The Rapture Window
By: Pete Garcia
“About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the Prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation, in the midst of much clamor and opposition.” -Sir Isaac Newton 1642-1727
Hal Lindsey correctly pointed out on his show two weeks ago, that it’s not that we are seeing a sign here or a sign there pointing to the soon return of Christ…but that we are seeing all of them at the same time. Not only that, but they are growing stronger and more intense as that day draws closer. But there is more…
I don’t believe that the Rapture could have occurred at any point in history. I believe there was always a plan for it to be at a specific time. Just as there was a plan for Jesus to come and die for the sins of many at the appointed time; so too was there a plan to repatriate His Bride at the appointed time. Although it remains unknown to us, I believe what we are seeing now is a narrowing of that window in which the Rapture could occur.
“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. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2:6-12 NKJV)
There is a great tendency to overlook the “strong delusion” as just being an end-state for the unrepentant, rather than being a key marker for the window of time when the Rapture could occur.
Think about it this way…God is a just God, and His justice is perfect. If the Rapture had happened at anytime between the 5th – 18th centuries (A.D.); it would have largely been dismissed by the non-Christian world, because they wouldn’t have known what it was.
Without instantaneous, global communications, it might have taken months or years to fully grasp the gravity of the situation. The Christian-world then (5-18th centuries) mostly consisted of a Christianized Europe. The US was barely colonized; the Middle & Far East, Africa, and South America largely remained pagan-strongholds.
Most of Christendom then was largely under the influence of the powerful Roman Catholic Church (RCC). Starting with Augustine’s book The City of God in the 5th century. The promotion of ‘amillennial eschatology’ became the norm for the majority of Christendom up to and through the Protestant Reformation.
I believe God allowed this because the knowledge of the Rapture and the specifics of the End Times weren’t needed then. So it is no surprise that even though the Reformers broke with the RCC’s dogma, they didn’t break with Catholic Eschatology.
The doctrine of a Pre-Millennial (Chiliasm) return of Christ to rule and reign on earth was promoted by the Early Church Fathers up to the 5th century A.D. Augustine’s book became the ultimate wet blanket cooling any notion of a literal return of Christ to the earth. This is why the RCC promoted themselves as the “Kingdom of God” come on earth…hence the need for a Pope (or Vicar of Christ) who would rule from Rome.
It wasn’t until the Dispensational Movement in the 19th century which brought the Church back to a literal understanding of the Bible. This demanded a Pre-Tribulation Rapture as the only logical, singular event that would officially kick off the start to Daniel’s 70th week and the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth.
The fourteen century delay in the study and comprehension of Eschatology is key in understanding God’s timing for mankind.
It would appear that I am saying that God allowed there to be massive ignorance in the proper Eschatological view point for a reason right?
Yes. It makes more sense to see the justice of God giving people over to a strong delusion as recompense for being wicked, rather than for being ignorant. The strong delusion could not have been given until the world had plenty of time to fully reject the message of the Gospel.
In the last three centuries, the world has been lavishly exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ through missionaries, evangelical crusades, television, books, internet, miracles, dreams, visions and through an abundance of teachers.
The truth is that God allowed the prophetic study of His return to be veiled during those centuries. And if Sir Isaac Newton, (arguably one of the smartest men to ever live), couldn’t figure it out, no one else would have either…that is, until God’s timing was ready.
Consider this as another marker for the times we live in…
“Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (Peter 3:3-4)
Both Hal Lindsey’s book The Late, Great, Planet Earth, and the Left Behind series were runaway best sellers. There was a reason for that. Churches and denominations keep drifting away from teaching the soon return of Christ.
What this all means is that the window for the Rapture is narrowing still, because scoffing would only come after a revived interest in the study of the Rapture. Scoffing doesn’t come before something is talked about; it only comes after something is brought to light.
I can think of no other singular doctrine within Christianity that is as maligned as much as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church is…with the possible exception of Creation. (Notice how Peter ties both Creation and the Lord’s coming together?) So without a revived interest in Christ’s return, there wouldn’t be any scoffing.
