THERE IS A GREAT EXPECTATION THAT THE RAPTURE MAY BE ONLY WEEKS AWAY. WHY?
It is an inevitable aspect of futurist eschatology that students of the topic seek to know the time of the return of Christ. They do not really regard the doctrine of imminence as “binding” to whether we can or cannot assert when Jesus comes back for His bride, the Church. Instead, they believe the rapture will happen “at an appointed time.” There are patterns in the Scripture and those patterns disclose future eschatological events. This has become a real “tension” among those who anxiously await the time of Jesus’ return. The Revelation 12 sign has brought this tension to the point of bursting like a boil.
As the spring feasts of Israel were fulfilled in the life of Christ (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus), the three fall feasts will also be fulfilled in space-time history and will be fulfilled to the day of the Jewish High Holy Days. The three remaining days are Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. We know these by their “English” names: The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Most eschatology teachers, therefore, also break with the doctrine of imminence and suggest that it is highly probable that the Feast of Trumpets connects to the rapture of the Church. (1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4) The Day of Atonement to the physical, visible return of Christ when “every eye shall see him.” (Revelation 1:7, Matthew 24). And the Feast of Tabernacles signifies the Millennial Reign when the Messiah will “tabernacle” among His people: The Church and Israel. Tabernacles is the holy day that confirms that “God will dwell among His people.”
In the second of my recent interviews with Kevin Clarkson of Prophecy in the News (The Revealing, Part 2), Kevin and I discuss the sign in the heavens that John declares in Revelation 12. We supply an overview of the details of the sign and whether the sign might bespeak that actual time when the rapture of the church occurs. We do this alongside our continued discussion on my recent book, co-authored with Gary Huffman, The Revealing: Unlocking Hidden Truths On the Glorification of God’s Children.
Here is a link to the program. CLICK HERE.
As any studied student of the history of eschatology knows, “The Great Disappointment” of William Miller in 1843 cautions us to NOT make bold predictions of the timing of Christ’s return. Miller’s following did the classic behavior of “selling everything and heading to the mountaintop to await for His return.” The underlying motivation was to demonstrate a complete commitment to Christ’s Kingdom and to fully prepare for His return. However, the followers of Miller would ultimately overcome the great disappointment. They eventually gave rise to the Seventh Day Adventists and later spawned another major Bible-based institution, the Jehovah’s Witnesses. These groups have, during their history, become known as (indeed were notorious) date-setters.
The Great Sign of Revelation 12 could easily be dismissed based upon the challenges posed to those that argued the Blood Moon Tetrad of 2014-2015 was potentially the beginning of the Tribulation period. Mark Biltz, John Hagee, and others wrote popular books about this unusual sign. I myself wrote a book entitled Blood Moon: The Biblical Signs of the Coming Apocalypse. However, my take was that we needed to temper the temptation to do “date setting” and seek to understand the meaning of such heavenly signs as confirmation of God’s covenants with us. Why would I say that? Because the word for signs in Hebrew is pronounced “owth” (like oath) and means covenant (a contract or bond). Cain’s “mark,” Noah’s rainbow, and the circumcision of Abraham (and his people), were but three of a number of signs/oaths that promised a covenant between God and His people. They were a visible, physical symbol of a spiritual promise made by God to one or more of His special children.
Here is what I said in Blood Moon:
The word sign (transliterated from the Hebrew owth, pronounced ‘oath’) appears 79 times within 77 verses of the King James Version Old Testament. According to Strong’s Concordance, it is used as “a distinguishing mark, banner, military ensign, remembrance, miraculous sign, omen, and warning.” And as we will see, it comprises an indispensable element to confirm a covenant between God and humankind.
The first instance of the use of this word in the Bible (as we have already mentioned), appears in Genesis 1:14: “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”
The second usage stands out too. It deals with the infamous mark upon Cain, a mark meant to warn everyone not to harm Cain in any way, lest God Himself take vengeance upon the one who did. The word translated mark is the same as sign—owth. We read: “And the LORD said unto him, ‘Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the LORD set a mark (owth) upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” 
From that vantage point, the sign of Revelation 12 could be interpreted the same way. This is not to say that Rosh Hashanah 2017 might not be the appointed time when a literal fulfillment of “the last trump” finally comes to pass (which occurs at the conclusion of the Feast of Trumpets when the Trumpet is blown 99 times with the “last trump” lasting much longer than any of the 99 trumpet blasts). It may be the fulfillment of the promise. It might be the “fullness of times” when Christ unites and glorifies His body. Let us pray that it is so. However, keep in mind that it might only be a visible confirmation that He is coming for His bride very soon — like within the next year — and this is the final warning. His bride needs to make itself ready.
