The Mid-Week Rapture #6
by Karl Kemp 10/05/2011 / Bible Studies
Holy Father, we humble our hearts before you. We want to understand what Your Word teaches on the end times, and we want to be ready - fully ready - for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray in His name. Amen!
Last time when we stopped, we had just started a verse-by-verse study of Revelation chapters 11-13. These chapters are some of the most important chapters in the Bible on the end times. We finished verse 4 of Revelation chapter 11, and we were ready to start verse 5. Since these verses are so important, I'll read verses 1 through 4 and make a few comments before we go on to verse 5.
"Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it." For one thing, this verse confirms that the temple will be rebuilt with the sacrificial altar, and the people of Israel will be worshiping in this temple in the end times. The temple will be functioning for at least the last part of the first half of Daniel's 70th week. The temple must be functioning when Antichrist goes into the temple, stops the sacrifices, and wants to be worshiped at the time of his abomination of desolation. As we have discussed, I believe the abomination of desolation will take place about a month before the exact middle of the seven-year period.
(Rev. 11:2) "Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations [or, to the Gentiles]; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months." Significantly, forty-two months equals three and one-half years, referring to the first half of Daniel's 70th week. This verse informs us that the Gentiles (non-Jews) will control Jerusalem, including even the court outside the temple, while the Jews are worshiping in the temple. This state of affairs (with Israel being able to rebuild the temple and the Gentiles having control of Jerusalem) will probably come to pass through the seven-year treaty of Dan. 9:27.
(Rev. 11:3) "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." This twelve hundred and sixty days (like the forty-two months of verse 2) equals three and one-half years and refers to the first half of Daniel's 70th week. The two witnesses/prophets will be ministering at the same time that the Jews are worshiping in the temple. The powerful, earth-shaking, three and one-half year ministry of the two prophets will call Israel and all mankind to repent and to submit to God and His Son in light of the fact that the day of judgment is very close at hand.
As I mentioned, Rev. 11:2, 3 both mention the equivalent of three and one-half years and both refer to the first half of Daniel's 70th week. As we continue with Revelation chapters 11 through 13, we will find three more verses that speak of the equivalent of three and one-half years (Rev. 12:6, 14 and Rev.13:5). It is quite significant that those verses all refer to the second half of Daniel's 70th week.
Before we go on to Rev. 11:4, I'll give a brief overview showing the extreme importance of the book of Revelation, especially chapters 11 through 13. For one thing, these chapters show us the timing of most of the key events of the last days. The seventh and last trumpet that sounds in Rev. 11:15 will sound right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. As I have mentioned, it is very important to see that this is the same trumpet as Matt. 24:31 (where we read of the coming of the Lord to judge the world and the rapture); 1 Cor. 15:52 (where we read of the resurrection and glorification of believers taking place at the last trumpet); and 1 Thess. 4:16, 17 (where we read of the coming of the Lord and the resurrection and rapture).
At the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, the Lord Jesus Christ will return and begin to reign on the earth (see Rev. 11:15-17). At that time, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, the resurrection, glorification, and rapture of the believers will take place (see Rev. 12:5), and we see the resurrection and rapture of the two witnesses/prophets at essentially the same time, if not exactly the same time, in Rev. 11:12, 13. At that time the devil and his angels will be cast down to the earth (see Rev. 12:4 and much of the rest chapter 12).
Many more people will become born-again Christians after the Lord returns, centering in the repentant end-time remnant of Israel, but they will not be converted in time to be taken in the rapture (especially see Rev. 11:13, 19 and 12:6, 13-17). As chapters 12 and 13 show, those Christians will go through three and a half very difficult years, but they also show that those believers will experience much of God's saving intervention in their behalf.
Revelation chapter 12 shows that the devil will have great wrath after he is cast down to the earth and that he will wage warfare against Christians. Revelation chapters 12 and 13 show that right after the devil is cast down to the earth in the middle of the seven-year period, he will give Antichrist his power and his throne and great authority (see Revelation 13:2). At that time the super-evil reign of Antichrist will begin that is spoken of throughout Revelation chapter 13. The book of Revelation shows that God will use the devil, evil angels, and Antichrist in His end-time judgment of the world. For one thing, He will use Antichrist and his associates to destroy Babylon the great harlot, which is a symbol for the world. Babylon the great harlot embraces all the things the devil uses to seduce people from God and His truth and righteousness. One of the primary things that Babylon the great harlot embraces is false religion, very much including apostate Christianity.
