Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is there a "Rapture?"

I have been a Christian for almost 18 years and I have as many unanswered questions as anyone but one, in particular, I have wanted to know for sometime and thought I would share it with anyone who would be interested. This was written by my best friends Baptist pastor:

Why the Rapture?
70 Weeks of Daniel
To understand the purpose for the Rapture, one must get a foundation for the 70 weeks of Daniel. This is found in Daniel 9:23-27.

I. To Whom is this Prophecy Given (9:24)
a. Here is the crux of the whole issue; this part must be settled to understand the rapture.
b. Notice who this is for
i. Thy people – Daniel was a Jew, this is specifically given to the Jewish nation
ii. Thy Holy City – specifically referring to Jerusalem

II. The 70 week program
a. Grammatically this is literally “70” – “7”s – or “70 groups of 7s” (the word “weeks” means “sevens”)
b. Historically, this refers to years – so this is another way of saying 70x7 years = 490 years
c. Broken up into two parts (25)
i. 7 weeks or 49 years
ii. 62 weeks or 434 years

d. Start of the first 7 weeks (25)
i. From the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem – This decree was given in 445 BC under Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2:1-8)
ii. Unto the Messiah shall be 7 weeks, and sixty and two weeks – or a total of 69 (weeks)
iii. The street and the wall shall be built in troublous times – refers to the rebuilding of Jerusalem within the first 49 years (Ezra/Nehemiah)
iv. After threescore and two years, the Messiah shall be cut off – Jesus was going to die after the 69th week. (The first 7 + the 62 =69) (v26)
v. After Jesus’ death, the people of the prince = Romans – shall come and destroy the temple (this happened in 70 AD under Titus) – then it says war and desolation are determined (this speaks of the turbulent history of Israel which we see today) (v26)
e. The last 7 weeks (27)
i. He shall confirm the covenant with many (meaning “the many” referring to Israel) for one week

1. Notice, this refers to the 70th week, the first 69 weeks or 483 years are accounted for in history. The 69th week literally was accomplished the day of the Triumphant Entry -5 days before His death.

2. For the sake of argument, Jesus died somewhere around 30 AD, but the temple was not destroyed until 40 years later…what happened to the consistency of the 70 weeks?

3. It appears from the time the Messiah was cut off (the death of Jesus Christ) until “he (antichrist) makes a covenant with many (meaning Israel)” – there is an undetermined amount of time – for we know from history that this covenant has never taken place with Israel
ii. The answer (Ephesians 3:3-12)

1. The “Church Age” – the church is a mystery (unknown to men in the Old Testament), this fits perfectly into God’s scheme – after the 69th week, there was a transition from the Old Testament to the New – on the Day of Pentecost, the church became empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

2. This placed God’s dealing with Israel (the 70 weeks) on hold for awhile (Romans 11)
3. The church is separate from Israel (I Corinthians 10:32)
4. Therefore, the church will not be around during the 70th week of Daniel, this is specifically a prophecy for Israel – God has set Israel aside to conduct the church age – when the dispensation of the church age is done – He will again deal with Israel.
5. So God is going to “snatch up” or “rapture” the church before the Tribulation period begins
6. The church is said to be spared going through the tribulation period or God’s wrath (I Thessalonians 1:10; 5:1-11 esp. v9; Rev. 3:10)

Other Arguments for the Rapture

1. I Thessalonians 4:18 – the rapture is spoken of by being a “comfort”, knowing and anticipating of us going through the Great Tribulation does not provide comfort for me

2. Christians are told to live with their eyes focused on Christ because He can return at any time – if we were to go through the Tribulation period, we know it is only going to be seven years – this is not expecting the imminent return of Christ (Romans 8:23, I Cor 11:26 (till He comes, implys He may come back in their life time), II Cor 5:2 (believers are clothed with this new body at the rapture), Gal 5:5, Phil 3:20,21; 4:5; I Thess 1:9,10; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; 10:37; James 5:7-9; I Peter 4:7, I John 3:1-3; Jude 21; Revelation 3:11, 22:7,12,20) – some other passages implying Christ’s soon return Matthew 24:42-44; Mark 13:32-37; Luke 12:36

3. The structure of the Book of Revelation – chapters 2 & 3 – the church is seen on earth, chapters 4 & 5 – the saints are now in heaven; chapters 6-19 deal with the Tribulation period with no mention of the church at all on earth.

4. The tribulation period will not begin until the man of sin (the antichrist) is revealed (II The 2:3). However the man of sin cannot be revealed until the restrainer is removed (II Thess 2:7,8). The best answer for the restrainer is: The Holy Spirit as He indwells believers, once these purifying saints are removed – the antichrist can now enter the scene.

5. The tribulation period is distinctly Jewish in nature. It is called the time of Jaco (Jer 30:7), in Matthew 24 – (v14) the gospel if the kingdom is preached (this is different than the gospel of Christ, the Gof the Kingdom refers to the Messiah ruling on the earth, the Gof Christ refers to His death, burial, and resurrection – they are very closely knit – but the Jews are looking for the Messiah to come and reign on this earth, not knowing or recognizing that Jesus had to suffer for sins first); (15) Abomination of desolation refers to the 70th week of Daniel where the antiChrist makes himself to be God and worshipped in the Temple, holy place (refers to the Temple, which is currently destroyed); (16) talks about Judea, (20) refers to the Sabbath day; (22) elect sake = Israel – these are all Jewish statements and have nothing to do with the Church.

6. The Old Testament typology represents the Rapture:
a. Enoch before Noah’s flood (Noah representing the Jews going through the tribulation)
b. Lot getting taken out of Sodom before the judgment would fall
c. Abraham offering Isaac is a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; The first time Isaac is mentioned after this incident is in connection to meet his bride and take her home.

d. Daniel was missing during the time of the trial of the three Hebrew men – where Nebuchadnezzar was a prefigure of the antichrist – Daniel represents the church, the three Hebrews represent Israel
e. Even Elijah being taken up before judgment fell on Jezebel

"This is not exhaustive, and it has a lot for us to think about. However, I believe the rapture of the church is clearly presented in scripture, by types, prophecy, testimony, and illustration. I know this is a difficult subject, but it is the conclusion that I have come through my studies".

I am not saying that I believe what is written here, but I posted it so that it may give a perspective on what and how deep this subject really can be to those who believe it.

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