In my last writing, Revelation Blog 3, Christ and the Body, we covered the seven revealing letters to the seven churches. I find it fascinating that while John served as a scribe for Christ’s letters, those words were penned with our current-day challenges in mind. It’s true that throughout church history Christians of the past have faced common challenges, but if the theologians who believe each of the churches named in Revelation also represents a different time in history, then at least two of letters (written to literal churches then) are prophecies of our churches today and in the future.
Mind blowing stuff here.
But as we move into the dramatic scenes of heaven and future events, I encourage all of us to keep in mind the purpose of these visions and events in this dynamic book: the revelation of Christ.
The opening sentence in the book of Revelation is what we are to push every wild detail of this book through. Revelation 1:1 holds the key to interpretation and purpose. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place …”
There you have it. This is why this awe-inspiring book exists–so we bond servants can see Christ revealed and know the future.
Please take note of the word must. The use of the word must means the events we learn about in Revelation are not optional. They have purpose in driving God’s world plans forward with Christ on the throne. The events seen by John must take place. For me, this wraps up literal translation. If one of the two purposes of writing revelation is to show us what must take place. Then the events spoken of must be real.
Please, also, take note of the word shortly. The text does not say “far into the future,” or “at a time that doesn’t involve you.” Shortly is placed into this text for a purpose and I believe that purpose is so we will not be surprised when social and physical upheaval arise. Like we’re seeing in plain sight now.
There are scholars who say that every prophecy concerning the end times is in play in some form now. This could mean events are lining up for the Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophesied war and The Great Tribulation.
We shall see.
But let’s get back to John on the island of Patmos and His heavenly encounters.
Come Up Here
After John wraps up the letters to the churches (I can see him packing those parchments into an old leather satchel at his side), I assume he glances over and up to see if Christ, who had been speaking to him, is ascending back to heaven as John had seen him do some 40 or 45 years earlier.
But John doesn’t see Christ ascending. He sees a door standing open in heaven.
Imagine John’s moment here! He glances up to the heavens and there is an open portal (looking like an open door) into the longed-for realm Christ spoke of in the earlier days– the kingdom of heaven is like … a man who casts a seed, a treasure hidden in a field, a mustard seed, a dragnet cast into the sea. The dimension where the real heaven exists just opened up for him.
I bet John’s jaw took a dive.
And then … that trumpet voice we talked about in a previous Revelation Blog, calls out to John. “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”
Not only has John seen a supernatural portal, but our brother John, approximately 80 years old and imprisoned, has just been invited to go through that portal.
I’d like to take a stop here and talk about the possibility of this supernatural act not only literally happening to John, but about the idea this could be an indicator of prophesied events. When the voice said, “…and I will show you what must take place after these things,” the after these things were world and heavenly events after the letters to the churches and if one application of the letters is an outline of church history, then Christ clearly is about to show John what must take place after the church age.
Which would mean there is no earthly church in the future of which John is about to see.
Where am I going with this?
In1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul writes of Christ’s calling the church (his earthly body accomplishing Great Commission work on earth) into heaven. He describes this supernatural event as starting with a shout and blast of a trumpet. What John experiences here in Revelation could well be what Paul described in his earlier letters. While I try to keep an open mind about the timing of the rapture, I do lean toward the pretribulation interpretation for more reasons than this scene. But it’s fascinating to me that the church is no longer mentioned after the seven letters. In the remaining passages of Revelation, the focus shifts from the church to the nation of Israel. Could it be because the church is no longer on earth, but in the wedding chamber with her Groom, Jesus Christ?
It’s certainly a possibility.
More Support for PreTrib Rapture
There are a couple of other passages that have had an influence on my leanings. Zephaniah 2:3 says, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth who have practiced His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will remain hidden on the day of the Lord’s anger.”
According to Zephaniah, there is a chance the righteous can be hidden during the day of the Lord’s anger.
Throughout Scripture, the terms the day of the Lord, Jacob’s trouble, the day of wrath, the day of trouble are all used to label a specific day or period of time of God’s wrath poured out on humanity in the culmination of His worldwide plans. The above Scripture hints that the there could be a hiding place for the righteous during this time.
In Psalm 27:5, the faithful of the day were given this promise that I believe applies to you and me as well. “For on the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; He will hide me in the secret place of His tent; He will lift me up on a rock.”
Again, here, the psalmist alludes to being hidden during a specific time of trouble coming upon the world.
And of course, found in the letter to the church of Philadelphia that Christ dictated to John, there is a promise that this church would be kept from the hour of testings. Here’s what Christ dictated to John, “Because you have kept the Word of my perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world to test those who dwell upon the earth.” – Revelation 3:10
Why is this the only church given this specific promise? If you go back and read the Revelation 3rd blog, you’ll see many scholars believe that while these letters were written to literal churches, these churches also represent different church eras throughout history. If this is true, then we are living in the era that the church of Philadelphia represents. This church is kept from the hour of trial coming to the whole earth.
Finally, many believe that the story of Noah is a precursor to pretribulation rapture. Noah as a righteous man, was removed and hidden away in the arc during the massive worldwide flood–the judgement upon the evils of earth at the time.
Regardless of the timing, we have the privilege of seeing Christ revealed through John’s writings. What we learn is that Christ is all in all—while the church is on earth, He stands in our midst. He’s dictated letters to us, then goes on to open a portal into the heavens so we have the full story—the full revelation of the coming days.
I’ll leave you with this scriptural insight:
Isaiah 46:9-10 – Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My plan will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’
John 13:19 – From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may believe that I am He.
There’s more to come as we enter into the throne room of heaven with the apostle John.
Until next time you might try our latest Bible Study, God’s Will, Unraveling the Mystery.
Laurie (L G Westlake)
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