Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Could Be the Greatest Deception of Our Time?

 Hindsight is 20/20. I didn't realize it at the time as a younger believer, but in some cases, I believe I was persuaded of certain things being correct because they were so mainstream and popular, not necessarily because I had taken extensive time into really studying them out for myself and asking the hard questions. This isn't to say I didn't study and ponder these things, but that perhaps I didn't have the maturity, the depth of relationship with the Lord, the breadth of knowledge I needed nor the willingness to search out the harder questions. Maybe in some cases, as in the case with eschatology (the study of the end times), for instance, there were so many viewpoints and so much information that it made me so confused that I basically gave up trying to understand it! When I read the book Coming Again, a few years ago, which basically described every possible view (almost) of end times doctrine and I found myself agreeing or at least seeing the biblical basis for each one as being valid, I was convinced that this area was too much for me.

Yet, I want to be a Berean. The Bereans were commended for searching the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true. They didn't just assume Paul was right, they checked what Paul taught them to see if it lined up with the Torah (Old Testament Scriptures... I don't like using the phrasing "old" as it has the connotation in our culture as being outdated). This challenges me. These believers didn't have degrees in theology. They had the Holy Spirit and the Word and that is all they needed. Sometimes, simpler is better. Sometimes, I get caught up in book reading and it clutters my mind in a way that makes it harder to read the Word objectively, afresh, and with the Holy Spirit alone to guide me.

Recently, a godly brother, whom I greatly respect, had challenged me on my pretribulational rapture views (the belief that Yeshua will come to rapture His Bride and whisk her away before things get real ugly here on earth for the period called the Tribulation). I pretty much hung on for dear life. I mean, honestly, who DOESN'T want to believe in a pretrib rapture? I am not sure of the statistics on this, but I would guess about 90% of believers hold to this view, if not more. Thanks to the Left Behind (which I of course read) series, movies and books as well as countless numbers of theologians and pastors who teach this view, it has become very mainstream indeed. And I got swept up in the current of this...why not? It sure gives a person warm fuzzies to think we won't have to endure the wrath of man (the antichrist) or go through the persecution described in Daniel, Revelation and elsewhere.

As I studied this out, I began to list my questions and really start to study these end time passages. I tried to study them objectively, forgetting I had any views and without any other books and commentaries. I poured over Revelation, mapping it out. I saw new things I hadn't seen before. This was very valuable! Granted, I had more questions than answers, but it really caused me to go deeper, to cross reference, to pray and to ask for Adonai to help me, as I really needed His help!

I do not think we are, as believers, going to experience God's wrath, but I don't think we can scripturally support that we will not experience man's wrath through the antichrist. Those two are separate things in my mind and I believe in the scriptures as well.  The question I had then, was how do I differentiate between these two things in Revelation and specifically the seals, trumpets and judgments? The wrath of God is not mentioned in Revelation until Rev 6:16 at the opening of the sixth seal, when there is a great cosmic disturbance, an earthquake and eclipses of the sun and moon and everyone on earth is hiding and saying,"Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" As the seals, trumpets and bowls are linked together, in other words, the 7th seal contains all the trumpets and the bowls. This seems to indicate that the wrath of God begins at the 7th seal. Alot happens between the 6th and 7th seal.  It is in this time period that the 144,000 sons of Israel are sealed, and it seems there is a rapture of saints from every tribe and language that no one can count (contrasted with the 144,000 who can be counted) who (Rev 7:14) are identified as those "coming out of the great tribulation". What are they crying out with a loud voice? "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" The have been saved, brought out of the great tribulation (this seems to indicate to me they have gone through part of it in order for them to be said to be taken out of it). Notice this occurs after the 5th seal, where many saints are martyred.

Why in each and every letter of Revelation that Yeshua writes to the called out ones, the believers, does He end with the statement, "To the one who conquers...." If we didn't have to stand strong and conquer something than why these letters, the warnings, the admonitions to overcome? It doesn't fit the pretribulational view AT ALL. If we are to be raptured and will not have to endure persecution and hardship then Yeshua said all this in vain. Of course, I don't believe that could ever be true. Above all, the Word is true!

