By Pete Garcia
Years ago, I was doing some training flights in southern Afghanistan and we had a particular landing zone (LZ) we trained at called Texas LZ. It was unique LZ in that it sat atop a singular mountain, which sat on a relatively flat, desert plain. This made for a great place to practice your approach and landing techniques. However, flying over flat, open terrain, toward a decent-sized, standalone mountain, presents a unique optical illusion called the size-distance illusion. Needless to say, I came in too fast and too high on my first attempt, and had to execute a go-around. On my second attempt, I slowed down a lot further out, and executed a successful approach and landing.
So when I was out walking last night admiring a spectacularly, cloudy evening sky, a question popped into my head. I thought- what exactly is the Lord waiting on? Israel has been back in her land now for seventy-plus years. The Jew’s have been in control of Jerusalem now for fifty-plus years. Europe has been reunited now for thirty-plus years, albeit, somewhat disjointedly. Most if not all of the technology mentioned in Revelation, is either now in use, or has been already developed. The world is already largely using varying forms of digital currency. Satellite television and internet makes global communication and viewing from anywhere in the world possible. Travel has been global nearly a century. The western nations, to include many eastern nations, have already embraced the days of Noah and Lot as a rite of passage. The Laodicean Age is in full bloom. So again, what exactly is the Lord waiting on?
The general answer is that it is either one of two things. It is either a specific date, or it is a specific number of believers. However, what if it is both? What if it is neither? Can it be known? If not, why not?
If He were waiting for a specific number of people to come to a saving knowledge of the faith, then the number would be known only to the Father. (Matt. 24:36) It does not seem likely that we ever could know specifically, or at least, there is nothing in Scripture that would lead us to believe we could ever know that. Romans 11:25 does mention a ‘full number’ who would come into the body of Christ, but that is about as specific as Scripture gets with this idea.
Think about it. For two-thousand years, no generation has had more access to knowledge than ours. No generation in two-thousand years has had more prophetically awakened believers as we have had for the past seventy-years. We have seen more prophecies fulfilled in this past century, than in the previous 19 centuries combined. Prophetically woke is not to say more Christian’s are students of Bible prophecy, but more have been exposed to it than any previous generations. The Late Great Planet Earth and the Left Behind series were wildly successful. Furthermore, we have had, since the mid-1800s, an explosion of knowledge regarding Bible prophecy, in large part, due to the divinely sanctioned Dispensationalist movement.
It is doubtful if there has been any other circle of men [dispensationalists] who have done more by their influence in preaching, teaching and writing to promote a love for Bible study, a hunger for the deeper Christian life, a passion for evangelism and zeal for missions in the history of American Christianity. — Dispensationalist Critic, George E. Ladd
Moreover, even the mocking of the Rapture and the Second Coming by Hollywood, Media, and Academia, has served the purpose of exposing the general public to these very iconic concepts in Bible prophecy. You would be hard-pressed to talk to anyone in America, who is not at least familiar with the idea of the apocalypse since it is used so loosely in movies and books these days. It is also used to describe virtually every disaster of epic proportions, and we have had plenty of those as of late.
Perhaps He is waiting for a specific date to round out the fulfillment of the seven Feasts of the Lord. (Leviticus 23) We know that the Rapture-event does not start the 70th-Week (aka…The Tribulation) however, it does seem to trigger the conditions necessary for it to be necessary. Thusly, is it possible that a Feast of the Lord could also be a date for the Rapture?
We know in the earthly life of Christ, Jesus fulfilled the Spring Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits by His death, burial, and resurrection (respectively). Many also believe the Church to be born at Sukkot (Pentecost). That leaves the unfulfilled Fall Feasts of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles as being prophetically set aside for fulfillment at some future date.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. – Romans 8:18-23
Personally, I do not believe the Church was born at Pentecost. Rather, I believe the Church was conceived at Pentecost, and is presently in a gestation period, awaiting to be born into our eternal, glorified bodies, at the Rapture. I may be wrong with this theory, however, I hold too because it makes the most sense in my mind when I look at all the corresponding Scriptures and church history itself, holistically. I take this view by holding to several previously revealed ideas and seeing how they fit into a pattern that foreshadow things to come.
First, when the Holy Spirit came down in spectacular fashion in Acts 2:1-4, he indwelt those believers and immediately began speaking in foreign tongues. This caused some to mockingly say; perhaps they had too much wine. (Acts 2:13) After the Rapture, we (those who are caught up and transformed) will most likely speak whatever the heavenly language is (presumably Hebrew or some higher form of it). Therefore, the ‘speaking in tongues’ was meant as a functional-type to foreshadow our future change after the Rapture. Admittedly, this is a weak association between the two events; but the change in language is a correlation nonetheless.
