By Jan Lilleby
Most Christian denominations hold this to be right, based upon Paul’s words in 1 Thes. 4:16, 17. The event is mostly just called for ‘The Rapture’. It reads:
(Amplified Bible) – “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first. 17: Then we, the living ones who remain (on the earth), shall simultaneously be caught up along with the resurrected dead in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord!”
I shall explain this issue more detailed through this article, but allow me to already ‘drop-the egg-in-the-basket’:
Paul’s expression in verse 17, “..we, the living ones who remain…”, is NOT in the meaning of US, we who makes out the Church, the body of Christ. The Bible is here talking of the Jewish nation’s – Israel’s – Messianic believers and their proselytes (the Greek as mentioned in Acts) who are the ‘WE’ in the quoted passages in 1 Thes. 4. It has nothing to do with us, the Church, which Paul also called the ‘One New Man’ in Eph. 2:15. And if we do not keep these issues apart we easily fall into confusion regarding the contents of the Gospel. We need to learn what exactly was promised to us, the body of Christ, and keep that apart from what God promised His nation, Israel.
The dispensation of the Church, the ‘One New Man’, the body of Christ was not even started or revealed to anyone at the time Paul wrote the two epistles to the Thessalonians (54-56 AD). Acts span over 30 years of history from 31-32 AD until 62 AD. In the Acts-period we find that all the apostles, including Paul, taught and preached only one message: The New Covenant for Israel. And the Law of Moses was still going hand-in-hand with the covenant message, ref. Ro. 3:31. Paul called that kind of Gospel-message to the Jews and proselytes for:
Acts 13:32 – “So now we are bringing you the good news (Gospel) that what God promised to our forefathers”.
Nobody knew anything about a Gospel of free grace by faith, no covenant, and gentiles freely included directly as believers – an unmerited gift of God in Christ; and the hope of salvation being heaven above the heavens. No, at that time in Bible history the promised hope of their salvation was only the earthly millennial kingdom in Israel at the return of Jesus Christ from heaven, if first all of Israel would repent and be baptized, Acts 2:38. Any promise of heaven up above the heavens (Greek, epiouranos) cannot be found in the Bible at this time in history. It did not occur before the Acts was closed in 62 AD, and we find the promise of heaven only in Ephesians and Colossians, which are the first writings after Acts time-line.
We shall take a step-by-step journey in Scripture in what concerns that God one day shall conclude the Church-era by transferring us into heaven up above. Because this is what He will do in due time. But this great saving move of God is not what is described in 1 Thes. 4 or in 1 Chor. 15. We have to go to Eph. 4:30 and Col. 3:1-4.
THE RAPTURE IN 1 THES. 4 WAS NEVER
GIVEN TO US, THE CHURCH, AS ANY
PART OF OUR SALVATION.
If we do not make proper division in the Bible regarding faith and salvation doctrine, we will stand confused over what exactly the gospel contains.
We must make clear what is promised to us, the Church, the Body of Christ –also called by Paul for ‘The One New Man’ in Eph. 2:15. In Col. 1:18 it says that Jesus is the Head of His Body, which is the Church.
In the N.T. scriptures (except Ephesians and Colossians) all doctrine of faith and doctrine of salvation are based upon the apostles’ preaching of the New Covenant to Israel, established in the blood sacrifice of Jesus (Luke 22:20). That preaching was held forth as they pointed to Jesus and His imminent second coming. He had promised to return as soon as Israel had repented and been baptized. This is very obvious when we study the two sermons held by Peter in Acts 2 and 3.
Acts 2:38 leaves no doubt: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Peter’s speech on Pentecost culminated with those words, after first having exhorted them with what the prophets had prophesied on Messiah, as well as the evil deeds of the Jews having just crucified Him, and that Jesus after this had risen from the grave. Acts 2:1-37.
In verse 39 Peter said the very same as later on was said also by Paul, to the Jews, as he pointed to the promise given the Jewish forefathers(Abraham, Isaac and Jacob –of a future kingdom in the land with Messiah:
“For the promise is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are fare away – to and for as many as the Lord our God invites and bids to come to himself.”
Paul on the very same issue, from Acts 13:32, 33; 38, 39:
“So now we are bringing you the Gospel that what God promised to our forefathers. 33: This He has completely fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus (from the dead)….”
