The Good News About the Rapture

I’m one of those old-fashioned guys who thinks this age ends with a rapture of believers, followed by a seven-year tribulation (actually three and a half of relative peace followed by three and a half of judgment), leading to a 1,000-year Kingdom.

Many who believe in a rapture look forward to it with glee and this is understandable. The Rapture means we are not subject to the wrath to come.

Unfortunately, many who believe in a rapture and celebrate the coming of God’s Judgment will miss out. Only believers are taken in the rapture. And, if a guy were to study what the Bible means by a Believer, you’d see that not many will actually be raptured.

rapturePictures like this one give the idea that the world will fall apart when believers are removed. This is funny on many levels. Note that after the rapture there is three and a half years of peace! The world will be happy to be rid of the nine believers leaving and will carry on merrily.

Most think that the good news of the rapture is that “I get to escape judgment day.” This is true for some, but I believe it’s wishful thinking for most.

The good news about the rapture is that many half-hearted people who thought they were believers are going to get a second chance. Many will wake up and see what’s going on and finally believe for real.

The 1,000-year Kingdom is populated not just with Jews but with a multitude of people from the nations. Where do these people come from? They come from today’s half-filled pews.

Being here for God’s wrath is not a good time. Many will continue to blaspheme God and His Christ. But many will refuse to join with the Antichrist and will come to faith, endure the tribulation to the end, and enter the Kingdom.

Although this is backhanded good news, I have better news: you can decide to wake up right now and escape the whole thing!

22 thoughts on “The Good News About the Rapture”

  1. I used to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture; my mind was changed mainly by reading NT Wright’s “Surprised by Hope”, as well as Hank Hanegraaf’s “The Apocalypse Code”.

  2. That’s interesting. My reading of and listening to NT Wright seemed to confirm my view, although I will admit I have not read that particular book.

  3. Whether or not it changes your view on the rapture, Jeff, it’s well worth a read. (And, by the way, it’s not a book “about” the rapture, although there is a strong eschatological theme running through it. It’s more about God’s eternal purpose and the overarching story of creation, fall, redemption and new creation.)

  4. NT Wright, although I don’t always agree with him, is thought provoking, so for this I appreciate him. I will endeavor to check it out.

  5. I have yet to see any convincing Scripture evidence for a rapture that is separate from the resurrection/translation that takes place when Christ appears. A comparison of 1 Cor. 15 and 1 Thess. 4 reveals that the resurrection takes place at the same time as the translation, and in fact “we which are alive” shall not be changed before those “who are asleep”. They shall rise first, then we shall be changed.

    Since the rapture is supposed to be something separate from the resurrection, the burden of evidence rests upon those who believe this, to make it clear where it is in the Bible.

    There are many lines of truth that war against the idea. The “firstfruits” is just one. Jesus was perfected as the firstfruits on the cross: the pure offering of a character manifested in the midst of horrible test and trial. The result was a small harvest gathering of those who rose from the dead with Christ. But there is another firstfruits in Revelation: the 144000. These must be offered before the final resurrection of all the righteous. This offering must be like that of Christ: the offering of a pure and holy character perfected in the midst of intense temptation and test. But we, like Peter, would like an easier way into heaven.

    The idea of a “second chance” is also filled with danger. Jesus said in his day that even if some from the dead would come back, “yet will they not believe.” Yet now we are to accept that some will believe if they see their friends raptured away to heaven? Does the character of God and His righteousness and law become more attractive when there is a carrot dangled on a stick? I don’t think so. The human heart is stubborn against God and will not believe because it requires too much sacrifice. If the wicked change from their wickedness, just because there is a wonderful reward in heaven, then they would simply do so in order to trick God by a nice show, and after they arrived in heaven would immediately start turning it into a hell like this earth. God is hardly fooled by such nice outward shows, and so He allows the consequences of sin to come upon all, so that the thoughts of their hearts are fully revealed, and His choice of who gets the reward is fully justified by the fruits that are revealed.

    This is just as important in the case of the righteous as it is in the case of the wicked. The wicked make a nice show of being “good citizens” and even “good Bible-believing Christians.” But the severe tests of a crumbling earth, and even the outpouring of God’s wrath at the end, reveals otherwise. They “blaspheme God”, but not their image of God (which they still cling to) but rather they blaspheme God in the person of His people on earth who stood for unpopular truth, blaming them for all the problems, just as Ahab blamed Elijah as the “troubler of Israel” or as the Jews blamed Christ, or as the Romans blamed the Christians for all their troubles.

    This is heathenism at it’s finest: “the gods are angry against these heretics, so we must destroy them”. This is the reason for all religious persecution and it will raise it’s ugly head again in the last struggle, something clearly foretold in the battle over the “mark of the beast” in Revelation 13 and onward.

    “The servant is not greater than his Master”, and so the same way Jesus “bruised the serpent’s head” (through the cross and revelation of His righteous character) must be done again through His saints on earth, for “Satan will be bruised under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20). Those who “sing the song of Moses and the Lamb” sing a song of victory gained by clinging to God in faith while being put under pressure by the powers of earth and hell. If they were just wisked off to heaven, where would they get the right to sing such a song?

  6. Frank,
    You say, “I have yet to see any convincing Scripture evidence for a rapture that is separate from the resurrection/translation that takes place when Christ appears.”

