The Rapture of the Church

​Chapter 2


Scripture is in BLACK FONT

Words of Jesus in RED FONT

Notes in BLUE FONT

Church History
Chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation contain the history of the church divided into 7 periods or ages. They are as follows:

  1. The Apostolic Church – This period lasted until about the turn of the first century.
  2. The Martyr Church – This lasted until about AD 300 and saw tremendous persecutions of the church by Rome.
  3. The State Church – This lasted until about AD 500, which began with Constantine, actually continues in some areas of the world to this day.
  4. The Papal Church – This began about AD 500 and continues to the present. Actually a so-called church leader was first referred to as pope in about AD 600.
  5. The Reformation Church – This began in about AD 1500 and continues in some fashion unto the present. Of course, this speaks of the great reformation under Martin Luther and others, which in effect, formed the protestant church, pulling away from the catholic church.
  6. The Missionary Church – This began in about AD 1800 with missionaries being sent all over the world in an unprecedented fashion. It was actually spearheaded by the United Kingdom. In the 1900s, America became the missions thrust of the world, in effect, touching much of the world. However, sad to say, at this particular time (the time we’re living in) the missions efforts of most churches are probably weaker than ever, especially considering that most of those who go under the name of missionary are proponents, rather, of a social gospel. It is hardly the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can say that our efforts constitute one of the strongest mission efforts in the world today. As long as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is our greatest export, the jackbooted heel of foreign invaders will never walk upon America’s soil. And you can see how close we are to the end.
  7. The Apostate Church – The church has already entered into the apostasy which will, in effect, ultimately usher in the antichrist. This means that we are very close to the Rapture, which will actually close the Church Age.

The Question
In view of that, I might ask the question. Are you ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus to take His church with Him to Heaven? Are you living for God now as you should, trusting Christ for all that you have in The Lord? If you never have seen yourself as a lost sinner and Jesus Christ as the Savior of sinners, then you have never, by an act of heart-faith, put your trust in Christ as your Savior from sin through His precious blood, then you are not ready for His Coming. Should He come while you are in that state, you will be left on earth to go through the terrible times of suffering and affliction, but you can be ready. The day of grace is not over. Jesus will receive you if you will come to Him in faith believing. At the same time, we should also appeal to the individual who is saved. Are you also ready for His coming? Is there anything between yourself and The Lord Jesus that would prevent communion with Him? Are you in the center of His will for your life, having a life of constant yieldedness to The Holy Spirt? These are very serious questions that we all should ask ourselves, especially considering that the Trump of God could sound at any moment.

Israel – The Greatest Time Clock of All

The coming Great Tribulation will be about many things, but most of all, it will be about bringing Israel back to God. Jeremiah referred to this coming terrible time as “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” but he said, “…he shall be saved out of it.” (Jeremiah 30:7) As well, Jesus graphically pointed out this coming time in Matthew 24. Also, this will be the time of satan’s greatest effort, with his advent of the antichrist. The believer must understand that satan, the great deceiver of mankind, is in fact, deceived himself. He actually believes that he can win this thing. Hence, his final great push.

How Does Satan Think He Can Win?

God is the Creator, while satan is merely a created being. Some time in the ageless past, he was created by God as at least one of the most beautiful and wisest angels ever created by The Almighty. In fact, he served God in beauty and holiness for an undetermined period of time. So, what caused him to fall? The great prophet, Ezekiel, gives us some clues. We pick up with The Lord speaking to the prophet Ezekiel about satan. He said concerning the evil one:

12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.

-As is obvious, even though the king of Tyrus is used as a symbol, the statements made could not refer to any mere mortal. In fact, they refer to satan. The phrase “Thou sealest up the sum” means that lucifer, when originally created by God, was the perfection of wisdom and beauty. In fact, the phrase intimates that lucifer could very well have been the wisest and most beautiful angel created by God and who served The Lord in holiness and righteousness for a given period of time. “perfect in beauty” means that he was the most beautiful of God’s angelic creation. The Holy Spirit even labeled his beauty as “perfect.”

