Daughter of Daylight: Exploring the Pre-Tribulational Catching Away of the Church (from a former post-trib believer)
“Come, my people, enter your chambers,
And shut your doors behind you;
Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment,
Until the indignation is past.”
— Is. 26:20
I'm excited to share my journey into what for me is a new, personal understanding. I am not a teacher, leader or guru of any kind and often use simple terms to explain what I've come to believe. This means I might not use (or even know) technical terms for certain theological concepts. And it's important to share that I am still learning! While I believe these things wholeheartedly, my journey is a living one. Ongoing. I see from perspectives today that I may not have yesterday, and might not tomorrow. Please don't take my words into your soul before seeking wisdom from the Spirit and scripture, considering them prayerfully. I could be wrong, but this is where I am today and I am standing strong. This article is long, in-depth and scripture-rich. Please take your time with it. I hope it blesses you!
Until this year I held a life-long belief in what is called the “post-tribulational rapture of the church.”
What people call the “tribulation” is generally understood as the final 7 years of this earth. According to biblical prophecy, the world we now dwell in will be destroyed (2 Pet. 3:10; most of Revelation). It will be replaced with a new heaven and new earth. (2 Pet. 3:13; see also Rev. 21:1) The first 3.5 years of the end feature a being known as the antichrist who will come to power, deceive the world, and destroy all who do not worship him or accept the mark of the beast. The last 3.5 years are known as the Great Tribulation. It includes the antichrist, God's wrath, and his judgments.
“Rapture” comes from a Latin translation of the Greek word harpazo, which means “caught up” and refers to those who will be “caught up” to heaven. References are found in 2 Cor. 12:4, 1 Thess. 4:17, and Rev. 12:5. It implies a snatching, an abrupt grabbing out of harm's way.
Pre, mid, post?
Pre-trib rapture believers hold to an interpretation of scripture that says the body of Christ, the church, will be removed from the earth before the 7-year tribulation.
Mid-trib rapture (also known as “pre-wrath”) believers teach from scripture that the church will go through the first 3 and a half years, but will be raptured before the time of the wrath of God.
Those who hold a post-trib view believe that the church will go through all seven years: intense persecution by the antichrist, face either the mark of the beast or beheading for the faith, and endure all of the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments described in Revelation.
Like most sincere, believing seekers, I found scriptural support for my previously-held belief that the church would go through the entire seven-year time of the end of the world. I no longer hold this position. Again, with scriptural support, I have come to believe that not only will the Church not go through these seven years, for God's plan to be fulfilled, we can't!
I've come to understand that not only are believers not destined to go through the final seven years, for God's plan to be fulfilled, we can't!
This is where it can feel a little sticky. How do I know if I hold an accurate belief, using scripture to prove it, when I used scripture to prove just the opposite?
It's all about rightly dividing scripture.
What shifted this year came about through a restored love for the Old Testament scriptures and a dispensational way of rightly dividing the word.
Due to a lifetime of harsh & controlling views of God (which led to a performance-based relationship with him rather than one truly based on grace and faith) I struggled for many years with the bible. I lived & breathed the word. I am the girl who printed out many verses and long passages and taped them on the walls by my bed when I was young, so I could read them as I went to sleep and when I woke up—they were the last and the first thing I would see. I memorized huge amounts of scripture and could recount obscure passages with chapter and verse. Throughout my adolescence I listened to others read it so much that when I read the same verses, I would hear their voices intoning the sentences.
I needed space. I was over-saturated and choking with something my spirit knew was supposed to bring life. In desperation and sadness, I stopped reading it.
If you have seen me, you've seen the Father.
After a season of rest, I re-approached the bible as one who held it at arm's length, with many questions. How did it came to be translated? Why were these letters and books included, but not those? Who was in the Council of Nicaea and what gave them authority to put these sixty-six books together? How did their biases, and those of the translators, influence the canon and the English text? Why should I read the Apostle Paul, since he wrote letters to individual churches and didn't know he was writing scripture?
In time I missed reading the words of Christ, so I started back with the gospels. And then other parts of the New Testament, but not Paul. And then parts of the Old Testament, a poetic Psalm or two, but not the law of Moses or anything that made God seem cruel.
