“Dad, I want to be just like you when I grow up!”
What father wouldn’t want to hear those words from his son? Or from his daughter, “Daddy, I’m going to marry a man just like you.”
Or a mother whose daughter praises her: “I hope I’m as good a Mom as you.” Whose son hugs her and beams, “You’re the best Mom ever.”
Precedents, prototypes, patterns, parallels, models, blueprints, and examples; both positive and negative. We recognize them. We relate to them. We learn from them. We literally and figurately build on them. World views and lifestyles are influenced by them.
How many times have you read, heard, or said: “For example…”?
One of several definitions in Webster’s Dictionary of example: “one that serves as a pattern to be imitated or not to be imitated; a parallel or closely similar case … when serving as a precedent or model.”
Precedent: “an earlier occurrence of something similar; something done or said that may serve as an example … or justify a subsequent act of the same or of an analogous kind.”
“Have you ever seen anything like that. It’s unprecedented.” Or: “They have a perfect marriage.” Or: “This is a pattern you want to follow.” And: “That’s a blueprint for success.”
On the other end of the spectrum: “What a terrible example.”
Even many unbelievers know that the first book of the Bible is called Genesis—the very name of which means beginnings. In it we find the (unprecedented) origin of all things, the epitome of which is life itself. With the embodiment of God’s masterpiece: creation of man and woman, husband and wife. And, ever so sadly, Adam and Eve’s introduction of sin through disobedience to God’s one and only command not to do something. With devastating results, the most tragic of which is death.
It is a model that has been physically reproduced and spiritually replicated in every person because we all are born with a sin nature, molded by our original parents and inherited from them. A paradigm that has produced all the ills of humanity. A pattern that can only be changed by God himself, by making all those who believe and receive His Son, Messiah Jesus, into new creations. A new beginning; a changed heart and life; a permanent right standing with God; a different eternal destiny (heaven).
This new life begins the moment we consciously accept Messiah Jesus as our Savior. Notice the present tense action (italicized for emphasis) in the following verses:
“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life…” (John 3:36).
“And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life” (I John 5:11-12, emphasis added).
This new life will one day soon bring about an extreme make-over of our bodies, the astonishing result (completion) of being born again spiritually. Spiritual Bodies! (I Corinthians 15:44).
“…For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies” (I Corinthians 15:52-53).
Christ Jesus came to earth as a human being, born of a Virgin—fully God and fully man. His sacrificial death purchased our salvation by the highest price ever paid. But then: HE AROSE FROM THE DEAD! Death could not defeat him. The grave could not hold him. The gates of hell will not prevail against him nor his redeemed followers.
He was the first to rise with an everlasting body. His is the unprecedented prototype. He is our living model and perfect example of what’s in eternal store for all who have believed and received him as Savior. Which will (begin to) take place at the Rapture.
Last week’s article provided direct Scriptural corroboration of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This week we’ll focus on what might be called indirect proof; nonetheless, evidence just as convincing because it includes Biblical examples and precedents.
Here is an excerpt from the previous post in preparation for this week’s article:
Biblical Precedents, Parallels, Prototypes, & Patterns
Virtually everything that happened during early New Testament times and those that will take place in the end-times of the last days (in which we are living), has an Old Testament forerunner—in terms of both correlation and contrast.
In the Old Testament we read: “Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants his prophets” (Amos 3:7).
Those plans include specific people, places, and events obviously relevant to Old Testament times. But also:
“These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age” (I Corinthians 10:11).
This is God’s way of preparing New Covenant believers, Jew and Gentile alike, to fully grasp the promises that are part and parcel of the New Covenant of Grace. Not the least of which is the Rapture and its two-fold purpose: (A) Resurrection of dead believers followed by their transformation (along with living believers) to our imperishable spiritual bodies equipped to live in heaven forever. (B) Sparing living believers from the Great Tribulation by removing us from the earth.
All of which validate the oft-quoted axiom:
There’s a multitude of Old Testament people, places, events, or things that possess and preview the most prominent and powerful promises of God’s Word the Bible: (1) Individual redemption both spiritually and physically through Israel’s (Jewish) Messiah. (2) National restoration of the Jews to Israel followed by, “And so all Israel will be saved… And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins” (Romans 11:26-27).
