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The Prophet's Crucible
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The Rapture

When Jesus Takes Us Out----
Sept 6, 2003
 
     The scriptures tell of a time in the future when Jesus Christ will return for his people, and remove them from Earth.  The most quoted verses in this teaching are in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: "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, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, and so shall we ever be with the Lord." ~ This is what most Christians refer to as "The Rapture", or, the gathering or taking of the believers out of this world. 
 

   Another portion of scripture commonly quoted is 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: "Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep (die) 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."

 

   Many churches teach that this event will occur prior to the "Great Tribulation", which is going to be a 7-year period of great oppression on Earth under a dictator known as the Antichrist.  The prophet Daniel speaks of Antichrist in detail.  Jesus discusses The Great Tribulation in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 17 and 21.  Revelation gives details of events during The Tribulation.  Several other Old Testament prophets make mention of events that will happen during this time.

 

   What I hope to reveal in this message is that the Bible does not teach that Jesus will take the church (the believers) before The Tribulation, but rather, that He takes them at some point during The Tribulation- most likely nearer to the end of the 7 year period.  We will learn from Gods own Word why this is so.  We will let the Holy Scriptures show us The Truth.

 

   Matthew 24 is a record of Jesus message about His second coming.  After Talking about events that will transpire on Earth, including The Tribulation period (verse 21), Jesus says this: "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.  And THEN (Notice: then, after, - not before...) 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.  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 the heaven to the other."-(Matthew 24:29-31).

 

     In Matthew 24 also, verses 48-51 are significant.  There are many Christians teaching "Pre-Tribulation Rapture"- assuring their congregations that they don't have to worry about Antichrist or oppression under his dictatorship because Jesus will supposedly take them away before any of that ever happens.  Is this error giving people a false sense of security?  Imagine what will happen when suddenly an evil totalitarian regime comes into power and persecutes the church - and many of these churches have been led to believe they wouldn't be here to witness any of this!

 

   "But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, my Lord delayed his coming, and shall begin to smite his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, 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, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

 

   This might be EXACTLY what some Christians would say once they realize Jesus did not come before the tribulation as they had been led to believe: "The Lord is delaying his coming!"  And if some of them suddenly find themselves in the Tribulation, oppressed by Antichrists regime, they may very well begin to persecute their "fellow servants", those believers who had not held to their teachings, but had been prepared to endure Tribulation.  Verse 50 states plainly the Lord of that servant shall come in a day he is NOT expected.  So it is with the error of teaching a pre-Tribulation Rapture, which is a doctrine of escapism not found anywhere in the Bible.

 

   2 Thessalonians 2 is also important to look at. It makes it clear "That Day" shall NOT COME until AFTER  the man of sin (Antichrist) is revealed (verse 3) What "Day" is it talking about?  Verse 1: "The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto him." It was commonly being taught by some false teachers at that time that Jesus had already come for his people. Paul was assuring them this had not yet happened, and would not happen until after Antichrist was revealed.

 

   It would be wise to pinpoint where exactly this "Rapture" or gathering of the church to Jesus is in Revelation. We find it in Revelation 14.  Yet so many churches have taught that the rapture is described in Revelation 4:1, when John sees a door open in heaven and he is told to "come up hither." This is most certainly NOT the Rapture of the church.  The door in heaven in Revelation 4:1 is simply a portal through which John himself is taken in order to receive the visions of the Revelation!

 

  I have seen this verse (Revelation 4:1) taught in Bible College and in numerous denominations to be the time of the rapture in Revelation.  I wonder if many of those who teach such error have ever had such an experience in The Spirit? How many visions of heavenly things have they had? Have they ever truly heard audible sounds from heaven, or been taken up in their spirit through a portal into another realm? Or are they book educated only?  It is amazing that so many teachers are teaching such error, as the one claiming Revelation 4:1 is talking about Jesus taking his church in The Rapture!

 

   These Teachers claim because Revelation 4:1 mentions a voice as it were of a trumpet, that this is the same as the "Trump of God" in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:52.  It is interesting the Revelation Trumpet is actually a VOICE, whereas in 1 Thessalonians 4, the "Voice" is of the Archangel, and the trumpet of God is separate from this.  Obviously Revelation 4:1 is a personal call to John to come up into the Spirit realm, and NOT anything to do with the church being caught up to meet Jesus in the air!

    

   The sound of the trumpet John heard is also the same as he heard in Revelation 1:10.  Trumpets are also sounded by Angels in revelation 8:13 and 9:14. Trying to tie in the trumpet in Revelation 4:1 to the trump of God at the Rapture is pure conjecture.

 

  Revelation 14:14-16 describes the "Rapture" in its proper place - for here Jesus comes upon a cloud, exactly the same way scripture says he could. (See Matthew 24:30, 26:64, Luke 21:27, Acts 1:9-11, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Revelation 1:7): "And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.  And another angel came out of the Temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, thrust in thy sickle and reap, for the time has come for thee to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.  And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth and the earth was reaped."

 

   There are some interesting things to observe here.  First is that the Angel proclaims with the cry of a loud voice, which is also described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, where the Lord descends with a shout and the voice of the Archangel.  Also, there are 4 angels mentioned in Revelation 14, (verses 6, 8, 9, and 15) which would correspond with the gathering by the angels from the 4 winds in Matthew 24:31.  Zechariah makes mention of "Four Spirits of the Heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth" in Zechariah 6:1-8.

