Sunset on the coast while watching and hoping for the return of Jesus

Distinctions between the rapture and the gathering at the end of the age

By Don Koenig

Jesus tells us of the gathering of Israel and perhaps all believers left on earth in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 they were told to watch and pray that they would be found worthy to escape the things coming to pass and to stand before Jesus at His coming. Jesus was talking to the Jews about the time of Jacob's trouble. The Rapture of the Church, is a prior event for the Bride of Christ. These are already worthy to escape because they were washed by the blood of the Lamb.

In the rapture Jesus comes unannounced and meets His bride in the air. At His second coming the kingdom is given to Jesus and He comes with His saints in great power and great glory. The rapture requires no signs to be fulfilled. The second coming is after the "tribulation of those days" spoken of by Jesus in His Olivet discourse. The tribulation of those days occurs before the second coming when the tares are gathered by angels to be burned.

The day when one is taken and one is left

In the gospel of Matthew and Luke there is a scripture that is often taken as the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church. "two men on a bed " "two men in a field" and "the two women at the mill" where one is taken and one left. This scripture contains a statement that is difficult to understand. When Jesus is asked where they are taken, Jesus answers "where the corpse is the vultures will gather". In Luke it is clear that this event occurs when God's people are supernaturally protected as in the days of Lot and Noah. This will occur on earth before the second coming of Jesus. It will be at a time when sudden destruction is about to come. The one taken and one left passages does not fit the rapture of the Church. It also does not fit the second coming of Jesus. This pre-wrath gathering event is more likely to occur at the time of the great day of God, the Almighty. (Rev 16:14).

I don't fully understand the corpse and vulture statement but I believe that this is not the rapture of the church but a pre-wrath gathering of believers for protection by Gods angels. In that same statement about Jesus coming as a thief we also see that demons are gathering hordes of people to Har-magedon for their destruction.

Rev 16:14 for they are spirits of demons, working signs; which go forth unto the kings of the whole world, to gather them together unto the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.
(Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.)
16 And they gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew

These people either have garments or else they are said to walk naked. None of the Church could walk naked since all in the spiritual Body of Christ are given white linen from Jesus. Those who walk are the elect who are gathered to Israel and the garments are the works they did since they believed in Jesus through the teaching of God's two prophets and the 144,000 Jews that were sealed and commissioned by God to give the gospel of the Kingdom to the whole world as a witnesses. Only then would the end come.

The Great Jewish Commission of the 144,000

Jesus said the "gospel of the kingdom" will be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then the end will come. It is clear that the end will not come until this occurs. The Church sometimes thinks that this is the gospel that it preaches and that this means that the whole world will hear the gospel of the good news of God's grace before the end. On one level this may be true but the Church has the commission to preach the good news of God's grace through faith in Jesus to the world. The commission for the "gospel of the Kingdom" is to the Jews. In Revelation we see that 144,000 Israelites will be given this commission. The message will be the same one that Jesus and John the Baptist preached. "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand."

Parable of the fig tree:

Jesus said to learn the parable of the fig tree to know when the time was near. God's fig tree in Joel and in Luke is Israel. The parable says, "When the fig tree's branch is tender and is putting forth leaves know that summer is near". Israel as a nation was cut down to its roots in 70 AD by the Roman army. In 1948 Israel became a nation again by a mandate from the United Nations.

More proof that Israel was understood to be the fig tree:

The Apocalypse of Peter is a non-canonical manuscript from approximately A.D. 120 also tells us Israel is God's fig tree.

"Hast thou not grasped that the fig-tree is the house of Israel? Verily, I say to you that when its boughs have sprouted at the end, then shall deceiving Christs come, and awaken hope (with the words): "I am the Christ, who am (now) come into the world." And when they shall see the wickedness of their deeds (even of the false Christs), they shall turn away after them and deny him to whom our fathers gave praise(?), the first Christ whom they crucified and thereby sinned exceedingly. But this deceiver is not the Christ. And when they reject him, he will kill with the sword (dagger) and there shall be many martyrs. Then shall the boughs of the fig-tree, i.e. the house of Israel, sprout, and there shall be many martyrs by his hand: they shall be killed and become martyrs. Enoch and Elias will be sent to instruct them that this is the deceiver who must come into the world and do signs and wonders in order to deceive. And therefore shall they that are slain by his hand be martyrs and shall be reckoned among the good and righteous martyrs who have pleased God in their life."

