The marriage of the Lamb is one of the greatest events in the Bible. But who is Jesus’ bride?
The marriage of the Lamb (Jesus) is one of the greatest events prophesied in the Bible. But who is Jesus’ bride?
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7.
The bride isof Christ.
The church is made up of everyone who is on the way to becoming completely free from all sin, as Jesus is. It is those who have started down the path that will lead them to divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4) Some people may be farther along this way than others. Some people may have just begun. But everybody who walks this way is a member of the . They are preparing themselves to be the . They are making themselves ready.
They are the ones who love Jesus. They are His followers. They are those who ache with longing to be with their Lord and Master. They are those who have made a decision to serve Jesus with all of their heart, all of their soul, all of their being. They are the ones whom Jesus cleanses and purifies; they will be a glorious church without spot or wrinkle. In a word, holy. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
A bride is somebody comparable to her bridegroom. This is why it is written in 1 Peter 1:15, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” The bride of Christ are those who will shine with a brightness and a purity and a holiness just as He who called her is holy.
“And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation 19:8. The bride of Christ makes herself ready for Him. Every second she has on this earth is used to prepare herself for her bridegroom. Her fine linen is not something given to her during the marriage feast but it is something she has made herself during her time on earth by walking in righteousness.
Rightly understood, the bride is not an elite cadre of special Christians that only a few get to be a part of. The bride will be few in number, but this is not because only a few invitations were sent out. It is because few people choose to answer. To be a part of the bride you need to answer that call, and start following Jesus on the way He Himself has gone.
Jesus will fetch His bride as soon as she is ready. Time is short, but there is still a time of grace for the bride to prepare herself, and it’s still possible to heed the call. (Read more about the rapture here)
Answering the call to be in the bride is the first step. It’s as simple as deciding, “I want to serve God with all my heart.” The way to go after this is described in Colossians 3:1-17. The bride sets her mind on things above. The bride is patient, humble, longsuffering, and does everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. The only thing she wants is to hasten the day of His return. (2 Peter 3:12)
The bride is so in love that she would pay any price to put off all sin, everything that is not Christ-like. She denies all such thoughts and puts them to death. (Colossians 3:5) And in this way the life of Christ can show forth in her. In this way she becomes a helper comparable to Him. With all of her very being she aches to be with Christ and knows that the way to do that is to become like Him. To become purified and cleansed as He is pure, and be transformed into divine nature like His. (1 John 3:2-3) Nothing less than perfection is acceptable. Any thought, any temptation that is not pleasing to Christ is immediately ! Sin is not an option for her! She wants to be with her bridegroom.
Finally, when the bride is ready to meet the bridegroom, Jesus will return to fetch His beloved. After so many years of Revelation 19:7-8)they can finally be united! All the heavens will rejoice in celebration of this event and there will be a tremendous marriage feast! (
Now the bride can be with the bridegroom. The long night is over. Now she has been perfected. She is perfectly united with Jesus in will, in purpose, in nature. Never to be parted for all of eternity. (1 Corinthians 6:17)
They are standing there in heaven; a throng of warriors and heroes dressed in pure white – an army that has paid the price and given everything to be cleansed and purified and transformed into Christ’s image. They are shining brighter than the sun, shining with a purity equal to Christ Himself. They are holy. They are His.
The heroes of the Old Testament and the martyrs of the great tribulation, amongst others, are of course servants of God and have fellowship with Christ. But the bride of Christ has a very special calling. She is seated beside Him; she is equal with Him. She has suffered the same sufferings as He has on earth and now she has her reward. It is a reward far greater than any given to anybody else in heaven or on earth. She is set above angels, above cherubim, above all of God’s creation, to be a partner and a helper to God’s very Son Himself.
The bride’s job in eternity will always be beside the bridegroom. “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. She is there beside Christ, drying tears, and erasing sorrows.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. (Revelaton 19:7-9) King James Version (KJV) Public Domain
I had to pull a comment from the last post and give it some exposure as it is SO ENCOURAGING. While watching for The Lords return surely takes patient endurance (Rev 3:10, Col 1:11-12) which is made clear by scripture… endurance and patience is much easier to sustain when done in a group of like minded believers. Perhaps that’s why the writer of Hebrews encourages us to continue to meet together (Heb 10:25). It is by meeting together, or more appropriately, commenting together, the Holy Spirit has a chance to multiple His blessing exponentially to people all across the earth. Thank you guys for being so faithful in contriubuting and reading the comments on this site… we are a family and it as because of you and HIM! With that said, here is the comment from Just Learning… read and be encouraged!
We wait. We anticipate. And then we wait some more. Most of the time, I’m on the edge of my seat. All past ‘high watch’ dates have come and gone…and I don’t mean they don’t have significant meanings, even if we don’t realize it at the time…but it’s never ‘The Event’ we long to see. At least so far! So, we put our noses back into the scriptures, sharing our thoughts, discoveries and dreams with each other. Then we wait more. Over and over. Sometimes growing tired. Very tired and weary.
But, Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” That is a great promise, isn’t it? Just the words “for in due season” is enough to help me take a deep breath and relax between contractions. We all know that we are in that “due season”.
My point is this: Once we are “caught up”, everything will be different…much different! Our weariness will vanish and we’ll have all the strength we can imagine. It will be via His strength. The body will be gloriously reconnected to the head. It is still a cloudy thought for me to even think of. It’s like looking through a glass , darkly. I seem to do that a lot, but it’s getting a little clearer every day!
Once we are with Him, will we then still be anticipating the next event? (I know that ‘event’ is not a good descriptive word, but I can’t think of another.) The Marriage Supper of the Lamb? What an event that will be!! (I sometimes joke about just being able to help set up some of the millions of folding tables and chairs for that great feast, and still having the energy to clean up afterwards. Ha!) How about anticipating the 2nd Coming? Have you picked out a name for your horse, yet? Are you looking forward to riding? (or rather flying?). Then, the Millennial Reign will really be something to experience! I know it is sure to happen, but right now, it still seems like a dream.
When in His presence after the Rapture, I think we will know what’s next… and will be anticipating it. But, will we experience the same highs and lows, anxiousness, weariness, etc. that we sometimes feel currently? Of course not! We will be thrilled (another inadequate choice of words), but not at all anxious. We’ll be able to enjoy every moment! Surely it won’t feel like it’s taking forever, as I sometimes think while ‘waiting’ for Him to come and get us. (Actually, ‘forever’ will be reality for us!) Neither will it feel like time is flying by too quickly. It will be perfect! Right now, looking back at my life, I’d describe it as the “days felt long, but the years certainly felt too short.” They flew by. That description is about to change!
The emotional ups and downs; the anxiety and disappointments; the shouting with joy and then the tears that sometimes follow; the wondering if we are right are wrong; our attempt to correctly balance our time and thoughts between anticipation of His return vs. ‘occupying’; ….these will ALL DISAPPEAR in the TWINKLING OF AN EYE.
I am ready for that. And you? (Click to Source)
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The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas is planning a mass demonstration along Israel’s border on Friday, prompting fears of a new war with the Jewish state ahead of the Passover holiday, according to regional experts and U.S. officials who say they are closely monitoring the situation.
On the heels of a recent military exercise that observers described as “unprecedented,” Hamas leaders have called for some 100,000 Gaza Strip resident to engage in six weeks of mass demonstrations along the Israeli border as Jewish families gear up for the Passover holiday, which begins Friday evening.
Regional experts closely tracking the situation say the demonstrations are meant as cover for a mass military campaign to swarm Israel’s border and stoke violence against the Jewish state.
The situation is being closely monitored by Trump administration officials, who outlined concerns that Hamas could use civilian protesters as human shields as cover for attacks on Israeli forces.
Tension are high ahead of the mass demonstration, dubbed the Great Return March, with the United Nations already imploring Israel to not attack children or other civilians.
Officials with the U.N. Relief Works Agency, or UNRWA, a body routinely cited for its anti-Israel bias, have already endorsed the demonstrations, stoking further concerns the U.N. is setting the stage to blame Israel for any violence that could erupt. UNRWA has offered medical facilities to any Palestinian who may be injured during the weeks of protest.
State Department officials told the Washington Free Beacon that they are aware of the upcoming protests and will be tracking the situation closely.
“We are aware of calls by Hamas asking people to march along the Israeli border over the coming weeks,” one U.S. official told the Free Beacon.” We will monitor the situation and developments closely.”
The State Department emphasized that it still considers Hamas a terror group and is aware of its routine use of human shields during terror operations.
“Our position on Hamas has not changed,” the official said. “It is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. Any use of human shields is absolutely unacceptable.”
Omri Ceren, a managing director at The Israel Project, a D.C.-based organization that works on Middle East issues, warned that Hamas is using civilian protests as cover for a massive military operation that could launch another regional war.
Evidence suggests Hamas has already prepared to flood Israel with armed assets during the demonstration and has even positioned equipment such as tractors to shift the ground and erect fortifications.
“Hamas is trying to trigger a Passover War and the U.N. seems eager to help them,” Ceren said. “Hamas is preparing thousands of civilians to rush Israel’s border, tear down the defensive fence, and provide cover as Hamas fighters flood into Israel.”
While Israeli military officials have planned to use as little force as possible to control any violent eruption, things could get out of hand quickly, Ceren said.
“The Israelis will do everything possible to prevent escalation and avoid casualties, but this is the kind of thing that could go really bad really quickly,” he explained.
