Revelation 17.14: “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”
There are many diverse religious convictions about how the times we live in, called by Christians, the End of Days will be fulfilled. Concerning the doctrine of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, you have many denominations who feel they have figured out the time sequence of biblical eschatology and staunchly defend their concept and their interpretation of what scripture says concerning the greatest event, apart from the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the whole history of mankind. Fact is that the major religions of the Western world believe in a “catching away of the saints” referred to as the Rapture. They just differ on it’s timing.
The purpose of this sermon is to take a brief look at two theories and decide which follows the context of the whole of scripture and doesn’t allow proof-texting or pulling certain Scripture text to fulfill a preconceived notion of a denomination’s stance on this coming, most certain event, of the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
There are two different beliefs with different subsets in one belief. These two beliefs are the Second Coming of Jesus Christ vs., the Rapture of the church. Is there a difference between the two? Let’s see what each belief embraces and how they line-up with the Bible. Within the return of Jesus Christ view, it encompasses post Tribulation, Pre Wrath, and Preterist’s views of the end-time return of Jesus Christ. But for this sermon we will deal mostly with Post vs. Pre-tribulation “catching away of the church.”
POST- TRIBULATION VIEW VS. PRE- TRIBULATION VIEW
According to the proponents of a post- tribulation view of the subset belief of the second coming of Jesus, we must all go through the horrors of the coming Tribulation. What Scriptures do they point to?
“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15, emphasis added).
They take this verse and couple it with the 7th angel who blows the last trumpet for the beginning of the final stages of God’s wrath upon this earth:
“And the seventh angel sounded (blows his trumpet); and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
Since this is near the end of the tribulation, they surmise that this trumpet in 1st Corinthians and Revelation 11, are the same trumpet. As I have mentioned in past sermons, Paul was speaking of the ceremony known to Jewish people of the Feast of Trumpets and the blowing of the Last Trumpet as a signal to move out, as used in the wilderness during the Exodus and the fight for the Land of Canaan. It was also used as a sign of the “Return of the King” and was not referring to the trumpet blown in Revelation, as Paul wrote his epistle before John the Beloved wrote Revelation under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and they have no connection. But beyond this error what is the difference between Post-tribulation view and the Pre-tribulation view?
The most debated issue is the view of “meeting Him in the air” vs. “returning with Him.” In the first view most post-tribulation religions that I have studied believe that we will be changed and are lifted to meet the Lord in the air and make a U-turn and come down with Him to Jerusalem, to witness His defeating of the armies at Armegeddon. They say that this will happen at the end of the Tribulation.
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Obviously, this verse does not say what happens after we meet Him in the air, but the view interjects their own interpretation that we will immediately come down riding on white horses? I had to ask one adherent to this view, if we are meeting Him in the air, “Are we going to Him just to saddle up?” He had no answer, as it doesn’t make sense, now does it? It appears he is missing something.
I feel what they are missing is right in front of their faces, the marriage supper of the Lamb. Revelation 19:
19:7 “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”
19:8 “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
19:9 “And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.’”
And in the very same passage we see the church coming back with the Lord in the battle in Revelation 19:11-14:
19:11 “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”
19:12 “His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.”
19:13 “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”
19:14 “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean”(emphasis added).
John just got through writing that the sign of the saints are fine linen, clean and white. He said it twice. How did we get to this point? Where have we been and what transpired during this interval between verses 7 and 14? The answer is the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Understand one thing, my brethren, to interpret Scripture is to take pieces of a large puzzle and put the pieces into their proper place and perspective. You will never find the strict description of a pre-tribulation removal of the church, but must take a little from here, and there a little, line-by- line, bit by bit to make the puzzle come into view.
Let’s look at another piece of the puzzle. The removal of the church before the Tribulation vs. after the Tribulation:
BEFORE THE TRIBULATION vs. AFTER THE TRIBULATION
1Thessalonians 5.9-10: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.”
Again in Revelation 3:10-13:
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
The Post-tribulation view starts at chapter 6 and the beginning of the wrath of God. and fails to notice the Scriptures I just presented, then they end, beginning with these verses:
11:15 “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
11:16-17 “And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, ‘Saying, We give thee thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which art, and was, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.’”
11:18 “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
The wrath of God begins with the 1st seal judgment, not the sixth. All are designed to redeem the earth from rebellious mankind. That is why John wept, when there seemed to no one to open the scroll with its seals and redeem the fallen earth.
