RAPTURE SERIES

CLASS I

SHADOWS OF THINGS TO COME

AD 61
~ THE APOSTLE PAUL TO THE COLOSSIANS ~

 INTRODUCTION

   Paul was not personally acquainted with the believers in Colossae.  It was an ancient but declining commercial center near Laodicea. The Gospel was brought to them during Paul’s ministry at Ephesus which lay about 100 miles east.  Epaphras played the major role in the evangelism and growth of the Church at Colossae.

Paul is under house arrest in Rome, during his first imprisonment when he writes this letter.  Epaphras reported on the conditions in the Church while visiting Paul in his confinement.  Tychicus was the bearer of the letter.

False teaching, the common culprit of the time, had brought about heretic thinking.  The Church became synthesized, blending Jewish legalism, Greek philosophic speculation and Oriental mysticism.  The new teaching had it all covered; diet, Sabbath observances, worship of angels and the practice of severity, which stemmed from the belief that the body was inherently evil. (2:11-23)

Paul combats the heresy by emphasizing the cosmic significance of Christ as Lord of Creation and Head of the Church and that any practice, teaching or intermediary that detracts from the uniqueness and centrality of Christ is against the faith.

The theme of the Colossian letter is the supremacy and all-sufficiency of Christ as Paul addresses the work and personage of Christ, heresy and the connection of Christ to the believers.

I hope this background sets the stage so you can better feel the moment and the power of Paul, and the reason he used the words that he chose to combat the heresy that was plaguing the Colossian believers.

It is in this letter that Paul reveals what turns out to be the path to the understanding of the Rapture, but whose meaning was kept a mystery until its time to be known would be revealed in the unsealing of the Prophecy of Daniel, where the time of the end time was kept locked up.

The trail to the Rapture winds through the scorching sands of the Mideast and the lifestyle of the Jews.  Paul told us all about it.  He found reason that we should rejoice the moment we understood it.  The Journey begins with the most important of the teachings, which was given to the Colossians to stem a heresy.  I hope you enjoy the trip.

 

The year is AD 61, and Paul writes to the Church at Colossae

After his greeting, in which he extends grace and peace from God, Paul speaks of his gratitude for them and their faith, and then goes on to pray for their growth (1:9-14). Read it.

Then he exalts Christ’s character, and over the next few verses he chisels in stone who Christ was, so we would never forget!  If this is who Paul said Christ was to those early converts, than that’s who he is today to you and I.  Paul wasn’t mincing any words here.  We must understand that this description was literal..

Christ is the image of the invisible God!

The firstborn over all creation.

For Him and by Him all things were created, and he goes on to specify what “all things” means.

He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.

He is the head of the body, the Church. (please note the Church is the BODY)

He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

God was pleased to have all this fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether they are in heaven or on earth, by making peace by the blood shed on the cross.

Then Paul goes on to show them the benefits of Christ.

He tells them that once they were alienated from God and were enemies in their minds because of their evil behavior, but now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.  But you have to continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.  This same gospel that we heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

He reminds them of his commission from Christ and says: Now I rejoice (Paul sure was a rejoicer) in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the Church.  I have become it’s servant by God’s commission.  God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness; the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Then he tells:  We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.  To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me. What eloquence!  God could not have picked a better man.

The calling of this Ministry is to illuminate Paul’s teaching about the Rapture of the Body at the closing of the Christian covenant and to reignite the light that Paul once had burning so brightly.

Now, everything that Paul is teaching the Colossians in important, but we are focusing on the path to the Rapture in this teaching. 

Paul began to teach on being exalted over legalism in chapter 2 at verses 11-17.  Verse 13:  When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave all our sins having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us, He took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, (here’s the important part) or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration (Feast) or a Sabbath day, FOR THESE ARE SHADOWS OF THINGS TO COME, BUT THE SUBSTANCE CASTING THAT SHADOW IS CHRIST!

The feasts of the Jews are the shadows of things to come for the Church.  But the reality is Christ, the one who casts the shadows that are to come for the Church!

In that one verse, Paul tells us that if we want to know what’s in store for the Church from Christ, you must consult the Feasts of the Jews that were fulfilled in Christ.

But, we’re Christians, we don’t know anything about the Feasts of the Jews.  That might be true, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist for us.  Because whatever the message they brought to the Jews, is now ours to claim as a Christian!

Well, what are they?  What am I claiming?  What do they mean?  What has that got to do with the Rapture?  Why will we understand the Rapture better now?  That scripture has been there since Paul wrote it, and it never made it clear before.  In fact, I didn’t even know it had anything to do with the Rapture!

Paul was a brilliant man.  He knew the law and he was a Benjamite, the light bearing tribe (God doesn’t miss a trick).  He knew the law so well that he was second only to Gemayel, who was the most knowledgeable in the land.  Paul was also a Roman citizen, so he understood both sides of the issue.  God chose him for who he was and what he knew.  He was the perfect choice to receive the commission, because he could understand the transition from law to grace.  Once God got his attention, he never stopped until they cut off his head because his friend Nero blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians.

The Church was a mystery, hidden in the mind of God, known to us now only because He chose Paul to reveal it to.  God told him the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and the Holy Spirit guided his life from then on.

Paul would never give a false teaching.  He didn’t know any!  It’s important that we understand Paul’s role in God’s plan.  Every teaching was to last till the end of time.  It would have to speak as loud now as it did then.  It would have to be the beacon by which we determined God’s will for the Church.  And again remember that the Church is the body of Christ.

In our lives today, the meaning of those words concerning the promises of God to the Church take on a whole different meaning, because we have arrived at the time when the prophecy of Daniel is unsealed, and the promise that knowledge about these times would increase is being fulfilled on every front of end time prophecy, so it's time for us to know about the conclusion of our covenant.  The whole story of the conclusion of the Jews covenant is written in our book of Revelation, but the only thing that’s written about the Church in that book happens prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation.  Everything else about the Church, including the Rapture was written by Paul.  And it has to be found already written.  There is nothing new under the sun; it's already written.  That means when it’s time, it will be easily seen.

Daniel’s word being unsealed means we are in the immediate time frame when the Rapture is scheduled to occur.  So, the message about the Rapture has to be there, or there is no such thing, because God would not have forgotten to tell the Church about the end of their deal.  He’s telling the Jews about theirs isn’t he?

Christ was the connection between the Jews and the Church.  The Jews had the law, the Church has grace.  The Law was bound up in the feasts.  Grace is about the promise yet to come.

Go on to Class II of the Rapture Series
Old man Moses had a feast - part1