are we THERE YET? (Parts 1 and 2)

Scripture Study:  2 Thessalonians 2:1-8

– PART ONE –

The imminence of Christ’s return

Christ’s return has been written about almost exhaustively over the years, so I hesitated about my own investigation regarding this topic found in Paul’s letters to the church in Thessalonica.  The topic has been taken to a point where certain Scriptures are now just ignored and that’s sad.  It’s better to see imminence as a personal thing, which it is!

What is the truth?

From this point on, I’m assuming that Paul spoke the truth when he gave the fact of 2 Thessalonians 2.  And that Peter also spoke the truth when he told his people to look for Jesus, though many things were coming first.

Looking back at 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, we find many truths found nowhere else in the Bible.  It’s the KEY to understanding future events and central to the letter.

The church at Thessalonica found itself, much as we are at times, in a state of confusion over the return of Jesus.  So Paul here begins dealing with a doctrinal error concerning the return of Christ that had crept into the Thessalonian church.

The Day of the LORD!

Paul had instructed the Thessalonians concerning the Day of the Lord when he preached to them in person.  The Day of the Lord is the period of history mentioned repeatedly in the Old Testament in which God will bring JUDGMENT [and Millenial blessing] on the people of the earth in a more direct and really drastic way than ever before (Isa. 13:6, 9; Zeph. 1:14-16).  

With other New Testament revelation concerning this period of time, it’s believed that the Day of the Lord begins after the Rapture of the church, including the Tribulation and the Millenium.

In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he taught them that the day of the Lord would come as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2).  Misinformation ran rampant regarding this event.  To some, it sounded like the day of the Lord had already come.  After all, the persecution they were experiencing seemed to be what the prophets of old had predicted with great calamities coming on the world in “that day”.  Apparently, the church members in Thessalonica even had received instruction from other teachers that the judgments they were going through were during the Day of the Lord, that is, the Great Tribulation.  But if this was true, how could Paul’s previous instructions, that they would be caught up (1 Thessalonians 4:17) and escape the wrath of God coming on the earth be true?

Paul wrote this section (2 Thessalonians 2:1-8) to clarify the matter:

So the church had not been excluded from the Rapture nor was it the Day of the Lord, for other events must occur before the great gathering of God’s people and the Great Tribulation.  Not only that, but believers will not go through the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

VERSE 1 is an urgent request for them to understand properly the events around the Coming of the Lord.

Paul ow dives into the subject of the return of Jesus on which he has just referred to in his letter (1:5-10).  The brethren are begged to correct the confusion on the return of their Lord and Savior.

There are two phrases in the verse relating to the Second Coming.  The first is “regard to the coming” (NASB); “concerning the coming” (NIV), and the second is “our being gathered to Him”, which refers to the Rapture.  Both phrases are generally interpreted as referring to the coming of Christ.  The parousia (Grk.), or coming, had been used in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 & 4:15; the gathering out of God’s people event.  The gathering together is a reminder of 1 Thessalonians 4:17,  with both those in Christ who have died and those still living, will be “caught up together” to meet the Lord, and will “always be with the Lord.”

Just a side-note here.  I want to point out that “parousia” also is used for Christ’s return after the Tribulation (Matthew 24:37-39).  We still look for and await this great assembly together in the sky!

The Day of the Lord (Vs. 2)

VERSE 2 addresses the alarms that twisted teaching had brought about the cause of their present tribulation.

They were “shaken”, “unsettled”. “alarmed”, “disturbed” by false teaching about being in the Great Tribulation.

They were told that the persecution they were enduring was because the Day of the Lord had arrived!  The “Day of the Lord” was well known from the Old Testament and probably with Paul’s teaching as well.  In the Old Testament, the expression “Day of the Lord” occurs 20 times; “last days” 14 times; and“in that day” 100 plus times.  It will be a time of God’s special intervention in the affairs of the world (Isa. 2:1-2, 9-12; 4:1-2, 12; Joel 2:4-11; 30-32).  God has appointed a DAY that Christ the Lord shall return and remove His holy people, and they will be gathered to Him.

WHAT A GLORIOUS DAY THAT WILL BE!

Following the Rapture, is the period that’s identified as. “THE GREAT TRIBULATION” (see Revelation 7:14)

“The Day of the Lord” refers to a period of unprecedented judgments poured out successively on the earth and done so for a period of seven years.  However, even during that terrible period, God will receive any who turn to Him in faith.  Tragically, most of mankind will curse the God of Heaven rather than turn to Him in faith (Revelation 16:8-21).

