As the world drifts relentlessly towards the major war in the Middle East prophesied of in Psalm 83, Christians should be lifting their eyes upward towards heaven with ever-greater expectation of the day of their home going. Before the Anti-Christ appears on the world scene to establish a temporary peace from out of this war, the Church will be safe in the fragrant pastures of God and gathering on the banks of the River of Life.
Verses 1-2 of Chapter 6 of the Bible Book of Revelation reveals Gods appointed moment in time when the final 7 years of Gods judgment upon the earth begins. We are shown that this is the precise moment in time when Jesus Christ unveils the identity of the Anti-Christ. Details as to what takes place once the Anti-Christ is revealed as a royal conqueror are shared elsewhere in Scripture.
Verses 20-27 of Chapter 9 of the Old Testament Book of Daniel prophesies by the angel Gabriel that 70 increments of 7 years must be completed with the people of Israel before God seals up vision and prophecy and anoints the Most Holy.
Sixty-nine of the 7 year periods were to be completed before the Messiah was to be executed. This time designation of 483 years total has been precisely fulfilled as was prophesied prior to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The remaining 7 years yet to be fulfilled are to take place at the conclusion of the age immediately before the return of Jesus Christ.
The pivotal prophetic sign given by God through Gabriel, which is to mark the start of the final 7 years, is to be the establishment of a 7-year covenant in Israel by a princely ruler. He is prophesied to come forth from the people who would be responsible for destroying Jerusalem and the Temple of God. This prophecy was fulfilled to the letter by the Roman Empire in 70 A.D. Unbelievably there are recognized Bible prophecy teachers who claim, in spite of the explicit prophecy of Dan. 9:26-27, that there are no observable signs that identify the starting point of the final 7 years!
Since Gods word prophesies that a specific event will take place at the precise starting point of the final 7 years, we need to examine the argument against this event being a relevant sign which can be relied upon to recognize that the final 7-year countdown has commenced. It is beyond us to postulate some other reason as to Gods intention for sharing this information.
If not the obvious intention of identifying the Anti-Christ at the very start of Daniels final 7 years, then what conceivably could God be attempting to make known to mankind with this detailed revelation?
What other possible purpose could the Lord have for conveying this detailed information regarding the confirming of the final week of 7 years by a covenant with Israel?
Are we to believe God shared this vital prophetic revelation with the intention to conceal its fulfillment when it comes to pass?
What then is the purpose of such an intricate prophecy from God if He wills for it to be unrecognizable when it is fulfilled?
We have yet to hear an acceptable explanation as to why the confirming of the final week of years covenant by the Anti-Christ will be kept a secretly fulfilled prophecy by God, so we cannot offer a cross-examination.
We rather accept that just as a precise sign of a decree was given, fulfilled and recognized for the initiating of the original 69 sets of 7 years for Israel in Daniel 9:25-26, so too will the precise sign revealing the start of the final 7 years be recognized with the unveiling of the Anti-Christ by his strengthening of a 7 year covenant with Israel.
It would be inconsistent for a believer to think otherwise. This sign is essential for the recognition by Israel that the very close of the age is upon them and for the Church to recognize the farthest point in time possible for her to remain on the earth before her Rapture up to Heaven.
Returning to our opening Scriptures of Revelation 6:1-2, which corresponds with the initial revealing of the Anti-Christ at the start of the final week of years cited in Daniel 9:27 we read, Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, Come and see. And I looked, and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on it had a bow; And a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
This man wearing a crown is sent out by Jesus Christ at the outset of ever increasing judgments. He has a bow, but no arrows which reveals to us that he is a warrior who initially makes his conquest beyond the need of weapons. We read of him in Daniel 11:21, he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue.
Before this man is revealed to the world in Chapter 6 of the Book of Revelation the Church will be removed to Heaven by Christ at the event known to many as the Rapture, which is prophesied of in such passages as I Thessalonians 4:15-18. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words."
It should serve as great encouragement to believers that 8 examples can be cited by the Scriptures leading up to Revelation 6:2 which effectively demonstrate that the Church will be home in Heaven before the Lord unveils the Anti-Christ.
