Finally, when we place the great tribulation as happening at the first part of the Day of the Lord so that the "time unlike any other" is just one time, then we are left with the main objection with the stellar signs. Are the stellar signs before the Day of the Lord (& tribulation) as in Joel, or after the tribulation (& Day of the Lord) as in Matthew? If we let the word "tribulation" be defined by the Bible as being applicable to two times, referring both to the tribulations today, and the unique great tribulation in the future, then this problem disappears. The stellar signs can be after the general tribulation that has always afflicted the Church, and before the unique great tribulation and Day of the Lord of the future.
The great historic debate in all of prophecy is whether or not there will be a future fulfillment of much of what is written. The amillennialists, historicists, and preterists typically say that the tribulation of Matthew is historic and present day, because as history has shown, the Church has experienced tribulation in the past, and continues to experience tribulation today, and thus, there is no unique future time of tribulation. The straw man position set up by those who would attack the futurist view is that the tribulation is only future. The real position of nearly all futurists is that we recognize that there has been historic and present day tribulation, but that this is not that unique time of tribulation as described as the Day of the Lord. Here are just a few verses showing the historic and present day application of the word "tribulation".
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
1 Thessalonians 3:4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
2 Thessalonians 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Tribulations of the Church are also given in Matthew 24:
Matthew 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall
kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
False prophets are mentioned twice, in verse 11 and 24; the second time in context with the specific future abomination of desolation.
Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
And in the parallel account of the Olivet Discourse, Luke records the early tribulation of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD as I have already noted. Luke 21:6,20. This shows the passage clearly has at least a partial fulfillment historically.
John records the false christs or antichrists as being fulfilled in his time. This appears to be a restatement and reminder of the warnings Jesus gave back in the Olivet Discourse. He even identified such fulfillment as reason for believing that his time, his day, "is the last time". It appears as if John's point is that the tribulation was upon them. On one hand, there is acknowledgement that one antichrist is yet to come which will indicate that it is the last time. Yet the many antichrists, John says, are reason to say that the time back then was "the last time." I believe John is letting us know that there are two fulfillments of tribulation, one in his present day, and one in the future. It appears as if the tribulation of his time was the final tribulation for the Church as far as he was concerned, since he did not say that the "last time" is yet to come, but that they were in it.
1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
1 John 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
These verses do not prove there is no future tribulation or no future antichrist. Just as there are many antichrists in the tribulation of today, there will also be one "that antichrist shall come" in the future tribulation, "whereof ye have heard that it should come". John's recognition of a fulfillment in his day is NOT a denial of a future fulfillment.
If there can be "only one" fulfillment of any given prophecy, then Joel 2:28-32 must have been completely fulfilled in Acts 2:16-21 on the day of Pentecost! Since Joel 2 is obviously a duel reference, to both history and future, then the parallel passage of the stellar signs in Matt 24:29 may very well be a parallel passage also referring to two times.
Since I am arguing that the "tribulation" of Matt 24:29 is referring to two times, one cannot simply assert that it is the "great tribulation" in view in the passage, as a rebuttal to my position, since I have already established and agreed with that fact. To assert that it is the "great tribulation only" in view, one would have to assert dogmatically that the other tribulations mentioned previously in the passage (verses 9-11 of the Church age, verse 24, and the fall of Jerusalem with the abomination of desolation with the destruction of the temple) that had historic and present day fulfillment could not possibly be in view. I have argued this point with people repeatedly. They will try to correct me and say that line 29 is simply referring to the tribulation just spoken of, and point to line 21. But that is nearly my same argument, we need to look to the passage to see what tribulation was just spoken of. But I will point to all the tribulation, trouble and distress in the entire chapter. There are several tribulations just spoken of, and thus, I believe "the tribulation of those days" (plural) refers to all of them. The idea that line 29 refers to the "great tribulation only", is an argument that is really a denial that any other tribulation is in view. Additionally, to maintain that position, one would have to literally add the defining word "great" or defining phrase "as never shall be" to verse 29 where it is absent.
The great tribulation that in the future is the unique time of tribulation unlike any other. Today's tribulation is not described as being a unique time unlike any other. God's servants have always been persecuted and killed from the very beginning of Old Testament times starting with Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. Since the future tribulation is unique, there are two times of tribulation: today's general tribulation, and the future tribulation.
So, given that there are two events described in Matthew 24:29-31, the rapture and the gathering of the Jews, and two times of tribulation, we must match up each event with the proper time.
I believe today's general tribulation will end with the rapture.
I believe the future unique seven year tribulation will end with the gathering together of the Jews to Israel to meet the Lord as he returns with his saints whom he has gathered together from out of heaven.
Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels
of heaven, but my Father only.
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
"Of that day and hour knoweth no man...but my father only" is a Wedding
"Of that day and hour knoweth no man" is a Feast of Trumpets expression.
This phrase refers to BOTH the Feast of Trumpets and the Wedding.
The time of the bridegroom's return is related to the bridal chamber's construction. When the preparations on the bridal chamber were completed then it would be the proper time. But the groom's father would be the one to give permission. It was a common expression or saying, a Jewish idiom, that a man would say when his friends asked him when his marriage would be. He would reply, "of that day or hour no man knows, but my father only."
The unknown day also is a reference to the Feast of Trumpets, which comes with the observance of the new moon. Since the new moon has a cycle of 29.5 days, it is uncertain on whether it will be seen comes 29 or 30 days after the last new moon.
There is much debate as to the meaning of these two verses. Who is taken, the righteous in the rapture or the wicked in judgment (Matt 13:40-42, 48-50)?
Matthew 24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken,
and the other left.
Matthew 24:41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
These two phrases describe a picture of what happens when the Feast of Trumpets is observed. Dr. Stephen Cook of Mission Ministiries notes at http://www.angelfire.com/oh/MissionMinistries/feast3.html the following:
"At the instant that the Jewish workers heard the trumpet sound, all would immediately stop harvesting, even if they were not finished (think about that!) and go to the Temple for worship! In those days, as it is sometimes today, a Jew & an Arab might be working side by side in the fields - but when the trumpet sounded on this particular day, the Jew would stop and go to worship, while the Arab kept on harvesting."
Before I learned that this verse may be a Feast of Trumpets reference, I was able to note that these verses aptly describe the rapture by the definitions of the words for "taken and left". The word for "taken" is paralambano, which means to receive and join together. In marriage, two are joined as one, (Gen 2, Eph 5:31-32, and Matthew19:5,6, Mark 10:8, 1 Corinthians 6:16). The marriage, of course, symbolizes how in the rapture we are to be joined with Christ. Paralambano is also the word used in John 14:1-3 to describe how Jesus will paralambano, or take us or receive us, to be with him, which is a clear rapture passage.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would
have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive [paralambano] you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Young's Literal translation reads as follows:
Matt 24:40 Then two men shall be in the field, the one is received [paralambano],
and the one is left;
41 two women shall be grinding in the mill, one is received [paralambano], and one is left.
It has been noted that paralambano does not necessarily signify the
rapture because the word was used negatively since it is used to describe
how Jesus was arrested in Mat 27:27. However, harpazo, which is the
rapture word used in 1 Thess 4:17 is also used to describe Paul's arrest
in Act 23:10. Since Paul's arrest could not be used to prove that
harpazo is not a rapture word, then Jesus's arrest cannot be used to prove
that paralambano is not a rapture word. In fact, the use of paralambano
to signify an arrest, or seizing, signifies that the word is a more appropriate,
not less appropriate word for rapture. The fact that paralambano is used
to describe an arrest, as harpazo does, means that the word is very similar
to harpazo, the word for rapture. The rapture is when Jesus will
paralambano us, or harpazo us, or rapture us, which is to say he will seize
us and take us away by force.
Matthew 24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
The body & eagles parable:
Also, there is further supporting evidence that the verses regarding who is "taken and left" show that they are taken in the rapture by looking at Luke 17:34-37.
Luke 17:34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in
one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
In Matthew 24, the verses are out of order. Matthew 24:28, is well before the verses about who is "taken and left" in Matthew 24:40-41.
Other passages in the Bible show two meanings to this peculiar phrase about the bodies and eagles. First, it can be likened to the destruction of the wicked at the end of the tribulation as pictured in Revelation 19:17-18. This comparison is often used to say this phrase cannot be about the rapture, but rather, the return of Jesus at the end of the tribulation.
However, there is another interpretation; that the eagles are Christians, and the body is Christ.
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily,
verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his
blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
There are two objections I have heard to this interpretation of the body/eagle parable. The first is that the interpretation is creative, novel, or new. This is not the case since this same interpretation was being expounded in the 1200's by St. Thomas Aquinas who apparently quotes Chrys., Jerome, Hilary, Origen and Greg.. The other objection I have read is that people have found it repugnant that the Lord could be described as a corpse. Well, I wonder if they find the gospel repugnant, or Revelation repugnant as well, since the Lord is described three times in that book as a "slain Lamb" in three verses, Rev 5:6,12, Rev 13:8.
