"Left Behind"?

"Left Behind"?

July 25th, 2016 was the passing on of Tim LaHaye, the founder and president of Tim LaHaye Ministries and founder of the Pre-Trib Research Center. The books that he wrote with Mr. Jenkins, the “Left Behind” series, had sold approximately 62 million copies. There were also three movies made on the Left Behind Secret Rapture.

For nearly 1,800 years practically every Christian believed Jesus would come back after the period He refers to as “Great Tribulation.” (Matthew 24:21 ,29-31)

It is only in the last couple of hundred years that people like C.I. Scofield (1843-1921) came along with the secret rapture doctrine that Jesus would come before the Great Tribulation. “Don’t worry, Jesus is going to come and take you out of this world before the trouble comes, so you won’t have to suffer.” Naturally that became a very popular doctrine because it was just what everybody had been waiting to hear.

Years ago when I first studied Bible prophecy, the pre-tribulation Rapture was explained in this way. The antichrist would confirm the seven-year covenant and Christians would be here for the first three and a half years, but when the Antichrist breaks the holy covenant (Daniel 11:28, 30, 31) in the middle of it, then the Great Tribulation starts, but Christians would be secretly raptured just before the three and a half years of Great Tribulation.

But since the very popular “Left Behind” Book Series came out the secret rapture was moved to before the seven-year covenant and the whole seven-year period was considered by many to be the tribulation.

I personally could never wrap my head around a secret rapture, as there are so many Bible prophecy verses and examples that sat otherwise and make it clear that Christians will be here during the last three and a half years of great tribulation, or if you will, the whole seven-year covenant period.

Why would endtime Christians avoid persecution, and be secretly raptured and spared from it? Before we look at the many Bible prophecy verses that prove otherwise, let’s just take a look at history starting with Jesus and His ministry.

Did Jesus suffer persecution? And did He let His disciples and the Early Church know that there would be persecution for them too? What did Jesus say?

"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

"Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. (John 15:18-21)

Are we greater than Jesus that we should not experience persecution during the endtime?

But Jesus did comfort all Christians when He said this, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

If we take a closer look at modern times, many Christians died for their faith in Russia, Eastern Europe, and China etc. Millions of Christians have suffered persecution. If we look at current events, on a daily basis Christians are suffering and dying for their faith.

Although we’re not currently living in the Great Tribulation period, the Lord does encourage us that those who live through those times will have power for the hour.

"And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days" ((Daniel 11:32-33)

And the Lord will also have places of protection during the 3-1/2 years of great tribulation: "And the woman (Christians) fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days" (Revelation 12:6). 1260 days is referring to the 3-1/2 years of Great Tribulation. The Ancient Lunar Calendar is 360 days in a year, where our modern calendar is 365-1/4 days in a year.

Now let’s get back to the Secret Rapture or Post-Tribulation Rapture.

To recap the timing: The Antichrist will confirm the covenant with many for seven years (Daniel 9:27). In Daniel 11:28 and 30 the covenant is also described as a “holy covenant”. So not only will the covenant be a temporary political solution, it will also involve religion. Many Bible prophecy students believe that under the covenant, Jerusalem will be shared by the Jews, Muslims, and Christians and become the religious capital of the world. The Jewish people will finally be able to rebuild their Jewish temple and resume their animal sacrifices.

Daniel 11:31 is a key scripture: And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. This tells us that at this point, three and a half years after confirming the seven-year covenant, the Antichrist will break the covenant and forcibly enter the Jewish temple (the “sanctuary of strength”). He will put an end to the daily sacrifice and the false prophet, the Antichrist’s chief aide, will place in the temple area something called the “abomination of desolation.” Over 500 years after Daniel gave this prophecy, Jesus referred to it in His dissertation on the signs of His second coming and of the end of the world as we know it:

When you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place [the rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem] … then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:15,21).

This time period is known as the three and a half years of Great Tribulation. The Bible refers to this period as 42 months in Revelation 13:5 and 1,260 days in Revelation 11:3 and 12:6.

There are six trumpets of tribulation that sound in Revelation Chapters 8 and 9, where God is going to let loose pestilences and plagues and even strange monsters which will attack the people who worship the “abomination of the desolation” and receive the mark of the beast (the Antichrist), 666, to buy and sell.

The last trumpet the seventh trumpet is found in Revelation 10:7 that is announcing Jesus’ Second Coming and the Resurrection and Rapture.

Revelation 10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

What is the mystery of God that we read about in Revelation 10:7? To find this out we must turn to 1 Corinthians 15:51-52:

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."

This is Jesus’ Second Coming and the Resurrection and Rapture, where we receive our eternal new bodies. The mystery is that we receive our eternal new bodies at Jesus Second Coming. (Philippians 3:21) Notice this event it says at the last trump, the seventh trump, so the six tribulation trumpets come first before the seventh trump!

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first" (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The trump of God will sound, there’s the last trump, the seventh trumpet!

"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." (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:29).

Christians who know His Word and have “discerned the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3) are not going to be surprised! You don’t have to be surprised by that day! We may not know the precise day or hour, but knowing the Great Tribulation lasts 3-1/2 years, 42 Months, and 1260 days, you’ll be looking for and anxiously awaiting Jesus’ return!

The pre rapture doctrine that is used in Matthew Chapter 24 is based on the following:

"Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" (Matthew 24:40-42).

Obviously after the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:29-31) only the saved people will be raptured and verse 42 is warning us to watch and to be ready for Jesus Second Coming after the Great Tribulation as Jesus goes on to say,

"But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods (Matthew 24:44-47).

Jesus is saying that Christians should be ready for the Great Tribulation, as we’re going through it and are to be ready for His Second Coming. 2nd Timothy 2:15 highlights the importance of studying God’s Word as part of that preparation: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

In 2nd Thessalonians Paul when talking about Jesus 2nd Coming and the Rapture, he says:

"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, 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, shewing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4)

Paul is saying two things that have to happen before Jesus’ Second Coming and the Rapture: 1) There’s a falling away from the faith and, 2) The man of sin, the Antichrist must come first before the Resurrection and Rapture.

Another often-quoted passage used to try to substantiate this secret rapture doctrine, is 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5: 1-5:

"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

Paul is saying that “… the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” But then he goes on to say,

"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness" (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5).

In other words we’re not in darkness, “that that day should overtake you as a thief”. So when you read the whole context of the verses, Jesus Second Coming and the Rapture, won’t catch Christians as a thief in the night!

Also another popular secret rapture verse is Revelation 4:1: "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."

Some Bible students believe that this is describing a secret rapture, and since it’s in Revelation, it means they won’t be on the earth during the Great Tribulation and the events as described in Revelation Chapters 8 through 14. They miss it because they are secretly raptured in Revelation 4:1, but verse 2 makes it very clear that John is only being taking up into the spiritual realm to receive revelations of the future"

"And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne."

This is not describing a secret Rapture!

Another “thief” passage that is sometimes added to the mix isn’t referring to the Rapture at all, but rather the destruction and re-creation of Earth’s surface and its atmospheric heavens about 1,000 years later, at the end of the Millennium:

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).

In conclusion, while I don’t think any of the six trumpets are going to affect us, none of the plagues or horrors described in the Great Tribulation, the Bible is clear that Christians will suffer the persecution of the Antichrist and his mark of the beast people in those last years.

Are you preparing for endtime events? Are you "Studying to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth"? (2 Timothy 2:15).