So the service of the house of the Lord was set in order. 36 Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced that God had prepared the people, since the events took place so suddenly.
2 Chronicles 29:29
It never ceases to amaze me the level of hostility directed at those who believe in the taking up of the Church before the Tribulation period. It’s been called ‘The Rapture’ and that is how it is known by those whose faith is in the knowledge that God will cause a means of escape for His people. In fact, God has been giving His people a means of escape for ever. He provided animal skins for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness. This is believed to be the first animal sacrifice for their sins. He provides a way of escape from temptation.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
He provided a way of escape for the Israelites when He first of all gave the instruction to place the blood on the lintels and doorposts of their houses so the Angel of Death would not visit them. He also later provided a way of escape from Egypt through the Red Sea.
He will likewise provide a way for His people to escape in the end times.
36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Luke 21:36 NKJV
There are multitudes of pages on the internet describing the reason for the belief that Dispensational Theology is scriptural and was accepted and preached by the early believers, Paul included. There are just as many pages which would like to discredit that belief. Honestly? If you have a different eschatalogical belief, by all means make your case, but what is the point of attacking others who have different beliefs. In my opinion this is just more proof to me that the great falling away has begun. Men, who previously simply had their own opinions, now seek to not just discredit but besmirch anyone who thinks differently to them. And Dispensational Theology along with Pre-Tribulation Rapture has been historically vindicated, it is not some sudden onset Darby-esque revelation given by a child ‘prophet’. That is a straw man argument which I am not going to go into here, but suffice to say anyone with any intellectual integrity will go to the source of these rumours and deal with what they find there. But this is not the main point of this post.
There are many who believe the rapture is soon and they are getting all excited about it. There are many who, every year right about now, start setting dates. They do not do any good for the rest of us by making these ridiculous appointments. We DO NOT know the day or the hour. What about this is hard to accept?
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[e] but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour[f] your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Matthew 24 NKJV
Yet the date setting continues and probably will even after the Rapture has occurred. The whole point of an imminent return of Christ, or rather, an imminent catching up, which is what the actual term means, is that we will not know the exact date, and we need to ready ourselves. If you read the scripture at the top of the page, which comes from 2 Chronicles, you will note that God prepared the people because the ‘events took place suddenly’. The Rapture is one of those events that God will cause to happen suddenly. In fact, it will be so sudden, it is described as happening in the twinkling of an eye. Not a blink, not a wink, a twinkling.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed
1 Corinthians 15 NKJV
The issue here is immanency. If we don’t know the day or the hour we are expected to be prepared. When Hezekiah renovated the Temple which lay in disuse and disarray with all kinds of rubbish and blasphemous desecration within it, he also called the priests and Levites to be ready to begin to make sacrifice for the whole of Israel.
Hezekiah’s words to the priests were “My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him and that you should minister to Him and burn incense. (2 Chron.29:11).
The first thing King Hezekiah did was to restore the Temple. Specifically, in the first year of his reign, in the first month he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. The temple had lain desecrated and unused, an unthinkable thing in the days of Temple worship. God himself dwelt in the Temple, and therefore everything that was done there was done in relation to God himself. As they carried out the laws and ordinances that God had given for life in the Temple, their obedience showed not only God but all other nations that God lived, that His people were kept and protected by Him and that His presence was venerated and worshiped by His people, the ones He had chosen. It was not just a mark of respect, it was a sign of love for God. To not just turn away from God but to have the whole nation despise the Temple in such a way was to prove that even the sacred, even the elect were no longer pure. It is like saying salt is no longer salty or light is now darkness. Therefore, Hezekiah, like Nehemiah after him, saw to it that the Temple was restored first and foremost, and like Nehemiah, he dealt with the gates and doors first. But his actions were obviously not expected because everbody, as well as everything, lay in disarray and in a state of unpreparedness.
They had to move their annual events around a bit to make way for the cleansing of the Temple and preparing the priests. Later in this chapter it says that “the Levites were more diligent in sanctifying themselves than the priests” (v 34). The priests who were supposed to function in the temple were not ready, therefore their brethren, the Levites, were called upon to help them in their work. This is an interesting verse. It is the preparedness of the workers in the Temple which determined how fast the work was done. The tribe of Levi was the tribe from which the Priests of the Temple were chosen, but not all Levites were priests, they were all given a tithe, but they did not all do the special work of the priests in the Temple with regard to sacrifices etc. See here for further reading regarding the differences.
Like the Levites, believers are called to prepare themselves to go before the presence of the Lord. In the earthly Temple, if a Priest was not found to be sanctified when he entered the Holy of Holies, he would die. It was the reason they used to tie a rope around his ankle so that if he did perchance drop dead, they could drag his body out of the Holy of Holies without having to go in and risk death themselves. We Christians tend to think of God and the Rapture and Heaven itself as being a kind of rest camp. But we forget that God is holy and cannot look upon sin. That is why He sent Jesus to take the punishment of our sin. We may not be sent to Hell, but we will be judged for our works. Ostensibly, Ananias and Sapphira were believers yet they were judged for lying to the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 5. We will still need to consider whether we are ‘worthy to escape’ meaning not that we will need to be perfect but that we will be sanctified. We are called to ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling’. The book of Revelation contains warnings from Jesus to the churches to ensure that they will ‘endure to the end’ and that in some cases their names will still be in the Lamb’s Book of Life. This is a serious warning. We need to be examining our lives with a view to the catching up of the body of Christ.