I don’t believe there will be a rapture. I don’t expect to be rescued out of the persecution promised in the book of Revelation. I also don’t claim to be right. I’ve studied enough to be able to argue the case either way.
That said, I find myself making ready for the rapture. There is much to say here, but unfortunately, there might not be enough time left to get it all down. It’s September 24, 2014, and we may only have a couple of days left. Rosh Hashanah is tomorrow. Or maybe Friday. More on that below.
What would you do if you thought you only had a few days left here on earth? Would you hug your kids, and make sure that everyone you loved knew how much you loved them? Maybe you would go on an eating binge at the All-Day Buffet because staying skinny suddenly doesn’t matter anymore. I made a list of things I need to get done. This blog post is one of them.
This past weekend, I found myself home alone, the family and all responsibilities but the dog removed. There are many ways to spend a weekend such as this but I felt called to Bible study, and study I did, all day Saturday and through most of the night, with a couple of hours sleep, and then all day Sunday, taking time off to go to church. I don’t have time this week to go into detail of all that I learned, only to give you the synopsis of it here.
I think the rapture, the day Christ comes back for his church, is coming soon. Possibly this week.
About the rapture, Christians basically fall into two camps: Those who set dates and those who attempt to condemn date-setters by citing Matthew 24:36, “But about that day or hour no one knows…”
In the following paragraphs, I’m going to show why I believe that the Bible points to the rapture on the Jewish Festival of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah. That gives me two areas to cover quickly: 1. How do we know it will come on Rosh Hashanah? 2. Jesus said no one will know the day or hour and that means me. (Teaser: That is true. Jesus doesn’t lie.)
How do we know it will come on Rosh Hashanah or the Festival of Trumpets?
Back in the Old Testament of the Bible, in Leviticus 23, God laid out 7 festival days for the Jews. There are 4 spring festivals: Passover, the Festival of Unleavened Bread, Offering the First Fruits and the Festival of Weeks. There is a long break over the summer followed by 3 fall festivals: Rosh Hashanah or the Festival of Trumpets, Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, and Sukkoth or the Festival of Tabernacles.
Christians don’t celebrate these festivals, however, we do celebrate Christ’s fulfillment of them. When God told the Jews to celebrate His festivals at the appointed times, He was showing them a pattern of future events so that they could be ready. When the festivals are viewed as prophecies, we see that all the spring festival prophecies were fulfilled with the first coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. If the first coming of Jesus fulfilled the spring festivals, then it follows that His second coming will occur on the fall festivals.
Passover (Leviticus 23: 5)
This Jewish feast involves the sacrifice of a lamb. In the Old Testament, Jews slaughtered a perfect, unblemished lamb and used the blood to mark the doors of their houses, first the top of the door and then each side, incidentally making the sign of the cross. Jesus was crucified on Passover, just as the Jews were sacrificing their lambs for Passover. Jesus is our sacrificial lamb whose blood covered our sins. Passover was the rehearsal; Jesus’ crucifixion is the fulfillment.
Festival of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23: 6)
For seven days following Passover, Jews are required to eat unleavened bread, which is bread made without yeast. In the Bible, yeast indicates sin. Because Jesus lived a life without sin, He is our unleavened bread.
The first day of Unleavened Bread is a Sabbath day in which no regular work is to be done. That is why it was urgent that Jesus’ body be removed from the cross and laid in the tomb the evening before and why the tomb remained undisturbed the following day. The Festival of Unleavened Bread points to Jesus’ burial.
Offering of First Fruits (Leviticus 23: 10)
The day after Unleavened Bread is the Offering of First Fruits. Jews are to bring an offering of their harvest before they can use any of it for themselves, the first fruits. It needs to be perfect and unblemished; God doesn’t want seconds and leftovers. Christians know that Jesus was crucified, buried and on the third day he was resurrected. Are you ready for this? That Easter Sunday morning that His disciples found the empty tomb was on the day of First Fruits! Jesus was the First Fruits offering, the unblemished lamb.
Festival of Weeks or Pentecost (Leviticus 23: 15-16)
God told the Jews to count off 50 days from the Festival of Unleavened Bread to arrive at the Festival of Weeks. During this festival, Jews read from the book of Exodus, chapters 19-24 in which Moses brings down the law from Mount Sinai. For Christians, we read in Acts, chapter 2 in which the apostles were all together for Pentecost when they were filled with the Holy Spirit. As Peter gave that first sermon, washed in the Holy Spirit, about 3,000 repented, were baptized and received the gift of the Holy Spirit. The law was given only to Jews, but the gift of the Holy Spirit is for all.
After the four spring festivals, there is a long wait over the summer while everyone tends to their crops, getting them ready to harvest. This could be equated to the long church age that we are in now. We are promised that Christ is coming and coming soon, so be ready! We’ve been waiting for 2,000 years, waiting so long that our readiness is slipping and Christians are falling away. Come soon, Lord Jesus!
