What Unparalled Global Events Does the Bible Predict Will Encompass the World in the Future? – Program 1
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Zola Levitt, Dr. Randy Price, Peter LeLonde, Dr. Dave Breese; ©1995|
|What does the Bible teach about the rapture and when it will take place?|
Today, on The John Ankerberg Show: “What Unparalleled Global Events Does the Bible Predict Will Encompass the World in the Future?”
- Dr. David Breese: We have the Rapture of the Church and then the world drops into the very, very dark abyss of the Tribulation. The Tribulation sees the rise of Antichrist, the establishment of world government and world religion; and then the Antichrist decides that the irritant to his total power is this faint memory of the existence of God as represented by Jerusalem, Israel. So he initiates a global war against Israel.
- Peter Lalonde: We’ve got to recognize the world in which the Antichrist arises. First of all, you’ve had the Rapture take place. Millions of people have vanished off the face of the earth and while we’ve been debating that subject, maybe we’ve sometimes forgotten what that event really is like. People have watched family members disappear. Children have vanished off the face of the earth. You’re sitting with your wife—she’s gone. It is going to drive the world insane.
- Dr. Randall Price: Now, for the first time in 2000 years we see Jews. Maybe it’s a minority, maybe it’s a handful of Jews, but though that minority can be a very vocal and demonstrable minority, they are preparing to rebuild the temple.
- Dr. John Ankerberg: Do you find it significant that we have the peace conference going on?
- Dr. Zola Levitt: Absolutely! Look, what would you say, what would any of us say, if the headline tomorrow morning is: “Here’s a new idea. We’ll let the Israelis have their temple worship. An amazing suggestion has come up. We can move the Dome of the Rock lovingly, carefully, to Mecca, Medina, Damascus, and by the way, the Israelis said they’re a little uncomfortable. They would sign for seven years.” That’s the ball game.
- Lalonde: CNN will go to immediate worldwide coverage. You know that there are going to be people just glued to their TV sets trying to figure out what’s taken place in this world. There will be chaos and confusion.
- Ankerberg: My guests today are four of the premier teachers on biblical prophecy in the United States. They are: Dr. Zola Levitt, Host of “Zola Levitt Presents,” Peter Lalonde, President of “This Week in Bible Prophecy,” Dr. Randall Price, author of In Search of Temple Treasures, and Dr. David Breese, speaker on “The King Is Coming.” We invite you to join us.
Program 1: What Unparalleled Global Events Does the Bible Predict Will Encompass the World in the Future? – The Doctrine of the Rapture
- John Ankerberg: Welcome! We’re going to start off with a topic that is dear to the heart of all Christians across the country, and that is the doctrine of the Rapture. Very few non-Christians know that Jesus Christ said that He was coming back when He was here the first time. They know about the fact that He was born in Bethlehem and the Christmas story, but they have very little recollection about the fact that Jesus said He would come again. So it’s brand new stuff.
- And then, Dr. David Breese, we have a lot of Christians that are looking at their Bibles and they look at 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and they’re looking for the word “rapture” and they don’t seem to find it there. Can you help them out and tell us why the Bible does teach the doctrine of the Rapture and what it is.
- Dr. David Breese: Well, the Bible teaches that Christ is coming at the end of the age—that’s at the end of the Tribulation—“in power and great glory,” and He’s coming with “ten thousands of His saints.” And that will be the great denouement of history whereby He establishes His Kingdom.
- But the Scripture then teaches that preceding that glorious return of Christ there will be a seven-year period called “the Tribulation.” But it’s about the Tribulation the Scripture says to Christians: “because you have kept the word of my patience, I will keep you from that hour of trial [temptation, tribulation] that will come upon the whole world to try them that dwell on the earth.”
- Therefore, we see in Scripture that the Bible says that Christ will come for His saints before the beginning of the Tribulation and take all believing Christians up to be with Him in Heaven. Spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4, “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel, the trump of God: the dead in Christ shall 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 so shall we ever be with the Lord” [1 Thess. 4:16-17]. Paul expands on this a little bit in 1 Corinthians 15, saying to the Corinthians, he says, “Behold, I show you a mystery”—something you could not figure out just by Aristotelian syllogism—“I show you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump: the trumpet shall sound, the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed.”