Our first example is that the Church is mentioned in the Book of Revelation 19 times before the Anti-Christ is sent forth by Jesus in Chapter 6. The Church is never mentioned again in Revelation throughout the entire period of the ensuing 7 years of judgments upon the earth.
It is noteworthy that the last mention of the Church before the time of tribulation begins is in the final verse of Revelation Chapter 3, and that the first verse of Revelation Chapter 4 gives a powerful demonstration of the Rapture of the Church with the Apostle John being caught up to Heaven. We quote, After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.
This brings us to our second point. Notice in the verse just quoted that not just once, but twice reference is made to after these things and after this.
The question begging to be answered is, After what things? To obtain the exciting answer one only needs to read the preceding chapters leading up to verse 1 of Chapter 4. There, as we have been sharing, we find the portion of the Book of Revelation which deals exclusively with the Church of Jesus Christ. Revelation 4:1 clearly reveals that after the dealings of God with the Church on earth something new is to take place. Further dialogue concerning the Churchs earthly dealings had come to an abrupt and final end at the last verse of Rev. Chapter 3.
The follow up question must then be asked, How come?
Our third evidence that the Rapture has taken place by Chapter 6 of Revelation deals with this question and is found in verses 4 & 10 of Rev. Chapter 4. Here we are shown 24 elders wearing crowns. Angels are never shown in the Scriptures wearing crowns so these individuals could only be believers residing in heaven.
Solid evidence to support that these are glorified members of the Raptured Church and not just spirits of the dead is also made known to us by the fact that they have been given these crowns. By the Word of God found in II Tim. 4:8 & I Pet. 5:4 we know without question that the reward of crowns are not given until the day of the Lords appearing. The day that the Lord Jesus Christ appears to His resurrected and glorified living saints is on the blessed day of the Rapture (see I Thess. 4:15-17). Therefore the individuals seen in Heaven with crowns could only have received their crowns after the Church had been Raptured.
Our fourth piece of scriptural evidence proving that the Church is in Heaven by Rev. Ch. 6 is found in Rev. 5:9. Here we are shown a vast company of people from out of every tribe, tongue and nation praising the Savior for redeeming them with His blood. This takes place before the first seal of the Tribulation Period is opened in Rev. Ch. 6. It can only be the Raptured Church voicing this gratitude at that time. Angels are not redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
In addition, in verse 10 we are told that they are appointed as kings and priests who will reign upon the earth. We are shown in I Pet. 2:9 that this royal priesthood of God is none other than the Church of Jesus Christ.
Our fifth scriptural evidence of the Church being home by Ch. 6 is found in Rev. 5:13 where we are privileged to view when all of the creatures of the earth, sea and heaven rejoice with glorious praise for some unprecedented event which has taken place.
According to Rom. 8:18-23, creation will not rejoice in such a manner until the revealing of the sons of God. Rom. 8:23 makes clear that the revealing of the sons of God does not take place until the time of the redemption of the bodies of the saints at the Rapture. Creation rejoices because with this glorification of the saints it has collectively witnessed the promised evidence that its own redemption will soon follow, as was prophesied in Romans 8.
Our 6th point of credible evidence, which supports that the Church is home by the time the Anti-Christ is sent forth in Revelation 6, is derived from the fact that the phrase he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches is repeated 7 times in Chapters 2 & 3 of the Book of Revelation. This admonition from the Holy Spirit of God takes place immediately before Revelation 4:1 addresses the "things which must take place after this ."
The only time AFTER THIS that we find a special admonition for listeners to diligently hearken to what has been said is found in Revelation 13:9 during the Tribulation Period. What is of such great significance concerning this fact, is that even though it is at this time when the Anti-Christ is given authority to overcome those who have become believers during the Tribulation Period, the Church is NOT addressed in this special call to pay attention to what is being said. The Tribulation period Scripture only reads, If anyone has an ear, let him hear. Thats it!
If at anytime in history the Church needed a comforting message from the Spirit of God it would be at this time (that is if she were still on the earth, but she is not). Therefore no call is made to her from the Spirit. To dismiss the powerful implication of God not comforting His Church at this time would reveal an unwarranted bias against expositional revelation
This brings us to our 7th point, which is a companion word of comfort given to the Church. We speak now of the corporate identity of believers represented by the Philadelphian Church in Rev. 3:7-13.
The particular assemblage of Church members being addressed in this crucial dispensational passage are without question faithful believers at the close of the age. This we know with certainty by Rev. 3:10 which reads, "because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
There is no other time period of global testing prophesied of in the Scriptures for this present Church Age then during the Tribulation Period. From its very start, when the Anti-Christ is unleashed, we are told in II Thess. 2:11, God will send upon the earth strong delusion. Gods promise to the faithful Philadelphian believers is that He will keep them from this hour of trial which is to come upon the whole world.
In the Greek language the precise meaning of keeping them from this test, is to keep them out of and away from this trial. The faithful Church is not just sheltered from this global trial according to the literal translation, but are in actuality removed from the scene. Heaven is the perfect, and in fact the only place adequate to accomplish this blessed isolation, and the Rapture is the only way to go.
Our 8th and final point for this message (regarding the Church being home by Rev. 6) concerns the strong delusion God is to send upon the whole world at the beginning of the Tribulation Period when Christ sends forth the man of sin known as Anti-Christ. The Church MUST be gone by this point in time because II Thess. 2:11-12 tells us that at that time, God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
A dramatic turning point in Gods manner of reaching out to unbelievers has been reached at this juncture. Those who have rejected the truth of salvation in Christ alone in the past are suddenly given a persuasive lie from GOD as an alternative! This shows once again that the Church has completed her God-given mandate to reach mankind with the Gospel of Truth (Mark 16:15-16).
At that time God will offer a lie in place of the truth to a Christ rejecting world. If the Church were still on the earth at that time attempting to accomplish its mission of truth, then it would find itself working at odds against Gods presentation of the strong delusion. Truth will still be available during the Tribulation, but it will be a rare and elusive commodity. The Spirit filled Church will no longer be the vessel God will use to deliver His once abundant Words of Life. Israel will be given this burdensome task during this unparalleled time of adversity. If the Spirit filled Church were still here on the earth, it would find itself in the most unusual situation of attempting to fulfill its God ordained mandate in the face of a delusion sent by God.
This would be in conflict with the words of Jesus Christ found in Mark 3:24-25, If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. The Church, unlike Israel, is at one with Christ in body and Spirit.
Gods alternate message for the seekers of delusion is to be sent forth in the embodiment of the Anti-Christ. The truth-rejecting world will turn to him as their king and inspiration for their devilish desires.
The Holy Spirit indwelt Church will no longer be found upon the earth to hinder his appearing in all the fullness of his darkness. God will grant him a vast and open field for his gathering of defiant lost souls (see II Thess. 2:7-12).
The days of the Anti-Christ are very near and unshakable prophets of Israel will soon once again thunder with the Might of God in the face of a world given over to evil. But first the Church must be home by 6, and then the night will fall.
With this final thought we are reminded throughout the Bible that God has a plan to bring to a conclusion the reign of Satan and man over the earth after 6 thousand years. That time, by all estimates and calculations is at hand.
Do not miss the chance of eternity to be forgiven of all of your sins. This very moment anyone can be counted among the blessed assembly of believers that make up the Church of Jesus Christ. The blood of the Lord of Glory ran scarlet, but its power to cleanse one of sin leaves the forgiven before God, whiter than the purest snow.
This moment you can stand before God as a perfect vessel of His holiness by believing in His only begotten Son Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
If you are still here after the Rapture because of procrastination, doubt or rebellion, then without delay cry out to Jesus Christ and be saved. The road awaiting will be hard, but keep the faith, for it will surely lead you into your Fathers arms. You dont want to come home after 6, but still in the final hope, it is better to be late for supper than to never be fed at all, Then he said to me, Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God (Rev. 19:9).
Those who reject this Holy invitation are in the gravest
danger of being drawn away by their own lusts to accept the desirable
lie. The eternal Creator of all things promises in Isa. 66:3-4,
just as they have chosen their own ways, and their
soul delights in their abominations, so will I choose their
delusions, and bring their fears on them; because, when I called,
no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear, but they did
evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight.