Posted in encouragement, john macarthur, judgment, prophecy, rapture, relief, tribulation

Beleaguered brethren, relief is on the way

What a blessed relief the rapture is to look forward to!!!

In his tremendous sermon delivered last Sunday, July 19, Pastor John MacArthur demonstrated once again the qualities of a superlative shepherd.

After Memorial Day he planned to go on vacation as usual. He delivered a sermon to help his flock prepare for events that may occur while he was gone. He said in his good-bye for now sermon,  “Hope for a Doomed Nation” that

So as we look at our nation – and I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few weeks when I’m not here. I’m just kind of preempting that a little bit by helping you to be able to think through whatever happens. I have to say at this point that there are many churches who aren’t helping.

One event was obviously what turned out to be the devastating Supreme Court decision to legalize homosexual marriage in all 50 states as the law of the land. We knew that the Supreme Court decision was coming out in early June, and we knew the decision would not likely swing to the moral side of the compass. So the Pastor was preparing his flock to receive bad news and retain their spiritual equilibrium (and ours too, if we listen to GTY). However, in addition to the SCOTUS decision, we also endured the Charleston church shooting, Chattanooga military base terrorist shooting, Louisiana movie theater shooting, and the Planned Parenthood videos. A lot happened while their senior pastor was away.

So much so, that the rapidity of our moral collapse as a nation is dizzying. The collapse is coming from many different directions. That’s partly why it’s dizzying, our heads are swinging from this side to that to detect all the incoming. So though Pastor MacArthur’s vacation was going to be the usual length, most of the summer, MacArthur had an opportunity to return and preach for one Sunday, July 19 before resuming this week. In the face of moral collapse, heightened danger physically and spiritually for every Christian in this country, and grief over the heinousness of the Planned Parenthood videos, how can a pastor best help his flock at such a time as this?

He opened that sermon, We Will Not Bow by saying,

A lot is happening at a very rapid rate. And with all the discussion that’s been going on, I’ve been kind of eager to get to you, and maybe help to give you a perspective.

His phrase, ‘get to you’, was filled with urgency and the word ‘to’ was emphasized. You’ll hear it if you listen. It reminded me of a mama on a playground suddenly hearing her child cry because he fell down, and her instinct is to rush over and scoop him up and protect. That was the attitude in his statement, a shepherd rushing over to protect the sheep, to calm them and give them food. This in itself is encouraging.

The sermon was encouraging as much as it was informative. Toward the conclusion of it, MacArthur focused on the relief that is in store.

No matter what is occurring in the world or the United States ultimately there will be an end. The end for believers will be blessed relief from the corruptions of our flesh, the battles against the temptations of the world, and the deliverance from the presence of satan and sin. It will all end and for us, the end will be a holy blessed relief. It all can be summed up in one word: Jesus. He gives the relief and His work on the cross actuated it.

Part of that relief will be the righteous satisfaction in seeing evildoers punished. The end for those who do not love Jesus is eternal conscious torment after having been judged at the Great White Throne Judgment. I know this isn’t a palatable statement for many to read, but once we are glorified at the rapture and the end of all things plays out, we will be part of Jesus in every way. He longs for making all things right and we will too. Sinners’ sins are so terrible against our Jesus that we will want to see Him enthroned, claiming His position as dispenser of justice.

MacArthur said

But that same event brings us relief, relief. Verse 6, “It is only just for God to repay with affliction.” And implied, it is only just for God to give relief. He will give relief to His own. Affliction will end. Persecution will end. Suffering will end. That’s His promise. And it will end for those that belong to Him—those who have been afflicted by a God-rejecting, Christ-rejecting world.

And what does that relief look like? Verse 10, we’ll be glorified with Him on that day, “to be marveled at among all who have believed.” I love to think of that. We’re going to look at each other and say, “Whoa, did you turn out amazing! I never could have imagined.” I’ve told you before, I know there are many of you, that when we get to heaven, I won’t recognize. Perfection with obliterate any memory of what you used to be.

We’re just passing through, aren’t we? We’re just passing through. (John MacArthur “We Will Not Bow“)

I began this essay saying what a good shepherd John MacArthur is. I have several friends who had opportunity to hear the sermon live last Sunday. They both tweeted how blessed they were to hear it and be comforted along with many other solid believers. I write this essay because not everyone has such a blessing.

As the moral slide gains steam and hurtles down that downgrade, many discerning believers are left adrift inside their local congregations with unworthy shepherds. Some pastors are just plain unskilled at being able to comfort through scriptures. These pastors preach topically, usually three points of self-help sermons such as “Three Ways to Get Your Kids to Listen to You” or “Six Ways to Change Your Life”. Self-help is no help at all when trials come.

Other pastors are ignorant of eschatology or are unwilling to give it credence. Thus they avoid scriptures that refer to the end of all things such as the Matthew 24 or 1 Thessalonians verses, which actually are designed to comfort. (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Other pastors are not saved and are actually agents of satan. We don’t like to believe this, but it is true far more often than most people realize. S. Lewis Johnson preached,

And so it was inevitable, Paul says, that factions would exist in the church. For there must also be factions among you that those are approved may be recognized among you. In fact, the factions and the process of being approved by the way in which we respond to the problems of the local church is really an anticipation of a separation that is to occur at the judgment seat — well, at the Great White Throne judgment.

