THE TIME OF THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH
A. Everything Is Fitting Together on Schedule!
In the Hebrew Scriptures God revealed a yearly calendar for the nation of Israel by which they were to order their lives. This calendar stipulated when the liturgical year would begin. It included the regular weekly Sabbaths, the High Sabbaths, the Feasts and the special Offerings that were to take place throughout the year. The calendar served in a practical way by primarily focusing upon the agricultural Feasts. However, Israel’s calendar was also clearly designated for prophetic purposes. It was typical of special events in dispensational time as well. Therefore, it was not merely a calendar for the yearly cycle, but was primarily for thedispensational cycle as has been proven in the process of events at the close of theLaw Age.
The moment the Apostle Paul, by Divine inspiration, expressed the truths of theRapture of the Church in terms of the Pentecostal Feast of Firstfruits typology(Rom. 8:11,23; 15:15,16; I Cor. 15:20-23), he assigned a Date for the Rapture of the Church! This is because a major ingredient emphasized in the Feast of Firstfruits(Pentecost) is the “countdown” from the Wave Sheaf at Passover to the date of its observance at Pentecost with the Wave Loaves of the “New Grain Offering.”
In addition, the particular Pentecost upon which the Rapture takes place is determined by the closing character of this Dispensation of Grace. In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul further tells us of another “mystery” about the close of this Age and the restoration of the Jewish people to the place of God’s favor. Paul reveals that the present Age of Gentile favor will close in a similar manner as did the Law Age—by an apostasy in unbelief, and with antipathy against the Jewish people. As there were parallels at the beginning of both Ages, so there are parallels at the close of both Ages. The closing parallels of this Age of Gentile favor give us the unmistakable “countdown” to the particular Pentecost for the Rapture!
B. The Example of The Passover
Israel became a nation under God at the first Passover in Egypt. On this occasion Israel was delivered from Egyptian bondage. The Dispensation of Law began. However, the prophetic purpose of the Passover pointed to Jesus Christ as theantitypical Passover Lamb Whose death would provide redemption for all mankind. That prophetic aspect of the Passover was fulfilled to precision in 30 A.D. of our Roman calendar. It became evident at the time of Christ’s sufferings and death that God was ordering those events to be fulfilled on the precise schedule of the Mosaic Passover calendar dates.
Thus, Christ was selected on the tenth day of Nisan according to the Passoverschedule. Christ was crucified on the fourteenth day of Nisan and died at the exact time of the sacrifice of the Passover lambs. Furthermore, Christ was gloriously resurrected on the exact day and time of the Offering of the Wave Sheaf of early grain on Sunday morning. Later revelation through the Apostle Paul tells us that at the death of Christ the Law was “nailed to the cross,” and in the reckoning of God the Dispensation of the Law was terminated. Thus the Age of the Law was opened by the Passover and also closed by the Passover. As Passover was to Israel—soPentecost is to the Church!
Exactly fifty days after Christ’s resurrection—on the morning of the Feast of Pentecost when the two loaves of bread were waved in the air as the “New Grain Offering”—the Church which is Christ’s body was born. Thus, the Age of Gracebegan on a Pentecost. It became evident through the revelations given to the Apostle Paul that the Pentecostal Feast was a vivid type of the resurrection and Rapture of the Church of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Dispensation of the Grace of God will also close on a Pentecost—with the Rapture of the Church. The inspired language of Paul is unmistakable.
Paul further revealed that this Age of Gentile salvation will follow the same course and even close exactly as did the Jewish Law Age. The Dispensation of the Grace of God will follow a similar course as did the Dispensation of Law from the very beginning to the very end. The dispensational comparisons in Paul’s letters trace this out in detail. The Dispensation of Law closed with the full apostasy of the Jewsmarked by their rejection and crucifixion of their own Messiah. Yet He was gloriously raised from the dead exactly three days later. This is the record of inspired history.
Paul indicated that the Gentile Age would close the same way. Paul even warned Gentile believers to not have animosity against the Jews. The apostate Church of Christendom did exactly that. Thus the apostasy of the Gentile Age was marked by the Holocaust with their “crucifixion of the Jews.” Even then, the Jewish nation was “resurrected” exactly three years later. This is actual history which has unfolded right before our very eyes. The only way to properly interpret the meaning of that history is in light of the prophetic Word of God. The Prophet Isaiah foresaw the dual sufferings of Messiah and the nation of Israel. That there is a Pentecost that looms on the horizon to fit the final sequence is also factual.
C. Dealing with One Main Objection
Some conservative dispensational Bible teachers today have a phobia about “mixing” the Rapture of the Church with anything about the Jewish last days as prophesied in the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures. Oftentimes they overstate their concern by saying, for instance ( they say )…..”that you cannot have the Rapture take place on a Jewish feast day. ” Allow me to illustrate this error by another example.
Ultra-Dispensationalists have argued among themselves for years in their quest for determining exactly when the Church was born. Most other Christians look at their squabblings on that subject and say, “How ridiculous!” And true enough, it seems ridiculous when, in fact, the truth is so obvious. However, the Ultra-Dispensationalist don’t see it that way. They have “stumbled” over the fact of the Church’s uniqueness. Therefore, they have erroneously concluded that the Church could not overlap the Jewishness of the early Christian community. They say the Church could never have been born on a Jewish Feast Day. Of course, the more they squabble about the subject, the closer they get to Acts chapter 2—the Day of Pentecost…………
……….Originally they believed that the Church began sometime after the close of the book of Acts (Acts 28). They said that the Church in the book of Acts was a different one—a “Jewish Church.” Then in time they began see some overlapping so they moved the birth of the Church up to at least Acts 18 where Paul first said, “Henceforth, I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6). Then in further investigation another generation saw more overlapping and moved the beginning of the Church up to the time of Acts 13 when the Apostle Paul began his first travels in ministry. Next, many further saw that the Church must have begun with Paul’s salvation in Acts 9. Of course, chronologically, Paul’s salvation occurred only about three yearsafter the day of Pentecost in Acts two. Thus the trek of the Ultra-Dispensationalistshas taken them from sometime after 62 A.D. up to about 33 A.D. That is nearly a thirty year span and only a few more years to go! But then, they still have the nerve to stand back and say how ignorant the rest of us are when, in fact, the rest of us just “stayed put!”
Now the same thing is basically true about the time of the Rapture of the Church. We have seen that it is intimately tied into a Jewish feast day—the very same day on which the Church was born—Pentecost. Just like the Ultra-Dispensationalistswho say you can’t have the birth of the Church on a Jewish Feast day, so certain teachers today say you cannot have the Rapture of the Church on a Jewish feast day—the Day of Pentecost. They are most certainly in error. The Apostle Paul makes it very plain that the Feast of Pentecost is prophetic of the Rapture of the Church. My study on “The Pentecostal Rapture of the Church” proves that conclusively. In addition, the Rapture of the Church, according to the Apostle Paul, will overlap many of the “signs” and indicators that God is about to restore and deal with Israel once again according to the “times and seasons” specified in I Thess. 5:1-11, which we have discussed earlier in this study.
D. “But,” some will say, “just where does the Bible say
the Rapture will take place on May 31st, 1998???”
In response to this I am going to repeat two points that I made at the beginning of this Bible study. First, by reading Paul’s revelations concerning the Church—how it is formed, and what its outstanding characteristics are—we can simply compare this information with the record in the book of Acts and establish exactly when the Church, with those characteristics, was born. In addition, the Bible gives a veryspecific date and hour for the birth of the Church. Though the Bible does not speak to us in terms of the Roman calendar date for the birth of the Church, yet very obviously it speaks in the language of the Hebrew liturgical calendar as given by Moses. The birth of the Church took place about “the third hour of the day,” on the “Day of Pentecost,” as recorded in Acts 2. This was “50 days” after the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection of Christ was on the “day after” the Jewish “Sabbath” that occurred during “the Feast of Unleavened Bread.” Now all that is very specific language. Translated into Roman calendar dates, Christ was resurrected from the dead on Sunday morning of April 9th, 30 A.D. Exactly 50 days later the Church was born on Sunday morning, about 9:00 A.M., May 28th, 30 A.D., the day of Pentecost.
Now we ask the question, “Can we date the Rapture of the Church??” Surprisingly enough, the Scriptures clearly indicate that we can!!! In a similar manner, as we dated the birth of the Church, so we can date its Rapture—
1. The Pauline Scriptures reveal that the Day of Pentecost was a prophetic type of the Rapture of the Church—Romans 8:11,23; 15:15,16; I Cor. 15:20-23; II Cor. 1: 22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14; I Thess. 4:14 & Col. 1:27.
2. This prophetic typology is given in three areas: a) the Substance offered—a “New Grain Offering” in the form of two loaves of bread; b) the Action of the ritual offering—”waving” up in the air; and finally, c) the Timing of the Feast and its Offering—9:00 A.M., Sunday morning, fifty days after the Offering of the “Wave Sheaf.”
3. This is clearly illustrated for us by the precision and exactness of the Passovertypology. In addition the Passover was serving as both the “birthday” of the nation of Israel (marking Israel’s historic beginning), and as a prophecy of the terminal date of the Law by the death of the Messiah (marking the official close of the Law Dispensation).
4. As the Church was born on a precise schedule with the Pentecostal Day and Offering—9:00 A.M. Sunday morning of the Fiftieth day—so will be its Rapture!
5. Paul’s revelation in Romans 11 tells us that this present Age of Gentile favor will close by the same course of events in apostasy as the close of the Age of Israel’s favor—with a “crucifixion,” “resurrection” and “countdown.”
Translated into our Roman calendar dates—that means Sunday morning, May 31st, about 9:00 A.M. Jerusalem time, 1998. Now nowhere is that language used in the Bible because the Author of the Bible was not primarily interested in speaking in Roman, Gregorian calendar terminology. The Bible speaks in the Jewish terminology of the liturgical calendar (i.e., “Passover, High Sabbath, regular Sabbath, First day of the week, 50 days, 3rd hour of the day, and Pentecost”).
E. But Isn’t This Just Another Scenario of Speculation??
Yes, this is another scenario! No, it is not “just” another one! This is not the typical speculation that has characterized prognosticators. It has the clear definitions of Pauline authenticity!
1. The Apostle Paul led us to the “times and seasons” of the coming “Day of the Lord” as the backdrop upon which the Rapture would take place. Obviously we should know we are there! We have an abundance of Scripturally confirmed indicators.
2. The Apostle Paul, throughout his letters, clearly indicates that the Rapture of the Church is just prior to the final Great Tribulation and/or the Day of the Lord. The first event on schedule before the Day of the Lord is the Rapture of the Church.
3. Paul reveals that the second “order” of the resurrection of the righteous is the Rapture of the Church which is typified by the Feast of Pentecost. In fact the Day of Pentecost and the Offering on the Day of Pentecost are prophetic of the Rapture in a threefold manner—by the substance of the bread representing the Church, by the action of waving up in the air as a figure of the Rapture, and by the timing in the morning of the Day of Pentecost as representative of the time of the Rapture.
4. The Apostle Paul identified the final apostasy of Gentile Christendom at the end of this Age. This apostasy will follow in a similar manner as the Jewish apostasy at the end of the Law Dispensation. Both Ages close with a Holocaust, a Resurrection and a “counting of days.”
5. Putting all these facts together which Paul has revealed, we can conclude—We have arrived! There is one Pentecost (if not the only one that fits) immediately on our horizon! Interestingly enough, Jewish tradition has changed the observance of the Feast of Pentecost to occur on different days of the week for the last 1900 years. Therefore, the Jewish observance of Pentecost usually does not take place on a Sunday as was done at the time of Christ. However, this particular Pentecost that is approaching on May 31st of 1998 does take place on a Sunday in spite of the Jewish traditions. Furthermore, this Pentecost will be at the same time and right in the same month as the 50th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel. Apparently God is correlating these 50 years with the 50 years of Israel’s statehood.
Obviously I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet. God has not given to me special heavenly visions or supernatural revelations.
What I am saying is simply this—
There is an exciting, exacting parallel being enacted right in front of our very eyes. That parallel has clear Scriptural reinforcement from the teachings of Paul. It has Dispensational and Prophetic reinforcement from many other Scriptures. If God has chosen to fulfill His promises of the Rapture of the Church by continuing to follow this parallel to its termination date, then the Rapture of the Church will occur on the morning of Pentecost Sunday (approx. 9 A.M. Jerusalem time), May 31st, 1998.Everything that I see indicates that God is doing exactly this!
F. What If The Rapture Does Not Take Place At This Pentecost??
When I first made these notes in a very abbreviated form I placed a question markupon the date. The Biblical and historical evidence I knew pointed to that date, but I could not say that I knew that date for sure. As I have had the time to reevaluate this whole subject and examine it under close scrutiny and with prayerful caution, the various factors have stood out with solid verification. Questionable areas seemed to melt away as more Scripture came to the forefront. What I know today from the Scriptures on this subject, as compared to what I knew in 1994, has been reinforced and strengthened immeasurably. Therefore, I see it as a much stronger possibility than I did in 1994. Consequently, I feel obligated by the Spirit of God to put in writing these Bible studies that will demonstrate this conclusion. Every basic subject in these studies I can honestly say, “I know for sure.” Then actually, as far as I can see, if the Rapture does not take place on that date the only thing that is going to change is the particular Pentecost in view, and that of course, will be to my embarrassment! As to the teaching on the various points, I can say honestly that I know them for sure and I believe they will endure!
1. I know Christ’s death was a holocaust—the Scriptures say so!
2. I know there is an amazing parallel between the Holocaust of the Jews and the holocaust of Christ. I did not write either story. Nor did I manufacture falsehoods. I did not need to—the truth was more amazing than fiction or invention. I know the complete story of the two Holocausts is true and Christ-honoring! In other words, the history of the Holocaust of the Jews enhances for us the truths of the Holocaust of Christ—and vice versa.
3. I know the interpretation of Isaiah 53 is accurate and true. It applies to both the Nation of Israel and to the Messiah!
4. I know that the chronology of Christ’s death with the annual Jewish Passover is accurate and in perfect harmony! The clear and precise fulfillment of the Passover typology is marvelous!
5. I know that the “times and seasons” are upon us. The numerous events of these last days are all examined under the microscope of the Word of God! We have arrived!
6. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ is to be raptured prior to the time of the “Great Tribulation.” The conglomerate of facts and episodes are thus reconciled!
7. I know that there is a Threefold Order to the resurrection of the righteous. That means that the Church must be resurrected and raptured separately from the saints of the Old Testament and the Great Tribulation.
8. I know that the day of Pentecost is a prophetic type of the Rapture of the Body of Christ. I know that in that prophetic typology is included the “timing” of the event.
9. I know that this Church Dispensation is closing exactly like the Law Dispensation closed. This includes an “apostasy,” a “crucifixion,” a “resurrection,” a “countdown” and a “Pentecost.”
10. I know that there is great “expectation” by many today—and properly so. In addition the idea of “imminency” (Christ coming at any second), as has been taught, has flaws and inaccuracies that only confuse the issue! That the Rapture of the Church is imminent in the sense of being the next event on God’s prophetic schedule, that every generation of believers could anticipate it happening in its own lifetime and that all believers should deeply anticipate and expect it, is beautifully and wonderfully accurate!
I believe that I would be negligent before God if I did not make the study of these truths known as far as is possible with my limited capabilities. I have no interest whatsoever in being a “sensationalist.” I have written these papers in sincerity and truthfulness and commit them to Christ’s disposal.
And Looking Forward To