Discourse 862 - 18 Arguments for Placing Rapture before the Great Tribulation - and their Refutation




18 arguments for placing the Rapture before the Great Tribulation / Book René Pache 00, pp 92ff

Argument 1: Must the congregation go through the “hour of testing”?

Argument 2: Is the Great Tribulation the “wrath of the Lamb”?

Argument 3: Is the Great Tribulation the “judgment on the household of God”?

Argument 4: Will the faithful be “redeemed” before the Great Tribulation?

Argument 5: Does the congregation of the Last Days escape the Great Tribulation - or rather have we Christians been doing so for nearly 2000 years?

Argument 6: The Antichrist before the Second Coming of the Lord, i.e. the Rapture after the Great Tribulation!

Argument 7: Does the battle of Armageddon come at the end of the Great Tribulation?

Argument 8: Do the faithful of all times have a part in the First Resurrection?

Argument 9: Will the congregation judge the martyrs?

Argument 10: Must the elect flee at the time of the Rapture, or should they wait it out?

Argument 11: Do the prophecies relating to Israel take their course before or after the Great Tribulation?

Argument 12: Does not one of the epistles speak of details of the Great Tribulation?

Argument 13: Are the letters to the churches in Revelation chronologically arranged?

Argument 14: Are the 24 elders in Revelation the congregation?

Argument 15: Is the woman in heaven in Rev 12 the congregation?

Argument 16: Is the congregation the “bride of the Lamb”?

Argument 17: After the visible return of the Lord, can anyone still come to “believe”?

Argument 18: Are the “ambassadors of God” already relieved of their office before the Great Tribulation, in the interest of their safety?

The first and the second Antichrist     part 1, Discourse 86



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(18 arguments for placing the Rapture before the Great Tribulation / Book René Pache pages 92 ff)

“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short... But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will falls from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Matt. 24,21-22.29-31.

In our view, we here have to do with those who will be converted after the Rapture of the congregation, during the dominion of the Antichrist. (…)

But it seems that the congregation is raptured before the Great Tribulation. Numerous passages permit this assumption.


Extract from the book “Die Wiederkunft Christi” ('Le retour du Jésu-Christ') ['The Second Coming of Christ'] by René Pache, R. Brockhaus Verlag [R. Brockhaus Publihsers], Wuppertal



In what follows Mr. R. Pache now advances 18 arguments that are designed to prove the doctrine of Pretribulationism. In the light of the new view of the events of the Last Days presented in Discourse 86 - in particular the distinction between the Great Tribulation with the first Antichrist, the “man of lawlessness” as Paul calls him in 2The 2,3, and the Day of the Wrath of God, with the second Antichrist, described by John in Revelation as the “beast from the sea” - it seems appropriate here to examine Mr. Pache's proofs in the light of Scripture so as to check their plausibility.

(See also Table 14: “The Revelation - classified by events.”


First of all let me just give a short summary of the insights arrived at in Discourse 86. On the basis of the analysis carried out there, it becomes clear that the Great Tribulation has a completely different background from what has hitherto been generally assumed. The reason for this mistaken understanding is the failure to distinguish between the two Antichrists, and the accompanying circumstances in each case. A further consequence of this is a confusion between the Great Tribulation (first Antichrist, the “man of lawlessness”, wars throughout the world, climatic catastrophe and famines) with the Day of the Lord and of the Wrath of God (second Antichrist, the “beast from the sea”, the world dominated by demonic forces). This Day of the Wrath of God reaches its climax in the judgments of the bowls (Rev 16,1-21) which are poured out on the second, demonic Antichrist and his worshipers, and ends with the battle of Armageddon (Rev 19,11-21), where this demon, along with his false prophet, is finally defeated and annihilated.

So we plainly have to do here with two Antichrists, who however are nonetheless identical:

o  First the Antichrist in human form, the “man of godlessness”, as Paul calls him. He is an earthly ruler in the Last Days who receives his power from Satan. He performs false signs and wonders, and founds his dominion on deceit and injustice (2The 2:7-10). He will be killed by the Lord when the Lord comes again to rapture the faithful, with the breath of his mouth - that is to say, a sharp sword that comes out of his mouth (Rev 1:16) gives the Antichrist a fatal swordstroke.

o  In Rev 13:1, Satan then raises this man who has been killed from the dead, and endows him now with all his own might and power, even giving him his throne (Rev 13:2). This demon will exercise an absolute dominion on earth, and will have all people killed who do not worship him (Rev 13:15). This is now the second, demonic Antichrist, the beast from the sea described by John in Rev 13,1ff. He and the hosts of the worldly kings (Rev 19:19) who are in league with him will be defeated at the battle of Armageddon by the Son of God and his heavenly host (Rev 19:14). While the people who have fought for the beast in this battle are killed by the sword that comes out of the mouth of the Son of God (Rev 19:21), the beast - the demonic Antichrist - and his false prophet are consigned to the second death and thrown alive into the lake of fire (Rev 19:20).


Readers who are starting their reading with this Discourse directly would be strongly advised to read also Discourse 86, in order to have a better understanding of the background.

(See also Discourse 86: “The first and the second Antichrist”)


Here now are René Pache's 18 arguments.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 1:Must the congregation go through the “hour of testing”?)


“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also shall keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth” (Rev 3,10). The Greek text actually says - I will save you out of the hour of testing, which in the language of Revelation can only mean the Great Tribulation.



As we can see, the whole misunderstanding begins right at the start of this argument. The “hour of testing” just is not the Great Tribulation at all. According to Scripture, the Great Tribulation is a time of wars all over the world, catastrophic droughts, famines and earthquakes, as we can see from the parallel passages Mt 24 and Rev 6.

o  Worldwide wars

It was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another.

Rev 6,3 When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come." 6,4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him. Rev 6, 3- 4;

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

Mt 24,6 "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 24,7 "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. Mt 24, 6- 7;


o  Catastrophic droughts and famines

A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.

Rev 6,5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6,6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine." Rev 6, 5- 6;

In various places there will be famines and earthquakes.

Mt 24,7 "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. Mt 24, 7;


o  Billions of people die

Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine.

Rev 6,7 When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come." 6,8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth. Rev 6, 7- 8;



And these of the faithful who have lost their lives in the Great Tribulation are then seen later by John, in heaven, in Rev 7,13-17:

They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat.

Rev 7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 7,15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 7,16 "They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 7,17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." Rev 7, 13-17;


They have come out of the Great Tribulation on earth and now stand, after their raising from the dead and Rapture, before the throne of God and serve him day and night. And as the elder says to John, now “they will hunger no longer nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat” - referring to all the afflictions that they had during their life on earth.


Conclusion

The Great Tribulation is not the hour of testing, but rather a time of global climatic catastrophes, with famines and droughts and wars all over the world, in which people will kill each other wholesale. The “hour of testing” referred to in Rev 13,10 is actually something quite different. This is the time of the dominion of the demonic Antichrist, who compels people with his Satanic powers to worship him and has anyone killed who refuses. This is the hour of massive testing on the Day of the Lord and of the Wrath of God, when many people will prefer to abjure God in order to avoid being killed.

(See also Discourse 05: “The parallel course of events of Mt 24 and Rev 6 and 7”)



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 2: Is the Great Tribulation the “wrath of the Lamb”?)


The judgments of the tribulation are referred to as “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6,16). But now the congregation has no reason to be afraid of this wrath. It awaits Jesus not as its judge, but as its bridegroom, to celebrate with him the Marriage of the Lamb (Rev 19,7-9).



As we have seen above, the plagues of the tribulation are not yet actually judgments of God. Rather they are the worldwide catastrophes which human beings have themselves occasioned, through their hunger for power and profit and their depredation of our planet. The struggle for the last remaining natural resources then evidently leads to those wars in which “nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and men shall slay one another”.

The “Wrath of God and the Lamb” - as we see it really should be, when we look more closely at Rev 6,16 - is indeed something that the congregation need not be afraid of. As Paul also assures us in 1The 5,9: “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” But this Day of the Wrath of God is not the Great Tribulation, but a time years later - the time of the dominion of the beast from the sea, the demonic Antichrist, when in the judgments of the bowls the real judgment of God's wrath will be visited on mankind.

Seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever.

