The following information is taken from the e-book series:
BABYLON RISING: And The First Shall Be The Last
Whenever a discussion of the Last Days comes up, we inevitably find ourselves talking about what has become known as the "Rapture." The first thing I must point out is that the word "Rapture" appears no where in the Bible. However other verbiage is used that leads us to a belief in such a thing. I for one, do believe in it. Most evangelicals do too. But what is usually contested is the timing of when this event will occur.
At the time I originally wrote and posted this blog, there were hundreds of thousands of people following a man by the name of Harold Camping (founder and president of Family Radio), expecting the Rapture to occur on May 21, 2011. They even went so far as to boldly proclaim "The Bible Guarantees it!" They spent untold amounts of dollars on billboards, ads and flyers and posted these things all over the country. They zealously evangelized everyone they knew and beat the streets proclaiming The End was coming very soon! Well, that day has since come and gone... and we're all still here.
Unfortunately, instead of admitting he was wrong, Harold Camping still insists that his predicted May 21st Rapture was an "invisible judgement day" and that it is ushering in the last five months before the final judgement that is scheduled for October 21, 2011.
In an hour and a half broadcast, Camping walked listeners through his numerological timeline, insisting that his teaching has not changed and that the world will still end on October 21, 2011.
“It wont be spiritual on October 21st,” Camping said, adding, “the world is going to be destroyed all together, but it will be very quick.”
- Washington Post
I really have a problem with both people like Harold Camping as well as those who blindly follow such people. The Bible tells us all we need to know, but sadly, too few take the time to study it for themselves. There is an epidemic of what I call, "Listen to the Guy at the Pulpit Syndrome." This is extremely dangerous, especially if the guy standing at the pulpit is wrong. The Bible tells us that we have no need of a teacher and that the Holy Spirit should be our guide.
The Bible teaches that we should study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth so that we need not be ashamed. So, while I do feel sorry for the countless souls who are now hurting, disillusioned and confused, and believe we need to be praying for them, I also believe they should own up to the fact that they let a man lead them astray. That's hard to do. I get that. And it's happened to all of us in one form or another. But that's no excuse. When we get to heaven, we can't point our finger at someone else. We are held accountable for our own actions. Thus, it would behoove us to fall on our face before God and ask Him to show us the truth in all things.
Harold Camping may be a good man. I don't know much about him. He may be sincere. But he is sincerely wrong. He is also extremely arrogant in his refusal to admit that he is wrong. And still people will listen and follow. And what's worse, they will continue to give more money to the man, thus enabling him to continue perpetuating these lies.
This is very dangerous in my opinion. People are being deceived and Christians are losing credibility in the eyes of the world because of this sort of thing. Those who were deceived now have to face the pain and redicule of being wrong. Those who weren't deceived, stand by laughing at those who were, mocking them and their Bible. That makes it difficult for those who do know the truth to share it. People become cynical and God's Word becomes a joke. I know the Bible also says this will happen, but that doesn't mean we should stand by and not fight for truth. And that is what I will do until the day I meet the Lord, here, there or in the air! So, let's get started...
Why were these people wrong? Does the Bible really tell us when to expect a Rapture? Is there even going to be a Rapture? This blog aims to answer those questions and more. But unlike Howard Camping, I am not claiming the corner on truth. I am not making any predictions. I am simply trying to find the truth for myself and to show you what I believe I have found. Ultimately, it is going to be up to you to search these things out for yourself and pray to see whether or not they be of God.
In fairness to all three viewpoints, I think it is important to note that there is room to allow for "a day and hour that no one will know" in each of these Rapture views - if for no other reason than to note that there are always two days happening at the same time and 24 different hourly time zones on the planet! For that fact alone, it would be impossible for anyone to predict the exact day and hour, no matter what view you hold to - because it is different everywhere on the planet! But beyond that, as you can see from the descriptions above, there is sufficient cause to question the exact moment in all three views.
Note also, that no text indicates that Daniel's "covenant" that is "confirmed with many" is a public affair. Therefore, the seven year time clock could theoretically start without most knowing. Only the vaguely referenced "many" who are involved with the covenant signing would therefore know when the time clock starts ticking down the years. An argument could be made that the killing of the Two Witnesses is certainly a public affair and thus would indicate to all that the final 1,260 days will commence. But even in that case, we don't know if those 1,260 begin at the moment the Beast rises, at the moment the Two Witnesses are killed or at the moment they are raised three and a half days later. And would those days be reckoned from Jerusalem time or some other time on the planet? Again, I think all three major viewpoints indicate that the Rapture will be a relatively unexpected event. I say relatively, because as we will soon see, I believe we can and should know within a very close proximity, the timing of our Lord's return - even if not the exact day or hour.
