For the last couple of weeks my employer has put me on the midnight shift, and as a result I am living in a fog of sleep deprivation! Try as I might, I am not able to get a good sleep during the day!
With that caveat, I have been thinking about something my last article brought up.
In the garden of Eden, before the first sin, Adam was warned about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2:16-17
This statement has been the subject of all kinds of sermons, articles, and speculation, over the years, because Adam and Eve did not die that day.
Was God lying? Did they die spiritually that day? Was that what He meant? Did their process of dying begin that day, and only end some 900 years later?
It struck me, after writing about the first sacrifice, that someone did die that day. Someone did die in the places of Adam and Eve, on the very day that the Lord GOD said they would die! Someone died as a substitute for each of them, establishing the principle of substitution that continues to this day!
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21
Two animals died to cover Adam and Eve’s sin. The death that Adam and Eve should have died was placed on them. Not that the death of animals could really cover sin, but as a picture of the one true sacrifice that does solve the sin problem, the death of Jesus on the cross!
People have pointed out that everyone dies. But NOT everyone dies! While death is the wages of sin, two sinners did not die! Enoch and Elijah did not die a physical death, but were translated directly to Heaven!
And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. Genesis 5:24
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.Hebrews 11:5
The wages of sin is death, and all have sinned, so how could Enoch avoid death? Someone else died for him! It was his faith that pleased God! Not works!
And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. II Kings 2:11
Make no mistake, Elijah too was a sinner. He also deserved to die, but he has a substitute!
There is a generation of saints that will receive the same blessing as Enoch and Elijah! They too are sinners, but they have the same substitute for their sins; The Lord Jesus Christ!
51 Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. I Corinthians 15:51-52
This is commonly referred to as the “Rapture of the Church”. While the word “rapture” is not found in the English bibles, the word from which it derives, Ha rapereo, is found in the Latin Vulgate. It means to be “caught up, or to be snatched suddenly”.
If you don’t like the word “rapture” you can call it “the great snatch”, or the “catching up”. I don’t think it really matters what you call it. It will happen, regardless of what name you give it.
Notice the order in which this event occurs in 1 Thessalonians 4
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
This same order of resurrection, and then rapture, occurs very clearly in Isaiah 26;
19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. 20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. 21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
Notice in verse 19 that this is not a general resurrection of both saints and the lost, for the lost will not sing at their resurrection! Notice also that Isaiah himself anticipates being resurrected at this time! This is the resurrection of the saved, of both the church-age saints, as well as the pre-church, Old Testament saints.
In verse 20 we have the rapture of the church which Paul spoke of in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The “thy chambers” are the rooms, or mansions, in Heaven that Jesus spoke about building for us in John 14:2.
Notice that these saints are “hiding themselves” for “as it were a little moment” in Heaven. In other words they are not there permanently. The phrase “as it were” means “in a manner of speaking” or “not literally, but practically correct”. Seven years is but a little moment in the light of all eternity! Then they will be sent back to earth, because He has a job for them on this planet.
When are these people in their chambers in Heaven? While “the indignation” is going on, on the earth! This is a term for the Great Tribulation period! So, we now have a time period for the rapture of the church; just before the Tribulation period begins.
Notice in verse 21 that there are still people inhabiting the earth, after both the resurrection of verse 19, and the rapture of verse 20! Yes, there will be people left behind! Many of them will deny that it was the rapture, because they weren’t taken, and they consider themselves to be Christians! No! They will claim that “those evil people were taken in judgment, and now it is up to us to create the kingdom of God on earth”!
That is the time when God’s wrath will boil over on the inhabitants of this planet!
Psalm 50 speaks of this same event;
3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. 4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. 5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
“Our God” is a reference to the God of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ!
This judgment, in verse 4, is the Bema seat judgment of His saints, His people. This is NOT the great White Throne judgment of Revelation 20:11, for only His people will be there to witness it. If saints gain or lose rewards, it is not the business of the lost, but when the lost are judged, the saints will be there to witness that event!
Why would He call to the Heavens from above? He is calling for the resurrection of the saints who have already been in Heaven in spirit form.
The saints in verse 5 are the same saints in Isaiah 26:20, and in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The sacrifice He is referring to is the sacrifice of His Son on the cross!
And this brings us back to where we started; Not everyone dies, and Adam and Eve avoided certain eternal death by faith in His sacrifice. All they had was the picture that He painted for them in the Garden, a picture of a substitute who would one day die for their sins. They were saved by faith in the seed of woman, the Son of God! You too can avoid certain death by placing your faith in this same God-Man, the one who died as a substitutionary sacrifice for you on the cross!