Music and Worship
13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

-“Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God” does not actually refer to the Eden of Genesis 3 but rather to the “Eden” which existed on this planet before Adam and Eve, which evidently was ruled by lucifer before his rebellion. “(E)very precious stone was thy covering” presents itself as very similar to the dress of the high priest of Israel (Exodus 28:19). "(T)he workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes” has to do with music. There is every indication that lucifer’s leadership had something to do with the worship of God. As well, he is called “...O Lucifer, son of the morning!...” (Isaiah 14:12) When the earth was originally created, the Scripture says, “...When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:4-7) So, if the idiom, “son of the morning” can be linked to the “morning stars”, these passages tell us that lucifer, at least before his fall, was greatly used in leading the worship of God. In fact, this is the reason that satan has done everything within his power to corrupt the music of the world and to corrupt the music of the church above all. In as much as the book of Psalms is the longest book of the Bible, we learn from this that music and singing are among the highest forms of worship of the Lord, if not the highest.


14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

-“Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth” means t that lucifer was chosen and “anointed” by God for a particular task and service. This probably was the “worship” to which we have just alluded. “(T)hou wast upon the holy mountain of God” speaks of his place and position relative to the throne (Revelation 4:2-11). "(T)hou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire" has reference to his nearness to the throne. As well, the phrase “walked up and down” seems to imply that not just any angel would have been given such latitude.

15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

-Pride was the form of this iniquity (Luke 10:17-18), the rebellion of lucifer against God, which probably caused the catastrophe which occurred between the first and second verses of Genesis 1.

16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

-“Violence” has been the earmark of satan’s rule and reign in the world of darkness (John 10:10). Lucifer being “cast out” of the “mountain of God” refers to him losing the place and position which he had held with God since his creation. It was because “he had sinned” which spoke of the pride that caused him to lift himself up against God.

17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

-“Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty” tells us the reason for his fall. As stated, it was pride. Here is the key, he took his eyes off of Christ, noticing his own beauty as it grew more and more glorious in his eyes. At some point in time, his “heart” was changed from Christ to himself. As far as we know, this was the origin of evil in all of God’s creation. "(T)hou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness” does not refer to the loss of wisdom, but instead, refers to wisdom corrupted. Hence the insidious design practiced upon the human race according to John 10:10. “I will cast thee to the ground” refers to his ultimate defeat according to Revelation 12:7-12. “ I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee” refers to satan ultimately being cast into the lake of fire where all the kings of the earth who have died lost will behold him in his humiliation (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).

Ezekiel 28:12-17

The Word of God

Satan has devised a way that he thinks he can defeat God. This is despite the fact that God is The Creator and satan is merely a created being. Satan believes that he will win the day, irrespective of God’s power and glory. In satan’s mind, that way is according to the following. He knows that God watches over His Word even above all His Name (Psalm 138:2). He also knows that there are more predictions in the Bible concerning the restoration of Israel than any other promise.  So, in satan’s mind, if he can defeat Israel, even destroy the entirety of these people called Jews, then God’s Word will have fallen to the ground, and thereby satan would be king. That’s the reason for the tremendous animosity against Israel that has existed for thousands of years. In fact, it’s just as bad now as ever, if not worse. So, satan will pit all of his energy against Israel to destroy her completely, which will be his effort in the Battle of Armageddon. He will come close to succeeding, and in fact, would succeed but for the most cataclysmic event the world has ever known, The Second Coming of Our Lord. That’s when the evil one meets his Waterloo, so to speak. Then, not only will satan and the antichrist see just Who Jesus Christ really is but so will the entirety of the world. The great prophet, Zechariah said “Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” (Zechariah 14:3)  The great prophet Ezekiel, “And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: ” (Ezekiel 38:3-4). So, at this time, satan, along with his fallen angels and demon spirits, will be thrown into the bottomless pit where he will remain for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3). Then, at the end of a thousand years, satan will be thrown into the lake of fire where he will remain forever and forever (Revelation 20:10). Then, instead of being annihilated, Israel will be restored to her rightful position. In fact, they will become the leading nation in the world, but only after they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, which they will do, even to each person.