 

    It is after this event, the reaping of the harvest of the earth, that the wicked are judged.  This is described in Revelation 14:17-20 where another angel, which had power over fire calls for the "vine of the earth" to be cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God.  Then, after this, in Revelation 15, do we find the 7 Angels having the 7 last plagues, "For in them is filled up the wrath of God". These 7 angels carry 7 golden vials full of the wrath of God.  THIS is Gods wrath.  Prior to that the earth is reeling under the wrath of the Antichrist, who is possessed by the Devil..."For the Devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." (Revelation 12:12) - But this is NOT  the wrath of God himself.

 

   One of the Pre-Tribulation teachers favorite verses used to promote the erroneous pre-Tribulation rapture is 1 Thessalonians 5:9, which says, "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." They claim this means Jesus will rescue us from the entire Tribulation, somehow concluding that the Tribulation itself is the wrath of God.  Where they come up with such teachings, only God knows, but it surely is not what Jesus taught. Nowhere in the Bible is such a thing found!  We WILL certainly escape Gods wrath at the end of the Tribulation, and in his judgment, if we truly know God, but that occurs after the Antichrist has taken control of Earth.

 

   In the Parable of The Wheat and Tares (Matthew 13:24-30 and 36- 43) Jesus compares the wheat to the children of the kingdom, and the Tares to the children of the wicked one. (Verse 38) Jesus says "Let both grow together until the harvest" (verse 30) and in Revelation 14 he describes this harvest.  It takes place at "the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels" (verse 39).

 

   We must also remember Revelation chapters 4-14 describe events in general, whereas chapters 15-18 describe some of the same events in detail. For instance, the fall of Babylon (The destruction of the U.S. by the European Kingdom) is referred to briefly in Revelation 14:8, but described in detail in chapters 17-18. Then chapter 19, to the end of Revelation, describe the coming of Jesus with His saints (redeemed souls) in power to destroy Antichrists Kingdom and to take authority as king of the Earth for all eternity.

 

   Luke 21:28 describes how we should start looking up, "when these things begin to come to pass"- telling us that the events of the Tribulation have already begun at the time we are to start looking up for Jesus coming to rescue us.  Not before, but after some of the events of the Tribulation start to take place.

 

   Luke 21:36 is yet one more verse used by Pre- Tribulation teachers to promote their doctrine; "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." On the surface this might appear to support a pre-Tribulation Rapture, but what does it really mean?  If it really meant "escape" in the sense of being taken out of the Earth, then Luke would be contradicting what he had just written in the previous several verses, as well as what Matthew and Mark wrote. Instead, the "escape" Luke refers to means escaping the wrath or judgment of God, escaping the consequences of unbelief, not allowing ones self to succumb to the power of Antichrist - but this does not mean escaping the entire 7 year Tribulation.

 

   Daniel states the Antichrist will "wear out the saints of the Most High." (Daniel 7:25) Revelation 14:13 says "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth---" clearly there are believers on earth during the Tribulation. Of course the Pre - Tribulation teaching will tell us that  the apostate church and unbelievers will somehow get saved after The Rapture,  and somehow endure extreme persecution during the Tribulation- even though these people never truly knew God, have no experience at all with testing and trials of faith, and have no Spirit filled experienced teachers to guide them!

 

  Hmm, now that sounds a little far out there, especially when the Bible makes absolutely no mention of a "Secret" Pre-Tribulation Rapture of all Spirit filled Christians, followed by the miraculous salvation of numerous unbelievers that somehow are able to endure the worst oppression ever upon the face of this Earth!

 

  To further confuse matters, the Teachers of error refer to 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 which says, "And now ye know what with oldeth that he might be reveled in his time.   For the mystery of iniquity doth already work, only he who now letteth, (meaning "Restrains" or "holds back") will let (restrain) until he be taken out of the way." They claim this refers to either the church herself, or the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church.

 

  Here I'm going to make a serious indictment. The last days church is too weak and morally bankrupt to withhold anything! Jesus referred to this conduction when he addressed the Laodician church in Revelation 3:14-22. Not all churches fall under this indictment, but a large number do, unfortunately. Furthermore, the presence of the church in history, or the practice of Judaism in the Temple before Christ never withheld dictators and oppressors from dominating society.

 

  The church did not prevent Nero Caeser, nor did it stop Adolph Hitler from taking power.  Nor did it withhold Joseph Stalin and his totalitarian Communism.  It is spiritual blindness to even suggest the church is what is withholding Antichrist! Even the American President in 1991, supposedly a Christian man, was preaching a "New World Order"- the very type of thing that Antichrist will proclaim with his One World government under the guise of United Nations, or some other union of the World.

 

  The point is, 2 Thessalonians 2: 6-7 cannot mean the church or Holy Spirit. I believe it refers to the restraining hand of God himself, perhaps sentinel angels that withhold until the precise time. To speculate, it could even refer to certain powerful nations that would have to be removed before a one-world government was possible.  Soviet Russia was one example, the United States is another.  But this is just speculation.  I believe it refers to Gods restraining influence---since these nations were not in existence at the time Paul wrote his second letter to the Thessalonians.

 

   In the Parable of the 10 Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) There is a cry at "midnight" that the bridegroom (symbolic of Jesus) is coming.  This Word "midnight" actually comes from 2 Greek words that mean, "The middle of the night or evening."- Sometime during the night, and not specifically midnight as in 12 oclock.

  "Night" can refer to the Tribulation period:" In that night there shall be two in one bed, the one shall be taken, the other left." (Luke 17:24) "For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

 

   The Tribulation period will be a time of great darkness and oppression on earth.  It is something all Spirit led people should be prepared for.  We should live as if Jesus would come this very day, but at the same time strengthen ourselves in The Holy Spirit and purity our hearts by faith.  The church has become desensitized and cold to things of God.  It's time to get serious, because only those who overcome will be the ones to meet the Lord. "And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony---" (Revelation 13:11)

 

   "Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning, lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping"- (Mark 13:35-36).