“Meanwhile the U.N. is supporting Hamas and setting up Israel to get blamed for anything that happens to Hamas’s human shields,” Ceren said. “American lawmakers were already inclined to view the U.N. as biased and unhelpful when it comes to Israel and this can cement that view.”
U.N. officials have moved to put the onus for preventing violence on Israel in recent days.
Nickolay Mladenov, U.N. special coordinator to the Middle East peace process, urged Israel to show restraint during the demonstrations, even if violence erupts.
“The use of force by Israel must also be calibrated. Israel must uphold its responsibilities under international human rights law and humanitarian law,” Mladneov was quoted as saying. “Lethal force should only be used as a last resort, with any resulting fatalities properly investigated by the authorities. I once again urge the security forces to exercise maximum restraint to avoid casualties.”
“I call on all sides to exercise restraint and to take the necessary steps to avoid a violent escalation,” he was quoted as saying. “It is imperative that civilians, in particular children, not be targeted and that all actors refrain from putting children at risk at any time.”
Observers have been warning that Hamas is not seeking a peaceful protest, but a military campaign in the guise of civilian demonstration.
“The plan is to build to a crescendo day by day until May 15, the day after Israel’s Independence Day, when Hamas hopes tens of thousands of Gazan civilians, interspersed with some military folks, will storm the security barrier, an action that could provoke a forceful response from Israeli security,” Tzippe Barrow, a Jerusalem-based correspondent for CBN News warned in a recent report. (Click to Source)
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What Is That Rapture Word? | The Two Resurrections Explained
by Scottie Clarke
The concept and doctrine of the rapture is nothing new. It was not first brought forth by John Darby or anyone in the 1800’s. It was first taught by Messiah Himself and later expounded upon by the apostle Paul. John even gave us more revelation about it finalizing the scriptures.
The English word “rapture” is not the resurrection word as it is commonly misunderstood to be, nor is it the word for changing to incorruptible bodies. It is merely a transportation word that is linked exclusively to the living who are caught up to meet the resurrected believers and Messiah in the clouds after the resurrection of the dead. A careful reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 will show this.
Verse 16 shows the resurrection of the dead in Messiah. Verse 17 shows that at that time there will be living believers who are “caught up” or “caught away” immediately after them to a great assembly in the clouds.
The English terms “caught up” or “caught away” in 1 Thess. 4:17 is G726 harpazo, which means to seize, carry off by force, claim for one’s self eagerly, to snatch out or away.
Long before English bibles, harpazo was translated by Saint Jerome in the second century for the Latin Vulgate to “rapio” or “raptus” which is where the English word “rapture” obviously derived from. These Latin words mean basically the same, but of course the contextual meaning is what the original Greek offers us in “harpazo”. So this is nothing new.
The first clear reference to this is in John 11:25-26. Lazarus’ sister Martha was speaking with Messiah just after Lazarus had died. The conversation was about his resurrection.
In verse 25 Messiah states that He is the resurrection and the eternal life. He said, “he who believes in Me, though he dies, he shall live.” This is a direct link to 1 Thess. 4:16 from Paul regarding the resurrection of the dead in the end times.
The next thing He said in John 11:26 is, “And everyone that is living and believing in me shall never die at all.” Read that again. This is a direct link to 1 Thess. 4:17 from Paul about believers who are alive on earth at the moment of the above resurrection before the Tribulation.
Review John 11:25-26 against 1 Thess 4:16-17. Messiah taught the resurrection AND rapture before Paul did! Martha had no idea what He was talking about, but it had to be written for us.
So the word we use (rapture) only refers to the living as a transportation word into the clouds to meet them all in the air as G726 shows. This word is not about being changed to incorruptible bodies either, but of course Paul went into that for us in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. Here a little, there a little. It really is hiding all throughout the scriptures for us to find.
This goes into the greater study of the harvest He is gathering (Mt. 9:37) which is foreshadowed in the old testament. It is called the First Resurrection (Rev. 20:4-5) which is in three parts, first fruits, main harvest and the gleanings.
The second resurrection is the Great White Throne judgement unto death (Mt. 25:11-12; Rev. 20:12-15). It consists of everyone else who ever lived but denied Him (2 Tim. 2:12). They go to the lake of fire.
The harvest of the field begins with a grain offering (First Fruits, Lev. 23:10) which are those who were raised from the dead on the same day Messiah was (Mt. 27:52-53; John 5:25) They are known as the 144,000 (Rev 14:4). He took them to the Father as the grain offering on that Festival Day before returning to prove Himself to His disciples that evening and remaining with them for 40 days.
The main harvest is just before the Tribulation and consists of all believers living and dead in these last 2000 years.
Lastly, there is the gleanings of the field which means “left over” or even “left behind” (Lev. 23:22). Many will become believers during the Tribulation. These are the final part of the harvest. They are harvested at the end of the Tribulation (Rev. 7:9-17; Rev. 14:15-16; 20:4-6). We call them Tribulation Saints.