Rev 15,7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. Rev 15, 7;


Conclusion

The Great Tribulation, that is to say the apostasy, with the first Antichrist (the seventh king of the north in Dan 11,40-41; 12,11-13; the man of lawlessness in 2The 2,3; the rider on the white horse in Rev 6,1-2) extends to the first five plagues of the seals. With the sixth seal, in Rev 6:12-17 (Mt 24:29-31), the darkening of the heavenly bodies, and so also the Second Coming of the Lord with the raising from the dead and Rapture of the faithful, is foretold. Only after that, in Rev 6,16, is the Day of the Wrath of God and of the Lamb announced. This is the preparation for the Day of the Lord, which finds its climax in the dominion of the beast, the demonic Antichrist, with the killing of all who refuse to worship the beast. So the Rapture occurs immediately after the Great Tribulation (Mt 24:29), and only after that does the Day of the Lord begin, with the wrath of God and of the Lamb and the judgments of wrath on earth.

(See also Table 14: “The Revelation - classified by events.”



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 3: Is the Great Tribulation the “judgment on the household of God”?


The judgment must begin with the household of God. But God begins with us just so that we shall not be damned with the rest of the world.



Conclusion

This is correct. God may allow the congregation to undergo the catastrophes of the Great Tribulation, but raptures them before the Day of the Lord comes, and his wrath is poured out on humanity in the time of the dominion of the beast. But this is an argument for a Rapture after the Great Tribulation and not before!



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 4: Will the faithful be “redeemed” before the Great Tribulation?)


“But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Lk 21,28). How could we begin, in expectation of the Tribulation, to look up and rejoice, when it is this very thing that we are to be preserved from?



This overlooks what is evident to any unprejudiced reader: the Lord of course does not address these words to us, to the faithful before the Tribulation, but offers them as encouragement to the congregation in the Great Tribulation. In the preceding passage (Lk 21,9-11) we find exactly the same statement made by the Lord as in Mt 24,6-8 above:

Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.

Lk 21,9 "When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately." 21,10 Then He continued by saying to them, "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, 21,11 and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. Lk 21, 9-11;


This is the Great Tribulation, with its worldwide wars, revolts, famines and plagues. And for the benefit of the faithful who will survive this period to its close, the Lord points to the events which will mark the end of the time of tribulation. The heavenly bodies will be darkened and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Lord Jesus coming in a cloud for the Rapture of his faithful.

There will be signs in sun and moon and stars.

Lk 21,25 "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 21,26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 21,27 "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Lk 21,25-27;


It would of course be much simpler if Mr. Pache were to quote this text from Matthew, where these connections are explained in a much clearer and more comprehensive way. But evidently Pretribulationists have a block against Matthew's version, because there after all we find it stated, perfectly clearly, that the Lord will come to rapture his faithful immediately after the Great Tribulation - that is, after it has ended. And this could cause difficulties for the advocates of a Rapture before Tribulation. So they prefer to opt for this passage from Luke (Lk 21,25-27), where matters are not described with the same precision.

But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.

Mt 24,29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 24,30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. Mt 24,29-30;


These then are the events to which the faithful who survive the Great Tribulation to its end should pay heed: the heavenly bodies will be darkened, the stars will fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Lord coming on the clouds. And this, now, is where the passage from Luke quoted by Mr. Pache belongs, when the Lord tells them:

But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Lk 21,28 "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Lk 21,28;


And the redemption which is here approaching is the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture of the surviving faithful, together with the dead who have been raised, as - to complete the picture - we can read in Matthew:

Mt 24,31 "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Mt 24,31;


And just this is foretold by Paul as well, in summary fashion, in his first epistle to the Corinthians:

We who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.

1The 4,16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 4,17 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. The 4,16-17:


Conclusion

Here not only has the text been torn out of context, it has also been interpreted in the teeth of any sound sense. When the faithful are enjoined to “straighten up and lift up their heads, because their redemption is drawing near”, this obviously means that up to this point they have been oppressed with terror, hanging their heads and begging for an end to their affliction. How can anyone suppose here that these encouraging words of the Lord's are addressed to a congregation before the Tribulation, a congregation living in security and prosperity, unafflicted by trials - who now, on top of that, are supposed to have nothing to look forward to but the joyful prospect of their coming Rapture?



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 5: Does the congregation of the Last Days escape the Great Tribulation - or rather have we Christians been doing so for nearly 2000 years?)


“But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk 21,36). So it follows that by staying alert and praying it is possible to escape from all these things that are to come.



Keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place.

Lk 21,34 "Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; 21,35 for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. 21,36 "But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." Lk 21,34-36;


All rightly believing Christians have been staying alert for practically two thousand years to prevent their hearts from being weighted down by the cares of this world, and praying to the Lord that they may be able to escape from these judgments of the Last Days. And as it appears, the Lord has heard their prayers up to the present day, and has kept on putting off the time of tribulation. And so we too today are able to hope that we will be permitted to die in our beds without persecution or torture and may be able to escape from all these things that are to come, so that we may stand before the Lord after our raising from the dead and Rapture and after the Great Tribulation.

Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation.

Mt 26,41 "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."; Mt 26,41;


Conclusion

By contrast with the preceding Argument 4, based on Lk 21,28, the Lord addresses these words here (Lk 21,36) not to the faithful in the Great Tribulation but rather to the faithful of all nations and times over the past period of nearly two thousand years. Here his injunction to “pray at all times” does not refer to any special situation or event either, but applies to the lifetime of each and every one of us. And the promise conveyed in the words “that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” points to the grace of the Lord, in permitting us to live and die before these afflictions of the Last Days take place, so that we may stand before the Lord following our raising from the dead and Rapture after the Great Tribulation.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 6: The Antichrist before the Second Coming of the Lord, i.e. the Rapture after the Great Tribulation!)


According to Paul, the appearance of the Antichrist precedes the Second Coming of the Lord: “And you know what restrains him (the Antichrist) now, so that in his time he (the Antichrist) may be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of his coming” (2The 2,6-8). It has often been asked who can be meant by “he who now restrains” - whose disappearance is the precondition for the revelation of the Antichrist. The following view seems to us the most accurate: the congregation is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 3,16; Eph 2,21-22). So if the congregation is once raptured, the Holy Spirit no longer has a dwelling place on earth, and will no longer be able to oppose the flood of temptation. Then evil will be unleashed, and the “man of lawlessness” becomes for a short time the apparent master of the situation. If we understand this correctly, at the start of the Great Tribulation the Lord will withdraw his presence from apostasized humanity. On the other hand, Christians are the salt of the earth (Mt 5,13). So it is not surprising if their Rapture should hasten the corruption of the world. Let us not forget here that the Holy Spirit will continue to work, even after the Rapture of the congregation, in people of good will. During the Great Tribulation he will be poured out on Israel to lead them to conversion (Zech 12,10; Eze 39,29; Isa 59,20-21). We also know that at the same period a great number from all nations will be saved (Rev 7,9.14). And as faith in Christ is not possible without the support of the Holy Spirit, he must continue his work on earth at least in part.



Mr. Pache's above statement - “According to Paul, the appearance of the Antichrist precedes the Second Coming of the Lord” - indicating the occurrence of the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture after the appearance of the Antichrist and after the Great Tribulation - is perfectly correct, and corresponds exactly with the text in 2The 2,3. But this quite patently contradicts his own view of the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture as happening before the Great Tribulation. The attempt to change the subject to a discussion of the question “who” or “what” is the restraining factor cannot reverse the meaning of these words of Paul's either. We can see this if we look at the context of this passage, which Mr. Pache unfortunately does not quote above, although this might have permitted him to recognize the true sequence of events.

It will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed.

2The 2,1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2,2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 2,3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 2,4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2,5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 2The 2, 1- 5;


Paul writes here, in 2The 2,2, of “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him”, by which he undoubtedly means the Second Coming of the Lord for the Rapture of his faithful. And he then makes this more specific still in verse 3: the day “will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed”. And there cannot be any doubt here either than the apostasy means the Great Tribulation, and the man of lawlessness the first Antichrist. It follows then that the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture of the congregation takes place after the Great Tribulation.

And just this finds an additional confirmation from the context of the passage quoted by Mr. Pache above (2The 2,6-10):

That lawless one whom the Lord will bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.