The Prewrath Rapture view seems to be closely related to the Mid-Trib. view:
Very similar to the Mid-Tribulation view, this Rapture happens in the middle of The Seven Year Tribulation Period and probably occurs at the moment of or sometime very close to when the Two Witnesses are raised from the dead. The Prewrath view teaches that the Rapture will happen at an unknown time prior to the wrath of God, usually assumed to immediately follow the opening of the Sixth Seal, when the sun turns black, the moon becomes as blood and a great earthquake occurs.
I have had discussions with a number of Believers who hold to this view. Some of those who believe this way also hold to the idea that the Tribulation Period is actually only 3.5 years - essentially what we who believe in The Seven Year Tribulation Period would consider the second half. What is interesting about this idea is that assuming this last half is the period of God's wrath, from their perspective, if this is when the Rapture occurs, they would view it as a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. But this is not to be confused with the Pre-Trib view mentioned above. It's just a matter of perspective.
Another variation of this view is that the Rapture would not necessarily happen at the beginning of the last 3.5 years but could occur immediately before the the Bowl Judgments are poured out - whenever that occurs - possibly near the very end of the final 3.5 years and thus this Pre-Wrath view could also be considered to be a Post-Tribulation Rapture. Again, it is a matter of perspective.
The Partial Rapture view holds to the idea of multiple raptures of Believers at the beginning and during The Seven Year Tribulation Period.  The criteria for those to be Raptured in this view refers to those who will be faithful and watchful - in essence it is a reward to the faithful.  Adherents to this view, base the idea on certain parables like the "Parable of the Ten Virgins" in which all ten are considered to be Believers, but only five were prepared and thus taken and five were "left behind."
Those are the various views - at least as I understand them.
At first, I did not think I wanted to address the Rapture at all in this e-book for the simple reason that it tends to stir up a lot of controversy and strife whenever the topic is brought up. This is definitely another "sacred cow" of modern Christianity and those who believe in each of the above views are very passionate about those beliefs. But the older I get, the more I learn and the more I realize just how much I need to remain open to other ideas apart from those I was taught to believe by others who have remained closed to new ideas apart from their own.
In fact, the more I dedicate myself to being open to what God has to say in the Scriptures and in my heart, and the more I explore the revelations of others who have done the same, the less I realize that I truly know. Especially lately. I have studied more in the past six months than I have in my whole life. Every day, for anywhere from 5-15 hours a day, I have poured over the Scriptures and explored the writings of dozens of scholars. All the while, I have prayed for revelation, understanding, wisdom and discernment. And I believe God has been giving all of those to me. This work simply represents my feeble attempt at distilling all of the information I have been studying into one source. Thus, this text represents my thoughts in print and I consider it very much a work in progress.
For more than 33 years of my life, I held a strong belief in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view. I even wrote scripts and essays about it, strongly defending the views of people like Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, Pat Robertson, Hal Lindsey, John Hagee, Chuck Missler, J. Vernon McGee, Jack Van Impe, my own parents, pastor and many others whom I respect and who have become famous for writing sermon series, novels, books and movie scripts promoting that view. But sometime between 2003 and the end of 2004, during a crucible in my life that drove me to my knees and deep into the Scriptures on a daily basis, I began to migrate toward a Mid-Tribulation view. Today, for the first time in my life, I have finally given some thought to the Post-Tribulation view - a position I once thought was utterly ridiculous.
I am telling you this because I feel like now, through personal experience, I can fully relate to all three views and those who adhere to them. It's not about who is right and who is wrong. It's about trying to find the Truth. In order to do so, I have had to basically start from scratch. In other words, I had to forget what I was taught and raised to believe and prayerfully go to the Scriptures to let God reveal things to me directly through His Word. If you are open to doing the same, let's explore some ideas together. Please allow me the time to elaborate and share with you what I believe is going to happen and why I have come to these conclusions. Perhaps in doing so, this blog will give you reason to pause and rethink whatever views you currently hold on to and make you want to dive deeper into the Scriptures as well.
The primary verse everyone uses to describe the Rapture is in 1 Thessalonians:
The phrase "caught up" comes from the word "harpazó" in Greek [Strong's 726]. It literally means, to "seize or snatch up, suddenly and decisively." That is where we get the whole idea of a Rapture. And there is a companion passage of Scripture to this one, again written by Paul that we must also take into consideration.
These two passages of Scripture tell us how and when this "catching up" event takes place. Paul gives us a great deal of detail to know exactly what to expect. Thus, all of the following points must be present in order for us to consider the Rapture to be taking place:
It must happen this way and in no other fashion, for this is how the Holy Spirit revealed the order of events to Paul in the Scriptures. Therefore, it can not happen in the following fashion as many believe it will and as many popular books and movies depict it happening:
When I first looked at this order of events, I began to move away from my previously dogmatic Pre-Tribulation Rapture view and moved toward the Mid-Tribulation view. Although I had examined Paul's descriptions as noted above and they caused me to reevaluate my beliefs, the first point of contention I came to, actually came as a result of studying Yeshua's Olivet Discourse.