38: “So let it be clearly known and understood by you, brethren, through this Man forgiveness and removal of sins is now proclaimed to you. 39: And that through Him everyone who believes is absolved from every charge from which he could not be justified and freed by the Law of Moses and given right standing with God.”
To these passages I will add Heb. 9:15 – simply because it says that in order to lawfully be offered the New Covenant, you had FIRST to be found submitted to the previous covenant, the Law of Moses. Meaning: Only Jews and their proselytes were offered the New Covenant, it never had anything to do with us, the Church in the free grace-gospel era:
“Christ is therefore the Negotiator and Mediator of an entirely NEW AGREEMENT (covenant), so that those who are called (Israel) and offered it may receive the fulfillment of the promised everlasting inheritance – since a death has taken place (Jesus on the cross) which rescues and and delivers and redeems them from the transgressions committed under the (old) first agreement.”
This fact illustrates to us that all of the Acts period (32 AD to 62 AD) is a story where we find God dealing exclusively with His own elect people of old, Israel, plus their proselytes as they were let into the Messianic assemblies.
Thus we easily understand that when Paul said in Acts 13:38 ‘…so let it be clearly known and understood by you, brethren…’ and every word which goes YOU, WE, US, THE FATHERS, CHILDREN and so on, has nothing to do with us, gentiles, whether believers or not, but these expressions/words are only talking of the JEWS EXCLUSIVELY just as it was in the time of the apostles, in the times before we got the fall of Israel. God had NO PEOPLE among Gentiles in the world. The only Gentiles became proselytes, and as such they did not represent the free, raw Gentile anywhere in the world.
We in our time, cannot just read ourselves into the Scriptures as we may please, as if we were the recipients of the Messianic promises originally given to Israel!
Paul’s teachings in all his epistles, except Ephesians and Colossians, has to do with the salvation of the Jews/Israel as a nation for God in the future promised Millennial kingdom on earth; a kingdom which should have been established as soon as God saw the whole nation repented and baptized – just as charged them by Peter in Acts 2:38. As well as Paul also charged them in his ministry in the Synagogues outside of Israel. But they never repented nationally. Only some groups of believers here and there, but never the entire nation. Their fall from God as a nation is illustrated by Paul’s words in Acts 28:25-28 and I shall come back to that later on.
Through the entire time-line of the Acts, thirty years or so, the servants of Christ held forth the offer to Israel to have the New Covenant salvation, as they always persisted in their repentance, and taking the water rite, and pointing to the imminent return of Jesus in their lifetime.
In the early time of the apostles it was Peter who took the lead, and he went to Israel within her borders. After a few years, God sent out Paul to go to Israel in the Empire outside of Israel, to preach to the Jews and Greek assembled in their synagogues each Sabbath. This became Paul’s special ‘Brand Mark’ if you will. We have a clear reference to this fact in Gal. 2:7, 8:
“..when they saw that I (Paul) had been entrusted the Gospel to the uncircumcised (Gentiles, proselytes) as Peter had been entrusted the Gospel to the circumcised (Jews), 8: For He Who motivated and fitted Peter and worked effectively through him for the mission to the circumcised motivated and fitted me and worked through me also for the Gentiles.”
NOTICE: Proselytes with the Jews and in the Messianic assembly in the time of the apostles, must never be confused with us, regular Gentiles, believers or not. The fact that God allowed for Gentiles to become proselytes, never meant that what He had given to the Messianic assembly, also was given freely out into all the world! No, God’s special election and keeping of Israel as His nation, was always apart from the world. They had a ‘Wall of Partition’ between themselves as God’s nation, and the Gentile world, the nations. This wall stood high and mighty throughout the entire time of Acts period, but was taken down the same instance that Israel fell away from their God, as Paul confronted them in Rome.
In Acts period there existed no free grace-gospel as revealed by Paul in Ephesians and Colossians. The grace-gospel came after Israel first had fallen away from God. Paul’s ultimate words to Israel were the last ones ever spoken to the disobedient nation, quoting Is. 6, in Acts 28:27 he said:
“For the heart of this people has grown dull, and their ears are heavy and hard of hearing and they have shut tight their eyes, so that they may not perceive and have knowledge and become acquainted with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their souls and turn to Me and be converted, that I may heal them (their land/nation).”