2The 2,6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 2,7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 2,8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 2,9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 2,10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 2The 2, 6-10;


So if the Lord Jesus, when he comes for our gathering together with him (...) will remove the man of lawlessness “with the breath of his mouth”, this Antichrist must have been living on earth before and must have exercised dominion in the Great Tribulation.

Now Paul writes in the above passage (2The 2,6): “And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed”, and here he evidently refers to his earlier visit to Thessalonica, of which he also speaks in verse 2,5. As an interpreter of these passages, one could wish that Paul had repeated the oral statements he had made on this visit in his letter here, in order to clarify what he meant in this sentence by “what restrains him now” and in the next sentence by “he who now restrains”. But unfortunately he has not done this, and so we must try to interpret the verses 2The 2,6 and 2,7 in their rather difficult original Greek formulation.

Here, however, we do not intend to re-examine interpretations referring to the congregation (what) and the Holy Spirit (who), or the order of the Roman state (what) and the Roman emperor (who) - these are already sufficiently familiar - but rather to endeavor to find an answer in Scripture itself. In 2The 2,8 Paul refers to the Antichrist as the “man of lawlessness” and to his dominion as the “mystery of lawlessness”. But the Lord also speaks of this time of apostasy and affliction in his discourse on the Last Days (Mt 24, 9-13):

Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

Mt 24,9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 24,10 "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 24,11 "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 24,12 "Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 24,13 "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Mt 24, 9-13;


The Lord speaks here of the Great Tribulation (see also Mt 24,21), of the apostasy, that is to say, which Paul also mentions in 2The 2,3. And both speak of “lawlessness”, with the same Greek word anomia. And now Paul says that the mystery of lawlessness will be revealed with the Antichrist, and the Lord Jesus prophesies with reference to this time that lawlessness will increase, and so most people's love will grow cold. Now as has already been demonstrated in the first part of this Discourse, this first Antichrist, this man of lawlessness, is not a Jew but a heathen dictator. So “lawlessness” here cannot mean (just) contempt for the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament (the Tora) either, but must be injustice as such in the widest possible sense.

So it is a matter here above all of worldly injustice - deceit, corruption, lies, false judgments, blackmail, theft, robbery and so on. And not just in a criminal environment either, but among the most highly placed figures in the politics, society and industry. People take whatever they can lay their hands on, without any consideration or scruple. As Paul writes, this lawlessness has already started to show its first beginnings, and it is all too understandable when the Lord also foretells that as a result of the increase in lawlessness in the time of the Great Tribulation most people's love will grow cold. And if we look at the situation today, we can see that this trend is already prevalent on a worldwide scale. Particularly in the states of the Third World, but increasingly also in the industrial nations, corruption, deceit and all kinds of criminality are increasing all the time. And this leads to people's having ever greater reservations in relation to one another, so that in this way mutual love in most people's hearts grows cold and dies away.

So if, in our search for that mystery mentioned by Paul which restrains the lawlessness, we also take into account the Lord's prophecy where he says that human love will grow cold because of the increasing lawlessness in the Last Days, we may assume, conversely, that it has evidently been love which has held this lawlessness in check for the past period of almost two thousand years. But now, as a result of the progressive global collapse of all natural barriers and thresholds of inhibition on all levels of human society, the way is being prepared for injustice, lawlessness and so for the man of lawlessness, the first Antichrist.

In what concerns the text of 2The 2,7 and “he who now restrains”, translations of this generally read “until he who now restrains is taken out of the way (done away with)” or “must be taken out of the way”. The actual Greek words here, however, are “genetai” (comes to be) “ek mesou” (an expression meaning “out of view”). And so the translation “done away with”, in particular, does not quite do justice to the meaning of the Greek “genètai”. If someone comes to be “out of view”, it does not necessarily mean that he has been “done away with” or even “taken away”, as it is quite explicitly expressed in Col 2,14; it may equally be that he has himself withdrawn. If we take this into account, we get the following translation of 2The 2,7:

2The 2,7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he has retired. 2The 2, 7;



And we find a comparable situation in Rev 5,1-14, which may serve to explain Paul's remarks above. There a kind of transfer of power takes place. All attributes which are ascribed to God the Almighty in Rev 4,11 - glory, honor and dominion, and so also the authority of decision - are now conferred on the Son as well.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom.

Rev 5,11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 5,12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." 5,13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." 5,14 And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen." And the elders fell down and worshiped. Rev 5,11-14;


(See also Discourse 108: “Who or what still restrains the Antichrist?”)


So God the Almighty has withdrawn, and the Lamb, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, accedes here to power. He is found worthy to open the book of the seven seals - the events of the Last Days that have been sealed by God. And his first act as ruler of this world is the opening of the first seal.

A white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and he went out conquering and to conquer.

Rev 6,1 Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, "Come." 6,2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. Rev 6, 1- 2;


It is the rider on the white horse, who goes out conquering and to conquer, who is here let loose. After God has retired and the Son has entered on his dominion, it is granted to Satan to tempt humanity; and Satan allows his first chess piece, the man of lawlessness, to be revealed, as Paul has also foretold.

He who now restrains will do so until he has retired and then that lawless one will be revealed.

2The 2,6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 2,7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he has retired. 2,8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 2The 2, 6- 8;


So we have here a plausible explanation of 2The 2,6-7, and a connection between this passage and the rider on the white horse, the first Antichrist, in Rev 6,1-3.


But Mr. Pache then also suggests (in the further course of his argument, in which he advocates the conservative interpretation of 2The 2,7 as referring to the congregation):

“The congregation is the temple of the Holy Spirit. (...) So if the congregation is once raptured, the Holy Spirit no longer has a dwelling place on earth.”

Now if the Holy Spirit, on the supposed Rapture of the congregation before the Great Tribulation, as postulated by Mr. Pache, is taken away from the earth, we get the following situation:

In Rev 7,9 John sees a great multitude in heaven standing before the throne and before the Lamb:

A great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues

Rev 7,9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; Rev 7, 9;


This uncountable multitude are undoubtedly Christians - otherwise they would not be clothed in white robes, which they have purified in the blood of the Lamb, as we read below. And the elder subsequently tells John about them in Rev 7,14:

These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb.

Rev 7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 7,15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. Rev 7, 13-15;


So these are Christian believers who come out of the Great Tribulation. And they are now standing here in heaven before the throne of God, although at this time the congregation, to whom they must after all as Christians undoubtedly belong, has already in Mr. Pache's view been raptured long since, namely before the Great Tribulation. And this of course suggests the following questions:

1. How and when could these believers have arrived in heaven, if not at the Rapture of the congregation after the Great Tribulation, out of which, after all, we are told that they have just come? - and

2. Even if the Holy Spirit - as Mr. Pache thinks - should have been taken away from the earth with the congregation before the tribulation, would our Lord have left these brethren, in their most difficult time - before their death in the Great Tribulation - without the spiritual support and comfort of the Holy Spirit on earth?


This is completely unthinkable and altogether absurd. And if Mr. Pache first advances the view that “the congregation is the temple of the Holy Spirit. (...) So if the congregation is once raptured, the Holy Spirit no longer has a dwelling place on earth”, he then ends up by contradicting himself again when he opines that the Holy Spirit “will continue to work, even after the Rapture of the congregation, in people of good will”. What is more, the whole argument after all only applies in relation to 2The 2,7, namely “he who now restrains”; the question of “what restrains”, as formulated in 2The 2,6, Mr. Pache has failed to address.

Conclusion

According to 2The 2,8, the man of lawlessness - the first Antichrist, will be annihilated by the Lord Jesus by his appearance, through the coming of the Lord. And as Paul says at the beginning of these statements, in 2The 2,1, this coming is the Second Coming of the Lord for the Rapture of the faithful. So if the Antichrist, on the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus for the Rapture, will be killed by him, this Antichrist must previously have been living and ruling on earth. And this supplies the scriptural proof that the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture will take place only after the Great Tribulation.

(See also Discourse 65: “Why the Rapture is to be placed after the Great Tribulation”)



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 7: Does the battle of Armageddon come at the end of the Great Tribulation?)


We have already seen that at the end of the Great Tribulation Jesus Christ will appear with his saints on the Mount of Olives to judge the world (Zech 14,4-5). This is only possible for the saints if they have been raptured into heaven previously.



