The Rapture part 6

 

Today marks our 6th and final lesson on the rapture. In this lesson we will be examining some passages from the book of revelation, some prophecies from the O.T. and then answer the question does the rapture view really matter. We have a lot ground to cover in this last lesson and so I will have to be brief on some my points.

 

The first thing I want to deal with are 2 concepts the premillennialist teach from the book of Revelation which are the 1000 year reign of Christ and Armageddon. Now before we begin looking at the book of Revelation it is important for us to understand the nature of this book.

 

This book was written during a time when Christian persecution was ramped and this book was designed to give hope to the Christians so they could understand that even though times were bad right now that if they remained faithful they would be victorious in the end. It also shows that Jesus will be victorious over the devil in the endas well. If you have ever read the book of revelation you soon discover that it full of symbolism that conjures up unusually pictures in your mind.††

 

For instance you will find a dragon that able to knock a third of the stars out of the sky with it tail, a red 7 headed beast, oceans turning to blood, 200 million soldiers riding fire breathing horses that kill you with the sting of their tail and a harlot riding on the back of a 7 headed beast drinking the blood of the saints.

 

As you can tell these things are not to be taken literally instead they symbolically represent something else and the Christians of that time understood what the symbolism meant. However, it becomes more difficult for us today to have same understanding that they did.

 

For instance we use symbolic language everyday. We say things like, Its raining cats and dogs out there. I have told you a million times, She is as skinny as a toothpick, or have to use bathroom so bad my eyeballs are floating. Now you take some this symbolic language that use today and give it to people a 1000 years from now and they would have trouble understanding what we were talking about and surely they would understand that we were not speaking literally about these things. Well, this is the same that we see within the book of revelation and we must keep this in mind.

 

When it comes to examining symbolic language however you decided to interpret it, you cannot make it contradict other plain and clear passages on that topic. Also, you should never try and create an entire doctrine based up on a few passages of symbolic language within the book of revelation especially if that doctrine is not taught anywhere else in the Bible.

 

Yet this is exactly what the premillennialist have done. The whole core of their concept of a 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth comes from a few verse in Rev. 20 and their concept of Armageddon being some great battle on the earth comes from one use of this word in Rev. 16. Please note that if they did not have those verses they would nothing to draw from to create their view. Another thing you must understand about the Premillennialist is they take the book of Revelation as being literal except when they choose to take it as being symbolically.

 

With this in mind letís take a look a Rev. 20 and see what it has to say.

 

Revelation 20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

 

This certainly is a very interesting section of scripture andI will share with you what I think this is representing in just a min. The first thing I want to point out is that this section of scripture and the ones following are certainly symbolic. Please note there is key to a bottomless pit. A great chain used to bind this dragon which symbolical represents the devil for a 1000 years. Over and over again through this chapter you will see symbolic language used and even the premillennialist donít think this is talking about a literal key with literally bottomless pit with a literal chain. Yet, they want to make the 1000 year reign literal. If a person is allowed to make things literal when they want to in whatis obviously a symbolic passage a person can come close to teaching anything they want thatís why its important to remain consistent and treat symbolic passages as symbolic and to treat literal passages as literal.

 

This number 1000 is never used literally in the book of revelation in fact is used figuratively in other passage in the Bible as well.

 

Psalm 50:10 For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills.

 

Is just the cattle on a literal 1000 hills Godís. No obviously this is figurative and it means that all the cows on all the hills belong to God. Here we can see the number 1000 has the idea of completeness and I believe this is the same idea that we find in revelation20 as well but more on that in a minute.

 

Now please remember these verses are the heart and soul of rapture view that states that Jesus will come and setup an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem where he will reign for 1000 years. With this in mind I want to point out several things that Rev. 20 does not say which is sorely needed to even begin to hint at the view that the premillennialist hold.

 

No where in the text do you see Jerusalem mentioned. The second coming of Christ is no where stated in these passages. Nothing even comes close to showing these events are occurring on the earth. Davidís thrown is no where to be found and there is no mentioning of a bodily resurrection because only the souls of those that had died are said to reign with Christ. Christ is not depicted as being on the earth nor are the thronesdepicted as being on the earth.

 

All these crucial points are missing from these verses to help the premillennialist view yet they still try to say these verses teach their view. Again, I need to remind you of what they teach on who will reign with Jesus in the 1000 year reign on the earth. Their view states that all Christians and the OT righteous will reign with Jesus in the future kingdom. However note what verse 4 says again.

 

Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Remember they take this passage a being literal but notice how this contradicts their own view because this passage says only those Christians who have been beheaded will with reign with Christ for a 1000 years. This leaves out all other Christians and especial those righteous ones from the O.T. time. So using their own method of interpretation of taking these verses literally they should be teaching that only the beheaded Christian will reign with Jesus for a 1000 years. As you can see there is a great lack of constancy within their own view.

 

As I said earlier you cannot make the symbolism of the book of revelation contradict the rest of the Bible. In our previous lessons I have already shown many passages that show that there is no room for 1000 year or 7 years of tribulation at the end of time. I have also shown that the Christians of the first century were in the kingdom then Col. 1:13. I also pointed out 1 Cor. 15 which clearly shows that when Jesus comes again it will put an end his reign over the kingdom/church and not begin it as they try teach. So, we can know for sure that Rev. 20 is not talking about 1000 year earthly reign. With this in mind I will now share with you what I believe this is chapter is referring to. First let me give you a basic outline of this chapter.

 

1 Ė 3 binding of satan

4 Ė 6 victorious reign of the faithful

7 Ė 10 the struggle to defeat the devil

11 Ė 15 the day of judgment

 

 

Revelation 20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

 

I believe this binding of Satan begin with the birth of Jesus and reached it full climax at his death on the cross. This was a fulfillment of

 

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."

 

This is shown throughout the N.T. For example

 

John 12:31 "Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.32 "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.

 

As Jesus death on the cross the ruler of this World would be cast out. Now this does not mean that the devil has no power because he described as roaring lion seeking whom he can devour 1Pet. 5:8. The devil has simply been limited on what he can do. He cannot tempt us beyond what we are capable of handling 1 Cor. 10:13. He cannot posses us as he was able to do in the first century for a short while. If we resist him in the faith he must flee James 4:7. The 1000 years has nothing to do with a literal time span but represents completeness of his binding. Then at some point Satan will be released for a short time and this is talked about in verse 7 Ė 10 where the devil ends up in the lake of fire.

 

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

 

Now there are several different views of the verses but I believe the message is simple. At this time the Christians were being persecuted and God wants them to know that they will be victorious even if they die. Just as Satan would be completely bound so would the victory all Christians be complete both the alive and dead. It is also important to point out that every time these souls are refereed to in the book of Revelation they are always in heaven along with the thrones and Jesus.

 

The first resurrection is not talking about a bodily one. This could refer to 2 possible things. 1. It could be talking about those who become Christian, because in a spiritual sense when you are baptized you die and are raised a new creature and if you do this and live a faithful life the second death reefing to hell will have no power over you. 2. It also been said that this first resurrection represents Christianity itself emerging out of this great tribulation of this time. This type of language is use in Ezek 37 describing the Jews deliverance from the Babylonian captivity as a resurrection. So, after this great persecution of all these saints of that time would rise up and make the church even stronger than it was before. Also to help us to see that these verses are talking about the Christian era is by observing that the last verse says that those that have experienced the first resurrection will reign with Christ as priest. The reason why I can say with all confidence is because the Bible confirms that we as Christians are reining with Christ a priest and king. For insistence

 

1 Peter 2: 5- 9 says we are a royal priesthood

Rev. 1:5-6; 5:9-10 Says that those of us who have been washed in the blood of Jesus which happens at the point of baptism are both priests and kings.

 

This means that right now every Christian is reigning with Christ and we will continue to reign with him even upon our death. This is just another point that shows the Jesus is reigning right now in His kingdom and we are reigning with Him.

 

Now I know Rev. 20 is a difficult text and I donít pretend to fully understand every aspect of this symbolic language, but one thing I do know is that these verses donít even come close to teaching the premillennialist view, because their interpretation of these verses contradict the rest of the Bible and they have added concepts that cannot be found in these verses.

 

Our next point I want to look at is the battle of Armageddon. There have been movies based on this word and you hear many in the religious world talking about this great battle over and over again and so you would think that the Bible talksa great deal about this, but did you know that this word can only be found one time in the Bible and it is found in a highly symbolic text in Revelation chapter 16. To pick up some of the context that leads up to this word lets begin in,

 

Revelation 16:12 Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.15 "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. 17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!"

 

This entire chapter deals with the bowls of wrath that are being poured out and the verses we just read contain the last 2 bowls. It very obvious that this is another highly symbolic text as we have unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of a dragon, a beast and a false prophet which in turn work false signs to gather together an army at Armageddon to battle against God. Now the premillennialist make these verses literally when it comes to Armageddon but to be consistent there would also have to be a literal beast and dragon with spirits like frogs coming out of their mouth as well. This alone shows me that we shouldnít take Armageddon as being literal place.

 

What does Armageddon mean? Mount or Hill of Megiddo.

