Hope everyone had a great week. Actually six days as I posted on Wednesday last time, but shooting for Tuesday this week. If I can maintain my schedule goal, I’ll post a Bible study on Tuesday and a sermon/message on Friday. And as I said last time, I know there’ll be bumps in the road, but I’m going to keep after it.
We’re studying what God has told us about His next return, known as the Rapture. Last time we looked at the fact that we have to look at the larger picture of history to see what God intended and to understand how to properly interpret scripture. All scripture must be interpreted with all other scripture in mind and also an idea of the overall story arc that God created.
He told us in Genesis that He would provide a savior someday who would be born of woman and who would redeem mankind from his sin. But no other specifics were given then.
So now we move approximately fifteen hundred years into the future from Creation. The world has become so incredibly wicked, God is sorry He made mankind. So He decides to destroy all land life by causing a world-wide flood.
Yet He finds one man who finds favor in His eyes, Noah. And He instructs him to build an ark.
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. . . . Noah walked with God. . . . Make yourself an ark of gopherwood.” Genesis 6:8-9,14.
So Noah spends the next one hundred years building the ark, and God uses it to save him and his family as well as two of each land animal through the flood. God instructed him to save more than two of some animals for different reasons, but the survival of man and the land animals was assured through God’s judgment.
The rain fell and the great fountains of the deep opened and a flood covered the entire world. But God saved His chosen people through it all
But before He did that, something very interesting happened.
In Genesis 5:23-24, we read about Enoch. He had a son named Methuselah when he was sixty-five. Then the Bible says this: “So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”
Everyone else mentioned until this point lived a certain number of years and then they died. But not Enoch. He was so close to God that God didn’t allow him to see death. God simply took him out of this life.
From a theological standpoint, you can debate whether God translated Enoch to Hades, the place of the dead, or directly to heaven, since it says God took him. However, since death reigned over us until Jesus rose from the dead, I think Enoch had to go to Hades and wait with the other believers.
Anyway, the point of the story is God removed a righteous man from the earth before He destroyed it by the flood. It is interesting that the Bible says both Enoch and Noah walked with God, but God directly removed Enoch and had Noah ride out the flood. Both were saved from the judgment of God, but in different ways.
So, what does this have to do with the Rapture?
The Bible contains what we call types. They are actions that are repeated at some point in history, with the first times being the examples. Basically it’s God giving us an idea of what He’s going to do and how He’s going to do it.
For example, one of the most recognizable types in end times prophecy is that of Antiochus Epiphanes. You can look him up to get the whole story, but suffice it to say he was a Gentile ruler in the interbiblical period, the time between the old and new testaments. And he wasn’t very nice to the Jews.
In fact he was so bad he resembled the person described in Daniel 9, as “the prince who is to come,” otherwise known as the Antichrist of Revelation. But he is only a type, an example of the way the Antichrist of Revelation will behave and act, although I believe the final one will be many, many times worse.
Which brings us back to Enoch and Noah. I believe they are types God has given us to show us how history will end. In the sense they are examples, Enoch represents the church and Noah represents the Jewish people.
Like Enoch was removed from the earth before God’s wrath of the flood, the church will be raptured up to meet Jesus in the air before God’s wrath of the Tribulation.
And as Noah and his family were safely carried through the flood in the ark, God will protect the Jewish people as a nation through the Tribulation, which by the way is referred to as Jacob’s Trouble, Jacob being a reference to the Jewish patriarch.
So, now we have two aspects we use to help us interpret what scripture says about the Rapture, God’s overall redemption plan and His example of Enoch and Noah. Next time we’ll look at the major player in God’s design of history, Abraham.
Until next week!
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5 thoughts on “The Return–Part II: Seeing the Preview”
I wonder why no one ever talks about the antichrist in 1 and 2 John? Those are the only places the term appears (if I’m not mistaken). It gets confusing when a specific term like that (in existence in the 1st century and applied to multiple persons) is used interchageably with other terms that may relate to End Times
Hi Ivan. Thanks for commenting.
You’re correct. That’s where we get the term Antichrist. The term itself means against Christ, and that’s what John is talking about there. The spirit in the world that is against Christ. And you can find it everywhere and in anyone who chooses to live and act contrary to how we know God wants us to live.
But there is a person who will show up at the end of history during the Tribulation who will play a particular role. He will be Satan’s counterfeit christ. Different writers of the Bible call him different things like “the Beast” in Revelation, or “the prince who is to come” in Daniel, or “the son of perdition” in 2 Thessalonians. And we’ll touch on these as we get further in this series. But they’re all referring to that particular person.
And that’s where the confusing part comes in. People have just taken that term, Antichrist, to refer to that one person, although the actual term is only used by John in his letters to refer to an attitude of being against Christ. That’s why it is so important that we actually read God’s word for the truth instead of just taking someone’s idea about it. Once we know the story the Bible tells, we tend to rely on what we remember instead of always checking the text. And since the Bible has prophecy spread out all over it, we tend to make things confusing when we try to consolidate it all. It’s okay to move the terms around if you know they all refer to the same thing, but it can be confusing to someone who doesn’t know all the terms.
By the way, I’m not making a judgment on anyone’s Bible teaching. I’m just saying you always need to take what you hear and compare it to the Bible itself. The Bible is the standard. And if someone teaches something that contradicts what the Bible says, ask them to explain. If they won’t or they continue to contradict the scripture, don’t listen to them anymore. And that goes for myself as well. If you read something here on my blog that is contrary to what you find in the Bible, call me out on it.
I hope I answered your question without being too confusing. If you have any other questions about it or anything I’ve said here, please ask me. Thanks again for reading and commenting!
Thanks, Ken. That’s why I only use “antichrist” in the specific context in which it appears in the text. Of course it refers to multiple persons near the end of the 1st century who left the church because of their misguided notion (probably incipient gnosticism) about the humanity/divinity of Christ. I say let the Beast be the Beast, the Man of Sin be the Man of Sin, etc. These are individuals, but the antichrists were not. Somewhere along the line Xians decided to meld all these together and call them the one name they were never called. Pet peeve of mine, so I apologize.
So, Enoch represents the Rapture (pre-Trib) and Noah rides out the Flood (Tribulation) in the Ark. I NEVER made that connection. Brilliant! Side note, I recently read a theory that the two prophets in Revelation will be Enoch and Elijah, as both were taken up without dying. They come back as described in Revelation and experience their physical death at that time. Not saying I’m 100% on that but find it an intriguing thought.
So far, I’m a post-Trib thinker based on the sequence Jesus gives in Matthew 24. Plus – and this might sound silly – if the Rapture IS post-Trib and people have always believed it will be pre-Trib, they could have a real crisis of faith at not having been taken. That scenario will damage and possibly lose many believers out of doubt and hopelessness. I’d rather a post=Tribber and be pleasantly surprised than a pre-tribber and have a real Oops moment.
Call me crazy…
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You have to be careful when you start saying this represents this or that means that when you’re dealing with the Bible, simply because the Bible wasn’t written as an academic document. It’s all true, of course, and it has elements of instruction, documentary, history, poetry, etc., but it’s form is a story, or HiStory if you will. So you have to look at things like examples or types as a way that the teller of the story has to share something important with you, rather than elements which can manipulated. That may seem like I’m trying to make too much of it, but too many people miss the interpretation of scripture simply because they don’t look at the large picture, which is why I wrote this Bible study.
But, yes, I believe that what God did with Enoch and Noah not only took care of those situations, but it was His way of setting up a type to show us how His story would end. And that didn’t originate with me. Actually, I had always heard folks talk about the Rapture based on Noah as the type. That God would save the church out of the Tribulation like He did Noah out of the flood. But then someone mentioned that if you back up and look at Enoch and then Noah, that makes a better type which fits the Rapture and salvation of the Jewish people at the end. Once I looked into it, I had to agree. And it puts credibility to the PreTrib position.
What you mentioned about Enoch and Elijah is probably one of the two main suggestions out there for who the two witnesses would be, for the reason you gave about not physically dying. The other is Moses and Elijah as they represent the Law and the Prophets. But some holding to the first say Enoch could represent a sort of pre-Law position.
Personally, I don’t think so, on either count. Using John the Baptist as an example, I think God will provide two completely new characters to fill those positions. But they will behave exactly like Moses and Elijah. You’ll recall that when Jesus was questioned by His disciples about what Malachi said about Elijah coming first, Jesus said he did and was rejected by the people. And the disciples realized He was referring to John the Baptist. So the prophecy wasn’t about the physical Elijah, but someone in his place. I believe the two witnesses will be done the same way.
Also, the not dying thing doesn’t hold up. People use the verse that says, it is appointed to every man once to die and then the judgment. But Paul says about the Rapture, we shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed. So the idea behind the verse is that all men will come to a stopping place in this life and then be judged. And if you’ll recall Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, He appeared with Moses and Elijah. We know Moses died and God buried him, but Elijah was taken up. Yet they both stood before Jesus in the same way, so I would think they were in the same place in the same state. By the way, Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration is another reason some believe they will be the two witnesses. FYI.
Bottom line, we have no idea exactly who they will be, but that they will be in the spirit of Moses, the Law, and Elijah, the Prophets. When we finally see it we’ll see how it makes perfect sense.
Matthew 24 does speak about things going on in the Tribulation and then about Jesus coming, but it describes His actual Second Coming to earth, not the rapture. Note the statement in Matthew 24:30, “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” That’s not how the Rapture is described, but the Second Coming. Everyone seeing Him coming down through the clouds with power and great glory. That’s how it’s described in Revelation 19:11-16. The Rapture is only mentioned from the perspective of the saved. Jesus in the clouds calling us up to be with Him. No one else knowing anything except we’re gone.
No, I don’t think you’re crazy or silly. It’s a valid point. But it’s the very point that Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about. They were concerned that they had missed the Rapture and that those who had already died had really missed it. So Paul goes into detail about how it’s going to work to give them reassurance that they have nothing to worry about as long as they know Jesus. I see this the same way I see assurance of salvation. God wants us to believe Him and trust Him. So He tells us exactly how to be saved and gives us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee to prove it, so we don’t sit around worrying about it. He does the same with the Rapture. He’s given us the types and He had Paul give information on it in two places so we would have assurance that it is coming.
Bottom line, as long as you are truly saved, what you think about the Rapture won’t change that. But like Paul said, comfort one another with these words. Do you really want to live with the thought of having to go through the Tribulation when God has already said you won’t? Doesn’t that show a mistrust in God? Like I said, it won’t change your salvation, but it gives you the confidence in God to live the abundant life He came to give. John 10:10.
You had some great comments and questions. I’d love to discuss them further with you if you’d like. Shoot me an email if you want and we’ll dig deeper.
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