DELIVERANCE vs. JUDGMENT
Another piece of this grand puzzle is the concept of deliverance verses judgment. I believe in a deliverance of the church from wrath as plainly said in Revelation 3:10, but the alternate view believes in judgment.
1Thessalonians 4:14 “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”
4:15 “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.”
4:16-17 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Again, read Paul writings when he speaks in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 of our deliverance from wrath, which again supports a removal of the church.
What would be the point of comfort, if we knew that God would subject us to His righteous wrath and we would endure the Great Tribulation when 2/3 of the population will be wiped out by divine judgment? It’s akin to the Catholic definition of “purgatory” as it makes no sense. Jesus paid it all or He did not.
JUDGMENT: OR THE 4 HORSES OF THE APOCALYPSE
I encourage your to read Revelation chapter 6:2-16 for brevity and not quote it here.
When does God’s wrath begin? From the very first seal that Jesus opens divine judgment begins and that is the beginning of chapter 6 not the middle of the book, but at near the beginning.
HIDDEN vs. SEEN BY ALL
Some come to me and ask why there is so little mention of the concept of Rapture of the church found in the Bible. It is true that the concept is sprinkled in the New Testament and was not spoken of much until Paul addressed as the “secret wisdom of God.”
1 Corinthians chapter 2:7
“No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
The word for the modern interpretation of “rapture” is the Greek word “harpazo” which means to be snatched away or removed by force. From this we get the Latin form of rapturo, which evolved into the English word Rapture.
The word translated is only mentioned once in scripture that I mentioned above in 1 Thessalonians 4:17:
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together [harpazo, rapturo, rapture], with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Then how do we reconcile the seemed difference in the Scriptures that some say, point to the “seen by all” Second Coming of our Lord and nothing hidden?
Revelation 1:7 “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”
And again Jesus said:
“And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven” (Mark 13:27).
In my humble opinion, if we believe the first part, then the second part is easily understood. When Jesus comes back with His church, as quoted in Revelation 19, all the earth will see Him. All who have accepted Jesus Christ during the Tribulation will be gathered from the four winds. You have to decide from Scripture, who these saints are at this point in time (that Jesus spoke of). From Scripture, it is my belief that Jesus is speaking of all who accepted Him in times of great peril and tribulation through martyrdom and environmental dangers.
AT ANY MOMENT vs. ONLY AFTER CERTAIN EVENTS
Post-tribulation believers point to Revelation chapters 6-18 that all must be completed before Jesus comes to take unto Himself his church. They look to 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2:4:
“He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
Or read the passage found where Jesus said in Matthew 24:15-30, concerning the end of days.
In those passages, it is clear that Jesus is speaking to the Jewish people who live in Judea and Samaria or the center of biblical Israel. He was not speaking of the gentile church, or as He described us, a people who were not His people.
Jesus explained what would be the events that lead to His appearing as King of kings and Lord of Lords, but it will be for all who have endured the time of His wrath, with rebellion against God that will be extinguished by the Word of His mouth, as a sharp, two edged sword.
But on the flip side, read the imminent return of our Lord is explained by Paul in 1st Thessalonians 5:1-9 as upon one that is unprepared for an invasion by a thief:
Obviously, our Lord is not a thief, but the symbolism is that of someone who breaks into the history of mankind unannounced, without warning, and those that are unprepared will not escape His wrath.
The Jewish Wedding Feast
Another overlooked concept that my brethren in the faith fail to understand or accept is the analogy of the Jewish wedding feast. Though they hate to admit it, my Lord was born a Jew, from the tribe of Judah. He is the Lion of Judah when He returns and our betrothal to Him as the bride of Christ will be completed, as any Jew would take his own bride in Jesus’ day. Let us look at this wonderful promise:
Jesus came to establish a blood covenant and His blood was the ring, (so to speak) of our being joined to Him in marriage (Hebrews 13:20, Luke 22:20).
He leaves, but promises to return for her (Ephesians 1:13). He made a promise and a promise He will keep.
So then the Bridegroom leaves His Father’s house and goes to the house of the prospective bride. Jesus left His Father’s house in heaven and traveled to the earth; the home of His prospective bride (John 6:32-33). Jesus came to earth to obtain the church (bride) through the establishment of a covenant.
On the same night Jesus made His promise in John 14:1-3, He instituted communion or the Lords Supper. In this communion, he passed the cup of wine to the disciples saying: After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25).
THE PAYMENT FOR THE BRIDE
The bridegroom negotiates with the father of the bride at her home, (earth) to establish the cost (mohar), which was the sacrifice of Himself in blood (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 6:19 .)