    My answer to that is I don’t think 1 Thess. 4 is talking about the coming of Christ to the earth. If this is referring to the coming of Christ to earth, why are we meeting Christ in the air? There is a resurrection at this point of all saints who will go first and then the alive remaining ones are raptured. Tribulation happens for seven years (last week of Daniel’s prophecy), and then Christ comes to the earth to usher in the Kingdom.

    I’m not following the firstfruits idea. The 144,000 are 12,000 from each of the tribes of Israel who are sealed to go through the tribulation. IF we view believers in our current age as being the Body of Christ, which I do, then I have no problem seeing believers in Him being raptured out of tribulation and I have a greater problem with seeing the Body of Christ being pummeled again by God’s wrath. The Tribulation is primarily a time of judgment for Israel as it fulfills Daniel’s prophecies for the nation, but it also includes the entire world. 1 Thess 5:9–God has not appointed us (body of Christ, Believers) to wrath.

    I hear ya on the second chance thing, but I see no other way of viewing it. God does use carrots as well as sticks. I don’t think a reading of the Bible demonstrates that God is always stick! I believe heaven is a carrot and I think some people will see the carrot when they view the stick that is currently at work during the tribulation. Fleeing the wrath to come is a biblical concept, this is avoiding the stick for a carrot. I see no problem with this.

    Not all will see it, obviously. Many will turn and blaspheme, but many will also endure to the end.

    As far as singing the song, all who live godly in Christ Jesus suffer persecution. Stomping on our enemy is a song of victory for any believer of any age, not just for those that go through the Tribulation period. People who die before the tribulation are also “whisked off to heaven” without going through the Tribulation. Again, I see no problem here.

  7. Jeff, you say “My answer to that is I don’t think 1 Thess. 4 is talking about the coming of Christ to the earth. If this is referring to the coming of Christ to earth, why are we meeting Christ in the air?” The essence of NT Wright’s response to 1 Thess 4 can be found here: http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_BR_Farewell_Rapture.htm (This is much expanded upon in the aforementioned book.)

    Personally, I find this interpretation much more compelling than the pre-trib rapture interpretation. (Also, I wonder why, if there is to be a pre-trib rapture, this doctrine only came to be within the past 200 years…)

  8. That article of Wright’s is one the main reasons I disagree with him. I’m a dispensationalist. The key aspect of dispensationalism is to see that Israel and the Church are not the same thing, as opposed to Covenant Theology which says that the Church replaced Israel. There is a reason why Jesus did not speak of a rapture of The Church–He was talking to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, the one who reveals the mystery of the Body of Christ, the Church, reveals it. If you do not buy into dispensational theology, you have to allegorize what Paul is saying, as Wright does when he says Paul is not being literal.

    The reason the rapture “only came to be within the past 200 years” is because for about 1600 of those years people didn’t even have their own Scripture. The Church controlled what people thought the Bible said. The Roman Catholic Church wanted to remain the sole authority and didn’t want people having the Bible in their own hands. They wanted to be God’s Kingdom Power with the authority to wipe out bad guys just like Israel did. The Reformers, although backing off much Catholic doctrine, unfortunately kept their eschatology.

    My skepticism with Covenant theology eschatology is that it changes words and meanings, gives allegorical interpretations where I don’t think they are warranted when a literal reading seems to actually work out just fine.

  9. Hmm… I’m not sure I want to get into a wider debate about dispensationalism versus covenant theologiy here, but it seems to me that the church did not replace Israel but neither is it entirely separate; rather, the church was given access to join with/become attached to/grafted onto Israel and thus join in the blessings made available to Israel through Jesus’s life, death and resurrection.

    Anyhow… I see your point. However, while I can see how a dispensationalist perspective is more favourable to belief in the rapture than a covenant perspective, I don’t think one precludes the other. A covenant theologian could legitimately believe in the rapture and a dispensationalist could legitimately not believe in it. It all comes down to whether Paul was being allegorical or not, and I guess we won’t know the answer to that one until we get to the “other side”. For me, there is something about the idea of a pre-trib rapture that just doesn’t sit quite right with my overall picture of how God operates through the sweep of history. Perhaps it’s partly not helped by the flood of drivel à la “Left Behind” series.

    There’s one thing we can agree on: pre-trib rapture or not, we should as Christians live in readiness for Jesus’s return.

  10. Jeff,

    One large problem that is manifest today in much of the interpretation of prophecy, is that people do not have a clear idea of what the whole battle is all about. They seem to think that God is just playing a cat and mouse game, and will eventually use His supreme power to crush out evil. But the contest is not over physical strength, otherwise it could have been finished even before the earth was created. It is a battle over ideas, teachings, allegiances and ways.

    We run a huge risk of standing in the same place as the Jews in Jesus’ time, having a totally wrong concept of what the Messiah will do and how He will establish His kingdom. It’s almost like we are thinking, “Okay, it wasn’t time to bust the heads of the wicked back then, but when He comes the second time, then…look out!” But this is to think like a man, and not like God. With God, “faith” is the victory that overcomes the world, and “love” heaps coals of fire on the heads of the wicked, by doing good in return for evil. It is so radically different than the way men think that most of us still are only getting a tiny glimpse of the knowledge of God.

    The Old Testament type of the firstfruits worked this way: the firstfruit of ripened grain had to be offered before the harvest could be gathered.

