- Religion and Philosophy
The Rapture - Part 6 of 6 - The Final Chapter
If you have not yet read the parts 1-5, please click on the applicable links below:
The Final Chapter
Another import statement Paul makes is to tell us, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
The important thing to remember, as stated previously, is that we are not appointed to wrath. He goes on to tell us we should comfort and edify one another. I believe that this has multiple meanings. Since he is talking about God not appointing us to wrath, I believe He wants us to comfort and edify others by teaching them the value of expecting and anticipating His return and our being saved from His wrath. God does not want us to worry about His wrath because as Christians, we are not appointed to it. He wants us to be happy that we are not appointed to it and that we will be with Him forever when he gathers us from the four corners of the Earth.
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 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. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. II Thessalonians 2:1-18 (MKJV)
There is some speculation about this passage, but I believe what Paul is telling us here is that believers should look for Christ’s return, but not fear it, or listen to others who are preaching fear and that the day is here. He wants us to follow the signs and especially when the Day is close because He tells the believers that there will be a “falling away” first. Paul uses the Greek word “Apostasia”, from which the translators derived the term “falling away”. From the term “Apostasia” we get the word “Apostasy”. Some Bibles use the word “Apostasy” rather than “Falling Away”
I believe the term “Apostasy” is a more accurate translation . In fact, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, defines the word “Apostasy” as an abandonment of a previous loyalty or a renunciation of a religious faith. That is pretty strong and straight forward to me. So this “Apostasy”, ultimately means that many former Christians will abandon the faith. We already see that happening today. Churches are being sold off due to lack of patronage. Many modern Christian churches are twisted the Truth or watering it down in order to please the ears of those who no longer want to endure the inconvenience of Christian doctrine.
Unfortunately, too many preachers are changing the Word of God to fit their desires. They choose the portions of Christianity that they like, which fit their lifestyle and discard the portions that they don’t like, especially if it condemns their sinful behavior or the sinful behavior of their parishioners. Others just teach on the good things that God can do for you, but fail to teach the message of the Cross. The neglect teaching about repentance, suffering, trials or Hell. In fact, Hell is mentioned more times in the Gospels than Heaven is. It must be pretty important since Jesus, Himself spoke more about Hell than He did about Heaven. I believe, the point Paul is trying to make here is that this “Apostasy” or “Falling Away” immediately precedes “The Rapture”.
Paul goes on to tell us that right now there is a restraint of evil. I believe this is because the Holy Spirit works through believers (and they are likely in the hundred of millions strong) to keep evil restrained. He then goes on to say that the One who restrains (the Holy Spirit working through the believers) the evil will be taken out of the way and then the Lawless One (the anti-Christ mentioned in Daniel and Revelation) will be revealed. If there is a rapture, the Spirit filled believers will no longer be there to restrain the evil and evil will essentially have full reign to take control of the people left behind through lies, deception and even signs and wonders.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:11-13 (KJV)
The key phrase that I’d like to point out is “that blessed hope”. The reason I find this important is that it is listed separately from the glorious appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ
Let’s step back in time, to our school years to recall the proper English use of a comma and the conjunction “and”. Generally, when something is separated by a comma, it can mean that the subjects separated by the comma are the same thing as in the phrase, “Jack was proud, without humility.” It can also mean that the subjects are related, but not exactly the same as in the phrase, “Jill decided to devout her time to the poor, the hungry, the helpless, and the needy”. It can even mean that the subjects are in addition to, as with the conjunction “and”, as in the phrase, “David panned the great expanse of landscape from his balcony and was taken back with the majestic mountains, the snaking river, and the waving grassy plateaus.”
The conjunction, “and” is almost always used as a separation between more than one subject. In-other-words, a phrase like, “I feel tired and sleepy.” is an awkward sentence because we are using the conjunction to combine words that mean the exact same thing, but if we change the phrase to, “I feel tired and out of energy.” the phrase works because, although the subjects are related, they do not mean the same thing.
The reason I find the proper use of the comma, and the conjunction “and” important, is because I believe the use of the conjunction “and” is the key to determining the true meaning of this scripture. Since “and” is not normally found in English, or in the Bible, linking two of the exact same subjects together, the phrase, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” likely suggests that “that blessed hope” and “the glorious appearing of the great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” that these are two separate things. Although they may be related, they are not the exact same thing so I believe it would be safe to say that there are two separate events that are going to happen. We know for certain that there is going to be a Glorious appearing of our Lord because it is very specific, but what is the other event, “that blessed hope”?
