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03/03/08

The Rapture of the Church, fact or fiction? #4


This article is the fourth one in the series, dealing with the Biblical Truth, the Rapture of the Church - written by Pekka Sartola in his recent work, "Millennium".
The Rapture of the Church
Pekka Sartola

The Mid-Tribulation Rapture.

 

 Many scholars place the Rapture of the Church in the middle of the seven-year Tribulation. It is mainly reasoned with that, that veritably the latter half of the Tribulation is the Great Tribulation, when the Beast is distributing his mark and the plagues and judgments of the Revelation are in place. The red, apocalyptic raider that brings the wars in its train, begins its mission and starts the war of Gog. This way the Church the Bride would be preserved from those judgments of which God has promised to preserve it, and secondly it is also assumed, that the first three and a half years of the entire Tribulation would be peaceful a period for the Church.

 

But first of all, the problem exists that the length of the Tribulation is seven, not three and a half years. The beginning of it, however, is a time for peace for Israel; it is enjoying a strong covenant, protection warranties, and she trusts in them. The Rapture of the believers will inescapably however create a global chaos; a bedlam necessary to be tranquillized by a true leader, man of might and a brilliant statesman. The disappearance of the believers will be explained some way and concurrently these forces probably start passing a law, which would ban all the religions as enemies of the New World Order. From this will naturally follow the persecutions of those, who from the faith and spirituality try to find answers to their mystifying questions arisen. Would it be possible, that the Bible really is true, and what will come out of this all?                                                             

 

 Secondly, Jesus said to His disciples, and to His followers, too, that it was not for them to know the times or the seasons related to His return and the times and hours of the restoration of Israel. And further, according to Daniel, in the middle of the Tribulation, the sacrifice and the oblation shall be caused to cease in the Temple that was built in Jerusalem. And there is an existing covenant of peace for seven years, between the Arabs and Israel, which has been enforced by the President of the United States of Europe. Latest the building of the new Temple, and entering into this contract, the strong covenant, gives a certain date to count forward from that point 7 x 360 days, and one would be able to name precisely the date, when Jesus would return physically. Thus, the words of the Lord Himself would not hold together. And last but not least, the thing mentioned also many times previously, the seven years of the Tribulation are first and foremost meant for the relation between God and Israel. The 70th Week of Daniel's prophecy will be fulfilled then, as was decreed 2600 years earlier. These theories, as some other somewhat interpretive mindsets too, try to justify the Rapture taking place before the Tribulation. But the Bible only speaks an even more distinct testimony.

   Exultant crowd in Heaven.

 Revelation 13 describes the showdown of Antichrist and his source of power, Satan, together with the third bedfellow, the False Prophet, whose miracles make the world wonder. Verse 5 announces the entire period of their supremacy, 42 months which is exactly that same three and a half years. This is understood as being the time of Great Tribulation, the Time of Jacob's Trouble and which is the entire latter half of the Tribulation. Verse 6 lets us know, that the Antichrist will be given the position to blaspheme both God Himself and His Name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in Heaven. Who are these, who dwell in Heaven? We remember what the Lord said Himself: "I go to prepare a place (dwelling place) for you... I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."   

So there, Jesus will be then in Heaven, make no mistake about it. This is why the author of this book believes, that together with Him at there is also the Church; the ones He has promised to take away to be with Him. On the other hand, now that when we know, that the Lord will return also physically and establishes a thousand year Kingdom of Peace, the Millennium, it is hard to put together the idea, that only there we would be together with Him the next time. The Millennium is not the Father's House or Heavenly dwelling place. In my opinion this is quite convincing an evidence of Jesus' return for His own, preceding the Tribulation. But let's take a further look.

 

 Would this crowd, blasphemed by the Antichrist, be a group of Angels? I doubt that. First of all, there's no rational reason for it, nothing of such kind, that would convince his hearers at that coming moment. Secondly, of Angels is never mentioned that they would have been washed by the blood of the Lamb. But a peculiar people identifies themselves - one that suits in the picture very well.

  Rev. 12:10-12 "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."  

