This is a message of a ‘new wineskin’ with regards to prophetic understanding. For this message to have truth and meaning, and to gain understanding from it, you must set aside any preconceived ideas you currently have regarding prophecy… that’s the new wineskin idea. Consider it in these two ways… Jesus said that for us to gain heaven, we must have a child-like faith (Matthew 18:3). Also think about what Daniel said… that (part of) his vision would be sealed up until the last days (Daniel 12:4).
Regarding the return of Jesus, it’s my opinion that the rapture will be pre-wrath, not pre-tribulation. I’m concerned about this because in certain instances believers are being misled through misunderstanding. Everyone (common Protestant thought) is expecting the Rapture before anything else happens prophetically, and aside from that they’re looking for a 7 year peace treaty between Israel and her enemies. They are not expecting to experience tribulation of an end times proportion. They should. Here’s why…
Here, Jesus states this sequence of events… tribulation, sun & moon darkening, Son of Man coming in the clouds, angels sent forth to gather the elect. Matthew 24 says about the same thing, but here Jesus specifically mentions gathering His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of EARTH to the farthest end of heaven. This appears to be the rapture, after tribulation and the sun and moon darkening.
Examine the sequence in Revelation. First are the seals. A close reading shows that these are not judgments… not God’s wrath. God’s wrath starts with the trumpets. Read Revelation 8:3-4… an angel (Matthew Henry thinks this may be Jesus) at the altar gives to God much incense and the prayers of the saints, THEN in the next verse he gathers fire from the altar (the Messiah/Jesus returns with fire and judgment) and throws it upon the earth. There judgment/God’s wrath begins, along with the first trumpet in Revelation 8:7.
The rapture seems to takes place somewhere in Revelation chapters 6 or 7, roughly coinciding with the marking in the chapter 7. Chapter 7 describes the 144,000 mentioned below, being marked and preserved as God’s ‘first fruits’, a remnant of “Israel.” Then wrath begins at Revelation 8:7.
Now consider this… I heard a preacher say that God poured out His wrath upon Jesus at the cross. That’s true; it was required as payment for our sins. So for us to avoid this wrath, we must believe in Jesus. Unbelievers alive at the Day of the Lord will experience God’s wrath. How is it then that under the ‘old wineskin’ concept of a pre-trib rapture that salvation is possible during the time of the wrath of God, which is commonly thought to be the last half of the tribulation? It only makes sense that God’s wrath falls either on Jesus (for the benefit of believers) or on the unbeliever. There are no 2nd chances in this scenario.
This concept becomes more solid when you meld it with this one… most translations say that the seven seals are on a book (some say a scroll, Revelation 5:1). I believe this is the Book of Life. Jesus is the only one possible to open the Book and in doing so he breaks seven seals. Once the seventh seal is broken, that’s it! The names have been written in the Book of Life, and now it’s open to see whose names are there, and to commence with judgment on those whose names are not in this ‘little book’. (Literally understood, it would seem to take about a ½ hour to read them, given what Revelation 8:1 says.) Again, judgment/wrath begins shortly thereafter at verse 7. So back to my previous point, how can salvation be possible after the Book of Life is opened? It’s not, when the Book of Life is opened, there are no more entries, thus salvation is not possible thereafter. The key is tribulation verses judgment. As believers in Christ, we can expect tribulation… that’s what Jesus said. But in both the Old and New Testaments, the Bible declares that the righteous will not experience God’s wrath (Proverbs 11:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:9).
Furthermore, I have concerns regarding the reading in both Daniel and Revelation, about the saints being overcome by the beast. If my thoughts and ideas above are correct, then there are no saints here after the rapture (since there would be no saints available to be overcome, and none further generated by salvation). So by default there are only saints/believers on earth before the rapture. If we are in the last of the last days, the saints mentioned in Daniel and Revelation are you and me, and every other believer alive today. This thought makes my blood run cold. Even Jesus discusses the uncomfortable fate of believers in the last days in each of the synoptic gospels.
It’s my opinion that there is no church in heaven, per se. There are only the righteous (saints who have died in the faith) as found by God. I believe people are incorrect when they put the rapture at Revelation 4:1; that was John being called up for his revelation, not our ‘catching away’. Just because the church isn’t mentioned after this doesn’t mean anything, other than John’s focus turns to individuals (the saints) verses assemblies (the church). Examine this in the original language and it becomes clearer.
On a slightly different topic… I recently heard a preacher talking about the parable of the 10 virgins from Matthew 25. He said he thought the virgins represented Christians. I thought about that, then applied this concept to the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 14. The Bible says they too are virgins (some translations say not defiled with women and kept chaste), and without blame. Who are blameless before the Lord today? Christians! (In Revelation 7:3 they’re called bond servants.) So these 144,000 are believers that are, in other places in the Bible, called the remnant.
Want to know what happens to many of the rest? Go to Ezekiel about midway through chapter 8 and read into chapter 10. Essentially what happens is God marks men (the 144,000) in Jerusalem that ‘sigh and groan’ over the abominations that are being committed. Then (most) everyone without the mark is slaughtered (Ezekiel 9:7). Every time I read this, I’m different than I was before. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. You can’t not watch, even though it’s a horrible scene. Some notes here… there are six ‘destroyers’ that come from the north… this matches very closely the vision of the 10 kingdoms in Daniel 7:7-8, minus the three that get uprooted by the smaller horn (six vs. seven… no different than how many angels there were in the tomb after Jesus left it… one [Mark 16:5] or two [Luke 24:4]), plus it makes me think of Ezekiel’s invasion in chapters 38 and 39, Gog and Magog coming from the north (Ezekiel 38:14-15). Finally, the man with the writing case in linens seems to be a Christophany, given that a cloud fills the inner court when he enters it (Ezekiel 10:2-3). Also, he is told by God to scatter coals of fire over the city… this sounds like the judgment of God when Jesus returns (there are many references of the Messiah/Jesus returning with fire, heat, etc.).
I have additional thoughts regarding prophecy (the rebuilt temple, the anti-christ, the 1000 year reign, just to name a few), but that’s enough for now. The only thing I ask of you is to read this, then stop and seek a word from God about it.