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The Hope of Glory
Prophecy - Signs
Monday, September 04, 2017
Pete Garcia

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

With September 23rd right around the corner, I found it necessary to write to you concerning the hype and the hope of the Revelation 12 sign. My intent here is not to curb your enthusiasm pertaining what may or may not be an event, but to guard it. First let me add my concern that on both sides, i.e., the militant supporters and cynical critics of this event, have wrought much division to the body of Christ. They have done this by remaining dogmatic in their opinions over a speculative event that may not pan out to be anything, or it may end up being everything. While one side lobs half-truths, the other returns fire with trolling and threats. I have tried to keep an open-mind concerning this and I would like to bring both the positive and negative points out concerning Revelation 12 and the attention it has recently gotten.

The Good

But let me begin with some positives concerning the Revelation 12 Sign “movement” if I can call it that. Anytime a passage of Scripture gets global attention, I think that is a good sign. It gets people asking questions about the Bible that they normally wouldn’t. Furthermore, it gets Christians back in their Bibles acting like they should have been, like Bereans. It also directs people’s attention to the return of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Inevitably, this will, even if unintentionally, wake some people up from the slumber this world has blinded them with. Lastly, much good scholarship concerning the doctrine of the Church, the Rapture, and timing in general has come because of this.

The Bad

The negatives than are that some will be convinced that something will absolutely have to happen on September 23rd. If September 23rd comes and goes without anything major or significant changing, many who planted all their hopes and dreams on that date will become disillusioned and drift away from the faith. Those who are not Christians will inevitably use this as simply one more thing they can pin on those “wacky” Christians who are waiting for a Messiah who will never come. I believe that Revelation 12 movement may only further validate the scoffing as found in 2 Peter 3:3-4 by fueling the skeptics to ask “Where is the promise of His coming?”

The Bottom Line

Pinning all of our Rapture credibility and our hopes on a specific date (for whatever reason) is both foolish and irresponsible. I understand that those serious about this date are not calling for a Rapture, but there are some who are. No matter how solid our evidence seems, our God sees the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10), so His ways may not seem logical to us at the present, no matter how much we want Him to conform to our patterns and logic. Secondly, relying on extra biblical sources cannot and should not be substituted for clear, biblical teachings on any given subject, no matter how compelling they may seem.

Assessment

So with those issues out of my way, there has been much said by both the proponents and opponents concerning the September 23rd Revelation 12 issue. Even though I am not a believer in this event per se, I find myself supporting its claims more than denying them, simply because there has been such poor scholarship done in critiquing it on the side of our prophecy ‘experts.’ Some of the false charges have been:

  1. All supporters of the September 23rd event view this as the date of the Rapture
  2. No legitimate bible scholars view Revelation 12 as a pre-tribulation passage
  3. No man knows the day or hour, thus, the Revelation 12 proponents are all ‘false prophets’
  4. Revelation 12 is in the middle of the book of Revelation, thus cannot point to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture passage
  5. The child in Revelation can only be Christ

I would like to address these point by point (in the same order) to clarify some of the misconceptions put out there by well-meaning theologians, pastors, and media personalities.

  1. None of the serious supporters of the Revelation 12 have stated that the Rapture will definitively happen on September 23rd or 24th. Some of them have added that the convergence of all the events together makes a strong case being then (or even in 2017), but none are telling folks to sell their things, move to the mountains, and wait for that day. That was what Harold Camping did, and I haven’t seen anyone in this group with any clout do that so far.
  2. John N. Darby, Harry Ironside, Michael Svigel, Chuck Missler, and other bible scholars have held views that Revelation 12 is a strong Pre-Trib passage as well as the child also being the church. This view is not outside the mainstream.
  3. While I agree with the general statement that “no man knows the day or hour,” I also have to balance that against another later statement by Jesus in Revelation 3:3, in which He holds the Church accountable for knowing the hour of His coming.
    1. In context, when Jesus explained the Olivet Discourse, He answered truthfully that ‘no man’ knew. At that point of time, in His incarnation, this was not yet revealed to Him.
    2. We then see post-Calvary, resurrection, and ascension that the Father gave the Son the Revelation of things to come, which makes it all too reasonable to believe that Jesus was told the when and how (Rev. 1:1) because He is the (Rev. 1:8).
    3. This, in my opinion, strengthens the argument for the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 representing the seven stages (or eras) the church would progress through.
  4. Revelation 12 is nestled in the middle of Revelation. That does not, however, mean that all the events are nestled snuggly in the middle of the 70th Week. Rev 12 (like Rev 11 and 13) are parenthetical insertions which span all or part of the entire seven years. Furthermore, Revelation 12 seems to be outlining events in a corporate manner that parallel Christ’s first coming (which were singular). For instance:
    1. The woman singularly was Mary. In Revelation 12, she is Israel corporately.
    2. The child singularly was Christ. Corporately “he” is the Church (i.e., His head and body)
    3. The dragon singularly was personified as Herod. Corporately it is Satan and his entities (or the beast system)

This appears to make much more sense in keeping with the “prophetic” or “future” nature of Revelation (Revelation 1:1, 3, 19, 4:1-2). In other words, this isn’t simply a rehashing (or historical rendering) or Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension, but something much more intriguing.

