There are many false teachings circulating among the church in this hour concerning a rapture of the saints out of this world and away from all the trials and testing that will be a part of what is called The Great Tribulation. Many lukewarm, carnal, worldly saints have placed their entire hope upon this rapture occurring. They seek to live as the rest of the world during their days on earth, pursuing mammon, harboring idols in their lives, yet they anticipate that they will be delivered out of this world just prior to the judgments of God based upon the single act of having confessed Yahshua as their Lord and Savior. These carnal saints have neglected many scriptures that would show them the fallacy of such belief, but like the ostrich they prefer to remain in ignorance with their head in the earth (flesh) when it would be better that their head were in the scriptures seeking out the truth.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
We have seen already that in a great house (Yahweh’s Kingdom) there are both faithful and unfaithful servants. Yahweh does make a distinction between them. Those servants (saints) who have acted wickedly will receive punishment (many stripes), and they will be barred from partaking of Yahweh’s most holy things. Their punishment will even extend as far as having to endure the day of evil, the great trials that come upon the earth during the Tribulation. Note that in the following scripture that it is only the faithful that are promised to be kept from these things.
Revelation 3:7-8, 10
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write… “I know your deeds… you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.. Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
In the book of Revelation we are given very great evidence that there will be a large number of saints who will NOT be kept from this hour of testing. Instead they will go through this hour, and they will be cleansed and purified as they patiently endure, and even give up their very lives, to purchase white robes of righteousness. Because they did not voluntarily submit themselves to the purging and purifying of the cross in days prior to this time of great trouble, they will have to be cleansed in the midst of great adversity.
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” And one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and from where have they come?” And I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes.”
A central part of this passage is identifying who the people are who are being described. John is pointedly asked in verse 13 by one of the elders around the throne, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and from where have they come?” The Father is taking pains to identify who they are because it is important to our understanding.
John doesn’t know the answer to their identity, so the elder tells him. “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Note, that as in the parable of the wedding supper, we have mention of garments here again. These people are ones who had soiled robes and needed them washed. They were once unworthy, but have washed their robes. The washing has taken place during the great tribulation. The washing has come at great cost.
The statement, “they have made their garments white in the blood of the Lamb,” refers to the necessity of their also having had to go the way of the cross, even to the point of death. This is further borne out in the following passage.
And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also.
The condition of the wearers’ garment reflects their worthiness before God. If they have lived in an unworthy manner; a wood, hay, and straw manner before God, their robes become soiled. Note that it is a great multitude that John sees before the throne. It was also a great multitude that was found to be unprepared to attend the wedding feast of the king’s son. Few were originally chosen from among all of those called to attend. This is reflected in the words, “For many [a multitude] are called, but few are chosen.”
All of those referred to in the above passage of scripture were given white robes. Where were those who already had white robes? The Father had already made a separation between them and those whose garments were soiled. They were kept from the hour of testing that is to come upon the whole world.
Many Christians are counting on God to rapture them out of this world before the time of tribulation. What will be the impact on the church when she finds that the rapture does not occur as has been preached from a multitude of pulpits, as it has been depicted in numerous movies and written about in a flood of books? They will have to abandon their doctrines. They will also have to acknowledge that it was because their robes were soiled; it was due to the lack of a wedding garment; it was their unworthiness that precipitated their calamity and caused them to not be spared from the day of testing.
But what of those who are kept from the day of testing? Are they raptured out of this world? Are they caught up to heaven? We know they are kept from the day of testing. They already have garments of white. They have kept Christ’s word. They have persevered. They need not purchase these garments through The Great Tribulation, for they have already stood faithful in the midst of the trials and tests that have come their way.
The answer lies in understanding Yahweh’s plans for His Overcomers. It is Yahweh’s plan to subdue every enemy of Christ in heaven and on earth through a body of Overcomers.
The Lord said to my lord, “sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet.”
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
It was prophesied of Yahshua the Messiah that all enemies would be put under His feet, but the outworking of this complete victory will be through Yahshua working through a body of Overcomers who will rule and reign with Him, and who will destroy every enemy and cast down all things that stand in opposition to Christ. It is not God’s plan to simply rapture the Overcomers off into heaven. It is His plan to use these Overcomers to complete the subjection of all enemies under the feet of Christ.
