Preparing The Tribulation Saints :: By Matt Leasher

The Rapture

For those of us that are secure in our hope of the promised redemption of our bodies at the Rapture of the Church (Romans 8:23), we still grieve daily for our friends and loved ones that have not received this promise that comes with being born again in Christ Jesus.  We may get weary in repeating this hope and gospel message to them; but we must never get discouraged, knowing that our labor in the Lord is never in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

While we know that the judgment of the Lord is soon coming upon this wicked Godless world, we also know that the Lord is not willing that any should perish and that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  And even though the Lord is long-suffering in His grace, when that long-suffering runs out, He will continue to strive to bring sinners to repentance.

That is the underlying purpose of the Tribulation period.  It will be a time of Abba Father’s tough love towards His children who would not come to Him through the atonement provided by His Son during the Age of Grace.

There will be many in the left-behind world that will immediately turn to God when the Rapture occurs.  We all know people who say that they won’t believe something unless they see it first, and we’ve heard many people say that about the Rapture.

I believe the martyrs in Revelation 6:9-11 are those people who witnessed the Rapture and immediately remembered the words of their loved ones who tried to warn them that this would happen if they did not receive Jesus Christ as their Savior.  They are given white robes and told that they must wait a little while longer until the rest of their brethren, who would be killed as they were, are completed.

I believe the apostle John sees the rest of the Tribulation saints in Revelation 7:9-17, which is a parenthetical chapter.

I also believe that these Tribulation saints are the virgins (or bridesmaids) that join the Groom and Bride (Church) at the wedding supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).  In the ancient Jewish wedding tradition, the bride and groom spend seven days alone to consummate the marriage, and then they have the wedding banquet afterwards.

This is the reverse order of how most weddings are arranged today where the wedding banquet comes before the consummated honeymoon.  The bridesmaids are not going to join the Groom and Bride until “after” the seven-year consummation period is completed in heaven, which coincides with the seven-year Tribulation that will be occurring on earth.  That is one of the reasons why the marriage supper of the Lamb occurs on earth.  That is where the bridesmaids are!

It is interesting to note that there are no groomsmen mentioned for the Groom, but the Bride has “bridesmaids.”  This is because it is the Bride (the Church) who planted the seeds of the gospel that will carry into the Tribulation period to help set the course for the bridesmaids.  The gospel message is centered on the Groom—the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone.

I’ve heard some theologians say that no one will be saved during the first half of the Tribulation. But the cry of the martyrs in Revelation 6:10 is asking for vengeance upon “those who dwell on the earth,” signifying that it was within the time frame of the early part of the Tribulation (which begins in Revelation 6:1) that their martyrdom occurred.

Once again, I believe these martyrs are those that were left behind because they were lukewarm in their acceptance of Christ as their Lord and Savior, as warned about in Revelation 3:16.  I call these people “fence sitters,” as they want to just sit on the fence and not choose a side, whether it be for Christ or against Christ.  But Jesus said,

“Those who are not with Me are against Me” (Matthew 12:30).

Since they could not choose a side, the Rapture will have chosen it for them!

Many who come to saving faith in the early part of the Tribulation will likely come to faith out of remembrance of what their Christian loved ones preached to them prior to the Rapture.  This could be the reason that we see the martyrs mentioned in Revelation 6 before the 144,000 witnesses from the twelve tribes of Israel are mentioned in Revelation 7.

The 144,000 will be supernaturally protected while evangelizing in a world of strong demonic forces (Revelation 9:4), and yet the seal judgments that occur before the mention of the martyrs in Revelation 6 are all the result of catastrophic occurrences brought about my mankind, clearly demarcating the two groups.

Sadly, among these martyrs will also be those that relied on their own religious works as their security for their salvation.  They will quickly realize that all of that was in vain and that it is only through faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross that is acceptable to the Lord for salvation.  This is evident in the fact that they are killed for their “testimony.”

“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9).

These early Tribulation martyrs will have an immediate testimony because we, the Church, ministered to them before the Rapture.

Many “religious” people will not listen to the message of being saved by grace or that the Rapture of the Church is at hand.  Their self-righteous rituals are their stumbling blocks to hearing the truth, and those stumbling blocks will cause them to stumble themselves right into the worst seven years in human history.  It may be hard to get through to them now, but we are planting seeds regardless of their current response.

