Setting the Record Straight on the Rapture

Setting the Record Straight on the Rapture

[DISCLAIMER: While PMI uses the KJV exclusively, we have reproduced this paper without editing]

The purpose of the following material is not to debate the existence of Rapture or when that event would occur, as it is to establish that this is a doctrine of long-standing. A well-circulated notion says that John Darby was the first to begin teaching Rapture in 1828. This may be an effort to discredit Rapture, to remove people’s hope and dispirit them, or it may be perpetuated through ignorance. Whatever is the case, it is simply incorrect.

Consider that while the word “rapture” was not used until Jerome in 400 AD with the Latin word rapimur, the Dead Sea Scroll concept of Rapture pre-dates the birth of Christ!

As frequently seen with things posted on the Internet, people grab a thought and run with it without performing due diligence. It is our hope that the following documentation will put the Darby rumor to rest.

Daniel writes:

“In 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, the Apostle Paul tells the church at Corinth,

“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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“And to the church in Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 4:16,

“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 shall not prevent 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: 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

“The mystery being spoken of here is a truth that had not previously been revealed in the Old Testament but is now being revealed in the New Testament. Although the idea of the resurrection is clearly taught in the Old Testament, the teaching of the Rapture is not. This is the first mention of the Rapture of the Church.

“The context of what Paul is talking about is the resurrection and the order of the events taking place at the time of the resurrection. Paul says that before the Rapture, the dead in Christ will rise first. These are those who have died from the time after the death and resurrection of Jesus until today. And then, we who are still alive at the time of the rapture will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. And in that moment our mortal bodies will be changed in the “twinkling of an eye” * and we will receive our new glorified bodies.

“Paul makes this very clear. Corruption putting on incorruption is a reference to the saints who have died and decaying and that their bodies are corrupt. Then the mortal putting on immortality is referring to those alive when He comes.

“Now, look at the immanency of Christ’s return. Notice how Paul expects to see the Lord in his lifetime. Verse 52 shows the immanency. Notice how he uses the word “we”. He was including himself in the event of the Rapture. He lived his life in the light that Jesus could return and rapture the church at any moment. Paul’s take on it shows that the Rapture was of course a Pre-Tribulation rapture because he felt that it was so imminent.

“Now listen to what Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 17:26-30 (Amplified Bible).

“And [just] as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the time of the Son of Man. [People] ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, right up to the day when Noah went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. So also [it was the same] as it was in the days of Lot. [People] ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; But on the [very] day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed [them] all. That is the way it will be on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”

“Jesus is making a reference to the Rapture. He is telling the disciples that it will happen much as the days of Noah and Lot were. Taking place as it was in the days of Noah, how they were caught surprised. They were going about their normal day to day business. Then when Noah and his family stepped onto the ark, the flood came. As with Lot, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were going about their own sinful ways as well and when Lot and his family were removed from the city, then God’s judgment came down upon the cities. Likewise will it be with the Rapture. Once the Lord removes His Church from the sinful world, then the Tribulation will begin.

“He mentions that He will come as a thief in the night indicating that he will not be seen by everyone. But when talking about the Second Coming, He says that every eye will see Him. Notice some are sleeping and some are working indicating that it will be night some places and daytime in others. No one will see Jesus at that time except for those who meet Him in the air. Carrying on with life as usual until the Lord comes and disrupts their scene.

“God has not appointed His church to wrath. The wrath of God is the Tribulation period. The Bible tells us that we have tribulation now but that comes from the world and Satan. The Tribulation period is the wrath of God, and God is not going to punish His bride.

“You’ll notice that the Rapture takes place at the sound of a trumpet. The trumpet sounding is what signals the Rapture. Notice also that it is called the LAST trumpet. Now having said that we know that there are 7 angels that are given 7 trumpets to sound and when they do sound there are 7 judgments that come upon the earth. There are those that say that the last trumpet is the 7th trumpet being spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:52. That would mean that the Rapture does not take place until the middle of the Tribulation. So in order for the church to hear the last trumpet the church must go through the first half of the Tribulation.

“This is just simply not true.

“The church is not going through the Tribulation. Why would God the Father want to punish His bride? The Tribulation is referred to as a time of Jacob’s trouble. It has to do with the Jews. It’s at that time that God wakes up the Jewish people and brings them to salvation. When will the rapture take place? When will the trumpet sound? At the end of the church age. When the last person who needs to get saved, gets saved.

“Revelation 2-3 is an overview of church history. Even though they were written to 7 churches existing at that time, each of these has a secondary application as often does in Scripture, especially prophecy. They actually are a reference to the 7 different stages of church history as God sees them from beginning to end.

“Then John says in Revelation 4:1, once he is finished writing about the churches,

“ 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.”

“After these things (pertaining to the church), after the church ages are over, a door in heaven was opened and a voice that sounded like a trumpet saying come up hither and I will show you things AFTER this. After the church age. I believe this is the Rapture right here.

“Does this ring a bell?

“When the church ministry on earth is complete a door will open and a trumpet will sound and the church will be caught up. Paul wrote in Romans 11:25,

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”

“Until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. Since the Jews rejected Jesus as Messiah, God is now working among the Gentile nations to bring a bride unto Himself. Once that last Gentile who needs to be saved comes to salvation, God will focus His energy on Israel.

“Many claim that the whole concept of a Pre-Tribulation rapture was never even heard of until 1828 when John Darby first began teaching it. Well, these people are wrong who believe this because there is ample evidence of the Church teaching the Rapture 1100 years before John Darby.” 1

150BC – 70AD Rapture Mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls

“A Newly Discovered Dead Sea Scroll Has Revealed Who Will be Left Behind When the Rapture Comes a Leading Scholar Reports” from the journalist David Augustine. (Jack van Impe Ministries, June 16, 2005)

In this article Dr. William Harold, professor of Canon Law, at the Theological Seminary of Essex, GB wrote:

“Without doubt, this is the most important discovery in the history of Biblical archeology. The scroll, written in Aramaic, the language spoken in the Holy Land during Jesus time on earth, was found in a cave on the shores of the Dead Sea by geologists conducting a survey for the Israeli government.”

The scrolls read:

“The Rapture will occur suddenly. And countless thousands will vanish from the earth. Swept up to heaven to live with Jesus and escape the torment of the Tribulation, the others will be left behind.” — The Dead Sea Scrolls

Many others believed and taught this long before John Darby

95-150 AD, the Rapture idea was preached by the Shepherd of Hermas. 2

“You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of the days of your life in serving the Lord blamelessly.” (documented by Larry V. Crutchfield) 3

270-303 AD, Victorinus, the Bishop of Pettau, a Catholic ecclesiastical writer preached it.

