Jesus The Fulfillment of that Promise
The writer to the Hebrews quotes the words “…I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son…” (Hebrews 1:5) and proof of the fact that The Lord Jesus is better than angels, applying them to the former. In fact, Solomon, David’s son, served as a type of this that is to come. During his reign, there was peace and prosperity such as Israel had never known. It was all a symbol or type of what will be in the coming Kingdom Age when the greater Solomon rules, The Lord Jesus Christ. When Solomon died, his kingdom was divided, meaning that the kingdom referred to by God to David is yet future. The Lord did not occupy the throne of David, although he offered the kingdom to Israel. They wanted the kingdom, but they did not want Christ, and it’s impossible to have the kingdom without having the King. Consequently, all that Israel could have then had was forfeited, which actually submitted the world to at least some 2,000 or more years of bloodshed, war, privation, sickness, and want. The reader must understand that the nations of the world cannot find peace and cannot find the rest that they seek until Israel actually accepts her proper place in the family of nations. In this effect, it refers to her rulership in this capacity over the entirety of the world but under Christ. That latter phrase is very important. Israel can only be what she ought to be and what she ought to do if Christ is serving as her Head. Otherwise, she would be no better than the other nations of the world. Jesus must be the supreme head, which He definitely shall be at the Second Coming, when Israel will then accept Him as Lord, Messiah, and Savior (Zechariah 12-14).
A Promise to David
The Lord’s promise to David was that the dynasty of kings, of which he was the founder, would reign forever. However, the Davidic line was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar about 600 years before Christ and has never occupied the throne since. Therefore, for this promise to be fulfilled, which it most definitely shall, there must be a restoration of the throne yet in the future. Furthermore, the promise was that it would be an everlasting dynasty. David questioned the “how” of this in the words, “…thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD?” (2 Samuel 7:19). The implication is that a dynasty of merely human kings could not reign forever, but it would require a human King, Who was also eternal in His being, to maintain an everlasting dynasty. These considerations point to the fact that David’s dynasty would terminate in one Person Who was both God and man, Who in fact, would be and is The Lord Jesus Christ. When He comes to the throne of Israel, then will the promise be fulfilled, “…I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.” (2 Samuel 7:13)
Israel in Dispersion
History reveals the fact that the promises to Abraham that he would be a great nation and that nation would possess a great land, and the promise to David of an eternal King to rule on his throne in an everlasting kingdom, have never been fulfilled. Israel is in worldwide dispersion today, despite the fact that she now has a nation of her own. The greater part of the immense tract of land, from the Gulf of Suez to the Euphrates River, is in Gentile hands and no king from David’s line is reigning on the throne in Jerusalem. Since these promises were unconditional, and they were unconditional because, through their fulfilment, God would bless the entire human race (He could not depend upon frail man), they are still to be fulfilled in the future. However, it must be understood that even unconditional promises of God can be delayed because of sin and rebellion on the part of the party or parties in question, which did, in fact, happen with Israel. Not only can we see the necessity of their future fulfillment from the fact that they have not yet been fulfilled, the prophets predict their final fulfillment as well. In fact, almost every Old Testament prophet grandly predicts this fulfilment with the following merely an example.
Ezekiel and Isaiah
Ezekiel predicted the regathering of Israel from worldwide dispersion. He said “…Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all:…” (Ezekiel 37:21-22) The prophet Isaiah said, “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:12) At no time has God gathered the Jewish nation from all over the earth back to its land. However, it should be quickly stated that he has definitely begun this regathering, even as we look at present Israel. Yet, its total fulfilment is still future. As to the occupancy of the land, Ezekiel has given us special directions in Ezekiel Chapter 48. The land from the gulf of Suez on the west to the Euphrates River on the east will be occupied in Longitudinal and Horizontal strips east and west by the individual tribes. At no time has all this land been occupied by Israel, and neither have the tribes possessed it in the form outlined by Ezekiel. The occupation of this land is still future, at least in this manner, but will definitely take place in the coming Kingdom Age.
The Lord Our Righteousness
With reference to the occupancy of the Davidic throne by a king from David’s dynasty who would reign forever, the prophets spoke clearly. Jeremiah said “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:5-6) Ezekiel, living long after David said, “And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.” (Ezekiel 37:24-25) Here we have the prediction of the restoration of the Davidic dynasty ruling in the Promised Land forever, which will commence at the Second Coming. It will institute the Kingdom Age, which will last for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6).
When Will These Prophecies be Fulfilled?