Verse 28 is pretty blunt as Paul concludes their fall:
“So let it be understood by you (Israel) then that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”
Verses 29- 31 goes to show us that Paul tried to make the most of it, in spite of the final warnings he had given them, and he kept on trying to convince them of the kingdom-message and Jesus as the Messiah, and leaves us Paul pounding on the heavy Jewish door – but to no avail. Between this point in the time-line 62 AD and until the epistle to the Ephesians was written the same year, Paul had been given a NEW REVELATION by the Lord: The free grace of God for all people, by faith in Christ, for the Jews and their nation was now considered as fallen away from God. Thus Eph. 2:14-15 gives us the full abolishment of a: The Wall of Partition, b: The Law of Moses with its commandments and ordinances. The Jews sat one step down to equal level with us Gentiles!
As I wrote early in this article, the words of a resurrection up from graves plus a rapture up to heaven in clouds at the Lords return, IS NOT ADDRESSED TO US. It was addressed to the Israel found in Acts period before they fell from their elevated standing with God as His nation on earth!
In Ephesians and Colossians, we find an entirely new hope of salvation, not ever presented in the Gospels or in Acts: The hope of heaven above the heavens. Paul used the Greek word epiuoranos in describing our hope of salvation. It is used to describe the heaven up above, where Christ now sits at His Father’s right hand, in might and glory and in power. These two epistles are the only ones in N.T. which have faith/salvation doctrine directly to the Church dispensation. All others are based on New Covenant doctrine and salvation is on earth in the future millennial Israeli kingdom.
CHRISTIANITY’S GENERAL UNDERSTANDING
OF THE RAPTURE AS IT READS IN 1 THES. 4
IS IN GREAT ERROR.
Please let me explain to the reader that the whole concept of this rapture or being caught up into heaven are very distorted what regards how one read the passage in question. It is mostly understood like the following:
The rapture of the saints in 1Thes. 4, is taken as a pure heaven-trip. Jesus is supposedly descending to the sky right above earth and shall rapture up to Himself all the Christian believers on earth after first (in almost the same instance) having the dead believers raised from their graves. And these two groups of saints are then taken up into heaven by Christ and His angels. And so they shall forever be in heaven with God and Christ. All unbelievers are then left behind to endure the Great Tribulation on earth.
But such is not the case if we study the Bible in the right light of proper division and Bible systematics. The real rapture – as described in 1 Thes. 4 will eventually go like this:
Jesus is coming down to earth – in Israel that is – to take over all rule establishing the promised millennial kingdom in Israel. His coming is described by the use of the Greek word Parusia. It means coming to be present with His believers on earth. If Jesus only came down to the sky – not down to earth – that Greek word would not be used. It can only be used if the Lord is coming to be present and seen by His believers. So, Jesus rapture the believing Christians up in the air to meet Him, and in same instance raise the dead believers and rapture also them up. Then He takes His believers with Him DOWN TO ISRAEL, and land them safely there. The Great Tribulation has ended, and they shall now go into His millennial kingdom and will rule together with Christ for a thousand years, ref. Rev. 20:4. It is safe to think that these saints are from among the 144 000 tribal Jews in Rev. 7 I believe. In the passage in Rev. 20:4 it is not mentioned anything about a rapture having taken place, only resurrection of dead martyrs from the Great Tribulation, those who had not taken the anti-Christ logo on them, the mark of the beast in Rev. 13. This could possibly mean that there might NOT be any rapture at all, because it is possible that what Paul wrote in 1 Thes. 4 of the rapture only would take place if Jesus had come in the time of the apostles. I keep the door open to such an interpretation.
The rapture and the resurrection in the same instance, NEVER WAS INTENDED as a happening that should take the saints up into heaven where God is. This is a fact we must learn!
When we also learn from Scripture that the rapture was ONLY PROMISED THE JEWS AND PROSELYTES in the Acts period, and not the Church, the One New Man, the body of Christ, then all others are excluded from this.
Only the Messianic believers in Acts period (Jews and their proselytes) had such promises, and their hope of salvation WAS NOT HEAVEN, but the millennial kingdom on earth. Why would Jesus take believers up into heaven who only were promised to go into the earthly millennial Kingdom in Israel?
