LESSON FORTY-THREE THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH
By Finis Dake, God’s Plan for man
We mean by the rapture of the church the catching up of all true believers in Christ to meet the Lord in the air. This event is simply and clearly predicted in 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 1 Cor. 15:23, 51-58; Phil. 3:20, 21; John 14:1-3; Luke 21:34-36; Col. 3:4 and other passages we shall give below. One reading of these passages will prove that there is to be such an event as the Lord descending from Heaven to take out of: the world, in a moment of time, all the dead and living in Christ. In fact, it would be hard to understand how even one person could fail to understand such a doctrine if he will be honest and believe what is plainly written in these passages. For example, 1 Thess. 4:16, 17 says, “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain SHALL BE CAUGHT UP together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” In view of such plain language a person would have to arbitrarily deny what is written, or else believe that this event will happen just as it is plainly stated here. Surely there is no room for misunderstanding, so it is obvious that if one does not believe in the rapture it is because he does not believe the Bible. The rapture of the church is called “the coming of the Lord” but never the second coming of Christ.
At the rapture Christ does not appear visibly to those on the Earth but He comes in the air above the Earth to catch up or rapture the dead and living saints who rise together to meet the Lord in the air. There are many different ideas about these two comings of Christ, which have made it difficult to distinguish one coming from the other. There are so many Scriptures that have been misapplied to the one or the other coming that one might readily see why many have found themselves involved in difficulties, from which they are unable to clear themselves.
The rapture is purely a New Testament doctrine and was first revealed to Paul as a special revelation (1 Cor. 15:51-58), while the second coming of Christ is not only a New Testament doctrine, but is one of the chief themes of the Old Testament, as we shall see in Lesson Forty-nine. The Old Testament prophets never saw the New Testament Church, much less the rapture of the church. The rapture should never be called the second coming or second advent of Christ, for He does not come to the Earth at that time. Also, it should never be referred to as one stage or phase of the second coming of Christ, for, at that event, the Lord does not remain in the air during tribulation and then complete the second stage of His coming to the Earth by coming literally to be among men, as some teach.
The rapture is a distinct coming in itself, not to the Earth, but in the air where Christ meets the saints and then takes them back to Heaven to present them blameless before God(John 14:1-3; I Thess. 3:13;4:16,17) Ministers often complicate the doctrine of the rapture for people by stating that many signs must be seen and many prophecies must yet be fulfilled before the second coming of Christ, and then, at the same time, they make statements that He might come tonight or at any moment. How could Christ come at any moment and yet cannot come until certain events happen? if these ministers would not have left the impression that the rapture was a part of the second advent, that the rapture could take place at any moment, and that the second advent could not take place until these signs and prophecies were fulfilled they would not have left a contradictory idea in the minds of the people.
These two comings cannot be mixed if the doctrine of each is to be clear. The Scriptures that apply to one coming do not apply to the other. Not one of the passages under the second advent in Lesson Forty-nine refers to the rapture, and not one of those listed below refers to the second coming, as can be seen upon examination of them. There is not one passage in the Bible that refers to both events as if they were one. They are two distinct comings separated by several years and not two phases or stages of one coming. The rapture takes place several years before the literal advent of Christ to the Earth, for they come back with Him at that time. The saints are in Heaven before God, and not in the air, from the time of the rapture to their coming again with Christ to reign as kings and priests (Jude 14; Rev. 19:14; Zech. 14:5). This seems clear from the facts that the saints are judged, are given their rewards, and partake of the marriage supper in Heaven and not in the air (Rev.19:1-10; 2 Cor. 5:9-10). Christ departs from Heaven at His second advent to Earth and not from the air (Rev. 19:11-21; 2 Thess. 1:7-10). The rapture must first take place and Christ must first come for His saints (1 Thess. 4:16-17) before He can come back to Earth with them (Jude 14; Zech. 14:5).
At the rapture, the Lord comes from Heaven as far as the air or earthly heavens and the saints will be caught to meet Him in the air. At this event the Lord is not to be raptured, but the saints. At the second coming, the saints are not to be raptured and neither is Christ, but both will come back to the Earth together. The rapture takes place before the tribulation, whereas the Second Advent takes place after the tribulation. The rapture may occur any moment. The Second Advent cannot occur until all the signs in Lesson Forty-four come to pass and certain prophecies are fulfilled. We have separated these two comings, as they should be separated, for the sake of clearness and because they are always distinct in Scripture.
The following points will help the reader to distinguish the rapture from the second coming and give him a scriptural understanding of this New Testament revelation. The Fact and Manner of the Rapture.
