The Church Age and the Rapture :: By Don Mills

To start with, I would say that this study is not done to be dogmatic about all these concepts. Instead I would rather present this as further evidence for a Pre-Trib Rapture of the church. To show that there is plenty of scriptural support for the Rapture of the church coming before the seven-year Tribulation. The book of Revelation in chapters 4 and 5 have some very enlightening verses in them as it concerns, the Rapture of the church, the heavenly scene, and the judgment that follows.

Most Bible commentaries would agree that chapter 3 closes out the Church Age, as it is seen in history. Then to start chapter 4, it says, “AFTER THIS (or after the Church Age) I looked, and, behold, a DOOR opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a TRUMPET TALKING with me; which said, COME UP hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” So after the Church Age, it is (John the beloved) who sees what will happen after the church is caught up.

In Revelation 4:1, John the beloved, sees a DOOR opened in heaven. In the Gospel of John 10:1 Jesus talks about the DOOR into the Sheepfold…then in verse 9, Jesus says, He is the DOOR, and in verse 11, Jesus says he is the Good Shepherd. It is interesting that it is the same Greek word for, DOOR, (yura thura) that is used in Rev 4:1 as John used for the door into the sheepfold in John 10:1. John is caught up through the DOOR into the Sheepfold, and John sees everything as a Type of the Church in Chapter 4.

In John 10:3 Jesus says,… “and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out”….for the sheep know his voice. John is caught up through the Sheepfold Door as he hears a voice of a Trumpet. This is a beautiful picture of the Rapture of the church as it is shown in, 1 Cor. 15:51-52, 1 Thess. 4:16-18 and Heb. 12:18-23, Rev. 1:10-11.

The word, church or churches, mysteriously disappears from the Revelation after 3:22 and is not mentioned again until Rev 22:16 and then, it only references back to what the angel was going to tell John in the first three chapters concerning “these things in the churches.” Too many people are trying to put the church into all of Revelation when the fact is the church is NOT mentioned or seen on earth during the Seven Seals of Judgment.

John the Beloved

The Holy Spirit used the apostle John to write the Gospel of John, but he would later use John again to write the Book of Revelation. When the apostle John writes his gospel he makes a very curious statement. To many people this statement is overlooked and doesn’t mean anything, but we know that every jot and tittle means something in God’s Word. It’s found in the repeated phrase, “The disciple whom Jesus Loved” repeated, to show its importance, and it’s found at least three times in the Gospel of John. Why would he use that term and why would the Holy Spirit include that in the text unless, John would later write the Book of Revelation and he would typify the church, being caught up through the Sheepfold Door and raptured to heaven in the Spirit?

In the heart of God, John is the Beloved. John is also known as, John the Divine, which seems to point to divine love as much as it points to his inspired writings. Some people will scoff at the idea of the apostle John being cast as a type of raptured church in Rev. 4 but they have to ignore all the signs and drive right around a mountain of evidence that shows that, that is exactly how he is portrayed.

The 24 Elders

John immediately sees the Throne in Heaven, he then describes the appearance of him who sat upon the throne, like a Jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. “And round about the throne were four and twenty SEATS: and upon the seats I saw FOUR and TWENTY ELDERS SITTING, clothed in WHITE RAIMENT; and they had on their heads CROWNS of GOLD.” The question becomes, who are the 24 Elders?

In Rev 21:12 it says, “The twelve gates had names written on them, which represent the twelve tribes of Israel” (Old Testament Saints). In verse 12 it says that the twelve foundations had the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (New Testament Saints). Jesus tells the apostles that they would sit on twelve thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel in Matt 19:27,28 and Luke 22:30. The Old Testament Saints are also included when we read in Psalm 122:5, “For there are set thrones of Judgment, the thrones of the house of David.”

Jesus addresses the disciples, and he told them they would sit on twelve thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. In Rev. 20:3 right after Satan is bound for a thousand years we see ,thrones and judgment was given unto them. This is the judgment of the nations to set up the millennial kingdom upon the earth, and it further shows that the apostles are part of the 24 Elders.

The 24 Elders also represent the First Resurrection or (harvest) as it took place back in Rev. 4 and 5. The 24 Elders in Revelation are always seen in heaven until the judgment of the nations in Rev. 20:4. I must take a momentary side trail here because we are talking about the First Resurrection and it mentions it in Rev. 20:4-6; the Tribulation saints as having a part or share in the First Resurrection.

