June 25, 2012
The next event on God’s prophetic clock is the Rapture, a word that is derived from the Latin word rapturo, meaning, “a snatching away.” The Rapture is that dramatic moment when the Lord Jesus Christ comes in clouds of glory to remove from this world all who have died in Christ along with the living from the Day of Pentecost until Christ comes to “snatch” His children upward and home in the twinkling of an eye. I Thessalonians 4:16-18 teaches: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.“
This event will occur at breakneck speed – in the “twinkling of an eye.” Scientists have measured the twinkling in a human being’s eye, and it amounts to eleven-one hundredths of a second. Those left on the earth will not know what hit them. A business colleague will suddenly be gone. A schoolteacher will no longer stand before his or her desk as the chalk falls to the floor. A doctor will not show up for his rounds. There will be no nurses at many hospitals to administer medicine, take pulses, or follow doctors’ orders. Dirty dishes will be left in the sink as a housewife disappears from the view of her stunned family. The Rapture will precipitate the greatest traffic jams in history as cars suddenly become driverless and pedestrians run for cover. It will be that moment in history, when, without warning, the Lord says, “Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1). It will be the greatest escape in the history of the world.
There are those who say that the pretribulational viewpoint began in 1830 and was propagated by Edward Irving, J. N. Darby, and Margaret McDonald, a retarded girl. But as we shall see, that is not so.
St. Victorinus, the bishop of Pettau, wrote a commentary on the book of Revelation in AD 270. he said he saw another great and wonderful sign: “Seven angels having the last seven plagues, for in them is completed the indignation of God. And these shall be in the last time when the church shall have gone out of the midst.” St. Victorinus was talking about the Rapture.
Here is more powerful documentation on a pretrib Rapture. The early Christian writer and poet Ephraem the Syrian (who lived from AD 306 to 373) was a major theologian of the early Byzantine Eastern Church. To this day, his hymns and homilies are used in the liturgy of the Greek Orthodox and Middle Eastern Nestorian Churches. He also wrote a large number of commentaries that have never been translated in English. Concerning a pretrib Rapture he stated: “All the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.“
Thus, this teaching is not a present-day innovation but a doctrinal statement dating back seventeen centuries to St. Victorinus, and twenty centuries back to Jesus and Paul. However, there is more. In the sixteenth century there were also those who expressed absolute assurance of the Rapture. Hugh Latimer, burned at the stake for his faith in 1555, said, “It may come in my days, old as I am, or in my children’s days, the saints shall be taken up to meet Christ in the air and so shall come down with him again.” Joseph Mede, the great sixteenth-century literalist, understood I Thessalonians 4:13-18 to teach the catching up of the saints and even used the word Rapture. This was also 250 years before Irving, Darby, and McDonald.
While the Rapture is not taught in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you will find it mentioned twice in the Gospel of John. This is important to remember: Any other time you read about Christ’s return in the Gospels, it is not referring to the Rapture. Instead, these are references to the second phase of Christ’s return, when He physically comes back to earth to rule over the earth after a seven-year tribulation period.
Where are the two Rapture texts found in the Gospel of John? John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 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.” This is not His coming to the earth, but a time when Jesus receives us unto Himself at the great Rapture – the snatching away – to be with Him in heaven as the seven years of torment play out their unbridled fury on the earth.
The second reference to the Rapture is in John 11:25-26. I must confess that I quoted the passage for years and did not really understand it. Christ said: “I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” Jesus is contrasting those who experience death and live again (“the dead in Christ shall rise first” I Thessalonians 4:16) with those who never experience death (because “we which are alive and remain” are caught up without dying, I Thessalonians 4:17).
In the upcoming weeks, we will direct our attention to those events that are leading up to the Rapture, the Rapture itself, and what happens once God’s chosen are caught away to be with the Lord. The Rapture is not science fiction. It’s a coming reality. The good news for the person who is prepared is – when the Rapture comes, believers will go home to be with the Lord and evade earth’s horrendous seven years of Tribulation. The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ will, at long last, be the recipient of that blessed hope. There will be no more tears, no more suffering, and no more dying for those who have received their new, glorified bodies without sin or sickness for all eternity. It is from this perspective – the pretribulation point of view – that I approach this subject with godly reverence.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
WHY AM I SURPRISED?
Its very hard for me to describe my feelings-perhaps a sense of awe, humility, and gratitude?-when I think about the wonderful opportunity God has given to my husband and me to reach around the world via television each week with the gospel. I definitely believe the Holy Spirit impressed Jack to find a format that so many people watch.