There are people who are in ostensible fellowship with local churches that are not going to be in heaven. We know that. The Bible details that, too. Satan is very active in the Christian church seeking to overthrow the ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And so, consequently, he infiltrates the Christian churches. And if it’s a Christian church that is a fruitful church there will be some there that are not emissaries of our Lord but are really emissaries of Satan. Paul talks about that in 2 Corinthians chapter 11.

And he says “not only are they sitting in the pew, they’re standing by the pulpit.” As a matter of fact, the ones standing behind the pulpit are more dangerous and more likely to upset the Church of God. And so Satan is very anxious to have one standing behind a pulpit, or standing behind this pulpit, too, for that matter. 

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)

So for those who do not have the blessing of a faithful pastor, and/or are attending a church filled with false doctrine but don’t know where else to go, or are dealing with factions and disgruntled members, or who simply feel alone even in the middle of a local congregation, take heart.

We are sojourners on this hostile planet. But that will end. Relief is on the way. Praise Jesus.

Posted in prophecy, providence, rapture, sovereignty

In the fulness of time…

One of my favorite attributes of God is His sovereignty. One of my favorite doctrines is the Doctrine of Providence. And one of my favorite themes which neatly expresses them is the phrase, “In the fullness of time…” Here are just a few New Testament examples showing God in charge of all things, including events He wants to occur at a certain time.

Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,”

Mark 1:15, “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!

Romans 5:6, You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

1 Timothy 2:6, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

Let’s go back to Galatians 4:4, the fulness of time. In the John MacArthur Commentary on Galatians, we read,

The fulness of time refers to the period of preparation in God’s sovereign timetable of redemption. When the Law had fully accomplished its purpose of showing man his utter sinfulness and inability to live up to God’s perfect standard of righteousness, God ushered in a new era of redemption. When He sent forth His son, He provided the righteousness for man that man could not provide for himself.

On a spiritual level, we can intuitively understand this is what is meant by the fulness of time, even if our lesser scholarly minds don’t articulate it as well as Dr MacArthur. But in Providential terms, widening our look at the sweep and scope of all redemptive history, the phrase “the fulness of time” takes on even greater and deeper significant implications regarding the sovereignty of God and His divine Providential outworking of all things to His glory. MacArthur again,

When Jesus was born, everything was right for the coming of the Messiah. First of all, the time was right religiously. During the Babylonian captivity, Israel once and for all forsook the idolatry into which she had often fallen. Despite their many other sins and failures, including national rejection of their own Messiah, no significant number of Jews has ever again turned to idolatry.

Also during the Exile, Jews developed synagogues, which they used as places of worship, as schools, and as courts. In addition to that, they at last had the completed Old Testament, assembled by Ezra and others after the return from Babylon. Those features facilitated the proclaiming of the Messiah’s gospel among the people of Israel.

Second, the time was right culturally. Christians who propagated the gospel during the first several centuries had a common language with those to whom they witnessed and with whom they worshiped. Alexander the Great had thoroughly established Greek culture and language throughout the known world, and these continued their dominating influence long after Rome succeeded Greece as world ruler.

Third, the time was right politically. Rome had instituted the pax Romana (Roman peace), which provided economic and political stability. The apostles and other early preachers and teachers cold travel freely and safely throughout the empire and do so on the magnificent system of roads built by the Romans.

Each of those factors was in some unique way a key to the spread of the gospel. God’s timing was perfect.

It is such a comfort to understand everything is in God’s hands.

I have traveled extensively in Italy, including Rome. I’ve rented a car and over several visits, I’ve driven all up and down the peninsula, from Milan and Lake Como to Rome to the Adriatic to France. North, south, north, east, and west. You’ve heard the adage, “All roads lead to Rome”? They really do.

The Miliarium Aureum (golden milestone) was a monument, probably of gilded bronze, erected by the Emperor Caesar Augustus near the temple of Saturn in the central Forum of Ancient Rome. All roads were considered to begin from this monument and all distances in the Roman Empire were measured relative to that point. On it were perhaps listed all the major cities in the empire and distances to them. According to Schaaf, the phrase “all roads lead to Rome” is a reference to the Milliarium Aureum, as the specific point to which all roads were said to lead. Today, the base of the milestone might still exist in the Roman Forum. (Wikipedia)

The Umbilicus Urbis Romae —”Navel of the City of Rome”—was the symbolic centre of the city from which, and to which, all distances in Ancient Rome were measured. It was situated in the Roman Forum where its remnants can still be seen. (Wikipedia)

I’ve been to the Forum and seen the marble mile markers, strolled on the Via Appia, seen the hardiness of the roads, the ancient cobblestones still there, still level, still providing passage for all manner of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. I’ve driven down the smallest of roads on the tallest of Apennines and come to a crossroad and there will be a sign. Rome, that way.

All roads lead to Rome. EPrata photo

I can just imagine what a delight it was for Christians moving between cities and between regions to walk or ride a horse or donkey bearing the Good News from town to town. It is a delight today, back then it was a marvel. Yet those Roman roads under the Roman peace allowed for a fast dispersal of the Good News, the tidings of a Risen Christ and salvation for sinners.

