The Rapture and the Wrath of God

Part Two 

The First-fruits amongst the Overcomers

 By

Mark Greenwood

 

We now come to the part that causes a lot of discord in the Body of Christ, the sequence of events that brings in the rule of Christ to the earth.  Before we start I need to clarify myself.

I do not believe in being dogmatic but open minded about certain topics of scripture, the return of the Lord is one of them.  We can have our opinions based on scripture; others may have a different opinion based on how they see scripture this then develops into what we call “schools of opinion”, serious contentions can exist between these schools.  When it comes to the return of Christ I have heard people who believe in the preterist version of events denounce everyone else, and even many people who believe in the pre-millennium return of Christ attack others vehemently because they believe differently as regards whether Christ returns according to the pre-trib, pre-wrath or post wrath theory.  To become contentious over this is a work of the flesh which God warns us against.  I believe we are so close to the return of Christ that we can have our viewpoint, which must line up with scripture, but also watch closely as events unfold keeping an open mind just in case one aspect of the actual return of Christ is different from our presumed point of view.

Also let me say that here in the west we often view prophecy on a straight time line where once it is fulfilled that is it, while the Hebrew approach allows for more than one event fulfilling the same prophecy. Sometimes we may get a type in the Old Testament then an anti-type in the New Testament both regarding the same prophecy.

The seventy weeks of Daniel’s prophecy is an Old Testament timeline concerning the Jewish nation which was given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel (see www.gotquestions.org/seventy-weeks.html).  This timeline involves the exact date of the coming of the Messiah to the Jews.  People who work out these dates don’t always come to the same conclusion but most of them are convinced they are correct.  In general they work out the date of the crucifixion to be somewhere in the range of AD 30 to AD 33.  The reason I mention this is because Daniels prophecy shows that there is one week left to the Jewish people from the time of Messiah the Prince (this is seen as one week of seven years).  Jesus openly acknowledge who He was when He rode into Jerusalem on a colt fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy (Zechariah 9:9).  A few days after this He was “cut off”, that is crucified.

The Chronology of the New Testament by Lewis A. Foster (The Expositors Bible Commentary Volume 1) gives a time of four years from the crucifixion to the conversion of Saul.  I think this is logical considering all the things that took place between these two events. This makes the stoning of Stephen probably 3 to 4 years after Christ was crucified (some believe it was in the same year as Christ was crucified).  Even after the crucifixion of Christ God still didn’t give up on the Jewish nation but the Spirit witnessed to them continually right up to the testimony of Stephen when they finally rejected Christ and stoned Stephen to death.  After this the Lord appointed Paul to go to the Gentiles.

Now let us get on with looking at the sequence of events that bring us to the reign of Christ on this earth.

I have named part two of this article, “The First-fruits amongst the Overcomers”.  All Christians are overcomers however there are first-fruits who are to be presented to the Father; these are representative of the whole. 

Jesus Christ told the lukewarm church at Laodicea to repent and that he who overcomes He would grant to sit with Him on His throne, just as He overcame and sat down with the Father on His throne (Revelation 3:21).  They had to overcome the church’s lukewarm, indifferent, attitude to God.  The church at Laodicea believed they didn’t need God they could manage quite well without Him.  They need to repent and trust God now or they will have to go through serious chastisement.

The first-fruits are the fruit or produce that ripens first.  They are collected first and give an indication of what the rest of the crop will be like.  When the rest of the crop has become ripe it is gathered in together at the main harvest.  At the Harvest Festival the farmers would bring their first-fruits and present them to the church as an act of thanksgiving to God for a good harvest.

In the New Testament God’s people are often looked at as wheat that when fully ripened need to be harvested.

Jesus spoke a parable about the kingdom of heaven being like a man who sowed good seed in his field but while he slept his enemy came in and sowed tares amongst them.  He then explains that He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world and the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.  The tares will first be gathered together in bundles to burn them, but the wheat, which is from the good seed, will be gathered into His barn (Matthew 13:24-43).

In the Old Testament we have illustrations or laws which have significant meaning for us today. This is the same with the harvest.