We need not be ignorant concerning this subject because it is fully and clearly revealed in many passages of the New Testament. The fact and manner of the rapture are clearly revealed in the following Scriptures: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:34-36), “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (john 14:1-3) , “But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all he changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:23,51-58).
“That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph.5:27), “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:20, 21), “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall he caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:13-17), “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thess. 2:1, 7, 8). See the other passages on the rapture (2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 3:11; 1Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 5:9, 23; Col. 3:4; James 5:7, 8;1 John 2:28; 3:2; 1 Pet. 5:4).
Not one of the above passages refers to the Second Advent. We shall not use any verse in Matt. 24 and 25 in connection with the rapture, for there is not one verse in these chapters which refers to the rapture, as will be seen in Lesson Forty-four. We shall deal only with those passages which refer to the rapture and which can be consistently explained only in this connection. There are two Greek words used in most of the passages on the rapture as follows: 1. Parousia means personal coming or appearance and is used of both the rapture and the revelation of Christ. At the rapture, Christ appears personally in the air to meet the saints; while at the Second Advent He appears personally to mankind on the Earth with His saints. This word Parousia is generally translated coming, hence the rapture and the revelation are both called the coming of the Lord but they are two different comings, and for two different purposes. The word is used of the rapture in 1 Cor. 15:20-23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1; James 5:7, 8; 1 John 2:28.
All these passages clearly refer to the rapture, but 1 Thess. 3:13; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1 are used by some in connection with the Second Advent. It is clear that1 Thess. 3:13; 5:23 refer to the time when the Father pronounces the saints “blameless” before His throne in Heaven after Christ has first met the saints in the air and has taken them to Heaven and presented them “before God,” and therefore these do refer only to the rapture. “The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” in these passages refers only to the time of His coming back to Heaven with the saints at the time of the rapture, and not at the time of the second advent (1 John 3:1-3; Phil. 3:21; 1 Thess.3:13; 5:23; Col. 3:4). The last reference (2 Thess. 2:1) refers to the rapture also, as is proved from the Greek esposunagoge, which means a complete collection or gathering of all the living and dead in Christ from all parts of the Earth, and out of all denominations and dispensations to meet Christ in the air.
We are gathered “unto him” at the rapture and not at the Second Advent (Luke 21:34-36; John 14:1-5; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; 2 Cor. 5:1-8; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Thess. 2:6-8). In Phil. 3:11 the rapture is called “the resurrection of the dead, or literally, “the out-resurrection”; that is, the resurrection from out among the dead. The term “resurrection of the dead” is frequently used in the New Testament and includes the resurrection of the just and unjust (John 5:29; Acts 24:19). The “out-resurrection” is used only in Phil. 3:11 and implies the resurrection of some men, the just from the unjust (Rev. 20:4-6). The dead “rise first,” then the living who are saved will be “caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess 4:13-18). All the above passages, as well as those below on the rapture, can be easily harmonized by the student if he will keep in mind these few thoughts on the subject. 2. Phaneros, which means to shine, he apparent, manifest, or he seen, is used in 1 John 2:28; 3:2; 1 Pet. 5:4; Col. 3:4. The English translation is appear and means that Christ is to appear to the saints in the air at the rapture. He will not appear to the world until His second coming (Heb. 9:28).
The rapture will include Old Testament saints and the church saints who are saved in the scope of redemption from Adam until the rapture, as explained above (1 Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Thess. 2:1). We do not mean to say that the scope of redemption ends with the rapture, for it is eternal, as we shall see in Lessons Forty-nine through Fifty-two. The `trump of God” (1 Thess. 4:16) is not the same as the seventh trumpet of Rev. 11:15; 13:18. One occurs at the rapture of the church and the• Old Testament saints (1 Thess. 4:16), while the other is at the rapture of the man-child (Rev.11:15-12:5); one is the trumpet of God (1 Thess. 4:16), the other is the trumpet of the seventh trumpet angel (Rev. 11:15); one is to herald one single event which takes place “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:51-58). the other is to herald many events which are days in duration (Rev. 10:7); one is a trumpet of blessing (1 Thess. 4:16-17), the other is a trumpet of °`woe” (Rev. 8:13; 11:15; 12:12); one is before the beginning of the Seventieth Week (2 Thess. 2:7-8; Dan. 9:27;Rev. 4:1), the other is in the middle of the Week (Rev. 11:15-12:6); one is before the saints, represented by the twenty-four elders who are caught up in Rev. 4:1, as proved in Point VH below, the other is after the elders are already in Heaven (Rev.11:15-12:5); one is before the seven seals and first six trumpets (Rev. 6:1-9:21), the other is after them (Rev. 11:15). Thus we do not need to confuse this trumpet and rapture with the seventh trumpet and rapture of the man-child.