The question could be asked in this manner, “When will this regathering of Israel, its restoration to the land, and enthronement of the king from David’s line take place?” We have the answer in one of the most important prophetic passages in the New Testament. It was on the occasion of the church counsel at Jerusalem, which was convened to decide the relations of the Gentile converts of Christianity to the Mosaic economy. After the discussion, James, the moderator, announced his judgment. He quoted the prophet Amos, who was writing in a context of the dispersion of Israel, which actually took place in AD70 with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman general, Titus. Amos said, “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:” (Amos 9:11). The prophet was predicting the restoration of the kingdom to Israel after the dispersion. James, speaking of the fact that, for the first time, God visited Gentiles as a racial group with salvation, recognizes that a new order of things has come in, following the age of Law in which God dealt with His people, Israel, James did not, at that time, know the full implications of this new order. The truth of the church of Jesus Christ composed of Jew and Gentile, a mystery even then being given to the apostle Paul. However, James quoted Amos, “After this (the church age) I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. ” (Acts 15:16-17)
The Lord Jesus Christ
In Amos, the “I” who is speaking is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. And the context in which James quotes Amos, the “I” can be none other than the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, Jesus Christ. For, a return to this earth requires a first visit, namely the Incarnation. Also, as the Son of God, in His first coming to earth, assumed a human body, so He, in His Second Coming, will He have the same human body glorified. It will be a personal return of the same person of the Godhead Who came the first time. In Amos, the return is predicted to be after the time of Israel’s dispersion. In Acts, the return is predicated after the Church Age closes. The dispersion of Israel and the Church Age run concurrently, so there is no contradiction involved. That is so important that we must, of necessity, say it again. Israel’s dispersion all over the word, which began in AD 70 and has continued unto this time, is the same period as the Church Age. However, since 1948, Israel has once again existed as a nation. So, as stated, the regathering has already begun with Israel, however, still yet to go through the great trial of the coming tribulation. But yet, the point I wish to emphasize is that if Israel’s dispersion is about over, and it definitely is, then that means that the Church Age is about to be over as well. In other words, the Rapture of the Church can take place at any time.
The Tabernacle of David is the Davidic dynasty of which James spoke. It includes the Kingdom of Israel and the temple worship. In the Greek text, we have four “I will” statements. They are:
“I will return.”
“I will build.”
“I will build.”
“I will set it up.”
It is the personal return of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He will, Himself, at His return, restore the Kingdom to Israel. This is what the disciples were asking just before His ascension when they said, “…Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) They were given to understand that a new order of things was to come in before that event, a period of witnessing to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), which we now recognize as the Church Age. As well, this means that Israel’s efforts presently to bring about peace between the Muslims and herself will not be a fruitful enterprise. Irrespective of America’s involvement, Israel will not be able to make this thing work. In fact, the antichrist will make his debut by seeming to settle this age-old conflict between Israel and the world. This will cause Israel to think that he is the Messiah and they will actually accept him as such. As we have previously stated, they will be rudely awakened to the fact that they have made a tremendous mistake when he turns on them with every intention of destroying them completely.
Israel will not have what she seeks, cannot have what she seeks, and in fact, it is impossible to have what she seeks until she accepts her true King and Messiah, Who is none other than The Lord Jesus Christ. To be sure, all of this is so very very important, simply because of the part and place that Israel must play in the eternal future as it regards the plan of God. That is why this little nation, these people, are significantly out of proportion to their size and place. Consequently, when preachers read Israel out of modern prophecies, as many are now doing, they are completely misunderstanding Bible prophecy, which means they are completely misunderstanding the plan of God. Every single thing that happens to Israel presently, every effort made by America to solve her problem, and in fact, everything that she does, is all, in some way and some manner, a part of the fulfilment of Bible prophecy. These things literally mark the happenings of the end times. So, if we take these things lightly concerning Israel, we are completely misreading signs of the times, for in fact, Israel is the greatest prophetic sign of all.
The important point to be grasped is that this personal reign of Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of Israel, and also over the entire earth, will be brought about by the Son of God at His return. It will not be by the church as is taught by some. In the last few years, we have witnessed the church attempting to do the very thing that is not meant for the church to do. By political means, which refers to political involvement, the church is trying to usher in the Kingdom Age with some misguided preachers even claiming that the Kingdom Age is about to begin. These preachers disavow the Rapture of the Church, the coming Great Tribulation, spoken of by Christ in Matthew 24, the battle of Armageddon, etc. They are claiming that the church itself will bring back Christ, referring to the Second Coming. Some of these individuals refer to themselves as Kingdom Now or by various other names. However, it should be crystal clear that such is totally unscriptural. In fact, when the Republicans swept into power in the early 1990’s, many were claiming that this was the time. Of course, we have seen that the Republicans fared no better than the Democrats, which means that the church wasted its money that should have been spent on trying to win souls to Christ.