Victorinus said he saw another great and wonderful sign in his commentary on Book of Revelation in AD 270:

“Seven angels having the last seven plagues, for in them is completed the indignation of God. And these shall be in the last times when the church shall have gone out of the midst.”

No doubt about it, St. Victorinus proclaimed the pretrib Rapture. 4

306-373 AD Ephrem the Syrian. One of the most important evidences for rapture is an apocalyptic sermon from the 4th century titled “Sermon on the End of the World”. It is credited to Ephrem the Syrian, a Syriac deacon, theologian, and hymnographer of the 4th century who wrote many biblical commentaries. Some suggest it may not have been written until a later date of 565-627 A.D. The exact date doesn’t matter. Even if it were as late as the 7th century, it is still 1100 years prior to John Darby. Ephrem wrote:

“Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms all the world? Believe you me, dearest brother, because the coming (advent) of the Lord is nigh, believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand, believe me, because it is the very last time. Or do you not believe unless you see with your eyes? See to it that this sentence be not fulfilled among you of the prophet who declares: “Woe to those who desire to see the day of the Lord!” For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.” 5

400 AD, Jerome in the Latin vulgate (in the Catholic Bible) used the word rapimur which means “rapture”, or “caught up” to describe the Rapture. Jerome is actually the man who first coined the term – Rapture. 6

Why has the Pre-Tribulation doctrine emerged so prominently over the past 200 years?

The Bible, prior to 200 years ago, was kept out of the hands of the common people. It was locked in museums and monasteries for 1000 years during the Dark Ages. It wasn’t until the Bible was translated into the common people’s language and that then the hope (the Blessed Hope – the Rapture) of the pre-millennial return of Christ was once again established in the Church. When the Scriptures were available to everybody the ancient truth of the Rapture – before the Tribulation period – was again discovered.

Pre-Tribulation Rapture beginning around the end of the Dark Ages.

1304 AD, Reverend Dolcino

Francis X. Gumerlock believes that Brother Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren taught pretribulationism documented by the following statement:

“Again, [Dolcino believed and preached and taught] that within those three years Dolcino himself and his followers will preach the coming of the Antichrist. And that theAntichrist was coming into this world within the bounds of the said three and a half years; and after he had come, then he [Dolcino] and his followers would be transferred into Paradise, in which are Enoch and Elijah. And in this way they will be preserved unharmed from the persecution of Antichrist.And that then Enoch and Elijah themselves would descend on the earth for the purpose of preaching [against] Antichrist. Then they would be killed by him or by his servants, and thus Antichrist would reign for a long time. But when the Antichrist is dead, Dolcino himself, who then would be the holy pope, and his preserved followers, will descend on the earth, and will preach the right faith of Christ to all, and will convert those who will be living then to the true faith of Jesus Christ.” 7

1400 AD, Bible translations in the native tongues led to a new propagation of the Pre-trib Rapture.

1627 AD, Joseph Mede ** , a literalist, used the word “rapture.” 8

1639-1723 AD Increase Mather pastor, scholar, and the first President of Harvard College. Paul Boyer has noted that this Puritan scholar proved “that the saints would be caught up into the air beforehand, thereby escaping the final conflagration.” This teaching from Mather was an early formulation of the rapture doctrine. 9

1687 AD, Peter Jurieu; in his book Approaching Deliverance of the Church (1687) taught that Christ would come in the air to rapture the saints and return to heaven before the battle of Armageddon. He spoke of a secret Rapture prior to His coming in glory and judgment at Armageddon.

1700 AD, John Asgill, who wrote a book in 1700 about the possibility of translation (i.e. rapture) without seeing death. 10

1738 AD, Philip Doddridge

Philip Doddridge’s commentary on theNew Testament (1738) and John Gill’s commentary on the New Testament (1748) both use the term “rapture” and speak of it as imminent. It is clear that these men believed that this coming will precede Christ’s descent to the earth and the time of judgment. The purpose was to preserve believers from the time of judgment.

1748 AD, John Gill **

Dr. John Gill was one of the most brilliant scholars of his day. This Calvinist Baptist theologian wrote a full commentary set on the Bible in 1748. In this commentary he made a statement in his notes on 1 Thessalonians 4 that supported a time difference between the rapture of the saints and the coming of Christ to earth. He said:

….here Christ will stop and will be visible to all, and as easily discerned by all, good and bad, as the body of the sun at noon-day; as yet He will not descend on earth, because it is not fit to receive Him; but when that and its works are burnt up, and it is purged and purified by fire, and become a new earth, He’ll descend upon it, and dwell with his saints in it: and this suggests another reason why He’ll stay in the air, and His saints shall meet Him there, and whom He’ll take up with Him into the third heaven, till the general conflagration and burning of the world is over, and to preserve them from it…. 11

1763 AD, James McKnight **

1744 AD, Morgan Edwards The clearest reference to a pretrib rapture before Darby comes from American Baptist pastor, educator and historian, Morgan Edwards. He is also founder of the Ivy League school, Brown University. Edwards saw a distinct rapture 3½ years before the start of the millennium. Edward wrote about his pretrib beliefs as a student in 1744 and then later published them in 1788 in an essay titled, Two Academical Exercises on Subjects Bearing the following Titles; Millennium, Last-Novelties. His pro-Rapture stance is impossible to dismiss. He taught the following:

II. The distance between the first and second resurrection will be somewhat more than a thousand years.

I say, somewhat more-, because the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ’s “appearing in the air” (Thess. 4:17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some one of those many “mansions in the father’s house” (John 14:2), and disappear during the fore said period of time. The design of this retreat and disappearing will be to judge the risen and changed saints; for “now the time is come that judgment must begin,” and that will be “at the house of God” (IPet. iv. 17) . . . (p. 7; The spelling of all Edwards quotes have been modernized.) 12

Thomas Ice further explains:

“Edwards clearly separates the rapture from the second coming by three and a half years. He uses modern pretrib rapture verses (1 Thess. 4:17 and John 14:2) to describe the rapture.” 13

1792 AD, Thomas Scott **

James MacKnight (1763) and Thomas Scott (1792) taught that the righteous will be carried to heaven, where they will be secure until the time of judgment is over. 14

And then in 1830 AD, John Darby enters the picture. Without question, John Darby was not the originator of the Rapture doctrine.

* “twinkling of an eye” (I Corinthians 15:52). Scientists at General Electric Company have timed the twinkling of a human being’s eye, and it amounts to eleven one-hundredths of a second.

