Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Secret Rapture -- Fact or Fiction?
How -- and when -- will Yeshua the Messiah return to planet Earth? Will he come secretly to rapture -- or catch away -- His saints to be with him in Heaven? And then return 3 1/2 to 7 years later in power and glory? Perhaps there is no question that is more controversial, and replete with more consternation and confusion than the Second Coming of Yeshua the Messiah!
by HOIM Staff
Yeshua did tell His disciples, very bluntly: "I will come again" (John 14:3). Unfortunately, 90 percent of the Christian world today denies Yeshua's words, and does not believe he is coming again -- let alone believe that YEHOVAH God Himself is going to return also . But I say to you, look around you -- consider the condition of this modern world: IF YEHOVAH God and the Messiah do not come again, this world is DOOMED!
Mankind's rope is just about to run out! With the proliferation of nuclear weapons to more and more nations, with the U.S. and Russia each still able to blast all life from the face of the earth, with the growing threat of world pollution, overpopulation and famine leading to food wars; with the rapid escalation of international tensions, and the threat of "holy wars" and international terrorism, the countdown to the ultimate Doomsday has ticked closer and closer to the reality of Armageddon.
Leading scientists suggest Doomsday is only twenty or thirty years away, now, and counting. But Bible prophecy indicates it is much closer than that! We may be only seven to ten years from the End -- or even closer than that!
Countdown to the Messiah
People have speculated for generations as to when Yeshua the Messiah would return. Those who lived around the year l000 A.D. thought Yeshua would come back in their time. Europe was panic stricken with fear, worried about the end of civilization at that time.
In 1844 William Miller thought Yeshua the Messiah would return then. Thousands heeded his words of prophecy, and waited upon the tops of hills, climbing trees, and watching the heavens for any sign of Yeshua's return. While waiting, one person fell out of a tree and broke a leg!
Why did Miller think that Yeshua would return in 1844? He simply made a mistake in his calculations (which shows how dangerous it is to try to "calculate" prophecy!). Frankly, prophecy is not something you can calculate, or figure out mathematically, or by using a computer. Yeshua inspired Peter to write: "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter 1:20-21).
William Miller made several errors in judgment. First, he interpreted Daniel's vision of Daniel 8 incorrectly. In verses 13-14 we read: "Then I heard one saint speaking and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
Miller assumed that this prophetic period began in 457 B.C. with the decree of Artaxerxes. He counted 2300 years from that time (a day for a year), and came to 1844, when he assumed "the sanctuary would be cleansed" by the return of the Messiah. When the Messiah did not return in 1844, his group got together and figured out an alternative explanation. Rather than simply admit they had been wrong, they said the Messiah did return to the sanctuary in heaven, and cleansed it and the prophecy did not refer to his coming to earth at all. Rather, they said, he began looking over the books -- he began the "investigative judgment" in heaven at that time, and when he finishes, then he will return to earth!
Miller made a fundamental error. He assumed the prophecy began in 457 B.C. But the Scripture nowhere says any such thing. That was his private, personal belief. Secondly, the prophecy in Daniel 8 does not even mention the "return of the Messiah." It rather deals with the subject of the "cleansing of the Temple." It was an assumption on Miller's part that this marked the return of the Messiah, and that it would occur 2300 years after 457 B.C. Two assumptions -- two fundamental errors -- and one big prophetic blunder resulted!
The major historic fulfillment of this prophecy began in 334 B.C., when the empire of Greece (the "he goat" of the prophecy) attacked the Persian empire ("the ram"). Counting from this time, the prophecy was initially fulfilled by the "Six Day War" in 1967 when the small state of Israel attacked the surrounding Arab nations, and recaptured the West Bank of the Jordan river, the Sinai desert, the Golan heights, and most important, from the viewpoint of the prophecy, the Old City of Jerusalem with the Temple Mount! This phenomenal victory occurred exactly 2300 years from the phenomenal victory of Alexander the Great over the assembled armies of Persia at the Granicus river in 334 B.C.!
