A missing word when searching the scriptures. HRB
Howard BarnettMost bible students know that the word ‘rapture’ is not a biblical word. It doesn’t show up in the Strong’s, Cruden’s or the Young’s Concordances. It does, however, have a meaning from the dictionary that relates to ‘an emotional state of joy’. As Christians, we all relate to joy. The "joy of the Lord is our strength" (Nehemiah 8:10) and joy is listed "as a fruit of the spirit" (Galatians 5:22). The Hebrew and the Greek dictionaries list over twenty meanings for the English word ‘joy’. A few of them, like GIL, GUL and SKIRTAO mean ‘to leap for joy’, but that is as close as one can get when trying to relate the word ‘rapture’ to anything scriptural. But scriptural or not, we hear the word spoken in most traditional and Pentecostal churches. Many are seriously believing that this word reflects the great hope of the church. It evidently creates a mental state or vision of ‘flying away in the sky’ somewhere. But most of us know that the world is spherical and that the air, at least the breathable part, is only a few miles thick because gravity accumulates it at the earth’s surface. The question one might ask is ‘which way is up?’ With half the world in darkness and half the world in daylight, what is night and what is day? Is the mountain top closer to the sky and the valleys farther away? My point is, the sky is also a sphere, so no matter which direction I point, the opposite is the same - so up is down. But every grade school child knows these things. Now, since I have just proven that up is down and down is up when we relate to the sky, let me carry this thought a little deeper. Do we relate to the sky because of the word ‘up’, which I have just proven is ‘down’, or do we relate to the word ‘air’, which is a few miles of gas that covers the earth and provides the elements of life, as we know it? Or maybe the clouds are what have our attention. They are a natural collection of moisture that covers the earth. Are we considering natural clouds or spiritual clouds? Clouds are limited by definition to the presence of the air. No air - no clouds. I said this because I’m about to let the air out of the word ‘rapture’.
Now if you are so strong minded that you cannot handle the truth, because the truth will set you free, now is the time for you to hand this writing to someone else, because the English word ‘air’ doesn’t always relate to the pretty blue sky! There are two meanings in the Greek of the seventeen references to ‘air’ in the New Testament. The first Greek word is OURANOS, which is used in conjunction with birds, or fowls of the air. There are ten usages of this Greek translation in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts. The remaining seven, come from the Greek word ‘AER’. It sounds the same, but it doesn’t relate to sky. There are no birds in this AER. The meaning for AER is ‘breath’, in the Strong’s it is ‘to breath unconsciously, to respire or to blow’. When we compare this meaning to the definition of the mighty wind in Acts 2:2 and the Holy Ghost of John 20:22, both have the same meaning - ‘breath’, we should see the spiritual ‘AER’. Now that we have pointed to the spiritual ‘AER’, let’s look at the clouds.
The bible doesn’t refer to Jesus returning ‘to’ or ‘on’ clouds. The scripture only reveals ‘in’ or ‘with’ the clouds of Glory. Are there spiritual or heavenly clouds? Surely, as Daniel relates to the clouds of heaven in Chapter seven. The first chapter of Revelation says ‘with’ clouds and Matthew 24:30, 26:64, Mark 13:26, 14:62 and I Thessalonians 4:17 all say ‘in’ the clouds. To see these spiritual clouds we can look at Isaiah, where he revealed that God would glorify the house of my glory, "who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?"1 Or we can look at Hebrews, which calls the Fathers of faith a cloud, "wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses."2 These statements, regarding the saints that are with the Lord, surely must open eyes to the spiritual clouds of the ‘AER’. We ought to know that the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (or Holy Breath).
The cloud that Jesus entered in Acts, "and when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up: and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."3 The ‘like manner’ of this scripture doesn’t see Jesus going from the cloud into heaven, He disappeared from their view into a cloud. If we reverse the arrangement, we will see Him appearing from out of a cloud back into our visible presence. But there is a major difference in concept. We now have spiritual eyes to see spiritual things, the Holy Ghost has been given. The men of Galilee had not had their upper room experience yet. With spiritual eyes the Lord would have been seen to board the same chariot of fire that escorted Elijah into the spirit! But brother, ‘how can you say that?’ - some will ask. Actually the bible says that! Paul testified that the "Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."4 And Isaiah spoke, "For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire."5 Since it impossible for God to lie, the manner that Jesus left must match the manner of his return. Spiritual eyes looking at the spiritual ‘AER’ would have seen this.
While natural ears hear only thunder, spiritual ears will hear the Lord’s voice. Many rapture believers use Revelation 4:1-2 as a type, where John heard a voice "as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the Spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne." Some churches claim John as a type of the church being caught up into heaven. John never left Patmos during this time of being ‘in the Spirit’. In fact, John was in the Spirit in Revelation 1:10, when he heard the voice as of a trumpet. No one points this out as a type of the ‘rapture’. Neither do they focus on Revelation 17:3 or Revelation 21:10, when John was also in the Spirit.
Some relate to Revelation 3:10 "because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth": believing this scripture to indicate our removal from the earth. Reading the preceding verse that tells us that God will bring the enemy down before our feet, should have indicated an earthly location, even to natural eyes.
Many that are concerned about the when of the coming of the Lord, should know some of the basics. Jesus as Lord will remain on the throne till all enemies are under His feet. As His body, you are the feet. The last enemy is death and a lake of fire will proceed the destruction of death.
"When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory."6
The tares will remain till the time of the harvest, "and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."7
"The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just."8
Surely we know that in the days of Noah the wicked were removed and Noah and his family remained. The scriptures of Psalm 21:9-10, Psalm 37:20-24, Psalm 101:8, Psalm 104:35, Proverbs 2:21-22, Proverbs 10:25-30, Isaiah 15:9, Ezekiel 34:25 and Matthew 13:40-41,49, all reveal the removal of the wicked.
"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. 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."9
We have our dwelling in the Holy Ghost where no wrath will touch the righteous body of Christ as they walk through the fire of tribulation. Our ark is with us, as we "withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."10
He who hath an ear to hear, let him hear.
1 Isaiah 60:7-8
2 Hebrews 12:1
3 Acts 1:9-11
4 II Thessalonians 1:7-8
5 Isaiah 66:15
6 Psalm 102:16
7 Matthew 13:30
8 Matthew 13:49
9 Isaiah 26:20-21
10 Ephesians 6:13