TWO VERY DIFFERENT DELIVERANCES
Failure to discern between the two future gatherings of the Lord’s saints has led some to incorrectly believe in a post or mid-tribulation gathering of the church. Hopefully, the following scriptures will clear up this misunderstanding. May the blessed hope of Christ’s imminent gathering of the church give every believer the sincere desire to purify “himself, even as he is pure” (1John 3:3).
THE CHURCH—The church is composed of “all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). Each member of Christ’s “body, the church” (Colossians 1:18) has heard and believed “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). The apostle Paul testified “both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21), preaching: “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1Corinthians 15:3-4)
Every believer in Christ has already been delivered “from the curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13; Romans 7:6), and “from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). God the Father has “delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). God has “delivered us from so great a death [when we believed the gospel], and doth deliver [during our lives on earth]: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us [at the resurrection of the living and dead in Christ]” (2Corinthians 1:10).
Every member of his “body, the church” (Colossians 1:18) has “passed from death unto life” (John 5:24; 1John 3:14). After his resurrection from the dead, the church began when the Lord Jesus Christ baptized the first believer “with the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 3:11) into his body (1Corinthians 12:13). The church will be completed when the last born-again believer is baptized into the body of Christ before both the living and dead in Christ “shall be caught up together…to meet the Lord in the air…” (1Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Delivered by the Lord himself—The faithful in the church are “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). They are waiting “for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1Thessalonians 1:10). The Lord Jesus will soon come as a thief in the night to deliver his church from God’s wrath and from the “strong delusion” which God will send upon Christ rejecters (John 12:48), “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2Thessalonians 2:11-12)
According to God’s word, “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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1Thessalonians 4:16-18).
THE TRIBULATION BELIEVERS—These believers will be living on earth during Daniel’s prophesied seventieth week of seven years. They will hear “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 9:35) preached by “an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 7:1-4). These sealed servants (Revelation 7:3) will preach the same gospel that Jesus and his disciples preached during the Lord’s earthly ministry: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
With reference to this seven-year period which will follow the Lord’s gathering of the church, Jesus told his disciples: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). Jesus spoke not of the end of the church age but of the end of “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7)! During this time, the nations will also hear the voice of an angel flying in the midst of heaven preaching “the everlasting gospel…Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:6-7).
Accursed preachers—While the church is still on earth, anyone preaching either “the gospel of the kingdom,” or “the everlasting gospel” instead of “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) is accursed: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).
A false sign—The scripture teaches that the Lord is coming for his church “as a thief in the night” (1Thessalonians 5:2; 2Peter 3:10) without preceding signs or events. Nevertheless, some—by misinterpreting Matthew 24:14, teach that the gospel of the grace of God must be preached in all the world before the Lord can come for the church! According to the scriptures, the gospel of the grace of God had already been preached to all the world by 60 AD! We know this because the apostle Paul wrote: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Romans 10:17-18).
Delivered by the angels—Before the end of the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21), and before the second coming of Jesus Christ to judge and to make war with the nations, the Lord “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 24:30-31).
When God showed him this future deliverance of the tribulation saints, John testified: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb…And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-17).
The deliverance of the tribulation saints will fulfill the Lord’s earlier promise to “the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9-11).
The blessed nations—The “great multitude” that will come out of great tribulation will include all believers in the blessed sheep nations, the nations that ministered to the nation of Israel during the time of their trouble (Matthew 25:33-40). They will stand at the Lord’s right hand when he comes to judge all nations; and the King shall say unto them: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). These sheep nation believers are called “the righteous [who shall go] into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46). We can be absolutely sure that these believers will not be made righteous because of any good works they will do toward Israel. They will receive “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ…” (Romans 3:22)
As a result of their salvation by faith, they will minister to Israel during the great tribulation. According to the scriptures, it is impossible for anyone to inherit the kingdom of God by works: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). Men are saved according to God’s mercy when they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31)! No man has ever been “justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16)!
CHRIST’S SECOND COMING
With ALL his saints—Zechariah prophesied: “And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 24:15-21).
In his letter unto the church of the Thessalonians, Paul wrote: “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1Thessalonians 3:12-13): “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints” (Jude 1:14; Revelation 5:11).
Composition of his saints—At the time of the second coming of Jesus Christ, “all his saints” (1Thessalonians 3:13)—the armies “which were in heaven,” will follow the Lord “upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:14). The Lord’s armies will include the following: all believers from Adam to the first coming of Christ; all who believed on the Lord during his earthly ministry—before his death, burial, and resurrection; all “born again” (John 3:3-8; 1Peter 1:23) members of his “body, the church” (Colossians 1:18), which began after his resurrection; and all believers between the Lord’s deliverance of the church up to meet him in the air (1Thessalonians 4:13-18) and time of the gathering of “his elect” (Matthew 24:31) by the angels shortly before Christ’s second coming.
