Thursday, May 10, 2012
The Imminence of the Harpazō
By Ron Graham
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” Romans 11:25. To many Christians, endlessly attempting to set a date for the Harpazō (Rapture of the saints) has become an obsession. I’m going to do something different; I’m going to explain why the Rapture hasn’t occurred. As Paul makes it plain in the verse above, there will be no Harpazō until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. It’s important to understand that until the exact number of Gentiles makes up the completeness of the Ekklesia (assembly of the called out), we will remain on this planet in these corrupted bodies.
Since God alone possesses the knowledge of the timing of the completeness, or fullness, of the Gentile Ekklesia there is nothing more important for us to concern ourselves with than Christ’s command to His followers. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15. The emphasis of our Messiah’s command here is not on the word “go”, but on the word “preach”; evangelism is the goal and a major key to bringing about the fullness of the Gentile Ekklesia.
Because Christians are so ready for the Harpazō to occur they pick and choose dates, many times to the exclusion of all else hoping that they can move up the date of that awesome event. Sadly, while the followers of Messiah Jesus become more focused on the Rapture, the lost world just keeps on rolling down that wide destructive path that leads to Hell – unabated.
Here’s an example of what I mean by “unabated”. In many parts of the U.S. there are special turnouts on highways designed for those big rigs that have lost their brakes. These turnouts are positioned on steep downgrades so the drivers who have their wits about them can guide these big rigs onto one of these special graveled turnouts and avoid the destruction of themselves, their equipment, and others that might be in their path. In the same sense, we, the followers of Messiah Jesus, are positioned along the highways of life armed with the Gospel of hope. We are the special “turnouts” positioned just off that highway which leads to destruction. We were designated by God to station ourselves alongside those who have embarked on that avenue of no return which leads to Hell. If we aren’t there for those who are lost, that highway is left wide open without any barriers for those folks to avoid destruction (damnation).
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18. As Paul explained the Rapture of the Ekklesia to the Thessalonians, he wanted them to find comfort in knowing that that awesome event would occur soon. Can you imagine what would have happened if all Christians stopped witnessing back in Paul’s day because of their belief in the nearness of the Rapture? Some did just that and he had to correct them to get them back into the evangelistic mode.
Over the years since I’ve turned my life over to Messiah Jesus I’ve seen many predictions by folks who attempt to set dates regarding the coming Rapture, both public and subtly laid between the lines of commentaries. Whether their date setting is intentional or not, they are all contrived predictions and nothing more than deceptions. This all leads to more conjecture on the part of the saints who are now growing more and more impatient as they anticipate the Rapture. When it happens it happens, ‘til then we’ve got work to do.
It would be best for the Ekklesia of Christ to saddle themselves with the business of the Father, diligently seeking to do His will instead of continually pondering an event that will occur when we least expect it. There are many dead people walking around who need to know Jesus, or tomorrow they may wake in Hell. Way too many Christians spend their time seeking the time frame for the Rapture or bicker with each other about whether or not the Rapture is Biblical. While they are distracted by such things they ignore their responsibility to be the light of the world.
The lost of this world are consumed with the day and have no idea about the lateness of the hour, nor do they care. This foolish attitude of the lost discourages many saints and too often those who were excited about evangelism turn to other things to console themselves because of so much rejection of Christ’s message. Too many saints turn from evangelism to other focuses with the attitude that someone else will do the evangelism and the witnessing as they pursue more noble tasks. Perhaps their message is rejected because they lack biblical knowledge, they are unprepared scripturally.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8. We should all long for Messiah’s appearing, but notice Paul isn’t advocating sitting in our homes staring out the window at the sky in anticipation of that great event. Jesus gave us a job to do and it is the most important job associated with our walk with Him. It is not our job to go out and drag people into worship halls simply to fill the pews, but to enlighten everyone we can of the truth of the Gospel of Christ. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”Matthew 28:19-20a. There’s a lot more to this verse than meets the eye. We are not only to preach the Gospel of Christ (His death burial and resurrection), but we are to baptize those who believe and to teach them the scriptures. Not an easy task for those who don’t study their Bible.
I believe God looks on His children who are apathetic towards the command He gave them (the preaching His Gospel) as selfish. Believe me, I’m as anxious for the Harpazō as anyone, but I must be about my Father’s business right up ‘til the end. Since we are to be raptured at a point when the fullness of Gentiles is complete, would it not be much more advantages and productive to be out there on the battle front preaching the Gospel instead of incessantly dreaming of the Rapture? We should be helping the Holy Spirit all we can to facilitate that fullness of the Gentiles mentioned above in anticipation of the last Gentile coming in.
Think of a sailing vessel that needs a specific number of hands to man the various positions associated with piloting that ship. They can’t sail until the exact number of sailors needed has come aboard. That’s what Paul alludes to when he says “until the fulness of the gentiles comes in”. The Rapture isn’t going to occur until that last sailor (gentile) comes on board.
There is no doubt in my mind that this world is very close to its finale. Living in the prophesied last days is exciting as well as encouraging – some see it as frightening. Every day we watch events unfold that point to the soon return of our Messiah Jesus and there should be a sense of urgency as to the lateness of the hour weighing paramount on our minds. A very small amount of discernment is all that is necessary these days as we watch the current state of world affairs becoming more and more unstable. This is enough for us to know that Jesus is coming soon.
The Rapture of the Ekklesia must occur before Jesus’ Second Advent, and that fact proposes great expectation in the minds of those who have become adept at understanding prophecy. Being obsessed with the coming rapture to the exclusion of evangelism is the same as turning our backs on our Messiah’s command. Just what kind of ambassadors for Jesus are we when we disregard His command to preach the Gospel to all nations? If you’ve helped lead someone to the Lord, praise God, but don’t stop there. After all, there are many more lost folks wandering aimlessly down that destructive highway.
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” Revelation 7:9. There will be many ways in which God will send His Gospel message to the lost after the Rapture and many will come to a saving faith in Christ during that time. But there will be a gap between the Rapture and the proclaiming of the Gospel, and those who die during that gap will most likely die in unbelief.
Therefore it is imperative that we, the Ekklesia of Christ, preach the Gospel to everyone we can NOW. No matter how much we might disagree with another person for their choice of lifestyle or the abuse they’ve laid on us personally, we do not have the luxury to pick and choose who we witness to. Tell them all exactly what Jesus did for them, and plead with them if necessary, that their hearts might be softened and they might see the truth before it is too late. The Holy Spirit is hard at work convicting these folks; we too, should work hard at doing our part.
There is a verse that is used quite often by many commentators as they write about the last days. It’s invariably used as a closure to their articles. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:28. Actually, if you study the context of the entire chapter Jesus is warning the Jews of the impending destruction coming at the end of the Tribulation week. The Ekklesia of Messiah Jesus won’t be here to lift up their heads as we will have already departed planet earth via the Rapture. The insistence on the use of this verse, as a gesture to calm the tide of apprehension, has given rise to a form of apathy. The problem is that many have become so focused on the Rapture event that they have ceased all preaching of the Gospel.
I’m always thrilled when some of my readership tells me they’ve passed my commentaries on to others, whether it be to those on their email list or they’ve printed them off and mailed them to others. Some of you have even asked if it is alright with me that you do this. Please, pass them on to as many as you can, they are Holy Spirit inspired words and all glory is given to God. If you have no other way to contact the outside world with the truth, then a great way to preach is to send these commentaries on to everyone you can. If I can help from here let me know, I love answering questions about my Lord and Savior.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. That’s the question at the heart of the matter of evangelism. Do you love Him? Do you love Him enough to keep His commandments? Prophecy is exciting and a great study, and there is much to learn. We’ve studied and learned of the Harpazō and that it is imminent, which means it can occur at any moment. There is nothing standing in the way of that awesome event except possibly that one person God has been putting on your heart to seek and speak to. Go get ‘em.
God bless you all,
All scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed
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