On the Mount of Olives, the Master shared with His disciples a rundown of the Last Days. This is recorded in both Matthew's Gospel as well as Luke's. I believe this particular discourse on the Last Days is the most important one to consider because it comes directly from the lips of the Word of God Himself! All other descriptions of the Last Days written by the Prophets and Apostles must therefore conform to and be interpreted by what Yeshua said. There can be no contradictions. Thus, His is the final authority by which all others will be compared to and judged!
In the Olivet Discourse, the Savior tells us specifically what to look for and how the End of Days will play out - including giving us the order by which these events will occur. He starts off by talking about many deceivers who will show up in His name, deceiving many. Then he talks about wars and rumors of wars, of nations and kingdoms rising up against each other, of famines, pestilences and earthquakes. He refers to those events as "the beginning of sorrows." He then goes on to describe the persecution of the Saints and the rising of many false prophets. Love is replaced by an abundance of iniquity, but the Kingdom message is still preached in all the world as "a witness unto all nations." According to Matthew 24:14, those are all things that must precede The End.
After that, we learn about the "abomination of desolation" that was spoken of by the prophet Daniel. At that point, if we compare Yeshua's story with the Book of Revelation's sequence of events, we see that we've arrived at the end of the first 1,260 days (3.5 years) and the beginning of the second half of Daniel's 70th Week. This is why I made mention above of the fact that the Rapture can not happen until the second half of The Seven Year Tribulation Period begins.
It is at that time that the Apostle John says the Beast rises up and kills the Two Witnesses, thus beginning his 42 month reign of terror. Note that prior to Revelation chapter 11 (apart from the cryptic message about Apollyon rising in Revelation 9:11), we don't see any mention of the Anti-Christ Beast. He shows up here, then further description is given about him in chapters 13, 17 and following. Although I understand that this individual will make or "confirm a covenant with many" for seven years, I believe Revelation 13 reveals that he does not become the Beast until the mid-point of those seven.
Thus, it seems to me that the man who will become the Beast will only be empowered as the Beast for 3.5 of those seven years. And I believe both Daniel, Yeshua and the Apostle John describe that as the last half of The Seven Year Tribulation Period, called the Great Tribulation.
When this happens, we learn from Yeshua that those in Judaea will flee to the mountains. Then, the Master uses an often repeated, prophetic phrase:
Looking at the Book of Revelation's sequence of events and comparing those verses in Matthew 24 with Paul's harpazó passage in 1 Thessalonians, I became convinced that we were looking at a Mid-Tribulation Rapture. A "snatching away" just prior to the rise of the Beast that is empowered by the dragon.
Notice what Revelation chapter 11 says concerning the ministry and death of the Two Witnesses:
Verse 15 states that shortly after that event the Seventh Trump was sounded:
At this point, it all seemed pretty cut and dry to me! The narrative of Revelation 11 describes, "the dead in Christ" (Two Witnesses?) rising (first?). Then, as a result of a "great voice" (of the arch angel?) and the sound of the last of the Seven Trumpets, they ascend (get caught up?) into the clouds. Looking at the words of Yeshua in His Olivet Discourse and claiming 1 Thessalonians 5:9,10 while comparing Revelation 11:7-12 with Paul's description in 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 it all seemed like a perfect match! I was sold and officially became a "Mid-Tribber," thus discarding all of my previously dogmatic views of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
But there were problems. Remember the list above? ALL of those points need to be present in order for the Rapture to occur. What was missing? We see mention of at least two of the dead in Christ rising, of a "great voice" (shout) in Heaven and even a trumpet blast... but in this Revelation account, there is no mention of the Messiah coming in the clouds or of the living getting caught up with the Two Witnesses to meet Him in the air. Hmmmm. Now, even the Mid-Tribulation Rapture view became questionable in my mind.
As Yeshua continued to discuss the Last Days in Matthew 24, He made a statement about descending in the clouds after the Tribulation. The Master's explanation of the parable of the Wheat and Tares given in Matthew 13:36-43 seems to be a perfect match with Revelation 14:14-20, which both talked about the Harvest at the end of the Tribulation. And then there was also the nagging issue of the "Parable of the Ten Virgins" that shows up in Matthew 25. I just couldn't get those things out of my head. What does all that mean? Could we really be looking at a Post-Tribulation Rapture? I dug and dug and dug, looking for answers.