II. The Purpose of the Rapture The purpose of the rapture is to resurrect the just from the dead and take all the saints out of the world before the tribulation comes, in order that they may have fulfilled in them the purpose for which God has saved them. Jesus told the disciples that some would escape the terrible things that were to transpire on the Earth in the last days. He said, “Pray that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things [of Matt. 24, 25; Luke 21:1-19, 25-28] that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:34-36). This passage is practically the same in essence as John 14:1-3. These two passages (Luke 21:34-36; John 14:1-3) are the only ones in the Gospels that are clear concerning the rapture. Jesus did not reveal this mystery. It was revealed by Paul many years later in 1 Cor. 15:51. The disciples did not have the slightest idea as to how they were to escape, unless they thought that Christ would deliver them from these things through His power. The how was not revealed or even mentioned before Paul explained how they were to escape. Now in the light of the mystery revealed we can see that the rapture is what Christ had in mind when He spoke of some being worthy to escape these things.
The Thessalonians were taught that they could expect the living to be taken out of the world, but some were confused as to whether the dead believers would have a part in the rapture, so Paul explained in his first epistle that both the living and the dead would be caught up to meet Christ in the air (1 Thess. 4:13-18). In this passage we have the purpose of the rapture expressed “so shall we ever be with the Lord.” It is to enable the saints to escape the tribulation days and serve God in all eternity in whatever capacity He chooses. This rapture before the beginning of the Week is the first of a series of raptures that will take place during the first resurrection. Besides this_ rapture there will be the rapture of the man-child in the middle of the Week (Rev. 7:1-3; 12:5; 14:1-5 ), the rapture of the great multitude of tribulation saints (Rev. 6:9-11; 7:9-17; 15:2-4; 20:4-6), and the rapture of the two witnesses at the end of the Week (Rev.11:3-13) .
The teaching of more than one rapture is not only required and stated in the (above passages, but necessary to make clear what Paul meant when he said, “every man in his own order” (1 Cor. 15:20-23). The Greek for “order” is tagma and occurs only here in the New Testament. It is used in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) of a body of soldiers and a whole army (Num. 2:2; 2 Sam. 23:13). It means a company or body of individuals. In order for every man to be raptured “in his own order” or company there must be different companies of redeemed people saved and raptured at different periods. This is proved by the following facts:
1. The Old Testament Saints. John the Baptist completed this company (Matt. 11:1-12; Luke 16:16; john 3:29). In these passages both Jesus and John recognizes} is it as being separate from the church saints. (See also Acts 7:38; Heb. 11:1-4; 12:1.)
2. The Church saints. Such passages as Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 12:27, 28; Eph.1:20-23; 2:14-22; 4:12-16; 5:21-32; Col. 1:18, 24 prove that the church of the New Testament did not begin before Christ’s ministry on Earth, for He is the head and founder of it.
3. The 144,000 Jews are identified as a separate company from any others in Rev. 7:1-8; 9:4; 14:1-5. (See also Isaiah. 66:7-8; Dan. 12:1.)
4. The great multitude 0f tribulation saints are proved to be a company distinct from the above three in Rev. 6:9-11; 7:9-17; 14:13; 15:2-4; 20:4-6. The Purpose of the Rapture May Be Summed Up Thus:
1. To receive the saints to Himself (john 14:1-3; Eph. 5:27; 2 Thess. 2:1).
2. To resurrect the dead “in Christ” from among the wicked dead (1 Cor.15:21-23, 51-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; Phil. 3:11, 20, 21; Rev. 20:4-6).
3. To take the saints to Heaven where they will receive judgment for works done in the body, receive their rewards, and partake of the marriage supper (john 14:1-3; Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 19:1-11).
4. To change the bodies of saints from mortality to immortality (1 Cor. 15:21-23, 51-58;.Phil.3:20,21; 2Cor. 5:1-8). 5. To present the saints before God the Father to be forever with Him (1 Thess.3:13; 4:13-17; Eph. 5:27; 2 Thess. 2:1; john 14:1-3).
6. To make the saints “whole” in body, soul, and spirit (2 Thess. 3:13; •5:23) The Greek word translated “unto” in 1 Thess. 5:23 should have been translated “at” to make the passage clear, in the same way it is translated in 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13.
