Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Rapture, Part 1

Of all the doctrines common to today's Christian community, the subject of a "secret rapture" is among the most attractive, and among the most widely accepted. The concept of being whisked away before all hell breaks loose is a comforting thought. The human psyche is loath to the idea of martyrdom, unless endured by someone else and from a safe distance, but Jesus says, "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord." Matt 10:24. Can Christians in any era of earth's history expect to escape the effects of Satan's rage any more than Christ Himself, let alone His disciples. Stories of the Flood and countless martyrs down through the ages suggest not.

The purpose of this paper is to determine from scripture alone when and how, if at all, the "rapture" is to occur. It will not be easy to disengage from the web of religious intrigue in which this subject has been encased, and it will require some math, but the effort will prove valuable to those who are willing to put in the time and thought. Following are some questions which will be addressed:

  • Where did the idea of the rapture come from, including the seven years of an antichrist?
  • How many advents of Christ are there?
  • How secret will it be?
  • What about the "thief in the night?"
  • Who will witness Christ's coming? 
  • What about Israel and the temple yet to be built?
  • Does the manner in which the rapture occurs really make any difference in our salvation?
Where did the Rapture Theory originate and why? 

As to a rapture, secret or otherwise, we know from John 14:2 that Jesus intends to come back for His people. Of this we can be certain for He promised that...

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:2-3.

The question of course is, In what manner will Jesus come to receive us unto Himself?
Thanks to two historic figures, Francisco Ribera and Margaret McDonald, there is much confusion on this subject.

Francisco Ribera

Ribera was a Jesuit priest at the time of the Protestant Reformation around the late 1500s, when Martin Luther had labeled the pope as the Antichrist. Scriptural references were so prevalent and the evidence so compelling that, thanks to the invention of the printing press and Bible scholars willing to risk their lives for the crime of making scripture available to the common people, all Christendom was alive with conviction and the Catholic Church took a substantial hit. Ribera is credited with initiating a "Counter Reformation" by applying Daniel 9:26-27 to a despotic figure at some nebulous point in the future, thereby taking the focus off the papacy and  leaving the door open for speculation of all kinds.

Margaret McDonald

McDonald was a self-proclaimed "prophetess" around the early 1800s, who at the age of fifteen began having visions about the end of the world. She is credited with endorsing Ribera's dispensationalist theory of a future antichrist by adding the idea of a "secret rapture" in which Christians would be spared the horrors of a seven-year tribulation during which Jews would have a second chance. This view creates several difficulties which will be discussed below.

The Second Coming

As has been documented above, there is no doubt among Christian believers that Jesus will return, but we must understand that nothing in the Bible essential to salvation is safe from Satan's sophistries, and the manner of Christ's coming is no exception. In an effort to know whom to believe, it is therefore vital to find out what the Bible actually says on the subject in order to: (1) understand the fate of Jesus' followers so that none need be unfairly surprised, (2) determine the exact nature of His advent so that a counterfeit will not confuse the honest in heart and (3) unravel the misinterpretation of scripture upon which the original lie is based.

Regarding what Jesus told His followers to expect: 

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. Mat 24:9

As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Rom 8:36

...that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. Rev 13:15

In direct response to the disciples' request to tell them what to expect at the "end of the world" (Mat 24:3), Jesus not only told them to expect martyrdom (vs 9), but to pray that their "flight be not  in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day." vs 20. This last text tells us two things; that Christ's followers will be fleeing persecution at the end of time and that the Sabbath will still be in effect. One can argue that the Sabbath keepers are Margaret McDonald's converted Jews, but the Bible says there is no division among Christians:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:28

If, according to Paul, there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, how can we make a case for a seven-year reprieve for Jews only who happen to be alive just before Christ returns? And what about the Jews who died prior to this time of second chances? Is God arbitrary, extending special favors to some and not to others

Jews have always had the same opportunity as the rest of us to get to know the God that Jesus loved, and to choose Him as Gentiles of all stripes have chosen Him for millennia, without the acvantage of a supernatural exhibition. Regarding literal Israel, Paul had this to say about Abraham's seed:

And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3:29

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. Rom 2:28-29

The spiritual Jews whose praise is of God are those who stand for Christ in every age irrespective of race and nationality. 

Advents and Temples 

Two other considerations in the McDonald/Ribera scenario are (1) the number of advents required to fulfill the prophecy and (2) a physical temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem.

Regarding how many advents, the Bible says:

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Heb 9:28

There really is no way around the numbers. If there is a Secret Rapture as well as an audible one as described in 1 Thess 4:16, then that makes three; once as a baby and twice as an adult. One must choose whether it is two as the Bible says or three according to the traditions of men.

Regarding the temple at Jerusalem, Jesus had this to say: 

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. Mat 23:37.

From this scripture alone, it is difficult to misunderstand Jesus' thoughts about the temple at Jerusalem, and yet Protestants all over America are actively preparing to build a new one. Why would professed Christians want to reinstate a system that was done away with at the cross unless they have misunderstood a prophecy and were anxious to see it fulfilled according to their convictions? Can God not orchestrate His affairs without our help? To participate in and actually pay for a building that denies the sacrifice Christ made at such terrible risk and suffering is, to my way of thinking, about as heretical as one can get. It is an excellent barometer of how duped the Christian population has become and how reliant we are on seminary graduates to tell us what to believe. Paul had this to say about such zeal:

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. Rom 10:1-3.

Have we become so focused on our zeal for God that we have forgotten to let the Bible interpret itself?

Do the Math

Here is where people's eyes glaze over, but please remember that God gives us these exercises for a reason, and the reason is to protect us from deception. In fact God's word is loaded with mathematics for this very reason, to protect His truth, so let's just grit our teeth and plow through it.

Any pastor competent in Rapture theology will point to Daniel 9 for the rationale, so this is where we will begin. The last four verses are a 70-week prophecy given to Daniel as a present from God to point him down the ages to the advent of the Messiah. The prophecy is a cohesive unit based on the rule that a day in prophecy represents a year. Ezek 4:6. Ribera took these verses and twisted them to his own ends by: (1) making the Antichrist the focus of the prophecy and (2) disjointing the final week to an unspecified time in the future. But following is how the verses actually read in the KJV.

Dan 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Dan 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

Dan 9:26 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.

Dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Pay close attention to the underlined sections for they will tell you exactly how the prophecy is to be read. Following is a paraphrase of God's message to Daniel through the angel:

Daniel, My beloved son:

You have spent 70 years in captivity for reasons that were not of your doing, and you have represented me among the heathen with utmost loyalty and decorum. For this reason I have sent my angel to give you a gift. You have been asking when the 70 years of Babylonian captivity would be up, but I am going to tell you of a different prophecy, a 70 week prophecy, that will usher in the advent of the long awaited Messiah. It goes like this.

(70 weeks x 7 days = 490 days = 490 years)

Four hundred and ninety years from the date of the decree to send your people back to Jerusalem, the Jewish dispensation will come to an end. My Son will have been born and completed His role as Messiah and the old covenant will be fulfilled. The rituals and ceremonies (sacrifice and oblations) pointing to His ministry and death will become obsolete.

This 70 week prophecy is divided into three parts. The first part, seven weeks (49 years), will be the time it takes to restore the damage to Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple. The second part, 62 weeks (434 years), is the intervening time before My Son actually begins His ministry. The final week (7 years) will finish up the prophecy and accomplish the following 6 things:
  • Finish transgression
  • Make and end of sins
  • Make reconciliation for iniquity
  • Bring in everlasting righteousness
  • Seal up the vision and prophecy
  • Anoint the most Holy
In the middle of the 70th week (3 1/2 years) My Son will be crucified. At that point the sacrificial system will be done away. The rest of the week (3 1/2 years) will be spent trying to help Jews understand this prophecy in the light of My Son's life and death. Those who still resist truth when these final 3 1/2 years are up will have filled up the cup of their iniquity and salvation will go to the Gentiles. The city and the temple will be destroyed once more by an overwhelming flood of iniquity that will increase until the end of the world. Now you know what to expect.


A careful study of these four verses will show that the 70 week "vision and prophecy" were "sealed" as a unit when Christ's work of reconciliation for iniquity was finished. It was at the stoning of Stephen three and a half years after the crucifixion that the message of salvation went to the Gentiles. I find it interesting that a strong Rabbinic curse is leveled against any Jew who reads Daniel 9, a pretty good indication in my estimation that they know it applies to the Messiah. I sincerely hope that those inclined to believe that these verses point to an Antichrist at the end of time will reconsider their position in the light of new evidence. When we let the Bible speak for itself, all confusion disappears.

Respectfully submitted
To the Glory of God
Pamela K
March 31, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

First Things First; Which Translation?

Truth is a valuable commodity.

After all, God IS truth, and Satan is a master deceiver. Can Christians afford to treat their core beliefs like a game of Scrabble, or are there eternal consequence to getting it wrong? I believe there are consequences. Here are a few things that the Bible has to say on the subject.
  • There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Pro 14:12
  • ...they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 2Thess 2:10-11
  • Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matt 7:22-23
If the Bible takes its truths so seriously, should not we? 

Christ was a walking encyclopedia of the word of God. He was truth itself. John 14:6. By His own admission, He said nothing and did nothing that wasn't the Father saying and doing it through Him. John 14:10. Paul tells us that the Father was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. 2 Cor 5:19. John tells us that Jesus was God's thoughts spoken aloud, not from a mountain top with fire and smoke, but in human flesh. John 1:14. And it is these very thoughts, God's "words" made audible through Christ's teaching that will judge us in the end. John 12:47-49.

If getting to know the truth that Christ lived and taught can only come by studying His Word, then it is wise to find the most accurate Word we can and to study it as though our life depended on it, for it does. 2 TIm 2:15. The problem lies in the fact that few Americans can read Hebrew or Greek, so we become sitting ducks for potential deception. But since it is not our fault that God confused the languages at the Tower of Babel, He will not leave us defenseless if we truly desire to know Him and what He stands for.

In a world that takes its stand on Evolution, I find it intriguing that secular encyclopedias bother to document religion at all, let alone efforts to wipe God's word off the face of the map. Why remind an indifferent society of a time when people were burned at the stake for simply posessing a Bible, let alone sharing its contents with others or worse, translating it into the vernacular of the common man. But what's odder still is that even  in today's so-called enlightened society, Americans can still be jailed for the crime of placing a Bible among the books on a public school desk, let alone discussing its Author in the confines of a classroom.

In a country that prides itself on Freedom of Speech, such a blatant affront to personal rights should concern even the staunchest atheist and cause us all to wonder what is happening and why. Why would a world which evolved by accident from a puddle of primordial ooze feel accountable to a moral standard of any kind? How does survival of the fittest incorporate feelings of loyalty and love? And why even address, let alone fight over, something as abstract as religion? Who cares if some oddball thinks he is being guided by invisible beings unless there is more to the scenario than meets the eye? And if there is more to the scenario, e.g. documentable evidence of supernatural intervention in the lives of men, might that not suggest the presence of intelligences from another dimension which are worth checking out? 

Perhaps questions of Christian dogma or which translation we should study or even if there is a God might remain filed under the heading of theological gymnastics if it weren't for two trends which have been emerging for the last several years. One concerns why a Christian nation, whose Pledge of Allegiance and currency both mention God by name, should suddenly find its two-hundred-year-old heritage so offensive? The other is why a planet that has evolved from a godless series of natural coincidences should base the third leg of its tri-lateral global system on religion of all things? One might reasonably ask why religion, which religion and in what capacity?

It is my conviction that Satan has ever sought to eradicate all awareness of a Creator God from the minds of men. But when he realized that the "blood of martyrs" was "seed" and that Gutenberg's press could print bibles faster than he could destroy them, he decided to take a different tack. I believe that the different tack is to infiltrate and destroy Christianity from within. I am convinced that this is why we have so many translations of a text that is common to all denominations, and why there is a move to dispense with, as obsolete, the one translation that has stood the test of time. The rationale that modern terminology makes the scriptures more readable has merit, but easy reading, in my opinion, is not necessarily helpful in answering difficult questions, and may actually disguise poison in the milkshake. Paul tells us that it is high time Christians put away milk and started eating solid food. 1 Cor 3:2. He commended the Bereans for receiving his words "with all readiness of mind" and for searching the scriptures daily to see if what he was saying agreed with established truth. Acts 17:11

We, too, are enjoined to search the scriptures, but with all the versions out there, how can we know which version is safe, and not loaded with subtle compromise? There are two ways to evaluate truth as I see it:

(1) Firstly, with the aid of a proven concordance which incorporates the original Hebrew and Greek text, scripture should be studied line upon line and precept upon precept. This was the approach the early disciples used to prove their claims about Christ, and it is their proofs that serve as the foundation for our own Christian faith.
(2) Secondly, the character and claims of any proponents of God's truth must reflect the standards of Christ and His teaching. Any deviation from that standard should be a red flag of the first order. To see how God feels about those who lie in His name we need only look and the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Acts 5:1-11. Just saying something is true or accurate or better or best is hardly a criterion for acceptance without testing the claims against a ligitimate standard. To claim, for example, that a yardstick is accurate, there must be an approved original with which to compare it. And where the proponents of truth themselves are concerned, the only fair way to research their claims is to go to their own writings rather than rely on prejudiced statments about them. In any dispute, one should go to the source.

Where God's word is concerned, it is foolish to think that Satan is not actively at work to confuse and distort. Steering the theology of the Christian mindset into twisted channels is his forte. Such has been the case from the early church (2 Thess 2:7) which, in order to protect God's truths, necessitated the collection of as many original documents as possible from Paul and the disciples and translating them into Greek, the common language of the day.

This Textus Receptus, or Received Text, which reveals a supernatural pattern of prime numbers, served as the basis of the King James New Testament of 1611. Is it reasonable to suppose that the arch deceiver would leave alone a document that has been stamped with God's own imprimature? How convenient to provide a new, "more accurate" Greek Text from which to produce a myriad of translations subtly distorted to teach a generic religion that would sit well with an international culture. I would ask everyone who is serious about spiritual things to search out the background of the designers of this Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament from which virtually every modern translation derives; to read their letters to each other and to hear from their own lips how they felt about Mary worship, the Catholic Church and the Textus Receptus in particular, and where their extra-curricular activities tended. It is eye-opening.

With eternal life at stake and a Manual that has been badly tampered with, it seems to me that translations based on the oldest and most trusted manuscripts would be the safest to use. Then, in our private study, if we have misunderstood a doctrinal point, God will acknowledge our limitations and "wink." Acts 17:30. After all, we cannot call Him up on the phone, but we can look into the word He has already sent with the assurance that an omniscient, omnipotent, Creator can certainly protect the authenticity of His word while guiding us by His Spirit into its truths. John 16:13. Guide us, that is, if we are willing to follow the format to let the scriptures interpret themselves and to search them diligently in a line upon line fashion. But to deliberately choose tradition and the philosophies of finite man over the explicit word of God is tantamount to rebellion, and the Bible equates rebellion with the sin of "witchcraft." 1 Sam 15:23.

In order to understand better what is at stake, a few comparisons between the KJV and almost every modern translation are as follows:

Revelation 22:14. 

The KJV reads: Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

The Westcott/Hort translations read: Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.

Where the KJV points to obedience to God's government as criteria for entrance into heaven, Westcott and Hort transform the message into a nebulous platitude about laundry that mentions neither Christ nor His blood. But according to Strong's concordance, the Greek word entole (commandment #1785) has nothing to do with robes or washing. I have wondered where Westcott and Hort got their Greek word and how it fits Ivan Panin's scriptural mathematics. (See below)

Romans 8:1

As an example of textual abreviation: the Westcott and Hort rendition eliminates the qualification, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." This qualification defines those for whom there is "no condemnation" by pointing them to the Holy Spirit as the Source of power for their spiritual "walk."

Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16: 3:22

For examples of individual word exchange please note the difference between "faith of Jesus" (KJV) and "faith in Jesus" (W & H). One might ask if such a small change should matter, but I would ask, if it doesn't matter, why change it in the first place? Personally, I think it matters a great deal, and I think Westcott and Hort thought so too.

Where faith "in" Jesus focuses on our human assessment about Him, the faith "of" Jesus is Christ's own faith acted out in life of the believer. And while the former is man-centered and therefore weak and inadequate, the latter is God-centered and therefore perfect and full of power. This small but essential difference is the heart of the gospel message as I have come to understand it, for even the devils "believe," but "tremble." James 2:19.

It is for these reasons and more that I recommend for the most accurate and reliable study the version that remains closest to the original Hebrew and Greek, as the early succession of English translations have demonstrated. (See Hidden History of the English Scriptures, G. A. Riplinger.) Another and far more emphatic reason, however, is the fact that the Hebrew and Greek upon which the KJV is based has imbedded within the text a mathematical structure of prime numbers that can only have come from a supernatural Source. (See Russian linguist and mathematician Ivan Panin.) Both Old and New Testaments are based on a pattern of multiples of seven in such extraordinary complexity that it not only demonstrates a common Author, but reveals the blatant impossibility of man, even in a computer age, to accomplish an omniscient and mathematical feat of such astronomical proportions.
Insofar as denominations are concerned, these are the questions I would ask:
1. Do the tenets of belief follow scripture exclusively or do they include extra-biblical traditions?   
2. Do the organizational formalities (vestments, rituals, candles, artwork, etc.) reflect the simplicity of Christ or do they smack of self-aggrandizement?
3. Do the advocates walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6) in obedience to God and love to man, or are they a reflection of the attitudes of the world? Matt 15:9.

It is my belief that those alive when Jesus returns will either reflect Jesus fully or they will reflect Satan fully. They will keep the word of God or they will keep the traditions of men. They will "magnify" God's law "and make it honorable"  (Isaiah 42:21) or they will magnify the "venerable day of the sun" and make it honorable. This, I am convinced, will be the final test of whose side we are on. My question to honest Christians is this:

Will you follow God as Jesus followed Him, obeying "every" word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, unabridged and undefiled, or will your house be left unto you desolate?

Respectfully submitted
Pamela K

To the Glory of God
March 28, 2011