. . . “THEN, WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN” . . .
The Apostle Paul was a teacher who taught precisely. He did not mince words, nor did he ever talk “down” to his audience. When it was necessary, he would explain and define the meaning of his teaching, and his explanations were always precise. They had to be, because they were being used to put out fires.
In studying the words of Paul, we see only a taste of what he taught to each of the churches. But, what I believe we can be sure of, is that he taught the same thing to each one of them.
In the case of the first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul was trying to solve difficulties they were having because Gentiles, and especially Jews, were impugning Paul’s sincerity, defaming him as a wandering charlatan who had deceived them. They were also confused about the second coming of Christ and some were worried about believers whom had died before His return. Some of them had stopped working because Christ would return at any time. The had problems with immorality, and a crisis in leadership.
He is always referring back to thing that he had previously commanded or taught them, and adding more to the meaning of his words while solving their particular problems. We get a glimpse in each letter of many subjects, and how they were handled.
The one that especially interests me is chapter 4, verse 17 and 18, and it will be my focus in this message.
Here, Paul’s precision here has gone unnoticed by everyone, forever. I say that because, when asked, everyone tells you that the events of verse 17 (. . . and the dead in Christ rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up), happen simultaneously.
But, how can that be so? Paul’s precise language eliminates that from even being within the realm of possibility!
Let me explain. Verse 16 ends with: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: v. 17 Then we which are alive and remain . . .
These are two separate events. First event: the dead rise. Then, later, we which are alive and remain, are caught up.
Now, a precise writer like Paul would not use the word “then” and “remain” to describe something that is simultaneous, or instantaneous. The word “then” denotes a lapse of time. It’s use in this case has a meaning of “afterwards”. And the use of the word “remain” forces one to ask; remain for how long? When meaning Simultaneous or instantaneous one simply would not described it by using those words. That would be a terrible use of words, and we know that Paul is a precise person, writing in a manner that would be totally understood by his audience.
So, what we know from that verse is that, first the dead in Christ will rise, and afterwards, all those in Christ that are alive and remaining will be caught up.
What we need to investigate is when did the dead rise, and how long do we, that are alive, remain before we are caught up. It’s obvious where the dead are that rose first. Paul clearly says, except for the many with bodies, they are in the clouds.
So, lets first find out when the dead rose.
The “set time” for the resurrection of the Messiah was on the feast, or “set time”, of first fruits. First fruits was the promise of the full harvest yet to come. This Jewish feast was celebrated each year on the first day of the week (Sunday), after the first Sabbath (Saturday), after the first day of Passover. Thus it was a Spring feast.
Jesus, fulfilled this feast, as he was raised right on time, on God’s “set time” for resurrections. And Matthew teaches us at 27:52,53, that after Jesus rose, the graves opened, and many bodies of the saints came out of them, and that they appeared to many in Jerusalem, the holy city.
Now Paul teaches us, via the Colossians (2:17), that the feasts of the Jews are but shadows of things to come for the church, and that the substance of those shadows was the Messiah.
From that, we know that the Colossians understood exactly what Paul meant, as he doesn’t go through a long explanation of it in his letter. But, at first reading, I have no idea what that means. So what we need to do today is understand what the Colossians understood when Paul spoke those words to them, in all of their preciseness, as he had intended when he wrote them.
The problem is that 2000 years later, the meaning is lost to us. This statement deals with the feast of the Jews, and we, as Christians don’t know about the feasts of the Jews. What they stand for, and what they denoted is foreign to us. Yet, according to Paul, they are shadows cast to be received by us, and the substance casting the shadows is the Messiah.
Again it’s Paul’s precise language that exposes the meaning of Colossians 2:17, as he reveals to us, now, during the end times, the message that pinpoints the timing of the events at the close of the Church age.
Now, I’m a little like Paul here. In the respect that I’m not going to do a teaching on the feasts of the Jews, because I have already taught you all about them (http://chn-net.com/watcher/teachings/bible_school/truth/chn_presents/truth_you_can_not_deny.html go to chapter 4), and their significance, so I am going to just skip to what’s pertinent about the timing of the dead rising and the Rapture of the Church, which is the focus of our teaching today.
Everything about God’s prophecy in Daniel concerning the “end times” is about, place and time. He lays out the trail of the land from Babylon to the end, and then seals it up until it’s “time”. We know that when we see Daniel happening in time, on that place, then it would be time, and thus the prelude to the last days.
Paul taught that the “set time” for the dead to rise was cast as a shadow into the path of the Church just prior to the opening of the first seal on the book of Revelation.
According to Revelation 6, the man on the white horse comes in peace, then is followed by war and famine and death. But the beginning of the end times is not war, it’s peace! That peace opens the first seal. But before that can happen, the restraining force, the Church has to be taken out of the way. Just by being here, we are in the way of the peace, because it occurs after us. http://chn-net.com/watcher/teachings/bible_school/rapture_series_orientation.html
According to Paul, part of being taken out of the way, is the dead in Christ rising.