7. To receive the fruit of the early and latter rain (James 5:7).
8. To cause the saints to escape the tribulation and “all these things,” and stand before the Son of man (Luke 21:34-36; 2 Thess. 2:7, 8; Rev. 4:1; 2 Thess. 5:9).
9. To remove the hinderer of lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:1-8).
10. To permit the revelation of the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:1-8).
III. Qualifications for Partakers in the Rapture
The qualifications for partakers in the rapture are also revealed in the above Scriptures. The one and only necessary requirement for men, whether they are dead or alive, is to be “in Christ” (1 Thess. 4:16, 17; 2 =Cor. 5:17; 1 Cor. 15:23; Gal. 5:24). These qualifications are expressed in a ninefold way in Scripture. One must: 1. Be “Christ’s” (1 Cor. 15:23; Gal. 5:24). . 2. Be “in Christ” (1 Thess. 4:16, 17; 2 Cor. 5:17). 3. Be “blessed and holy” (Rev. 20:4-6; Heb. 12:14). Q 4. “Have done good” (john 5:28, 29). ` 5. Be in “the way, the truth, and the life” (john 14:1-6). – 6. Be “worthy” (Luke 21:34-36). ” 7. Be in “the church” or “body of Christ” (Eph. 5:27; 1 Cor. 12:13). The body of Christ and the church are the same (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18, 24) 8. Purify “himself, even as he is pure” (1 john 1:7; 3:2, 3; 2 Cor. 7:1; Gal. 5:16-26; Heb. 12:14). 9. Be without “spot or wrinkle, and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).
If one has met these scriptural qualifications, what more could he do? This implies that a person going up in the rapture is walking “in the light as he is in the light” (1 john 1:7; 2:6, 9-11; 3:8-10; 5:4, 18). Being “in Christ” means that one is a “new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. And all things are of God who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17,18). To belong to Christ means that they “have crucified the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) with the affections and lusts” (Gal. 5:24). This means they are good, holy, blessed, and free from the sin business. What better qualifications for the rapture could God require? It will be noticed that these nine points on qualifications are quoted from Scriptures definitely dealing with the rapture of the church. If there were other qualifications or those that were more definite and important, wouldn’t they have been stated in the passages on the rapture in the place of these that are given? We conclude that it is not receiving other experiences, whatever they may be, or however scriptural they may be, that qualifies one to go up in the rapture, but it is the maintenance of a holy walk in “Christ” at the time of the rapture, or at the time of death as the case may be.
Why should some be protected while others have to go through the tribulation and be martyred? This is easily answered when we consider that at the rapture every one in Christ is taken up and there are no real Christians left at that moment. Those who are martyred in the tribulation are those who have refused to walk in the light and live “in »Christ” and are not ready to go at the time of the rapture, else they would go as well as all others in Christ (1 Thess. 4:16-17; 1 Cor. 15:23). They are saved after the rapture (Acts 2:16-21), having realized by then their mistake of not heeding the many warnings to be ready at any time. They will become determined to be faithful even unto death, which will be their only prospect of having a part in the first resurrection. Those who are not martyred but are taken through the tribulation and are on Earth at the second coming of Christ will be permitted to enter the Millennium as an earthly people, and they will be a part of the subjects of Christ’s kingdom over whom the raptured saints will reign forever (Matt. 13:41-43; 25:34,46; Isaiah 2:1-4; 9:6-7; Luke 1:32-35; Rev. 5:10; 11:15; Dan. 2:44-45; 7:13-14).
IV. The Time of the Rapture The time of the rapture, like the Second Advent, is not definitely stated as to the day or hour, but we do know that it will take place before the tribulation and the revelation of the Antichrist, as will be proved in Point VH below. V. The Signs of the Rupture We may say, and be entirely scriptural, that there are no signs of the rapture as there are of the Second Advent. None of the signs and prophecies stated in Scripture and listed in Lesson Forty—nine as happening before the second coming of Christ ever refer to the rapture. There never was a sign stated that had to come to pass nor a prophecy to be fulfilled before the rapture. The rapture could have taken place in the past, at any time since and it can take place at any time now, or in the future, without a sign or prophecy having to be fulfilled. If there are certain prophecies to be fulfilled before the rapture, then we must look for those events to be fulfilled first instead of looking for the rapture. It is possible that some of the above signs and prophecies may come to pass before the rapture, but that remains to be seen.