 

Again this is the only time this word is used in the Bible however the city of Megiddo is mentioned 12 times in the OT and has been a site where many battles have taken place. This city is located 60 miles north of Jerusalem. Here is list of some the battles that took place:

 

Gideon defeated the Midianties here Judges 7:1-22

King Saul was defeated by Philistines 1 Sam. 31:1-6

Barak and Deborah defeated the Canaanites Judges 4 and 5

A battle between King Josiah and the Pharaoh Neco 2 Kings 23:29 -30; 2Chron 35:22-24

 

So as you can see this would make a great symbolic word to be used to represent a great battle between Satan and the Lord. Now different people have different views on this text. For instance one view believes this is talking about the end of the Roman empire while others believe this is talking about the final battle between the devil andJesus at his second coming. The reason why this last view is held is because this great gathering by Satan is for the purpose of fighting God on a day and the text also refers Jesus as coming as a thief which of course is mentioned in other scriptures to describe His second coming. Regardless of what view you take on these verses it very interesting that no battle actual takes place here. It only says that they are gathering for battle but then verse 17 says with the 7th bowl is poured out and its done.

 

So whatever interpretation you decide to give on this, doesnít change the fact that no battle takes place because they were simple gathering at Armageddon and then before any battle begins its over, its finished. This same things happens 2 more times in the book Revelation in regards to Satan preparing his army against the Lord yet ever time before a battle begins God nips in the bud. You can see this Rev. 19 and 20. So, no where in the Bible can you find the great battle of Armageddon.

 

Yet when the premillennialist read these verses in Rev. 16 they some how get the idea that in the last 3 Ĺ years of the 7 years of tribulation they have inventedEgypt is suppose to invade Israel which sparks Russia to join in and they are suppose to run Egypt out of Israel and then conquer Egypt itself. Next the Roman antiChrist takes 1million soldiers and defeats the Russians in Israel only to find themselves in battle against 200 million Chinese. This epic battle is suppose to take place in the valley of Megiddo which they cal the great battle of Armageddon.

 

Now while I will readily admit that Rev. 16 is another difficult symbolic text however one thing I do know is that those verses whether used symbolically or even if taken literally does not support any epic battle between China and a newly revived Roman empire lead by a Roman antiChrist. So as you can see the book Revelation does not hold some magic key that reveals the rapture theory instead it closes the door on their view.

 

 

It also interesting to note that word antichrist is never mentioned in the book Revelation. In fact this word is only found in 4 places in the NT. It used 3 times 1 John and 1 time in 2 John. John teaches that antichrist is someone who speaks against Jesus and denies His deity. He also tells us there were many antichrists and that there were antichrists present in His day. You never find anywhere in the Bible where it teaches the antichrist is going to be some powerful political leader.

 

This is completely opposite of what they teach because they keep looking for 1 or as Hal Lindsey holds 2 antichrist that will be known sometime in the near future and how they will be this great political leader. There is simply no way to support this from the Bible.

 

Now, I wish we had the time to look at every single verse that the premillennialist try to use to show their view but we donít have time to do that but I do want to look at more 2 more prophecies from the OT that they claim have not yet been fulfilled which points to Israel being restored in the near future.

 

Our first prophecy has to with the land promise made to Abraham.

 

Genesis 15:18 On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates Ė

 

The premillennialist say this has never happened but they believe that this will happen in the near future as Israel is restored. Well, guess what the Bible contradicts what they say because it shows that this was fulfilled and I am going to show several ways to prove this.

 

Deuteronomy 19:8 "Now if the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as He swore to your fathers, and gives you the land which He promised to give to your fathers,9 "and if you keep all these commandments and do them, which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and to walk always in His ways, then you shall add three more cities for yourself besides these three,

 

First thing I want to point out is that land promise was conditional because they children of Israel had to obey his commands for the promise to be kept. Now these cities that Moses is talking about are cities of refuge and at that time there were 3 but Moses says when they receive the land promise then 3 more cities will be added. If we can see when these other 3 cities were added then we see that land promise was fulfilled. No watch this.

 

Joshua 20:7 So they appointed Kedesh in Galilee, in the mountains of Naphtali, Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and Kirjath Arba (which is Hebron) in the mountains of Judah.8 And on the other side of the Jordan, by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness on the plain, from the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead, from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan, from the tribe of Manasseh.

 

In Joshua 20:7-8 we find that have now set 6 cities of refuge. So, we can easily conclude that the land promise had been fulfilled just as Moses said it would be. But we donít have to stop there because the book of Joshua itself bear witness that the land promise was fulfilled in his day.

