The Secret Rapture
The Secret Rapture
In our study for today we want to deal with several arguments that are used by people who believe in the rapture, who teach that Jesus is going to have a secret coming, so to speak, before his glorious coming. The Secret Rapture
Now there’s one passage in the New Testament which those who believe in the rapture use more frequently than any other passage.The Secret Rapture
And I’ve never been able to understand how they can get a pre tribulation rapture out of this passage, I’d like to read that portion of Scripture as we begin our study today.
7 12 The Secret-Rapture Fallacy A New Look at the Blessed Hope Bohr
7 12 The Secret-Rapture Fallacy A New Look at the Blessed Hope Bohr
1Thessalonians chapter 4, and we want to start reading at verse 13: I believe this is the most quoted text by those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, and it says there The Secret Rapture
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14
Now that presents a problem in itself “will God bring with him”, we are going to deal with this text in our next series which begins on September 20th and so I’m not going to go into the issues raised by the idea that God is going to bring with Jesus those who went to sleep in him. The Secret Rapture
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord (by the way the word ‘coming’ there is parousia), shall not prevent (in other words ‘precede’) them which are asleep.
for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the Trump of God:
Now does that sound like some secret event?
It sounds like everything except a secret event. And it continuous saying The Secret Rapture
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.
Believe it or not this is the passage which is used most frequently to teach a rapture before the great tribulation.
Now I would like us to take a look in this presentation at some of the arguments that are used to try and prove that there will be a pre-tribulation rapture. The Secret Rapture
The first of these is found in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 and verses 1-3.
Here the Apostle Paul says this; and by the way we’re going to study this whole passage 2nd Thessalonians 2: 1 through 10 later on in this series. It says there;
Now we beseech you brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Here the Apostle Paul is saying don’t let anybody convince you that the day of Christ is at hand, that the day of Christ coming is right around the corner, even at the door The Secret Rapture
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (that is the day of Christ’ coming, the day of Christ.) for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Now this expression of falling away is translated by many of those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture in the following way.
In other words this word here which is translated in the King James Version “a falling away” should be translated “a snatching away” or “departure” in other words it’s referring to the departure or the snatching away of the Saints at the moment of the rapture.
Now is this translation really acceptable, is it really allowable?
The fact is that it is not allowable by any stretch of your imagination, actually the Greek word that is used here is the word (apostasia).
In Spanish we have that exact same word!
What does the word apostasia mean?
(Apostasia): Means Apostasy.
This is not talking about a ‘snatching away’ of people to heaven; it’s talking about a departure yes. But a departure from the faith: “An apostasy”, in other words.
Notice how this same word is used in the book of Acts chapter 21 and verse 21.
Here we have the identical word (Apostasia), and I want you to notice how it is used, it says there:
And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest (Paul is being accused) all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to “forsake” Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
That word “forsake” is the word (Apostasia). What was Paul being accused of doing?
He was accused of leading people astray from the teachings of Moses, wasn’t he? In other words apostatizing from the writings of Moses. The Secret Rapture
It doesn’t have anything to do with the departure, or with the snatching away; it has to do with an apostasy from the accepted truth.
And so it says that Paul supposedly was teaching the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after their customs. And the King James Version actually does not translate the Greek the way that it actually is. In the Greek, it does not say until a falling away comes: It says “The falling away” this is a specific, well-known apostasy to the Apostle Paul, and to the people to whom the Apostle Paul was writing.
So this first argument that the departure, so-called, is a departure from earth to heaven; does not hold any water as you examine the word, as its found in the New Testament. The Secret Rapture
It simply means apostatizing from the truth; abandoning the roots, the doctrinal roots that are accepted.
So this first argument that is used in favor of the rapture that we’re studying tonight, does not hold any water.
Now we need to take a look at a second argument that those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture use.
That argument is found in 1Thessalonians chapter 5 and verse 9. Here it says
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ”
Question: Has God appointed his people to experience his wrath; according to this text? Will God’s people fall under God’s wrath? No! The Apostle Paul says “for God hath not appointed us to wrath”.
Now let me ask you: During the tribulation; will God pour out his wrath without mixture of mercy? – Yes!
Revelation speaks about the seven last plagues, and it actually says that he pours out his wrath “un-mixed with mercy”
And the argument goes; that if God pours out his wrath without mixture of mercy. How can God’ people be on earth, if they’re not appointed to experience God’ wrath?
Are you understanding the argument? The problem with the argument is that God can protect his people from His wrath, even though he pours out his wrath. The Secret Rapture
Let me give you some examples. Let me ask you: When the plagues were poured out upon Egypt, did those plagues fall upon God’ people? – No!