The winepress—The Lord gives the analogy of a man treading grapes in a winepress (Nehemiah 13:15; Isaiah 16:10) to illustrate his second coming when he will tread down his enemies. The psalmist wrote: “Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies” (Psalm 108:13). The prophets wrote: “Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth” (Jeremiah 25:30); and: “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength?
“I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth” (Isaiah 63:1-6).
The apostle John reported: “And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs” (Revelation 14:17-20).
None of the armies that come with the Lord will have to fight. They will only behold with their eyes when the Lord Jesus treads the winepress alone. “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth” (Psalm 58:10-11; see also Psalm 46:1-11; 3:25-26).
The apostle John described what he saw concerning Christ’s second coming: “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:13-15).
JUDGMENT OF NATIONS
I know of no scriptures that give the order of events at the beginning of the millennium. Therefore, I assume that the Lord will judge his conquered nations before he holds his marriage supper, for the Lord Jesus is coming to “judge and make war” (Revelation 19:11). It seems reasonable to me that the Lord will first judge all the nations after he conquers them in war. The Lord Jesus himself declared: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:31-33).
The end of all national wars—Isaiah prophesied: “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4). Micah also prophesied: “And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3).
THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB
The apostle John was told, “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” (Revelation 19:9). Although parables cannot be used to establish doctrine, according to the following prophecy and two parables, it seems reasonable to speculate that the Lord’s marriage supper will be held in the King’s palace on earth after Christ’s second coming.
The destruction of the Jewish temple—According to the scriptures, the entire earth will lie in ruins as a result of the “great earthquake” which will cause all “the cities of the nations” (Revelation 16:18-19) to fall: when the LORD arises “to shake terribly the earth” (Isaiah 2:19-21). The temple, which will be built by the Jews during the first three and one-half years of “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), is where the man of sin will sit “as God…in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2Thessalonians 2:4). This temple will also be destroyed by the “great earthquake.”
The building of the millennial temple—Because of the word of prophecy, we know that the Lord Jesus Christ will sit on his throne in a new temple during his thousand-year reign, a temple that he himself will build. The LORD commanded Zechariah to speak unto Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and say: “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both [The LORD and his Lord: the Father and the Son]” (Zechariah 6:12-13; Psalm 110:1).
How long in building—If Herod’s temple was forty and six years in building (John 2:18-22), how long will it take the Lord to build his temple? The “LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is…” (Exodus 20:11) in six days. “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6-9). “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3). Knowing that “God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3), and that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), and “nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37), we should not be surprised if the Lord will speak, and his temple will immediately come into existence!
Prophetic scene: marriage guests—”Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre [These words are spoken by the Father to the Lord Jesus Christ, his “only begotten Son” (John 3:16; 1John 4:9; Hebrews 1:8)]. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen [“the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 19:7; 21:9), his espoused virgin church (2Corinthians 11:2)] in gold of Ophir. Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.”
[The Lord is speaking to his church. Even in this life, all the church, all “the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26), should recognize and acknowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of our worship! The four beast and the twenty-four elders in heaven will declare: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). And all the redeemed in heaven will say “with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Revelation 5:9-12)].
“And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour. The king’s daughter [see 2Corinthians 6:18] is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions [These virgins are typified by the five wise Jewish virgins (Matthew 25:1-10)] that follow her shall be brought unto thee. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace.
“Instead of thy fathers [The Son of God is “from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). He “created all things…that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Revelation 4:11; Colossians 1:16-17). Therefore, the eternal Son of God is “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life…” (Hebrews 7:3). When the eternal Son “was made flesh” (John 1:14), he “was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:3-4)]
“shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth [The Lord will make “us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10)]. I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever” (Psalm 45:6-17, shown in bold).
Parable of the wedding dinner—Jesus spoke this parable, and said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son” (Matthew 22:1-2). When the king sent out two groups of servants to invite men to the wedding, they would not come. A remnant of those that refused the king’s invitation mistreated his servants and killed them (Matthew 22:3-6). “But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city” (Matthew 22:7)
This could be a reference to the second coming of Christ, after which the king will say again “to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:8-14).
We know that the Lamb’s wife will be “granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:7-8). We also know that the LORD will clothe all his saints “with the garments of salvation [and cover them] with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10). Therefore, the man without a wedding garment will be cast into outer darkness because he is one of a multitude of men who are “wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever” (2Peter 2:17). He is one of the “Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 1:13).
Parable of the foolish virgins—In this parable of the kingdom of heaven, when the five wise and five foolish virgins slept, “at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). The wise virgins “that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:1-13). The wise virgins are companions of the bride, the church: “With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace…” (Psalm 45:13-17; Revelation 14:4). “The Lord knoweth them that are his…” (2Timothy 2:19; Nahum 1:7).
Does the Lord know you? Or will he say unto you, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23)? “Now is the day of salvation” (2Corinthians 6:1-2).