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We, Who are Left Behind

In the 1800s a man by the name of John Darby popularized a doctrine called "The Rapture." Out of this doctrine, came three views: Pre-tribulation, Mid-Tribulation and Post-Tribulation Rapture. Each of these ideologies are popular among dispensationalists, and have been widely adopted by the majority of evangelicals in greater Christendom. According to Darby and other dispensationalists, Christians belong to the Dispensation of Grace, while Jews belong to the Dispensation of Law. This is the main reason why the majority of Jews will suffer through the Tribulation.

However, those Jews, who have put their faith in Messiah will be "raptured" because they have become a part of the "Church" and now are somewhat separated from non-believing Israel. While Dispensationalism is not really considered Replacement Theology, it does create some confusion regarding Israel and the Church. Darby regarded Israel and Church completely separate. He did not consider the Church as being an enhancement or extension of Messianic Israel. It seems that he, himself didn't quite understand Israel's place in the last days.

I guess you can say it somewhat hinges very close to the line of Replacement Theology - where the Church has replaced Israel. However, as you can imagine, this way of thinking has also birthed some animosity against Christianity among many Jews, who feel that the message of Christianity is that somehow G-D has revoked His promises from Israel, and has decided to leave Israel here to suffer during the time of Tribulation (Jacob's Troubles) because Israel has rejected Messiah. However, this is not what Scripture teaches.

There have even been many films and books written, about this ideology, the most common being the "Left Behind" series that dominated Christian bookstores and bookshelves not too long ago. However, as one examines the Scriptures a little more closely, it becomes apparent that those whom are described as "Left Behind" are not the ones who are in danger of judgment, but rather are the ones who are being saved from judgment. Actually, this article will reveal that it is those who are being "taken away" who are actually being taken to judgment, and not being saved from judgment.

"Then we who are alive, who are left behind, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air—and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words" I Th 4:17-18.

For those who are not familiar with the "rapture" - the rapture is an event, that is supposedly described in the Bible, when G-D "snatches away" the Church from the earth in order to make way for His judgment to be poured out upon the earth during the Tribulation period - which by the way, Israel (the Jewish people) must go through. A common teaching regarding the "rapture" is that while the "Church" is in Heaven safe and sound during the Tribulation, they are watching Israel go through it. In addition, according to "rapture" proponents, the "rapture" is not taught in the "Old Covenant," but is only clearly revealed in the New Covenant. Apparently, this is why Rav Shaul (Paul) calls it a mystery (I Corinthians 15:51-52). However, it is my opinion that the "rapture" is neither taught in "Old Covenant" (Tanakh) nor, in the New Covenant. The "rapture" is a concept that came about extra-Biblically, and through misinterpretation and misapplication of Biblical text. It is a concept that seems not to have a strong exegetical foundation in the Scriptures, since the term itself is not even mentioned in all of Scripture, to include the New Covenant, where it is supposedly "clearly" revealed. Additionally, it is a fairly "new" teaching that somehow was missed before Darby received the revelation of "the rapture."

However, the reality is, is that there is no "secret" rapture mentioned or revealed in the Scriptures, that warrant an even more "secret" trumpet blast from Heaven that signals a "secret" taking up of believers in Messiah. However, this is not to say that Messiah is not going to re-gather His people unto Himself, but this is going to be done at His Second Coming, and not before. This re-gathering was first mentioned in the Prophets, when the prophet Isaiah wrote -

"It will come about in that day, Adonai will thresh from the channel of the River to the Wadi of Egypt,and you will be gathered one by one, Bnei-Yisrael. It will also come about in that day, a great shofar will be blown. Those perishing in the land of Assyria and the exiles in the land of Egypt will come and worship Adonai on the holy mountain in Jerusalem" - Is 27:12-13 (TLV).

Now, let us examine the words of Rav Shaul -

"For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the blast of God’s shofar, and the dead in Messiah shall rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left behind, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air—and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words" - I The 4:16-18.

As one examines the words of Isaiah, and compares them with the words of Rav Shaul (Paul), there is indeed great similarities. This is because, Rav Shaul theology is based upon the Scriptures found in the Tanakh. Therefore, he is simply expounding on a truth that has already been expressed. This is common among Jewish writers and theologians.

As Darby began to preach more on this new concept, many in Christendom began to embrace this "new" doctrine that had never been taught before, or was even mentioned by the early Messianic Jewish and Gentile believers. Yet, he and others who accepted this new doctrine based their beliefs upon the texts that are found in Matthew 24, Luke 17, I Corinthians 15 and I Thessalonians 4, where both Messiah and Rav Shaul (Apostle Paul) are explaining what can be expected in the last days shortly before Messiah's Return. Let us briefly examine these Scriptures, regarding any concept or revelation concerning the "rapture." Specifically, the pre-tribulation rapture, which is the most commonly accepted of the three doctrines.

In the text found in Matthew, Messiah is explaining to His disciples that the last days will be comparative to the days of Noah, expressing that many will be going on about their business with no regard to His Redemption - even though, it has basically been preached worldwide. While many (including Darby) taught that this meant that the Messiah's Return would be sudden and unexpected, the text is actually expressing the actions of the people described therein - that they simply have no concern or regard for salvation, life or even death - they are simply going about their business, and suddenly Messiah returns. In other words, they will be going on as business as usual, unaffected by the warnings that have already been given through the Gospel up until that time, just like in the days of Noah. So, it will appear as sudden to non-believers, but to believers, it will be expected, because they are able to recognize the signs before His Return. As it is written, "Then Adonai said, “My Spirit will not remain with humankind forever, since they are flesh. So their days will be 120 years" - Gen 6:3. Adonai had given man 120 years to repent and believe, before the coming of judgment was delivered through the flood. Messiah compares His Return with the events of the Days of Noah. Yet, it was those who were "taken away" by the flood who met their destruction, while Noah and family were "left behind" in the Ark and were thusly, saved from destruction and judgment.

