Anyone who has read my blogs already knows I only teach in love, without judgment of whether or not you accept or reject what I write. I am not your judge. Only God is your judge, and I expect you to pray for discernment in whether or not I am teaching correctly. I say this because there have been times when God has revealed His truth to me not all at once, but over a period of time, piece by piece.
The Spirit showed me two years ago that believing in Pre-Tribulation rapture was dangerous. It took a while for me to get around to studying it, and you can read my two previous blogs about it in my blog archives.
If you believe in a rapture, and then at some later date, Christ returning once again to establish His kingdom on earth, you essentially believe in not only a second coming, but also a third, which is completely, biblically unfounded. This is why we are going to begin this study with Matthew chapter 24. There are three important things to note about this chapter. First, it is a chapter of prophecy. Secondly, the events Jesus speaks of are in chronological order, although, thirdly, the prophecies refer to two parallel time frames.
“Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” vs 1-3 Notice three questions are asked here. The disciples asked “…when will this happen…”, because they could not fathom the holy temple; the dwelling place of the presence of God being destroyed, unless they were expecting their Messiah Jesus to finally establish His kingdom on earth and defeat the Jew’s oppressive enemies. Then they then proceeded to ask for a sign of His coming, perhaps so that they might place themselves in the most advantageous position to receive their reward of status in His kingdom. The third question was to ask Jesus about the exact time all this would be fulfilled.
To understand Jesus’ answers to these question, we need to understand many of His words would come to pass just 40 years later with the destruction of the city by general Titus in 70 AD. However, as other prophecies in the Bible show us, they can also refer to future events, particularly the very last of days just before the return of Christ. It is in that perspective we will be looking at the following scriptures.
“Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” 4-13, NLT As I already said, much of this has already happened and has continued to happen throughout history, but as “only the first of the birth pains, with more to come”.
The disciples must have been thinking, “What? How can all of this stuff happen if Jesus is on the verge of establishing His kingdom? How much longer do we have to wait!” Verse 10 in the King James says, “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another,”. “offended” in the Greek means “to be enticed into sin or apostasy”. Then in verse 13, what does a believer endure to the end in order to be saved? What is the subject of this passage? “Don’t be deceived. Keep your focus on the Truth, and be prepared to face the consequences.”
Suddenly verse 14 seems to skip to the future, “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. “End” here is “telos” and defines a particular completion of a dispensation (whereas sunteleo denotes a complete and entire fulfillment of a period of time). Telos in the context of verse 14 means that moment when Christ returns. Sunteleo would be the time at the heralding in of eternity, when all former things have passed away. In “…the whole world…”, the word “world” can be translated “land”, thus meaning Judea and its surrounding areas, even the Roman empire. However, by extension, the word can mean the all-inclusive globe, as backed up by Revelation 14:6, “Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people.”
Verses 15 through 20 are parallel prophecies. “15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:” KJV Verse15 simultaneously means the Gentile Romans under Titus desecrating the holy place, and the antichrist sitting in the temple claiming to be God. The rest of the verses pertain specifically to Jews escaping Titus’ army as quickly as possible, because that’s how fast the sieges took place. However, the prophecy of Daniel Jesus is speaking of here is referring to the reign of the future antichrist. So it’s possible it is also a warning to Jews during his reign to also “run for the hills”.
Verses 21 and 22, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.” A tribulation so great “nor shall be” another like it. Friends, this is speaking of the great tribulation of the antichrist. It’s really important to note that this scripture in no way says the elect will escape the tribulation! It says the days shall be shortened. In verses 23-28, what will be happening during these shortened days? More false prophets. More false doctrine. More deception, carrying on the original subject of this passage from verse 4.
Verses 29-31, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” KJV Did everyone catch that? “Immediately AFTER the tribulation… they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” “The four winds” here is saying “the four corners of the earth” along with those believers who have died and already gone to heaven. That means all believers.
This is the first and only resurrection of the righteous spoken of in the Bible: “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Rev 20:6 KJV ; “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:1,2 KJV Many who believe in pre-trib rapture use Daniel 12:1 to prove their theory. However, their argument completely falls apart when asked, “When is the Book of Life opened?” “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. Revelation 20:11,12 KJV It is at the white throne judgment, when it is officially known to all whose name is written in the book of life also. (Yes, sin will be possible during the millennial period. Sin is breaking God’s laws Zechariah 14; also Revelation 20:8 – how can you deceive one who cannot sin?) Also see John 11:24; 6:39,40,44;54; 12:48 - "the last day" is the one and only return of Christ. There is no "last day" before another "last day".
Back to the topic….” And He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet,…” These angels are swiping their sickles for the harvest. This happens at the seventh and final trumpet. “ “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1st Corinthians 15:52
I believe verses 40 and 41 shall come to pass, “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” However, when will this happen? These verses are connected to and continued from verses 29-31, at the end of this dispensation when Christ returns, not a “rapture”, but rather, the first and only resurrection of the righteous, marking the advent of His kingdom on earth.
From verse 32 to the end of the chapter, we basically have parables answering the disciples’ last question, “and of the end of the age?” Jesus gave no answer except, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Back then, as it is now, those words should keep us on our toes. Don’t be deceived.
If your belief system is threatened by this month’s topic, it could mean one or more of the following things:
1) You believe in pre-trib rapture because you have too little of faith that God could protect and provide for you during the great tribulation.
2) You cannot believe that a God of love for His children would allow them to be subject to such persecution.
3) Of all the hundreds of thousands or more Christians who have been persecuted in the past and are being persecuted and killed in the present in unspeakable ways for the sake of their faith, you are somehow especially chosen to escape suffering and be whisked away from bodily death or martyrdom.
So you have a choice.. You can believe what the Bible says, or you can believe the philosophical debates that some man or woman has come up with that you agree with because it is more comforting to you. This is “the ticking of the ears” that Paul wrote Timothy about. God is a God of love, but He is also sovereign, and make no mistake, His will shall be accomplished. There is no doubt, He calls some to be martyrs simply for their belief in Christ if they accept their call. Why then should we be so surprised that he will call some to live through the great tribulation to become martyrs? (There will be others who will come to Christ during the tribulation and become martyrs also.) I believe, because of the dual nature of the prophecies of Matthew 24, what Jesus told his disciples in verse 9, “"Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.” NLT is going to be just as true for us if we’re alive during the reign of antichrist.
Now, here’s the good news. “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” KJV
I’ve said it before…don’t place all of your faith in pre-trib rapture. It is simply a theory a theologian came up with in 1830 using his particular interpretation of the Bible. As responsible Christians, we have to make sure our faith is invested in the gospel and our relationship with Christ and His Spirit. Jesus told us no one knows the day He will return, but He has given us signs to look for. If we decide not to believe the words Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24 about His coming, we place ourselves on seriously dangerous position if Christ does not return before the great tribulation begins. The devil can prey on our minds and convince us that God has abandoned His promise to us we so overtly cherish. Paul speaks of a great apostasy of the faith in the latter days. Could this be a reason why? In light of the fact that the Bible is full of scripture admonishing us to accept suffering as a way of growing in Christ-likeness, trying to escape suffering is Christian cowardice. Forgive me if I have offended you. God wants us to take Him seriously.
In love always, David