1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
As we continue our journey on Living in the Last Days, we have landed for a moment so we can load up on encouragement! Yes, these passages deal with comforting one another! It’s difficult to understand our need to comfort one another if you don’t see what’s ahead! These New Testament saints thought that the Lord had returned and for whatever reason, they thought they had missed the Rapture of the church! After explaining to them the timing of this great snatching away, the Apostle Paul writes, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words”
In our previous blog, we pointed out that the word for ignorant comes from the Greek word Moronos which is actually translated Moron! Don’t be uninformed or ignorant of this mystery Musterion.
The Bible gives us a lot of information about this horrible period of seven years that is fast approaching. The entire book of Zephaniah is devoted to it. In addition to many other Old Testament passages, like Isaiah 24, fourteen chapters in the book of Revelation focus on it (Revelation 6-19). But despite all this information, there are many myths concerning the Great Tribulation that circulate among Christians. For example, many argue that the first half of this time period will be peaceful and that only the second half will be characterized by intense warfare. Other misconceptions relate to the Antichrist and the Church.
The first mention of the Tribulation in the Bible is found in Deuteronomy 4:27-30. Before the Children of Israel entered the Promised Land, Moses warned them that if they were unfaithful to God, they would be scattered among the nations. He then prophesied that “in the latter days” they would come under “distress,” and the result would be their “return to the Lord.”
Centuries later, Jeremiah used the same terminology when he referred to the Tribulation. He called it “the time of Jacob’s distress” (Jeremiah 30:7). In like manner, Daniel called it “the time of distress,” and he prophesied it would be the worst period of trouble in the history of the Jewish people (Daniel 12:1). Malachi stated it would be a time of refining for the Jews, as when silver is purified by fire (Malachi 3:1-4). And Zechariah used the same imagery when he prophesied that two-thirds of the Jewish people will perish during this time. Of the remnant remaining, he wrote, “I [the Lord] will bring the third part through the fire [and] refine them as silver is refined…” (Zechariah 13:8-9).
The Jews will not be the only ones to suffer during this period of unparalleled trouble. The Bible makes it clear that all the nations of the world will experience catastrophic calamities.
Isaiah says it will be “a day of reckoning” for all the nations of the world (Isaiah 2:10-17). Zephaniah says that “all the earth will be devoured in the fire of God’s jealousy” (Zephaniah 1:18). Here’s how the psalmist Asaph put it: “A cup is in the hand of the Lord, and the wine foams… surely, all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs” (Psalm 75:8).
The prophet Daniel defined the length of the Tribulation. He said God would accomplish all His purposes for the Jewish people during a period of 70 weeks of years (490 years). Sixty-nine of those weeks of years (483 years) would lead up to the death of the Messiah. The final week of years would occur at the end of the age, right before the return of the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-27). This concluding week of years (7 years) corresponds to the Tribulation for, as Daniel put it, it will mark the time when “the prince who is to come” will “make desolate” — a reference to the Antichrist.
The timing established by Daniel is confirmed in the book of Revelation where the Tribulation is divided into two periods of 3 1/2 years each (Revelation 11:3,7 and 13:5). The dividing point between the two halves of the Tribulation will occur when the Antichrist reveals himself by entering the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, stopping the sacrifices, and declaring himself to be god (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; and Revelation 13:5-6).
When will this terrible period begin? The Bible says in general terms that it will start after the Jews have been regathered and have been re-established in their homeland and in their sacred city of Jerusalem. This took place in May 1948!
Specifically, the Bible says it will begin at a time when all the world comes together against Israel over the issue of who will control the city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3). In short, we are on the very threshold of the Tribulation today as we witness the United Nations, the European Union, the Vatican, and the Arab nations demanding that the Jews surrender their sovereignty over Jerusalem. This is taking place now!
So much is being said in six verses; as we look at these verses inductively, they reveal much.
