Category: THE RAPTURE

RAPTURE 29: LOT, ENOCH AND DANIEL

Is Lot’s escape from Sodom evidence for a pre-tribulation rapture? Was Enoch taken to heaven so that he could escape the Flood? Does Daniel’s absence from the furnace scene support the same idea?

Subjects covered lately in this series have been a little on the fringe of the whole matter of the timing of the rapture, but considering that  some ardent preachers of a pre-tribulation rapture  borrow every corner of Scripture to try to prove their point, it’s necessary to counter some of those weak arguments, and bring some reality to light.

I want to reiterate that I am not a-millennial in my beliefs, and I know that the rapture is a real Scriptural event. However, having been misled on the subject for twenty-eight years, I wish now to help others see what the future really holds, and not allow them to stick their heads in the sand of faulty interpretation. This post is excerpt number 29 from my book*. There’s a lot of meat in earlier posts. Just search “rapture” or try search terms such as “rapture wrath”, or “rapture bride”.

LOT’S ESCAPE FROM SODOM

Jesus’ reference to Lot’s escape from the destruction of Sodom in Luke chapter 17 is used to support a pre-tribulation rapture. However, Lot left Sodom on his own two feet, not on angels’ wings, knowing it was going to be judged that very day, because he had been told so. The ungodly were living out their usual daily lives when destruction from the Lord took them by surprise (verses 28-29). This is the point Jesus is making: not that believers were taken away without knowing that they would be or when they would be, but that the wicked were taken by surprise and were not expecting judgment. The wicked were appointed to wrath instead of salvation (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Noah entered the ark on the same day the Flood came (Genesis 7:11-13) and not days or years before. Lot escaped from Sodom on the same day judgment came. They did not leave the earth. Do we really want to take these events as templates for the rapture? If so, at best we would have to take the “mid-Tribulation” position, because Jesus and Paul said that the “time of trouble”-equivalent to the Flood and the destruction of Sodom-will begin when Antichrist enters the temple, and not before (Matthew 24:17 and 21). This will be only three and a half years before Christ’s visible return, not seven or eight or ten years before it. Even in the words of pre-tribulation “experts” the first half of the “seven years” will be a time of apparent peace and prosperity for the world: not the day of judgment, wrath and trouble. Antichrist’s power lasts only for forty-two months (Revelation 13:5). If Noah’s escape and Lot’s escape prefigure the rapture itself then the rapture would have to be on the very day Antichrist is revealed on the temple mount-at the earliest.

Noah’s deliverance does not work as a model for a rapture years before the time of trouble: neither does Lot’s. It’s intended to demonstrate that the unbelieving world will not be ready for the Day of the Lord while true believers will. Paul put it this way:

…for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly…But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief…” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).

ENOCH

Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24).

Enoch’s disappearance could certainly be considered a type of rapture. It’s very reminiscent of Paul’s description of our being changed from mortal to immortal, in his letters to the Thessalonians and the Corinthians. However, some pre-tribulation teachers go beyond what this brief account actually says, by claiming that Enoch’s “rapture” is symbolic of a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church. They assert that Enoch was taken to heaven to escape the Flood, and in the same way, the Church will be taken to heaven to escape the tribulation. Is there a statement in the Bible plainly connecting these two events-Enoch’s “rapture” and the rapture of the Church?

This concept gives the impression that Enoch was raptured a day or so, or a year or so, before the Flood, so that he wouldn’t have to suffer it. After all, the Church, it is said, will be raptured days or perhaps a few years before the “seven-year” tribulation begins. In fact, when you do the math, you find that Enoch was taken by God to heaven nine hundred and sixty-nine years before the Flood (Genesis 5:21-29 and 7:6). We’re told in Genesis that Enoch “walked with God”. This is why the Lord took him. We’re not told in scripture that Enoch was taken to spare him from the Flood almost a thousand years later, but because he walked with God. Being so close to God, would he not have escaped the Flood, along with “righteous” Noah, were he around for that long? There was no need for him to be raptured from the Flood!.

DANIEL

One prominent denomination teaches that Daniel had his own “rapture” which is intended to model the pre-tribulation rapture. Into the fiery furnace went Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo, in Daniel chapter 3, for not worshiping Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. But where was Daniel? He was not there at all. The fearless three had to endure the trials and tribulations of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace, while Daniel was nowhere to be seen. His absence is not only a “mystery”, but is considered a type of the pre-tribulation rapture.

