Wednesday, August 12, 2020

A 'Secret Rapture'?

Thank you. It’s such a pleasure to come before you once again here at the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministries in Spring Hill, Florida, I’m your host Leonard V. Johnson.

Back in 2014 I came across a movie on television entitled “Left Behind” starring Nicholas Cage which was based upon a novel by the same name. It’s a movie concerning what many claims is the Biblical rapture. I guess the movie was meant to get people to think – when they watch these types of movies, because there has been an innumerable amount of them, including a 1989 movie titled “Millennium” with Kris Kristofferson. Saying to themselves, “What if I am left behind!? I don’t want to be left behind!” And, of course, this is the subliminal message – isn’t it!? And, certainly, the large billboards on the sides of our highways and byways which said such things as “The Rapture – May 21, 2011” was in the hopes of scaring people enough to join their organization before May 21st, 2011! So that they can ensure that they’re not left behind. And, of course, even here in Florida I have seen the bumper stickers which read “In case of rapture this car will be unmanned!” I guess if you’re sitting at a red light and you look over at an empty car beside you – you’ll know that the rapture has taken place.

Now all of this assumes that there is going to be a moment of mass disappearance that will occur, and it will leave a multitude of these doomed people here on the earth while the earth collapses, the chaos, and utter destruction – of course, as a result of the wrath of God upon all of the wicked people which will be left.

What does God’s living word say about this time frame!?

Will there be a “rapture” – a snatching away of the saints before, what the Bible calls an end-time ‘tribulation’ - what His living word says is going to befall all mankind!?

First – the very word “rapture” is not a biblical word – it’s not found anywhere in the Bible. The adherence to the idea has ceased upon a couple of Greek words which I would like to look at today to describe the second coming of Jesus Christ. Looking at their use of these words that they’ve somehow concluded that from the use of these Greek words that the second coming of Christ is broken up into several stages. And, they teach – that He is first coming for the Church, a “secret rapture” – skipping by the earth and snatching away the saints and carrying them up to heaven, then secondthe great tribulation” will befall all of those remaining on the earth, the chaos, the hurricanes, volcanoes, nuclear war, tsunamis, and ultimate extermination. And then, finally, He is coming with the Church – and I reckon that would be considered a ‘third’ coming of Jesus Christ. But they don’t use that term – they just teach that His second coming is broken up into two phases.

There is also a wide array explanation of the amount of time between those two events. Some say that it is 3 ½ years and some say that the saints are going to be up in heaven for 7 years, and some say that the saints are going to be up in heaven for 1000 years. And, I’ve looked at all kinds of different charts as the debate continues.

Three Greek Words

As I say – and that I go over in the sermonette “Is There A ‘Secret Rapture’?” – they cease upon a couple of Greek words which they will purport to explain this idea of the rapture.

One is parousia. It’s a Greek word that means “coming.” And, there are three Greek words that describe three of the basic words that describe the coming of Jesus Christ. Another is epiphaneia – which is used six times in the New Testament. And it describes His appearing, which is actually translated “appearing” in the New Testament. And the last is apokálypsis, which you’ll recognize from the Book of Revelation – which means apocalypse – or a revealing, an unveiling – which is the very name of the Book of Revelation. And the very first verse says, “The revelation of Jesus Christ.” Meaning it’s an unveiling of those things which are going to take place.

Now, the word parousia by itself is not specific to just the second coming of Jesus Christ. In other words, it’s used in various different places. The apostle Paul uses this word in 2 Corinthians 7:6, meaning “presence.” Now, there is another passage where it does mention the coming of Jesus Christ – and let’s turn to 2nd Thessalonians, the 2nd chapter – it’s very interesting that the word parousia is used both in connection with the second coming of Jesus Christ but also with the coming of ‘the man of sin.’ So, there isn’t anything “holy” or significant about the word parousia.

Verse 8 – “And then the lawless one [the ‘man of sin’] will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with he breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” – talking about the coming of Jesus Christ. That word is parousia.

