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Tag Archives: Rapture

Lot Was “Sent Out Of The Midst Of The Overthrow”

“Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived. (Genesis 19:29)

Genesis 19:29 summarizes what God has just done in judging Sodom and Gomorrah and what He has done for Lot. God “sent Lot out from the midst of Sodom” before He judged it. What profound truths are carried in that statement! “God sent Lot…” It is God Who is in complete control of this entire process of judging the cities and rescuing Lot. Abraham participated in Lot’s rescue from the armies of Chedorlaomer back in Chapter 14, though God strengthened him and enabled him to do so, this time, Lot is saved entirely by the movement of God alone.

“God sent Lot… ” Life and death is ultimately in the hand of God Almighty, whether we live or die, and it is by His mercy that Lot is spared. God literally cast him out of Sodom and put him in a place of safety. Verses 22-24 make it clear that Lot was completely out of Sodom before judgment began. “God sent Lot out of the midst…” Lot was not living on the outskirts of Sodom, but right in the midst of it, among all of the others. God did not just push him a little to the side so that he could be safe during the judgment, nor did God decide to leave him there during the judgment in order to “test” him. It is worth noticing that God also did not begin to pour out some judgment on the city and then decide that Lot had had enough, taking him to safety after it had begun. Finally, “God sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow.” This was not an ordinary natural disaster that occurred, this was the direct judgment of God upon a sinful people.

I have taken the time to briefly break down the elements of what is said here in Verse 29 because I personally believe that Lot’s rescue from Sodom before its judgment is a picture of the believer’s rescue from this Earth before the Great Tribulation. I do not see this passage as being a conclusive “argument”, so to speak, proving a pre-Tribulation Rapture of the True Church. But I do see the implications as being quite intriguing, to say the least. Obviously, there are some definite distinctions between the judgment on Sodom and God’s final judgments on an unrepentant world, as described in the Book of Revelation. However, they are both judgments directly from the hand of God. They are both instances of God’s wrath being poured out on mankind which has rejected Him. Those who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ are not appointed to receive His wrath (e.g., Romans 5:9, 1 Thessalonians 1:10). So what will happen to those trusting in Christ when the time of His wrath is upon the world?

“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”  (Revelation 3:10)

He will keep us from the very hour (season, time-frame) of the Great Tribulation. The only conceivable way that the Lord Jesus Christ could do this is to remove those who belong to Him before He pours out His judgment. We simply cannot be kept from something if we are still around in the midst of it, can we? The Lord Jesus did say that we would face trials and tribulations in this world (John 16:33), but those are trials and tribulations that come as a result of living in a fallen world. Those trials He shall not keep us from, nor has He ever promised to. But the purpose of His wrath being poured out is to judge those who have rejected Him and, as in the case of the Great Tribulation, to extend mercy to those who will receive Him during that time. There is no purpose in pouring out His wrath on those who have not rejected Him, and we have His promise that He shall not do so. As Lot was, I firmly believe that God will send us out from the midst of this world before He pours out His judgment upon it.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published January 25, 2010]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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Enoch Walked With God

"And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (Genesis 5:24)

“Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)

As we walk through the graveyard of Genesis Chapter 5, we come across something rather strange. We see a headstone that tells us about Jared, how long he lived, the fact that he was Enoch’s father, and then we read that he died. Then, a few feet away, we see another headstone that tells us that beneath it is buried Methuselah. It says that Methuselah was the son of Enoch and that he himself lived 969 years (longer than anyone else in the Bible) and then he, too, died. It seems that Enoch’s grave, however, is nowhere to be found.

We are not told very much at all about this mysterious person who “walked with God.” Yet it is interesting to note that when we compare what the Bible does say about him compared with the first “Enoch” that we read about back in Genesis 4:17-18, we are really told a great deal more. Cain intended the name of his son Enoch to live on forever, naming the city that he founded after him. Though that Enoch was the namesake of an entire city and although from him would descend great pioneers of the arts and humanities, the Word of God barely gives him a passing glance.

This Enoch, however, this Enoch was different. No city bore his name nor did any great civilization descend directly from his offspring, but this Enoch is given great prominence because he “walked with God.” He was faithful to the Lord and walked with Him. This is what God considers important. It wasn’t the Christian College that he founded, it wasn’t the huge megachurch that he pastored, it wasn’t the jam-packed stadiums that he preached to. Enoch is remembered and his name is recorded forever in the Scriptures because he walked with God. I can think of no higher aspiration than one day seeing those very words written by our own names in the Lambs Book of Life.: “He walked with God.”

“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 11:5)

Enoch was not found. People looked for him, but he had vanished. There was no trace of where he had gone. We know from the Book of Jude that Enoch was a prophet who unflinchingly warned of God’s judgments (Jude 14-15). This must have garnered him many enemies in a world that had already sunk into such depravity. I wonder what they thought when they sought him out and could not find him.

“Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

I believe that the translation of Enoch is a picture of the Rapture of those who are in Christ that will occur before the Tribulation. The Tribulation shall be the final judgment of God on an unrepentant world; the Flood was the first. As God took His own out of the world before He moved His hand in judgment with the Flood, so shall He do again before the final judgment. It has been calculated that the Flood came upon the Earth the very year that Methuselah, Enoch’s son, died. I do not think that this is a coincidence. God in His wonderful Grace spared Enoch from the wrath of judgment and even waited until his son was gone before releasing the flood waters.

Some well-meaning Christians have discarded the teaching of the Rapture of the Church because they do not see any Biblical precedent where God has taken His own out of the way of harm, only that He has given them the grace to go through it. I would suggest that what He did in the life of Enoch would definitely be such a precedent. While God certainly does not shield us from the troubles that are in the world (John 17:15), He has not appointed those who trust in Christ to receive His wrath and judgment (Romans 5:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:9). When we understand that the events of the Great Tribulation described in the Book of Revelation (e.g., Revelation 15:1, 16:1) are God’s judgments on an unrepentant world, we can see how the Lord will take His own out of the world before He releases His wrath upon it; just as He did with Enoch, the man who “walked with God.”

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published October 2, 2009]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

What We Have In Christ – Part 7

Safety From The Wrath Of God

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:9)

Back in the great passage of God’s indictment against sinful man, Romans 1:18-3:20, we saw the wrath of God revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. We caught a glimpse of the fate and destiny of all men apart from Christ, a fate that ultimately will culminate in eternal separation from God. The Christian’s justification, their right-standing with God purchased and obtained by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has saved us from the judgment of God that results in an eternity spent in Hell.

But here in Romans 5:9, those wonderful words much more show us that there is, well, much more in view here! Being now justified, that is, being that we are already justified and are already saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. What wrath is this? This seems to refer to a future wrath of God, a wrath as of yet unrealized. This isn’t the wrath of a holy God against unrighteousness in a general sense, it refers to a specific outpouring of the wrath of God. Not only are we saved from the wrath of God being meted out against a sinful world, we are saved from all the coming wrath that will be poured out.

“Then said [John the Baptist] to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Luke 3:7, emphasis added)

What exactly is the wrath to come? We know that all who die apart from Christ will face the Judgment of God at the Great White Throne mentioned in Revelation 20:11-15, is this the wrath to come? The term wrath is not used at all in connection with this final judgment where the lost will be banished forever from God’s presence. No, we see them standing before the Throne of God as they are judged from the books recording the events of their lives (Rev. 20:12). There seems to be no outpouring of God’s wrath at this time, only judgment. The Second Death, the time in which those who have rejected Christ will be cast into Hell, could not be the day of wrath (Romans 2:5) to come, could it?

“And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;  And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:  For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17, emphasis added)

It is interesting to note that nowhere in the Bible is the Day of God’s wrath or the wrath to come, though referred to often, said to be fulfilled until we come to the Book of Revelation and the events of the Great Tribulation. No fewer than 10 times is the outpouring of the wrath of God mentioned in Revelation in connection with the Tribulation events, the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in Glory being the final time in Revelation 19:15. If there is some other occasion to which all of the previous mentions of the Day of the Wrath of God are referring, I do not know what it could be.

Not Appointed To Wrath

“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

The Apostle Paul wrote more in his First Epistle to the Church at Thessalonica concerning End Time events surrounding Christ’s return than in any other letter. One thing he made clear was that those in Christ would be delivered from the Day of Wrath to come. Describing the Rapture of believers before the Tribulation begins, Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to comfort one another with these words (5:18).

Saved From Wrath Or Through It?

Although, in my view, I believe that verses such as Romans 5:9 and 1 Thessalonians 1:10 make it clear that the Christian will in no way endure even a single moment of the Great Tribulation, I recognize that others have interpreted these passages differently. The suggestion has been made that, rather than taking the Church out of the world in a pre-Tribulation Rapture, God would make His own people safe during the coming Tribulation. I see several problems with this explanation, a couple of which I would like to touch on briefly:

“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.  For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:13-17, emphasis added)

Though there will be some who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ who will be on Earth during the Tribulation, it seems much more likely that these are people who come to Christ after the Tribulation begins rather than believers from the Church Age who remain. If we are set to endure hunger, thirst, scorching heat, and tears of anguish during the Great Tribulation, how can we comfort one another with the notion of Christ’s Return for us? Secondly, if we will endure such hardships during the time of the Wrath to come, how can it be accurately said that we will be saved from it or through it? If we understand the true magnitude of the horrific events of the Great Tribulation, then the only way we can take comfort is to know that we will not be here!

“And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;” (Revelation 6:15, emphasis added)

As the judgment of God’s wrath begins to be poured out, there is no distinction made over who is affected. There is no “canopy” set over anyone, sheltering them from the effects of God’s wrath. No one is seen here being saved through this judgment as the Sixth Seal is opened. Certainly, many survive and even the 144,000 person Jewish Remnant, who will be sealed, are present at this time, but we see no evidence at this point of anyone being in Christ and being saved through the time of God’s wrath.

One of the benefits that believers living now have, one of the things we have in Christ, is that we will be saved from the wrath of God, even the wrath of God to be poured out during the Tribulation period. Once a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, they will no longer endure God’s wrath on a sinful world. We may suffer difficulties and hardships, calamities that are the result of the sin-stained world we live in, but God’s wrath poured out in judgment on sinful flesh is not something that the Christian is subject to any longer. For those in Christ who live in the time when the Great tribulation begins (and it could begin any day), the Lord will deliver them from that hour by taking them up to forever be with Him. This is another wonderful benefit that we have in Christ!

To God goes all glory. In service to him,

Loren

 

 

 

The Land Of Goshen Is Set Apart

“And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.” (Exodus 8:22-23)

There is no mention in the first three plagues that fall upon the land of Egypt whether or not the Israelites were affected. Since in every other plague following, the fourth through the tenth, we are specifically told that the people of God were not affected, we may assume that the turning of the Nile into blood, the frogs covering the land, and the plague of lice were poured out indiscriminately. Preceding the swarms of flies, however, God stipulates that He will put a division between the people of Egypt and His own people. The word for division literally means a redemption (it is translated as such in Psalms 111:9 and 130:7; and as redeem in Isaiah 50:2). In the plagues that God pours out on Egypt and the saving of His people from these plagues, we have a portrait of God’s judgment and redemption.

The Plagues Are Judgment

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:9)

The first thing we should consider is that the plagues God poured out on Egypt were His judgments against a wicked people who defied Him. These plagues were the wrath of God being revealed against those who denied and rejected Him. Wherever we read in the New Testament about the wrath of God, we are reading about His judgment. Verses such as Romans 5:9 and 1 Thessalonians 1:10 promise that those who trust in Christ shall not come under the wrath of God, we shall not come under His holy judgment. God’s redemption saves His people from His wrath and judgment, just as it did for His people living in the land of Egypt. God does chasten those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6-7), but we are never judged by God’s wrath. In fact, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:32 that God’s judgment on us is His chastening that we might not be condemned with the world. God never judges those who belong to Him with destruction or condemnation like He judges those who reject Him and defy Him. He corrects His own as a loving Father corrects a son.

The plagues of Egypt are punitive in nature, not corrective. They are the direct actions of God upon a people in judgment for their rebellion. Yet even in this judgment there is the opportunity for repentance and a turning to the Lord. Had Pharaoh submitted at any time during this process we can be sure that the judgments would have ceased.

God’s People Are Not Immune To Difficulties

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

While we are promised that we will not suffer the wrath of God, we are never promised that we will escape the trials and difficulties present in a fallen world. The Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that we would not be immune to the troubles of life and that we should expect them. As Christians, we have more than our share of suffering. This world, the devil, and even our own flesh are all in conflict against the things of God. 1 Timothy 3:11-12 tells us that even the sincere desire to live a godly life that honors the Lord will bring persecution and affliction (though we have the promise that God will deliver us from them all!). But God’s wrath and judgment are not among the adversities that the child of God will have to face.

Kept From Judgment

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10)

Like the plagues of Egypt, the judgments listed in the Book of Revelation which will occur during the “Great Tribulation” are judgments from God. These judgments are the final outpouring of God’s wrath on a sinful and rebellious world that has utterly rejected Him. When God judged the world with the Great Flood, He set apart those belonging to Him; He redeemed Noah and his family. When God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, He set apart those belonging to Him; He redeemed Lot and his family. When God judged Pharaoh and Egypt, He set apart those belonging to Him; He redeemed the children of Israel. Will God do any differently when He pours out His greatest judgments upon the Earth? In each of these cases in the Old Testament, God removed those belonging to Him before He poured out His wrath. The Israelites may have endured the consequences of the first three plagues of Egypt, but the implications and severity of these three were nothing like the remaining seven. The bloody river, the frogs and the lice were certainly annoying and bothersome, but they were nothing like the plagues to come. They did not involve death, loss of livestock/property, or physical pain as the latter plagues would. Before these would come, God set His own people in safety. He set apart the land of Goshen.

“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of [Babylon], my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4)

One common objection raised against the idea of a “pre-Tribulation Rapture” (that the Lord Jesus will take His own out of the world before the Tribulation begins) is that the Bible does not teach that God ever removes His people from danger and hardships. But such an objection seems to seriously misunderstand both the nature and severity of the judgments that will occur during the Great Tribulation. The events described are not mere “trials”, “hardships”, or “difficulties.” They are the judgments of God Almighty, pouring out His wrath on the entire Earth in an unprecedented way! Yes, the devil will have his season during this time, but it is the hand of God that will be responsible for the most dramatic and awe-inspiring judgments that man has ever known. God has promised that those belonging to Him will escape His wrathful judgment. A “pre-Tribulation Rapture” of those who trust in Christ definitely appears to be the way that the Bible shows this promise will be carried out.

Until next time: May the Lord bless and keep you. To God goes all glory.

In His service,

Loren

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