Satan’s Greatest Effort

The believer must understand that satan, the great deceiver of mankind, is, in fact, deceived himself. He actually believes that he can win this thing, hence, his final great push, which we have just addressed. So, the thing will come to a conclusion with the antichrist making his debut for world domination which will close out the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24). Examine the order of events. Knowing that the time is at hand, satan put it into the heart of Hitler to annihilate the Jewish people. That terrible holocaust began in the late 1930s and carried through World War II. It resulted in the slaughter of some six million Jews, the most horrible bloodletting that humanity has ever known. If enough Jews could be killed, they would not be able to form a state, which satan knew from Bible prophecy was going to happen. In fact, this was the reason satan raised up Adolf Hitler and deceived the German people to such an extent. They suffered for it horribly so, not realizing they had been dupes in the hands of satan, the archenemy of God. Satan failed in this effort, but it was not for lack of trying.

No King but Caesar

After World War II, world Jewry set about to reclaim their ancient land, which they actually had not occupied as a nation for some 1900 years, basically since AD 70 when Jerusalem was completely destroyed by Titus, the Roman general. During the intervening centuries, they were scattered all over the world and suffered persecution as few people have suffered. Their cry, “...We have no king but Caesar” Proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy according to John 19:15. They found that Caesar proved to be a very hard taskmaster. For Bible prophecy to be brought to pass concerning the last days, Israel had to re-form her ancient state which she did in 1948 with the star of David flying over Jerusalem for the first time in 1,900 years. Her becoming a state, with the Arabs violently opposed to this action, was none other than a miracle within itself. Of course, despite every effort of the evil one, the Lord worked this thing out and brought it to pass. The Lord put it in the heart of President Harry S. Truman to place the full weight of the presidency of the United States behind this action. Shortly before he died, President Truman was asked by a reporter, “What do you consider to be your greatest achievement while in office?” The former president thought for only a moment and then replied, “The help I gave in the forming of Israel as a state.” His answer somewhat shocked the reporter who was thinking of the Marshall Plan or the ushering in of the world into the atomic age of which President Truman set the stage. In fact, there were any number of things he could have said, but instead, he surprised this reporter with his reply about Israel. Perhaps the president, coming down to the closing days of his life, realized how extremely important this event actually was as he thought upon spiritual things. He was right. That was the most important thing that he did.

An Advisor to the President

Clark Clifford was an advisor to the president, in fact, to every Democratic president from Truman up to and including Jimmy Carter. We looked at an interview centering on the state of Israel and President Truman. Clifford spoke of how George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff and one of President Truman’s closest friends, was bitterly opposed to the forming of Israel as a state. He used all of his persuasive powers upon the president, attempting to get him to go in the other direction. Clifford related how he wrote President Truman a short note strongly urging him to seriously consider the forming of Israel as a state, that it must be in their ancient geographical Biblical homeland and that it must be called “The State of Israel.” Clifford was the youngest advisor to the president, and in his words, carried no clout whatsoever. So, he had to write him a letter to have any type of audience at all. Clifford was surprised when President Truman sent for him. The president wanted to talk to him about the views regarding the formation of the state of Israel. Truman asked Clifford why should we do this?

Because It is Right, Mr. President

The president knew that whichever way he went, it would decide the fate of these people, at least as it regarded their forming a nation. Without the blessing of the United States, it would be virtually impossible for them to succeed. Clifford answered the president, “Because it’s right, Mr. President. Because it’s right.” According to Clifford, the president gave no sign regarding his feelings. The conversation ended in a few moments, and Clifford was excused from the Oval Office. Clifford was asked what impact his views had on the president. “I’m not sure. However, he did exactly what I recommended.” After 1,900 years, Israel was, once again, a state. It is amazing that this advisor to presidents, when coming to the end of his life’s span, would discuss Israel and his part in the formation of this state when he could have talked about any number of things. I’m trying to say that if men of the world, who make a little claim on God, if any, somehow realize the significance of this of which we speak. Why is it that preachers who claim to know God and who claim to understand the Bible, cannot see the same thing? This was actually a powerful fulfillment of Bible prophecy, whether they understood that or not.​


