy or end times "experts" take passages and stretch, manipulate, and explain away obvious details in a way that defies all logic and common sense. 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: This verse tells me at least two things, 1) people that study the bible and observe what it says, christians, most likely, should be on the alert for "these things" that Jesus is teaching to His disciples, to occur. (If there was to be a secret rapture of all believers, before these things were to occur, then why would Jesus waste His words in Matt. 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13) 2) If them which be in Judaea are to flee from "obvious danger" then common sense would tell me that there very well could be a time that we are to flee as well. 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: Here we have somone that Jesus commands to pray. This prayer is very definitely a prayer that must occur ahead of time, not last minute. Can any of you give me any example of Jesus every telling a non-believer to pray, in such a manner as this. I contend that Jesus is telling christians to look for what He is warning us of, and begin to pray for wisdom immediately. So that when we see these things we would be lead by God to respond properly. 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Pre-trib rapture teachers say that the "church" is not present after Revelation chapter 3, well who is this speaking of? It looks to me like the elect are still here on earth and that the days have to be shortened for the elect's sake. Some would say that this word translated elect refers to the 144,000 "jews" who are sealed in Rev. chapter 7 and 14. I don't buy it, the word in the Greek is eklektos, #1588 in Strong's. This is the same word as in 2 Tim 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is obviously referring to believers, and I contend that Matt. 24:22 is speaking of believers as well. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. How could He tell us BEFORE if the rapture comes before these things occur? 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. I believe that Jesus is warning us in this verse not to believe anyone who tells us that He will come in a "secret rapture"! 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. The lightning flashes in the east and you still see it in the west. That is basically what Jesus is saying. He is saying that that is how His coming will be, NO SECRET! 28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. I say that this is the rapture! 32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Brothers and sisters I beg you, please pay attention to the times we are in, Jesus, our Savior said back in verse 6: And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, verses 7-9 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the begin-ning of sorrows. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. Now please look back at verse 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. I believe with all my heart it is at the doors!
Crop shortages are at all time highs in THIS COUNTRY and they are still selling grain to Russia and China, ON CREDIT! Earthquakes and volcanoes are at levels never before reached. Famines are escalating constantly. I have a Reuters newswire telling of how in North Korea, they won't bury their dead until after the bodies peutrify because people dig them up for food! A friend of mine, who publishes a newsletter, recently told me that there is over 1,000 active volcanoes in the world today. (most are on the ocean floor) One week in the last couple months I recall there being 3 midrange earthquakes on our west coast, in one week. One other week I remember there was 2 major quakes in 2 consecutive days, one in Iran and one in Japan. In the last few years there have been well over one million christians slaughtered in The Sudan. I have talked to two different men here in Omaha, who fled Sudan to the US because of religious persecution. Right now in the US we have less than a 35 day supply of grain. Wheat reserves are at an all time low. Soybean reserves are at a 20+ year low. Corn reserves are at 40 - 50 year lows. Its at the door! 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Jesus didn't say that no man would know the season, He said " the day or the hour" 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 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, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. We are commanded to watch, this proves to me that Jesus knew that we would not know the day or the hour, but we could recognize the times and therefore we were to watch. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Please read this verse again, meat would be better translated food. 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; Is this different than saying: "we can't know when He is coming it could be a thousand years from now"? That is what I hear from most christians, total complacency! 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. I would beg you all to read Luke 21 and Mark 13 which is the parellel passages to this chapter in Matthew. Please look with me at Luke 21:34-36 34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. To me verse 36 is one of the most encouraging in the bible in reference to end-times. We have no need to fear, God will sustain us! Some might disagree with me when I say: I believe one thing is required of us though! OBEDIENCE! I Sam.15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. ( all the serving we can ever do is not as good as just obeying God) 23 For rebellion (disobedience) is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
Please look with me, at the parable of the wheat and the tares which Jesus told to the multitudes and then explained to his disciples. Mat. 13:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. Now the parable is explained by Jesus. Mat. 13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. I am not fit to explain this any further Jesus has done that already, just read what He says and let God's Spirit teach you!
Most pre-trib rapture believing teachers, pastors, and authors say that 2 Thes. 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. (NASB), teaches that the Holy Spirit will be taken "out of the way".This, they say, is the rapture occurring, and proof that the rapture is before the tribulation. The church couldn't be in the world without God's Holy Spirit! On this I agree, Jesus said "I will never leave you or forsake you". Jesus does not live in our hearts, personally, Psalm 110:1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. He is sitting at the right hand of God. He lives in our hearts in the form of God's Holy Spirit, and that Spirit will never leave us or forsake us. I have believed, for some time, that this verse was not referring to the Holy Spirit. I didn't have proof, I just believed that it wasn't the Holy Spirit.
Please look with me at 3 points, through which I address this issue as I see it. 1) We have always been taught that there would be many saved during the Great Tribulation. I believe there will be. If the Holy Spirit is removed from the world, like we are taught, then how would anyone get saved, without the convicting power of the Holy Spirit? 2) Jude verse 9, Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. I think this verse is expressing a principle of relying on God's power, and letting Him rebuke satan not our own power, even if we are Michael the archangel. Yes lucifer was the ranking archangel until he rebelled, but I don't believe that a rebelling satan is more powerful than a God-serving archangel. If we read the book of Revelation it is clear that the angels have power over the powers, and the prince of darkness. Dan.12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. New American Standard says "...Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress..." This verse is talking about the end. Verse 2 speaks of the resurrection of the dead. It says in verse 1 that Michael " who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise." I don't claim to be a bible scholar. But I don't think you have to be a rocket scientist to see that Michael is what is refered to in 2Thes. 2:7. 3) Please look at the verse, 2 Thes. 2:7, "he" IS NOT CAPITALIZED! Every other verse that refers to the Holy Spirit ,that I have found is capitalized, even when Jesus calls Him a Helper in John 14:26, "Helper" and "He" are both capitalized! Therefore the translators of the King James version and the New American Standard Bible apparantly didn't think that this was in reference to God's Holy Spirit!
Brothers and Sisters, please I ask you to read your bible, look at these verses, take what I have said to God in prayer. Go ahead try to prove me wrong, but don't just ignore it and do nothing. As I am finally finishing this paper, the Nimitz air craft carrier group was heading for the Persian Gulf at "emergency speed". I also heard that the U.S. government has ordered the oil wells in TX and OK etc. that were capped during the Reagan and Bush years to be opened up. This indicates that they believe war in the Middle East is immenant!
IT'S AT THE DOOR!
Fear Not! Only be strong, be very strong and of good courage. Look up for your redemption draweth neigh. He will soon pour out His Spirit and seal His bondservants. Rejoice in the L-rd, again I say rejoice! Soon we will see the fulfillment of Isaiah 17 and Amos 1.