Derek Prince - The Rapture, Examined
We’ve got to go on, press on. Please note, verse 29 note the word immediately. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened the moon will not give its light the stars will fall from heaven and the powers of heavens will be shaken". You can understand the stars falling various ways but I’m inclined to think it means the satanic angels in the heavenlies will be dethroned they will be cast down. I don’t think it means the stars we see at night. Let me give you two quick examples of this Revelation 8:10: Then the third angel sounded and a great star fell from heaven burning like a torch. It fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of the water. And the name of the star is Wormwood.
So that’s a satanic angel dislodged from heaven. And then at the beginning of chapter 9, verse 1: Then the fifth angel sounded and I saw a star fall from heaven to the earth and to him was given the key to the bottomless pit. He opened the bottomless pit And so on. So, satanic angels are stars in the heaven. I don’t say this is necessarily true but I don’t envisage the whole body of the constellations falling I envisage the powers of heaven that’s Satan’s throne kingdom in the heavenlies being shaken to the point where his angels start to be shaken out of it. That’s just offered as an indication.
Verse 30: "Then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven and then [notice two thens in that verse] then all the tribes of the earth will mourn and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and with great glory". Hallelujah! May we be privileged to see that sight. Now, I want to go on with this theme of the secret rapture. I’m not interested in attacking anybody’s theology but I really am interested in finding out the truth. If we turn to 1 Thessalonians 4 it seems to me this is a more full description of what’s going to happen at that point.
1 Thessalonians 4 Beginning at verse 13: But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren Not "ignorant brethren" but "ignorant, brethren". Concerning those who have fallen asleep [that’s Christians who have died] lest you sorrow as others also who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again even so, God will bring with him who sleep [those Christians who have died] in Jesus. For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. In other words, we’ll have no advantage over those who have died on the contrary. "For The Lord Himself", Praise God! "The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God".
To me that is anything but secret. I can’t think how anybody could be unaware that something is going on when you’ve got the Lord shouting the archangel speaking and the trumpet of God sounding. And then it says: And we shall be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air. There are two Greek words for air. One is aither which gives us ether the other is aer which gives us air. Aer is the word for the lower air contiguous with the earth’s surface. This is the word that’s used here. In other words Jesus is going to be pretty close to earth when we’re caught up to meet Him. Now, we’re going to meet the Lord in the air. Some people say the word rapture isn’t in the New Testament. That’s quite true, it depends on what translation you use. The New Testament wasn’t originally written in English. You could easily translate this "we shall be raptured to meet the Lord in the air". It would be a perfectly legitimate translation.
What about this word rapture? I want to tell you it’s a fascinating word. It has gripped me. The Greek word is harpazo. Don’t worry about that. I’ll give you about fifteen different passages in the New Testament where it’s used because this will give you a pretty clear picture of what it’s going to be like. First of all, in Matthew 10 three times in that chapter it’s used of a wolf snatching a sheep from the fold. That’s violent, sudden. In Matthew 13 it’s used of a bird coming down picking up a seed and carrying it off. It’s used several times in the New Testament of people caught up from the earth. After Philip had baptized the eunuch in Acts 8 he was caught away he was raptured. Paul speaks of a friend of his who mentions twice in 2 Corinthians 11 he was caught up to the third heaven. And in Revelation 12:7 it says: The man child will be caught up into the air. And four times in other passages it’s used of taking somebody by force from a crowd or from some situation.
So I made a little list of the features that it implies. It will happen without warning sudden and forceful. That’s how the rapture will be without warning, sudden and forceful. And there will be no time to be getting ready. If you’re getting ready you’ll be too late, you have to be ready. Now let’s go on to verse 29 again. I want to point this out. I am not interested in knocking down people’s theories but there are some things I have to say because I don’t think some theories agree with Scripture. It says immediately after the tribulation of those days, the Lord is going to come. There is a theory that the church is going to become so powerful politically that it will take over the world set the world neatly in order and offer it back to Jesus when He comes. I have to say this is not in line with what it says. Immediately after the tribulation Jesus will come.