Since Christ fulfilled the spring festival days on the exact day that they are celebrated, not the day before or the day after, we can expect that the fall festivals will be fulfilled in the same way.
Rosh Hashanah or Festival of Trumpets (Leviticus 23: 24)
When Jesus said that “about that day or hour no one knows”, He was pointing to the Festival of Trumpets. The Jews in the days of Jesus knew that this is the only festival which is celebrated based on the sighting of the new moon. Two independent priests kept a watch out in the evening sky to sight the new moon. Once both of them confirmed the sighting, the trumpets were blown and the New Year began.
Today, with NASA’s help, we know much more about when the moon will be visible. The sighting is a moving target because the new moon must be 24 hours old before it can be seen with the naked eye. It may not be seen on the first night of the festival, or the sighting could be obscured by cloud cover. The Festival of Trumpets carries over for two days, to allow time for the new moon to be seen. A new moon is sly. Hence, “about that day or hour no one knows.”
The Bible tells us that Jesus will come with the sound of a trumpet.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17, NIV)
The final trumpet blast may be the 100th blast of the shofar which is blown on the Festival of Trumpets, not to be confused with the sounding of the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11: 15 which announces the arrival of our Lord and Messiah and the beginning of His reign. In this verse from 1 Thessalonians, note that it is only the dead in Christ who rise.
Here’s another one:
Listen, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15;51-52)
Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23: 27)
Seven days after the Festival of Trumpets comes the Day of Atonement. For Jews, this is a most holy day set aside to atone for sins, a last chance to change the judgment, demonstrate repentance and make amends.
In End Times Prophecy, we know that a week equates to 7 years. There isn’t time to go into it all here, but if you want to know more, search the internet for Daniel’s 70th week.
If we are having a pre-tribulation rapture, this 7 year period is the tribulation spoken of in Revelation, also called the time of Jacob’s trouble. I’m not fully convinced that we are having a pre-tribulation rapture, but either way, it is clear that after the 6th seal is broken in Revelation 6:12, the church is gone or at least insignificant, and the focus is on the Jewish people.
Sukkoth or Festival of Tabernacles This signifies God coming down to live with His people. It is the time that Christ will return for his millennial reign.
That covers the Jewish festivals, but you might ask, didn’t the Bible say not to set dates?
Jesus told us, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24: 42) He also said:
You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’… I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. (John, 14: 28a, 29)
We are to always be ready and watching for Him, but if we know ahead of time, we can make final preparations, one more visit with an unbelieving friend, one more blog post, a final push to the end. And if the rapture comes, how many more of those who remain will recall our faith and believe?
I believe that Jesus wants us to know and not be surprised but why should we think it might be on Rosh Hashanah when He also told us that “about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heave, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36)
You’ll need to have your Bible out for this one if you don’t have it out already. When we look at the verses where Jesus told us that He would surprise us, that He would “come like a thief in the night,” we find that we need to read them in context with the surrounding verses. When we do, we will see that those who are watching and ready will not be surprised. Let’s not forget that Noah was forewarned and not surprised. Neither was Lot and his family. They were all rescued out of God’s wrath. Maybe we can expect the same. Those who will be surprised are seen in the story of the wise and the wicked servants, and the church of Sardis, also known as the dead church.
Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time, and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. (Matthew 24:45-50. Emphasis added)
In this story, we are told to be ready, but not that we will be surprised by our master’s return. It is the wicked servant that gets the surprise. Here’s another from Revelation in the letter to the church of Sardis:
Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God…But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Revelation 3:2-3)
Here also we see that the warning that He will come like a thief in the night goes out to those who are not awake and watching.
The final and most important point
Be ready. It shouldn’t matter to us if we think the rapture is coming this Thursday or Friday or not until the very end, whenever that may be. How do we do that? By getting ourselves right with God, confessing our sins and then repenting of them. If you can’t think of any sins to confess, then get down on your knees and pray for God to help you. “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22b-23.)
Whatever you do, don’t put off making a decision for Christ another day! To do so is to gamble with your eternal life, and eternity is a very long time. The creator of the universe, the earth, sun, moon and stars, is waiting for you to ask Him. Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” but you have to answer. The gift is sitting on the table but it is up to each person to make a decision to pick it up and open it.
I’m excited to go and I truly do hope it’s this week, but if not, it will be one of these years and until then, I’ll happily continue doing the work that God has for me.
Here are some helpful links
Torahcalendar.com is a useful tool for looking at the past and future festival dates. It goes all the way back to the date of creation, April 12, 3986 B.C.E.
Ready to make a decision for Christ? Click here for a youtube video called Jesus Save Me!! Sinners Prayer Give your LIfe to Christ Today!