Behold, I Tell You A Mystery!
"But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!"
1 Corinthians 15:51
Just over the horizon there is a mysterious event approaches that has spoken by our Lord and his prophets. The world will be completely astonished by this event just as they were astonished at the time of Noah’s Flood. This enigmatic event has brought bewilderment to many in the church of Jesus Christ due to the lack of biblical instruction in our pulpits.
Jehovah God spoke to Noah and instructed him to build a large ark 437 feet wide to 512 in length in the middle of a desert in Baghdad prior to the world wide deluge (God’s Judgment).
Noah preached 120 years prior to the flood (Gen 6:3) “In the days of Noah before the Flood, they were eating and drinking; they were marrying and giving in marriage. While Noah built the ark, he also preached” (2 Pet. 2:5), the people were just as unconcerned about his preaching as they were about the ark he was building thinking both were meaningless and absurd. They laughed when he spoke of the coming flood. Noah’s message was a complete mystery to them for they had never seen rain, much less a flood. Until that time, the earth was apparently covered by a vapor canopy that provided all the moisture necessary for life to flourish. Because they had never seen such a calamity, they discounted the idea that it could happen. They therefore went about their daily routines of eating and drinking and of marrying and giving in marriage. It was business as usual until the day Noah entered the ark and it started to rain.
Jesus describes this mysterious event as the harpazo (rapture) in this similar manner Jesus said, "Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. (Matt 24:40-41) That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left." (Luke 17:34) The Hebrew word used for taken is Harpazo, meaning to remove or snatch away from harm’s way.
The Holy Scripture speaks of another individual prior to the Flood of Noah who experienced this mysterious event, Enoch was righteous man before the Lord who was the first to experience this mystery. It is written, “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (Gen 5:24)
The name Enoch is seventh in the sequence of names in the epistle of Jude. It is written, “Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints” (Jude 14). The number 7 in Numerology means “completion.” Revelation 2 and 3 contain seven letters to the churches, which portrays a panoramic view of the entire Church Age. Perhaps this is why Michael the archangel, who fights in particular for the children of Israel (Daniel 12:1 and Revelation 12:7), is mentioned in Jude 9.
Enoch was born on the day of Pentecost sixth day of the month of Sivan, the ninth month of the civil year; the third month of the ecclesiastical year in the Jewish calendar ( May and June). He was 65 when Methuselah was born and he did not die but was taken up into heaven in 987 BC at the age of 365 years. The epistle of Jude is the last letter before the Revelation, and it mentions Enoch as being a kind of completion. Could this completion be understood as a picture of the mysterious imminent removal of the Church and the following day of reckoning?
The name Enoch means “teaching” which is a primary function of the Church, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20) This Greek word "harpazo" in the Old Testament Septuagint, (Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures 300-200 BC) is used seven times in the New Testament. (Matt. 13:19, John 10:12, Acts 8:39, II Cor. 12:2,4, I Thess. 4:17, and Rev. 12:5) In each case it means something was quickly grabbed, snared or seized.
The Church similar to Enoch was born on the Day of Pentecost and will be removed from this earth when it is complete and then the Lord will turn to Israel once again, blindness has come upon Israel until the “full number” of the Gentiles has been reached, The Apostle Paul stated: “I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.” And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, “The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness.” (Romans 11:25-26.) Beyond question Enoch is a picture of the true Church, which follows the Lord and will be raptured (Harpazo). While Noah on the other hand, is a type of Israel, who is saved through the “flood” of the Great Tribulation.
Although we do not know the day or hour of Jesus’ return, we can clearly see the last chapter in human history before the Rapture has begun. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2) It might come to a shock to many that we have been living in the last days for over two thousand years.
Another Old Testament symbolic type which points toward a removal (Harpazo) of God’s people prior to judgment is Lot and his family. They were delivered out of Sodom and Gomorrah before those cities were destroyed. The Apostle Peter alludes to both of these examples in his second epistle. He states that if God spared Noah and Lot, then He surely "knows how to rescue the godly from trial and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the Day of Judgment" (2 Peter 4-9).
Only those who are “in Christ” (the Ark) will be kept. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James states: “to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied” (Jude 1- 2) There is no other place where you can be preserved from the future judgment of God than in Jesus Christ alone.
The Bible tells us of others who have been taken up into heaven in very much the same way that we will be at the time of the rapture. Elijah was taken up into heaven like a whirlwind. II Kings 2:11-12 "As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel! And Elisha saw him no more."
The book of Daniel brings a further typology that reveals the mystery of the rapture. Remember the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image that landed his three friends in the fiery furnace for refusing to worship it? Where was Daniel in this story? He is mysteriously absent, and there is no way he knelt to that image. He was probably out of town on business. He therefore becomes a type of the church while his buddies become a type of Israel, being protected even while in the midst of a fiery furnace.
The Psalms of King David alludes to the Rapture. “Oh, how great [is] Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, [Which] You have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence From the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion From the strife of tongues.” (Psalm 31:19-20)
The Prophet Isaiah speaks of God’s hiding His people until his judgment has past. “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.” (Isa 26:20-21)
Eschatological events such as the Rapture (harpazo) can be very perplexing to the average Christian sitting in church due to the lack of hermeneutical studies and teaching from the pulpits across this land. Many sincere Christians have asked me about the tribulation saints and their understanding why the church must endure the great tribulation.
The word “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means consecrated to God, holy, sacred. The New Testament uses the Greek word translated "saint" 229 times. For example, Paul wrote: "To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints" (Rom. 1:7)
There are three references referring to godly character of saints: "that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints …" (Romans 16:2). "For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12). "But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints" (Ephesians 5:3).
The Hebrew word translated "saint" means to set apart, separate, holy. The word first appears in Deuteronomy. Moses said: "The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; everyone shall receive thy words" (Dt. 33:2-3). The book of Daniel uses the word "saints" six times in chapter 7. Therefore, scripturally speaking, the “saints” are a body of believers in both Testaments set apart and consecrated for God’s glory.
In Scripture there are three categories of saints old, new and this very interesting group seen coming out of the great tribulation that the elders quite frankly could not fully recognize. These 24 elders consist of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles representing both Old and New Testament saints. The saints coming out of the tribulation are differnt and are huge in number. Revelation 7:9-17 describes the number as a "great multitude, which no man could number." This third group of saints is given a completely different task in Heaven than the Bride of Christ (Church), verse 15 says, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple.” The Church saints are called the bride of Christ and is given a promise they will rule and reign with Jesus Christ, “The saying is trustworthy, for If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him” 2 Timothy 211-12a. Jesus also promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church of Jesus Christ, Matthew 16:18-19 “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
The Bible repeatedly states that tribulation saints will face martyrdom under the Antichrist's demonic rule. Satan during the tribulation is seen prevailing over these saints, "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations" (Rev 13:7).
"He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints" (Rev 13:10).
"And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed" (Rev 13:15).
The tribulation saints are completely different from the Bride of Christ (Church Age Saints) for the church is seen in Heaven worshiping the Lord prior to the Great Tribulation which is represented by the opening of the Seven Seals of God's Judgment seen in Chapter One, "Unto him that loved us, and WASHED US FROM OUR SINS IN HIS OWN BLOOD” (Revelation 1:5).
It is clear that the twenty-four elders are representative of a group different from those who are here pictured as the great multitude in white robes. If the elders represent the church, the multitude represents a different body of saints. In answer to the elder, John confesses “These are they which came out of great tribulation.” In the Greek the expression is far more specific. Literally it could be translated, “These are those who came out of the tribulation, the great one.” It is undoubtedly a reference to the specific period of the great tribulation of which Christ spoke (Matt. 24:21).
The rapture of the church is likened in the Bible to the calling of a virgin bride (the true church) to join the Bridegroom, Jesus. The false church is, on the other hand, like "the great harlot" depicted in Revelation 17. The imagery is one of consummated love between Jesus and His church. The church will then be safe from the terrible time of world wide judgments, lasting seven years. This promise is give to the Church by Jesus, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Rev 3:10) The "end-time" judgments will commence immediately down here on earth after the Holy Spirits work through the Body of Christ (the Church) is removed. “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains [will do so] until He is taken out of the way.” (2 Thess. 2:7).
The rapture is all about being united with the Jesus Christ who we have profess to love. Most of us by now are aware of the widespread hypocrisy in the church these days, the reality that Christ's Bride-to-be has often gone whoring after the things of this world. This means that preparing ourselves to meet the Lord deserves our immediate attention. Delaying our decision to give our hearts to Christ explains why our nation is falling apart around us and much the blame can is due to the failure of the church to be the holy people we are called to be.
A wedding feast is being prepared and you are all invited. According to Revelation 19:7, the bride, which is made up of the members throughout the church age taken to heaven at the rapture, makes herself ready for a wedding feast. How is the bride or the church made ready? She is made ready "by clothing herself in the fine linen bright and clean," which is said to be “ the righteous acts of the saints." This statement means that by this point in history (right before the second coming), the sum total of the bride, the body of Christ, is in heaven and has already gone through the bema seat judgment where church age believers are to be evaluated for their faithfulness to Christ during this present age (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10). The result of going through the judgment seat of Christ results in the bride being given fine linen that Revelation 19:8 says, “is the righteous acts of the saints." This is how “His bride has made herself ready." She has made herself ready for the marriage of the Lamb. The symbolism being used in this passage, means that the marriage (wedding ceremony) takes place right before the second coming.
Nowhere are believers told to watch for the appearance of the Antichrist. On the contrary, we are told to watch for Jesus Christ. In Titus 2:13 Paul says we are to live "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Likewise, Peter urges us to "fix our hope completely on the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13). John completes the apostolic chorus by similarly urging us to "fix our hope on Him at His appearing” (1 John 3:2-3).
The doctrine of Imminency (meaning any moment) was the heart of the early church. If the Church were required to go through the seven-year tribulation, you would expect the New Testament writers to have warned us to be prepared for trying times. On the contrary, the New Testament writers repeatedly tell the Church to be comforted by the "coming of the Lord" (1 Thes 4:18). The word "comfort" alone strongly implies the rapture will take place before the tribulation.
When believers in the early church gathered or parted, they didn't say "hello" or "goodbye"; they would say "Maranatha!" In fact, this word is made up of three Aramaic words: Mar, which means "Lord"; ana, which means "our"; and tha, which means "come." So when you put it together, maranatha means "Our Lord, come." It perfectly conveys the concept that the Lord could come at any moment. Maranatha is used once in the Bible by Paul as part of a curse. In 1 Corinthians 16:22, Paul said, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema. Maranatha." The word "anathema" means "banned," so Paul was saying, "Let him be banned from our Lord's coming."
If the first-century Church believed that certain events needed to take place before the Savior could return, they would have never greeted each other with "maranatha." They lived nearly 2,000 years ago and yet they seem to have had a deeper awareness of imminency than many of today's Christians.