The Rapture, Part VII


Paul sounds like it shouldn't be a surprise that Jesus comes as  a thief in the night and it is because Jesus  Himself  talked about  that  in Matthew. "Watch therefore: for ye know not  what hour  your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman  of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he  would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be  broken up.

" Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye  think not  the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 24:42-44) The watch  refers to  watchmen who begin at 6 p.m. dusk, each takes a period  of  a certain number of hours, usually four shifts, until dawn, 6  a.m. [6  a.m.  refers to the beginning of the  Millennium].

"But  note `hour', not the day, month or year and also note `would not  have suffered  his house to be broken up,' which leads us to the  next point: the Day of the Lord. But before we look at `The Day of the Lord', let  us  think about  this situation of suddenly being snatched away.  Jesus  is not  necessarily  talking  about night-time.  He  uses  the term `night'  in  reference to spiritual darkness on earth.  

"He could call us unto Himself in the clouds any time. It reminds me of the incident at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs recently. The woman who was confronted by a suicidal father of four with explosives,  threatening  to blow up the building,  stated  that she thought  it  was  to be her last moments.

"She  reflected,  "am  I ready?  No,"  she said, "I wanted my family, because  they  would miss me." It was an important comment to Christians. In this case she  got her wish. What about the Rapture, would we hesitate  and miss out? What are our priorities?Our  minds and hearts have to be totally in tune  with  His desires for us to allow this event to happen without failure were we are concerned. It is not a time, not to understand the righteousness and thinking, I'm not worthy.

"That is what happened  to the five virgins who had no oil. Notice that they were  all  ten waiting for the bridegroom. The five who were ready to go through the  door when it opened, got in. The other five found  a closed door when they got back. (see Matthew 25:1-13)

We are 2000 years closer to the Rapture then the time of Paul's teaching. To God a thousand years is like one day. Knowing and understanding what the Gospel teaches is critical.  We can't receive the sealing by the Holy Spirit until we have  heard and received the Word. Even if we feel we can't  trust  teachers anymore,  we can read it out loud to ourselves and hear  it.  Our heart has a much easier time accepting our own voice than another's.

"The "Day of the Lord" holds an important place in prophecy. Amos  declared  that  the "Day"  signified  judgment  for  Israel (cf.Isaiah  2:12-24; Ezekiel 13:5; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11;  Zephania 1:14;  Zechariah  13:1..) Several prophets refer to it  as  God's "day  of judgment" upon individual nations such as  Babylon (see Isaih  13:6-9),  Egypt (see Jeremiah 46:10), Edom  (see Obadiah 1:8), and many other nations (see Joel 2:31; 3:14; Obadiah  1:15) Thus,  the Day of the Lord represents the occasion  when  Jehovah will actively intervene to punish sin.

"During  the time period of the Day of the Lord, there  will be  those  who truly repent and are saved, but those  who  remain enemies of the Lord, whether Jews or Gentiles, will be  punished. In  the  New  Testament, the Day of the Lord is  related  to  the Second  Coming of Christ. So also is the phrase "the Day  of  our Lord  Jesus  Christ" (1 Cor. 1:8; 5:5; Phil. 1:6;  10;  2:16;  2 Thess. 2:2).

Both expressions, the "Day of the Lord" and the "Day of Christ," refer to time periods of judgment by Christ. The  Day of the Lord will include the time of Great Tribulation (cf.  Rev,6-20). It also refers to the liberation by Christ of His  Church, see Zechariah 14:1-4, which happens before the Day of the Lord.

"Thus,  the  Day  of the Lord and the Day  of  Christ  occur simultaneously.  For the Church, it is the Rapture; and  for  the unbelieving world, it is the beginning of judgment and the Tribulation. If the Day of the Lord began after the Second Advent,  it could  not come as a "thief in the night," unexpected and  unheralded,  since  that  particular advent is preceded  by  signs  (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10). Consequently, the only way these events
could  occur unexpectedly would be for them to begin  immediately after the Rapture of the Church.

The Day of the Lord,  therefore, is  that  extended period of time when God begins  to deal  with Israel.  It  also continues through the Second  Advent  and  the millennial  age preceding the creation of the new heaven and  new earth." We  agree that what is described in the following  Scripture could  not possibly happen in one day and we can safely say  that the Day  of the Lord includes the tribulation and  the  thousand year millennium.  

