THE BEGINNING AND THE END
Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Isaiah 46:9, Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure.'
1). God has declared the end from the beginning. We have learned that all of Scripture is patterned after the foundation in the beginning of Genesis [1:1-2:3], which centers on “redemption” and is patterned after creation, ruin, restoration, rest. The restoration of man was patterned after the restoration of the earth. God is presently working six days, 6,000 years, to bring about the restoration of both man and the earth. Then, at the conclusion of His work, on the 7th Day [the 7th one thousand year period], man will be in a position to realize the purpose for his creation in the beginning.
a). Man was created for a purpose and man was saved for a purpose. And that purpose always remains the same throughout Scripture--- Let them have dominion...over all the earth [Genesis 1:26]. The goal is ruling and reigning in the Millennial Kingdom as the bride of Christ during the coming age, the 1,000 year reign of Christ, the Messianic Era, the 7th Day.
2). Within God’s divine plan of redemption, He formed three creative groups: Jews, Gentiles and Christians, within three dispensations known as Man’s Day. A dispensation is an administration (or house management) within a period of time during which God is allowing man to be tested in order to determine his ability to rule the earth.
a). The first dispensation begins after the fall of Adam. A division could be looked upon through viewing man as either saved or unsaved, for the first 2,000 years of human history. There was simply man in his fallen state (saved or unsaved) belonging to one creation, the only one that existed (which later became known as the Gentiles). This dispensation ended in God’s judgment, first with the Flood and then with the destruction of the tower of Babel. But then, a new beginning is seen in the experiences of Noah immediately following the flood (Genesis 9:1-13), and this new beginning is dealt with more fully in the subsequent experiences of Abraham. (Genesis 11:26-25:8.
3). The second dispensation began with a different approach regarding God’s dealings with man for his redemption. God chose one individual, Abraham, to be the one in whom “a special people” (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 26:18; Psalm 135:4) would form and would be favored with blessings. In turn, they were to be a blessing to all mankind. First, they would be the channel through which our Lord Jesus Christ would come (2 Samuel 7:12, 13). Second, they would be given the Word of God (Romans 3:1, 2). Third, they were to be God’s witnesses to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 43:9.
a). Since the call of Abraham 4,000 years ago, God made a special covenant relationship with him which was brought about through Abraham’s seed, specifically through Isaac, Jacob and Jacob’s twelve sons, forming the nation of Israel. God’s promise to Abraham and his seed was the land of Canaan “which they would receive as an inheritance.” Israel became God’s firstborn son, and through the nation of Israel, all of the nations of the earth would be blessed.
b). However, because of Israel’s disobedience and unbelief, they failed in being God’s witness to the Gentiles. Israel, for a time and to an extent, realized the earthly portion of this kingdom during Old Testament days. But because of the nation’s continued disobedience, the theocracy was eventually brought to an end.
c). At Christ’s first coming, He offered the heavenly sphere of the
kingdom — the kingdom of the heavens (Matthew 4:17; 5:12;
10:7; 13:24, 31, 52) — to the nation of Israel. This offer was
contingent on Israel’s national repentance (a requirement due
to the nation’s disobedience through centuries of time, until that
time, described in Isaiah 1:4, 5 as “the whole head
is sick”). However, the Jewish people, in keeping with their
past disobedience, rejected the offer of the Kingdom and their
Messiah, resulting in the crucifixion of the Lord (Zechariah
12:10; Matthew 16:21; 20:17-19; 23:34-39; 26:3-5, 14; Luke
4:28-30; John 19:10-16; Acts 2:22-24, 36; 3:12-15; 1 Thessalonians
2:14, 15; Revelation 1:7)
4). The third dispensation opened with the creation of the “one
new man in Christ,” neither Jew nor Gentile, but the two forming
the Church. This third and last special creative act of God within
the human race is the Church of God (Christians). And this
creation, rather than occurring in the physical realm,
occurred in the spiritual realm. The former two creations
(Jew and Gentile) could be passed through one’s progeny, but not so
with the third creation (Christian).
b). And God is presently offering to this ;new creation “in
Christ” that which was taken from Israel—the heavenly land, not
the earthly land. Israel’s covenant of the earthly land will never
change. They will possess and rule from their promised
earthly land, Jerusalem --- forever.
The remnant of Israel will one day inherit their
earthly promise and those within the Church, who prove to be
faithful, will inherit the heavenly promise.
e). The first two dispensations ended in judgment. At present, we are living in the third dispensation, and God says that it will end in judgment as well. The close of this dispensation will be seen with the removal of the Church to the judgment seat of Christ in heaven. And judgment for Israel and the Gentiles will be composed of seven years of Tribulation on earth, such as never before been seen. Therefore, Scripture reveals that we are most assuredly living in the last days. A period of 2,000 years since Pentecost, and three dispensations totaling 6,000 years is coming to a close.
5). The fourth dispensationn will be the Messianic Era, which will last for a period of one thousand years [1,000 years] and involves God dealing with all three groups: Jews, Gentiles and the Church as a whole. God will give the kingdom to His Son, and He will begin His rule and reign along with His elect over the earth. His elect will consist of His chosen three firstborn sons. God has called both Jesus and Israel His firstborn, One begotten and one adopted. And through Christ, the Church (more specifically, the overcomers, the bride) is considered God’s firstborn through adoption, but not made manifest until the judgment seat of Christ.
a). These three firstborn sons of God will rule during the future Messianic Era (Millennial Kingdom; 1,000 years) and throughout the Eternal Ages. Israel will rule as “head of the nations” on the earthh (2 Samuel 7; Isaiah 43:5, 6; Jeremiah 31:1-14; Ezekiel 37:12-14; Chapter 40; Revelation 5:10).
b). Faithful Christians will rule from the heavens over the earth, as Christ’s bride ((Matthew 25:1-30; Luke 19:11-27; Ephesians 1:10, 11; Philippians 3:14, 20; Colossians 1:5; 3:1, 2; Hebrews 11:16; 12:22-23; 1 Peter 1:4-9; Revelation 1:6, 2:7, 26-28, 3:12, 21, 19:7-9).
c). And Christ will rule and reign from both spheres of the kingdom: He will sit in the heavenly throne with His bride—those selected from the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33; Revelation 3:21, 22-4:5; 19:6-9) and He will rule and reign from David’s earthly throne in Jerusalem with God’s wife, Israel (2 Samuel 7; Jeremiah 3:14; Isaiah 9:6.
6). The Book of Revelation, which is the revealing and appearing of Jesus Christ, encompasses end time events surrounding the rapture and resurrection of the Church and then events surrounding Israel and the Gentile nations -- in that particular order. The Church is removed to heaven first before the Tribulation, in order that God may resume His dealings with Israel on earth.
a). At the end of the present dispensation, the Holy Spirit will have completed His search for the Bride of Christ. Therefore, Christ will be dealing with the Church first at His judgment seat in order to reveal His Bride from among the Church, those faithful believers who will receive the salvation of their souls, those who will in fact be “kings and priests to His God and Father” in the age to come. This is how the Book of Revelation begins.
Revelation 1:9, I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
b). John stated that he was on a remote island called Patmos for the purpose of revealing the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. God had chosen to isolate John to a remote place, something that He had done with other prophets and apostles before, for the purpose of attaining his undivided attention from the outside world. We can place our hope in that which John experiences and describes next.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day… (Revelation 1:10)
c). This verse could be translated to read, “I became in spirit on the Lord’s Day.” John was not only removed (raptured) from the island of Patmos to heaven but he was also moved forward in time, some 2000 years in his future. John was transported to the Lord’s Day in heaven. This was not a vision or a dream — John was physically present as the events were taking place.
d). The word “Lord’s” is the Greek definition meaning “belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ;” and “Day” means “period, judgment, time.” In comparing this with that seen in the writings of the prophets in the Old Testament referring to “The Day of the Lord,” (same meaning as “the Lord’s Day”) this is connected with Christ’s judgment and cleansing upon man, and this Day or time will not end until Christ’s judgment has ended (a period of 1000 years) and then He will deliver the kingdom to God the Father. Therefore, while John was being removed from the earth to heaven 2000 years in the future, traveling to the end of this dispensation, to the Lord’s Day, the Church was also being removed to heaven at the same time. The sound of the “trumpet” which John heard was the sign that the Lord’s Day had begun in heaven and the rapture/resurrection had occurred.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet… (Revelation 1:10)
e). The sign of the rapture/resurrection is also revealed in a companion Scripture in 1 Thessalonians 4:16,
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. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be ‘caught up’ together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. [The word ‘caught up’ is the translation for the Greek word “harpazo” (Strong’s #G726) meaning “caught up; snatch away”; the Latin word is “rapio; raptum” translated “rapture” in English]
f).. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17, the Lord Himself is seen descending from heaven, though not coming all the way to the earth. Christ, after descending to a place above the earth, will “shout” (lit., ‘issue a command’). The voice of “an archangel” (a chief angel [cf. Daniel 10:13, 21) will sound, and “a trumpet” will be blown.
g). Resulting from Christ’s command, “the dead in Christ” (those having died throughout the 2,000- year dispensation, Christians) will be raised. Christ, Who is “the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25), must be present to give the command in order for the dead to be raised (cf. John 5:28, 29; 11:25, 43). Then, living believers — those Christians alive at the end of the present dispensation — will be caught up (raptured) together with resurrected believers to meet the Lord in the air.
h). Regarding The Day of the Lord, we will realize that this refers to a time and place in the heavens and will begin when Christ returns for the Church, but the time and place on earth will remain Man’s Day until seven years later when Christ ascends the throne.
