This is March 8th, and already time to get the April Newsletter ready. I was hoping to let Iris write this again, but she says I’d better let you know that I’m still up and about. I’m still experiencing some dizziness now and then, but also eat three meals a day, which Iris prepares, and sleep well at night. Thankfully, we have no health concerns at present. We haven’t even had a cold or the flu so far! It has been a cold, wet winter, but at least there has been no snow or ice. We are anxiously awaiting spring and looking forward to getting back to our time in the swing!
We thank you constantly for your prayers, cards, letters, and your faithfulness in giving to the ministry. It continues to grow, for which we thank and praise our Lord. Keep looking up, our redemption is drawing nigh! - Les
What in the World - Submitted with permission from Matthew McGee
Four Views of End Times Prophecy
(Part 1 of 2) - www.matthewmcgee.org
Hello everyone, in this article, we will examine four common sets of beliefs regarding end times prophecy in the Bible. These are amillennial and three pre-millennial beliefs which are post-tribulational rapture, mid-tribulational rapture, and pre-tribulational rapture. We will define all of these terms in a moment. But first, since some readers may not know about the rapture at all, we will take a moment here to look at the scriptures in which the apostle Paul explains the rapture.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul writes, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and 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 catching up of all Christians into the clouds that Paul mentions in verse 17 is the event that is commonly referred to as "the rapture". The word "rapture" itself never occurs in the Bible, but since the New Testament was written in Greek, neither does any other English word. So whether you call it the rapture, the catching away, or the great snatch, the message is still the same.
Paul provides further insight on the rapture in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
So at some future time which only God knows, the trumpet will sound that signals our catching away. Then all of the souls of the Christians who have died will return to their dead bodies, which will be instantly changed to immortal, incorruptible, eternal bodies and come out of their graves. Then the bodies of all Christians who are left alive will be instantly changed into immortal, incorruptible, eternal bodies. We will be caught up into the clouds to meet our fellow Christians who have died and our Lord Jesus Christ in the air. Then we all shall be with our Lord forever.
Now let us look at some of the different viewpoints about the rapture and end times prophecy.
1. Amillennialists believe that God's promises regarding the end times are figurative and will not be literally fulfilled, particularly the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth.
Pre-millennialists believe that Jesus Christ will return to the earth prior to His literal reign on the earth for 1000 years. Three groups of pre-millennialists include the following:
2. Post-tribulationists believe that the rapture will not occur until the end of the seven year tribulation, just prior to the beginning of the millennial kingdom.
3. Mid-tribulationists believe that the rapture will occur three and one half years into the tribulation, at beginning of the three and one half year great tribulation.
4. Pre-tribulationists believe that the rapture will occur prior to the seven year tribulation, but not necessarily immediately before the tribulation.
Why not amillennial?
1. There will be a literal seven-year tribulation. The last half of it will be the great tribulation. History has shown that God reveals His prophecies literally. Examples of literally fulfilled prophecies include the rise and fall of the Medo-Persian and Greek empires, the destruction of the city of Tyre, the temple being destroyed and rebuilt several times, dozens of events in the life of Jesus Christ, and many other prophecies. There will also be a literal tribulation of seven years on earth. In Daniel 9:24-27, the angel Gabriel told Daniel that 69 weeks of years after the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem is given, the Messiah would be crucified. Since God expressed this prophecy in years of 360 days, this is 69 times 7, or 483 years of 360 days each. The commandment Gabriel spoke of was given by King Artaxerxes about 100 years later in 445 BC (Nehemiah 2:1-8). Moving forward 69 weeks of 360-day years from the 445 BC date, this brings us to the early spring of 32 AD, when Jesus Christ was crucified. This prophecy also reveals that the 70th week will begin when the Antichrist makes his seven-year treaty with Israel and the surrounding nations, and that the Antichrist would break the treaty at the midpoint of the seven years. The last three and one half years are called the great tribulation. Its length is one half of a seven year period (Daniel 9:27), and "a time, times, and an half" (Daniel 12:7). Taking a "time" to be a year and "times" to be two years, this gives three and one half years. Revelation further describes the length of the second half of the tribulation week as 1260 days (Revelation 12:6) and 42 months (Revelation 13:5). Since God gave us the duration in four different units of time (days, months, years, and weeks of years), can there be any doubt how long it will last? Also, since God fulfilled the first 69 weeks of years literally, we know that He will do the same with the 70th week of years.
2. There will be a literal 1000-year kingdom of Christ on the earth. Isaiah 65:20-25 tells us that in God's kingdom on the earth, life spans will be greatly increased, just like before the flood. People will have children, build houses, and plant crops. There will also be physical death. We know from this that the kingdom must last a long time (in human terms), but the Old Testament does not tell us just how long it will last. In Revelation 20:2-7 we are told that it will last 1000 years. Jesus Christ, as if wanting to make it abundantly clear, tells us six times that it will last 1000 years. After this, the heaven and earth are destroyed, the last judgments are given, and the new heaven and earth are created. Some amillennialists try to support their belief with 2 Peter 3:10 which says, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." They say the earth is destroyed immediately after the rapture in one day. However, they fail to check the context of the passage. Just two verses before, Peter said, "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8). Therefore, Peter does not contradict Revelation's description of the thousand year kingdom or Isaiah's prophecies.
Why not post-tribulational?
1. The conquered saints: In 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul writes "For God hath not appointed us to wrath ...." But at the midpoint of the tribulation, Revelation 12:12 says "... Woe to the inhabitors 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." Revelation 13:7 says of the Antichrist, "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them ...." His authority lasts for 42 months (Revelation 13:5). Also, Daniel 7:25 says the Antichrist "... shall wear out (oppress) the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time (3 and 1/2 years)." "... he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people." (Daniel 8:24). "... when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished." (Daniel 12:7). The Antichrist can only "destroy ... the holy people" if the tribulation saints are not members of the true Christian Church of this present dispensation. The saints in the tribulation are people who become believers after the rapture of the Church.
2. Sheep and Goats: We know from Matthew 25 that Jesus Christ will divide the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left after he returns. Matthew 25:31-34 says, "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world ...." Then in Matthew 25:41, "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels ...." Now if all the believers were raptured just before Jesus Christ returned, there would be no sheep left on earth to divide, only goats.
3. Who would populate the millennial kingdom? We know that mortal believers will live in the kingdom. But if all the believers had been raptured, thus immortal, and all the unbelievers had been killed, there would be no more mortal believers left to populate the kingdom.
4. Resurrection of tribulation saints: After Jesus Christ's return in Revelation 19:11-16, Revelation 20:4 tells us about the resurrection of martyred tribulation saints who did not receive the mark of the beast, "... they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." If the rapture had occurred just before Christ's return, they would have already been resurrected, and could not be resurrected again.
In the next newsletter, Part 2 will cover why the rapture cannot be at mid-tribulation and the reason why the rapture will be pre-tribulational. That section will also provide more reasons why the rapture cannot occur at the end of the tribulation. Until then, Grace and Peace be with you ...
Resurrection Day – Matthew 28
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. 9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. 11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. 12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, 13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. 16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
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