by Michael C. Wells
At the end of World War II, the community of nations was appalled at the genocide that had occurred during the war. Approximately six million Jews had been exterminated during Hitler’s reign of terror. This caused the United Nations to issue a resolution calling for the resettling of the Jewish people back to Palestine. At this time, the British controlled this territory, and were willing to give it to the new Jewish nation. In 1948, the new state of Israel was formed and speculation of fulfilled prophecy went rampant through the Christian community.
It was widely believed that when Israel became a nation again, the rapture and Second Coming of Jesus would soon follow. Was this new floundering nation, called Israel, truly the fulfillment of Bible prophecy? And if so, what is delaying Jesus from coming to get His people? After all, it has been over fifty years since the Jewish nation was set up. We can also ask the question, How will Jesus come back? Will the righteous be secretly raptured away or will the Second Coming be an event of which all are aware.
In this book, we are going to take a trip through Bible prophecy to find the answers to all these questions and many more. We will investigate Bible truth and discard speculation. How important is it that we do this? The Apostle Paul wrote that if we do not seek the truth and hold to it, God will allow us to believe lies, because we did not love the truth. (II Thessalonians 2: 11, 12.) Since none of us would like to be found in this condition, do you think it wise to investigate God’s truth? Jesus said this about the Word of God; “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17: 17. By knowing the truth of God’s Word, we can be sanctified, or set apart from the rest of the world and their false ideas.
Did you know that over one quarter of the Bible speaks of future events? One of the most prominent prophecies is the Second Coming of Christ. Directly or indirectly it is mentioned in 1845 texts in the Old and New Testaments. In the New Testament, it is mentioned 318 times and is the main theme in seventeen Old Testament books. (See Rapture! Is it for Real?, by Ralph Blodgett.) Obviously, this is a very important topic. The Lord gave us all of this information so that we could study and find out about this momentous event.
With so much information, why are there so many different theories about Christ’s second coming? Paul said, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” II Timothy 4: 3,4. Instead of studying out these prophecies, scripture by scripture, people find it much easier to listen and just believe the teachers of today. In Acts 17, we find a group of people who are commended for their actions. Instead of just listening to what Paul said and accepting it as the truth, they “searched the scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” We are told that we must actively search the Word of God to find the truth. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Timothy 2: 14.
The Rapture Theory
One of the principal beliefs of today is the rapture. There are at least five major views about the rapture, but all have some things in common. All believe that Jesus will come to gather His people in the clouds. All believe that this gathering will be a secret (those who are not raptured will not be aware of it until after it has taken place). All believe that the rapture and Second Coming are two different events, and all believe that after the rapture, Jesus will come again and set up a 1000 year millennium of peace on the earth. At this point, the views start to differ.
Some believe that between the rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus there will be a seven- year period of tribulation. Others believe that it will only be three and a half years. The partial rapture theory contends that there will be multiple “raptures.” Most believe that the rapture will take place before the tribulation. Yet others grapple with the idea that they might have to go through some of the tribulation, while others believe they will experience it all. The most widely believed theory on the rapture is this: After the saints have been mysteriously “snatched” away, the Holy Spirit withdraws His influence and the wickedness of man turns the world into chaos. At this time the antichrist appears and causes the great tribulation. He forces people to take his mark and for seven, three and a half, or ten years (depending on which theory you want to believe) he reigns terror on the earth. During this time, Israel will be converted and at the end of this time, Jesus will return with His saints and rescue all who have turned to Him during this time of trouble, and He will then establish a “Millennial Kingdom” of 1000 years.
What we all want to know is the answer to this simple question. What does the Bible really say about the rapture and Second Coming of Christ? How will it all happen? We do not have to guess. God has given ample evidence of the events to happen. We can know exactly what will occur, but we cannot know exactly when it will occur. We can know by the signs of the times that His coming is near, “but of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Matthew 24: 36. God has given us this knowledge through His Word so that we can be “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Titus 2: 13.
The Rapture and Bible Prophecy
In order to understand this subject, we first need to know where the rapture theory came from. The origins of this theory are rooted in the prophecies of Daniel 9, and so we will begin with an in- depth study of that prophecy.