At this present time, Israel is struggling to try to find some kind of accommodations with the Arabs. And yet, her darkest days are just ahead, even though at the moment, she does not remotely realize such. In fact, the antichrist will deceive her and make her think that he is her savior. (Again, underscore the fact that satan’s entire purpose is deception), whom (the antichrist) she (Israel) will actually claim to be the messiah. With a shocking finality, she will realize that he is not who he claims to be, which will result in her near-destruction as a nation and as a people. This is just ahead. Actually, this coming dire time, even as prophesied so dramatically by Zechariah will bring Israel to the edge of total destruction. However, satan will not have his way because her extremity, and it will be an extremity such as she has not known previously, will bring about the coming of her true Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ (Zechariah 12-14). This will be The Second Coming which will be the most dramatic event in human history according to Revelation Chapter 19.

The Day Star is Now Dawning

Then Israel will finally say yes to the KING OF KINGS and the LORD OF LORDS. Zechariah said, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” (Zechariah 13:1) Then, the world will be ushered into the Millennium, the thousand-year reign on this earth with all saints of God with Him who will actually accompany Him back to earth. The world will then know a peace and prosperity that it has never previously known. Isaiah said, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9) Israel will then gain her place  that she has so long sought but in all the wrong ways. Now, she will be that which The Lord originally promised her and which she could have had so much sooner, but sadly and regrettably, rebelled against Christ. The night will now have ended forever with the Day Star now dawning and it will shine forever.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. (1 Thessalonians 4:15)

That We Which Are Alive and Remain Unto the Coming of The Lord

​The heading concerns all of those who are alive and will be taken up at the time of the Rapture that will immediately follow the dead in Christ, who will be raptured first of all. Some have attempted to take the pronoun “we” and make it seem as though Paul thought that he would be alive when the Rapture took place. That is not the case at all. The apostle plainly says in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 that certain things have to happen before “the day of Christ” can come about. By Paul using the word “we,” he was merely referring to those who will be alive at Christ’s return. That’s all. From the account given in 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2, he knew this coming time concerning The Lord’s return would not happen in his day. In fact, the Gospel according to Matthew had, more than likely, already been written with Chapter 24 of that book, even in the words of Jesus Himself, giving an outline of futuristic events. To be sure, Paul had studied this Gospel very very closely. I cannot even remotely see that he would have done otherwise.

The Church
As we know, Luke, who traveled with Paul for years, was used by The Lord to write the Gospel that bears his name, as well as the book of Acts. Considering how much Luke knew and understood concerning the life of Christ, one can well imagine the countless hours that both men spent together discussing this momentous event. The apostle knew that the church must be expanded to cover the entirety of the earth, which, of necessity, would take some time. Unfortunately, after the demise of Paul and the original 12 apostles, along with other great men and women of God at that time, the church began to apostatize, eventually going into a strictly man-devised organization, calling itself the catholic church. This hindered the progress of the work of God to such an extent that it defies all description. Not until the 15th century, which ushered in the Reformation under Martin Luther, did this terrible situation begin to change. Also, there had been very few preachers in history who have had the zeal of Paul and those with him to spread the Gospel all over the world, which, of course, is priority with God. So, the building of the Church which Jesus mentioned in Matthew 16:18, has not come about nearly as fast as it should have. Nevertheless, it ultimately has been carried out, at least to a great extent, one might say. As well, many other events in these last times must take place, such as the rise of the antichrist, which will usher in a time of wickedness such as the world has never known. However, even as Paul said, this will not happen until the church is taken out of the way according to 2 Thessalonians 2:7. Irrespective, the point I wish to make is that, even though that time was not at hand in Paul’s day, it definitely is at hand presently. We are living in the very last of the last days. And how do I know that?