And the note about Alexander the Great, and his empire and the Greek language? We do not for a moment believe that was an accident, do we? We know for a fact that the Greek empire was foretold 600 years before Christ came, as we read in Daniel 2 about King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue of succeeding empires. The Greek kingdom was foretold as the second after the King’s own empire of Babylonians and after the empire of Medes and Persians. The Roster of empires goes: Babylonian, Media-Persia, Greek, Roman, Revived Roman, or Antichrist’s Empire.

Do we believe that God looked down and said, “Oh good, Alexander is instituting Greek everywhere, that will be sooo helpful when my servants spread the Good News.” Of course not! God is in control of history, because He writes it. He determines the times, and He providentially organizes when the time is right and full for the next part of His plan to come to fruition.

Understanding God’s sovereignty, His Divine Providence, and His timing encourages us. Because, the world today could otherwise be very unsettling and to unbiblical eyes, even look chaotic.

Young boy lured to gay lifestyle

A major advertisement, where Lesbians enjoy Chobani yogurt after perverted sex

Dangerous killers on the loose could “literally be anywhere”, elude capture

Police Officer (representing civil authority) shot dead
in clearly marked patrol car (New Orleans)

400 year dormancy of Sinabung Volcano ends with a bang

Escapes zoo animals on the loose; tiger kills 1, injures 1

It looks like the world is coming upside down, with civil authority under attack, perversity is the norm, zoo animals hunt humans, and unexpected or scientifically abnormal natural disasters.

Yet God, in the fulness of time, causes or allows each of these things to happen and in the background unknown to us, each event furthers His glory and ushers the moment when we will hear the joyous words,

COME UP HERE!

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

God’s timing is always perfect.

In His timing, we will fly! EPrata photo


Posted in end time, mockers and scoffers, prophecy, rapture, second coming

The Lord is not slow…the rapture will happen

On one of my older posts, I received yet another comment telling me that I am delusional. Why? Because I believe the Lord’s word that He will return for His bride in the rapture and then render wrath onto the sinning world.

“Aw, they’ve been saying that since the first Christians!” the commenter said. I agree. The Lord told us early on that He will return and take us to where He is. He is preparing a place for us and He will bring us there in His timing.

The passage in 2 Peter 3:1-10 says,

The Day of the Lord Will Come

1This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,a not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

And it’s true, they are saying it. What is also true is that we still believe it. Our Lord does not lie. No lie can pass His lips.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible explains about the mockers–

Now therefore let us see how this point stands, both on the believer’s part and on the part of these seducers: the believer not only desires that he may come, but, having a promise that he will come, a promise that he himself has made and often repeated, a promise received and reported by faithful witnesses, and left upon sure record, he is also firmly and fully persuaded that he will come:

on the other hand, these seducers, because they wish he never may, therefore do all that in them lies to cheat themselves and others into a persuasion that he will never come. If they cannot deny that there is a promise, yet they will laugh at that very promise, which argues much higher degrees of infidelity and contempt: Where is the promise, say they, of his coming?

 III. We are also forewarned of the method of their reasoning, for while they laugh they will pretend to argue too. To this purpose they add that since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation, v. 4. This is a subtle, though not a solid way of reasoning; it is apt to make impressions upon weak minds, and especially upon wicked hearts. Because sentence against them is not speedily executed, therefore they flatter themselves that it never will, whereupon their hearts are fully set in them to do evil (Eccl. 8:11);

thus they act themselves, and thus they would persuade others to act; so here, say they, “The fathers have fallen asleep, those are all dead to whom the promise was made, and it was never made good in their time, and there is no likelihood that it ever will be in any time; why should we trouble ourselves about it? If there had been any truth or certainty in the promise you speak of, we should surely have seen somewhat of it before this time, some signs of his coming, some preparatory steps in order to it; whereas we find to this very day all things continue as they were, without any change, even from the beginning of the creation.Since the world has undergone no changes in the course of so many thousand years, why should we affright ourselves as if it were to have an end?”

Thus do these scoffers argue. Because they see no changes, therefore they fear not God, Ps. 55:19. They neither fear him nor his judgments; what he never has done they would conclude he never can do or never will.

IV. Here is the falsehood of their argument detected. Whereas they confidently had said there had not been any change from the beginning of the creation, the apostle puts us in remembrance of a change already past, which, in a manner, equals that which we are called to expect and look for, which was the drowning of the world in the days of Noah. This these scoffers had overlooked; they took no notice of it. Though they might have known it, and ought to have known it, yet this they willingly are ignorant of (v. 5), they choose to pass it over in silence, as if they had never heard or known any thing of it; if they knew it, they did not like to retain it in their knowledge; they did not receive this truth in the love of it, neither did they care to own it.

Note, It is hard to persuade men to believe what they are not willing to find true; they are ignorant, in many cases, because they are willing to be ignorant, and they do not know because they do not care to know. But let not sinners think that such ignorance as this will be admitted as an excuse for whatever sin it may betray them into.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2439). Peabody: Hendrickson.

The Lord will return for His Bride. The Lord has made me ready by His grace. Since then I seek to live a holy life among the priesthood of believers and as a witness to the very ones who scoff at His soon return. So the question is, are you ready?

EPrata photo, with Pixlr post processing

Posted in prophecy, rapture, second coming

Prophecy is incredible: biblical proof

Last June, I wrote a message to “pan tribbers.” I’d written,

But there is an even worse tribulation position than the denial of the rapture, the partial rapture, the post-tribulation rapture. It is the “Pan-Tribulation” position.