There are two basic reasons for the Tribulation:
1A.The Reason for the Tribulation Period
1B. Testing for Israel Jer. 30:1-9; Ezek 20:33-39
2B. Triumph over all the Gentile nations of the world -Isa 24:20-22 Acts 1:6-8,
1 Thess. 1:8- 10, 1 Thess. 5:1-10; 1 Cor. 15:51
2A. The Reassurance regarding loved ones who have died v.13-14
2 Cor. 5:1-9
3A. The Return of Jesus Christ (Yeshua Messiah) – v.16
Jn.14:1-3, 27 Cf. Titus 2:11-13
1B. His Entrance – “Himself” v.16
2B. His Execution of Authority –
Jn. 5:24-29 “with a shout”
3B. His Escort - “Voice of the Archangel”
4B. His Exaltation – “trump of God” approval of God
4A. The Resurrection of all believers who have died (not OT saints Dan. 12)
1 Cor. 15:51-52 “Moment” –Phil 3:20-21
5A. The Removal of living believers out of this world v.17A
The term “Rapture” comes from a Latin word, “rapio,” that means “to catch up, to
snatch away, or to take out.” It is, in turn, a translation of the Greek word, “harpazo.”
So, “Rapture” is a Biblical word that comes right out of the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible. The word is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. In the New American Standard Version, the English phrase, “caught up,” is used. The same phrase is used in the King James and New International Versions.
To summarize, these passages teach that the shout of an archangel and the blowing of a trumpet will herald the sudden appearance of Jesus in the heavens (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The dead in Christ will be resurrected and rise up to meet the Lord in the sky. Then, those saints who are alive will be “caught up” to the Lord. Paul concludes his description in 1 Thessalonians 4 by encouraging his readers to “comfort one another with these words."
And truly the Rapture is a comforting thought! Consider the promises contained in the concept of the Rapture. Jesus will bring with Him the spirits of those who have died in Him (1 Thessalonians 4:14). He will resurrect their bodies in a great miracle of
re-creation; He will reunite their bodies with their spirits; and He will then glorify their bodies, making them immortal. And those believers who are living will not even taste death. Rather, they will be caught up to the Lord, and in transit, they will be translated from mortal to immortal.
All my life I have heard that there are two things no one can avoid: taxes and death. Well, that is not true. According to 1 Thessalonians 4, a whole generation of believers will escape death. Taxes appear to be the only inevitability!
6A. The Reunion of all believers - 17B
“together with them” Moment in which we all arrive together “together”
WHEN? Hama’ – all together at that moment
WHERE? Clouds – Dan. 7:13, clouds of Glory (His presence) Heb. anan Ex.13:21
Mt.26:64; Luke 24:25-26; Acts 1:9, 1 Tim 3:16 “unto a meeting of the Lord” in GK
Meet the Lord – A planned meeting
7A. The Reality of being with the Jesus (Yeshua) forever - 17C
Cf. Rom 8:35-39
8A. The Remedy for all of our worry and fear v.18
“Not times and seasons” 1 Thess. 5:1-11
“comfort” Gk. parakaleo – called alongside to encourage!
1B. Instruction – eliminate mental difficulties – 5:8
2B. Encouragement – eliminate emotional depression - 5:11
3B. Admonition - eliminate personal defeat or defection – 5:6, 9
(no spiritual sleeping)
Regardless of when the Rapture actually occurs, we need to keep in mind that the Bible teaches that the conditions are going to grow increasingly worse the closer we get to the Lord’s return.
That means Christians will suffer tribulation whether or not they go into the Great Tribulation. And that means all of us had better be preparing ourselves for unprecedented suffering and spiritual warfare.
If you are a Christian, you can do that on a daily basis by putting on “the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13), praying at all times in the Spirit that you will be able to stand firm against the attacks of Satan (Ephesians 6:14-18).
If you are not a Christian, your only hope is to reach out in faith and receive the free gift of God’s salvation which He has provided through His Son, Jesus Christ. (John 3:16).
Those 1st century believers were so worried about missing this great even that the Apostle Paul worked tirelessly to calm them down.
Paul attempted to calm them down by reminding them of his teaching that the day of the Lord would not come until after the Antichrist is revealed. He then stated that the Antichrist would not be revealed until a restraining force “is taken out of the way”
(2 Thessalonians 2:3-7).