However, the Tribulation saints are going to have it much harder than just being saved by faith.  They are going to have to keep their faith and their works for salvation!

“Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).

The Lord always honors our choices; and since many people have chosen to be justified by their own merits, the Lord will allow these Tribulation saints to practice what caused them to be here in the first place.  They will have to keep both the Law and faith in the finished work of Christ.  But I want to point out that no one will be justified before God in just keeping the Law in any dispensation (Romans 3:20).  In fact, if you try to just keep the Law in this current dispensation, it will only bring God’s wrath upon you (see Romans 4:15)!

Currently we are saved by grace through faith no matter how well we keep the Law or not, (Ephesians 2:8).  That is the absolute beauty and mercy of God that He has chosen us to be born in this dispensation of grace, where we have the opportunity to be sealed with the Holy Spirit when we receive Christ.

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

After the Rapture there will be many that will be wallowing in regret at the missed opportunity that they had let slip by their whole lives.  They will quickly remember every single time the gospel was preached to them.  Some will still reject it but many will quickly repent and call out to their Savior.

This may result in the biggest revival there ever was; however, it won’t last long as the Antichrist will prevail over them (Daniel 7:21 & Revelation 13:7).  This is what differentiates the identity of the saints of the Church Age from the saints of the Tribulation period.  Jesus said of the Church that the gates of hell shall not prevail over it (Matthew 16:18); and when Satan is cast out of heaven to run rampant on the earth, the Holy Spirit empowered Church will have been caught up to heaven prior to that.

Knowing what lies ahead for the Tribulation saints, we the Church can prepare them in several ways.  The first and most important thing is to never pass up every opportunity we get to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them in love and grace.  We don’t want to brow-beat them with doom and gloom, but we do want to inform them of what it is they are being saved from when they receive the Savior.

“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).

Even if we don’t win souls for Christ in the here and now, we can have peace of mind knowing that we did our part in the Great Commission and leave the rest to the Lord in prayer.

The chaotic left-behind world is going to be searching for answers as to what is going on; and there is a good chance that the internet will be down for an extended period of time and then likely controlled by the Antichrist system when it comes back up.  So it would be helpful for us to leave physical Bibles around in our homes, cars, sheds, etc., anywhere that a left-behind person may happen upon it.  The Bible is going to be their life source!

If the decor in your house consists of Bible verses and Scripture references, then you are already one step ahead of the game.  A person may enter your house after the Rapture, see those references on your wall, and then be inspired to look them up in the Bible that you left on your coffee table.  In my house there isn’t a single room that doesn’t have at least one Bible verse openly displayed.

We can also leave gospel tracts in various places.  Perhaps keep the pockets of all of your coats in your closet loaded with gospel tracts so that they will be found and read when someone uses your coat for warmth.  You can also keep them in various places in your car such as the sun-visor, glove box, center console, etc.  Gospel tracts are at a size that allows you to be creative in their placement.

Another thing we can do to prepare the left-behind is to leave some survival kits of different sorts in our homes, knowing that we won’t need them.  It is always good to have a good stock of bottled water and large water containers at hand as well as dried food and first-aid kits.  The supply house that we leave behind for the apocalyptic world after the Rapture may be limited, but it will provide a good start as they seek salvation; and it will also display the hearts that we had for them when they come across these thoughtful food staples and provisions.

There are some Christians that feel we are so close to the Rapture that they have notes prepared describing what happened and what to do, which they leave on their kitchen tables every day.  There is certainly nothing wrong with doing that and it could even be a way of opening up a discussion about the Rapture for anyone that sees it now!  The Rapture is often laughed at by the unbelieving world; but if they see just how serious we Christians are about it, then perhaps it would trigger them into looking into it more seriously themselves.

The New Testament gives no instructions to the Church as to what to do or how to survive the Tribulation period; instead the Lord told us to store up our treasures in heaven, and we do that with charity both now and in what we  provide for the left-behind.

Basically the best way we can currently prepare the Tribulation saints is to let our light shine and display our faith and trust in our Savior openly.  Many Christian homes are already set up in the way that I’ve just described, and our lives are to glorify the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ both now and in the ages to come!

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7).

Deciphering the Feast of Trumpets :: By Matt Leasher

Every year when the Feast of Trumpets (a.k.a. Rosh Hashanah), rolls around, prophecy watchers go into what I call, “high alert” in anticipation for the Rapture of the Church.  I, myself, am one of those watchmen and this year there seems to be extra cause for excitement.