We do know by certain indications, that some of the prophecies are now beginning to be fulfilled, thus showing us that the second coming is very near. “And if Second Coming is near, the Rapture is nearer, because the rapture will take place at least seven years before the Revelation, as we shall see below. The Rapture can take place at any time, as proved by the fact that the early Christians were looking for the rapture in their day (Phil. 3:20-21; Titus 2:13). They did not make one statement that certain events must take place before the rapture, so all the modern theories are wrong that teach that certain signs must come to pass, that certain prophecies must be fulfilled, that the Antichrist must first come, that the tribulation must come first and be completed, and that a revival must first come to get the church ready for the rapture. This is altogether out of harmony with the doctrine of the rapture, as taught in the Scriptures above.
VI. The Lord’s Comings Are Practical Doctrines The two comings of the Lord (the rapture and Second Advent) are some of the most practical and fruitful doctrines in Scripture. They are real incentives to holiness (1 John 3:1-3), profitable in exhorting to watchfulness and faithfulness (Matt.24:25; 1 John 2:28), patience (James 5:7, 8), death to self (Col. 3:3-S), endurance (1 Pet. 1:7; 4:13), holy conversation and godliness (2 Pet. 3:11-13), soberness and righteousness (Tit. 2:11-13), consolation (1 Thess. 4:13-18), blamelessness (1 Cor.1:4-8), pastoral diligence and purity (1 Pet. 5:1-4) , sincerity (Phil. 1:9, 10), mildness (Phil. 4:5, 6), and hope (1 Cor. 1S). The rapture will be to the saints the beginning of eternal and ever increasing joy and glory. The second coming will be to Israel and all righteous earthly nations the beginning of eternal and ever increasing blessing and favor.
VII. Reasons for the Rapture of the Church in Rev. 4:1 We believe that the church and the Old Testament saints will be raptured in fulfillment of the book in Rev. 4:1, that this is foreshadowed by the bodily ascension of john to Heaven, and that those raptured are represented in Heaven by the twenty-four elders throughout the remainder of Revelation. We give as proof the following: 1. There is a marked change in God’s attitude toward humanity in general, from that of mercy (Rev. 1-3) to that of judgment, (Rev. 6-19). Rev. 4-S pictures the raptured church and Old Testament saints with God in Heaven before the tribulation. We know that from the inauguration of the church until its rapture is a period of extended mercy and leniency without judgments from Heaven, but from the rapture until and including the second advent of Christ, judgments are predominant.
The seals and the first six trumpets (Rev. 6: 1-9:21) take place in the first three and one-half years of the Week, or the lesser tribulation. The sixth seal and the whole seven trumpets reveal terrible judgments on Earth from Heaven as do the seven vials during the last three and one-half years of the Week, or great tribulation. The infernal designs of Antichrist inspired by the dragon and the satanic prince of Grecia out of the Abyss (Rev. 11:7; 17:8) constitute this latter tribulation which calls forth the vial judgments of God.
The evil designs of the whore and the ten kings of Revised Rome, before the Antichrist gains control of the ten kings and destroys the whore (Rev. 17:12-17), cause the lesser tribulation which calls forth the judgments of God in the sixth and seventh trumpets. The judgments themselves in either part of the Week do not make the tribulation. They are sent because of the tribulation. Scarcely anyone admits that the church will undergo the tribulation. Some who believe that the church is not caught up until the middle of the Week make the mistake of placing the fulfillment of the seals and trumpets in the last three and one-half years, in order to correspond with their conviction that the church is not here during that time.
It is true that the church will not undergo the seals and trumpet judgments, but to take them out of the first three and one-half years and place them in the last three and one-half years in order to prove that the church escapes them, is out of harmony with the plain consecutive order of the Revelation. It is a fact that the church will not undergo the seals and trumpet judgments, but it is also a fact that these judgments happen in the order in which they are given from the beginning to the middle of the Week when the seventh trumpet blows and the man-child is caught up. These events prove that the church will be raptured in Rev. 4:1 before the beginning of the Week and could not be the man-child which is raptured in the middle of the Week. If this is true, then the man-child is not a symbol of the church. It seems inconsistent to take the seals and trumpets out of their proper place in the first three and one-half years and put them in the last three and one-half years of the Week, when that is not the order in which they are given.