So there was a resurrection to life which ended the dispensation of the law and began the dispensation of grace (first fruits).
There will be a resurrection AND rapture to life to close the age of grace before the Tribulation dispensation (main harvest).
There is a resurrection to life which closes the Tribulation dispensation before the dispensation of Messiah’s millennium reign (gleanings).
And finally there will be a resurrection unto death to close the millennium reign dispensation before eternity. Resurrections always begin and end a dispensation.
There is even a small resurrection directly in the center of the Tribulation dispensation which is of the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:11-12) which changes this dispensation from bad to worse. Everything is with absolute precision.
Additionally, the precision of these resurrections to life also include the Feast days.
The First Fruits were taken on First Fruits. The Main Harvest will be taken on the Feast of Trumpets. The Two Witnesses will likely also be taken on First Fruits and the Gleanings will be taken on the Feast of Atonement.
I cannot say it enough. Study the Feast Days. NOTHING IS RANDOM OR “WHENEVER”.
Again, the first resurrection to eternal life is in three distinct parts before the millennium reign. The second resurrection to eternal death stands alone finalizing the millennium reign (Dan. 12:2; John 5:25, 28-29).
So the word “rapture” is exclusively for the blessed group that Messiah talked about in John 11:26, “And everyone that is living and believing in Me shall never die at all.” As this relates directly to the very verse that Paul talked about in 1 Thess. 4:17 using this word.
“Then we, the living who are left over, shall be caught away (G726 harpazo) together with them in the clouds to meet the Master in the air – and so we shall always be with the Master.”
I hope this brought clarity on the subject. Thank you for reading and for your support.
Scottie Clarke March 9, 2018
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February 24, 2018
The countdown to the Vernal Equinox expanded.
Here we have 70 years from Equinox to Equinox based on the Market number of 2-2-18 that was 25,520 and in days spans from the Equinox in 1948 to 2-2-2018.
2520 Days from David Wilkerson’s death, the super tornado breakout, and Obama releasing his birth certificate due to pressure from Donald Trump. David Wilkerson’s book predicted the downfall of America.
1260 Days from the second blood moon.
The middle of the Tetrad to 3-20 is 360pi+40, but is also linked through four Shevat 24’s utilizing 360pi, 354, and 777.
The Vernal Equinox eclipse on 3-20-15 was between the 2nd and 3rd lunar eclipse of the Tetrad. The next solar eclipse was the Great American Solar Eclipse, which occurred 153 degrees away from Pisces and in Leo next to Regulus. The sun returns back those 153 degrees on 3-20-18.
999 days after the gay marriage ruling of the Supreme Court and the rainbow lighting of the White House comes 3-20-18. 9 refers to judgement and here we have a trinity.
The next step is the chain of 490/pi days and 490 days. It begins with Pentecost on 6-12-16, which is also the day 50 were killed in Orlando. Pentecost was the conception of the Church. 490/pi days later was the Conception Comet C/2017 E1 that visited the womb of Virgo before Jupiter entered three days later. Continuing on another 490 days comes to 3-20-18. 490 is the seventy sevens of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks and Pentecost is the seven sevens. How fitting that the final seven may then begin timed after conception and the birth of the completed Body and Bride of Christ.
537 days matches the year BC when Israel returned after the 70 year Babylonian captivity. Here we are completing 70 years since the return of Israel.
430 is the amount of time Israel spent in Egypt and Canaan before entering the Promised Land. 430 was also the time found in Ezekiel 4 and with 70 years fulfilled, 360 years remained. If multiplied by seven due to non-repentance according to Leviticus, that resulted in 2520 years and in 360-day years that came to 1948 from 537 BC.
The Revelation 12 Sign comes half circle from Equinox to Equinox and also half a lunar year at 177 days. The period of 177 days has been repeated in the Tetrad and Earthquake Tetrad.
From the end of the earthquake tetrad of 7+ earthquakes spaced at 177 days and hinging off of open Jewish worship on the Temple Mount on 7-17-17, we have 70 days to 3-20-18. Another ode to the 70 years and the 70 years from Christ’s birth that the Temple now in ruins still lies.
42 Jews ascended the Temple Mount and worshipped regardless of the law. 9 weeks from this day is 3-20-18. The Jews will need this Spirit to thrive and survive in the 70th Week. 42 Days from that day is also Purim on 3-1-18.
Tu B’Shevat on 1-31-18 comes 7 weeks before 3-20-18. Tu B’Shevat 2018 was linked by phi to the Tetrad and was the first blood moon since. It fulfilled 70 years since the great Supermoon since 1-26-1948.
The seven and forty days seem to match the flood numbers, but more importantly it appears that from a lunar based year instead, we have been afforded 40 more days as a time for repentance.
