Rapture, Increasing Lawlessness, and the Tribulation, Part 2

March 9, 2015 at 4:53 PM 1 comment

rapture-clouds-lightning-copyIn our first article in this short series – Rapture, Increasing Lawlessness, and the Tribulation, Part 1 – we discussed in some detail the Rapture as an event that takes place sometime prior to the start of the coming seven-year Tribulation period. This event, while not directly connected to the Tribulation, nonetheless helps bring about the level of apostasy in global society that dovetails with God’s timing and purposes in order to allow the Tribulation to begin.

We noted that once the invisible Church (aka the Bride of Christ) is taken off the earth, along with those who died “in Christ,” the falling away of society can begin in earnest. Today, we see many pockets of evil in society. We see how evil people can be daily in the news. Things that would have shocked us a few decades ago have become normal. Yet, because the true Church exists in society now, the Holy Spirit works to hold back evil as a dam holds back water. Once the Church is gone, the Holy Spirit, though still here in this world continuing to work, will no longer have the Church to use as a form of resistance to the evil that is yearning to be free and run rampant through all of society. In my last article, I asked you to consider and try to imagine just exactly how bad things will become then.

It’s not merely that there will be tremendous chaos and havoc throughout the world once millions upon millions of Christians are taken from this earth in an instance. That alone will likely result in a complete economic failure. But with the Church gone, the vacuum that will exist at that point will be filled with the very evil the Holy Spirit through the Church held in check. The consequences to this globe and all the people who live here, will be absolutely devastating. There will be no going backwards to a time of relative safety and innocence. That will not be possible. Of course, to make matters worse for earth dwellers will be the coming of the Tribulation at some point. This period of time will evidence God’s wrath in one judgment after another seen in 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls. God will pour out His wrath once the Tribulation begins when the Antichrist confirms a covenant with the many for one “week” (a period of seven years; cf. Daniel 9).

It is important that we understand that neither the Rapture (or the Tribulation) is an event that the true Church brings about or actively participates in. The true Christians who make up the invisible Church are taken up to be with the Lord in the Rapture. This demonstrates a passive participation of true Christians in this event. We have nothing to do with it other than to be carried off to meet the Lord in the air. We cannot make the Rapture happen when we want it to occur. We cannot live in such a way as to make the Rapture happen sooner. The timing of the Rapture is set by God in His timetable. We cannot make it happen sooner than it is planned to occur.

Moreover, Christians won’t be actively involved in the Rapture when it does take place, any more than dirt and dust sucked up by a vacuum cleaner is active in the vacuuming process (to use a poor example). This is important to understand.

At the rapture the church is ‘caught up’ or ‘snatched away,’ an event wherein the Lord acts to transport believers from earth into His presence (1 Thess. 4:16-17). Everything that takes place with the believers at the rapture is initiated by the Lord and done by Him. Paul has just referred to the rapture as ‘our gathering together unto him’ (v. 1); why then should he now use this unlikely term to mean the same thing?[1]

Even though the world – prior to the Tribulation (and the Rapture) will be experiencing ever-increasing apostasy, it will not be until after the Rapture that this apostasy (or “falling away”) can and will increase tremendously. Why? Paul provides the answer in these two verses (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8).

7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming…

Evil is here in society and we know that. We see it. Many people experience it on a daily basis. The only people who are unaware of this are those who don’t ever read or listen to the news. There are way too many examples to list here, but whether it’s atrocities committed by Islamists, abortion doctors killing babies after they’ve been born by snipping their necks, Mark Charles Hardie, a political candidate (and Huff-Po writer), in California submitting a proposal to create LGBT police departments so that violence against gays can be minimized.

“My proposal calls for the creation of ‘California LGBT Police Departments’ throughout the Golden State,” he writes. “These police departments, funded by the state, would be staffed exclusively by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender police officers.”

Hardie previously wrote an article called, “Gay People Are Gods: Protecting LGBT Communities Is a Divine Right.”

We know that what is happening in society right now is due to the growing apostasy/falling away from any and every law that even smacks of being from the God of the Bible. It will only worsen once the Church is gone, taken by God in the Rapture. This is reminiscent of God “taking” Noah and his family in the protective shelter of the Ark, as they floated above the earth on top of the water (since there was no mountain God could have placed them as occurred with the situation with Lot. While some argue that God kept Noah and his family safe during the flood (but not out of the flood), it’s a bit of a moot point since there was actually no place on earth God could have placed them where they would have been safe, given that the entire earth was covered with water, extending 15 meters beyond the tallest mountain according to the Genesis account.

It was the same with Lot. Though it was a far more localized event there, God via His angelic messengers got Lot and his two daughters (the wife turned to a pillar of salt) to safety away from Sodom and Gomorrah. This was another type of Rapture event. Lot and his family were far enough away from the destruction that nothing would touch them. Noah and his family were so safe inside the Ark that the flood and rain also could not touch them. The Rapture is designed to remove the Church out of harm’s way, which will engulf the entire world during the Tribulation period.

But note also that the text tells us (v. 7) that the “mystery of iniquity/lawlessness” is currently already at work (in Paul’s day, much more so in ours), yet it will not be until “he” is taken out of the way when this world will literally become bathed in that lawlessness. The “he” who is taken out of the way is the Holy Spirit. While some disagree and prefer other identifies (such as Michael the Archangel, etc.), it seems that the text makes more sense if we understand that the Holy Spirit, who has been working in and through the Church since its inception in Acts 2, has been the One who has kept evil at bay so that it has not become as bad as it could become. This section of Scripture certainly does not mean that the Holy Spirit is taken out of the world. How could that be if God is omnipresent all the time?