    The fullness of the head of grain symbolizes completeness of character development, a clear and pure manifestation of the character of God. Christ gave a perfect demonstration of God’s righteous and loving character on the cross. But more importantly, he gave that demonstration in contrast to the unveiled malice of Satan and evil men. As these demonic forces had no other choice but to try and break Christ’s faith, their evil characters were brought into the open. And Christ’s character of love was also brought out into the open to resist their pressure and cling to the right.

    This is simply God’s way of defeating Satan. The strength of Satan’s cause lies in his deception. He makes people think God is a tyrant, and that God’s law leads to restriction and bondage. But when Christ came, the lies were being exposed, as there was never a man who followed God so closely, and yet developed in character and wisdom beyond any other. Christ was the living law, and His daily witness was exposing the lies of Satan. This caused men to leave Satan’s camp, and some, such as the religious leaders who would not leave Satan’s camp, were also being exposed as liars and false teachers. They could not suffer this shining testimony against them to go on, and so (like Cain, who could not bear the witness of Abel) they plotted his death.

    Satan’s last chance was to break Christ under this pressure, to somehow get Him to either lose his hold on God, or to step out of the dependant role of a man and take up His almighty power, which He had laid down. God had to allow Christ to be tempted and tried to the utmost in this fire of affliction. The physical suffering was nothing compared to the mental torment. But Christ endured to the end, and the cross still speaks to us today as the clearest revealer of God’s glorious character.

    It was this offering on the cross that caused Satan to be cast to this earth, as mentioned in Revelation 12. The heavenly agencies would no longer listen to him…he could no longer speak to them as he used to do during the Old Testament times (one of such a case is revealed in the book of Job). The final tie of sympathy with Satan was fully cut. So far as the heavenly agencies were concerned, the case was settled, and God was vindicated. This is hinted at in this verse:

    Colossians 1
    20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

    …continued…

  11. At his resurrection, which was on the day of the offering of firstfruits, He went to heaven to be “waived” before the Father as an acceptable offering, then returned to the earth, and after 40 days went back to heaven with a small token of the harvest: those pictured in Revelation as the 24 elders and 4 living creatures, who act as priests and ministers with Him.

    Satan lost ground after the cross, as it was only men on this earth whom he could still try to deceive and confuse. And the only way the battle between right and wrong will be settled on this earth is through another such demonstration: a clash between shining righteousness at it’s best, against the background of full apostasy and satanic deception. This is clearly predicted in the later half of Revelation, as the battle between those who have the seal of God, and those who have the mark or image of the beast. It is also predicted in Romans 16:20, that “Satan shall be bruised under your feet shortly.” This bruising is to be done through the church, and it is to be done the same way the first bruising was done.

    This is the kind of crucible that God needs to make a firstfruit offering. And this is the offering that must come before Christ can resurrect the sleeping saints, for the law of the firstfruit is simply that until the firstfruit is offered, the harvest cannot be gathered. And the harvest is the resurrection.

    It is a right understanding of the gospel which opens up the book of Revelation. Christ and His cross, and how He conquers by sacrifice. It is the mystery and the key.

    There are many other verses in Revelation that point to this firstfruit offering. Rev. 10:7, “the mystery of God should be finished”. And what is the mystery of God? “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27). This manifestation of Christ’s character through the church is to reach the point that the apostle spoke about, that they should be “without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” in their faith towards God. No more doubts, no more thinking that maybe God’s way isn’t the best, no more attempts to gain the kingdom or some other advantage through breaking the law.

    The faithful “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Rev. 14:4). They have ceased to wander in their own ways. They “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12) They rest in that way, whereas the wicked who reject their message and “worship the beast and his image” have “no rest, day or night” (Rev. 14:11). There is no true rest or real peace from the turmoil of sin in Satan’s “modified improvement” of the principles of heaven.

    They are sealed (sin is fully sealed out, and righteousness fully sealed in…the cleansing gospel work is complete) (Rev. 7.). They are the proof that Jesus is “able to save to the uttermost” (Heb. 7:25). Jesus sat as a refiner, and He purified “the sons of Levi until they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Mal. 3:3), namely themselves.

    This seal is also called the “Father’s name written in their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1). It is in contrast to the “mark of the beast”. The symbolism hearkens back to Deuteronomy regarding God’s commandments:

    Deuteronomy 6
    8 And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

    The righteous have this law fully developed in their hearts and minds. Like their Saviour, the “law is magnified and made honorouble” (Isa. 42:21) in the way that they live. But those who make excuses for sin have the mark of the beast, another law written in their hearts which is “not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Rom. 8:7). By refusing to heed God’s final warning and gospel invitation, their sins “reach unto heaven”. They wish to “break God’s bands and cast His cords away” (Ps. 2:3) and so God removes His restraining grace and the wrath against sin, which they treasured up, is allowed to fall on their shelterless heads.

    But the battle is not over. The firstfruits must be offered, as Christ was…in the midst of great anguish. The characters that God has formed in them must be proved and revealed under extreme test. This is the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), their “place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks” (Is. 33:6), ” “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.” (Ps. 91:7,8).

