As a student of Bible prophecy and eschatology for thirty seven years, I have found that the discovery of new truths is becoming more and more infrequent. Well, here is a new one. It is based on one scripture in the famous Olivet Discourse spoken by Jesus:
Matthew 24:44 King James Version (KJV)
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
I discovered this truth in a book written recently by Terry James, entitled “Rapture Ready…Or Not?” What made the discovery exciting was that I had the same exact thoughts about Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:44, and now I received confirmation from one who has studied eschatology throughout his entire life!
If one would attend a Prophecy In The News Conference, you would find that the forty to fifty speakers are all united, believing in a pre tribulation rapture of the church. There are four scripture passages that are often quoted, all referring to the rapture doctrine. They are 1) I Thessalonians 4:13-18, which is the plainest and most comprehensive scripture on this doctrine. 2) I Corinthians 15:50-53. Paul presents the rapture as “a mystery,” meaning this teaching is a new doctrine not found in the Old Testament. The Thessalonian and Corinthian passages parallel each other perfectly. 3) John 14:1-4. This passage is not used as often in reference to the rapture, and refers to our Lord Jesus preparing a place for us to dwell in heaven. Nonetheless it is a very appropriate passage in reference to our doctrine. 4) Finally there is Revelation 4:1. The seven churches in Asia Minor are considered in Revelation 2-3. Chapter 4 opens with John and the church taken to heaven, inferring that the church will be taken to heaven as the Great Tribulation is unleashed on a Christ rejecting world, expounded upon in Revelation chapters 6-18. These are the four “rapture” passages that are most often referred to by those who have studied this doctrine to a great degree.
May we now contrast the famous Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24, with the aforementioned passages on the rapture of the church. (The Olivet Discourse is found in all three synoptic Gospel accounts. Namely: Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 17, 21). Theologians and scholars of eschatology have long contended that the prophecies shared by Jesus focus on the Jewish people and Israel, but NOT on the Gentiles, the church and the rapture. It is very true that a great portion of Jesus’ prophecy zeros in on the Great Tribulation period and the nation of Israel. When Jesus returns at the end of the Great Tribulation, it will be an expected event, since the Bible forecasts the Second Coming of Jesus Christ through the many signs leading up to it. Now let us contrast His Second Coming in judgment with the rapture of the church, Matthew 24:44. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. This passage states the Lord will come when no one expects Him to come. The rapture of the church will be unannounced and no one knows when it will occur. The second coming of Jesus Christ will happen at the end of the Great Tribulation period. Jerusalem, we have a problem. It seems that the only way to account for Matthew 24:44 is that Jesus is referring to the rapture of the church. The only way that Christ’s coming for His bride can be totally unexpected is for it to happen prior to the Great Tribulation. This is Terry James’ contention and I agree wholeheartedly. Therefore Matthew 24:44 refers to the rapture of the church and not Christ’s Second Coming. Jesus encourages all believers to always be ready because He will return at a time when no one expects Him. The Bible forecasts Christ’s Second Coming as occurring at the end of the Great Tribulation / 70th Week of Daniel / Jacob’s Trouble. The rapture will happen at a totally unannounced time. Matthew 24:44 refers to the Lord’s return at a totally unannounced time. When Terry James pointed this out in his book “Rapture Ready…Or Not?,” the truth of his words immediately resonated with me and I saw his point. What could be plainer? The rapture of the church is the next major event on the Lord’s prophetical calendar and will remove God’s church from His judgment upon a Christ rejecting world. It will catch people by surprise, as mentioned in Matthew 24:44.
Blessings, Pastor Steve
Pray For Revival In America!