But look at the next verse –

Verse 9 – “The coming [parousia] of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.” – talking about the ‘man of sin’ that God is going to destroy at His coming.

Again, as I said earlier – the word “rapture” is found nowhere in God’s living word. It comes from a Latin word raptus, meaning – a state or experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion. 1 Being kidnapped – if you want to be basic about it. This is where the term “catching up” or “snatching away” originates. And it’s because many use this to explain the following Scripture – 1st Thessalonians., the 4th chapter. As does Wikipedia.

Now, if you look up anything about the rapture they’re going to take you to this Scripture here. Verse 17 – where this idea of the rapture originated. “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together …” – and there’s that word there harpazó. And it means to seize, catch up, snatch away; to take by an open display of force. So, the idea originated with this word here concerning the rapture. Now, this concept of the rapture didn’t really take hold until about the 17th century. It didn’t begin to be formulated as a doctrine until the 18th and up into the 19th century. And in the 20th century the doctrine became extremely popular within books like The Late Great Planet Earth and of course the Left Behind series which Mr. Garrett has mentioned several times (cf. The MARK of the BEAST PDF ). The assumption being that there are going to be multiple millions of people left behind, but we good Christians are going to be whisked away to heaven looking down upon the earth and watching all of these cataclysmic events take place upon the earth. And all of these movies, stories, books, novels are written from that perspective.

In a prophetic order

What does the living word of God – the Holy Bible – say about this period of time!?

If the word “rapture” is found nowhere in the Bible, will there actually be a rapture of the saints!? Or will the saints be somewhere else!? I believe much of the confusion stems from the misunderstanding of several points.
1. The order of events that is spelled out by Jesus Christ that are going to take place at the time of this end-time trauma. 
2. The timing of the second coming of Jesus Christ – which many confuse and say that He is coming BEFORE the end-time trauma, what Jesus Christ calls ‘great tribulation, such has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be’ – Matthew 24:21 NKJV. And this is why they have this idea of escapism – of being away from the earth while all these chaotic and terrible things occur upon the earth. 
3. Where the saints are at that specific time.
Let’s turn over to the Book of Matthew, the 24th chapter. I could go through the whole of this chapter today, but I want to keep focused on the rapture – which was brought up the other day. Now, in Matthew 24, He describes after His disciples asked Him, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” all of these cataclysmic events – that most students of the Bible are familiar with – ‘the religious deception, the hearing of wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes.’ And, at the end of this (and beginning with verse 9) the “end-time prophets” rise up – culminating in the Two Witnesses PDF  (cf. Revelation 11:3-13). The fifth seal talking about the martyrdom of these “end-time prophets.” The sixth seal talking about earthquakes, volcanoes, massive pollution in the atmosphere, and Satan the devil, and his demons being thrown down to earth.

But, let’s go down to verse 29 – He says, ’ Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; …’ – certainly an indication that the atmosphere will be thick with volcanic ash towers or even radioactive dust and ash! “ … ‘the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’ - Satan and his demons will be expunged from the atmosphere of the earth. Remember one time Jesus said, “’ I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’”? There will be a great spiritual war we’re told in the Book of Revelation – Michael the great archangel, and all of his subordinate angels will directly engage in spiritual warfare with Satan and his demons. And Michael and all the holy angels will be victorious! And Satan will be vanquished to the earth. And I think that’s what this passage here is talking about.

The prophet Isaiah – under the divine inspiration of God’s Spirit – wrote of this very time frame – “All the host of heaven shall be dissolved [Satan and his demons thrown from the atmosphere], And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll …” – the earth will be covered in a large amount of pollution from the earthquakes, the volcanoes, the fires. One time I had watched a time-lapse film. And it was a camera set up in one of the hills overlooking Los Angeles, and the ocean breeze came in and the smog cloud was being rolled up – and it looked just like you were taking a giant carpet and rolling it up as the wind blew in from the ocean it just pushed the smog out of the area.

And then He says – Verse 30 – “’ Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.’