What Paul seems to be referring to is the Holy Spirit’s influence in the world through the invisible Church. Currently, authentic Christians who make up the Body of Christ (the Church) offer resistance to the enemy of our souls. The pressure that the very presence of true Christians place on the world through the moral climate of the Church itself is enough to keep evil from being purely evil.

Like the way Israel was intended to be, Christians are the light of this world namely because God via the Holy Spirit lives within us and has sealed us unto the day of redemption. Our life – because of God’s presence within us – offers some measure of resistance against the wiles of the devil. The more committed were are to God, His purposes, and His glory, the greater our resistance and witness to the world.

This is exactly why Jesus told His disciples that the world hated Him and will also hate us. The world (prompted by Satan) hates us because of the fact that God lives within us. This is truth we need to absorb even though we do not live life perfectly here as Christians.

So consider what life will be like once the invisible (true) Church is taken out of this world. The Holy Spirit will no longer have the Church to work in and through. In that sense then He is taken out of the way. Though He obviously remains in the world and convicts the world of sin (people do become saved during the Tribulation), He works from the outside, as He did during the Old Testament times, rather than as He does now, with the Church present.

Once the Church is gone, it will be as though the dam that held back millions and millions of gallons of water has been removed. The water that was held back now surges ahead, destroying/affecting everything in its path. This will be what it looks like once the Rapture occurs. Imagine society at that point, considering how bad and corrupt it is now.

The Holy Spirit, through the Church, holds back the power of evil (all the water behind the dam), but when God removes the Church, the Holy Spirit will no longer have that body of believers to work through. He will still get the job done, of course, but it will be done differently and what kept evil from being thoroughly evil will now be allowed to run amok in society, doing whatever damage it can.

The PreTrib Rapture is an event that is fully directed by God and simply acts upon all authentic Christians in society at that point. The event does not stop there though.

While Christians are removed from society, the devastating effects will be seen in how much more rampant and unchecked evil becomes throughout society. This will greatly increase the evil, which will increase the level of apostasy, which will move the world toward the time when the man of sin/man of lawlessness will be revealed, and the Tribulation can begin.

If the Church was left to remain in the world, the ramping up of evil to the point of a worldwide, cataclysmic, unchecked apostasy would not take place.

In classical Greek the word apostasia denoted a political or military rebellion; but in the Greek Old Testament we find it used of rebellion against God (e.g. Jos. xxii. 22), and this becomes the accepted Biblical usage. Paul’s thought is that in the last times there will be an outstanding manifestation of the powers of evil arrayed against God.”[2]

Regarding this coming apostasia, Dr. Thomas Constable notes that it “does not mean simply disbelieving, but an aggressive and positive revolt (cf. Acts 21:21; Heb. 3:12).”[3; emphasis added] It seems clear that this then would extend not to those simply within Christendom, but those throughout the world who are attempting to do what the people in Psalm 2 are doing. They have been trying to break the “fetters apart And cast away [God’s] cords from us! The whole idea here is that people want to forget God (Romans 1) and be able to do whatever they want to do without the guilt. God will give them what they want during the Tribulation period.

Paul is including all of society here. Just over two hundred years after the founding of America, we have seen God replaced with Humanism. The absolute truth of the Ten Commandments have been replaced with emotional virtue (political correctness), and murder (abortion) has become widely accepted as a means of “birth control.” Same-sex unions should be accepted by all…or else even though this is in direct opposition to God’s created order. People loot and steal today because they think they are “owed” those things. The level of corruption in society and especially within the federal government of America as well as governments of other nations is astounding. There appears little hope of going back to days before Humanism took its toll.

Society has been moving away from God and His absolute truth under the direction of Satan for generations. This ultimately began in the Garden of Eden and continued during Paul’s day when even then, truth had become relative (cf. John 18:38, when Pontius Pilate asks rhetorically, “what is truth?”). It continues today and will culminate during the Tribulation period.

All of this has occurred even though the Holy Spirit has been working in and through His chosen vehicle, the true Church; Christ’s Bride. But God’s emphasis has always been on saving souls, not saving nations necessarily, though He will focus His efforts on Israel toward the end of this age prior to the return of Jesus (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, Romans 9-11, etc.). In the meantime, the Holy Spirit’s presence in the world (especially through the true Church) keeps evil at bay and in check, while continuing to bring the lost into the Church.

Once the Holy Spirit steps aside, the evil that He has held in check will flow without remorse into a world of people waiting with open arms. There, it will create the greatest apostasy this world will have ever known. If the Rapture does not occur, this cannot happen.

The Rapture, while an extremely important future event, does several things, but it does not begin the Tribulation at all. By its nature, the Rapture will allow the evil loose to exploit the world and fill society with ever-increasing palpably malevolent evil until the apostasy becomes so prevalent that the Tribulation can begin. It will become the guiding force throughout the world setting the stage for the Antichrist and the ultimate showdown with God.

The Rapture not only removes the true Church from this earth, but also signals the go-ahead to the evil that will culminate in the apostasy that Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 2.

We’ll have more next time!

 

[1] http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/2thessalonians.pdf, p. 15

[2] http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/2thessalonians.pdf, p. 14

[3] Ibid, p. 14

Entry filed under: Pretribulational Rapture, rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation.

Rapture, Increasing Lawlessness, and the Tribulation, Part 1 Rapture, Increasing Lawlessness, and the Tribulation, Part 3

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