Welcome to a brand New Year, on the Pastor’s Desk!

We are leaving the Origins Series for now, to tackle a subject that seems to be on everyone’s mind these days…the Rapture of the Church.

 I don’t fancy myself as a deep “End-times” teacher, but there are a few basics, I hope to clarify.

New Christians are overwhelmed with all this prophecy stuff, and even some of the older ones are afraid they’re not going to make it!

 To answer the question in the title of this article…there is no third COMING! The confusion lies in the fact that, yes…the Lord came once, born as a human baby, lived, died, rose, and ascended into Heaven…AND, yes He is coming back to rule from Jerusalem, called the Second Coming…and yes there is an OCCURRENCE called the Rapture.

However, the Rapture is NOT a coming…Jesus does not return to the Earth, nor does His feet even touch the ground at all…He stands on a cloud in the AIR above the planet, but close enough for only those who are watching and waiting for Him, to see. (I think it will be like seeing a plane overhead). We are whisked out of here in an 11/100th of a second, or even the speed of light, and the world is none the wiser. He comes as a thief in the night…comes and goes unseen and unheard, except to those who are going back with Him. That group is referred to as the Bride of Christ.

The Rapture occurs sometime between the first and second coming, which we discuss in the following paragraphs.

Although there aren’t specific signs to pinpoint the Rapture of the church, there are many signs of the Lord’s second coming. Jesus listed many in the 24th and 25th chapter of Matthew. Many teachers thought these passages in the Olivet discourse, as it is called, referred to the Rapture…but it really refers to a time after that. Jesus is a Jew talking to Jews whose passion was concerning WHEN the Jewish nation would have their own kingdom on earth, with the Messiah, as their king, sitting upon the throne of David.

We must remember, the Bible is written primarily BY Jews, TO the Jews, and FOR the Jews! The only books that were written for the Church, are the ones penned by the Apostle Paul.

Nobody ever heard of the Rapture until Christ revealed it to Paul, and then he, in turn, revealed it to the Jewish believers and the Gentile church, several years later. The Rapture or the “catching away” is for those who believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of the world, and live according to His statutes.

 Teachers today are divided as to when the Rapture will take place…some think it’s before the tribulation called the Pre-tribulation Rapture, some think it is in the middle of the 7 years of tribulation, called the Mid-tribulation Rapture.

Some even think it is after everything is over, and just as the Lord comes to set His feet down upon the earth, He catches the Church in the air, on His way down. This is referred to as the Post-tribulation Rapture.

 Whenever it occurs, Christ and His Bride begins to rule and reign from Jerusalem, when He sits down on the throne of David, in the rebuilt Jewish tabernacle.

 We all have our opinions as to which Rapture theory is correct, and scriptures can fit into the Pre-trib, Mid-trib, or Post-trib scenarios. I happen to think the Pre-tribulation theory has the more weighty scriptures behind it. We cannot be too dogmatic, because it is a futuristic thing, but one scripture tipped the scales for me.

It is the one that falls into place when Jesus said that no one will know the day or the hour of His return. Since we know that He will return to set up His Kingdom on Earth, 3 ½ years, or 42 months or 1,260 days, AFTER the antichrist sets up the “abomination of desolation” in the Temple, we would then be able to count the days, and thereby KNOW the day and perhaps the hour of His return. If the Mid-trib and the Post-trib Rapture, can be mathematically calculated, then according to the very words of  Jesus, those two theories must be eliminated.

 When we read the chapters in Matthew, we get excited because we can see that prophecy is and has already been fulfilled to a great extent. Prophecy is contingent upon certain things happening in a specific order, and only God really knows the order. For instance, the Lord cannot come and set up His kingdom, and rule and reign with us at his side for 1,000 years on earth, until the rapture or the catching away of the church, occurs. Nor can He come until the 7 seals, trumpets and vials prophecies happen during the tribulation period which lasts for 7 years on the planet Earth. And of course we have the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse riding out over the land at that time too. All this is explained in the Book of the Apocalypse, which is another word for Revelation.

 One of the futuristic happenings that has already occurred, is the fact that Israel was declared a nation in 1948. The old time teachers, had they lived to see the "nation that was born in a day", would have been so excited, they couldn’t sleep. That was what they were waiting for…Israel had to return to her land. Not only did they have to return to Israel, the Jews had to occupy the Holy City…Jerusalem. That didn’t happen until 1967 during what is now called, the Six-day War. And what miracles God performed for His people!

The tiny nation of Israel defeated her enemy, who was backed by big powers with big guns, big ships, and big money…but the Jews took the city in just 6 days! The old teachers’ would have done handsprings down the streets to see that. They waited and watched, but it didn’t happen during their lifetimes.

 Yet, WE see prophecy happen nearly everyday now, and it goes unnoticed. Everybody wants to know the future…they even go to fortune tellers to seek it, which is a big sin in God’s eyes and He really condemns this practice, especially by Christians. We don’t have to turn to the devil to see what God is doing…he doesn’t know anyhow, or he would have prevented Christ from being born in the first place.

 When we study scripture, we see how it fits together like pieces of a puzzle. Several prophets of the Old Testament, wrote extensively about the Tribulation age, because it is prophecy that mainly concerns Israel. They had no knowledge or understanding of the Church Age, on God’s timetable!

 There are many New Testament scriptures that talks about the anti-Christ before we get to the book of the Revelation. Paul writes most of them, but there are some others in 1st John 2:18, 22; chapter 4:1-3;  2 John, Verse 7 to name a few.

Finally, Rev 13:11-17 tells about the anti-Christ. This Antichrist is THE Antichrist which is the beast that comes out of the earth. The other incarnations were renown people paving the way through history guided by this evil spirit…it has been here, since the Garden of Eden. The devil's motive has always been to bring about global changes that are ANTI-CHRIST!

 There are scores of things we are seeing NOW on the world scene, that point to our generation as the one where the end-time prophecies are being fulfilled. There is a window of time, that if the rapture is going to happen before the tribulation, it will have to happen soon. Too many things are occurring that are very close to events during the tribulation time…and they are recorded in Scripture.

 We will look into some of those next time, so until then…

 God bless you all,
 Pastor Moser
January, 2006