AFTER THE RAPTURE: DOES THE CHURCH STILL HAVE A MISSION ON THE EARTH?

By Gary L. Huffman and S. Douglas Woodward

The Manifestation of God’s Glory in the Church During the Tribulation

Although not explicitly stated in Scripture, the Feast of Tabernacles constitutes a feast of glory. Thus, the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles would be the period when God’s glory manifests. And we recall that at Tabernacles, God symbolically dwells with the Jews in separated booths. God’s dwelling with each believer comprises a vital part of Jewish tradition just as it is in the Christian tradition.

In Joel 2:23, we learn at Tabernacles both the former rain and the latter rain come down together in the same month. “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.”  Tabernacles’ fulfillment implies a historic outpouring of the Holy Spirit working through the people of God. Thus, the manifested presence of God within God’s people will be unprecedented (Acts 2 recorded God’s infilling within a few thousand – at the fulfillment of Tabernacles, God’s infilling with be in the tens of millions).[1] At their indwelling, the Glorified Body – the Church will do great exploits. “The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Dan 11:32b, KJV) However, when does this empowerment take place?  Daniel tells us.  He connects God’s people “doing exploits” at the same moment when the Antichrist works his evil magic: “By smooth words, he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant…” (Dan 11:32a, NASV)

We usually assume that God’s people referenced in Daniel are Jewish mortals.  But what if they are the newly immortalized Christians, after the rapture of the Church?  In our new book, The Revealing: Unlocking Hidden Truths on the Glorification of God’s Children, we explore this possible re-interpretation of the role of the Church AFTER its rapture.  Instead of literally “resting on our laurels” in our mansions in the sky (John 14:1-3), we propose the Church, united with Christ and fully glorified in their resurrected bodies, begins its administration as it replaces the “principalities and powers” thrown down from heaven at the battle between Michael and Satan (Rev 12:4, 9; cf. Eph 3:10).

Will a Raptured Church Be Christ’s Means to Defend a Jewish Remnant?

The Book of Zechariah, which concludes with every nation going forth to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, repeatedly speaks of God

The Glory Over Zion

dwelling with His people, and His glory manifested. Notice also the references in Zechariah to latter rain, living water, inheritance, and the Lordship (Kingship) of Jesus. Most scholars interpret these passages as occurring after the visible return of Christ. But could they happen before? As you read these passages, take into account that, at the Rapture, the Church has become one with Christ.  Where the Lamb goes, the Church follows (Rev 14:4). Several of these verses indicate that Christ defends the citizens of Jerusalem, something that would be unnecessary during the Millennium.

Zec 2:5, 8 For I,’ says the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’” For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you”; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.

Zec 2:10-13 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the LORD. “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me [Y’shua] to you. And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!”

Zec 6:12-13 Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place, He shall branch out [becoming millions of branches!] And He shall build the temple of the LORD; Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. [Repeating his words, was a Jewish prophet’s way of putting his words in ‘boldface.’] He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; so, He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”’ [Remember: Christ’s Church shall reign with Him with a rod of iron – Rev 2:26-27; and as kings and priests, Rev 1:6, 5:10.]

Zec 10:1 Ask the LORD for rain in the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone.

Zec 12:8 In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them.

Zec 14:8-9 And in that day, it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day, it shall be – “the LORD is one,” and His name one.

Zec 14:16 And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations [those who were not already raptured before the day of the Lord, or killed during the time of Great Tribulation] which came against Jerusalem [even members of attacking armies or the peoples represented by them] shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

What is the Shekinah Glory of God?

The word “Shekinah” is a synonym for God’s glory. We read a helpful definition from https://www.gotquestions.org/shekinah-glory.html:

The word Shekinah does not appear in the Bible, but the concept does. [Kabowd is the biblical Hebrew word, Shekinah comes from the Kabballah.] The Jewish rabbis coined this extra-biblical expression, a form of a Hebrew word that means “he caused to dwell,” signifying that it was a divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of the Lord God on this earth. The Shekinah was first evident when the Israelites set out from Succoth in their escape from Egypt. There the Lord appeared in a cloudy pillar in the day and a fiery pillar by night: “After leaving Succoth, they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people” (Exo 13:20–22). God spoke to Moses out of the pillar of cloud in Exodus 33, assuring him that His Presence would be with the Israelites (v. 9) …

The visible manifestation of God’s presence was seen not only by the Israelites but also by the Egyptians: “During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, ‘Let’s get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt’” (Exo 14:24-25). Just the presence of God’s Shekinah glory was enough to convince His enemies that He was not someone to be resisted.

God’s glory is not just a “status symbol” or merely a visible shining or shimmering. It is more than recognition of victory or winning a reward. The glory of God comprises an active, palpable and awesome presence.  The glory of God can strike fear into those who encounter it.  Its presence is intimidating. And, perhaps surprisingly, it is this glory that Christians are to inherit (Col 1:26-27, Heb 2:10, Phil 3:21).  It is this glory that is to be revealed in the children of God. Indeed, the revealing of glorified Christians presages creation itself will be dramatically remade. (Rom 8:18, cf. 1 Pet 3:10)

 Tabernacles and the Presence of God’s Glory

Peter understood the connection between God’s manifest presence and the Feast of Tabernacles. He was eager to celebrate Tabernacles with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, in the midst of God’s Shekinah glory enveloping Jesus at the Transfiguration:

Mat 17:1-5 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

King Solomon discovered the connection between God’s manifested presence and His dwelling place. In 2 Chronicles, we learn that Solomon’s temple was dedicated through worship and singing. This was accomplished during the ‘‘feast which was in the seventh month’’ – that is, Tabernacles. And God filled His Temple with His glorious presence within the cloud that was so intense the priests couldn’t perform their duties:

2 Chr 5:1,3, 12-14 So all the work that Solomon had done for the house of the LORD was finished; and Solomon brought in the things which his father David had dedicated: the silver and the gold and all the furnishings. And he put them in the treasuries of the house of God… Therefore, all the men of Israel assembled with the king at the feast, which was in the seventh month… And the Levites who were the singers… stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets – indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying:For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,” that… the house of the LORD was filled with a cloud so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.

This is God’s supreme intent for the Body of Christ, which is perhaps the form that the Temple of God will take in the last days.   God will again fill His house with His Glory! 

We live today under the impression that God’s glory cannot manifest itself until AFTER the visible return of Christ.  However, it was revealed at the Temple’s completion when anointed with worship and praise. Will the Church participate in the manner of the two witnesses, working signs and wonders, and serving to protect, in accordance with God’s providential will, many in the remnant of Jews (and other believers) as hinted at within the Word of God?


[For a deeper study, see Huffman and Woodward, The Revealing:  Unlocking Hidden Truths on the Glorification of God’s Children, Oklahoma City: Faith Happens Books, 340 pages.  Emphasis placed within scriptures is added by the authors.]

Notes

[1] Tabernacles is also a feast of Ingathering: Exo 23:16 “And the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.”  And Tabernacles is a feast of rain – the Living Water of God (which brings increase and ingathering).

Deu 11:14 “Then I will give [you] the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.”

Hosea 6:3 Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.

Joel 2:23-24 Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, And He will cause the rain to come down for you – the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.

Hosea 6:3 teaches that He shall come as the rain unto us. In Joel, the former rain refers to the seed rain (in the Spring) and the latter rain refers to the harvest rain (in the Fall). In Joel 2:23-24, God promises to give the former and latter rain in the first month (of the civil year) which is in autumn’s harvest time (the time of the Feast of Tabernacles and Ingathering) – the normal time for the former rain. This implies a unique event that happens once. It constitutes an eschatological event.