There has been a good deal of speculation as to the identity of this restraining force that
Paul refers to. Some have identified it as the Holy Spirit. But it cannot be the Holy Spirit
because there will be people saved during the Tribulation, and no one can be saved apart from the testimony of the Spirit (John 16:8-11 & 1 John 5:7).
Others have identified the restrainer as human government. It is true that government was ordained by God to restrain evil (Romans 13:1-4). But the governments of the world are in rebellion against God and His Son (Psalm 2), and they are therefore a contributor to the evil that characterizes the world. Furthermore, the Tribulation will not be characterized by a lack of government. Rather, it will feature the first true worldwide government (Revelation 13:7).
In my opinion that leaves only one other candidate for Paul’s restrainer — and that is the Church. It is the Church that serves as the primary restrainer of evil in the world today as it proclaims the Gospel and stands for righteousness. When the Church fails in this mission, evil multiplies, as Paul graphically points out in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Paul says that society in the end times will be characterized by chaos and despair because “men will hold to a form of religion but will deny its power.” When the Church is removed from the world, all hell will literally break loose.
The Apostle Paul states that the Rapture is meant to encourage believers during this age (1 Thessalonians 4:18). And yet, what encouragement could the Rapture bring to any believer who thinks they will have to endure all the horrors of the coming 7-year Tribulation? What would be the point of the Rapture then? It wouldn’t really be “something really great to look forward to” if the Rapture was not to take place until the tribulation began, during or after the tribulation period.
Oh precious saints, are you prepared to meet the Lord in the air? Recently I have been telling a friend of mine over and over again, “It’s about priorities.” Don’t Kidd yourself, live for Him. Not with lip service, but with life service!
Our “blessed hope” in these last days - (Titus. 2:13).
II Peter 3:1-18
1This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior:
3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. 18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
The CONCERN of Paul about spiritual and prophetic ignorance
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant…”
Be ignorant of what?
1 Ignorant of Messianic prophecies - Acts 3:17-18
2 Ignorant of God’s purpose in changing circumstances - Romans 1:13
3 Ignorant about believers who have died - I Thess. 4:13-18
4 Ignorant about the delay in the second coming of Jesus Christ - II Peter 3:8-9
5 Ignorant about spiritual gifts - I Cor. 12:1
6 Ignorant about sufferings in the life of the believer - II Cor. 1:8-9
7 Ignorant about God’s plan for Israel - Rom. 11:25
The CHARACTER of a biblical mystery
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery….” that which was not known in the past, but now being revealed.
I Cor. 2:7 says “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Paul spoke in I Cor. 4:1 about being “stewards of the mysteries of God”
1 The mystery of the kingdom - Matt. 13:11, Mark 4:11-12 & Luke 8:10
2 The mystery of the rapture - I Cor. 15:51
3 The mystery of His will - Eph. 1:9-10
4 The mystery of Christ - Eph. 3:3-11; Col. 4:3
5 The mystery of marriage - Eph. 5:32
6 The mystery of the gospel - Eph. 6:19
7 The mystery of Christ in you - Col. 1;26-27
8 The mystery of God - Col. 2:2-3; Rev. 10:7
9 The mystery of iniquity - II Thess. 2:7
10 The mystery of the faith - I Tim. 3:9
11 The mystery of godliness - I Tim. 3:16
12 The mystery of the seven stars and the seven candlesticks - Rev. 1:20
13 The mystery of the harlot woman and the beast – Rev. 17:5, 7
Well, as we approach our study on “what will happen in the last days”, we see that many will be moronos (morons) about the moosterion (mystery)
Actually, the grammer is clear, it should read, “Stop being a moron”
1A. A DEFINITE INCREASE IN THOSE WHO DOUBT THAT JESUS WILL RETURN
II Peter 3:3-7 cf. Jude 17-19 cf. Matthew 25:10-13 cf. 7:21-23
1B. CAUSED by sensual PLEASURES that become their priority and lifestyle –
v. 3 “walking after their own lusts”
"Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts…"
Peter presents the attack of these scoffers against Christianity in verses three and four.
knowing this first:
Invariably what God commands us to know, we do not know (1:20). We are to put priority on knowing the nature of scoffers in the last days. To protect ourselves against apostasy, we need to know some things.
that scoffers will come in the last days
Scoffers in this context are apostate teachers who deny the Lord Jesus (2:1) and His Second Coming (2:3). The "last days" are the period of time before the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus. These are the "last days" of the church before Jesus comes back for the church.
walking according to their own lusts
"Walking" means to go from one place to another. Evidently these false teachers will be very evangelistic with their false doctrine.
