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Are You Ready for the End of the World?

A personal friend of mine who happens to be a college professor has written the following post. This person has asked that article be published anonymously.

The Rapture
Eschatology – the very sound of the word can send some people into paranoia fits! Visions of the earth ending in 2012, the apocalypse, the Hollywood dramatizations, and the book of Revelation coming to life – it is enough for some people to say, “I’ll just worry about today and tomorrow can take care of itself…”

Some Christians believe books like Daniel and Revelation are not meant to be understood. Yet, specifically, God gives a blessing to those who read and hear the words of Revelation. Obviously, He knows that with the Spirit’s help we can understand the big picture. If the Spirit is able to help us understand the end times, then why are there so many different views? A fair question!

Hermeneutical Principle. The reason there are so many different views concerning the end times is not the fault of God. Rather, the confusion can be attributed to a faulty hermeneutic. Since the Bible is God’s Word, and since every word is inspired of God, then it only stands to reason that we interpret those words in its grammatical, historical, and literal context. This does not mean that we cannot have figures of speech or symbolic language – rather, it emphasizes that if words have any meaning at all, we must interpret them in this manner. When this approach is applied consistently to Revelation just as one does with the Pauline epistles, much of the confusion disappears.

The Question of the Rapture. While Revelation covers many subjects, the focus of this blog is on the Rapture. The word rapture itself does not appear in the English Bible. However, this does not mean that the idea is not present. The word rapture refers to the catching away of the saved to be “forever with the Lord” (1 Thes 4.17). For today’s Bible-believing Christian, the issue is not whether the rapture will happen; the question is when.

The Rapture’s Relation to the Tribulation. In today’s theological arena, a broad-stroke of the issue divides believers into three positions: pre-tribulational, mid-tribulational, and post-tribulational. In essence, one group believes that the rapture will occur before the tribulation begins, another believes it will occur before it gets really bad, and the last group believes the church will go through the tribulation period.

What is the Tribulation? If we are going to come to a dogmatic conclusion on when the Rapture occurs, then we must understand what exactly is meant by the term tribulation. In eschatology, the term usually refers to a period of 7 years in which the Anti-Christ is revealed, the Jews are hunted down but many are miraculously saved, 144,000 Jewish evangelists preach the Gospel and many receive Christ as their Saviour – in short, much of the book of Revelation falls into this period.

There are a few terms in Revelation to describe the last half of this time period: 42 months; 1260 days, and times, time and a half. Each of these three designations equal 3.5 years. Thus, when someone refers to the “7 Year Tribulation” they are referring to both halves.

What some have failed to notice is that these time indicators were revealed long before John on the isle of Patmos. Over 500 years previously, God had revealed similar truths to Daniel. In fact, a key passage to understanding the timeline of eschatology is Daniel 9. In this chapter, Daniel receives his vision of the Seventy Weeks. However, the context makes it clear that we are not talking about a week of “days” as much as we are talking about a week of “years.” What God reveals to Daniel is 490 years of prophetic history.

Of the 490 years described in Daniel 9, 483 years (or, 69 weeks) have been fulfilled. In God’s prophetic calendar, one week (or, 7 years) remains to be fulfilled. In verse 24, we read the key phrase, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city…” Question: for whom are these 70 weeks relevant? Or, to whom is the last 7 year period directed? The entire 70 week program was for Daniel’s people, the Jews, and for their holy city, Jerusalem. What this means is that the final period of 7 years is for Israel and for Jerusalem. (Jeremiah would allude to this as well in Jeremiah 30.7, referring to the time of “Jacob’s trouble.”)

Remember at the very beginning when we said the key to getting rid of confusion is to use the right hermeneutic? In Daniel 9.24, literally, who is the last week for? The only correct answer to this question is Israel. One will search in vain to find the church in Daniel 9. This tribulation period has nothing to do with the church and has everything to do with Israel!

What are the ramifications of this truth?

