Sun, Mar 12, 2000

Come Up Here!: Revelation 4:1-2

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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"COME UP HERE!"

REVELATION 4:1-2

Well known author, Tim LaHaye, said:

When I was a boy, I took a tour of [the] Henry Ford factory in Dearborn, Mich. Then we saw an electromagnetic crane move over a large railroad car filled with what seemed to be junk steel. At the flip of a switch, everything in that car leaped up to the magnetic crane. Then I saw a strange thing: some pieces of steel fell back into the car. I waited until others had left on the tour and then climbed up to look inside and find out why these pieces fell back in. I found they were not steel at all. Lying on the bottom of the car were some old two-by-fours, a broom handle, and some broken pieces of wood. Only objects made of the right component responded to the magnet, the rest were left behind.

Tim LaHaye

This morning we are going to be looking at one of those controversial subjects called "the rapture" or the taking away of the church prior to God pouring out His wrath upon a Christ rejecting world, a period of time known as the tribulation period. And the reason it is so controversial and confusing is because we tend to listen to what man has to say rather than what God has to say. God wants us to understand this issue, He wants us to be clear on it. In fact, Paul, In I Thessalonians chapter 4, says this very thing prior to his teaching on the rapture. He tells us in verse 13, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren..." So Lord willing, I will show you what the Scriptures have to say regarding this event, called THE RAPTURE!

As we have studied Revelation chapters 2 and 3 over the past several weeks, we have looked at church history. We started out with the apostolic church or the church of the first century and finished with the apostate church of the last days. In other words, we have covered a period of time known as the age of grace or the church age.

The word for "church" is the Greek word EKKLESIA. This Greek word can be broken down into KALEO, which means "to call," and EK, which means "out of." Thus, this word speaks of a group of people who have been called out, that is they are to be separated unto God, to become the body of Christ. It is as Paul said to the Ephesian church, "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." Ephesians 2:4-6.

Thus, the church is not a building or an organization, but a living, breathing organism that is directed by Christ and is made up of people like you and me!

Now as we move into Revelation chapter 4, we see a change of scenery taking place. We will move from a earthly view to a heavenly view. From the church to the throne of God. And with this view, as we shall see, I believe we see the close of the church age and the start of the seventieth week of Daniel. A time where God will once again work with the nation of Israel and we will also see God’s wrath poured out upon a Christ rejecting world. And so, with that in mind, lets read the first two verses of Revelation chapter 4, and see what the Lord has for us this morning. (Read Revelation 4:1-2).

REVELATION 4

VERSE 1

Notice that John opens up this chapter with the phrase "After these things..." or META TAUTA in the Greek. After what things? After the things of the church, I believe that is what John is telling us here.

Remember the outline of this book that Jesus gave to us back in Revelation 1:19. He said"Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which willtake place after this." Thus, the things that John HAS SEEN, are the events found in Revelation chapter 1. They are the things that God has shown him so far.

The THINGS WHICH ARE, speak of the events which are taking place now, the things of chapters 2 and 3, the things of the church or the church age. Keep in mind that these letters Jesus wrote to these 7 churches in the Roman province of Asia, modern day Turkey, actually existed during the time of John. But, as we have seen, these letters also portray church history from the first century up and through today.

And lastly, this book is divided into THE THINGS WHICH WILL TAKE PLACE AFTER THIS, or after the church age comes to a close, the age of grace. You see, it is the same Greek word used in Revelation 4:1, META TAUTA. And thus, we see the last division of this book divided like this. Chapters 4-18 deal with the events leading up to the second coming of Christ, including the seven years of tribulation. Chapter 19 deals with the second coming. Chapter 20 deals with the aftermath and the setting up of the kingdom of God on this earth. And chapters 21 and 22 deal with the new Jerusalem, the new heavens and the new earth.

So as the church age comes to an end, John see’s a door open in heaven. And then a voice,LIKE a trumpet is calling to him to come as God will show him what WILL or MUSTtranspire after the church is removed from the earth. Please understand these are not chance events or accidents, but it is God’s divine will!

Also, this voice, like the sound of a trumpet, is the same voice spoken of in Revelation 1:10-11. We read "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ and, ‘What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, toSmyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."

Who is the one speaking here? Jesus Christ is the one speaking in this verse for if you continue on reading in Revelation chapter 1, you will see a description of Jesus Christ and then in verse 18 we read something that only the Son, Jesus Christ experienced. We read "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys ofHades and of Death." Thus, Jesus is the one who is calling John up into heaven. And I believe John is a type of the church, and as the church age comes to an end, the Lord will call us home!

Do the Scriptures support this view? You bet they do! Paul, in writing to the Thessalonians said beginning in verse 13 of I Thessalonians chapter 4, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 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 wewho are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet theLord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one anotherwith these words." I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

I believe that Jesus Christ gives the shout to call both the living and the dead believers to meet Him in the air, as we receive our glorified bodies. Those who have died and those who will die before the Lord returns, will go to be with the Lord. There is no such thing as soul sleep. Paul said in II Corinthians 5:6-8, "So we are always confident, knowing that while we are athome in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We areconfident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with theLord." You see, no soul sleep, but present, alive with the Lord. But when the Lord comes for His bride, all believers will receive their new bodies, gathered together to meet the Lord in the air!