We first notice that this prophecy is a portion of the 2300- day prophecy that Daniel was given in chapter eight. Daniel is desperately trying to understand the vision given him, but he proclaims in Daniel 8: 27, “And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days; afterward I arose and went about the king’s business. I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it.” For sometime he plead with the Lord to understand this vision, and, one day, as he was confessing his sins and the sins of Israel, he is sent an answer through the angel, Gabriel. Gabriel showed that the 2300- day prophecy and the seventy week prophecy for Israel started at the same time. Gabriel said, “At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision [of the 2300 days]: Seventy weeks are determined [or in literal Hebrew, “cut off” from the 2300 days] for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.” Daniel 9: 23,24. Seventy weeks are given here, not sixty- nine or sixty- eight, but seventy. This is one complete time frame. It cannot be divided.
Notice that this period of time is set aside for the people of Daniel and his holy city. Daniel was a Jew, so this prophecy is specifically about the Jewish people and their holy city Jerusalem. In Daniel 9: 25, we are told when this prophecy will begin. “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.” The command to “restore and build Jerusalem” is the beginning point of this time prophecy. Let’s first look at what is called “prophetic time.”
When the Israelites rebelled against God in the wilderness, he sentenced them to wander in the wilderness for as many days as they had taken to investigate the land of Canaan. He then used this as a rule for prophetic timekeeping. “After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know My breach of promise [rejection].” Numbers 14: 34 KJV. The Israelite spies had investigated the land of Canaan for forty days and now each of those days was counted as a year. They were to wander the wilderness for forty years. We can see this same principle applied in Ezekiel 4: 6. So in Bible prophecy, a day equals one year.
1 See Ezra 1: 1- 4 2 2 See Ezra 6: 1- 12 3 3 According to the cuneiform tablets from Ur of the Chaldees and a papyrus discovered at Elephantine, Artaxerxes succeeded Xerxes to the throne in December, 465 B. C.. His “ascension year” according to the Jewish reckoning would be from December, 465 B. C., to the next Jewish new year in the fall of 464 B. C.. The decree was given in his seventh year which would bring the date from the fall of 458 to the fall of 457 B. C., the date of this important decree recorded in Ezra 7: 1- 26.
In Daniel 9, a seventy- week time period is given. In order to determine for how many years this vision will be applied, the weeks must be calculated in days. Seven days to a week multiplied by seventy equals 490 days. A day for a year brings the figure to 490 years. Now that we have the length of time, all we have to do is find the beginning date of the prophecy. Here are some key words that we must look at to determine the proper date. “Know therefore and understand , that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem . . . .” First, we must find the command that not only causes Jerusalem to be rebuilt but also institutes the restoration of civil and religious authority for Jerusalem. Both must take place in order for it to be the correct beginning date for this prophecy.
The events that lead to the re- building and restoration of Jerusalem are described in the book of Ezra. Three decrees were given, and are recorded in this book, but only one decreed both the rebuilding and the restoration of the city and thus meets the criteria given in this prophecy. The three decrees came from Cyrus, Darius, and Artexerxes. Although Cyrus gave his decree in 537 B. C. 1 , there was no restoration of power to the government of Israel. The second decree by Darius in 520 B. C. 2 saw the construction of the temple, but again, Jerusalem was not “restored.” It was not until the third decree that Jerusalem saw the full fulfillment of these commands. In 457 B. C. 3 , King Artaxerxes gave the final command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. The temple was built and the articles of the temple were restored to it. “Magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the region” (Ezra 7: 25) were again set up in Israel. The Jews were once again given civil and religious power and able to execute judgement on those who broke the law. (See Ezra 7: 26.)
The Anointed One
This time period had paramount importance in the events of history. What was prophesied to happen at this time would change the course of history for the entire world. In Daniel 9: 25, we see that the first sixty- nine weeks (483 days/ years) were to continue “until Messiah the Prince.” Figuring from 457 B. C., 483 years would bring us to the year 27 A. D. (accounting for the fact that there was no zero year between B. C. and A. D.). What significant event happened that year? Through historical records we can find that this year coincides with the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar of which it says in Luke 3: 21,22, “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased. ’” The baptism of Jesus marked the beginning of His ministry, and the Father’s acceptance of Him as the “anointed one” or Messiah. Peter confirms this when he preached on “how God anointed [confirmed Him as Messiah] Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Acts 10: 38.
