Must the congregation of the Last Days seek out
a place of refuge for the Rapture? / Book Ernst Panzer 00, page 90
After a close examination of the relevant scriptural passages, we came to the
conclusion that a secret Rapture of the final congregation of Jesus before the coming time of
tribulation under the Antichrist is nowhere promised in the Bible - rather it is the case that
the expectant congregation of Jesus will only be perfected after the last antichristian
afflictions, on the visible coming of the Lord in glory and power. The expectant congregation of
Jesus will have to endure various tribulations of a general nature in the Last Days, and will be
reduced increasingly to the position of the importunate widow (Lk 18,1-8). But when these
afflictions give place to the Great Tribulation - that is to say, when the Antichrist who is to
appear later on proceeds to the official persecution of the faithful - then God will intervene,
and according to Revelation 12,6.14 prepare a place of retreat for the congregation of
the Last Days. (...) When the last antichristian persecution that is to come breaks out, then
God will again prepare a Pella, a place of refuge, to which the faithful from the western lands
can flee, and where they will be safe against the snares of the Antichrist. In recent decades we
have witnessed population movements on a large scale for political reasons. At the very end we
are likely to see a massive resettlement for reasons of religion.
+) At the request of E. Panzer, this further interpretation of the questions discussed here is taken from his book "Prophetie und Enthüllung" ["Prophecy and Revelation"], published by the Philadelphia-Verlag [Philadelphia Publishers].
(Ernst Panzer / https://www.philadelphia-verlag.com)
As is perfectly correctly stated above, if we look closely at Scripture there are no
grounds to postulate a secret Rapture as taking place before the Great Tribulation. On the contrary,
the Rapture will happen after this period of the Last Days, and it will be visible to the whole
world, on the coming of the Lord in glory. This, of course, is the triumph of the Lord - that the
heathen must recognize that there is a God, who is now coming to fulfill his promises, awarding
blessings to the faithful and punishment to the ungodly.
Although to those who are familiar with Scripture the coming of the Lord - in glory visible to all - after the tribulation of those days is an evident fact, let me just remind the reader once more of the two most important scriptural passages that refer to this:
After the tribulation of those days they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky.
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. 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;
Our Lord Jesus Christ will not come unless the apostasy comes first.
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? 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. 2,11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 2,12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2The 2, 1-12;
The further reflections of the author quoted above, to the effect that the congregation of the Last Days must seek out a "place of retreat" in order to be "perfected", that is to say translated, on the coming of the Lord, are based on a misunderstanding which caused even the disciples of Jesus to ask questions. It is the author of St. Luke’s Gospel who gives us this account, in Lk 17,22-37; the subject here is the "day of the Son of Man", of which the Lord spoke to his disciples as follows.
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 t 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) 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 days of tribulation for the faithful, and gives
warning of the risk of being led astray by false rumors that the Son of Man has come already. And he
says "" not go away, " not run after them," since the appearance of the Son of Man will not
take place invisibly and in secret, but like a flash of lightning that lightens from one end of the
sky to the other. So too 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 that time went on eating and drinking, having no notion of danger, and then were all, with the exception of Noah and his family, destroyed by the Flood, so it will be likewise on the day of the Son of Man: people will be eating and drinking and having a good time, until the moment when the Lord comes and gathers his faithful from the four winds and takes them up into the Rapture. And as a further precept illustrating how we are to behave, the Lord also compares this day with the days of Lot. There too people were all going about their daily business, but when Lot went out from So"m they were all destroyed.
But now Luke introduces a text which appears in Matthew (Mt 24,17-18) and Mark (Mk 13,15-16) in a quite different context - in connection, that is, with the "Abomination of Desolation". The Lord says here, "On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go "wn to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back." In Matthew and Mark this passage is followed by the exclamation "But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days!", and although this same verse appears in Luke, it is transposed elsewhere (Lk 21,23). In fact we get the impression that the Lord is not enjoining flight here, but rather is urging the faithful to keep still and abide in whatever place they happen to be. The two following verses (Lk 17,32-33) then make this impression into a certainty. The warning "Remember Lot’s wife" indicates that on that day, at that moment, we should not turn back for the sake of what lies behind us - wealth and possessions, life and limb. And then the Lord specifically adds, "Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it."
(See also Table 05: "Synopsis of the Lords eschatological discourses.")
So it is quite clear that a flight is not being spoken of here - what is indicated is rather an outward stillness, staying in whatever place we happen to be, and an inward turning away from everything that the world has meant to us. For this is the moment of the coming of the Lord and the Rapture of the faithful, as also described in Mt 24,29-31 below. Though at this moment they will lose their lives in an earthly sense - through the loss of the physical body - the faithful will not die, but as Paul tells us will "be changed". And they should not be afraid of this, as the Lord tells them in Lk 17,33. Whoever attempts to flee, in order to save his physical life, will actually lose it. But whoever abides, having firm trust in God, will be gathered by the Lord’s angelic emissaries and caught up in the Rapture. And there really will be two in one bed, or two women grinding together, and one will be taken and the other will be left.
And He will send forth His angels and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
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. 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;
When the Lord comes to the end of his explanation, the first reaction of the
disciples is to ask "Where, Lord?" - and we see here the same misunderstanding as we find in the
author of the book quoted above. Apart from the fact that the faithful would be taken away, that a
Rapture was to occur, the disciples had completely failed to understand what the Lord was saying.
Thus they were eager to learn where this was all going to happen, so that they could be at the place
in good time.
The Lord’s response shows us two things. In a sense it looks as if he just has not registered their question and is changing the subject, when he says "Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered". And yet it was just the answer that the disciples - and even more so the faithful of the Last Days - need to be given. It seems that the Lord is giving them the message - ""n’t think that you have to seek out any specific place. Seeing that God has counted every one of the hairs of your head and knows every sparrow on the rooftop, " you find it hard to believe that he will recognize you - the whole of your body - from among all the rest of the human race? When I come, I will send out my angels to gather you. And just as the vultures know by instinct where the body is to be found, so too the angels will know where you are to be found. All you have to "is to keep still, abiding in firm trust in God, and directing your spiritual gaze not backwards towards your life on earth, but ahead, to the life of God’s eternity that is about to dawn for you."
The view taken by Immanuel.at, that there will not be a "place of refuge"
for the congregation of the Last Days, but that all the faithful all over the world will be gathered
on the occasion of the Rapture from whatever place they happen to be, is further confirmed by what
the Lord tells us in Mt 24,31:
"...and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one
end of the sky to the other."
(See also Discourse 38: "What awaits Christians
and Jews on the Second Coming of the Lord?")
But as we can see from the passage quoted earlier, this misunderstanding of a "place
of refuge" is the consequence of another erroneous interpretation. This involves taking the "woman"
of Revelation 12,6.14 as the congregation of the Last Days, and understanding her flight to the "place
prepared by God" as indicating a "place of retreat" for the congregation. The contrary is
shown to be the case in excursus 10, "The woman in heaven", where it is demonstrated that this
woman in heaven with the crown of twelve stars stands for the people of Israel with its twelve
(See also Excursus 10: "The woman in heaven.")