Dan. 2:44 is very clear on which group of believers that is promised to enter that kingdom on earth, namely Israel:
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people (than Israel); but it shall break and crush and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever.”
We, the Church under the grace-dispensation established by Paul after Israel’s fall in 62 AD, has never been given any land-promises nor shall we ever be given such promises. We have a totally different hope of salvation: The heaven up above the heavens, with God and Christ. Only Paul was given that revelation for us to believe – Paul, the apostle to the gentiles.
We also have to understand the fact that the Great Tribulation (see Matt. 24:21, 22) – the time when Israel shall be going through a harsh purging and chastisement – resulting in that a remnant of Israel will be saved. Zech. 13:8 prophesied that one third of Israel will be spared, but two thirds will perish, is NOT GOING TO COME OVER THE ENTIRE WORLD. It is Israel which is being punished, purged and chastised so that God can have the nation established back to Himself as believers in Christ, all of them. One of the reasons for doing this will be that all the time since their scattering in 70 AD by the Romans, they have blasphemed the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Both by their ugly mouths, as well as in writings found in Talmud.
Ezek. 36:23 says of this:
“And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name and separate it for its holy purpose from all that defiles it – My name, which HAS BEEN PROFANED AMONG THE NATIONS – which you have profaned among them – and the nations will know (notice: The gentile nations shall be witnesses, and not victims) understand and realize that I (Jesus) am the Lord, when I shall be set apart by you and My holiness vindicated in you before their eyes and yours.”
I recommend everyone to read Ezek. 36 in full – and you will learn how these things will be.
WHAT KIND OF HEAVENLY TRIP IS
PROMISED TO US, THE CHURCH UNDER
THE DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE GOSPEL?
Before we enter details in this issue, let it be totally clear to all: It is only the epistle to the Ephesians and Colossians which contains doctrine of faith and salvation especially written/revealed to us, the body of Christ. All the other epistles in N.T. regardless of writers, were for Israel only and their proselytes, and the doctrine was New Covenant, and not the free grace by faith! This is thoroughly reported in Acts describing a time-period of 30 years.
That is why we don’t find anything regarding teaching on resurrection, rapture, millennial kingdom, the imminent coming of Jesus, the Great Tribulation, etc. in the two exclusive Church epistles.
Mention of apostles and prophets in Eph. 4:11 is only in definitive past tense; it exists no longer, it is long gone.
And the reason is simple: Israel had fallen from God when Paul wrote Ephesians in 62 AD, and the New Covenant to Israel as well as miracle gifts and signs were all suspended, since it was only Israel and proselytes which were the recipients of these blessings and promises. But from then on it was the NEW GRACE GOSPEL of Paul, based on God revealing His hidden Mystery to him, of a group of believers – Gentile people and Israel now sat on equal level – and we both belongs to the body of Christ by faith in Him. Salvation is a free gift of God by faith Eph. 2:8.
No longer is there any need to make Gentile believers proselytes, since we now belong in the body of Christ. The total believing Church in Christ, and no one is above any other, we are all equal Col. 3:11, Eph. 2:14, 15.
We find at least two passages that indicates our transfer into heaven supernaturally, and it may not be any rapture as in 1 Thes. 4. Paul does not tell us in same terms as he wrote to the Messianic ‘Kingdom Assemblies’ in the ministry of New Covenant to them.
First we have Paul’s words in Eph. 4:30:
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
In other words, it shall come a specific day in which we shall be redeemed from this present world and transferred into heaven! This is our final ultimate salvation, and we will FINALLY, AT LONG LAST- see and experience heaven in all its glory and greatness in the presence of Christ our redeemer.
And secondly we find the known exhortation from Paul in Col. 3:1-4 pointing to heaven up above, and not to those things which are on earth:
“If then you have been raised with Christ, aim at and seek those things which are in heaven above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2: And set your minds and keep them set on what is above, not on the things that are on the earth. 3: For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4: When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
From what we just read, I believe there is a supernatural transferring of God’s saints right into the heaven above the heavens (Greek, epiouranos) – by His power and might.
Don’t think vertical or horizontal as in ordinary earthly patterns of movement, for this is a move of God taking us right into another dimension. Not through space and galaxies – physically, but supernaturally such as God only can do for us. There are no mention of angels coming to take us to heaven, like it is in 1 Thes. 4 and 1 Chor. 15, no sound of a loud voice or of trumpets.
The expression ‘appear with Him in glory’ is pointing to heaven and not the earth. The appearing will be in heaven. So also with the dead in Christ: They will be raised in heaven above, and be given new heavenly eternal bodies.
It would have been very illogical to first pointing us to keep our minds and thoughts on heaven like we just read, for then – as it comes to our final salvation, letting us appear with Christ on earth, don’t you think? I am sure Paul is saying here, that this appearing is one taking place up in epiouranos – heaven.
In this aspect of salvation in heaven for us in the Grace-dispensation according to Paul’s Gospel, there is a ‘Bonus’ present, which not many of us think of. What I think of is this:
When a Christian (and everybody else) dies, he is really completely dead and gone and has no life or have no impressions of being alive in another dimension or any such thing. The Bible says ‘The dead knows nothing’. It will be as if we never were born. We do not wake up dead! The Bible call death for sleep, often.
But here is the bonus: This period –when a Christian is in the sleep of death – will be experienced as IF NO TIME HAS PASSED since the time of death and until he is raised by God in heaven.
Think of it. There is nothing after death to remember, no calendar to read from, no news or experiencing days going by, years going by and so on. You are gone and dead. It is not even dark or bright – all is gone.
This will be as if we go straight into heaven in the same instance as we die! The time passed since death took place is never experienced. Only by being told by a person in heaven how long it is since you died, can one find out the time aspect.
So, we are spared of the trouble that it would have been to be in a condition where we experienced life-after-death before we entered heaven. Knowing you are dead, but yet you sit waiting for days and years to be given entrance into heaven and meet Christ. That seems to me to be a real troublesome thing. So praise God, it isn’t like that at all.
He who dies in faith in Christ will not notice any passing of time. Think of those who died in the time of the apostles – almost 2000 years ago – and those who died only 2 years ago, the two groups will have the same lack of time-aspects and will experience it as if they got straight into heaven right away!
FOR THE EDUCATION OF THE READER
ON WHAT VAST PARTS OF CHRISTIANITY ARE
TEACHING, PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO OF
A JOHN ANKERBERG SHOW.
My comments to what these three Bible professors/theologians teach on the rapture issue, are limited to only a few of the main statements in the interviews, since I already have gone through that above. These three preachers are not ‘targeted’ by me in any way. I want to use this TV-show just to give you an idea of how the rapture in 1 Thes. 4 is misunderstood.
You will meet three of the sharpest Bible Scholars in this topic, according to the interviewer John Ankerberg. And I respect them all. They speak to rather large assemblies in the USA, and are seen and heard via many TV-stations there. None of them are involved in any extreme cults or shady enterprises as far as I am able to understand. They are respected scholars working in respected Christian Churches. But even so, I think that regarding the issue of resurrection and rapture there are several errors that I believe it is important to help correcting.
You will see Dr. Ed Hindson, professor at Liberty University, Dr. Mark Hitchcock, at Dallas Theological Seminary and Dr. Ron Rhodes, teacher at the same.
MY REMARKS TO SOME OF THEIR STATEMENTS:
Dr. Hitchcock believes that John 14:1-3 speaks of heaven up above, as Jesus say that in His Father’s house there are many rooms.
His conclusion on that passage is not correct. Jesus was speaking of His return to earth, or more specific, Jerusalem where we find the future millennial temple, prophesied in Ezek. 40-48. His nearest disciples should become the Lord’s governmental rulers/priesthood in the millennial kingdom in Israel. The temple He was referring to shall have ‘many rooms’ – it will actually be the most fabulous temple ever, far greater than any of the previous temples built.
There is not place here to treat that subject extensively, but just to give you a hint: In Ezek. 41:6 we find enlisted a number of facilities included in the big new temple, and I quote:
“These side chambers were three stories high, one over another and thirty in each story (90 rooms!) and they entered into the wall which belonged to the house for the side chambers round about, that they might have hold of the wall, but they did not have hold of the wall of the temple.”
Chapter 41 is a very interesting writing if you are an Architect, and it will take you on a ‘Guided Tour’ of the temple, even the ornamentations in the rooms and halls. On a wall there will be carved images of Cherubs with two faces, one of a man and the other of a Lion, and between them there would be an image of a Palm tree it says verse 18 and 19, and it is inside the Holy of Holies.