The Last of the Last Days

There are several earmarks given in the Bible as it regards this particular time. Some of them are as follows:

  • The Holy Spirit – The outpouring of the Holy Spirit all over the world. The prophet Joel told us of a “former rain” and a “latter rain” as it concerns the outpouring of The Holy Spirit (Joel 2:23). The former rain consisted of the great outpouring of The Holy Spirit recorded in the book of Acts as it regards the early church. As we’ve already stated, there was a great spiritual declension after that, which hindered the work and moving of The Holy Spirit. In other words, the church departed from The Word of God. However, at about the turn of the 20th century, the latter rain began to be poured out on the world, which has resulted in untold millions being baptized with The Holy Spirit even as in Bible times, which refers to speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives the utterance (Acts 2:4). As well, a total and complete way of life was brought forth as a result of this great Pentecostal experience, which is available to all. So, this sign is one of the greatest of all that we are living in the very last of the last days. When we consider that The Holy Spirit has been poured out for nearly 100 years now, this should tell us that the day of Christ is at hand.

  • Knowledge Increased – The Lord said to Daniel “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: (the time in which we now live) many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4) Up until the 19th century, people traveled pretty much the same as they did thousands of years ago. A steam engine in the 1800s changed that. Of course, now at the present, with the advent of the airplane and the automobile, travel has taken on a totally different perspective. Truly, the passage in these end times has been and is being fulfilled, “many shall run to and fro” Since the beginning of the 20th century, 99% of all inventions have taken place, fulfilling the words of The Lord, “and knowledge shall be increased.” As well, I personally believe that a greater knowledge of the Word of God has been given to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. All of it portrays and proclaims that we are living in the very close of the Church Age. In other words, the Rapture of the Church could take place at any time.

  • Israel as a Nation – Israel becoming a nation in 1948 is another sign of the end times. Never before in history has such happened. After being destroyed by the Roman army in AD 70, Israel was literally scattered all over the world of that day. They remained in that posture for some 1,900 years. Then, there was the horrible holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s with some six million Jews being slaughtered by the demonic forces of Adolf Hitler. For these people, who were scattered all over the world, to be brought together as a cohesive unit and forming a nation, which they did in 1948, such has never happened before in history. This is a sign that we are nearing the end. The great prophet Isaiah said, concerning this very thing, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” (Isaiah 11:11) As it refers to Israel, the first gathering of the remnant took place when Israel was gathered out of the Medo-Persian empire and brought back to the Promised Land. In a sense, the second gathering began in 1948. It will be totally fulfilled at the beginning of the Kingdom Age, when Jews all over the world will recognize Christ as their Messiah and will desire to come to Israel and live near Him, which they shall.

  • Apostasy – The Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, said, concerning the times in which we now live, the last of the last days,

            Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times

            -the times in which we now live, the last of the last days which began the fulfillment of end-time prophecies

            some shall depart from the faith,

            -Any time Paul uses the term “the faith”, in short, he is referring to The Cross, so we are told here that some will depart from The Cross                 as the means of salvation and victory.

            giving heed to seducing spirits,

            -evil spirits, i.e., religious spirts making something seem like what it is not

            and doctrines of devils;

            -should have been translated “doctrines of demons”, the seducing spirits enticing believers away from the true faith causing them to                     believe doctrines inspired by demon spirits. 

            1 Timothy 4:1

The great apostle also said, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4) In truth, the Church is now in the Laodicean age. The Lord said of this church, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” (Revelation 3:17) All of these are signs of the times, proving that we are down to the very close of the Church Age. In other words, the world is speedily heading toward the antichrist and the coming Great Tribulation. All of this means that the Rapture of the Church could take place at any time. I believe The Cross is the dividing line in these last days as it regards the Truth. In a sense, it has always been the dividing line. Those who ignore The Cross, or downplay its veracity, will depart from the faith. With “the faith” and “The Cross” being synonymous, it can be no other way.

The Revelation

The Lord has given us the revelation of The Cross, which has revolutionized our life and living and ministry. When I say “Revelation,” I’m not speaking of something new. Actually, this great truth was given to the apostle Paul nearly 2,000 years ago, and he gave it to us in his 14 epistles. No doubt, it has been given to others down through the centuries as well, but due to the fact that The Cross of Christ is so little preached at this time, it sounds like something new, when in reality, it is not. I personally believe this revelation is of far greater significance than meets the eye. It means that this great thing that The Lord has revealed to us is not merely for us, but as well, it is for the entirety of the church. With that being the case, it takes on a completely new complexion. No truth given by The Lord must ever be taken lightly. Of course, His Truth always coincides perfectly with The Word of God because in fact, it is The Word. However, there are some things, still, which are far more important. The message of The Cross definitely falls into that category. This of which I speak is intended to address the entirety of the church all over the world. That is why I believe The Lord has raised us up. This is the message that The Holy Spirit is giving to the churches, the message of The Cross. With that being the case, to ignore what we are saying, or any other preacher who proclaims this message, is to do so at one’s own peril. I believe The Lord is telling the church to come back to The Cross and to understand the veracity of The Cross. In other words, He wants us to understand what Jesus there did and that every victory comes from that finished work. If that message is rejected or ignored, the consequences will not be pleasant.

