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A Secret Rapture?
Will God’s people suffer persecution in the last days?
compiled by Rachel Cory-Kuehl, 2015
Scripture is from New King James Version unless otherwise noted
What is “the rapture” ?
The word describes how the saints will feel, as they are “caught up” to Heaven - rapturous. Believers who talk about “the rapture” usually believe in what they term “the secret rapture”. They believe that Christ will come invisibly - “in presence” only - to “rapture” His church. Every believer will suddenly disappear at the same moment. Seven years later, Jesus will return in glory to judge the Jews and the wicked.
Those who are “left behind” (the Jews and the wicked) will have seven years of testing and trouble before Christ returns in glory to rule the earth in peace, for a thousand years (during the 7th millennium). When Christ returns in glory, He will return with all of the “saints” who were raptured, along with all of those whose spirits went to heaven at their deaths.
Let’s briefly review the history of this doctrine.
Evangelicals in Great Britain founded a group called The Plymouth Brethren around 1830. One of their most gifted teachers was John Nelson Darby, who began to teach a new interpretation of prophecy called premillennialism (the teaching that Jesus will return before the millennium). Darby’s new teaching was called “dispensationalism.”
Darby taught that God’s method of dealing with individuals - of “saving” individuals - was different, during different eras of human history. Darby called these eras “dispensations”.
Darby’s Dispensations (Several variations have been posited since Darby.)
1. The Age of Innocence - before the Fall -
2. The Age of Conscience - from the Fall to the Flood
3. The Age of Human Government - from the Flood to the call of Abraham
4. The Age of Promise - from the call of Abraham to Mt Sinai (saved by promise)
5. The Age of Law - from Mt Sinai to the Cross (saved by works of the law)
6. The Age of the Church - from the Cross to the Rapture (saved by grace)
7. The Tribulation - 7 years from the Rapture to the Glorious Return (saved by works)
8. The Millennial Reign
9. Eternity - the Age of the Ages
ISRAEL and THE CHURCH
Darby taught that Israel and “the church” are two distinct and absolutely separate peoples of God. God’s method of saving Jews, was different from His way of saving Gentiles. Israelites (Jews) are saved by works of the law. Believing Gentiles are saved by grace.
Let me just stop here. (We’ll get right back to Darby.) I need to explain how completely I disagree with Darby on this one. I believe that “Israel” is the name of the (one) people of God. Some lived during the Old Testament, and some live during the New Testament, but they are all the people of God, and they are all Daniel’s people. Gentiles who come to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God our Father, are “grafted in” to Israel. And DNA descendants of Jacob, who refuse to believe, are “cut off” from Israel. All of those (Jew or Gentile) who never believe, never become citizens of Israel. Our destination is The New Jerusalem. That City has 12 gates. Over each gate is the name of a tribe of Israel. There is no gate labeled “Gentiles Enter Here”. No! Only Israelites will enter that City.
Please see the study at prophecyviewpoint.com, titled “Israel - The People of God”.
Our God has always “saved” individuals in the SAME WAY - By grace - through faith.
Persons from the Fall to the Cross looked FORWARD to Christ, when they offered a sacrifice.
Persons since the Cross, look BACK to Jesus’ death at Calvary when they are “baptized into His death”, and when they eat the “bread” and drink the “wine”.
Grace is God’s part - giving mercy and sharing His spirit - through Christ
Faith is our response to His love - believing in God and in Christ.
We are saved by grace, through faith.
Paul makes it very clear.
“For by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16 KJV).
NO ONE - not before the cross - not since the cross,
was ever (or will ever be) justified in the sight of God, by “law keeping”.
Let’s get back to Darby.
THE SEVENTY WEEKS
We’re going to look closely at the “seventy weeks” prophecy, but first I want to explain more of Darby’s teaching, so that you will understand the prophecy - from Darby’s point of view.
The prophecy recorded for us in Daniel Chapter 9, allotted 70 “sevens” to “your people”. John Darby believed that Daniel’s people were the Jews. Daniel may have assumed the same, upon hearing the prophecy. Daniel did not know that Jesus would later command the inclusion of all Gentile believers. In light of that command, I believe the prophecy includes all of Israel - which takes in those “grafted in” through the “circumcision of Christ” - NOT simply DNA descendants of Jacob.