    They “drink the cup that Christ drank” and are “baptized with his baptism of blood”. They “tread the winepress” (Rev. 14:20) as Christ did (Is. 63:3). Then the cry comes, “It is done” (Rev. 16:17), just as it once rang out on Calvary, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

    Thus they are qualified to sing a song which no other man can sing, for no other has gone through the same experience, except Christ. It is also called the “song of Moses and the Lamb” because it is a song of victory against the forces of the world (as Moses’ victory was) and also against the forces of evil and inward temptation (as Christ’s victory was).

    This, in a very small nutshell, is how I see the gospel in the book of Revelation and the unfolding of final events.

  12. Frank, your view that the “firstfruits must be offered, as Christ was…in the midst of great anguish” based on revelation 14 is fine by me, I just tend to see them as Israel since that’s what it says (12,000 from the 12 tribes), not the Church, the Body of Christ. Christ the firstfruit was already offered and all believers in the Church are in Christ. If the Church has to go through The Tribulation to be a firstfruit this would have to then be the second time Christ suffered to be a firstfruit, making Him a secondfruit I suppose. The 144000 sing the new song before Christ and the elders, which I’ve always seen elders as referring to The Church.

    I appreciate both you guys and your time. I disagree with your interpretations and I think it does boil down to the Church/Israel relationship and I’m sure we are aware of the differences and each of us has spent many years looking at these things, none of us is unaware of the opposing views. I am glad we can civilly discuss, however! Thank you for that!

  13. Jeff, I too am glad we can discuss these things calmly.

    I haven’t studied deeply into the reasons why some think that Israel (according to the flesh) will play a decisive role in the last day events. But I can’t see God making this sharp distinction in the times of Jesus’ ministry (or even before that). Wasn’t this the whole problem that the Jews had which made it so hard for them to accept Christ? Are we on safe ground to make the same fleshly distinctions?

    The word Israel means “overcomer”, which is what God renamed Jacob into after he wrestled with the angel. It was all about character qualifications. Even though Esau occupied most of the physical land, and was by birth the eldest, it is clear that the spiritual blessing was on Jacob (after he learned to cling to God instead of trying to gain the blessing by his own craftiness). The blessings that Jacob and later Moses gave upon the twelve tribes are also about character traits. Because of this, any fleshly Gentiles who had the right character (one that God was working on by His Spirit) were easily assimilated into the Jewish nation, and even into the line of the Messiah, such as Rahab, and Ruth.

    Jesus described Nathanial as “an Israelite indeed, one in whom is no guile!” Character again. He also said God was able to “raise up from the stones children of Abraham.” All the apostles were from the nation of Israel, and likely most of the people who rose from the graves when Jesus rose, and are now ministering in heaven. Jesus told the apostles that they would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, and yet they were the foundation of His church. I’m not seeing such a hard clear line of demarcation, except between the righteous and the wicked.

    The book of James is written to the “twelve tribes scattered abroad”, yet I don’t know of any Christians who think it doesn’t apply to them. At the same time, the apostle Paul compared the fleshly Jews and their city of Jerusalem to Ishmael: children of bondage. Because of character. Jesus also called the Jewish leaders children of the devil…again based on character.

    When Jesus went out of his way to meet the woman from Tyre and Sidon, and told her “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” he was clearly trying to get his disciples to see that these Gentile people who had such faith were also “lost sheep of Israel” waiting to be gathered into his fold.

    Then there are so many plain statements such as that the “gospel is the power of God to salvation unto the Jew first and also to the Gentile,” and that “in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek…but all are one in Christ,” and that there is “an election according to grace.” Character, character, all character! Isaiah is also full of statements such as “my house will be a house of prayer for all people”, and all those marvelous promises in ch. 60 and 62 about the Gentiles bringing their honor and glory into Jerusalem.

    The main advantage to being a Jew (after the flesh) was that you were exposed to the truth about God’s character. But failure to take advantage of this meant you were more guilty than the ignorant Gentile:

    Rom 2
    9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
    10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
    11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

    It almost seems contradictory that it says “there is no respect of persons” and yet the blessings or curses are “to the Jew first”. But the reason is simply again based on character. The Jew who is faithful has the advantage of knowing God better, and therefore being able to be a more capable servant of others. And in Christ’s kingdom, those who serve the most are the greatest.

    I’m sure that when God works his final work on the earth, there will be some faithful among them who came from Jewish heritage (after the flesh), but like the apostle Paul they will count this fleshly honor as loss that they may win Christ.

    By the way, there is no difficulty with the 144000 being made up from the 12 tribes, provided you understand that character is what counts with God. If you look at the blessings on the 12 sons of Jacob and their tribes, some are more illustrious than others. They represent different types of character. The clear message of Revelation is that there is no character so marred but that Christ can redeem it by the power of His Gospel and make it shine again. Christ’s grace makes a level playing field, where the weaker we are, the more we can receive of His grace. Therefore there is no excuse for any of us to fail of reaching the stature of men and women in Christ. It’s not only for those who have the fortune to be raised in a good family or with a milder set of genes!

  14. I agree about the character issue (with the possible exception of Samson!).

    I do know people who don’t think James is for them because it is written to the 12 tribes of israel, they are called hyper-dispensationalists.

    The main distinction of dispensationalism that I see has to do with eschatology. People have always been saved the same way. There’s always been one Lord, one Faith, One Gospel, One Savior, etc.