Such things as the Old Covenant Tabernacle, then the Temple in which God’s presence dwelt among his people. Giving way to the New Covenant in which the Lord would dwell in the hearts of men and women. Even the furnishings of the Tabernacle were shadow types of the real thing. For example, the Menorah lampstand representing the Messiah.
“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life’” (John 8:12).
And the seven Jewish Festivals, four of which have been fulfilled literally by the First Advent of Messiah Jesus beginning with Passover. The remaining three to be fulfilled when he returns, the last of which is Sukkot, the Festival of Shelters. “…Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them” (Revelation 21:3).
The writer of Hebrews compares the Old Covenant with the New: “They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: ‘Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.’
“But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises. If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said: ‘The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah’” (Hebrews 8:5-8, the writer then quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Scripture is replete with precedents of something or someone that would be a foreshadow pattern of those things that would take place at the end of the age … The Day of the Lord that would usher in the Kingdom of God on earth.
Such as the parallel pattern of Joseph and his brothers that prophetically portrayed the first coming of Messiah. Were it not for Joseph’s forgiveness of what his brothers did to him, they would not have been saved from famine (starvation).
Jesus proclaimed: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). And, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25).
Or King David’s prototype eternal dynasty bequeathed to him by God; to be triumphantly restored upon the soon-to-be glorious return of his descendant, Jesus of Nazareth; who is also David’s Lord (Psalm 110).
Like Joseph’s brothers and their father Jacob were exempted from the massive seven-year famine (no coincidence that the Great Tribulation is also seven years in length) of their time, there are other Old Testament events to show that believers will be spared from the Great Tribulation to come.
Let’s begin with one that nearly all students of the Bible agree constitutes the most prominent prototype. In fact, it’s referred to it as an Old Testament Rapture.
First Example: Enoch
Both the New American Standard Bible and the New King James Version read as follows: “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).
From the New Living Translation (which I quote from most of the time): “When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah… Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared because God took him” (Genesis 5:21, 23-24).
I’m fairly certain that one of the reasons the NLT translators/commentators chose disappeared was to match the prevailing premise that the Rapture will take place in “the blink of an eye. With the derivative presumption that believers will suddenly disappear without the left behind unbelievers knowing or seeing what happened.
As detailed in three prior Eye of Prophecy with a magnifying glass scrutiny of I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15, it’s impossible for the entire sequence of the Rapture to be over in a nanosecond. Only the actual bodily transformation of dead and living believers will take place in the blink of an eye. With the entire episode of the Rapture itself requiring several minutes.
Please see articles: How the Rapture? (Posted 8-24-13); The Shout Heard Around the World (4-2217); A Dramatic Enactment of the Rapture! (4-20-19).
Whether in the more traditional translations of the Bible or the relatively newer (easier to read contemporary language) translations like the NLT, nowhere in this passage is it stated or even implied that Enoch’s departure from the earth was not witnessed by someone. Or that he was alone at the time. Others certainly saw Elijah taken away.
It’s certainly logical and reasonable to conclude that when God took Enoch it happened quickly, perhaps even, “here one second, the next second gone.” But we shouldn’t presume that no one saw him disappear. Those who assume he did are making a retroactive (reverse) analogy that raptured believers will instantaneously vanish based on that assumption. That’s effectively arguing in a circle. It’s using one presupposed feature of Point A (Enoch) to prove all facets of Point B (Rapture of believers) to further prove Point A.
In fact, Enoch as a composite preview prototype of the Rapture breaks down at this point. Why? Because there are none of the Rapture events described in I Thessalonians 4 that fit with Enoch’s example, excepting that he was taken to heaven while still alive.
Which is why the older translations better reflect what took place. “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”
How he was taken and whether anyone saw what happened (“He was right beside us. Where did he go?”) is unknown.
If Enoch is, indeed, a foreshadow of raptured believers (and he is but in limited way) there’s only two reasons that God would take him from the earth: (1) For the sake of precedence itself. (2) To spare Enoch from God’s first global judgment of the earth … The Great Flood. As a preview of living believers taken out of harm’s way before God’s 2nd and final judgment of the earth … The Great Tribulation.
Time/space doesn’t permit presentation of the calculations. But based on life expectancy (up to a thousand years) in the pre-Flood world, Enoch very well could have been alive when Noah’s Flood began. Would he have been spared? Of course, for the same reason Noah was delivered. But that’s not what God wanted us to see and know. He wanted New Testament believers to fully realize and marvel at the awesome privileges we have as his sons and daughters in Christ. Which among a plethora of promises is that of being spared from his final judgment of this wicked world.
Thus, Enoch is the optimum example of the Rapture, in terms of why believers will be taken from the earth and when (Pre-Flood and Pre-Tribulation, respectively).
Second Example: Noah
“When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous…. Seven days from now I will make the rains pour down on the earth. And it will rain for forty days and forty nights, until I have wiped from the earth all the living things I have created” (Genesis 7:1 & 4).
Here we have another prototype parallel to the Rapture, but only in terms of preserving Noah from the lethal result of God’s first global judgment. It further establishes that New Testament events (linked to the First & Second Advents of Messiah Jesus) including the Rapture, are at the very least generically rooted in Old Testament paradigms.
As stressed in last week’s Part I article: of paramount importance is that God’s judgment of the earth during the Great Tribulation is ONLY on and against the unsaved. So, it was when Noah’s flood occurred. Consequently, Noah (and by God’s merciful exemption of Noah’s family—for his sons and their wives to repopulate the earth) was spared because of his close relationship with God.
“…By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world (condemned because they didn’t believe God or in God), and he received the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7, parenthesis mine).
This was exactly how and why the Lord declared Abraham righteous (in right standing with God for eternity … Genesis 15:6). Since Messiah Jesus’s death and resurrection, people’s faith must now be placed directly in his substitutionary sacrificial death—paying the penalty of our sins to be made right with God. There’s absolutely no other way (John 14:6; Romans 3:21-26, and many other passages).
Obviously, Noah and his family weren’t taken from the earth (to heaven). But they were taken off the earth (on top of the water that covered the earth)! No matter the nature and extent of their departure, they were spared from God’s global judgment. In that respect, they were examples of believers taken out of harm’s way at the Rapture.
Third Example: Lot
“The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham. Abraham approached him and said, ‘Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? … Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked… Should not the judge of all the earth do what is right?’” (Genesis 18:22-23 & 25).
“Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation” (Genesis 19:24-25).
This is also one of the most well-known events recorded in the Bible. Beginning with the Lord’s disclosure to Abraham: Sodom (and surrounding cities) were about to be destroyed because, “their sin is so flagrant” (Genesis 18:20).
Then Abraham’s amazing negotiation with the Lord, commencing with his statement of the obvious: the Lord is the righteous judge of all the earth. Surely the righteous wouldn’t be obliterated with the wicked. Abraham began his intersession with a plea for the Lord to spare the cities if 50 righteous people could be found. Six requests later, it was all the way down to 10.
As it turned out, there weren’t even ten. Only 4 escaped this monumental judgment—Lot, his wife, and their two daughters. And as many know, Lot’s wife didn’t make it all the way.
Although the destruction of these wicked cities was regional (as opposed to a global event), it was nonetheless massive … engulfing the plains.
Followed by a few others recorded in Scripture, such as one angel annihilating 185,000 Assyrian soldiers before they could attack Jerusalem … without even one Jewish casualty (II Kings 18 & 19). And who knows how many incidents since the Canon of Scripture was closed with the 66 books of the Bible. For example: I’m convinced that most natural disasters are a direct result of the steady deterioration of and disturbances in the earth; but there are those in which God has directly intervened (caused) to get our attention. We can speculate which ones are which, but we don’t know for sure. However, Tribulation unbelievers will know beyond any doubt when God’s judgements begin.
The dynamics of this ancient yet timeless event is another illustration of God’s perfect justice. Had there been but six more who believed in and trusted the true and living God, all the cities would have been spared. That’s grace and mercy at their divine best. Plus: “…The earnest prayer of a righteous person (in this case Abraham) has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16, parenthesis obviously mine).
However, the sins of the inhabitants of these cities was “so flagrant” it was time for the Lord to intervene. Not only to deal with an out-of-control wickedness so perversely detestable that the men of Sodom intended to rape the two strangers (angels of the Lord no less); but as an object lesson for millennia to come.