** Peter Jurieu in his book Approaching Deliverance of the Church (1687) taught that Christ would come in the air to rapture the saints and return to heaven before the battle of Armageddon. He spoke of a secret Rapture prior to His coming in glory and judgment at Armageddon. Philip Doddridge’s commentary on the New Testament (1738) and John Gill’s commentary on the New Testament (1748) both use the term rapture and speak of it as imminent. It is clear that these men believed that this coming will precede Christ’s descent to the earth and the time of judgment. The purpose was to preserve believers from the time of judgment. James MacKnight (1763) and Thomas Scott (1792) taught that the righteous will be carried to heaven, where they will be secure until the time of judgment is over. 15

Signs of the Times

Signs pointing to the End of this Age have never been more abundant than they are in today’s headlines. They herald a time of great change, which has been promised for millennia. But today is different.

What is unique about this time revolves around Israel and man’s intellectual evolution.

First, Israel has always been God’s prophetic clock. In Matthew 24:32, Jesus tells us to watch for the rebudding (re-establishment) of the fig tree – a symbol of Israel. He warns two verses later when this happens, that generation who sees Israel once again attain statehood “will not pass” until the judgments and the Lord’s return take place. This is THE key and often overlooked.

Israel became a nation once again in 1948 and they finally recaptured all of Jerusalem in June 1967. This is quite a feat since Jews were dispursed throughout the world for 2,534 years, managed to hold onto their language and their heritage. When this has happened to other people, they have assimilated into the culture where they live and their heritage becomes just a memory.

Israel’s re-establishment set the Lord’s clock in motion and He warns that “when you see these signs, all taken together, coming to pass, you may know of a surety that He is near, at the very doors.” (Matthew 24:33). So while that we may know only “the times and the seasons”, not a specific date, the Lord could arrive literally at any moment.

The second puzzle piece unique to this time is man’s scientific advancements. We literally could not have designed and built cars, planes or atomic bombs 200 years ago. We needed computers to effectively distribute the Gospel worldwide and the Internet to disseminate vast amounts of information. Computers and chips are critical to accomplish the global 666 numbering system waiting in the wings and to keep track of those who will allowed to buy or sell when they take this chip. These are all new technologies compared to using horseback for your main means of travel.

Individually many of the signs listed in the Gospels have always been present. It’s when ALL these things happen after the formation of the State of Israel that they become truly prophetically significant.

SIGNS:

Airplanes – Isaiah 31:5 and Isaiah 60:8

Horseless carriages or automobiles – Nahum 2:3-4

Israel’s deserts will bloom “as a rose” – Isaiah 35:1

Alignment of the European Union – Daniel 2 & 7

Explosion in knowledge, technology and science – Daniel 12:4

Great increase in travel – Daniel 12:4

Rise of false christs and false prophets – Matthew 24:5, 11 and 24

Wars and rumors of wars – Matthew 24:6 and Revelation 6:3-4

Famines – Matthew 24:7

Earthquakes in different places – Mark 13:8

Pestilences – Luke 21:11

Injustice and discrimination flourish – Matthew 24:12 and 2Timothy 3:13

Lawlessness – Mark 13:12 and 2Timothy 3:1-4, 6

The Gospel of Kingdom will be preached worldwide – Matthew 24:14

Signs in the Sun, moon, space – Luke 21:25-26

Rise of evil spirits, cults and apostates – 1Timothy 4:1-2

Hoarding of gold and silver – James 5:1-3

False prophets denying Christ’s deity – 2Peter 2:1-2

Scoffers mocking the Second Coming – 2Peter 3:3-4

Invention of the atomic bomb – 2Peter 3:10-12

Lethargy and indifference among God’s people – Revelation 3:15-18

Jerusalem emerges as an international bone of contention – Zechariah 12:2-3 (Jerusalem become a cup of trembling)

Rise of anti-semitism – Psalms 83:4

Russia’s new military power and its alliance with the Islamic world – Ezekiel 38 & 39 and Joel 2 & 3 Daniel 11:40 (alignment with Islamic world) and Ezekiel 30:5-6 and Psalm 83:4-7

Emergence of a mighty world power in Asia or China – Revelation 16:12, Revelation 9:14-18

In closing, we are taught in 1 Thess. 5:10-11 to encourage one another:

He died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

So be encouraged! Maranatha!

Endnotes:

1] Behold, I Shew You A Mystery – The Beginning of Wisdom, Daniel, August 2008; http://jesusmessiah.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/behold-i-shew-you-a-mystery/

2] The Shepherd of Hermas 1.4.2.

3] Sermon entitled Sermon on The Last Times, The Antichrist, and The End of the World. For more information on this see Timothy J. Demy and Thomas D. Ice, “The Rapture and an Early Medieval Citation,” Bibliotheca Sacra (Vol. 152, No. 607; July-Sept. 1995), pp. 306-17.

4] Dr. Jack Van Impe, “The Moment After” in Perhaps Today, March-April 2000, http://www.jvim.com/pt/2000/00004.html

5] Larry V. Crutchfield, “The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation in the Apostolic Fathers”, in Thomas Ice & Timothy Demy, editors, When The Trumpet Sounds (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1995), pp. 88-101. what does this go to????

6] Dr. Jack Van Impe, “The Moment After” in Perhaps Today, March-April 2000, http://www.jvim.com/pt/2000/00004.html

7] Francis X. Gumerlock, “Before Darby: Expanding the Historical Boundaries of Pretribulationism”, paper presented on November 14-16, 2001 to the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Colorado Springs. http://www.pre-trib.org/article-view.php?id=76

8] Mede is considered the “father of English pre-millennialism,” having written Clavis Apocalyptica (“Key of the Revelation”) in 1627 in which “he attempted to construct an outline of the Apocalypse based solely upon internal considerations. In this interpretation he advocated pre-millennialism in such a scholarly way that this work continued to influence eschatological interpretation for centuries.”

9] Mal Couch, Thomas Figart, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Thomas Ice, Russell L. Penney A Biblical Theology of the Church, p. 141, August 1, 2006

10] The entire title of Asgill’s work is as follows: An argument proving, that according to the covenant of Eternal Life revealed in the Scriptures, Man may be translated from hence into that Eternal Life, without passing through Death, although the Human Nature of Christ himself could not be thus translated till he had passed through Death.

11] http://www.essentialchristianity.com/pages.asp?pageid=21918

12] Thomas Ice, “Morgan Edwards: Another Pre-Darby Rapturist”; http://www.tribulation.ws/featured/tt3.html

13] Morgan Edwards, “Two Academical Exercised on Subjects Bearing the following Titles; Millennium, Last-Novelties” (Philadelphia: self-published, 1788). See Thomas Ice, Morgan Edwards: Another Pre-Darby Rapturist, Pre-Trib Perspectives (Vol. II, No. 4; Sept/Oct 1995), pp. 1-3. http://www.pre-trib.org/article-view.php?id=76#_edn7

14] Paul N. Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy: A Comprehensive Approach (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), pp. 197-98.

15] Ibid.

Source: http://www.standeyo.com/News_Files/Inspire/Rapture.Darby.html

Margaret MacDonald is not the mother of the pre-tribulation rapture

Margaret MacDonald is not the mother of the pre-tribulation rapture

by Todd Strandberg

I have visited just about every anti-rapture web site on the internet. One common point used on nearly every one of these sites to oppose the pretribulation doctrine is the claim that the rapture theory was started by a Scottish girl named Margaret MacDonald. Many critics of the rapture declare that MacDonald received her vision from demonic origins, and that she then passed on the message of that vision to infect the Church. Being a staunch pretribulationist, I’m at a loss to explain the connection between Margaret MacDonald and my beliefs in the rapture. I cannot recall ever hearing pre-trib prophetic speakers say, “I believe in the rapture because Margaret MacDonald told me so.”

After reading and listening to a number of web sites, books, and radio programs that promote the idea that Margaret MacDonald started pretribulationism, I decided to look into the matter.

To be certain that I made no oversight, I searched through my library of prophecy books for references citing Margaret MacDonald as the founder of the rapture teaching. My hunt turned out to be in vain. It was like looking for the cartoon character “Where’s Waldo.” Only in this case, no Waldo was to be found.

If MacDonald was the founder of the pretribulation rapture, as most anti-rapture proponents say, then someone needs to explain why rapturists have failed to give her credit. You would expect to find dozens of books that expound upon her every word. From reading the writings of anti-rapture authors, one would think we pre-tribbers would be reverencing MacDonald as Catholics do Mary. But clearly we don’t. Pre-tribbers don’t go around reciting, “Hail Margaret full of grace, blessed art thou among visionaries, pray for us sinners at the time of the rapture.” If MacDonald were the founder of the doctrine of rapture, the lack of recognition we rapture believers pay her would be comparable to the modern Mormon church failing to recognize Joseph Smith as its founder or to the Jehovah’s witnesses neglecting to identify Charles Russell as that group’s originator. Poor Margaret MacDonald, she gets all of the blame, but none of the credit.

After having examined the claims of those critical of the rapture, I have found holes large enough to drive a dump truck through in their so-called evidence:

The first problem with the MacDonald origin is the fact that she wasn’t the one who widely taught the doctrine of the pre-trib rapture. A man named John Darby is believed by many to have sparked modern interest in the rapture. The question here is how Darby came to hear of MacDonald’s vision. Proponents like Dave MacPherson and John L. Bray have never been able to prove that Darby had ever heard of MacDonald or her vision.

Darby himself claims the revelation of the rapture came to him when he realized the distinction between Israel and the church.

Darby reported that he discovered the rapture teaching in 1827, three years before MacDonald had her vision.

When one closely examines MacDonald’s vision, it becomes clear that her vision could not have been a pretribulational one. MacDonald looked for a “fiery trial which is to try us,” and she foresaw the Church being purged by the Antichrist. Any pretribulation rapturist can tell you the Church will be removed before the advent of the Antichrist. John Bray, an anti-rapturist, said himself that Margaret MacDonald was teaching a single coming of our Lord Jesus. This contradicts current rapture doctrine, which teaches a two-staged event – first, Christ coming for His Church and second, seven years later His return to earth. With so many contradictions between MacDonald’s vision and today’s pretribulationism, it is difficult to see any linkage.

By far the biggest mistake post-tribulationists have made attacking the rapture is claiming that the pretribulation rapture wasn’t taught before 1830. In fact, John L. Bray, a Southern Baptist evangelist, offered $500 to anyone who could prove that someone taught the rapture doctrine prior to MacDonald’s 1830 vision. Bray was first proven wrong when he wrote in a newsletter, “Then my own research indicated that it was Emmanuel Lacunza, a Jesuit Catholic priest, who in the 1812 book The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty, first taught this theory.” Bray stuck his neck out again when he made another $500 offer to anyone who could provide a documented statement earlier than Lacunza’s 1812 writings. Apparently he had to cough up the 500 bucks. I quote him again: “I offered $500 to anyone who would give a documented statement earlier than Lacunza’s time which taught a two-stage coming of Christ separated by a stated period of time.” No one claimed that offer until someone found writings that forced Bray to write the following: “Now I have the Photostat copies of a book published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1788 but written in 1742-1744 in England, which taught the pretribulation rapture before Lacunza.” Lately, a number of other sources have been located that teach the pretribulation rapture–some written as early as the second century. Where does this leave Margaret MacDonald?

In my life here on earth, I’ve made a number of observations that I regard as undeniable truths. One of these is the fact that the truth will suffer attacks with no one defending it, while a lie will be allowed to proliferate with no one challenging it. This seems to have taken place in the case of the rapture. For years on end, anti-rapturists have been allowed to attack pretribulationism freely. One assailant called the rapture the mark of the beast while another remarked that when Jesus returns at the battle of Armageddon, He will fight against those who believe in the rapture. The people who should have been contending for the rapture, for the most part, just said, “That may be your opinion.”

Finally, it appears that those who hold to a pretribulation rapture are beginning to counter the ridiculous charges. A number of books have been published that cite several pre-MacDonald sources describing a raptured Church. Author Grant Jeffrey deserves a good deal of praise for his work in discovering many of these sources.

As far as being able to find the pretribulation rapture in the Bible, we don’t need to be rocket scientists to discover it. For me, locating the rapture doctrine in the Bible was as simple as finding evidence that Jesus Christ is Messiah.

The evidence that Christians believed in the rapture long before MacDonald does not seem to have sunk into the minds of those opposed to the rapture. They still teach that she is the founder of pretribulationism. When someone is presented with overwhelming proof that he or she is wrong and refuses to accept that truth, then we certainly may conclude that he or she is in spiritual darkness.

I would like to conclude by saying that no evidence whatsoever points to MacDonald as the source of pretribulationism. Every major prophetic author alive today claims the Word of God as the foundation for belief in the rapture. Both Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul made statements that clearly establish the rapture doctrine. Jesus said, in Matthew 25:13, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Paul affirmed in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: “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: 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Early Church Teaching On Pre-Tribulation Rapture


by Grant Jeffrey


“A Noted Byzantine Scholar That Taught The Pre-Tribulation Rapture in A.D. 373” Quote by: Grant Jeffrey’

Over the last thirty years I have been fascinated with Bible prophecy because it authenticates the Scriptures as God’s inspired Word and it points to the imminent return of Jesus Christ to usher in the Messianic Kingdom. I am always delighted when God leads me to new information that confirms His Word. In my ongoing research into recent archeological discoveries and into writings of early Church leaders, I have made several exciting new discoveries that I want to share with my readers. In this chapter we will explore a number of interesting discoveries about the following subjects: the finding of a teaching about the Pre-Tribulation Rapture from the first centuries of the early church; the archeological discoveries of the tombs of Mary, Martha and Lazarus that prove the historical accuracy of the Gospels; and the proof that miraculous healings, raising of the dead, and the Charismatic gifts were common among believers during the first three centuries following the resurrection of Christ.

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture Was Taught by the Early Church

Obviously, the truth about the timing of the Rapture will ultimately be found only in Scripture. The Protestant Reformation was based essentially on this return to the authority of the Bible. The Latin phrase Sola Scriptura, meaning “Scripture Alone” became the rallying cry of the reformers who ignored centuries of tradition and church councils in their insistence that truth could only be discovered in the Word of God. While the ultimate resolution of this discussion must be based on our interpretation of Scripture, it is important to answer the errors of our opponents who disparage “the blessed hope” of the Rapture with misinformation about the modern rediscovery of the truth about the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

Many post-tribulationist writers have attacked the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine by claiming that it cannot be true because no church writer or reformer ever taught this doctrine until approximately 170 years ago. While the real question for sincere students of Scripture must be whether or not the Bible truly teaches this doctrine, the argument that no one ever saw this “truth” throughout eighteen hundred years of Church history has been very effective, causing many Christians to abandon their belief in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. The only problem with their argument is that they are totally wrong.

Many contemporary writers claim that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory first originated around A.D. 1820. They ascribe the theory’s initial creation to either Emmanuel Lacunza (Ben Ezra, 1812), Edward Irving (1830), or Margaret Macdonald (1830), and finally to John Darby (1830). For example, Dave MacPherson in The Incredible Cover-Up (1975 stated); “Margaret Macdonald was the first person to teach a coming of Christ that would precede the days of Antichrist . . . . Before 1830, Christians had always believed in a single future coming, that the catching of I Thess. 4 will take place after the Great Tribulation of Matthew 24 at the glorious coming of the Son of Man when He shall send His angels to gather together all of His Elect.” Reverend John Bray, in The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching (1982) declared; “People who are teaching the Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching today are teaching something that never was taught until 1812 . . . . Not one of those early church fathers taught a Pre-Tribulation Rapture . . . . I make the offer of five hundred dollars to anybody who will find a statement, a sermon, article in a commentary, or anything, prior to 1812 that taught a two-phase coming of Christ separated by a stated period of time, such as the Pre-Tribulation rapturists teach.” These writers, among others who despise the teaching of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, dogmatically assert that it was taught for the first time in 1830 by John Darby and the Plymouth Brethren or one of the other individuals mentioned above.

A number of these authors will have to drastically revise the next edition of their books based on two remarkable textual discoveries that conclusively prove that a number of Christian teachers, centuries before John Darby rediscovered this biblical teaching, clearly taught that the Rapture would occur before the Tribulation period. During the summer of 1994, after more than a decade of searching, I discovered several fascinating manuscripts that contain clear evidence of the teaching of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture in the early church.

Ephraem’s Teaching on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

“For all the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the Tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins” (On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World, by Ephraem the Syrian, A.D. 373).

The early Christian writer and poet, Ephraem the Syrian, (who lived from A.D. 306 to 373) was a major theologian of the early Byzantine Eastern Church. He was born near Nisbis, in the Roman province of Syria, near present day Edessa, Turkey. Ephraem displayed a profound love of the Scriptures in his writings as illustrated by several of his written comments quoted in the Works of Nathaniel Lardner, Vol. 4, 1788. “I esteem no man more happy than him, who diligently reads the Scriptures delivered to us by the Spirit of God, and thinks how he may order his conversation by the precepts of them.” To this day, his hymns and homilies are used in the liturgy of the Greek Orthodox and Middle Eastern Nestorian Church. While the sixteen-volume Post-Nicene Library includes a number of homilies and psalms by Ephraem the Syrian, the editors noted that he also wrote a large number of commentaries that have never been translated into English.

Ephraem’s fascinating teaching on the Antichrist has never been published in English until now. This critically important prophecy manuscript from the fourth century of the Church era reveals a literal method of interpretation and a teaching of the Pre-Millennial return of Christ. More importantly, Ephraem’s text revealed a very clear statement about the Pre-Tribulational return of Christ to take His elect saints home to heaven to escape the coming Tribulation. In addition, Ephraem declares his belief in a personal, Jewish Antichrist, who will rule the Roman Empire during the last days, a rebuilt temple, the two witnesses and a literal Great Tribulation lasting 1,260 days. It is also fascinating to note that he taught that the War of God and Magog would precede the Tribulation period. I discovered another text by Ephraem, called The Book of the Cave of Treasure, that revealed he taught that Daniel’s Seventieth Week will be fulfilled in the final seven years at the end of this age that will conclude with Christ’s return at the Battle of Armageddon to establish His kingdom.

The following section includes key passages from Ephraem’s important text, written about A.D. 373, and translated by Professor Cameron Rhoades, of Tyndale Theological Seminary, at my request.

On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World

“1. Most dearly beloved brothers, believe the Holy Spirit who speaks in us. Now we have spoken before, because the end of the world is very near, and the consummation remains. Has not the first faith withered away in men? …

“2. We ought to understand thoroughly therefore, my brothers what is imminent or overhanging. Already there have been hunger and plagues, violent movements of nations and signs, which have been predicted by the Lord, they have already been fulfilled, and there is not other which remains, except the advent of the wicked one in the completion of the Roman kingdom. Why therefore are we occupied with worldly business, and why is our mind held fixed on the lusts of the world or the anxieties of the ages? Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that He may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms the world? Believe you me, dearest brothers, because the coming of the Lord is nigh, believe you me, because it is the very last time . . . . Because all saints and Elect of the Lord are gathered together before the tribulation which is about to come and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins (Italics added). And so, brothers, most dear to me, it is the eleventh hour, and the end of this world comes to the harvest, and angels, armed and prepared, hold sickles in their hands, awaiting the empire of the Lord . . .

“3. When therefore the end of the world comes, there arise diverse wars, commotions on all sides, horrible earthquakes, perturbations of nations, tempests throughout the lands, plagues, famine, drought throughout the thoroughfares, great danger throughout the sea and dry land, constant persecutions, slaughters and massacres everywhere . . .

“6. When therefore the end of the world comes, that abominable, lying and murderous one is born from the tribe of Dan. He is conceived from the seed of a man and from a most vile virgin, mixed with an evil or worthless spirit . . .

“7. But when the time of the abomination of his desolation begins to approach, having been made legal, he takes the empire . . . . Therefore, when he receives the kingdom, he orders the temple of God to be rebuilt for himself, which is in Jerusalem; who, after coming into it, he shall sit as God and order that he be adored by all nations . . . . then all people from everywhere shall flock together to him at the city of Jerusalem, and the holy city shall be trampled on by the nations for forty-two months just as the holy apostle says in the Apocalypse, which becomes three and a half years, 1260 days.

“8. In these three years and a half the heaven shall suspend its dew; because there will be no rain upon the earth . . . . and there will be a Great Tribulation, as there has not been, since people began to be upon the earth . . . . and no one is able to sell or to buy of the grain of the fall harvest, unless he is one who has the serpentine sign on the forehead or the hand . . . .

“10. And when the three and a half years have been completed, the time of the Antichrist, through which he will have seduced the world, after the resurrection of the two prophets, in the hour which the world does not know, and on the day which the enemy or son of perdition does not know, will come the sign of the Son of Man, and coming forward the Lord shall appear with great power and much majesty, with the sign of the word of salvation going before him, and also even with all the powers of the heavens with the whole chorus of the saints . . . . Then Christ shall come and the enemy shall be thrown into confusion, and the Lord shall destroy him by the Spirit of his mouth. And he shall be bound and shall be plunged into the abyss of everlasting fire alive with his father Satan; and all people, who do his wishes, shall perish with him forever; but the righteous ones shall inherit everlasting life with the Lord for ever and ever.”

To summarize the key points in Ephraem’s text on the last days:

1. Ephraem’s manuscript lays out the events of the last days in chronological sequence. Significantly he began with the Rapture using the word “imminent,” then, he described the Great Tribulation of three and a half years duration under the Antichrist’s tyranny, followed by the second coming of Christ to earth with his saints to defeat the Antichrist.

2. Significantly, at the beginning of his treatise in Section 2, Ephraem used the word “imminent” to describe the Rapture occurring before the Tribulation the coming of the Antichrist. “We ought to understand thoroughly therefore, my brothers what is imminent or overhanging.”

3. He clearly described the Pre-Tribulation Rapture: “Because all saints and the Elect of the Lord are gathered together before the Tribulation which is about to come and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.”

4. He then gives the purpose of God rapturing the church “before the tribulation” so that “they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.” Ephraem used the word “confusion” as a synonym for the Tribulation Period.

5. Ephraem described the duration of the “Great Tribulation” (the last half of the Seven Year Tribulation Period) in sections, 7, 8, and 10 as follows: “forty-two months” and “three and a half years” and “1260 days.”

6. He summarized: “There will be a Great Tribulation, as there has not been since people began to be upon the earth” and described the Mark of the Beast system.

7. He declared that Christ will come to the earth after the “three and a half years” Tribulation Period in Section 10: “And when the three and a half years have been completed, the time of the Antichrist, through which he will have seduced the world, after the resurrection of the two prophets . . . will come the sign of the Son of Man, and coming forward the Lord shall appear with great power and much majesty.

Dr. Paul Alexander, perhaps the most authoritative scholar on the writing of the early Byzantine Church, concluded that Ephraem’s text on The Antichrist taught that the Lord would supernaturally remove the saints of the Church from the earth “prior to the tribulations that is to come.” Ephraem wrote that the saints will be “taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.” Dr. Alexander believed this text was written by some unknown writer in the sixth century but he concluded that it was derived from an original Ephraem manuscript (A.D. 373). Other scholars, including the German editor Professor Caspari who wrote a German commentary on this Latin manuscript in 1890, believed that Ephraem’s manuscript was written by the genuine Ephraem in A.D. 373. Professor Cameron Rhodes, professor of Latin at Tyndale Theological Seminary, translated Ephraem’s Latin text into English at the request of my friend Dr. Thomas Ice and myself.

Ephraem and Daniel’s Seventieth Week – The Tribulation Period

A question naturally arises in the mind of Bible students about how long Ephraem believed the Tribulation would last. While Ephraem correctly describes the “Great Tribulation” as three and a half years his other writings revealed that he believed the whole Tribulation Period, “that sore affliction,” would last “one week” of seven years. Ephraem’s book, The Book of the Cave of Treasures, written about A. D. 373, taught about the genealogy of Christ. He wrote the sixty-ninth week of Daniel 9:24-27 ended with the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah. He stated, “The Jews have no longer among them a king, or a priest, or a prophet, or a Passover, even as Daniel prophesied concerning them, saying, ‘After two and sixty weeks Christ shall be slain, and the city of holiness shall be laid waste until the completion of things decreed.’ (Daniel 9:26). That is to say, for ever and ever.” (italics added, page 235, The Cave of Treasures). In Daniel’s prophecy, he foretold that Jerusalem would be rebuilt “even in troublesome times” during the initial period of “seven weeks” of years (forty-nine years). Daniel’s prophecy declared that this initial period of “seven weeks” of years would be immediately followed by a further period of sixty-two “weeks” of years ending with the cutting off of the Messiah (483 years). The combined total of sixty-nine weeks of years (seven weeks plus sixty-two weeks) was to conclude with the rejection of Christ. As quoted above, Ephraem taught that Jesus Christ was slain at the end of the combined sixty-nine weeks of years.

However, in the section of his book dealing with the future of Gog and Magog, Ephraem wrote about the final (seventieth) week of Daniel as follows. “At the end of the world at the final consummation . . . suddenly the gates of the north shall be opened . . . . They will destroy the earth, and there will be none able to stand before them. After one week of that sore affliction (tribulation), they will all be destroyed in the plain of Joppa . . . . Then will the son of perdition appear, of the seed and of the tribe of Dan . . . . He will go into Jerusalem and will sit upon a throne in the Temple saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and he will be borne aloft by legions of devils like a king and a lawgiver, naming himself God . . . . The time of the error of the Anti-Christ will last two years and a half, but others say three years and six months” (italics added). Although there are some curious elements in his description of prophetic events, it is clear that Ephraem believed that the seventieth final week of Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks will finally be fulfilled during the final seven years of this age when the Antichrist will appear. This evidence of a belief in a “gap” or “parenthesis” between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week of Daniel 9:24-27 from the fourth century of the Christian era is significant. It is worthwhile to note that this teaching that there would be a “gap” or “parenthesis” between Daniel’s 69th week and the 70th week of years was also taught by others in the early church including the Epistle of Barnabas (A.D. 110) and the writings of Hippolytus (A.D. 220).

YUYUYUYUYUY

Please visit Grant Jeffrey’s web site: http://www.grantjeffrey.com/

 

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Mayim’s Endnote

Difference between Day of Christ and Day of the Lord- Gaebelein

Day of Christ/Day of the Lord: In the Annotated Bible, Arno Gaebelein writes:

There is an important difference between the day of Christ and the day of the Lord. The day of Christ concerns the Church, the saints of God. The day of the Lord concerns the earth– Israel and the nations. The day of Christ begins when He takes His saints in glory and they are with Him. The day of the Lord will bring, as stated before, the visible manifestation of the Lord from heaven. The day of Christ comes first and the day of the Lord follows at least seven years later. The following passages speak of the day of Christ, and it will be seen that that day is for God’s people only (1Co_1:8; 2Co_1:14; Php_1:6-10; Php_2:16). The day of the Lord does not concern the saints at all; it falls on the world. Before the day of the Lord can come, His saints have to be gathered together unto Him.

Last Days Signs in the Sun and the Moon and the Stars

Last Days Signs in the Sun and the Moon and the Stars
The Day of the Lord Cometh!

Dr. Mike Johnston

What is the purpose of this tract?

To help my students and friends understand that God’s plan for Israel and His plan for the church are NOT the same. The last days signs in the sun moon and stars heralds the Day of the Lord spoken by the prophets of Israel, signifying when Jesus Christ will return to set up His Davidic Covenant Kingdom in Jerusalem following the tribulation.

I was taught that the church is the new Israel?

You were taught a heresy called replacement theology that the Lord Jesus attributed to the synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). The fact is Israel is a nation that exists from prophecy, and focuses on an earthly kingdom and King. [1] The church is a body (Christ’s) that exists from the revelation of the mystery that Jesus gave to Paul and no one else (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3). It focuses on Heaven and our citizenship there in Christ. Reading Peter’s words in light of the mystery Paul revealed in his 13 inspired letters [my comments bracketed] not only helps unveil the difference between prophecy for Israel and mystery for the church, but in the very distinct ministries of these two apostles: As also in all (Paul’s) epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood [mystery], which they that are unlearned [unknowledgeable about prophecy and mystery] and unstable [inconsistent hermeneutics brings about a wide range of conclusions] wrest [fight against], as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). 

What is the tribulation and Day of the Lord?

Both are Jewish, OT terms given to Israel by the prophets of God. It has no bearing on the church whatsoever. In short, the tribulation is a future 7 year period when God will punish the world for sin and prepare Israel and her supporters for the Messiah and the Davidic Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; Zech. 14; Matt. 25:31-34). The term was first used by Moses in a prophecy warning that Israel would suffer tribulation in the latter days (Deut. 4:30). While other prophets pictured the horrors of it, Jeremiah called this the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7), and Jacob is Israel (Gen. 32:28). Prior to the crucifixion the Lord Jesus answered questions about His future return to set up the Davidic Kingdom by listing signs of the tribulation and the great tribulation (Matt. ; 24:21, 29) preceding it (Olivet Discourse: Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21). Scholars believe this tribulation period revealed by Moses, the prophets, Jeremiah, Christ and others comprises the final 7 year period missing from Daniel’s 70 week prophecy for thy people [Jews] and thy holy city [Jerusalem] (Dan. 9:24-27).

The Day of the Lord (more explained in a moment) is a well known Jewish OT term mentioned specifically 26 times by 9 OT prophets, and alluded to in the NT by Luke, Paul, and Peter. Dispensationalists teach that the Day of the Lord begins with the tribulation and extends on through the 1000 year Davidic Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16). Since the church is NOT Israel and has already had her sins judged once for all at the cross- there is no reason for us to be here suffering during the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble.

Is the Day of Christ the same as the Day of the Lord?

No! The Day of Christ- used in several variations including day of our Lord Jesus Christ, Day of the Lord Jesus, and day of Jesus Christ– is a Christian phrase Paul was given in the revelation of the mystery for the church. As a Hebrew scholar, Paul was well aware of the prophetic significance of the phrase the Day of the Lord and knew it described events surrounding the tribulation aka the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble. He also knew that the Day of the Lord is judgment against the proud (Isa. 2:12); destruction (Isa. 13:6; Joel 1:15); God’s fierce anger (Isa. 13:9;    Zeph. 2:2); God’s vengeance for Zion (Isa. 34:8); God’s vengeance against His adversaries (Jer. 46:10; Obad. 1:15); terror (Lam. 2:22); Israel’s battle (Ezek. 13:5); the time of the heathen (Ezek. 30:3); a time of trembling (Joel 2:1); great and very terrible (Joel 2:11); dark and bloody moon (Joel 2:31; Acts 2:20); multitudes in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14); woe (Amos 5:18); darkness (Amos 5:20); bitter crying (Zeph. 1:14); and wrath (Zeph. 1:18). Not surprising, Paul’s variations of the day of Christ never include the prophetic warnings of the Day of the Lord because it was given to a group totally distinct from Israel; the church. Arno Gaebelein agrees:

“There is an important difference between the day of Christ and the Day of the Lord. The day of Christ concerns the Church, the saints of God. The Day of the Lord concerns the earth– Israel and the nations. The day of Christ begins when He takes His saints in glory and they are with Him. The Day of the Lord will bring . . . the visible manifestation of the Lord from heaven. The day of Christ comes first and the Day of the Lord follows [and continues] at least seven years later. The Day of the Lord does not concern the saints at all; it falls on the world. Before the Day of the Lord can come, His saints have to be gathered together unto Him. The promise of 1Th_4:16-18 needs first to be fulfilled. (Paul)  uses this hope of being gathered to Christ, when He comes for His saints, as a motive why they should not listen to those who said the day of [Christ] is present. He reminds them of the fact that their gathering unto Him had not yet taken place. How, then, could the Day of the Lord be present?” (The Annotated Bible- Arno Gaebelein)

What or where are the signs indicating the Day of the Lord is near?

Luke 21:25 tells us: And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring. Many of these signs and perplexities can be studied in the Olivet Discourse accounts Christ gave to the elect- Jews (Isa. 45:4; Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21).

What is the significance of the sun, moon, and stars in Scripture?

By design, the sun, moon and stars have played key roles in God publishing His panoramic program. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:  (15)  And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light [2] upon the earth: and it was so.  (16)  And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also (Genesis 1:14-16).

[Incidentally, the sun, moon, and stars serve as types which are divine illustrations of truth. Scofield [3] offers this regarding these three entities: The “greater light” is a type of Christ, the “Sun of righteousness” (Mal_4:2). He will take this character at His second advent. Morally the world is now in the state between; (Gen_1:3-16); (Eph_6:12); (Act_26:18); (1Pe_2:9). The sun is not seen, but there is light. Christ is that light (Joh_1:4); (Joh_1:5-9) but “shineth in darkness,” comprehended only by faith. As “Son of righteousness” He will dispel all darkness].

What are the prophecies detailing the end times signs in the sun moon and stars?

Before looking at them, let’s remember that Israel is a nation that was promised through 4 covenants with Almighty God to be a nation in a land ruled by laws that would become a permanent Kingdom. She rejected the King some 2000 year ago and is still awaiting her Covenanted Kingdom and King. There are at  least 7 key prophetic passages alerting Israel to the timing of the Day of the Lord and the Kingdom.

  1. Isaiah 13:9-11  Behold, the Day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.  (10)  For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.  (11)  And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
  2. Isaiah 24:21-23  And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.  (22)  And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.  (23)  Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.
  3. Joel 2:30-3:2  And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible Day of the Lord come.  (32)  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.  (3:1)  For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,  (2)  I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.
  4. Joel 3:12-16  Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.  (13)  Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.  (14)  Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.  (15)  The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.  (16)  The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
  5. Matthew 24:27-31  For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  (28)  For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.  (29)  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:  (30)  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.  (31)  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 24:32-25:30 is parenthetical) Matthew 25:31-34  When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:  (32)  And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:  (33)  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.  (34)  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

  1. Acts 2:19-21  And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:  (20)  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable Day of the Lord come:  (21)  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
  2. Revelation 6:12-13  And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;  (13)  And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. [the church is NOT MENTIONED one time from Chapter 4 through 18].

Using the Chart of signs in the sun, moon, and stars- p4

There are 7 verses discussing the end times signs in the sun, moon, and stars. Although they are all pertinent to Israel signifying the coming of the Messiah, PreWrath rapture advocates claim it is actually the rapture these events signal which will- according to their unprovable theory- occurs in a one time event after the tribulation but before God pours out His wrath in conjunction with the darkening of the sun, and the moon turning to blood.

On the chart (p4) I have listed all 7 passages cited. I also have included any mention of the Day of the Lord (which is for Israel, not the church), 2nd Coming to Jerusalem (also for Israel), Armageddon-Valley of Jehoshaphat (for Israel) and/or Judgment (sheep and goat). Please pay particular attention to the congruency of the Day of the Lord, the 2nd Coming of Christ to Jerusalem, and the Judgment because those espousing the PreWrath hypothesis have to separate them in order to make their theory work. 

Chart of signs in the sun, moon, and stars

Reference

Stars/Heaven

Sun

Moon

Day of the Lord

2nd Coming

to

Jerusalem

Armageddon/Valley of Jehoshaphat/Judgment

Isaiah
13:9-11

The stars and the constellations shall not

give their light

The sun shall be darkened in his going forth

The moon shall not cause her light to shine

Day of the Lord cometh,

cruel both with wrath and fierce anger

Not

mentioned

He shall destroy sinners; I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity

Isaiah

24:21-23

Not mentioned

The sun ashamed

The moon shall be confounded

And it shall come to pass

in that day;

after many days

Lord of hosts shall reign in

Mount Zion and in

Jerusalem

The Lord shall punish the host of the high ones and the kings of the earth, and they shall be gathered together in the pit

Joel
2:30-3:2
(see Acts2:19

below)

I will show wonders in the

heavens

The sun shall be turned into darkness [1]

…and the moon into blood

before the great and the terrible Day of

the Lord come; in those days, and in that time

Not

mentioned

I will also gather all nations, and bring them down into the valley of

Jehoshaphat. In mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance

Joel

3:12-16

The stars shall withdraw their shining

The sun shall be darkened

The moon shall be

darkened

The Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision

The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, the children

of Israel

Let the heathen be wakened and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.

Matthew 24:27-31; 25:31-34

The stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken

The sun shall be darkened

The moon shall not give her light

Not mentioned

Lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; immediately after the tribulation of those days. The sign of the son of man in heaven; coming in the clouds with power and great glory

Eagles are gathered at Armageddon/sign of the Son of man coming with power and great glory, tribes mourn, sends his angels w/great sound of trumpet, elect gathered . . . then shell he sit upon the throne of his glory and separate the sheep from the goats in his kingdom.

Acts 2:19-21

(see Joel 2:30 above)

I will show wonders in heaven above

The sun shall be turned into darkness

…and the moon into blood

Before that great and notable Day of the Lord

Implied in the context

(20-21)

Implied in the Day of the Lord

Rev. 6:12-13

And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth

The sun became black as sackcloth of hair

And the moon

became as blood

The great day (of his wrath)

Implied since Judgment occurs

in Jerusalem

The throne and the wrath of the Lamb follows

(Rev. 6:16-17)

Summary: When studied in context, these passages collectively tell us that the sun moon and star activity accompanies the Lord’s return to Jerusalem to conduct His wrathful judgment prior to the Millennium.


[1] Someone suggested that Joel and Revelation both describe a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse. During solar eclipses the sun is obscured by the moon except for wisps of light around the corona as if a sackcloth- dark goat’s hair cloth used in bag making sacks and clothing – was put in front of the sun. Lunar eclipses often cause the moon to not disappear completely but turn shades of orange and fire red.


[1] For more study, please order our tract: Things that are Different

[2] Light is a reference not only to dispelling darkness- a type of sin- but knowledge and righteousness.

[3] We have these Old Scofield Reference Bibles in bonded leather, KJV, available for a gift to PMI of $30 + $4 s/h (prices can change) to help us minister to you and others. Please remember, when you order from us, you help support us. Stamps are welcome.

[4] Someone suggested that Joel and Revelation both describe a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse. During solar eclipses the sun is obscured by the moon except for wisps of light around the corona as if a sackcloth- dark goat’s hair cloth used in bag making sacks and clothing – was put in front of the sun. Lunar eclipses often cause the moon to not disappear completely but turn shades of orange and fire red.

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