But I have to take a pause here. Friends, it is so very satisfying and humbling to me that when I read God’s living word, understanding the truth of God, I don’t have to sit here wrestling with God’s word. The other day – I had said that the subject of the “rapture” had come up – I was asked, “Why don’t you believe in the rapture?” And though I was asked while having a friends and family get-together at the pool and the question came out of left field – cf. 1st Peter 3:15 – I didn’t have to struggle with the question, because I knew what God says, or rather doesn’t say, concerning the “rapture.” I began to slowly explain some things of what God’s living word actually says, but was stopped by my wife, “No one came here to talk about God!” So, I had told her that I could go over some Scriptures which could help her out at a later time. God’s living word fits perfectly and always fits in place. And, when I read and study these Scriptures here God is saying there will be a great time of end-time ‘tribulation’ – and immediately after that ‘the sign’ of Jesus Christ coming will appear in outer space. And I describe it this way - when the throne of God, when New Jerusalem, begins to return to this earth, at some point, it will be a little small light in the night sky. And the next night it will be a little brighter – like the star Sirius. And then, it becomes more and more obvious – and people will look up and go, “What is that!?” Now, most of the people of the world will think it’s – and they really will – an invading alien force. Because the United States of America – especially since mid-1947 – has been fascinated with space aliens and extra-terrestrials. In fact, in the Book of Revelation, John wrote – “the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every [bond] man and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, [think of such places as the Cheyenne Mountain Complex], and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!’” – Revelation 6:15-16 NKJV. And it’s very easy for me to understand.

In Joel, the 2nd chapter, verse 31, God says this very thing – “’ And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31) The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD’” – speaking here of the Day of the LORD which comes afterward. The SEVEN LAST PLAGUES ARE EQUIVALENT TO THE DAY OF THE LORD.

Verse 31 – “’ And He [Jesus Christ] will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven [the atmosphere] to the other.’

Verse 36 – “’ But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.’ – and as I have said, surely by now Jesus Christ knows when He’s coming back. Now, around the world there are the Nostradamus’s and those who preach blood moons and the prognosticators and various date setters that I have come across! Every year we hear these soothsayers, “Jesus is coming!” and they’ll give you a date! Surely they’ll be more next year, with their Hebrew calendars, charts and figures.

Verse 37 – “’ But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.’ – So here Jesus Christ reaches back to approximately the year 2345 BC and even before the Flood to a man called Noah and gives us this example.

Verse 38 – “’ For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39) and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.’

So, when did Noah know when to go into the ark!? Well, indeed, God had commanded Noah, “’ The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. … Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation’” – Genesis 6:13; 7:1 NKJV. Noah had been preparing for 120 years building this giant ark! Noah had been preaching for 120 years and those which were there heard his message – some listened, some were curious, and others got tired of hearing the message – and over time his message became rather common-place. And they began to ignore him and his message. But there was a point in time right before the destruction of the earth by water that Noah knew – it’s time to go into the ark. God told him – “Come into the ark.” And then seven days later God caused “it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights.”

And Jesus continued – verse 40 – “’ Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.’ – When the SEVEN LAST PLAGUES BEGIN, THE RESURRECTION OF THE SAINTS HAS ALREADY OCCURRED! The saints are protected! Because they’re not flesh and blood any more. Their eternal spirit beings – members of the Family of GOD. The FIRST SIX of the SEVEN TRUMPETS are a progression of the end-time trauma – the end-time ‘tribulation.’ And the SEVENTH TRUMP of the seven trumps is indeed, directly related to the concept of the resurrection of the saint’s. The blowing of the SEVENTH TRUMP! And following that, in the Book of Revelation – Chapters 15 & 16 – you read about the SEVEN LAST PLAGUES.

So, here the resurrected saints have already ascended into the clouds to be with Jesus Christ and what would be considered ‘low earth orbit’ with the future New Jerusalem waiting to come down to the EARTH.

Verse 42 – “’ Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.’