Nevertheless, pride, which is a great part of this last-day apostasy, loves to think that it’s going to do great things, which little by little, figures Jesus Christ out and itself in. The business of the church is not political. The business of the church is spiritual, at least that is what it’s supposed to be. It is to herald the message of Jesus Christ all over the world, which refers to the message of The Cross. That is what the church is called to do and nothing else (Mark 16:15-18; Romans 10:9-17; Revelation 22:17). In this age of apostasy, which means a departure from the truth, and which regrettably characterizes the final Church Age, pride is one of its great factors, which, as always, leads to greed (Revelation 3:14-22). In fact, the money gospel, which is pure and simple “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4), is the rage of the present. The church no longer looks up but rather down. It no longer looks outward as an effort to bring lost humanity to Jesus, but rather, looks inward as it regards its own bloated greed. It is not looking for the Rapture, but rather, riches. It is not looking for Christ, but rather, the antichrist. Most of so-called Christian television presently is such an abomination before God that it is a joke of a joke. How is it possible for those who call themselves Christians to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into that which is so obviously wrong? The only answer is that the flesh appeals to the flesh. And religious flesh appeals to religious flesh most of all. As we have previously stated, The Lord has spoken to our hearts that The Cross is going to be the dividing line between the apostate church and the true church. It will not be denominational lines. It will not even be doctrinal lines as such. It will be The Cross. In fact, The Cross of Christ has always been the dividing line. It began with Cain and Abel at the dawn of time and continues to this hour. Martin Luther said, “As one views The Cross, so one views the Reformation.” For those who reject The Cross of Christ as the answer to the ills of man, they will go into apostasy. For those who accept God’s gift to this fallen human race, they will draw ever closer to Christ. The Cross is that dividing line.
Earth’s Golden Age
That for which John cried as he closed out the cannon of Scripture on the island of Patmos as he finished the book of Revelation, “…Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” will come to pass when The Lord actually does come, which He most definitely will (Revelation 22:20). Earth’s Golden Age will then begin, which will be a period of universal righteousness, peace, and prosperity. It will be a time when there will be ideal conditions on earth for the salvation of Earth’s multitudes. James gave as the purpose of this age, “That the residue of men might seek after the Lord,…” (Acts 15:17) In other words, the greatest salvations, divine healings, and Holy Spirit baptized revivals the world has ever known will take place in the coming Kingdom Age. In fact, Israel will then fulfill her eternal destiny as Evangelists to the world (Isaiah 66:18-21). During this 1,000-year period of time, when Jesus will be ruling personally from Jerusalem, there will be no more wars and there will be plenty of food, clothing, and shelter for everyone. There will be no false religions, with satan, all fallen angels, and his demons being bound in the bottomless pit. There will be no extremes of climate, and there will be a greatly increased fertility of the soil, with the Son of God, as stated, reigning personally on earth. This is the earth’s Golden Age, which the Second Advent of the Son of God will bring in. His personal return to this earth, and that only, will be able to cope with the desperate situation in which the human race finds itself today. Only He can bring order out of chaos, peace instead of war, plenty instead of poverty, and righteousness instead of sin. This is the only hope for the human race, but it is a sure hope, for just as surely as He came personally the first time, He will do so a second time. Until then, the sovereign God of Heaven will restrain evil and hold things together. Before earth’s golden age, there will come a mighty conflict between God and satan with this earth being the battlefield. It will be a time of terrible judgments upon sin and sinners. But the church of Jesus Christ will be taken away from the scene before that time. Until that time comes, The Lord Jesus will watch over and care for His bride in tender love. Such is the bright outlook that prophecy affords for the future and in the midst of this present darkness.
What Time is It?
The question, What time is it, could possibly be better asked in this manner, “In the plan of God for human history, at what time are we living today?” To gain a proper appreciation of the times in which we are living as they relate to what has gone before in human history and that which is scheduled to come to pass in the future, we must span the time between eternity before the universe came into existence by the divine fiat of God and the time when eternal conditions will begin in the future.
The angels, at least as far as we know, were God’s first creation. They existed before Genesis 1:1. For, they shouted for joy at the beauty of the new heavenly-created universe (Job 38:4-7). Moses records the creation of the universe in the majestic statement “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) This universe left the creative hands of God in a perfect state. When alluding to its creation, the inspired writers of the New Testament called it a cosmos, which is “an ordered system.” This means that something very powerful and very destructive took place between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. Genesis 1:2 describes a chaos, which means “a rude, unformed mass.” It became that way as a result of some form of catastrophe. We will see what that catastrophe was in a moment. No date is given in the Bible for the creation of the universe. It is believed that the sciences of geology and astronomy both demonstrate that the universe is millions of years old. If, in fact, that is true, it would not violate the Scriptures in any way concerning Genesis 1:1.
On this perfect earth of Genesis 1:1, God placed the mightiest, wisest, and most beautiful angel He had ever created as priest and king over a race of beings. He was given the responsibility of ruling over them and directing their worship to God. At a point in time, lucifer rebelled against God and actually struck at God’s throne. He drew this race of free moral intelligences with him into rebellion and sin as well as 1/3 of the angels (Revelation 12:4). Actually, it is possible that this race of beings, whomever and whatever they were, over which lucifer ruled before his rebellion, who threw in their lot with him at that rebellion, are now those referred to as demon spirits. This we do know, God definitely did not create demon spirits, so they had to come to this state in some manner. Lucifer was deposed from his position and banished from the earth, and due to this conflict, the earth and its planetary heavens were rendered in chaos (Genesis 1:2; Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-19).
No one knows how many millions of years this chaotic condition of earth lasted. We do know this, at approximately 4000 BC, God said, “Let there be light:” and the 6-day work of reconstruction began, which was actually superintended by The Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:3). After 6 days, the chaos became a cosmos, an ordered system, again. Upon this earth, made perfect again, God placed a man and a woman, the progenitors of the human race. They are actually believed to be of higher creation even than the angels according to Psalm 8. We will now trace, briefly, the history of the human race as it relates to the program of God with respect to sin and salvation. We will divide this history into a period from Adam (4000 BC) to Abraham (2000 BC), from Abraham to David (1000 BC), from David to the Incarnation (AD 1), from the Incarnation to the present time and the yet future thousand-year reign of the Son of God on earth, which will begin shortly. This is approximately 7,000 years of human history.
From Adam to Abraham
From Adam to Abraham was a period of approximately 2,000 years. Our first parents fell into sin as they succumbed to the temptation of the fallen angel, lucifer, who, with his demons, had taken up their residence in the atmosphere of the earth. Satan regained the position on earth that he had forfeited by sin and became god of this world. Adam constituted the whole race as sinners by his one act of disobedience. Consequently, the earth was cursed, and man was driven out of the Garden of Eden according to Genesis Chapter 3. Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, developed a civilization that was Godless (Genesis 4). The human race, being sinful and wicked, sank to an unimagined level of sin and depravity, which resulted in the flood. In fact, the flood was an absolute necessity if God was to salvage the human race. Even then, only one family, that of Noah, was saved. Beginning even with Adam, The Lord had provided salvation for those who would believe in the sacrifice for sin that He would some day offer. Of course, that sacrifice would be The Lord Jesus Christ. Consequently, salvation has always rested in the sacrifice of Christ and more particularly, faith in that sacrifice. There has never been any other way of salvation. And there never will be another way of salvation. That is the reason why we say that The Cross is the intersection of all humanity.
However, for this great thing to be done, God would literally have to become man, thereby purchasing back, as the last Adam, what the first Adam lost. As a result, and even from the beginning, satan began to greatly persecute the line of Seth (another son of Adam and Eve), through whom the Redeemer would come. In a great attempt to destroy this necessary line (the line of Incarnation), satan’s fallen angels intermarried with the human race, which resulted in offspring that were part angel and part man. The purpose of this was to dehumanize the race, thus preventing the Incarnation and thus the substitutionary atonement according to Genesis Chapter 6. As stated, God met this threat by the flood and saved only 8 people to repopulate the earth. It was the family of Noah, who evidently had not been sullied by this terrible effort of satan (Genesis 6-9). After the flood, which took place approximately 1600 years after Adam, the family of Noah was told by God to replenish the earth. However, as it began to multiply, instead of scattering over the face of the earth, they concentrated at Babel. This was actually, at least as far as we know, the earth’s first organized rebellion against God. To stifle the plans of evil men, God gave different groups different languages, which forced them to separate and populate the earth. Thus, the nations were brought into existence according to Genesis 11.
The Time of Abraham
This brings us to the time of Abraham, which was about 2000 BC, about 2,000 years from Adam. We will trace briefly the history of the race to 1000 BC, the time of David. Abraham was called to become the progenitor of the Jewish nation, through which God proposed to send The Savior to die for lost sinners. Also, through this, He purposed finally to bring everlasting peace and righteousness to the earth (Genesis 12). The ancestry continues through Isaac, his son, Jacob, and the latter’s 12 sons, the 12 tribes. The 12 sons of Jacob constituted the 12 tribes of Israel. The bondage in Egypt lasted about 215 years which was until the time of Moses, who, in about 1500 BC, led Israel out of Egypt to the land of Canaan. Under Joshua, Israel conquered Canaan. Actually, from the time of Abraham of Ur of Chaldees, when God called him out, to the time of Jacob going into Egypt was a period of approximately 215 years. This means that the children of Israel remained in Egypt for 215 further years. This makes the total of some 430 years from the time of Ur of the Chaldees to the children of Israel being delivered from Egyptian bondage. Whenever the Promised Land was reached under Joshua, Moses’ protégé, so to speak, Israel conquered Canaan. This was followed by the period of judges who governed Israel until God was ready to bring into being the Davidic dynasty and make Israel a Kingdom. This took place in about 1000 BC. (Saul was a misnomer, thereby, not the will of God).
We must understand that all of this is extremely important. Actually, every single thing that happened in the Old Testament was important because it all was leading up to your eventual salvation. This means that all of the things that happened that are recorded in the Old Testament were steps that led eventually and ultimately to the coming of Christ, Who would die on a Cross and make it possible for mankind to be saved. So, that’s the reason that you, as a believer, ought to learn the Bible in every capacity and understand all that it says as far as humanly possible. We must realize that this is the single most important book on the face of the earth. Every believer ought to know the Bible 1,000 times better than we know the activities of certain sports, the variances of Wall Street, or anything else that one might name. Sadly, most believers do not see the significance of this which we speak. If you will understand that every single thing in the Bible pertains to that which ultimately led to your salvation, then the Bible will take on a brand-new complexion. Obviously, your salvation is the single most important thing there is. It is my prayer that upon reading these statements, you will finally realize the necessity of learning the Word of God as possibly never before, and consequently, apply yourself in a manner worthy of such a privilege, and a privilege it is.
David came to the throne and was followed by Solomon who, in his latter days, was guilty of idolatry. At Solomon’s death, God divided the kingdom. The northern kingdom of Israel, with its capital at Samaria, was ruled by a succession of dynasties not of Davidic ancestry. The southern kingdom of Judah, with its capital at Jerusalem, was ruled by a succession of Davidic kings. These kingdoms, sadly and regrettably, went from bad to worse until 722 BC, the northern kingdom was taken captive into Assyria, and in 586 BC, the southern kingdom was taken captive into Babylonia. Under the Medes and the Persians, the tribes of Israel returned to the land. It was about 500 years before Christ. During this 500 years, Israel was ruled by a succession of Gentile powers, which consisted of the Babylonians, the Medes and the Persians, the Greeks, and then the Romans, who were in power at the birth of Christ.
This brings us to the time of the Incarnation in the first century, when God became man. As the heading characterizes, this was the time of the Incarnation. While Israel was under Roman domination, the Son of God came from Heaven and incorporated Himself with the human race through the virgin birth in the line of David. He came to offer Himself as Israel’s Messiah and to restore the earthly kingdom that had been taken away in the captivities. His mission was to make it a righteous kingdom, but He was rejected and crucified. He became the substitutionary sacrifice for sin and arose from the dead and ascended to Heaven. Of course, The Lord knew that Israel would reject her Messiah. Therefore, He brought into existence a new channel through which He could reach earth’s multitudes for salvation. At Pentecost, The Holy Spirit was poured out in fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy but was rejected by National Israel. The Holy Spirit gathered into a nucleus of individual believers by placing (baptizing) them into Christ, which formed the church, the mystical body of Christ. Thus, began the Church Age, which in Revelation Chapter 2 and 3, is divided into 7 periods or ages. In this case, the word baptizing has nothing to do with water but actually refers to believers baptized into Christ, when Christ is accepted as Savior (Romans 6:3-5).