7). Scripture declares “the rapture/resurrection” — the removal of Christians from the earth at the end of this dispensation — to be “a mystery,” something often overlooked when dealing with this subject.
1 Corinthians 15:51,, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed --- 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’…58 Therefore, my beloved brethren be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
b). The complete Old Testament word picture pertaining to the removal of Christians at the end of the present dispensation, commonly called “the rapture,” encompasses a number of types. The Old Testament word picture begins with the account of “Enoch” being removed from the earth preceding the Flood (Genesis 5-11) and progresses from that point through other types such as the accounts of “Lot and his family” (Lot, his wife, and his two virgin daughters) being removed from Sodom preceding the destruction of the cities of the plain (Genesis chapters 18, 19), “Rebekah” being removed from Mesopotamia following the search for and procurement of the bride for Isaac but preceding Abraham’s remarriage (Genesis chapters 24, 25); and “Ruth” appearing on Boaz’s threshing floor preceding the redemption of the inheritance (Ruth chapters 3, 4). Each type presents a different part of the complete Old Testament word picture, with the complete picture being seen only through viewing all of the types on the subject together, comparing Scripture with Scripture.
c). In the type, dealing with Enoch in Genesis chapter five, the genealogy in this chapter moves through ten generations — from Adam to Noah. Within this genealogy, Enoch was the seventh from Adam, and Noah the tenth. “Seven” and “ten” are two of several numbers used in Scripture to show completeness — seven generations extending to Enoch, and ten generations extending to Noah — and so Divine intervention into the affairs of man is seen.
d). At a terminal point in the first set of generations, a man (Enoch) was removed from the earth alive; then, at a subsequent terminal point in the second set of generations, a man (Noah, along with his family) passed safely through a time of destruction, with the remainder of the world perishing during this time. This introductory type is simple and easy to see, though this type only presents parts of the complete picture. “Enoch” being removed from the earth preceding the Flood typifies Christians being removed from the earth preceding the coming Tribulation; and “Noah” passing safely through the Flood typifies Israel passing safely through the coming Tribulation, with Gentile world power destroyed and Israel then occupying the nation’s proper place in relation to the remainder of mankind.
e). This is the first part of the picture presented in Scripture concerning the rapture. Then, from here, to complete the picture, an individual has to move to subsequent types dealing with the subject. Each subsequent type presents a different facet of the picture and further adds and sheds more light to help explain the antitype.
f). We then move to Lot and his family, which were removed prior to the destruction of the cities of the plain in Genesis chapters 18, 19; and in Genesis chapter 24, Rebekah was removed following a successful search for a bride for Isaac (a search and removal which happened after Sarah’s death [chapter 23] but preceded Abraham again taking a wife [chapter 25]).
g). The first type (Lot from Genesis chapters 18, 19) clearly reveals Christians being raptured prior to the destruction of Gentile world power (cf. Luke 17:28-30), and the second type (Rebekah from Genesis chapter 24, 25) clearly reveals Christians being raptured prior to God’s restoration of Israel (cf. Romans 11:25, 26), where Rebekah meets Isaac halfway, between her home and his home, just as in the antitype seen with the rapture of the Church in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
h). Furthermore, when the typology from the Book of Ruth is added to the word picture — showing Ruth appearing on Boaz’s threshing floor prior to the redemption of the inheritance — viewing this type in the light of the antitype (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:10; Revelation 1:10; 4:1), additional light is cast upon, particularly the timing of events shown by the previous types. And this additional light — a vital and necessary part of the complete word picture — will show, beyond question, that any of man’s ideology and interpretation which uses the Scriptures to teach that the Church will go through any part of the Tribulation is erroneous.
i). The type in the Book of Ruthh and the antitype in the Book of Revelation clearly show exactly the same chronology — the Church appearing on Christ’s threshing floor, at His judgment seat (cf. Ruth 3; Revelation 1-4), prior to the redemption of the inheritance (cf. Ruth 4; Revelation 5).
j). We see the Church being dealt with following the rapture in Revelation 1:10 and 4:1. Then the scroll containing the terms for the redemption of the inheritance is introduced in chapter 5, with the redemption of the inheritance brought to pass through the breaking of the seals on this scroll in chapter 6. And the judgments brought to pass through the breaking of the seals on this scroll, as clearly seen in Revelation 6-19, has to do with all of the judgments occurring throughout the seven-year Tribulation.
k). The chronology of events seen in these types must be in complete agreement with one another, along with that seen in the antitype in the New Testament — an agreement which will show the Church being removed preceding any part of the Tribulation, necessitating the whole of the Tribulation being in view through the destruction depicted by events during both Noah’s and Lot’s day.
l). In this respect, Enoch’s and Lot’s removal, preceding respective destructions during their day, foreshadows the removal of Christians preceding any part of the coming Tribulation. Furthermore, still viewing matters from the standpoint of the complete word picture by comparing the type with the antitype, this removal must be seen as one which will include ALL Christians, faithful and unfaithful alike (e.g., not only those having walked with God, as Enoch, but also those having involved themselves in the affairs of the world, as Lot).
8). Scripture plainly
states in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must ALL appear
before the judgment seat of Christ [note ALL seven Churches [the
complete church throughout the dispensation] in Christ’s presence in
Revelation 1:12, 13, 20, following the rapture in verse 10];
that each one may receive the things done in the body, according
to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the
terror of the Lord [Where? Note the context. This terror occurs
at the judgment seat of Christ (cf. Hebrews 10:30, 31)],
we persuade men…”
b). During the present dispensation, the Spirit of God is in the world searching for a bride for God’s Son (the antitype of Abraham’s servant searching for a bride for Abraham’s son Isaac), with the search being conducted among those comprising the one new man in Christ. And once the Spirit has completed this work, the one new man will be removed, with a view to this new man being dealt with in relation to the reason he had been called into existence --- to be kings and priests [1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6].
c). If the entire one new man “in Christ” (comprised of both faithful and unfaithful Christians living throughout the dispensation) was not removed at the end of the dispensation (as seen in 1Thessalonians 4:13-18), Paul could not have written that which is recorded in the verses which immediately follow (verses 5:1-9). These verses continue from chapter four and have to do with both faithful and unfaithful Christians, removed from Man’s Day and placed together at the same time and place in the Lord’s Day.
d). Christians removed from the earth at the time of the rapture/resurrection will find themselves in the Lord’s Day in heaven (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4), “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:1 clearly shows that the rapture/resurrection (4:13-18) will include both faithful and unfaithful Christians. Both are seen together in the Lord’s Day, with faithful Christians experiencing “salvation” and unfaithful Christians experiencing “sudden destruction,” “wrath” (verses. 3, 9). And either “salvation” or “wrath” would be in relation to that which is in view — occupying or being denied a position with Christ in the kingdom.
e). And, there are many other places we can go, comparing Scripture with Scripture, (such as the parables in the Gospel accounts) that reveal that all Christians, both good and bad, faithful and unfaithful, will be raptured to the Judgment Seat of Christ in heaven.
f). In “a twinkling of an eye” it will happen, and there will be no more time to do anything, no going back, it’s too late. This is why following 1 Corinthians 15:51 concerning the rapture/resurrection, Paul exhorts and admonishes the beloved brethren to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (verse 58)
9). It is evident in the Scriptures that we do not have much time before the Son of God returns for His bride. If we are not prepared, we will not be able to enter the kingdom of heaven for one thousand years. The Scriptures confirm that each of us will one day face an accounting for the stewardship with which we have been entrusted. For those who have been faithful to their Lord throughout life, it will be a day of rejoicing and of reward. However, a different fate awaits those Christians who have failed to persevere, who have not remained faithful to their Lord and Savior. There can be no greater tragedy than to hear the words, "too late." They will have lost their inheritance and will not be able enter the kingdom of heaven or rule and reign with Christ Jesus.
a). The present dispensation will soon end and Scripture presents the rapture and resurrection of the Church and their appearance at the Judgment seat of Christ as the next prophetic event that will mark the near termination of this dispensation.
b). With the trumpet of God and the powerful voice of Christ, all Christians will be removed to meet the Lord. The dead [bodies] in Christ will be joined with their soul and spirit and will rise first. Then those Christians still alive, possessing the Holy Spirit in them, will be “caught up” together with the other Christians in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air — all simultaneously in the twinkling of an eye. Therefore, all three parts of man: spirit, soul and body, will be raised to the Judgment seat of Christ. So clearly the resurrection will be a physical resurrection in which bodily existence will be restored, as confirmed in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. The raised bodies of Christians will be animated by the spirit, yet they will be bodies of flesh and bone (Luke 24:39). And they will all be recognizable, as was the resurrected body of Christ (1 John 3:2).
10). Next week, if the Lord is willing, we will continue with the next event from the Book of Revelation --- the Judgment Seat of Christ.