Secondly, the first time we see the Holy Spirit involved in antenatal (pre-birth) is with John the Baptist, who as we know, was the forerunner of the Messiah. The second time we see the Holy Spirit involved in conception/birth in the New Testament, was in the Gospels when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary (Luke 1:35) causing her to supernaturally conceive Jesus. However, when Jesus was conceived inside the virgin Mary, she did not immediately give birth to Him, but rather, went through the normal stages of pregnancy carrying Jesus to term before delivering Him in a manger some nine-months later. (Luke 2:7)
Similarly, salvation in the New Testament comes by faith, through grace, after which, the Holy Spirit indwells, and seals us until the day of our redemption. (Eph. 1:11-14, 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22) But the moment we get saved, we don’t immediately get transformed into our glorified bodies. We live, we mature in the faith, and then (as has been the case for all of human history) our mortal body’s age and we die and go to be with the Lord.
Thirdly, Jesus is the head of the Church, and we are His body (Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18, 2:19). IF Christ is the head, and we are the body, does that not demonstrate the inherent connectedness we share with our Lord and Savior? Babies are typically born (around 95% of the time at least), headfirst. Nevertheless, the Head is Christ, and He is first, through whom the rest of the Body (the Church) follows, because we are “knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” (Col. 2:19) Perhaps this is why Jesus used the analogy of our salvific redemption as being ‘born again.’ (John 3:3-6)
Fourthly, Jesus taught in His Olivet Discourse, that the last days would come like birth pangs (Matt. 24:8). We are presently in our mortal, fallen, conditions, and are subject to the ‘laws of nature’ in this world (i.e., sin and death). Undoubtedly, births are very trying, painful, and emotional events, especially for the woman giving birth. However, to put our physical deliverance into cruder terms, we who are born again are very much like the world’s bastard stepchildren. The world does not know our Father, nor us; nor does she want too. However, she (the world) is going to suffer mightily at our redemption called the Rapture. If Eve is the mother of all earthly humanity, then even after the fall, she is still the mother to us all.
To the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.” – Genesis 3:16
At the moment of the Rapture, our physical, instantaneous translation into glorified bodies, will wrench forth from this world’s vise-like grip, those previously held in bondage to the natural law of sin and death. Interestingly, the Apostle Paul uses the process of giving birth in relation to the time leading up to, and immediately after the Rapture of the Church (1 Thess. 4:13-18). He alluded to the fact that when the world was crying out for ‘peace and safety,’ then sudden destruction would come upon her like labor pains upon a woman and they shall not escape (1st Thess. 5:1-4). Eve’s fallen offspring will bear the brunt of Eve’s redeemed offspring’s deliverance.
In summary, I believe the Church was conceived at Pentecost and has been going through the stages of development over these past two millennia (See Revelation 2-3). The Rapture, is that day of delivery (or the day of Christ) in which every generation has been waiting for to be delivered from this fallen world when mortality puts on immortality. In the womb, we were blind, helpless, and comfortable in darkness, but we could not stay there. In birth (deliverance) we are brought into the light and become the creation God always intended us to be.
Over the past two-thousand years, we (humanity) are very much like the aircrew flying out over that vast, flat desert terrain. For millennia, there were no signs. Believers in the world kept pressing forward, unaware of where they were on God’s prophetic calendar. However, with the super-sign (national Israel) back in play that approach and landing is coming at us quickly. Where it was once hard for believers to judge our approach due to the lack of signs, now, events are happening very quickly and at times appear wildly out of control.
Juxtaposed to the believer, the unredeemed world sees that mountain out in the distance, but they have been led to believe it is further out than what it really is. They are suffering from the prophetic optical illusion (or spiritual delusion) that Satan has been pulling over their eyes since the dawn of time. He has whispered in many an ear, you have plenty of time, and yet, time is racing past and picking up speed as they hurtle toward their collective date with judgment.
So what is the Lord waiting on? Perhaps His plans combine both a particular Feast Day (to keep continuity with those already fulfilled) along with a certain number of believers. It may not be how many come into the body of Christ, as much as it is how many are still responding. If that number drops below a certain, minimum threshold, as was the case of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:32). Nevertheless, God will still use the Rapture-event itself to become the greatest evangelism tool the world has ever see.
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”
And I said to him, “Sir, you know.”
So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. – Revelation 7:9-14
We have a strong reason to suspect that there is a gap in time between the Rapture, and the start of the 70th-Week, so depending on how long that gap turns out be, makes a near timeframe a very attractive time for the Second Coming. This means that in the meantime, we are going to go through increasingly turbulent times (labor pains) as we draw nearer to our date of delivery. Perhaps all of these allusions to birth, rebirth, birth pangs, and so forth, have a far more practical application to them than just being ornamental, apocalyptic language.
Even though the days are darkening and times are becoming increasingly chaotic, take heart. The same God who spoke the universe into existence is the same One who is indwelling and sealing you until the day of Redemption. We are instructed to keep looking up, because we, who have placed our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, have by inheritance, become the children of God. That is not just flowery language. We must be physically changed from our mortal bodies to our immortal bodies to be and live where God lives (1st Corinthians 15). We must be changed on that Day because we now bear our Father’s spiritual DNA. The apostle John writes concerning this change-
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” – 1st John 3:1-3