I believe that Paul is referring to our meeting with Jesus Christ when He comes back for us. Here are two examples in scripture:
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy. I Thessalonians 2:19-20 (MKJV)
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. I John 3:1-3 (MKJV)
Does this refer to a rapture? Not specifically, if there was no support for a rapture, but I believe I have substantiated a case to support the likelihood of a rapture, so it would be logical to conclude that “that blessed hope” is referring to the point at which we have been anticipating, being caught up to meet the Lord in the air, to be with Him forever.
The important point to take away from this is that “that blessed hope” that Paul is speaking about is a separate event from “the glorious appearing” and because of the previous evidence supporting a rapture, “that blessed hope” may be referring to just that. Although some Bibles translate the scripture with a comma rather than the conjunction “and”, this may very well be a translation error. After reviewing the original Greek scripture, I found a conjunction, “Kai” (kahee); meaning “and, also, even, indeed, but” in the sentence structure, which suggests the separate subjects. To leave it out would be a mistranslation, which ultimately, changes the meaning of the sentence.
4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. 10This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. II Peter 2:4-9 (NIV)
Of all of the scriptures that I have found and researched, I believe this one brings home the point better and more direct than all of the others. Peter tells us that God judged the ungodly for their wickedness in the days of Noah, as well as on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah during the time of Abraham and Lot. In both cases, Peter mentions how God saves the righteous (Noah and his family, as well as Lot and his family) before pouring out his judgment on the ungodly. He then goes on to tell us that, “the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.” Peter then tells us not to worry about suffering the punishment reserved for the wicked because God will deliver the godly out of trials (emphasis mine).
In many passages the believers are told they will be kept from or will be delivered out of God’s wrath appointed for the wicked. Scripture never once says that God will keep us “through” His wrath, it says “from” His wrath. That is a big difference. In the many scriptures that I have previously listed, there is an explanation of how God saves his Elect (ie: Noah & Lot and their families) by removing them from His wrath, and then pouring out His wrath on the wicked.
The key thing to take out of this is that the phrase “keep you from” is not the same as “keep you through”. Furthermore, “ Out of” is not the same as “through” either. In all my research, using several different editions of the Bible, and separate scriptures, I have yet to find one that says “through” wrath or “through” trials or tribulation. In almost all of the scriptures, if we refer back the original Greek text, the word “ek” is used, which means: “out of, from, by, away from”
I believe the use of the Greek word, “ek” is significant in order to fully understand that although the elect may suffer and have to go through trials and temptations on Earth, God does not want the elect to suffer. His wrath is appointed to those who are under his judgment, the wicked, the ungodly, and the unsaved and therefore His elect will be saved from it. Therefore, a “rapture” seems highly plausible and likely since the pain and suffering that those left on Earth will have to endure will overwhelm entire geographic areas. How would a believer be able to avoid a nuclear explosion meant for non-believers. Opponents to “The Rapture” would say that believers would be supernaturally protected, but the trouble I have with that is that they would have to see the immense suffering around them. They would have to sit around and watch as their friends and family have to suffer and perish. God did not do that to Noah and his family, nor did he do that to Lot and his family, although Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife brought judgment onto herself. The believers in Christ have been made righteous by his blood, so like the righteous in the past (Noah and Lot), the believers in Christ will be saved from having to endure the Lord’s wrath and any pain and suffering associated with it.
"Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." ' Revelation 3:10-13
This time John tells the believers that because they have persevered, God will keep them from the hour of trial (emphasis mine). He tells us to not let anyone take our crown. Some believe this crown is a crown that is presented to us for patiently waiting and expecting and watching for His return. This is speculative and there is no specific reference to that crown being rewarded for waiting and watching. When there is evidence to support an interpretation, I see no reason to call it speculative, but in this case, the crown spoken of is not specifically defined. It does follow the mention of believers being kept from the hour of trial. I don’t believe we should automatically assume that we earn a crown for simply believing in “The Rapture”. It can’t be ruled out, but it may just be speaking of the crowns that we are to lay at the feet of Jesus. How do we earn this crown? I believe that some things are a mystery and we will find out when God wants us to know. Crowns are spoken of many times throughout scripture, but I believe that this crown is too speculative to interpret perfectly.
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this." Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. Revelation 4:1-2 (MKJV)
This last passage of scripture in the New Testament, in reference to “The Rapture”, can be interpreted literally, but may have a prophetic meaning as well. John is sitting in a cave on the Island of Patmos being given a Revelation by the Lord. Jesus has given John messages to be given to the seven churches of Asia Minor. John then hears a voice, which sounds like a trumpet and then he is told, “Come up here.” Suddenly, John is in the Spirit and in Heaven, to be shown what happens immediately after. When we read further in Revelation, "The Great Tribulation” is being revealed to John.