The last item is Billy Graham who died 21 days from Tu B’Shevat and one month before the Equinox. His death comes at intersections of 153—the 2 dimensional triangle number equivalent to the 3 dimensional number of Methuselah—969. Billy Graham’s death bookends the ministry of David Wilkerson and his death seven years before. Many other significant pastors and teachers have died in between. Grant Jeffery even died 4 x 490 days before the Feast of Trumpets 2017. This number span was even in one of his breakout books, Armageddon: Appointment with Destiny!
The appointment looks to be here. It’s the final countdown. (Click to Source)
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THE TIME OF JACOB’S TROUBLE
For nearly two thousand years we have been living in a parenthesis, a prophetic interval, a time “in between.” Daniel’s prophecy in the vision of the seventy weeks called for a period of 490 years when God would deal especially with Israel. When Christ offered Himself as the Prince of Israel, 483 years, or 69 weeks of years, had been fulfilled. When He was rejected and crucified the prophetic clock stopped, not to begin again until the Jews were back in their land and the parenthetical period had ended. During this prophetic interval, sometimes known as the Church Age, both Jews and Gentiles who are born again through faith in Christ become part of the body of Christ or the bride of Christ. The signal that the “in between” time has ended will be the removal of the church (the bride of Christ) from the earth. This great event is described in a number of Bible portions. One of the clearest is 1 Thessalonians 4:13 –18:
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words
The event then that ends the Church Age and ushers in the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy is the return of Christ for His church. This coming of Christ in the air is known as the Rapture of the church; it involves the resurrection of the Christian dead as well as the exit from earth of all believers living at that time.
With the removal of the church, earth plunges into its most awful hour. Of this time Jesus said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). He was speaking of the seven-year period known as the Tribulation, or the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, so named because of Jeremiah’s prophecy: “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble…” (Jeremiah 30:7).
Some believe the church will remain on earth for the Tribulation. There are a number of reasons for rejecting this conclusion.
The return of Christ for His church is a sign less and always imminent event. Even the New Testament writers expected the Lord’s return at any moment: “For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
All signs of the Lord’s return have to do with the coming of Christ to set up His Kingdom. They are only indicators of the approaching Rapture because that event precedes the establishment of Christ’s kingdom by seven years. The moment the Tribulation begins, however, a timetable will be evident. Date-setting will be conclusive. During the Tribulation, Christ’s return will no longer be imminent. Therefore, the Rapture of the church must precede the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.
The Tribulation will be a time of wrath: “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17). And the church is not to be the recipient of wrath. In assuring the Thessalonian Christians that they would not go through the Tribulation, Paul explained: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians. 5:9).
Wicked as it is, the world is not quite ready for the Tribulation and the Antichrist. The church is not all it ought to be, but the world is better because the church is here. Sin is rampant, but it would be far worse without the presence of the church and its hindering influence to evil: “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let [hinder], until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed…” (2 Thessalonians 2:7,8).
The Holy Spirit, working through Christians, holds back the tide of evil sweeping the world. When His influence in this manner is removed at the Rapture, the world will be ready for the Antichrist and the Tribulation.
The church has three heavenly appointments during the earthly Tribulation.
First, Christians cannot be on earth during the Tribulation because they have important business elsewhere. When the Lord returns for His church, it will be time for the judgment seat of Christ: “And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).
Second, Christians who are living at the time of Christ’s return must have time in the mansions prepared by Jesus as described in John 14:1 — 3. The only time available for the fulfillment of this promise before the Millennium is during the Tribulation.
Third, the marriage supper of the Lamb will take place in heaven during the end of the Tribulation period, according to Revelation 19:9, and the bride of Christ must attend. Following this joyful occasion, those who belong to Christ will return with Him as He comes to set up His kingdom. Since believers must come from heaven to earth at the end of the Tribulation, it is clear that the Rapture must precede that time of trouble.
Finally, it must be remembered that the Tribulation is especially related to Israel. Once this truth is established, all confusion about the time of the Rapture disappears. The return of Christ for His church marks the end of the Church Age, the parenthetical period, and begins the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.
What is the Time of Jacob’s Trouble? Let Daniel describe it: “…there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time…” (Daniel 12:1).
This unprecedented period of tribulation is not to be confused with daily tribulations which all of God’s people pass through. Jesus said: “…In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Paul had learned to glory in tribulations: “…we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience” (Romans 5:3).
These heartaches, problems, and tribulations are different from the Tribulation. This seven-year period is one of immense suffering for the entire world. It is an era of unthinkable trouble. Nothing in history can be compared to it, nor will there ever be anything equal to it in the future. Chapters 6, 8, 9, 15, and 16 of Revelation describe the Time of Jacob’s Trouble under the headings of seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials. Next week we will look at the panorama of human pain that will be experienced by the inhabitants of the earth during the Tribulation.