    Dispensationalism says that God will fulfill all his promises to israel that He made to them about a Nation that Gentiles will flock to, a king reigning on a throne and a secure kingdom filled with righteousness. This has never happened fully with israel and dispensational teaching says it will happen. These promises dealing with the nation of Israel have not yet been fulfilled and God is not slack concerning His promises. Daniel is key with his 70 weeks of years with one remaining week to go with three and a half years of peace and three and a half years of wrath. The Church is not part of this last week, it is about Israel. God will fulfill His promises to Israel or else God has some serious character flaws!

  15. Thanks for the explanation. I had intended to ask you what dispensationalism taught you about God’s character, and I think you answered it in the last line. Certainly I also believe that God will fulfill His promises.

    I’m reminded also of the statement in 1 Cor. 13, “If there be prophecies, they will fail…” It’s not that God’s prophecies fail, for He is the truth and “cannot lie”. But they may fail to do what we think they will do. And that’s where love will carry us through whereas simply possessing an intellectual knowledge of the prophecies and resting in that will not be enough.

    >I do know people who don’t think James is for them
    …I should have known there would be!

    >Daniel is key with his 70 weeks of years with
    >one remaining week to go with three and a half years
    >of peace and three and a half years of wrath.
    Ah yes, the one point I didn’t discuss with you. On this point, I believe the prophecy is being mishandled by the dispensationalists. Here are the problems:

    1. There never was a prophetic time-period that was broken up with gaps in between, and I see no warrant for doing it with Daniel’s 70-weeks. The prophecy was divided into sections, but they are continuous.

    Daniel 9
    25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

    a) “seven weeks” to complete the building of the temple and city (a day equals a year, 1 week of days = 7 years, and 7 weeks = 7×7 = 49 years). From the time that the work was begun in 457 BC, it extended through the reign of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes of Persia, and was finished in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah (408 BC). The “troublous times” were when the enemies of the Jews convinced the king of Persia to ask them to stop the work, but the prophets encouraged them to continue. They put one hand to the work and held a sword with another:

    “…every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.” Neh. 4:17

    b) Next came the “threescore and two weeks”. A score is 20, so 3×20 = 60. The plus 2 weeks, so 62 weeks after the 7. 62 more weeks (62×7 = 434 years) would extend from there “unto the Messiah the Prince”, or the time of Christ’s anointing by John the Baptist. This was 49+434 = 483 years total ending in AD 27 (if you do the math, 457-483=26, but remember that in the transition from BC to AD, there is no year zero, so you actually end up one year further ahead in AD time). This left one week (7 years) out of the 70 weeks (490 years):

    Daniel 9
    26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
    27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

    c) Now the last 7 years are explained by these two verses. Some time after the anointing of Messiah in the fall of AD 27 he would be “cut off, but not for himself”. This is a clear prophecy of Christ’s sacrificial death for humanity. “The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” This is also a clear prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem accomplished by the Romans in AD 70. But this leaves the question, “how far into Christ’s ministry before He would he be “cut off”? It is answered in the next verse.

    “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.”

    The time of the invitation to the Jews to take up the work that God had given them was to last seven years from the baptism of Christ. And “in the midst of the week He shall be cut off”. Three and one half years into Christ’s ministry He would be crucified, in the spring of AD 31. Was it so? Yes, exactly.

    He was baptized some time in the fall of AD 27, and some months later attended the first Passover of His public ministry in the spring of AD 28, when the first cleansing of the temple took place, as recorded in John 2. Precisely 3 years later He was crucified during another Passover time in AD 31. Include the time from His baptism and you have 3 1/2 years.

    “…in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease…” The sacrifices and offerings of the Old Covenant service met their fulfillment in the death of Christ, and so were no longer meaningful. Him whom they pointed to had come.

    But for the next while the apostles still brought the gospel invitation to the Jewish nation. The “covenant” with the Jewish people had not completely ended. There would be a harvest yet from those who witnessed Christ’s ministry but had not understood the full significance of His life and death. This time went on for another 3 1/2 years, and ended with the events surrounding the stoning of Stephen in the fall of AD 34.

    The first chapters of the book of Acts mainly center around Jerusalem and the ministry to the Jews. Then in Acts 7, Stephen makes his appeal before the Jewish religious leaders. This trial, like the trial of Jesus, was accompanied with false witnesses, and ended in murder. Thus the leaders showed that they were set in their ways, and were determined to lead their nation into rejection of Christ, and final ruin. This trial resulted in a persecution against the believers:

    Acts 8
    4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

    The rest of Acts 8 deals with Philip going down to Samaria where he had great success preaching the gospel. Then came his meeting with the Ethiopian eunech.

    Acts 9 is devoted to the conversion of Paul who was to became the most preeminent “apostle to the Gentiles.” It is confirmed in Acts 13, when the apostles were commanded by the Holy Spirit speaking through some prophets, to “separate Paul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have called them.”

    In Acts 10, again shortly after Stephen’s stoning, Peter is directed to visit Cornelius, and is given the vision wherein he was told to “call not unclean what I have cleansed,” thus opening the eyes of the disciples to God’s purpose to incorporate all people of faith into one holy body, regardless of their nationality. This purpose was not a new one, it was foretold in the covenant with Abraham and many other promises of the Old Testament. But it was not seen clearly by most.

    So there is a very clear division in the book of Acts at the stoning of Stephen in chapter 7, after which, from this time forward, chapter by chapter, the work for the Gentiles went into full swing.

