THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH?
This paper is written from the point of view that the Church which is His Body began after Acts 28:25 when Israel was put aside as God’s chosen people. If the reader does not hold to that view I suggest he/she read the paper When Did the Church Begin?
Aren’t We Asking The Wrong Question
It has long been a matter of controversy as to whether the Church will be raptured before or after the tribulation. This paper deals with, not so much when, as with who will be raptured.
I will state my position first and then we will search the scriptures. We do not read of the rapture in any of the prison epistles, i.e. the epistles written to the Church. We read about the rapture in I Thess. 4:17 which was written to the Acts period church when Israel was still God’s chosen people and the believing Gentiles were grafted in (see Romans 11). It is my opinion that when we read about the rapture we are reading about the rapture of believing Israel, which includes grafted in Gentiles.
The main characteristics of the dispensation of the mystery during which the Church which is His Body is being built is that the “nations are together-heirs, together-bodies and together-partakers of His promise in Christ” (Eph. 3:6). (For the Scriptural evidence of this translation, please see the paper on this web-site What Exactly Is The Mystery That Had Been Hid In God?.) Obviously, in order for the nations to be together-bodies Israel had to be put aside as God’s chosen people.
Where was the Church before Israel was put aside? It didn’t’t exist. Where will the Church be when God takes Israel back as His chosen nation? It won’t exist. Believers will be members of a different out-calling, i.e. Israel will be the chosen people of God and believing Gentiles will be grafted in, just as was the case during the Acts period. For a more complete study of this subject please see the paper on the church in the end times.
Let me put it another way. From the call of Abram to the end of the Acts period the promise of God was of an earthly inheritance. After the Acts period, God promised a heavenly inheritance, but not to Israel. He promised it to the Church which is being called out in a dispensation in which Israel was put aside.
In order to properly study this subject we will look at the following topics.
1. God dwells with Israel in the Temple
2. When Israel is lo-ammi, the Temple is destroyed
3. The Temple is rebuilt at the time of the rapture, Israel is no longer lo-ammi
4. If Israel is not lo-ammi, there is no Church
5. The rapture and the day of the Lord
6. The 5 Greek words associated with His coming
7. The hope of the Church
GOD DWELLS WITH ISRAEL IN THE TEMPLE
In Exodus 25:21-22 we read, “Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark of the Testimony which I will give you. There above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all My commands for the Israelites” And in Deut. 12:11 we read, “Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for His Name …there you are to bring everything I command you”.
In II Chron. 5:2-10 we read of the ark being brought to the Temple Solomon built and in II Chron. 6:1-2 we read, “Then Solomon said, ‘The Lord has said that He would dwell in a dark cloud; I have built a magnificent Temple for you, a place for You to dwell forever”.
WHEN ISRAEL IS L0-AMMI THE TEMPLE IS DESTROYED
God promises in II Chron. 7:14-16 “….if My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and I will forgive their sins and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place, My eyes and My heart will always be there“. Of course, there was the other side of this promise, which was the promise of verses 19 and 20. “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commandments I have given you, then I will uproot Israel from the land I have given them and I will reject this Temple which I have consecrated for My Name“.
Indeed, Israel did forsake their God and worship idols and God did give them up. In II Chron. 36:19 we read of how the Babylonians, “set fire to God’s Temple and set fire to Jerusalem”.
For 70 years Israel was lo-ammi (not My people) but when the 70 years were over, God, in His grace took them back again. Is it any wonder that Israel was so anxious to rebuild the Temple. They understood that it was because they had sinned that God had given them over to captivity, and that God did not dwell with them as long as His dwelling place with them i.e. the Temple, was destroyed. So the Temple was rebuilt and once again God dwelt with His chosen people.
Then in 70 A.D. after Israel had crucified their Messiah and rejected Him all throughout the Acts period, the Temple was once again destroyed and Israel is once again lo-ammi.
THE TEMPLE IS REBUILT AT THE TIME OF THE SECOND COMING
In Matt. 24:3, Christ’s disciples ask Him “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” The remainder of chapter 24 and chapter 25 answers that question. “So when you see standing in the holy place the’abomination of desolation spoken of through Daniel the prophet…then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains”. In other words, one of the last signs of the coming tribulation is the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by Daniel the prophet. We read of that abomination in Dan. 9:27, “And he who causes desolation will place on a wing of the Temple the abomination that causes desolation”.
II Thess. 2:3a-4 also tells us that the temple will be built for the tribulation. “and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God….”.
Obviously, the Temple will be rebuilt by the time of the antichrist. If the Temple will be rebuilt then Israel will have been taken back as God’s chosen people for God dwells with them in His Temple.
WHEN ISRAEL IS TAKEN BACK THERE WILL BE NO CHURCH
One of the characteristics of the dispensation of the mystery, in which the Church which is His is Body is being called is that the nations are “together-bodies”. If Israel is once again the chosen people of God that means that the nations are no longer together bodies (with Israel) in God’s sight. This does not mean that Gentiles will not be saved unto eternal salvation when Israel is taken back as His chosen nation. It will mean only that they will be partakers of the promises made to Israel, the same way they were during the Acts period.
The point is that once Israel is taken back, the dispensation in which nations are “together bodies” must end. And when the dispensation ends, so too must the church of the this dispensation end.
Let us now examine those passages of Scripture that speak of the rapture. I Thess. 4:16-17 reads, “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 shall rise first. After that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…”.
There are three things that connect this passage with Israel. 1) Thessalonians was written before the secret that concerns the dispensation during which the church which is His body is being built was revealed. 2) The archangel is the protector of Israel. 3)The trumpet callis part of a prophesy that has to do with Israel.
We read of the archangel in Jude, also a pre-prison epistle. Jude 9 reads, “But even the archangel, Michael….”. We learn that the archangel is Michael and this connects us to Daniel 12:1 which reads, “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise”. “Your people” is obviously Israel, that is, the archangel Michael is the protector of Israel.
The “trumpet call of God” connects us with Matt. 24:31 where Christ mentions the trumpet in connection with His second coming. “And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call“. It is not immediately apparent that this passage has to do with Israel, in large part because of the unfortunate translation of verse 30. Matt. 24:30 reads, in the King James, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the tribes of the earth will mourn“. The word “earth” is a translation of the Greek word “ge”. E. W Bullinger gives this definition, “land as distinct from water; or earth as distinct from heaven; or region or territory, used of one special land or country as distinct from other countries”. In Zech. 12:10 we have a parallel passage to Matt. 24:30 which makes it quite clear that in Matthew, “ge” refers to “a country as distinct from other countries, i.e. Israel. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me the one they pierced, and mourn for him as one mourns for an only child”. (Zech. 12:10). Zech. 12:10 has to do with Israel, and so, of course, does Matt. 24:30-31.
I believe that it is clear that when we compare Scripture with Scripture that l Thess. 4 concerns the rapture of believing Israel which will include grafted in Gentiles.
I am suggesting that believing Israel and grafted in Gentiles will be raptured. They will meet Him in the clouds and come down with Him and thus fulfill the promises made to Israel, i.e. the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth.
The Church which is His Body did not exist while Israel was God’s chosen people and because Israel will once again be His chosen people at the time of the second coming, will not exist then.
In my opinion, this view is consistent with the following facts; 1) the rapture is mentioned in pre-prison epistles only, 2) the trumpet call of God concerns Israel and 3) the Church is seated in heaven whereas those raptured are coming down with the Lord for His reign on earth.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
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