The plagues were for whom? For the wicked Egyptians, that were in opposition to God, and His people. So if God was able to preserve his people while he was pouring out his wrath upon Egypt. Why can’t he preserve his people at the end, while he’s pouring out his wrath upon the Earth? The Secret Rapture
Also let me ask you: Do you remember the story of Daniel and his three friends, when Daniel was thrown into the Lions Den, and his three friends were thrown into the fiery furnace?
Well the fact is that in the fiery furnace it was those who threw the three young men into the furnace that were burned up in an instant. But what happened to those who were thrown into the fire?
They were preserved by by Jesus Christ Himself: Because Nebuchadnezzar said that the fourth, “was like the Son of God”. In other words Jesus entered the furnace, and he preserved his people, whereas the wicked who threw them into the furnace were burned up by the fire.The Secret Rapture
And this story in Daniel 3: Is a symbol of what’s going to take place at the end of time! Nebuchadnezzar for a while was a beast, or at least he acted like a beast.
“He raised up an image;
he commanded everyone to worship the image,
and who soever would not worship the image, would be killed.”
Do we find that scenario in Revelation chapter 13 on a worldwide scale? Is there going to be a beast who raises an image, who commands the whole world to worship the image to the Beast, and whoever does not worship the image of the beast would be killed, yes, or no? – Absolutely!
So the story of Daniel 3 will be repeated, and if God preserved the three young men in Daniel 3. Why can’t He preserved His people at the end of time, when His wrath is being poured out?
Also Psalm 91 which has been called the tribulation Psalm; and even people who believe in the rapture accept that Psalm 91 is describing the wrath that will fall, and the tribulation that will come during this period. Psalm 91 and verse 10 says;
“There shall no evil befall thee neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling”
I want you also to notice Isaiah chapter 26 and verses 20 and 21 and I wish I had time to go into the context of this passage, of these two verses because Isaiah 24 to 27 has been called the little book of Revelation in the Old Testament; the little apocalypse, because everything basic, that is found in Revelation, is also found in Isaiah 24, 25, 26, and 27.
Actually let’s notice Isaiah chapter 26 and I would like to read verse 19 and then we’ll read verses 20 and 21.
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
Is this speaking about the resurrection of the Dead that the Apostle Paul speaks about in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4, in different terms? Absolutely but I want you to notice that there will be some people alive when this event takes place, it says in verse 20
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
That word indignation in the Old Testament refers to the outpouring of God’s wrath, and why do God’ people need to hide for a moment while God’ wrath passes over? verse 21
For, behold, the LORD cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
Are God’ people going to be on earth during the tribulation, but will they hide, will they be protected from the wrath of God during the tribulation? These two verses indicate that this is so. The Secret Rapture
Now there’s a third argument which is used by those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, and it’s based on Revelation chapter 3 and verse 10. Go with me to Revelation chapter 3 and verse 10 here these words are given to the Church of Philadelphia, and it says
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will “keep” thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
So God’ promise to the Church of Philadelphia is that because they’ve kept the word of his patients, He will “keep” them from the hour of temptation, or from the tribulation.
And those who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture say see; it says that God is going to “keep” his people from the tribulation. Is that really what the text is saying; is it saying that God is going to keep His people from the tribulation, or is He going to preserve His people, “in” the tribulation?
Well let’s go to John chapter 17 and verse 15 where the same expression “keep” is used. It says
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
The identical expression “keep them from evil” let me ask you: Can God leave His people on earth, and still preserve them from the evil? – Absolutely.
In fact Jesus actually says here I’m not praying that you take them out of the world; He’s not praying that we have a pre-tribulation rapture here, He is praying that the Father will preserve them, even though they are in the world.
Now Galatians 1 verse 4: I would like to mention in passing: It says that Jesus
Gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world,
What does that mean, deliver us from this evil present world, does it mean that it’s easier to take us out of this evil world that we live in?
No it means that He preserves us in the midst of this evil world. So can God preserve His people in the midst of the tribulation, can He keep them from evil, can He keep them in the hour of tribulation. The Secret Rapture
The Bible says yes.
Now the fourth argument which is used by those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture is based on 1st
Thessalonians chapter 3 and verse 13, it says
To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
When Jesus comes He is going to come with whom? He is going to come with all His Saints, and those who believe in the tribulation like to say, He cannot come with his Saints, unless He came for them first.
So this is an evidence that when Jesus comes His Saints have already previously been taken to heaven, at His glorious coming, seven years after the tribulation, He comes with his Saints because He took them to heaven seven years earlier.
Are you understanding the argument?
Now the problem with this argument is that there is a verse in the Old Testament where this text comes from.
