Archive for the 'prophecy' Category

12
Feb
18

The Rapture – When Does the Bible Place it?

In my late teens I displayed a sticker in my car warning passengers that their driver could disappear at any time. It was a sticker made possible (and popular) by the expectation of the imminent rapture – when Jesus would return secretly, without warning, to snatch His people from the earth, prior to the period described as “The Tribulation”, when God would start pouring out His judgement on the non- believers who were left behind.

I accepted that “pre-tribulation rapture” teaching for the first few years of my Christian life – after all, that’s what best selling Christian books were teaching, and it was the accepted doctrine of the church I attended. As I’ve said in previous posts, my views changed when I eventually studied what the Bible really says on the topic.

This morning I decided to follow up a little more by looking at the Bible references that speak about the time when Jesus will catch His people up from the earth. In my previous post I listed a few references that I remembered that specifically and clearly spoke of the Lord returning and believers being caught up from the earth to be with Him.  So today I looked for websites supporting the “pre-tribulation rapture” to see if they could add any additional references that spoke clearly about that event.

I found that none of the verses they added to the few I’d already referenced, specifically and categorically referred to  living believers being taken from the earth to be with Jesus. Only through some very creative interpretation could their additional verses be MADE into references to “the rapture”.

I even saw one site where a pre-trib supporting contributor said: “To be honest, I don’t have a good answer for why Jesus doesn’t mention the Rapture in His Matthew 24 discourse”

I have to shake my head in disbelief at that – because Jesus clearly DOES speak of such an event in that discourse, the only problem for the pre-trib camp is that it contradicts their belief.

So the search left me with the same few verses that I’ve already mentioned. The only additional quote is the gospel of Mark version of my quote from Matt 24.

Here are all of the quotes again:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matt 24: 29-31)

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven. (Mark 13: 24-27)

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor 15:51-53)

While those verses from 1 Corinthians don’t specifically refer to a “catching up” they do complement 1 Thess 4: 16-18 (see below) making reference to the same event when some who will be changed without dying, and that the timing of that change will happen “at the last trumpet” when those who have died will be raised from death.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thess 4:16-18)

These things are made clear about the timing of the catching up (rapture) of living saints to be with the Lord forever.

It will happen AFTER the events described in Revelation as the effects of opening the sixth seal:

I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs (Rev 6:12-17)

It will happen after trumpets are blown, and in particular after the “LAST trunmpet. Note that the sixth seal mentioned in the previous quote is followed by the seventh seal, the opening of which brings about the blowing of seven trumpets (see previous post).

Is there any way that the above quoted references – the ONLY Bible references that clearly and undeniably describe the “rapture” of the saints – can indicate something that happens earlier than those events mentioned in Revelation?

________________________________

 

I have a request.

Anyone who can provide a clear, categorical and unambiguous reference to a catching up of the saints that places it before the prophesied events of darkened sun, moon turned to blood and falling stars, PLEASE post the reference in the comments section below. But note: the reference has to be straight forward and able to stand on its own without needing the preconceived assumption that it occurs “pre-tribulation”.

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08
Feb
18

Seals and Trumpets and Bowls – oh my!

A lot of the teachings that influenced my early Christian life presented the book of Revelation as a mostly chronological account of future events, terrible judgements on the earth, that the church weren’t expected to experience personally because we would be removed from earth beforehand.

This removal occurred through an event known as “The Rapture”, a snatching up of believers from the earth to be with Jesus. While many Christians wouldn’t disagree about the expectation of some version of this future event, there is a deal of disagreement about when it will happen.

My introduction to “The Rapture” was through a pre-tribulation mindset, meaning as I said above, that believers would be taken from the earth prior to the terrible events described through much of the book of Revelation, a period defined as “The Tribulation”, or “the Great Tribulation”.

I don’t recall when or why I started to question that common belief, maybe it was a realisation that throughout Christian history, believers have already experienced extreme persecution and suffering, so why should my generation be different (the rapture was always expected to happen at any time, within my own lifetime)?

I decided to see what scripture said. It was the first time I’d actually undertaken a search of the scriptures for myself, to check what I’d been taught.

 

 

I found that some parts of Revelation are strictly chronological, but a lot of it isn’t. I also found it brought to light problems with what I’d been taught.

 

In this post I want to look very briefly at what I see as the most clearly chronological parts: the progression of God’s final judgements released from Heaven, onto the earth, depicted through the opening of 7 seals, the blowing of 7 trumpets and the emptying of 7 bowls.