The judgment and destruction of Babylon the great harlot is a major feature of God's end-time judgment of the world. The book of Revelation devotes some three chapters to that destruction. After using Antichrist and the false prophet, God will judge and remove them and the great multitudes who follow them to Armageddon, as shown in Revelation chapter 19. We learn of the false prophet in Revelation chapter 13. We also learn of the image of the beast and of the number 666 in Revelation chapter 13. The devil will be bound in the abyss throughout the millennial kingdom, then after being released for a short season, he will be cast in the eternal lake of fire, as shown in Revelation chapter 20.
(Rev. 11:4) "These [the two prophets] are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth." As we discussed in some detail in the last article, these words build on Zechariah chapter 4. These words communicate the idea that the two prophets will be heavily anointed by the Spirit of God and that they will give forth much light from God as they call mankind to repent, and all the more so in that the day of judgment will be super-imminent. Olive trees produce olives, which give olive oil, which was burned in ancient lamps. Also, oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit.
(Rev. 11:5) "And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way." As we keep reading, we will see that these prophets will be rejected and hated by most people worldwide. Many will want to harm them. However, as this verse and the following verses show, these prophets will be victorious and indestructible throughout the three and one-half years of their ministry assigned by God. Literal fire will not flow out of their mouths to kill their enemies, but God will back up their words with great power, and their enemies will be killed. (I'll mention two cross-references that help explain these words about fire going out of their mouths and killing their enemies: 2 Kings chapter 1, which deals with the ministry of Elijah the prophet and Jeremiah 5:14, which deals with the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah.) Many Christians think one of the two prophets of Revelation chapter 11 will be Elijah, the prophet of old. For one thing, Elijah was taken up to heaven in a flaming chariot. I believe it is much more probable that the two prophets will be Christian prophets who will be living on the earth in the last days.
After their ministry has been completed, in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, God will allow Antichrist to kill the two prophets. But, as we will see, this also will work for the great glory of God and for great good, including the great good of the two prophets.
(Rev. 11:6) "These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying [It is significant that the same thing happened in the days of Elijah the prophet. I'll just give one cross-reference here; I'll read Luke 4:25 (Jesus spoke these words in Nazareth, His home town), "But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah; when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land." Note that Luke 4:25 mentions three and one-half years for the time period that the sky was shut up and the rain did not fall; the same thing will happen during the days of the two prophets of Revelation chapter 11.] and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood [These words remind us of what God did through Moses at the time of the exodus from Egypt.], and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. [These words also remind us of what God did through Moses at the time of the exodus. For one thing, it is quite possible (even probable) that the two prophets will announce the sounding of the first six trumpets of the book of Revelation, even as Moses announced the ten plagues before they came to pass in Egypt. This will make the sounding of the trumpets all the more effective. God will get the attention of the whole world through the ministry of the two prophets. The "plagues" of the two prophets will be in the category of warning judgments from God, designed (for one thing) to call mankind to repent.] (7) And when they have finished their testimony [That is, when they have finished their three and one-half year ministry (all except for the glorious dramatic conclusion of that ministry).], the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them." That sure sounds negative doesn't it, but it will turn into a great positive and will bring great glory to God three and a half days later, when the two prophets come back to life and go up into heaven in a cloud, while the whole world is watching. This reminds us of what seemed to be a great negative when the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, but on the third day He was raised from the dead, having overcome sin, Satan, and death and having earned the right to save believers and the right to judge and remove those who continue in rebellion against God. starting with the devil and his angels.
The beast that comes up out of the abyss is Antichrist. His coming up out of the abyss refers to his coming back from the dead. Revelation chapter 13 elaborates on the fact that Antichrist will come back from the dead and that the false prophet will insist that his coming back from the dead proves that must be worshiped.
Let's look at Revelation 17:8, which is another verse that speaks of Antichrist coming up out of the abyss, "The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to [or, is going to] come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder [or, will be astonished, or, will be amazed] when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. The beast that you saw WAS [The beast is Antichrist. He was there, living on the earth.] and is not, and is going to come up out of the abyss [Here Antichrist IS NOT in the sense that he will be killed and will not be living on the earth. He will probably be killed during the days of the warfare of the short great tribulation that takes place after the abomination of desolation and before the mid-week return of Christ. He probably won't be dead very long, probably something like a few days, or a few weeks. He will be raised from the dead (he will come up out of the abyss) in time to kill the two prophets three and one-half days before Christ returns in the middle of Daniel's 70th week.] and go to destruction [The Lord Jesus Christ will destroy Antichrist at the end of the seven-year period. He will cast him and the false prophet into the eternal lake of fire (see Rev. 19:19-21). Apparently those two will be the first people ever cast into the lake of fire. As I have mentioned, it is interesting that almost every time Antichrist is mentioned in the Bible his destruction is mentioned.]. And those who dwell on the earth, whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will wonder [or, will be astonished] when they see the beast, that he was and is not, and will come [The people living on the earth at that time (in the second half of Daniel's 70th week) whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world are the people who never will repent and become believers and be saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. The names of the elect have been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4 speaks of the elect being chosen by God before the foundation of the world. The non-elect will be astonished when Antichrist comes back from the dead, when he comes up out of the abyss (and other things), and they will worship him.