Grain was harvested in April, May, and June, beginning with the barley harvest and ending with the wheat harvest, the grapes were harvested after the wheat harvest, sometime in August and September.  The first-fruits of the barley harvest were usually collected in early April which is the month Nisan in the Jewish calendar.  The month Nisan is the time when the Feast of Passover, the Feast of unleavened Bread and the Feast of First-fruits took place.  The Feast of First-fruits involved bringing a sheaf of the first-fruits of the harvest to the priest.  No leaven could be involved in this presentation as it represents Jesus presenting Himself before the Father at His resurrection from the dead.  Leaven represents sin and Jesus was sinless, He dealt with all sin on the cross and now came before the Father without sin.  

The priest waved this sheaf of the first-fruits of the barley harvest before the Lord on the day after the first Sabbath following the Passover which is the first day of the week.  This happens usually about early April.  It is a picture of the resurrection of Jesus.  Christ is the First-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Fifty days later or seven weeks of Sabbaths is the Feast of Weeks, also known as the day of Pentecost, and falls round about May or June time.  It is the time of the summer wheat harvest and once again an offering is made to the Lord, this time with the first-fruits of the wheat harvest.  This is also known as the latter first-fruits, or second first-fruits.  This new offering is two wave-loafs of two tenths of fine flour, with leaven.  These are the first-fruits of the wheat harvest which are presented to the Lord fifty days after the Feast of First-fruits (Leviticus 23:15-17).  Are these the first-fruits of the church? It would seem so.

Christ is coming back for a church that is full grown, mature, and without blemish, but due to the leaven they are not sinless.  The question is sometimes asked, if the first-fruits of the wheat harvest (the Christians who are looking and ready for the Lord’s return) are presented to the Lord before the main harvest takes place do their bodies receive immortality at this time or do they have to wait till the main gathering of the saints in the air?   Another unanswerable question is concerning Enoch and Elijah, neither died but both went to be with the Lord.  Did their bodies change or are they preserved as they are until the rapture? (see also Hebrews 11:39-40). Also what about the saints who came out of their graves after the resurrection of Jesus? (Matthew 27:52-53).

Whether the first-fruits leave their bodies behind or take them to heaven, the change will probably happen at the rapture of the wheat harvest, however, only God knows the answer to that one.

After the first-fruits of the wheat harvest are taken, the rest of the wheat becomes ripe and is harvested.

We can see that if the rapture took place today not all the church would be ripe at the same time; however at the removal of the first-fruits the rest of the church would quickly mature ready for the main harvest.

Now it is important to note that the wheat harvest takes place before the grape harvest.  The grape harvest represents the time of God’s wrath upon the earth.  So by the time of God’s wrath, the church (wheat) has already been removed from the earth.

One of the keys which show the order of events is found in Revelation 6:12-17.  “---There was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as the sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood”.  At the end of this chapter all the people cry out to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

 In Acts 2:20 Peter quotes Joel’s prophecy that “The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord”.

This is the beginning of the end, a time of great sorrow and woe is about to come on the whole earth.

It needs to be mentioned at this time that it is only when we arrive at Revelation chapter 11, which is when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet that the elders in heaven say that God’s wrath has come.  Chapter 16 is the outpouring of the seven bowls of God’s wrath which completes God’s wrath on the earth.

Revelation chapter 6:12-17 is actually the opening of the sixth seal; so it is before all the events that bring in the wrath of God, the seven trumpets of “woes” do not come into effect until the opening of the seventh seal.  Here in the sixth seal it is the effect of the response of God to the prayers of the saints in the fifth seal.  In Revelation 8:3-5 we read, “Then another angel having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar.  He was given much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.  Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth.  And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.” The effect of all this hitting the earth unexpectedly will cause men to cry out in fear of God, as in the sixth seal.

This is very much a description of  Ezekiel 38 where it says, “And it will come to pass at the same time, when Gog comes against the land of Israel, says the Lord God, that My fury will show in My face.  For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken: Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beast of the field, all things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence.  The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all my mountains, says the Lord God.  Every man’s sword will be against his brother.  And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.  Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations.  Then they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:18-23).

As we look at world events things are coming to pass very quickly.

Do the seven seals signify future events or events that have taken place since Christ first came?  The first horse is white and the person that sat on it had a bow and a crown was given to him and he went out conquering and to conquer, now some say that this is the Antichrist who is to come, others say it is Christ Himself when He came and defeated Satan.  Apart from it being a white horse I think the clue to who this person is can be found in the words conquering, conquer and crown.  The Greek word for ‘overcometh’ and ‘overcome’ is the same as used here for ‘conquering’ and ‘conquer’.  1 John 5:4-5 says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes (conquers) the world. And this is the victory that has overcome (conquered) the world – our faith.  Who is he that overcomes (conquers) the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”   It is the church who overcomes when Christ is acknowledged as its Head.  Also in Revelation 3:11 the church at Philadelphia are told to hold fast what they have that no one can take their crown. It is the church that conquers and it is the church that has a crown. The early church turned the known world upside down.  That is the first seal.  I do believe the seven seals reveal to us what is happening from the time of Christ right up to the future when at the opening of the sixth seal the sun is darkened and the moon turns to blood.

It is after this that the seventh seal is opened and the angels with the seven trumpets prepare to sound the trumpets.  The sounding of the seven trumpets are seven “woes”, the question is “What are these woes?”  A woe, from man’s side is an exclamation of grief while from God’s side it is a denunciation of man’s rejection of what God is showing him at that time.  Let us look at what Jesus said to the cities who had seen His mighty works and yet did not repent, “Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent:  Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I say to you it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.  And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you” (Matthew 11:20-24). In other words Jesus is saying, “Woe is you for when your day came you saw the mighty works that I did in you yet you would not repent.”

The seven trumpets are seven woes, the first six are to give the people a chance to repent before we get to the seventh, by the time we get to the seventh trumpet all chances of repentance are gone, the Church is taken and  the wrath of God is poured out on the earth.

At the sounding of the sixth trumpet a great army came and killed a third of mankind, but the rest of mankind that were left did not repent of the works of their hands, nor of the idols they worshipped, neither did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts (see Revelation 9:13-21). So at the final chance of repentance they still refused to repent, there is only one more trumpet, the seventh, when all is finished.  

Jesus Christ said, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elects sake those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22).  He then said, in verse 29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken”.  This is different from the moon being turned to blood, which happened at the sixth seal.  This statement of Jesus corresponds with the sounding of the forth and fifth trumpets.  At the fourth trumpet the sun and moon are darkened and at the fifth trumpet the angel from the bottomless pit is released causing the sun and moon to be darkened by the smoke from the bottomless pit (Revelation 9:1-11).  It is also what the prophet Isaiah said in chapter 13:9-10, “Behold the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it.  For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine.”

So the picture we get is that there will be a great tribulation such as has not been before those days nor will come after those days, and in this great tribulation the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.  This is followed by the “day of the Lord” when there will be a great shaking in the heavens and the powers of the heavens are shaken.

I used to view Revelation in the normal sense that generally, each chapter of events followed the previous chapter of events, now I see it as placing the events in where they fit rather than following consecutive chapters.  Some chapters give us an overview of events, others go back to give more specific detail.  The wrath of God follows the great tribulation.  The man of sin is at work during the great tribulation as he persecutes the saints.  His identity as the beast is hidden until the time that he becomes possessed by the angel from the bottomless pit.   

Once the first-fruits (the first-fruits of the overcomers) are called up to heaven, Satan is cast to the earth and then the tribulation begins.  After this the angel from the bottomless pit is released, and I believe it is at this time that the ‘man of sin’ becomes the ‘son of perdition’, in other words he becomes possessed by the angel from the bottomless pit.  The name of the angel from the bottomless pit means destruction, ‘perdition’ in Greek is the same word as ‘destruction’.  Not only does he cause destruction but his end is also destruction.  His evil reign is allowed to continue up to the time the Lord Jesus returns to the earth (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, Revelation 13:5, Revelation 19:19-20).  

Before any harm could come to the earth, 144000 from all the tribes of the children of Israel must first be sealed on their forehead, that is 12000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:1-8).   The Jews are to have the protection of God on them during the time when the day of the Lord is being fulfilled.

Both Christians and Jews will suffer persecution during the great tribulation however before the wrath of God is poured on the earth the Christians will be raptured and the Jews will be sealed to protect them from the wrath of God (the antichrist will still try to wipe them out but they will flee to a place prepared by God for them where Christ will come to their aid and destroy their enemies).

In Revelation chapter 12 we read of a woman giving birth to a “male Child” who Satan wanted to devour as soon as it was born, however it was caught up to heaven so Satan tried to destroy the woman who gave birth to the child.

A general interpretation is that Jesus is the male child and the woman is the Jewish nation however there is another viewpoint that sees the male child as the overcomers in the church and the woman as the lukewarm church.  I believe that here the prophecy has a double fulfilment and that the woman can depict both Israel and the church, and the male child represents both Jesus and the overcomers.  This double meaning is similar to the prophecy in Hosea 11:1 where it relates to Israel when it says, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son”, In Matthew 2:15 we are told that this prophecy also relates to Jesus when He had to flee to Egypt when Herod was out to kill all the children under two. 

These overcomers are the ones who have overcome the heresies and wrong attitudes which have become established in the church through the ages (see Revelation chapters 2 and 3).   All Christians are called to be overcomers but these are the first fruits amongst the overcomers, those who have prevailed against the tide of the world that has invaded the church.  These first fruits the Lord takes before the great tribulation.  Because they are first fruits they are fully ripened, that is, trusting God in all things, so there is no reason for them to go through the great tribulation.  These overcomers are eventually followed by the rest of the church at the wheat harvest that follows. The main wheat harvest will now be mature due to overcoming in the great tribulation. It is here that the church finds out that she cannot manage without God and cry’s out to Him to save her. No longer are they indifferent to Him.

It is no good thinking that we can overcome evil by our own strength.  Jesus said to His disciples that they could do nothing without Him and He prayed to the Father for them that the Father would keep them from the evil one (John 17:11-26).  He also told them to ask the Father, “Do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).  How important it is that we trust in God to keep us safe.  Jesus prayed for us, we pray in agreement with Him and when two agree together in His Name God will do what they ask (Matthew 18:19-20).

It is important that we want to be separate from the world.  It often seems that many Christians don’t want to be separate from the world, they enjoy the things of the world, they are friends with the world.  God calls them adulterers and adulteresses (James 4:4).

Jesus said, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.  For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36).

These overcomers have so often had to persevere against the lukewarm attitude and indifference of the church.  Christians can get side-tracked and instead of Christ being their first love, their all in all, they instead fix their eyes on a man, perhaps a Pastor or Evangelist or some other important leader, or maybe it’s some great doctrine or teaching, or worshipping a beautiful building, or even a worship team that attracts worldly people to join the church, without realising it their priority has been misplaced. They have left their first love.  The true overcomers are those in the church who love the Lord, who put Him first in everything and are an example for the church to follow.

Now back to Revelation chapter 12, the “male Child” that shall be caught up to the throne is the one who shall rule upon the earth with a rod of iron, we know that it is Jesus who will rule with a rod of iron, but it is also the overcomers who are mentioned in Revelation 2:26-27.

In Revelation 14:1-5 we read of another 144000 who are seen standing with the Lamb on mount Zion.  The Jews came to the mountain at Sinai which was exceedingly fearful causing them to tremble, but the Christians are not called to Sinai but to mount Zion and the city of the living God (Hebrews 12:21-22).  I used to think that these were the same as the 144000 Jews mentioned earlier but now I believe they refer to the overcomers in the Church who are seen with the lamb on Mount Zion.  In fact Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible says that Sion (Zion) is figurative of the church (militant or triumphant), and Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible says “The gospel church is called Mount Zion; there believers have clearer views of heaven, and more heavenly tempers of soul.”