But Yeshua...Jesus...I loved. “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father,” he said. I saw someone who was gentle and tender. “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:9-11) In him I saw someone whose earthly existence was wrapped up in being sent by Father God to die on behalf of every person ever born, yet he still saw his father as good.
And then earlier this year I experienced the most intense shame-storm of my life. Incredible depression, despairing of life, unexplained hives, uncontrollable sobbing from the depths, unbearable loneliness, oceans of self-condemnation... It felt like a decade's worth of dark-nights-of-the-soul all condensed into one impossible week. In a desperate moment, when I at last cried out “I will no longer follow the language of condemnation!” it seemed the spell broke. I wrote a bit about this in my article Daylight of the Soul. I don't understand it, exactly, because while my spiritual journey has been wild and intricate, and I've explored many things over the years while healing from a painful and achey religious past, I've always maintained my faith and love for God. This felt like the last efforts of sinister forces to hold me back from a rebirth of the soul. Literally, the next morning, everything was new.
I suddenly had an intense desire to begin again.
I bought a new bible, one that didn't have all my old underlines and notes. I bought a new translation, one that was slightly different from what I was used to so I could start with a fresh voice. It was light-weight with a readable font. And I became insatiable. Instead of a chapter at a time or a few verses here and there, I read entire books at once. I parked my web browser at BibleHub and studied Hebrew and Greek. I started cross-referencing like never before. It was like springtime dawning upon a tree that had been through a lifelong hibernation. Suddenly there were leaves and blossoms and fruit everywhere! Luscious, abundant, and overflowing.
Months later, I've not stopped. And everything has changed.
Reading entire books at a time with intricate cross-referencing opened my eyes in ways that a lifetime of reading the bible devotionally—a chapter here and there, a verse out of context here, or a chapter-by-chapter approach spread out over a longer season—never did. It gave me a deep, nose-to-the-page perspective AND an incredible, sitting-on-a-mountaintop view of thousands of years of biblical history and doctrine, seeing the “end from the beginning” as God declared in Isaiah 46:10. I can't even begin to describe the clarity that this method of study along with prayer & Spirit-guidance has given me. I've even come to be a joyful follower of Paul—the apostle to the Gentiles, keeper of the mystery gospel. And this lays the foundation for what I am sharing today.
For those with eyes to see, the bible the most mystical book ever written.
Through my embrace of reading the bible holistically, old and new testaments, I've come to believe that for those with eyes to see, the bible the most mystical book ever written. Taking a dispensational approach provides a clear way to rightly divide scripture according to the ages and audience it was written to. This removes so many contradictions and explains how people can “prove” various (even opposing) theories by scripture, creating confusion and chaos within the Church.
A dispensation is a unique time where God relates to humanity in a different way than before. And according to the time, our response to God changes. Ephesians 2 (King James Version) describes three categories that we can use for our own understanding: time past, but now, and ages to come. The bible can be divided (2 Tim. 2:15) into them this way:
- Time past: Genesis to Acts (written for us)
- But now: Romans to Philemon (written to us in the age of the Church)
- Ages to come: Hebrews to Revelation (written for us)
Of course we are to take the whole of scripture and soak in the truth, but if we don't rightly divide it, we could be confused. Look at how, through the ages, humanity was reconciled to God—
- In time past: through keeping the Law of Moses
- But now: salvation by grace through faith
- And in the ages to come: faith plus works (Zech.14:16-19)
Without knowing what dispensation we belong to, we might read the commands given to Israel and think they apply to us today. It would be biblical...but it would be catastrophic! (See Galatians 3 and Ephesians 2:8-10.)
For those who are new to this like I was, dispensationalism is easy to understand using the following example.*
Is it biblical to be vegan? Yes. Genesis 1:29 (Age of Innocence)
Is it biblical to eat meat? Yes. Genesis 9:2-4 (Age of Human Government)
Is it biblical to eat only certain things, with great restrictions? Yes. Leviticus 11 (Age of Law)
Is it biblical to eat according to your own convictions, with thanksgiving, love and consideration for others? Yes. Rom. 14:2-18 (Age of Grace)
- *(Credit to Shawn Brasseaux for sharing a similar example and this teaching.)