The Outpouring of The Holy Spirit
At about the turn of the 20th century, the great prophecy of Joel began to be fulfilled. It was the outpouring of The Holy Spirit in what is referred to as the Latter Rain as it began to be poured out all over the world. From then until now, it is believed that approximately 500 million have been baptized with The Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking with other tongues. As a result of this empowerment, the church was able to basically touch the entirety of the world for the cause of Christ. This resulted in untold numbers coming to Christ plus tens of thousands being baptized with The Holy Spirit. Being part of this, we give The Lord all the praise and glory respecting this. As it regards Joel’s prophecy, the former rain was fulfilled with the early church, with the modern church continuing to be in the latter rain, at least for those who will believe and accept The Word of God. As previously stated, I believe that the dividing line between the apostate church and the true church is The Cross of Christ. For those who repudiate The Cross or ignore its veracity, they will go into apostasy and even deeper into apostasy. For those who understand the merits of The Cross and proclaim its veracity, as it regards salvation and a victorious life through faith in what Jesus did there, such believers will grow even closer to The Lord.
Everything is Toward the Second Coming
The church has been in existence for about 1,987 years. We are figuring this timeframe from AD 33 with the Advent of The Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. As we’ve already stated in previous commentary, we observe that God has done something of great importance with regard to salvation at the end of two millenniums or of one millennium. Two thousand years after Adam’s fall, Abraham became the progenitor of the Jewish nation. It was through the Jews that God brought salvation in the work of His Son on The Cross. Also, it was to this race that God gave the Bible, The Word of God, and through which He will yet bring universal peace and righteousness. One thousand years after Abraham, He called David to become the first of a line of kings, in whose line the Messiah would come. One thousand years after that, He incarnated Himself in the person of His Son to become the sin offering. Now, some 2,000 years after that, the ministry of the church is almost finished, for the visible church is rapidly becoming apostate. When Israel failed God, He brought in the church. When the church fails God, as it is doing today, He will bring back Israel again. This refers to the Second Coming. A sweeping glace down the history of the human race indicates that the return of the Son of God to this earth must come very very soon. This is the Second Advent. The Rapture must come before that and can take place at any moment. 6/7 of human history is behind us. The last 1,000 years is just ahead, the last before the beginning of the Perfect Age, when God will transfer His headquarters from Heaven to Earth, which will never end.
When Will the Rapture Take Place?
Two questions confront us with regard to the Rapture of the Church:
The book of Revelation is obviously a book of prophecy. Of its 22 Chapters, 3 are historical in character. Chapter 1 speaks of John’s vision of Our Lord on the Island of Patmos. And yet, this chapter is prophetic in character in two respects. First of all, there is a definite prediction in the words, “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…” (Revelation 1:7) Here, we have the prediction of His Second Advent to a Christ-rejecting world. Then, the vision that John had of Our Lord was one in which He, as the present High Priest in Heaven, is prepared to come to earth in judgment.
The Church Age
Revelation 2 & 3 are messages from Christ addressed to seven historic churches that were in existence in Asia Minor in John’s day. As stated, each had a definite characteristic. Since these seven churches were not the only churches in Asia Minor at that time, it is evident that they were purposely selected for these definite characteristics. Since that is so, it is clear that these definite characteristics are for the guidance of the church during its earthly history. In fact, the number “seven” was not chosen at random but with deliberation. Seven is God’s number of completion. Therefore, these seven messages by Christ to these seven churches are meant to take in the entirety of the Church Age, in other words, to complete the Church Age.
The book of Revelation was written in the first century to predict the future of Israel, the Second Advent, the Millennium, and the Perfect Age to come. In a book of prophecy such as Revelation, it would seem strange should the inspired writer hurdle the intervening years from his time in history to the Millennium without taking note of the intervening years. This would be especially true since the book was written for the guidance of the Church. Consequently, these definite and separate characteristics of these seven churches must have some connection with the history of the church during the interim between Israel dispersed in the first century and Israel restored for the Millennium. As one compares these characteristics in their order with the history of the church, one discovers a striking resemblance between them and that history. It is so striking and such an order that this similarity cannot be a mere coincidence. This was deliberately occasioned in this manner by The Holy Spirit in order to portray the entirety of the Church Age. In Revelation 2 & 3, the church is seen on earth. After Chapter 3, the church is not mentioned again as being on earth. In fact, in Chapter 19, it is seen in Heaven. Chapters 6 through 19 portray the Great Tribulation period that will take place on earth, about which Jesus spoke graphically in Matthew 24. Now, if the church is on the earth during that particular time, or any part of that particular time, it seems strange, doesn’t it, for it not to be mentioned whatsoever by The Holy Spirit? No! The church is not mentioned at all during that period because the church is not on earth, having been raptured away by The Lord before the seven-year period begins according to 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8.
