The section of our website www.raptureready.com in which we put our weekly commentaries is “Nearing Midnight.” Our purpose is to chronicle issues and events of the current times in order to forewarn that the call of Christ to His Bride, the Church (all those who are born again –John 3:3) is near.
We can say this with certainty because of the many signals given off by those issues and events. These look to be the prophetic signs of the coming Tribulation period–human history’s last seven years leading to the return of Christ to planet earth at the time of Armageddon. Jesus said: “And when you see all these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your head for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21: 28).
Paul the apostle wrote about this moment of redemption: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4: 4: 16-17).
John, “the beloved disciple,” wrote from his exile on Patmos about his vision of that moment of redemption:
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. (Revelation 4: 1)
This shout from Christ, Himself, is likened to the moment when the midnight hour of human history has been reached. The black, boiling clouds of the Tribulation will have shrouded the whole planet in a veil of God’s wrath because of man’s rebellion. We see that moment as represented in the parable of the ten virgins.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. (Matthew 25: 6)
Despite all the seminary-degreed protests to the contrary, this is the same moment Jesus prophesied in the Olivet Discourse, in what I believe is the most profound declaration about this midnight hour at which time He will next catastrophically intervene into man’s history. I refer to the Lord’s foretelling the coming judgment at the time of the Rapture, as given in the following. Note that Jesus prefaces His prophecy by saying:
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matthew 24:36)
The Rapture is an unknown time; it is imminent–can happen at any moment. The Second Advent can be counted down, because a precise number of days are given to the time Christ returns at Armageddon. The Lord then gives a description of what the world will be like at that unknown hour–unknown by anyone but His Father.
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. (Matthew 24: 37-42)
Most of my theologically degreed friends–and I love them as my Brothers in Christ–say that Jesus was addressing the Jews, not the Church. This, therefore, has to be His addressing the time of His Second Advent at the end of the seven years of Tribulation. However, I believe, as did my good friend Dave Hunt, that the Lord would not speak confusion into prophecy. At the time of the Second Advent at Armageddon, as many as three-fourths of the world’s population will have been killed through the terrible judgments given for that era. People will not be doing the things people in societies and cultures do during normal times. And, the time of Tribulation will be by far the worst in human history, according to the Lord’s own words (Matthew 24:21).
Dave Hunt spoke to these matters many years ago at a forum I attended. He started his presentation by talking about the title of the topic he was assigned.
[My] topic is “Is the Rapture in the Olivet Discourse?” Well, I’d like to talk on the topic “The Pre-Trib Rapture in the Olivet Discourse.” I couldn’t quite handle that question. I couldn’t justify why there ought to be any question at all. Why the Pre-Trib Rapture, or the Rapture, or the Church, or anything else was in the Olivet Discourse. (“The Pre-Trib Rapture: Is It in the Olivet Discourse?” Dave Hunt, Pre-Trib Study Group, Dallas, Texas, December, 1998)
Dave Hunt, one of the most thorough and brilliant students of the Bible of my acquaintance, talked then about how the Olivet Discourse is declared by the seminary doctoral hierarchy to not address the Church or the Rapture in any way whatsoever. He went on to say that the Olivet Discourse, as he understood it, came about in response to specific questions the disciples asked Jesus. They wanted to know when the destruction of the temple and city would take place, and what would be the signs of His coming, and of the end of the age. Dave said Jesus responded with the many signals He gave. Jesus didn’t say that He was referring to His Second Coming at the time of Armageddon. Dave asked: Why is it necessary to adamantly say that it couldn’t be the Rapture Jesus was talking about in answer to their questions?
A common reason given for the Rapture not being referred to in the Olivet Discourse, Dave Hunt said, was that the disciples there with Jesus couldn’t understand about the Rapture, because they didn’t understand about even the Church at that point.
Dave reminded that Jesus told the disciples at another time that He would go away, but would come again and receive them unto himself, and take them to Heaven, where He will have prepared dwelling places (mansions) for them (John 14: 1-3). The disciples didn’t understand this, either, but it was about the Church, and Jesus told them about it. Dave said this coming for the disciples (the Church) couldn’t be the Second Advent, because He will return at that time of Armageddon with the saints–including the disciples to whom He was speaking. The disciples didn’t understand that, it is true, Dave said. But, Jesus was nonetheless speaking about the Rapture. The common sense of the things Jesus was saying fit perfectly–as Jesus’ teachings always did.
Dave Hunt concluded:
I don’t believe that His response had to be limited to what they understood. But I think He could tell them things that they didn’t understand, and not necessarily in a way that they would understand… I can’t think of any reason—rule of logic or exegesis—that would say the rapture can’t be in the Olivet Discourse.” (Ibid.)
Jesus expanded on His “days of Noah” analogy to the time when He would return at the Rapture:
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. (Luke 17: 29-30)
Be alert! Keep your head up and senses attuned to what the headlines are saying to your spiritual ears. The midnight cry might be the next words you hear.