Each dietary mandate is biblical and can be proved by scripture. But if a Jew ate pork in the age of the law, he would be disobeying the law. Knowing what dispensation we are in, and who we are, and to whom each teaching was given, provides a clear and strong answer we can stand on. As a demonstration, you may be familiar with these biblical seeming-contradictions. Can you see how they are easily answered through a dispensational approach to the bible?
- Are you saved by faith / grace alone? (Gal. 2:16, Titus 3:4-7, Eph. 2:8-9, Romans 4:5)
- Are you saved by faith and works? (Revelation 12:17, James 2:22-24)
- Can you lose your salvation? (Hebrews 10:26-31)
- Can true salvation not be lost? (Eph. 1:13-14)
- Do we follow and teach the Gospel of the Kingdom? (Matt. 24:14, Mark 1:15, Rev. 14:6-7)
- Do we follow and teach the Gospel of Grace? (Rom. 16:25, Gal. 1:6-12)
This is why it is so important to understand who the bible is speaking to, and when, in order to know what is meant for us today. There are considered to be seven to nine biblical dispensations. We are in the Church Age, the Dispensation of Grace, and Paul is “our apostle” with the mystery gospel which was kept secret from ages past. I believe the transition to this age began with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4, 40-47), continued with Paul and will end with the catching away of the Church in the rapture. I believe we are at the end of this age. I believe the next dispensation, the age of tribulation, is at the door.
By approaching all of scripture this way, holistically and dispensationally, with continued prayer and Spirit-seeking, I've changed my beliefs about the rapture.
It's all about Israel.
The last few months of reading the whole of scripture, including in-depth studies of the Old Testament, have given me a vivid understanding of God that I am humbled to receive. The Law of Moses, the repeated rejections and rebellions over hundreds of years, the abundant mercy, the mystery prophecies, God's holiness, mankind's inability to keep the law, and the beautiful plan of redemption—they all read like a season of the Game of Thrones at times. But underneath it all is the tender heart of the Father, the living God, the most high, the Creator of All.
Deuteronomy 7:6 For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.
But Israel shall be saved by the Lord
With an everlasting salvation;
You shall not be ashamed or disgraced
Forever and ever. Isaiah 45:17
And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Genesis 17:7
God established an everlasting covenant with Israel that cannot be broken. He gave them the law and provided conditions and promises...
Deuteronomy 29:9 “Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do. 10 All of you stand today before the Lord your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, 11 your little ones and your wives—also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water— 12 that you may enter into covenant with the Lord your God, and into His oath, which the Lord your God makes with you today, 13 that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 14 I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, 15 but with him who stands here with us today before the Lord our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today.”
Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
Israel continued to disobey and reject, forsake and rebel against God. According to the law, this meant cursing and death.
God is not a liar. He cannot be mocked. He cannot go against his own nature: truth, righteousness, holiness. And his righteousness required him to do what he said he would do if Israel did not follow the law: punish sin. But a Spirit-led study of scripture reveals the incredibly beautiful heart of God as a loving father, a betrayed husband, a jealous lover who longs for the hearts of his people. Again and again he implored them to be reconciled to him. The Old Testament describes over a thousand years of God's divine dance with Israel—he gave them the Law of Moses so they would be righteous, holy and pure before him. He designed a system of sacrifice to atone for their sins when they were not. When they repented and obeyed, they were forgiven and restored.
But as Israel repeatedly failed to keep the law, it became necessary for a new system. Scripture provides examples of how new laws were made in order to render older laws, ordinances or decrees that were imperfect, obsolete:
- Old law: Esther 3:8-15
- New law that revoked the old: Esther 8:4-13
- Old law: Daniel 6:6-9
- New law that made void the old: Daniel 6:25-28
- Old law: Daniel 3:4-6
- New law that nullified the old: Daniel 3:28-29
Because of his great love and abundant mercy, because his people were unable to keep the law, God established a new way. Through his only begotten son, Jesus, the Lamb of God, he provided atonement. He established a new covenant which made the old obsolete.
God, who declares the end from the beginning, gave a startling promise to Adam, Eve, and the serpent who were the first rebels in the history of the world:
Genesis 3:15 “...I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
He spoke through Moses:
Deuteronomy 18:15-19 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.”