Of course, there’s no statement to that effect anywhere in scripture, not even in Paul’s discussion of the rapture in the New Testament, when he shares his “mystery”. It’s an idea which is not provable, but which tickles the fancy of those who look for support for a pre-tribulation rapture in every corner of the Bible and beyond. There’s no consideration of the possibility that Daniel was, for example, away on business for the king. It was a very big kingdom. And why were the other three not raptured also, considering they were men of great faith, whose faith would put most of us to shame?

Not only is there no statement in scripture that Daniel’s absence models a pre-tribulation escape from the events of Revelation, but when we read on in the book of Daniel we find that he’s back in the flesh, on earth, and undergoing his own “fiery trial”. Chapter six sees Daniel falsely accused and set up by the king’s counselors. He’s then thrown into the lion’s den, where he is miraculously protected, but nonetheless very present on the earth for the ordeal.

*ALL LEFT BEHIND:THE CASE AGAINST A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE, by Nick Fisher, on Amazon in paperback and e-book.

RAPTURE 28: NOAH and the FLOOD

The experiences of several Old Testament characters are frequently used and confused as evidence for an early rapture of the Church, as they once were by me. Today I will consider Noah, and next time Lot, Enoch and Daniel..

NOAH AND THE FLOOD

In his “Olivet Discourse” Jesus, after describing the destruction of the temple and the times of distress before his return, gives the example of Noah’s escape from the Flood as a way of telling his people that they need to be ready for his coming (Matthew 24:36-39). This reference is seen by some believers, as it once was by me, as a sure evidence of pre-tribulation rapture: Noah escaped the Flood, so we’ll escape the tribulation. Others, including at least one prominent modern-day denomination, teach that Noah’s experience in the ark represents Jews being preserved through the tribulation on earth, whereas Lot’s escape from Sodom is a type of the rapture of the Church before tribulation.

If Noah’s escape from the Flood in the ark speaks of Jews living through the tribulation, we might ask why the Church is not in this allegory, since the only other characters in the account-even before the Flood began-are those who drown outside the ark. Only eight souls survived the Flood, and they were all in the ark. And while it’s a fact that Noah and his family were safe inside the ark, Jesus made it clear that those living in and around last-days Jerusalem, not to mention the world, will undergo terrible trials. That’s why the tribulation is known as the time of “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7).

Jesus said that upon the revealing of Antichrist in Jerusalem people there are to flee the city, because “…there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21). Zechariah said that in that time Jerusalem will be invaded and half the city will be taken into captivity (Zechariah 14:2).

The other popular theory, that the escape of Noah is a type of pre-tribulation rapture, is equally dubious. Righteous Noah and his family escaped the Flood while everyone else, who had no idea what was going to happen, drowned. Therefore, the Noahic-rapture theory says, Jesus was obviously alluding to the rapture, modeled by the ark, in which all of Christ’s people-the Church-will be whisked away to safety before the seven-year tribulation begins. This is another indicator, they say, of the doctrine of “imminence”.

However, Noah did know the flood was coming. Of course-he was building an ark, he must have known. But it wasn’t just a vague idea that a deluge was coming, he knew exactly when it was coming seven days before it came, because God told him:

Go into the ark, you and your whole family… Seven days from now I will send rain over the earth for forty days and forty nights…” (Genesis 7:1 and 4).

The seven days of warning God gave Noah could be seen by some as symbolic of the “seven years” of tribulation, but the Flood began at the end of those seven days, not at the beginning, and most pre-tribulation believers don’t see the distress and judgments of the tribulation as arriving at the end of the “seven years” of tribulation. Neither will these judgments last for forty years as the rains lasted for forty days in the case of the Flood. Then, after the Flood Noah and his family came back to earth with a bump on the mountains of Ararat, lived out their lives as mortals and died, which doesn’t speak well of a change to immortality for the Church in the Flood/rapture scenario.

Since Noah was clearly warned seven days before the beginning of the Flood, Jesus did not intend to use the example of Noah’s escape from the Flood to be an example of a surprise rapture. It was the unbelieving world which was not ready for the Flood. That was the point Jesus was making in the Olivet Discourse:

“…and they knew nothing about what would happen until the Flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (verse 39).

The flood did not begin until the seventh day after God’s specific timed warning to Noah. While Noah was told by God seven days before the flood to go into the ark, those seven days were spent loading it up with animals-which was probably the intention of God’s command. Noah and his family did not actually enter the ark to stay until the seventh day-the very day the floodwaters began to arrive:

…and the floodgates of the heavens were opened… “On that very day Noah and his sons…together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark” (Genesis 7:11-13).

So using the seven days of God’s initial command to enter the ark, during which the animal “kinds” of the world were boarding, doesn’t work as a model or a type for a surprise pre-tribulation rapture. The wrath of God in the form of the world-wide flood began at the end of the period of seven days, not at its beginning, so using the seven-day period as a type would only serve to further confirm the wrath of God falling at the end of the seven-year period and not all the way through it.

The entrance of Noah into the ark was at the end of the seven day period, not at its beginning. No-one “left behind” and outside the ark for that seven day period or after it resembles a “saint” of the tribulation period: everyone outside the ark perished. Noah was not taken into heaven to escape the Flood, he remained on the earth and died at his allotted time.

The point of Jesus’s example of Noah and the Flood was to let his people know that they must be ready spiritually, because the unbelieving, wicked world will not be. In the days before the Flood, said Jesus, people were eating, drinking, marrying…in other words, living out their lives normally, with no expectation of or interest in what was to come:

…up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:36-39).

The people who “knew nothing” were the unsaved-not the people of God. Jesus’ emphasis was readiness for the coming of the Son of Man, not readiness for a sudden surprise escape, because Noah knew exactly when his escape would be. It was to be a spiritual readiness of obedience in contrast to living in blind wickedness like the rest of the world. What was coming for hearers of the Olivet Discourse to be ready for was judgment, not rapture. Significantly, the coming of the Son of Man which Jesus had just described in Matthew’s gospel, to which he was relating the story of Noah, was his entrance into the sky from heaven in power and glory, not a secret coming (verse 30-31).

Those who tell us that Noah represents the remnant of Jews living through the tribulation also miss the fact that Noah knew the Flood was coming, seven days before it came. They tell us that the majority of the Olivet Discourse is intended for the Jews who they say will live through all those events. If this is the case, why did Jesus tell the very same people, living in that time, “You do not know the day or the hour”? Noah knew exactly when the Flood was coming:

Go into the ark, you and your whole family…Seven days from now I will send rain over the earth for forty days and forty nights…” (Genesis 7:1 and 4).

Noah was actually the father of all of us-Jew and Gentile. He didn’t live under the Law, he wasn’t circumcised, and he didn’t dwell in Israel after the Flood. There’s no scripture telling us plainly that Noah represents Jews living through the tribulation or escaping the tri-bulation: these are impositions to prove a theory. When Jesus did speak of Noah in relation to tribulation events, it was clearly to stress the importance of spiritual readiness rather than being lost in judgment with the unsaved: not to illustrate the plight of Jews at that future time.

RAPTURE 27: MORE CLUES FROM THE PARABLES

Among the parables of Jesus are some which relate to his future return from heaven. Though they aren’t detailed prophesies of end times events by any means, they do contain some important principles and interesting relevance which we may be able to use as guidance on the timing of the rapture, particularly when we compare them with other more specific prophecies…

THE PARABLE OF THE WEEDS

Jesus told a parable of a farmer growing a field of wheat. The parable is found in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 13. While the farmer was asleep said Jesus, his enemy threw some tare seeds -destructive weeds-into his wheat field. The tares began to grow among the wheat, but when one of the man’s servants asked if they should pull up the weeds, the farmer answered that they should not, because they may also pull up the wheat by mistake. Having spent some time working on wheat fields myself, I know that some weeds can be almost indistinguishable from the wheat, until they’re fully formed.

The farmer told his servants to let both plants grow together until the harvest. At that time, when the wheat is harvested, the tares should also be pulled up and burned (Matthew 13:24-30).

Jesus, interpreting the parable plainly for his disciples, said that the man who sowed good seed represents the Son of Man: Jesus Christ. The field represents the world, and the good seed stands for the rightful children of the kingdom. The tares speak of the children of the devil, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil himself (13:36-39). Such images are fairly easy for the Bible-reading Christian to understand, but it’s the following verses which become more relevant to us in this study. Jesus explains:

The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels” (verse 39).

This statement has some similarities with Jesus’ words in the Olivet Discourse, in which he tells us that when he returns in power and glory for all the world to see:

…he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31).

Jesus’ return is “the end of the age”. He will send out his angels to gather his elect, just as the angels in the parable gather the harvest.

Continuing with the parable, Jesus then goes on to tell his disciples that as the weeds are pulled up and burned, so the angels will remove all wrongdoers-everything that causes sin and all who do evil-and throw them into “the fiery furnace”. The final result is that the righteous will inherit the kingdom:

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (13:43).

Notice that according to the farmer’s instructions-the farmer who represents “the Son of Man”, at harvest-time both the wheat and the weeds are dealt with. The wheat is not gathered before the tares, but the farmer tells his servants, the angels, to “first” collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, and then-secondly-to gather the wheat into his barn (verse 31). Notice also that the sequence: tares first, wheat second, is repeated in Jesus’ own interpretation of the parable (verses 41-43).

Is there a link between the harvest in this parable, and that of the harvest of the earth in Revelation? In chapter 14 of Revelation we read of the “harvest of the earth”, in which “one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head”, seated on a cloud, is told it’s time to harvest the earth:

Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe” (Revelation 14:15b).

This end-time harvest is reaped some time after a warning not to accept the mark of the beast, and after a call for the saints “who remain faithful to Jesus” to patiently endure (14:12). It’s also after the fall of Mystery Babylon (14:8). Mystery Babylon is destroyed by the beast and his kingdom, by the design of God (Revelation 17:16-17) giving us yet another example of how God uses one enemy of his to destroy or punish another. The Harlot’s destruction occurs during the last three and a half years of the commonly expected seven-year period, as noted before, and therefore after Antichrist has been revealed to the world.

As the harvest of the earth occurs after the fall of Mystery Babylon, it must be at or very near the return of Jesus, because the fall of “the great prostitute”, noted again in chapter 19, is celebrated immediately before the “bride” is said to have made herself ready and Christ rides out of heaven in power and glory (Revelation 19:1-3).

The harvest of the earth in Revelation chapter 14 is closely followed by or contemporaneous with the gathering of grapes and their destruction in “the winepress of God’s wrath”. So in this case, grapes are representing the unsaved wicked of the world. More specifically in the case of the grapes, Revelation seems to speak particularly of the destruction of the forces of the beast at Armageddon. This passage in Revelation is an echo of one found in Joel’s prophesy of the day of the Lord:

Let the nations be roused, let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshophat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow-so great is their wickedness!” (Joel 3:12-13).

The two products of harvest-the wheat and the grapes of wickedness-are being reaped simultaneously in Joel’s prophecy. They’re both being gathered at the time of the nations’ advance into the valley-not years apart or on different occasions. They’re seen together in the passage. The only possible difference in the timing of these two is that when the sickle is swung the grapes of wrath are already gathered, because the command is to trample them, not to gather them.

The fact of the harvest being an end-time event, in which the righteous and the wicked are judged at more or less the same time at the end of the age, is clear. The harvest of the earth-of the righteous-is again after and not before the mark of the beast. Also notice the fall of Mystery Babylon. This is an end of tribulation harvest.

DOES JESUS’ “GATES OF HELL” QUOTE PROVE A PRE-TRIB. RAPTURE? (RAPTURE 26)

Hi everyone. And when I say “everyone” I’m well aware that only a very small number of people are the tiniest bit interested in the rapture of the Church. And only a tiny fraction of that tiny fraction is the slightest bit interested in asking whether their dearly-held pre-tribulation rapture  is a valid view. However, undaunted, I plow on with my critical expose of this teaching, because, having once been a pre-trib. believer myself, I can see how dangerous and myopic it is. More on that at a later date. Here, in an uncharacteristically short post, is excerpt twenty-six of my book on the rapture. 

Jesus, talking about the Church, said that “the gates of Hades (‘hell’ in KJV) will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). The modern claim in support of a pre-tribulation rapture says that since we know Antichrist will overcome saints on the earth during the tribulation, according to Daniel 8:12 and Revelation 13:7, the saints of Revelation cannot be the Church, because Jesus said that the gates of hell will not overcome the Church. Therefore the Church, it is claimed, must be in heaven at that time. 

Think about what will happen to the saints alive during those trying times in Revelation. They will be persecuted, and some or many of them will be killed. So what’s new? Thousands or even millions of Christians have been persecuted and killed for their faith over the centuries since the time of Jesus, and the opposition to the Church goes on today. So either Jesus was wrong to make this statement that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, or persecution and the martyrdom of saints is not the gates of hell prevailing against the Church! Jesus said to his original disciples, and so to us:

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28).

The persecution of the believer is not by any means a victory of Satan or his minions. In fact, those who “hold to the testimony of Jesus” and are persecuted in Revelation are anything but defeated. Even those who will be killed in this persecution will not have been “prevailed” against, in fact, quite the opposite. At the beginning of the reign of Antichrist, we read the following:

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on’” (Revelation 14: 13).

The Church, consisting of all true believers of all time, will not be conquered, even in the physical death of its members, but will be raised to life, and will reign with Christ for a thousand years (20:4). The Church is an entity which cannot be defeated or harmed, no matter how much it is opposed or persecuted. The Bride of Christ is eternally secure, and the overcoming of the saints’ temporal earthly existence has no effect on her status at all. 

