The Mid-Week Rapture #8
by Karl Kemp 10/12/2011 / Bible Studies
Holy Father, we humble our hearts before you. We want to understand your Word, including end-time prophecy, and we want to live in line with your Word, by your sufficient grace. We want to be fully ready to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes. We pray in His mighty name! Amen!
I'll always quote from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition, unless otherwise noted. Frequently I'll make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ] or [[ ]].
Two articles back we began a verse-by-verse study of Revelation chapters 11-13. Revelation chapters 11-13 are of special importance in understanding end-time prophecy. One thing that makes these chapters so important is that they build on the pattern of the seven-year period, sometimes called Daniel's 70th week, that we learn about from Dan. 9:27. Daniel 7:25 and 12:7 both speak of the three and one-half years of the second half of the seven-year period. Also see Dan. 12:11. Revelation 11:2 and 3 both speak of the three and one-half years of the first half of seven-year period. Revelation 12:6, 14 and 13:5 speak of the three and one-half years of the second half of the seven-year period. And it is quite significant that Revelation chapters 11-13 prophesy of several super-important things that will come to pass right in the middle of the seven-year period. As we have discussed, these things include the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet of the book of Revelation; the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to save and to judge; the resurrection, glorification, and rapture of the saints; the conversion of the repentant end-time elect remnant of Israel, but not in time to be taken in the rapture; the casting down to the earth of the devil and his angels; and the beginning of the super-evil three and one-half year reign of Antichrist.
We finished Rev. 12:1 in the last broadcast. I'll read 12:1 and make a few brief comments; then we'll go on to 12:2. "A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." This glorious woman is a symbol for true Israel, which embraces all believers, including the believers from Old Testament days and all true Christians, including the Christians converted before the rapture and the Christians converted after the rapture. All these believers, who are destined to reign forever with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, are saved through the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning blood.
Rev. 12:2, "and she was with child [more literally, "she was having in the womb"]; and she cried out [[It would be better to translate, "and she was crying out." I'll read most what I said under this verse in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," In the Greek the verb translated "she cried out" is in the present tense, which fits the idea that the woman has been crying out on a repeated, or on a continuous, basis. We should probably think of the woman's crying out throughout much of the period of her "being in labor and in pain to give birth." This period began about the time that mankind fell. Genesis 3:15 (which I quoted and discussed under Dan. 7:13, 14 in my book) prophesied of the warfare that would continue between Satan and his seed, and the woman and her seed. (It is worthy of note that Genesis chapter 3 speaks of Satan as "the serpent" and Rev. 12:9 speaks of him as the "serpent of old.") Satan's warfare against the woman is at least a major cause of her painful condition, as it is pictured here in Rev. 12:2.
Genesis 3:15 explains Satan's great hatred for the woman and her seed. The seed of the woman, which centers in the Lord Jesus Christ but includes His people with Him (the people of true Israel), will ultimately crush the head of Satan and his kingdom. I'll read Rom. 16:20, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."]], being in labor and in pain to give birth." These labor pains are going to lead to a super-glorious birth, the birth of the male child into the fullness of eternal life and glory that is pictured in Rev. 12:5. We will begin to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ at the time of that birth, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. God is in control, and all things work together for good. If we are faithful to God as individuals, all things will work together for our good. For one thing, God limits what the devil can do against us.
Now we're ready for Rev. 12:3. This verse shows where the attacks and trials of verse 2 come from. They come from the devil and his kingdom of evil. "And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems." Revelation 12:9 makes it clear that the "great red dragon" is Satan. I'll read the first half of Rev. 12:9, "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan...." The color "red" undoubtedly relates to the blood that Satan, the arch-murderer, sheds. (See John 8:44, for example.)
The "seven heads" represent the seven world-kingdoms of the Bible, and this word picture confirms that the devil is behind all these kingdoms. He is the god of this world. The seven kingdoms are the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, Roman, and revived Roman kingdoms.
The "ten horns" are the ten rulers of the ten nations of the revived Roman kingdom. See Rev. 17:16, 17, for example. We already knew about the ten horns from Daniel chapter 7, which is a very important prophetic chapter. Daniel chapter 7 is discussed in some detail in my book, as are Daniel chapters 2, 8, 9, 11, and 12, and many other very important prophetic passages.
I'll read part of what I said in my book under the words, "and on his heads were seven diadems." The King James Version and the NIV have the word "crowns" instead of "diadems" The fact that each of the seven heads is crowned helps demonstrate that we are to think of Satan's murderous persecution of the woman through each of the seven world-kingdoms. In Rev. 13:1, by contrast, the crowns are on the heads of the ten horns, where the focus is on the world kingdom of the last days that will be headed up by Antichrist and his ten associates; Satan is very much behind that world-kingdom. (Sometimes I modify what I said in my book for these radio broadcasts.)