Excerpt from Grant R. Jeffrey's book "
TRIUMPHANT RETURN - The Coming Kingdom of God" (bold emphasis is mine).

The ten virgin parable

Some say that the 10 virgin parable actually applies to Israel and not the Church. That is very possible but it could apply to all tribulation saints or to the Church as well. Most Bible scholars believe the parable is for the Church and that is my position until someone convinces me otherwise.

When Jesus comes after His long absence He comes to those that are watching and to those who have faith. In the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins in Matthew we may have the picture of all the world Christian assemblies at the time of Jesus' return. The five wise virgins went with Him because they had oil. The five foolish that did not go had no oil in their lamp (vessel). Oil in the vessel represents the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The five foolish virgins are then left to go through the worst troubles this earth will ever know. Those that endure until the end will be saved but as through fire. Those who identify with Christianity in Thyatira, Sardis and Laodicea, who never were born from above by trusting in Jesus and receiving his indwelling Spirit (Oil) will find out too late that it takes more than head knowledge about Jesus or cultural identity with Jesus to be saved (there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth).

Laodicea after being vomited out, in general, will not be present at the marriage in heaven but many in her will be ready to receive Jesus when He returns. There is a passage in Luke that seems to give a direct reference to the Laodicea assembly and it is after the Lord returns from the wedding feast. If the meaning in Luke is actually saying the same thing as the message to Laodicea in Revelation it should be clear that most in Laodicea will go through the tribulation. We are told in Revelation that at some point Jesus vomits up this church. She, as an assembly is no longer in Jesus or identified by Jesus as being a part of His body. At this point Laodicea probably can only be identified with the Harlot in Revelation. We see Jesus knocking on the outside of the door of each person's heart to those that are identified with Laodicea so perhaps they will open the door and welcome Him when Jesus returns from the marriage feast.

Luk 12:36 and be ye yourselves like unto men looking for their lord, when he shall return from the marriage feast; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may straightway open unto him.

The verse in the letter to Laodicea in Revelation is very similar.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Rev 3:20)

The language in Luke and Revelation is almost the same. Jesus comes back after He is married to the Church. Jesus then appeals to those who will hear His voice and opens the door to their heart to receive Him. Jesus has a private meeting with them and He invites them to the wedding feast on earth that will take place in Israel.

Watch and pray that you may escape what is coming

Why tell Church believers to watch and pray to be accounted worthy to escape if they are already worthy to escape? Surely Jesus is not telling unbelievers to watch and pray! This passage is either talking to Israel to the apostate church or both. I surmise that after the removal of the true Church all who come to be believers will have a similar fate on earth, be they identified with Israel or Christianity.

A parable that supports the premise that these people are Israel and all post rapture believers is given in Luke 12:45-49.

45 But if that servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
46 the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and shall cut him asunder,
and appoint his portion with the unfaithful.
47 And that servant, who knew his lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes;
48 but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more.
I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what do I desire, if it is already kindled?

These are believers because the servant says "my Lord" and some of them even knew the Lord's will but they did not do it. Some servants will not prepare themselves for the Lord's coming, nor do His will. The passage does not imply that these who were not watching were unbelievers, it only says they will get the same portion as the unfaithful. I think Jesus is saying that those who are not doing His will and are not ready when He comes to gather post rapture believers for protection will be left to go through the tribulation judgments. The "stripes" in the passage are most likely the punishments they will endure during the great tribulation.

The pretribulation rapture of the faithful Church spoken of by Paul and promised to the Church of Philadelphia in Revelation do not fit the events in the gathering of believers at the end of the age or the second coming of Jesus, therefore they must be separate events.

Selected references

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