Two years ago I wrote an extensive paper (about 6,300 words) on the issues taken up here. I am making it available here as a PDF. It was entitled, “Are Date Patterns in Prophecy Meaningful?” CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD. My final words of that paper provide what I believe is the key to keep in mind when we consider the sign of Revelation 12 and its ultimate meaning to the fulfillment of Bible Prophecy:
Christians realize that the Messiah came over 2,000 years ago. Despite his appearing in fulfillment of hundreds of prophecies, as the Messiah he was rejected as Isaiah predicted: “He was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3). He was dismissed as an authentic prophetic fulfillment. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (John 1:11) As far as the nation of Israel was concerned, Bible prophecy had not been fulfilled. They did not discern the meaning of scripture. The words of the prophets were kept hidden from them.
Likewise, the disciples did not understand what it meant for Jesus to die for their sins. They did not understand he would rise from the dead. Until Jesus appeared to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus, they were unable to discern the meaning of the events they had just experienced—but more specifically, they were unable to interpret these events in light of Bible prophecy. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27) Imagine a future time when we are with the Lord and He explains the prophecies of the Bible to us so we come to complete understanding!
Furthermore, when the Antichrist finally does appear, Christ predicts that the Antichrist will come “in His own name” and Israel will believe in him. “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” (John 5:43) For at least 1,260 days, the Jews will conclude that the Messiah has come—but he will be the Antichrist! Only when he is revealed will the deception be dispelled and the remnant of Israel will “look upon whom they pierced and mourn for him as one mourns for an only son” after the Lord pours out His Spirit upon the House of David. (Zechariah 12:10, paraphrased)
What remains perfectly clear, interpreting Bible prophecy is no simple matter. And when it is fulfilled, we are not always ready to receive it as such. Therefore, let us pray that the Lord gives us understanding in these last days, discerning the meaning of what occurs in the world around us, that we not be caught off guard. Remember: “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5)
Having said that, I believe strongly that there are many reasons to be expectant that this may be the time of the rapture. I encourage my readers to study the matter and prepare yourself spiritually. Study the videos of Scottie Clarke who did the original research and “discovered” through his work with the software program Stellarium, the appearance of the 12 stars appearing in Leo as a crown to Virgo. Here is his most recent video that brings together the Revelation 12 sign of September 23, 2017:
However, keep several other things in mind: First, our prime directive is to love another in a meaningful way. As Paul taught the Galatians: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) Second, we are commanded by Christ to “occupy until He comes.” (Luke 19:13) We need to be doing what God has called us to do – and continue to do this – before AND after September 23rd. Third, should the LORD not return for His bride when this sign is displayed in the heavens, do not be dismayed. The sign in the heavens is a symbol of the Lord’s covenant with us to bring us to heaven and to glorify us. It may mean more than this. But it can mean no less.
Paul, after teaching the Thessalonicans about the rapture, emphasized the need to care for one another with words like these:
- 1 Thessalonians 4:9 – Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:13b – Live in peace with one another.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:15 – See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.
And, by the way, if you do not know whether you are “ready for the rapture,” here’s how to get ready: Ask Jesus Christ to forgive your sin and to indwell you through His Holy Spirit. That is what “receiving Christ” means. That is what “being born again” is all about because when you receive Christ, He implants in you a new incorruptible seed and you become a “new creature”
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (I Peter 1:23)
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
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NOTES From Wikipedia: “Miller, together with some 100,000 others were expelled from their churches for their beliefs. These believers in the soon advent of Christ came from all denominations and included at least 200 ministers from prominent Protestant churches.
Drawing from the parable of the ten virgins, Miller’s message became known as the “midnight cry,” the return of the bridegroom. There was a return to primitive godliness, as the various groups of believers awaited the return of the Lord.
As we know, Jesus did not return to this earth in 1844. Those that eagerly awaited His return were devastated, and the day became known as the Great Disappointment. Many were disillusioned and left the movement. Those that remained were ridiculed and became objects of scorn.” Retrieved from http://amazingdiscoveries.org/S-deception-Great-Disappointment_Advent_Miller. S. Douglas Woodward, Blood Moon: Biblical Signs of the Coming Apocalypse, Oklahoma City, Faith Happens Books, (2015), p. 78  From Verse-by-Verse ministry: “Let me begin by giving some background on the Jewish practice of blowing trumpets during their festivals. The type of trumpet used in Rosh Hashanah is a ram’s horn (a shofar) that is blown during the feast, but the horn can also be called a trumpet. In fact, Jews commonly called the event the Feast of the Trumpets for that reason.
During the feast, the trumpet is blown a total of 100 times, with the final horn blast lasting much longer than the first 99 blasts. This final blast pictures the trumpet sound which will announce the Rapture of the Church, which Paul mentions in 1Cor 15. By the way, the trumpet blast associated with the Rapture is not to be confused with the trumpet judgments of Tribulation. Rather, it is associated with the final horn of the Feast of Trumpets.”
The entire article is worth reading. It may be found at http://www.versebyverseministry.org/bible-answers/is_the_last_trumpet_blown_for_the_rapture#sthash.zVDXRE1J.dpbs. In researching this paper, I ran across a wonderful two-page recap of how Christians are to conduct themselves with the brethren. I challenge you to read and reread this list frequently. It should become “second nature” to us. You may find the paper at robb_oneanother.pdf.