It is the position for some reason that irks me the most. You hear it sometimes from Christians, who, when discussing the rapture and last things, and the rapture’s timing, they say, “I’m a pan-tribulationist. Everything will work out in the end. HAR HAR HAR.” They think this is funny. They think this is clever. They even think this is pious.

It isn’t.

Here is more for the people who believe prophecy, especially second coming prophecies, are an afterthought, an unpalatable subject, or a marginal doctrine.

It isn’t.

  • Prophecy occupies at least one-fifth of the Scriptures if not more.
  • The second coming of Christ occupies one-third of that one-fifth.
  • There are over 660 general prophecies. Half of them are concerning Jesus Christ.
  • Of these 333 prophecies concerning Christ, 109 of them were fulfilled in His first coming.
  • 224 prophecies are yet to be fulfilled in His second coming.
  • Of the 46 Old Testament prophets, less than ten of them speak of events in Christ’s first coming
  • 36 Old Testament prophets speak of events connected His second coming.
  • There are a total of 1,527 Old Testament passages referring to the second coming.
  • 1 out of 25 New Testament verses refer directly to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
  • Next to the subject of faith, the subject of the second coming is the most dominant subject in the New Testament.
  • For every time in the Bible the first coming is mentioned, the second coming is mentioned eight times.
  • For every time the atonement is mentioned once, the second coming is mentioned twice.
  • The Lord refers to His return 21 times.
  • And 50 times plus men are exhorted to be ready for the return of Jesus Christ.
  • All of the prophecies related to His first coming were literal, then if God is consistent all the ones related to His second coming will also be literal.

Source: John MacArthur

Each day that passes is a day closer either to your own death, or a day closer to when He returns to judge the living and the dead. Being ready for His return is critical for life and eternal life. Are you ready?

Posted in elijah, enoch, paul, prophecy, rapture, two witnesses

All the raptures in the bible

I was listening to Tommy Ice on pre-Tribulation rapture on a youtube video last week. It was a long video, over an hour, and I only had time to listen to about ten minutes. I figured I’d get back to it.

But I lost it in the flow of the dozens of music videos I subsequently watched while on vacation. Viva vacation.

All this to say I’m sorry I can’t post a link to the video, but here is the part that interested me.

We Christians know about the rapture. We understand that at the moment the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (the full number, Romans 11:25), the rapture will occur and Jesus will descend from heaven. We will vanish from the earth in a moment, a twinkling of an eye. The dead will be no means be left behind, they will also be raised and we’ll all meet in the air. Jesus will lead us to heaven. Then, the final 7 years remaining to complete the Old Testament decree regarding the Jews will resume on earth. It will be a time of Godly wrath, unleashed full force.

It’s fascinating to think about going on our daily business, driving, washing, feeding the dog, and suddenly we will hear the trumpet of God, and the next moment we’ll be airborne! The next moment we’ll be in heaven, where no eye has seen nor any ear has heard the things prepared for us!! It is a singular, unique, momentous event!

However as I listened Dr Ice put something together in my mind. There have been several raptures already.

Enoch.

James Tissot, ~1900

Father of the longest lived man on earth, Methuselah. Enoch was the 7th from Adam. He was a prophet. (Jude 1:14). He lived 365 years, then God took him home. He was the only one in a long line of the genealogical record to not have died. “And then he died…And then he died…And then he was not, for God took him.” Raptured.

Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:24)

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5)

Elijah.

Prophet, servant of God. Slew all the false prophets of Baal by the sword. (1 Kings 18). Mentored Elisha. Raptured.

And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. (2 Kings 2:11)

Jesus.

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11). Raptured.

Paul, Isaiah.

Paul wrote about “a man” who was caught up to the third heaven. Most scholarly consensus is that Paul is speaking of himself. Note that Paul says “caught up” in some translations it’s “snatched up”. In the Greek it’s the word harpazo. This means snatched up. It is the same word that describes the bride’s snatching up, or of being caught up.

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

Isaiah- This one is more speculative, but in Isaiah 6:1 Isaiah wrote that he saw the throne room. Whether in the body or not…we can’t be sure. He described the altar, the train of the Lord, the pillars,the seraphim crying HOLY HOLY HOLY. However after Isaiah exclaimed he was undone, he was a man of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips, the seraphim took a coal from the altar and touched Isaiah’s lips. If Isaiah was not in the body then this is metaphorical, however the word for mouth in Hebrew is mouth, the word used here. My personal opinion is that Isaiah was bodily caught up to heaven as Paul was.

Two Witnesses.

In Revelation 11 we are told that there will be Two Witnesses sent by God to preach to the entire world. This will be during the Tribulation

But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. (Revelation 11:11-12).

Many people think, and I include myself, that the Two Witnesses are Enoch and Elijah. Since it is appointed for man to die once then the judgment, and they never did, that this means the Two Witnesses are those two men and their death will occur during the Tribulation. Anyway, The Two Witnesses will be raptured.

Philip.

I wrote about his remarkable instant journey from point A to point B in Gaza: here. I have always been fascinated by the practical moments. After Philip was finished baptizing the Ethiopian Eunuch, he was snatched up and set down 20miles away. He wasn’t raptured to heaven but to two places on earth, but still, the notion of being bodily taken up by the scruff of the neck like a kitten and plunked down some there else with no warning is amazing. In the sense of a harpazo, a catching away, Philip’s experience fills the bill. His snatching up is the same word used on the Bride’s rapture: harpazo.