I’m not going to look in specific detail at each judgement. I want to address the general issue of how those seals, trumpets and bowls relate to each other. I can only hope that readers will carefully consider what I say below, and check it with scripture (and let me know if I’ve overlooked or misunderstood something).

 

Those earlier teachings tended to draw a strict, straight line of 7 seals followed by 7 trumpets, followed by 7 bowls. Since then I’ve come across other ideas but could never see the validity or the logic of their arguments.

So what did my own study suggest to me?

 

When each of the first six seals are opened, it leads to some kind of event happening on earth, but at first reading, the seventh doesn’t seem to do anything like the previous six, there seems to be no effect on the earth:

“When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour”…

However, as we read on it can be seen that the opening of that seal ushers in the Trumpet judgements, which DO result in judgements upon the earth.

“And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets… So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”

I believe that the biblical text describes the opening of the seventh seal as releasing the following trumpet judgements.

 

Like the first six seals, the first six Trumpets result in various catastrophic judgements on the earth, and then (like the last seal) the seventh trumpet seems different. There appears to be no specific, separate judgement released by its sounding, instead  “there were loud voices in heaven” – (note the contrast between these loud voices in heaven with the silence in heaven after the seventh seal).

Those voices announce that: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

After a lengthy interlude the bowl judgements are described. Just as I suggested that the result of the seventh seal is the ushering in of the seven Trumpets, I’d suggest that the blowing of the seventh trumpet brings about the ensuing bowl judgments.

 

In very simplified terms, I see that the trumpet judgements are the result of the seventh seal being opened, and likewise, the bowl judgements are the result of the seventh trumpet being sounded (and by progressive association, the bowls are also linked with the opening of seventh seal).

The following chart is something I drew up over 30 years ago. At the time my ideas were still being shaped by some of the terminology I’d picked up through those popular teachings of the time; such as “The Great Tribulation”.  I’d now suggest that term, as well as the other label “The Wrath of God” be ignored on this illustration. I not only find them irrelevant, they potentially mislead. I include the diagram for it’s overview of the seals, trumpets and bowls, rather than the smaller details.

Following is a rough diagram I drew up more recently as a simplified illustration. What this diagram shows that isn’t evident in the above, is that the final completion of all of the seals, trumpets and bowls, coincide at the same point in time: at the return of Jesus, represented by the final vertical line.

 

I recall I once described aspects of these judgements as resembling those Russian dolls that stack within each other, with the Bowls being stacked within the last trumpet, and the seven trumpets being stacked within the last of the seals.
However that illustration was denounced by one reader, because (he said) the word doll comes from the word idol, and therefore my use of it bordered on the demonic.

 

Someone might ask what the point of this speculation may be – does it really matter?

Maybe not to you or to others, but it helped me make sense of something.

And here we come back to the topic of the previous post and its darkened sun, blood moon and falling stars.  That event is described in Revelation as the result of the opening of the sixth seal, clearly long before the majority of the expected “Great Tribulation” events promoted by those teachings I’d previously believed; and yet Jesus had stated that this would happen “immediately after the tribulation of those days“, soon to be FOLLOWED by the sending forth of His angels with a great trumpet “and they will gather together His elect from the four winds from one end of the sky to the other”.

 

Compare this to: “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

And with this:  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

 

[note: these possibly/probably coincide with that last vertical line in the second illustration above]

 

At the least, I think what I’ve written about above well and truly blows a lot of traditional teaching of the rapture and “The Great Tribulation” out of the water. The timing required for those teachings isn’t backed by what scripture says.

But more than that, it helps me make sense of the timing of the Lord’s return, and the gathering of His saints, revealed in those other parts of scripture quoted above.

 

In the traditional teachings I’d previously held, there seemed to be a significant gap between the events of the sixth seal (dark sun, blood moon, falling stars) and the blowing of the seventh trumpet (rising of the dead and the catching up of those still alive) – and what about the post-last trumpet bowl judgements? – but when I recognised the above described relationships between the seals, trumpets and bowls, the perceived disconnect seemed to be mostly resolved .

01
Feb
18

Blood Moon?

Blood Moon?

Blue moon?

Super moon?

All of those terms were thrown around and joined together to describe the phenomenon in the skies last night.  A lunar eclipse affecting the second full moon in a single calendar month when the moon’s elliptical orbit had brought it to  its closest proximity to earth.

A spectacular lunar event – or not – depending on your location.

At my place it came too late in the night to be seen at its most impressive. The peak of the lunar eclipse occurred at half past midnight, when the moon was almost directly over head. Such things are always more spectacular when they occur at moonrise, as the full moon lifts above the eastern horizon, and the angle of viewing creates the illusion of a much larger moon than when it’s overhead.

