Left Behind! Who Me?

The popularity in the past few years of the apocalyptic fiction series Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins in indicative of the fact that people would rather believe a lie told to them in a sexy, slick way then believe the truth of the Word of God that has been staring them straight in the face for centuries.

Many Christian groups today propound that one day soon and it seems like the more money that is needed by the preacher the closer the day is that all Christian believers will be gathered together and thus disappear from the earth and that all of the unbelievers of the world will be left behind. Is this what the Bible teaches?

With all that is happening in the world, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, and tsunamis can anyone deny that we are near the end times? So what does God's Word teach us as to who will escape the coming tribulation and who will be left behind.

The Book of Revelation one of the most misinterpreted books of the Bible causing many sects and believers confusion speaks in chapter 12 of a great wonder or sign in heaven. This is the first time the word "sign" (Gk. semeion) occurs in the Book of Revelation. The sign is that of a woman "clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars".

Revelation 12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

This verse is in direct contrast with the woman spoken of in chapter 17 beginning in verse 3 "?and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns."

Revelation 17:4 And the woman was arrayed (same word as in 12:l) in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

Revelation 17:5 "And upon her forehead {was} a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.".

Babylon the great is a city, a physical city that is upon the earth and in it is manifest the mystery of iniquity.

Revelation 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

The sign of chapter 12 which is a woman also represents a city (and the system for which the city stands). The woman of chapter 12 is the true; the woman of chapter 17 is the false, the woman of chapter 12 is attacked by the dragon, the woman of chapter 17 is supported by the beast. The woman of chapter 12 is Jerusalem, the city of David and of Israel. She is represented as being on the eve of giving birth to a child.

There is another sign seen in heaven in chapter 12 that of a great fiery red dragon and the dragon stood before the woman, ready to devour her child as soon as it should be born. The sun, moon and stars, the woman's emblems, seem to indicate a power from heaven. This is in direct contrast with the seven heads and ten horns and the seven diadems, which plainly indicate the powers of the beast that support the woman of Revelation 17.

Revelation 17:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

The dragon in the sign of chapter 12:4 is said to draw the third part of the stars from heaven and cast them to the earth. This is taken by some to refer to the fall of Satan but the language here is that of an event corresponding to the time of the tribulation and the cities. The reference to the stars is defined in verse 9 of chapter 17 "and his angels were cast out with him", being at that moment of defeat by Michael the Archangel.

The woman of chapter 17 represents the city of Babylon literally; the city will exist at the time of the tribulation so we can continue to understand the verses in the context of the period or time which is referred to here.

Revelation 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

Revelation 12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Revelation 12:5 "And she brought forth a man-child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up unto God and His throne".

The important and most interesting passage here is where we are told that the woman brought forth a man-child. Who is the man-child? One might think this first instance is speaking of Christ Himself a fulfillment of a prophecy of the Old Testament but in chapter 2:26, 27 these words are used of an overcomer.

Revelation 2:26,27 "And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father."

Revelation refers to this man-child being born in a future day. This cannot refer to Christ personally, but it indicates a company of faithful OVERCOMERS who share the millennial reign of Christ.

Who are these overcomers? The overcomers are those who are not just in believing unto life but faithful service to The Lord. Hebrews 11 seems to give an excellent list and the key to being among the overcomers is being one who "loved not their lives unto the death" this does not mean they were killed (but many were) as members in the Book of Life in Revelation seems to indicate but a determination to do God's Will not one's own will even if that means to die.

The taking up of this man-child or overcomers to God and His throne is before the persecution, and it makes an escape from the trouble of that day. In Matthew 24:4-8 we have the beginning of the birth-pains, which are, wars, famines, pestilence and earthquakes. These have already been indicated in the opening of the seals. They lead the way for the tribulation under the Beast and false Prophet, and when they reach their highest point, the man-child is born.

After the man-child is taken up to God the woman flees into the wilderness. So in Matthew 24, after the period spoken of as the beginning of birth-pains, which synchronizes with Revelation 12:2, we hear of affliction and hatred, of offence and betrayal, of false prophets who deceive. This is at the same time a gospel activity is indicated witnessing to all nations before the end comes.

Revelation 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

About this same time the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Matt. 24:15) will be set up in the holy place. This evidently refers to the image of the Beast; Daniel's prophecy (Dan. 11) indicates that the setting up of this abomination occurs in the midst of the final seven years there referred to. This would leave 3 ½ years for the tribulation to run until "the end."