Zion is God’s stronghold, the place where God reigns from.  Zion in a spiritual sense is the place where God’s people are full of great joy and are singing His praises.   Jesus Christ is said to be a living stone and also the chief cornerstone which is laid in Zion and Christians also come to Him as living stones to be built up a spiritual house and to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-7).  So yes, it would appear that the church triumphant, with Jesus Christ in the midst, singing praises and giving thanks, is representative of Zion where God is reigning.

These 144000, the Bible says, are the “first-fruits to God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4).  They are described as virgins.  Christians are also described as virgins.  The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that he was jealous for them with a godly jealousy “That I might present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).  In Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus talks about ten virgins, five wise and five foolish.  The reason they were foolish is because they hadn’t kept their oil topped up and now their light was being quenched.  The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians not to quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).  If we quench the Spirit then our light will go out.  The reason the wise virgins were wise is because they kept their oil topped up. 

The first-fruits of the church of God are those who love the Lord and are pressing towards the goal in order to obtain the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  These mature Christians know their citizenship is not here on the earth but in heaven from which they eagerly await the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.  How close do we resemble that description?

These 144000 people are not only described as virgins, but they are also said to be without fault.  It is the church that is called to be without fault and without blemish, Ephesians 5:27 says, “That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish (‘without blemish’ is the same Greek word as used to describe the 144000 as being ‘without fault’, in Revelation 14:5).  Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”. 

Also the 144000 have the Name of the Lamb and the Name of the Father written on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1).  In Revelation 3:12 when writing to the church, Jesus said, “He who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.  I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God.  And I will write on him My new name”.  It is the overcomers in the church who have the name of the Lamb and the name of the Father on their foreheads.

The number 144000 may be literal but not necessarily, the number 144000 is symbolic of the bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem.  The city is 12000 furlongs, its length, breadth and height are all equal, and its wall measured 144 cubits.  It had twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written on them and twelve foundations with the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb on them (Revelation 21:9-27).

The first-fruits are those who mature first and are caught up to be with the Lord.  On the removal of the first-fruits the rest of the saints will quickly mature due to the persecution that will follow.

Maturity is produced in a person’s life by the word and the Spirit, as the person appropriates the word by the Spirit they grow mature as a Christian.  God has put within us all we need for life and godliness however we need to live it out (see Philippians 2:12-13, 2 Peter 1:3-10, 2 Corinthians 3:18).  Tribulation and persecution produce in us perseverance, character and hope, the end result being that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body (Romans 5:3-4, 2 Corinthians 4:10-11).  A danger for any Christian who God blesses is that they may become exalted, the Bible tells us to humble ourselves.  Suffering is a tool that can keep us humble (1 Peter 5:5-6).  Also we are told that he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.  (1 Peter 4:1-2).

Now, going back to Revelation 12:5-12, after the “male Child” is caught up to God and His throne we read that war broke out in heaven between Satan and his angels, and Michael and his angels.  Satan and his angels were defeated and cast out of heaven down to the earth having great wrath because their time is short.

Once Satan (called here the dragon) and his angels are cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:6-17), knowing that he only has a short time to go he persecutes the woman who gave birth to the male child.  The woman can represent either the Jewish nation or the church that had not fully matured.  The context shows that here it is the Jewish nation and it is the beginning of great tribulation against them.  The Jews flee into the wilderness where God has prepared a place for them.  The dragon now in fierce anger turns his attention to the Christians who also suffer during this time of great tribulation.  These Christians have the Holy Spirit to help them.  We know these people are Christians because the Bible says that the dragon, went to make war with the rest of the woman’s offspring who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus, you cannot keep the commandments of God without the Holy Spirit and you cannot have the testimony of Jesus except that you have received it from the Holy Spirit.  The flesh cannot keep God’s commandments, only the spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit can keep God’s commandments. That is the reason why we must walk in the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that testifies of Jesus (John 15:26) and once we receive the Holy Spirit we too have the testimony of Jesus (1 John 5:6-12).