We also had some hazy cloud cover – not enough to obscure the sight completely, but enough to blur it. To us the moon looked like a dirty rust coloured smudge, and we got a much better view by watching NASA’s live feed of the event – although the NASA image showed a northern hemisphere view that was “upside down” from our Southern Hemisphere perspective.

Along with the live video feed, I noticed “live chat” was also offered to viewers. However, that “chat” had become a blur of activity where  countless brief statements scrolled up the screen too fast to read. Although among the speeding comments I did catch a glimpse of an expected bible reference:

The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

“Blood Moons” became a popular fad in Christian circles a year or two ago, when great significance was made of the fact that four lunar eclipses would occur during that year, with some coinciding with the dates that God  had given to the children of Israel as feast days. The Christian publishing industry seemed to go into overdrive with a variety of authors writing to detail the alleged prophetic significance.

Many years ago I considered the repetition of biblical references to the darkening of the sun, the moon turning to blood, and stars falling from the sky (there are several spread throughout both old and new Testaments). I made the connection between the darkening sun and a solar eclipse. I made the connection between the moon turning to blood with a lunar eclipse. I made the connection with falling stars and a spectacular meteor shower. I wondered whether there was a time ahead when all three would coincide  (but recognised that the closest a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse could come together would be two weeks. A lunar eclipse happens at the time of a full moon, a solar eclipse at a new moon).

I also made the logical assumption that should those astronomical events be the way biblical prophecy would be fulfilled, then it is most likely they would be events viewed from Jerusalem and not general references to viewing events spread randomly around the world.

Will there be a time when Jerusalem will experience both eclipses and a significant meteor shower all within the two weeks required between solar and lunar eclipses? Or will the fulfilment of bible prophecy be entirely a supernatural event, where the sun goes dark, the moon turns red and stars do fall – for no natural reason at all? That God will shake the heavens and bring these things about when they are totally unexpected, and in the process confound the speculations of those who seek to exploit Him and His word for an agenda different to His.

 

 

14
Dec
17

Jerusalem in the End Times

08
Dec
17

When Jesus Returns (David Pawson interview)

07
Dec
17

The Last Millennium: David Pawson

This is some of the teaching that started to open my eyes to the biblical realities of the millennium.

Continued here:

18
Oct
17

Giving Heed to Fables or to Sound Doctrine?

The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

 

How naïve the Pentecostal church was back in the late 70s when, as a new Christian, I was getting my first taste of end time teachings. We were all convinced that things were so bad in the world that The Lord could possibly return to snatch us away during the next few minutes, (in a pre-trib rapture), or if not, then at least before the end of the week.

 

40 years later and He still hasn’t returned, and those days seem so tame compared to the present day.
Clearly we’ve never really understood the potential depth of mankind’s depravity.
I wonder how much worse things are likely to become in the world before the Lord does come back.

 

One thing that has clearly changed is the increasing fulfilment of Jesus’s prophecies about false Christs and false prophets; and how they have increasingly become part of the mainstream.

 

In a comment on after earlier post, my friend Roger recommended an article here:
http://herescope.blogspot.co.nz/2017/10/selling-out-blessed-hope.html

Towards the end of the article examples are given of several books related to “biblical prophecy”. I found one of them stood out when I read the description. That particular book:

asks whether God raised up President Trump as a fearless leader to guide America and the free world through a series of major crises as the biblical end-time narrative unfolds, as many people with prophetic gifts are predicting, and shows why everyday Americans and evangelicals have rallied around Trump as their last hope of saving America and averting the horrors of the Apocalypse

 

I feel I should be able to ask “need I say more”?  – Surely that brief description is sufficient to expose that book’s premise as being deeply (and demonically) flawed; lauding Trump as a God endorsed saviour, who will basically nullify God-given biblical prophecy about end time events. But I suspect many “evangelicals” will eagerly lap up its claims.

 

I’m not sure that, back in the 70s, any Bible believing Christian could have believed that such attitudes would be ever held by anyone within “the church”, particularly the “evangelical church”. Could we have ever believed that things within the church would become so off-kilter?

 

Of course, there were books and teachings of the time that I can now see (with hindsight and significantly more awareness of what the Bible actually says) were highly flawed.  But those that I came across at least made a token effort to present a Biblical viewpoint, and kept the gospel in mind, even if they added far too much personal interpretation and speculation to their Biblical content. Today, books like the one mentioned above, seem more intent on pushing a different agenda, far removed from the genuine Gospel of the Kingdom.




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