1. God will remove His church before He begins to work with Israel again. This makes the Rapture pre-tribulational.
2. During the tribulation, the Gospel is preached by 144,000 Jewish evangelists, which makes sense if the Church has been raptured.
3. The tribulation is Daniel’s 70th week and Jeremiah’s “time of Jacob’s trouble.” It is for Israel and not the Church.
4. When Christ comes to set up His Kingdom, after the Tribulation, the Church is seen as coming with Him from Heaven.

This cannot make sense within a post-tribulational scheme. While it could technically make sense from a mid-tribulation position, a compromise would be made in spiritualizing the church as part of Israel – a compromise that a literal interpretation of words in their historical-grammatical context will not allow.

CONCLUSION
Have we solved the world’s next big mystery? Are we ready to publish a book predicting the date? Absolutely not! However, we have established a principle: God intends for His words to be interpreted within a historical-grammatical framework. When that is applied consistently, we discover that God has a plan for Israel and a plan for His Church. The Tribulation is not part of God’s plan for the Church; this is for Israel. God has promised to save His church from the wrath to come; He has not promised to save Israel from it.

As these are kept in mind, and as Israel and the Church are kept separate, one finds that the Rapture is God’s plan for the Church as He prepares to begin working with Israel again. This leads one to a pre-tribulational position of the Rapture – a view which encourages believers to always be expecting His coming (and not expecting the Tribulation.)

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Brian
    July 26, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Excellent article. The point in Daniel of the 70th week applying to Israel and not the Church is a key logical point in pre-trib rapture theory (imho). Kuddos!!!

  • Reply
    Linette Winsler
    July 26, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Enjoyed reading this blog

  • Reply
    wally reisinger.
    July 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Pastor Teis
    Good article spent some tom

    • Reply
      wally reisinger.
      July 26, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      TIme with your dad in his church while I was in. Las vegas for my mother who was fighting cancer..she has passed on. Now but never made a profession of Faith .but did get some relief knowing that she heard it not only from me.

  • Reply
    Linda Scott
    July 26, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    WOW ! so much there,…..

  • Reply
    Neil
    August 6, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    / Howdy, Josh. Interesting blog. Here’s something I ran into on the surprising web. Any reaction? Lord bless. /

    PRETRIB RAPTURE STEALTH !

    Many evangelicals believe that Christ will “rapture” them to heaven years before the second coming and (most importantly) well BEFORE Antichrist and his “tribulation.” But Acts 2:34, 35 reveal that Jesus is at the Father’s right hand in heaven until He leaves to destroy His earthly foes at the second coming. And Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven with the Father “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. (“The Rapture Question,” by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn’t dare to even list, in its scripture index, the above verses! They were also too hot for John Darby – the so-called “father of dispensationalism” – to list in the scripture index in his “Letters”!)
    Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The “rest” for “all them that believe” is also tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who’d be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the end of trib “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which Scofield views as Israel’s posttrib resurrection!) It’s amazing that the Olivet Discourse contains the “great commission” for the church but not even a hint of a pretrib rapture for the church!
    Many don’t know that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this “rapture” was stretched forward and turned into an idolized separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which evangelical scholars overwhelmingly rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” [“gathering”] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!). Google “Walvoord Melts Ice” for more on this.
    Other Google articles on the 183-year-old pretrib rapture view include “X-Raying Margaret,” “Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart,” “Pretrib Rapture’s Missing Lines,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture,” “The Real Manuel Lacunza,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Famous Rapture Watchers,” and “Morgan Edwards’ Rapture View” – most by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (the most accurate and documented book on pretrib rapture history which is obtainable by calling 800.643.4645).

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Rebecca H
    October 28, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Thank you Josh!

    I hopped on here to read an article about Halloween, which I found refreshing! My husband and I feel the same about Halloween. Then I found this rapture post. Blew my mind. Makes so much sense and it gave me a lot of peace. I think I heard your father preach this Summer at our church camp in IN. Dave Teis? LOVED him! His words have stuck with me all year. You all are a blessing to me spiritually. Thanks for serving. God bless!
    Rebecca H from Lifeway Baptist Church, Ellettsville IN

  • Reply
    Maurice
    October 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm

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