Now some like to argue that the word "rapture" is not found in the Bible, not even in these verses here in Thessalonians. And that is very true, I can’t argue that point. The word RAPTURO is found in the Latin Vulgate and it is from this word we get our English word "rapture" from. The Greek word that Paul uses for "caught up" is HARPAZO. This word literally means "to seize upon with force," or "to snatch or catch away...and conveys the idea of force suddenly exercised."

So don’t let that mislead you just because the word "rapture" is not used, for the word HARPAZO carries with it the same idea. Now if the word "rapture" bothers you, then call it the great snatch away! But I like the word rapture and it is the same thought. You see, we will be taken out of this world before God pours out His wrath upon a Christ rejecting world. And we will be gathered together to meet our Lord. What a joy that should bring to us. Remember what the angels said to the apostles after the Lord was taken up into heaven, "...‘Men of Galilee, whydo you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you intoheaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.Acts 1:11. Keep watching!

VERSE 2

1. Notice what takes place as soon as John heard the sound like a trumpet calling him,IMMEDIATELY he was transported to the throne of God! He was in the presence of God. This should remind us of what Paul said to the Corinthian church in I Corinthians chapter 15, beginning in verse 50. We read "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but weshall all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For thetrumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, alwaysabounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." I Corinthians 15:50-57.

In the twinkling of an eye, immediately we are transformed. It will take place that quickly. The twinkling of an eye can mean the time it takes for light to hit the surface of the eye till it hits the retina. Now light travels at 186,000 miles per second, which would mean it would take 1.5 seconds for light to travel from the earth and reach the moon. The moon is 239,000 miles from the earth! So then, in the twinkling of an eye the light would only reach 1 foot from the surface of the earth. No one will see it happen, but they will certainly feel its effects!

You see, these bodies must be changed because these physical bodies of flesh and blood can not enter the kingdom of God. Thus, we all will be changed or a metamorphosis will take place. Like a seed when it changes into a flower, or a caterpillar when it changes into a butterfly, these bodies will be changed so they can enter God’s kingdom. All those who have died in Christ and all those who are living in Christ will be changed in a moment, a twinkling of an eye, as we are caught up to be with the Lord in the air and thus, we will always be with Him! Just as John is before the throne of God, so will we be! Jesus said in John 14, "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know."John 14:2-4. The Lord is preparing for us new bodies that we will receive when He comes for us!

But when does the rapture take place or does it really take place at all, as some like to teach? There are several views out there that I will share with you and try to clear up the many misunderstandings which are floating around. I first will start out with what I feel the Bible teaches about this event. I am confident in what the Scriptures say about this event and I will share with you these things. You see, the Lord’s return is our hope and our joy, and thus, why wouldn’t He want us to be clear on this issue?

PRE-TRIBULATION VIEW

This view says that all true believers in Christ will be caught up in the air with Christ. That isALL believers throughout the church age, living or dead. They will receive their eternal heavenly bodies. Then following the rapture of the church we see the tribulation period, which leads into the return of Christ, which leads into the millennial kingdom and finally a new heaven and earth.

I support this view. Remember what Jesus said to the church in Philadelphia, that He will keep us OUT OF the trial that will be unleashed upon the earth dwellers. Our citizenship is in heaven, (Philippians 3:20), and thus we are not earth dwellers.

Also, in Genesis chapter 19, before the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God because of their wickedness, righteous lot and his family first had to be removed. The angel said to Lot, "Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there..." The pre-requisite to the destruction of the city, Lot had to be removed. And in II Peter 2:9 we read "then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment." Thus, the pre-requisite to the tribulation period, I believe, is that the church MUST be removed before God can pour out His wrath on a Christ rejecting world.

In the first 3 chapters of the book of Revelation we see the church mentioned some 18 times. Then we don’t see the church on earth again until we return with Christ in Revelation 19:7-14. During chapters 4 through 18 we see that when the church is mentioned they are in heaven.

The church will endure trials that come upon them, that is the trials of this world, but they will not experience God’s wrath which is being poured out upon a Christ rejecting world. That is what the tribulation period is all about, besides God dealing with the nation of Israel. Thus, with the start of the 70th week of Daniel, the beginning of the tribulation period, the church will be home with the Lord. And with that line of demarcation, the rapture of the church, we also see the beginning of "the Day of the Lord." And the Day of the Lord begins with the introduction of God’s wrath being poured out and it extends through the millennial kingdom. Thus, with the rapture we see the Day of Grace end and the Day of the Lord begin, the time of Jacob’s trouble, Jeremiah 30:7.