I'll read Rev. 11:7 again; then we'll go on to the next verse, "When they [the two prophets] have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them."
(Rev. 11:8) "And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified." These last words make it clear that the city is Jerusalem, where the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified. The city is called Sodom and Egypt because of the sinfulness and worldliness of the city throughout much of its history, and at that time. Many prophetic verses show that Jerusalem will ultimately become a totally righteous, holy, and fully glorified city. Apparently the two prophets will be killed in Jerusalem, which fits the idea that (though their ministry will have a worldwide scope) it will be aimed to some extent at the people of Israel.
(Rev. 11:9) "Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb." With modern communication systems that use satellites, etc., people around the world will be able to look at their dead bodies, which will lie in the street of Jerusalem. The next verse shows that people around the world will be very interested in the two prophets. They will be rejoicing at their death. Instead of listening to the prophets who are sent by God to call them to repentance, etc., they will hate the prophets, as it so often happens. The fact that they will not permit their bodies to be laid in a tomb shows their great disrespect and hatred for the prophets. I believe the three and a half days are to be understood in a literal sense.
(Rev. 11:10) "And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth."
(Rev. 11:11) "But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them." After the three and a half days, God will bring them back to life before the watching world, and as the next verse shows, they will go up into heaven in the cloud as their enemies watch them. The fact that Antichrist will be permitted to kill the two prophets and that the world will mock them and their ministry by not permitting them to be buried and by rejoicing in their death seem to be great defeat, but three and a half days later their ministry will come to a fitting, glorious conclusion, and they will be powerfully vindicated before their enemies, all to the glory of God. This verse says "great fear fell upon those who were watching them." For at least most of those watching them, this "great fear" will not lead to repentance.
(Rev. 11:12) "And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'come up here.' Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them." A cloud (or clouds) is very often mentioned at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the rapture. First Thessalonians 4:17, for example, mentions that we will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. As I mentioned, I believe the two witnesses will be resurrected and raptured at essentially the same time, if not exactly at the same time, as the resurrection and rapture of all the believers that will take place when the Lord Jesus Christ returns at the sounding of the seventh trumpet of the book of Revelation, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. Their resurrection and rapture may take place a short while before the rest of the believers (maybe a few hours before, for example), but it seems clear that they will be resurrected and raptured right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week.
(Rev. 11:13) "And in that hour there was a great earthquake ["In that hour" here means right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. Apparently this great earthquake will take place shortly after the rapture. We'll discuss this great earthquake as we continue.], and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake [[The city is Jerusalem. The number seven thousand could be a literal number, or it could be symbolic number for more than seven thousand. I'm confident that none of the people killed in this earthquake will be Israelites who are part of God's elect. The people killed will be enemies of God. Perhaps most (if not all) of the people killed will be enemy occupation troops.
I'm going to read three paragraphs from what I said under this verse in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture" (page 288). I highly recommend that you get a copy of this book, but the book is not light reading. This 360 page book is more like a Bible commentary, and it is packed with detailed information. There is much information in this book that we will not be able to cover in these articles. I'll begin to read from the book, but I'll make a few modifications for this radio broadcast: The great earthquake here in Revelation 11:13 is the same as the great movement of the earth pictured in Zechariah 14:4 and 5.
I'll read Zech. 14:4 and 5, "And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. [That qualifies as a major movement of the earth at Jerusalem, does it not?] (5) You will flee by the valley of My mountains [They will flee from the earthquake through the valley running from west to east through the Mount of Olives; you don't want to be in a city when the earth is shaking.], for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! [I would translate "And the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him." The King James Version has "And" here instead of "Then." This is the same coming as when He comes to stand on the Mount of Olives (in verse 4), but here the important information is added that the holy ones will be with Him when He comes to the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem. The "holy ones" at least include the very large number of believers who were just glorified and raptured when Christ returned with the clouds of heaven. God's holy angels will be with Him too.
The Lord Jesus Christ will literally stand on the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem at the time of His return to the earth, as it says in Zech. 14:4. I'll read Acts 1:9-11; these verses show that the Lord Jesus Christ will come back to the earth with a cloud, even as He left the earth with a cloud at the time of His ascension into heaven, and they fit the fact that He will come back to the Mount of Olives, in that He left the earth from the Mount of Olives. "And after He (Jesus) had said these things [to His disciples], He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold two men in white clothing [undoubtedly these were angels] stood beside them. They also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.' "
I believe He will come to the Mount of Olives right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, shortly after the resurrection/transformation and rapture. When He comes to the Mount of Olives, the raptured saints (the holy ones) will be with Him. I'll read the last words of Zech. 14:5 again, "And the Lord, my God, will come and all the holy ones with Him."