The Finished Work of Christ

As well, for anyone to take the position that he already knows these things, and therefore, passes it off with a wave of the hand, it presents itself as a dead giveaway that he does not know these things. In fact, he does not really know anything at all about these things. If one truly knows what we are teaching here as it regards The Cross of Christ, one will hunger to hear more. One will thirst for this great revelation to be ever expanded. And one will not be able to get enough of the message and for all obvious reasons. One should properly understand The Cross of Christ, i.e., the finished work of Christ as it regards not only salvation, but as well, our sanctification. It will change everything about you. It will change your understanding of the Word of God, the way you think about things, the way you look at The Lord, and especially, the way you look at yourself. When that happens, and it definitely will if your faith is properly placed in the great sacrifice of Christ, it will be the greatest day of your life, other than the day Jesus saved you. The Lord is coming, and to be sure, He is coming soon. Consequently, He is getting His church ready. I believe this is the way and manner in which He is preparing His church, bringing us to The Cross.

What Determines the Time of the Lord’s Return?

First of all, when we speak of The Lord’s return, we are speaking of the Rapture. I say that because the term can also be used for the Second Coming, which is totally different from the Rapture. To help us understand it better, these two comings of The Lord are just that, two comings. This means that these two appearances are not two stages of one coming. At the first coming, one might say Jesus comes back for His saints. At the Second Coming, The Lord comes back with the saints (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 19). At the first coming, or Rapture, The Lord will not come back totally to this earth. At the Second Coming, He definitely will come back to the earth, actually taking up abode on this planet at that time. The question has surely been asked many times as to what determines this first coming. In other words, is there a definite date fixed in the mind of the Lord, which in effect, has been fixed forever? Or is this coming predicated on the spiritual condition of the church? The answer is both.

The Exact Time

God, Who knows all things, definitely knows the exact time when Christ is coming back for His church. As well, He is definitely preparing His church, which will definitely coincide, at that time, and which, I think, is that which I’ve just said, the message of The Cross. However, that does not mean that all believers are going to accept this that we have said. In fact, if history is any teacher, I think that most will reject this that the Lord does, but for those who do accept it, and many will, they are going to be closer to The Lord than ever before. This is the preparation. How long this preparation will continue, only The Lord knows that. But in as much as it has already begun, this should tell us that time is very short. Once again, let us state that Israel is God’s greatest prophetic time clock. So, since Israel is presently being prepared for the coming of the rise of the man of sin and the Great Tribulation, which will be her most trying time, this should tell us that the Rapture of the Church is very very close.

Shall Not Prevent Them Which Are Asleep

The heading refers to the fact that the living saints will not precede or go before the dead saints. In fact, even as the next verse portrays, the “...dead in Christ shall rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16) Without a doubt, the Rapture of the Church, which is, in effect, the Resurrection, will be the most stupendous event the world has ever known, other than the event that will closely follow, the Second Coming of The Lord to this earth. The idea of Paul’s statement is that, since The Cross of Christ, death has no more hold on the child of God. While this physical body does die, the soul and spirit of the saint automatically go to be with Jesus there to await the Resurrection with untold millions waiting at this present time. Their wait is about over. The word “prevent” as used in this verse presently means “to so order or control circumstances that a certain or proposed act will not take place.” However, when the King James version was translated in AD 1611, it meant the Greek word from which it was translated. It means “to precede, to get the start of.” The teaching is that the saints who are alive when Our Lord comes will not precede the saints who died previous to the Rapture. They will not receive their glorified bodies first, for the dead in Christ shall take precedence, being glorified first. However, to be sure, the two incidents will be so close as to be almost one. “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:”(1 Thessalonians 4:16)

For The Lord Himself Shall Descend From Heaven With a Shout

This which Paul gives here continues to be The Word of the Lord from the previous verse, even as the entirety of this passage. In other words, this that the apostle is giving is a revelation from The Lord to Paul, which had not heretofore been known. In the Old Testament, there were glimpses here and there concerning this great event, but only a hint. In fact, it was so dim that, unless first one knew this that Paul has said, it is doubtful that the word given here and there in the Old Testament concerning this occasion would be recognizable. Four great truths are brought out in this one verse.

A Shout
“The Lord Himself”

-This refers to “this same Jesus” which angels proclaimed in Acts 1:11. It is sometimes supposed that the three attendant phenomena, the shout, the voice, and the trump are three expressions of the same thing. Each, however, may be seen as having a distinct meaning. Shout, in the Greek, which is usually a cry of command, is a word used to denote the cry of a commander to his soldiers in combat, by a charioteer to his horses, or by a ship’s master to his oarsmen. It is a loud, authoritative summons, exciting and stimulating. It speaks here of Christ as a Victor, thereby a shout of victory. It will be the signal of this great event of events, the resurrection of the saints, whether dead or alive, of the Living God. The power represented in this shout, which actually springs from Christ, is power beyond the comprehension of any man. It will be enough power, not only to raise all the sainted dead, but as well, to instantly glorify the bodies of both the dead and the living. Incidentally, the glorified body will be the same as that contained by Christ in His glorified form. John said, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2) John was speaking here of the Rapture of the Church or the Resurrection.

This shout will not only be a shout of power, but it will also be a command. It is the same thing as a military order, the same as a general giving orders to his troops. The difference is this, this General is THE KING OF KINGS AND THE LORD OF LORDS, meaning that whatever His command is, it will be obeyed and without question. Satan obeys Him, fallen angels of every description obey Him, demon spirits obey Him, and in fact, everything obeys Him in every respect. This command will be the signal of the glorification of every saint who has ever lived up until that time. It will be the signal for a change that is absolutely unprecedented in human history. Whatever is incorporated in this shout, whatever it means, all that God intends, the totality and the complexion of this intended by The Holy Spirit, will happen without fail. It is the first resurrection of life, and that life is in Christ Jesus. That is partly what He meant when He said, “...
I am the way, the truth, and the life:...” (John 14:16). The life mentioned here has to do with the spiritual life imparted to the believing sinner upon salvation, which comes solely from the Son of God because of what He did at The Cross and His resurrection. Also, it refers to that coming day when Christ will give this shout, which will impart life to every single saint, whether dead or alive. This will result in their glorified bodies. This speaks of life of such magnitude, of such dimension, and of such power that it defies all description. It is an outflow of the spiritual life already given to the child of God but enlarged upon to a degree beyond our comprehension.

This shout will not only be a command, but it will also be a shout of victory. This is victory unparalleled. It is victory unprecedented. It is victory total and complete. It is as if to say, “The long night is over, the sun is now rising,” which in effect says, “The Son is now coming.” Satan, as a foe, was defeated at The Cross, and that includes every fallen angel and demon spirit. However, he has been allowed to continue for nearly 2,000 years now, but it’s about over. He has just a short time left before he’ll be locked in the bottomless pit where he will remain for 1,000 years, according to Revelation Chapter 20. He will then be loosed for a little season, which is a very short period of time, and then he will be locked in the lake of fire where he will remain forever and forever. So, the shout that will be exhibited by Our Lord, in effect, proclaims that, despite everything satan could do, this great number that is going to rise in the air to meet The Lord, will be of such staggering proportions and such vastness that The Holy Spirit actually refers to it as “clouds,” clouds of saints. Someone has said that this shout is going to be “Hallelujah!” Of course, that is merely conjecture, for the Scripture does not say. However, in as much as the word Hallelujah is the same language in every language all over the world, quite possibly, that could be the shout.