The Great Tribulation comes to an end with the fifth seal (Rev 6,9-11)! Immediately after that, with the sixth seal (Rev 6,12-17, Mt 24,29-31, Zech 12,10-12), the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture occur.

The passage quoted above (Zech 14,3-5) describes the battle of Armageddon, where the demonic Antichrist and the earthly kings who are in league with him, with their hosts, fight against the Lord Jesus and his heavenly hosts together with the called, elect and faithful Christians. In Rev 16,13-16 (the sixth plague of the bowls), the demonic Antichrist assembles his hosts in Armageddon. In Rev 17,14 this battle is announced, and it then takes place immediately before the First Resurrection of the martyrs, in Rev 19,11 to 20,3.

Between these two events - the Rapture and the battle of Armageddon - there is a time lapse that probably amounts to a number of years. This means that at the time of Armageddon these “called, elect and faithful Christians” have already long since been raptured - after the Great Tribulation - and are now in heaven.


Conclusion

Christ comes at the end of the Great Tribulation for the Rapture of his faithful. Then comes the Day of the Lord and of the Wrath of God, with the plagues of the trumpets and the bowls, and only at the end of the Day of the Lord the battle of Armageddon takes place. Here we again see the fatal consequences of an interpretation that fails to distinguish between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. It is as if someone, in talking about the world wars of the last century, were to mix up the first and second World Wars and assert that the Second World War was sparked off by the murder of the Austrian Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, and that Hitler then attacked Poland by way of retaliation.

(See also Table 14: “The Revelation - classified by events.”)



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 8: Do the faithful of all times have a part in the First Resurrection?)


We can see that at the beginning of the Kingdom of a Thousand Years only the martyrs will be raised from the dead who have refused to worship the Antichrist in the Great Tribulation (Rev 20,4-6). And yet the faithful of all times have a part in the First Resurrection, live and reign with Christ (Jn 5,28-29). But when did these faithful rise from the dead, if not at the Rapture of the congregation before the Great Tribulation?



It is correct that the text of Rev 20,4 only speaks of martyrs:

Who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God.

Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Rev 20, 4- 5;


First of all, these martyrs of the First Resurrection will not be raised from the dead here, but rise in the resurrection. This is a wholly different process.

(See also Chapter 12: “The Resurrection - Raising from the dead and Resurrection.”)


The view that “the faithful of all time have a part in the First Resurrection, to live and reign with Christ” evidently rests on a mistaken understanding of this scriptural passage. There is no reference here to the faithful generally, but only to martyrs. And not just the martyrs who have “refused to worship the Antichrist”, but all martyrs of all times. And these are not raised from the dead here either, but “come to life” - rise in the resurrection. To spell it out:

1. First the martyrs of the Old Covenant (the last of whom was John the Baptist) who were killed for the sake of the “word of God” (Rev 6,9), which they proclaimed to the people of Israel and its sanctimonious kings.

2. Then the martyrs of the New Covenant, who were thrown to the hungry lions under Nero or suffered other fates because of their “testimony of Jesus” (Rev 1,2.9), or who later were burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Inquisition.

3. And lastly those who have overcome under the dominion of the beast, the demonic Antichrist - those who “did not worship the beast and the image of the beast and had not received the mark on their hand or forehead” and so were put to death by the image of the beast.


And as we can read at the start of this verse, they are already all in heaven and standing before the judgment seat, and they then come to life, i.e. they return to earth again in the First Resurrection as priests of God, to rule with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom.

They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Rev 20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 20,6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rev 20, 5- 6;


As we can see, here Mr. Pache confuses the resurrection of the martyrs of all times in the First Resurrection with the raising from the dead and Rapture of the faithful in Christ at the Second Coming of the Lord. And this again is the result of mixing up the Great Tribulation (the dominion of the lawless one) with the Day of the Wrath of God (the dominion of the beast from the sea). If we leave these events where they are actually found in Revelation - namely, the Great Tribulation at the start of the events of the Last Days (Rev 6,1-11) and the dominion of the beast after the seventh trumpet (Rev 13,1-18ff) - it is easy to recognize that the faithful from the Rapture have been in heaven long since, whereas the martyrs who, under the dominion of the beast, refuse to worship this Antichrist (Rev 13,10; 14,12-13) are still on earth.

So irrespective of whether you want to place the Rapture before or after the Great Tribulation, the faithful who are raptured will long since have been in heaven at the time of the First Resurrection of the martyrs. And it is the same with the uncountable multitude (Rev 7,9) from the Great Tribulation. So we must have to do here with hundreds of millions of people. On the view that these faithful were all to be priests and kings in the Millennium, we could perhaps picture so many people on earth as priests, but if we had hundreds of millions of kings, they would surely be short of subjects. No - the faithful who have been raised from the dead and raptured are joined to those coming out of the tribulation. Together they stand before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits upon the throne shall spread his tabernacle over them (Rev 7,15). Only the martyrs among them will come to life again at the First Resurrection, together with the martyrs of all times, and reign with the Lord on earth in the Millennium.


But we find a mention of the raising from the dead and Rapture of the faithful first in Matthew (Mt 24,31) -

Mt 24,31 "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Mt 24,31;


- and then again, in great detail, in Paul's first epistle to the Thessalonians:

We will be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

1The 4,15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 4,16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 4,17 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. 1The 4,15-17;


The scriptural passage cited by Mr. Pache as an argument in this connection, Jn 5,28-29, does not therefore refer to the First Resurrection of the martyrs in Rev 20,4 either, where only these martyrs come to life in order to reign with Christ: here all who are in the tombs, that is to say, all people who have ever died, will hear the voice of the Son of God and will come forth.

Who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

Jn 5,28 "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 5,29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. Jn 5,28-29;


So it is this resurrection, and these are those dead, of whom it is written in Rev 20,5, in connection with the First Resurrection of the martyrs: “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.” What we have in Jn 5,28-29, then, is a prophecy of the General Resurrection and Last Judgment at the end of the world.

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Rev 20,11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 20,12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 20,13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 20,14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 20,15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Rev 20.11-15;


Conclusion

Here we have found a case of total misinformation about the different resurrections. On the one hand the raising from the dead and Rapture of the faithful at the Second Coming of the Lord after the Great Tribulation is confused with the First Resurrection of the martyrs before the Millennium; and on the other, this same First Resurrection is confused with the General Resurrection at the end of the world and the Last Judgment.

(See also Discourse 07: “The Rapture and the First Resurrection: a single event?”)



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 9: Will the congregation judge the martyrs?)


Furthermore, before the resurrection of the martyrs from the Great Tribulation John sees people sitting on thrones who have been given authority to judge (Rev 20,4). Who are these judges? (in the plural!). There is only one sovereign judge, Jesus Christ, to whom all judgment is given (Jn 5,22-27). But the Lord has deemed it good to allow his faithful to judge the world with him. “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1Cor 6,2-3). So the judges who, even before the resurrection of the martyrs from the Great Tribulation take their seats on those thrones, are the saints. If they had lived through this terrible time, they would also have been martyrs. But if at this point in time they are in eternal life, this proves yet again that they have been raptured before the Great Tribulation.



Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them.

Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Rev 20, 4;


It repeatedly proves astonishing with how little sensitivity or realistic judgment of their own powers some commentators interpret Scripture. If we consider the above statements, we can make out the following implications:

The faithful referred to by Mr. Pache above, who have lead a pleasant life in every respect, have never suffered any attack on grounds of their faith, have never had the strength of their faith put to the test and at the end of their life have died an ordinary death, will - in the opinion of Mr. Pache - be given power as judges, will sit on thrones in heaven and judge those martyrs who because they persevered in the faith have been persecuted, tortured and finally put to death. To take the absurdity of these statements to a ne plus ultra, he goes on even to assert that they are able to be judges for the very reason that they have not had to undergo these terrible times of trial.

Quite apart from the fact that this is to see the absolute justice of God as a quantité négligeable, the question suggests itself how these saints are going to pronounce a righteous judgment about something that they themselves have never experienced in their lives. The way some interpreters attempt to ascribe to the congregation all the functions and positions ever imaginable leads repeatedly to confusion, because no one knows any longer what actually applies to the congregation and what does not.

But then Mr. Pache claims here that the congregation will judge the martyrs in the judgment before the First Resurrection (Rev 20,4) - the martyrs who then, at this judgment, are found worthy to reign with Christ on earth for a thousand years. So it is now quite evident that those who are judging here - the congregation, supposedly - cannot themselves be affected by this judgment with a view to ruling on earth. That would be a shocking case of partiality, unthinkable even in earthly courts.

But because this would mean excluding the congregation from “reigning” in the Millennium, Argument 8 makes haste to explain that not just the martyrs, but also the congregation will have a part in this First Resurrection “to live and reign with Christ”. This however results in a situation where the congregation would have to function as its own judge. A clear demonstration that the commentators have fallen victim to a certain kind of rapaciousness! - in basically laying claim to all possible options, without any consideration either of the fundamental moral principles of human action, or of the impossibility of reconciling them.


Conclusion

Here again we find a confusion between the raising from the dead for the Rapture and the First Resurrection. In actual fact, the congregation is not a judge here - the saints who will act as judges are more likely to be the 24 elders who are sitting on their thrones - nor will it have a part in the First Resurrection or reign with Christ in the Millennium. This is a task that has been exclusively reserved by God for the martyrs of all times.

(See also Discourse 72: “Who are the twenty-four elders in the Revelation of John?”)



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 10:Must the elect flee at the time of the Rapture, or should they wait it out?)


Jesus says: “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed ... Remember Lot's wife. ... I tell you, on that night there will be two men in one bed; one will be taken, and the other will be left” (Lk. 17,28-29.30.32.34). Before the annihilation of Sodom, the angel of destruction made Lot leave the city and showed him a place of refuge. He said to him, “Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there” (Gen 19,22). But Lot's wife looked back, and perished along with the ungodly. So immediately after Lot's departure Sodom was delivered over to judgment, because there were no longer even ten righteous persons to be found there. So likewise, after the Rapture of the faithful, there is an insufficiency of spiritual power left on earth to hold back the punishment. Then the Great Tribulation will break over the heads of the ungodly and the hypocrites who have delayed to break their ties with the world. “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah” (Mt 24,37). Noah too was first brought by God to a place of safety before the catastrophe began. All the same, in spite of this divine protection, he had to go through the waters of the Flood. From this point of view, it is interesting to compare his experience with that of Enoch. Enoch, who “walked with God”, was taken away from the earth before the judgment (Gen 5,24), and so may stand for a symbol of the faithful who are raptured while alive, before the Great Tribulation. Noah on the other hand, preserved by God in the midst of the Flood, would be an indication of the saints (of Israel and of the nations) who although they must endure the Great Tribulation, have still been sealed by God. Of these saints John writes: “And I saw another angel ... saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea of the trees, until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads” (Rev 7,2-3).



Because the text from Luke that Mr. Pache cites above is particularly important for the interpretation of the Rapture, we should look at the entire context of this scriptural passage:

Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

Lk 17,22 And He said to the disciples, "The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 17,23 "They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them. 17,24 "For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. 17,25 "But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

17,26 "And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 17,27 they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

17,28 "It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; 17,29 but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 17,30 "It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. 17,31 "On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. 17,32 "Remember Lot’s wife

17,33 "Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 17,34 "I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. 17,35 "There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. 17,36 ["Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left."] 17,37 And answering they said to Him, "Where, Lord?" And He said to them, "Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered." Lk 17,22-37;


First of all the Lord foretells a time of trouble for the faithful, and warns them of the danger of allowing themselves to be led astray by false rumors to the effect that the Son of Man has come already. And he says, “Do not go away, and do not run after them”, for the appearance of the Son of Man will not take place invisibly or mysteriously, but will be like lightning that lightens from one end of the heaven to the other - so also the Lord will shine in his glory on the day when he comes.

And then the Lord compares this day with the days of Noah. Just as the people of those days went on eating and drinking and suspected no danger, and then all of them apart from Noah and his family lost their lives in the floods, so too it will be on the day of the Son of Man: they will be eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, until the Lord comes and picks out and raptures his faithful from all four quarters of the compass. On the other hand, those who remain behind will not lose their lives, but will be delivered over to the coming Wrath of God. And as a further pointer to the way the faithful should conduct themselves, the Lord also compares this day with the days of Lot. At that time too people went on living for the moment, but when Lot departed from Sodom, they all lost their lives.

The text that now follows in Lk 17,31 is often seen as a parallel passage to Mt 24,17-18 and Mk 13,15-16. But on the one hand these statements appear, in the other gospels, in a quite different context - being connected with the “abomination of desolation”, that is to say, the Great Tribulation, and a hasty flight into the mountains - and on the other, we find in Luke in any case the text that corresponds exactly to this, in Lk 21,23. So whereas Lk 21,23 refers to the “days of vengeance”, the Great Tribulation in other words, here in Lk 17,22-37 we are clearly concerned with the Second Coming of the Lord (Lk 17,24.30). Nor is there any mention here of the abomination of desolation, the Great Tribulation or a flight to the mountains - on the contrary, we have the impression that the Lord is recommending the faithful here not to take flight, but rather to keep still and wait it out on the spot, wherever they happen to be.

Lk 17,30 "It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. 17,31 "On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. 17,32 "Remember Lot’s wife. 17,33 "Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. Lk 17,30-33;


The following two verses, Lk 17,32-33, then strengthen this impression so that it becomes a certainty. The warning “Remember Lot's wife” is an indication that on this day, at this moment, we should not turn to look for what lies behind us - our goods and possessions, our our lives and physical bodies. And then the Lord's next statement is even more specific: “Whoever seeks to keep his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life shall preserve it.” Whoever attempts flight will be unable to be picked up by the angels; but whoever holds still, though he loses his physical life, will at the same moment be given a spiritual body and be raptured to the Lord. And just this is what we then find stated in the following two verses (Lk 17,34-35):

On that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left.

Lk 17,34 "I tell you, on that night there will be two men in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. 17,35 "There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. Lk 17,34-35;


This statement by the Lord is a confirmation that the Lord here is most definitely not urging us to take flight. If at the Rapture there will be two men in one bed, or two women grinding corn, and one will be taken and the other will be left, then quite plainly these two cannot be trying to escape at this point.

(See also Table 05: “Synopsis of the Lords eschatological discourses.”)


So this is the time of the coming of the Lord and the Rapture of the faithful, as Mt 24,29-31 also describes it. They will indeed lose their earthly existence and their physical bodies at this moment, but they will not die - instead, as Paul says, they will put on immortality and be changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eyes” (1Cor 15,51-53). And they should have no fear of this, as the Lord tells them in Lk 17,33. Anyone who tries to escape in order to save his physical life will in fact lose it. But those who wait it out, having trust in God, will be gathered and raptured by the angels of the Lord. And then it will indeed be the case that two will be in one bed or grinding together, and one will be taken and the other left.

When the Lord had finished his explanations, the first reaction of the disciples was to ask, “Where, Lord?” We recognize the same misunderstanding here as we find in some commentators who suppose that the congregation should seek out a “place of refuge” for the Rapture. Apart from the fact that the faithful would be taken away, that there would be a Rapture, the disciples had not understood any of this. So they were eager to know where it was going to happen, to make sure of getting to the place in time.

Lk 17, 37 And answering they said to Him, "Where, Lord?" And He said to them, "Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered." Lk 17,37;


Two points emerge from the Lord's answer. On the one hand it looks as if he had not registered their question at all, but had been speaking of something quite different, in saying “Where the body (the corpse) is, there also the vultures (eagles) will be gathered”. But this was just the answer that the disciples - and still more the faithful of the Last Days - needed to be given. It seems that what the Lord wanted to say to them was - Do not imagine that you have to go to a particular location. When I come, I will send out my angels to gather you in. And just as the vultures (eagles) instinctively know where the body (corpse) is to be found, so too the angels will know where you are to be found. So you must wait in a spirit of trust and stillness, and direct your spiritual gaze not back upon your earthly life, but forward to the life now dawning for you in God's eternity.