And confirmed it through Isaiah—
Isaiah 6:6-7 “For unto us [Israel] a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
And before the birth of Christ the Messiah, he gave the prophet Daniel a powerful revelation that holds prophetic wisdom for us today.
A passage in Daniel 9 reads:
24 “Seventy weeks** are determined
For your people [Israel] and for your holy city, [Jerusalem]
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.
25 “Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem [Nehemiah 2]
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks [fulfilled through the rebuilding of Jerusalem by Nehemiah, which took 49 years]; and sixty-two weeks; [from the time Nehemiah restored Jerusalem until the day the Messiah rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, or 434 years]
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.
26 “And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; [murdered by crucifixion, although innocent]
And the people of the prince [antichrist, dragon, beast; Rev. 13:4-18] who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. [Jerusalem destroyed in 70 AD]
The end of it shall be with a flood, [uncertain; perhaps Rev. 12:15; also, a flood is often used to describe armies]
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he [many think this is the antichrist] shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; [known as Daniel's 70th week, many believe this is the 7-year time period of the tribulation and the last years on earth; it is yet to be fulfilled]
But in the middle of the week [3.5 years from when the antichrist comes to power and confirms a 7-year covenant with many (many believe this will be some kind of peace treaty, but scripture does not specifically say so)]
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, [the wrath God and judgment to come] which is determined, [prophesied all throughout the Old Testament]
Is poured out on the desolate.” [Israel: Matt. 23:37-39]
**Important note: a prophetic “week” is a period of seven, so this could be read as “Seventy sevens” or “seventy sevens of years” for a total of 490 years. Scholars agree that in this case, a prophetic week is made of seven years, where one year equals one day. So 7 prophetic weeks = 49 actual years. (Not to be confused with another example, where with the Lord a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day!) Another note: the bible uses lunar years, not solar years. A lunar year is made up of 360 days. (A solar year, which we use now, is 365 days.)
And so in the fullness of time, Christ was born.
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
After four thousand years of God's longing for the devotion, faithfulness and love of his creation, the light and life of his new way dawned upon the earth through the birth of our Redeemer.
John 1:9-17 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matt. 1:21
But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24
In Jesus we see God as a passionate and gentle man who felt deeply the pain of rejection from his people and their unwillingness to receive the life he came to give. He cried out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (Matthew 23:37-39)
For three years he walked among them as the Son of Man, healing, preaching, and revealing the Father. Yet we all know the story: He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. Israel crucified their Messiah, once again rejecting the will of God.
Even after Yeshua's murder, resurrection and ascension, I believe that Israel had a chance to repent and walk with God, and to bring the Messianic Kingdom to earth.
As he promised his disciples, when Jesus returned to his Father he sent to them the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). Just as he was conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit, the church was conceived by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Here the transition to the Church Age began.
But once again, Israel rejected their God, his messengers, and his Spirit. In Acts 6 and 7 we read the testimony of a man named Stephen. He was “full of faith and power” and “did great wonders and signs among the people.” Those who disputed him “were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.”
Because they could not argue against his words, religious leaders brought in false witnesses to condemn him. When speaking to the high priest and those gathered around, Stephen said, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
Scripture goes on to say, “When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him.” (Acts 7:51-60)
I believe the murder of Stephen sealed Israel's fate.
It's all about the Church.
Because Israel rejected their Messiah and continued to reject those whom the Father sent, God turned to the Gentiles. He established his Church and a new gospel (Gal. 2:7-9). This was the mystery hidden in time past and now revealed to Paul!
“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my [Paul's] gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith...” Romans 16:25-26
Today, God is not finished with the nation of Israel. The purpose of God's favor upon the Gentiles is to provoke his chosen nation to jealousy and to raise up the body of Christ, the Church—which is made up of believing Gentiles and Jews. But the church does not replace Israel. This setting aside of Israel is temporary!
Please consider the following scriptures...
But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:
“I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation,
I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.”
But Isaiah is very bold and says:
“I was found by those who did not seek Me;
I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” (Romans 10:19-20)
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:25-28)
I say then, have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.
Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel. (Micah 5:3)
In this age of grace, the Lord makes no distinction between Jews and Gentiles. Those who believe that Jesus atoned for our sins on the cross, was buried, rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father, receive the seal of the Holy Spirit.
Eph. 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
2 Cor. 1:21-22 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
We currently dwell in the age of the Church, but God still has plans for Israel!
And his plans for the nation of Israel include his promises to the Hebrew fathers, which have not been revoked. But before he establishes his earthly kingdom he has determined what scripture calls the Day of the Lord and wrath, to fulfill what he spoke of to Daniel...
Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy. (Daniel 9:27)
The 70th week of Daniel is yet to be fulfilled. This prophetic week, a full seven years, is not intended for the Church, but for Israel and Jerusalem!
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “Thus speaks the Lord God of Israel, saying: ‘Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you. For behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.’”*** Now these are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah. “For thus says the Lord:
‘We have heard a voice of trembling,
Of fear, and not of peace.
Ask now, and see,
Whether a man is ever in labor with child?
So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins
Like a woman in labor,
And all faces turned pale?
Alas! For that day is great,
So that none is like it;
And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble,
But he shall be saved out of it. (Jeremiah 30:1-7)
Christ has already atoned for our sin. He has taken our punishment. It is not necessary for the Church to atone for itself through experiencing the time of Jacob's Trouble. This would be saying that Yeshua's sacrifice was not enough! It is not the time of the Church's Trouble, but instead it is for Israel.
But to the Church he says, through the prophetic words of Isaiah,
Come, my people, enter your chambers,
And shut your doors behind you;
Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment,
Until the indignation is past. Isaiah 26:20
This tender passage is echoed by Jesus when he gave his disciples these beautiful words:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-4
And Paul drew a comparison between marriage and Christ's love for the Church, and he wrote,
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27)
This is a stunning fact: in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, when the bridegroom returns to steal away his bride in the night, he takes her to his father's house to a room he has prepared—the bridal chamber—and they consummate the marriage for seven days.
The bride is not destined for the wrath of God.
Daniel's 70th week is not for the bride.
The time of Jacob's Trouble is not for the bride.
The indignation, the destruction, the wrath to come is not for the bride!
The church will not experience the wrath of God.
Through his death on the cross, Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of righteousness for us and has justified us so that we may be holy before God. “It is finished,” he said. And he sent his Holy Spirit to seal us until the day of redemption.
Those who belong to Christ have nothing to fear. The Apostle John tells us, Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:17-19)
Here is more evidence from scripture—
(1 Thess. 9-10) ...Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thess 5:9-10 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
Romans 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
Rev. 3:10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God.
Rev. 21:2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [...] 9 “...Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.
This brings us to the pre-tribulational catching-away of the church.
I believe that the removal of Christ's body, the Church, from the earth is what will bring an end to this Age of Grace and usher in the next.
This removal is described in the following passages by Paul—
1 Cor. 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 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. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
1 Thess. 4:15 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. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
I hold a theory that we meet him air because the evil one is called a prince of the power of the air, and what victory we have through Christ!
Eph. 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. [But no more, since we are in Christ!] 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Rev. 12:4-5 ...And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Rev. 2:26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron...’
Meeting our Lord in the air is different than the Second Coming. For his Second Coming, Jesus will return to earth with his saints and his feet will be upon Mount Olives, like scripture says (Zechariah 14:4). For the rapture, we meet him in the air, where Jesus said in John 14, “I will receive you to myself.” Much of the confusion about the rapture happens when people try to fit Second-Coming passages into the catching-away, and catching-away passages into the Second Coming.
By rightly dividing the word, and recognizing the dispensations and the audiences that were being spoken to, we can understand clearly that because the mystery of the Church and the gospel of grace were not revealed until Paul, the detailed conversations between Jesus and his disciples about the end did not refer to the rapture, but to his second-coming.
At the time of Jesus' ministry, he was still addressing Israel alone. Israel still had a chance to receive him as the Messiah. If they had done so, things would be so different today! But because they rejected him, and because they rejected the Holy Spirit as we saw in the case of Stephen, it was necessary for God to turn to the Gentiles and reveal his secret gospel to Paul—his mystery of salvation by grace.