It is generally admitted that the events of Rev. 11:15-13:18 will take place in the middle of the Week, and it is also admitted that the seventh trumpet will blow in the middle of the Week, as we have proved in Lesson Forty-one. If this is understandable, then why is it not true that the events of the seven seals and the first six trumpets take place during the first half of the Week and before the seventh trumpet which blows in the middle of the Week? Did not God give them in logical order as He said He was going to do (Rev. 1:1, 19; 4:1)? If the seven seals and the first six trumpets should take place after the seventh trumpet, and the seventh trumpet is to be fulfilled in the middle of the Week, then the seventh trumpet would not be the seventh trumpet at all, but would become the first. The fact that the seals and the trumpets reveal terrible conditions on the Earth and judgments of God from Heaven on men during the first three and one-half years proves that there is tribulation during that time. If the church does not go through these things or any part of the tribulation then she must be raptured before they start at the beginning of the Week in Rev. 4:1.
We conclude, therefore, that Rev. 4-5 pictures the raptured saints with God, represented by the elders and that Rev. 6-19 pictures the whole of Daniel’s Seventieth Week, as made clear in Lesson Forty-one. 2. If the natural divisions of the hook of Revelation are to be understood as clearly stated in Rev. 1:19 and 4:1 there can be no alternative but that the rapture takes place as set forth in Rev. 4:1. Why then should we place the rapture in Rev. 12:5? If the expression “the things which must be hereafter”; that is, after the churches, is literal and applies to Rev. 4:1 where it is given, then it cannot apply to the middle of the Week in Rev. 12:5. If the third division of the book of Revelation is from the middle of the Week on, as taught by some, why is it given in the beginning of the Week? 3. The words “church” or “churches” are never mentioned in the book of Revelation after Rev. 3:22, except in the conclusion after the revelation of the “things which must be after the churches” (Rev. 22:6-21). If the church is to be on Earth during the Week, it surely would have been mentioned in connection with some of the events of Rev. 4:1-22:5. The words “church” and “churches” are used nineteen times in Rev.1-3.
Why are these words used so often in the chapters dealing with the churches and they are not used one time in the chapters that deal with things after the churches, if the church is on Earth during the fulfillment of Rev. 4-22? 4. The enthroned elders are representative of the raptured saints and they are always seen in Heaven after Rev. 4:1, as is seen in Lesson Forty-one. 5. There can be no Scripture produced to show that the church is on Earth during any part of the Week, or during the fulfillment of Rev. 4-22. 6. An individual is recognized and identified by his features and characteristics. A body of individuals is also identified by its peculiarities. So in this case, if the church is to he seen on Earth during the fulfillment of Rev. 4-19 we must see her earmarks. But such are not to he found. On the other hand, evidence of Israel is seen everywhere in the book after Rev. 4:1, a fact more striking, since Israel is not mentioned at all in Rev. 1-3. This shows that the two different institutions are dealt with in different parts of the book; first, the church to the time of its rapture (Rev. 1-3); second, Israel after the rapture of the church to the second coming of Christ (Rev. 6-19).
The book of Revelation is written in Greek, but its thoughts and idioms are Hebrew. This links it with the Old Testament and shows that its great purpose is to declare God’s final dealings with the Jews. The Hebrew character of the book after Rev. 3 is seen as follows: (1) In Matthew, the Hebrew Gospel, there are about ninety-two quotations from and references to the Old Testament. In the epistle to the Hebrews there are 102. In Revelation there are about 285. This emphatically gives the book a close relationship with the Old Testament and Israel. (2) The word “Lamb” is used of Christ twenty-seven times after Rev. 1-3, but not once in this section relating to the churches. It is never used in the Pauline Epistles to the churches. Outside of Revelation the word `°Lamb” is used only in John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19 and always in connection with the Messiah of Israel, and as the antitype of all the Jewish sacrifices. (3) “The Lion of the tribe of Judah” and “the Root of David” (‘Rev. 5:5) show the same Jewish connection as the “Lamb” above. (4) The 144,000 persons of Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5 are Jewish. (5) The events of the seals, trumpets, and vials will be a partial repetition of the plagues upon Egypt and for the same purpose, that of judging the nations for their treatment of Israel. Such will complete the fulfillment of scores of prophecies concerning Israel and her enemies in the latter days. No prophecies of such plagues were ever stated to fall upon mankind for their treatment of the church or Gentile Christians. . (6) The tribulation will primarily concern Israel, and, as it will last throughout Rev.6-19, Israel is the one dealt with in these chapters. (7) Daniel’s Seventieth Week will include the fulfillment of everything in Rev.6-19, after the rapture of the church. The Seventieth Week will concern Israel as did the first sixty-nine weeks.