In Revelation we are given a glimpse of a firstfruit company of saints who will be present during the Tribulation, but they will be untouched by the Tribulation. This firstfruit company is called the 144,000.
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand…
Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.
The characteristics of this group are similar to the Bride. These are ones who have been purified and they are declared blameless, which is to say that they are pure. These are proclaimed to be virgins who have not been defiled, and this is in agreement with Paul’s words to the church:
II Corinthians 11:2
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.
Although the symbolism is changed, and the gender of the 144,000 is referred to as male, the characteristics of this group and the Bride are the same. They are known by their purity and devotion to Christ. They are zealously pursuing the Lamb. The result is that these are sealed, and the sealing is for their protection that they might not be harmed by the judgments of God that are poured out.
At the time of the sealing we see four angels who are standing to hold back the wind from the four corners of the earth, and we see another angel ascending from the rising of the sun and we are told that the earth and sea and trees are about to be harmed. This is symbolic of a great scorching coming upon the earth, but this scorching will not touch the 144,000. Contrast this with the great multitude that purchased white robes for themselves during the Tribulation. We are told:
“They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat…”
These have been touched by the judgments that have come upon the whole world. They were not sealed in their foreheads before these judgments were loosed. They did know hunger. They did know the burning heat of the sun. Yet by their patience in the midst of great tribulation they have purchased white robes and have entered a place of rest.
We can see in this that Yahweh does make a distinction between His saints, between those who have been faithful and those who have not. One group is kept from the day of great evil and the other is not. Yet those who were sealed were still present on the earth. They were not raptured into heaven. They were like the children of Israel who were kept from the judgments of God when the ten plagues were loosed on Egypt. We have these words recorded of those earlier tribulations:
“But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living…, in order that you may know that I, Yahweh, am in the midst of the land. I will put a division between My people and your people.”
There is great precedence for Yahweh setting His people apart during times when His wrath is poured out. Egypt is a type of the world, and when Yahweh brought judgment to Egypt He made a distinction between His people and the people of Egypt. He will do so again in the time of tribulation that is coming upon the world. Yet those children of God who are friends to the world, who have embraced the idols of the world, will not be kept from this time.
If we look at the verse again that was written to the church of Philadelphia, and we examine the phrase “I will keep you from the hour of testing,”” we find that the word ‘keep’ is derived from the Greek word ‘tereo’. Strong’s Dictionary of Greek words has this to say about this word:
tereo (tay-reh’-o); from teros (a watch;); to guard (from loss or injury, properly, by keeping the eye upon…)
How perfectly this fits with what we have read about the 144,000. They are not removed from the earth during the Tribulation, but they are watched over by God as He guards them from all loss or injury. We can see this same pattern played out in numerous instances throughout scriptures.
God preserved Elijah during the three years that He punished Israel with a drought so severe that no rain fell during the entire period. First God provided water for Elijah at the Brook Cherith, and the ravens brought him his food. Later God sent Elijah to a widow, and her oil and grain never ran out as long as Elijah dwelt with her.
Similarly, God protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were cast into the fiery furnace. The guards and soldiers who cast them into the furnace perished from the heat of the flames, but these three came back out and did not even have the smell of smoke on them. We could also speak of Lot and his family’s protection when God destroyed the plains of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of Noah and his family when God destroyed the earth with a flood. The pattern is clear. God makes a distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous when He sends His judgments upon the earth.
One of the clearest passages of scripture that shows the importance of being prepared ahead of time for the return of the Lord is the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. Many saints who have slumbered spiritually while the hour grew late, and who have bedded down with the world, will find that it is too late to remedy the situation when the Lord appears. As the five foolish virgins who failed to keep oil in their lamps, these foolish saints will rush out to acquire what they lack, but it will be too late. The door will have been shut. The number of guests for the wedding feast will be complete. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, saying, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. And later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered and said, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
Who are the virgins that wait for the Bridegroom? Certainly they do not represent the lost world. The world is not waiting for the Bridegroom. All of the virgins had lamps to give forth light. This is true of saints, only. However, not all of them had oil with which to light their lamps. It will be too late to remedy this when the Bridegroom appears. Over and over throughout scripture, Christians are urged to be on the alert, be awake, be ready.