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A few years ago, back in the 2012–13 range, I distinctly recall asking the Lord for further confirmation of the Pre-Trib Rapture, specifically in passages of the Old Testament. Afterwards, I remember landing on Isaiah 26:19–21 one day and was overwhelmed with excitement. Maybe you know the feeling—that sudden burst of joy springing up from your innermost being the moment you discover a precious gem hidden deep in the minefields of Scripture.
For example, Gary posted an article back on September 12, 2017 entitled “Blood Moons, Births, and Babies.” Toward the end of that post, he cited one of the lesser-known OT prophets, Zephaniah, and highlighted the possible future fulfillment of Zephaniah 2:1–3 as applicable to the Church—the male-child of Revelation 12:5who is born [resurrected to glory] and snatched up to God’s throne.
While the timing of the Rapture of the Church in Revelation 12 as it relates to the onset of the Tribulation period isn’t all that clear, other passages such as Isaiah 66:7–8 make the timing as clear as day (for a more detailed analysis, see my previous post “The Birth of a Nation: Part I“).
The Pre-Trib timing is made crystal clear in Isaiah 66:7, most notably, because of the repetitive use of the temporal preposition “before.” Likewise, Zephaniah 2:1-3 appears to be yet another confirmation of the timing of our deliverance in relation to the start of the 70th week.
Here’s a quote from Gary’s article mentioned above that I’ll use as a launching pad for this post:
Most importantly, according to Zephaniah 2:1–3, this group who seeks righteousness is gathered together before a certain decree takes effect (the 7-year covenant of Daniel 9:27?) and is hidden away before ‘the day of the anger of the Lord.’ These ancient Old Testament prophecies are coming to light like never before and they seem to be painting an increasingly pre-trib picture” (emphasis his).
Indeed, the picture is coming into focus. It’s not just one text or passage in isolation that illuminates the portrait of a Pre-Trib deliverance for the Church. Like a mosaic or impressionist painting, it’s the composite pieces and individual brush-strokes seen together that reveal the whole.
So, put your fine-art glasses on [i.e. Holy Spirit lenses] and walk with me through the gallery of Scripture to view the bigger picture. As I hope you’ll see, Zephaniah 2:1–3 is an integral piece of the Pre-Trib portrait. Therefore, the aim of this study will be to shore-up Gary’s initial hunch about the relevance of this passage for the Church today.
Seeking Shelter Before the Storm (Hiding in Yahweh’s Doomsday Bunker)
Zephaniah had a tough message to deliver to the people of his day. Most likely, he was not a favorite guest preacher in the synagogue circuit, and he definitely would not be first on the list to speak in the preeminent pulpits of our churches today.
It’s not that he’s a false prophet or anything like that. No, far from it. It’s just, well…he’s all doom and gloom, and nobody wants to hear that. Most people want to hear about how great tomorrow will be. Tell me something good. Tell me that God’s going to prosper me and keep me healthy, wealthy, and happy. Ah, but that’s not reality, and the truth is a hard pill to swallow.
The truth is that the Day of the LORD is near and rapidly approaching (Zeph. 1:14). It’s a day of darkness and gloom, destruction and desolation (Zeph. 1:15). This isn’t merely a local judgment, either. It’s global and worldwide in scope (Zeph. 1:2–3; 3:8).
Ok, ok, so do I need to build a bunker in the ground? Gather supplies to outlast my neighbor through the Tribulation? No, listen to Zephaniah. He offers a glimmer of hope to a specific nation, a people who are living in the days right before God executes His judgment on earth:
Gather yourselves together; gather together, undesirable nation, before the decree takes effect and the day passes like chaff, before the burning of the LORD’s anger overtakes you, before the day of the LORD’s anger overtakes you. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth, who carry out what He commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be concealed on the day of the LORD’s anger” (Zeph. 2:1–3, HCSB, emphasis mine).
A play on the prophet’s name embedded in 2:3 underscores the opportunity for a certain, humble nation to be hidden away and concealed before God’s judgments take effect. Clarifying the connection between the prophet’s name and his message, Old Testament scholar, Ronald B. Allen, writes in his book, A Shelter in the Fury:
The name Zephaniah…is built on two Hebrew words, a verb meaning ‘to hide’ and the proper name of God, Yahweh. Zephaniah means ‘Hidden by Yahweh” (pgs. 19–20, emphasis mine).
Thus, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, this passage in Zephaniah is truly a hidden gem. Amidst all the “doom and gloom” in the surrounding context, this window of opportunity is a welcome sight for anyone in right standing with Yahweh who is living on earth before the final judgment begins.
To really grasp the full effect of this passage, however, we need to examine the original Hebrew text. Paraphrased translations have their place, but there is a reason why a more literal translation such as the KJV should be consulted in this instance.
For example, a survey of the English translations for Zephaniah 2:1–3 shows a couple of minor discrepancies that are relevant to our study, especially verses 1 and 2:
First, is the gathered nation of verse 1 shameless, or undesirable/unwanted? Does the answer help us to further identify these people who are hidden “on the day of the LORD’s anger”?