Deuteronomy chapter 33 and verse 2: See we have to look at everything that the Bible has to say. It says here (this is speaking about the giving of the law on Mount Sinai)
And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.
It says here that when God gave the law he came with 10,000 of His what?
Of His Saints! Now the question is: Who were those Saints?
People that had been raptured to heaven before he gave the law on Mount Sinai? – Obviously not!
Those saints, Those ten thousands of his Saints refers to what? – To the angels; in fact Revelation speaks of them as “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.”
So the Saints in Deuteronomy 33 verse 2 refers to what? – Refers to angels: Notice also that the angels are called Saints? You say the angels are called Saints?
Yes they are: Go with me the Mark chapter 8 and verse 38, it says there
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Now you say: Where’s the word Saints there? The fact is that the word “holy”: Is the word “Saint”.
In Spanish we have only one word for holy. What is the Spanish word for holy? – Santos!
Santos is the same as the word Saints; in other words this could be translated that Jesus is going to come with his saintly angels.
So are the angels called Saints, and are they called holy? Absolutely:
By the way when Jesus comes, is He going to come with the heavenly armies?
Revelation chapter 19 John sees heaven opened, and Jesus is seated on a white horse and He is coming from heaven to earth.
And in verse 14 it says that the armies of heaven follow Jesus on white horses. What were those armies from heaven that John saw following Jesus from heaven to earth? They are the Angels.
So when 1 Thessalonians chapter 3 and verse 13 says that Jesus will come with all of His Saints, it’s talking about Him coming with His holy angels.
This is biblically speaking because there is no tribulation rapture.
Now the fifth argument which is used in favor of a pre-tribulation rapture is based on Luke chapter 21 and verse 36, it’s based on the word escape: It says there the following
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, (Jesus is Speaking) that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, (and now comes a very important expression) and to stand before the Son of man.
Did you catch those two keywords “escape” and “stand”?
Does this necessarily mean that people are going to escape the world because these things are going to take place on planet earth; or can you escape from these things while you’re on earth? – Obviously you can escape while you’re on earth, and I want you to notice something very interesting in this verse.
Is it true that you escaped from these things, and then you stand before the Son of man? Do you notice the order; you escape these things in the tribulation, and then you stand in front of the son of man.
Let me ask you: Does the tribulation take place before the second coming of Christ, is that clear in the Bible? It’s absolutely clear!
Now, are God’ people going to escape before they stand before the Son of man, according to this text?
When will God’ people have to stand before the Son of Man?
Notice Revelation chapter 6 verses 16 and 17. This is speaking about the second Coming, the glorious second coming of Christ.
This is not talking about the rapture, even according to those who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture, this is speaking about the glorious coming of Christ. And it says here in revelation 6 verses 16 and 17 about the wicked
And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Is there going to be a group on earth that will be able to stand when Jesus comes, according to this text? – Yes!
Is the expression “to stand” used also in Luke the earlier passage that we used ? – Absolutely!
So you have the tribulation, and people escape the tribulation which means that they are not impacted by the wrath of God, in the tribulation.
And then at the end of the tribulation there’s a group who is able to stand before the Son of Man, or it speaks here about standing before the lamb as He is sitting on His throne. Is this point clear?
Now let’s go to a sixth argument that they use, and we’re going to deal with seven arguments tonight.
The sixth argument is based on Revelation chapter 4 and verse 1 let’s read that verse, it says
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
Now believe it or not those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture say that this verse is talking about the rapture; when John is told: “Come up hither”. It supposedly means that John is a symbol of the church, and it is talking about the rapture of the church.
Have any of you read that before in the writings of those who believe in the rapture?
That’s what they teach!
And then they say the rest of revelation has to do with the Jews and has nothing to do with the Christian church; because the church will be raptured away to heaven. And John represents the church when he is invited to go to heaven, which supposedly means that the church will be raptured to heaven.
Now there are serious problems with this view: And so what are the problems? Well the major problem is that from chapter four to chapter nineteen; John is not in heaven all the time.
Actually if you read Revelation he goes to heaven in the spirit: He is never there physically, and it says in chapter 4 verse 2 that he goes in the spirit. Do you know what that means, to go to heaven in the spirit?
It means that he’s going in vision, and visions and dreams are a gift of the Holy Spirit.
And so supposedly he goes to heaven here, but then a little bit later on in Revelation chapter 14 it says I saw an angel descended from heaven. Oh; he’s on earth now.
Revelation 18: This mighty angel that fills the earth with his glory, he says I saw an angel descend from heaven.
And in Revelation chapter 17 and verse 3 it says that the angel takes john in the spirit, and he takes them to the wilderness. I guess that means that the church that has been raptured to heaven during the tribulation is going to be transported to the wilderness.