KEEP IN MIND: According to Darby, the 70 weeks applied only to Jews.
THE POSTPONEMENT THEORY
Darby reasoned that Jesus was put to death at the end of the 69th “week” of years. By that reckoning Jesus should return 7 years later, to set up His kingdom on the earth. To explain why Jesus did not return 7 years after His death, Darby said that the 70th week was delayed. This was called “the postponement theory.”
According to Darby, the prophetic timetable was suspended when the Jews rejected their Messiah. The long “Church Age” had begun, during which time Christ would build up His “heavenly people.” Darby called this “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24).
According to Darby:
Sixty nine “weeks” are passed.
The 70th “week” will begin with “the rapture of the Church”.
At the rapture, the Church will be removed from this earth, to Heaven.
God will then go back to saving Jews by “works of the law”.
He will go back to a previous “dispensation”.
NOTE: To be saved by “works of the Law” (if that were possible) you must have a Temple and sacrifices. So now you understand why Baptists support Israel, and want Jews to recover control of the Temple Mount. And Jews of course, want control of the Mount, because they understand from the Old Testament prophecies, that Messiah must come to the Temple. They must have a Temple, so their Messiah can come.
Time out from Darby
Some folks believe the 69th “week” ended with the anointing of Jesus at His baptism. His ministry of 3.5 years, followed by another 3.5 years until the stoning of Stephen completed final “week” of the prophecy. Those who hold to this view, say that probation for the Jews ended with the killing of Stephen, and the Gospel then went to the Gentiles. I must disagree.
On the Mount of Olives, just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He commanded his followers to “Go therefore and teach all nations” (Matt. 28:19). He didn’t tell them to wait for three and a half more years.
The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks
Daniel 9:24-28 “Seventy weeks [sevens] are determined for your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
“Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself (or: and have nothing); And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.” (NKJ)
1. When was the command issued “to restore and to build Jerusalem” ?
Do we look to the command issued anciently by Cyrus or Artaxerxes, which freed the Jews to return to their land, and to rebuild their Temple after the captivity in Babylon? If this prophecy is for “the latter days” or “the time of the end”, then why look to this ancient command?
Do we look to the United Nations recognition of Israel as a nation in 1948? Or do we look for another command in the very last days? If Iran gets a nuclear weapon and destroys Jerusalem, then another command may be forthcoming. The entire 70 weeks may belong to the last days.
We have at least two possibilities. Maybe three.
2. How long is a “week” ?
The Hebrew word translated “week” in Daniel 9:27 is shabuwa` (Strong’s #07620). The meaning, according to Strong’s Concordance is “seven” - a period of 7 days, or of 7 years.
Another more obscure meaning connects the word with the Feast of Weeks (also known as Tabernacles). This was a 7 day feast, which took place each Fall.
If one day is equal to one year, then “seventy sevens” would be 490 years (Exo 23:10-11, Lev 25:3-4). If one week equals 7 literal days, then “seventy sevens” would be 490 literal days (1 year, 4 months, 10 days). If a “seven” is one Feast of Tabernacles, then 70 of those feasts, would take place within a period of 70 years.
NOTE: The nation known today as Israel, will be 70 years old in 2018.
You can see, we have at least three possibilities.
3. Who are Daniel’s “people” ?
a. the Jews?
b. all DNA descendants of Jacob?
c. all of God’s covenant people - both Old Covenant and New Covenant?
I have already told you my belief, that all true believers who worship God - are Israelites.
4. Who or what is “the most holy” ?
Daniel 9:24-28 “Seventy weeks (sevens) are determined for your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up (fulfill) vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
Is this Jesus himself, anointed by the Spirit at His baptism? Is this the Most Holy Place of the Temple at Jerusalem (as part of a restoration and rededication)? Is this the Most Holy Place of Heaven itself -“the true Tabernacle”(Heb. 8:2)? (Is this Day of Atonement language?)
Again, we have more than one possibility. Grief Rachel !!! Are you going to answer any of these questions?
