Categories: The Rapture of the Church Date: Apr 15, 2008 Title: The Rapture of the Church, fact or fiction? #5
This article is the fifth one in the series, dealing with the Biblical Truth, the Rapture of the Church - written by Pekka Sartola in his recent work, "Millennium".
Did the Lord speak about His return?
The best possible valuer and informer of His own dealings and non-dealings is without doubt the Person Himself, whom the entire subtext is exactly all about, our Saviour Jesus Himself. Let's study some of His own revelations and, first and foremost, to whom and to which group of people they are respectively directed. Lamentably often we leave without notice these matters of course, which however are crucial in dealing with the subject.
Matth. 23:37-39 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord."
The target group, to which this announcement was given, has been clearly stressed: Jerusalem, i.e. the nation of Israel, tribe of Judah, His own peculiar people. Very often, as is the case in here too, Jerusalem is the synonym for Israeli nation and to it was proclaimed the truth of the visible return of the Lord, the same, of which both Zechariah 14:3-4 and Rev. 20:11 and 14 tell. For His own nation He will so return visibly, and only then shall they begin to call upon the name of the Lord, and they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son. Only then will He return visibly as Saviour and Redeemer for His peculiar people. This takes place at the very end of the Tribulation, and it has been preceded by the Great Tribulation, the Time of Jacob's Trouble, the Beast and its marks, wars, persecutions and the worst catastrophes the world has ever seen. All the horrors and ferocities of the Book of Revelation have come across the perishing mankind, and except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.
Prophet Zechariah is one of the most significant messengers of the Word of God, when the end times are in question. In his book these things are dealt with volumes, and one of the most interesting passages tells clearly about events and subtexts related to Jesus' return.
Zech. 14:5c "... and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee."
In both the same and preceding verse, the prophet has told about the return of the Lord to the Mount of Olives; to that very place where He was taken up to Heaven. Now he mentions, that the Lord will come back and all the Saints will follow in His train. It is exactly the same subtext than in Rev. 20:14, where it is also told of Jesus' return with the heavenly hosts. The time frame is just before the Millennium. Now, what did then the Lord say of His return, to His own, to the disciples and us, His followers?Matth. 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"?
As we can see, so those questioners were disciples, followers of Jesus, and further, their spiritual offspring – the born again Christians of today. Jesus' answer in verses 4-13 is thus directed to them then and to us now. First of all, He warns of delusions: be vigilant in your faith and teaching, be spiritually sober, don't run after each and every fellow proclaiming in the Name of Christ, but search the Scriptures and take heed that you are not fooled away from the sober and once written Word. There shall be wars, dearths, earthquakes, persecutions and diverse trouble, but you – be not terrified with these scenes, but lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Many shall depart from the faith, He said, just like the Apostle Paul decades later, in his letter to Timothy (1.Tim. 4:1). Thus Jesus warned His own, you and me. But what did He say to all the other people of the world, and to His peculiar people Israel, too, about His coming, for these two groups of people will be on the Earth at the same time, at the very end of the Tribulation.
Matth. 24:29-31 "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 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 heaven to the other."
All the tribes of the Earth are thus the group, to which this message is directed. Who are they? Other prophecies are also related to that time: we remember that Jerusalem is embattled at that moment, two thirds of Israeli nation has been killed or taken to captivity, and that one third remained in the land will be that group, which will be brought through the fire, and will be refined as silver is refined, and will be tried as gold is tried: and that day they shall call on His name. Here the return of Jesus is so concerning all the hosts of the world, which have gathered themselves in Armageddon, and also His peculiar people. Who are these elect ones that will be gathered together at that moment from all ends of the Earth? In verse 22 of the same chapter, they are mentioned the first time: "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened."
The Greek work used in this is eklektus, from the root word ekklesia, which also meant the Church, the called out ones. Essential is however that fact, that they are not the Church, but Israel, God's peculiar people, the ones that will be tried and refined and gathered from the ends of the Earth to the land of Israel and the Millennial Kingdom. The word "gather", - episynaksusin, means exactly to gather together, not the catching away, yet both of these means will bring men to be with the Lord. The distinctions between the verbs may sound like splitting heirs, but in their subtext they are substantial and fundamental.
In that same subtext Jesus spoke specifically about a great, most horrific Tribulation ever seen, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. In all circumstances it will be an era, where the Church and the believers are not present anymore, but the unbelieving world and God's peculiar people's remnant is. So, these elect ones are Jews, that will be gathered together to their own land from all the countries and nations of the world; they will be gathered with the voice of the great trump of God, but not with the voice of the Archangel as it is in the case of the Church. The Church was so caught up with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God. These elect ones will be gathered, not caught up, to the land of their fathers and to meet the One, whom they have pierced, done by the Angels with a great sound of a trumpet.
In this connetion we must observe one thing: Jesus clearly speaks about the Tribulation, the latter three and a half years of it, and that particular time, according to Daniel, is reserved above all for the interplay between God and Israeli nation. So, the elect ones are thus Jews; out from the Great Tribulation a great multitude has, before this, already been taken up, that in turn composes of all the nations, and kindreds, and people, of which Rev. 7:9-17 speaks about. They are part of the Tribulation Church, because they have washed their garments in the blood of the Lamb.
The Israeli nation will also be tried in the end times with false Messiahs and deceptions. The word "Christ" means precisely said the Anointed One, so similar deceptions, false Messiahs, signs and wonders will also redound to trials of the nation of Judah. The other Beast described in Rev. 13, the False Prophet expressly arises out of the earth, which means Israel in this. It looks like the Lamb, but still is under the influence of the false spirit, the Dragon's, i.e. Adversary's spirit.
... to be continued ...