This is a beautiful picture of the Feast of Tabernacles or (temporary shelter) for 7 Days or ONE WEEK as seen in Deut. 16:13-14 and Lev. 19:9, and it shows the gleanings at the END of the harvest. It tells us that the First Resurrection or harvest isn’t over completely until the gleanings of the Tribulation saints are brought in after (one week), those who received not the mark (Tribulation saints).

It was a pageantry of white robed priests. The children of Israel would rejoice and sing songs and especially the Hallel Psalms 113 to 118, and the Messianic words of Psalms 118:25,26. “We beseech Thee, O LORD, save now. We beseech Thee, O LORD, make us now to prosper. Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the LORD.” On the 7th Day, called “Hoshana Rabbah” which means “The Great Salvation,” the priests circled the alter seven times. They would chant the Hallel Psalm: “We beseech Thee, O LORD, save now.”

This is a striking picture as it relates to the Tribulation saints who are martyred in Rev. 6:10 where they cry, “How long O Lord?” The Hallel Psalms in 116:15 includes this, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Wow, another picture of the Tribulation saints. The church is already in heaven and these souls of the martyrs have to wait 7 years, they are the gleanings of the harvest! “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Rev. 20:5-6).

Jesus didn’t mention to the disciples the other 12 elders because they will represent the Old Testament saints, and by mentioning the 12 disciples he shows that the two groups are not the same, but they are all seen in Heaven in Rev 4. It becomes clear that these Elders in Rev 4 are not just SITTING ON THRONES but they have RECIEVED CROWNS.

This shows that the church has been caught up to heaven and we have received our rewards. We know that we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive our rewards, (2 Cor. 5:10). The apostles will stand before the judgment seat of Christ right along with the rest of the church. The 24 Elders in heaven are a picture of the FIRST RESURRECTION, with the Old Testament saints and the church represented. The Tribulation saints with their temporary shelter of 7 days or (one week), to follow at the end of the Tribulation in Rev. 20:4-5. But here in Rev. 4 we will all fall down and worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth and CAST OUR CROWNS before the throne.

There isn’t another explanation of who these 24 Elders are, other than the saints of the Old Testament, and the church of the New Testament, with the apostles named as sitting on 12 thrones. There are no creatures in the Bible that have crowns, (like the church), which are given thrones to sit on (other than the apostles) that we see here. They are included with the other Elders who represent the resurrected saints of the Old Testament. Without us they would not be made perfect (Heb. 11:39-40).

The 24 elders are further identified in Rev. 5:8-10, it says, “And when he had taken the book, …..the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them HARPS, and GOLDEN VIALS full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. “And THEY sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the Book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast REDEEMED US to God by THY BLOOD out of EVERY KINDRED, and TONGUE, and PEOPLE, and NATION. And hast made us unto our God KINGS and PRIESTS: and we shall reign on the earth.”

This is a clear picture of the church in heaven, for there can be no other group redeemed from mankind by his blood from every people and tongue. This is also a repeated phrase from Rev. 1:5-6, which is clearly the church, as John was addressing the church. They repeat the same phrase again in Rev. 5:9-10 as they do in Rev. 1:5-6, but NOW they are in heaven and this is all before the Lamb even opens the book to start Rev. 6.

The Lamb Stands to Take the Book

In Rev. 5, John wept when he realized that no one was worthy to open the book; to read it or even look upon it. Rev. 5:5 says, “And one of the elders saith unto me, weep not: the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne…STOOD A LAMB..” Things in heaven and earth have changed; the Rapture has happened and the picture in heaven has changed because JUDGMENT is about to start.

In the book of Hebrews 4:16 it says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the THRONE OF GRACE, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. What we are seeing here is the end of the time of Grace, the Dispensation of Grace has ENDED, and the Lamb has Stood Up.”

No one can come unto the throne of grace any longer because (the Lamb has stood up to judge the earth), the Church Age is over. Isaiah 3:13 says, “The LORD standeth up to plead, and STANDETH TO JUDGE THE PEOPLE.” In Rev. 5:7 The Lamb comes and takes the book out of the right hand of him who sat on the throne. He has NOW received authority from the Father to judge the earth!