The Church Age, as is generally admitted, comes in between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks and not between the sixty-ninth and the last half of the Seventieth Week. It seems preposterous to believe that the Church Age is parenthetical and due to come in between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks and at the same time believe that the church will be raptured in the middle of the Seventieth Week. Both cannot be true. Can it not be seen that God pursues the same policy in the Seventieth Week, that of dealing with the Jews, as He did in the first sixty-nine weeks, since all seventy of the weeks were determined upon Israel (Dan. 9:24)? Is it not clear also that this excludes the church from being the woman or man-child? (8) The “great multitude” of Rev. 7:9-17; 15:2-4 and the 144,000 Jews of Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-S are the only companies of redeemed men seen on Earth during the whole period referred to in Rev. 6-19. It is clear that they are not the church, and since the church is not seen except as represented by the elders in Heaven, it is sure to be raptured before the fulfillment of these chapters. (9) The ministry of the angel around the altar (Rev. 8:2-5) and the horns of the altar” (used twenty-six times in the Old Testament and not in any church epistle) are familiar only to Israel. (10) “The mystery of God” (Rev. 10:7), promised by the old prophets, is Jewish, for the things concerning “the days of the seventh trumpet” reveal only things concerning Israel as seen in Rev. 11-13. Such a mystery to the church was never spoken of, for the prophets did not see the church. (11) The temple, altar, temple worship, court of the temple, Holy City, olive trees, ark of the covenant, etc., of Rev. 11, are all Jewish, as seen in Rev. 14:12 When “The kingdoms of this world” (Rev. 11:15) become the possession of God and Christ, the fulfillment of Jewish prophecies of national restoration will be completed. All prophecies reveal the kingdom as being Jewish with its capital at Jerusalem, as we shall see in Lesson Forty-nine. (13) The woman and the man-child are Jewish, as will be proved in the next two lessons. (14) The dragon and beast of Rev. 12, 13, and 17 are not fit symbols in connection with the church, since it has not existed, as has Israel, throughout the length of the seven world empires represented by the seven heads.
Such symbols have always been in connection with Israel, as we shall see in Lessons Forty-seven and Forty-eight (15) Michael (Rev. 12:7) always stands for Israel (Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1-9) and is never mentioned in connection with the church. (16) The remnant (Rev. 12:17) is Jewish. The church or any part of it is never spoken of as a remnant, as is the case with Israel, as seen in Lesson Forty-five. (17) Literal Babylon (Rev. 18) is spoken of as having a latter-day relationship with Israel, but it is never mentioned relative to the church. (18) The Battle of Armageddon and the Second Advent (Rev. 14:14-20; 19:11-21) are not for the deliverance of the church but of Israel, as seen in Lesson Forty-nine. (19) The Millennium, the New Earth, and many other things of Rev. 20-22 too numerous and detailed to mention here, will be fulfilled in accordance with scores of Jewish prophecies in the Old Testament. Other people are not to be excluded from the Millennium, but Israel is to be the head of all peoples forever. We believe, therefore, that the church is raptured in Rev. 4:1 before all these things concerning Israel come to pass.
7. There is no other place in Revelation for the rapture of the church and the Old Testament saints than in Rev. 4:1. The man-child is the only company of saints raptured from the beginning to the middle of the Week, and that company is not the church-, as we shall see. The only other company of saints which is to be caught up during the Week is that of the great multitude which will be martyred during the Week. That company could never be the church. Therefore, the church is either caught up in Rev. 4:1 or never referred to in the Revelation as to its rapture. If it were to be caught up during the Week, surely it would have been mentioned in some connection in Rev. 6-19, which deals with this Week. 8. In Luke 21:34-36 we have the promise of Jesus that some will be “accounted worthy to escape all these things [pictured in Matt. 24:4-26; Luke 21:4-19] that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Who can be these worthy ones referred to, if not the living saints who are on Earth just before these things are about to come to pass?
The 144,000 Jews and the great multitude cannot be the ones referred to, for they are saved and raptured after the rapture of the church, as proved in the next two lessons., If the living believers who are on Earth just before these things transpire are to go through them and undergo the judgments of the Seventieth Week this is a false hope. 9. In 2 Thess. 2:6-8 we have conclusive proof that the church will be raptured preceding the Week and before the revelation of the Antichrist at the beginning of the Week. “And now ye know what withholdet/5 that he might be revealed in his time only he who now letteth [hindereth, Isaiah 43:13; Rom. 1:3], will let [hinder] until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked be revealed” and not before.
