The Pre-Trib Rapture
In Acts 15:13-18
A number of people have wondered about using Acts 15:13-18
to support my position that the rapture of the church has to precede the
beginning of Daniel's 70th Week.
Most of their comments have
contained a request for a clearer understanding of why I do this, so here it is.
It was almost 20 years after the cross when the Council of
Jerusalem took place. James, Peter,
Paul, Barnabas, some believers from the Pharisees, and others had gathered to
settle the issue of whether Gentiles had to convert to Judaism before they could
become Christians. But another
question, unspoken, was also on their minds and as Jews it was even more
important to them. “If not, what's
to become of Israel?”
The Pharisees argued that the path to Christianity for Jews
and Gentiles alike was through Judaism.
To them this meant keeping the Law, being circumcised and following the
traditions in addition to
recognizing Jesus as the Messiah.
Then Peter, Barnabas, and Paul presented a different opinion, based on seeing
firsthand the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles. They said because of
that, Gentiles should be allowed to come directly into the Church.
Now let's turn to Acts 15:13 for the outcome of the meeting.
When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to
me. Simon (Peter) has
described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles
a people for himself. (Acts 15:13-14)
The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as
it is written:
'After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it,
that the remnant of men may seek the
Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these
things’ that have been known for ages. (Acts
What Does That Mean?
In simple language James, the brother of Jesus and Head of
the Church in Jerusalem, said Israel was being set aside while the Lord took a
people from among the Gentiles for Himself (or for His name's sake.) Remember,
69 weeks of Daniel's 70 Week prophecy had transpired. It was becoming obvious
that with the Lord's crucifixion the clock had stopped short of the promised 70
weeks. Although Jerusalem and the Temple had not yet been destroyed the Lord's
prophecy that they soon would be was a matter of public record.
Already there were signs that all was not well where the
Temple was concerned. The Jewish
Talmud records four ominous
indications that trouble was coming.
(Talmud Mas. Yoma 39b)
1. In the
Yom Kippur service two goats were brought to the High Priest, one was to be “for
the Lord” (the peace offering) and the other was “for Azazel”, also known as the
scape goat. They were chosen by lot
and the lot for the Lord's goat had always come up in the High priest's right
hand. After the cross it never did
scarlet cord tied the scape goat to the door of the temple during the service.
After the High priest symbolically placed the sins of
Israel on the head of the scape goat, he cut the cord
leaving some on the goat's horn and the rest on the
door. Then it was led to its death
in the wilderness. Previously,
the portion on the Temple door had always turned white when the
scape goat died. This was seen as a
fulfillment of Isaiah 1:18, “Though your sins are like scarlet they
shall be white as snow” indicating Israel's sins had been forgiven.
After the cross the cord never turned white again.
westernmost light on the seven branched Menorah would no longer stay lit. The
number seven signifies divine completion, while man's number is 6.
The seven lights meant that together with God,
was complete and brought light to the world.
But now, with only 6 lights that would burn, it was obvious God had left
4. The main
Temple doors began opening by themselves.
The priests saw this as a warning that Zechariah 11:1 would soon
be fufilled. “Open your doors, O
Lebanon, so that fires may devour your cedars.”
During the conquest of Jerusalem the Romans set fire to the
Temple. It's roof was made of cedar
covered in thin sheets of gold. The
intense heat from the fire melted the gold and it ran down the walls into the
cracks between the stones. After
the fire had burned out, the Roman soldiers dismantled the Temple stone by stone
to get the gold. When they were
finished the Lord's Palm Sunday prophecy had been dramatically fulfilled.
“They will not leave one stone on
another because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you” (Luke
When James referred to Peter speaking of the Lord taking from
the Gentiles a people for Himself in Acts 15:13-14 the Greek words he
used for “taking from” were lambano ek.
Together they mean to take (something) with the hand in order to carry
(it) away from a certain time and place.
In this case the something is the Church (the people for Himself), and
the certain time and place would be carried away from is the restoration of
Israel on Earth for the final seven years of their covenant with God.