And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:39-40).

We’ve talked about various raptures in the past. They’ve all been one man or at most two. The most startling and eagerly anticipated event of all is no doubt

THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH

This will occur at an unknown time in the future, and it will happen to a large number of dead and alive believers.

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.(1 Corinthians 15:52-53).

For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,d that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

While being raptured is not a usual nor a frequent event, neither is it made-up as some like to claim. As we can see in the bible, it has happened before and will happen again. It isn’t far-fetched and it isn’t an “escape.” A catching up or a snatching away of persons or groups of people is an event that God uses in His plan to accomplish the things He wants to accomplish. Simple as that.

How wonderful He is so sovereign He is able to put us where He wants and to take us up when He wants. How majestic are His ways. What a blessed hope our rapture is.

Come soon Lord Jesus!

Posted in day of the lord, imminent, prophecy, rapture, S. Lewis Johnson

What does it mean when the Prophets say "The Day of the LORD is near?"

I was listening to S. Lewis Johnson preach Obadiah. in a sermon titled “The Prophet of Edom’s Doom.” In Obadiah 1:15, the Prophet of God says,

For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.

Any reader of the bible, Old Testament or New, casual reader or diligent, will have read that expression. It is rendered frequently. For example Ezekiel 30:3 states the Day is near, so does Joel 1:15, Joel 2:1, Zephaniah 1:14, and so on. Were all the prophets wrong? It has been two thousand years! What can we make of this?

S. Lewis Johnson explains.

Now, he [Obadiah] says the day of the Lord draws near on all the nations. Well, of course, that would lead us to ask the question, “Well, now what a minute, the day of the Lord has not come yet. It’s been hundreds of years since the prophet Obadiah prophesied and not only has it been hundreds of years but we don’t have anything in the immediate future to indicate that the day of the Lord is nigh at hand. The catching up of the church has not even taken place yet, so how can he write near? Was he wrong? Did the prophet speak not unto inspiration when he said the day of the Lord is near? What do we mean when we say near in the sense of the prophetic word?

Well, probably we mean something like imminent; that is, it may come at any moment. We don’t mean it must come at any moment. That’s evident from the Biblical teaching in the Old Testament as we see here and also in the New Testament. So the term really means something like it is imminent, it may come. Now, it so happens we know that the day of the Lord has not come and it’s been a long time.

One of the students of the Book of Obadiah, a very good student has said, “Now, when we say that a prophetic event is imminent just what do we mean?” The following illustration is helpful. With a little care one may balance a heavy book on the edge of a table. There the book remains poised. Let the room remain absolutely quiet and the book may stay there indefinitely yet at any moment a slight jar may cause it to fall.

No one can predict the precise instance of its drop, for its fall is imminent. So it is with the next event in the prophetic schedule. He says, “The rapture may come in our day or it may linger far beyond our time. Not itself, the day of the Lord, it is the vestibule of that day.”

EPrata photo

Therefore since the Day of the LORD is near, the rapture is nearer. Let this be a comfort to you.

Posted in earthquake, rapture, signs

Signs: Earthquake and sinkhole update

As a person living on planet earth, I’m fascinated by earthquakes. In Maine, when a quake happens it’s usually below the shaking level and we only hear a boom or two. I never had experienced but one or two quakes in my area during the time I lived there. (30 years).

Georgia’s proximity to a seismic area in Charleston means that sometimes residents in this state can feel a shaking or two. A year ago or so there was a quake that I felt. It rattled the house and the window air conditioner bounced up and down, as if a heavy succession of overladen trucks had passed by.

It was eerie to be walking through the living room and suddenly the ground under your feet shakes and shakes. You think that the ground is solid, but it’s not!! During particularly rough quakes, the ground actually liquifies!

Many millions of people live in areas where earthquakes are more of a hazard and are even a life-threatening danger. Many live in places where the ground more than shakes for a moment, but actually ruptures and swallows people or collapses buildings on top of them. [shudder].

As a Christian I’m interested in earthquakes because of the way God uses them. He is the creator of this planet. The earth and everything in it is His.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (Psalm 24:1)

If the LORD wants to announce His presence on Sinai before talking with Moses, He will. (Exodus 19:18). If the LORD wants to open the ground under rebellious Korah and his cohorts, He will. (Numbers 16:32). If He wants to use an earthquake to announce His Son’s death, He will do so. (Matthew 27:51-54). Likewise when His Son resurrected, He announced the glorious news by, among other methods, shaking the earth. (Matthew 28:2)

God uses earthquakes in many ways and for many reasons. In the future prophetic times there will also be great earthquakes, to split Jerusalem into three parts (as part of the Tribulation’s ongoing re-arrangement of the earth to ready it for a return to pre-flood perfection). A great earthquake will defeat the hordes come to attack Jerusalem in the last days, so we can clearly see that quakes are used by God to smite an enemy’s military or to aid His people Israel during battle- as He did to the Philistines at Geba. (1 Samuel 14:15).

God communicates His greatness through earthquakes, and He demonstrates His ownership of the earth as its Creator when He shakes it.

Jesus said that earthquakes will be a sign of approaching tribulation of the end of days. (Matthew 24:7). He said the signs He was speaking of will be as birth pangs. Birth pains get worse and worse and more and more painful as the moment of birth approaches, and many people take His metaphor to mean the signs He spoke of will increase painfully also. This is the way I interpret verses 4-8 in chapter 24, as being signs during the Age of Grace, with verse 9 swinging into the discussion of the actual Tribulation.

So, are earthquakes increasing? Until 2014 most scientists said no, or they denied that they were increasing, anyway. However as I’ve been showing my annual December 31 “By the Numbers” posts for several years now, the United States’ Geological Survey’s own data and their 100-year averages show that they are.

Now scientists are saying, well, yeah, earthquakes are increasing. The following article is from LiveScience this past June

Big Earthquakes Double in 2014, But They’re Not Linked

If you think there have been more earthquakes than usual this year, you’re right. A new study finds there were more than twice as many big earthquakes in the first quarter of 2014 as compared with the average since 1979. “We have recently experienced a period that has had one of the highest rates of great earthquakes ever recorded,” said lead study author Tom Parsons, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Menlo Park, California.

The article quotes scientists who had previously surmised that larger quakes trigger smaller ones, but the increase in large quakes in the present day has not triggered any other ones, hence the second part of the title to the article, ‘they’re not linked’. The article continues,

As our group has been interested in the ability of an earthquake to affect others at a global scale, we wondered if we were seeing it happening. I really expected we would see evidence of something we couldn’t explain by randomness,” Parsons told Live Science’s Our Amazing Planet in an email interview. The new study isn’t the first time researchers have tried and failed to link one earthquake to another in time and across distance.

Here is another article from just several days ago reporting earthquakes on the rise. This article narrows the scope to just earthquakes around Oklahoma. We take note not just of the sheer number earthquakes increasing, but Jesus said they will occur in diverse places. An earthquake can be of note because of the location it occurred. It can be of note due to the magnitude. An earthquake doesn’t have to be a 9.0 to attract attention, but a 3.3 can be equally interesting. More on that in a moment.

Earthquakes on the rise; scientists warn of larger quake possibilities

It’s been such a dramatic increase the state and seismologists like Austin Holland can barely keep up. With 4,600 quakes this year alone so far, it [the state capitol] averages to 14 quakes a day. “It’s pretty remarkable how many significant earthquakes we’ve had,” Holland said. While the state’s biggest quake remains at a 5.6 that hit Prague back in 2011, large quakes are happening more often. Holland says the trend doesn’t bode well for the state.

This week’s quakes show several significant ones. USGS embeds the data in a pink banner to show the significance. Others were simply of interest because they were big.

3.3 magnitude ENE of Irving, Texas
6.3 magnitude NNE of Omachi, Japan
6.5 magnitude WNW of Tobelo, Indonesia
3.8 magnitude NW of Eutaw, Alabama
4.2 magnitude S of San Juan Bautista, California
6.7 NE of Gisborne, New Zealand

Why is the Irving TX quake in pink, indicating it was an event of significance to USGS? I don’t know. I have not been able to find an explanation on the USGS site explaining why they consider certain quakes highly significant. I can only guess: the location would seem to indicate it is a low-seismic area. Here is an excerpt from a news article about the quake–

Quake centered in Irving rocks Dallas area

In the past year, about three dozen earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 or more have struck communities in North Texas. Some quakes were strong enough to crack home walls and foundations. Most of the quakes hit months ago, though three of them rattled the Dallas-Fort Worth area in September, waking some residents from sleep.

Small North Texas quake triggers social media stir

A magnitude-3.3 earthquake has shaken North Texas strong enough to draw reaction during a Dallas Stars hockey game. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred about 9:15 p.m. Saturday and was centered about 2 miles beneath east Irving, around 6 miles northwest of Dallas. It was the sixth and strongest quake centered near Irving in two months. Small quakes have become more common recently in Texas.

It should be noted that scientists believe that both in TX and in OK that hydraulic fracturing as part of the oil extraction process is what is triggering these quakes.

SINKHOLES

A sinkhole opening up is something I’m quite nerved up over and fascinated by, both. It’s the same vein as earthquakes- thinking the ground is solid under your fet (and if you can’t trust the solid ground, what CAN you trust?) and then suddenly it’s air. Do you see in the recent sinkhole that opened up in Russia, the row of houses, and then the hole? Did houses fall into the hole? People? [shudder]

Wall Street photo of the day
A view of a sinkhole stretching 20 meters by 30 meters at the Solikamsk-2 mine in Russia’s Perm region. Tass/Zuma Press

Natal, Brazil:

Sinkhole grows just miles from World Cup Stadium

A sinkhole that opened up last week in the wake of record-breaking rainfall in the World Cup host city of Natal, Brazil continues to expand, swallowing homes and cars and forcing the evacuation of 150 families.  More rain fell on the coastal city in three days last week—more than 13 inches worth—than the area usually sees in the entire month of June, sparking landslides, flash flooding and opening up the sinkhole four miles from the Arena das Dunas stadium in a hillside favela, according to the BBC. No one was killed or injured, the Associated Press reports.  The Associated Press also reports that some 150 families have been evacuated from the affected area. According to local news reports, some of those families are being sheltered by government agencies and local schools and churches.