What besides governments, the church, and the Holy Spirit is hindering the powers of darkness from having full sway and thus preventing the revelation of the Antichrist? There is nothing, so this hindrance must be one of these. Governments will be more in evidence during the coming reign of the Antichrist than now, yet it will not hinder the revelation of the Antichrist. The Spirit will not be withdrawn during the tribulation and after the rapture, as is shown in Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2: 17-21;Zech. 12:10; john 14:16; Rev. 7:9-17; etc. Rev. 7:9-16 proves that multitudes will be saved during the tribulation, and we maintain that no man ever has been or ever •will be saved except through the ministry of the Holy Spirit (john 3:5-8; 16:7-11; Rom. 8:9; Eph. 2:18; 1 Cor. 6:11; Tit. 3:5; etc.).
Acts 2:16-21 proves an outpouring of the Spirit during the tribulation. Since governments and the Holy Spirit remain here during the tribulation, it follows by the logical process of elimination that the church is the hindrance referred to. That hindrance will be withdrawn for the simple reason that the church, including every person born of the Spirit, is raptured. Then the Antichrist will be revealed. The tribulation on, earth will not affect the Spirit, so why should He go and leave the saints here who will be in desperate need of Him? How could they withstand these things and how could others be saved? After the rapture of all true believers, the Spirit who remains will save multitudes but He will not hinder the powers of darkness from carrying out their purpose in the fulfillment of prophecy. The pronoun “he” in this passage can refer to the church as well as the Spirit, for the church is spoken of as a °’man” in Eph. 2:15; 4:13. The church can be called a “man” because it is the body of Christ, who is a man (1 Cor. 12:12, 13, 27; Eph. 1:20-23; 2:14-22; 4:12-16; Col. 1:18-24).
Therefore, in view of the fact that the Holy Spirit is not to be taken out of the world, that the church is called a “man” and can be referred to in the masculine gender, and since it has been proved that the church will be raptured or taken out of the world, we conclude that “he win hindereth” and `°is taken out of the way” is the church and not the Holy Spirit. Thus it is clear from this passage (2 Thess. 2:7-8) that the Antichrist cannot possibly be revealed until after the church is taken out of the way. Now comes the question of whether the Antichrist will be revealed at the beginning or at the middle of the Week, then it can also be proved that the church is raptured before the beginning and not in the middle of the Week as the man-child.
The following points prove that the Antichrist is revealed at the beginning of the Week: (1) In Dan. 9:27 we have one indisputable argument that he is revealed at the beginning of the Week, for he makes a covenant for seven years with Israel and not for three and one-half years. The breaking of the covenant in the middle of the Week is not a revelation of him on the scene of action, but an unfolding of what he is to do in the middle of the Week, three and one-half years after his revelation. This passage gives one of the scriptural marks by which we may know who the Antichrist is_ and when he is to be revealed. (2) The white horse rider of Rev. 6:1, 2, the “little horn” of Dan. 7:8-11, 20-26; 8:23-25, and the willful “king” of Dan. 11:35-45 are identical and show the rise of the Antichrist out of the ten kingdoms of Revised Rome at the beginning of the Week, and before the seals and trumpets of the first three and one-half years of the Week. He will conquer three of these ten kings and get power over the others in the middle of the Week when he is seen under the seventh trumpet coming out of the sea with the ten kings under his control (Rev. 13:1-8).
Since the church escapes the seals, trumpets, and vials and is taken before the revelation of the Antichrist, and as he is revealed at the beginning of the Week, the church must be raptured before the beginning of the Week. 10. If the church is raptured in the middle of the Week there would be a definite time set for the rapture and we should quit looking for the rapture at any other time and look for the events which mark the appearance of the Seventieth Week. But if the church goes through the terrible events of the seals and trumpets, then the promise of Jesus that the true believers shall “escape all these things” is contradicted and Paul’s teaching that the church is caught up before the revelation of the Antichrist is also contradicted, for Antichrist is here three and one-half years before the middle of the Week. Therefore, once we understand that the church can be raptured any day and that there is no definite time set for that event, then we can conscientiously teach others that they should be ready for the rapture at any and all times. 11. In 1 Thess. 5:1-11 we have another definite promise assuring us that saints will escape the wrath which precedes the day of the Lord. “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation [deliverance from this wrath] by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” The Second Advent marks the beginning of the day of the Lord. This wrath is revealed in Matt. 24-25; Luke 21; Rev. 6:1-19:21 and is to be fulfilled during the Seventieth Week. If the saints escape this wrath, the church must be raptured before the Week or in Rev. 4:1.12. The final reasons for the rapture in Rev. 4:1 and before the Week are found in the exposition of Matt. 24-25 in Lesson Forty-four.