    So the prophecy is complete and perfect in the 70 weeks and needs no meddling. To break off this last week of the prophecy would mean that Christ’s ministry, death, and the work afterwards of the apostles to the Jews, was not clearly marked out in the prophetic word. But it certainly was, and with an accuracy that only God could predict.

    The general outline of the events of the last “week” (7 years) of this prophecy were also repeated in Jesus’ parable of the marriage feast in Matthew 22. The first call represented the gospel invitation given to the Jews before Christ’s crucifixion. The second call represented the gospel invitation given to the Jews after Christ’s crucifixion. The “slaying of the servants” represents the persecution of the Jews against the church. The sending of the servants to the “highways and byways” represents the ministry to the Gentiles. The “burning up of the city” represents the destruction of Jerusalem.

    The “outer darkness” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” represent the final end of those who reject the gospel, which includes the 7 last plagues (for those who are alive at the end), and the lake of fire after the 1000 years (for all the wicked who are resurrected unto judgment). These events are represented in Daniel’s words as “desolations” “consumation” and “that determined is poured upon the desolate”.

    Thus in the mouth of “two or three witnesses” every truth is established.

  16. Yeah, I disagree, surprise surprise! There is no possible way, if words mean anything, that what happened in Acts is what Daniel is talking about.

    The abomination that makes desolate occurs in the middle of Daniel’s last week and this is referred to in Mark 13 as dealing with the end.

    The Church is a mystery, it was hidden, not revealed. Israel is set aside for a time. Daniel’s prophecy has to do with israel. Israel has been cut off until the Church is fulfilled. Once the Church is fulfilled, israel is brought back to the main stage for the last week of Daniel’s prophecy.

  17. Jeff,

    The abomination that makes desolate was (among other things) Rome. Jesus warned his disciples so:

    Mark 13
    14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judæa flee to the mountains:

    When the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem it was a sign for the Christians to flee as soon as they could. They did so, and not one Christian perished in the fall of Jerusalem. This is history, so is beyond speculation.

    This abomination was transferred from the Roman Empire to the Roman Catholic “empire” (also later called the “Holy Roman Empire”), which also tried to stand “in the place of God” between the people and Christ. This is referred to in Rev. 13. The “dragon” (ancient Rome, who “persecuted the man child” (Christ), as referred to in Rev. 12), gave to the composite beast (the first one mentioned in Rev 13) “his power, seat, and great authority.” It was the Catholic church, centered in Rome, that carried on the aspirations of ancient Rome, to rule the world (only this time, in the name of Christ).

    Later in Rev. 13, this power received the “deadly wound”. This took place during the French Revolution and the full birth of religious liberty in America, during the late 1700’s. France, the nation that supported the Papacy most strongly (starting with the conversion of Clovis, king of the Franks) was the power that turned against her most strongly. This period of 1260 days (years) is mentioned 7 times in scripture. Historic interpretation is generally agreed that it is from 538AD to 1798AD.

    But the wound is healing, and with the help of Protestant America, all the world will wonder after “the beast” again, who was wounded by the sword yet lives again.

    This interpretation was, for the most part, held to by our Reformers, and Protestant expositors up until around the mid 1800’s. John Knox, in preaching his first sermon, identified the papal power as the little horn of Daniel 7.

  18. And I think they are wrong! If Rome and the pope are the abomination of desolation and that is the midpoint of Daniels’ last week, then your previous thought about Acts being the last week falls apart, doesn’t it?

  19. Jeff,

    No, I think you are mixing up some of what you’ve read into what I wrote.

    The 70 weeks of Daniel pertain to the Jews as God’s chosen agents to do His work in the world (which is primarily to “bruise the serpent’s head” as Jesus did, or in plain language, to manifest God’s character in the world, in contrast to Satan’s). This they failed to do, and so God had to take those who were faithful out of that body to start again.

    The last week pertains to the time when Messiah would appear, be cut off for the sins of others, and offer them a final invitation after the cross. The refusal of this invitation led to the destruction of their city and temple by the Roman power.

    Rome was the power Satan was working through at that time, not just in their oppression of the nations, but also in their false religious systems and philosophies (some of which were based on Greek so-called “wisdom”).

    The words at the end of Daniel’s 70 weeks about “consummation” “desolation” and “pouring out upon the desolate” indicate that the Roman system (or Satan’s innovations against the government of Christ) would endure (in some form or another) until the time of the end, when God’s wrath (and the lake of fire) would bring them to an end.

    This is abundantly true, for the early church, when she apostatized, drunk deeply into both Greek philosophy, as well as incorporating heathen religious practices and ideas into the worship of God. In fact, even many of our governmental and educational ideas owe much to the Greeks and Romans, and are in opposition to true Christian principles.

    What is not explained in the last week of Daniel’s 70-week prophecy is what is to happen with this “desolating power” after that time. The prophecies of Daniel 11, and of course those of Revelation cover that time.

    For example, Dan. 11:20-22 speak of the “raiser of taxes”. This could be none other than Ceasar Augustus (which was the reason Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem, see Luke 2). And shortly after this, in verse 22, the “prince of the covenant” is “broken”, another reference to the crucifixion of Christ.

    It is primarily the placing of something else other than Christ as an intercessor to the people that qualifies as an “abomination” in God’s sight, because it cuts them off from Him. The mystery of God is God working through Christ to reach man. The mystery of iniquity is Satan interposing himself to cut man off from God. Heathen worship is therefore “abomination” because it puts something in the place of Christ.

    Daniel 11 goes on to talk about the various Roman governors after Christ’s time who were “against the holy covenant” (vs. 28, 30, and 32) and thus persecuted the church, finally resulting in an alliance with those who “forsake the holy covenant” (vs. 30). Those who forsake the holy covenant would be professing Christians who start to join with the world. This declension is clearly described both in the first four churches of Revelation, as well as the first five seals of the same book.

    vs. 31 speaks of the polluting of the “sanctuary of strength” and placing of the “abomination that makes desolate”. This is in perfect parallel with Paul’s description in 2 Thess. 2, of the “wicked one” who would “sit in the temple of God” “showing himself that he is God.” It fits perfectly with the Catholic system that puts priests, popes, saints and Mary as mediators between God and man, thus cutting them off by rejecting the one true mediator: Christ. The reformation bypassed all these false inovations and put the people in direct contact with Christ again.

    So the Roman system, as an abomination of desolation that fought against Christ, and destroyed Jerusalem, did not pass away when the Roman empire fell, but was transferred into the Christian church, which was selling itself to the world for money, favor, and political power. In the words of Rev. 13:2, “the dragon [pagan Rome] gave him [papal Rome] his power, and his seat, and great authority.”

    In Dan. 11:33-35 you may read about what this meant to the faithful, and how they were persecuted, tortured, and destroyed. This is paralleled in Rev. 13:7 “and it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them”.

    This false Christianity was to suffer a “deadly wound”, which it did starting with the time of the French Revolution, but it would not die. The deadly wound is briefly mentioned in Dan. 11:40 “at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him”, and of course in more detail in the first half of Rev. 13.

    This description of false Christianity ruling with political power is described as the “king of the north.” This was originally Babylon, since they came to ancient Israel by a northerly direction. Whereas Egypt, who came from the south, were identified as the “king of the south.”

    But these terms have spiritual significance also. God is the true king of the north (Ps. 48:2, Isa. 14:13), and so an earthly king of the north is a counterfeit attempt to build God’s kingdom. The king of the south is an alternative, which Satan uses when his king of the north becomes weak. Since the king of the north can be identified as false Christianity ruling with political power, the king of the south would include such forces as Atheism, Communism, and the Muslim powers (since these all rose as a reaction against Catholicism and false Christianity). And indeed, most people in the world polarize themselves into one of these factions.

    But since it is Satan’s aim to make himself undisputed king of the earth, the king of the north will gain pre-eminence again:

    Daniel 11
    40 …the king of the north shall come against him [the king of the south] like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.

    We have already seen some of this happen with the fall of Communism, and the various wars America wages against the Muslim nations, and the disputes between Creationism and Atheistic Evolutionists.

    Satan’s purpose, to which God will allow the world to come, is described perfectly in the last verse of this chapter:

    Daniel 11
    45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

    To put himself between the seas (the people) and the glorious holy mountain (God’s kingdom) is Satan’s final aim. All who oppose it will be persecuted and finally appointed to death. But God will help his faithful ones:

    Daniel 12
    1 …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, every one that shall be found written in the book.
    2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,

    The “time of trouble” refers to the distress in the world because of the growing world problems and also the outpouring of God’s wrath in the last plagues. “thy people shall be deliverd” not by rapture out of the trouble, but by being witnesses for God through the trouble, giving a clear testimony that God will not forsake His chosen ones who follow His ways only. The last verse refers to the resurrection of the just, which follows the downfall of Babylon the Great.

    This is how I understand it.
    ******
    The problem with the dispensational view is that it is built on futurism, which was a system of interpretation of prophecy developed by a Jesuit priest, to counteract the Reformation views that were pointing the finger of prophecy to Rome as the Antichrist. Wikipedia says this about futurism:

    “To counter the Protestant interpretation of historicism, Roman Catholic Jesuit Francisco Ribera (1537–1591) wrote a 500 page commentary on the Book of Revelation. This commentary established the futurist interpretation of Bible prophecy.”

    Would you trust a system of interpretation that bypasses the Reformation, gives no place in prophecy to the sufferings of the martyrs and oppression of the Bible for over 1000 years, and was invented by the Catholic church to make herself look good?

  20. My problem with what you are saying is that you are, in my opinion, allegorizing time frames. I don’t have any problem with what you are saying about Rome. I think that was a minor fulfillment of the idea, just as there have been other minor antichrists.

    But prophetic passages use extreme language and all other biblical happenings that the NT says fulfilled OT prophecies, are very literal, making me think when Daniel talks about three and a half years , 1,265 days or whatever, that’s pretty specific or when John mentions a 1,000 year kingdom 8 times. Nothing in the past has fully fulfilled this and there isn’t really much you can explain to me from church history that’s going to make me change my mind on that! It hasn’t happened anywhere near the way Jesus or John talk.

    As to dispensationalism, the fact that some Catholic guy saw prophecies of Revelation as being future matters very little to me. The fact he may have stumbled upon truth in his defensiveness does not eliminate dispensational thought, which, by the way, was not based on any Catholic stuff to my knowledge, so I think you’re taking a leap there.