What is the purpose of this earthquake? At this time the Lord Jesus Christ will begin to fight for the repentant end-time elect remnant of Israel. (See Zech. 14:3, "Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle." Also see Joel 3:1-21; Mic. 5:3-15; Zech. 9:8-17; 10:3-5, 11; 12:4-13:6; Luke 21:24; Rev. 11:19; 12:6, 13-17.) The Lord Jesus Christ will probably use this earthquake to remove from Jerusalem all of the non-elect (probably mostly enemy occupation troops) so He can claim Jerusalem as His city and as a city for the converted end-time elect remnant of Israel. (See the sub-section titled 'The Lord Jesus Christ Will Claim Jerusalem as His City' on page 70 of my book.) Zechariah 13:8 and 14:1, 2 help show that the sons of Israel at Jerusalem (and throughout the land of Israel) will have been reduced to the repentant elect remnant by the time of the mid-week return of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will briefly discuss their conversion as we continue to discuss Rev. 11:13.
I just mentioned Zech. 13:8 and 14:1, 2. I'll read those verses here and make a few comments. Zech. 13:8, "And it will come about in all the land [the land of Israel], Declares the LORD, That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it." The "third" that will left will be the repentant end-time elect remnant of Israel. Most of the cutting off will apparently take place during the days of the short great tribulation that will take place during the month that begins with Antichrist's abomination of desolation and ends with the mid-week return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now I'll read Zech. 14:1 and 2 and make a few comments, "Behold a day is coming for the LORD [Yahweh] when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. (2) For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest [or, the remnant] of the people will not be cut off from the city." These times of great trouble for Jerusalem and Israel will begin with the abomination of desolation. God (who always is in control) will work things out so that the people who will be exiled (the half of the city that is exiled) will not include any of God's elect. The repentant end-time elect remnant of Israel will be there to receive the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes to them right after the mid-week rapture.
Now I'll read all of Rev. 11:13, and we will discuss the words at the end of the verse.]] "And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest [or "the remnant"] were terrified [or "were afraid" with the New King James Version] and gave glory to the God of heaven." Significantly, I believe these words prophesy of the conversion of the repentant end-time elect remnant of Israel, but their conversion will be too late for them to be taken in the rapture. This too will work for the glory of God and for their ultimate good. "...and the rest were terrified [or, the remnant] were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven." The King James Version has "the remnant" in place of "the rest." I assume this remnant constitutes the repentant end-time elect remnant of Israel at Jerusalem, as in Zech. 14:2.
I'll read Zech. 12:10, which is a very important verse on the conversion of the repentant end-time elect remnant of Israel, "I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that [or, and] they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn." I'll also read Zechariah 13:1, "In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity." The fountain for sin and impurity is new-covenant salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death. Many other verses speak of the salvation of the repentant end-time elect remnant of Israel, including Dan. 12:1 and Joel 2:32, verses we have discussed already.
Let's look at a few verses from the apostle Paul's Epistle to the Romans that deal with the salvation of the remnant of Israel in the last days. I'll read Rom. 9:27-29 and make a few comments, "Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, 'Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; (28) For the LORD will execute His word on the earth [or, on the land] thoroughly and quickly'; (29) And just as Isaiah foretold, 'Unless the Lord of Sabaoth [which means Lord of hosts, where hosts refers to armies] had left to us a posterity, we would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.' " There was no remnant left for ancient Sodom and Gomorrah, but God will leave a very substantial remnant of the people of Israel after His shaking of Israel in the last days, and as these verses show, that remnant will be saved.
And let's turn to Rom. 11:26, 27, "and so all Israel will be saved [The apostle is speaking of the salvation of the repentant end-time remnant of Israel, as he was in Rom. 9:27-29.]; just as it is written, 'The deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. [He will remove ungodliness from Jacob, which is another name for Israel, through new-covenant salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.] (27) This is My covenant with them when I take away their sins.' " This verse also speaks of new-covenant salvation.
The words "gave glory to the God of heaven" in Rev. 11:13 support the idea that this remnant will be repentant and ready to fully submit to God and His Son. They give glory to God by repenting and submitting from their hearts to Him, to His Son, and to His new-covenant plan of salvation.
It's time to stop for today. We'll start with Rev. 11:14 in the next article. God bless you!
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.