BBC: Huge sinkhole near World Cup Stadium

Photo BBC

Residents have been evacuated from a favela near one of Brazil’s World Cup stadiums, after a huge sinkhole opened up. Footage shows partially-collapsed homes perched on the edge of the crater in Natal, already filled with household appliances, furniture and vehicles. The hole is four miles (6.5km) from the Arena das Dunas stadium, which will host the Group D match between Italy and Uruguay on Tuesday. The sinkhole opened up earlier this week after record rainfall, but has continued to grow since.

A massive sinkhole near Tampa, Fla. swallows up a car and driveway, Nov. 10, 2014. The family had five minutes to escape.

Third Sinkhole Forms, Swallows Part of Car

HOLIDAY, Fla. — Nov 16, 2014, 10:47 AM ET Associated Press  A third hole has formed in in the driveway of a Tampa Bay-area neighborhood and swallowed a car to its bumper.  Pasco County spokesman Doug Tobin says the new hole opened Saturday in the front yard of a resident’s home. It was about six feet deep and grew about 10 feet wide. The resident is temporarily relocating.  Two other holes formed earlier this week about a quarter mile away. Engineers have to confirm that the depressions are sinkholes.  The first hole grew to 10 feet wide and 10 feet deep. The mobile home at the brink of that hole was condemned. Five other homes were evacuated.  Tobin says work has been suspended on a nearby sewer lift station due to the subsurface activity

The Lord will come back when He comes back. It seems like it might be soon, but only the Father knows for sure. I pray that when He does, I will be counted as one who was longing for His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8). I so yearn to see His face, to be sinless, finally. I long for the world to claim Him as LORD of Lords and KING of Kings, whether voluntarily or not. I want every knee to bow, including mine. I want the world to be restored and released from its curse, where the ground doesn’t cry out from the blood shed on it. (Genesis 4:10). I want no babies to be aborted but each one (in the Millennium kingdom) to be cherished. I want to love perfectly.

Praise the Lord that someday, I will. Thanks to His grace and His desire to gather a people unto Himself, someday, soon I hope, we will be with Him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Institute for Creation Research: Great Earthquakes of the Bible

By the Numbers 2013

By the Numbers 2012

By the Numbers 2010

ABC News: Incredible sinkholes around the world

Posted in apologetics, doctrine, prophecy, rapture

Rapture is biblical

Here is an article by Joel C Rosenberg about the biblical fact of the rapture and why it will be before the Tribulation. It is the best one-stop shop defense of the doctrine I’ve seen.

I was shocked/not shocked to see that the new Left Behind movie released recently has sparked lots of rapture haters, from Christians no less, who fervently denounce this as a biblical doctrine at all! I am surmising from Mr Rosenberg’s title that this is one reason he wrote the essay in defense. It is a good, fast apologetics course in itself and I thought this piece was one of the best Joel has done in a long time.

The essay explores the following subjects

  • What exactly is “The Rapture”?
  • Is “The Rapture” a Biblical concept, or merely a fictional plot device?
  • What does the term mean?
  • What are the implications of “The Rapture”?

Hollywood tackles the End Times with “Left Behind” film. But is “The Rapture” a Biblical concept, or a fictional plot device?

Posted in encouragement, Jerusalem Countdown, prophecy, rapture, scripture

A good rapture clip to watch

Here is a clip from the movie Jerusalem Countdown, released in 2012. The movie was from a book written by Pastor John Hagee. I haven’t seen the movie and I make no statement or claim about Hagee because this essay is not a discussion about the book, the movie, or the pastor. It is not a discussion about whether there IS a rapture, nor is it a discussion about the timing of the rapture.

I’m focusing here on the visuals of the rapture as presented below in a 3-minute movie clip.

At some point, the LORD will declare the Age of Grace closed, for He will have gathered the quota of people He has grafted-in to Himself (Romans 11:25). This will be the signal that the pause put in place for many years in God’s working with the Jews, will resume. That pause was initiated 7 years before the close of the age of Law. (Daniel 9:24-27). God did this because the Jews, who were given charge to make God known in the world, failed to do this, and they rejected Him as their Messiah when He came in His incarnation. (Romans 11:11, all of Romans 9). So He began gathering a Gentile people to Himself and charged them with the task. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). When the grafting-in is done, the Age of Grace is done.

Here are the two most clear verses related to the joy that awaits the persevering Christian, also known as the rapture. The joy comes from knowing that the rapture is an event, it will happen, and there is no judgment connected with this event for any Christian. Christians can look forward to it in hope and blessing.

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:21-52)

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

In 2008, there used to be many more rapture clips on Youtube. Just as there are amateur film-makers publishing clips related to their favorite secular subject, there are amateur Christian film-makers publishing clips of their favorite subjects, too. Capturing the joy, fear, mystery, and wonder of the moment of the rapture is a favorite among many people. We will not be here to see that moment, but we are fascinated with the instant that heaven and earth collide. What will it look like? What will it sound like? Will there be many people found to be Christian who will go? Will few found to be Christian and are called home? What about the graves?

But for some reason the rapture clips are fewer in number than they used to be. Fortunately one thing Youtube is good for is you can always find a cheesy 70s or 80s rapture or Tribulation movie. Thirty and forty years ago, eschatology was a more mainstream Christian doctrine. It was talked about, preached, and there were books and movies made. I know that books like ‘88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988′ blighted the cause, but still, with all the wrongheaded stuff, there was right-headed stuff too. Now there’s no stuff. Either there’s either a big yawn, or a black hole where eschatology used to be.