The scoffers of the "last days" will attack Christianity in a special way. They will attack it by drawing the church into immorality. This is a powerful motivation.
There is a close connection between their apostasy and their immoral living. This immoral living is generated from their viewpoint.
False teachers try to intimidate Christians from their convictions.
2B. CONTROLLED by secular PHILOSOPHIES that deliberately ignore the
evidence for a global disaster - vv. 4-7
2 Peter 3:4 "…and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation'"
"For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water…"
Peter now answers the objections of the scoffers. First, he turns to the principle of Catastrophism.
For this they willfully forget:
Scoffers want to deliberately forget that God created the world. They choose to conveniently forget the actions of God.
They cannot bear the idea of the reality of who God is and what He has done in their mind. God's truth passes unnoticed by them.
The phrase "this they willfully forget" is literally "this escapes them."
These people do not want to know truth because they purposely shut down their volition toward God's truth.
They shut their eyes to the facts. The world is not eternally stable.
2 Peter 3:6
"By which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water"
The word "which" is neuter plural and refers to two sources of flood waters.
Water came from the skies and from below ground (Genesis 7:11; 8:2).
The whole state of things then existing perished.
We get our English word "catastrophe" from the Greek word for "flooded" (katakluzw).
It is not all that clear whether this is the flood of creation or the flood of Noah's day. Whether Peter refers to the judgment of Noah's day or to pre-Adam judgment is conjecture.
The important thing is that we realize that there was a catastrophe in the past.
God has sovereignly passed judgment on the world.
He is ultimately in control of the universe. Our universe is not random, but God carefully and providentially manages it.
He, at times, chooses to intervene into the universe.
2 Peter 3:7
"But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men"
We get our word "thesaurus" from the Greek word for "preserved." A thesaurus is a place of treasure.
It is a place of storage. God stores the "heavens and earth" like a treasure. He put them on layaway.
The "heavens" here is the universe as we know it. God is in the process of preserving a world of people for judgment.
Yes, there is a definite increase in those who: DOUBT THAT JESUS WILL RETURN!
1B. CAUSED by sensual PLEASURES
2B. CONTROLLED by secular PHILOSOPHIES
2A. A GROWING IGNORANCE ON THE PART OF CHRISTIANS CONCERNING BIBLE
PROPHECY! II Peter 3:8-9
Peter shifts his attention to Christians. Has God forgotten about His plan? It has been many years since this promise has been made.
Christians should not get discouraged at God's delay of executing His judgment.
He is faithful to His promises even though they may take time. The wheels of God grind exceedingly slow but they grind exceedingly fine.
Peter speaks to Christians with tenderness – "beloved."
do not forget
Peter uses the word "forget" for the scoffers in verse five; now he uses the word for Christians.
"Forget" means escape notice, to be hidden from, unnoticed. The Greek indicates that Peter's readers are in the process of forgetting.
These Christians allow certain skepticism about Christ's return blunt the impact of His return on their lives.
This passage says that that "forgetting" is culpable ignorance.
The scoffers "forgot" (v.5) but Christians are not to forget (1:9). Christians have a tendency to forget how the nature (essence) of God works.
We get so caught up in finite way of doing things that we forget that God operates from a completely different viewpoint than we do.
1B. Ignorance about God’s PLAN for Israel -
2B. Ignorance about God’s PROMISE to resurrect
dead believers and rapture living ones -
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
3B. Ignorance about God’s PURPOSE in delaying
the return of Jesus Christ - II Peter 3:8-9
2 Peter 3:9
"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance"
The second reason the Lord delays His coming is to allow more people to come to Himself.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise
The word “slack” means to hesitate, linger, delay and this is the only place it occurs in the New Testament. God is not tardy in keeping His timetable for earth. He does not loiter fulfilling His promises.
