In this chapter we will compare and contrast two future events of great Biblical importance. The first is the coming of the Lord for the church, and its departure physically from this world. As you are aware, this is known as the rapture of the church. We have discussed this event in great detail in the previous chapters of this book. The teaching with all the scriptural support presented serves to connect a distinct character, nature, and privilege to this event. I will do my best not to repeat this teaching, but to use it to highlight the distinctions between the two events that their different character and nature present.
The second event is the appearing of Jesus Christ, and this, His manifestation as the Son of Man to the world. This event, we will see, has a completely different character and nature associated with it from Scripture. He is manifested to the world for the judgment of the world. This defines the character of the event, and when it occurs it will all proceed according to written prophecy. These general statements already bring out contrasts that distinguish these two events apart from each other.
The Rapture is Christ’s coming to retrieve the Church
1 Corinthians 15:23
“But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
This is speaking of the resurrection of all those who are asleep in Christ at ‘His coming’ for the church. Those ‘in Christ’ who are alive at the time will not be excluded. For them it is change, not resurrection. But for both, the alive and the dead in Christ, the accomplishment is the same – the glorifying of the physical body.
2 Thessalonians 2:1
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,”
Again, it is the coming of the Lord. But here we see a little more description. The church is being gathered together to Him. This verse in this second epistle to the Thessalonians is referring back to a passage found in Paul’s first epistle to them – that detailed description of the rapture of the church (I Thess. 4:13-18). In that particular passage the event is referred to again as the coming of the Lord (I Thess. 4:15). If we turn to I Thessalonians we may notice how the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for the saints is presented as common doctrine for the church at the end of every chapter.
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
“For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, (10) and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
1 Thessalonians 2:19
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?”
1 Thessalonians 3:13
“…so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
1 Thessalonians 4:15
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The coming of the Lord is for the church, so that He may take His body into the heavens, and into the presence of His Father. Our calling is heavenly. Our citizenship is in the heavens. It is from heaven that we look and wait for the Lord Jesus Christ. When He comes for us He will transform our lowly bodies as conformed to His glorious body, by the exceeding great power of Almighty God (Phil. 3:20-21).
The Lord’s Appearing to the World – the Day of Jehovah
The other event is His appearing or manifestation. It is also known in prophecy as the Day of the Lord, even the great and terrible Day of the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 2:2-3
“…not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. (3) Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,”
“The Lord gives voice before His army,
For His camp is very great;
For strong is the One who executes His word.
For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible;
Who can endure it?”
“For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up— and it shall be brought low—“
“Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty.”
“Behold, the day of the Lord comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it.”
“Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand; It shall come as destruction from the Almighty.”
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”
“For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, that He may avenge Himself on His adversaries. The sword shall devour; it shall be satiated and made drunk with their blood; For the Lord God of hosts has a sacrifice in the north country by the River Euphrates.”
“Therefore the Lord God of hosts, the Lord, says this: “There shall be wailing in all streets, and they shall say in all the highways, ‘Alas! Alas!’ They shall call the farmer to mourning, And skillful lamenters to wailing.”
“Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the Lord to you? It will be darkness, and not light.”
“I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land,” Says the Lord;”
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”
The twelve passages above help to establish the use of the phrase ‘the Day of the Lord’ and the obvious contrasting character and nature of this event from the descriptions of the rapture of the church. Christ’s physical return to this earth is for judgment. It is for the judgment of the world and all things belonging to it. It is an awful and terrible day of destruction and vengeance. It is for the death and condemnation of the prophetic world at that future time.
A Thief in the Night
There is another common phrase found in Scripture that also refers to the Lord’s appearing to the world for judgment –‘comes as a thief in the night.’ This phrase is only ever directed to the unbelieving world or that part of professing Christianity left behind that the Lord will treat as the unbelieving world. If we hold this understanding it does clear up for us the meaning of certain passages. For example:
1 Thessalonians 5:2-5
“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (3) For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. (4) But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (5) You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness.”
Here we easily see that the phrase concerning the thief is paired with of the Day of Jehovah. It is descriptive of how Christ comes suddenly upon a world in darkness, bringing sudden destruction upon them. But the truth of the passage is that it is only for the darkness and His judgment of it. The believer is light in the Lord and of the light of day. Our only association with the Day of the Lord is that we are manifested to the world with Him in glory according to Colossians 3:4. How the church gets in glory beforehand is what Paul just reviewed for the Thessalonians in the previous passage (I Thess. 4:13-18). Again I remind you that the believer being of the light or of the day is our position ‘in Christ,’ and not based on human effort or an Arminian thought. Christ appears to judge the darkness of the world. His coming as a thief has this attitude and thought.
“Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”
This was spoken as a threat by the Lord to the Sardis church. In the progressive history of professing Christianity Sardis represents Protestantism in responsibility after the Reformation. Although it had a great reputation in the eyes of the world, Jesus judges it as to what it actually is – dead. He will treat it just like the world.
“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: (27) They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (28) Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; (29) but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. (30) Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”
This is the world, including most of Israel, at the time when the Son of Man is manifested. It is the world truly saying, “Peace and safety!” It is business as usual. It is being oblivious to the approaching events. It is as a thief coming in the night.
The Warring Judgment of the Son of Man
“Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, (18) that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”
(19) “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. (20) Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. (21) And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.”
This is what will happen on the earth when the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS returns. He has a sharp sword out of His mouth by which He strikes the nations and rules them with a rod of iron. He will cast into the lake of fire the two beasts – the full symbolic representation of a rebellious, blasphemous, and apostate world – and their heads, the Caesar and the Antichrist. Christ’s garments will be dipped in the blood of His enemies (Is. 63:1-6). He will utterly consume and destroy. It is the great wrath and fierce anger of the Lord, a time of darkness and wailing.
The Differing Character of the Two Events
Does all this sound anything like the rapture of the church? Does any of it sound like the uplifting passage in I Thess. 4:13-18, where the dead in Christ rise first, and we who remain are caught up together with them, so that we may ever be with the Lord? Do any of the above passages that speak of the day of the Lord end with this phrase, “…therefore comfort one another with these words?” (I Thess. 4:18) When the Lord promised in John 14 He would return for us, He prefaced it by saying, “Let not your heart be troubled.” However, all of the above quoted passages concerning His appearing to the world are intended to be troubling and discomforting! That is the character and nature of the Day of the Lord, and it stands in great contrast from what describes His coming for the church.
2 Timothy 4:1
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:”
The Judicial Judgments of the Son of Man
His appearing is to the world. It is the Son of Man returning in great glory to sit on His throne of glory. He will judge the living at that time, at the time of His appearing. It will be the separating of the sheep from the goats of the remaining Gentile nations (Matt. 25:31-33). His kingdom is the kingdom of the Son of Man, which during the millennium, grows up in glory to fill the entire earth (Dan. 2:34-35, 44-45). At the end of this period the Son of Man judges the dead at the great white throne (John 5:22, 27, Rev. 20:11-15).
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. (2) Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (3) For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
Again, His appearing is to the world. At this present time Christ is hidden in God, hidden from the world (v. 3). This is the contrast set up in this passage – hidden from the world verses being manifested to the eyes of the world. But Christ is never hidden from the eye of faith. More so, our life is Christ, and is hidden in God from the world like Him. However, both Christ and the church appear together – manifested to the world. In order for this to occur, the church would have to already be in glory with Him, having already been taken there.
The Church appears to the World in Glory with Him
The rapture of the church places us in the heavenly glory according to the heavenly calling we possess (Heb. 3:1). The first three verses of the above passage are pointing to this calling. We have this by virtue of ‘having died’ and being ‘raised with Christ.’ Christ has already entered into the heavenly glory. It simply remains for His body to join Him there. That is why our life is hidden there – this life we possess has nothing to do with this world, they do not see or understand it. The life is Christ, and Christ is sitting and hidden at the right hand of God. However, this very life, in the rapture, is what swallows up mortality (II Cor. 5:4). For the dead in Christ, in the rapture, this life is what swallows up the corruption of the grave (I Cor. 15:52-53).
It should be clear that in order for the church to appear with Christ when He appears to the world, we would have to already be with Him when He returns to the earth. The emphasis of the verse (v. 4) is the word ‘appear.’ It is used twice: first for Christ appearing to the world, the second for the church. The emphasis is not the glory – it is just that when the world sees the church with Christ at His appearing, the appearing itself is associated with glory. Jesus is already in the glory. When the church appears to the world it will already have been glorified.
There are two other passages I want to share that are directly connected with the thought of the church with Christ at His appearing.
“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (20) For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; (21) because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”
When the sons of God appear with Jesus Christ it will be the time when creation will be delivered from its own corruption. The appearing of the sons of God with Christ in glory is how the sons are ‘revealed’ to this present creation. This specific revelation to creation is for its deliverance.
“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: (23) I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
(24) “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
The Father’s love for the Believer
Jesus Christ shares His glory with all the other sons of God. He also has a fervent desire for all those given to Him from the Father to be with Him in the Father’s presence – all the sons together in the Fathers house. We will go there and be in the glory with Him according to His previous promise in John 14:1-3 – the rapture. However, we know that we will be with Christ when He appears to the world. This is when the world will know. Know what? When the world sees the church with Christ in glory, they will know beyond any doubt that Christ is of God and always has been, and that the Father loves the church as He loves the Son. It does not say the world will believe, but that the world will know, because they will see with their own eyes the church in the glory of God.
Having shown you the differing character and nature of the two events, we turn to listing some further differences in order to clearly see that they are, in fact, distinct events.
The Rapture is part of the hidden Mystery – always
1.) The rapture of the church is part of the mystery given to Paul to reveal. This mystery is the existence of the body of Christ and all its doctrine. This stewardship was personally given to Paul (Eph. 3:2-4, 7-8, Col.1:25). The rapture is the revelation of how the mystery on the earth ends – the church in mass departing this world. Only Paul teaches the doctrine of the church. Only Paul laid the foundation for the building of the church on the earth, a foundation no other was given the responsibility for (I Cor. 3:9-11). Only Paul teaches the rapture as related to church doctrine. All aspects of the mystery are completely hidden from the prophets (Eph. 3:5, 9, Col. 1:26). The mystery includes the heavenly calling of the body of Christ. The mystery is never the proper subject of Biblical prophecy.
The Day of the Lord – the appearing of Christ – is very much the subject of prophecy. That is why you will find it referenced all over the Old Testament and in the book of Revelation. As part of prophecy it points to God’s government of the earth, and heavily involves the nation of Israel. The earthly calling is Israel, which is the proper subject of biblical prophecy.
Heavenly and Earthly Things
2.) The Day of the Lord is primarily about saving a Jewish remnant on the earth, and the ensuing building of a nation by God from what He sovereignly saves. The return of Christ to the earth is the second coming of the Jewish Messiah to Israel (Matt. 23:39). The return of Christ to the earth is God dealing with His earthly calling. The true church will not be here. God will not be dealing with two distinct callings at the same time.
The rapture is about the heavenly calling, the removal of the body of Christ into the heavens from the earth. The church is the heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1), and is the heavenly glory of Jesus Christ in the counsels of God. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). We are seated in heavenly places in Christ and blessed with all spiritual blessing in the heavens (Eph. 1:3, 2:6). The calling of the church reveals God’s purpose for it. The calling of the church is its destiny, and it is not on the earth. The Son of Man glorified has already entered into the heavens. Now the Spirit has been sent to the earth to gather His body, the church. Christ will not take up His power and reign, nor receive His inheritance, without being joined to His body. God will take all believers in Christ into the heavens according to our calling. This is the establishing of the heavenly glory of Christ, to the eternal glory of God.
God is not dealing with the earthly calling at the present time – it has been set aside. Israel has been set aside as seen in Hosea 1:9, ‘you are not My people.’ This was physically demonstrated by judgment in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. God is not sealing and preserving an earthly remnant in Israel yet, with a physical seal on their foreheads (Rev. 7:3). However, God is currently sealing the heavenly calling. This seal of authenticity is the placement of His Spirit in the believer (Eph. 1:13). The presence of this seal is all the difference in the glorifying of the church at the rapture event – “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Rom. 8:11) The seal of the Spirit distinguishes those who will be involved in the rapture. It distinguishes the true church in the crop of professing Christianity (Matt. 13:24-26, 38).
The Rapture is not an Appearing to this World
3.) The coming of the Lord for the church is a catching up of all believers into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (I Thess. 4:17). This could not be any clearer. The Lord does not even touch the earth at this time. He takes us to our Father. It is not a U-turn in the air. The rapture is part of the mystery of the doctrine of the church. But its physical occurrence is mystery as well – it will not be an open manifestation to the world at all. I doubt the world will realize the true church is gone. If they sense anything missing they will make their excuses for it and go their way. For the world it will not be of much consequence because they are the dwellers of the earth (Rev. 1:7, 3:10, 6:11, 8:13, 11:10, 12:12, 13:8, 14, 14:6, 17:2, and 8).
The Day of the Lord is the physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth. His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem, and the mount will split from east to west (Zech. 14:4). The catching up is for the heavens. His appearing to the world is for the earth.
The Rapture – no signs. The Day of the Lord – with signs and wonders
4.) The believer/church has a walk of faith while on this earth. After the rapture, when we are in the glory of God, we will no longer be on a walk, but will have entered the rest of God. We will have no need of faith, because all our hopes will be seen and realized (Rom. 8:24-25). There are no prophetic events standing between the present time and the catching up of the church. That is why the coming of the Lord is a constant present expectation of the true church. The only scriptural idea that remains is ‘the fullness of the Gentiles’ coming into the church, and that quantity only the Father knows (Rom. 11:25). When that fullness occurs, the church will be taken – no signs, no warnings, no earthly events needed to precede the church’s conclusion on the earth.
The appearing of Christ to the world is accompanied by signs and certain preceding prophetic events. The appearing itself is a sign – “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matt. 24:30) The Day of the Lord is for judgment. The prophetic objects of the worldly evil must have fully developed and be present around Jerusalem for the prophecies to be fulfilled (Rev. 13). Israel as a nation is always saved and delivered through judgment. Noah and Lot serve as types in this biblical principle, while the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea serve as the physical evidence of the principle at Israel’s inception. At Christ’s appearing, Israel will be delivered as a Jewish remnant, preserved in the midst of the judgments.
Israel is connected to the earth by their religion and promises. Judaism is a walk by sight and senses. That is why ‘the Jews request a sign.’ (I Cor. 1:22, Matt. 12:38-39, 16:1, Mark 8:11-12, Luke 11:16, 29) The disciple Thomas is a type prefiguring the Jewish remnant in the end – they will not believe in Jesus Christ as Messiah without seeing first. “They will look on Me whom they have pierced.” (Zech. 12:10) A walk by sight, senses, and signs is the character of the things of the earth. Judaism is God’s given religion for the earth, and Israel is God’s earthly calling. The appearing of Christ is also for delivering a sealed, saved, and preserved Jewish remnant. God’s purpose in His counsels in this is obvious – by His faithfulness to fulfill all His promises, He builds a nation that His government of the earth is centralized in. This will be the real Israel. It will be solely the work of God. And as the work of God it will not fail.
The Lord’s appearing to the world in the end will be the full establishment of divine power in God’s government of the earth. Contrary to this, the rapture of the church and its entrance into the Father’s house is the accomplishment of sovereign grace towards the believer/church. It is the end or consummation of our salvation and the entrance of the church into the rest of God. His appearing to the world is not for rest, but rather for vengeance through righteous judgment.
The idea of keeping the Body of Christ on the earth waiting for Christ to return and judge the world is the denial of the church’s proper hopes and proper relationship with Christ. It is the mixing and the confounding of two distinct callings – that of Israel and that of the church. By default it is the Judaizing of Christian teaching. It is the reduction of Christian hopes to their lowest possible level, while still allowing them to be associated in any way with being saved – on the earth waiting with the world. The denial is false teaching and the devil’s mischief. Jesus promised, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” This is the true hope of the church.
Chapter 11: Endnotes
 Just previous to this verse in John 17 Jesus uses the phrase ‘that the world may believe that You sent Me.’ This is speaking of believers in our walk on the earth being in unity with Christ and one another, and our communion with the Father and the Son while here. When the world sees this unity and communion, they will believe that Christ was sent by God (John 17:20-21). However, in vs. 22-23, He speaks of believers in glory being made perfect in one. When the world sees this at His appearing, the church with Him in glory, they will know that the Father loves the believer as He does His Son. The world will know because they will see it with their own eyes – the church in glory.
 If you examine the writings of the other epistle writers, you will not find any teaching or doctrine about the body of Christ. God used Paul only to reveal it. It was his responsibility, his stewardship, to reveal the church. Paul’s conversion experience centers on the revelation of the church. Jesus says to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” The Lord and His body are one. To persecute the church is to persecute Jesus. The revelation of the mystery – the body of Christ – is part of Paul from the moment of his conversion.
There is another important distinction in Paul’s conversion experience to consider, one that makes him different than the other apostles. Of all the apostles, Paul alone sees Jesus Christ in glory. The testimony of any apostle is of what they are eye-witnesses of. The testimony of the twelve is all about what they saw, and heard, and touched (I John 1:1-3, II Pet. 1:16-18, John 15:27). The testimony of the twelve is of Christ’s walk in the flesh, His resurrection from the dead, and them losing sight of Him in the clouds at His ascension (Acts 1:9). The character of the testimony of the twelve is well depicted in Peter’s words when he was brought by the Spirit to Cornelius’ house.
“The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— (37) that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: (38) how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (39) And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. (40) Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, (41) not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.”
The twelve, among whom Peter was most prominent, testified of a Christ walking with them, and a Christ who they ate with after He was raised from the dead. It is the simple testimony of their experiences. But this is the difference to be recognized in Paul and what makes him such a different apostle from the twelve. Paul sees Christ in heavenly glory. His testimony is only of a Christ in glory. He does not know a Christ after the flesh, like the twelve (II Cor. 5:16). Not only that, but he teaches, “Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.” He teaches that all believers can only now know a Christ in glory. And further, being united by the Spirit to a Christ in glory, from now on we are not to regard each other according to the flesh. Paul’s doctrine of the church is its formation and gathering by the Spirit sent down, and the unity of this body to the Head exalted in glory. This unity to Christ is by the baptism of the same Spirit (I Cor. 12:12-14).
Paul’s doctrine of the church is always in reference to a Christ exalted far above the heavens, and a body united to Him in glory (Eph. 1:20-23, 4:8-12). This is the body of Christ, this is the true church. It is not a uniting to a Christ in the flesh, nor a testimony of a Christ in the flesh. This is not a Jewish testimony according to what eye-witnesses saw, and heard, and touched in the flesh. It is not the testimony of the twelve to Israel, still hoping for the nation’s repentance so that Jesus would quickly return from heaven as their Messiah and set up the Messianic kingdom (Acts 3:13-21). Paul’s doctrine is not the testimony of the apostles of the circumcision (Gal. 2:7-8). Paul’s gospel is the gospel of the glory of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 4:4, II Thess. 2:14). It wasn’t passed on to him by man, nor from Peter or the other eleven, but directly from Jesus Christ Himself (Gal. 1:11-12).
Jesus mentions the church twice (Matt. 16:18, 18:17), but only in passing, and never to teach doctrine concerning it. When Jesus says, “…I will build My church…” there are two important points made.
· First, His words are future tense – I will build. The church did not exist at that time. It would not exist until after He was glorified and the Holy Spirit sent down at Pentecost. Many teachers and scholars say the assembly of Israel in the wilderness is the church simply because the same word “assembly” is used. This same word is used to describe the mob that gathered to stone Paul outside one of the cities he went to in the book of Acts. We would not mistake this mob as a reference to the church and neither should we see Israel as the actual church passing through the Red Sea and delivered out of slavery in Egypt. What we should see and properly understand is the specific times and experiences with Israel that serve as a type and shadow, and what specifically the experience typifies. Israel is always an example for instruction to the believer/church in all their ways and experiences. This statement does not mean that every experience Israel had typified the believer/church, or for that matter professing Christendom. Every type and shadow is in general an example, but every example is not specifically a type and shadow.
Israel‘s history and experiences serve as types for three different entities – professing Christendom, the true believer/church, and finally a Jewish remnant saved and restored in the land during the millennium. They typify Christendom (a spoiled crop of wheat and tares mixed together) from their deliverance out of Egypt through all their wonderings in the wilderness. They typify the body of Christ in their crossing of Jordan and being circumcised under Joshua – the rapture of the church and the glorifying of our bodies upon entrance into the rest of God (glory). Once in the land from the battle of Jericho on, including King David, and Solomon, the son of David sitting on Jehovah’s throne, Israel serves as a type of how a Jewish remnant will be saved and delivered and restored in the Promised Land in the end. Israel serves as these types in that order in time. The substance of the types appears in that order in time as well.
Is Israel in the wilderness actually the church? I would ask, does Israel in the wilderness even typify the church? When you keep in mind that the church is actually the body of Christ, a body united to the Head glorified to the right hand of God, far above all principalities and power and might and dominion (Eph. 1:19-23), and it is the workmanship of God (Eph. 2:10), then you confidently answer ‘no’ to both questions. Tares exist and are present – the planting of Satan – in the spoiled crop of Christendom in the field of the world. There are no tares in the body of Christ. Yet there were tares in the assembly of Israel in the wilderness. The tares among them all fell in the wilderness in judgment, God swearing He would not allow them to enter the land (Heb. 3:16-19). How can Israel in the wilderness be the church? I would say in the wilderness Israel does not even typify the church.
Jesus will build His church. The Lord’s words were future tense. I believe the church began on the day of Pentecost. Each member had God dwelling in them as the sons of God, sealed by the Spirit. This is the Spirit of adoption of sonship, the deposit and guarantee of glory. The difference is that God’s seal of authenticity is dwelling in them, the Holy Spirit abiding in the believer forever (John 14:16-17). It is this same Holy Spirit sent down from above that forms the body, the church (I Cor. 12:12-13).
· Second, His words speak of a sovereign work of His alone, and not of man. Man does not do this. What Jesus builds is not given to man to build on the earth. All believers are God’s workmanship, created in Christ. God’s workmanship cannot fail. We are all predestined, all chosen, all called, and all justified by the work of God (Rom. 8:29-30). And God will glorify all the sons – conforming them to the image of His Son – by the rapture of the church. We have to realize that the entire listing in Romans 8 is all the sovereign work of God and will not fail.
What can fail and does fail is what man builds on the earth that is called the professing church. Paul laid the foundation for this building that no other could lay. But men (ministers) must take heed how they build. This is on the earth and involves human responsibility (I Cor. 3:5-17). The history of man given responsibility is well documented in Scripture.
 Paul alone ties the rapture event to the mystery and doctrine of the church (I Cor. 15:51-55). When Jesus speaks of the rapture, there is no corporate entity in mind (John 14:1-3). His promise is to individual believers who are chosen out of the world and made sons of God. But Paul’s stewardship was to teach the mystery, the doctrine of the body of Christ, and to lay a foundation on the earth for the building of a great house (II Tim. 2:19-21). The rapture is included in the mystery of the body – how the church is glorified and ends its time on the earth.
 The phrase ‘dwellers of the earth’ or ‘inhabitants of the earth’ or something very similar to this is used numerous times in the book of Revelation. It is a prophetic phrase descriptive of what is part of the world and to be judged as the world. The entire book of Revelation is God’s judgment of the responsibility of the world – all will be judged by their works (Rev. 20:12-13). A slight deviation of the use of the phrase is presented in the description of the second beast of Revelation 13 – “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth…” This is the antichrist. He comes up in the end out of what is already firmly established as the prophetic earth. He is of the world and of the earth, as is the nation of Israel in their calling. He will be a false Christ and a false prophet for this deceived nation (Matt. 24:24).
 It may be profitable to see more of the events that are between the rapture of the church and the appearing of the Lord to the world, particularly the end and judgment of professing Christianity on the earth. Revelation 19:14 shows us that we come with Him, which is after the officiating of the marriage of the church to Christ in heaven (Rev. 19:7-9, Eph. 5:25-27), which is after the destruction and judgment of the false bride with earthly glory on the earth (Rev. 17:1-18). The false bride is the tares bundled together and left in the field of the world. Her judgment comes after the wheat is removed from out of her and out of the world (Matt. 13:30). The harlot is professing Christianity, the spoiled crop in the field.
This is the Biblical principle found in Revelations 17-19 that is so important for spiritual clarity – God judges the false bride of the Lamb and destroys her on the earth before the true bride of the Lamb is celebrated in heaven. The great Babylonian harlot pretends to be the bride of the Lamb on the earth, adorned with earthly riches, luxury, and glory, and filled with abominations (idolatry) and the filthiness of her fornications (Rev. 17:4-5). It is with the kings of the earth that she committed her fornications (Rev. 17:2). It is called her fornications because she should have been in relationship with someone else. Who? – With the Lamb, the Son of God. Instead, she is having relationship with the world and the kings of the earth. The inhabitants of the earth are intoxicated with her earthly agenda and they lose all spiritual insight and direction. The great harlot pretends to be the bride of Christ.
To carry on her pretention she would have to have a Christian profession. She would have to profess Jesus Christ. This great harlot cannot possibly be Islam, as is being brokered today in some circles of Christian teaching as the new and correct understanding of this particular prophetic element. Islam has always rejected Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and certainly as the Lamb of God slain to take away the sins of the world. In principle, Islam does not fulfill this position or prophetic allegory. This should be obvious to all spiritually minded believers. What professes Jesus Christ is not Islam. It is not Judaism. It is professing Christendom.
