As I have been trying to reconcile the many concepts of the rapture (pre, mid, etc.) in my mind I am hitting stumbling blocks. I have not changed my mind about the rapture, and our escape from the Great Tribulation period, but the timing seems to be paper thin, and is making the other theories at least a little more understandable. I am not sure what I thought the timing would be, but I sure did not get the impression that we, the church, would witness the entrance of the “the beast”.
An example of this paper thin timing, and the entrance of the beast, is the statement Paul made in his letter to the Thessalonian church.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV (3) "Let no man deceive you by any means:
for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"
I have many translations and almost all have included the words, “that day shall not come” in italics to indicate that they added them for clarity sake, but what day are we waiting for? The day of the Lord. But I thought we were waiting for the rapture, not destruction. The son of perdition has many names throughout scripture, the beast is one of them, so don't get all bent out of shape over that.
Read what the prophets of God had to say about the day of the Lord:
Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. (Joel 1:15 KJV)
Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand-- a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:1-2 NIV)
That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and sorrow, a day of wasting and destruction, a day of dark night and deep shade, a day of cloud and thick dark. (Zephaniah 1:15 BBE)
See, the day of the LORD is coming --a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger-- to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. (Isaiah 13:9 NIV)
There is not a thing about these passages that seem to bring me great peace for they all portray God's judgment upon the earth; they all portray the destruction that I have come to recognize with the seven week period in which Israel signs the peace treaty, the antichrist is predominant, and beheadings are the latest craze.
Nor do I feel as though I have a better comprehension about the rapture if I focus on them alone. Truth be known I think it confused me more, and God is not the author of confusion, therefore I keep going back to Jesus words, and you cannot argue with the statements that Jesus made.
In Matthew 24:37 Jesus said it would be as in the days of Noah, so ask yourselves, what do you know about Noah?: The thoughts of man were continually evil, violence filled the earth, and God shut Noah and his family, up in the ark before the floods came.
God seperated Noah's family from the destruction. Peter, in his second letter, uses Noah as well, but adds righteous Lot into the mix as examples of God rescuing the righteous from destruction.
We briefly touched upon Noah, so let's touch upon Lot since he is given for consideration. Peter calls him a righteous man, and although I strain to see that in him, God did. It is the final aspect of the Lot story that is hugely significant. When Lot and his family slow down packing their things and getting out, the angels had to remove them, saying “we can do nothing as long as you are here”. Read the story here:
With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished." When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!" But Lot said to them, "No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can't flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I'll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it--it is very small, isn't it? Then my life will be spared." He said to him, "Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it." (That is why the town was called Zoar.) (Genesis 19:15-22 NIV)
I will tell you this, when I find myself confused, I run to Matthew 24:37, and 2Peter 2:7; primarily because Jesus said it, but also because Peter backed it up, and added one other witness. Now if you know your bible then you know that a thing must be established by at least two witnesses and we have them here, therefore I have my anchor, but I think that this concept of snatching should be more predominant. If not, how do you explain all the preaching and teaching, and wrong ideas that has inundated us since Christ left the earth.
Wishing to gain as much understanding as possible I read from the notes section of my study bible. The Life application study bible attempts to define the term: "The day of the Lord" as that period of time when the Lord openly intervenes in the affairs of men, when man's day has closed. It will be inaugurated with the rapture of the Church."
(I do not hold strongly to the commentaries, but use them as aids. I really am looking the Holy Spirit to open this up to me. I am also a firm believer in applying logic and reasoning, therefore is something man says, is not reasonable then I challenge it with God's word. If I feel that God's word is not reasonable then I challenge myself to understand it.)
Some have read the passage in 2Thessalonians 2:3 and concluded that the antichrist personage has to show up first and then we are removed from the scene. What is the logic and reason that you can apply to this thinking. If the man of perdition is reavealed then that would mean that:
- He is most likely here and ready to emerge.
- We, the church, will probably be aware of who he is.
- And the most painful path of reason is that because of what he does during the seven years, we will most likely see evidence of that beginning to take place.Consider this, in reading about the battle for Iwo Jima, during WWII, even though this was only a piece of the war, the logistics it took to make that battle happen were mountainous. Do you not consider that the events happening in the world today are nothing more than logistics. God is making everything fall into place, and foolish minded men think that this is their doing.
I think I can see the problem and the source of confusion.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 NIV (1) Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, (2) not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us--whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter--asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. (3) Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
Perhaps the confusion exists because there is a context issue when using 2Thessalonians 2:3 as a stand alone verse. The context really begins within the first chapter. In the first chapter Paul begins talking about the persecutions these people are suffering, and an appropriate way for them to look at those afflictions, but as with every other book of the bible, there is an integration of the conversation into end times salvation and the day of the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 1:4-10 NIV (4) Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. (5) All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (6) God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you (7) and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (8) He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9) They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might (10) on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
While we, in the “modern church” are looking for an escape, this body was in it deep. Deep enough for Paul to attempt to encourage them, and by extension, encourage us. In 2Thessalonians 1:6 Paul states, it is "a just thing with God to pay back tribulation to the ones troubling you,". When is that going to happen? On the day of the Lord, a time of judgment and gloom, and none of us associate our relief from this present world with a time of horror, and yet at the same time as the horror to come we have this admonition –
2Thessalonians 1:7 "to those afflicted, relief with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from Heaven with the angels of His power,".