Turn with me now if you will to the Book of Acts, the 14th chapter. And I ask – did God promise Christians that there would not be tribulation – as in the FIRST SIX of the SEVEN TRUMPETS? That we wouldn’t have any trouble? As Mr. Garrett says, “did God promise you a rose garden!?” Or, is it – when you set your heart on obeying Almighty God, following the example Jesus set, it becomes rather difficult –

Verse 22 – “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’” – we will need to endure and keep the faith as God’s begotten children as we go through the FIRST SIX TRUMPET BLASTS – cf. Revelation 8:7-12; 9:1-11, 13-19. But then the SEVENTH TRUMPET BLAST will be blown “and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” – cf. 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 10:7; Revelation 11:15. So, here the apostle Paul is saying that it will be through ‘many tribulations’ – and all of us can attest to this. Once you set your heart on obeying Almighty God’s Law, like keeping the seventh-day Sabbath, it becomes ever-more difficult to swim upstream against this world.

So, we just read in Matthew, chapter 24, where Jesus spoke of –
1. The end-time trauma. What Jesus calls an end-time ‘tribulation.’v. 21.
2. Then because of the tremendous ash and smoke in our atmosphere the sun and the moon will be darkened, the “stars” will fall from heaven (Satan and his demons will be thrown to the earth) – v. 29.
3. Then the sign of the Son of Man appearing in heaven [which in this case is outer space] – v. 30. He’s not going to be a “near miss.” This is not going to be a “secret rapture,” skipping off the atmosphere, grab the saints and then leave in “secret.” Indeed, Jesus says, “’ For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.’” And as I wrote earlier - when the throne of God, when New Jerusalem, begins to return to this earth, at some point it will be a little small light in the night sky. And then the next night a little closer and brighter. And as the Book of Revelation says, “every eye will see Him. … And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him” – Revelation 1:7 NKJV.
In that order.

Friends, the Seven Seals (Revelation 6:1-17; 8:1-5) – are roughly equivalent to the EARLY part of what Jesus calls an end-time ‘tribulation’ (Matthew 24:21), of which the prophet Ezekiel refers to as “Jacob’s trouble.” God’s holy angels begin to sound their trumpets and terrible things begin to occur! Then the SEVENTH TRUMPET is BLOWN – Revelation 10:7 and Revelation 11:15 – that time where the RESURRECTION OF THE SAINTS OCCUR!

Let’s go now to the Book of 1st Corinthians, the 15th chapter – and read one verse here. Mr. Michael C. Garrett covers this in great depth in our free no-obligation online booklet The Confusion About Death! PDF. Be sure to read this TODAY and it will ward off any confusion you may have concerning death. The booklet not only covers 1st Corinthians 15 but also covers the “Valley of Dry Bones” – the second resurrection from the dead.

Down in verse 51 – “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep [shall not all die], but we shall all be changed – 52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet [the SEVENTH TRUMPET BLAST]. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Now, sadly, just like many people in Jesus’ day, many people TODAY don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. They tend to believe that when one dies they go up to heaven.

In the Book of 1st Thessalonians, chapter 4 it says –

Verse 16 – “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet [the SEVENTH TRUMPET BLAST] of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”

So those that are dead in Christ – that have long been dead since Adam and are still dead; still unconscious – as King David wrote, “For in death there is no remembrance of You …” – Psalm 6:5 NKJV. And King Solomon wrote, “For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten” – Ecclesiastes 9:5 NKJV. The prophet Job says, “You shall call, and I will answer You” – Job 14:15 NKJV – talking about the resurrection. Will be resurrected unto eternal life.

Verse 17 – “Then we [the saints of the Eternal God] who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds [the atmosphere] to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall aways be with the Lord.”

Then - the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. The saints – the resurrected saints – and Jesus Christ, and God the Father, and the holy angels are in New Jerusalem – the throne of GOD – in low earth orbit. The people who have God’s Spirit are resurrected and they meet Jesus Christ in the atmosphere. And they wait for a time – not a real long time; possibly 3½ years (cf. Daniel 9:27; Rev. 12:6) – but they wait for some more events to take place upon the earth. And one of those events is called the seven last plagues.

And then begins the SEVEN LAST PLAGUES. □


1. Webster M. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, rapture, 1996, pp 968.

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