I believe this parable of the eagles being where the body is has a "dual fulfillment" referring to both the start and end of the tribulation. That Matthew uses this line of the bodies and eagles out of place in verse 28, just before 29, is very interesting. I feel Matthew knew the Bible's dual interpretation and placed this verse there deliberately, and not next to the "taken and left" verses as did Luke in Chapter 17. Or, Matthew was definitely led by the Holy Spirit to do this, specifically in order to let us know that there is a pretribulation fulfillment and posttribulation fulfillment going on in these verses.
The next verses, about the Lord coming as a thief, are a picture of the groom coming for his bride at the Jewish Wedding.
Matt 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth
43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Luke 12 links this parable to the marriage more clearly.
36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
There is a bridal theft, or kidnapping in the dramatic conclusion to Judges 21. The law in Deut 22:25-29 and Exodus 22:15-17 both make provision for a permanant marriage if a man takes, seizes, or seduces a virgin girl. The point here is not to say that Jesus is a thief or a rapist, but merely to point out that there is a provision in the law for Christ to rapture us into a permanant marriage with him.
There is another marriage/rapture/seizing word, and this word is the Hebrew word Laqach which is a word used to describe Enoch's translation, and that is that God "took" him. Genesis 5:24. The word Laqach is also a word used to describe how men "took" wives for themselves, Genesis 6:2, Genesis 11:29, Genesis 12:19.
In the Jewish Wedding, the bride is to stay awake and watch for when the groom will come and get her. She is to be ready for this event. The word used for "watch" in Matt 24 is gregoreuo which also means to stay awake. The root word, egeiro, makes this even more clear as it not only means to awake, but to arise, raise, rise up, and even "to be born", again a theme of the rapture in 1 Thess 4-5 and the Feast of Trumpets. At the rapture, people will awake from the dead, or be translated while still living to receive new spiritual bodies, and be "born again to immortality" 1 Cor 15:51-54. To observe the Feast of Trumpets, people often stay awake all night.
Paul, in 1 Thess 5:2-7, expounds on all of these concepts; the coming
of the thief, of watching, and staying awake and links them together.
In addition, he makes the contrast between sleep and watch.
Since sleep is a term for death as used in 1 Thess 4 and throughout the
Bible, this is a contrast between death and resurrection, and also spiritual
slumber and spiritual watchfulness.
Finally, Jesus ties together several of the concepts we have been looking at in the parable of the 10 virgins. The rapture themes contained in this parable are the following:
1. We are espoused as virgins.. 2Cor 11:2 "...I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."
2. There is the door that is shut on the foolish. The door is also found in the rapture passages Rev 3:10, Rev 4:1, and is a part of the Feast of Trumpets in that the gate is open on the new moon. Ezek 46:1. We are also told that few will enter through the narrow gate, Matthew 7:13-14
3. That the virgins sleep is like death, so when they awake it is like the resurrection. The might not all have actually slept. But "they all slumbered and slept". If you look at root words in a concordance, could mean that some just nodded, or were like the ones who drop their heads but jerk themselves awake continually as they try to fight off sleep. Staying awake is the theme of 1 Thess 5, and the Feast of Trumpets.
4. The "midnight cry" is like the trumpet blast.
5. The cry is actually a command, just as it is a command in 1 Thess 4:17 (NIV) and Rev 4:1.
6. The phrase "for ye know neither the day nor the hour" is repeated, which is also the expression of the wedding and Feast of Trumpets. The wedding is the unknown time, and so is the Feast.
7. The foolish virgins represent Christians, because they are
virgins, and are looking for the bridegroom. The world is not virgins,
not look for the return of Jesus.
8. There is the parallel of the Laodicain Church from Rev 3, which is also spewed from the mouth of Jesus. And this is right in the context of the rapture, right between Rev 3:10 and Rev 4:1, both of which contain the door symbol.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto
the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. [PT, Luke
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. [R Isaiah 40:31, John 6:53-56]
29 Immediately after the tribulation [Two times of tribulation: John 16:33, Zeph 1:14-17] of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: [DOTL Joel 2:31, Isa 13, PT Rev 12:4-5, FT Rev 12 & Isa 66]
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven [R. 1 Thess 4:17]: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, [DOTL, Isa 2:19, 13:6-8, Rev 6:15-17] and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. [Jews gathered, Isaiah 11:11-12, Isaiah 27:12-13]
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. [FT symbol of doors, Matt 25:1-13, Rev 3:10, 4:1]
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. [FTW, PT]
37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. [FTW]
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. [FTW]
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. [FTW]
43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. [FTW, Judges 21, Deut 22, Exodus 22, John 10:10]
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. [FTW]
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
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