Jesus is Messiah the Prince. He is the “Prince of Life” and the “Prince of the kings of the earth,” a “Prince and Saviour” and “Prince of Peace.” Acts 3: 15; Revelation 1: 5; Acts 5: 31; Isaiah 9: 6. As we look back in Daniel 9: 26, we see that after the seven weeks and sixty two weeks (483 years), “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself.” (The term “cut off” means “to sever or to die.” (See Isaiah 58: 3.) Jesus became our Sacrifice. He died for the sins of the whole world. Paul confirms this when he states; “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” I Corinthians 15: 3.
When did this event happen? According to the scriptures, it happened in the middle of the seventieth week. “Then He shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” Daniel 9: 27. Jesus brought an end to animal sacrifices which became meaningless. He had become the ultimate sacrifice. “But this Man [Jesus], after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. Now where there is remission of these [sins], there is no longer an offering for sin.” Hebrews 10: 12,18. In the middle of this last week (seven years) of the prophecy, Jesus fulfilled His commission. Jesus was baptized in the fall of 27 A. D. and was crucified in the spring of 31 A. D, exactly three and a half years into the last week of this prophecy.
It is the last week, or seven years, of this prophecy that the supporters of the rapture theory place far into the future. They attribute the events of this last week to the antichrist and seven years of tribulation. They say that it is the antichrist that makes a covenant with many for one week! But wait a minute. How could such a thing be? Didn’t we see earlier that this vision was one continual prophecy, and there could be no separation of time? And what would we do with this last seven years if it did not apply to Jesus and His sacrifice? Did or will the antichrist die for anyone? How could this possibly apply to him? Is it not an abomination to apply this wonderful prophecy that predicts the first coming and suffering of our Lord and Saviour to the antichrist?
One Final Chance
Yet some might ask, “How did Jesus fulfill the last three and a half years of this prophecy if He went to heaven?” We are told that He would “confirm a covenant with many [the Jews] for one week [seven years].” Yet, He died, rose and ascended to heaven before the end of the last week. Let us see how He accomplished this. Before leaving for heaven permanently, Jesus spent forty days with His disciples giving them instructions. He helped them to understand the Scriptures and showed what they said about His suffering and what must take place afterward. “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem .” Luke 24: 46,47. He then gave them the great commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 19,20.
Jesus gave His disciples the authority to finish the covenant to the Jews. He told His disciples to begin in Jerusalem and finish the work and complete the prophecy. They tirelessly worked for their people for the next three and a half years. In 34 A. D., the martyrdom of Stephen and the persecution of the church ended this time period. (See Acts 6– 8.) The new Christian church was scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, then to the world. “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Acts 8: 4. The time for the Jews “to finish the transgression,” put away sin, and humble themselves before God had past. The seventy- week prophecy of Daniel had come to a close. As a nation, God had turned His back on them as they had continually done to Him. Jesus prophesied about this in Matthew 21: 43. “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.”
The prophecy of Daniel 9 is so complete, that it even foretells the destruction of Jerusalem. In verse 26, it tells how the “people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” This obviously is not speaking of the coming of the Messiah, for the prophecy has already spoken of His coming and suffering. This is speaking of the one who would destroy Jerusalem and the temple. History describes the terror that was wrought in Jerusalem, in 70 A. D., when Titus, the Roman commander attacked the city, killing thousands and not leaving “one stone on another” in the magnificent temple. The end of Jerusalem was “with a flood.” Great desolation was administered to the people of Israel “till the end of the war.” Jesus prophesied about this when He wept over Jerusalem. He said, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that makes for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19: 42– 44.
A Secret Rapture?
So when will the rapture happen and doesn’t the Bible speak of a tribulation? The word “rapture” will not be found in your Bible. It is a term, which simply means, “to be caught up.” When you are excited about a project that you are doing, you might say that your spirit is “raptured.” Scientists who wait for years for spacecraft to get to other planets in our solar system (such as Voyager I and II) are “raptured” with excitement when the event occurs. They are “caught up” in the excitement of the moment. This term has been applied to our deliverance from this world when we will be “caught up” to Jesus in the clouds. I Thessalonians 4: 17 says, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
This text is often used as a proof text for a secret rapture. Let’s look carefully at this scripture, and the ones that proceed it, to see if the Bible supports this view of how the Second Coming will occur. In I Thessalonians 4: 16 we read, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” Does this verse describe a silent or secret event? Jesus will come with a shout , and will speak with the authority and power of an archangel. He will come with the blowing of the trumpet of God. No one should miss this occurrence. In fact, the Apostle John writes straight from the revelation of Jesus, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him. . . .” Revelation 1: 7. How can this be a secret coming when “every eye will see Him”?
Also notice that not one of God’s faithful people will be left behind. “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.” Mark 13: 26,27. Every eye will see Him, and He will come with great power. Those who are not ready for the King of kings to come will watch the great coming of Christ and will see this “rapture” of His people floating up to meet Him in the air. What an event! Wouldn’t you like to be one of those who meet Jesus in the air? You can be a part of this exciting event. Whether dead or alive at Jesus’ coming, if we are one of His, we will be lifted up to be with Him at the wonderful resurrection of His elect. The dead will be given new glorious, uncorrupted, physical bodies and be caught up to Jesus, and we who are alive will be given the same and will meet them in the air.
You see, the resurrection, rapture and Second Coming of Christ are all the same event. Listen to what Paul said: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep [died]. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming . Then comes the end , when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.” “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” I Corinthians 15: 20– 24,51,53.
With Flaming Fire
We should also notice some of the events that will transpire when Jesus comes to “rapture” His people. “Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation [affliction] those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels , in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” II Thess.1: 6– 10.
On the day He comes in the clouds to “catch up” His people to Himself, Jesus will, with flaming fire, destroy all who are not His true people. It will be on that Day that His people are delivered from this earth that He will destroy the earth with fire. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night [not secretly or silently, but unsuspectingly], in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” II Peter 3: 10.
Jesus tells us that His coming will be as it was in the days of Noah. Now how was it in the days of Noah? Were some people rescued in the ark and some went on living on the earth after the great flood? “Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth . The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man . All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive .” Gen. 7: 17– 23.
Second Chance to be Saved?
Nothing was left alive when the flood came upon the earth. All died. Only those who were in the ark were saved. There was no second chance. Once the door was shut by the Lord Himself (see Genesis 7: 16), no one could reopen it to get in. Their time was up. They had rejected their opportunity to be saved from the waters, and now it was forever too late. And so it will be in that great day when Jesus comes to receive His people to Himself. “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24: 37– 39. The antediluvian world was not prepared for the great event of which they had been warned repeatedly for 120 years. How long have we been warned about the soon coming of Jesus? Have we become complacent about studying our Bibles to find out how Jesus will come?
Some Taken, Others Left
You might be asking, “What about the passages that talk about some being taken and some being left behind? Doesn’t that indicate that there are some who will still be alive on the earth after Jesus comes for His people? And what about all the Israelites who are supposed to be converted after the secret rapture? Won’t there be 144,000 Jews saved?” Let’s first look at those passages that seem to suggest a “second chance.” We will first look in Matthew 24: 40,41, which is speaking of the coming of Jesus, “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.” This seems to suggest that some will be left wondering where the others went, yet that is not what it says. Look further on to the next few scriptures. “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.” vs. 42– 44.
Jesus is giving a command for us to watch. “Pay attention to the prophecies and get a clear understanding of what will actually occur at My coming,” He urges. If you knew that a thief was coming, would you still sleep soundly, or would you be watching for his invasion into your home? “Therefore you also be ready,” Jesus exclaims. There is not a “second chance” to save your home from a thief once he has robbed you, and there will not be second chance when Jesus comes for His people. What, then, does it mean when it says “one will be taken and one will be left?”
The question really is how will they be left? Look how Luke records this same event. “I tell you, in that night there will be two men [people] in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.” Luke 17: 34– 36. Jesus has told His disciples that some would be taken and some would be left, and they were confused, too. So they asked Jesus to explain what He meant. “And they answered and said to Him, ‘Where, Lord? ’ So He said to them, ‘Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together. ’” Luke 17: 37.
Where will these people be left? When you see the birds flying over them, you will find them. How will they be left? Dead! They will become the supper of the birds. They will be left, but they won’t be saying, “Oh, I missed the rapture, now I will turn my life over to Christ so I can go with Him when He comes again.” No. They will be saying to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand.” Revelation 6: 16,17.
Two Great Suppers
There are two great suppers spoken about in the Bible. They are both found in the book of Revelation. The one you and I want to be part of is the marriage supper of the Lamb. Revelation 19: 9 says, “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” But the other supper is for the eagles and the vultures. John said, “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great. ’” Revelation 19: 17,18. Here we are given a choice to have supper with our Lord and Saviour, or to be the supper for the birds. Jesus is giving us that call right now. “Behold,” He says, “I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3: 20, KJV.
As we noticed earlier in this book, when the Jews rejected Christ as the Messiah, they gave up their position as God’s chosen people. God does not force anyone to accept Him and obey Him, yet there are always consequences if we do not. After their captivity into Babylon, Israel as a nation was given 490 years to see the gravity of their continued rejection of God and His laws. The prophecy of Daniel 9 was their last chance, as a nation, to be the people to carry forth His righteousness. When, at the end of this time, Israel had crucified Christ and then persecuted His church, God took away their “most favored nation” status. Paul writes, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision which is outward in the flesh, but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2: 28, 29.
God wants us all to be Jews in the heart. Spiritual Jews. A spiritual Jew is one who loves the Lord with all his heart, mind, and soul. He is one who keeps God’s commandments out of love for God, not because of the consequences if he does not. He shows that he is one of God’s children by his actions, not by his birthright. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs— heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8: 14,16,17. The Holy Spirit in our lives proves that we are truly God’s people, spiritual Jews, and that we will be claimed as the children of Israel (children of God).
Only those who are God’s in the Spirit will be considered part of Israel. Those who were part of literal Israel have been severed from the true Vine and must be grafted back on by obedience to His word. This is the only way any of us can be part of the true Israel, that Israel which will inherit the kingdom of God. No one who is just a literal Jew has rights to the kingdom unless, like everyone else, he becomes a spiritual Jew, also. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed , and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3: 26– 29.
No Place in Prophecy
Physical Israel, in Palestine, has no special part in last day prophecy. They gave up their right to be God’s chosen nation. In Ezekiel 36 is found a prophecy about spiritual Israel, not physical Israel. (This does not refer to a nation who has rejected the Saviour of the world.) First God says He will gather them from among nations. This is exactly what He will do when He comes to redeem His people at His Coming. Notice that He says “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgements, and do them.” Ezekiel 36: 25– 27.
The Israelis of today do not fit this prophecy. Yes, they have gathered themselves out of other nations, but have their hearts been made clean? Have they started worshipping the Saviour who gave His life for them? Do they today walk in His judgements and keep the commandments of God, or do they still hang on to the “traditions of their fathers?” Jesus reproved the religious leaders of His day for this very thing. (See Mark 7: 6– 13.) In Ezekiel 38: 8,11,14, the Lord says “in the latter days” Israel will live in peace and safety, “having neither bars nor gates, and will not be plundered nor will any go against them,” yet as we look at modern Israel today, we find strife and contention between Israel and many of the nations around her. We do not see peace in the land of Israel or a people living in safety. Obviously, this prophecy is not speaking of the modern day Israel of today but of Spiritual Israel who God is preparing for Himself when He comes in the clouds of heaven.
Will there be many literal Jews in the kingdom of heaven? Certainly, yes! Will there be a time after the rapture/ Second Coming for them to be saved? No! Who are these 144,000 “Israelites” in Revelation 7? Verse 4 gives the answer. “And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed.” These were those who had become “spiritual Jews” in Christ. These are the ones who, in faith, looked to Jesus for their strength, not to any genealogy. Also notice that the tribes listed in Revelation 7 are not even the original tribes. (See Genesis 49.)
