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02/02/08

The Rapture of the Church, fact or fiction? #2


This article is the second 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

Questions related to the return of Jesus.

There are many other major matters related to the Rapture of the Church. We will search for their answers a little bit later, but firstly one of the most substantial matters - that is, the question of the timing of the Rapture in relation to Jesus' return and the Tribulation. When we have chased up, what the Bible teaches to us about it, it'll be easier for us to proceed with the other question that will arise.

Firstly we can find out, that the Apostle Paul mentioned in 1 Thess. 4:17, that we shall be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, as it also can be understood. Did the Apostle Paul mean here the event, when the Lord will return to the Mount of Olives, and of which Zechariah writes the following:

Zech.14:3-4 " Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations (non-Jews), as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."

 

In the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John writes about the same event. Both passages clearly refer to that one, same event, and they cannot, by any means, be connected to that reappearance, where Jesus and the believers will meet in the Rapture, in the clouds.

Rev. 16:14 and 16 "For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. -- And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon."

Rev. 19:11 and 14 "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war. -- And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean."

 

These depicted incidents are related to the physical return of the Lord, to war or to battle against the unbelieving world, that is, to time after which the Millennium will be established - the thousand-year Kingdom of Peace, where the Lord Himself will rule with His apostles and saints. That clearly is a later event compared to the Church and its Rapture. When even nowadays it is taught, that Jesus will eventually come back, of which all the believers are unanimous, still a tendency exists to try and connect the Rapture and gathering of the saints to meet the Lord, told by Paul, with this Second Coming; to the one of which both Zechariah and John wrote. In other words, that the Rapture and the Second Coming would happen at the same time. Reasons are given by that, that didn't the Apostle Paul say, that we will only go to meet Him in the air and then come quickly back. They speak about the sc. Secret Rapture as heresy, which one Jesuit has once managed to feed in into the doctrines of the Church.

 

I am certainly fully aware of this teaching, but it has not succeeded to interfere with my studies concerning what the Bible says about the issue. Will this "secret Rapture" fit in, I mean, the Lord's return firstly for His own, into the biblical subtext? Let's just have the Bible, and it only, to be our precept and see, how the issue has been dealt with and to which conclusions we will end up.

For starters, we will bring back the Book of Daniel and from it especially the prophecy of the 70 year-weeks. It's mention of the fact is chrystal clear, that this complete era of 490 OT years is meant - is determined - for the relation of God and His peculiar people Israel, specificly said - its restoration. This cannot be disputed by any means and it also determines, in the coming passages, how we should take our views in these matters. As we have found out before, of that period still is a seven years term left not yet happened, and during that period, the distributing of God's will is primarily the task of the Israeli nation.

If this is understood, then the rest will be much easier. After when their priestly function (God's Kingdom, - the announcing of the will of God) was taken away from them, and was given to people that is being fruitful in every good work - and has been doing that for 2000 years; to a Church established on a certain Pentecost, the earthly Body of Christ, composed of gentiles. This Body has got the same exceeds, rights and responsibilities also, than the God's peculiar people Israel once had. It has got a Heavenly commission for accomplishing its task, to act as ambassadors for Christ. This matter was declared to the Apostle Paul and it also came clear to the Apostle Peter.

 

1 Pet. 2:6-10 "Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture (Is. 28:16), Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders (Jews) disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light: Which (non-Jews) in time past were not a people (Hos. 1:6-10), but are now (you non-Jews, who believe in Him, Jesus) the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy."

 

This "declaration of identity" for Christians of the New Covenant has got lamentably little attention amongst the present day Christian Church. More willingly it is stated and wringed, that we are but miserable worms of the earth, useless sinners, who almost not make it day by day - crease-faced and beehives ahold. Eternity and the eternal salvation are almost unrecognized concepts, the life of faith becomes a mixture of half a cup of salvation and another of misery. The will of God revealed in the Bible has NOT called us to a similar state and has not given any permission to think this way. Of course, we are saved by grace only, not by our own successes or failures, but purchased and redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, and this is the Gospel we are mandated to proclaim to all nations. We are called to proclaim to the entire world the Good News about Him, Who can save and give life eternal, not to circulate ourselves the bad news concerning our neighbor. We have now become a chosen generation, we are a royal priesthood, we are a holy nation, and God's peculiar people.

The same exceeds were once given, almost word by word, to the nation of Israel, but conditionally. They had to obey the commands and ordinances given by God, to be able to maintain that position, which Moses once announced to them:

Ex. 19:5-6 "Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine: And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."

Rev. 1:6-7 "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen."

 

The spreading of the Gospel is thus our, the Curch's, mission. But in due time, somewhere in the future, this task will be given back to that part of God's own people, which He has both called and chosen for this mission. This task begins shortly after when the Church has closed down its, for the will of God is today, and has always been, have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. The chosen Jews, those 144.000 "Billy Grahams" will begin to evangelize the world, after the Church has been taken from the Earth, i.e. after the Rapture. Simultaneously starts also the final countdown for the last seven years' period for the world as we know it, after which the Millennium begins, those 1000 years of peace - subsequent time after Jesus' return, when peace and righteousness will have dominion, the era where sin and Satan are not prevailing. That era is however preceeded by the national awakening of Israel, but only after the Time of Jacob's Trouble they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced.

... to be continued ...



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