There will indeed be plenty of rooms of all kinds, including dining hall, living room, baths and all the normal facilities you can expect for a governing priesthood and for the King Himself, Jesus Christ. Please read these chapters on your own. You will be amazed by the fabulous details and the sheer craftiness and ingeniously laid out facilities which will be in place in this future great temple of the Lord.
Such as the Lord spoke to His disciples in John 14, of ‘going away to make ready a place for them’, and then return to take them into those facilities is easily explained:
He knew He was going to die on the cross, rise from the dead, ascend up to heaven not long after His resurrection – and then have to postpone His second coming until a far future – around 2000 years – and then come in glory and might as described in Rev. 19-20.
His saying of ‘preparing a place’ for the disciples were not in heaven, but it was the atonement for their sins. He had to die on the cross, and that would clear the way for them to later on be with Him and become His government staff and ministers in the millennial kingdom. Jesus used imagery in His words to let them know that they would become rulers and governing ministers living in the temple complex as soon as His second coming would take place.
But since Jesus DID NOT COME BACK IN THE LIFETIME OF THE APOSTLES, these words and promises in John 14 will not become realities to them that followed Jesus at that time, 32 AD. Instead they were taken in spiritually, with the new revelation given Paul for all mankind, of a HEAVENLY salvation, not an earthly millennial salvation. Paul and all the believers from back then shall, together with all Christians since then, be resurrected by God in the heaven up above heaven, Greek: epiouranos.
So those believers who will experience to get to live in those rooms mentioned in John 14, the rooms in the new temple of God, are those mentioned in Rev. 20:4 as already quoted by me earlier. As it is written, ‘And they lived again and ruled with Christ a thousand years’.
Dr. Ron Rhodes mention 1 Thes. 1:9, 10 – and I quote the verses since I have not mentioned this above:
“For they themselves volunteer testimony concerning us, telling what an entrance we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a God Who is alive and true and genuine. 10: And look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead – Jesus, Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from the wrath which is coming and draws us to Himself.”
In error Rhodes say that the rapture in 1 Thes. 4 is a separate event in which Jesus is not coming down to earth, but only to the skies and raptures the believers up, to take them with Him into heaven.
But Paul’s use of the Greek word parousia which means coming to and being present among His believers, excludes the possibility that he could have meant that Jesus just comes down in the skies, returning to heaven from there.
As mentioned earlier, Jesus is actually coming all the way down to earth (Parousia) – but He makes a short stop in the sky as He raptures the saints up to meet Him, – and then continues all the way down to Israel/Jerusalem landing them there. This is not a worldwide operation, since the kingdom in Israel is not for others than them, and besides: The Great Tribulation is NOT a worldwide affair but only in Israel. It is the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’ says Jer. 30:7. And as I told you from Ezek. 36:23 – the world outside Israel are only witnesses to the Lord’s actions, and are in no manner being victimized.
In the old times when Moses and the Hebrews left Egypt under the plagues and signs destroying Egypt, none of those horrors hit any of the nations outside.
All three professors in the TV show suffers from the big error of not having seen that Paul’s words in the quoted passages of 1 Thes. 4 etcetera, never were written to us, the body of Christ, but exclusively to the Messianic believers with their eventual proselytes (by Paul called for Greek, mostly). And if they have gotten that all wrong, then everything goes wrong with trying to interpret passages like this.
We cannot find the Church dispensation in the Bible, before Paul wrote Ephesians and Colossians. All other epistles are only written to the Jewish kingdom-saints and proselytes, hoping for the imminent return of Christ to set up the kingdom in their life-time.
Dr. Ed Hindson is in the interview making a point of that we are not waiting for anti-Christ but for Jesus. He says that there are no particular signs prior to the rapture of the saints mentioned in 1 Thes. 4. But both his statements are wrong.
In 2 Thes. 1:10 Paul spoke of the day when Jesus is coming (Parousia) to be glorified in His saints. In same epistle chapter 2, verse 3 Paul makes clear that there ARE SIGNS that must be seen before the coming of the Lord, namely Israel’s falling away from God, in addition to the sudden appearance of the anti-Christ, the man of sin, the son of doom:
“Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for that day will not come except the apostasy comes first and the man of sin (lawlessness) is revealed, who is the son of doom.”