I'll read Rev. 12:3 again; then we'll go on to verse 4, "Then another sign appeared in heaven; and behold a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. (4) And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth." [[Stars can symbolize angels, good angels (see Rev. 1:16, 20, for example) and evil angels (see Rev. 9:1, for example). The angels in view here are evil angels. This verse informs us that "a third" of God angels fell and followed Satan in his rebellion. That's quite a major rebellion, is it not? We will read more of the evil angels being cast down to the earth with Satan in the middle of Daniel's 70th week when we come to Rev. 12:7-9. We have already discussed the fact that Rev. 12:4, 7-9 enable us to understand the words of Matt. 24:29 about the stars falling from the sky and the powers of the heavens being shaken at the time of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with the sounding of the great trumpet and the clouds.]] And the dragon stood [was standing] before the woman who was about [who was going] to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child."
I'll read part of what I said in my book here. In line with what I said above regarding Satan's rather continuous warfare against the woman, I would translate "the dragon was standing before the woman." (I had an endnote to demonstrate that "was standing" is a reasonable way to translate the Greek verb used here.) Satan has been standing before the woman (in the sense of Rev. 12:4) ever since the rather continuous warfare began. Genesis 3:15 prophesies of the warfare between the woman and her seed and the serpent and his seed, with the end result being that the serpent's head will be crushed. The Bible, from the beginning to the end, shows that Satan has been doing everything he could do to try to destroy the woman and her seed (offspring) and to prevent this birth (the birth of Rev. 12:5) from taking place. (I had an endnote here: "For example, Satan worked against the people of God through the first six world kingdoms, and he will yet work greatly through the last world kingdom, as Revelation chapter 13, for example shows. Then I listed a large number of verses to demonstrate this point, but very many more such verses could have been listed.)
Think, for example, of Cain's killing Abel; of the edict to kill all the male children at birth in Egypt, and of the edict to kill all the male children in Bethlehem after Jesus was born of the virgin. All the people of God have been targets for his evil work, whether in the form of temptation, persecution, murder, etc. Some have been special targets for Satan's hatred because he knew that they were to have crucial roles to play in his demise. He knew, for example, that the seed of Abraham would play a significant role, then, more specifically, the seed of the tribe of Judah, then, more specifically yet, the offspring of King David, etc. Every consecrated Christian is a threat to Satan, especially those called into a special ministry, starting with the apostles.
In this symbolic presentation (of Rev. 12:1-5), Satan is out to destroy the "male child" at birth because he knows that the birth of this child means the end for him. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Head of this "male child," Satan has already been defeated; this defeat will be openly and fully manifested at the end of this age.
"And the dragon was standing before the woman who was about to give birth...." In line with what I said above, it would be better to translate "the woman who was going to give birth," or the equivalent. (I demonstrate in an endnote that the Greek verb used here is often translated this way.)
"And the dragon was standing before the woman who is going to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child." I'll read what I said in my book under the words "so that when she gave birth he might devour her child," In this symbolic presentation the emphasis is placed on the fact that Satan wants to destroy this child at birth, before this child can destroy him. But, as we discussed above, Satan does not wait for the birth of Rev. 12:5 to attack the woman and her seed (offspring).
Each conversion and new birth that takes place throughout this age is another preliminary step in the birth of the child; however, the emphasis in Rev. 12:1-5 is on the ultimate birth (the birth into the fullness of eternal life and glory that will take place right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet. We will discuss this birth into the fullness of eternal life and glory for the saints in some detail under verse 5. The Bible has a lot to say about this glorious birth.
Now we come to REVELATION 12:5, which is a super-important prophetic verse. For one thing, this is the most important verse in the Bible to show that the saints will be born into the fullness of eternal life and glory and raptured to meet the Lord in the air right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. I'll start to read the verse, "And she [true Israel] gave birth to a son, a male child...." Many think the "male child" is the Lord Jesus Christ. In the New American Standard Bible that I am using, for example, they added a heading before verse 5 that reads, "The Male Child, Christ." As we will discuss in significant detail as we continue, I'm very sure that this heading is wrong
The male child embraces all the believers who will have lived on the earth before the seventh and last trumpet sounds. When the trumpet sounds, we will be born into the fullness of eternal life and glory and raptured to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the air. We will discuss these things in substantial detail as we continue. Here I'll just mention the significant point that the following verse, Rev. 12:6, indicates that this birth, glorification, and rapture will take place right in the middle of the seven-year period, in that it shows that one thousand two hundred and sixty days (which equals three and one-half years) remain after this glorious birth and rapture have taken place. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself was not born of the virgin in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, nor was He born into the fullness of eternal life and caught up to God in the middle of Daniel's 70th week.