Second, is “decree” the right word choice in verse 2? If so, what is this decree that is linked so closely with the Day of the Lord and its horrific judgments?
We’ll address these questions next.
Which Nation? What Decree?
By now, many of you who have studied the Bible for some time know that the Hebrew language is really flexible. Certain words like ruach have a wide semantic range with possible meanings of “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit.” Therefore, not only is the immediate Old Testament context crucial for interpretation and understanding, but we must also consider the New Testament’s use of the Old to see how prophecy functions in God’s economy.
In many instances, we discover that Old Testament prophecy can have multiple fulfillments as time and revelation progress. Perhaps the most striking and surprising example comes from Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1 (see Matt. 2:15). The historical context of Hosea 11:1 reveals God’s son to be the nation, Israel, who is called out of Egypt during the Exodus. However, as time and revelation progress, Matthew is later moved by the Holy Spirit to latch on to this particular text. As a result, the referent shifts from the nation of Israel to Jesus, God’s Son, who is protected in Egypt until it is safe to go back to Israel again. Wow!
Old Testament prophecies regarding the coming “Day of the LORD” are similar in that they establish a pattern, or template, which the Holy Spirit can later appropriate to another time and place for fulfillment. Dr. Darrell Bock confirms this critical point on the New Testament’s use of the Old:
Although ‘day of the Lord imagery’ is fulfilled in certain events within the OT (e.g. parts of Joel 2), the nature of that fulfillment looks forward to the decisive period of such fulfillment (the ‘day par excellence’). In all these examples, the imagery is such that an aspect of the passage demands fulfillment beyond the short-term event and thus points to the presence of pattern. The prophetic character of the text resides in this ‘needs to be fulfilled’ feature in the pattern” (“Scripture Citing Scripture,” in Interpreting the New Testament Text, pg. 272, emphasis mine).
After marinating on Zephaniah 2:1–3 for a while, I now strongly believe that this passage fits the bill for the prophetic pattern previously described. For some, you will have no problem with this because you rightly discern the distinctions between Israel and the Church (for a study on an OT precedent for the continuity and discontinuity of Israel and the Church, see my previous post “Birthday Break-away“).
For others who wish to blur the lines where they should not be blurred, I pray that you understand that the “nation” in Zeph. 2:1 isn’t limited to ethnic Israel. In fact, as I will demonstrate below, the nation who fulfills Zeph. 2:1–3 in the future cannot be national Israel.
First, a word about the nation of Zeph. 2:1—are they shameless, or undesirable? The Hebrew text reads literally, “…gather together nation who is not longed for [Heb. kasaph].” For various reasons, rather than translating kasaph in its usual sense of “to long for; seek after,” some scholars have decided that “shameless” fits the context better and justify their decision by pointing to a related Arabic root word.
Given that kasaph is never translated this way in the four other OT usages (see here), it seems best to keep the sense of “longed for” in Zephaniah as well.
All right, so a nation not longed for is told to gather together—and this is when we are hit with a barrage of before’s:
1) Before the decree takes effect…
2) Before the burning of the LORD’s anger…
3) Before the Day of the LORD’s anger…
There is a minor textual issue in that the Septuagint (LXX) reads very differently in 2:2 and does not have the word “decree.” The weight of evidence, however, favors the Hebrew (MT) and the other ancient versions that all contain “decree” (the Latin Vulgate has a solid translation of our passage too, see here).
Since this is a critical juncture of our study, we need to examine this “decree” [Heb. choq] and its implications (see the nuanced meaning of this term especially in Ps. 2:7 and Isa. 24:5, here). The King James Version renders 2:2 quite well, “[gather together]…before the decree bring forth…” This is how the Hebrew reads literally and could even be translated, “…before the decree gives birth [Heb. yalad, a word also found in our major “woman in labor” passages such as Mic. 5:3 and Isa. 66:7].
When you survey the English versions, you’ll find that most have paraphrased the Hebrew to read something like, “…before the decree takes effect…,” or as the NLT renders it, “Gather before judgment begins…” These are all faithful translations that communicate the message of God’s prophetic word: The call goes out for a nation not wanted (not desired) to gather together before the the Day of the Lord strikes—before the decreed judgments of the end-times take effect. This nation who seeks the LORD at this time will also have the opportunity to be hidden and concealed while judgments from above rain down on the earth below (2:3; cf. Isa. 26:19–21).
At this point you should take note of the intentional ambiguity (or flexibility) of Zeph. 2:1. This prophetic offer from the LORD was available to the nation, Israel, right before the Babylonian invasion and exile (Zeph. 1:1; cf. 2 Kgs. 23:24–27). However, as we near the final Day of the LORD, Jacob’s trouble, and the 70th week of Daniel (7-year Tribulation period), this offer of a “Pre-Decree” escape is not for Israel anymore—it’s for the Church.