These twelve tribes represent the whole of spiritual Israel. They are those who will go through a time of trouble such as no man has ever seen. They represent the last of God’s people who will be left alive at the Second Coming of Jesus. They will be virgins in their faith, for they will know the Lord and their doctrines will be as pure as a virgin before she is wed. They will be those who “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” They will stand for truth and righteousness and have a love for the Lord, which will have no boundaries. Their eyes will be fixed upon His goodness and in their mouths no lies, no hatred, no deceit, and no guile will be found. They will portray the character of Jesus perfectly with love, sympathy, kindness, and pity for all they meet. They will not think more of themselves than others, but will work tirelessly for all they encounter. And these last spiritual Jews, these representatives of God’s true Israel will sing a song that no one else can sing, for only they have gone through the special experience which has prepared them to sing it. (See Revelation 14: 1– 5.)
Earth’s Final Generation
God’s people in the last days are truly blessed among all generations, for they will be the ultimate witnesses for God and His Son. They will suffer for Jesus as He suffered (I Peter 2: 21) and will lay their lives on the line for Him. (Revelation 12: 11.) Those who are still alive at His Coming will see the glory of His appearance, and those who have died for His namesake will be honored to be first to meet Him in the sky. He will appear as He left. In a cloud, He will be found. The angels asked the disciples why they stared at the sky when Jesus floated away into a cloud. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven, this same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1: 11. Jesus points out in three of the four gospels that He will appear in the clouds . He will not touch this earth when He is revealed to receive His people. Every eye will see Him, and those who are not ready will mourn for they know that they are lost. (Revelation 1: 7.)
Two Great Harvests
The great harvest is about to take place. The book of Revelation speaks of this in chapter 14. Here again, we see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven. “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to Him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” Revelation 14: 14– 20, KJV.
As we look at the harvest time of the earth, when Jesus will come to claim all who are His, we see that there are two harvests. In the first, Christ uses His sickle to harvest His precious elect. This is the redemption of God’s people. They are gathered to Him who sits on the cloud, to be with Him forever. (John 14: 2 ,3.) But the other harvest is with fire. This harvest will see the destruction of all that are on the earth. This harvest is the gathering of the tares who are bundled together for burning (See the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13: 24– 30), for this angel has power over fire.
As we meet Christ in the air, we are transported to heaven (John 14: 2,3) to reign with Him as priests and kings for one thousand years. (Revelation 20: 4.) During this time, the earth is laid waste from the consuming fire that proceeds from the Lord at His Coming. It is not until after the thousand years have expired that Jesus brings His people back and executes the final judgement upon the wicked. It is then that the earth will be renewed to a glory that has not been seen since the fall of Adam.
Will You Be Disappointed?
Our time grows short on this earth. Jesus said that we could see the time of His Coming by looking at the signs of the times. Many will be disappointed at the Coming of Christ, because they have placed their hopes in men rather than God. Some will sincerely believe that they are firmly in God’s hand while living out a life not congruent with His law. Many will believe that they have plenty of time to get ready, because they trust in a false theory that teaches two chances for salvation. But the truth of God’s Word is clear. When Jesus comes for His people, His true Israel, He will come with power and authority. He will receive all His people, both dead and alive, and they will meet Him in the clouds of heaven. He will cleanse the earth with fire from the brightness of His coming (II Thessalonians 2: 8), and “by fire and by His sword the Lord will judge all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many.” Isaiah 66: 16.
We must today seek out God’s truth if we are to be prepared for His soon coming. He says, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29: 13. With the “winds of doctrines” that are ever flying about, we must set our hearts and minds on His truth. Paul gives us warning when he said, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2: 8. What we believe has a vast impact on how we follow Christ. It becomes imperative that we know His truth so that we will not be deceived with the rest of the world. (Revelation 12: 9.) Jesus said before He comes back, truth will lie so close to error that, if possible, even the very elect will be deceived. (Matthew 24: 24.) Our only safety is to receive a love for His truth and daily seek for it as hidden treasure. As we examine ourselves to see whether we are truly in the faith, we must ask ourselves this question. When Jesus calls His saints to Himself, will I be found among them?
- Blodgett, Ralph H., Rapture! Is it for Real?
- All Bible references are taken from the New King James Bible unless otherwise indicated.