Now the feast of first fruits is being cast as a shadow. On that day Christ rose to fulfill the prophecy and complete another part of the Messiah role. Also on that day, bodies of many saints rose and went into Jerusalem and were seen by many. They are part of the shadow of first fruits that we, the Church, receive, when Messiah comes for us. Paul prophesies them to the Thessalonians.
So, what do dead rising and being seen in Jerusalem have to do with the Christian Rapture? The idea is for Christians, who already accepted Jesus as the Messiah, to watch for the dead to rise and warn the Jews. By seeing that, Christians would know the day of, and be able to watch their redemption come to pass, just as God intended.
I’m going to have to jump around a little to paint some background, but we will tie it all together before we leave. I promise! So, stick with me.
Now, I’ve taught on all this before, so grab on to the saddle horn, and get ready to ride. As my old teacher use to say, long text, short message!
First we have to get all the pieces on the table, then we can tie them all together.
Lets start with the “role” of the Messiah. Messiah, Savior, Deliverer, Christ, was a role. The person that would come to fill that role would have to fulfill all the prophecies about him. Isaiah 61 lists some of the things that the Messiah would do, and one of those things was to set the captives free.
But, the role of the Messiah was summed up in one place. The prophet Jonah was the only sign given of the Messiah, and it was given by Jesus himself. Now I know that Jesus only refers to the 3 days in the whale, but as a sign, the shadow of it is merely a silhouette of everything contained with in it, and it can’t be known unless you follow it to it’s source. And when you do, you see the whole enchilada. Nothing is hidden from your view, now that you are standing before it.
So Jonah turns out to be a “type” of Messiah. He was a man, who gave his life willingly to save others. He died, was resurrected by God, and then went on a mission to save the people of Nineveh from God’s wrath by telling them to repent and be saved.
The person that fulfilled that role would be the Messiah. That’s what the Jews were supposed to watch for. We know that it was Jesus, and so did Paul. He purposely uses the word Messiah as the substance casting the shadow, and not Jesus. He wants us to know that it’s the role, not the man that’s casting the shadow.
Psalm 68:18 schedules an event in the role of the Messiah. It says that when he ascends on high, he will take captivity captive. That is to say that those captives that he had set free in fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 61, are now taken captive to himself, as He ascends to heaven.
We know from Matthew that there were many captives who rose, and were seen in Jerusalem, but a question arises when Paul confirms this prophecy of Psalms 68, to the Ephesians, because when he does, he confirms that when Jesus ascended on high, he took a “multitude” captive to himself. That raises a question of how did it get from Matthews “many” to Paul’s multitude?
Now, all of these pieces of knowledge are the bits and pieces that when put together make up the landscape of the events to be expected in the days just prior to the first seal being opened, at the time of the peace of Daniel 9:27.
Why do I say expected? Because a shadow doesn’t change it’s substance.
When our Messiah comes for us, it will be at the same time, as it was when he came to fulfill the covenant with the Jews. The “set time”, that He set on their calendar. That’s how He arrives in our (the grafted on’s) future, as shadows of those things that occurred in their day. Now their “new day” is to be in the time when the prophecy of Daniel is clearly being seen on the stage of history.
Because Paul taught that we have to be taken out of the way first. But before that can happen, the dead in Christ will rise! And, they will rise, right on time! The dead rise on First Fruits! And, they will go into the holy city, and they will be seen by many!
They will be warning the Jews, once again for 40 days, that the Messiah to whom they are giving their trust, is a false deliverer. That Jesus is to return soon, and that only repentance will keep them from the Wrath of God, which begins in 40 days.
As did Jesus before, to fulfill the role, they will warn the Jews for 40 days, and “THEN” we which are alive and remain, including the many with bodies, shall be caught up, together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the Air, and so be with Him forever. And of course, 40 days after the resurrection is the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven. And on that day, He took a multitude of captives captive to himself as he ascended on high.
That is the picture of the event we call the catching away, the Rapture. Jesus set the time himself because there was no “set time” on the calendar of the Jews for a Rapture. Just as the Church was kept secret in the mind of God until it was needed, the timing of the Rapture is kept secret. And just as the roadmap of the Church was written into the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, centuries before it was revealed to Paul, the timing for the final events of the Church age are likewise written into Paul’s words centuries before they are needed to be understood by the intended in their time.
So, when Paul tells the Thessalonians to Watch, he knew what he had already told them, that’s why there is no explanation of what to watch for. In his precision, Paul would not have told them to watch for something they could not see! He told them to watch for the dead in Christ to rise! Because they rise first! Then we, which are alive, and remain (these 40 days) will be caught up! And, together with those already in the clouds, will meet the Lord in the air, and so shall begin our forever with Him. Alleluia, and God bless.
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