The Analysis of The Holy Spirit
Revelation is the only book of the Bible that God has analyzed for us. His analysis is found in Revelation 1:19 in the words, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;” We can summarize it in this fashion:
It is clear that the things that John has just seen refers to the vision he had of The Lord Jesus which is recorded in Chapter 1 and which is prophetic of the Second Advent. “[T]he things which are,” must refer to that which follows, namely the seven churches in Asia Minor of Chapters 2 & 3. They are prophetic of the Church Age, which we have already addressed. Then, he is to write the things “which shall be hereafter”. In the Greek text, this is “ha mellei genesthai meta tauta” exactly “the things which are about to become after these things.” “These things” refer to the Church Age. The third division of John’s prophecy, namely everything predicted after Chapter 3, is to occur after the Church Age closes. That which terminates the Church Age can be nothing else but its removal from the earth at the Rapture. Thus, all the predicted events of Chapters 4 through 22 of the book of Revelation will take place after the church is caught up from the earth to Heaven, namely, the seventieth week of Daniel (Revelation Chapters 6-19). It is divided into the first half of the week (first 3 ½ years, Revelation 6:1-4) and the second half of the week (the last 3 ½ years) referred to as The Great Tribulation. (Revelation 6:4-19:21). Revelation 19 proclaims the coming of The Lord with Chapter 20 proclaiming the Millennium. Chapters 21 and 22 will close out the book of Revelation, proclaim the Perfect Age to come, which the latter, in fact, will never end.
The Great Tribulation
Revelation 4 and 5 describe scenes in Heaven after the church is removed from the earth. Revelation 4:1 correlates with Revelation 1:19. It begins with the words “After this” and closes with the words “which must be hereafter.” In the Greek, both the beginning and the ending of the verse is “meta tauta” which means “after these things.” After what things? He has just finished speaking about the churches, so it is after the churches. This confirms and settles the question as to the time of the fulfillment of all the events of Revelation 4 through 22. These things cannot take place until after the Rapture of the Church. In other words, the church is no longer on earth when the events of Revelation 4 through 22 take place.
Happenings on Earth
As stated, Chapters 4 and 5 describe the scenes in Heaven after the church is removed from the earth. However, in Chapter 6, we are introduced to events to take place on the earth after the church is caught up to Heaven. The Scripture says, “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.” (Revelation 6:1) The actual words in the Greek that John heard were “be coming.” Actually the words “and see” are not in the best Greek texts. In fact, these words were not really addressed to John. He was standing there and would have no need for such a thunderous voice. These words, in fact, were addressed to the rider on the white horse which, of course, is symbolic of Revelation 6:2. The rider on the white horse is the antichrist and not Christ as some have claimed. The words “be coming” signal the beginning of the seven-year period referred to as the Great Tribulation. Revelation 6:2 says, “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.”
If it is to be noticed in verse 2, the antichrist is portrayed as having a bow, but no arrows are mentioned. This is stated in this manner for a purpose. Concerning the beginning of this seven-year period, Daniel said of the antichrist “And through his policy also he shall cause craft (deceit) to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many:…” (Daniel 8:25) That’s the reason that John saw him with no arrows. He will make his debut in the world on the platform of peace, when all the time, he is planning war. During this time of peace is when Israel will accept him as Messiah, with much of the world falling into line. He will solve the problems, at least temporarily, between the muslims and Israel and even make it possible for Israel to rebuild her temple. In fact, this portrays the possibility that a period of time will be needed between the Rapture of the Church and the beginning of the seven-year period in order for all of these things to come about. Things do not begin instantly, especially on a worldwide basis. Even though things take place presently at a much greater speed than years before, still, some time will be required.
That’s the reason I believe that there will be a time period between the Rapture of the Church and the beginning of the seven-year period of great tribulation, which we will address more succinctly later on. In fact, the Great Tribulation cannot begin until the antichrist signs a seven-year pact with Israel and other nations (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15-31). It stands to reason that the signing of this agreement cannot take place the day after the Rapture occurs. Even though preparations for these things can definitely be going on, and no doubt, will before the Rapture takes place, still it is obvious that a time period of some length will take place between the Rapture and the beginning of this seven-year tribulation period.
The Church and the Great Tribulation
The peace with which the antichrist began his effort will now be broken with war of terrible proportions being the result. This is proclaimed in Revelation 6:4, “…power was given unto him…to take (the) peace from the earth,…” The original Greek has the definite article “the” before the word peace here which is very important. It refers to a particular peace, in fact, a false peace instituted at the beginning of the reign of the antichrist, which will now be broken. Considering all these factors that points to a pre-tribulation rapture, Paul nails it down in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. The apostle did not deal with everything in this passage simply because he was addressing a particular question posed by the Thessalonians. They had been told by the false teachers that they were in the midst of the Day of The Lord, and they thought that they had missed the Rapture and were destined to endure the sufferings of the Great Tribulation. Paul assured them that this day will not yet come until after the departure of the church and the revelation of the antichrist. That would satisfy their hearts and banish their fears. Suffice it to say, Paul, in this passage, and also in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:9, teaches a pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church.