The Apostle Peter bears witness of this grace, and also of Paul's authority and ministry, when he says—
1 Pet. 1:10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 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. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
The removal of the church from the earth is the catalyst that will allow end-time events to proceed.
Consider the following:
1. The church is given authority that the gates of hell cannot overcome. We are sealed and filled with the Holy Spirit. Wearing the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18), we are able to stand against the prince of darkness.
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.—Matthew 16:15-19 ESV
2. What holds back darkness? Light holds back the darkness. The presence of light & Spirit-filled believers, making up the body of Christ, the authoritative Church, restrains the “lawless one.”
And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains [the Holy-Spirit filled church and the light of Christ which holds back the darkness] will do so until he is taken out of the way [the removal of the body of Christ]. 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. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.—2 Thessalonians 2:6-10 NKJV
3. Once the church is removed through the “catching away,” the restraining work of the Spirit through the body of Christ will no longer be present on earth. Instead, the antichrist will be the reigning power on earth and Daniel's 70th week will begin.
And he [the beast] was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints [those who come to faith during the tribulation] and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.—Rev. 13:5-8
Daughter of daylight
Since scripture shows that the body of Christ will be caught up to be with the Lord before the wrath of God is poured out upon the earth, what does that mean for us right now?
I've been sharing about a prophecy that will be fulfilled on September 23, 2017 with a celestial alignment in the heavens. A pregnant woman, the pain of labor, and birth all feature in this passage—
Since we (the Church) are the body of Christ, we can draw parallels to the woman, child, and dragon:
Shadow of things to come—
- Woman: Mary
- Child: Jesus
- Dragon: Herod
The very image—
- Woman: Israel / Jerusalem
- Child: body of Christ (Church) conceived at Pentecost
- Dragon: the beast / antichrist / adversary
Regarding the woman as Israel / Jerusalem giving birth to the Church, Paul writes,
Gal. 1:14-16 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s [Israel's] womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles...
But the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. Galatians 4:26
This provides confirmation for the woman-as-Israel / Jerusalem, Israel / Jerusalem-as-mother interpretation of this passage. Through cross-referencing the whole of scripture, we can find out so much more about what lies ahead. For instance, I believe Israel's labor pains described in Rev. 12:1-5 are the time of Jacob's Trouble which follow the catching-away of the Child. Isaiah writes,
“Before she was in labor, she gave birth;
Before her pain came,
She delivered a male child.
Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day?
Or shall a nation be born at once?
For as soon as Zion was in labor,
She gave birth to her children.
Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the Lord.
“Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God. Isaiah 66:7-9
And he shares another luminous prophecy that I believe illuminates the catching away of the Church—those who have passed away in the faith, and those who are alive and remain—
As a woman with child
Is in pain and cries out in her pangs,
When she draws near the time of her delivery,
So have we [Israel] been in Your sight, O Lord.
We have been with child, we have been in pain [Jacob's Trouble];
We have, as it were, brought forth wind [perhaps because the Child was caught up to the throne?];
We have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth,
Nor have the inhabitants of the world fallen. (Isaiah 26:17-18)
And again, to confirm—
Therefore He shall give them [Israel] up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel. (Micah 5:3)
For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. (1 Thess. 5:3-5)
A child in the womb is not appointed to the mother's birth pains.
I believe with all my heart that we live in the last days. Our redemption is near. The time is at hand! Paul writes,
1 Thess. 5:1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
We can know the times and the seasons of these things, and in knowing, we can be assured of our salvation before God. Those who have trusted in Christ, who are sealed with the Holy Spirit, have nothing to fear. Instead, we can trust what Yeshua has done for us, and we can boldly embody the power of the Holy Spirit in us!
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. (Eph. 5:6-10)
And so, knowing the time, let us be children of light—sons and daughters of the day, sons and daughters of the light.
I wanted to close today with something I wrote to a dear, sweet soul in response to a message I received. If needed, please take these words into your heart. May they fill you with hope!
God is filled with love and longing and has made a way for us to escape all that is to come.