  21. I don’t believe for one minute in allegorizing time frames. Where did I give such an impression?

    The 400 years (Gen. 15:13) that were to stretch from the time of affliction to deliverance (which started 30 years after the covenant, when Isaac was 5 years old and Ishmael was making fun of him) were fulfilled very literally.

    The 1260 days, 3 1/2 times, or 42 months (Dan 7:25, 12:7, Rev. 11:2, 11:3, 12:6, 12:14, 13:5) all refer to the same exact time period: 1260 literal years (following the day-for-year rule of prophecy), from 538AD to 1798AD, the time of “Babylonian Captivity” of the true church at the hands of the Jezebel Catholic imposture. If you look at these 7 verses which mention this time period you will see the similarity. They talk of the persecuting little horn that would wear out the saints, cause the church to flee into the wilderness, and suppress the Bible (represented as the “two witnesses” or the Old and New Testaments).

    The ten days of persecution mentioned to the church of Smyrna (Rev. 2:10) were fulfilled in ten literal years of persecution under the emperor Diocletian, in 303.

    The 70 weeks, or 490 years were fulfilled literally. From 457BC to 34AD, with the Messiah being “cut off” in the “midst of the [last] week” in 31AD.

    The 3 days and nights Christ was to be in “the heart of the earth” were fulfilled literally, including Thursday evening (when He wrestled in Gethsemane, as shown in Psalm 88:6), Friday morning, Friday evening, Sabbath morning, Sabbath evening, and Sunday morning.

    I’m with you on the 1000 years though! That hasn’t happened yet.

    I agree that God can work through Catholics too, but only those who are following Him even in spite of and against their tradition. Manuel Lacunza was such a man, but his book on prophecy, published in the early 1800’s met with this reaction:

    “Despite the prohibition of the Inquisition, “La venida del Mesías en gloria y majestad” was secretly printed in Cadiz in 1810 or 1811 under the Jewish pseudonym of Rabbi Juan Josaphat ben-Ezra. A second edition was printed in Spain in 1812 and a third, in Castilian and funded by the Argentine General Manuel Belgrano, was published in London in 1816. In the same year the book was denounced before the Spanish courts and on January 15, 1819 the Spanish Inquisition ordered that the book be removed from circulation. Further editions were printed in Mexico in 1821/1822, in Paris in 1825 and again in London in 1826. In September 1824 Pope Leo XII placed it on the Index of Prohibited Books.” (article on Manuel Lacunza in Wikipedia)

    So that’s what happens to a Catholic whom God is leading!

    I don’t think God could work through a Jesuit whose prime intention was to tear down the Reformation. Now every man has some truth, for error without truth is not attractive, nor as deceptive. But God chooses those who seek for truth, not who seek for fig leaves. A man may have truth, but does he have the truth for this time? If not, even truth can be a distraction. Think of all the scientific studies going on now, most of which will prove to be in vain. We need the truth for this time, and God will give it through men who are earnestly seeking Him, and not their own glory.

    By the way, I’ve said this before a while back, but I’ll repeat it again. I believe in a literal interpretation of prophecy, but not a carnal one. Although the Jewish people partly fulfilled the prophecies to Abraham in settling in the land of Canaan, it was only an Old Covenant fulfillment, consisting of shadows and types. The spiritual fulfillment deals with realities. Abraham looked for New Jerusalem, and the possession of an everlasting earth, full of sinless people.

    I was looking through some of the prophecies of the Messiah in Isaiah yesterday. I wondered to myself, if I had been a Jew in Jesus’ time, not knowing anything about the stories of Christ and the New Testament, what kind of picture would I have formed about what the Messiah would be like, simply based on these prophecies? It’s an interesting exercise, you should try sometime.

    What I found is that these prophecies in Isaiah seemed remarkably grand, and if you interpreted them in a human-glory type of way, then there is no way a humble Galilean could have fulfilled them with His almost insignificant life. For example, Isa. 44:26, 54:3, and 61:4 all talk about desolate cities being “built up”. But where was the urban construction crew among Jesus’ disciples? You DO believe in literal fulfillment of prophecy, DON’T YOU?!!

    I find it is the same today. There is a lot of interpretation of prophecy that predicts outward glory and blessings, and conveniently ignores the Isa. 53 type of verses that speak of the coming suffering, the humiliation of soul and putting away of sin, and the glory of a godly character that all are part of the “end times”.

    So I think it is always important to remember that the events predicted are part of God’s gospel plan, and in the gospel, God wins by suffering and sacrifice. The same with His people. Anyone who tries to enter the kingdom of heaven (ie. an understanding of prophecy) by “another way” is a “thief and robber.”

  22. Looking at prophecies concerning Christ is a fascinating thing. I don’t blame Jews of Jesus’ day for missing it, but I do believe I can blame them for when He came doing the signs they knew the Messiah would do and then pointing to the suffering prophecies as well. Although, what’s interesting about Christ is his unwillingness to tell people He was the Messiah and as far as I know, only told His disciples about the death and resurrection part.

    Prophecy is a tough issue. Lots of it seems straight forward, then the bible throws in, “He came from Nazareth because it was prophesied He would be a Nazarene” and it’s like, what?!

    The way man thinks and the way God thinks are usually opposite, which leads me to believe we’re probably both wrong and yet both stumbling upon truth as well. In all honesty, I don’t care how He comes, I just want Him to come! Even so come quickly.

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