"Thus the Messianic hope*, resurrection, and immortality of the soul are intertwined with the message of the shofar." So today we will talk specifics of the rapture and when anti-Christ is revealed. *The Authorized Daily Prayer Book by Hertz (p 865)
So the resurrection from the dead has been understood from ancient times, and the Feast of Trumpets starting at the New Moon, when the moon is hidden, has always been tied to the resurrection. Paul called the New Moon a 'shadow of things to come' in Colossians 2: 17. That thing to come, is what we call the rapture. 'Natzal' in Hebrew.
I would add the connection between the sun standing for the Messiah and the moon for believers who are to rule the night as the moon does, has a long tradition, as seen in Malachi 4: 2: "But to you who fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness will arise with healing (resurrection) in His wings, and you will go out of the stall like young calves." (Leaping for joy)
Some teachers haven't understood why it is spelled Sun rather than son, but once you understand the above, it makes sense. The moon stands for believers, who reflect the light of the Sun, and will be hidden in Him at a future new moon. Paul writes to the Thessalonians what he wrote in I Corinthians 15, but with some additional details, and that is where we'll pick it up.
I Thessalonians 4: 14-18
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 to the coming of the Lord shall not come before 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 (last trump as per I Corinthians 15): 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.
(A word about 'sleep'. This is not 'soul sleep', but rather earth's point of view, as Jesus used to describe Jairus' dead daughter in Mark 5: 39. Paul also told the Corinthians that to be absent from the body is to instantly be present with the Lord, confirming this understanding.)
This is exactly what Paul told the Corinthians in I Corinthians 15: 45-52, that the Last Trump would sound and the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive will be changed to meet them and Him.
The question I have which I have no answer for, is how does He give those who are wth Him now a new body? He also said 'To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord' to the Corinthians, so how does the Lord give the dead in Christ physical and glorified bodies? If someone's body is dust, does all the dust from all times and places collect and return to form the living body it once was, and then is transformed by the power of God to be made of heavenly material? How does the mortal put on immortality?
For Jesus it was easy - His dead physical body of earth material was in the grave intact. Romans 6: 4 says the glory of the Father caused Him to rise from the dead, transforming His earth body into the heavenly material 'glorified' body. But what if someone's body has long since turned to dust? I don't know! The value to us is to wonder, but not worth argument. We'll find out soon enough.
In the very next chapter, 5 of I Thessalonians, Paul says to the world Jesus' catching us away will be like a thief in the night: "But you brethren are not in darkness that the day should overtake you as a thief.." v4-5
Consider that metaphor
A thief in the night is used to describe the world's perspective of the event we call the rapture. A thief in the night enters someone's home that doesn't belong to him, to steal things that don't belong to him, in a surprise attack. To the world, Jesus is that thief coming into a home that doesn't belong to Him (that home does, as our bodies are the home of the Holy Spirit) and taking that which doesn't belong to Him (legally we've been bought with a price and do belong to Him, so in the last day He cannot be legally blamed). He concludes again, God has delivered us from the wrath to come, so comfort yourselves with these words. You're not asleep and He is no thief to you!
Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians wasn't enough
So Paul went into more detail in his second letter: II Thessalonians 2: 1-8
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and then the man of sin will be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6 And now ye know what restrains him that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity is already at work: only he who now restrains will continue to restrain, until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
For those who don't know Rosh haShanah nor the culture of the time, this is a confusing passage. Thus they take v3 'falling away' and fill in what they think that means 'falling away from the faith', and teach Christians will fall away from the faith by the multitudes right before the rapture. But that doesn't make sense grammatically because Paul says "now you know what is restraining him (anti-Christ) until he is taken away.
Somehow we are to believe a falling away from the faith restrains anti-Christ from being revealed. That makes no sense since we are in fact the salt of the earth, the preservative. Look at any society through the ages and believers in God have been the preservative, the source of freedom and creativity. So how does a falling away from God keep anti-Christ from appearing? And how does the falling away of the faith constitute a 'taken out of the way'? It doesn't make sense.
The correct answer is found in the phrase 'falling away' or apostia, in the Greek.
In Paul's time (as footnoted in the Amplified Bible) the phrase was used to mean exactly what Paul said - a departure, going on a trip, a falling away out of view, at first used to describe sails of a ship falling away out of view over the horizon. A falling away, departure.
This understanding makes sense grammatically, and in Rosh haShanah. Paul did not, after teaching Rosh haShanah and the Last Trump to the Corinthians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, suddenly change his mind. He said: Let no one deceive you. That day will not come until the departure (trip, falling away out of view i.e. the rapture) come first, and THEN the man of sin can be revealed....now you know what is restraining him from appearing so that he can be revealed at the right time after he is taken out of the way. And he (body of Christ) who restrains will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way."
So we can see that I Corinthians 15, Colossians 2: 17, I and II Thessalonians are all consistent in the teaching of the Last Trump.
The use of 'he' who now restrains is confusing to some
Many Christians are more used to the body of Christ being referred to as the bride of Christ than the he of the body of Christ. In the NT the vast majority of use is 'he'; the body is Christ. Paul's use of this phrase is common, so it should not be a surprise he refers to the body of Christ being taken out of the way as 'he'. Colossians 2: 17; The body is (of) Christ. Colossians 1: 24: "...for His body's sake, which is the church." Ephesians 5:23: "Christ is the savior of the church, the savior of the body." I Corinthians 12: 12: "The body is one but has many parts, so are you in the body which is Christ."
The question is; How is anti-Christ revealed? Daniel said in 9: 26-27 a leader will arise who will make a 7 year peace treaty with Israel. Jesus referred to this in Matthew 24: 15, confirming that understanding. Daniel tells us at the middle point of that 7 years the leader will sit in the temple, cause all the offerings to cease, and break his treaty with Israel. Jesus said when those who witness that event see it, run out of town and hide for then will be great tribulation until He returns. (Matthew 24: 15-20)
As a result, some would say the anti-Christ isn't revealed until the mid point of the 7 year treaty, thus making for a mid-tribulation rapture. But that is contrary to Rosh haShanah, which Jesus and everyone around Him understood. The more likely scenario is that anti-Christ is revealed as Daniel stated, when he makes the 7 year treaty with Israel. THAT is what identifies him, the treaty maker. His betrayal comes 3 1/2 years later, but those alive will know who he is. That scenario puts him rising to leadership right after the rapture at the start of the tribulation, the 7 year time of Jacob's Trouble.
Next week I'll shift gears to talk of the 2 goats used in Yom Kippur, why it relates to the return of Jesus, and more. Until then! Blessings,
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