 

Joshua 21:43 So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.44 The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.45 Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

 

Nehemiah 9:7 "You are the LORD God, Who chose Abram, And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, And gave him the name Abraham;8 You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him To give the land of the Canaanites, The Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, And the Girgashites -- To give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, For You are righteous.

 

Friends it doesnít get any clearly than that. That land promise was fulfilled but because of the children of Israelís disobedience they lost that later on. Once again we can that the premillennialist view is wrong on this prophecy. Just as added bonus you can also look at 1 Kings 4:21 as it also shows the children of Israel occupied all the Promised Land.

 

Another favorite passage they like to go to show that Israel will be restored one day is found in,

 

Amos 9:11 " On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old;12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name," Says the LORD who does this thing.13 " Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it.14 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.15 I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them," Says the LORD your God.

 

Now when you simply read this without looking anywhere in the Bible you might think this is talking about some rebuilding some physical kingdom. However, when you use the whole council of God you will find out that this a prophecy about Christ and Christianity. This is revealed to in acts 15. In this chapter The apostles and others came together to discus whether or not the gentiles had to be circumcised. 1st Peter speaks out but then James makes a point from this prophecy within Amos.

 

Acts 15:13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, "Men and brethren, listen to me:14 "Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.15 "And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:16 'After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up;17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD who does all these things.'18 "Known to God from eternity are all His works.19 "Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God,

 

Here James shows us that Amos prophecy had to do with Jesus and the Christian era. The rebuilding of David tabernacles was accomplished through Jesus Christ which again shows us that the kingdom Jesus setup was spiritual in nature and not a physical kingdom. It also shows that when this happened that the gentiles would be allowed to seek God if they obeyed his will and this exactly Christ did for us through is death an he tore down the wall separated the Jew and Gentile. So we can see that Amosí prophecy does teach what they want it to teach because it was fulfilled through Christ.

 

Now think about this, if Davidís kingdom is still in the future and it wasnít until this kingdom was rebuilt that the Gentiles could seek the Lord then this means that no gentile can be saved or seek the lord until that happens. This is what happens if you take the premillennialist view to its literal end.

 

One last final note I want to make on this is that they do not seem to grasp that the kingdom was taken away from the Jews and it was given to a new nation which is made of both of Jews and Gentiles that obey the new covenant laws. This new nation or I could say church is described as a holy nation in 1 Peter. 2:7-10 and in Gal. 3:26 Ė 29 it makes it clear that all those that are baptized in Christ are considered as the seed of Abraham which is called the Israel of God Gal. 6:6. So it utterly ridicules to try and say that the old Israel will be restored as this will exclude all gentiles and besides this if we try to go back to the old way Gal. 5:4 says this will cause us to fall from Grace.

 

With that being said I want to answer the finally question does the rapture view even matter or does it cause any harm? After all there is nothing you and I can do about the end of time.

I would agree that our main focus as Christians should not be the end of time, instead our focus should be on how am I living my life today? Am I ready to face the judgment day if Jesus came today? However, at the same time the end of time should not be avoided and it should be taught. Paul used end of time to try and pursued Felix in Acts 24:25. The end of time is no different than any other subject in the Bible and so it should be taught but it should not be turned into a hobby horse because the whole council of God is to be taught.

 

We also learn that when we do teach on the end time we must make sure that we are teaching what the Bible says about it. Notice what Peter says what some will do with end time scriptures,

 

2 Peter 3:15as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

 

This exactly what the premillennialist have done they have twisted the scriptures over and over again to arrive at their view and their view is dangerous because it takes away from the validity of the scriptures because of the following reasons.

 

They make Jesus out to be liar because He said he finished his work on the earth and fulfilled everything the OT prophets wrote about him but they say he did not.

The stop and start time in prophecies at will and make the prophet out to be false prophets.

They make Jesus out to be failure because they say unable to setup his kingdom because of the Jews rejected him.

They use several OT prophecy that they say will be fulfilled sometime in the future but either the OT or NT shows very clearly that those prophecies have already been fulfilled.

They also teach that there are signs we can look for to know the end is near and they make prediction of Jesus coming and they fail over and over again.

 

You see this dangerous because they are teaching false doctrine and this will cause people to fall away from God. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who believes their preacher is right and that the end of time is going to happen sometime in the next 5 years. What happens when 5 years go by and the end doesnít come and then your preacher changes his tune and says he missed it by a year or two. How many mistakes will it take to make you start doubting Godís Word? This exactly what the rapture view does. So, yes it does matter if the rapture view is taught.

 

I hope that you will share these lessons with those who believe in this rapture view and hope that they will take an honest look at what the Bible says about the end of time so that they can know truth. Also, I will be more than happy to study with anyone that has any questions about the end of time.