This is the urgency about what I've been writing about, and why there has been such a shift. I truly believe this time is short. Prophecies are being fulfilled before our eyes. The time is at hand. I believe this with all my heart. I'm so thankful for God's guidance and mercy through my years of questioning and exploring, and I'm SO thankful for his spirit and his gentle guidance and awakening back to this depth of his presence! I never expected it and wow...I can't even explain how the past few months have been. He is SO GOOD. I know this and am convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt.
He can use anything to bring us to this space of reconciliation and relationship with him, but as a guideline for myself, and maybe this will be helpful for you, know that any "voice" that uses shame or condemnation to control you is not from him. It's his kindness that leads us to repentance (repentance is simply a changing of heart / mind...receiving the truth, embodying it, living accordingly) and we love him because he first loved us. He draws us with love and kindness and tender mercies. Yes, he is holy. What I've come to understand is that my formative years of behavioral-based Christianity (striving to be perfect, etc) is a works-based effort, not out of faith.
And it is faith that we must have. In faith we abide in him. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15) We are simply to abide, and the Holy Spirit he gives us is what produces the "works" or the fruit of our abiding in him.
A flower doesn't try to blossom. It stays attached to the stem, and blossoms naturally! An apple doesn't try to be grown. It is the natural result of being a flower attached to a twig on a branch on a tree.
We are the temple of the Holy. He dwells in those who are redeemed, saved....and he is the one who works in us. We are to have faith and allow the Spirit to move in us and guide us. And this is how we come alive and how we are healed inside out...our fear is healed, our shame is healed, our way of life is healed, and we are given grace in the things we are still learning. And this is how we bear fruit and live a life that is pleasing to him.
One thing that is different about this season of my Christianity is that I am not "trying" to do these things. This astonishes me. I think of all the years I tried and put forth so much effort to do "spiritual things" like scripture reading, prayer, and more. It's just overflowing. I can't get enough! And I can only thank God for his grace and mercy. I am more alive than I've ever been. I am a shy person but suddenly I am able to keep moving forward anyway, and write these things, even though I've been terrified of what people might think. I can only explain it that the Spirit is in me, guiding and keeping me. I never knew this kind of journey with God is possible. And I feel so inadequate, in and of myself. I stumble over my words and don't know how to explain things well. And I can only come back again and again to thanking God for restoring me and for his grace and mercy, and for guiding me to knowing him and experiencing life with him on this earth.
I know this is way more than you could have even imagined receiving in response but I hope something is here that you can grab onto a find hope. Because that's the other thing....regardless of these times we live in, there is so.much.HOPE. And I feel such urgency to keep saying...the time is short. Truly. And God is so faithful and good! With him we can have confidence and hope and immense, wild joy.
Please, my love, do not stop seeking. The things you question or don't understand, place in his hands. He loves you beyond words and will give you the grace and strength to move forward even in the things you don't understand. He can heal your fear, shame, confusion and give you peace, even if you don't have the exact answers you're looking for in this exact moment.
I still love Rilke's words...“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
This to me is the perfect picture of faith and trust. Although, I'm a little more urgent about the "be patient" part because I do believe we are reaching the end of this age of grace, of the age of salvation by grace alone. And also, he is so gracious to answer the questions we have! But this approach has helped me not be held back from my spirituality even in the things I still wrestle with and can't explain.
May the Holy Spirit comfort you and give you peace even as you seek him, and may he open your heart and eyes to know just how much he adores you. He can heal any perspectives about him that are untrue and show you the true nature of this good heavenly Father & most high God. He can heal the faith of your childhood and cause it to bring forth life, not fear. True salvation by faith is so simple...it is believing that the son of God died for our sins, was buried, and rose again and is alive, having taken upon himself what was meant for us.
I've been studying a lot about the law of "sowing and reaping." The gift of Christ's sacrifice is the mercy of God...that even though we have sowed unrighteousness, because we are human and could never by ourselves measure up to the holiness of God, because of what Yeshua did for us, we reap righteousness...life. This mystery humbles me beyond words. And once we truly believe these things, he seals us by the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. And he is so present and near....like our breath...and when we call upon him and seek him with our whole heart, no matter where our journeys have taken us, or what questions we have, or what we don't know, he can restore and revive us and heal our ideas, hearts, minds, thoughts, fears, and all things...and restore the sweet intimacy of our life with him.
It is the ultimate in beauty.