"Matthew 24 - The Rapture Dilemma" (Part Four)
The Rapture or the Second Coming - or both?
The NTEB article (as I mentioned in Part One, an example I used to sum up the debate) states that the Matthew 24 references "we know to be the Day of the Lord, and the end of the world". That is to say, the Second Coming and subsequent events.
We know nothing of the sort. This is the kind of leap of deduction that is made in support of dispensationalism that is undone by proper biblical exegesis. In this case their reasoning is that "Matthew 24 is not about the Church which didn't even exist on the day that they asked Jesus these questions." That is dealt with in Part Two.
What was the reason for Jesus' instruction in Matthew 24? The believers who loved Jesus wanted to know when he was coming back FOR THEM. They did ask when the destruction of the Temple would happen (part one of their question in Matt 24:3) but they wanted to know in addition (2) what will be the sign of your coming; and (3) signs of the end of the age.
Jesus answers all these in turn. All that he said from verses 4-28 could have been (and was) applied to the Church of that day AS WELL AS applying in an endtimes context.
Persecution, hardships, hatred, imprisonment, gospel preaching, the destruction of the city and temple, great tribulation and deliverance, false prophets and christs, heresies about the second coming – ALL THIS happened to those who heard the words of Jesus in that day!
Gospel Preaching – by Israel? Or Evangelism by the Church?
And notice that among the events supposed by Dispensationalists to be exclusively about Israel and the seven-year Tribulation, at a time when they tell us that the Holy Spirit has gone from the world and the devil is fully in charge, Jesus prophesied that the gospel would be effectively spread right round the world "and then the End shall come", (Matt 24:14).
Now I don't know about you, but I rather think Jesus was referring to the Church in their worldwide evangelistic mission – it was to the CHURCH after all that Jesus gave the task of gospel preaching, saying "Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned ". (Mark 16 15-16)
There MAY indeed be a further and more specific endtimes aspect to this preaching, as a final call for the world, but Israel today is unlikely to participate in that preaching and during the reign of the Antichrist even less so.
Israel will be preoccupied with her own land and interests, and in her own survival, rather than gospel preaching.
The believing Remnant of Israel, the only group who might possibly have a hand in preaching about their Messiah, have been "caught up" to the Lord, (Revelation 12:5) and the godly remnant who have not yet accepted their Messiah have had to flee to the desert to avoid the war of the Dragon. (Revelation 12:6) That only leaves apostate Israel who are certainly not going to do the task.
So to whom was Jesus speaking? It seems obvious to me! THE CHURCH.
Matthew 24 and the Seals of Revelation
When we look at the words of John in Revelation we see a most startling correlation between the prophecies of Jesus and the Seals of chapter six! Except for those who argue that Revelation may have been written before AD70, this can only mean that Jesus was referring both to the Early Church AND the latter-day Church in his prophecies.
From the very same website that is the subject of this article, we find another post showing this very same truth, that the Six Seals of Revelation were prophesied, in order, by Jesus in Matthew 24. (OOPS)
I say OOPS, because, despite their attempts to support the pre-trib rapture from this fact, the most literal and obvious conclusion from the Matthew 24 and Six Seal conjunction is that THE RAPTURE HAPPENS AT SEAL SIX!!! Incidentally, JUST where Jesus prophesied it to be.
"This is also further proof of the Pretribulation Rapture of the Church because Paul, writing long after Matthew, introduced the doctrine of the Church Rapture as a "mystery" previously unknown. That means that Matthew could not have been talking about the Rapture of the Church. He didn't know anything about it. Understanding that Matthew 24 is actually giving us the first 6 Seal Judgements from Revelation 6 is a huge clue in helping to put events within a timeframe."
Well, possibly Matthew "knew nothing" about the Rapture of the Church BUT JESUS DID.
And it is JESUS Himself who is speaking, not Matthew. Matthew merely reported accurately what Jesus said, and what he said was a clear description of his coming to gather his saints "from one end of heaven to the other". (24:31)
And yes, as NTEB noted, this does (unfortunately for them) provide a prophetic timeframe, one in which verses 29-44 of Matthew 24 (the Rapture) follow immediately upon the celestial disasters of Seal Six of Revelation!
The disciples, you see, like us today, were much more interested in when Jesus was coming to take them home, than when he was to return with the armies of heaven to purge the wicked from earth and sit upon the Throne of Judgement of the nations.
Yet Jesus answered that question also.
Their question number (3) if you remember was about the End of the Age. (The Second Coming as we call it). Skip over to Matthew 25:31 and following, and there you read what happens "when the Son of Man comes in his glory, with the holy angels" to be seated on his throne of judgement.
Clearly this is a DIFFERENT coming to the one in 24:40-44 where the "thief in the night" comes to "snatch away" only certain people, an event that believers are told to be READY for, in case they miss it. One could hardly miss Jesus arriving with an entire army of angels!
Furthermore, in Matthew 24:29-31 the Rapture is clearly described as coming immediately on the heels of the disturbances of Seal Six, and when the Son of Man is seen IN THE SKY (verse 30) coming on a CLOUD not a horse (compare 1 Thess 4:16) and sending out his ANGELS with the great sound of a TRUMPET (compare 1 Corinthians 15:51-52) to GATHER his elect FROM THE FOUR WINDS of heaven.
If this isn't a description of the RAPTURE, you may apply to me immediately for the consumption of a piece of headwear of your choice.
1 Thessalonians 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.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
- Did the Church Exist in the Day of Jesus?
- Can Prophecies Refer to More than One Event?
- The Rapture or the Second Coming - or both? (this page)
- When and What is the Day of Jacob's Trouble?
- Are the Elect Exclusively Israel?
- Is the Tribulation a seven-year Wrath of God?
- Do we Need to Endure, as Christians?
- Are there Distinct and Absolute Dispensations of History?
- Replacement Theology
© 2016 Tricia Tillin-Booth. All rights reserved. Birthpangs Website: http://www.birthpangs.org/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.