A Period of Affliction
The church at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) represents the period of modern missions, which is the sixth church period and is in existence today concurrently with the Laodicean period, or the apostate church. It is given the promise “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10) The word “temptation” as used here by Christ is “peirasmos” and means “adversity, affliction, and trouble.” The definite article “the” appears before the word “temptation” in the Greek, pointing to a particular period of affliction. This is described, as well, as affecting the whole inhabited earth. This can be nothing but the Great Tribulation. The word “keep” as used in the phrase “I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation,” is taken from the Greek word “tereo” which means “to attend to carefully, take care of.” The word also means “to guard.” The word “from” in the Greek is “ek” which means, in general usage, “out of, from within, out of heading, out of reach.” Some have attempted to take this word “from” to indicate that the church will go into the Great Tribulation but will be guarded and protected in it by The Lord, etc. However, to fully understand what John is saying here, we have to go back to the manner in which the people use that word in the first century. They did not then use it in the sense of being merely guarded and protected while remaining in the same place, but rather being removed altogether. For instance, the use of the word “from” in the first century would have been, “He has removed the material from my reach.” The word “from” being “ek.” The material was placed out of the reach of the person of whom God spoke. God promises to guard the church from the reach of the Great Tribulation. He does this by removing it from its reach. This is accomplished by the Rapture. The church will be removed from the reach of the Great Tribulation by a distance of many billions of miles. For, it will be in Heaven, outside of this universe, during that particular time.
Not Subject to the Dangers
This removal of the church out of the reach of the tribulation is spoken of also in the Greek word “harpazo” which is translated “caught up.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) One of the meanings of harpazo, even as we’ve already stated, is “to rescue from danger of destruction.” The church will not only be rescued from destruction but from the very presence of destruction. In other words, it will not be subject to the dangers of the Great Tribulation. In fact, there is nothing in Scripture that indicates that the church will either enter or pass through the Tribulation. Israel is given many signs that warn her of the near approach of that period in Matthew 24. But the Gospels and Epistles are entirely devoid of any sign given to the church. The Epistles speak of “day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6), an expression not found in the Old Testament or Gospels. This is a day to which the church is to look forward with joy. It is the end of the pathway of the Christian church. It is the time of the Rapture. If this day does not occur before the Tribulation, then there is no place for it in the prophetic calendar of events that will take place during or after that period.
The Great Tribulation period is a time when the divine wrath is to be visited upon the earth particularly upon Israel. However, the promise to the church is that it has been delivered from the wrath to come (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 5:8). The Bible expressly states who will be the objects of the divine wrath during the Revelation period, namely, Israel and the ungodly of the Gentile nations. If the church were destined to suffer, surely the Bible would make note of that fact along with the mention of the above two companies of individuals. The Biblical attitude of the believer is one of waiting for the glorification of his body, “the redemption”, according to Romans 8:23 and of looking for The Savior (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). The language is clear that the believer is to expect Him at any moment, not look for Him in connection with some predicted event for which signs have been given to Israel and not to the church. As well, and even more important, to teach that the church will go through the Tribulation period is to nullify the Biblical teaching of the imminent coming of The Lord Jesus for the church. There is no other timeframe in Biblical prophecy for the Rapture and the Resurrection. It has to be before the Great Tribulation. At this moment, events on earth are not yet in readiness for the Great Tribulation but The Lord may return for His Church at any moment. Paul, in Philippians 4:5, Peter in 1 Peter 1:13-15, and John in 1 John 3:2-3 all make imminent the coming of The Lord for the church, a ground of appeal for holy living and diligent service.
We’re looking for His coming in the clouds of Heaven
Coming back to earth to catch away His own
Then may we all be ready when the midnight cry is given
To go and reign with Christ on His Throne
We’re longing for the glory that awaits the faithful
Who shall overcome and every conflict win
Press ever bravely onward, the prize is eternal life
To all who win the fight over sin
We are praying for the Advent of our Blessed Savior
Who has promised life to all who trust His grace
His coming is now pending, the message being given
And soon we’ll see our Lord face to face
The Rapture of the Church
Scripture is in BLACK FONT
Words of Jesus in RED FONT
Notes in BLUE FONT