Conclusion

As we can see from Mr. Pache's arguments quoted above, this interpretation gets bogged down from start to finish. First of all the Holy Spirit leaves the world at the Rapture and before the Great Tribulation. Then he pops up again, because in the Great Tribulation “people of goodwill” become believers. The 144,000 sealed Israelites of all the twelve tribes of Israel are interpreted as Israelites “and the nations”, because otherwise there would be no way of explaining the uncountable multitude from the Great Tribulation. And finally too, the brethren are enjoined in the Last Days to flee from the Rapture rather than waiting it out.

(See also Discourse 38: “What awaits Christians and Jews on the Second Coming of the Lord?”)



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 11: Do the prophecies relating to Israel take their course before or after the Great Tribulation?)


The vocation and election of the congregation is a mystery (Eph 3,3-10) and an entr'acte in God's plan for the world. It comes to an end with the mystery of the Rapture (1Cor 15,51), before the fulfillment of the prophecies relating to Israel resume their course.



Conclusion

Yes, no doubt. But this is an argument for the Rapture as such, not for a Rapture before the Great Tribulation!



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 12: Does not one of the epistles speak of details of the Great Tribulation?)


It strikes us immediately that none of the epistles, which after all are without exception written for the instruction of the congregation, speaks of the details of the Great Tribulation. May this not be taken to mean that the congregation will not have to undergo the events of this time?



Evidently Mr Pache does not include Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians among the epistles. There Paul refers, after all, specifically to the time of the apostasy - the Great Tribulation - and writes of how the man of lawlessness, the first Antichrist, will be revealed, and of the end of this time, namely on the Second Coming of the Lord.

For it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed.

2The 2,1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2,2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 2,3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. 2The 2, 1- 3;


The Great Tribulation and the first Antichrist precede the Second Coming of the Lord for the Rapture. When the Lord comes, the Great Tribulation will be at an end, and he will annihilate the lawless one, the first Antichrist.

That lawless one whom the Lord will bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.

2The 2,6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 2,7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he has retired. 2,8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 2,9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 2,10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 2The 2, 6-10;


Conclusion

In his second letter (epistle) to the congregation in Thessalonica, Paul describes the Great Tribulation in fairly precise detail

o  Start: revelation of lawlessness in the world

o  Content: acts of power and signs, lying wonders and every kind of unrighteous deceit

o  End: with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together with him.


And if Mr. Pache can write above that “none of the epistles, which after all are without exception written for the instruction of the congregation, speaks of the details of the Great Tribulation”, he clearly has not read this epistle of Paul's.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 13: Are the letters to the churches in Revelation chronologically arranged?)


According to chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation, which are evidently (alongside other possible applications) designed to give a wide overview of the congregation's phases of development, the final state of the congregation on earth, calling itself a church, is represented by Laodicea - i.e., it is characterized by lukewarmness, regression and apostasy. It shows none of the features of a persecuted but faithful church.



Among the Pretribulationists a supposedly chronological arrangement of the letters to the churches is popular, with a view to placing the last congregation, Laodicea, in the Great Tribulation and interpreting the congregation immediately preceding, Philadelphia, as the congregation before the Great Tribulation, which supposedly experiences the Rapture. But in fact there is no denomination, whatever its stamp, that would not like to see itself as “Philadelphia”. If we look at the promises made to Philadelphia in Rev 3,7-13, it is immediately clear why.


Conclusion

On closer analysis, the seven letters to the churches are not allocated to any particular areas of time or place. Plainly they are quite concrete orientation tools for each individual member of the faithful worldwide, in which he can recognize the characteristics of his own faith and the associated strengths and weaknesses. The result of any individual and self-critical examination should be the starting point for reducing our weaknesses if possible, and building on our strengths, or at least keeping them at the same level. Every believing Christian is thus a member of one of these seven virtual congregations, independent of place and time, which in their totality - from their coming into being until the Second Coming of the Lord - constitute the congregation of Christ on earth.

(See also Excursus 02: “The seven letters to the churches.”)



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(Argument 14: Are the 24 elders of Revelation the congregation?)


Before the great judgments of Revelation, we see the twenty-four elders in heaven who, it seems, stand for the redeemed from the Old and New Covenants. These are sitting (i.e. they have been stationed) before the throne of God, crowned and transfigured (Rev 4).



Yet another symbol of the congregation! But this, after all, is only to be expected, seeing that the text talks about thrones and crowns. And here again, naturally, we find a confusion of terms. In Rev 7,9 John sees a great multitude that no one could count, from all nations and languages, in heaven before the throne of God. These are the redeemed who come from the Great Tribulation, and so without doubt they must be a part of the raptured congregation of all times - the redeemed, then, as Mr. Pache puts it above. But at the same time John also sees, in verse 11, the 24 elders, who fall on their faces before the throne and worship along with the four living creatures. So if the 24 elders were really the congregation of the redeemed, as Mr. Pache supposes in his above comments, then we would have the somewhat unusual situation here of the congregation appearing in duplicate:

o  first as the uncountable multitude from all nations who stand before the throne and cry out with a loud voice, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb”;

o  and at the same time as the 24 elders who fall on their faces before the throne and answer Amen.

A great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues

Rev 7,9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 7,10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 7,11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 7,12 saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." Rev 7, 9-12;


As if this were not enough, in the next verse one of the 24 elders - one of the “redeemed”, according to Mr. Pache - explains to John that this great multitude is made up of the redeemed from the Great Tribulation. Here the question suggests itself which redeemed are actually to be identified with whom.

Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation".

Rev 7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 7,15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. Rev 7,13-15;


Conclusion

From the above analysis it is plain that the 24 elders cannot be a symbol of the congregation, as Mr. Pache thinks. The congregation is the body of Christ - he is the head, we are the limbs; he is the master, and we are the brothers. So the 24 elders cannot be used to justify a pre-tribulation Rapture, in any form whatsoever.

See also Discourse 72: “Who are the twenty-four elders in the Revelation of John?”)



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 15: Is the woman in heaven in Rev 12 the congregation?)


The apostle John sees in a vision how a woman gives birth to a male child who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. Satan, the dragon, stands before her, waiting to devour the child; but the child is caught up to God and to his throne. The woman flees to the wilderness, pursued by the dragon but protected by God, for just the amount of time that the Great Tribulation lasts, namely one thousand two hundred and sixty days (Rev 12,4-6.13-17). The woman seems to be the people of God of all times, which has given the world the Messiah, then the congregation and lastly the saints of the Great Tribulation. So Christ's heel may have been bruised by Satan, but he has crushed the serpent's head and has been raised to glory at the right hand of God. Thence He will come again to rule the nations with an iron scepter (Ps 2,8). Also the congregation is represented by the child: though the enemy lies in wait for it, it will be raptured to God and to his throne immediately following the birth (i.e. when it has reached its full complement), and the Lord will give it full authority to rule the nations with an iron rod together with him (Rev 2,26-27). Immediately after the Rapture, the three and a half years of the Tribulation begin. During this time the dragon makes war in his rage on “the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (12,17), i.e. those of Israel and the nations who convert to the Lord under the dominion of the Antichrist.



A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman.

Rev 12,1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 12,2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

12,3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. 12,4 And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

12,5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. 12,6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

12,7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 12,8 but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 12,9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world-he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rev 12, 1- 9;


Some interpreters see in the text of Rev 12,1-2 the “congregation of Jesus Christ”, the “people of God of all times” or the “worldwide Christian congregation”. As a justification for this, it is frequently pointed out that it was the congregation who - in a spiritual sense - gave birth to the “male child” (Rev 12,5), in other words Jesus Christ.

It appears, though, that this - whether we understand it in a spiritual sense or not - is purely and simply an inversion of the temporal sequence. It was not the congregation that “gave birth to” Jesus Christ, rather the reverse is true - it was Jesus Christ who, through the apostles, brought the congregation into the world. By prematurely and incorrectly identifying the “woman” of Rev 12,1-2 as the origin of the congregation, such a view evidently overlooks the fact that we find a quite concrete indication in Scripture of the congregation of Christ and its symbols.

In Rev 1,12-13 John sees the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, standing in the midst of seven golden lampstands, holding in his hand seven stars.

The seven golden lampstands and the seven stars.

Rev 1,12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; 1,13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 1,14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.1,15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.1,16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. Rev 1,12-16;


The symbolism of the seven golden lampstands and the seven stars in the hand of the Son of Man is then explained in Rev 1,20:

The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Rev 1,20 "As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches .Rev 1,20;


So it is the seven stars in the right hand of the Lord, and the seven golden lampstands, which represent the congregation of Jesus Christ and so the totality of Christian believers - and not the “crown of twelve stars” on the head of the “woman” in Rev 12,1-2.

But who actually is this “woman” in Rev 12,1-2? If we proceed according to the tried and tested method of serious exegesis and assume that Scripture can only be interpreted on the basis of Scripture, we must start from those statements that find clear confirmation in Scripture. In our case, this is the son to whom the woman gives birth in Rev 12,5.

And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.

Rev 12,5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Rev 12, 5;


The son who is to “rule all the nations with an iron rod” is a reference that looks back to Ps 2,6-9:

You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.

Ps 2,6 "But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain." 2,7 "I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 2,8 Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 2,9 You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’" Ps 2, 6- 9;


Now as no one, surely, is going to have any doubt that this promise in the psalms refers to the Lord Jesus, the similar phrasing of the text here gives us every ground for taking this male child of Rev 12,5 to be Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It follows that, as has been said earlier, the woman who gives birth to him cannot be the congregation - since after all, as the congregation, we are the successors and spiritual descendants of the Lord, and not his predecessors.

But if we now read the first chapter of Matthew, the descent of the Lord is not difficult to discern. He descends, naturally, from the people of Israel, and so the woman in heaven is also to be identified as the people of Israel. A further confirmation of this view is to be seen in the crown of twelve stars on her head.

A woman on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Rev 12,1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 12,2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. Rev 12, 1- 2;


The twelve stars here stand for the twelve tribes of Israel. The woman “cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth”. And here again it follows that this can only be a reference to the (spiritual) birth of the Son of God.

The “birth pangs” of the woman - that is to say, of the people of Israel - make sense when we contemplate, in the light of the gospels, what a reluctant welcome this Jesus of Nazareth met with from the religious and political leaders of the Israel of his day.


Conclusion

Here again the symbolism, which points quite clearly to Israel as the woman in heaven, has been twisted to refer to the congregation. But as if this were not enough, the “male child” is also explained as being the congregation of all times. It is clearly an ineradicable characteristic of some commentators to take any kind of symbolism that seems in the least way significant, and commandeer it for the congregation.

So if we now analyze this text in Rev 12,1-9 in greater detail, we can also see this has nothing to do with the events of the Last Days - rather the birth of the child, the flight of the woman into the wilderness and the battle in heaven between Michael and the dragon are “factual reports” of events at the beginning of our chronological reckoning, during the time of our Lord's life on earth.

(See also Excursus 10: “The woman in heaven.”)



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 16: Is the congregation the “Bride of the Lamb”?)


John places the marriage of the lamb, for which “His wife has made herself ready”, before the battle of Armageddon. “And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev 19,7-8). It appears that these preparations for her putting on the garment of righteousness are the consequence of the decision passed before the judgment seat of Christ immediately after the Rapture (2Cor 5,10; 1Cor 3,10-15). Only after this judgment is the congregation transfigured and united with its heavenly Bridegroom, to come down from heaven at His side hereafter to judge and rule the earth with Him.



So as to get a better overview of these statements, let us first of all look at the text:

The marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.

Rev 19,6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 19,7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." 19,8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 19,9 Then he said to me, "Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." Rev 19, 6- 9;


(See also Chapter 063: The Return of the Lord - part 3: “The marriage of the Lamb.”)


As Mr. Pache quite correctly states above, John sees this marriage as taking place before the battle of Armageddon. This, however, is a point in time in the chronological sequence of Revelation that comes well after the Rapture, whether we want to see the latter as occurring before or after the Great Tribulation - and even if we avoid confusing the Great Tribulation with the dominion of the demonic Antichrist. The statement that the congregation must appear for judgment, following the Rapture, before the judgment seat of (2Cor 5,10; 1Cor 3,10-15) is likewise correct.

Only the assumption that the congregation is the Bride of Christ is - as in a good many other commentators - quite wrong. As the congregation, we seem to become more and more like a Moloch, attributing all the promises of salvation exclusively to ourselves. Many of the promises - those made to Israel, for instance - are transferred by uncritical commentators to the congregation free of charge. It starts with the congregation's being characterized as the body of Christ (the only point that is correct). But then the congregation is also understood as being represented by

-  the rulers and kings of the Millennium in Rev 20,4-6 (see Argument 8)

-  the judges of the martyrs in Rev 20,4 (see Argument 9)

-  the 24 elders of Rev 4,10 (see Argument 14)

-  the woman in heaven of Rev 12,1-17 (see Argument 15)

-  the male child who is to rule all the nations with an iron rod in Rev 12,1-17 (see Argument 15)

-  the 144,000 who have been sealed in Rev 7,1-8 (even though these are explicitly stated to be Israelites!)

-  the great multitude in Rev 7,9-17 (which only stands for those who come out of the tribulation)

-  and in defiance of all logic, the congregation is even taken by some commentators to be both the Bride and also the Bridegroom (the body of Christ).

So it is hardly surprising if, in view of this omnipresence of the congregation, a certain elitist self-conceit should creep in among some of the brethren. But if we hope to increase the glory and the greatness of the congregation in heaven, it is essential that we should take to heart the counsel of our Lord, who recommends to us in Mt 18,1-5 the exact opposite of the attitude that we find some preachers and leaders of the congregation trying to inculcate in the brethren.

Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Mt 18,1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 18,2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 18,3 and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 18,4 "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 18,5 "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; Mt 18, 1- 5;

We find confirmation in the Old Testament, in the prophet Hosea, that the congregation cannot be the Bride:

I will betroth you to Me forever; I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion.

Hos 2,15 "Then I will give her her vineyards from there, And the valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. 2,16 "It will come about in that day," declares the LORD, "That you will call Me my man and will no longer call Me Baali., 2,17 "For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, So that they will be mentioned by their names no more. 2,18 "In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky And the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword and war from the land, And will make them lie down in safety.

2,19 "I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, 2,20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD. Hos 2,15-20


Here God speaks in person, through the mouth of the prophet Hosea, to Israel, and promises her in Hos 2,21: “I will betroth you to Me forever”. And seeing that God cannot be a bigamist, there is just this one bride - namely, the bride coming from the people of Israel. These are the 144,000 who are sealed in the Last Days, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, who according to Rev 14,4 “have not been defiled with women” and “follow the Lamb wherever He goes”. They have been “purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb”. This bride has not changed through all the ages. The wedding guests are different, certainly - instead of the Israelites of the Old Covenant, the congregation of the New Covenant has now been invited as wedding guests. This also appears from the relevant text in Mt 22,8-13:

And the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

Mt 22,8 "Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 22,9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ 22,10 "Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. 22,11 "But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 22,12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. 22,13 "Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’. Mt 22, 8-13;


(See also Discourse 49: “The elect of Mt 24,31: Christian congregation of the Last Days or Israelites?”)

The apostles too - the founding fathers of the congregation - are described as “wedding guests” (attendants) by the Lord himself.

But Your disciples do not fast - the attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn.

Mt 9,14 Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" 9,15 And Jesus said to them, "The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. Mt 9,14-15;


And although the elder says to John in Rev 19,9, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb”, we, as the congregation, evidently think that to be a wedding guest is much too modest. We have to be the Bride. Or the woman in heaven. Or the 24 elders. Or the 144,000 who have been sealed - which is particularly perfidious, because these 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel do actually stand for the real bride. Or the body of Christ - which is the only correct attribution.

We should not be envious of Israel, seeing that after all we have the privilege, as the congregation, of being the first in heaven with the Lord, whereas Israel must wait for this for another thousand years.

So the last shall be first, and the first last.

Mt 20, 1 ‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ 20,16 "So the last shall be first, and the first last." Mt 20,15-16;


(See also Discourse 38: “What awaits Christians and Jews on the Second Coming of the Lord?”)


Conclusion

The argument is in principle correct, only the person referred to is not the congregation but the Bride of the Lamb, and she is, according to Scripture, the 144,000 sealed Israelites of the Last Days. And those too who “come down from heaven at his side hereafter to judge and rule the earth with him” are not the totality of the faithful, but only the martyrs of all times (see Argument 8). For the other members of the congregation, after the Rapture their path to salvation has reached its goal. They are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple.