David Breese says this regarding the difference between the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ. "The rapture, therefore, comes before the tribulation, and takes Christians out of this world before that seven-year period of the wrath of God. Notice that, in the Rapture, Christ does not come all of the way to this world. Rather, Christians are caught up to meet Him in the air (I Thes. 4:17). At the second coming of Christ, His glorious return, He comes with His saints. In fact, He returns with an army from heaven for the conquest of the world (Rev. 19:11-16). Remember, in that this is an army of His saints (Jude 14), you and I will be a part of that glorious conquest that centers on the return of Christ in power." This is the view I feel the Scriptures support.

MID-TRIBULATION VIEW

This view says that believers will remain on the earth for the first 3 ½ years of the 7 year tribulation period and then be caught up to be with the Lord before the Great Tribulation falls upon the human race. They use Daniel 7:25 and 9:27 to support their view saying that the church is persecuted for the first 3 ½ years. The main problem with that is those verses are speaking of Israel and the Antichrist is coming against them, not the church.

The church, the body of Christ, was a mystery to the Old Testament prophets. As Paul said in Ephesians 3:9-10, "and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through JesusChrist; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by thechurch to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places." I do not believe that the Bible teaches a mid-tribulation view.

POST-TRIBULATION VIEW

This view says that at the end of the tribulation period, at the end of the 7 years, believers will be caught up to be with the Lord and then they will immediately return to earth with Him to set up the millennial kingdom.

One main problem with this view is that Jesus said that no man knows the day or the hour that He will return for us. But if this view is correct, we would be able to count off 3 ½ years from the abomination of desolation to the Lord’s return. That is not speaking of the rapture but of His second coming which can be calculated out after the tribulation period begins. (See Matthew 24:36). Once again I feel that the Scriptures don’t support a post-tribulation view.

PRE-WRATH RAPTURE

This is the newest view that was ushered in by Marvin Rosenthal with his 1990 book entitled "The Pre-Wrath Rapture Of The Church." It’s thesis is as follows:

"The Rapture of the church of Jesus Christ will occur, not at the beginning of the seventieth week of Daniel, but sometime after its midpoint, just prior to the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord will be a time of wrath from God upon the inhabitants of the earth. Church-age believers will go through the first half of the seventieth week - three and one-half years and more but will be spared the time of wrath."

So after the sixth seal, after the cosmic disturbances, the church will be raptured, before the Day of the Lord and then His divine wrath is poured out. That is the basic premise of this view. I will share with you two important facts regarding this issue of divine wrath which is said to occur after the sixth seal.

First, in Revelation chapter 5, John begins to weep convulsively because no one was able to loose the seals of the scroll. We read in verse 5, "...‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of thetribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its sevenseals." The wrath that is about to be poured out upon the earth dwellers comes by Christ Himself and thus begins the seventieth week of Daniel and the day of the Lord, not at just past the midway period of the tribulation period.

If that is not enough, during the sixth seal being poured out upon the earth dwellers, notice what the people are doing and who they are hiding from. We read "And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to themountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throneand from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is ableto stand?" Revelation 6:15-17.

The question we must ask ourselves is that if God’s wrath is not present until the first trumpet, after the sixth seal, why are these people hiding themselves during the sixth seal and understanding that the wrath that has come upon them is coming from God?

And in Isaiah chapter 2 we see a very similar passage. We read "For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up-- and it shall be brought low...They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily." Isaiah 2:12, 19. This view, the pre-wrath rapture of the church, I also do not feel the Scriptures support.

And quickly, I will share with you some obvious false ideas on the rapture, but ideas that some still believe in.

PARTIAL RAPTURE

Only the spiritual believers will be caught up before the tribulation begins while the carnal believers will go through the tribulation period. You must be SANCTIFIED ENOUGH for this highly selective rapture. But Revelation 19:7-9 says that the complete and perfect church will be presented to Christ - not just a partial bride. And we are made perfect through Christ and not on our own merit. If you think you are perfect, your pride just caused you to fall! So obviously this is wrong!

PAST TRIBULATION

The tribulation has already occurred in past history. Thus, Christ will return to rapture the church and immediately take the church back to the earth for the millennial kingdom. There was no world wide tribulation following the Lord’s first advent, and those tribulation events have not happened yet. Jesus tells us, "Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (however reads, let him understand)...For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since thebeginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be." Matthew 24:15, 21. This view I also see is wrong!

NO RAPTURE

This view holds that there is no rapture, no tribulation and no millennium kingdom. Believers only look forwards to the eternal state of heaven in the future. The Lord will return to judge everybody in a general resurrection and then eternity will begin. Obviously the Scriptures don’t support this view at all!

Folks, as we go to meet the Lord in the air we will immediately go before the throne of God, just as John experienced. What an awesome time that will be. That is why Paul exhorts us by saying to us that we should be "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us fromevery lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you." Titus 2:13-15.

Thus, I believe that the next event on the prophetic scene is the Lord coming for the church, His bride. Don’t let anyone steal that joyous hope that God has given to each of us! Comfort each other with these words of hope that God has given to us. But for those of you that don’t know the Lord, you are not clothed in His righteousness by faith, you don’t have the right components you might say, and like the materials that were not made of steel, and the magnet could not lift them up, when the Lord comes for His bride, if you don’t know Him, YOU WILL BE LEFT BEHIND!

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