Peter here presents a magnificent view of God. The Lord delays not because He cannot or will not fulfill His promises but because He wants none perish.
3A. A WORLDWIDE IMPACT FROM THE COMING DAY OF THE LORD! II Peter 3:10
2 Peter 3:10
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up"
This verse describes how God winds up the affairs of the universe as we know it. It is approaching a catastrophic culmination. God will make good on His word.
1B. Its COMING will be a surprise - “thief in the night” - cf. I Thess. 5:1-3
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 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. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief" (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).
2B. Its CATASTROPHE will be a shock - “the heavens shall pass away with a
great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat”
"Pass away" carries the idea of come to an end, disappear. It is the heavens that will disappear. Revelation 20:11 pinpoints the time of this event.
"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them" (Revelation 20:11).
The first century Greeks used the word "noise" for the whistling of an arrow.
It carries the idea of "rushing sound" as of roaring flames, with a hissing or crackling sound, with a roar, with great suddenness.
This would be like a detonation or explosion. The "day of the Lord" will be catastrophic.
This takes place at the conclusion of the Millennium.
and the elements
Two possible interpretations are conceivable about the extent of this conflagration of the universe.
This may simply be a limited renovation of the Earth or it might be the complete annihilation of the universe.
The word "elements" primarily signifies any first things from which others in a series, or a composite whole, a rise.
These are the elemental particles of which the universe is constructed.
In modern language this might be the word "atom."
The word "element" denotes a first principle in the Greek.
The building block of nature is the atom.
This is the basic element from which everything material in the universe is made.
The basic element in the universe is the atom. The "a" means not and "tom" means divided.
An atom is something that is not divided. We can get down to something in the universe that cannot be divided. However, we know the atom can be divided. When that happens, we have a nuclear explosion.
will melt with fervent heat
The word "melt" means to melt down the elements of creation, i.e., to dissolve. Literally, "melt" carries the ideas to loosen, to loosen what is bound together.
"Fervent heat" means to burn intensely. This is the destruction of the physical universe.
To keep on burning intensely. The building blocks of nature (atoms) will be consumed by heat. They will "burn down."
Atomic fission, used on the atomic bomb, is energy liberated by changing the nucleus of an atom.
As the heavy nucleus splits, there is a loss of mass. Atoms break up into their component parts, unbind. The energy of the atom is released, causing fire.
If human beings can cause a nuclear fission, what kind of nuclear fission can God do in the universe?
Jesus said that "Heaven and earth shall pass away (Matthew 24:35)." There will be no waste products left at all. Destruction will be complete and total, far greater than any nuclear reaction created by humans. Both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up In the day of the Lord, the earth will melt.
The Greek word for "burned up" means to disappear.
The elements of earth will no longer be found.
The New Testament uses this term for burning with great heat.
This burning up could be either fusion or fission. This event will be greater than any thermonuclear reaction.
The end of the world will finish in catastrophe.
4A. A SPECIAL IMPORTANCE GIVEN TO THE LIFESTYLES OF BELIEVERS! II Peter 3:11-16
1B. Because of the coming DESTRUCTION of the world as we now know it –
2B. Because of the future DWELLING of all believers - vv. 13-14
5A. A NEEDED INSTRUCTION FOR BELIEVERS TO DEPEND UPON THE LORD!
II Peter 3:17-18
1B. The DANGER of deception should cause us to depend upon the Lord more
v. 17 - “beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked” cf. Matt. 24:4-5, 23-27
2B. The spiritual DEVELOPMENT we need is found in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - v. 18 cf. Col. 2:3
Just after the world was created, the question was raised by God, “ADAM WHERE ARE YOU?”
Running around with my friends as a young man I can still here my mother’s call out the back door, “Where are you?”
I always knew where I was regardless of what I told anyone else. I was out living for myself. At that time of my life I knew nothing of the rapture of the church and that Jesus was at the door.
May the love of our Lord, and the grace He has shown toward us guide us gently toward His soon return. What will happen in the last days? Ask yourself this, am I being a Morons about the things mentioned in this blog? The answer will come loud and clear. I am in the last days!
Until next time, Agape my friends, Agape always…