When we first knew we were going to have a program that would be beamed around the world, we had prayerfully planned an unusual approach that seemed really exciting. Then, about a week before we were to start production, Jack came to me and said, “Rexella, I believe we are to do a different format. I sense that we are to gather news from around the world-global headlines-and connect them to the Word of God.
With all my heart, I believe the Lord directed my husband in that decision. Today we get hundreds of pounds of mail every week from viewers who ordinarily would not watch a church-related or religious program. One day we walked into a restaurant and were recognized by a group of some twenty Jewish people. “Oh, Dr. and Rexella,” they said, “we love your program and try to tune in every week!”
In the same restaurant, we met a smaller group of Arab people who smiled and said, “Thank you for your TV program-we appreciate it so much!”
I was also stopped by the wife of a state senator who said, “I dont know if you know this, Rexella, but the first thing on the agenda of many of the senators on Monday morning is to get together over coffee and discuss your program!”
On the street in Toronto not too long ago, we were stopped by a Muslim man who said, “Many people in our community here watch your telecast often-we enjoy it so much.” I couldnt help asking, “Why are you attracted to a Christian program that presents the gospel and quotes the words of Jesus? Why would you want to watch that?”
His answer was so humbling-“We trust you!”
So many calls and letters we receive are from people like this who might never go to church or watch another religious program. Our media consultants (who also work with numerous other ministries) say that we are seeing more response to the invitation for salvation than perhaps any other program on the air today.
Many people write to say, “We couldnt make it through our week without hearing your analysis and encouragement.”
And not long ago I got a letter that brought tears to my eyes. A young girl who had decided to commit suicide was flipping through the TV channels and stopped on our program. She wrote, “Rexella, you looked straight into the camera at me and said, God cares about you…and so do I! That changed my whole thinking…and saved my life.”
Preparing for the promised days
Jack and I pray earnestly as we prepare for each program. We are keenly aware of the responsibility that is ours because we truly believe that we are living in the days just prior to the coming of the Lord. We dont like to use the phrase “last days” because its not a countdown to the world ending. Actually, its the promised days-just before Christ will come back to earth, set up His kingdom, and stop all the mayhem and madness. It will be the beginning of a thousand years of peace on the earth.
I believe we are now living in the time the Bible refers to as the “hour of temptation” that will come upon all the world and try those who live on planet earth (see Revelation 3:10). But Jesus surely is coming very soon!
When is He coming? Each week on television, we talk about the events the Bible says are signs of His coming. We share news reports about wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, and countless other distresses and fateful events.
Often people will say, “The world has always had war and famine and trouble-all these things. Are todays events any different? Why do they have special significance now?”
The answer is found in two key verses. Jesus said, And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end (end of the age) come (Matthew 24:14). Only recently, in our generation, could it be said that the gospel has been preached in all the world, witnessing to all nations.
Secondly, the Bible doesnt say, “when you see wars, look up” or “when you see famine and pestilence, the time is near.” Look carefully at what Jesus said in Matthew 24:33-when ye shall see ALL these things, know that it is near, even at the doors (emphasis mine). All these things, all at once-simultaneously! Thats the key Jesus said to watch for, and Im telling you, that day has come!
There are many places in the Word that talk about things that will come to pass-theres a whole list of them, but Ive chosen to write about just four-perhaps the top four-that have to come together before the coming of the Lord.
So today we must do all that we can to point the lost to the Answer-not a theory, a contract, a plan-but to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Thats what Jack and I do every week on our worldwide telecast.
Hunger and pestilence (Revelation 6:8)
The second thing that shocks me is how there can be famine, privation, and deathly need and starvation in a world where there is such abundance. Why am I surprised? Often there can be unimaginable opulence and wealth at one end of the street, and hunger, want, and terrible suffering at the other end of the same street.
The hunger, disease, and pestilence around the world hurt my heart so much. Today we have many, many billionaires all over the world-people with so much wealth that they literally cannot even count it all. There are billionaires not only in prosperous, wealthy countries, but also in poor, underdeveloped nations. Outside the gates of these billionaires estates-in the very shadow of their elegant palaces of privilege-starving people die in the darkness.
In nations ravaged by famine, with millions of starving children, cruel dictators hoard the countrys meager resources and even confiscate the humanitarian aid sent by other nations for their own personal gain. No wonder the Word reminds us that the heart (of man) is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).