Upon payment the bride is justified and set apart: From that moment on, the bride and bridegroom are considered as one. The bride is set apart and sanctified for the return of the bridegroom (Ephesians 5:25-27).
As a symbol of the covenant, the bride and groom would partake in a cup of wine together:
The cup of communion serves as the symbol of the covenant through which Christ has obtained the church (bride). Taken every time we remember His death at the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians11: 25).
After the marriage covenant had been established, the groom would leave the bride’s house (earth) and return to His Father’s house (heaven) waiting to return for her as He prepares her place with Him. As Jesus returned after His resurrection to His Father’s house, the church is in the period of waiting for His return.
“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17).
THE CHURCH AGE
During this time, the bride would be preparing her trousseau and the groom would be preparing a place for His bride to live with Him in His Father’s house (John 14:2-3).
At the proper time, usually at night, the groom and His best male escorts would take a lighted torch and make their way to the house of the bride. So Jesus along with His angels will come for His bride. Although the bride expects Him anxiously, she does not know the exact time of His arrival (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
INTO THE MARRIAGE SECRET CHAMBERS
Shortly after their arrival, with guests at the wedding feast, the bride and bridegroom enter the marriage chamber, as in a Jewish wedding and the consummation of the marriage covenant is completed. Jesus and the church will spiritually join in unison to complete the marriage covenant.
The groom would announce the consummation of the marriage and the wedding feast would commence, but the bride would be hidden away for 7 days sometimes called the 7 days of huppah. The bride would remain hidden in the house of the bridegroom’s father, until he presents her to the world, with veil removed to show the identity of his bride. So the church comes with the King of Kings on horses dressed in linen white and clean (Colossians 3:4), and again in Revelation 19.14:
“And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
Heralded in unison in the Old and in the New Testament which describes the coming of our Lord for His church to be shielded away from the wrath to come and I feel they are sister verses when you read John 14:2 and Isaiah chapter 26:20 which are describing the same event if you lay them side-by-side. They mirror one another. Read them carefully and prayerfully.
I cannot express strongly enough the imminent return of our Lord and Savior, but as studied in the past, I believe it will be on a feast day appointed by God in a future year, namely the Feast of Trumpets. He will arrive and all who are prepared by accepting Him, Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior will be changed to immortal bodies in the twinkling of an eye.
THE CHALLENGING QUESTION OVER OPPOSING VIEWS
One final thought and question for you that only makes sense. After these verses, if we believe that Jesus will forcefully remove His bride according to Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.
And if we believe in any other teachings beside the Pre-Trib removal of the church through the Rapture, then let me drop something on you to think about. If during the Great Tribulation all will be required to take the mark of the beast and all who do will be damned according to Scripture, right?
If you refuse the mark, you will be killed either by ruling beast power, or the followers of this power. If the Post-tribulation view is correct, with all the environmental upheaval, the divine judgments, the loss of life of upward of 2/3 of the entire planet destroyed leaving either the damned or the saved, then when Jesus Christ breaks through the clouds and the saved are transformed into spirit beings and the ones with the mark of the beast are destroyed, my question is: Who will enter the Millennium in their mortal flesh?
You see the problem? There will be no one left alive, or in mortal flesh that has not been changed to spirit to even populate the Kingdom of God and produce human beings of flesh as expressed in your Bible. The only teaching that makes sense is the coming of the Lord for His church prior to the Tribulation, then the Second Advent of Jesus Christ to set up His Kingdom for a thousand years in that order. God through the Holy Spirit has called a remnant that will believe unto salvation in this age of the dispensation of the church. When Jesus comes back He will come for one final battle of swift judgment and this verse caught my eye and further proves that when He comes back and it opened this sermon:
Revelation 17:14 “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”
Folks, that is: You and me of the dispensation of grace.
These are the saints who will be kings and priest and will reign with Jesus Christ in the family of God for a 1000-years leading into eternity. My reader, do not think that you have time to make the decision to be on the Lord’s side when the days get really rough and think you have time. Remember Jesus said He would come as a thief in the night and when He does, for you if you have not made that decision for Jesus Christ, time will have run out. Make that decision today for your eternal destination to be in glory with Jesus and the Father in Heaven. To be otherwise will be literally “hell on earth” and a coming spiritual death.
This is Pastor Mike Taylor wishing the salvation of Jesus Christ in each of your lives. If there is anything I can help you with, pray with you about, or just listen, drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org, God bless you, until we meet at Jesus’ feet.