As many people may know, there are several similarities and parallels with the traditional aspects of the Feast of Trumpets compared to the Rapture, especially when viewed from the Jewish perspective.  I recently came across a list of all the different Jewish names for the Feast of Trumpets and their meanings. I’d like to list them here with their meanings and their parallels to the characteristics of the Rapture of the Church and their possible relevance to this year!  But first, please understand that I am not date setting, but rather discerning the times as our Lord calls us to do!

Names Associated with the Feast of Trumpets:

Rosh Hashanah – means “head of the year” and is the New Year on the Jewish calendar (Tishri 1), and is designated by the New Moon.  The last new moon we had was during a solar eclipse over America.  Traditionally a solar eclipse was recognized as a sign of coming judgment.

As I am writing this America is experiencing severe devastation on the west coast with the largest wild fire ever recorded in Los Angeles causing mass evacuations. The gulf coast is recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Harvey and a potential record breaking size hurricane is threatening to possibly strike the east coast sometime very soon.

 Teshuvah – signifies repentance.  The Hebrew month prior to Tishri is Elul and it is designated as the month of repentance. It is customary to blow the shofar every day (except on Shabbat), leading up to the Feast of Trumpets.

Many have talked about the “Sign of Jonah” when the solar eclipse occurred last month and that it happened on the first day of Elul.  Exactly 40 days later is the Day of Atonement and the number 40 in the Bible represents a time of testing or trial.  The Lord instructed Jonah to give the wicked city of Nineveh 40 days to repent before He would judge the wickedness of that city with destruction. Nineveh repented and was spared God’s judgment. Could the last eclipse be a sign that America and/or the rest of the world have 40 days left to repent before Judgment comes?

Yom Teruah – designated as the “Day of Shouting” accompanied by the “Awakening Blast” to call those that are sleeping in the dust to come to life.

At the Rapture the Lord will come with a “shout” and a “trumpet” when He first resurrects those that sleep in Christ and then translates us Christians who are alive to join them!

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Yom HaDin – means “The Day of Judgment”.   The “Judgment Seat of Christ” will likely occur immediately after the Rapture where all believers in Christ are judged for their works and given the crowns that they earned. (see Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; and 2 Corinthians 5:10)

For those that don’t go in the Rapture, it will certainly be a day of judgment for them as they will have to face the 21 sets of divine judgments that are outlined in Revelation chapters 6 through 18.  It is important to note that the church is not mentioned once in any of those chapters.

Yom HaMelech – relates to the Lord being recognized as King of the universe. The coronation of kings traditionally occurred on this day and we can surmise that the coronation of the King Messiah will occur on a future Feast of Trumpets, perhaps at the Second Coming.

It is interesting to note that Stephen was the first martyr of the Church Age and that the “crown of life” that Jesus offers to the church of Smyrna in Revelation 2:10 is called the “stephanos” in the Greek, likely named after Stephen. This makes Stephen the first member of the “bride of Christ” to enter heaven.

When Stephen was about to die he saw Christ “standing” from His seat next to the Father to welcome him home.  When the Rapture occurs Christ will once again leave from His seat next to the Father to come and get the last remaining members of the bride of Christ.  There are some theologians that believe Stephen was martyred on the Feast of Trumpets, possibly even as early as the same year that Christ was crucified.

Chevlai shel Mashiach – is a Hebrew phrase meaning “birth pangs of the Messiah” and is recognized as “the time of Jacob’s Trouble.”  Jacob’s name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with God (Genesis 32:28).

When Jesus was asked by the disciples about the end of the age, He told them that those days would be the beginning of “sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). The Greek word for sorrows is “odin” and it means “birth pangs.” The prophet Jeremiah spoke of the birth pangs of the Messiah in Jeremiah 30:6-7:

“Ask now and see,

Whether a man is ever in labor with child?

So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins

Like a woman in labor,

And all faces turned pale?

Alas! For the day is great,

So that none is like it;

And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble,

But he shall be saved out of it.”

The “time of Jacob’s trouble” is synonymous with “Daniel’s 70th Week” and the seven year Tribulation period. After the Rapture of the Church, the Lord’s attention will return to Israel as she suffers through the afflictions of the Tribulation period.