Remember. Daniel has already seen the “four beasts” of Cpt 7, and the “four horns” of Cpt 8, and the “Little Horn” - prominent in both chapters as the one who will “persecute the saints”. Daniel has asked a question. How long? How long will this period of persecution last, during which the House of God, and the saints of God will be “trampled”. The prophecy of the “seventy sevens” is the answer to Daniel’s question. If we put the Beast and the Little Horn figure, down at the end of time (which is where those prophecies point), then why put sixty nine of the “sevens” back in ancient history? Could it be that the last “week” was postponed until the “last days”?
If I take time to explain the meaning of all the things that are completed by the end of the “seventy sevens”, we will get off the subject of this study. I will post another study to be titled “What’s Finished ? - The End of Daniel’s 70th Week?” I believe that clues to the meaning of this prophecy are found in the ceremonies, connected with the Ancient Hebrew Tabernacle.
5. Who is “the prince who is to come” ?
He is “one who makes desolate”. He “will destroy the City and the Temple”.
He will “bring an end to sacrifice and offering”.
Rome? Islam? Antichrist? The “little horn” ? The Beast power? Satan himself ?
The “prince to come” “will confirm “a covenant with many for one week” ?
The LORD made a covenant with Israel at Mt Sinai, which was still in effect at the time of Jesus’ death. It certainly was not limited to “one week”. The “New Covenant” did not take effect until Christ died, and it is still in effect. I know of no covenant which God or Christ made with anyone for only 7 days, or 7 years. Let’s look at the passage again.
Daniel 9:27 “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.” (NKJ)
The one who makes a covenant for one “seven” is the same “one” who will “bring an end to sacrifice and offering”. He is the one who “will destroy the City and the Sanctuary”. Who is he?
Let’s look at two verses from another prophecy given to Daniel.
Daniel 11:31 “Forces sent by him shall occupy and profane the Temple and fortress. They shall abolish the regular burnt offering and set up the abomination that makes desolate.” (NRS)
NOTE: In this passage, the one who will abolish the regular burnt offering, is ALSO the one who will set up the abomination that causes desolation. This doesn’t sound like something Jesus would do. Notice: The abomination of desolation is set up in place of, the regular (continual) burnt offering.
Daniel 12:11 “From the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that desolates is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred ninety days.” (NRS)
The regular sacrifice is abolished, and the abomination is set up - at the SAME time.
HE WILL TAKE AWAY THE DAILY
The prophecies of the coming Evil One all mention something called “the daily” in the King James Version. The NRS translates it as “the regular burnt offering”. The Little Horn (on the terrible Beast power) will abolish it, or take it away (Dan. 8:11). Sounds like the Little Horn is “the prince who is to come” - the one we’ve just been talking about. What is “the daily” ?
The word translated as “the daily” or “the daily sacrifice” is the Hebrew word “tamiyd” (Strong’s # 08548). It means “the continual”. The LORD commanded that the fire on the Brazen Alter in the courtyard of the Tabernacle, should never go out. It was to burn continuously. Every morning and every evening, a sacrifice was to be burned in that fire - symbolizing the continual covering of the atonement for Israel. The Antichrist power will stop this continual offering, which means that he will take over the Temple.
Leviticus 6:8-12 “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, . . . `This is the law of the burnt offering: The burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it . . . . `And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings.”
The prophecy is absolutely tied to the Temple at Jerusalem, and to the continual sacrifice offered on the Brazen Alter in the courtyard of that Temple. The Antichrist power will end the sacrifices at the Temple, and will set himself up as the object of worship.
I realize that this has already happened more than once.
Antiochus IV (175-164 BC), was the 8th ruler of the Seleucid empire. He gave himself the surname “Epiphanes” which means “the visible god” (that he and Jupiter were identical). He was determined to exterminate the Jews and their religion. He devastated Jerusalem in 168 BC, defiled the Temple, offered a pig on its altar, erected an altar to Jupiter, prohibited Temple worship, forbade circumcision on pain of death, sold thousands of Jewish families into slavery, destroyed all copies of Scripture that could be found, and resorted to every conceivable torture to force Jews to renounce their religion. This led to the Maccabaean revolt.
Then again, in 70AD, the Roman general Titus destroyed the Temple. In an effort to leave no trace of the Second Temple, the Emperor Hadrian erected a Temple to the Roman god Jupiter on the site.
Jesus predicted the Temple’s destruction when His disciples asked what “sign” would tell of the end of the age.
Matthew 24:2-3, 14-15, 21 “And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’ . . . The disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? [When will the Temple be destroyed?] And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ . . .
[Jesus answered] ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. . . . Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place . . . (Dan 11:31) then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be (Dan 12:1).’”
Do you see why I believe that a final restoration of the Temple will take place in the very last days, and why I believe that Temple will be destroyed just as Jesus returns? Do you see it?
THE DAILY - continued
Daniel 9:27 “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolator.”
Daniel 11:31 “Forces sent by him shall occupy and profane the Temple and fortress. They shall abolish the regular burnt offering and set up the abomination that makes desolate.” (NRS)
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
I believe these prophecies concerning “the daily” will be fulfilled in the last days of this age. I believe the city of Jerusalem will be destroyed (probably by an Islamic bomb). A command will then be issued to rebuild Jerusalem.
The Antichrist (also known as “the little horn”) will make a 7 year covenant (treaty) with “many”, which will include the rebuilding of the Temple. Halfway thru the “week” he will break this covenant, and will set himself up in the Temple (thus defiling the Temple). He will put an end to the sacrifices - thus taking away “the daily”.
These will be signs for those who understand, telling them that the last “time, times, and a part” have begun. This will inspire the “two witnesses” of Revelation Cpt 11, who will begin their testimony.
Rachel, are you agreeing with Darby?
Well - yes and no.
I agree that the prophecies point to a final period of 42 months (1260 days, time-times-and a part) during which the “Little Horn” figure on the “terrible Beast” (Dan. 7 & Rev. 13) will persecute the “saints” of God.
I agree that the “Man of Sin”, the “son of Perdition” (also known as the Antichrist) will “sit in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God” and therefore is to be worshiped.
I agree that his desecration of the Temple, and his demand that the whole world worship him is “the abomination” which will cause the “desolation”.
I do NOT believe that the saints will be raptured before these events take place.
The words of Paul, that the “man of sin” would “sit” in the Temple of God are very specific clues. The only person who was allowed to sit, in the Temple court was the anointed Son of David (the King). The fact that this coming Evil One will sit in the Temple, suggests this man will claim to be the Son of David - the Messiah! He will claim to be Christ. THIS is the abomination that causes the desolation of those who worship this Evil One. They will be destroyed - with him.
Let’s look again at the teaching of John Nelson Darby.
According to Darby, the “rapture” (of the church) begins the last “week” - 7 years. After the church is raptured the Antichrist will reveal himself. I disagree!
This is very important!! Darby said the Antichrist comes to power AFTER the church is raptured. Make a note. We will come back to this point in Part II.
According to Darby, the Antichrist will deceive the Jewish people for the first half of the 7 years - making a covenant with them. He will then become a dictator who demands worship during the last half of the 7 years - called the “tribulation,” or the “time of trouble.” He will persecute the Jews who refuse to worship him. God will then punish those who persecute His people (the Jews) by pouring out great plagues. At the end of the 7 years, Christ will return in glory (with all His raptured saints) to set up His earthly kingdom, when He will reign in peace for 1000 years.
NOTE: Once again, I believe that “Israel”is the NAME of God’s faithful people (regardless of national origin). The “Israel” who will be persecuted during the tribulation will be God’s people, NOT just Jews who were “left behind” at a “rapture”.
How did Darby’s teaching become so popular?
C.I. Scofield, an American follower of Darby, published “The Scofield Reference Bible” which contained the dispensationalist views. Scofield’s commentary was printed on the lower half of each page of the Bible. Scofield’s views were widely accepted, and to this day, are deeply held belief by many evangelical denominations (“Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming” by Timothy P. Weber 1979).
“Charting the End Times,” a book by Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, published by Harvest House, contains a good visual representation of the dispensational teaching and of the different “ages.”
And then there are the movies.......
Our belief - at prophecyviewpoint.com
First: We believe that God’s method of saving individuals from sin, and Satan’s domination, has always been the same. All men are saved “by grace” - “through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).
Second: We believe that “Israel” is the name of the covenant people of God. Gentiles who come to faith in Christ as Messiah, are grafted in to Israel (see Romans chapter 11, and Ephesians chapter 2). Jews who refuse to believe in Jesus as Savior and Son of God, are “cut off” from Israel. Jesus said, “No man comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6).