So, in perfect harmony, we read that the woman is fed 1,260 days (12:6), or (as in 12:14), "a time, times and a half," in line with Daniel's cryptic utterance.

Three years and a half therefore before the end, and before the revelation of the Lord, the man-child is caught up. This is the escape of the overcomers. Some will be "accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass" (Luke 21:36).

The man-child caught up and escaping the tribulation, the woman who flees into the wilderness, and the remnants of her seed which are attacked by the dragon, cannot possibly represent the same group of people.

There are the overcomers who are destined to rule; there is the woman, shielded, fed and protected in the wilderness; there are the seed that are left, who are persecuted. It is evident that some believers are left to endure the fierce wrath of the last days.

Our attention however must be kept for the present upon the overcomers. Verse 11 adds a detail as to the character of these overcomers:

Revelation 12:11 "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death."

The sign is a child born under the menace of satanic destruction; the reality is the faithful testimony of those who loved not their lives unto the death, the overcomers. The dragon waiting to devour is interpreted in verse 10 as "accusing the brethren before God day and night." The moment of escape of these overcomers is at the sounding of the seventh trumpet:

Revelation 12:10 ''Now is come salvation and strength, and the KINGDOM of our God, and the power of His Christ, for the accuser of our brethren is cast down".

The words "our brethren" should attract our attention. Who is it that says these words? The speaker ("I heard a loud voice saying in heaven") is unnamed, but it is clear, from all other similar references, that it cannot be a man. In Revelation 22:9 an ANGEL says to John:

Revelation 22:9 "I am a fellow servant with thee and with thy brethren, the prophets, and with them that keep the sayings of this book."

When looking at this verse 9 we would like to adopt the translation given in the Emphatic Diaglott. "I am a fellow servant of thee," sounds like a contradiction in English. It means that the angel and John and the brethren are all upon one common level in this aspect. An ANGEL, therefore, appears to be the one who calls the overcomers "our brethren."

The overcomers are to be identified with the Church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven (Hebrews 12:22). These have come to Mount Zion (so had the one hundred and forty four thousand, Revelation 14:1); and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. This is also said of the overcomers. These had also come unto an innumerable company of angels, the general assembly. The casting out of the great dragon to the earth ushers in the third and last woe:

Revelation 12:12 "Rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them, woe to the inhabiters of the earth, and the sea! For the Devil is come down, having great wrath, because he knoweth he hath but a short time".

The woman is carried away to a place prepared for her, and nourished in the wilderness for the rest of the period until the kingdom is set up on earth. To this period applies the LORD'S PRAYER. "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." These words will be the heartfelt utterance of this persecuted company, and while experiencing again the manna in the wilderness, they will pray with real understanding, "Give us this day the bread that cometh down upon us." The word rendered "daily" epiousios {ep-ee-oo'-see-os} in the prayer occurs nowhere else in Scripture, nor, as far as we know, in any writing in the Greek language. It is a word which can only he fulfilled by the repetition of the miracle of the manna, and this is what does take place.

The Scriptures speak of several categories of believers, some ready, some unready, some watchful, some asleep, some like wise virgins, some like unwise, one taken, the other left, one child of the woman caught up to God and His throne, other of her seed suffering the wrath of the dragon, some sheltered in heaven and the secret of His presence, others sheltered in the wilderness. The Church of the One Body, while not connected with these events of the great plan revealed in Revelation, should be aware of these differences and thereby seek to learn from them.

Paul is a writer and teacher as well as a researcher for Believer.com and contributes to many Christian newsletters. If you would like a free gift ebook go to http://www.believer.com/paul/ebook_free.html Contact Paul at [email protected]

In The News:

Bill Barr 'Gets' Religion  The Wall Street Journal
Albania gets religion  POLITICO.eu
My family's religion  Duke Chronicle
The object of religion  Economic Times
Immigrants want to ban criticism of religion in Denmark  The Copenhagen Post - Danish news in english
For a Lot of American Teens, Religion Is a Regular Part of the Public School Day  Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project
Religion in the Public Schools | Pew Research Center  Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project
Insult, Injury and Religious Liberty  The Wall Street Journal
Queerness and religion in conversation  University of Cape Town News
Religion briefs  Troy Daily News
RELIGION - News  Wicked Local

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