Many “Rapture” supporters believe that what is happening to John, is a foreshadowing of “The Rapture”. A voice like a trumpet is heard. Suddenly John is snatched (raptured) away to Heaven and immediately after, “The Great Tribulation” occurs. It is very interesting that this scripture follows the same sequence of events that supporters of “The Pre-Tribulation Rapture” believe. It is certainly coincidental and I happen to believe that what happens to John (Rapture) as it occurs in Revelation chapter 4 is pre-type of what will happen to the "Elect", especially since the "Great Tribulation" occurs shortly thereafter. My reasoning for this is simple.
When I look at all of the evidence in scripture that supports “The Rapture”, it seems more reasonable to suggest that God will be pretty consistent in how He protects us from His wrath. Take the story of Noah. Noah is told by God to build an ark and to expect a catastrophic global flood. He listens to God and builds the ark and the flood comes. God waited until Noah finished the ark. Ultimately, God saves Noah and his family from the flood. The flood destroys all the rest of mankind, the rebellious.
Then we have the story of Lot. God sends Angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. They warn Lot and tell him to leave the area and he does. The Angels destroy the cities of the plain along with all the rebellious people.
Jesus tells us in Matthew that the angels will be sent out to gather “The Elect” from the four corners of the Earth. He the goes on to remind us of the stories of Noah and Lot and then tells them the story of the two men working in the field and of the two women grinding in the mill and how one is taken and the other left behind. In Luke he describes it in much the same way. God saves his “Elect”, and then pours out his judgments on the wicked who are left.
I believe I have made a strong case for “The Rapture based on several New Testament Scriptures. Paul, Peter, John, and Jesus Himself all tell us that God will save believers from His wrath. It is a recurring theme and one that leads me to believe in his “Blessed Hope”
But what about the Old Testament? Is there scriptural evidence to support “The Rapture”? The answer is a resounding yes, but, some theologians, scholars and everyday people who study the Bible still refute the idea of a “Rapture” because they have not found proof of it in the Old Testament. The evidence is there, but is not easy to spot. I have to admit, at first, I skipped right over it without noticing it was there.
Dr. Chuck Missler wrote an article called, A Concluding Review: The Harpazo, on his website, WWW.KHouse.org. http://www.khouse.org/articles/2003/451/ Dr. Missler and other’s research surprisingly turned up a few passages in the Old Testament that do hint to the possibility of a rapture. I have added them below in the order that they are found in the Old Testament:
For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. -Psalm 27:5
What is the time of trouble? Could he be alluding to “The Great Tribulation”, “Time of Jacob’s Trouble”? (“Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob's trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.” -Jeremiah 30:7). Who is hiding who and where? “His Pavillion, the secret of his tabernacle, setting us upon a rock” I believe this to mean that God will be hiding us in Heaven with Him or at least some paradise where we will wait out the Great Tribulation.
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. -Isaiah 26:19-21
This scripture is pretty straightforward. God is telling His people to come to His chambers so He can hide them and keep them from the indignation and punishment appointed to the inhabitants of the earth. The phrase, “Inhabitants of the earth” is used several times in the Bible, especially when it regards to prophecy. This phrase is commonly used to refer to earthly people, the hell bound, the unsaved, the ungodly, the unrepentant sinners, ultimately, the people appointed to God’s wrath.
Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger. - Zephaniah 2:3
Again, God is telling us that he will hide his Elect people. He is giving people a chance to repent in order that they too may be saved and hidden from His anger.
In all the referenced passages, New Testament and Old, it always appears that the believers are saved first, then the wicked are destroyed. I do not see any scriptural evidence which would lead me to believe another way because if we logically gather up all the evidence, it seems to support a rapture.
My interpretation is one, among many. Is it the right interpretation? I’m certain we will eventually find out, hopefully soon. I think this interpretation is sound and well supported, but I don’t believe any one interpretation is perfect. I urge anyone who has a drive to pursue the Truth to put this interpretation to the test. If you subscribe to or know of a different view, put it to the test. As I mentioned earlier, pray and meditate on it. Research the scriptures; make sure the meaning is not lost in translation. Does that view have enough scriptural support to stand? Try to avoid earthly wisdom and be guided by the Spirit of Truth and finally, pray some more. Ask God in faith for wisdom and understanding in guiding you though Biblical prophecy and believe just as James explains:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8 (MKJV)
I hope this material and research was helpful to you. Should you have any questions or comments feel free to leave me a message or a comment.
God Bless <><