September 9, 2013
We want to continue in our study of why I believe in the pre-tribulational rapture.
The Tribulation is called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble.” This prophet, in chapters 30 and 31, summarizes Israel’s endurance in the Tribulation Hour and depicts it as Jacob’s, or Israel’s, trouble. (Jacob’s name was changed to Israel in 2 Kings 17:34.) In Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 the northern army or Russian bear comes out of the north against Israel. Eighteen different passages mark Israel as the victim. Ezekiel says, “And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel” (Ezekiel 38:16).
Daniel described this horrible period of Tribulation: “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered” (12:1). Daniel’s seventy weeks, of which the Tribulation period is the closing segment, has to do with Israel: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24).
The sixty-nine weeks totaling 483 years-already past-had to do with Israel. Why would God change His method of operation for the seventieth week-the Tribulation Hour? The simple conclusion is that there will be no change. God will return to His original program for the final week. This is again the reason that Satan, upon being cast to earth during the Tribulation Hour, goes after the woman (Israel) who brought forth the man-child (Christ) in Revelation 12:12-14. The voice out of heaven cries: “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child [Christ]. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.”
Here we see God’s loving protection for His covenant people for a time-one year, and times-two years, and for half a time or one-half year. This totals three and one-half years or forty-two months-exactly one-half of the Tribulation period. Verse 17 farther corroborates the fact that Israel is the persecuted one, not the Church, for “the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [Israelites].” Only antiliteralists and antidispensationalists confuse the issue. They allegorize, spiritualize, and pulverize the truth into mass confusion. They make Jews of all the redeemed or relegate the title of “Israelites” to Americans, Canadians, and other Anglo-Saxons. Little do they realize that there can be no harmony of the Scriptures when one does not rightly divide the word of truth (see 2 Timothy 2:15).
What is the truth? It is that God has two elect groups of individuals on this earth-Israel and the Church. Israel is the wife of Jehovah forever (Jeremiah 3:14; Hosea 2:19). The Church is the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7). Romans 9 through 11 depict Israel’s past (chapter 9), Israel’s present (chapter 10), and Israel’s future (chapter 11). During the Tribulation Hour, all Israel shall be saved (see Romans 11:26). The 144,000 Jewish evangelists (see Revelation 7:4-8) will proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to all the world (Matthew 24:14), and all Israel will accept Messiah (Christ) as Savior and King. Now these Israelites are the elect: “As touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (Romans 11:28). This solves the problem of Matthew 24:22, which states, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake [Israelites] those days shall be shortened.”
Posttribulationists vehemently cry: “You see, the elect are present for the judgments of the Tribulation Hour.” Not so! The fact is that Jehovah chose or elected Israel to be His wife, and Christ chose or elected His people to be His bride, and it is the Father’s elect wife experiencing the judgments mentioned in Revelation chapters 6-18.
Concerning Israel, Deuteronomy 7:6 declares, “For thou art an holy people unto the lord thy God: the lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” This promise is perpetual. “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance [or change of mind]” (Romans 11:29). This is the reason that all Israel is going to be saved (v. 26). God keeps His covenants (v. 27), and Israelites are still the Father’s “election” (see v. 28).
To the Christians, Christ says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). We were chosen “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), and our choosing is eternal. Now there is no difficulty whatsoever when men see both elections, but confusion reigns when the two are intermingled, spiritualized, allegorized, and symbolized. Take God for what He states-literally-and the problems vanish.
Deliverance from wrath (Luke 17:26-32). The reason this hope is blessed or happy is that the Church escapes the turmoil of earth’s most devastating hour. This fact is confirmed by the teaching of Jesus. He said that the days of the Son of man would be like the days of Noah and Lot (see Luke 17:26-32). In Noah’s day, Enoch, a type of the Church, was evacuated before the judgment of the Flood, while Noah, a type of Israel, was preserved through it. Lot, in his removal to Zoar before the fires fell, is also a type of the escaping Church before atomic incineration begins.
Upon examining the story of Lot in Genesis 18:23-32, we discover that God informed Abraham that He would destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham immediately began bargaining with the Lord: “Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:23-25).
Abraham finally got the figure down to ten righteous people, but there were not even ten who were undefiled. Therefore, God had to destroy the cities. Lot and his family, however; survived because God had another plan-the great escape. The angels removed Lot and his family from the city and took them to Zoar. Now listen to this surprising statement from God in Genesis 19:22: “I cannot do any thing till [Lot] be come thither.” God had to remove His people before He rained judgment upon the world of the ungodly. Then, and only then, did the Lord rain “upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the lord out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground” (Genesis 19:24-25).
As it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be in the day of the Son of man, or when the Son of man returns. Whether it is the great escape for the Church or the preservation of the Israelites through the Tribulation, God’s promises cannot fail.
The day of great wrath (see Revelation 6:17) will be meted out to sinners who store up, treasure up, or accumulate “wrath against the day of wrath” (Romans 2:5). But this wrath will be only for the wicked. Paul wrote, “[God] delivered us [Christians] from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10), and again: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
This salvation from wrath cannot be the eternal deliverance from hell because the Christian already has that without Christ’s return. The moment a person believes, he is delivered from condemnation and “is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). Because of it, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The deliverance from wrath in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 has to do with Christ’s return because the text states, “[We] wait for his Son from heaven… which delivered us from the wrath to come.” It does not take the return of Christ to deliver us from the wrath of hell-salvation instantaneously accomplished this. But the coming of Christ delivers us from the wrath of the coming Tribulation Hour. This is how God will “keep [us] from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world” (Revelation 3:10).
The Church-the body and the bride (Ephesians 5:30). Now let’s look at Christ’s church-His body and His bride. Will the Church go through the administration of God’s wrath upon the earth? I believe not. Millions of believers are already in heaven. All who have died “in Christ” during the past two thousand years are already with Christ. Paul said, “To be absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Why should a handful of believers experience God’s wrath while millions who lived and died during the last two thousand years enjoy the blessings of heaven during the Tribulation? For God to have 99 percent of His church with Him while 1 percent suffer untold agonies would be inconsistent.
Since the Greek word ecclesia, translated ” church” in English, means “a called out assembly,” could not this definition extend to the very hour when the final “called out assembly” meets the other 99 percent of the Church already in glory? Why should a minority suffer God’s vengeance while the others watch from heavenly places? We are also members of Christ’s body. “We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Ephesians 5:30).
Should 99 percent of His body in heaven rejoice while the remaining 1 percent upon earth suffer? Perish the thought. In fact, since Christ is the head of the Body, He would actually be administering wrath to His own body if He left part of that body on earth for the Tribulation period. Believers are also Christ’s bride. Should 1 percent of the believers (constituting the Bride) languish in anguish while 99 percent abide at His side? Let’s be consistent in our thinking! Love demands that all the remaining 1 percent join the 99 percent already in His presence, completing the Church, the Body, and the Bride.
This same Church, Body, and Bride must go through a time of examination called the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Bride also experiences the marriage supper of the Lamb before returning with Christ to the earth. The posttribulation adherents teach a ” yo-yo theory”-up and down, going to meet Christ and returning instantly-and have no time interval for this judgment-seat examination or the marriage. It takes time to investigate God’s people. Second Corinthians 5:10 states, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body.” This is an impossibility in the posttribulation arrangement of events because millions cannot be investigated in less than one second or “the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). The “bob up to meet Him and bob down to reign” theory, if true, wipes out the intervals of time demanded for the judgment seat of Christ and the marriage.
I believe it is logically and abundantly clear that there will be a Rapture and that it must come before the Tribulation period. Common sense demands it; confusion reigns without it. Soon the Lord will break through the clouds. His church, body, and bride will be united with members already in His presence, for “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Then all the Church is investigated and prepared “as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2) to enjoy the marriage supper and honeymoon.
The Most Powerful Argument for a Pretribulation Rapture
The final and greatest argument for a pretribulation Rapture is based on Matthew 25:31-46. In this text Christ returns to earth and judges the nations. At this point of time there are two groups present-the saved and the lost. The lost are condemned to everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:41, 46), whereas the saved are invited to enter the kingdom for the thousand-year reign with Christ (Matthew 25:34; Revelation 20:4).
Now, supposing the Rapture occurred at this juncture as postmillennialists teach, who would then be left to reign with Christ upon earth? At the Rapture believers receive glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2-3). These bodies, as Christ returns to earth, remain in the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, hovering above the earth for the entire one thousand years (Revelation 21:9-22:5). That being the case, no one would be left to rule on earth if all the saved were raptured and translated, receiving their eternal spiritual bodies at the hour Christ returns to earth. In fact, there could be no Millennium if this theory were followed to its ultimate conclusion. I repeat-if posttribbers are correct, the saved are translated into spiritual bodies while the lost are sent into eternal punishment. This leaves no one to rule and reign with Christ for the one thousand years. On the other hand, if the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation period begins, the riddle is solved. Here’s why. There will be multitudes, yes millions upon millions converted during earth’s most horrendous hour because this is the time when God’s spirit is poured out upon all flesh (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17), and the greatest revival in history occurs. Revelation 7:9 states: “A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” When asked who these tens of millions are, the answer is: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (v. 14). These are the millions who go into the kingdom in earthly bodies for Christ’s millennial reign (Matthew 25:34; Revelation 20:4). This is the only position that makes sense and fits the situation of a coming Millennium composed of believers ruling and reigning with Christ in earthly bodies.
According to this view, Christians would pass through the first half of the Tribulation but be raptured at the seventh trumpet judgment. This position, however, does not hold up since it ignores the biblical teaching of imminence-a view that asserts the return of Christ will occur unannounced, at any given moment. This theory is so unpopular today that little space is needed to cover the subject-just enough to describe the viewpoint.
This view does not look for Christ to come for His own until after the Tribulation. According to this theory, the Church should not be looking for the blessed hope of the return of Christ, but rather to the appearance of the Antichrist and the indescribable judgments and horrors of the Tribulation period.
Surely no reasonable, rational thinker will disagree with the facts presented thus far concerning the pretribulation Rapture.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Let Me Cry!
I’ve been doing some crying, lately.
A while back I noticed that a young waitress who often serves Jack and me when we go out to eat seemed unusually quiet and withdrawn and there was a strain on her countenance. When I went to wash my hands in the ladies room, I had a chance to pull her aside and ask if something was wrong. Tears spilled down her cheeks as she told me her husband had just asked her for a divorce.
Imagine the pain of having your husband or wife look you in the eye and say, “I don’t love you anymore-I want out of this marriage.” I can’t even begin to comprehend the shock, sorrow, and grief one would feel in such a situation.
I didn’t know what to say to this poor girl -but I put my arms around her and comforted her the only way I knew how…with my tears.
Also in recent months, I have felt an increased burden for my unsaved friends and loved ones. Bible prophecy makes it so clear that time on this old earth is running out fast and that surely Jesus is coming soon…perhaps today! So I have been praying…and weeping …for my unsaved loved ones. It is the only way I know to minister to them!
What is a tear?
The great preacher, T. DeWitt Talmage, once wrote, “Help me explain a tear. A chemist will tell you that it is made up of salt and lime and other component parts; but he misses the chief ingredients-the acid of a soured life, the viperine sting of a bitter memory, the fragments of a broken heart. I will tell you what a tear is: it is agony in solution.”
These are powerful, moving words. And perhaps all of us have either witnessed or personally experienced the truth Talmage sought to convey.
But I suggest to you that there is more to tears than sadness, sorrow, regret, and pain. Tears can be a release from stress and anxiety, a vent for frustration, a safety valve for overpowering emotions. Tears can be the most sincere expression of compassion and love. And just as raindrops wash the smoke, smog, and impurities from the atmosphere, so tears can wash away the stains of bitterness and disappointment from our souls.
A time to weep
As Solomon, perhaps the wisest man who ever lived, once declared, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…A time to weep, and a time to laugh (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4).
We live in a time when everyone wants to laugh all the time, but no one is willing to weep. And if someone does cry, it makes people really uncomfortable. Children are hushed and told not to cry. Men are taught that tears don’t go with a macho image…that only sissies cry. And women who weep at some sadness or loss are interrupted and advised to wipe their eyes and get control of themselves.
No! No! No! Let me cry. It’s all right to cry. I need to cry. In fact, one of my goals is to minister to those who are weeping. I want to do all I can, to say what I can…and when there are no deeds or words that can help, to weep with them.
Perhaps my resolution is best expressed in the words of the late Bob Pierce in his moving book, Let My Heart Be Broken With the Things That Break the Heart of God.
When Jesus wept, His tears were for others. Both Matthew and Luke describe how He wept over the city of Jerusalem for those who would not hear and accept the Truth! We, too, should weep for others.
Weep over souls
Should we be less concerned over lost souls than our Saviour? Why are we not crying and praying for the lost to be saved before it is eternally too late?
I’ve seen people moved to tears by the plight of fictional characters in a paperback book. A melodramatic film may jokingly be described as a “two-hanky” movie, and it’s perfectly all right. But the same people who get involved and empathize with artificial stories can see real live people around them dying and slipping into eternity without God and never feel a twinge or shed a tear.
I wonder-if the unsaved friends and loved ones I’m praying for don’t seem to be any closer to the Lord than when I first started, could it be because I haven’t shed any tears for them? The Bible says, They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalm 126:5, 6).
Weep over sin
Sometimes I can hardly watch the news on television or read the daily paper without crying. My heart breaks at what is going on in our nation and the world today. There is such evil and perversion, such wickedness and violence. How long will God allow men’s hearts to be filled with such deliberate, willful sin before calling them to judgment?
I believe we are to weep over sin, whether our own, our family’s, or our nation’s.
The Apostle Paul wrote, For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).
I am reminded of how Peter, after denying the Lord during the awful hours before the Crucifixion, went out, and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75). Those tears of repentance led to his being forgiven and restored.
Weep over sorrow
Just as there is a time to weep over souls and a time to weep over sin, there is also a time to weep over sorrow. Do you remember when Mary and Martha showed the Lord the tomb where their brother Lazarus was buried? The Bible says, Jesus wept (John 11:35).
There is a time for sorrow… and when it comes, tears are appropriate. Paul instructed, Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15).
Notice that the verse did not say to laugh with those who are laughing and to tell those who are crying to stop and cheer up. No, it says to cry with those who are crying! That means to share their sorrow-to get down under the burden with them. And when you share their tears-when all you can do is cry with them-you’ll find it is a tremendously effective way to minister your compassion and love.
I once interviewed a pastor who had suffered the traumatic loss of his little son. This man told me that in the midst of his grieving, the people of his church did not understand or know how to weep with him. They would come to him and say, “Pastor, why are you crying? Don’t you have any faith?”
After a while this minister wrote a book about what he had learned during his sorrowful experience. He called it, Jonathan, You Left Too Soon. But the main lesson I learned from his experience was that in the day of sorrow, it’s okay to weep. In fact, for most people, it’s a really good way to cope with loss and grief and begin to heal the broken heart and crushed emotions. Tears can be tremendously therapeutic.
I know I have been made acutely aware of the value of tears. And I pray that God will make me willing to weep with those who weep, whether they cry tears of pain, heartache, sorrow…or joy! I encourage you to consider whether God can also use you in a ministry of tears.
Remember, though, that our tears will not -cannot-last long. The psalmist sang, Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
I’m here to tell you that a great morning is coming soon, when we will all be in the presence of the Lord. Oh, what a glorious promise and steadfast hope! For on that glad day, God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21:4).
No wonder Jesus said, Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh (Luke 6:21).
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Drs. Van Impe,
You both, in conjunction with the clear input of the Holy Spirit, make a great team for the inspired spreading of the sacred word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I look forward to your program every week.
May our Lord Jesus protect you and keep you well so you can continue with your Holy mission as long as is possible.
Yours in Christ,
A. M. H.
I want to thank you both for bringing the strong Word of God to us. I have stopped attending church because I got tired of the watered down messages that were presented from the pulpit.
Churches that I have attended don’t even do altar calls anymore. I get my spiritual food from your program and Dr. Charles Stanley because he also preaches the pure word. Thank you for all the research and prayer that goes into your programs. You have inspired me to be more aware of current events as they relate to the Bible.
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Christs Return: Millions Deceived
Too many Christian leaders don’t understand or refuse to acknowledge the truth about the Rapture and the Great Tribulation and thus millions are deceived!
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- Jesus predicted iniquity would abound before His return – could He have meant the cesspool of Hollywood, today’s sexual perversions, mass murders, terrorism?
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