“For just as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For in those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. And they did not understand until the flood came and swept them all away. So shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field, one taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill, one taken and one left. Therefore stay alert; for you do not know what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what time the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and not let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" - Mt 24:37-44 (TLV).

When one reads the words in Matthew describing how one will "taken and one left" it seems to agree with Darby's ideology of a pre-tribulation rapture. However, in the parallel verse found in Luke, one finds that it is Darby's ideology that does not agree with Scripture:

"As it was in the days of Noah, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all" - Lk 17:26-27 (TLV).

“I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken along and the other left. There will be two women grinding at the same place. One will be taken and the other left" - Lk 17:34-35 (TLV).

In Luke's account of Messiah's description regarding the days of Noah, he includes additional information revealing to us why it is those who, are "left behind" that are the ones saved - and those who have been "taken" who are in danger of judgment:

"Where Lord?" they replied. And He said to them, "Where there is a corpse, there also will the vultures be gathered" - Lk 17:37.

In other words, the disciples were asking Messiah, to where were those who being "taken away" going. Messiah's response, is that they are being taken away to judgment:

"Where there is a corpse there also will the vultures be gathered" - Lk 17:37 (TLV).

Actually, Messiah did in fact mention in Matthew that the destination of those being taken away was in fact judgment. He actually begins His description of His topic regarding the "Days of Noah" with it:

"For wherever the carcass is, there the vultures will gather" - Mt 24:28 (TLV).

Therefore, this is in the context of His discourse - that those who are being taken away are being taken away to judgment, while those who are left behind are being saved.

Messiah's description regarding the carcasses and the vultures (birds of prey), are in fact references to judgment, which is found in the Tanakh:

“Is it by your wisdom that the hawk soars, spreading its wings toward the south? Is it by your command that an eagle soars and builds its nest high? It dwells on a cliff and spends the night there, on a rocky crag and stronghold. From there it searches for food; its eyes detect it from afar. Its young ones suck up blood, and where the slain are, there it is" - Job 39:26-30 (TLV).

“You, son of man”—thus says Adonai Elohim—“say to every kind of bird and to every beast of the field: ‘Assemble and come! Gather from all around to My sacrificial feast that I have prepared for you, a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. You will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth—as rams, lambs, goats, bulls—all of them fatlings of Bashan. So you will eat fat until you are gorged and you will drink blood until you are drunk, from My sacrificial feast that I have prepared for you. You will be filled at My table with horses and horsemen, with mighty men and all the warriors.’” It is a declaration of Adonai" - Ez 39:17-20.

In addition, Messiah is also referencing a future judgment that it is come for those who will be taken away:

"Then I saw a single angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he cried out to all the birds flying high in the sky, “Come, gather for the great banquet of God— to eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of generals and the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and those riding on them, the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great!” - Rev 19:17-18.

While it is true that the Scriptures declare that the Messiah will in fact re-gather us - the Scriptures differ with the teaching of any so-called pre-tribulation "rapture." In addition, it is the sound of the Shofar that also dictates this matter. In I Thessalonians, Rav Shaul writes concerning that the Return of the Messiah will be heralded by the sound of the Shofar:

"For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the blast of God’s shofar, and the dead in Messiah shall rise first" - I The 4:16.

Many have tried to explain that this event in I Thessalonians, speaks not of Messiah's Return, but of an appearance, when He "raptures" the Church. However, if one understands what is happening here, it is clear that Rav Shaul is speaking of Messiah's Return and not an "appearance." Rav Shaul is speaking of the last Trumpet - the Seventh Trumpet that will herald the Return of the Messiah. The Scriptures do not reveal or teach about a "secret" trumpet that will signal an appearance. The Bible teaches that there are simply Seven Trumpets in all - each one heralding a significant event - the seventh heralding Messiah's glorious return:

"Then the seventh angel trumpeted, and there were loud voices in Heaven saying, 'The Kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Anointed One. And He shall reign forever and ever!' And the twenty-four elders seated on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, 'We thank you Adonai Elohei-Tzva'ot, who is and who was, because You have taken Your great power and begun to reign. The nations were enraged, but Your wrath has come and the time for the dead to be judged - to reward Your servants, the prophets and kedoshim, and those who fear Your Name, the small and the great, and to destroy the destroyers of the earth." Then the Temple of God in Heaven was opened, and the Ark of His Covenant appeared in the Temple. And there were flashes of lightning and rumblings and clashes of thunder and an earthquake and heavy hail" - Rev 11:15-19 (TLV).

Rav Shaul, himself supports the fact, that the regathering of believers (both Jew and Gentile), will occur at the last shofar - not a shofar between six and seven. It will be done at the last shofar - the shofar that will herald Messiah's return:

"Now I say this, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, and what decays cannot inherit what does not decay. Behold, I tell you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in the moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last shofar. For the shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed" - I Cor 15:50-52 (TLV).

When Noah and his family entered the Ark, Adonai spared them from His judgment - they were saved, and they entered into new life. However, those who were taken away were judged and entered into condemnation (Daniel 12:2). Therefore, as Messiah is explaining, in Matthew 24 and Luke 17, those who have been left behind, (like Noah and his family), are the ones who have been saved, and will be regathered at the return of the Messiah:

"Then we who are alive, who are left behind, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air—and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words" I Th 4:17-18.

This is not to say that we won't be regathered - by the Messiah at all. However, the Scriptures reveal to us that it will occur not as Darby and many others have said it would, with a pre-tribulation rapture.

So, the question is, "When will we be regathered?" The answer is, "When the L-RD returns.