- So we can assure every believer within the sound of this voice that there’s coming a moment when they will be caught up in their physical bodies into the presence of Jesus Christ so as to ever be with the Lord. Perhaps, in short, we might say that Christ is coming at the end of the Tribulation with His saints, but before that He is coming for His saints. We will then be formed into that army that shall return with Him to the conquest of earth.
- Ankerberg: Alright, follow up now, the fact is in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which you quoted, you still didn’t say the word “rapture.” Now, where do we get that word rapture from?
- Breese: Well, the Scripture does teach we will be caught up to be with Christ, which will be unquestionably the most ecstatic moment in the history of the Church; and surely, in the history of individuals who will be a part of that great day. So, theologians have thought about this and thought about, “Well, we need a word that means ‘the catching up,’ ‘the upward transporting of things.’” And so the word “rapture” came into parlance at that point. So the word rapture means “the catching up.” It implies both the physical catching up of the Church to be with Christ, plus that ecstatic moment which will be the fulfillment of their fondest dreams when we’re taken to be with Him.
- Ankerberg: Right.
- Breese: Admittedly, though, the word rapture is not in the Scripture, which, of course, is not significant. The word rapture is a distillation of the many meanings of “the taking home to be with Christ.”
- Ankerberg: Right, unless they are reading their Latin Bible. The Greek word is harpazo, which means “to snatch” or “to catch up,” just like a thief goes in and snatches something. It’s a forcible snatch. God, someday, is going to come and all the Christians that are alive, He’s going to snatch them, catch them up, to be with Christ. The Latin Bible says raptus from which we got “rapture.”
- Breese: That points up the fact that it will be a sudden thing: “Behold, I come quickly,” Christ says to the Church at Philadelphia. No warning; nothing. Just like that and it happens! So we better be ready at any given moment.
- Ankerberg: Right. Dr. Randall Price, we’re glad that you’re with us today and, of course, all of you gentlemen are aware that the entire Church believes in the doctrine of the Rapture; but the entire Church does not agree as to when that time will come. I would like you to do two things: explain quickly the three different views that are in the Church concerning the Rapture; and then, tell us about John 14:1,2 and where that leads you in terms of one of those views.
- Dr. Randall Price: Well, when you say “the whole Church believes in the Rapture,” we have to understand that the Church is divided in different views concerning when the Rapture will take place. When we talk about the Tribulation period, that time of wrath which God pours out upon this earth, that view of “catching up” or “carrying away” takes place in relationship to that span of time. There are those who believe that it will take place before that time of wrath comes, and those are called pre-tribulationists because they believe the Rapture takes place before that Tribulation. And they believe that is a removal from all of that period of Tribulation—the entire seven years.
- Then there are those who are considered mid-tribulationists, who believe that the Rapture will be a catching away at the midpoint—three and a half years into that Tribulation period.
- There’s some variations on these. There are those who believe that a partial Rapture—those who are extremely faithful will be rewarded by being taken up or snatched in bunches at different times at the beginning of the Tribulation. Then there are those who believe in a “pre-wrath Rapture,” that three-fourths of the way through the Tribulation there will be a taking up of the Church.
- And then, finally, there are those who are post-tribulationists, who believe that the Church will go through that entire period of time but be preserved from the wrath of God, the divine wrath, only to be taken up very quickly prior to the Second Coming of Christ to the earth and to meet Him in the air and come back to the earth with Him.
- Ankerberg: Now, concerning those that believe in a sense that at the time Christ comes to establish His Millennial Kingdom and rescue Israel and establish His righteousness on earth, if that was true, and we were to meet Christ in the air, make a “U” turn and come down, why is it that at that point John 14:1-2 enters into our discussion?
- Price: Because in John 14:1-2 Jesus is giving a word of assurance to His disciples. He’s saying, “I’m not going to leave you alone as orphans in this world. If I go, I go to prepare a place for you and I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” And so there is a place prepared to which believers on this earth, the Church, the Body of Christ, must be taken. He will come and take them to that place. There’s no sense in which they will meet Him and then come to the earth first and then go to that place. The next promise that He has made for His Church is that He will take them personally Himself to that place of promise.
- Ankerberg: Yes. I think it must have been mind-blowing to those disciples who thought that they were going to establish the Kingdom right then, and Jesus said, “Hey, I’ve got to go away, and if I go away, I’m going to prepare a place for you, and if I prepare a place for you, I’m coming again to receive you unto myself.”
