The debate rages on. Does "the Rapture" happen before, in the middle, or at the end of the Tribulation period? Is the Church of the Body mentioned in the Book of Revelation at all? Are Christians ever going to stop beating one another up over this vexed question?
Coming as I do from the cloistered calms of The Emerald Isle, little did I realise that brother could castigate brother so viciously in this civil war of words, until I dipped my toes in the continent of the United States.
This essay will trot us through chapter twelve of the Book of Revelation, otherwise known as the Apocalypse. It may shed a little more light on the above question, and add some more colour to the pictures of what’s coming down the track in the future.
At this juncture, may I say that I do not have all the answers. Neither do you. The last guy to have all the answers got out of here almost 2,000 years ago and hasn’t come back yet. So don’t go getting your knickers in a twist about who’s right and who’s wrong. " Now we know in part…" So we only know part of the story. We will have to wait a while to get the full version. In the meantime, let brotherly Love abound.
I will be quoting from the Kings James Version. Revelation 12, verse 1; Here goes:
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
This is an obvious reference to Israel and the Jewish people when you compare the symbolism to Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37: 9,10. But as we will see, sometimes prophetic utterances may have dual or more meanings. That is, they can have up to two or three different meanings, and all are correct. This we can see in the next verse;
2 And she being with child cried, travelling in birth, and pained to be delivered.
Of course the woman know becomes Mary, who brought forth the Messiah. This becomes plain as we read on;
3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
The dragon is of course, Satan, the Devil who is the serpent. The seven heads and ten horns are figures of speech for his aides de corps. They are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 2:8 and called the "princes of this world." Well we all know who the chief prince is, also called "the prince of darkness." And it ain’t Dracula.
So the main man is Satan, who is the Serpent of Genesis 3. And here we are told that one third of the "stars" of heaven are cast down to earth and these stars are those angels who rebelled with him and tried to usurp the throne of God way back when in the dim, distant primeval past.
I believe this "casting to earth" is still future. This will become plainer as we read on.
When Jesus was born, Herod sent out his troops to slaughter all the innocents under two years old in Bethlehem. Later the crowds tried to throw him off a cliff. Then the dragon and his princes finally succeeded by murdering him at the crucifixion. But only temporarily. As God raised Jesus from death three days and nights later.
Of course the reason Satan and his comrades wanted the Messiah out of the way harks back to Genesis 3:15 where God promised Satan that the "seed of the woman" would ultimately "crush your head." Not a very nice prospect if you happen to be Satan. Especially coming as it did from the Most High God. So Satan and his chiefs have spent nigh on 6,000 years endeavouring to derail prophecy as thus avert their inevitable demise. (By the way, watch out for that phrase, "seed of the woman").
5 And she brought forth a man child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
This must be the shortest definition of the life of Jesus in the Bible. He is born; he is caught up to heaven. One interesting vignette here is that the word in Greek for "caught up" is harpazo, which is the same word used in the famous section in 1 Thessalonians 4 which describes the saints who are still alive at the parousia (coming) being "caught up" to meet the Lord in the air. It is significant to me that this same word is used here. We shall return to this later.
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.
8 And prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
When it speaks here of the woman fleeing into the wilderness, this is referring to a future flight of the Jewish people in the time of the tribulation. Most experts on the numerology of these End Times, (and I am not one of them), agree that this is referring to the second half of the seven year period. And some say that this spot, where the Jews will be protected, is Petra.
Then in verse seven it describes a war in Heaven. Not a battle but a war. And this war is waged between two sets of spirit men. For that is what "angels" are; men. Not flesh and blood men as you and I. But spirit men, which is far more powerful than mere human beings.
This war ensues and the Devil and his evil spirit men are defeated and cast out. And where are they cast to? "Into the earth."
Contrary to popular belief, the Devil and his angels were not cast out of heaven way back in days of yore when they rebelled in the original coup. How do I know this? Because it says in verse 8, "…neither was their place found any more in heaven."
And again in verse 10;
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: FOR THE ACCUSER OF OUR BRETHERN IS CAST DOWN, WHICH ACCUSED THEM BEFORE GOD DAY AND NIGHT.
Perhaps we should think of heaven in different terms. Just as the world we live in is a big place, it may be that the same applies in heaven. As I write this, I am many thousands of miles from Australia which is on the other side of the globe. Thus in heaven, the capital city, which is called Mount Sion and the Heavenly Jerusalem, is where the Throne of God resides. There He sits with His son on his right hand side, 24 elders sit on thrones round-about, and there also is a multitude of these spirit men, called angels.
Now let us imagine that Satan and his angels are in a different location in heaven, but maybe some distance from this celestial city. Nevertheless, he has access day and night to God where he continually accuses the brethern (us) because of our sins down here. But read on. The victory shall be ours.
11 And they overcame him, by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death.
Visit Paddy Heron's website at nephilimapocalypse.com/.