Again, this does not imply loss of their initial salvation. What is pictured here is the loss of the fuller salvation of the soul, and the great reward of the Overcomer, including being counted among the Bride of Christ. Not every believer’s reward will be the same. To be included in the Bride is tremendous reward, as is being invited to attend the wedding feast. Not all will attain to this honor. Many are called, but few are chosen.
According to scripture, there will be three divisions of Christians. The Bride is those who have kept their garments clean. They have allowed the Holy Spirit to perform His work of preparation and cleansing in their lives. They have remained alert and vigilant, waiting with anticipation for the return of the Bridegroom. They are mature and have intimate knowledge of their Lord. (Intimate knowledge of Yahshua is a characteristic of the Bride and is lacking in those who are unprepared. Yahshua spoke to the foolish virgins, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.”)
The ten virgins do not represent the Bride. They are attendants of the Bride and they represent two other groups of saints. As attendants of the Bride, “they all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased…” (I Corinthians 10:3). The Bride remained alert and vigilant while the ten virgins all fell asleep. The ten virgins failed to keep watch and be alert and they were sleeping when the Bridegroom came for the Bride.
However, among the attendants of the Bride, a distinction is made. Five were wise and were let into the wedding feast and five were foolish and were excluded. The difference was that some had extra vessels of oil for their lamps and some did not. Although oil often symbolizes the Spirit of God, I believe this oil represents the good works of the saints for this was an oil used to give light. This connection can be seen in the following passage.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Although all ten of the virgins had fallen asleep, some had done many good works to the glory of the Father and some had not. The foolish had vessels that were made to give forth light, but they had not ever been used for this purpose, this being typified by the lack of any oil. They were like the wicked servant that went and hid his talent in the ground until the return of his master. Not only had these foolish virgins fallen asleep, but they had no good works for men or God to see. Their vessels were essentially wasted. They had never used them for the purpose they were created for; the vessels being their bodies which are the temple of God. They were sleeping when the Bridegroom appeared.
This last group will suffer complete loss of reward for Yahshua will testify that He does not even know them. They will realize how great a grace they have resisted and how tremendous a reward they have forfeited. Even these will eventually have their tears wiped away, yet there will be no remedy for their loss. They will receive reward according to their works.
The wise virgins will have reward, though not of the same measure as the Bride. It is one thing to be let in to attend the wedding feast, and quite another thing to be the Bride who is being wedded. So we see in the Bride and the two groups of attendants, three separate and distinct groups of saints. It is the wise who will submit to the cross while they are freely able to do so, and who will allow God to cleanse and purify them. These will be spared a much more difficult cleansing.
The Bride will be kept from the day of testing, but she will not be removed from the earth during this time. God has a group of Overcomers who are being prepared to prevail over every work of the enemy and to put every enemy under their feet. We have already seen that David is a type of the Bride. David was also a warrior, and he fought and conquered all the enemies round about until Israel knew rest. The enemies of God were made subject to David and they brought tribute to him. Even so, those who are a part of the Bride will be used to put every enemy under Christ’s feet. They cannot do so if they have been raptured up to heaven.
When God completed His judgments of Egypt, the people of Egypt saw how God had made a distinction between them and those who dwelt in Goshen. Egypt knew God was with His people. God gave the children of Israel great favor in the eyes of the Egyptians and the Egyptians gave the Israelites gifts of all that they owned to the extent that we are told the Israelites “plundered” the Egyptians. In a similar way all the world will know those who belong to God in the days of tribulation. They will see that the Overcomers are not harmed in any way by the judgments of God. The words of Isaiah will be fulfilled:
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of Yahweh has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But Yahweh will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about and see; they all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in the arms. Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you.”
Repeatedly the testimony of scripture is that God does preserve the righteous from His judgments and His wrath. “For the eyes of Yahweh move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (II Chronicles 16:9). Those who have not given their heart wholly over to the pursuit of God and to a desire to walk obediently before Him have somewhat to be concerned about. Yahweh would not have such careless ones to feel comfortable or complacent about their future. The righteous, however, are to be as bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1).
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