  1. Opponents of the Revelation 12 sign openly scoff at the notion that the Child/child in Revelation 12 could also represent the Church.
    1. The child in Rev 12 is differentiated between huios (masculine) to teknon (neuter) who did not ascend but was ‘harpazo’. From my understanding of Luke 24:51, Jesus was anapherō (carried up, not snatched up) to heaven.
    2. If it was meant to convey Christ here in verse 12:5, why use harpazo if that is not what actually happened? This is why I believe John was told to use this particular phrasing.
    3. The Church is also promised to rule with a ‘rod of iron’ (Rev. 2:26-27). And as Christ is the head, and the Church is the body, it is not inconceivable that we also will rule in some capacity as Scripture indicates.

Conclusion

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. Matthew 24:36

This verse has been the champion of anti-date setters for millennia and for good cause. I believe it has tempered the tendencies of believers who are living through incredibly difficult times to not want to jump after every sign and symbol as their ticket out of here. My main issue with continuing to use this as the catch-all verse is that later, revelatory passages seem to conflict with it. Scripture as given to the Apostle Paul (the mysteries revealed) and even Jesus Himself seem to indicate that we should know the hour and the day.

But first, notice what Jesus doesn’t say; “But of the day and hour no one knows or will ever know.” The passage was written in the present-tense, and thus seems to indicate the truth of what was known at that point in time. In His human form, Jesus rightly stated that “no man knows” because, at that time (context here), He was both fully God and fully man. But in His humanity, He willingly and obediently limited Himself in His power of omniscience to trust fully in His Father’s plan. Just as we humans can’t see into the future, it stands to reason, that God becoming a man, would limit Himself in like-manner so as to be tested as we are in all things (Hebrews 4:15). Yet, He did it without sinning. Doubt is intricately tied to not knowing, which as James 1:6 and Hebrews 11:1 point out, destroys faith. Jesus demonstrated perfect faith in the Father, which would by necessity mean He limited Himself in what He knew if He were to be tested in every way as we mortals are.

But as indicated in Revelation 1:1, Jesus was given the Revelation at some point after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. This was what the Apostle John, imprisoned on the isle of Patmos in 95AD, was witness to. In His seven letters, Jesus tells the church at Sardis this:

Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. Revelation 3:3

As Robert Breaker academically points out in his great YouTube videos, the opposite of not knowing what hour He will come, is knowing the hour He will come. This then supports Hebrews 10:25 in that we will see the Day approaching. Well, if we truly had no way of knowing anything concerning our Lord’s return, both Rev. 3:3 and Hebrews 10:25 couldn’t be true. How can we see the Day approaching if we had no way of knowing what or when that Day was? The Apostle Paul includes a similar theme in 1st Thessalonians 5:1-6:

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

The Messiah (Jesus Christ) was prophesied in the Old Testament of having two comings. We know that in hindsight, but the first century Jews mistakenly believed that it was only one coming. They also believed that when the Christ did come, He would immediately usher in the Kingdom in that same arrival. Even Jesus’s disciples didn’t fully understand this after all was said and done (Acts 1:6-7).

The First Coming was explicitly given to the Jews in the 70 Weeks of Daniel prophecy. This narrowed it to the year of His entry into the city of Jerusalem to which we know as Palm Sunday (Luke 19:41-44). Were the Pharisees and Sadducees wrong for not recognizing the time of their visitation? Absolutely, Jesus held them accountable for not knowing (Matthew 16:1-4). Likewise, I believe, given the number of warnings and admonitions to watch and be ready in the New Testament, the Church will also be held responsible for being caught off guard. Why watch if we don’t know what we are watching for? Watchfulness has both a singular and corporate application:

  1. We as individuals don’t know the time of our own death, so we must always be prepared to meet the Lord
  2. We as a body of believers, must watch to recognize the season of our Lord’s return

While it is impossible to know exactly when the Rapture will occur, I believe that the compounding nature of mankind’s sin (there is a fullness coming), the convergence of prophetic events, and the timing in relation to Israel’s rebirth as a nation, all must be taking into account. I also believe that although we won’t know the specific day of the Rapture, we should recognize the season. Furthermore, as Christ literally fulfilled the Spring Feasts in order, it stands to reason that He will also fulfill the Fall Feasts literally in order as well. How the feasts tie into the Church’s departure, is up for debate.

To me, it would make sense that He either return for His Church in 2017 or 2018 at the latest, given the significance of the specific timing relating to Israel’s return as a nation (parable of the fig tree). Then again, I am not God so His ways and thinking trump my understanding. He may have some other design that is more in keeping with the fullness of time than anything I can conceive. With that said, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, we should be excited about the soon return of our Lord. Given our current state of affairs both here and abroad, things will not continue on indefinitely. As Pastor J.D. Farag once noted, our world has a shelf-life.

So we temper our hope against the hype by staying in the word of God and testing everything by it. While the Revelation 12 movement has many positive aspects to it, like with everything else, we must put it to the test. And it may be that September 23rd comes and goes, but that should not diminish our hope in the Lord’s soon return. My hope was never in a date, but in a Person, the God-Man Jesus Christ. The hope we have was made possible by Jesus Christ, who redeems us from sin and death. We are not simply being saved to be saved, But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:4-7)

Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. Luke 21:28

About Pete Garcia

Last week: The Last Hour



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