Some synonyms for flagrant: blatant, brazen, scandalous, shameless, and glaring. The fact that the population of entire cities had openly committed such vile and reprehensible acts was a contemptuous red line crossing of God’s tolerance.
While preparing for this portion of today’s article, there was something I hadn’t considered before.
As we know, the Lord removed Lot from the pending disaster. Which is another forerunner Rapture-like action on the part of God to spare believers from enormous destruction. Like Noah, Lot and his daughters weren’t taken from the earth; however, the practical result was the same.
But I don’t think Abraham anticipated that Lot would be spared, if the Lord carried out his verdict and sentence. Here’s why:
When Noah pleaded with God to spare these cities, they finally agreed on ten. “…And the Lord replied, ‘Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten’” (Genesis 18:32).
There’s no direct or even indirect indication that Abraham expected his nephew (and family) to be spared from this judgment unless there were a total of ten. If there were ten, then no one would be destroyed. Conversely, it’s evident that Abraham confidently anticipated that there would be at least that many. Thus, he didn’t specifically add to his request that the Lord spare the cities, if there were, for example, five.
Then we read: “Abraham got up early that morning and hurried out to the place where he had stood in the Lord’s presence. He looked out across the plain toward Sodom and Gomorrah and watched as columns of smoke rose from the cities like smoke from a furnace” (Genesis 19:27-28).
Surely, Abraham was distraught at what he saw. Not just because the cities had been destroyed, but also because he assumed that Lot had not been spared. Even though Abraham had reminded the Lord that He was the righteous judge who would (should) not condemn the righteous with the wicked, Abraham didn’t know for sure what would happen. For one thing, he knew all too well that his nephew Lot had made a bad choice to live in Sodom in the first place.
In the very next verse: “But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain” (Genesis 19:29).
Since Abraham had not specifically asked that Lot be spared regardless of the outcome, the convincing conclusion is that the Lord listened to Abraham’s heart’s desire (unspoken request) to keep Lot safe. A vivid Old Testament precedent of not only removing him from disaster in Rapture-like manner, but also validated in the New Covenant promise:
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
Fourth Example: Elijah
“When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.’ And Elisha replied, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.’
‘You have asked a difficult thing,’ Elijah replied. ‘If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t.’
“As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven” (II Kings 2:9-11).
This stunning scene is another renowned event in Scripture. Elijah and his amazing transfer to heaven while still alive is also a (partial) preview of the Rapture. However, in a different way and for a different purpose.
Elijah was taken to heaven without dying. Which fits with living believers caught up in the Rapture. With, however, one major distinction as covered extensively in my second book, Out of the Abyss, then again in Eye of Prophecy trilogy, The Two Witnesses (Posted in June 2014); and Moses and Elijah vs. The Antichrist and The False Prophet (2-10-18). That variance is Raptured believers will ascend to heaven with our transfigured eternal bodies.
The Lord’s reason for taking Elijah became evident when he and Moses met with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. In that riveting scene, we know both prophets are in their original bodies. Why? Because Scripture is crystal clear: Jesus would be the first to rise from the dead in a glorified eternal body. Not until he was transfigured permanently at his resurrection (Mount of Transfiguration was a preview of coming attractions!), would or could Old and New Testaments saints receive their transformed bodies.
*Note: Time/space doesn’t allow today; thus, refer to the above articles for dramatic details and compelling commentary that Moses was revived shortly after he died and was buried by God himself.
The above referenced articles also provide elaborate evidence from Scripture coupled with correlative commentary to demonstrate that Moses and Elijah are the two powerful prophets (witnesses) who will return to the earth a second time during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11). For 3 ½ years they will perform mighty miracles which will hold Antichrist and his confederation at bay—for a while. During that period, God will make them untouchable.
Yet, when the time comes, the Lord will allow Antichrist to kill both Moses and Elijah. Which is also why we know that they return to earth (a second time) with the same bodies in which they left the earth. If they were in their new eternal bodies, they would have been indestructible.
As we know, they will be raised from the dead after 3 ½ days. That’s when they will be given their resurrected spiritual bodies.
The following is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Will All Children Be Taken in the Rapture? (2-23-19). Part of the evidence/rationale presented in that article includes reference to Elijah. As follows:
…Elijah was taken in preparation for his return in his earthly body to Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation, for the express purpose of doing battle (alongside Moses) with the Antichrist and the False Prophet.