- Now, where is He at? Where is the Father’s House? It’s not Boston, it’s Heaven, alright? And the fact is that He’s there, building a house for us, a mansion, if you will, and the fact is, we’re going to be in the Father’s House—one of those rooms in the Father’s House—with Jesus someday.
- And He says, “I’m going to come again and receive you unto myself.” Now, where is that at? That’s Heaven. “That where I am, there you may be also.” Now, the question in terms of prophecy is, if He’s going to come and receive us unto Himself, and He’s in Heaven, then how can that be talking about at the end of the Tribulation time when Christ comes to planet earth? Because then, it would be meaningless to talk about what He’s saying about going to Heaven. He’s in a big “building project” right now, and He shouldn’t be because we’re not actually going there; we’re going to come to planet earth because where He is, we’re going to be with Him.
- Price: I think another thing to add is that Jesus gives that as a word of comfort or assurance. Any of the other views have the Church only looking forward to a time of Tribulation on this earth. Even if there was a preservation through it, that is the next thing they have to look forward to. First Thessalonians 4 says he is speaking to those that they may not grieve “as those who have no hope.” And so Jesus is giving a word of hope.
- Ankerberg: Zola, we’re so glad that you’re here. I mean, we talk about these things that are really Jewish in nature and Jesus was talking to other Jews and especially that one about John 14:1,2, “I’m going to prepare a place for you; I’m going to come again and receive you unto myself.” He’s got other things that talk of a Jewish wedding. Would you fill us in and tell us why you believe it applies to the Rapture.
- Dr. Zola Levitt: Yes. It’s a very romantic statement. Every culture had its own custom of matrimony. And Israel, in Jesus’ time, a wedding was a two-part thing. There was a going away. First the bridegroom came to the bride and he brought a contract of marriage. That was the first date, the proposal. There was no dating under Jewish law. Oh, they thought nothing of marrying strangers.
- In Fiddler on the Roof it says, “The first time I saw you was on our wedding day,” one of the songs. Rebecca married a stranger. Really, the bridegroom comes and brings a contract—money, a price for the bride; that was the custom—and he pours a cup for her. If she’ll pick up that cup and drink it, as they did at the Passover table that night of John 14, then it’s “Yes.” But he doesn’t say, “Then come with me” and they go to the rabbi and get married. He says, “I go to prepare a place for you.” He leaves; he goes back to his father’s house and he builds her a little mansion, a bridal chamber, for their honeymoon. His father is the judge on when this is done. So if you ask the man, “When is the big day?” he would say, “I don’t know; only my father knows.”
- There are many clues in Scripture that the Lord did all these things and on purpose. We’re in the “going away.” He’s building this mansion in Heaven. You characterized it perfectly. It’s a honeymoon chamber. It’s a bridal chamber. And when His Father says the time is right, then He will come and, as you said, “like a thief.” He comes like a thief in the night. It would be midnight. The young bridegrooms would sneak across town, make sure everybody was asleep in the bride’s house. They would like to wake the girls and yank them out of their beds. That was his privilege and the contract said she had to be waiting every night.
- So it says in the parable, “It was midnight and a cry was made: Go ye out to meet him, the bridegroom cometh.” It is sudden but it is not unexpected. The bride is engaged. She’s been going around getting her trousseau, keeping an oil lamp by her bed trimmed so she could travel in the dark. That oil in that lamp was a sign she really was waiting for him that night. We shouldn’t have a night we are not waiting. That’s what the five without oil, that was their problem. So the whole thing really is a big wedding and the Lord used the very analogy and so did Paul of a bride and groom. And so, in a very intensive way he was witnessing by his actions to the Jews around him and finally to us.
- Ankerberg: Yes. The other thing, in John 14, I think if Jesus was saying “in the Father’s house,” you know, we’ve talked about different translations and so on and some of them have “rooms,” some have “dwelling places.” King James has “mansions.” And what’s going on there, I think if Jesus was looking at the temple, if He was actually preaching and talking to those guys near the temple, around the temple was where the priests stayed—right where God was at, if you want, as far as the Jews were concerned. And, you know, I think a lot of people listening in right now, they think, “Well, I’m a Christian; I’m going to Heaven, but you know, Dave Breese, Peter Lalonde, you guys, you’re all going to be up there probably in the next house over to Jesus’s and then I’ll be about six blocks down and the other guys will be about 20 miles away.” No, no. What Jesus is saying is, “We’re all going to be in the house with the Father.” It’s intimacy. He wants us right there with Him. So everyone who is a Christian will have a room “in the Father’s house.” He wants us to have fellowship with Him and He with us and so on.
- And, Peter, let’s go a different way here. The fact is, a lot of people listening….
- Levitt: I’m sorry, John, I meant to conclude. You asked what it had to do with the pre-tribulation Rapture. It has everything to do with it because very simply, if the Rapture were at the end when the Lord arrives, the honeymoon would be before the wedding. It can’t be.
- Ankerberg: That’s great. That’s great. Peter, pick up on this, and the fact is that you’ve heard these guys talks about this, but Christians have been saying that Christ is coming for many, many generations and every generation says, “Hey, we’re expecting Christ now.” Paul said it, the apostles believed it, and so on. How come you think this may be the generation where it’s going to happen?
- Peter Lalonde: I think the one thing that everybody has said is that it’s an imminent event. It could have happened at any time. But there are some things in this generation that make us different from any other generation in history, some prophecies that could be fulfilled now that could not have been fulfilled at any other time. And we understand this now.
- You know, the Lord spoke to Daniel and said, “Seal up the book till the time of the end.” “Knowledge shall be increased.” We’re going to understand things we didn’t understand before.
- Jesus said in Matthew 24, the disciples came, “What shall be the sign of thy coming and the end of this age?”
- He said, “Except those last days be shortened, no flesh would be saved.”
- Not one person on earth. How are you going to do that in the 1800s with bows and arrows and muskets and cannons? How are you going to find, you know, Gilligan out on the island there. You couldn’t possibly do it.
- There’s a prophecy that says in the last days, “no one can buy or sell unless they have a mark in their right hand or in their forehead” (Rev. 13). How are you going to monitor the buying and selling in the agricultural age that we lived in? Up in Canada, trading beaver pelts for milk and so on, just a few years back, you couldn’t monitor it. In this generation of electronic fund transfer, of instant electronic banking, of databases, of computer technology, suddenly, this is all possible.
- But I think most importantly, the Lord gave us a description of this generation that fits this generation and no other when He spoke of that time of “knowledge being greatly increased in this generation.” You know, there’s a story. Harrod’s Department Store, London, England. Turn of this century they put an escalator in, in the year 1900. And when people rode from the first floor to the second floor, they served them a glass of brandy at the top because they’d get so dizzy from this rise. They were not people being used to change and advances.
- Think of the technology in our days. Think of the technologies of every part of our life now from the fact that people used to ride around in wooden ships or on horses and donkeys for all these years. Now we have space shuttles; we have all of the technologies of automobiles and planes traveling to and fro. It’s a generation of an explosion of knowledge unlike any other generation. We’ve entered a new age where change is possible. When we talk about an event like the Rapture, boy, I don’t know how many people would have been left if the Rapture took place in the 1800s. I think everybody who would be left behind would just have a stroke and drop on the ground right then. In this generation, maybe we’ve had our first “close encounter.” Maybe it’s “Star Trek” —maybe people have been beamed up somehow. Things aren’t so distant. We’ve had all these ideas through Hollywood and through media and through all of the exposure we have. We’re used to fast change. We’re used to new technology. We can take things in our stride. It makes this generation different from any other and makes it possible to fulfill the prophecies of the Scripture.
- Ankerberg: Yes. Dave Breese, the fact is, for people that are listening, the fact is, why is this information crucial to their eternal destiny and what should they do about it?
- Breese: Well, because whether one goes in the Rapture of the Church really points to the antecedent fact that he is a Christian—that he has believed the Gospel. So the important thing is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” And then, when one is saved, he looks forward to the hope of eternal life which God who cannot lie promised before the world began and then, also, to deliverance from the Tribulation which will be the marvelous fulfilled promise that God makes to the Church: “Because you have kept the word of my patience, I will keep you from that hour of temptation which will come upon the whole world.” So, out of them, there is a great evangelistic call: Come to Christ; believe the Gospel now. “He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
- Ankerberg: We’re going to talk next week about what takes place after the Rapture occurs. It’s very, very serious and I hope that you’ll stick with us for that program next week and join us then.