If the church is going to be responsible for the condition of the world before Jesus comes then the church is going to be responsible for the tribulation. There is not the least indication that the world will be in good order when Jesus comes. On the contrary, it will be in the worst order that it’s ever been. And it will take Jesus and not the church, to put it right. Verse 30: "The sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven" I don’t know what that is. "then all the tribes of the earth will mourn" And if you read in Zechariah 12 it says all the tribes of Israel will mourn when they see their Messiah and recognize that they were the ones who crucified Him. Apparently, it will extend to all the tribes of the earth. I love to think of the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
There’s a verse in Luke 9, I think, This is just one of my favorte passages. Be patient with me. Luke 9:26: "For whoever is ashamed of me and my words of him the Son of man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory and in His Father’s and of the holy angels". When Jesus comes there’s going to be a triple glory: His glory, the Father’s glory and the glory of the angels. It says in Isaiah 24 the sun and moon will be embarrassed because their light will be so dim and ineffective by comparison they’ll just have nothing to talk about. This appeals to me I can envisage it. And furthermore, that light so brilliant will not hurt your eyes. That’s what I’m looking for. I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to that. If I die I won’t be around. If I’ve not died I will be there to see it. That’s worth waiting for. Can you say amen to that? It’s worth enduring for. If we lose sight of that, we’re going to get into a slough of despond because things are going to get worse. The birth pangs are not going to diminish they’re going to increase. The question is, as I said before do you really want the baby? You can find out by your own reaction.
Alright, Verse 31: "And He [the Lord] will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds from one end of heaven to the other". That is not the church being caught up that’s those who remain on earth who are God’s chosen ones. They’re preserved because He has chosen them. I know this isn’t easy for some people but we are saved not because we chose Jesus but because Jesus chose us. Do you recognize that? Jesus said to His disciples "You have not chosen me, I have chosen you". When God has chosen you you have to respond to His choice but you never initiate His choice. God knows every one whom He has chosen. As I understand it, the age will not close until every one is there. Amen.
Now we’ve got one more passage we can deal with and that’s marvelous I never thought I’d get so far. Tomorrow we’ve got to get through the whole of chapter 25. Verse 32: "Learn this parable from the fig tree. When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things know that it is near at the very doors [or He is near]. Assuredly I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled". That’s a parable about the fig tree but in Luke 21 it’s taken a little further. Luke 21:29: He spoke to them a parable "Look at the fig tree and all the trees".
Living in this part of the world if you do live anywhere near here you’re familiar with the fact that we have four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. There are parts of the world where they don’t have seasons. I was in East Africa for five years teaching African students. I wanted to get them interested in this passage but I had to explain to them first of all in some parts of the world the trees lose their leaves stay bare and then put on their leaves again. I said that’s how it’s going to be. During the most of this period the trees have been bare they just stood there with their trunks and their branches. Now, I’m no expert on trees so when trees are bare basically they all look alike to me. But when they begin to put on their leaves I begin to know, more or less what kind of a tree it is. That’s how it is with the nations. For a long period, they’ve just had trunks and branches but now all around the world the nations are putting on their leaves. Jesus said the fig tree first and then all the trees.
In 1948 Israel, the fig tree, put on its leaves. I was there when it happened. They got rid of the British, as other nations have also done, and said, "We’re a people of our own. We have our own history our own culture, our own language. We want to rule ourselves". Well, since that day in Africa alone at least fifty new nations have appeared. Now they’re appearing all over the world in Asia and other places. What is the motivation of these nations? I lived amongst the Africans just two or three years before they became independent, sovereign nations. I can tell you they said "We are a people of our own. We have our own language. You can call it vernacular if you like but it’s our language. We can speak English but it’s not our language. We have our own customs we have our own clothing. We want to be ourselves". What’s that? The trees putting on their leaves.
You see, it has happened all around the world. Colonialism today is a dirty word. It wasn’t fifty years ago. The new word is nationalism or ethnicity, which is what Jesus said. What is that? The trees putting on their leaves. Jesus said when you see the trees putting on their leaves, you don’t have to go to the public library to find out what’s happening next. You know summer is near. And when you see this happening in the world you don’t have to go to the church to ask the pastor because he might not give you the right answer. But you see and know for yourself that summer is now near. So you see and know. Do you understand?
This is one of the great signs of the close of the age. It’s the dwindling of colonialism and the rise of nationalism. It’s almost universal, and we haven’t seen the end of it yet. But when we see that we know summer is near. We see and know for ourselves, we don’t have to go to some theologian to find out. He might not give us the right answer. Jesus said you can know for yourself. Now I think we’ll have to stop there. Make a note; we’ve come to verse 35. Tomorrow, God helping us we’ll start at verse 36 and we will go through the whole of chapter 25. That is a real statement of faith! I hope we’ll do it. Pray for me and pray for yourselves.