Kiddushin / Nesu’in – is the wedding ceremony and implies that the wedding of the Messiah will take place on the Feast of Trumpets.  When the Rapture occurs, Christ the Bridegroom will come to receive His bride and take her to His Father’s house. (John 14:1-4)

All of the similarities and parallels between the ancient Jewish wedding traditions and the Rapture of the Church are too extensive, to go into all of the details here. I highly encourage you to do a study of it on your own and you will be sure to be blessed!

Natzal –  or “the day of the natzal” and also refers to the resurrection of the dead.  Natzal in the Hebrew (Strong’s H5337), means “deliverance, to deliver, to snatch away,  take away, to rescue.”  Basically, “natzal” is the Hebrew correspondence to the Greek “harpazo” which means “rapture”!

Shofar HaGadol – refers to the “last trump.” The last trump blown after a series of trumpet blasts on the Feast of Trumpets is a long bellowing blast.  Paul referred to the “last trump” when he described the Rapture in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

Yom Hakeseh – means “the hidden day”. Isaiah 26:19-21 mentions God’s people “hiding themselves” after the dead are raised and the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.

Psalm 27:5 also reminds us:

“For in the time of trouble

He shall hide me in His pavilion;

In the secret place of His tabernacle

He shall hide me;

He shall set me high upon a rock.”

Rosh Hashanah has also been referred to as the “hidden day” because it is the only Feast of the Lord’s seven Feasts given in Leviticus 23 that begins on a New

Moon.  The start of the Feast can’t be determined until the first sliver of the moon reappears, after it has come out of “hiding”, and is seen by two witnesses. Because of this there is a two day window when the Feast can begin, so no one knows the day or the hour!

Lastly, the Feast of Trumpets has also been termed as “The Day of the Opening of the Gates.”  In Jewish tradition the gates of heaven would open up on Rosh Hashanah allowing the sinner to repent before God and have his name written in the Book of Life that would then be sealed on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

During this time the High Priest would go into a chamber in the Temple and “hide himself” from the people (Israel), until the Day of Atonement when he would then come out and determine whether Israel had been forgiven of sin or whether Israel would suffer judgment.

Currently our High Priest, Christ Jesus, is in heaven making intercession for the saints (Hebrews 4:14), and will soon be coming out of His place to judge the world for their iniquity (Isaiah 26:21).

In Revelation 4:1 the apostle John is raptured up to heaven to be shown the things that must come afterward, meaning after the Church Age that was outlined in the previous chapters 2 and 3.  When John is taken up it mentions that “a door was opened in heaven.”

Jesus said of Himself:

“I am the door, if anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

If the Feast of Trumpets is known as the “opening of the gates”, then it certainly could apply to the Rapture of the Church where the Lord descends and the church ascends in and out of heaven!

With all of these parallels and similarities between the multiple meanings of the Feast of Trumpets and the Rapture of the Church followed by the Tribulation period, is it any wonder why prophecy watchers get excited when Rosh Hashanah comes around!

Before I close this commentary I would like to address the ever so common misusage of the verse that no one can know the day or the hour.  When Jesus made that reference in Matthew 24:36 and also in Mark 13:32, the preceding verse in both of those passages says,

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

Then, Jesus said, “but of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

With that in context, when will the heavens and earth pass away? After the 1,000 year Millennium reign of Christ.  So Jesus was clearly not talking about the Rapture at all.  The context of both of those chapters is the Tribulation and His Second Coming.

Furthermore, our Lord is very orderly and the Church and her Great Commission had not yet been ordained when He made that statement. So why would He tell them they would not know the hour that it would end when He didn’t even commission it yet.  The disciples would have no idea what He was talking about.

However, they would understand that He was talking about the Tribulation period because the Tribulation is spoken of all through the Old Testament, (referenced as the Day of the Lord).  The new heavens and the new earth was also already written by Isaiah as well. (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22)

That verse is the most misquoted verse in the Bible and used as an excuse to not be watching by far too many people that should be watching.

Jesus’ words in Revelation 3:3 clearly imply that the church IS supposed to be watching and knowing the “hour” of His return.

“Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.” (Revelation 3:3)

All of the seven letters to the churches end with the admonition:

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Notice churches is plural.  So that message about watching and knowing the hour of His return applies to the entire Church Age. What we never want to do is be dogmatic about any certain date, but there is nothing wrong with being on high alert on one of the Lord’s feast days that He has ordained to be  His appointments.

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”  (Hebrews 10:24-25)