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THE PRETRIB RAPTURE IN ACTS 15 : 13 – 18

10 Oct

 – This Week’s Feature

 

Article by Jack Kelley – www.gracethrufaith.com

 

A number of people have wondered about using Acts 15:13-18
to support my position that the rapture of the church has
to precede the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week. Most of
their comments have contained a request for a clearer
understanding of why I do this, so here it is.

It was almost 20 years after the cross when the Council of
Jerusalem took place. James, Peter, Paul, Barnabas, some
believers from the Pharisees, and others had gathered to
settle the issue of whether Gentiles had to convert to
Judaism before they could become Christians. But another
question, unspoken, was also on their minds and as Jews it
was even more important to them. “If not, what’s to become
of Israel?”

The Pharisees argued that the path to Christianity for Jews
and Gentiles alike was through Judaism. To them this meant
keeping the Law, being circumcised and following the
traditions in addition to recognizing Jesus as the Messiah.
Then Peter, Barnabas, and Paul presented a different
opinion, based on seeing firsthand the gift of the Holy
Spirit to the Gentiles. They said because of that, Gentiles
should be allowed to come directly into the Church. Now
let’s turn to Acts 15:13 for the outcome of the meeting.

When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to
me. Simon (Peter) has described to us how God at first
showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for
himself. (Acts 15:13-14)

The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it
is written:

‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the
remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who
bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ that
have been known for ages. (Acts 15:15-18)

What Does That Mean?

In simple language James, the brother of Jesus and Head of
the Church in Jerusalem, said Israel was being set aside
while the Lord took a people from among the Gentiles for
Himself (or for His name’s sake.) Remember, 69 weeks of
Daniel’s 70 Week prophecy had transpired. It was becoming
obvious that with the Lord’s crucifixion the clock had
stopped short of the promised 70 weeks. Although Jerusalem
and the Temple had not yet been destroyed the Lord’s
prophecy that they soon would be was a matter of public
record.

Already there were signs that all was not well where the
Temple was concerned. The Jewish Talmud records four
ominous indications that trouble was coming. (Talmud Mas.
Yoma 39b)

1. In the Yom Kippur service two goats were brought to the
High Priest, one was to be “for the Lord” (the peace
offering) and the other was “for Azazel”, also known as the
scape goat. They were chosen by lot and the lot for the
Lord’s goat had always come up in the High priest’s right
hand. After the cross it never did again.

2. A scarlet cord tied the scape goat to the door of the
temple during the service. After the High priest
symbolically placed the sins of Israel on the head of the
scape goat, he cut the cord leaving some on the goat’s horn
and the rest on the Temple door. Then it was led to its
death in the wilderness. Previously, the portion on the
Temple door had always turned white when the scape goat
died. This was seen as a fulfillment of Isaiah 1:18,
“Though your sins are like scarlet they shall be white as
snow” indicating Israel’s sins had been forgiven. After the
cross the cord never turned white again.

3. The westernmost light on the seven branched Menorah
would no longer stay lit. The number seven signifies divine
completion, while man’s number is 6. The seven lights meant
that together with God, Israel was complete and brought
light to the world. But now, with only 6 lights that would
burn, it was obvious God had left them.

4. The main Temple doors began opening by themselves. The
priests saw this as a warning that Zechariah 11:1 would
soon be fufilled. “Open your doors, O Lebanon, so that
fires may devour your cedars.”

During the conquest of Jerusalem the Romans set fire to the
Temple. It’s roof was made of cedar from Lebanon covered in
thin sheets of gold. The intense heat from the fire melted
the gold and it ran down the walls into the cracks between
the stones. After the fire had burned out, the Roman
soldiers dismantled the Temple stone by stone to get the
gold. When they were finished the Lord’s Palm Sunday
prophecy had been dramatically fulfilled. “They will not
leave one stone on another because you did not recognize
the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:44) .

When James referred to Peter speaking of the Lord taking
from the Gentiles a people for Himself in Acts 15:13-14 the
Greek words he used for “taking from” were lambano ek.
Together they mean to take (something) with the hand in
order to carry (it) away from a certain time and place. In
this case the something is the Church (the people for
Himself), and the certain time and place would be carried
away from is the restoration of Israel on Earth for the
final seven years of their covenant with God. We know this
because the first two words of Acts 15:15, which talks
about rebuilding the Temple, are “after this”, after the
Church is gone. Whether he knew it or not, James was saying
the rapture of the Church would precede the beginning of
Daniel’s 70th Week.

Then What Happens?

In Acts 15:15-18 James quoted from Amos 9:11-12 to confirm
his understanding that after the Lord has taken the Church
He’ll cause the Temple to be rebuilt. Like we saw above
they knew it would soon be destroyed, but James used a
prophecy from Amos that was already 800 years old to show
the Temple will be rebuilt when the Lord has finished with
the Church. After that the gentiles who will have missed
the rapture will have one final chance to be saved as well.
This settled the issue of Israel’s future.

From Daniel 9:24-27 we know that rebuilding their Temple
will be a sign that Israel has returned to its covenant
relationship with God and the remaining 70th week of
Daniel’s prophecy is under way. The only reason for a
Temple to exist is to allow Israel to conduct Old Covenant
rituals and sacrifices. Daniel 9:27 says the anti-Christ
will put an end to sacrifice and offering in the middle of
the 70th week. This tells us a Temple will have been
erected and sacrifices offered again beginning sometime
earlier.

So here’s the scope of the passage. Following the cross,
Israel was temporarily set aside while God began His
redemptive work among the Gentiles. His first work was to
build His Church, against which the gates of Hell will not
prevail (Matt.18:18).

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers,
so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a
hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has
come in. (Romans 11:25)

Romans 11:25 tells us that Israel was to be hardened in
part during this time. Paul was talking about Israel’s
heart which would be hardened against understanding.
Remember in Luke 19:41-45 Jesus said the obvious fact that
their long awaited Messiah had visited them would hence
forth be hidden from their eyes. Paul said this would be
the case all through the time the Lord was focused on the
Church. The fact that some say more Jews have come to Jesus
in the past 19 years than in the previous 1900 years may be
an indication that the time of hardening is coming to an
end.

In Paul’s day, the Greek word translated full number
(fullness) was often used in a nautical sense. It referred
to the number of crew members necessary for a commercial
ship to set sail. Because of the dangers involved in being
caught short handed during a storm at sea, ships could not
leave port until they had the full number of sailors
aboard. Also the word translated “come in” meant to arrive
at a scheduled destination. (We’ve all heard the phrase
“waiting for my ship to come in”.) In Romans 11:25 Paul
used these metaphors to describe the Church leaving Earth
and arriving at our Heavenly destination before Israel’s
heart is softened.

When the full number of the Gentiles has been reached we’ll
be whisked away to our Father’s house (John 14:2-3) while
He turns His attention back to Israel. At that time, the
remaining seven years of Daniel’s prophecy will play out.
Through the most devastating judgments ever visited upon
Earth the nations among which Israel has been scattered
will be completely destroyed, Israel will be purified to
prepare for the coming Kingdom Age, and the remnant of the
Gentiles will get their final chance at salvation.

But Wait, There’s More

If you stop to think about, it these few verses in Acts 15
answer several important theological questions. They show
the New covenant did not replace the Old Covenant, but
merely interrupted it. They prove God didn’t intend for the
Church to replace Israel in His plan forever, He just set
Israel aside temporarily so the door of salvation could be
opened to the Gentiles. In Isaiah 49:6 the Father said to
the Son;

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to
restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel
I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

With the added insight from Romans 11:25 we can also
confirm that Israel and the Church are like oil and water
in that they don’t mix. For one to be here the other has to
be gone. The two systems are theologically incompatible.
You can’t have a system of faith evidenced by obedience to
the Law complete with daily animal sacrifices functioning
beside a system of grace through faith alone with no other
requirement than to believe in the one He has sent (John
6:29).

Therefore the Church is not the next dot on a straight line
from Creation to Eternity. It’s a giant right hand turn
that takes believers to a unique and exclusive destiny that
no other believers will share, and allows the Lord to
fulfill His promises to Israel at the same time.

We tend to think the only reason for the rapture is to get
the Church out of the way of the End Times judgments. But
this shows us there’s another reason why the Church can’t
be on Earth during any of Daniel’s 70th Week. We have to
leave so Israel can come back to God. From the looks of it,
our departure is coming soon. You can almost hear the
footsteps of the Messiah.

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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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