Anyone following the News would agree that there have been a lot of events taking place around the world in recent times. So many people are fussing over the permutations of different thoughts and speculations. Unfortunately, speculations are just that; but, we need the truth that sets free!
One of the major events being expected to happen by the church is the rapture or should I define that as the sudden disappearance of believers from the world, leaving the unbelieving and the secretly sinning believers behind.
So many books have been written on this subject, which have subsequently led to all sorts. In fact, there have been a series of movies and plays about this with Kirk Cameron; one of these was the recent Hollywood flick starring Nicola Cage and Cassi Thomson in Left Behind.
All those books, movies and plays have succeeded in one thing only, causing a lot of distraction from the truth of what the Bible was really saying. What exactly is the Bible saying about this matter?
The rapture (disappearance) doctrine is one of those leavens Jesus warned us about. Unfortunately, many follow this doctrine without even examining either its origin or even their own Bibles.
First, there is no definite word called “Rapture” in the Bible. It was coined or made up, but its principle was that a glorious event would happen in which Jesus Christ would come and secretly cause a disappearance of His saints.
“Rapture” is derived from Middle French rapture, via the Medieval Latin raptura (“seizure,kidnapping”), which derives from the Latin raptus (“a carrying off”).
In 1590, Francisco Ribera, a Catholic Jesuit, taught “futurism” the idea that most of Revelation was about the future, and therefore, not about the Catholic Church. He also taught that the rapture would happen 45 days before the end of a 3.5 year tribulation.1
Then in early 1830, Margaret MacDonald, a 15 year old Scottish Girl had visions that included a Secret Rapture of believers before the appearance of the Antichrist. Even then, I believe she was seriously misunderstood and misinterpreted. Let me quote from her:
“Only those who have the light of God within them will see the sign of his appearance. No need to follow them who say, see here, or see there, for his day shall be as the lightning to those in whom the living Christ is. ‘Tis Christ in us that will lift us up – he is the light – ’tis only those that are alive in him that will be caught up to meet him in the air. I saw that we must be in the Spirit, that we might see spiritual things. John was in the Spirit, when he saw a throne set in Heaven. But I saw that the glory of the ministration of the Spirit had not been known. I repeated frequently, but the spiritual temple must and shall be reared, and the fullness of Christ be poured into his body, and then shall we be caught up to meet him. Oh none will be counted worthy of this calling but his body, which is the church, and which must be a candlestick all of gold. I often said, Oh the glorious inbreaking of God which is now about to burst on this earth; Oh the glorious temple which is now about to be reared, the bride adorned for her husband; and Oh what a holy, holy bride she must he, to be prepared for such a glorious bridegroom.” From The first account of MacDonald’s utterance was published in 1840 in Norton’s Memoirs pp. 171–76.3
About this time, another Scot named John Nelson Darby started preaching a similar doctrine stating that this experience was physical disappearance.4
Only God knows why Ms MacDonald, who was grossly misunderstood, is often credited for this leaven and not John Darby. In some way, it was through Darby’s association that Cyrus Scofield’s Scofield Reference Bible popularised in the United States before it was exported through Evangelicals and Pentecostals around the world. But, perhaps it was Francisco Ribera, the Catholic Jesuit who originally coined the word. All in all, it was a serious hijacking of the truth, which is
Before I delve into Scriptures, I need to stress a very important point: It is believed that when this rapture or disappearance happens, the believers who have vanished will be at the Wedding Feast of the Marriage of the Lamb. So, the two are inter-linked, Rapture and Marriage of the Lamb.
First, we must know that this is a spiritual event, even though it does have a physical implication. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb is not a physical marriage. It is completely spiritual. You must understand this completely. But there is a lot of similarity between what we know as marriage and the spiritual one. In fact, the spiritual one is the ORIGINAL one.
Everything we read about in the Old Testament (OT) is a shadow or type or foretaste of the New Testament (NT) [Hebrews 8:5; 10:1]. We are a generation living in the reality of those things that were a shadow.
So, we go back to defining what a marriage is, to understand what it’s all about. The simplest way is that marriage is the union of two people – a man and a woman. Then, the union will result into a consummation, which makes a special night for the couple. Then they live together forever after. Isn’t it?