We know this because the first two words of Acts 15:15, which
talks about rebuilding the Temple, are “after this”, after the Church is gone.
Whether he knew it or not, James was saying the rapture of the Church
would precede the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week.
Then What Happens?
In Acts 15:15-18 James quoted from Amos 9:11-12
to confirm his understanding that after the Lord has taken the Church
He'll cause the Temple to be rebuilt.
Like we saw above they knew it would soon
be destroyed, but James used a prophecy from Amos that was already 800
years old to show the Temple
will be rebuilt when the Lord has finished with the Church.
After that the gentiles who will have missed the rapture will have one
final chance to be saved as well.
This settled the issue of Israel's future.
From Daniel 9:24-27 we know that rebuilding their
Temple will be a sign that Israel
has returned to its covenant relationship with God and the remaining 70th
week of Daniel's prophecy is under way.
The only reason for a Temple to exist is to allow Israel to conduct Old
Covenant rituals and sacrifices. Daniel 9:27 says the anti-Christ will
put an end to sacrifice and offering in the middle of the 70th week.
This tells us a Temple will have been erected and sacrifices offered again
beginning sometime earlier.
So here's the scope of the passage.
Following the cross, Israel was temporarily set aside while God began His
redemptive work among the Gentiles.
His first work was to build His Church, against which the gates of Hell will not
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery,
brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening
in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)
Romans 11:25 tells us that Israel was to be hardened
in part during this time. Paul was
talking about Israel's
heart which would be hardened against understanding.
Remember in Luke 19:41-45 Jesus said the obvious fact that their
long awaited Messiah had visited them would hence forth be hidden from their
eyes. Paul said this would be the
case all through the time the Lord was focused on the Church.
The fact that some say more Jews have come to Jesus in the past 19 years
than in the previous 1900 years may be an indication that the time of hardening
is coming to an end.
In Paul's day, the Greek word translated full number
(fullness) was often used in a nautical sense.
It referred to the number of crew members necessary for a commercial ship
to set sail. Because of the dangers
involved in being caught short handed during a storm at sea, ships could not
leave port until they had the full number of sailors aboard.
Also the word translated "come in" meant to arrive at a scheduled
destination. (We've all heard the phrase “waiting for my ship to come in”.)
In Romans 11:25
Paul used these metaphors to describe the Church leaving Earth and arriving at
our Heavenly destination before Israel's heart is softened.
When the full number of the Gentiles has been reached we'll
be whisked away to our Father's house (John 14:2-3) while He turns His
attention back to Israel. At that
time, the remaining seven years of Daniel's prophecy will play out. Through the
most devastating judgments ever visited upon Earth the nations among which Israel has been scattered will be completely
will be purified to prepare for the coming Kingdom Age, and the remnant of the
Gentiles will get their final chance at salvation.
But Wait, There's More
If you stop to think about, it these few verses in Acts 15
answer several important theological questions.
They show the New covenant did not replace the Old Covenant, but merely
interrupted it. They prove God
didn't intend for the Church to replace Israel in His plan forever, He just set
Israel aside temporarily so the door of salvation could be opened to the
Gentiles. In Isaiah 49:6 the Father said to the Son;
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to
restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will
also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the
ends of the earth.”
With the added insight from Romans 11:25 we can also
confirm that Israel and the Church are like oil and water in that they don't
mix. For one to be here the other has to be gone.
The two systems are theologically incompatible.
You can't have a system of faith evidenced by obedience to the Law
complete with daily animal sacrifices functioning beside a system of grace
through faith alone with no other requirement than to believe in the one He has
sent (John 6:29).
Therefore the Church is not the next dot on a straight line
from Creation to Eternity. It's a
giant right hand turn that takes believers to a unique and exclusive destiny
that no other believers will share, and allows the Lord to fulfill His
promises to Israel at the
We tend to think the only reason for the rapture is to get
the Church out of the way of the End Times judgments. But this shows us there's
another reason why the Church can't be on Earth during any of Daniel's 70th
Week. We have to leave so Israel can come back to God.
From the looks of it, our departure is coming soon.
You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 10-08-11