In Revelation chapter 13 we read of a beast rising out of the sea (the term “the beast” and its description is a symbolic description of the antichrist).  It had seven heads and one of its heads was mortally wounded but this deadly wound was healed and all the world (those whose names are not in the Book of Life of the Lamb) marvelled after the beast and worshipped him.  I wonder if his wound was healed because he became possessed by the angel from the bottomless pit. 

The dragon gave the beast authority and power to blaspheme God, to blaspheme His Name, His tabernacle and those who dwell in heaven.  This beast was allowed to make war with the saints and overcome them.   Authority was given him over every tribe, tongue and nation and everyone was made to receive a mark on their right hand or on their forehead.  No one could buy or sell unless they had this mark of his name upon them.  He was allowed to continue to reign for forty two months. There was also another beast who was the false prophet who caused the earth and all who dwell in it to worship the first beast. 

At the end of the forty two months reign Jesus Christ returns and casts both the beast and false prophet into the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 19:19-20).  These forty two months will also include the time of God’s wrath upon the earth.  God’s wrath does not happen at the beginning of the forty two months but after the rapture of the church. The antichrist will first persecute the saints in the great tribulation, after the rapture of the church the world will worship him as he continues to seek the Jews in order to destroy them.  He will be allowed to continue his evil reign throughout the time of God’s wrath on the earth until the return of Jesus Christ.

In chapter 14:6-7 an angel comes to call everyone to worship God who made heaven and earth and the sea and springs of water.  Amazing, God is still wanting repentance so He can save them.

Also in chapter 14 verses 9-12 another angel gives a strong warning against worshipping the beast and receiving the mark of his name.  If anyone receives this mark they shall suffer the same fate as the beast.  Chapter 14:12 says, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus”.   These saints are Christians who stand firm and refuse to take the mark of the beast. 

This is the time of the trying of their faith for Christians (see James 1:3, 1 Peter 1:7).  It is the trying of their faith which produces patience.  This is the time when all the saints mature ready for the great harvest.

I believe this time of tribulation for Christians is only for a short time and is followed by the wheat harvest then followed by the wrath of God. (See 14:12-20).  The removal from the earth of the tribulation saints is when the harvest of the earth is ripe.  Jesus told His disciples that when the harvest of the earth is ripe the tares shall first be bundled together for burning (Matthew 13:27-30).  At this time all that are actually tares and not wheat shall take the mark of the beast and be separated from the true church ready for burning (Revelation 14:9-10). 

In Revelation 14:14-16 the Apostle John beheld a white cloud and one that sat upon the cloud like the Son of Man, when the wheat harvest is ripe He thrust in His sickle and reaps the harvest. 

Who is this who is “Like the Son of Man”?  We need to turn to Daniel 7:13-14 which says, “I was watching in the night visions, and behold One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.  Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.”

Also in Revelation 1:12-18 we read, “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me.  And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.  And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.  But He laid His hand on me saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.  I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death’.”

When all the saints have been taken then another angel with a sharp sickle is told to thrust in his sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.  So he gathered the vine of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.

In Revelation 7:9-17 we read about “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, people and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!””

One of the elders told John who they were, he said, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple.  And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.  They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 15:1-2 also speaks of those who come out of the great tribulation just before the wrath of God is poured out, “Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.  And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.”

The Bible says that “our citizenship is in heaven from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).  And, “-----To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time ---” (Hebrews9:28).  The Holy Spirit is right now preparing a Bride for the Saviour, it is the Spirit and the Bride that say to the Lord, “Come”.  The longing of the Bride is for the return of her Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, her hearts cry is “Come Lord Jesus”.

Finally, this is written, not to say, this is right and all the other viewpoints are wrong but to encourage you to be open minded and search the scriptures and above everything else, watch.  We are in the last hour so watch what happens and be ready.  Separate yourselves from all that is not of God.  Prevail in the things of God.  Amen. 

 

Scripture quoted is from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Inc. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

The article above is the possible development of events as I see them at the moment.

The reader is advised to keep an open mind and to “watch” as world events bring us nearer to the coming of the Lord.

 

September 2018