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” [Ephesians 5:31-32]
God started this institution right from the Garden of Eden. Adam was alone, then He made him sleep and took one his ribs to create another being, Eve. After the creation, God brought the woman to the man and they became husband and wife. Paul says this even was a mystery and it was about a future event between Christ and His Church.
The spiritual version is similar, but much more special, because this is God and Man (male & female) coming into union. But where is the wedding going to take place? Right in the temple! Where is this temple? In you! In me! Or should I say – in only the ones who are ready! See Revelation 19.
How Is This Wedding Going To Take Place?
You would remember that in the OT there THREE special feasts that God made mandatory for every male in Israel – Passover, Weeks (Pentecost) and Tabernacles. All those three feasts are like dress rehearsals for the real events. We have experienced the Passover through the death of Jesus, as the Lamb of God; we have experienced the Pentecost, which started when the Holy Spirit came down at the Upper Room. Now, the Feast of Tabernacles is about to happen. But, what is this Feast of Tabernacles?
In a nutshell, it is when God comes into dwell among His people. The Feast of Tabernacles is an eight day festival* that begins at sundown on the first day of the feast.
In order to understand the Tabernacles’ teaching here, we need a bit of background from Leviticus 23. There, Moses instructed the people that the first day and the eighth day of the festival were to be special days of rest, set apart from the others. But the seventh day became known as Hoshana Rabba, “the Great Day.”
I will suggest you read more on this subject matter to get a better understanding of the Feast of Tabernacles.5
So, God’s fullness indwelling in Man is the ultimate goal of this Feast of Tabernacles. No more self or Satan and sin – Only God and His anointed. The time or moment when this happens is what Jesus describes in Matthew 24:40, “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”
This is very much akin to when only 300 men were taken from the 10,000 men who volunteered to go into battle against the Midianites during the time of Gideon (as Gideon is a type of Christ).
Jesus (Man) Christ (God) on earth is the real Tabernacle, the first of many! Many of what? Many God’s fullness indwelling Man! What a glorious life that will be!
The marriage is consummated when Man begins walk in the exact steps of God and he is no more in control, he has willingly surrendered to His direction. See Ezekiel 47, especially verse 5. This is when the true manifestation of the sons of God will begin, which is the same time as when there will be trouble on earth – the 42 months/1260 days/3.5 years.
Those who partake in this Feast are also called the Man Child, the 144,000 virgins, the 5 Wise Virgins, etc. They are the vessels into which water was poured and wine came out. It’s all over the Scriptures. But, the understanding is for those whom “it is given”, not all.
“Where will believers be during the tribulation?”
They will be here on earth, but in the spiritual heaven. The devil will not be able to harm them until the end of the tribulation. There is a precedent in Scriptures – Elijah. Where was Elijah during the famine? Right under the nose of the king. Another example, where were the children of Israel during the plague in Egypt? Right beside Pharaoh.
There is no disappearing act. Study Matthew 24 very well and you will see Jesus saying, “After the tribulation of those days ….”
Sad to say, those who are bidden (Denominational Churches) to the marriage are refusing it (as we speak), but the King is sending His servants to go to “the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” These people are “the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” (That is another article on its own).
Brethren, read your Bible prayerfully, there is NO disappearance. The “heaven” we are going is right here on this earth John 3:13 – Jesus was with Nicodemus and was IN heaven at the same time. Understand.
But someone says, “Didn’t Enoch disappear in Genesis? And didn’t Elijah disappeared and went to Heaven?” Yes, they did, but let us into it again. First, they were demonstrating a shadow of the real things to come.
Second, you need to ask yourself, which heaven did they depart to – heaven of God or the heaven of Abraham’s abode? There is no need to ASSUME an answer to these questions, let the Bible answer.
“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” [Matthew 27:52-53]
You would agree with me that these were saints such as Abraham, David, Daniel, Isaiah, etc. Where were they? Jesus informed us – Abraham’s Bosom. Where is this Abraham’s Bosom? A type of heaven, which is not the exact abode of God?
Yes, I believe so. And I believe this “heaven” is a place on earth, which is invisible to us, hence their passage from that heaven through the earth to depart with Jesus to the abode of God – for they “came out of the graves”.
Another person quotes Paul where he says, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God. The dead in Christ will rise first; then we, who are left alive, will be snatched up with them on clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Unfortunately, this very matter has caused all kinds of arguments, debates, offence and schism in the Church. This ought not to be so; however, it is because most of us are too lazy to STUDY the Scriptures or seek the face of God for the truth. We rely too much on “the pastor” or so-called “bishop” for the knowledge.
Paul was being metaphoric in this statement and was trying to describe the beauty of this experience in such a way that the believer will be “caught up” into it! What do I mean? That “air” is about the spiritual atmosphere. The spirit realm, which is the realm of heaven, where Christ was informing Nicodemus He was as Nicodemus stood in front of him.
Just we read above, Margaret MacDonald made a vivid and correct description of this “Secret Rapture” in the way Paul intended it, but John Darby, probably being a dweller on the earth, took out the spirituality of it and made it literal.
But someone screams, Christ is only coming back once and that is it. Well, the answer is yes and no. Christ coming is twice and not once as popularly preached. The first is spiritual and the second is physical.
You must remember that Christ was supposed to fulfil a SEVEN-year ministry, but as prophesied, He was “cut off in the middle of His days”, hence the 3.5-year ministry. The question is – how and when would He complete the remaining 3.5 years of ministry?
It is DURING the 3.5 years/42 months/1260 days of tribulation. But He will be doing it through His chosen ones – the 144,000 or Man-Child or Two Prophets (they are all the same thing).
Let me explain the clues more. Remember the Church is the Woman, the Bride of Christ, but the Church is also His Body. This same Church is also the Golden Lampstand in the midst of which Christ walks.
The similitude is all over the Scriptures – Gideon’s 300 – the Called Out from the Called Out ones. It’s an enigma, not meant for the swine to understand because they will cast it in the mire and trample it underfoot.
Check the Scriptures again, prayerfully and the Holy Spirit will illuminate your mind. It is not for everyone, just as Jesus explains at the Parable of the Sower. God does not want His “pearls” to be trampled underfoot by swine!
It is my prayer that you will understand, so that you can get yourself READY for this wedding. I must emphasise that only God knows those who will qualify – just like Gideon’s 300 – He’s trying every one of us, who have volunteered like Gideon’s 10,000 (from the original 32,000).
One thing I know is that He is a Good Father who loves us with an immeasurable love! He will not abandon nor casts aside those who truly love Him.
The Accuser is standing against us and trying desperately to get us disqualified before the Father, so he comes through various things – lack of money, marital challenges, and offenses through loved ones, job losses, and poor health. His aim is to get us into a position like Job, to curse God and blame Him for all our ills. But we must fight and throw him out!
If you are going through a difficult time in your walk, don’t despair – you are not forsaken. I wrote an article a couple of months ago, perhaps, this will help: http://brotherjohn.org/why-do-the-righteous-suffer/
It is during this period of 3.5 years that we would see the true manifestation of the sons of God. Christ, who is JOINED in wedlock WITHIN them, will begin to manifest Himself just like He did when He physically walked the earth. There, in them, He will complete His 7-year Ministry. HalleluYah!
This is when the Great Promise of Christ will be fulfilled: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” [John14:12]
We must also be aware that it is during this period that the Beast that came out from earth, who has “two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon”, will manifest. It will perform miracles, signs and wonders. This, unfortunately, will deceive MANY! (Revelation 13:11)
Shall we conclude with the words of Margaret MacDonald and not that of Francisco Ribera nor John Nelson Darby?
“It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept. I frequently said, Oh be filled with the Spirit – have the light of God in you, that you may detect Satan – be full of eyes within -be clay in the hands of the potter -submit to be filled, filled with God. This will build the temple. It is not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord. This will fit us to enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb. I saw it to be the will of God that all should be filled. But what hindered the real life of God from being received by his people, was their turning from Jesus, who is the way to the Father. They were not entering in by the door. For he is faithful who hath said, by me if any man enters in he shall find pasture. They were bypassing the cross, through which every drop of the Spirit of God flows to us. All power that comes not through the blood of Christ is not of God.”
#1. Francisco Ribera:
#2. Margaret MacDonald:
#3. John Nelson Darby:
#4. The Rapture:
#5. Feast of Tabernacles: