Putting It All Together: What Happens on the Day of the Second Coming? [Part -1]

Chapter 16 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Putting It All Together: What Happens on the Day of the Second Coming? 

When we think about the end times, we often think about the Antichrist, about the changes in the weather, about the failing economy – things that are touching our lives. This 

makes sense because we all have lives to live. But there is a day coming that we know as, “The Second Coming.” This chapter presents a graphic look at the second coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. This chapter will also point to scriptural proof that the second coming will occur at Armageddon. 

The reader is familiar with the second coming, and has probably heard of the battle of Armageddon; but there are actually a lot of misconceptions about Armageddon. For example, think for a moment about where you believe the battle of Armageddon is going to take place. Maybe you have taken a Bible class where you saw that it was up north. We will demonstrate that the actual location is in Jerusalem. This, and other, exciting revelations will open the reader’s eyes to a new perspective on the events of the second coming of Jesus Christ, and the battle of Armageddon. 

Questions we might have concerning this time period might include: 

  1. What are the conditions on the Earth before Jesus comes? We should consider this question because the earth is going to be quite a mess when Jesus returns. 
  1. What will it look like when the heavens pass away? What is the scriptural evidence for this dramatic event? 
  1. What happens to the earth at Jesus fiery return? This will definitely be an exciting event. We will discover that the earth is going to be destroyed beyond repair. 
  1. What will be the location of the battle of Armageddon? As was briefly stated, it will be closer to Jerusalem than one might have previously considered it to be. 
  1. How will Jesus fight when He comes back? We know He is coming on a white horse, but will He do any more than that? We will examine this in great detail. 

What are the conditions of the earth before the second coming? There will be an ash cloud that blankets the earth, blocking the sun and the moon. Billions would have been killed by the two hundred million demonic horsemen that come out of the pit (Rev. 9). All the oceans, rivers, lakes etc. are blood instead of water. The earth at this time is not a place that we would want to be. Satan and the fallen angels in actual bodily form are on the earth. 

Smoke will darken the sky before the day of the Lord (Rev. 9:2). This is about the midpoint of a seven year period which is traditionally called “The Great Tribulation”. It can be argued, however, that The Great Tribulation is technically a three and a half year period, but this argument is beyond the scope of this particular book. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Rev. 9:2 This is the same darkening of the sun referenced in Isaiah 13:10; For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. Why will it not cause its light to shine? Because ash has filled the sky. 

Some years ago we had some forest fires here in California. I remember looking up at the sky in the evening with all the ash in the sky; and I saw that the moon was actually blood red. When it is observed through a layer of ash, it looks blood red. There is also a phenomenon, known as a lunar eclipse, where the earth comes between the sun and the moon and casts a red shadow on the moon. This is called a “blood moon”. This darkening of the sun and moon will be a constant state of reality during that three and a half year period due to all that ash that is going to come out of the pit when Satan opens it up. 

Revelation 16:10 says; Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. Again, why is it dark? Is it just some mysterious kind of darkness? Or could it be from the ash that has come out of the pit? This author believes the red moon is caused by the ash. As an example, there are pictures of an ice filled sky in Iceland showing that the sun is not giving the fullness of its light because it has been blocked out by ice particles. If thick, dark ash were to cover the sun, it would look like sack cloth had covered it. 

Revelation tells us that the earth is going to be laid waste. Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died. Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. Rev. 16:3, 4 Imagine all of the water in the entire world has become full of blood. It says in Isaiah 26:21, The earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain. We believe this verse says that all the blood that was ever shed from the days of Abel, up until the very last person to be murdered, will come back and come out in the oceans and rivers. The angel of the waters will say, You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due. Rev. 16:5, 6 Those who shed innocent blood on the earth will have blood to drink as their just reward. 

We know that the fallen angels are going to be bodily on the earth at this time. It says in Revelation 12:9, So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. This will happen at the mid-point of the seven year period. Notice also in Revelation 12:4 that it says, His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. He is called “the great dragon”, the “serpent of old”, “the Devil” and “Satan.” The image of him as a dragon is used when depicting his tail drawing a third of the stars of heaven and throwing them to the earth. Here we see that the angels are called stars. In Revelation 8:10, 11; And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. 

One might ask, “How can it be that events in Revelation 12 and events in Revelation Eight are happening at the same time?” Revelation is a thematically organized book and not a chronological book. The Gospel of John, for example, is also laid out thematically. It groups like- kind events together. A historian documenting a certain period of history might arrange events in chronological order, or in a thematic manner. A chronological time line would begin with year one and relate events as they happened. This approach can be difficult to follow at times. 

It is often beneficial to group things together according to relationships and circles, as it were. This is essentially what John has done in Revelation. He grouped events together. Obviously he wrote according to the way he received the revelations, but really, God is the one who’s gave us these events in a thematic way. 

So rather than looking at the chapter and verse to say what comes first and what comes second, look at the events themselves and if they pair up in any way. It could be argued that if there are three points in common, one would have a very strong connection between the two events. This approach is similar to triangulation. If one has a cell phone, and if there are three towers around the cell phone location, one can triangulate his/her position. This is essentially what we are doing. I have named this principle, “Biblical Triangulation”. It is this principle that is used here in Revelation, and other passages in the Bible. 

Then the fifth angel sounded: and I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. Rev. 9:1 Here is a star that is falling. When did this star fall? He fell back in Revelation 8:10, And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch. Who is this star? We discover who this star is in Revelation 12:4, His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. As previously mentioned, this is a reference to Satan. So in Revelation 8:10, when it says, a great star fell from heaven, this seems to be a reference to Satan himself, not a meteorite. 

It is basically different camera angles. In Revelation Chapter 12, the camera is up here in heaven, now looking down. One could think of Michael with his cell phone, filming what’s going on and then he puts it up on YouTube or something. At the same time, the people on the earth have their cell phones, as it were, and they’re watching as Satan falls to the earth. What would he look like to them? He would look like a great star falling from heaven. Revelation 9:1 says that the star fallen from heaven was already on the earth. Stars are being interpreted as angels. We see this in other places as well. For example, when Jesus has the seven stars in His right hand, which are the seven angels to the seven churches (Rev. 1:20). Revelation Chapter Eight also references angels when discussing some of the host of heaven being cast down and some of the stars being cast down to the ground and trampled. 

There are symbols in scripture and there are keys to unlocking our understanding of the symbols. The Bible can be taken literally once one understands the key for unlocking the symbols. Scripture tells us that stars are, in fact, angels. Daniel Chapter Eight talks about the Antichrist rising up to the host of heaven. This is a description of the angels, and then also of the stars. We have in Revelation 6:13, And the stars of heaven (that is, fallen angels) fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. And Isaiah 34 says, All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree. 

Now think about it for a second; is this is really talking about stars? Stars are very, very far away. It would take them a long time to get here. Or, is it talking about the star closest to us, the sun? If it is talking about the sun, and then the sun falls to the earth, the earth is gone; right? Then the book of Revelation is over. There are really no more events for Revelation to convey to us if everything has just ended. So it can’t be talking about actual stars like our sun. It is talking about the angels; those are fallen angels that have fallen to the earth because they are going to pass through the veil. 

The veil between heaven and earth is a very important principle that I did not even know about until a couple years ago when I began discovering it. But there it was, in the Bible, all along. It is an exciting discovery! The book of Revelation is literally the unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Greek we have the words apo kalupsi. Apo means “away from” and kalupsis means “a veil”. So apo kalupsi means: “the uncovering”, “the unveiling”, or the “revelation”. 

In First John 3:2, when He is revealed, uncovered, unveiled, we shall see Him. We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. In Isaiah 40, verse 5 tells us that the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all of humanity will see it at once. Before the fall of Adam, the terrestrial realm and the spiritual realm were really one. Today, we cannot see beyond the veil on any given day. 

But before the fall, God was in perfect harmony with man and man was in perfect harmony with God. That’s why when God came walking in the garden there was no issue, until Adam and Eve took a bite of that fruit. As a result, God had to cast them out because they could no longer be in His presence. Why couldn’t they be in His presence? 

Was God suddenly kind of snobbish? Perhaps with an attitude of,” I’m sorry I’m just too good for you guys now. You didn’t obey me, so now we can’t be friends anymore.” No. That really wasn’t, and still isn’t, the issue. The issue is, understanding what is God really like. 

As Christians we have a fair understanding of God’s characteristics, such as love. But what does He look like? Scriptures clearly tell us that He has fire from His waist up and from His waist down, and it’s mingled with electricity. The word in Hebrew is Ashman, which means “electricity.” In Greek, it’s electros, again “electricity.” We see in other places that it’s lightning. So you have this fiery, lightning, kind of God that cannot have sin or corruption in His presence, not because He doesn’t like us, but just because we’re incompatible. Daniel says His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. Imagine being in the presence of God and all of His blazing fire. Now imagine going up to God and giving Him a hug. How would that feel? That would really be the end of your day, wouldn’t it? Because you cannot do that, I cannot do that, we are incompatible with God. 

It is similar to the story of the boy in the bubble. He could not be exposed to the outside world. Now imagine you’re his mother or you are his father. How would you feel? Wouldn’t you want to just climb in there and give your son a hug because you love him so much? You would want to squeeze him and tell him how wonderful he is and that you want to be with him. But instead you must say, “Honey, I can’t come in there because if I do, if I go beyond this veil between us, you will die. So you have to stay in there until we find a solution for you.” God knew what the solution was, but He could not fulfill that until the appropriate time. 

So God put a veil between heaven and earth, until that time. Actually, God is the one who left the Garden and lets us be on planet Earth. But on occasion, that veil was opened so that people could see through. Stephen, when he was being stoned, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God. He said, Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God! Acts 7:56 Now this isn’t the kind of “stoned” that can happen here in California! He was actually being stoned with real rocks and he was able to see beyond the veil. This is just one occasion when God allowed people see beyond that veil. John says in Revelation, Now I saw heaven opened. Rev. 19:11 

Ezekiel sitting by the river Chebar says, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. Ezek. 1:1 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, the heavens were opened to Him. Matt. 3:16 

There were so many places where the heavens are opened and people were able to see just through a little bit. When Elisha and his servant were surrounded by the Syrians, Elisha prayed that God would open his eyes and then he saw horses and chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:17). It was like Elisha’s servant put on his decoder glasses, could then see beyond into that other realm and he could see what was behind the veil. God’s desire has always been to dwell with men openly, without any kind of a veil, with nothing between us, and completely exposed, one to another. This is His great desire. The day is coming; and it will happen at the Second Coming. God wants to dwell with man. And he who sits on the throne will dwell among them (Rev. 7:15). The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. Rev. 21:3 

And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll. Is. 34:4 This is another one of those passages that I couldn’t figure out. What would it look like for the sky to recede like a scroll? This is a reference to the veil that will eventually pass away. It doesn’t mean the sun, the moon and the stars will one day go away. Those will never depart. God promised His continued faithfulness toward Israel, based on the continued existence of the sun, moon and stars. So the heavens passing away, the heavens rolling up like a scroll, are because the veil is going to go away. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. Rev. 6:14 This is a pretty major phenomenon when this happens; in fact, I see this as the end. We have come now to the end of all things. There is nothing more that’s going to happen as far as the kingdom of Antichrist. 

Christ’s Last Enemy and the Rapture 

Chapter 15 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Christ’s Last Enemy and the Rapture (Chris Steinle)

Why the Lord Tarries 

Most Christians have used the phrase, “if the Lord tarries.” The Bible tells us one of the reasons for Jesus’ delay is that God is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should 

perish but that all should come to repentance. But there is another reason why Jesus is waiting. The writer of Hebrews explains; But this Man [Jesus], after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. Heb. 10:12, 13. 

The fact that Christ’s position at the right hand of the Father has a finite duration, and a condition upon which His retention in heaven depends, establishes an eschatological milestone – a technical marker establishing its own witness to the onset and order of end time events. We have already shown the relationship between the resurrection/rapture and the physical realization of God’s authority on earth. The chart from a previous chapter is presented again below to 

show the subjection involved in the transformation process. 

Recall from our study of first century expectations that the Messianic epoch should begin with the last tribulation and perplexity. As any mature Christian can attest, affliction is effective to bring about humility and a heartfelt submission to God’s will. Even so, the earth will be humbled in that Day. 

They shall go into the holes of the rocks, And into the caves of the earth, 

From the terror of the Lord And the glory of His majesty, 

When He arises to shake the earth mightily. Isaiah 2:19 

The Correlation of God’s Power, the Resurrection, & the Realization of God’s Authority 
Passage Power / Working / Ability Resurrection / Transformation Subjection / Authority 
Rom. 1:4 declared to be the Son of God with power …by the resurrection from the dead  
1 Cor. 6:14 …by His power God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up  
1 Cor. 15:4-58  resurrection… He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power… till He has put all enemies under His feet… Now when all things are made subject to Him… 
Eph. 1:19-22 what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us… according to the working of His mighty power which He worked …in Christ when He raised Him from the dead… …far above all principality and power and might and dominion… He put all things under His feet 
Phil. 3:10-21 that I may know Him and the power… … according to the working by which He is able of His resurrection… I may attain to the resurrection from the dead… who will transform our lowly body… conformed to His glorious body …even to subdue all things to Himself 
Passage Power / Working / Ability Resurrection / Transformation Subjection / Authority 
Col. 2:12 through faith in the working of God …in which you also were raised with Him … who raised Him from the dead  
Rev. 11:17 You have taken Your great power  and have begun to reign 
Rev. 12:10 Now the salvation, and the power  the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come 

Based on the correlations in the table above we could logically assert: 

  • If Christ must remain in heaven until all enemies are subdued, and, 
  • If the forces of heaven must be unleashed to bring mankind into subjection, 
  • Then Jesus cannot return until after the time of great tribulation, because He must sit at the Father’s right hand till His enemies are subdued. 

First Corinthians 15:24-26 provides another witness to the timing of the rapture. Paul stated in First Corinthians Four; 

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 

The last enemy that will be abolished (katargeitai) is death. 

1 Cor. 15:26 Subduing death must be distinguished from the destruction (ἀπόλλυται, apollytai) of death. The Greek texts do not say the last enemy that will be “destroyed” is death. 

Katargeitai and apollutai do not have the same meaning. There is a difference between subduing and destroying. 

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: 

“STRONG’S NT 622: ἀπόλλυμι destroy, i.e. to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to, ruin…”74 

A form of katargeo occurs in the following verse and has also been translated as “destroyed.” But according Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, death is overcome, not destroyed. 

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might bring to naught (καταργήσῃ, katargēsē) him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. Heb. 2:14 

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: 

“STRONG’S NT 2673: καταργέω 

to render idle, unemployed, inactive, inoperative: τήν γῆν, to deprive of its strength, make barren (A. V. cumber), Luke 13:7; to cause a person or a thing to have no further efficiency; to deprive of force, influence, power (A. V. bring to naught, make of none effect)”75 

In ancient times, victory over an enemy was sometimes dramatized by placing the defeated authority’s head or neck under the foot of the conquering king. The conquered king’s personal plight was in the hands of the victor. The defeated king may, or may not, be executed (destroyed) subsequent to his subjection. 

The death which Paul was referring to as the last enemy is the “state of being dead,” which is holding the dead in their graves. It is the power of death that is being overcome; and God will bring to naught the power of death in the resurrection of the dead. Jesus will have mastered death when, at His command, the dead hear His voice and rise to life. At that time, the enemy of death will become the footstool of Christ. After the millennial reign, when every soul is emptied from Hades, Hades will have no more purpose. At that time, death will be destroyed. But Christ’s technical victory over death will have already been realized at the resurrection of the dead. 

Then Comes the End 

Then comes the endThe end of what? Paul tells us this end comes at the time when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. That would be the time when all of Christ’s enemies have been subdued, because, He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. Therefore, “Then comes the end” refers to the end of Jesus’ station at the Father’s right hand. Then comes the end of waiting for the subjection of Christ’s enemies. 

“Then” Jesus will be released to descend from heaven and return to earth. Hebrews 2:8 says, But now we do not yet see all things put under him. “Then comes the end,” announces the time when we DO SEE all things put under Him. And most particularly according to Paul, we see His last enemy, death, put under Him. Paul makes a direct connection between the completion of Jesus’ time at the Father’s right hand and the subduing of death. 

The subjection of the last enemy, death, will be realized on earth as the resurrection of the dead, in much the same way as Christ’s government on earth will be realized during Christ’s Millennial Reign. Jesus will return immediately upon the resurrection of the dead to transform the living and those raised in the resurrection. 

It is reasonable to assume that Paul shared this same resurrection discourse in-person while he was with the Thessalonians that he had written to the church at Corinth. Because of the association between the resurrection and the subduing of Christ’s last enemy, Paul’s comfort to the bereaved Thessalonians took the form of the following syllogism: 

  • The subjection of death will be realized on earth by the resurrection of the dead. 
  • Christ will reside in heaven until His last enemy (death) is overcome. 
  • Therefore, Christ’s coming/descending from the Father’s right hand cannot precede the resurrection of those who have fallen asleep. 
  • And, those left alive will not be changed until they see Him as He is, when Christ descends from heaven. 

So now with all of the information available we can articulate the resurrection/rapture/gathering in detail. Jesus will call forth the dead from their graves while seated at the Father’s right hand or during His descent from heaven, but at least simultaneously with the subduing of death. According to Paul, the dead must rise first, so the living will remain unchanged until after the resurrection. Then, the resurrected dead, together with the living, will be transformed in the redemption of the body. Then the glorified saints will meet Jesus in the air and participate in the Gathering. 

We have already reviewed Paul’s quotation from Isaiah 25 and Hosea 13 that death will be swallowed up in victory. But where is the witness in Scripture to the fact that death will be Christ’s last enemy? Does the Bible disclose any of Christ’s other enemies? The twelfth chapter of Daniel could have provided the basis for the order of end time events mentioned by Paul in his Corinthian and Thessalonian letters. 

Daniel and the Thessalonians Connection 

The table below compares events found in Daniel Chapter 12 with similar events used by Paul to teach the order of end time events. The Last Enemy, labeled “Z,” was established in First Corinthians 15. Suggested enemies “X” and “Y” must obviously be encountered before the last enemy – death. We also have corroborating passages from Revelation 19 and 20 that Satan is only overcome and bound (subdued) at the Second Coming. Satan will survive as the last enemy, after the Beast and False Prophet have been thrown into the lake of fire. 

Christ’s Enemies Based on the Chronology of Daniel Chapter 12 
Daniel 12 Passage Messianic Age Event 2nd Thessalonians Reference Enemies of Christ 
Vs 1. Michael and the Time of Distress Last Tribulation   
Vs 7. when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered Perplexity Vs 3b. the falling away comes first Enemy (X) Forces of Wickedness? The Fourth Beast? 
Vs 11. daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation Hostile Powers? Vs 3c, 4. man of sin is revealed, opposes & exalts, sits as God in the temple of God Enemy (Y) Son of Perdition Lawless One False Prophet 
Vs 13. go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days Resurrection of the Just Gathering of the Dispersed Vs 1. coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him Vs 2. as though the day of the Lord (Christ) had come Last Enemy (Z) Death Satan (the Power of Death) The Dragon 

If, in fact, the False Prophet is also the Lawless One, Paul states that he will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming – which could be a reference to God as a consuming fire. But in this case also, Satan would be allowed to survive the Lawless One. We’ll discuss the identity of the Beast in relation to the time of Perplexity near the end of this chapter. 

Because death is the last enemy to be subdued, all other enemies would have to be subdued first. These other enemies might be thought of as the next-to-the-last enemies. The associations shown in the table may have been precisely what Paul had taught the Thessalonians when he was with them. He may have simply been teaching the Thessalonians from the Book of Daniel – a book dear to the heart of the Pharisees because of its witness to the resurrection. 

Paul stated in First Thessalonians Four that the resurrection would be the last prophetic event before, or at the time of, Christ’s return. We have already demonstrated logically that, if the resurrection is last, then Christ’s victory over death would likewise be last. But the resurrection is also the last event, in the last verse, of the last chapter of Daniel. Could Paul’s chronology of end time events have been based on this placement of the resurrection in the prophetic Book of Daniel? We find strong evidence for such a conclusion in the second chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. In order to establish this connection to Daniel, it will be necessary to review the opening verses of Second Thessalonians Chapter Two. 

1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 

5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. .

8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thess. 2:1-12 

We are not told in the verses above what kind of report had been circulated. Jesus warned His disciples that deceivers would come, saying; “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.” What we do know is Paul described the Second Coming in several ways to make it perfectly clear which day he was talking about: The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; our gathering together to Him; the day of Christ. 

An important observation to note for the purpose of linking this passage to Daniel Chapter 12 is that Paul started from endpoint, Christ’s coming – the final event in the table above. Then Paul submitted two end times signs that must occur before the Second Coming. Both of these signs can be found in Daniel Chapter 12. 

The first sign, the falling away, refers to the condition of God’s people, but will likely be the result of sinister forces. The second sign, the revealing of the man of sin, refers specifically to the Son of Perdition. Both of these signs take place in Daniel during a season – “At that time” – which is a time of great distress. 

Some explanation of the layout of the Book of Daniel is necessary in order to understand why the Thessalonians would have recognized these two signs by their brief descriptions in Paul’s letter. Daniel Chapter 12 comes at the end of a vision that began in Daniel Chapter 10. Chapter 12 could be compared to Revelation Chapter Six in that they both contain an overview of each book. But rather than being symbolized by the seals at the opening of Revelation, the Book of Daniel places the overview of Daniel’s dreams and visions at the end of the book. 

Daniel Chapter 12 contains two condensed summaries of the time of the end. Verses 1-3 present a poetic version of the summary; then verses 7-13 give a final explanation of the time of the end. 

We will look at the time of tribulation in the opening summary of Daniel 12 first, because it provides several links between Daniel and Second Thessalonians Chapter Two. These associations require a little digging to discover; but once the background for these associations is developed, the connections become so obvious that they can’t be ignored. 

  1. At that time Michael shall stand up, 

The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, 

Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. 

And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. 

  1. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, 

Some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine 

Like the brightness of the firmament, 

And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. 

The first verse attributes the time of trouble to the archangel Michael. Revelation Chapter 12 explains the how this struggle in the spiritual realm results in woe to the inhabitants of the earth. 

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time. Rev. 12:7-12 

Michael’s victory over Satan would certainly be counted as a measure of Christ’s enemies being subdued. But this victory is not the end of Satan. Angels are often depicted by artists as wrestlers. So in modern terms we might think of this wrestling bout as Satan getting thrown into the stands. Gabriel and Michael could be described as two members of a heavenly wrestling a team. Daniel’s vision in chapters 10-12 contains the following references supporting the imagery of angelic wrestlers. 

“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty- one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.” – Daniel 10:13 

“No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.” 

Dan. 10:21b 

“Hold” is a wrestling term still used today. Wrestling holds are used to restrain one’s opponent. The reader may be familiar with this line of reasoning and be completely convinced that the restrainer of Second Thessalonians is the Holy Spirit or the Church. But there is nothing in the Greek text to support this conclusion. And there is far more support for connecting the restrainer to Michael. The authors are both well aware of, and have been fully trained in, the arguments from the Dispensational and Pre-Tribulational points of view. 

But let’s take a look at the facts that we do know. Some Bible publishers have capitalized (deified) the personal pronoun, “he,” in Second Thessalonians 2:7 in order to support the Dispensational doctrine. No such capitalization exists in the original manuscripts and there is no mention of the Holy Spirit in this passage. Paul expected the Thessalonians to understand what was restraining based on a prior conversation. 

Because the ancient manuscripts do not identify the pronouns in verses five and six, the Protestant Reformers believed the one restraining to be the Roman Empire, and the one being restrained to be the Roman Papacy. Consider a few short quotes that will demonstrate the ambiguity of the pronouns in question. 

  • “And now what withholdeth. . . Let my readers now consider which of the two is the probable – either that Paul declared that the light of the gospel must be diffused through all parts of the earth before God would thus give loose reins to Satan, or that the power of the Roman Empire stood in the way of the rise of Antichrist…”76 Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians by John Calvin. 
  • “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. What hinders and stops…He foretells that when the empire of Rome is taken away, the seat that falls away from God will succeed and hold its place, as the old writers, Tertullian, Chrysostom, and Jerome explain and interpret it. He who is now in authority and rules all, that is, the Roman Empire.”77 The Geneva Bible 
  • “Something hindered or withheld the man of sin. It is supposed to be the power of the Roman Empire, which the apostle did not mention more plainly at that time.”78 The Matthew Henry Commentary 
  • “And now ye know – By what I told you when I was with you. That which restraineth – The power of the Roman emperors. When this is taken away, the wicked one will be revealed.”79 John Wesley 

Hopefully the Christian reader would place as much confidence in the scholarship of these sources as in the opinion of a modern commercial Bible publisher. These quotes are presented solely for the purpose of showing that the pronoun, “he” is non- specific based on the text; not for the purpose of endorsing antagonism toward the politics or religion of Rome. So now, hopefully, the reader can investigate the identity of the restrainer somewhat objectively. 

6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, 

  • “And now what withholdeth. . . Let my readers now consider which of the two is the probable – either that Paul declared that the light of the gospel must be diffused through all parts of the earth before God would thus give loose reins to Satan, or that the power of the Roman Empire stood in the way of the rise of Antichrist…”76 Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians by John Calvin. 
  • “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. What hinders and stops…He foretells that when the empire of Rome is taken away, the seat that falls away from God will succeed and hold its place, as the old writers, Tertullian, Chrysostom, and Jerome explain and interpret it. He who is now in authority and rules all, that is, the Roman Empire.”77 The Geneva Bible 
  • “Something hindered or withheld the man of sin. It is supposed to be the power of the Roman Empire, which the apostle did not mention more plainly at that time.”78 The Matthew Henry Commentary 
  • “And now ye know – By what I told you when I was with you. That which restraineth – The power of the Roman emperors. When this is taken away, the wicked one will be revealed.”79 John Wesley 

Hopefully the Christian reader would place as much confidence in the scholarship of these sources as in the opinion of a modern commercial Bible publisher. These quotes are presented solely for the purpose of showing that the pronoun, “he” is non- specific based on the text; not for the purpose of endorsing antagonism toward the politics or religion of Rome. So now, hopefully, the reader can investigate the identity of the restrainer somewhat objectively. 

6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, 

  • “And now what withholdeth. . . Let my readers now consider which of the two is the probable – either that Paul declared that the light of the gospel must be diffused through all parts of the earth before God would thus give loose reins to Satan, or that the power of the Roman Empire stood in the way of the rise of Antichrist…”76 Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians by John Calvin. 
  • “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. What hinders and stops…He foretells that when the empire of Rome is taken away, the seat that falls away from God will succeed and hold its place, as the old writers, Tertullian, Chrysostom, and Jerome explain and interpret it. He who is now in authority and rules all, that is, the Roman Empire.”77 The Geneva Bible 
  • “Something hindered or withheld the man of sin. It is supposed to be the power of the Roman Empire, which the apostle did not mention more plainly at that time.”78 The Matthew Henry Commentary 
  • “And now ye know – By what I told you when I was with you. That which restraineth – The power of the Roman emperors. When this is taken away, the wicked one will be revealed.”79 John Wesley 

Hopefully the Christian reader would place as much confidence in the scholarship of these sources as in the opinion of a modern commercial Bible publisher. These quotes are presented solely for the purpose of showing that the pronoun, “he” is non- specific based on the text; not for the purpose of endorsing antagonism toward the politics or religion of Rome. So now, hopefully, the reader can investigate the identity of the restrainer somewhat objectively. 

6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, 

  • “And now what withholdeth. . . Let my readers now consider which of the two is the probable – either that Paul declared that the light of the gospel must be diffused through all parts of the earth before God would thus give loose reins to Satan, or that the power of the Roman Empire stood in the way of the rise of Antichrist…”76 Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians by John Calvin. 
  • “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. What hinders and stops…He foretells that when the empire of Rome is taken away, the seat that falls away from God will succeed and hold its place, as the old writers, Tertullian, Chrysostom, and Jerome explain and interpret it. He who is now in authority and rules all, that is, the Roman Empire.”77 The Geneva Bible 
  • “Something hindered or withheld the man of sin. It is supposed to be the power of the Roman Empire, which the apostle did not mention more plainly at that time.”78 The Matthew Henry Commentary 
  • “And now ye know – By what I told you when I was with you. That which restraineth – The power of the Roman emperors. When this is taken away, the wicked one will be revealed.”79 John Wesley 

Hopefully the Christian reader would place as much confidence in the scholarship of these sources as in the opinion of a modern commercial Bible publisher. These quotes are presented solely for the purpose of showing that the pronoun, “he” is non- specific based on the text; not for the purpose of endorsing antagonism toward the politics or religion of Rome. So now, hopefully, the reader can investigate the identity of the restrainer somewhat objectively. 

6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, 

What restrains? What situation or predicament? In the original Greek text, the word for “restrainsis κατέχον (katechon)80, from the Greek word, echo, “to hold.” This is also the word used in the Greek Septuagint to express restraint in Daniel’s vision. “No one holds with me against these, except Michael your prince.” But would the assumption that Michael is the one holding make sense within the context of Paul’s letter? The answer is; “Absolutely!” 

The mystery of lawlessness was already working in the world at the time of Paul’s letter. But the full manifestation of Satan’s power will not be realized in the physical realm until Satan has been fully restricted from the spiritual realm. Satan’s presence in heaven is restraining the fullness of his power on earth. The wrestling has been ongoing at least since the time of Daniel. Please consider the following interpretation of the pronouns. He (Michael) will continue holding (restraining) until he (Satan) is taken down (out of the way from heaven’s perspective). Then the full force of Satan, according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders will cause the time of woe to the inhabitants of the earth known as the Great Tribulation. 

As expected from the time of the Second Temple, the last tribulation will be a time of perplexity. Because Satan is a deceiver and the father of lies, a spirit of deception will encompass the world. The books of Daniel and Revelation attribute the consternation of humanity to the boastful and blasphemous words being disseminated by the one given eyes and a mouth to speak pompous words. Those who do not love the truth of God will be given over to strong delusion to believe the lie. 

During this period of perplexity two discrete entities will appear. One is a re-emergence of Daniel’s Fourth Beast who “shall devour the whole earth.” And the second entity is the Little Horn, who would seem from his profile to be the False Prophet of Revelation; and, according to Second Thessalonians, also the man of sin, the Lawless One, or the Son of Perdition. 

Because the falling away is a condition apparently brought about during the time of delusion, and because the Beast is a kingdom, it is the Son of Perdition who will be the human incarnation of Satan once he is cast out of heaven. Thus, we have come full circle in showing the relationship between Daniel 12:1 and Second Thessalonians Chapter Two. 

Paul doesn’t mention the Beast, but clearly alludes to the time of deceit and the manifestation of Satan (the dragon) in human form. 

Verses 7, 11, and 13 listed in the table above are from the last section of Daniel 12. We have now demonstrated how each of these verses could have been the source for Paul’s chronology for both of his letters to the Thessalonians. The remote probability of finding such a tight correlation within the span of a few verses supports the conclusions drawn in this chapter. But there are still two more points of interest in these last chapters of Daniel. 

Gabriel told Daniel that the information he was sent to share was “noted in the Scripture of Truth” Daniel 10:21. Could this have been the truth that those perishing had no love for? In addition, the prophecy imparted at the end of the Book of Daniel in verses 7-13 was given by a “man clothed in linen.” In Daniel Chapter 10, at the beginning of the vision, Daniel described this man clothed in linen by the attributes of the Son of God in His glory. This would imply that this final summary of the events of the end were spoken “By the word of the Lord.” Could this also be why the angel told John near the end of the Apocalypse, For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10 

The fact that Paul used the falling away and the man of sin as precursors to the Lord’s coming indicates that he did not anticipate the onset of the time of distress to be a recognizable sign in itself. If Paul thought there would be an obvious beginning to the Tribulation, he could have merely stated the absence of tribulation as proof that the Lord had not already come. The implications of this observation call for a revision in the church’s expectation regarding the onset of the Great Tribulation. What if, as Jesus stated, the time of tribulation begins gradually – like the birth pangs of labor? 

Daniel Chapter Twelve begins with the words, “At that time.” To understand the things that will happen when we enter that time we must look back to the previous chapters of Daniel. Indeed, verses 7, 11, and 13 of Daniel Twelve also look back to the details of the prior chapters. It is beyond the scope of this study to comment on the entire Book of Daniel, so we will only make a few general observations. 

  1. Wicked rulers are raised up by vicarious powers. 
  1. Pomp, blasphemy, cunning, and deceit characterize their reigns. 
  1. Various rulers and nations war against one another. 
  1. The saints are persecuted and slain. 
  1. The Fourth Beast will devour the whole earth. 
  1. The King of the North will take away sacrifices and set up the abomination in the sanctuary. 

The first four of these circumstances have been fulfilled during multiple waves throughout history. But the last two are yet to be fulfilled; although, some might argue that one or more Beasts (heathen nations) have already devoured the earth. 

So based on Paul’s writings, what will be the signs indicating the time of the Great Tribulation has begun? First of all, deceit and delusion will swell to the point that even the elect will be tempted to doubt what is true. This time of strong delusion will be a sign that the end has begun. Paul had apparently already told the Thessalonian Church to expect this sign because he was reminding them of the details of their former conversation. 

In the midst of this time of perplexity, the King of the North (or a type of the King of the North) will rise up after the fashion of Antiochus Epiphanies. Jesus and Paul both told believers to watch for a final occurrence of this event. 

In conclusion, the sign of the falling away will be recognized by a level of perplexity and deception unequaled in human history. The disinformation broadcast by evil leaders will very likely be responsible for the state of lawlessness and the abounding of sin. Such a state of delusion, accompanied by the setting up of an actual abomination in the sanctuary, would fulfill the prerequisites of Paul based on the Book of Daniel. These signs will precede the rapture. The rapture is not the sign. 

Tree of Life – New Body Transformation Vignette 

Chapter 14 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Tree of Life – New Body Transformation Vignette 

In this vignette Ben and Kristiana, part of the remnant of Israel, come to understand the true meaning of the Tree of Life from the time of Adam through to the moment they stood before it. 

To enter the city,” Yeshua said, “you still need to be transformed from your bodies of flesh and blood to bodies like the Angels, glorious and not comprised of 

dust; yours must be conformed to my own glorious body and become partakers of my divine nature, free of corruption. You must be born again by taking of the Tree of Life and be transformed like Antipas and all of your clan that came before them.” Pointing to the Tree of Life, which lined the river, each individual tree connected at the roots, he said with a big smile, “Now, both of you, stretch out your hands and take and eat leaves from the Tree of Life which are for your healing, and live forever!” 

Kristiana’s heart leapt with joy as she stretched out her hand and plucked off a leaf from the same Tree of Life which had been in Eden with Adam and Eve! 

Ben stared intently at the leaf; his thoughts drifted back to the original Tree and amazingly it was as if he and Kristiana were holding the AEFOD again, back in the Chronicles: “Adam, where are you?” He felt the weight of Adonai’s sadness on that day so long ago when he looked longingly for the last time at his dear children, from whom he was obligated to remove himself, and from the earth lest his splendor and radiance destroy it. Ben understood: his desire had been to walk with Adam and his sons as an expression of love. He wanted to make his home with them and share his heart; he wanted them to be where he was because he had always desired to live and walk among them, to be their King and Father, and they his people. He thought of how Adonai was forced to abandon the earth, putting up a veil of separation lest his own glory, like a stream of brimstone, destroy that which he had created. Because of Adonai’s great mercy and love for his creation he had to go into a self-imposed exile rather than let everything become a lake of fire. 

All of a sudden, they both saw and felt Michael and Gabriel standing next to the Tree of Life, surrounded by the four cherubim, which appeared like blazing torches. They passed from one to another the fiery whirling sword with such speed that it looked like lightning and became an impenetrable wall of fiery-lightning. 

“Lucifer’s strategy worked, despite his humiliation,” Michael said in shock. “Death is now permanent and irreversible according to Lucifer’s scheme. Will Adonai ever be able to undo it? I can only wonder what hope there is for Adam and Eve and their race now that the way to the Tree of Life is blocked. So long as Adam and his sons are separated through degeneration, Adonai can never reassert his presence on the earth because of his unequaled power, fire, and lightning.” 

Kristiana looked again at the leaf in her hand. It was so powerful it could transform a person from a constitution of dirt, adamáh, to one of spirit – like an Angel. The transformation could not be undone, however, and whatever state a person was in when they partook of the fruit, such would be their permanent state forever and ever. It was for that reason that Adonai had placed the cherubim around the tree to guard it at all costs. Therefore, the mortals could not eat from the Tree of Life until they had washed their garments, had bathed in the water of life, and had drunk from it. Once they had washed their robes, however, they had the right to the Tree of Life, and could enter through the gates into the City of Adonai because they possessed a body made of spirit, like the Angels. 

For the first time, Ben understood why Adonai so quickly guarded Adam and Eve from eating from the tree. Had Adam taken of its fruit, he would have forever been in a state of death. Ben understood that adding the state of life from the Tree of Life to the state of death incurred by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, would have equaled an infinite state of incompatibility, like opposite forces. Had Adam eaten from the tree, he would have been transformed into the likeness of an Angel, though rebellious and accursed like Lucifer and the rebellious Angels. 

He would have lingered in the gloom of shades and shadows, constantly in death, yearning to be free of its grip, yet with no hope of remedy from his dire existence. 

Ben looked back at the river of life clearly understanding the predicament which Lucifer had created and which Yeshua had overcome through his sacrifice and his restoration of hope to the hopeless. Only now was there a way for an Adamite to transition from dirt body to sprit body, allowing entrance into the presence of Adonai. First, by bathing and drinking of the water of life which only Adonai could provide for the cleansing and healing of their bodies. And, then by eating of the Tree of Life completing the transformation and making them compatible with life in Adonai’s kingdom. 

Ben and Kristiana ate the leaves; in a mere moment they felt their entire composition change from the inside out. Every cell in their bodies, which was made of carbon, was transformed. The adamáh, planet, soil, dirt, which was their base composition was transformed into spirit, immortal, and resplendent bodies. They both looked at each other and then at their own new glorious body which death would never inhabit, which no weakness would ever plague. They were radiating light – the light coming from Adonai. They were new creations; no longer comprised of the adamáh but of the immaterial, created directly by Adonai. Their bodies at last conformed to his because they would always be in the light of his presence with no veil between them anymore. They at last had their wedding garment – their garment of Yeshuáh

Ben looked over at Kristiana, whose body looked like a dazzling gem and who had rays of light emanating from her face, creating a glorious crown of life, sparkling like crystal with the color of emeralds shining brightly, with topazes, gems, and yellow pearls. Her feet and arms were shining like gleaming metal and her clothing was shining whiter than any snow; a shine like that of the stars of heaven, sparkling like the rays of the sun. Truly, she had been conformed to the image of the glorious body of Adonai and had become a partaker of the divine nature; she would never die and was truly a daughter of Adonai. 

Ben sensed the same thing in his own body. The newness of his body stunned him so much that he grabbed one hand with the other to see how his new hands felt. The sensation of touch was just as real. 

His body was tangible and “physical” but no longer made of dust. It was an altogether new mode of existence. But there was more, he seemed to have this special connection to all around him. Not only could he see Kristiana’s beautiful new body but he could actually look into her heart. He knew her as she also knew him to the very depths of their souls. They each knew the history of the other. Instantly, Ben understood that this is the way it would be with all in Yeshua’s kingdom, knowing and being known by all. 

Reclaiming the 1st Thessalonians Rapture Narrative [ Part- 3]

Chapter 13 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Reclaiming the 1st Thessalonians Rapture Narrative (Chris Steinle)

What’s Up with “Caught Up”? 

There are no directional Greek words in verse 17. Neither do the English expressions below have anything to do with elevation. 

Act up Beat up Blown up Bottle up 
Brush up Buckle up Buff up Buy up 
Clean up Clogged up Close up Divide up 
Drum up Fed up Finish up Fix up 
Heat up Held up Lighten up Live it up 
Loosen up Making it up Plugged up Roll up 
Seal up Set up Sewn up Shake up 
Shut up Stack up Start up Stitch up 
Stopped up Straighten up Take up (space) Tidy up 
Tied up Tighten up Wake up Wash up 
Use up Wind up Wise up Wrap up 

So how did we end up with “caught up?” And, why bring it up? 

Many Greek words or prefixes could have been used to express the direction “up”; such as; ana, anabaino, egeiro, hupsoo, etc. Just as there is no harpázō, the verse lacks any root, prefix, or adverb for “up.” The fact that the Pre-Tribulation “rapture” theory was first popularized in the British Isles may well be directly “bound up” in the English translation of harpagaesometha. Indeed, the Pre-Tribulation doctrine was scarcely insinuated by the Greek-speaking Early Church, Byzantine Church, or later Eastern Orthodox Churches. The very use of the phrase “caught up” may have coloured the imagination of modern English theologians. 

The English translation of John 19:30b reads; And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. Once again, “up” is not found in the ancient Greek texts. “Paredoken”; Gr. παρέδωκεν, is the word translated into English as, “gave up.” But the Greek word παρέδωκεν, means; “delivered, given over, or handed over”. Yet English translations often contain the colloquialism “gave up.” 

Apparently, around the time of the King James era, the appendage, “up,” was popular in Great Britain, in the same way that “on” has been adopted for some of the idioms of today; e.g., hold on, right on, carry on, bring it on, full on, etc. 

Looking back to earlier English Bible translations provides evidence that harpagēsometha represents a disruption from the normal course, not a rescue from difficult circumstances. John Wycliffe’s translation (1382 – 1395) of First Thessalonians 4:17 reads as follows: 

Afterward we that lyuen, that ben left, schulen be rauyschid togidere with hem in cloudis, metinge Crist `in to the eir.69 (Note, the correct translation of those who have “ben left”, the survivors.) 

Wycliffe translated the Greek word, harpagēsometha (ἁρπαγησόμεθα), as “rauyschid.” Rauyschid is found one other time in the Wycliffe Bible. Acts 27:15 describes how Paul’s ship was obstructed by the wind as it left the port of Phoenix, Crete. The ship was prevented from rounding the island toward a safer winter harbor. 

Wycliffe: And whanne the schip was rauyschid, and myyte not enforse ayens the wynde . . .70 

NKJV: So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind . . . 

Notice that, according to the New King James Version, the ship was not “caught up,” nor did it escape from the storm. The ship was overcome by the wind and was prevented from sailing in the desired direction. In fact, it was apparently being blown backward. Being rauyschid marked the beginning of the shipwreck course to Malta. Recalling the chart showing the connection between God’s power, the resurrection, and the subduing of Christ’s enemies, being overcome or subdued is exactly what we would expect to encounter in the First Thessalonians rapture passage. 

Where Do We Go from Here? 

Verse 17: ἐν (en); in / into. There is no definite article, no “the.” Notice once again the accuracy of Wycliffe’s translation. “schulen be rauyschid togidere with hem in cloudis.” Not; in the cloudis. John Spencer has also commented on the absence of the definite article as well as the fact that “caught up” is missing from the original text. 

“Because in the original Greek there is no   definite   article before, “clouds,” the phrase can most literally be translated ‘seized in clouds.’”71 

Verse 17: νεφέλαις (nefelais); clouds. We shall be seized/plundered in clouds. Clouds are often mentioned in scripture during a transition between the physical and the spiritual states. Clouds were present during the transfiguration and the ascension; and Jesus will return in clouds. Clouds and dark smoke filled the Temple. These instances do not represent natural clouds or smoke, but a supernatural phenomenon. They are present during divine interventions between the heavenly and earthly realms. This transitional zone – this blur between two different dimensions – appears as clouds, vapor, or smoke. Once again, the only directional words in First Thessalonians 4:13-18 refer to the Lord descending and the dead rising. 

Verse 17: εἰς (eis); for / to 

Verse 17: ἀπάντησιν (apantaesin); from apantao72, to meet from different directions. To further support the resolve that Jesus is coming and not merely planning a fly-by, we need only study the word “meet.” Apantesin73 (meet). This word is used in Matthew 25:6, Acts 28:15, and here in First Thessalonians. In every instance it is used to describe a greeting party, not a departure. Let’s look at its usage in Matthew because of the striking similarity between Paul’s usage and its usage by our Lord Jesus. 

Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’. But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 

But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Matt. 25:1-13 

This passage is often used to support the pre-tribulation rapture theory. But look at this meeting more closely. In verses one and six of Matthew Chapter 25, were the 10 virgins going out to be taken away by the Lord? Or, were they going out meet Him with the intention of escorting Him back to the bride? The answer is obvious. Their lanterns were lit specifically for the purpose of leading the bridegroom back to where the virgins had come from. 

Once again, the greeting nature of this word for “meet” is clarified in Acts 28:15. And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. 

These believers from Italy were not going out to meet Paul with any thought of returning with him to Malta. Their meeting was nothing more than a greeting. Apantesin is also used several times in the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament; I Sam. 9:14, I Chron. 12:17, Jer. 41:6. 

The reader who is thorough enough to investigate these Old Testament passages will only find further support that apantesin is a meeting and not a one-way departure. 

Paul has now given a sufficient description of Christ’s descent as the bodily Second Coming. Nothing in First Thessalonians Four says He’s returning back up into heaven at the time of this meeting. 

Verse 17: τοῦ Κυρίου (tou Kuriou); the Lord 

Verse 17: εἰς (eis); in / into 

Verse 17: ἀέρα (aera); air – the first heaven, above the ground. “In air” does not indicate that the glorified saints will be venturing beyond the atmosphere. The meeting in the air is nonspecific in terms of location. Paul could just as easily have used the word “heaven” or “heavens.” Meeting in air is yet one more indication that Christ has descended from heaven at the time of the rapture. We will meet the Lord somewhere in [the] air. This meeting is the same gathering mentioned by Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians. 

We shall be changed. We shall be robbed of our physical bodies plundered. 

We will not be taken away immediately, but something will first be taken from us. Something that has already been purchased and merely waits for its redemption. The purchased possession is our mortal bodies. 

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Cor. 6:19-20 

Therefore comfort one another with these words. I Thess. 4:18 

More about Paul’s comfort to the Thessalonians will be discussed in the chapter on Christ’s last enemy. The intent of this chapter has been to show that the rapture describes the transition in bodily form that will occur to enable the gathering of God’s people into the presence of Christ. 

The moment that we see Him as He is, we shall be like Him. The rapture is not God’s people going to heaven; it is God’s people becoming heavenly. 

Reclaiming the 1st Thessalonians Rapture Narrative [ Part- 2]

Chapter 13 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Reclaiming the 1st Thessalonians Rapture Narrative (Chris Steinle)

Translating the Rapture Verse 

First let’s examine the common Greek-to-English equivalent of each word or phrase so that we can start with the literal Greek meaning expressed by the original language. Commentary is inserted where English words are added, or where English translations depart from the literal Greek equivalent. (Greek words and phrases from Verse 17 are in bold) 

Verse 17: ἔπειτα ἡμεῖς (epeita haemeis); Then we. 

Verse 17: οἱ ζῶντες (hoi zontes); the ones alive. 

Verse 17: οἱ περιλειπόμενοι (hoi perileipomenoi); the ones left behind 

These “ones” are typically translated into English as; “the living survivors,” or “those alive and remaining.” 

The word commonly used in the New Testament for “remain” is the Greek word μένω (meno); to remain, abide. Therefore Paul’s choice to use a different word reflects a peculiar aspect about these living ones. 

Strong’s NT 4035: περιλείπω (peri-leipo

From peri and leipo; to leave all around, i.e. (passively) survive – remain. 

Greek; peri; about, around 

Greek; leipo; to be destitute, lack.60 

According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: 

περιλείπω: present passive participle περιλειπόμενος (cf. περί, III. 2); to leave over; passive, to remain over, to survive: 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17. (Aristophanes, Plato, Euripides, Polybius, Herodian; 2 

Macc. 1:31.)61 

The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates begins its definition of perileipo by noting the Classical Greek meaning as; “those who survived, and therefore remained, or were left behind.”62 Specifically referring to First Thessalonians 4:17, Zodhiates translates οἱ περιλειπόμενοι (hoi perileipomenoi) as; the surviving ones. 

St. Paul described these ones remaining as a remnant of survivors who will not merely be alive and abiding, but they will be literally leftover or left about. 

Paul was echoing the ideas expressed in the fourth chapter of Isaiah. The Greek Septuagint uses the same root words as Paul used in First Thessalonians 4:17: 

και εσται το υπολειφθεν εν σιων και το καταλειφθεν εν ιερουσαλημ αγιοι κληθησονται παντες οι γραφεντες εις ζωην εν ιερουσαλημ (Isa. 4:2)63 

In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped [death]. And it shall come to pass that he who is left (LXX; hupo-leiph-then) in Zion and remains (LXX; kata-leiph-then) in Jerusalem will be called holy – everyone who is recorded among the living [those left alive] in Jerusalem. Isa. 4:2, 3 

Verse 17: ἅμα (hama); together / at the same time, or simultaneously. 

Verse 17: σὺν αὐτοῖς (sun autois); with them. – The Spirit testifying that they should not be made perfect apart from us. Heb. 11:40 may apply here as to why we must be glorified together. The dead, together with the living, at the same time, will both experience the change described by the following verb. 

Harpagēsometha 

Verse 17: ἁρπαγησόμεθα (harpagēsometha) 

Paul used a word for rapture that is so unique in form that this exact word doesn’t occur anywhere else in the Greek New Testament or in the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament. Yet the Pre- Tribulation rapture theory has pinned its hopes and built a media empire upon this one word. The internet is replete with images of being “caught up” – the English translation of the word “harpázō.” But there is a Greek word even closer to harpagēsometha than harpázō. The Greek word “harpagē” is so close to the word Paul used for “rapture” that it is actually part of the word, harpagēsometha. 

Harpázō, and harpagē are closely related; but do they mean the same thing? And more importantly, which one of these words expresses the meaning intended by Paul? 

The Greek stems of these words are; harpas (Gr. ἁρπασ), and harpag (Gr. ἁρπαγ). Using Latin characters, the only difference is the last letter of each stem – sigma (sometimes taking the phonetic forms z or dz). And gamma (g). These two words have slightly different definitions and are designated by Strong’s as; GS724 and GS726. 

GS724 harpagē har-pag-ay’ from 726; pillage (properly abstract):– extortion, ravening, spoiling.64 

GS726 726 harpázō har-pad’-zo from a derivative of 138; to seize (in various applications):–catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by forces).65 

Strong’s indicates that harpagē is derived from harpázō. And the origin of harpagēsometha has been attributed to both of these lexical entries. But, as can be seen above, the words do not mean the same thing. Nevertheless each of these two words can be shown to support the authors’ conclusions about the rapture and its timing. 

As stated by Strong’s above, harpázō is translated into English in a variety of ways. But whether the Greek word means; take away, carry off, catch up, tear up, rend, ravish, or seize, harpázō usually signifies the use of force. There are other Greek words commonly used to convey that someone or something has been taken, lifted up, or carried away. But harpázō implies that the object which is being taken will be, or has been, seized or violated by force. 

Force is precisely what we would expect to be present at the Lord’s second coming. The exceeding great power of God will forcefully subdue death, including the mortality of our lowly bodies, at the time of the resurrection/rapture. 

The rapture will occur at the time of Christ’s plundering of the devil’s power, which he continues to hold over death. When Jesus was accused of relying on the power of Beelzebub, He used the occasion to talk about the triumph of His kingdom (house) over the household of Satan. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder ἁρπάσαι (harpasai) his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder διαρπάσει (di-arpasei) his house. Matt. 12:29 (See also Mark 3:27.) 

Harpagē means; pillage, plunder, or spoil. Above in Matthew’s gospel, some English translators have rendered harpasai as “plunder.” Could there be any greater indicator that Christ has overcome His last enemy (death), than at the resurrection of the dead where death is swallowed up in victory? 

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. Heb. 2:14 (emphasis added) 

Harpagē conveys the same forceful aspect of harpázō, but actually fits the First Thessalonians rapture narrative better than harpázō. Based on the assumption that the purpose of the rapture is to remove the church from the planet, popular theologians have asserted that harpagēsometha is the first person plural future passive indicative of the word harpázō. [We] (first person plural) shall (future) be seized/caught/snatched (passive indicative). 

But if harpagēsometha is formed from harpázō, why does the stem contain the gamma ending? Why does it contain the very word, harpagē? This obvious harpagē connection has been conveniently explained away by asserting that the passive voice of “seized” somehow becomes equivalent to the word “plundered.” But changing “to seize” into “to be seized” does not make “seize” an interchangeable equivalent of the word “plunder.” The passive form of “to plunder” would be “to be plundered.” 

Dr. Spiros Zodhiates recognized that harpagēsometha is formed from the root word, harpagē. It is not merely the future passive indicative of harpázō. It is, in fact, the future indicative of harpagē

“724. ἁρπαγή harpagē; gen. harpagēs, from harpázō (726), to seize upon with force. Robbery, plundering. Zodhiates provides synonyms such as; skulon (4661), in the plural meaning spoils, arms stripped from an enemy; akrothinion (205), the top of a heap [of plunder], the choicest spoils of war.”66 (emphasis added) 

“To seize upon,” does not mean “seized.” Likewise, a person being robbed or plundered of their possessions is not an equivalent expression for taking the whole person away; whether they be caught up, taken away, or carried off. 

The authors agree with Zodhiates that Paul intended harpagēsometha to be the first person plural future indicative of harpagē rather than a derivative form of harpázō. As a verb, harpagē denotes the act of plundering, a forceful change of ownership. But unlike harpázō, harpagē does not involve the abduction of the person himself. The contrast between taking someone away, and taking something away from its owner, is paramount if you happen to be the person involved. That is why our analysis of harpagē must go so much deeper than the casual observance that harpagēsometha would seem to come from the word “harpázō.” 

The future passive indicative of harpázō would indeed be “shall be seized.” But the future passive indicative of harpagē is “shall be plundered.” English translators have bypassed the literal meaning of harpagēsometha simply because they have not understood how “plundered” fits into the rapture scenario. The pre-tribbers have missed the point that Paul was trying to communicate because it doesn’t fit into their own narrative. Paul used the word “plunder” because he was describing the transformation that will occur when mortality is overpowered at Christ’s appearing. Great force will be present at the time of the resurrection/rapture. 

Furthermore, if Paul had used a form of harpázō to mean “seized;” he would have been implying that the force of God will be released for the purpose of gathering the saints against their will. The notion that God’s people would resist drawing near to their Savior is reminiscent of the words of the Psalmist; 

Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you. Psa. 32:9 

Rather, Paul was acknowledging the power of God to transform our lowly bodies. Immediately after this forceful rapture the saints will peacefully, joyfully, meet the Lord in the air. 

The chart on the following pages shows the overall consistency with which harpázō and harpagē are used in the biblical texts. Because harpázō has almost become a household word among students of eschatology, examples of its use are presented first. Included are some exceptions where the words have been used interchangeably. 

There are dozens more examples of harpázō and diarpázō in the Greek Septuagint that could have been listed in the chart. But the chart is representative of the results of the larger study. 

An online article at PreceptAustin.org sites 34 uses of harpázō in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) (Gen. 37:33; Lev. 6:4; 19:13; Deut. 28:31; Jdg. 21:21, 23; 2 Sam. 23:21; Job 20:19; 24:2, 9, 

19; Ps. 7:2; 10:9; 22:13; 50:22; 69:4; 104:21; Isa. 10:2; Ezek 18:7, 

12, 16, 18; 19:3, 6; 22:25, 27; Hos. 5:14;6:1; Amos 1:11; 3:4; Mic. 

3:2; 5:8; Nah. 2:12) 

The article continues; “A number of the uses of harpázō in the LXX translate the Hebrew word meaning to tear (taraph; 2963) (as of beasts of prey, tear to pieces – Gen. 37:33, Ps. 7:2, 50:22, Hos. 5:14, 6:1) which brings out the violent aspect of harpázō .” The article concludes; “None of the LXX uses of harpázō convey the same sense of rapture as found here in 1 Thessalonians.”67 

Uses of Harpázō and Harpagē in the Bible and Apocrypha
English Translation
Verse Verses including the Gr. stem harpag snatch, take away, seize rob, spoil, plunder 
Leviticus 19:13 You shall not cheat your neighbor nor rob ἁρπάσεις (harpaseis) him.  
Deuteronomy 28:31 your donkey shall be violently taken away ἡρπασμένος 
(haerpasmenos) 
X
Judges 21:21 and every man catch ἁρπάσετε (harpasete) a wife for himself from the daughters of Shiloh.  X
Judith 16:9 Her sandal caught (fig. captured) ἥρπασεν (haerpasen) his eye  X
Matthew 13:19 the evil one comes and snatches ἁρπάζει (harpasei) away what was sown  X
Nahum 2:12a The lion caught ἥρπασεν (haerpasen) enough for his whelps X  
John 10:12 and the wolf snatches ἁρπάζει (harpasei) them  X
John 10:28 no one will snatch ἁρπάσει (harpasei) them out of My hand.  X
Acts 8:39,40 the Spirit of the Lord caught ἥρπασεν (haerpasen) Philip away  X 
Revelation 12:5 and her child was caught up ἡρπάσθη (hērpasthē) to God  X
Verse Verses including the Gr. stem harpag snatch, take away, seize rob, spoil, plunder 
Leviticus 6:2 If anyone lies … about a robbery ἁρπαγῆς (harpagēs 
Isaiah 3:14 the plunder ἁρπαγὴ (harpagē) of the poor is in your houses.  
Isaiah 42:22 This is a people despoiled and plundered διηρπασμένος (di- haerpasmenos)… For plunder ἅρπαγμα (harpagma), and no one says, “Restore!”  X X 
Isaiah 61:8 I hate robbery ἁρπάγματα (harpagmata) for burnt offering.  
Nahum 2:12b and his den with rapine ἁρπαγῆς (harpagēs).  
2 Corinthians 12:2-4 such a man was caught up ἁρπαγέντα (harpagenta) to the third … was caught up ἡρπάγη (hērpagē) into Paradise X X  
Matthew 23:25 outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of robbery ἁρπαγῆς (harpagēs) and self-indulgence  
Luke 11:39 but your inward part is full of robbery ἁρπαγῆς (harpagēs) and wickedness.  
Philippians 2:5,6 being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery ἁρπαγμὸν (harpagmon)  
Hebrews 10:34 and joyfully accepted the plundering ἁρπαγὴν (harpagēn) of your goods  

After reviewing the table above we can see that nearly without exception, harpázō is translated into English as “snatch”, “take away”, “seize”, etc.; and harpagē is translated as; “rob”, “spoil”, “plunder”, etc. Such consistent usage of the two words and their translations adds further support that harpagēsometha should be translated as “shall be robbed, spoiled or plundered.” 

John Jeffrey Dodson’s lexicon which harmonizes the work of Abbott-Smith, Berry, Souter, and Strong, gives the concise meaning of harpagē as; “the act of plundering, plunder, spoil.”68 

Based on the assumption that harpagēsometha is the future indicative of harpagē, what has, since the King James era, been translated as “caught up,” could justifiably be translated “plundered.” But would this translation make sense within the context of the verse? Yes! Using “plundered” in verse 17 of First Thessalonians Chapter Four brings out more detail and adds even more weight to Paul’s argument for the timing of the resurrection. 

The next thing to consider is why two of the exceptions in the table above were made when translating Paul’s use of harpagē into English. Paul may have used harpagē with the specific purpose of magnifying the ambiguity of whether, in fact, he had been taken in bodily form, or just caught away in a vision. 

A bolder position as to why harpagē has been translated as “caught up,” (as if it were the Greek word harpázō used in Revelation Chapter 12) is based on the possibility that the English translation has missed Paul’s intent; and that he meant “plundered” in all instances of harpagē. Paul, knowing that flesh and blood cannot enter into the real presence of God, may have used harpagē in recognition that his mortality would have needed to be transformed into a spiritual body; if indeed, Paul had actually been translated into a spiritual body. 

But to say that the English interpretation should vary from its typical meaning in First Thessalonians 4:17 simply because English interpreters have interpreted a previous verse as an anomaly, would base the translation of harpagē in First Thessalonians on circular reasoning. On the other hand, if “plunder” can be shown to work within the context of verse 17, then there is no need to rationalize why an atypical rendering of the word would yield a more accurate interpretation of the verse. 

As a technicality, we will find when we implement harpagē to First Thessalonians Four that “up” may be implied, but is not expressed in texts of either Second Corinthians 12:2-4 or First Thessalonians 4:17. More on this in a moment. 

Then we who are alive and remain shall be shall be plundered/robbed/spoiled. Our goods (our natural body, our mortality) will be plundered. The purchased possession spoken of Paul in Ephesians 1:14 will be redeemed. Instead of being snatched away, God will rob us of our soma psuchikon (the natural body) and further clothe us with our soma pneumatikon (spiritual body). This glorification process requires   the destruction, the plundering, of the old body. The saints are not being carried off at the instant of the “rapture.” The resurrected dead and those who are Christ’s at His coming will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. 

The plundering is not the removal of the body, but the redemption of the body. Paul’s employment of this single Greek word does not establish, by itself, the foundation for an eschatological system. But there are enough examples of the customary Greek usage of harpadzo and harpagē to support the conclusion that harpagē, found in First Thessalonians 4:17, depicts the moment of change promised in First Corinthians 15:23, 50-58. Harpagēsometha supports the idea that those who are Christ’s at His coming will be transformed. This change will occur before both the living survivors and the resurrected saints are gathered to be with the Lord. 

The main purpose of First Thessalonians 4:13-18 is to present such a precise order of events at the time of the Lord’s return so as to comfort to the living. If Paul had used harpázō, he would have been skipping over the moment of the change. This would have blurred the precision of the discrete realities which he was hoping would comfort the bereaved. 

Reclaiming the 1st Thessalonians Rapture Narrative [Part-1]

Chapter 13 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Reclaiming the 1st Thessalonians Rapture Narrative [Part-1]

Paul stated in First Corinthians 15; Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1 Cor. 15:51, 52 This passage on the resurrection and “change” is the big sister to the rapture narrative found in First Thessalonians Chapter Four. 

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thess. 4:13-18. 

This passage is proof of the rapture. But the details of these verses have, unfortunately, been overlooked by Pre-Tribulation rapture theologians, authors, and movie-makers. 

In accordance with basic (inductive) Bible interpretation guidelines, the very first step in determining the meaning of this passage is to establish its single main theme. If these verses above were to be bound as a stand-alone booklet, what would it be called? What was Paul’s primary motive for conveying these thoughts? 

The first and last verses are focused on giving comfort to those who had lost their loved ones. The first verse also implies that the bereaved would be less grieved and more hopeful if they were more informed about the things that Paul is about to share with them. Paul didn’t want those who had lost their loved ones to think that they had perished and would miss out on the Lord’s return. It also brings to mind the remorse of Mary and Martha; “Lord, if you had been here, our brother Lazarus would not have died.” The overall objective of the Thessalonians citation is comfort. Comfort through education. An appropriate title might be something like, “Paul’s Words of Comfort to the Bereaved.” 

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 1 Thess. 4:13 

This verse takes the form of an “if – then” statement. “If” we believe that Jesus died and rose again; then (even so), or (thus) – “God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” The independent conditional statement is that “one believes in the death and resurrection of Jesus.” If we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, even so we should also believe what Jesus has promised to His followers; “because I live, you will live also.” John 5:25 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.” The dead will hear the voice of Jesus and rise. First Thessalonians 4:14 ties these two resurrections together. We believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus; and even so, we believe that God will raise those who have fallen asleep. 

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will  by no means precede those who are asleep. 1 Thess. 4:15 

“by the word of the Lord.” 

We have already demonstrated by citing numerous Scriptures (the word of the Lord) that the resurrection will precede the gathering. According to Paul’s statement, the resurrection of the dead must occur before the rapture of the living. Stated from the other perspective, the rapture cannot occur before the resurrection. 

“By no means” is formed by two negative Greek words. In English this would be a double negative. But in the Greek it has the meaning, “It absolutely won’t happen.” This fact, expressed in the Greek’s most emphatic negative expression, implies that the living cannot possibly experience the rapture at the Lord’s return in advance of the resurrection of the dead. 

The Coming of the Lord 

“Until the coming of the Lord.” 

Notice that it does not say, “Until a calling from the Lord.” This distinction will be amplified further in the next verse. 

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thess. 4:16 

This verse contains so many important elements that we need to examine each phrase individually. The first phrase identifies three different arguments which would persuade the Thessalonians that Paul was describing the second coming of Christ. 

“For the Lord Himself” 

There is an additional Greek word in the original texts. The Greek word – hoti51 (that) appears before “Himself.” The Online Interlinear translation of this verse captures the meaning of this phrase as, “For that same Lord.”52 Another good translation would be, “For that self-same Lord.” By using these words, anyone familiar with the Book of Acts would tend to associate them with “that same Jesus” from Luke’s record of the ascension in Acts 1:9-11. 

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” 

Because Paul has just mentioned “the coming of the Lord,” it would appear that Paul is deliberately calling to mind the mental image of the Lord’s bodily return. Although this may not provide conclusive evidence that this “coming” is the bodily second coming of Christ; please consider the next two phrases as further supporting evidence. 

“Will descend” 

The Lord – that same Lord, will descend; katabesetai53 (will descend). This exact word is used in Romans 10:7 asking the question, “Who will descend into the abyss?” Katabas54 is usually translated “come down,” as in the Gospel of John where Jesus referred to Himself as the one who “comes down from heaven,” and, “the bread that came down from heaven.” Paul first referred to this event as “the coming of the Lord” in verse 15. Verse 16 reinforces the fact that Jesus is “coming,” and that He’s “coming down” – “descending.” 

“From heaven” 

Here the operative word is “from.” This is a common word in the Greek pronounced “apa.”55 The point in examining this word is to differentiate what this preposition is not saying. It does not mean “in,” or “near,” or “around.” The Greek has other words that mean those things. Apa (from), conveys a separation between two positions. Just like its use in English, “from” generally implies departure and distance. An object was there, and now is here; the object came from its former position. 

This study seems mundane except that it is necessary in order to express the precision of the original Greek text. “From heaven” means that Jesus has distanced Himself from heaven. He was in heaven, and now he has separated Himself from heaven. He’s not merely coming in heaven, or descending in heaven. He’s going to descend from heaven. He’s not going to get up from His throne and walk a few steps – and call to the church. No. He is, once again, going to depart from His place in heaven and descend

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven.” 

What Paul has written affirms that the same Jesus who has ascended will also come down from heaven – “in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” “In like manner” means that the same processes will recur; except that they will occur in a reverse manner. When Jesus was taken up to heaven he ascended from the earth. When Jesus returns from heaven, he will descend to earth. When Jesus ascended into heaven he disappeared from sight. When Jesus descends He will reappear; and this is the blessed hope. Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13 

Let’s put this all together now. From verse 15: “the coming of the Lord.” From verse 16: “the self-same Lord,” “will come down,” “from heaven.” Let’s take a closer look at these observations about the station of Lord Jesus: 

  1. He is coming / will come down. 
  1. He is the same Lord. (Himself, or self-same) 
  1. He is descending. 

He is coming. He is no longer seated in heaven – He is not merely calling or commanding the saints to rise and join Him in heaven. He is coming. 

For the Lord Himself. Paul is not being redundant. Jesus is, “the self-same Lord.” Once again this points to a physical second coming, as foretold by the angels in the Book of Acts. As He ascended, He will descend. In what manner? In bodily form. 

He is Descending. Jesus cannot be sitting and descending at the same time. He is either sitting at the Father’s right hand or He is descending. Paul says He is descending. 

“With a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.” 

The Bible describes a truly glorious appearing at Christ’s return – which every eye will witness. This celebration, once again, lends itself to the conclusion that Paul is describing the bodily return of Jesus. 

These verses are primarily given as counsel to the living regarding their dead. They’re going to burst forth from their graves. They’re not going to miss out on anything. So you don’t have to sorrow as those who have no hope. Isn’t it interesting that verse 17 (the part about the rapture) is presented in books and movies without a depiction of the resurrection of the dead? Images portray the saints as though they were ascending straight into heaven with no appearing of the Lord. In most cases there are no voices, no trumpets, and no descending Christ; and certainly no graphic imagery of the resurrection of the dead. The authors and screenwriters have studied these verses. They know exactly what they’re doing. But they don’t want the audience to think about the fact that the resurrection of the dead occurs first – even though that information is presented in the text three times. 

This concealment is most certainly made because the Bible places the resurrection of the dead at the end of the age, after the time of the Great Tribulation. People who are trying to force the idea of the Pre-Tribulation rapture of the church either can’t use this verse (which is the only verse in the English Bible that actually refers to this meeting in the air as the rapture); or, they must strip it of its context and show the rapture scene by itself. If they present the rapture verse in its context, it becomes obvious that it’s not a Pre- Tribulation rapture at all. It’s a rapture following the resurrection of the dead. 

And the dead in Christ will rise first 

The dead in Christ will include all who have died in faith. There is only one faith. Whether these who died in Christ were baptized in the name of the Trinity, baptized in the sea, or baptized into that Rock which was Christ; there is only one baptism. As stated earlier, and based on Paul’s qualification here, this resurrection immediately preceding the rapture appears to be what is called the resurrection of the righteous, also known as the resurrection of the just. 

Now we come to verse 17 of First  Thessalonians Four – the rapture verse. Here we will slow down and take a word-by-word approach based on our hypothesis that the rapture is comprised of three distinct events; the resurrection, the rapture, and the gathering. 

The precision of the Greek words used by Paul will allow us to examine the rapture sequence on the microscopic level. This will also provide the opportunity to apply all of the ontological concepts employed by Paul in his other epistles. 

There are no textual variants in verse 17 in any of the Greek texts from which major English Bible versions are translated. Each Greek letter of each word is consistent throughout the sea of ancient Greek manuscripts. The words are identical in the Byzantine, Alexandrian, Western, and majority text-types. The Greek words presented below are used as the base text in the King James56, New King James57, New International58, American Standard(s)59, and other modern paraphrased versions. The reader may be completely unfamiliar with the Greek language. Nevertheless, it is beneficial to view the 2,000 year-old Greek with one’s own eyes. 

The Veil – Vignette

Chapter 12 of Reclaiming The Rapture : The Veil – Vignette

Ben and Kristiana saw Michael, Gabriel and all of the Angels surrounding the Garden watching tensely to see how Adonai would resolve the crisis of degeneration which had 

been triggered. 

Adonai looked tenderly at his son Adam; grief overwhelmed him because of the words he had to utter that would activate what Adam put in motion. They had lost Adonai’s breath and the glow from his light was fading quickly. Soon they would not be able to endure his presence whatsoever. “The adamáh will now degenerate and decay,” Adonai said. “In time, because you are adamáh and were taken from it, to adamáh you will return because of what you have done.” 

Immediately there was a deep rumble, like the groaning of a million voices at the point of death, which reached a climax. All at once, a burst, a pulse of radiation emitted from the atoms of every tree, from every flower, from every blade of grass, from every rock and from the very soil itself. It started in the dirt under Adam’s feet and then spread throughout the whole planet and eventually the entire cosmos. The complete composition of everything had changed. The earth and material cosmos started decaying, wearing out and finally fell. Everything began decaying and dying from the invisible world of cells and DNA to all animals, birds, and fish which Adonai had formed out of the adamáh. They shared the fate of Adam and the adamáh. Even the rocks became degenerative from the release of alpha particles leaving them slightly radioactive. Degeneration and corruption ensnared all things, permeating the entire creation. The principle of rust entered the world where only a moment before, no such oxidation was ever known; metals and every material would have remained intact forever. 

Adam sighed looking at the ground, and kneeling down, he took some dirt into his hands and stared at it for several moments. “I am made from the dust of the adamáh and to it I shall return,” he whispered finally realizing how when Adonai formed him from the adamáh, he made him the living, federal head of all created matter. He then let the dirt slip through his fingers, contemplating the relationship he had with it. “We are one and our fates are one. My fate determines the fate of everything in the material cosmos; the vitality of everything is linked and dependent on my life.” 

“Father!” Adam sobbed as he and Eve looked back with tears in their eyes at the Garden of Eden and at Adonai as it all began to disappear before their eyes like a scroll being unrolled before them; they were unaware that it was the last time in their lives they would be face to face with their father. As it unrolled, the domain of Adonai and all the Angels, those good and evil, disappeared from their vision forever; everything of that domain was completely cloaked from their sight. Like a great curtain closing in front of them, the world behind it was blocked from their sight like a one-way mirror, transparent on one side and opaque on the other; those behind it could still see through to the other side. Spatially, they were practically on top of one another, but were separated dimensionally by a wall or veil, like a membrane, barring passage between the domains. 

“Oh for the day when the Promised One comes, destroys Lucifer who beguiled us, and restores Adonai’s spirit and the glorious light that flowed from us,” Adam sighed longingly. 

“How will the Promised One,” Eve asked in tears, “have the power to restore us when the corruption now touches every fiber of our being and that of our sons?” Adonai’s promise of the one who would crush the head of Lucifer lingered in Adam’s mind because freedom from death was his heart’s desire. “I don’t know,” he answered despondently. “I don’t know. Yet maybe there is hope after all.” 

Lucifer and the rebellious Angels watched everything happening on the other side of the veil. “Let them languish in their pain!” Lucifer scoffed. “Though we have been stripped of our beauty and fire, they are now cast out from Adonai’s presence forever!” Lucifer turned around smiling deviously at the others who were intently staring at his disfiguration as well as their own. “We are free! We are free from the oppression of Adonai and free from serving the little worm he created,” he said relishing in his victory against Adonai. 

“Your ingenious plan to cause Adam to murder himself was a great success,” one of the rebel Angels, later called Watchers, praised him. 

“Now we will never be required to serve the speck of dust that he is,” Lucifer answered. “There is no hope for Adam or any sons that come after him for none will by any means be able to repurchase a brother, nor give to Adonai a ransom for that brother, for the redemption of their souls is costly. None will continue to live eternally, and not see the Abyss,” he exclaimed. “I was also right in my assessment that causing Adam to defy the directive of Adonai would force Adonai into a self-imposed exile lest his consuming fire, which is like a stream of brimstone, destroy the earth and everything on it. I calculated that Adonai, in all of his compassion, would sooner divorce himself from the earth rather than utterly destroy everything by his fiery-lightning presence. I have successfully separated the abode of Adonai from the abode of Adam. The earth is ours forever!” 

“That is not true, the earth and all its fullness will forever be Adonai’s!” The same Watcher countered. “How can you suggest that it is ours?” 

“The answer is simple, brother,” Lucifer said haughtily. “Because Adonai cannot touch the earth and because Adam, the true benefactor, has forfeited his right of dominion over the earth, I have become the de-facto ruler of this world. You are correct, however, that it shall always ‘technically’ be Adonai’s but he will never be able to possess it, nor can Adam ever regain his dominion over it. We have adversely taken possession of the earth which was created by Adonai and benefited to Adam. I rightly deduced that once death entered into Adam, then he and his descendants would necessarily forfeit their possession and Adonai could not have it either because his glory would destroy it, which he clearly would never allow. It is just too much for any degenerative mortal to endure. It will be ours forever because Adam cannot undo death, no matter what, and so there will never be any one of his sons authorized, acceptable or legitimate who can undo Adam’s action. Hence I will remain the ruler of the world indefinitely and you all shall possess part of it.” 

“Yet for all that, we are left disfigured and barren,” one of the rebel Watchers snarled viciously motioning to his body. “I am here because I share your conviction that we should not be subservient to Dusty, yet now we are left desolate. You apparently did not foresee that Adonai could remove his fire from all of us. Even now I feel the drain of power in myself,” he said feeling the need to consume something for the very first time. “What have we gained if we are never satiated?” he continued. “The removal of Adonai’s fire and power has left us disconnected from the source of life, leaving me craving a life-essence that I can devour!” the Watcher bellowed greedily with a look in his eyes like a hungry lion. “Adam is still able to derive energy and food from the earth and though he is dying, when he is hungry he simply needs to take of the produce of the adamáh. Even in its state of degeneration the adamáh will still produce enough to nourish him until his death because he was taken from it. Even the animals might be eaten since they too were derived from it, too. What can I consume to placate the ravenous void inside me?” 

“You are correct that unlike Adam,” Lucifer stated, “we cannot gain any energy from the adamáh, for our bodies are trans- dimensional and hence will never fail like Adam’s, yet we still need an input of energy. Adonai has already instituted what we need: the creature which Adonai caused to come up out of the adamáh, whose blood, life-force was given in exchange for Adam, Eve and their progeny to be in close proximity to him, cannot actually reverse the effect of the treason committed. The Covering is nothing more than a force field, a shield of energy which covers a person or object from the fiery-lightning of Adonai. Because it will last only one year and will have to be continually repeated, we can take our nourishment from the life-force of any creature, including the sons of Dusty himself.” He smiled slyly. “The life-force is of a trans-dimensional nature and does nothing for the terrestrial bodies of Adam and Eve but will sustain us quite nicely,” he said smugly. 

“And how do you propose that we obtain blood since we are on this side of the veil?” yet another Angel inquired, sensing the futility of Lucifer’s suggestion. “Have you not seen that an impassable barrier has been placed between the domain of Adam and the domain we exist in? Do you think that we can just pass over it without any retaliation from Adonai?” 

“Here is what we will do,” Lucifer responded coolly to the rebel Angel which had snickered. 

“Though we despise the Adamites, they will willingly offer up blood of another creature in our honor and then we will receive nourishment from the life-force in the blood. However, because Adonai created Adam in his image, they are therefore of greater value than animals, and hence they will be more delectable treats. Let me explain how we will now rule the earth and be energized at the same time. Adam and Eve had a limited understanding of the City of Adonai, which is now cloaked behind the veil,” Lucifer said. “You must realize the incredible power our knowledge of those things ‘above’ give us over the Adamites living ‘below’ on the other side of the veil. Our secrets of the world behind the veil will make us into gods! We shall use it to exploit the Adamites who will have a deep yet unconscious yearning to return to the Mountain-City of Adonai. We will exploit this longing for restoration to entice them to commit even greater acts of evil than their father Adam has committed.” 

“We will distract them with empty promises,” one of the rebel Watchers interjected, “so that rather than seeking to commune with Adonai by way of the Covering, the rebellion against Adonai will only increase and will become so bad that even calling on his name will be profaned. Instead of calling on his name as a blessing, it will become a curse and Adonai will further distance himself from men until he is grieved that he even created them.” 

“And as their memory fades with each passing day,” Lucifer continued, “the sons of Dirt will be more easily convinced that we are in fact ‘gods’ and they must earn our favor by giving blood, the life-force of another,” he said excitedly, and then transformed himself once again into a glorious Angel. “We shall convince them to practice every sort of abomination that Adonai hates.” 

“Since we are hidden behind the veil,” another Watcher said, “consulting our knowledge will be known as divination because they will believe we are divine and our powers will be considered sorcery. Through war and murder and horrors   of   great magnitude committed by the Adamites in our honor we shall be completely satisfied.” 

“Finally, brothers,” Lucifer said, regaining control of the disclosure of the big idea, “there is one more delight that we shall partake of; you shall be satiated when we convince the Adamites to do something utterly repugnant, something which Adonai never commanded nor did it even come into his mind! We shall seduce them to offer up their sons and daughters in fire; and we shall do so until they are slaughtering their children to us under every spreading tree, in the ravines, and under the clefts of the rocks. When this occurs, then your hunger shall be abated and you shall be satisfied in the most delectable way.” 

“What about the Promised One who Adonai said would crush your head and ours too?” another Watcher questioned anxiously. “How do you propose to overcome that?” 

“When the time is right,” Lucifer responded, “then some of you will mingle yourselves with the seed of Adam and corrupt the ways of all flesh on the earth. When Adam was created there was no death, decay or degeneration whatsoever in him. When they have offspring, then the degeneration, the record of the event of the Fall, will be passed virtually identically from Adam to all of his sons perpetual transmission of death, inherent in the seed, from generation to generation. Hence, when our seed is mingled with theirs, then our seed will be passed from generation to generation. Then the Promised One will be one of us and if he is one of us then he cannot be the one to restore Adam.” 

The rebels cheered in shrill voices at the even more insidious intentions of their leader. 

 

The Veil Between Heaven and Earth 

Chapter 11 of Reclaiming the Rapture : The Veil Between Heaven and Earth 

The transformation known as the rapture will occur, as we are told by Paul in First Thessalonians Chapter Four, at the time of Christ’s coming/descending. We have already established 

from our study of the unmysterious verses relating the rapture/gathering to the Second Coming, the day of the rapture will also be the day when God will rend the heavens and come down. The return of Jesus from heaven is in fact the Day of the Lord. God will come down as the Son of God in His glory. This is His glorious appearing. But what does it mean to “rend the heavens?” This chapter will explore what the Bible says about this supernatural process and when it will occur. 

When Do the Heavens Pass Away? 

The question of, “When do the new heavens come about?” has to do with “When do the current (old) heavens pass away?” According to Revelation 6:14, the sky, the heavens (in Greek “sky” and “heavens” are the same word – ouranos) will roll up one day like a scroll. 

Then the sky [ouranos οὐρανὸς] receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. Rev. 6:14 

That event takes place in the context of the tribulation and not after the thousand year reign of Jesus. Those inside the event, who are witnessing it, claim that it is the day of the Lord. 

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Rev. 6:15-17 

Peter also mentioned the monumental event of the heavens passing away, which he says will occur in the day of the Lord, in the context of the tribulation, not after the thousand year reign of Jesus. 

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

We will consider the question, “What is the day of the Lord?,” which comes as a thief in the night, in a later chapter. However we will note here that it is in that day that the heavens pass away. According to Peter the heavens will pass away with a great noise in conjunction with the return of Jesus, not after the thousand years. God first revealed what the passing away of the heavens would look like in the book of Isaiah; 

the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll. Isa. 34:4 He also said; The heavens will vanish away like smoke, the earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not be abolished. Isa. 51:6 

The timing of the heavens vanishing away like smoke is when the earth dwellers die – a reference to the tribulation when massive deaths will occur, not after the thousand years of peace and righteousness. Commentators have by and large been unable to appreciate this because, in some cases, they have interpreted the Bible allegorically; or they have been persuaded that the book of Revelation is a chronologically arranged book. The thematic arrangement of the Revelation is examined in another chapter. Adam Clark, for example, allegorizes it to mean pagan worship: “The whole system of pagan and idolatrous worship, with all its spiritual, secular, and superstitious influence, was blasted, shriveled up, and rendered null and void, as a parchment scroll when exposed to the action of a strong fire.”46 (emphasis mine) Albert Barnes, who is a fairly conservative scholar, interprets the passage in the same fashion. He stated that the passing of the heavens is nothing more than symbolic phraseology and cannot be interpreted literally of the physical realm: 

“This, too, is a symbol, and we are not to suppose that it will literally occur. Indeed it never can literally occur; and we are not, therefore, to look for the fulfillment of this in any physical fact that would correspond with what is here said. The plain meaning is, that there would be changes as if such an event would happen; that is, that revolutions would occur in the high places of the earth,  and among those in power, as if the stars should fall, and the very heavens were swept away.”47 Theologian Harry Ironside, conservative commentator on the Scriptures of last century, likewise interprets the passing away of the heavens in a figurative sense. He says that “the heavens, symbolizing the ecclesiastical powers of every description, will depart as a scroll when it is rolled up. The whole fabric of Christendom will be wound up as something obsolete and out of date.”48 The passing away of the heavens is clearly described in graphic detail. And yet, as we have seen from this small sampling of mainline commentators, it is commonly and unfortunately explained away as being figurative language. Once we shift our focus then it becomes apparent that the sixth seal of Revelation is the event of the passing away of the heavens, which happens at the end of the tribulation, the day that Jesus returns. 

Heaven and Earth Fled Away 

As careful students of the Bible, we must consider a passage that would seemingly contradict our entire thesis that the heavens and earth passing away would come at the beginning of the Millennium. In his visions of heavenly things to come, John saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. Rev. 20:11 This passage comes right after John sees the vision of Satan cast into the Abyss for one thousand years, and his subsequent release and final destruction when the fire comes down from heaven and destroys him. John said; and I saw a great white throne… The One on the throne judges the nations and then even Hades and death are done away with. Immediately following this vision, John says that he saw a new heavens and new earth. Therefore, it would appear obvious that the new heavens and new earth must come after the thousand year reign of Jesus. How can we reconcile our new paradigm with this verse? We need to take another look at it Revelation 20:11. 

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. Rev. 20:11 

This verse has been generally interpreted that the earth and heaven will flee away at that moment, after the thousand year reign of Jesus and just before the final judgment, followed by the eternal state. In other words, that would mean that John saw the heavens and earth flee away at that moment that he looked at the One on the throne. However, it is better understood as an adjectival-parenthetical statement, that is, the statement is adjectival and not verbal. It describes a significant feature of the person and not an action that happened at the moment. John is not describing the passing of the earth and heavens at the moment, but describing the one sitting on the throne. Thus, the one on the throne is the one from whose face heaven and earth fled away. 

The word “flee” [ephugen ἔφυγεν] is the aorist indicative which means that it happened in the past. The aorist tense in Greek is past tense with no aspect assigned. There is another past tense (imperfect) that does include aspect. We use aspect all the time in English to explain not the time of an event, but the event happened. For example, “I studied,” is in the simply (aorist) past. “I was studying,” is imperfect. There are variations of this as well. It is also possible for the aorist to act as (the English equivalent of) the pluperfect. The Aorist Indicative is frequently used in narrative passages of a past event which precedes another past event mentioned or implied in the context. “The Greek Pluperfect (Aorist) is used of any past event which is conceived of simply as an event (or as entered upon, or as accomplished), regardless alike of the existence or non-existence of an interval between itself and the moment of speaking, and of the question whether it precedes or not some other past action. It affirms nothing respecting existing result.”49 

Imagine that you saw Neil Armstrong at the mall one day and you wanted to tell a friend but couldn’t remember Neil’s name. You would say: “I saw the astronaut who walked on the moon today.” It would be obvious to both of you that Neil Armstrong did not walk on the moon at the time you saw him. You were simply using his most salient feature to describe him. So, too, when John says that he “saw a big white throne and the One sitting on it (from whose face the earth and the heaven fled and for them no place was found)” (Rev. 20:11, translation mine). 

The words in parentheses in my translation serve as the predicate. The predicate says something about the subject, which in this case is the “the one sitting.” John is giving a long description of who is the one sitting on the throne; and he is not saying what action was happening at that very moment. We already know when the earth and heaven fled – at the second coming of Jesus. That is when the heavens receded like a scroll with a great noise. That was the time that God tore the heavens and came down and startled the nations. Thus, Revelation 20:11 cannot be used to prove that the timing of the new heavens and earth comes after the thousand years. The phrase is being used to describe just exactly who is sitting on the big throne and what makes Him so special as compared to the other thrones and those who sat on them to whom judgment was committed (Rev. 20:4). 

There is a Veil Between Heaven and Earth 

The passing away of the heavens will be very much like the tearing of the veil in the temple. In fact, Isaiah yearns for the day when God would cause the heavens to pass. Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence. Isa. 64:1 The notion that the heavens will pass away is difficult to comprehend. What did both Isaiah and John see so that caused them to write that the heavens rolled up like a scroll? What did Peter intend when he revealed that the heavens would pass away with a great noise? What did Jesus mean when He said the heavens and earth would pass away? The answers to these questions lie in the reality of the veil between heaven and earth. 

There is a veil between heaven and earth that God will one day tear open and come down. Isaiah stated that when God does this, the mountains will quake at [His] presence—just as fire sets twigs ablaze and the fire causes water to boil. Isa. 64:1, 2 The ultimate effect would be to make known your name to your enemies, yes, to your enemies before you, so that the nations might quake at your presence!” Isa. 64:2 ISV He was literally calling for God to break, or tear, the heavens and come down. He may have yearned for that based on God’s revelation to him earlier in his book: And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. Isa. 25:7 

The opening of the veil is referred to as the heavens opening. There were several times when the veil was pulled back, allowing some to see behind it. As Stephen was being stoned, he “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God… and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened [the veil] and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’” Acts 7:55-56 Ezekiel had a similar experience as he was sitting among the captives in Babylon by the Chebar River. He said, the heavens were opened [the veil] and I saw visions of God. Ezek. 1:1 At the immersion (baptism) of Jesus, the heavens were opened [the veil] to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove. Matt. 3:16 John also saw heaven opened. Rev. 19:11 

It is like there is a giant stage curtain between the domain of heaven and the domain of earth. All humanity is the audience waiting for the show to start. Occasionally a few people have been able to look through the crack between the curtains and see backstage. The return of Jesus will be the time when the curtains open once and for all. 

The word “revealed” in Greek is apo-kalypsis [Ἀποκάλυψις apokalypsis]. It literally means to unveil or uncover. The book of Revelation is not simply a book that reveals secrets of the future. It is more precisely the book of the unveiling of the Lord Jesus. We could call it ‘the disclosure of Jesus’. That reality is demonstrated by Paul’s statement in Second Thessalonians One; 

when the Lord Jesus is revealed [ἀποκαλύψει apokalypsei] from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess. 1:7, 8 

Several other Scriptures demonstrate that Jesus will be unveiled, uncovered [apokalypsei] at His second coming. 

  • … that the genuineness of your faith…may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation [ἀποκαλύψει apokalypsei] of Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. 1:7 
  • …that when His glory is revealed [ἀποκαλύψει apokalypsei], you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 1 Pet. 4:13 
  • …eagerly waiting for the revelation [ἀποκάλυψιν apokalypsin] of our Lord Jesus Christ… 1 Cor. 1:7 

First John 3:2 provides the same description yet with another word which underscores the manifestation, or disclosure, of Jesus; 

…when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2 In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) we see this  as  well;  Then  the  glory  of  the  Lord  will  be  revealed  [ְִש   ְִ ְף ִה venigla], and all humanity will see it at once…” Isa. 40:5 ISV The Hebrew word “gala” means to uncover something. Thus the heavens receding like a scroll is literally the moment when Jesus is uncovered, unveiled. That is to say, when the veil between heaven and earth is removed. When this happens there will no longer be any atheists on the earth. All who had convinced themselves that there was no God will be rudely awakened to the reality that there is a God. In fact, they will see Him coming down to the planet in His fiery-lightning glory. 

Then the kings of the earth, the important people, the generals, the rich, the powerful, and all the slaves and free people concealed themselves in caves and among the rocks in the mountains. They told the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to endure it?” Rev. 6:15-17 ISV 

When the veil is removed there will no longer be any doubts about Jesus. There will no longer be any doubts about who is the King. The removal of the veil which was protecting them from God’s fiery-lightning presence will leave everyone exposed to His power. They will suddenly realize that they are not able to endure it, which is why they run into the caves and call for the rocks to fall upon them. The veil, which was the very thing making man’s arrogance possible, will finally be removed the day Jesus comes back. At that time, “The haughty looks of mankind will be brought low, the lofty pride of human beings will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted at that time.” Isa. 2:11 ISV The heavens passing away, therefore, is not the destruction of the sun, moon, and stars; or even the entire universe passing away (because they are eternal), but is the protective barrier between heaven and earth being removed once and for all. 

The Two Veils 

The veil between heaven and earth was even modeled for us by the tabernacle and its two veils. The tabernacle, we must remember, was the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Heb. 8:5 The first veil was the gate or main door to the entire compound of the tabernacle. Behind the second curtain [veil] was the part of the tent called the Most Holy Place. Heb. 9:3 ISV In other words, the second veil was the inner most veil inside the structure where the Ark of the Covenant was. Therefore, there are two veils above. One is the general veil between the two realms just like the first veil or door to the entire tabernacle compound. The other is the inside veil to the Holy of Holies (not the acacia-gold-covered doors of the structure itself). At the death of Jesus the outer most veil in front of the temple tore in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, rocks were split open, Matt. 27:51 ISV indicating the beginning of the return to the unveiled relationship between the two realms. 

This had been part of God’s secret plan that He set forth in the Messiah to usher in the fullness of the times and to bring together in the Messiah all things in heaven and on earth… Eph. 1:9, 10 ISV 

Doing the work necessary on the cross was in large part to reconcile the two realms which Paul states in Colossians; 

Through the Son, God also reconciled all things to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, thereby making peace through the blood of his cross. Col. 1:20 That was the hope, firm and secure like an anchor for our souls, [which] reaches behind the curtain. Heb. 6:19 ISV 

Therefore, just as there were two veils in the earthly tabernacle, so too there are two veils in the spiritual realm. In conjunction with the return of Jesus to the earth, the temple/tabernacle of God in Heaven will be opened. 

Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. Rev. 11:19 The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. Rev. 15:8 

The opening of the temple/tabernacle of God in heaven is the inner veil. Jesus tearing the veil between heaven and earth is the outer veil of the tabernacle. When those two are opened, then the fiery-lightning presence of God will be revealed (unveiled) for all mankind to see. The response to that event will be nothing short of terror for those who dwell on the earth for the heavens/sky/veil will disappear and Jesus will be unveiled as He returns in flaming fire (2 Thess. 1:7, 8). 

Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Rev. 6:14-17 

The veil in the tabernacle was a copy of the things in heaven (Heb. 8:5). The tearing of the first veil (not in the Holy of Holies) is a picture of the literal veil that will be torn (Isa. 64:1) and rolled up (Isa. 34:4; 2 Pet. 3:10) at Jesus’ return. 

We Are Like the Boy in the Bubble 

Many of us have heard the story of David Vetter, better known as the boy in the plastic bubble, who had to live his entire twelve years of life in a bubble to protect him from the germs of the outside world because his immune system did not work properly. We can think of ourselves as that boy and God. Our loving Father is outside the bubble, longingly looking in. Parents can easily imagine the grief that David’s parents must have felt looking through the protective plastic veil between them and their son. On the one hand, the plastic barrier between them meant that their son could live. 

On the other hand, it meant that they could not be intimate with their dear and precious child. The only hope was that someday his body could be healed, and they could all be in the same space without the bubble. 

This is essentially the relationship that we currently have with our Father. Like the plastic between David and his parents, the veil between God’s domain and ours (inside the bubble) is what protects us from Him. Due to our infirmity, caused by the eating of the forbidden fruit, we and our Father cannot be together. We have a problem of compatibility. Before the fall of Adam and Eve there was no problem and no need for a veil between heaven and earth. The veil came about as a result of the fall. God used to come to the Garden of Eden and walk there. The first thing that Adam and Eve feel compelled to do after eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is to cover themselves. In my book, Corrupting the Image50, I demonstrate how Adam and Eve were covered in light prior to the fall, and as such were compatible with the fiery-lightning presence of God. 

Adam and the Adamáh 

The big event was nothing other than the Fall of Adam. God created Adam from the “adamáh” (earth, the dirt, the soil). Adam was literally the earth-man. We could actually call him Mr. Dirt, or Dusty, for short. He was the federal head of all creation. In Genesis 1:2 we learn that the earth was temporarily in a liquid, amorphous state. From that material (water), God formed the earth, the ball of dirt that we are standing on today. The heavens and planet in the beginning were perfect; there was no corruption, no decay, etc. When Adam ate from the fruit, thereby committing evil, he entered into a state of degeneration and decay because he was physically linked to the adamáh. Then it had to endure the same fate. 

At the sentencing of Adam in the Garden, God declared, and appears to have activated, the degenerative, decay-death reaction that Adam triggered (Gen. 2:17). The earth and material cosmos started to decay, wear out, and eventually fall apart. Things were going from a higher state of order to a lower state of order; such as the process we see when a piece of metal becomes oxidized, rusted (Rom 8:20, 21). 

Everything began decaying and dying, from the invisible world of cells and DNA, to all the animals, birds, and fish which God had formed out of the adamáh. They shared the fate of Adam and the adamáh. Degeneration and corruption ensnared everything, permeating the entire creation. The principle of rust entered the world where only a moment before, no such oxidation was ever known. Metals, and every material, would have remained intact forever. Even the rocks became degenerative from the release of alpha particles leaving them slightly radioactive. This is something students of the earth are only recently discovering. The discovery of the alpha particles is testimony to ruin at the Fall, when the Earth became corrupted. 

The Earth is now longing to be liberated (not destroyed) into the glorious liberty of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19-22), which will come about in conjunction with the resurrection and the return of Jesus, when the sons of God (believers) receive their new bodies. The decay (corruption) latent in the earth will be reversed so that we will live on the same ball of dirt as God created in the beginning.