Let's look again at the Olivet Discourse, picking up shortly after where we left off above. Yeshua tells us about false Christs and false prophets that will show great signs and wonders - so much so that they may deceive even the very elect. And after all of that, He makes this statement:
Man! What do we do with that statement at the beginning of verse 29?? It says after the tribulation! It talks about another trumpet blast! In the past, I think I must have just ignored these facts, clinging tightly to my Pre-Trib view that apparently contradicted the words of Yeshua! Funny how dogmatic we can get sometimes. And God forbid we should ever let the Scriptures get in the way of our beliefs! Right? Come on. Work with me here. I believe at some point, we can all be guilty of this. But there it is. Staring us right in the face. It says after the tribulation! Ouch.
OK. Back to the drawing board...
It's almost as if God allowed a bunch of different Scriptures to seemingly contradict themselves so that we would have to go deeper in order to find the Truth that will harmonize them all together. I believe that harmony can be found in the Torah - the first five books of Moses! That's not a place I am accustomed to going to in order to find answers about the Last Days. But in that amazing collection of books, I believe God has clearly given us the answer to what the End will look like for the Bride of Christ.
Before we continue, let me mention something else that I have often struggled with. Yeshua said that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth:
And don't forget what the Apostle John told us:
It is my belief that if you and I and our brothers and sisters in Christ have indeed accepted Yeshua as our Lord and Savior, then we all have the Holy Spirit within us. That being the case, how is it that we can have so many different views on subjects like the Rapture? Why does God allow seemingly contradictory views and teachings to continue within His Body? How can one be right and another be wrong, when both claim to have the Holy Spirit as their guide, leading them to all truth?
With these questions in mind, let me again encourage you to pray right now that the Holy Spirit will lead you to truth and not me, your pastor or anyone else, dead or alive who has written and/or spoken about the things we are looking at here. All I can do is tell you what I feel I have learned. Your job is to pray and see if the Holy Spirit bears witness.
In wrestling through those questions, I believe the Holy Spirit let me know that the reason He has allowed these different views to coexist, is because in a sense, they are all right! What? How can that be?
First, let me say that I don't believe this theory would apply to every doctrinal difference. Clearly, there are false doctrines out there and false teachers that promote them. Scripture tells us this is true. So, what I am saying won't apply to all areas of disagreement within the Body of Christ. But I started to entertain this idea that it could be true for some "sacred cows" that well meaning, honest, Bible believing Christians cling to. The belief came as a result of addressing the issue of "Predestination vs Free Will" with someone on Facebook. They had posted something on my wall mentioning that they really struggled with all of that. I told them that I believed both concepts were true and reconciled it as follows.
In that little story, we can see that the architect "predestined" every "decision" you make. You can choose all day long where you want to go, but in the end, every destination within that house will lead you to a predetermined (predestined) location. The architect who designed and built the house therefore knows exactly where all of your decisions will lead you. So, at least in my mind, I saw no need for any Calvinist vs Arminian debate over which is true: predestination or free will. In the example above, we can see that both concepts have elements of truth contained within them! And when we step out of our stubborn, narrow minded boxes, we can see that the two concepts actually harmonize well with each other.
Based on that premise, I therefore began to wonder if each of the major Rapture views may have within them a component of "the big picture" and thus all be considered true as well. What if I could show you that (I believe) Scripture proves they are? The solution as to how these views can be reconciled lies hidden in what I'm going to call, The Rapture Riddle. And the good news is, this is a riddle that is meant to be solved!
Neither the Father nor the Son would have us ignorant of the things to come, and neither of them do things in secret!
Thus, God does not hide things from us, he hides them for us! And He actually encourages us to seek them out and even offers to help!
Yeshua definitely followed in His Father's footsteps. His parables held deeper meaning and even secrets, but those secrets were meant to be known by those who follow Him.
Like His Father, Yeshua did things out in the open and not in secret.
Thus, I believe even the "mysteries" of the End Times are meant to be known. Therefore, the question needs to be asked, "Which group are you in: those who are permitted to know or those who are not?" I believe if you are a follower of Yeshua, you are in the category of those who are permitted to know and thus should not walk in darkness in the days ahead.
So, what is this riddle you ask? I believe the riddle itself is contained within all of the descriptions given about the Last Days by the Prophets and Apostles and indeed by Yeshua Himself. Together, these provide the framework for what appears to be a lot of seemingly different and opposing views. But since we know that Scripture and the God who inspired them do not contradict themselves, it appears the answer is hidden for us in Yeshua's Olivet Discourse, thus giving us the master key for unlocking all prophecies concerning End Time events. Therefore, using His discourse as our guide, we must dive into the Scriptures and explore a number of clues that hopefully, by the end of this blog will enable us to solve The Rapture Riddle together!
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