The immensely popular “left behind” series of movies and books is the “default End Times theology” of many faithful believers around the globe. The tragedy with this theory, while widely popular, is that it cannot be supported with scripture and therefore leaves the believer with a vague and unsettled position in regards to actual Biblically prophesied events!
The main faulty issue that we need to “leave behind” is this:
No scripture text can show that there will be an interval of some years between Christ’s coming secretly and silently FOR the saints (commonly called the rapture) and then coming 3 1/2 or 7 years later WITH the saints (commonly called the second coming). Here is where it gets tricky and where the Left Behind, Pre-tribulation movement gains its ground. Both of these events will happen and both are prophesied in your Bible.
The problem is one of timing.
The left behind crowd sincerely believe that Jesus will return secretly for His church “at-any-moment”, to rapture believers driving their cars on the highway and children riding the bus to school, straight to be with Jesus in Heaven. You have probably seen this in the movies or heard it in a sermon or two. To support this position they would quote the hugely popular verse: “No man can know the day or hour…” It could happen today, next year or 100’s years from now.
Those not “caught up” are Left Behind — the non-believers and infidels — to experience the wrath of antichrist and the wrath of God. The actual “Second Coming” will happen some years later once the antichrist has appeared on the scene and built his cruel empire. He and his armies will try to exterminate the Jews once and for all but will be defeated in the battle of Armageddon as Christ comes “riding on a white horse”, this time very visible and with a great shout and a trumpet blast, with all the raptured saints.
Unknowingly, for the majority I suspect, this “Pre-Trib” doctrine puts its adherents in an awkward position.
For one thing, the Bible nowhere describes an interval longer than one “unique day” (Zech 14:7) between the rapture and the second coming. What it does describe, very carefully, is a single (by that I mean only one) coming from heaven to earth, where both the living and dead saints are caught up in the air with Jesus and, as He is on a journey from heaven to earth, continue with Him in a Royal Procession right back to the earth as He descends to take His long-awaited throne in Jerusalem (Luke 19:12-15) and reign there as King forever!
That’s what your Bible says and this is what will happen.
Here it is in black and white:
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 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 not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (I Thess 4:13-18)
Please notice that is says: we “will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air”. We won’t stay in the air but we will always be with Him. As Jesus returns to this earth to establish His kingdom and to sit on His throne, those who have fallen “asleep in Jesus” are raised up from their graves and the living believers are changed “in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” They meet the descending, coming King in the air over the city of Jerusalem, where the Last Battle will be staged and proceed down to earth with Him as His mighty army, to sit on His throne, which has been usurped by Satan and his henchman.
“He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Rev 3:21)
And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Mtt 19:28)
The Holy Spirit does not leave the earth, ever!
Another position to “leave behind” is that the Holy Spirit does not leave the earth as the church is raptured some 7 years before the second “second coming” of Jesus. Of this I am absolutely certain: Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, will remain here on earth, until the end of the age and the harvest and the separation of the wheat (believers) and the tares (imposters)!
“And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mtt 28:20
“The harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. (Mtt 13:39-40)
“This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous. (Mtt 13:49)
Lastly, although there are many more points, I feel compelled to bring up the Last Trumpet. The apostle Paul, by the Spirit, predicted that the saints would be “caught up at the last trumpet” years before the apostle John, by the Spirit, had a vision of seven trumpets played by seven angels which brought about God’s justice and cleansing to the earth..
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” I Cor 15:52
No trumpet, no dead raised imperishable!
Dear brethren, there is only one series of prophetic trumpets in the New Testament, those foretold in the book of Revelation. In Rev. 10-11, we read that at the 7th trumpet, which is the last of the series, “the mystery of God is finished” (10:7) and “the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants… and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” Rev 11:18
I challenge you to show me, in the Scripture, a more accurate and more detailed description of the rapture and the second coming all boiled down in to one moment than this!
The Greek word for trumpet is more accurately “a war-trumpet” that boldly announces God’s victory.
“The trumpet was the signal employed to call the hosts of Israel to march as to war, and is common in prophetic imagery (Is 27:13) and the seventh angel (Rev 11:15) — Strong’s Concordance
Now really, shall the Lord Jesus descend from heaven “with a shout and the trumpet blast” (which both are war cries) and then instead of rushing into battle, He shall “leave the field” and whisk off His saints into heaven, while the most fierce and devastating battle between good and evil in the history of humanity is fought in plain view of the host of heaven, who supposedly are enjoying the delicacies of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?
Isn’t it time we “leave behind” this outrageous legacy of the pre-tribulation movement, which might make for nice Hollywood entertainment and recapture the truth of the Bible?
Leaven should be one of the easiest symbols in the Bible to understand but unfortunately when it comes to the parable of leaven as found in Matthew 13 this simple symbol gets completely turned around to mean the exact opposite. It is as if we treat a crown of thorns as if they were rose petals!
Leaven has always been a Biblical sign or symbol of corruption or evil influence. There is a very good reason for this interpretation: “leaven” is a remnant of dough that was allowed to rot or ferment. As it rotted or fermented, yeast (a fungus) from the air would land on and breed in the dough. This remnant of dough was then added to the next day’s batch of dough. Leaven signifies anything which rots and corrupts, not just physically but spiritually and morally as well.
In the parable of the kingdom of heaven from Mtt 13 leaven is incorrectly interpreted by many commentators to be the “secret power of the Gospel” which is able to infiltrate and transform every society on earth.
He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” Mtt 13:33
The sad truth is that Bible commentators struggle with the thought that the “kingdom of heaven” is being compared to something evil and full of corruption so they have twisted the obvious, historical meaning of leaven. Please notice that the woman hid the leaven in the flour, which is a very strange word picture for the wonderful act of preaching the Gospel to all the nations.
Are we really called to hide the life transforming power of the gospel? The verb “hid” translates from the Greek word “enkruptó” which reveals a common expression in English “encryption” — to put a message into code.
The reality is that in the Mtt 13 kingdom parables, Jesus is describing the kingdom of heaven as a entity that has mixture in it: be that wheat and tares or good fish and bad fish or abnormal growth from a mustard seed to a tree. He is describing the kingdom of heaven (or professing Christianity) from the time of His death until His Second Coming. That period where He as King is absent from the earth and is waiting at His Father’s throne “until God makes your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Ps 110:1
These are prophetic parables that reveal a glimpse of Jesus’ eschatology.
Below is a typical example how “Bible scholars” find their way from evil to good!
“In the Bible, yeast usually symbolizes that which is evil or unclean. Here, however, it is a symbol of growth. As yeast permeates a batch of dough, so the kingdom of heaven spreads through a person’s life. Or it may signify the growth of the kingdom by the inner working of the Holy Spirit (using God’s word).” NIV Study Bible
As we carefully search the Word of God, we find “leaven” is uniformly employed as a figure of that which is evil! It is used in both the Old and New Testaments as a symbol of corruption and its permeating and infecting nature.
Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. Exodus 12:15
“How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:11-12
“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Luke 12:1
For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (I Corinthians 5:7-8)
Again and again the leavening metaphor is a picture of corruption. To not see that, one has to almost purposely suppress the truth and this is a grave and serious danger as God has promised to send a “deluding influence” on those who did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
Considering that the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments consistently interprets the picture of leaven to be some form of corruption—sin, false doctrine, hypocrisy, malice, wickedness—that easily spreads to infect all, it is astounding that anyone can interpret the leaven as anything good. (Peter Ditzel)
Yours of the coming King,
For further study: B.W. Newton “Thoughts of the Apocalypse”
The emblem under which professing Christianity is presented to us in the Scripture after it had attained its evil pre-eminence in the earth, is of a woman, who having taken meal, leavened it, and stood prepared to feed those who came to her for food.
It is an emblem not to be confined to Romanism alone: it belongs to every system, which, professing to act in name of Christ mingles with Truth, corruption. But men have widely discovered that corruption has been mingled with that on which they were wont to feed as Truth, and have long begun to make that corruption excuse for rejecting the Truth itself. Another system is rapidly arising which professes its willingness to recognize and to cherish all forms of religious faith or observance, without definitely accepting any as true.
No system, of course, can be more comprehensive, none more conciliatory, than one which is willing to sanction and to shelter all totality of error. This system, it is true, is not yet fully formed. Yet it would not be difficult to enumerate its leading principles, and to point out the sphere in which those principles are at present chiefly found.
If the Scripture teaches us respecting the Woman who feeds the nations with her leavened meal; if it warns us also against her, not yet apparent, who bedecked with gold and precious stones and pearls, shall hold a golden cup wherewith she will make the nations drunk with the wine of fornication; we read likewise of another woman “clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” — emblems sufficiently indicative of the intrinsic excellency of that system before which at last all other systems shall bow, however little it may be at present manifested in the likeness of such glory.
Psalm 110:1 states that “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool,” and continues clearly to show that Christ’s session of waiting ends only when He comes to “put forth the rod of His strength” and to rule in the midst of His enemies (ver. 2).
To this agree the words of the Holy Spirit through Peter (Acts 3:21), “Even Jesus: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets….”
Scripture says that Christ will sit at God’s right hand until it is time for Him to put His feet upon His foes; but the theory of the two-stage coming teaches that He will leave that throne (which would be in opposition to Jehovah’s will expressed in Ps. 110:1) at least seven years before the appointed time, and that Antichrist, His greatest earthly foe, will arise after He has so come forth. Acts 3:21 declares that the times of restoration follow His coming, but this theory says it is then the great tribulation will come.
(OUR LORD COMETH by WILLIAM J. ROWLANDS 1939)