In the next section, I’ll demonstrate from key parallel passages how Zephaniah 2:1–3 applies to the Church (who was once an undesired nation: Deut. 32:21, Rom. 9:24–26; 1 Pet. 2:9) and cannot be fulfilled by national Israel (or Tribulation saints, to cover the bases).
Before the Decree Takes Effect (The Pre-Decree Resurrection/Rapture of the Church)
Are there other passages in the Bible that speak of a “decree” and also confirm its connection to the end-time judgments of the 7-year Tribulation period? Overwhelmingly, yes!
Let’s check ’em out:
So now, do not mock [Israel], or your shackles will become stronger. Indeed, I have heard from the Lord GOD of Hosts a decree of destruction for the whole land” (HCSB, emphasis mine).
He will make a firm covenant with many for one week [7 years], but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering. And the abomination of desolation will be on a wing of the temple until the decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator” (HCSB, emphasis mine).
But one may object: The “decree” of destructive judgments from God [His wrath] may only apply to the latter half of the Trib, so the Church is not guaranteed an escape from the entire 70th week, perhaps only the trumpet or bowl judgments.
Hopefully, these next two passages will seal the deal for you. As the prophecy in Zeph. 2:1–3 clearly states, it’s a “Pre-Decree” gathering and hiding away for the Church. Daniel 9:24 informs us that specific periods of time are “decreed” for Israel alone, and 9:27 reveals that a certain end-time covenant signals the start of the last seven years—these are reserved judgments for the nation of Israel and the rest of the world that are allotted by divine decree!
So, here’s the last question to be answered: Does the New Testament confirm the 7-year duration of the “decree” in Zeph. 2:2 ?
For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘Peace and security,’ then sudden destruction comes on themlike labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in the dark, so that this day would overtake you like a thief” (HCSB, emphasis mine).
This decree of destruction [Isa. 28:22] is the same as the Seven-Sealed Scroll of Revelation five…with the breaking of the seals, there is massive destruction of the earth. But this decree of destruction will be issued only when the covenant [Dan. 9:27] is signed. So then, the same point made in Daniel 9:27 is made by Isaiah. The Tribulation begins with the signing of the Seven-Year Covenant between the leaders of Israel and the Antichrist. Once that covenant is signed, the Tribulation begins and a decree of destruction is issued by God Himself” (Footsteps of the Messiah, pgs. 200–201, emphasis mine).
Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there was a white horse. The horseman on it had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he went out as a victor to conquer” (HCSB, emphasis mine).
The opening of the first seal coincides with Israel proclaiming “peace and security” after covenanting with the Antichrist, “…by peace [he] shall destroy many” (Dan. 8:25); and the rider on a white horse (counterfeit Christ) carries a “bow” and is given authority to conquer (the “bow” here could represent a counterfeit of God’s own peace treaty that He created in the days of Noah; see Gen. 9:12–17 for God’s “bow,” a sign of the covenant).
The Day of the Decree is Drawing Near
According to God’s word, the Church will not spend one nano-second in the coming 7-year Tribulation period. This time of trouble for Jacob (Jer. 30:7) is just that—the time of Israel’s darkest hour. Rather than getting the anticipated peace and security from their covenant with the nations, the woman [Israel] will instead go into labor and be chastised with covenant curses (Lev. 26; Deut. 31:17; cf. Rev. 6:3–8). The flood of the end will continue unabated until Israel comes under the everlasting protection of the New Covenant, and, instead of saying “peace and security,” the Prince of Peace will come when they say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD” (Ps. 118:26; Matt. 23:39).
All Israel will be saved, but it will first be wittled-down to a purged remnant (Isa. 10:20–23; Zech. 13:8–9; Rom. 11:25–27). Israel will be given a hiding place, but not before the “decree” of destruction takes effect (Rev. 12:6, 14).
In this study we affirmed the prophetic principle of an OT prophecy applying to more than the original, historical referent (e.g. Hosea 11:1 and Matt. 2:15). The text of Zeph. 2:1–3 was established, key issues were examined, and overall, the prophecy was shown to be flexible enough to apply to a future “nation” other than Israel. Finally, we traced the thread of the “decree” in Zeph. 2:2 to other key passages that cemented the doctrine of a Pre-Decree [Pre-Trib] Resurrection and Rapture of the Church.
Be encouraged, brothers and sisters in Christ! We are not appointed to wrath (1 Thess. 5:9), and that “wrath” includes the full seven years of the seven-sealed scroll! Let’s keep watch and eagerly wait for our rescue and escape. It won’t be long now. Before the decree takes effect, you and I will effectively be gathered and hidden.
In closing, I’ve got three, nay four, words for you: Pre. Trib. Rapture. Amen!