Gospel of John Parallels Revelation

There are many common phrases and precepts that flow between the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. The Gospel of John in Chapter 5 especially seems to have a number of parallel thoughts. The chapter starts with Jesus healing the man at the pool of Betheseda on the Sabbath and then the Jews seeking to kill Jesus. The rest of John 5:19 to the end is Jesus telling the Jews, WHO HE IS and WHAT WOULD HAPPEN to the Jewish nation. With this in mind, let’s look at John chapter 5 against Rev. 4 and 5, watch how these same thoughts go between the books.

John 5:22 says, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:”(Rev. 5:6 says, The Lamb stands up to judge.) The Lamb is no longer sitting on the throne of grace (Heb 4:16). Notice how this thought is paralleling between the two books.

John 5:27 says, “And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” In Rev. 5:7, the Lamb comes and takes the book out of the right hand of him who sits upon the throne showing that he has NOW received the authority to judge. Another clear parallel between both books on a topic that is so monumentally important.

Even the First Resurrection is mentioned in John 5:25: “Verily, verily I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” In Rev. 4:1 John is caught up to heaven through the Sheepfold Door, then the scene in Heaven with the 24 Elders throwing their crowns before the throne, indicating the first Resurrection). Rev 4:1 through Rev 5 shows the church now in heaven falling down before the Throne, those who have been REDEEMED to God BY THY BLOOD.

In John 5:19 to the end of the chapter, Jesus is putting the Jews in their place. He then says to the JEWS in John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Then, in verse 40 Jesus says something rather startling when he says to the JEWS…

John 5:40, “AND YE WILL NOT COME TO ME, THAT YE MIGHT HAVE LIFE.” The importance of this statement as it Parallels Rev. 5 is the fact that, the Jews have rejected Jesus and the next thing coming is the Revelation scene of JUDGMENT, when the Lamb opens the first seal to start Rev. chapter 6.

Then another remarkable statement is made by Jesus to the JEWS in John 5:42, it says, “BUT I KNOW YOU, THAT YE HAVE NOT THE LOVE OF GOD IN YOU.” Because of the Jews rejection of Jesus and that they have not the love of God in them,….. Jesus tells them the consequences….. Watch how this again parallels between the two books…..

In John 5:43, Jesus says, “I AM COME IN MY FATHER’S NAME AND YE RECEIVE ME NOT: IF ANOTHER SHALL COME IN HIS OWN NAME, HIM YE WILL RECEIVE.” Guess what the very next thing to happen in Revelations is? Enter, THE FOUR HORSEMAN of the APOCALYPSE. The first one being the rider on the WHITE HORSE. Jesus warned the Jews of the coming consequences of rejecting him. The rider on the white horse……he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

This is the Antichrist who the Jews will sign the covenant of death with, Isaiah 28:18, and he who ….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……Dan. 9:27. Notice how the church with the 24 Elders are ALREADY in heaven before the throne worshiping, before the Lamb even opens the first seal.

In Rev. 1:5-6 John addresses the church and how we are washed from our sins by his own blood. This letter was sent out to the churches in Asia, the present church at that time.

In Rev. 1:6 John proclaims that the church has been made Kings and Priests. Again this is said about the existing church at that time.

In Rev. 2 and 3 shows the Church AGE with the letters to all the churches, and to start Rev. 4 John says, after this, meaning after the Church Age is over, these things will follow.

Rev. 4 John the Beloved is raptured, or caught-up in the Spirit to heaven through the door into the sheepfold. The same Greek word is used for door in Rev. 4:1, John 10:1, 10:9 and Jesus is that door! John the Beloved is seen as a type of the church and he sees what the church will see throughout Revelation as it unfolds.

He sees the throne in heaven, Rev. 4:2,4, 6: Lightnings and thunderings…sea of glass like crystal.

He sees the 24 Elders sitting on thrones, clothed in white with crowns of gold on their heads, Rev. 4:4, this is the First Resurrection. Old and New Testament saints before the throne.

He sees the 24 Elders having received their rewards and crowns fall down and cast their crowns before the throne. Rev 4:10, this means that judgment of believers has happened.