"Behold, the day of the LORD cometh,  and  thy spoil  shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I  will  gather all  nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city  shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the  city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue  of  the people shall not be cut off from the city.

"Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in  the day  of battle. And his feet shall stand in that  day  upon  the mount of Olives, which [is] before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and  toward the west, [and there shall be] a very  great  valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and  half of it toward the south." (Zechariah 14:1-4)

The following concluding description of the day of the  Lord describes the final destruction of the earth which does not  come about  until  after the millennium is over. "But the day  of  the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the  heavens
shall  pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall  melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are  therein shall  be  burned up." (2 Peter 3:10)

"To assure us that  we  can count on the pre-tribulation Rapture, Paul gave us, "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by  our  Lord Jesus Christ.." (1Thessalonians 5:9)

This understanding of the Day of the Lord changes the  whole picture,  because he is suddenly dropping the whole  period,  the beginning  of the tribulation to the end of the millennium on  us like a thief in the night unless we are part of the Rapture. "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief  in the night.

"For when they shall say, Peace and  safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in  darkness, that that day should overtake you as a  thief." (1 Thessalonians  5:2-4)

Here the Apostle Paul makes it clear that believers are not going to be overcome by sudden destruction. The Day of the Lord shall not  overtake us because we won't be here. Paul just told us that that day  cometh upon them which isn't us. These  following verses describe what all  of  this  action relating to the tribulation is about and why peace and safety is the beginning of the tribulation:

"Seventy weeks are  determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation  for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up  the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most  Holy.  Know therefore  and  understand, [that] from the going  forth  of  the commandment  to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the  Messiah the Prince [shall be] seven weeks, and threescore and two  weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in  troublous times.  

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah  be  cut off  {i.e. crucifixion},  but not for himself: and the people  of  the prince {of this world} that shall come shall destroy the city and the  sanctuary; and the end thereof [shall be] with a flood,  and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he  shall confirm the covenant with many for one week {i.e. seven year  tribulation}:  and in the midst of the week {3.5 years} he  {i.e. Antichrist} shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading  of  abominations he {i.e. Antichrist} shall  make  [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined  shall be poured upon the desolate." (Daniel 9:24-27) The last verses describe the takeover of the temple by the Antchrist.

As  long  as God is gathering the Church out of  the  world, this  seventieth  week remains future. Once the  "times  of  the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24) are complete, the clock of God's  judgment will  count off the last remaining week. Of one thing we  can  be sure and that is Jesus is coming. He will come according to God's divine  plan  and hopefully we can say to Him:

"I have  fought  a good  fight, I have finished [my] course, I have kept the  faith: Henceforth  there  is laid up for me a  crown  of  righteousness, which  the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that  day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his  appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7,8)

Tribulation Saints, people who come to the Lord Jesus Christ during the tribulation will be martyred. Antichrist receives freedom  to kill  Christians who do not take the mark of the beast.  This  is also the last call for the Jews to repent before the  final part of the Tribulation begins. They who pierced Him, were the Jews. Just before Armageddon  Jesus  himself will appear to Jews who did  not  accept  Him before the Tribulation.

"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and  every eye  shall  see him, and they [also] which pierced him:  and  all kindreds  of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so,  Amen.
(Revelation 1:7) "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 worshiped 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. But the rest  of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were  finished.

"This  [is] the first resurrection. 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." (Revelation  20:4-6, see  also Rev. 7:9-14) The first resurrection begins with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and ends at the last minute before Armageddon.

To  prove that the believing Gentiles are included  in  this promise  He  gave us this: "That the Gentiles  should  be  fellow heirs,  and  of the same body, and partakers of  his promise  in Christ by the gospel:" (Ephesians 3:6) To affirm again that death is a thing of the past for Christians at the Rapture read:  "Neither  can they die any more: for they are equal unto the  angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the  resurrection." (Luke 20:36)

At  the end of the thousand year reign of Christ  Jesus  and His saints (us), an end will be made of death and evil. The world will  be  destroyed. A new heaven and earth will be created  for those who are with Jesus Christ. God showed this vision to  John: "And there came unto me one of the seven angels which  had  the seven  vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with  me, saying,

"Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And  he carried me away in the spirit to a great and  high  mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God." (Revelation 21:9,10) The bride being all  believers,  Jews and Gentiles, male and female. "Let  us  be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready."  (Revelation 19:7)

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