I can’t help from thinking that it’s not much different from the situation that’s prevalent today when people are too wrapped up in pursuing their own desires to think of God or their relationship to Him.  For most of mankind, “self” is the center of their lives.

Apparently, the theory that the Thessalonians had accepted. was the day of the Lord had come through three channels: “by spirit, report or letter,” indicating that the day of the Lord had already come.  Because of the sources, the Thessalonians were more inclined to accept it as authoritative truth.

The reference to “spirit” probably indicates that some of this teaching came in the form of prophecy, utterances in public worship, purporting to be given by the Holy Spirit.  In addition to prophecies, there had also been “words”.  That probably means by normal conversation and dialogue.

A third form of the false teaching came in some kind of a “letter”, claiming to have been from Paul, which he denies responsibility for any such “letter.”

“Say it isn’t so!”

The Thessalonian church, in their suffering, were convinced that the tribulation period was already in progress, even though the Lord hadn’t come to gather them to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:17).  And how about the promises that they wouldn’t see God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9)?

Paul had taught them, a pretribulational Rapture.  But their confusion arose because they couldn’t distinguish their present troubles from those of the day of the Lord.  And people were telling them of Paul’s apparent backing, that any such deliverance wasn’t going to happen.

So Paul needed to reassure them that they had understood him correctly in his first Epistle.  To accomplish this, Paul proceeds to describe features, obviously not yet present, that will characterize that day’s early stages.

THE APOSTASY OF THE CHURCH;  [V. 3a] Amplified Bible

“Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for THAT DAY will not come except the apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come]”

The antidote to poisonous heresy is a good strong dose of the TRUTH!

So Paul proceeds by referring to three events which must take place BEFORE the judgments of the Day of the Lord took place,

The APOSTASY that Paul is speaking, means a “departure”, and religious apostasy means a departure from God’s TRUTH as revealed in His Word, the Bible.  Paul’s not talking about just any departure, or falling away from the faith, but about a special, particular, and widespread one.  “Apostasy,” doesn’t mean merely disbelieving but rather an aggressive and angry revolt (Hebrews 2:12).  It’s this apostasy that will come before the Day of the Lord.

This APOSTASY is not talking about just a few scattered people, but millions betraying the Scriptures, a dream of liberal churchmen for the establishment of a truly ecumenical church.  That church will be a moral church, teaching doctrine formulated to appease society’s expectations, telling mankind what he wants to hear.  This church will unite all religions under one roof, permitting worship of the Antichrist to be rapidly instituted.  This church is the scarlet whore foretold by John (Rev. 17:1-18).

But the Day of the Lord will not come until this great religious apostasy sweeps the earth!

Can you see it happening today?  Church members said they’ve been saved by the Grace of God BUT…don’t act like they love the Lord.  They have a form of godliness but deny by their action to love God’s people and the sharing of the Gospel of Salvation.  They won’t care for the things that God cares about (Mat. 24:10-11).  If they are not of the Apostasy, they certainly facilitate it!

  • PART TWO –  are we THERE YET?

THE LAWLESS ONE, (Vv. 3b-5)

Another event that must take place before the judgments occur is the revelation of “the man of lawlessness.”

This event will begin the awful DAY OF JUDGMENTS.

His revealing not only includes who he is but also being revealed for what he is, the MAN OF SIN.

He will be fully associated with and characterized by “lawlessness” (Grk., anomias, or “sin,” as some mss. have it).  This person is thus characterized as being opposed to God’s law.  He’s also described as the man doomed to destruction (“the son of perdition,” KJV).  The same spirit that filled Judas Iscariot (John 17:12), making him the son of perdition, also makes Antichrist the “son of perdition.”

Elsewhere in the Bible he’s called the “little horn” (Dan. 7:8); the “prince that shall come” (Dan. 9:27); the “willful king” (Dan. 11:36); the “antichrist who will come” (1 Jn. 2:18).  This man is also called the “beast coming out of the sea” (Rev. 13:1-10).

He is the Antichrist, a pseudo-Christ, hostile to the Savior.

He will be a real human being, not a principle or system or a succession of individuals.  Such a person hasn’t been spotlighted on the scene as of yet.  This person is the ultimate personification of Satan, the culmination of all that is opposed to God.

