If It Were Not So: Coming in the Clouds
Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.”
The deception of Satan does not end with the change of the Sabbath. Satan has tricked most Christians into believing another lie – the secret rapture.
The rapture has become exceedingly popular in mainstream Christianity and even secular people have heard about it. How frightening to me that men like the authors of the Left Behind books have set the stage for one of Satan’s greatest deceptions. Why will the people be deceived? Because they don’t search the Bible and they do not really seek out God.
“That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out? I applied mine heart to know, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly… And I find more bitter than death, the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.” Ecclesiastes 7:24 -26
The deep things of God are those which we need to “apply our hearts to know.” True wisdom comes only from our faith in God.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” Psalm 111:10
The rapture theory actually began a very long time ago. In the 15th and 16th centuries there were so many reformers such as Martin Luther crying out that the “church” (Catholic Church) was teaching false doctrines and they began to claim that the church itself was in fact the antichrist spoken of in the book of Revelation. So the Church convened the Council of Trent in the mid 1500’s to explore new methodologies to counter the accusations. There was a priest named Francesco Ribera who published a commentary on the book of Revelation and proposed the idea of “futurism.” He, in fact, took the final “week” in the 70 week prophecy of Daniel and added it to the end of time.
Daniel 9:24 – 27: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
“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.
“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.
“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, and even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
In Bible prophecy to figure out the meaning of signs and symbols, you simply want to look to the Bible for answers. We know from Scripture that in prophecy that 1 day = 1 year.
“After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.” Numbers 14:34
“And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.” Ezekiel 4:6
Note: This is widely accepted in most Christian denominations. It is also how Rapturists come up with the idea of “7 year tribulation” – by taking the final week (or 7 days) of the 70 week prophecy of Daniel and applying it to to the end times.
So, Ribera, in his commentary, cut off that final week and put it at the end of time to show that the church could not be the antichrist. John Nelson Darby who is considered “the father of the rapture” actually took the idea and used it in his method of Biblical interpretation (dispensationalism). Cyrus Scofield, a disciple of Darby’s, later published a Bible with notes that incorporated the rapture theory and is still one of the most popular Bibles sold today – the Scofield Bible.
70 weeks = 490 years
If you look back at the prophecy, you will find nothing that suggests the 70th week should be cut off from the other 69th and placed at the end of time. The prophecy begins at the time when the decree goes forth to restore Jerusalem in 457 B.C. (verse 25)
After 69 weeks or 483 years, we find that Jesus was baptized in 27 A.D. and His ministry began. (verse 26)
Note: When crossing the B.C. – A.D. line you must subtract 1 because there is no year 0.
Verse 27 tells us, “he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (7 years): and in the midst (middle) of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease…” Jesus was crucified (cut off) in the middle of the “week” in 31 A.D. (verse 27) The end of sacrifices was symbolized when the veil of the tabernacle was rent in two. (Mark 15:38)
The secret rapture theory contradicts every depiction of Christ gathering His people found in the Bible. In fact, we are told it will be a loud and magnificent event that every eye shall see. The Bible tells us:
“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 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.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of the Lord, werein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth.” 2 Peter 3:10-13
“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightening cometh out of the east, shineth even unto the west; so shall the coming of the son of man be.” Matthew 24: 26, 27
Not only will the second coming of Jesus Christ be a loud and magnificent event, it will be sudden and unexpected by most people. Despite the “gospel going forth” to all nations, people will be caught unawares because they did not listen. Noah preached for 120 years and yet, no one cared, no one believed him when he said, “There will be a great flood!” Imagine their shock, surprise and horror when one drop and then another began to fall from the sky for the first time. Suddenly, I would think, many were woeful that they had not heeded the warnings.
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels in heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be… But know this, that if the Goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:36-39,42-44
Christ warned that we prepare ourselves lest we be surprised. It is so important to understand and keep God’s Word in our hearts. If we are not prepared, if we are not watching for the signs, we will be caught unaware. The secret rapture will never happen. Christ will gather his faithful at the time of the end when the door of probation has closed. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 tells us that at when Jesus comes in His glory in the clouds and with the host of heaven, that he will gather up those who are dead in Christ first. Only then will the righteous who have remained alive will be gathered up to meet him in the air. The second coming of Jesus will come after the great tribulation.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and the shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:29-31
So many people have been taught that if you don’t go to heaven in the secret rapture that they get a second chance. However if you read every passage in the Bible about the last days and the second coming, you will find no mention of a secret harvest of God’s people or of a second chance after God’s elect have been taken to heaven. The reference to Jesus coming as a thief is simply warning people that he will come when no one is expecting it. Jesus repeatedly warns His people to look for the signs.
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” Matthew 24: 32, 33
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:25-28
“When ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.” Luke 21:9
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21:36
“Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” Revelation 3:3
When Jesus returns to take his chosen home, there is no second chance. The judgment has been made.
“Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:16, 17
“Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment has come: and worship him that made the heaven, and earth, the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Revelation 14:7
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities… And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city of Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour is thy judgment come.” Revelation 18:4-10
“Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book… He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:7-13
“And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of His wrath is come: and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:14-17
Christ has warned us to watch and be prepared. In Matthew 24, Jesus goes into great detail about the last days and gives His believers instructions.
“And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily, I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:2-4
Today, there are many false christs who claim or have claimed to be the Messiah. Famous instances are David Koresh, Meitriya, Charles Manson, and many others.
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24:5-8
Today, there are literally thousands of wars taking place. Natural disasters are happening with greater frequency and more power than ever before. Disease is rampant and new diseases are occurring at an alarming rate.
What I find so interesting in Jesus instructions to the believers is found in verses 15 through 21:
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (speaking of the first siege on Jerusalem or the first sign) whoso readeth, let him understand. Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take his clothes. Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes… but pray that your flight be not in winter, neither on the Sabbath day: For then shall be the great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor shall ever be.” Matthew 24:15-21
Christ has given us ample warning! The great tribulation is coming and he has warned his followers to pay attention and get out of the city where the turmoil will be terrible. In a city full of unbelievers, Christians will suffer more because the lost will turn against them.
“But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake… And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But there shall not a hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.” Luke 21:12-19
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given unto him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” Revelation 13:7
He will come quickly to take His children home, but the tribulation could last weeks or months. We do not know. However, He goes on to say:
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened… And he shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:22, 31
The prophecies of the Bible are amazing to say the least! Every time I read them, I am always in awe. God is so faithful to His believers to give us the details so that we are not lost! The Bible is written in a way that only those who are following Him can understand. Those who have no faith, will never be able to understand.
“We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory… the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:7, 14
For the faithful Christian, the one who studies at Jesus’ feet, God will show the answers.
“Whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little…” Isaiah 28:9, 10
God is telling us to grow as Christians and not be like babies in our faith. So many churches today focus merely on the “milk” – or the easy stuff. They focus primarily on the “feel good” subjects and don’t even touch the hard stuff. People are sometimes told, “Oh, you don’t want to study Revelation. It is a sealed book.” Or, “No one really knows what the mark of the beast is.”
Instead our pastors should be telling us, “Look for yourself! Don’t trust my word. Go to God’s Word.” We should be seeking out the answers and comparing Scripture to those beliefs we hold in our hearts to be true.