With the Voice of the Archangel

The heading actually refers to Michael, the only one referred to as such in Jude 1:9. Concerning Michael the mighty archangel, Daniel notes him as the prince of Israel (Daniel 10:21). This means that Michael is, in some sense, in charge of Israel, which refers to protection and leading in some way. Israel has been away from God for a long time, in fact, a long long time. However, at the Rapture of the Church, the Great Tribulation that Jesus graphically spoke about in Matthew 24 will commence. Even though there are many purposes for the coming tribulation, the main purpose will be to bring Israel back to God. In fact, it will be the darkest time that these people will have ever faced. They will come very close to being totally destroyed by the antichrist and saved only by the Second Coming of The Lord, according to Revelation Chapter 19. Consequently, the commencement of the Great Tribulation will necessitate tremendous involvement by Michael the archangel, due to Israel being the principal of this terrible time. Of course, it will come out to victory, although by a very laborious process. In other words, Israel will not bend easily, but bend she will. Perhaps the voice of the archangel has to do with this, as the shout stipulates the conclusion or gathering of The Church, the voice will stipulate the beginning of the conversion of Israel, so to speak.

And With The Trump of God
The heading does not exactly say that God will personally blow this trumpet but that it definitely does belong to Him, whoever does signal the blast.

The Trump

When the Trump of God is mentioned, some people get it confused and mixed up with the trumpets of the Book of Revelation, especially the seventh trumpet of Revelation (Revelation 11:15-13:18). The trump that Paul mentions will signal the Rapture or Resurrection of the Church. The seventh trump that will sound, which will be in the middle of the Great Tribulation, will signal the rapture of the 144,000, i.e., the man child (Revelation 11:15-13:18) Consequently, one should not confuse the Trump of God with the trump or trumpets of the book of Revelation. They are two different things entirely. In fact the Trump of God of 1 Thessalonians speaks of great blessings while the trumpets of Revelation speak, in one way or the other, of judgment (Revelation 6:1 to 9:21).

The Trumpets of Israel

Under the old economy of God, The Lord gave instructions to Moses that He was to make “two trumpets of silver” (Numbers 10:1-2). When those trumpets blew, all of Israel was to “…assemble themselves to thee (Moses) at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” (Numbers 10:3) Likewise, the Trump of God will signal the assembly of all the saints. If they were to go to war, the trumpets were to be blown, according to Numbers 10:9. The saints, of course, will not go to war, but rather to be with Christ. However, this Trump of God may very well signal the beginning of the Great Tribulation, that is, if it is to begin immediately, as well as the Rapture of the Church. Of course, the Great Tribulation is going to bring war such as this world has never known. Also, the trumpets were to be blown on the days of “gladness”, on “solemn days”, and “in the beginnings of your months” (Numbers 10:10). Of course, the Rapture will in no wise be a solemn day, but rather, a day of great gladness, which, according to the proclamations of Israel of old, were to be signaled by the trumpet blast. As well, the Rapture will be the beginning of the Great Joy of Glory, which, in fact, will never end. Whether those trumpets of Israel of old were types and shadows of the Great Trump of God, we’re not exactly told, but they very well could have been.

And the Dead in Christ Shall Rise First

The heading presents the fourth great truth in this verse. At the Resurrection, the shout, the voice, and the trumpet will signal two great movements. The first response to this triumvirate will be the sainted dead. They will rise first. The second response will be, of course, the saints who are alive, and that refers to the entirety of the world. How long the time factor will be between the two groups, we are not told. However, it couldn’t be long, possibly only a few moments, if that. The short phrase “the dead in Christ” beautifully and compactly presents a precious truth, the position of being in Christ never changes, whether one is alive or dead. The status remains the same with one change, all of the sainted dead not only continue to be “in Christ”, but as well, they are “with Christ” (Philippians 1:23). At the Rapture, of course, all, both those who have passed on and all who are presently alive, will now be with Christ. This is what takes the sting out of death regarding all who have passed on. Even though the loved ones left behind naturally experience grief and sorrow, the ones who are passed on, and here’s the glory, are instantly with The Lord. And as far as they are concerned, as Paul also said, it is “far better” (Philippians 1:23). And the glory is, only believers in Christ can say such a thing. It is far better.