The rebellious and wicked who have never believed or repented of sin, are not citizens of Israel. True Israel and “the church” (congregation) are one and the same body of believers.
(See the study at this website titled “Israel - The People of God.”)
Third: Daniel was told to “shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end” (Dan 12:4 NKJ). I have hesitated to publish a study on the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, because we have not yet reached the “time of the end”. I am just not certain that the prophecy of the seventy-sevens has been fully “opened” for our understanding.
The vision of Daniel Cpt 8 includes “the daily”, the Temple, and “the abomination of desolation”. The angel told Daniel concerning that vision, “Understand, son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end” (Dan 8:17). “I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be” (Dan 8:19).
I have shared with you those things I believe are most likely, but let’s be clear. We do not yet fully understand this prophecy. We do not yet know the identity of the final terrible Beast power, or the identity of the “little horn”. This prophecy is NOT YET fully unsealed.
Fourth: We believe that Jesus Christ will return for all His people on the same day, following “three and a part years” (1260 days, 42 months) of terrible persecution by the Antichrist power, against those who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12). Darby said only Jews would be persecuted, for keeping the Law, but Revelation clearly says the remnant offspring of “the woman” (Israel) would “have the testimony of Jesus”. They would testify that Jesus is Messiah.
Daniel 7:21 “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them UNTIL . . . the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.”
Daniel 7:25 [Speaking of the Little Horn] “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change time law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time, and times and half a time.”
The prophecy of Revelation Chapter 13 parallels the prophecy of Daniel Cpt 7.
Revelation 13:3-8 [Speaking of the Beast with seven heads and ten horns] “And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’ And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (NKJ)
“Time, times and a part” - 42 months - 1260 days, it’s all the same time period. The “two witnesses” of Revelation Cpt Eleven will give their testimony, the warning trumpet plagues will fall, and the people of God will be persecuted during this SAME TIME PERIOD.
Some have tried to convince me that the 1260 days, were actually fulfilled during the Dark Ages when the Roman Catholic Church dominated the Christian world. They say this period ended when the Pope was taken captive by Napoleon, receiving a “deadly wound”.
I just cannot agree.
This period of persecution comes AFTER the “deadly wound” is “healed” - not before the “head” is wounded. This period of persecution ENDS, when the heavenly Court sits, and dominion is given to the saints of the most high. This time has certainly not come. The saints of God are not yet ruling this world. And the Catholic Church did not rule over “every tribe, tongue, and nation” and “all who dwell on the earth”.
Sorry. That interpretation just does not FIT.
Fifth: We believe that God’s people will be on the earth during the warning trumpet plagues, leading up to the return of Christ at the 7th Trumpet.
Christ will remove His people from this earth before the seven last vial plagues (the wrath plagues) are poured out.
Sixth: We believe that all life on planet earth will be destroyed by the wrath plagues which will follow the rescue of the LORD’s people. The earth will remain uninhabited and desolate for 1000 years while the people of God are living in the New Jerusalem - the place which Christ has prepared for them.
(Please see the study “Millennium” at this website.)
Why is this study important?
1. If you believe that you will be “raptured” out before any real persecution begins, and you come up to that time, and you have NOT been raptured, what will be going through your mind? What you believed - didn’t happen!!
If you have ever experienced a crisis of faith, you know what it feels like. You wonder what you can believe. Going into a period of great persecution is NOT the time for a crisis of faith. All those folks who believed they would simply be raptured out, will be in crisis. They did not prepare themselves to endure.
2. The LORD gave the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, for His people in the last days. Realizing this, we may assume these prophecies contain vital information - information that will help get us through this last period of persecution.
The prophecies tell us how long this period will last. If folks know that the suffering will not last forever, that it is limited to a specific period of time, they can better steal their hearts to endure.
3. The prophecies make it clear that this is a testing time - the last testing before Jesus returns. Knowing that this time was prophesied, will give believers confidence that the LORD is in control, and will soon set things right. When the people of God see the prophecies coming to pass before their eyes, they will know that Jesus’ coming is very near.
4. Realizing that many will be imprisoned or martyred for their faith during this time, the faith of believers will not be unsettled when such persecution comes.
In Part III of this study, we will try to answer the question, “How long?” How long will the final persecution last?
We pray this study will prove a blessing.
Click here for part THREE of this study.
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