I watched part of one of the rapture movies the other day on Youtube, it was excruciatingly cheesy and awful, but I did like the witnessing parts of it. It obviously had come out of the 1970s Jesus Movement. It preached rapture from Matthew 24, which is incorrect. However it was earnest. As I said, the parts where the witnessing happens was enjoyable. A key to the witnessing was the inclusion of eschatology, something you don’t see today. There was no “God has a plan for your life” but “Jesus wants you to be ready for your next life.” I think we are cheesier now in the way we witness, and totally wrong-headed about failing to speak of the future prophecies and the Second Coming of Christ. Paul was with the Thessalonians only three weeks, and he taught them about the rapture right away.

Anyway, the movie I watched part of was called “A Thief In the Night” series, and I think there are several movies in the sequence. However, movies like that were so low budget, they couldn’t afford to show the impact of the rapture, lol. This clip does.

In most rapture movies, the event is invisible. During the instant of the rapture, and the few moments after the rapture, there is no noise, no impact on land or sky, and nothing to indicate people have been taken except a pile of clothes left behind. People look adoringly at a husband, go in the kitchen to get him some coffee, and return to see an empty chair and a wedding ring on the table.

In the clip above, there is a light in the sky, a parting of the clouds, a rumble in the air and on the earth, and blazing light for a moment as souls are taken.

After the sky snaps shut, there are some clothes drifting down from above, lol. Then the cars start crashing and a helicopter falls from the sky. The chaos begins.

I think the above depiction is closer to the way it will be. I’m not sure, of course, no one is, aside from what is declared in the verses of holy scripture. But the verses themselves do offer some clues, and other verses do also. In the 1 Corinthians verse, we read

–the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command,
–with the voice of an archangel,
–and with the sound of the trumpet of God

Many rapture movies present the rapture as happening silently, or if there is noise, only the Christians will hear it. Yet the rapture will be an unprecedented global event, affecting every person on the planet. Will no one hear the trumpet? Will only Christians hear the cry? What were the circumstances when other cries from heaven occurred in the bible? Were they undetectable to bystanders? No.

There’s the scene on the road to Damascus. Jesus in heaven broke through the veil separating heaven and earth, and spoke to Paul. Paul heard Him clearly and conversed with Jesus. (Acts 9:4). The men who were with Saul/Paul heard the voice, too.

The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. (Acts 9:7)

Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. (Acts 22:9)

In John 12:29-30, Jesus is explaining that He must die. Jesus praises the Father, and the Father answers from heaven-

Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

In Daniel, when the angel appeared to him and gave the vision, Daniel wrote later, “I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves.” (Daniel 10:7 cf. Luke 2:9)

It seems from these examples that when a voice from heaven speaks to someone on the ground, those on the ground hear it, or some reverberation of it. It seems that when a connection is made from heaven to earth, people sense and know that something supernatural is happening (they usually express fear or terror). I think when Jesus cries out and the trumpet sounds, people will hear a rumble or thunder. I think they will see a light. I think it very likely may be as it was shown in the clip. Food for thought, idly. We won’t know until it happens of course. And I believe that moment is near.

Please enjoy an exposition of the rapture from Thessalonians, Corinthians, and John, by John MacArthur.

Here is a good verse to ponder as you watch, and think about the perfections of our glorious Savior

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)

The rapture is when He takes His bride up to glory with Him. Encourage one another with these words.

———————–

Further Reading:

Gentiles are Included

Spurgeon devotional: Purity of Heart and Life

Posted in daniel, Oliver B. Greene, pre-tribulation rapture, prophecy, rapture

Oliver B. Greene on Pre-trib rapture

Oliver B. Greene published a wonderful verse-by-verse exposition of Daniel in 1964. I’ve enjoyed reading it, because the book of Daniel is so hard for me to interpret. I was struck by Mr Green’s certainty and fervency regarding the pre-tribulation rapture.

A Pre-Trib rapture is biblically correct. The rapture itself has been in the bible all along, notwithstanding assertions that it was a made-up doctrine from the 1800s. And the rapture’s timing happening prior to the Tribulation has always been biblically evident too. It was only lately that man began to shy away from the clear teaching of this and muddy the waters to the extent that people now are hesitant to be dogmatic about it- so much so that they think they are being pious to show uncertainty. Look at Mr Greene’s statement on the subject (I kept his exact emphases):

The Great Tribulation has nothing to do with the church; the Church will not enter or go through any part of that terrible time. Any preacher or teacher who suggests that the bride of Christ will be subjected to any part of the reign of the Antichrist is definitely wrongly dividing the Word of Truth. God pity the preacher who will accuse Jesus of allowing the Antichrist to reign over His bride-and the Church IS the bride of Christ!

We have the blessed promise, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 3:10).

In the writings of Paul we are promised. “For God hath not appointed us to WRATH, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 5:9). The Great Tribulation has to do with the nation of Israel, not with the Church.

If the Church were to enter or go through any part of the tribulation, believers would be commanded to watch for Antichrist, not for THE CHRIST. We would be commanded to watch for the great tribulation, not to wait for God’s Son from heaven. (1 Thess. 1:10).