There is a lot of talk lately about the ‘Rapture’. Everywhere I turn people are talking about the signs of the end times. The signs are literally screaming at us, and yet I regularly encounter Christians who have zero interest in discussing the possibility that Christ’s Second Coming may be in our lifetime. I’m talking about Christians who will not even consider the signs pointed out in scripture.
Two examples come to mind. I’ll call one the ‘pan-millennialist’ and the other the ‘scoffer’. The first will, if the subject is broached, say, “I’m a pan-millennialist,” (ha, ha, ha; slap on the back) “I figure it will all pan out in the end; know what I mean?” The other, the Bible calls a ‘scoffer’ because 2 Peter 3:3,4 tell us that in the last days scoffers will come, saying “where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (v.4) Although scripture promises blessings for those who study and read Revelation, neither of these has any desire to study prophetic scripture.
Dr. David Jeremiah says in his book, Agents of The Apocalypse; “The Second Coming is second only to salvation as the most dominant subject in the New Testament. The fact that Christ’s second coming features so prominently in Scriptures is an indication that this event is important to God – and as a result, it should be important to us.”
Let me point out regarding ‘The Rapture/Second Coming’ that it is obviously God’s will that we live in expectation of His imminent return. We are to be preparing for His return. Luke 21:36 says, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” I take that to mean that some, not all, will escape the coming judgment upon the Earth. He, Jesus, in Luke 21 is speaking to His followers about the end times.
These described above believe that there is ‘no gain’ in watching and getting ready for His return. They assume and have been taught in church that whenever the rapture occurs, they will go, because, after all, they’re saved! The Rapture is for the whole Church, Right?
What if they are wrong? What if there is the possibility of those not watching, of those not ready, being left behind? I believe there is scriptural evidence for this. I have even changed my terminology and now speak of ‘The Rapture of the Bride’ not ‘the rapture of the church’. True enough, the Bride is a part of the Church but not the whole church. Scripture tells us that Jesus is coming to get His Bride who is purifying herself, making herself ready, and eagerly awaiting the coming of the Groom. Does that describe you? What Bride does not eagerly anticipate her wedding day? Nominal Christians, ‘pan-millennialists’, scoffers do not fit that picture. Pan-millennialist just want ‘a cabin in the corner of gloryland’. No need to get all consumed with this spiritual journey, after all, I’ve got my pass stamped. They’re certainly not eagerly awaiting His return; why given the choice, they may even choose to stay behind; opting to catch up with the Lord on His next pass in seven years.
I ventured my ‘partial rapture’ theory in a Bible study group several years ago and one Bible teacher grew angry. He declared forcefully that “Salvation was by grace through faith alone; works doesn’t enter the picture!” I agreed and told him that I’m not suggesting that those left behind are lost; only left behind to endure the judgment of Great Tribulation. Later after studying the relevant scriptures he returned suggesting that those left behind would be those so wrapped up in this world that they would choose to remain. I replied, “Exactly!”
I’ve already quoted Luke 21:36 that suggests that by ‘watching and praying’ some will escape the coming judgment upon the Earth. Let’s look at Matthew 25:1-13. Matthew 24 and 25 are the teachings of Jesus on the “Last Days”. Matt 25:1 says, “…at that time, the kingdom of heaven will be like…” Then in verse 13 is the admonition, “therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Many say this parable is not about the rapture but it certainly is about the groom coming for His bride to take her to the Fathers’ house for the wedding. Sounds like the rapture to me! The phraseology, “no one knows the day or the hour” certainly speaks of the rapture because at His Second Coming to Earth, the exact day will be known. It will be, according to scripture, 1260 days or 3 ½ years after the abomination of desolation in the temple in Jerusalem. This is precisely why the Anti-Christ gathers the armies of the world to stop Jesus from returning to reign as King of King and Lord of Lords. They know the day according to prophetic scripture.
In between Matt. 25:1 and verse 13 is the parable of ‘the Ten Virgins’; five wise and five foolish. All ten were a part of the wedding party (the Church). All ten were saved! Five were wise and five were foolish. Foolish doesn’t mean lost, it means double minded. They weren’t singularly focused on the coming of the Groom. (Sounds like a ‘pan-millennialist’ to me)
The parable parallels a Jewish wedding feast of that day. This also parallels what we call the rapture! In the Jewish tradition, once the proposal of marriage is accepted, the groom goes to prepare a place for the couple to live. (John 14:1-4) When the Father of the groom is satisfied with the arrangements and preparations, he tells the groom, ‘go and get your bride’. It’s a celebratory atmosphere but the groom keeps the exact time a secret from the bride and wedding party. As the groom gets close to the brides’ house the best man shouts, “Behold, The bridegroom cometh!” The groom snatches his bride; the wedding party is assembled and they go to the Fathers’ house for the ceremony and celebration which lasts seven days. In NT prophecy, when the Bride is taken, that marks the end of ‘the church age’.
Daniel 9 tells us that the history of Israel is divided into 70 weeks of years. We find that 69 weeks of Jewish history have past, (concluded when Messiah was cut off). Then the age of Grace, like a parenthesis is inserted. Israel awaits her final week of history. According to scripture that 70th week will begin when Israel makes a seven year peace treaty with the anti-Christ. 2 Thess. 2:7 states that the Anti-Christ cannot be revealed until ‘HE who restrains’ is taken out of the way. It is generally agreed that ‘He who restrains’ is the Holy Spirit. It is also agreed that ‘He who will never leave us nor forsake us’ leaves when the Bride leaves, ie. ‘the rapture’.
So, while a week of years, Daniels’ 70th week, Great Tribulation, occurs on Earth; the week long wedding celebration is taking place in Heaven, the Fathers’ house.
Notice in Matthew 25:1-13 they all slept; they all were invited to be a part of the wedding feast. Five went and five were shut out because they were not ready.
Some suggest that when the Groom tells those shut out, “I don’t know you” this indicates they were lost. Not so. Please note: In Matt 7:23, where Jesus tells those who were false believers, “I never knew you.” He used the word “ginosko” which means “I have no knowledge of you”. Here, in Matthew 25:12 where the Groom says, “I don’t Know you”, the word used is “oida” meaning intimacy. It’s like a husband ‘knows’ his wife and she conceives. He is not saying, “I don’t know who you are”, rather he is saying, “You and I are not intimate, You’re not my bride.”
Let me return to Luke 21:36. “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Note: this is a two-fold admonition. One: that you may be able to escape judgment that is described in Luke 21 by Jesus himself; and Two: that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. The phrase “to stand before” has two meanings in scripture. One, is to ‘stand in Judgment’ and Two, is for a Bride to ‘stand before her groom’. Since we are specifically speaking here of escaping judgment, then in my opinion, this is the picture of the Bride standing before the groom in marriage as is Jewish tradition (and ours). This is a picture of the Bride being ushered down the aisle to the groom and stands before him.
I believe that according to scripture those of the church who are double minded, not making ready, not watching and praying are not a part of the bride. They are saved in the end, but as here are left behind to endure judgment that falls during Great Tribulation.
What if I am right? What if the Parable of the Ten Virgins is a separation of those who are longing for His appearing from those who are saved but caught up in the cares of this world?