Now I'll read all of Rev. 12:5. "And she [true Israel] gave birth to a son, a male child who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne." I'll comment briefly on the meaning of these words here; we'll get into more details as we continue. The book of Revelation specifically mentions that the saints will reign with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:26, 27; see below). They will be reigning with, and under, the Lord Jesus Christ. And these words about being caught up to God and to His throne refer to, or at least include, the rapture that the apostle Paul spoke about in 1 Thess. 4:17. It is significant that the same Greek verb for being caught up (raptured) is used in Rev. 12:5 and 1 Thess. 4:17.
Before we discuss the meaning of these words in detail (and we have some very important details to discuss), I would like to consider a preliminary question. How is it that Satan, who had been waiting for the birth of the male child that he might devour the child, disappears from the scene while the birth and rapture seemingly take place uncontested? I believe Rev. 12:7-10 answer this question. Just before the birth (essentially at the time of the birth), Satan and his angels are overpowered and cast down to the earth. Matthew 24:29-31 speak of Satan and his angels being cast down just before the resurrection, glorification, and rapture.)
As I will demonstrate as we continue, it is biblical to speak of our being born into the fullness of eternal life and glory at the end of this age. Jesus Christ was the first-born from the dead (and I referred to Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5; and Rom. 8:29). Colossians 1:18 and Rev. 1:5 both mention that Christ is "the firstborn from the dead." That is, He was the first man (though He was, and is, much more than just a man; He is the God-man; He is God the Son; but He died as the Lamb of God and needed to be resurrected and glorified); He was the first man to leave death behind and be born into the glory of resurrection life and God's new creation. On the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ being pictured as a birth, also see Psalm 2:7 with Acts 13:33; Heb. 5:5 and 1:5. (See the discussion under Psalm 2:7 in my book.) At the time of Jesus' mid-week return, His people will follow Him in this birth (compare 1 Cor. 15:20-23). Earlier in this paragraph I mentioned Rom. 8:29. That is the verse where the apostle Paul said that God the Father has predestined us "to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He [God the Son] would be the firstborn among many brethren."
What a salvation plan! What a Saviour! What a destiny! To be glorified and conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, and even to begin to reign with Him in a never-ending reign. These words include the glorious reality that we will follow Him in being born into the fullness of the eternal life and glory of God's new creation. We will be born into the fullness of eternal life and glory at the time of His return. Although we will be "conformed to the image of His Son," there will be major differences between the Lord Jesus Christ and us. He is deity; we won't be, and He will be worshipped with the Father and the Holy Spirit; we won't be.
It is very significant that there are three Old Testament prophecies that speak of the same birth that Rev.12:5 speaks of: Isaiah 66:7; Psalm 2:7; and Micah 5:3. These three super-important cross-references provide very strong support for the viewpoint that the birth of Rev. 12:5 is the birth into the fullness of eternal life and glory that will take place for God's people at the end of this age. We will discuss Isa. 66:7; Psalm 2:7 and Mic. 5:3 in their contexts before we finish this study of Rev. 12:5. Isaiah 66:1-8 are discussed in some detail in chapter 16 of my book; Psalm 2 is discussed in some detail in chapter 18; and Mic. 4:9-5:6 are discussed in some detail in chapter 17.
Now let's discuss the words, "who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron" of Rev. 12:5. These words certainly fit the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:15 even mentions that He will rule with a rod of iron. But it is very significant that the book of Revelation also clearly speaks of the glorified saints ruling with a rod of iron. I'll read Rev. 2:26, 27; the Lord Jesus Christ is the Speaker here, "He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds [or, works] until the end [According to the book of Revelation we must all be overcomers (we have the privilege to be overcomers), by the grace of God in Christ through faith, which includes our faithfully continuing to hold the truth of His Word and to live for Him until the end of our lives, or until He comes.], to him I [Jesus] will give authority over the nations; (27) and he [every glorified Christian] shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I [Jesus] have also received authority from My Father." It is quite significant that Jesus' words at the beginning of verse 27 are taken from Psalm 2:9. Psalm 2 is a very important prophetic psalm, and as I mentioned, Psalm 2:7 even prophesies of the saints being born into the fullness of eternal life and glory at the very time that we will begin this reign with the Lord Jesus Christ, this reign with a rod of iron.
Now let's discuss the words at the end of Rev. 12:5, "and her child was caught up to God and His throne." For one thing, it is significant that the Greek verb that is translated "was caught up" here is "harpazo," the same verb that the apostle Paul used in 1 Thess. 4:17 for our being caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Our being caught up to God and His throne in Rev. 12:5 at least includes the rapture of 1 Thess. 4:17. The fact that we will be caught up (or raptured) to God and His throne undoubtedly includes the idea that we will begin to reign at that time. We just read that we will rule the nations with a rod of iron, and the Lord Jesus Christ said in Rev. 3:21, "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." Many verses prophesy of the reign of the glorified, raptured saints (see, for example, 1 Cor.6:2, 3; 2 Tim. 2:12; Heb. 2:5-13; Rev. 2:26, 27).
On page 316 I have a sub-heading, "Is it scriptural to think of the church as a 'male child'?" Many times I have been asked how the church could be called a male child when we know that we are the bride of Christ. I usually start to answer this question with a question. "Is the Lord Jesus Christ a Lion, or a Lamb, or a vine?" Of course He is all of these according to the scriptures. In Rev. 5:5 He is called "the Lion from the tribe of Judah," and in Rev. 5:6 He is spoken of as "a Lamb standing as if slain." This is figurative language. He is a Lion in His power and His reigning. He is a Lamb in that He was slain for our sins. Likewise, the church is the bride of Christ (see Rev. 19:7, for example) in her glorious relationship with the Son of God, and the church is a "male child" in that Christians will reign (along with the Lord Jesus Christ) with a rod of iron (see Rev. 2:26, 27; and 12:5). And we are branches on Christ the vine.
Now let's turn to Isa. 66:7, 8. I mentioned that Isa. 66:7 is a very important cross-reference for the birth of the saints into the fullness of eternal life and glory at the end of this age. And I mentioned that Isa. 66:1-8 are discussed in some detail in chapter 16 of my book. Revelation 12:5 helps us interpret Isa. 66:7 and vice versa. I don't believe we could understand Isa. 66:7 without light from the New Testament. I'll read Isa. 66:7, "Before she travailed, she brought forth; Before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy." Here's an amazing thing, Before she travailed, Before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy. Who is the woman who gives birth? True Israel, as in Revelation chapter 12. And, significantly, the "boy" here in Isa. 66:7 equals the "male child" of Rev. 12:5. Galatians 4:26 speaks of Jerusalem above being our mother.
What is this travail of Zion (true Israel) that is mentioned in Isa. 66:7, 8? This is the special travail that the repentant end-time remnant of Israel, who will not become Christians until after the mid-week rapture, will experience throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week. We read about this travail in Daniel chapter 7 and Revelation chapters 12 and 13, and many other places. I'll read Dan. 7:21, 25, for one very important example, "I kept looking, and that horn [Antichrist] was waging war with the saints and overpowering them." And verse 25 makes it clear that these things will take place during the three and one-half year super-evil reign of Antichrist that will begin right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, when the devil gives him his power and his throne and great authority (see Rev. 13:2). I'll read Dan. 7:25, "He [Antichrist] will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One...and they [God's people] will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time." There is widespread agreement that a "time, times, and half a time" equals three and one-half years and refers to the second half of Daniel's 70th week.
I'll also read Rev. 13: 5, 7, verses that are quite similar to the verses I just read from Daniel chapter 7. Revelation 13:5, "There was given to him [to Antichrist] a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him." These forty-two months refer to the second half of Daniel's 70th week. And Rev. 13:7, "It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him." This will all work for good. God will very much be in control, as He always is. For one thing, this verse isn't saying that Antichrist will have authority over the saints spiritually and that he can make them backslide etc., but it is clear that there will be many martyrs, etc. Revelation chapter 12 also shows that these saints will experience much of God's protective care during those very difficult days. Other important cross-references on this special travail of the end-time elect remnant of Israel include Dan. 12:7, 10 and Zech. 13:9.
Now I'll read Isa. 66:7 again and then verse 8, "Before she travailed, she brought forth; Before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy. (8) Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons." The last words of this verse show that yes, a nation can be born all at once. "As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons." Right in the middle of the seven-year period all the saints converted before that time will be born into the fullness of eternal life and glory and raptured from the earth. Isaiah 66:7 and Rev. 12:5 (and other verses) prophesy of that glorious birth. Now, at the end of Daniel's 70th week, the end-time elect remnant of Israel will also be born into the fullness of eternal life and glory and will begin to reign along with the glorified saints who will have been reigning since the middle of the seven-yar period. All the members of God's true Israel will be glorified and reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ by the time the millennial kingdom begins. Revelation 15:2-4 and 20:4 are important cross-references for the glorification of the end-time elect remnant of Israel at the end of Daniel's 70th week. (These verses are discussed in some detail in my book and papers.) It's time to stop. God bless you! Thank you Father for your Holy Word. We want to rightly divide it, to understand it, and to live in line with it.
Copyright by Karl Kemp
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.