I don’t believe there’s a need to speculate about who this individual might be, we’re not told, nor is it important that we should know who he is.  He will be revealed at the appropriate time, but his identity will be revealed only after the people of God have been taken out of this world.  This man will be Satan’s showpiece who will usher in the Great Tribulation by his presence.  He will not be revealed until the faithful of the present age are taken into the presence of our Lord at the Rapture.  Jesus is our Savior!

Jesus did say quite plainly in Mark 13:32-33,

2 Thessalonians 2:4 gives us a fuller characterization of this evil person who sets himself up as God.

Revelation 13:5-8 certainly adds to. the picture that the “beast” will tolerate the worship of no one but himself.

So after the “departure” or falling away of the saints in verse 3, Antichrist will demand to be worshipped as God at the temple in Jerusalem.  Is this a literal temple, or is this a metaphor, meaning that he usurps God’s authority?  Both are possible.  The Jewish people are certainly preparing to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.  [seeUpdate on the Building of the Third Temple” at Jewish Voice Ministries – https://www.jewishvoice.org update-building-third-temple]

“Wait a minute,” you’re thinking.  “How can THE TEMPLE BE REBUILT if the Mosque of Omar, the Dome of the Rock, the third most holy site of Islam sits on the very spot where the temple is to be built?”  The Antichrist will say, “Let me solve this sticky issue, the Palestinian problem, the question of Jerusalem.  Jews, you build your temple on the true site of the Temple.  We’ll build a wall to separate it from the Muslim Dome of the Rock Mosque.”  Ezekiel prophesied this very thing (Ezk. 42:20).  In this way, Antichrist will seem to have solved the problem that has troubled and divided Jerusalem for centuries.

Then, in the midst of his popularity, Antichrist will walk into the Temple and demand to be worshipped, “proclaiming that he himself is God” [Ezk. 28:2; Dan. 11:36, 37.].

Paul says to the Thessalonians, “Don’t be quickly unsettled or disturbed or kept excited or alarmed…you are not in the Tribulation.  This is not the Day of the Lord you’re in.  You didn’t miss the Rapture because the man of lawlessness–the “son of perdition”–Antichrist–has not come.”

Though the Lord will come “like a thief in the night”–unexpectantly (1 Thess. 5:1-11), Jesus will not come until certain events take place.  It requires no imagination to suggest that events around us are rushing toward the great finale.  It’s entirely possible that Antichrist has already been born; all that waits for the knowledge of this individual is the Rapture of God’s people and then he will be revealed.  At that time, those awful events that culminate and God’s Word to the earth will be set in motion.  We who are Christians are called to live with confidence in this present age, knowing that we are destined for SALVATION and not wrath.  We are responsible for labor at the task of declaring Christ’s LOVE and warning to all who will receive our word to flee from the coming wrath.

Before you finish reading this Bible study in the form of a blog, it’s possible that Christ the Lord will return!  Whether Jesus comes or whether He delays, we are nevertheless called to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19, 20).

“We must work the work of Him who sent us while it is day.”

We live in the knowledge that time is short; whatever work will be done must be done now, while it’s day.

The Jesus supplemented His explanatory word to encourage us in John 9:4.

Jesus’ words lend to urgency and the need to be busy about His work [“Perhaps Today”, by Michael Stark. Sermon Central.com].

Paul emphasizes that he personally had taught them these prophetic truths in VERSE 5:  “Do you remember”

This teaching was nothing new to the Thessalonians.  Paul had taught them about the Day of the Lord when he was with them in Thessalonia.  He called on them now to recall these previously taught lessons.  Paul didn’t regard prophetic truth as too deep or unimportant or controversial to new Christians.  He believed it was a vital part of the whole counsel of God, so he taught it without hesitation or apology.

WHO IS THE RESTRAINER?  (Vs. 6-7)

Satan has been allowed enormous influence and power, capturing the souls of billions.  Though held back from the full vent of his evil, the power, and energy of wickedness continues to work and build toward the day of the Antichrist’s revealing.  Then and now, the work or energy directed, and this restraining will continue until the time appointed reveals the Man of Sin.  Satan’s desire to take control of the world by the Antichrist will then be allowed.

So then, who is RESTRAINING the satanically empowered movement against God’s law, postponing the revelation of the Man of Sin?

I think the most logical approach to answer that question would be to determine who could possibly hold such power to restrain the powers of Satan.  No mere man could.  So the “one” must also be superhuman.  This places God at the forefront.  Yet, God doesn’t abandon the world when the Antichrist enters the picture.

So the most reasonable explanation as to who holds back the powers of evil is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the only Person with enough (supernatural) power to do this “restraining.”

The Greek word, Katechon (“that which withholds”) is used in 2 Thessalonians 2:6 and is gender-neutral; (“what is holding back”), and so object to the idea of this being the Holy Spirit.  But I found that this isn’t a problem for several reasons:  The “neuter” is sometimes used of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14).  In 2 Thessalonians 2:7, the words are masculine; ho Katechon, the ONE who holds back.

How Does He Do It?

How does the Spirit hold back the supernatural working of evil in the world?

A ministry of the Holy Spirit is to “convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).  The Holy Spirit works on His own, but the Spirit also indwells the born-again spirit of every true believer.  Through Christians whom He indwells and through whom He works in society, He also is holding back, restraining, the swelling tide of lawlessness throughout the land.  Thus, the true Church and those individuals in it, are also a restraining force of God in the world.

Now when the time for the Antichrist comes, the Holy Spirit will depart.  “He” will be taken out of the way.

This “taking out of the way” (v, 7) of the Restrainer seems to refer to the Rapture of the Church when Jesus comes to gather us, to snatch us up to be with Him.  When the Church leaves the earth as the Bride of Christ in the Rapture, the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way in the sense that His unique restraining of lawlessness ministry through God’s people will be removed (Gen. 6:3).  When the Church is raptured out of the way, God’s restraint of evil through His Spirit will no longer hold back the forces of darkness.

So the Thessalonians were not in the Great Tribulation because the Rapture hadn’t yet occurred.  The removal of the Restrainer at the time of the Rapture precedes the Day of the Lord.  Paul’s reasoning is thus a strong case for the pretribulational Rapture.

Being Prepared Is A Good Thing

We also should be daily looking for Christ’s return.  Our attention to spiritual matters can be diverted by many things in this world.  However, the Bible tells us to be PREPARED at every moment, for any day may be the Day Jesus comes for His bride, the Church.  Far too many who are called “Christians,” are content to be religious rather than godly.

Keep the words of the Apostle Paul in mind each day in preparation:

____________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

The Interlinear Bible Of Greek And Hebrew Words.

Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words.

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Commentary:  Bob Faulkner, Caught Up, But When?, May 20, 2015 – SermonCentral.com; Dr. William D. Poovey, 7 Proofs of the Rapture Before the Tribulation,  April 17, 2015.

Bible Translations used in the text:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New King James Bible (NKJV); The Interlinear Bible.

 

“SPRINGTIME” IS ALMOST HERE!

Song of Solomon 2:8-13 (NKJV):

THE SHULAMITE (Bride)

[8]  The voice of my beloved!  Behold, he comes  Leaping upon the mountains, Skipping upon the hills.

[9]  My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.  Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, Gazing through the lattice.

[10] My beloved spoke, and said to me:  “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away. 

[11]  For lo, the winter is past,  The rain is over and gone.

[12]  The flowers appear on the earth;  The time of singing has come,  And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land.

[13]  The fig tree puts forth her green figs,  And the vines with the tender grapes  Give good smell.  Rise up, my love, my fair one,  And come away!”

I just completed a six part study in The Book of Revelation to John, and in Part 4 – “Rapture Ready!” [See Footnote [i] ],  I had some comments regarding The Rapture: Pre-Tribulation; Mid-Tribulation or Post-Tribulation viewpoints.  I mentioned to one commenter, who disagreed with my belief of the “catching up” of the church–the Bride of Christ, before the Tribulation was not my purpose in the blog.  It was not to debate the correctness of the different views, but to bring awareness to the event referenced in Scripture.  I went on to explain, perhaps in another blog, I would go into more detail of the RAPTURE.  So here we are!

A Summer Picnic Experience…

Several years ago, I decided to visit a nearby church fellowship I heard was an “on fire for the Lord” church.  After attending the church for three months (didn’t want to make rash decisions), my wife and I attended a Summer church picnic.  “Church Summer Picnics” almost have come to be “doctrine” over the years.  I regress.

Trying to be a good listener and getting to know people’s values and beliefs, I noticed one particular conversation regarding the phrase, “end times.”  In a nutshell, the vast majority gathered at the picnic that day, didn’t believe in the Tribulation, much lest the “RAPTURE” of the church.  They understood the book of The Revelation in terms of its first-century setting, claiming that most of its events have already taken place.  As “preterists,” they relate the contents mentioned in Scripture describe the struggle between imperial Rome and the church, so that everything was fulfilled at that time.

Now being saved and brought up in a conservative Baptist church… lessening the Blessed Hope in Scripture almost gave me whiplash.  I thought, is this church doctrine, or just a few misguided, spiritually immature believers?

So, holding back on judgement, I decided to move in closer to the group and wait…wait for an “empty” space in the discussion for my interjection of the TRUTH in Scripture.

Finally, I asked the question:  “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help over hear your talking points.  You don’t believe in the “Rapture” that the bible mentions?”  The response to the question was like an ice-cube being dropped down my back, but I tried not to over react.

“Do you have children?” asked one church leader.

“Yes, I have three,” I replied, wondering what was coming next.

“Are they married, have children?” he asked.

I didn’t have any idea at this point where the conversation was headed:

“Yes, they are.  And yes, I have four grandchildren.”

“Congratulations.  I want to see my three children grow up, get married and have children.  So why would I want or desire God to “rapture” the church now, or ever?

He went on to say,

“And besides, the word “RAPTURE”  is never even mentioned in the Bible”.

Later, I discovered the “preterist” viewpoint (unbelief in the “catching away” of the church) was the belief of the entire church assembly.  But for the most part, they kept their doctrine under wraps.  Although we had come to love the people over the months, we had to leave the fellowship.

The pastor later asked my wife and I if we would come to his office, to discuss our decision in leaving.  He was very polite, even sorrowful that we were leaving the fellowship and asked us with almost a whisper, “Then your decision is final?”

“Yes pastor, it is.”

And then I asked him a question:  “Are you a “preterist”?”

“Mostly” he answered.  He added, “Scripture is unclear and doesn’t verify the “taken up” principle, except once in Paul’s letter to Thessalonica.”  

“Really?.  That’s what you believe?  Even the Old Testament refers to the “catching up”-the Rapture.”

With a blank look on his face, he said, “And where might that be?” Almost as a challenge.

I pointed to the Song of Solomon (S.O.S.) as a reference to the “Rapture,” citing S.O.S. 2:8-13. 

So here I am once again, comparing verses in the Old Testament with verses in the New Testament concerning Jesus’ return for His Bride, the church.

The Rapture!

bride4christ

 

1 Thessalonians 4:16 is often used in discussing the RAPTURE, or the “catching up.”

“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”  (Amplified Bible).

I want to look at the Old Testament, Song of Solomon, TO COMPARE with the evidence supporting the idea of the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” view.  No arguments, just the evidence of Scripture to authenticate the viewpoint.

“The Voice of my beloved!  Behold, he comes”  (Vs. 8 a.) –

Who’s coming with a shout in 1 Thessalonians 4:16?   “The LORD Himself”!

“Leaping upon the mountains,  Skipping on the hills”  (Vs. 8 b.) –

The Heavens – 3 Levels Identified:

–The FIRST is from ground level up to the tallest mountain.

–The SECOND from there to outer space.

–The THIRD is heaven ITSELF.

“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know,  God knows–was caught up to the third heaven”  (2 Corinthians 12:2 AMP).

When the RAPTURE–“the catching up” occurs, JESUS will only come down to the “mountain top” level to catch us away.

His “Second Coming” or “2nd Advent” will be at then end of the Millennial Reign (The Revelation to John, Chapter 19), and the believers will be following Him as He rides on “A Horse With No Name”!  [See Footnote [ii]]

As JESUS circles the earth gathering His bride (the church), it might look like someone “skipping”…”leaping” from hilltop to hilltop!  (S.O.S. 2:8 b.)

“He looks in through the windows, he glances through the lattice”  (Vs. 9 b.) –

"He is looking through the window"
“He is looking through the window”

JESUS in heaven, is looking over the window sill, waiting to CATCH His bride away!

I remember a particular September day 1964, the year I was married, expectantly waiting by the altar as my new bride walked down that long aisle in church–glancing at her smiling approach as I grinned myself in anticipation of being together for lifetime.

“Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away”  (Vs. 10) –

This idea presented in those words reminded me of my recent blog-POST in the Six Part Series in The Book of Revelation (Part Four- “A Glimpse of Heaven”): 

Revelation 4:1  And the first voice I had heard addressing me like [the calling of] a war trumpet said,  “Come up here…”  (Amplified Bible)

“For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone”  (Vs. 11) –

What is the significance of the word “RAIN”?

“COME AND let us return to the Lord, for He has torn so that He may heal us;  He has stricken so that He may bind us up.  [2] After two days He will revive us (quicken us, give us life); on the third day He will raise us up that we may live before Him.  [3] Yes, let us know (recognize, be acquainted with, and understand) Him; let us be zealous to know the Lord [to appreciate, give heed to, and cherish Him].  His going forth is prepared and certain as the dawn, and He will come to us as the [heavy] rain, as the latter rain that waters the earth”  (Hosea 6:1-3 AMP).

James 5:7-8 (NASB):

“Be patient, therefore, brethren, until th coming of the Lord.  Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.  [8] You to be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

What is “RAIN” symbolic of in Scripture?  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The OUTPOURING happened when the church was born (the former rain–the first 4 Feasts of Israel has already been fulfilled).

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.  [18] And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy”  (Acts 2:17-18 KJV).

The First Four Feasts of Israel–

I am not saying that we should all commemorate/follow the SEVEN FEASTS OF ISRAEL found in the bible, but as Christians, we should at least be acquainted with them and what they can signify in the New Covenant.

1.  Passover.  2.  Unleavened Bread.  3.  First Fruits.  4.  Weeks.

The Latter Rain has yet to be fulfilled–

THE LATTER RAIN starts around the time of the Fall Feasts–the first of which is “Feast of Trumpets” falls in September (succeeded by the Feast of Atonement and Tabernacles).

HELLO?  When is the LAST TRUMPET blown?  The Feast of Trumpets!

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed–in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed”  (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 – NIV Bible).

When is the bridegroom coming for His bride?

When the RAIN is over and gone.

“The fig tree puts forth her green figs”  (Vs. 13 a.)

Green Figs
Green Figs

Remember what JESUS said in His Olivet Discourse?

Matthew 24:32-33 (Amplified Bible):

[32] From the fig tree learn this lesson:  as soon as its young shoots become soft and tender and it puts out its leaves, you know of a surety that summer is near.

[33] So also when you see these signs, all taken together, coming to pass, you may know of surety that He is near, at the very doors.

Could this parable Jesus is referring to be the one in Song of Solomon?  The bridegroom coming for the bride?

S.O.S. verse 10, 13, the bridegroom says “Rise up”.  Why does He say it twice?

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17:

For this we declare to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede [into His presence] or have any advantage at all over those who have previously fallen asleep [in Him in death].

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the blast of the trumpet of God.  And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first.

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!

CAN YOU SEE WHAT I SEE HERE? evidence

He speaks once for the dead in Christ Jesus, and gain for those alive and remaining.  HALLELUJAH!  The bridegroom is coming for His bride (the church) and we will rise up to meet Him.

My point in this Blog-post is not to convince, nor to persuade you one way or another regarding the viewpoints of the RAPTURE:

–Pre-Tribulation

–Mid-Tribulation

–Post-Tribulation

My intent is to present you with the Scriptural evidence.  My view by now, is “Pre-Tribulation”.

[See and read the following evidence presented:  1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10]

 

 


FOOTNOTES and CREDITS:

Footnote [i] – “Rapture Ready!” https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/rapture-ready…lation-to-john 

Footnote [ii] – “A Horse With No Name” https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/a-horse-qwith

Bible References:

New King James Version (NKJV); Amplified Bible (AMP)

 

 

 

The “OLIVE TREE” Prophecy

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Olive Tree Grove

BIBLE TEXT FOR THIS BLOG:

Open your Bibles to Romans 11:17-32.

The Cultivation Process:

Most of us are unfamiliar with the CULTIVATION of an OLIVE TREE.  Simply, most of us have never even seen OLIVES growing on a tree; because of our geographical location.

When I first met my wife, my future father-in-law owned a small citrus grove in Vista, California.  It was mostly limes at that time, although it had previously been lemons.  Dad had grafted in the new lime branches to the old stock of lemon trees.  His reasoning, and a good one, LIMES were for more profitable than LEMONS.

The Benefits of Grafting In…

After Dianne and I were married, I always looked forward to the AVOCADOS my in-laws would always have on the dinner table.  My father-in-law only had a few avocado trees at the ranch, but they were old and over 30 feet high while their branches spread over 20 feet in width.  One was so old, that the fruit became small, so he not only grafted in ONE TYPE , but several varieties of avocados:  Nabal, King, Duke…all avocados, but different sizes, different tastes; fruit that couldn’t be found in local produce sections of grocery stores.  The “Old Avocado Tree” wasn’t what it used to be– it became successful by THE CULTIVATION PROCESS.

88013377_XSA ROOT–

The ROOT is the most important part of any plant.  It provides the foundation, the strength, and the stability of the tree.  “Before anything can grow up, it better grow down–the deeper the root…the sweeter the fruit.”   (See footnote [i] for source of quote)

For JEWISH PEOPLE, they considered Abraham their  “ROOT”.

Abraham was the one whom they saw as making them RIGHTEOUS.  He believed GOD and was saved by his own FAITH.  It was by the faith of Abraham which gave his descendants, the Jews, the assurance of GOD’S acceptance.

While Abraham is a ROOT for the Jews, JESUS is the ROOT for all!

A TREE–

All through the Bible, the OLIVE TREE is symbolic of Israel.  But notice the TWO TYPES of OLIVE TREES mentioned by the apostle Paul:

–  A WILD TREE.

–  A CULTIVATED TREE.

Before moving on with this study, we need to understand the TWO TERMS:

The Wild Tree–

A “wild tree” is not under human care.  It just grows and produces as nature would have it.

The Cultivated Tree–

This tree has been tended to, trimmed back, and taken from.

In my investigation of plant grafting for this study, I found that a WILD OLIVE BRANCH is not grafted in a CULTIVATED OLIVE TREE–unless, the tree becomes unproductive in fruit, or is barren.  For this is the very reason, the wild olive branch imparts the rest of the tree, to be fruitful and useful once more.

Grafted in ...
Grafted in …

DURING THE 1st CENTURY:

A cultivated branch was typically grafted into a wild or natural growing olive tree; the only time when wild branches are grafted to a cultivated tree is when that particular tree…STOPS PRODUCING FRUIT!

With this very illustration, Paul is saying,  GOD is blessing GENTILES because the JEWS had CEASED to bear fruit…the issue is not individuals who were SAVED then lost their salvation (the “natural branches” were never saved), rather the people groups became GOD’S FOCUS.

The KEY VERSES:  17-18

[17]  But if some of the branches were broken off, while you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them to share the richness [of the ROOT and sap] of the olive tree,

[18]  Do not boast over the branches and pride yourself at their expense.  If you do boast and feel superior, remember it is not you that support the ROOT, but the ROOT [that supports] you.

BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY is a form of JUDAISM–

We DRAW our source of life from the “rootstock”  ISRAEL (like grafted in “limes”/”lemons”).

*  The ROOT supports us; our spiritual life comes from ISRAEL.

*  Who said this?  “…for [after all], SALVATION comes from [among] the Jews.” (John 4:22); JESUS did to the woman at the well.

*  In the 1st Century JUDAISM,

Gentiles who believed in the God of Israel but didn’t want to be full converts to Judaism, were thought of as SAVED– but at the same time, not in as great of place in THE BLESSING as those who became JEWS…

*  In the Church Age,

Jews and Gentile BELIEVERS alike have equal status, but both are BLESSED because…they are plugged into the life-giving root ISRAEL and…more specifically, ISRAEL’S MESSIAH.

ONE DAY, THE NATURAL BRANCHES WILL BE GRAFTED BACK IN:  (24)

“…how much easier will it be to graft these natural [branches] back on [the original parent stock of] their own olive tree…”  (Amplified Bible).

The CHURCH does not replace Israel, but it does dwell in the place of God’s blessing until…Israel is re-grafted in.

Both the Church and end time Israel SHARE in the same New Covenant and both are part of the Kingdom of God.  BUT…”ISRAEL” refers to a nation, and the church is not a “new Israel,” but people who are called out…every tribe, kindred, and nation.  EACH will GLORIFY God but each in her own way.  How can we know this is true?

“…for God’s gifts and His calling is irrevocable”

The REGENERATION PROCESS:  (25-27)

[25]  Lest you be self-opinionated (wise in your own conceits), I do not want you to miss this hidden truth and mystery, brethren:  a hardening  (insensibility)  has [temporarily] befallen a part of Israel [to last] until the *[ii]*full number of the ingathering of the Gentiles has come in,

[26]  And so all Israel will be saved.  As it is written,  The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will banish ungodliness from Jacob.

[27]  And this will be My covenant (My agreement) with them when I shall take away their sins.

This partial hardening of hearts will one day END (25).  There is a “quota“, a “full number” of Gentiles that will be met and only God knows that number.

This re-direction will happen during the Tribulation Period when GOD SAVES 12,000 Jews, each of Israel’s tribes and then…the surviving nation of Israel is converted during Armageddon (verses 26-27).

This doesn’t mean ALL JEWS are automatically SAVED or SAVED apart from Christ Jesus…this is talking about a point in time where ALL ISRAEL present on earth will be SAVED  (Zech. 12:9-10; Isaiah 45:17; Zech. 13:8-9).

THERE’S NO ROOM For anti-Semitism in Christianity (28-32):

[28]  From the point of view of the Gospel  (good news),  they [the Jews, at present] are enemies [of God], which is for your advantage and benefit.  But from the point of view of God’s choice (of election, of divine selection),  they are still the beloved (dear to Him) for the sake of their forefathers.

[29]  For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.  [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]

[30]  Just as you were once disobedient and rebellious toward God but now have obtained {His] mercy,  through their disobedience,

[31]  So they also now are being disobedient [when you are receiving mercy], that they in turn may one day, through mercy you are enjoying, also receive mercy [that they may share the mercy which has been shown to you–through you as messengers of the Gospel to them].

[32]  For God has consigned (penned up) all men to disobedience, only that He may have mercy on them all [alike].

From one angle, it would have certainly become EASY to despise the JEWS (28 a).  As much as Paul was burdened for his people, he was also aggravated with them.

If you have children, how many times have you laid awake at night in bed, concerned for…even “burdened” by the activity or lack there of…but at the same time, “aggravated” at the same time?

Once Christianity SEPARATED from their Jewish ROOTS…once people no longer realized the Crucifixion of Christ was planned by God, anti-Semitism set into the Church (by the 4th Century).

Despite Paul’s strong declaration, that Christians respect Israel for the love of their roots,  “REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY” became a dominant theme of church doctrine:  “God was done with Israel forever”; there could be no anti-Semitism if it were not for “replacement theology.”

Israel is STILL God’s Chosen Nation  (“they are beloved” – 28 b):

Jeremiah 31:35-36:

[35]  Thus says the Lord,  Who gives the sun for a light by day and the fixed order of the moon and of the stars for a light by night,  Who stirs up the sea’s roaring billows or stills the waves when they roar–the Lord of hosts is His name:

[36]  If these ordinances [of fixed order]  depart from before Me, says the Lord, then the posterity of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me throughout the ages.

Verse 29 is… THE CENTER OF GOD’S CALLING IS IRREVOCABLE:

If God made a PROMISE to us, or to His nation Israel, then later redefined His words to define Israel as people collected from all nations…God might make a great politician in today’s world, but He would not be the HOLY, IMPECCABLE, IMMUTABLE, FAITHFUL God of the Bible.

God’s Delay in Blessing Israel:

GOD always has a PURPOSE, and delaying His BLESSING to Israel? (verse 30-32):

For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained MERCY through THEIR UNBELIEF;   Even so have these also not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.   For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have MERCY upon all.  (King James Bible)

Realizing how masterfully God has planned all these things…you want to jump up, burst forth in praise, for His omnipotent sovereignty…which is what Paul does.

Seeking Opportunities—

So in reading and meditating on the verses above, we should SEEK God-given opportunities to SHARE JESUS to unbelieving Jews; have an undeniable respect for Jewish people in doing so because of their ROOTS….becomes our strength!

Zechariah 8:23 Amplified Bible:

Thus says the Lord of hosts:  In those days ten men out of all languages of the nations shall take hold of the robe of him who is a Jew, saying,  Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.

 

*Footnotes & Photo Credits:

[i] – Jerry Watts “Grafted into God’s Family”

[ii] – Joseph Thayer’s A Greek-English Lexicon

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images.