Most of us are not billionaires. Perhaps we do not even have much to spare beyond our basic needs. But in the words of American writer Edward Everett Hale-
I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do something I can do.
There is always something we can do to help share the gospel with those who do not know the Lord. Even when the physical needs of nations and people are beyond our means to change, we can point them to Jesus and His words of eternal life. In many impoverished regions where television is not available to very many, we are broadcasting the message of Christs soon return on radio, hoping that somehow we can get through to some of the people.
Without natural affection (2 Timothy 3:3)
Recently on our telecast, I read a horrifying headline and story about a mother who cut off the hands of her children because they were disobedient! Can you believe it? Thats not the affection of a mothers heart. How could a parents mind get so twisted as to mistake brutal, bloody amputation and dismemberment as loving discipline? Truly we are living in “perilous times.”
Do you believe we are living in a day when people are without natural affection? We see and hear about it all the time. There are many husbands who beat and abuse their wives, even wives who also are abusive. There have also been numerous cases of children who have murdered their parents, or beat or injured a younger brother or sister.
Why am I surprised? We live in an age when sexual predators stalk children on the playgrounds of schools. Even teachers and religious leaders have been involved in horrible sexual abuse of young boys and girls. I just reported a story on our telecast recently about a man who had the names of 36,000 young boys on his computer. Investigators suspected that he had probably actually had sex with hundreds of them.
Thats not a natural heart! That is a person without natural affection. You do not prey on children-I dont care who you are or what “logic” you use to rationalize it. God intended for us to love our neighbor as ourselves-to have a love for everyone, no matter who they are. Betraying the trust and dependence of children and family is unnatural!
The Bible warns us about a whole laundry list of terrible behavioral practices that become common in the world before the end of the age comes. The Apostle Paul wrote, For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (2 Timothy 3:2-5).
Do you recognize any of these things in our society today? Are they happening around where you live? Then pay attention. This is a biblical, prophetic sign of the promised days just prior to Christs coming!
Worldwide terrorism (Matthew 24:37; Genesis 6:11, Luke 21:9)
Worldwide terrorism! Why am I surprised? Jesus said, But as the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:37).
What was it like in Noahs day? The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence (Genesis 6:11). Does that description fit the world you know? I think so.
Finally, Jesus said, But when ye shall hear of wars and (violent) commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass…nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom… (Luke 21:9,10).
Terrorism is certainly on the upswing right now. But we must not be surprised when it strikes. Jesus said these things must come to pass-terrorism will continue at some level right up until the coming of the Lord!
This is why I am so excited, positive, and thankful about the incredible tool the Lord has given to us with our weekly telecast, Jack Van Impe Presents. We dont come on each week with global news and gloom and doom. We say, “Yes, we do see terrorism, just as Jesus foretold. But let not your heart be troubled-these things must come to pass. They precede the coming of the Lord.” Were trying to prepare people with a positive outlook, knowing that trials teach us trust in our Heavenly Father!
Yes, there have been some dark days. There may well be dark times again. But dont be afraid of “the power of darkness.” I believe darkness doesnt really have any power of its own-its only the absence of light! If you carry light with you, it always dispels darkness! Darkness has no power if you hold up the light of the world-Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and our Lord. He said, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).
Today let us allow God to comfort our souls and give us hope for tomorrow. Be ready and watching for His return. With all my heart, I believe He is coming very soon!
Dont be surprised!
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
I sincerely want to take a moment to personally thank all of you in your ministry. In the day to day battles of this life, it’s so encouraging to witness Jack’s- lay it on the line confidence which is the result study and the pursuit of the truth in God’s word. I believe your weekly TV programs are pertinent each and every week and a true beacon in the night. Thank you so very much
My wife and i will continue to support your ministry.
Dear Drs. Jack & Rexella Van Impe,
I want to take this opportunity to thank you and say that Dr. Jack Van Impe is one of the greatest Bible scholars and teachers of our time. His knowledge of Scripture is indescribable.
The article: "Baffled, Bewildered, Befuddled," written by Dr. Rexella Van Impe and published in the Perhaps TODAY magazine of summer 2012 is brilliant as always, and evidently reminds us of the challenges, crisis, challenges and chaos in our fallen world.
Thank you both for the courage to teach and stand for the truth of Gods Infallible Word.
Gods peace, protection, and blessings!
Dr. K. E.
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