Where are the Raptured during the Judgments?
This question became my study while reading about the “holy city” New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21.2). New Jerusalem is a city and, metaphorically, the bride of Jesus? Then, is the “bride” at the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20.11-15? When are we ‘judged’ (Romans 14.10)? And, when do we, as the “bride”, receive our “rewards” (2 Corinthians 5.10, 2 Timothy 2.5)? These questions drew me back to start the sequence of events after the Rapture of believers
A. The Rapture
- The church/bride of Jesus is Raptured at the end of the ‘church age’, which Jesus discusses in Revelation 2-3.
- Chapter four begins with the ‘calling away’, as some term the Rapture, for John hears “‘Come up here’”, verse one, and “immediately” (verse two) sees the Throne of God. We may not, but John did so he could write about it for us (Revelation 1.1).
- The same words, “Come up here”, are said to resurrect and return the two witnesses in Revelation 11.12. [BTW, who are they? Moses is connoted in verse 6 by having the “power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues”. He had done these earlier, in Exodus 7.20-12.30. Elijah is the other, connoted by the “power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy.” He had done this earlier, in 1 Kings 17.1. Could the ‘witness’ event have been part of Jesus’ discussion with them in His Transfiguration? See Matthew 17.1-8.]
- So, in the “twinkling of an eye”, (1 Corinthians 15.52), the Paradise of Hades is vacated and Jesus’ followers who are alive on Earth join Him “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4.15-18).
B. The 144,000
- With former and current Christians Raptured, only persons in the Pit of Hades and non-Christians and Jews remain on Earth.
- Revelation 7.1-8 (1) identifies 144,000 Jews, from all tribes but Dan (why missing?), as being “sealed” as “servants of our God”.
- What is their servitude? Remember that God chose the Jews as His “treasure” among the world’s peoples and ordained them as a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19.5-6). Remember, too, how God had treated them differently in Egypt before and during the plagues; see Genesis 47.1-6 and Exodus 9.26, 23, & 12.35-36. Perhaps, then, the 144,000 are God’s priests to the Jews remaining on Earth to tell them about Jesus as Messiah. Will they be saved? Paul makes the affirming case in Romans 9-11 but, seemingly, the dissenting case in Hebrews 10.1-18 and Galatians 3.21-25.
- But, the Gentiles remaining will not be saved.
C. The Great White Throne Judgment
- Those Raptured will not be there. I acknowledge that this view differs from that of Dr. Wayne Grudem and other theologians who believe this is where Christ followers will get our rewards. I disagree according to the following rationale.
- The Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20.11-15 is for those who have not accepted God’s salvation described in John 3.16-18 & 6.
- The opening of the “books” in Revelation 20.12 reveals this. First, the record of their lives is revealed deed by deed. Then, the Book of Life is opened to to show that their names are not written therein. Thus condemned, they are cast into the “lake of fire” (verse 15).
- We have already walked through this procedure (John 3.16) when we confessed our sin of unbelief (Hebrews 11.6) and resulting sins (Romans 3.23 & 23) and acknowledged Jesus as the only Savior, as in John 14.6 (see John 6.47 & Acts 16.31, too)! We will not need to hear the reading of our misdeeds again, because they have been removed from us (Psalm 103.12, Isaiah 38.17 & 43.25, Micah 7.19)!
- Regarding Jesus separating “sheep from goats” in Matthew 25.31-46, understand that this passage continues a discourse about End Times that began in Chapter 24 with the disciples’ question. Here, Jesus emphasizes the mercy that the Jewish leaders did not practice (Matthew 23.23), perhaps giving them fair warning that the “books” will be opened and that He will itemize their charges (Acts 17.31).
D. Here comes the Bride
- After the Great White Throne Judgment, the Bride makes her entrance; see Revelation 21.2. Notice that the New Jerusalem is described as “the holy city” and as a “bride adorned for her husband”.
- Revelation 19.7-8 describes her as clothed in “‘fine linen, bright and pure’—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints”. Revelation 21.9-11 reveals that she has “radiance like a most rare jewel”, perhaps, described in verses 19-21.
- Then, Revelation 22.12 records Jesus saying, “‘I am coming quickly, and My reward is with me, to give to every one according to his work.” (My underline.) This is the time Christians receive their rewards, not at the Great White Throne Judgment.
E. Where has the Bride been?
- After joining Jesus in the air, we have been excluded from the wrath of the broken seals and bowl and trumpet judgments of Revelation 6-18 and have admired our Hero in the victories of Revelation 19.11-20.3.
- We have witnessed the 1000-Year reign of Jesus with “the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness” (Revelation 20.4-5), perhaps those of Revelation 6.9-10. (My underline.)
- Finally, we have applauded as “fire came down…and devoured [the deceived nations]” that had “surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city” (Old Jerusalem; Revelation 20.7-10).
- We have been safe since the Rapture because of John 3.16!
Praise God!!! 170618 Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2017. www.sozoclass.com