(f) The Separation Of The Rapture From The Second Coming
Yes, the scribes debated extensively about the Messiah’s first advent, but probably not from the Talmud but from the Tanach. The confusion arose over the many prophecies concerning the Messiah’s comings, some depicting Him as a suffering redeemer(Isa.53) and others as a triumphant and conquering Messiah(Isa.8:9). Therefore the Rabbis came up with the concept of two Messiahs: Messiah ben Joseph, the suffering Messiah, and Messiah ben David, the conquering Messiah. Over time, the image of the suffering Messiah was subsumed in the nation of Israel herself because of the oppression of the people of God in the hands of the Gentile nations- Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medopersia, Greece, and Rome. Up to now, Jewish Rabbis interpret Isaiah 53 as the suffering nation of Israel. That leaves only the conquering Messiah, Messiah ben David as the true image of the Messiah. The Jews were waiting for a conquering Messiah. So, when Jesus came as a suffering Messiah, He did not meet the expectations of the Jews according to their own writers for messiahship. Therefore, they rejected Him, even though He performed many miracles more than any other prophet of God before Him.
Even the disciples of Jesus thought that the[Millennial] kingdom of Christ would immediately appear(Luk.19:11, 24:21). Even after His resurrection from the dead, the one question uppermost in the minds of His disciples was, “Lord, would you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”(Act.1:6). This triumphalist vision and expectation has also befuddled the minds of the majority in the body of Christ. The image of a suffering Messiah referred to His First Advent whilst the image of a conquering Messiah refers to His second Advent. But they are all one and the same person. Two mountain peaks viewed from a distance appear to be one, but on a close range, they are distinct.
The Jewish Rabbis were unable to make that distinction. They saw these two images as referring to two different and distinct individuals rather them the same person. When the Magi, The Wise Men From The East came to Herod to enquire of the place of birth of the Messiah, Herod consulted the Rabbis and the scribes. They knew where He was to be born: “in Bethlehem of Judaea they said.”(Matt.2:5). The ease with which they answered that question indicated they were versed in the Tanach. They ought also to have known the time of His first coming as they knew the place of His birth. It was also revealed in the Tanach. “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”(Daniel 9:26). Though they were expectant, they failed to recognize Him when He showed up. They must have done their calculations. The 69th Week of Daniel was fast approaching. Why did they not go to Bethlehem to look for Him after the coming of the Magi? They were disillusioned. They were in expectation of only a kingly, triumphant and conquering Messiah. They were not expecting a child but an adult, a full grown man with superhuman abilities who would deliver them from Roman oppression.
“For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.”(Acts 13:27-31). Why did they condemn Him? Because they did not think He was the Messiah. They considered Him an imposter. They did not want a Messiah that could not immediately overthrow the Romans. The Jews told Pontus Pilate that Jesus ought to die because he made himself the Son Of God. “The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”(John 19:7). Would they have condemned Him and demanded His crucifixion if they knew He was the Messiah? Certainly not. They told Pilate, “if you let this man go, you are not Caesar’s friend.” When Pilate demanded of them what he would do with the king of the Jews, they responded, “we have no king but Caesar.”(Jon.19:12,15).
In like manner, the pretribs have created the image of a triumphant church, a man child church(Rev.12:5) that will be caught up to heaven before the antiChrist hangs out his shingles. They forgot that the man child was caught up to Heaven after He was arrested, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. Then He rose from the dead and triumphantly ascended into Heaven because; for it was not possible for Him to be holden by the pangs of death(Act.2:24). Their image of a triumphant church is that of a church that will not go through the horrors of the Great Tribulation, suffer indignities and humiliation at the hands of the antiChrist and his acolytes. They concede that tribulations are the lot of every true believer but exempt the believers from the Great Tribulation without explicit or implicit scriptural bases. Who had triumphed without a fight? Even Christ will ultimately triumph over the kingdoms of this age after defeating them at Armageddon(Rev.19:11-24). It will be a misnomer to name the church triumphant if it would be on AWOL during the consummate battle of the ages. The image of a suffering church during the Great Tribulation does not fit into their image of a triumphant church. Therefore, the “triumphant church” must be separated from the “Tribulation Saints” who would obtain salvation via martyrdom.
Suffering belongs to the “Tribulation Saints,” “those left behind,” but glory belonged to the church that shall be raptured before the 70th week begins. The truth is that the church that goes into the 70th week of Daniel to suffer the horrors of the Great Tribulation and is raptured before the wrath of God begins is the “triumphant church. There is no Church that will be raptured before the 70th week begins.” They had to create a theology that yanked away the Rapture from the Parousia. The Parousia now belongs to Armageddon. How can anyone separate the birth of Christ from His first advent? The birth of Christ, and his death, burial and resurrection, ascension and session at the right of the Father in the heavens are the beginning and end of his First Advent, two parts of a continuum. In like manner, the Rapture cannot be separated from the Parousia, His second Advent: for the rapture occurs at the commencement of the Parousia(2 Thess.2:1).
The pretrib concept of the triumphant Church as a church that is raptured before the advent of the antiChrist, the perpetrator of the Great Tribulation is a misnomer, a contradiction in terms, and leaves much to be desired. How can the Church triumphant be the Church that is on AWOL during the consummate battle of the ages, the Great Tribulation? The Church is required at this time to prove her faithfulness to Christ, her bridegroom. If the Church is on AWOL at this time, who is the antiChrist antagonizing? This is simple logic. Do the unbelievers need convincing by the antiChrist that he is God(2 Thess.2:4)? They believe that man is God. That is the philosophy behind humanistic evolution. Who will reject the antiChrist? The believers or the unbelievers? If the believers are not here to oppose him, well then, the antiChrist has conquered the whole world. Hurrah! Game over. God forbid you would say. That cannot be allowed to happen.
Between 43 BC and 74 AD, Israel was under Roman domination. The Roman soldier in his oppressive military gear was an offensive sight to the average Jew. No nation likes to be dominated by a foreign power, let alone an oppressive one. So, Israel was expecting to be delivered from Roman domination by a kingly and conquering Messiah. This was one of the major reasons why the Jewish leadership, both secular and religious failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah when He showed up, despite the explicit prophecy in Daniel 9:26 that the Messiah will be crucified at the end of the 69th week, but before the destruction of the rebuilt second Jewish temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem by the Roman general Titus in 70 AD. After 70 AD, every Jew versed in the Tanach ought to have known in retrospect that the Messiah had already come. There were some that recognized Him, though in the minority, like Simeon, the prophetess Anna, Andrew, Simon, Philip, and Nathanael(Luk.2:22-40; Jon.1:40-51). Pretribs make a similar mistake in separating the Rapture from the second coming of Christ. The Rapture occurs at the Parousia. When He comes, He raptures the saints and institutes the day of the Lord punishment of the unrighteous wicked.
Now to the real issues. The scriptures are explicitly clear as to the mode of Christ’s Second Coming. He will come as a conquering Messiah. Before He comes, according to the Olivet Discourse(Math.24, Mk.13, Luk.21, Rev.2,3), things are going to get worse. Generally, ab initio, the Church had taught that she will go through the Great Tribulation before the second advent of Christ, although there may have been dissenting voices here and there. It was not until 1828 that Pretribulationism began to be trailblazed by J. N. Darby and Edward Irving. In less than 200 years it has become the major and sometimes the exclusive view of almost all denominations especially we, the so called Pentecostals and charismatics. They tell us all will be well till the Church is suddenly, secretly and silently raptured, and then Hell will be let loose. But in contradistinction, the scriptures tell us things are going to get progressive worse till the antiChrist shows up and demand that all men worship him(2 Thess.2:4).
Do you know that in China, believers are not allowed to practise their faith? Same goes for Muslims. The government(Big Brother) has made itself God, monitors everyone, tells everyone what to do. It is 1984 already, and the antiChrist is not anywhere in sight yet. The Orwellian government is already in place. In America, all phone calls, text messages, and e-mails are recorded and monitored. There was a persistent assault on Christians in America until Donald Trump came to power. They experience some reprieve now. The onslaught will continue again no doubt. Nigeria of places has BVN and NIN. India has a programme to give a 14 digit national security ID to a every citizen. Thousands of people have already been chipped all over the world especially in Sweden. These RFIDs are composed of 16 digits, two digits less than the 18 digit 666 mentioned in Rev.13:18. Do you know plans are in the works to make the world cashless, eliminate international passports as everyone will be required to be chipped? Malaysia is on the verge of becoming totally cashless. In Australia, passengers at ports of entry are screened through facial recognition rather than passports. Do you know that long before the antiChrist shows up, without been chipped you cannot buy or sell, put your children in government schools, even some private schools, register your business, travel, vote, obtain health and other insurances, etc?
Do you know you may be required to be a cyborg in order to remain economically viable and relevant in the near future? A cyborg is what George Orwell, in His novel, 1984, referred to as automaton. The Big Brother, the antiChrist would want us all to become automathons, zombies, inasmuch as it underpins the operations of a constantly surveilled and controlled society. All roads are converging on the enablers of such a dystopian world. Unfortunately, the Church is silent about these things which will no doubt generate lots of ethical issues simply because it undermines her theology that everything will be alright until the rapture takes place, and then Hell will be let lose. Very soon, our children in higher institutions may be required to wear nanobots in the brain in order to be at par with their colleagues. How would you like your children in the Army and Police to be super soldiers and super policemen with hybrid abilities of plants and animals even some traits of supposedly extinct animals and plants? Right now, there is a concerted effort to hybridize humans through bioengineering. Man-machine meld is satanic and summons the demon. It is anti-God. Any educated person, let alone a believer, who is computer literate, and denies these things is playing the Ostritch.
If we keep quiet in order not to appear offensive to anyone, in order no to offend anyone’s sensibility, please the establishment and the powers that be in the Church, the modern day Pharisees and Sadducees, or simply for the sake of decorum, and not to rock the boat and muddy the waters, the very stones will cry out, and posterity shall lay egregious curses upon us. When we know the truth, Heaven behoves us to stand on the truth, probate and proclaim the truth, defend the truth, and ultimately if need be die for the truth(2 Tim.2:2; Rev.12:11). That’s what many believers especially those brought up on bread and butter Christianity are not ready to do. The Church has an enormous task to reorientate the minds of its congregants to face the difficulty times ahead.