This false earthly bride of Christ is judged before the end. The end is a generalized term for when Christ returns to the earth to bind Satan and cast the two beasts into the lake of fire. He then establishes the kingdom of the Son of Man, which eventually fills the whole earth – not truly an end to anything per se, except the end of Gentile dominion in civil world government. Judgment begins at the house of God and the false bride, the tares of professing Christianity, will be judged before the world is judged (Matt. 13:40). God uses the ten kings to destroy the whore (Rev. 17:16), casting her influence off the Roman beast, allowing the Roman beast to then ascend out of the bottomless pit in its final form (Rev. 17:8). The harlot cast off the beast occurs before the end.
The great harlot of Rev. 17 should be an interesting understanding for all believers, as it was for John. When he sees it sitting on the beast and realizes what she represents, he ‘marvels with great amazement.’ (vs. 3-6). She is the professing Christian church world. In general, her influence has been over the Gentile nations of the world – she sits on many waters (v. 1). Her harlotry has been particularly with the kings of the prophetic earth (v. 2) – this would be the land masses and the Gentile nations included in the boundaries of the four Gentile world monarchies (Dan. 7), the four beasts. In the vision John sees her sitting on the 4th beast, the Roman Empire (v. 3). What exactly does this mean?
There are three distinct states revealed concerning our understanding of the 4th beast (v. 8). “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition.” The key to the passage is not specifically thinking of ‘time’ or ‘existence of the beast,’ but instead, the character and nature of a beast being displayed – apostasy, rebellion, blasphemy, and independence from God. In John’s time, which also includes the time of Christ in the flesh, the beast ‘was’ – it existed as a beast, the evil and apostate Roman Empire. This is depicted by the two legs of iron in the statue in the king’s dream (Dan. 2:33, 40). This is the first state of the 4thbeast.
If we skip to the third state of the 4th beast, it is the one in which it will ascend out of the bottomless pit. This is its worse form and final state. This is the time when Satan is cast down to the earth, and he gives the Roman beast and it’s Caesar his authority, power, and throne (Rev. 13:2). This is depicted by the feet and toes of iron and clay in the statue (Dan. 2:33-35, 41-43). This third state of the 4thbeast ‘coming to character again’ out of the bottomless pit is also depicted in Rev. 13:1-6, in the time of the last three and a half years, sometime after the dragon is kicked out of the heavens (Rev. 12:7-9), Satan knowing his time is short (Rev. 12:12 – the short time is the three and a half years). We know this is its last form, not only because it was given authority to continue for forty-two months (Rev. 13:5), but also because the ten horns have crowns (Rev. 13:1). These are the ten kings who give their power to the last Caesar, the head of the final form of this Roman beast (Dan. 7:8, 24).
In John’s vision of the woman sitting on the beast (Rev. 17), the ten horns do not have crowns yet (Rev. 17:3, 7, 12). This is the second state of the 4th beast. This state is referred to by the angel as ‘and is not’ (Rev. 17:8), and is the state of the beast that the vision deals with. It is the state of the beast when it loses its character as a beast. The second state of the 4th beast is all the time when the woman is sitting on the beast. She is professing Christianity and she has Christianized the Roman beast. During this time the beast does not act in the ‘character’ of a beast – it simply ‘is not.’ This time began when the Roman Empire was declared a ‘Christian Empire’ under Constantine. The beast was no longer acting in the ‘character’ of a beast, but now professed Jesus Christ. This second state of the beast with the harlot sitting on it continues to this present day.
But it is also clear that the third and final form of the 4th beast is anti-Christian. There is no woman riding the beast in Revelation 13. It is a fully apostate and blasphemous form, with a will of its own, and entirely anti-Christian (Rev. 13:6). The ten horns are used of God to cast off the woman, and this, at some point before they come to power and have their crowns (Rev. 17:16-17). The ten horns hate the harlot and her influence. She is judged and destroyed, her influence ended over the beast. This brings an end to the second state of the 4th beast – the state where it ‘is not.’ The harlot has to be cast off the beast before the beast can resume its character as a beast. Always remember – the vision of the beast in Revelation 17 precedes the vision of the beast in Revelation 13.
 Noah and Lot serve as types of how, as a Jewish remnant, Israel is saved in the end. They are purged and saved, refined if you will, through judgment. This type is easily perceived in the Lord’s own prophetic statements.
“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”