When Will the Messiah Return?
When, then, will Yeshua return?
Before discussing the prophetic indications in the Bible and supplying dates, let's remember the words of Yeshua. He warned: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:36). He added: "Watch therefore: for ye KNOW NOT what hour your Lord doth come" (verse 42).
Notice! In this prophetic chapter, Yeshua gave his disciples a point by point sequence of events which must take place BEFORE his second coming. Read the entire chapter very carefully.
Yeshua's disciples wondered about the return of the Messiah and the end of the world. "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3). The Greek word translated "world" in this verse is aion and actually means "age." They were referring to the end of this present evil age, not the end of planet Earth itself, but the end of this present evil civilization under the sway of Satan the devil.
What did Yeshua tell them?
"And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many' (verses 4-5).
Can you imagine that? The very first thing Yeshua warned his followers was to beware of deceivers -- false prophets -- who would deceive MANY! How true his words were! Millions are deceived, confused, today, even about the Second Coming of Yeshua the Messiah! His words have been misinterpreted, misunderstood, misconstrued, and manhandled by many who simply refuse to believe he meant exactly what he said!
There are many deceivers on earth today -- many false prophets -- and many of them even come "in my name," Yeshua said that they are claiming to be his ministers, his servants, his prophets. They claim to worship him. The apostle Paul warned about such Christians leaders who preach the Messiah while they deny his true teaching, his true message: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their words" (II Cor. 11:13-15).
Yeshua himself had severe words for those ministers who claim to represent him, but in truth deny him. He warned: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-16). He added: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7:22-23). Consider these weighty warnings of Yeshua. Let us then read very carefully his own words in Matthew 24, about his second coming, and not listen to the pied pipers of modern religion!
Yeshua clearly indicated that YEHOVAH God has not told us the day or precise hour of His or the Messiah's coming! If anyone claims to know the day or hour, then, I would conclude he is a false prophet. Yeshua meant what he said! Guessing games with prophecy will do us no good. Speculation will not help.
But, notice what Yeshua did NOT say. He did NOT say we couldn't know the approximate time of his return. In fact, he gave us signs to watch for. He said: "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors" (verse 33).
Can Yeshua Come Immediately?
There is one school of thought which believes Yeshua may return at any moment -- even this very night. Those who suggest this, believe Yeshua is returning to rapture away His saints to heaven, first, and then will come a third time after a few years to punish the Antichrist and the rebellious earth.
Is there any truth to this popular view?
If popularity is any criteria, then it must be true, because -- most Christians sincerely believe it. Bumper stickers on automobiles announce: "IF I AM RAPTURED, TAKE THE WHEEL." Others read: "JESUS IS COMING SOON, AND IS HE SORE." But popularity is no basis of knowing what is right or wrong; we must search the Scriptures to find out truth (John 17:17).
What does the Bible reveal?
Yeshua warned first of all to beware of false prophets and ministers disguised as ministers of the Messiah. Then He said: "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:6-8).
We certainly live in an age where the fear of war, even World War III, is a breathtaking reality. The terrors of modem warfare are unimaginable, causing the mind to reel in a state of shock. How many wars, rebellions, revolutions, invasions, threats and rumours of war, can you count on your fingers right now? How many since World War II? Since Korea? Since Vietnam? We are always hearing of wars and revolts in Africa, eastern Europe, Asia, central America, and the Middle East!
Yeshua's words have been fulfilled to the very letter.
And famine? Never was the threat of world hunger ever any worse than right now -- and growing worse daily. World population is burgeoning, because few if any nations really practice birth control, and the food supply is beginning to show signs of strain, faltering, and failing. Millions are soon destined to die from famine and starvation.
Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions -- these too are increasing. Yeshua said these signs would. be the "beginning" of sorrows or tribulation. Next he prophesied increased persecution upon his true Church, his dedicated followers. Whereas the Church of YEHOVAH God has enjoyed relative peace and harmony with the neighbors around us for several decades, times are beginning to change. Anti-Christian sentiment is spreading. The tax favoured treatment of religious non-profit institutions is being severely threatened. The secular government and society is becoming increasingly hostile toward religion! Ever since that false prophet Jim Jones led his fanatical followers in Guayana into a mass suicide orgy, and a bizarre sect of Sabbath keepers were cremated at Waco, Texas, by Federal "storm troopers," the world has become suspect of any and all who claim to be Christian!
Yeshua told us it would happen. He said: "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:9-11).
Did you ever think of this? Did you realize YOU could become a martyr for Yeshua's sake?
The early apostles were beaten, whipped, bludgeoned, run out of city after city, for preaching the gospel of Yeshua the Messiah! They were harried, harassed, and hounded by religious infidels and the Establishment of their period of time!
Has human nature changed?
Is the world really welcoming the gospel of Yeshua the Messiah any more today than it did then?
Many have forgotten the words of the Messiah, or perhaps thought his words were meant for some other generation. But Yeshua says to all of us: "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
"And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:16-22).
Did you ever think that could happen to YOU?
It is time we began to think about it. These words of Yeshua the Messiah are going to come to pass in our generation!
It seems incredible -- parents betraying their own children, children pressured by the state into tattling on their own parents, brothers accusing brothers -- "He is a member of that Church!" "She is a supporter of that Church!" "Those people over there -- they are Christians -- lock 'em up and throw away the key!"
Persecution -- affliction -- even martyrdom -- some will be killed for Yeshua's sake! It can happen -- even in America! Don't kid yourself!
The milk of human kindness is fast eroding and disappearing from the earth. Have you noticed how blatantly impatient people are becoming? It is as if there is a spirit in the air. Teen age gangs are proliferating, murdering and killing. Teachers are afraid of being raped, assaulted, or killed in their own schools. People are afraid to walk the streets at night in major cities due to muggers. People cut in and out of traffic with no show of concern. Police officials are tempted, take bribes, become corrupt. Prostitution and pornography are growing into multi-multi billion dollar industries, preying on the weak and lonely in society! Drug abuse is everywhere -- rampant -- a trillion-dollar a year industry!
Yeshua foretold it: "And because INIQUITY [lawlessness, sin] shall abound, the love [natural affection for neighbor, for others, as well as love for God] of many shall wax COLD" (Matthew 24:12).
Yeshua said that during this time of world engulfing woe, travail, and persecution, the Church of YEHOVAH God would continue preaching. In fact, Yeshua was adamant: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in ALL THE WORLD for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (verse 14).
That gospel is going forth now as it never has in the past! The whole world is beginning to hear it, and although few are doing anything about it, few are changing their lives, nevertheless, as Yeshua said, it is a "witness" against them and their evil deeds! When this commission is fulfilled, Jesus said, "then shall the end come."
That "end" is probably much closer than we dare think!
The Great Trumpet Blast
Notice I Corinthians 15, the famous "resurrection chapter." The apostle Paul tells us plainly, speaking of Christians:
"Behold, I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, AT THE LAST TRUMP: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [the still living] shall be changed" (verses 51-52).
The time the trumpet sounds, the time the elect are "gathered," is the same time as the trumpet blast, and the resurrection of the saints from the dead!
Further light is shed on this "mystery," as Paul calls it, in I Thessalonians 4. Here, Paul says: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the COMING OF THE LORD shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with THE TRUMP OF GOD: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thess. 4:13-17).
Compare carefully these verses with Matthew 24 and I Corinthians 15. It is obviously speaking of the same, identical time and event! In all three places the "elect" of YEHOVAH God, true Christians are gathered up from the four winds, from around the world, to meet the returning Messiah "in the clouds," and in all three accounts this event is accompanied by a "great sound of a trumpet," or "the last trumpet," or "the trump(et) of YEHOVAH God."