However, both Elijah and Moses will be raptured after their spectacular service to God and dramatic defense of Jerusalem. Their sudden transportation to heaven will vividly depict and convincingly demonstrate to the world how and why believers, both dead and alive, were taken earlier from the earth.
The how of their ascent to heaven was in full view of those left behind. The why was to protect them from the Great Tribulation, equivalent to that of Raptured believers a few months earlier. In other words, their resurrected transference (with eternal spiritual bodies) to heaven will be a Post-Rapture reminder (after the fact) of what the left behind unsaved missed.
You may be asking: “How will/could Moses and Elijah be spared from the Great Tribulation; when, in fact, they’re right in the middle of it and they will be killed?”
Good reasonable question.
Answer: During their 3 ½ years in Jerusalem, they suffer no harm, though it won’t be for lack of intent and action on the part of Antichrist and his followers. Instead, Moses and Elijah will, unscathed, demonstrate and dispense God’s awesome power during their appointed time.
“And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire” (Revelation 11:5-6, NASB).
As I’ve written before, the plagues they inflict on a wicked and rebellious world closely resemble some of the judgments in Revelation.
Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Major Earthquake in Israel … When & Where It Will Strike (posted 11-25-17). In italics:
Revelation Chapter 11 begins with an (interlude) introduction to the two witnesses; however, it also chronologically continues the set of trumpet judgments ending with the 7th trumpet. Because the two witnesses are killed after 3 ½ years of their time on earth and this occurs between the 6th and 7th trumpet judgments, I believe we can determine what part of the Great Tribulation during which they testify.
I would encourage you to read Eye of Prophecy article, Stunning Catastrophes of the Tribulation / Their Timing and Purpose, recently posted on 11-4-17. As explained in that article: Based on the chronological sequence and evidence of all twenty-one judgments (actually twenty plagues as the 5th seal depicts slain tribulation saints, not a judgment as such) in Revelation, we can accurately estimate the approximate time duration of or gap between the judgments. The projected time between a preceding and successive judgment will be 4-5 months. Because the two witnesses are killed (and come back to life 3 ½ days later) between the 6th and 7th trumpet judgments, that would place their time of death at 48-50 months into the tribulation. They would have begun their mission 3 ½ years earlier (42 months) or about 6-8 months after the tribulation begins…
If their 3 ½ years on earth fall within the above period of the Tribulation (which I believe it will approximate), then they, by virtue of being taken to heaven after they arise from the dead, will miss the horrific final eight judgments. That’s as Rapture-like as you can get, considering that they also will not be subject to any of the Revelation plagues while on the earth. Instead, they will themselves dole out some of the punishment!
Killed at the hands of the Antichrist is NOT commensurate with going through the Great Tribulation as such and suffering all the horrors thereof. Rather, their deaths mirror the deaths of the Apostles Paul and Peter as a result of their heroic service for Christ. Ironically, both Paul and Peter were killed by Nero—during his tenure as Caesar before his return from the Abyss as the Antichrist beast.
Things to Ponder
Will Believers Go through the Great Tribulation?
On the authority of Scripture, No. Repeated for emphasis: No way!
In last week’s article we examined several passages to conclusively demonstrate that God’s final judgement of the earth during the seven-year Great Tribulation is directed only against unbelievers.
Consequently, the Rapture will occur BEFORE this great time of anguish takes place. By transporting living believers directly to heaven—after they have been transformed into eternal bodies, along with our brothers and sisters in Christ who have already died.
Believers who will go through the Tribulation are commonly referred to as Tribulation saints. Many (most) of them will be killed by Antichrist Nero. They are not spared from this great time of anguish because they were unbelievers when the Rapture takes place.
Those passages directly declaring that believers will be exempt from the Great Tribulation are affirmed by more indirect evidence, in the form of examples found both before and after the Rapture occurs … as we looked at in this week’s article.
Once again quoting Paul who summarized the Day of the Lord with these stirring and encouraging words written specifically within the context of God’s anger released during the seven-year Tribulation.
“For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us (during the Great Tribulation)” (I Thessalonians 5:9, parenthesis mine).