We pick up where we left off on the topic of the rapture. In our last post we saw why Jesus associated His coming with the events of the flood in Noah’s day. There we read that two men would be in the field, one would be taken and the other left. Rapture teachers have taken this to mean that believers will be taken out of the world during the return of the Messiah while sinners will be left behind to experience unimaginable sufferings. However, we saw that there is an obvious error in using this text to defend a physical rapture since those left behind were Noah and his family and not the sinners. The righteous remained while the flood was used to take away or rid the earth of fleshly corruption.
The events of Noah’s day have been relayed for our instruction regarding the end of the age. Remember that the explanation by Jesus in Matthew 24 was in response to a question by His disciples: “tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Mat. 24:3). The key message Jesus would have us understand from Noah’s day is that the man in the image of Christ is established on the earth while the corruption of flesh is removed. This is the sign of His coming. Herein is also revealed a mystery about the redemptive agenda of God in the last days that contradicts what many in the church system teach and believe.
First, the dominion of God’s kingdom shall come to be forever established on the earth. The union of heaven and earth is fundamental to God’s plan of kingdom increase. Aborting earth to be relocated to heaven is not part of God’s divine program. Second, the kingdom cannot come apart from a people who are the personification of it. The kingdom is not just what we preach, it is what we become. It is embodied as our very own state of being – as our righteousness, peace and joy (Rom. 14:17). Therefore, it will not come like an asteroid falling from the sky nor will people say look here or look there, for His kingdom is within a people and it must be manifested through a people in order to usher others into it.
Noah’s story confirms this truth – that in God’s kingdom plan, His sons have an important role as ministers of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). Just as God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, God in Christ is in us and has committed to us the word of reconciliation as ambassadors of Christ. But, an ambassador who evacuates his/her post is disqualified as a representative. Therefore, anyone who takes this responsibility seriously should not put their hope in a rapture evacuation. This is an abandonment of one’s assignment.
It was in this spirit that Jesus prayed saying: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (Joh. 17:15). This is the Lord’s prayer for every disciple called by His name. And yet many today urge the saints to be “rapture ready”, plainly contradicting what Jesus taught. Despite this, the prayer that God would have us pray and also become is “your kingdom come on earth” not “take us away to heaven”.
There are some who may argue that we will return with Christ to execute judgment in the battle of Armageddon at the end of the seven-year tribulation. Those who advocate carnal warfare, against flesh and blood and between God and the physical armies of the Antichrist, have lost the plot. These are but the natural interpretation of men who read the letter of the word and refuse the Spirit’s illumination. It takes zero revelation to read the black ink on the white page and to come up with a crude chorology of literal end time events. But, if you can receive it; judgment, the great tribulation, and the battle of Armageddon are now taking place in the spirit and they will continue till their purpose is accomplished. Only those who like Noah are attuned to the dealing of the Spirit of God will recognize and take part in these events.
In line with this, it’s worth noticing that after mentioning the great tribulation, the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven, the darkening of the sun, moon and stars, and the rising of false christs and false prophets, Jesus would go on to say: “this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (Mat. 24:34). Think on this. Does this not challenge much of what we have been taught regarding imminent external events? Jesus goes on to say: “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Mat. 16:28) and “now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31).
If we will turn our gaze to what the Spirit is saying, we will understand that there is a continuous working of the Lord in every generation that relates to His judgment, tribulation and coming. These speak not of outward events but inworkings of the Spirit of God where His elect in their generation experience His increase through His various revelations and dealings. But, to what end shall this be or for how long will this go on? To the end that a people will arise in a generation appointed by the Father who have come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is the manifestation of the sons of God for which we all eagerly wait and groan for within ourselves (Rom. 8:19, 23). It is also this manifestation that will be the catalyst for the deliverance of creation form the bondage of its corruption (Rom. 8:21).
Dear saint, a convenient Christianity that teaches you to look for a quick escape and to fix your eyes on outward events, instead of the inward witness of the Spirit, will cause you to miss the rich and mysterious purposes of God’s dealings taking place in this present hour. There are no shortcuts in the kingdom. There are no easy and swift evacuations to perfection or sonship.
With this in mind, I would like to turn your attention to a key section of scripture that the rapture theology draws heavily from:
“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” (1 Thes. 4:16-17).
Descending from heaven:
There is much to unpack in this verse. First, the coming of the Lord is relayed as being IN a shout, IN the voice, and IN the trumpet. The Greek work used is ‘en’ which is rightly translated as ‘in’ and not ‘with’. Young’s Literal translation reads accordingly: “the Lord himself, in a shout, in the voice of a chief-messenger, and in the trump of God, shall come down from heaven”.
The distinction is important because the Lord is not accompanied by the sounding of the trumpet, a shout or the voice like kings who are serenaded when entering a room. He is in the trumpet, in the shout and in the voice. In fact, no distinction is made between Him and the sound. The manifestation of the sound is the manifestation of the Lord Himself. The Lord descends from heaven in the sound and not as an entity with physical form. Elijah was instructed of the Lord to go out and stand on the mountain because “the Lord is about to pass by” (1 Kin. 19:11). The Lord eventually passed by Elijah. How? In the gentle whisper. Similarly, as we examine the resurrection power of the trumpet sound we will recognize that the Lord, who is the resurrection and the life, is the effectual power in the sound that causes the dead in Christ to rise. This supernatural sound is not only heard by the inward man of our spirit but it is also how we encounter the Lord to be transformed by Him.
To lay hold of this truth you need to only turn to your initial salvation experience where the Lord came to you. Somehow you heard a sound; you heard the gospel message and it resonated in your spirit. And having heard the voice, you turned (repented) in obedience to it and as a result you were awakened to a higher life. Those words became spirit and life in you (John 6:63). There was power in them because Christ was Himself the logos of God, the Living Word, the message and the revelation who descended to quicken your spirit and inaugurate His resurrection life in you.
But, having turned once by this voice, the Lord would have us to continually turn to hear the voice, the shout and the trumpet sound that we may be raised up to apprehend yet higher dimensions of His life. The events that follow the sounding of each of the seven trumpets in the book of Revelation illustrates just this – the progressive dealing of God where we experience the increase of His dominion in our earth. (For more on the trumpet sound please see ‘His coming in the Sound of Trumpets’ – Part 14).
Therefore, the voice that is expressed by the voice of the chief-messenger (Christ) in 1 Thessalonians 4 is the divine word which goes forth out of God’s mouth and which does not return to Him void. This is a life-giving word because it is accompanied by His breath (pneuma – Spirit). It is this expression of the word and spirt that causes the dead in Christ to rise. Thus, the trumpet, the shout and the voice signifies a threefold (complete) message of revelation that originates from the Spirit of God and which descends to quicken and transform man, not to relocate him.
Dear saint, there is a momentous transformation that is to take place when the last trumpet is sounded. This seventh trumpet of the everlasting gospel has already begun to be sounded. And we bear witness to its effectual working in our lives. Though its completion tarries, God is continually opening our ears to hear the great and deep truths that only the Spirit can reveal. To those who love the truth, who hunger and thirst for righteousness and who long to hear and partake in its divine inworking, it’s my prayer that God would give us circumcised ears to hear what the Spirit is saying that we may partake in the impartation of the Lord who is in the last trumpet.