(See also Discourse 15: “Is the congregation the Bride of Christ?”)



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 17: After the visible return of the Lord, can anyone still come to “believe”?)


If the Rapture were to take place only after the Tribulation, one might wonder who of the faithful would remain alive, to be the subjects in the Kingdom of a Thousand Years. It is expressly stated that the entire Jewish people will convert to Jesus Christ in the fire of purification (Zech 12,10; 13,8-9). If the converted Jews were to have been raptured along with the congregation, then none of them would remain on earth to play the role promised them in the prophecies.



Here we can see a lack of understanding on the author's part in connection with the Millennium. A vague picture of what subjects there will actually be in the Kingdom of a Thousand Years can also be found in the prophet Zechariah.

So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.

Zech 8,20 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. 8,21 ‘The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, "Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts; I will also go." 8,22 ‘So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.’ 8,23 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."’" Zech 8,20-23;


In the case of the converted Jews, then, we must make a distinction based on the time of their conversion. If this occurs before the Coming of the Lord, then it is a conversion out of faith, and even if this person is a Jew by birth, he is a believing Christian, belongs to the congregation and is raptured with it - as Paul says, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for it is the same Lord (Rom 10,12). But if this Jew only converts after the visible Second Coming of the Lord in glory for the Rapture of his faithful, he can no longer appeal to his belief and so is a part of that people of God of Israel on earth to which all the prophecies in the Kingdom of a Thousand Years apply. In the Kingdom of a Thousand Years there are no “believers” any longer.

(See also Chapter 10: “The Millennium.”)

“”

Now the text cited by Mr. Pache from Zech 12.10 has a quite different significance, one that is exceptionally important for the interpretation of the Rapture in Scripture. Let us first take a look at the passage:

They will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son.

Zech 12,10 "I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. 12,11 "In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12,12 "The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; Zech 12,10-12;


Here God is speaking through the mouth of the prophet Zechariah. And in Zech 12,10 we find the statement: “They will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son.” This prophecy naturally relates to the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and his death on the cross (Jn 19,37). It is interesting to note here that in some Hebrew manuscripts the “Me” has been changed to “him”, because the Hebrews could not imagine how it could be possible for Yahweh to be pierced.

So whereas the first part of this prophecy, speaking of how they have pierced God, has already been fulfilled, the second part - namely, that the Jews will mourn over him - quite evidently still remains open. The Jews see Jesus of Nazareth to this day as a fraud and blasphemer, and strictly refuse to see him as their Messiah, let alone as the Son of God. For example, a Jewish forum recently contained the following statement under the heading of “Jewish religion”:

“For Christian missionary trash the “Jewish religion” section is not competent. If you want to argue about the guy on the laths, please do it elsewhere.” (Contribution no. 006 dated 22.07.2004, 7:40 pm - Robbi P.)   http://www.jewish-forum.de/showtopic.php?threadid=1278


And although that is just the derogatory remark of a German Jew, in its basic tendency it is fully and completely in accord with the view of the population of all Israel of the Mosaic faith, who reject Jesus of Nazareth today just as the Jewish Sanhedrin did in his lifetime. And this also constitutes a proof that the foundation of the state of Israel in the year 1948 cannot on any account have been the “gathering of the people of Israel by its God”, as the Israelis and also many Christian commentators believe. For as Scripture tells us both in the Old and in the New Testament, it will be this Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will gather the true Israel after the battle of Armageddon and immediately before the Kingdom of a Thousand Years.

That I should bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him.

Isa 49,5 And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, that I should bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the LORD, And My God is My strength), 49,6 He says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth." Isa 49, 5- 6;


It is easy to recognize that it is the Lord Jesus who speaks in the above passage from Isa 49,5-6, as also confirmed by Paul in his epistle to the Romans:

The deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.

Rom 11,25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery-so that you will not be wise in your own estimation-that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 11,26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written (Isa 59,20; Jer 31,33), "the deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.". Rom 11,25-26;


The real gathering of the true house of Israel will therefore be accomplished by the Son of God - and only when the fullness of the Gentiles has attained to salvation.

(See also Discourse 08: “The gathering of Israel: already since 1948, or not to happen until the Last Days?”)


At this time the second part of the prophecy quoted earlier (Zech 12,10) - “They will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son” - will be fulfilled, as we can also see in the New Testament from Mt 24,29-31:

Then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

Mt 24,29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 24,30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 24,31 "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Mt 24,29-31;


This is the Second Coming of the Lord for the Rapture of his faithful, when he will send out his angels to gather his elect. And as John tells us in Revelation, every eye - that is to say, all human beings on earth - will then see him.

Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him.

Rev 1,7 Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. 1,8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." Rev 1, 7- 8;


With this event of the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture, on the one hand the time of the congregation on earth will come to an end, but at the same time it is the end of the time of grace and of faith as well. Up to this time anyone could be saved who came to have faith in Jesus Christ. But now the time of faith is over. All human beings have seen the Son of God coming on the clouds. So belief in his existence is no longer possible - he has become a visible reality. This is what the Lord said to Thomas when he could not bring himself to believe in Jesus' Resurrection:

Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed

Jn 20,29 Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." Jn 20,29;


(See also Discourse 95: “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”).


So this reveals that the Jews - and all other nations who will see this event - can no longer come to belief, and so can no longer be raptured. There is no belief any longer, only giving glory and praise to God. As Thomas also said on that occasion, “My Lord and my God”. The kingdom of the Holy Spirit is over, now begins the kingdom of the Son.

(See also Table 09: “God's plan of salvation and its effects on Creation.”).


Conclusion

As we can see from the above analysis, this argument of Mr. Pache's is to be put down to his ignorance of the realities of the Millennial Kingdom. Nor, clearly, has he considered in this connection the scriptural statements relating to the Rapture in Mt 24,29-31, Rev 1,7-8 and Zech 12,10-12, and the text of Mt 24,29 - “but immediately after the affliction of those days” - has been consistently ignored.

(See also Discourse 63: “Conditions of live in the Millennial Kingdom .”)



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Argument 18: Are the “ambassadors of God” already relieved of their office before the Great Tribulation, in the interest of their safety?


A confirmation of the fact that the departure of the congregation gives the signal for the Great Tribulation is to be found, finally, in the following thought: Paul calls the faithful the ambassadors of God in this world, who entreat sinners to be reconciled with God (2Cor 5,20). Now if ambassadors who offer peace are shamelessly turned away and abused, their government recalls them, and the result is war. So also one day, when God's ambassadors are relieved of their office this will be the event that triggers the fearful judgment which will bring God's cause to final victory.



This of course is anything but a confirmation of the pretribulationist Rapture. Especially when we consider that in this same Great Tribulation - from which, in the author’s opinion these “ambassadors” want, in the interests of safety, to take their leave prematurely - Scripture tells us that hundreds and millions of the faithful will have lived and died (Rev 7,14).

And these faithful who have lost their lives in the Great Tribulation are then seen later by John, in heaven, in Rev 7,13-17:

These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation.

Rev 7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 7,15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 7,16 "They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 7,17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." Rev 7, 13-17;


They have come out of the Great Tribulation on earth and now stand, after their raising from the dead and Rapture, before the throne of God and serve him day and night. And as the elder says to John, now “they will hunger no longer nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat” - referring to all the afflictions that they had during their life on earth.

The Great Tribulation is not yet a judgment of God, but rather consists in the wars, plagues, catastrophes and famines that human beings have themselves occasioned on this planet. Those of the congregation of the Last Days who have died in this period as a result of wars, hunger and thirst will be raptured immediately following the Tribulation, on the Second Coming of the Lord. The judgment of God, the Day of God's Wrath, does not come until the plagues of the bowls.



Conclusion

It may be the case that worldly ambassadors flee from the countries to which they are posted, and go home at the first signs of war and catastrophe. The ambassadors of God are subject to a quite different law. This is just the time when the wheat is separated from the chaff, and the real character of an ambassador of God shows - is he unconcerned about his fellow human beings, trying only to save his own life, or is he prepared to risk his life in order to give people hope even in extreme situations and bring them to faith in Christ?


The first and the second Antichrist     part 1, Discourse 86