At the outset, I tied the proper understanding of Eschatology (a Pre-Mill, Pre-Trib view point) to the understanding of Salvation. A lot of Christians say that the nuts and bolts of when Christ returns is of no significant importance, because they’ll say, “He’ll come when He comes”.
Well, the Roman Catholic Church dismissed a literal return of Christ, and then went on to dominate all of Christendom for over a thousand years with their heretical view that they were, ‘the Kingdom’. They continue to influence mainline Protestant denominations through Amillennialism and Preterism that in my opinion, keeps the Church ‘dumbed-down’ when it comes to really grasping God’s plan for mankind.
God allowed that because I think He wanted The Generation, to stand out unlike any other that had come before it. Not only does our generation stand alone amongst all the previous generations in having the ‘super-sign’, which is Israel back in her homeland as a nation after a 1,900 year Diaspora, but she’s also reclaimed Jerusalem.
Satan is so opposed to the nation of Israel and the Jewish people that he first raised up the Nazi’s, and now the Islamic world in absolute opposition to her existence. They both were stirred with a hatred that comes from the bowels of hell itself. We also have the revival of the Roman Empire, vast leaps in global; technology, communications, travel, and warfare.
But there is also a sign that I think ties in nicely with what Paul was teaching in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 about the ‘falling away’ or apostasia, happening before the Antichrist could be revealed. It’s from Jesus’ letter to the last two churches.
First, to Philadelphia He says:
“I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name…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.”
For Philadelphia, the time would come when overwhelming pressure from the world would be on the Christian to deny God’s word, and to deny Christ. I would say that for most of our American history, it was more acceptable to say you were a Christian, rather than to say you weren’t.
But Jesus pointed toward a time when Christians would come under intense scrutiny for their faith. It doesn’t say persecution like it did in the letter to the church at Smyrna, but this test would be over ideology and faith.
This is where we see the departure (apostasia) from the Gospel into any one of the emerging threads that claims to be Christian today. We now have: Universalism, the Social Gospel, Emergent Church, Liberation theology, Prosperity Gospel, Hebrew Roots movement, Seeker Friendly, Purpose Driven, and on and on. The Philadelphians are commended for their faithfulness to God’s word and the Gospel message, despite the overwhelming pressure to abandon both.
Then to the last church Laodicea, He says:
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
Christ has nothing positive to say about or too the Laodicean church. Being ‘Luke-warm’ means that you won’t take a stand either way. It means you’re riding the fence, afraid of making waves or drawing negative attention to yourself.
We are seeing today, more than at any time in the last 2,000 years, the overwhelming pressure by Satan to force the church to depart from the ‘faith which was once for all, delivered to the saints. Satan has done so by making extremely personal and divisive issues like abortion, marriage/divorce, homosexuality, acceptance of paganism and cults as the new normal for our culture today. What better way to divide and castigate the church then put them in increasingly untenable positions?
This fight boiled down to its most basic form, also comes from the bowels of hell. It is all about separating the Christian from their faith. What we are witnessing today with Christian persecution in Africa and the Middle East is what the Tribulation saint will face once the Church is gone.
The laws will be changed when Christianity is seen as more a threat to the world order, than anything else. It will be the Final Solution Part II for those who remain. Whereas persecution in the past only spread Christianity, the technology today will give the Beast’s government total control over both the message and messenger. This is how Satan will be allowed to triumph over the Tribulation Saints.
“It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.” (Revelation 13:7)
The Rapture will remove the Church, and the Antichrist will remove those who come to faith because of it. Those who scoffed at the Gospel and the Rapture, after the Rapture, are given over to that strong delusion because they believed not the truth as to be saved. (Both physically and spiritually)
Although the current pressure isn’t pleasant, and being a watcher can be taxing, it should be encouraging. It means that Satan knows his time is running out. It means that Christ is allowing this to happen so it can shake the true Church free of those who are ‘Christian in name only’. It means that the window for our soon departure is getting that much smaller.
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28)