Does that make any sense?
And revelation 21 verses 9 and 10: It says that John is transported in the spirit to the New Jerusalem: So here he’s going to the New Jerusalem, he’s coming down to the desert; he sees this angel coming down from heaven, obviously he’s on earth.
So obviously revelation 4 verse 1 does not mean that the church was raptured to heaven and stays in heaven for seven years,because in Revelation there is a back-and-forth of John in the spirit, does that make sense?
Furthermore there’s another problem with this view, you see people like Hal Lindsay apply a stringent literalism to the book of Revelation. And they say that everything is to be taken literally, and that after revelation 4 verse 1 everything applies to the Jews, whereas in Revelation chapters 1 to 3 everything applies to the church, so they say the only part of revelation that has to do with the church is revelation 1 to 3, the seven churches.
And most of them say that the seven churches represent the history of the Christian Church from the days of the Apostles until the end of time, at least Hal Lindsay believes that.
But now Hal Lindsay has a very very big problem.
Because when you go for example to the Church of Thyatira whom Hal Lindsay believes to be the papal church during the period of the Middle Ages. It says that that church allows that woman Jezebel to entice my servants to sacrifice to idols and to commit fornication.
Now we’ve got a problem; because this is happening, according to Hal Lindsay himself, it’s happening during the 1260 years as we know it.
It’s happening during the period of the Middle Ages, or the dark ages. Now where was Jezebel during the Middle Ages, where was literal Jezebel during that period? She was dead, she was a long time dead, and yet it says there that the Church of Thyatira allowed the woman Jezebel, who is an Old Testament person so it has to do with literal Israel, and she is enticing the church to do these things. The Secret Rapture
Let me ask you: Is Jezebel being used symbolically here? – Of Course she is!
So what allows Hal Lindsay to say Jezebel is symbolic here, but when you get to the two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11, they are literal.
I mean you have to have principles when you study Scripture; the book of Revelation is speaking in symbolic terminology, you have to interpret the symbols, you have to get beyond the literal symbol and find out what it means.
And so this idea that Revelation 4 verse 1 is referring to the rapture is simply not in harmony with scripture. Do you understand this point that I have shared with you?
Okay now let’s go to our last point; and this is going to take us longer than all of the previous points.
The Secret Rapture
This is point number 7.
Lets go to Matthew 24:32 and 33. Speaking here about the fig tree, and I’m going to read the verse and then I’m going to make an explanation, Jesus is speaking
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
So as a fig tree begins to bud, and it’s a sign that the summer is near. This is a sign that when you see all of these things in Matthew chapter 24 that the end is near.
And basically the argument goes like this. The fig tree represents Israel, (and by the way that’s true, the fig tree does represents Israel), and the budding of the fig tree represents the reestablishment of the state of Israel in 1948, and they believe that this is the greatest sign that Jesus is coming soon to rapture His church. It’s the greatest sign, there are many signs but this is the greatest one of all.
Now those of you who have heard these used, am I being accurate in the way that I’m projecting this?
Yes – I heard an Amen. You know that I’m projecting this accurately, now the fig tree does represent Israel, but the question is!
Is the re-establishment of Israel in harmony with the plan of God, and is it really a sign that the rapture is close by?
Well let’s examine this in the light of the Gospels. Go with me to Matthew 3:9 and 10. Here John the Baptist was preaching.
Just take note for now that John the Baptist began preaching six months before Jesus began his ministry and was baptised, now we can’t go through the chronology right now, you will have to accept that by faith.
John the Baptist began his ministry six months before Jesus began His, now I want you to notice Matthew 3: 9 and 10 John the Baptist is preaching in the wilderness, and it says there and he is speaking to the Jewish leaders.
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees:
Notice there’s an axe, and the axe is going to be laid at the root of the trees, in other words the tree is going to be what? Cut down.
Which trees are going to be cut down? Let’s continue reading.
therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Which is the tree that will be hewn down, or chopped down and chopped off and thrown into the fire? It is the tree which does not bear fruit:
And he is speaking to whom here? He is speaking to the religious leaders of the Jewish nation. He is saying you are the tree, and if that tree does not produce fruit it is going to be chopped down.
Now we don’t know at this point how the message of John the Baptist was received, because the story was taking place at that point. The Secret Rapture
Go with me now to Luke chapter 13 and let’s notice another tree episode: Luke chapter 13 and verses 1 to 9 and we’ll go through this quickly. It says
There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
(In other words do you think that you’re better than they are because this calamity came to them and hasn’t come to you?)
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
(And now He is going to illustrate His point with a parable.)
He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
(What is the problem with this fig tree? It has no fruit, now lets continue reading.)
Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit
Now we need to stop there a minute. “These three years” Most scholars who have studied the chronology of the gospel of Luke agree that this parable was told by Jesus “two-and-a-half years into His ministry”. Now how long has the call been made for the tree to produce fruit? Three years! How long did John the baptist preach before Jesus began His ministry? Six months! How long has Jesus been preaching when he tells this parable? “Two-and-a-half years”! How many years is that? Three years! Had this tree, which represents the Jewish nation, had it borne fruit yet? – No! Let’s continue it says
Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none:
(Now this is God the Father speaking to His Son and the council is)
“Cut it Down”.
(Does that fit with what John the Baptist said? “Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down” Absolutely!)
why cumbereth it the ground?
(In other words why should we even allow it to occupy a space?)
And He answering said unto him, Lord,
(Notice that the vine dresser is concerned about His tree, and He said)
Lord, let it alone this year also,
(How many more years?, one more year. How long did Jesus minister on this earth, that is from the point of His baptism? Three and a half years, and up till this point two and a half years of His ministry has past, how many years are left? One year: Interesting chronology isn’t it? And so it says here)
let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: (That is fertilise it)
And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
And the parable ends.
Nobody knows what happened to this fig tree at this point. Did it bear fruit? For three years it hasn’t: It hasn’t responded to the message of John the Baptist; it hasn’t responded to the message of Jesus.
Now is it just possible that we will meet this fig tree again? If the parable leaves us in suspense it must be that at some point we’re going to know what happened to this fig tree, whether it bore fruit or not.
Go with me to Matthew 21:19. See you have to thread all these things together. You can’t just say oh yeah the fig tree is Israel and the budding is the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948, boy that’s a real stretch; isn’t it a stretch? Tremendous.
Matthew 21:19. It says there, speaking about Jesus.
This is happening three days before the death of Christ: Has just about a year passed? – Yes, about that year, and so it says…
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only,
and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. And presently the fig tree withered away,
Now Mark chapter 11: 19 and 20
And when even was come, he went out of the city. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
- What happens when a tree dries up from the roots, is it ever going to live again? – It is not going to live again!
- Let me ask you: What does this fig tree represent? – It represents Israel!
- Had Jesus come seeking fruit from Israel? – Yes!
- Had Israel born any fruit? – Absolutely not!
- And so what is the council? – No fruit from now on will ever come from you again, and the fig tree withered away because it dried up from it’s roots.
- Is this fig tree going to play a role in the future? Absolutely not.
Now we need to go to Luke chapter 21 and notice a very important detail.
Luke chapter 21 verses 29-31 this is the parallel passage to what we read in Matthew 24 about when you see the budding of the fig tree.
Now notice what we find in Luke chapter 21:29-31 it says
And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
What is the difference between Matthew and Luke? did you catch it, those of you are careful readers? Matthew said only the fig tree, when you see the fig tree bud. What does it say in Luke? “Behold the fig tree and all the trees”.
I guess that means that there’s going to be many nations established in 1948
You see Jesus is not using the fig tree here is a symbol of Israel, He is simply using an analogy, or an illustration.
He is saying that when you look at a fig tree and you see it budding you know the summer is near, you need to know that its when you see all these signs. By the way: It’s not “the” sign; as in 1948, but when you see “all” these signs in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, then you know that the end is near. In other words he’s not making a point that the fig tree represents the rebirth of the nation of Israel.
He is simply using this as an illustration, of the necessity of watching for the signs in order to know when Jesus is near, even at the door.
Now go with me Matthew chapter 21 verses 12 and 13. This is the triumphal entry of Jesus.
Let’s pursue this a little bit more: We have read this before.
It’s when Jesus at the end of the triumphal entry enters the temple in Jerusalem, and it says;
And Jesus went into the temple of God, (What is it called? The temple of God at this point.) and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And said unto them, It is written, My house (What does He call the temple of God? He calls it My house.) shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
But then a few chapters later, actually two chapters later in Matthew 23 verse 38 Jesus leaves the Jerusalem Temple.
No longer does it say that He left the temple of God, or that he leaves My house, in fact He preached in Matthew chapter 21, 22, and 23, and He has made a call to the Jewish nation to receive him as the Messiah, and they rejected his last call.
And therefore when he leaves the temple he says: “Your House is Left Unto you Desolate” and then he speaks about the destruction of Jerusalem. What is it that brought about the destruction of Jerusalem? It was the fact that the temple was left desolate. And why was it left desolate? Because Jesus left the temple, because Israel rejected Him.
Now lets check back on something that we’ve studied before, the conclusion of the prophecy of the 70 weeks.
Did you notice that I didn’t deal much with the ending point of the 70 weeks?
We just basically covered elements that have to do with the middle of the week, you know the sacrifice and the oblation would cease, and the Messiah would be cut off, not for himself, we dealt with that, but we didn’t deal with the ending point of the 70 weeks; and so we need to take a look at that.
How long was the probation that God gave to the Jewish nation? He gave them 490 years: – 70 full weeks!
Would you agree that it was 70 full weeks? Absolutely.
Let me ask you then. Was the Jewish nation rejected when Christ was nailed to the cross? Is that when probation came to an end? No!
Why not? It could not have come to an end because he was crucified in the middle of the last week.
And how long was given to the Jewish nation? “A full 490 years”. (70 Weeks)
So there were still three and a half years to take place; are you with me, yes or no? Raise your hands if you’re with me.
Now: I read for example Matthew 10 verses 5 and 6; where Jesus says that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; not to the Gentiles.
He says to the disciples don’t go to the Samaritans, don’t go to the Gentiles, go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. By the way do you know that after Jesus was crucified, the door of Mercy was still open for the Jewish nation, for another three-and-a-half years?
Notice for example; Acts chapter 5 and verse 31 here we find that after the day of Pentecost, Israel could still repent. It says
Him hath God exalted (That is Jesus who God has exalted) with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
By the way do you know that the first seven chapters of Acts the gospel goes only to the Jews? I don’t know whether you were aware of that but in acts 1 through 7 the focus of the Apostles is Jerusalem and Judea, they don’t go to the Gentiles.
So are they still going to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? they most certainly are, because there’s still three and a half years.
Now go with me to Matthew chapter 23 and verse 34 -36 a very important passage; notice the tense of the verbs, it says there, Jesus speaking, he’s rebuking the scribes and the Pharisees
Wherefore, behold, (notice this) I send unto you (Actually the verb is in the future tense, in the Greek, ‘I will send unto you‘) prophets, and wise men, and scribes: (What three categories? Prophets, Wise men, and scribes. That would be theologians)and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
Notice what we find here: Notice the tense of the verbs. It says some of them you shall crucify, and some of them you shall scourge in your synagogues. Is this future from the death of Christ? Absolutely!
And then notice that when they do this, when they persecute the prophets, the wise men and the scribes, and then Jesus says.
That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
Does probation close for the Jews after Jesus sends profits, wise man, and scribes to them after his death, according to this passage? – Absolutely.
Now we need to take a look at the three categories:
Prophets: – Jesus says I’ll send you profits! Let me ask you. Was the apostle Peter a profit, was he able to read the mind of Ananias and Sapphira on the day of Pentecost; did he interpret prophecy as a prophet? He most certainly did.
Now it speaks also about crucifying and killing certain individuals:- Does the Bible tell us that Saul of Tarsus went about killing the Christians before he was converted. Yes! In fact he participated in the killing of Stephen. It also says that these would be persecuted from city to city. Let me ask you did Saul of Tarsus, according to his own admission go from city to city to persecute the Christians? – Yes he did.
It also says that wise men would be persecuted:- Now that is referring to the seven deacons; it says that these men who had hands laid upon them, that they were to choose wise men to lay their hands on.
So let me ask you is the door of probation still open for the Jewish nation, even to the point of what Saul of Tarsus is doing? Obviously yes: The door has not yet closed.
Now what is the ending point of the prophecy of the 70 weeks:- It has to do with the fig tree: You see in the fig tree Jesus is pronouncing the sentence, but for three-and-a-half years He lingers, and He says I think I’ll hold off to see if my people will accept me or not.
Isn’t He a wonderful God? Jesus is a wonderful person’ I mean even though he could have closed the door of mercy right there on the cross of Calvary, when he was crucified. He says I’m going to fulfill my promise from the book of Daniel; I’m going to give them exactly 70 weeks, I’m going to give them three-and-a-half additional years.
Now let me ask you: What is it that marks the ending point of the 70 weeks?
We need to go to Daniel chapter 9 and verse 24: There’s a very key expression that we find here which I want to deal with very briefly. Speaking about the accomplishments that take place during the 70 weeks it says
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, (Because Jesus is going to die on the cross) and “to make an end of sins”, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, (Did Jesus reconcile us to God? – Absolutely) and to bring in everlasting righteousness, (Did Jesus bring in ever lasting righteousness, Can He become our righteousness now? Yes. And now comes the expression that I want us to notice!) and “to seal up the vision” and prophecy,
Now that expression “to seal up”: Is the exact expression which is translated earlier in that verse; “To make an end of sins” in other words “to seal up prophecy and vision” is the same expression “To make an end of sin” So what is going to come to an end? Prophecy and vision for Israel are going to come to an end. Now my question is.
- Who was the last prophet given to Israel, and who was the one to receive the last vision in Israel?
- I think you know the answer: – It is Stephen!
- Did he bring vision and prophecy to an end for the Jewish nation? – Yes!
- Was he a prophet? – Yes he was?
- Did he have a vision? – He most certainly had a vision; of Jesus, and he shared it.
Now allow me to share some very interesting points with you: If you notice in Acts chapter 7 where it speaks about the stoning of Stephen; you’ll find that Stephen gives an inordinately long discourse about the history of Israel.
It goes from verse 2 to verse 53.
Remember he’s speaking to the Jewish leaders; to the Sanhedrin, they must’ve been bored to death when they were hearing the reenactment of the telling of the story of Israel. And say yeah yeah we’ve heard this before.
Why would Steven dedicate all of this chapter to recite the history of Israel?
Let me tell you why: Because Steven is playing the role of the Prophet! You see in the Old Testament when the prophets came against Israel, and you can find this time and again, when they came to rebuke Israel for her sin’s, they would recite all of the benevolent acts that God had performed during the history of Israel.
By the way this is in the material on Daniel 9, there’s a whole seven or eight pages at the end with everything that I’m giving you now, with examples of how the prophets in the Old Testament would recite the history of Israel and say how God was wonderful with you, but you have abandoned the Lord, you have forsaken the Lord, you have turned your back on the Lord, and therefore God has come against you in judgement:
But if you repent! Then God will relent from proclaiming the judgement.
In other words Steven is playing the same role in the book of Acts; that the prophets of the Old Testament played with Israel.
Are you follow what I’m saying? He is playing the exact role of the prophet, and he is speaking to none less, than the Jewish leaders: The Supreme Court of Judaism, known as the Sanhedrin.
This is the final prophet who is making a final call to Israel by making recital of the history of Israel.
Now as Stephen reaches the end of his presentation to these leaders, to the Supreme Court of the Jewish nation, he says some very strong words.
Notice Acts chapter 7 verses 51 to 53 he says
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
Now there is a very interesting point in Acts chapter 7 you’ll notice that all the way from the beginning of Acts 7: Actually in verses 11, 19, 38, 44, and 45: Stephen; when he speaks to them he says “our father’s”, “our father’s”, “our father’s”, but when he gets to the end of the chapter he no longer says “our father’s”, he says “your father’s”.
That’s an important point! What is Steven doing? He is disconnecting himself from the patrimony of literal Israel.
Because literal Israel is about to be “cut off”. And he does not want to include himself among them. That’s different than the prophets in the Old Testament.
Prophets in the Old Testament included themselves in the problem, for example in Daniel 9 Daniel says “we have sinned we have performed inequity, we have done this: Please Lord forgive us our sins.
Stephen does that throughout most of chapter seven; but when he gets to the end, now he’s indicted Israel, now he says “your father’s”, you have done this. In other words he’s disconnecting himself from literal Israel.
Notice Acts chapter 7, verses 54-58. By the way when the Supreme Court made their decision:
That was the final word; That was the decision of the Jewish nation.
Notice verse 54
When they heard these things, (Did they repent? No!) they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, (Is he seeing a vision? – Yes!) and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, (Some scholars actually believe that he is seeing the second coming of Christ. And I believe that is true because in Matthew 26:64 Jesus spoke to the Jewish leaders, to Annas and Caiaphas, and He says you will see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God)
And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.
Saul of Tarsus. Has the Jewish nation made its decision through the Supreme Court; is this the final rejection, is it the final call by the prophet? – Yes it is.
Is it the final vision given to literal Israel? It most certainly is.
But you know that God is a wise God: The very moment that the door closed for the Jewish nation, God was choosing the champion who would open it for the Gentiles. At that very event: Isn’t that true?
The door was closing: The Sanhedrin said we don’t want Him!
But there was one there who is participating in this, who was actually going to be converted, and become God’ apostle to the Gentiles.
So when this door closed, God was opening another door at that very same event.
Notice Acts 22 verses 20 and 21. Speaking about the experience of Saul of Tarsus;
And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
Do you see how the two are connected? The stoning of Stephen, and Saul of Tarsus going to the Gentiles.
Also in Acts chapter 1 and verse 8; Jesus told the disciples that they were to go first of all to Jerusalem, to Judea, Samaria, and then to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Do you know that the book of Acts is organised in this fashion? That’s the key verse that gives us the organization of the book of Acts.
- In acts 1 through 6 the disciples went to Jerusalem and Judea, you can read it.
- In Acts chapter 7 Stephen was stoned!
- In Acts chapter 8 they’re going to Samaria
- In Acts chapter 9 Saul of Tarsus is converted
- In Acts chapter 10 The message goes to the Gentiles.
- And the rest of the book of Acts has to do with Paul’s travels to the far places of the Roman Empire.
So what is God doing at the stoning of Stephen?
He is saying yes the door of mercy has closed for the Jewish nation. “Not for individual Jews!” But for the Nation; for the Theocracy.
How do we know that it didn’t close for individual Jew’s? Because Saul of Tarsus was later converted, and God included him, among his true Israel.
Now notice Acts chapter 13: This is a very important chapter; it marks the beginning of the Ministry of the Apostle Paul.
I’m going to go through it quickly because time is almost up. In chapter 13 verses 1 and 2 Paul and Barnabas are set aside by the laying on of hands, so this is the beginning of his ministry. Then they go to Antioch of Presidio and the Apostle Paul preaches to the Jews in the synagogue, that’s found in chapter 13 verses 16 – 41.
When Paul preaches; the Gentiles are so impressed by what Paul said to the Jews that they said we’d like to hear the message too. And so the next Sabbath the Apostle Paul gathers, and he preaches to the Gentiles.
In fact it says in chapter 13 verse 44 that the whole city came out to listen to the message of the Apostle Paul. There were so many people that the Jews got jealous and they started blaspheming and contradicting what the Apostle Paul was saying. Now I want you to notice what the Apostle Paul had to say to them. Chapter 13 verses 46 and 47
Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: (Why was it spoken to them first? Because the 70 weeks applied to them) but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
Is this clear? The stoning of Stephen marks the end of the prophecy of the 70 weeks: The rejection of the Jewish Theocracy.
Do you know what the devil did? One of the worst things in history; probably the worst war crime in the history of the world was what the Nazis did during the Holocaust, over six million Jews killed, many of them incinerated.
Who do suppose was behind this? Satan!
Just because they were rejected as the theocracy, does not mean that God is against them, and that God is cursing them. God wants to save the Jews, he loves the Jews, he loves everybody of every nation, it’s just that he put an end to the Jewish theocracy as his “Chosen Nation” to fulfill His purpose, and His will.
Do you know that the devil had a bigger agenda than just killing 6 million Jews?
When people found out what had happened in Germany and Poland, and some of these other places, they were horrified, and there was a movement in the world that Israel should have its own homeland as a result.
And that is why in 1948 the State of Israel was established.
Do you know that the devil was the one orchestrating this, so that the State of Israel would be established?
Now you’re saying that it’s the devil’s plan that the State of Israel be established.
Let me explain the reason why! You see Christians- Protestants today believe that 1948 is the greatest sign of the rapture: And they’re directing all eyes where? To the Middle East.
Let me ask you: Who do you suppose is causing these controversies and conflicts between the Jews and the Palestinians, who is causing it? – Satan is!
Is it because he hates the Jews; does he hate the Jews anymore than he hates anybody else? Their not the theocracy anymore; and he doesn’t hate them anymore than anybody!
Why would he stir things up between the Jews and Palestinians, why would it lead to the establishment of the State of Israel, why would it lead to 911, where from over there the terrorists caused this in the United States? Why? Is the question!
Because Satan wants people to turn their eyes to the Middle East for the fulfillment of prophecy, because the devil wants to hide the fact that prophecy is being fulfilled. In Rome, and in the United States, and people can’t see it because they’re looking in the wrong place.
That’s the reason why we have so much turmoil over in the Middle East, because the devil wants to direct eyes over there, when prophecy is being fulfilled in the west.
And he tries to convince us that the issues are the oil of the Middle East, and the fact that there is this epic battle between the Jews an the Arabs, and that it it going to be between the the Russians, and the Arabs, and the Chinese coming against the Jews.
And what does that have to do with righteousness by faith? What spiritual issues are involved there?
The devil wants to hide the spiritual issues, and I’ll end with this verse.
Revelation chapter 16 verse 15:
Jesus is speaking about the moment of the sixth plague and He says that we’re supposed to watch, and we’re supposed to be awake,
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
The issue is whether you’re dressed with the righteousness of Christ; or not. Whether you receive Jesus; or not, that is the issue.
And Satan wants to hide it, by bringing into perspective all other kinds of issues.
Because he doesn’t want people to come to Christ, and truly commit their lives to Him.
He wants people to believe a totally unspiritual perspective of prophecy.
Did you understand what we talked about tonight?
Critical issues that we must share with those who misunderstand these things.
Less they be found in the tribulation; the worst period in the history of the world, without a shelter,
without the faith to stand.
Father in heaven we thank you for the privilege of studying these things this evening, we ask that you will write them in our minds, and in our hearts. You will help us to share them with others, we thank you Lord for hearing our prayer for we ask it in Jesus name Amen.