And is it not very peculiar that Paul, saying this to the Thessalonians, not long after he supposedly told them of a rapture which supposedly should take the saints up into heaven before the tribulation occurred, speak exhortations to them as if they would be present on earth when anti-Christ appears (which is in the middle of the 7 year tribulation, as he kills the two witnesses in Rev. 11)?
Rapture-believers like Hindson and many others are not consistent in their beliefs and pays no attention to such an important thing as the Biblical context!
Both the Thessalonian epistles speaks of the very same event: The physical return of Christ from heaven, down to earth to establish the millennial kingdom, it is that simple – and yet so difficult for some people.
The coming of Jesus in the Acts period as something which was imminent – it could happen at any moment – was simply because His coming (the time for it) depended upon when God considered His people, Israel, to have been converted to Jesus. And as we find Paul in Rome in the years 60 – 62 AD confronting the Jewish leaders there, by God considered to have been the last frontier, the last and final effort to have Israel converted and baptized, we find that they declined and fell away from God as a nation, – they would not repent so the Lord could heal the nation. A few years later the disaster hit Israel.
All three professors in the TV show believes that the rapture is actually an evacuation of the saints from earth, so they will not be harmed or killed by the Great Tribulation coming (the wrath of God).
They think of a scenario in which the entire world is experiencing a huge catastrophic disaster, war and plagues because of sin and unbelief among the nations. This is entirely wrong, as I have already pointed out: God is not punishing and chastising the nations, but only one nation, which is the Jesus-denying and blaspheming ungodly Israel.
God shall through that Great Tribulation, or as Paul called it, the wrath of God, chastise and purge Israel so that in the end one third will be saved and become Christ-believers and go with the Lord into the millennial kingdom at His coming. Zec. 13:8 is clear on that. Jesus cleanses the nation of ungodly elements, and so the remnant of one third Jews will be the priesthood to rule with Christ – Rev. 20:4.
The scenario made by the oversized imaginations of many known American TV preachers and evangelists, of a worldwide nuclear Armageddon disaster to hit right after God has taken His saints up into heaven, is simply false. It is dead wrong.
It is only Israel which shall be purged, punished and chastised, so God can have them back as a holy nation to Himself, and with Christ as their king.
THE CHURCH, THE BODY OF CHRIST SHALL BE TAKEN
INTO HEAVEN ONE DAY SOON, SIMPLY
BECAUSE GOD WILL END THE GRACE ERA
AND RE-START HIS PROPHETIC PROGRAM
FOR HIS NATION ISRAEL.
When God finds Israel’s sin piling up, reaching the level of intolerable measures, Bang! Then all of a sudden Elijah and Moses appear in Jerusalem going to the Knesset to tell what shall happen to the nation if they do not repent and start believing on Jesus! Shortly before that, maybe the very same day, God will have transferred all believers in the Church supernaturally into heaven. From that point in near future the only people God will have on earth will be the new Israel of God, namely the Israel that will believe on Jesus as their Messiah king.
It will be the two witnesses in Rev. 11 – Elijah and Moses who triggers off the tribulation as they start prophesying one punishment after another, shutting the sky for rain and turning the waters into blood.
I already above established the fact from Ezek. 36 that the Gentile nations during the Great Tribulation, will be as witnesses to God’s awesome punishments and purging of Israel. They will KNOW, says Ezek. 36:23 that it is the actions of the Lord doing those things to Israel, because they blasphemed His holy name in the centuries past as they lived among us in the dispersion.
They had a covenant with God once, and it befalls them much greater responsibility than us Gentiles which did not have any agreement with Him. This will be only too apparent as soon as the tribulation is upon them.
The world will watch totally shocked and awestruck…praying that none of those horrors will hit their own nations! People all over the world will fall on their knees in total fear of the judgements of God Almighty.
Atheists will swear they never really were atheists. Unbelievers will say, oh, I have always believed on Jesus….and the TV medias and other media will be overtaken entirely with that which befalls Israel.
It is false doctrine to tell people now that there comes a worldwide disaster, maybe even nukes will be used.
The ‘Left Behind’ syndrome that has taken most all of Christianity in its claws via the Hollywood film by the same title, is entirely built upon false and erring Bible interpretation. Only Israel will have it coming!