RAPTURE 25: FALL AWAY FROM WHAT?

Welcome readers. Here’s another installment of my book* on the timing of the rapture. I was a pre-tribulation believer for twenty-eight years: I now know how wrong I was to unquestioningly accept everything the “experts” taught. The good news is that this post is considerably shorter than most…

blinding-light-into-lent

Paul wrote that a preliminary and unmistakable sign that the Day of the Lord was beginning or about to begin will be a “falling away”, or a “rebellion”, followed by the revealing of Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:3). What exactly this “falling away” will be is a matter of some debate, though it’s generally considered to be a falling away of nominal believers from the faith.. Some have attempted to interpret it as being the rapture. More likely it’s a movement of those loosely associated with the faith away from it. This is the most common view and makes the most sense, but the exact interpretation of what the falling away may be isn’t the subject of this post.

Imagine this: the rapture has taken place before the tribulation. The Church is gone. Besides the millions and billions of unsaved people on earth, only nominal believers and hangers on are “left behind”. In this case, I want to ask the question: What will there be for anyone to “fall away” from? If the Church is gone, and with it the Holy Spirit, what is there left to fall away from?

Is it the Church? How can you fall away from a Church which has already gone? How can you lose a faith you didn’t really have anyway? How can you rebel against God or against Christ if you’re already so weak in the faith or hypocritical that you missed the rapture? And in that case, if the Church were raptured and then all the weak “left-behind” people fall away, where do “those who remain faithful to Jesus” spoken of several times in Revelation, come from (Revelation 14:12)? We would have to assume that these weaklings suddenly become the toughest, most fearless and faithful believers in history. So why didn’t they get raptured? We ourselves, supposedly the ones to be raptured, are not that tough. We aren’t out there sharing the gospel in the midst of severe persecution. Is it because they just happened to be going through a phase of spiritual weakness that they didn’t get raptured? Haven’t we all experienced that? If this is the case, Jesus is willing to “dump” us if we experience a time of discouragement and weak faith. Isn’t he more faithful than that? Doesn’t he uphold us? Didn’t God say “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5,6)?

With all the persecution going on and the mark of the beast being instituted in the tribulation, it has to be nothing short of remarkable that those saints living at that time will have such incredible faith that they’re prepared to die for Jesus! How can there be any “falling away” during the tribulation if the Church is already gone, and “those who hold to the testimony of Jesus” are prepared to die for their Lord?

If we try to say that the “falling away” will happen before a pre-tribulation rapture in order to escape this conundrum, we only create another conundrum, because Paul, giving the initial signs of “The Day of the Lord” here, surely would have said something like “that day cannot come before there is a falling away first, and we are all changed to immortal, and then the man of sin be revealed”. Also, if the falling away is to come first, before tribulation, the rapture would not be so “imminent” and unexpected, would it? Why would Paul speak of the falling away, and then go straight to the revealing of Antichrist, giving these two signs as the initial signs of the Day of the Lord, without mentioning the rapture, if it is supposed to come before either of these events?

If the rapture has already occurred at the point Paul is speaking about-that is, before the falling away and before Antichrist is revealed, why did Paul not mention it to the Thessalonian church in the same chapter? He had already mentioned the rapture in his first letter to these believers when speaking of the coming of the Lord: it was not a hidden mystery to be kept from the Church. Surely, that would be an ultimate sign of the arrival of the day of the Lord, particularly to anyone “left behind”? He wrote to them about the rapture in his first letter, and it’s no longer a “mystery”: why not mention it now? If the rapture is indeed the first “sign”, which it would have to be if it’s “imminent” and must come first, why not mention it when speaking of what to look out for as signs of the Day of the Lord coming?

THE CAUSE OF REBELLION

The most logical answer to all these questions is that the Church will still be around when Paul’s initial sign-events of the Day of the Lord take place, and that those who are weak in the faith and who attend church for something to do, or who are trusting in their church organization or favorite teachers instead of Jesus, will rebel against the true Faith when the going gets tough. This will be the “falling away”. The tribulation will be a divider between the people of God and those who don’t want to know God. Jesus said that there will be such great deception and distress in those times that if it were possible even the elect will be deceived. Those who are not the elect will be deceived. They will be the ones to fall away. There will be a sharp division between the saved and unsaved.

*ALL LEFT BEHIND:THE CASE AGAINST A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE, by Nicholas Fisher, available on Amazon.