One particular text really stood out to me from 2 Thessalonians which made me turn a corner in what I believe to be true. This was not a new passage to me at all. Isn't it funny how you can read a passage over and over again and then years later come to a totally new revelation on that same passage? 2 Thess 2:1-4 "Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God."

I am not really sure why I didn't see this before. This scripture seems to indicate to me that certain things have to happen FIRST before we are gathered together to Him (raptured if you will). This basically debunks the pretribulationalist's view of imminency which says that the rapture could come at any moment and that there is nothing we are waiting for to happen first. Paul says here that two things have to happen first. The rebellion and the man of lawlessness (antichrist) has to be revealed (made known). Traditionally, it is the midpoint of the "week" when this occurs, when the antichrist goes into the temple and defiles it, making himself known and revealing his true colors, so to speak. It seems to me, from this passage and others, that we will be here to see this happen! The 5th seal is martyrdom for those who don't take the mark of the beast and worship the antichrist. I think we will be here for that too.

Revelation 3:10 gives me hope and is very sobering as well. I don't think this refers to the rapture but refers to a divine protection in some way during the great tribulation that the saints will have to endure. This is given only to this one body of believers in Philadelphia, indicating that this is a small remnant."Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to try those who dwell on the earth." This body of believers is faithful and receives the most glowing report of all the congregations. Because of this, they have already "passed the test" with flying colors and proved themselves, so they will be kept in some way from the testing and trial that is coming on the whole earth. What is the test and trial? I believe this is a time where we will prove who and what we believe. For those who have already shown that, they will be kept from this final test. If this doesn't cause us to consider if we are truly faithful to Him, I don't know what will.

Could the pretrib rapture view be the greatest deception of our time? Could Satan be involved in this deception which would cause believers to not be prepared at all mentally, emotionally, spiritually, for this time of testing and trial? I have to answer yes to these questions. As I have pondered this, I have grieved over the possibility that this belief and hope in our being raptured out before things get difficult will cause those who hold firmly to this view to lose their faith. If the rapture doesn't occur as they thought it would, will they wonder what they know to be true at all? Will it cause them to lose their faith and wonder if they can trust the Word of God? Will there be such disappointment that it will lead to discouragement, depression and disbelief? I think so. I at least think it is a very good possibility. This concerns me because I am part of the Body of Yeshua! I am being bold here, because I love my brothers and sisters too much to say nothing and I am convinced the time is so very short.

Let me just end with this thought. Be a Berean. Don't believe what I say, read the Bible for yourself! Do not trust what any teacher, church father, theologian (no matter how many degrees he or she has) or preacher says without reading the scriptures for yourself and pouring over them, asking the Lord to give you wisdom. Try to think outside the box and with an objectivity that the Holy Spirit can direct you and teach you the truth. Consider that you could be wrong and others could be wrong on some things. Man is fallible. God's Word is not. It always makes sense, it always agrees and is never contradictory. There is much deception and false teaching in our day. If we don't think we could ever be deceived, we are already half way there.

May He open our eyes and ears to His Truth!


  1. Wow. You are way smarter than me! You should be paid to write! (and I do have some ideas!)
    I want to be a Berean too. God has been speaking to me to get into the Word and study for myself too. I have begun with a study on the Sermon on the Mount. I find that it is hard and takes time but the rewards are great. What could be better than seeing truth from the living and active Word and being taught by the Holy Spirit. It is powerful to hear the Lord whisper to you and this is the normal birthright of every son and daughter, if we would only slow down enough to listen. Thanks for encouraging me to press on with study.

  2. Loved it. Great blog and way to encourage people to study this very important doctrine.

  3. Betsy, you are too funny....NO I am not smarter than you!

    Isn't is just incredible to hear the voice of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords....and our Abba? Glad to encourage you to study! It is soooo worth it!! Please share what you are learning, that is the second best thing to doing it yourself:)

    Oh, yes, give me your ideas on how to get paid for writing! Thanks for taking time to read this and comment!

  4. Brian,

    Thanks for reading.... and being the one to challenge me on this doctrine. I appreciate that!