Again, I would like to be able to demonstrate a significant separation between our rapture (I assume our rapture here) and the day of the Lord, in which he brings pay back to those that have afflicted us, but look at verse 8 there is no break in thought, those angels mentioned a moment ago are coming with flaming fire.
2 Thessalonians 1:8 LITV (8) in flaming fire giving full vengeance to those not knowing God, and to those not obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Isaiah 66:15 NIV See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.
Jeremiah 10:25 NIV Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the peoples who do not call on your name. For they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him completely and destroyed his homeland.
It is difficult to understand how some of this vengeance does not splash over on us, unless we who belong to Him, at that time, are removed from harms way. This is exactly what Peter was talking about when he described how God rescued Lot and Noah, and he will rescue us.
Here are other passages in which I find demonstrable hope, not necessarily a huge separation from the grief to come, but salvation none the less.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 CEV (10) ... you are waiting for his Son Jesus to come from heaven. God raised him from death, and on the day of judgment Jesus will save us from God's anger.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 NIrV (9) God didn't choose us to receive his anger. He chose us to receive salvation because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done.
Romans 5:6-9 NIrV At just the right time Christ died for ungodly people. He died for us when we had no power of our own. (7) It is unusual for anyone to die for a godly person. Maybe someone would be willing to die for a good person. (8) But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (9) The blood of Christ has made us right with God. So we are even more sure that Jesus will save us from God's anger.
One last thing crosses my mind as I write this, and just so you know, I write this because I believe that if I struggle then someone else does also.
Look at this:
Ephesians 2:4-10 NIV But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, (5) made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. (6) And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (7) in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (8) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- (9) not by works, so that no one can boast. (10) For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Colossians 2:6-13 NIV So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, (7) rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (8) See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. (9) For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, (10 KJV) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (11) In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, (12) having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. (13) When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,
Jesus, was brutally murdered for our sins, rose from the dead to bring us new life with the Father, and he volunteered to let that happen; why? For you alone! Through our acceptance of that act of salvation we are placed in him.
Will God brutally punish the Son anymore? Absolutely not, and we are in Him, therefore he is not going to pour out judgment upon us either.
He is the King; he is majesty; he is upholding all things by his word, and he is our mediator, presenting himself on our behalf. He is the King of glory, and he has sat down, next to the Father, awaiting all things to fall into place, so that at the appropriate time he can present us, the bride, adorned for her husband.
Hebrews 1:2-3 KJV Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
If there is a logical path here, it is that if we are in Christ then we are not to be subject to what is to come. Make a distinction, the Great Tribulation includes the time of God's judgment upon the earth. Read Revelation chapter 6 onward and you will find the wrath of the seals, bowls, and trumpet judgments upon the earth. This is all happening during the seven years called the great tribulation. It also includes the horrors that man places upon man. Driven by Satan in a last ditch attempt to conquer anything that looks like Jesus Christ, he empowers men with the same powers he tempted Jesus with after the wilderness experience. These man on man events are covered by the acts of the beast/antichrist, false prophet, and the harlot. I believe that I could make those characters much more realistic for you if time permitted.
My hope is that I have promoted God's word, not only as a resource but life itself. He is life, and he is alive.
John 1:1-3 AMP IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. [Isa. 9:6.] (2) He was present originally with God. (3) All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being.
These following just excites me. Possibly because the thought that all anguish shall cease, and peace that I have never known will come, instantly.
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:50-58 NIV)
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NIV)
As the church throughout the ages has looked at it's circumstances they have all said the rebellion is here. They might have been right, for I do not think that God looks at any of this as segmented time, it is just time, such as a day. And yet there is such a marked falling away today. Religious bodies that have been standards are giving in to pressure and allowing homosexuals to hold pastorates. Several generations of children have now grown with absolutely no desire to know God, and Islam is rising as the super power of religions and govermental authority. I believe that the time is now and the man is about to be revealed.
Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2 Thessalonians 2:3 NIV)
Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?
(2 Thessalonians 2:5 NIV)
Did Paul tell them this to encourage them of the hope to come, or to warn them? Knowing that persecution is coming can steele you against trouble. Someone or something has brought them doubt. That is really not necessary for it is man's nature to doubt (we are of course still broken).
The last days are upon us. Look around you and see for yourselves. Jesus, the living one, is coming soon, I can feel it and see it. If you do not know him I strongly suggest that you humbly ask him into your life. Allow him the opportunity to reveal himself to you for things are only going to get worse. He loved you before you were born and gave his life to rescue and redeem you. In a sense you are his anyway. God bless.