 Thus, in Heaven there's a crowd of dwellers, we - who identify themselves with the Brethren on the Earth, to those who Satan has been accusing day and night before the Throne of God. We remember from the beginning of the Book of Job, how Satan was given the chance to present himself before the Throne of God and try and tell how evil are the people on the Earth. The Brethren on the Earth are thus believers washed by the precious blood of the Lamb, so sayeth the text evidently. The ones that dwell in Heaven have also been inhabitants of the Earth, believers washed by the precious blood of the Lamb. There is no sense to try and accuse them anymore - they are not within reach for accusations anymore, but these believers dwelling on the Earth have been in the group, accused by Satan still.   

 

 This jubilant crowd states, that Satan has accused their Brethren dwelling on the Earth before our God day and night, that has been going on already before the middle of the Tribulation. Now this potential will be taken away from him, he will be cast down on Earth knowing, that the time left for him is exactly three and a half years. This happens then before the Great Tribulation, before the Beast and his mark and before the False Prophet. So, in Heaven there dwells before the Great Tribulation, before the Beast and its marks, a crowd washed by the blood of the Lamb, dwellers taken away from the Earth, that are not Angels, but the caught up Church. To any other conclusion it is very hard to arrive. If they would have been caught up just in the middle of the Tribulation, the text could not read as it is now. It would be misleading, and the writers of the Bible have not rendered themselves guilty of such.

   The Rapture at the end of the Tribulation. 

 An exponent of this view will run into tremendous trouble when pondering things in the previously mentioned subtext. They also are in that opinion, that the Church does not have to face the horrors of the Tribulation and the wrath of God, but place all the judgments, woes, seals, trumps and bowls mentioned in the Revelation inside a so short a time frame, that the coming pass of them, the author judges, is practically impossible. The consequences of these judgments have also been told, and they show with certainty, that the judgments are unavoidably diverged to a quite lenghty period; I would prefer years than months even. Hard it is to try and explain the practical problems in distributing the Mark of the Beast, so the mark is only given at the latter part of the Tribulation. How could the Church survive the antichristian persecution, the death threat, wars and trials without the ability to buy or sell anything in a time period of three and a half years? These are only but few examples; others are found in such large extents that for myself the placing of the Rapture at the end of the Great Tribulation makes great problems of understanding, insuperably.

 

 And finally, some strong evidence, that refers both to the year-weeks of Daniel and the Rapture of the Church before the seven-year Tribulation. Rev. 1-3 deals with the revelations and direction of Jesus for the Churches. The word "Church" is mentioned even 16 different times, but not in the chapter 4 and after it no time (exception: Rev. 22:16, it being as a summary of the Book). Should we just forget the whole thing? Never, I judge! For when the letters for the Seven Churches are a given cross-section of the history of the Church, are they also a description of the spiritual life of the assemblies and their attitudes towards the Word of God, getting nearer to the end of times as we know them. If that particular message of the Revelation is taken as a specific, chronological note, it only means that the era of the Church as we know it will end up in chapter 3 of the Book of Revelation.

 

 This is easy to reason by that only, that from chapter 4 on, the word "Church" is never mentioned again (see previous exception). Secondly, Apostle John was lifted up into the Heavenly Halls, before the Throne to write things which must shortly come to pass, after that situation (Greek: meta tauta). That is, after the things that belong to the Church and its era. The Greek word used in here, anaba hode – come up hither, again refers to that same root word, which has been used in connection with Jesus' and the two witnesses' taking up to Heaven. So that is a different term than harpadzo - which has been used in connection with the Rapture - remember, in his revelation John was taken back on Earth. Yet we have to take into account that, that from the fourth chapter on the Scriptures of the Book of Revelation transform to Old Testamental style, to a very large extent. It is spoken of the Lamb that was slain, Lion to the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, four and twenty elders and the four beasts before the Throne (Eze. 1:10), 144.000 Jews from twelve tribes of Israel and Judah. Logically thinking, the message of the Book of Revelation has turned to describing mainly the events concerning the Israeli nation, than of the Churches, mentioned in the first three chapters. Let's come back to it a little later. 

  

... to be continued ...


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