Does this sound like a secretive, clandestine event, which the whole world will scarcely even be aware of -- a secret, quiet, mysterious, ghost-like event, where many people disappear suddenly, without any noise of any kind? Is this trumpet blast a "silent" trumpet? Is the voice of the archangel a "silent" voice? That is what believers in the theory of the SECRET RAPTURE would have you to believe!
A SECRET Rapture Event?
Think carefully, honestly. Does this sound like a quiet, off-in-a-corner clandestine, surreptitious, secret affair? Will YEHOVAH God or the Messiah come quietly, mysteriously, secretly to spirit away the saints?
No, not at all!
His second coming will be very noisy -- there will be the loud voice of an archangel, as well as the loud trumpet blast rending the heavens! The Messiah will be seen by the nations as he comes, Matthew recorded (Matthew 24:30). He will not be invisible.
When the Bible speaks of Yeshua's coming "as a thief, " it is speaking of the TIME of his arrival, not the manner of His coming! A thief comes at night, when you least expect it. Even so, Yeshua compared his coming to that of a thief. He said: "But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch [or hour] the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:43-44).
What Is the "Last Trumpet"?
Now let's see one final scripture which spells out very clearly the Second Coming of the Messiah. Paul wrote that the saints would be resurrected at the "LAST TRUMPET" (I Cor. 15:51-52). This is the trumpet which is blown when the Messiah returns for his saints. Does this trumpet announce a secret rapture?
Which trumpet is the "last" trumpet blast?
In the book of Revelation (which means a revealing, not a concealing of information), we read a prophetic outline of the future. According to this outline, the future is sealed with seven seals which will be opened consecutively (Revelation 5:1-9). Notice that the seventh seal will consist of "seven angels which stood before YEHOVAH God; and to them were given seven trumpets" (Rev. 8:1-2). When each of these trumpets are sounded, various events will take place on the earth. The first angel sounds his trumpet, and plagues are poured on the earth. So it is for the next three angelic plagues, accompanied by trumpet blasts (Rev. 8). When the fifth angel blows his trumpet, another plague -- a terrible war -- erupts on the earth (Rev. 9:1-12). This is followed by the sixth angelic trumpet blast, and an army of 200,000,000 men from Asian nations attacks westward, killing one third of mankind (Rev. 9:13-21).
But notice, now -- notice what happens when the SEVENTH, or LAST, trumpet will sound!
"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, THE KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD ARE BECOME THE KINGDOMS OF OUR LORD, AND OF HIS CHRIST; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the TIME OF THE DEAD, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give REWARD unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth" (Revelation 11:15-19).
Here again, in more detail, is what will happen when the last trumpet blasts forth its shrill clarion call. The Messiah will return; the dead in the Messiah shall be raised; the saints will be judged and rewarded, every man according to His works; and, the wrath of YEHOVAH God will be poured out upon a rebellious, defiant world.
How clear it is!
The theory or belief in a secret rapture, to rapture away the saints before the so-called Great Tribulation, is unbiblical, unscriptural, and unsound! It is unthinkable! Yeshua did not prophesy it. The apostles did not teach it.
We have seen that Yeshua pinpointed many specific events which MUST occur first, before his second coming in power and glory. He lists these events in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, in the Mount Olivet Prophecy. If we will believe his simple, straight-forward words, then it is obvious that Yeshua will not and cannot come tonight, or tomorrow night, or any other night, until these signals -- these prophesied events -- these signs which point to his second coming -- are first fulfilled!
Many of them are in the process of being fulfilled right now. Others still remain to be fulfilled. And the way world events have speeded up, with attention focused on the Middle East, those prophecies still be fulfilled could begin to be fulfilled very rapidly.
Therefore, as Yeshua said, we need to heed his admonition:
"Watch ye, therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning; lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you, I say unto all, WATCH" (Mark 13:35-37).
"And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For like a snare shall it come on all of them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to ESCAPE all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21:34-36).
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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