John weeps that no one found worthy to open the book until one of the Elders tells him to weep not, Rev 5:5.

The Lamb stands, and the time of grace has ended! Jesus is no longer sitting on the throne of grace Rev. 5:6, Heb 4:16. This signals that judgment is about to start. All judgment has been given to the Son, John 5:22.

Lamb takes the book out of the right hand of him who sits upon the throne. Jesus receives authority to execute judgment. Rev. 5:7 and in John 5:27…And hath given him authority to execute judgment.

24 Elders fall down again with harps and vials, these are the believers of the First Resurrection.

Translated Saints sing a new song Rev 5:9 and proclaim that they have been redeemed by thy blood from every kindred and tongue and people and nation. This can only be the church in heaven as there are more than 24 countries and tongues and nations, REDEEMED BY THY BLOOD, this is what was already mentioned by John in Rev 1:5 concerning the churches but NOW they are in heaven in 5:9.

Rev. 5:10, these believers also proclaim that he hast “MADE US UNTO OUR GOD, KINGS AND PRIESTS,” as John also mentions this concerning the church in Rev. 1:6. John shows the church, BEFORE the fact, ON EARTH, in Rev 1:6 and then, IN HEAVEN in Rev. 5:10.

John 5:40-41: Speaking to the Jews, Jesus says, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.”

Rev. 5:14: “The Lamb is preparing to open the First Seal because of the Jews rejection. The resurrection Saints fall down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.”

John 5:43 “If another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive”…the consequences of their rejection….

Rev 6:1,2 The Lamb opens the First Seal and behold a white horse. The Antichrist goes forth to deceive and make a covenant with many, and a covenant of death with the Jews. He comes in his own name.

Summary of Thoughts

John proclaims, church blood washed, Rev 1:5.
John proclaims, church kings and priests, Rev 1:6.
The church will be kept from hour of temptation upon the earth, Rev 3:10.
The Church Age, Rev 2 and 3.
The Beloved raptured, Rev 4:1.
Heavenly scene 4:2.
John sees throne in heaven, Rev 4:2.
First Resurrection, Rev 4:4.
Gleanings (7 days later), Rev 20:4-6, Deut 16:13, Lev 19:9.
Receiving of crowns, Rev 4:4.
Casting crowns, Rev 4:10.
No one is worthy but the Lamb, Rev. 5:3-5.
The Lamb stands, grace has ended, Rev 5:6, Heb 4:16, Is 3:13.
The Lamb takes book, now has authority, Rev 5:7, John 5:27.
The redeemed fall down having harps and golden vials, Rev. 5:8, John 4:23-24.
The church is redeemed by thy blood, kindred, tongue, people and nation, Rev 5:9 fulfilling Rev. 1:.5.
The church proclaims; we are made kings and priests, Rev 5:10, Fulfilling, Rev. 1:6.
Jews will not come to Jesus for Life, John 5:39-41.
Jesus came in Fathers name, John 5:43.
If another comes in his own name they will receive him, John 5:43, Rev 6:2.
The Lamb opens the first Seal, Rev 6:1.
The rider on the White Horse, Rev 6:2.
He will make a covenant with many for one week, Dan 9:27.

These are for the most part precepts that come out of Rev. chapters 1 to 6:2 and John 5. These are all Pre-Trib concepts that we can see, even the gleanings at the end of the harvest after 7 days, are strong support. The fact that the Gospel of John is at times paralleling the same concepts and thoughts with the book of Revelation adds even more biblical evidence.

Jesus said in Luke 4:18-20, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. AND HE CLOSED THE BOOK. Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2. Jesus stopped before he read, AND THE DAY OF VENGEANCE OF OUR GOD…. The next time Jesus will start JUDGMENT is when he OPENS the Book in Rev 6:1. The church is clearly in heaven worshiping the Lord and watching this all unfold……

The Seven seals start the vengeance of our God in Revelation 6 and continue to chapter 8 with the first Six Seals being completed. The Seventh Seal has all the other Judgments in it and it is seen as going to Rev 20:4. Rev 20:4 is what Jesus was talking about when he told his disciples that they would sit on Thrones, Judging the twelve tribes of Israel. This is the Judgment of the Nations and the setting up of the millennial kingdom. “But the rest lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the First Resurrection” Rev 20:5.