Monday, August 01, 2011

Isaiah 57:1-2 and the Rapture

Several years ago I blogged on the following passage in Isaiah:
The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; and devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil, he enters into peace; they rest in their beds, each one who walked in his upright way.” (Isaiah 57:1-2)
Recently I received an interesting comment on that scripture and my discussion of it.
I think the statement means exactly what it says. The righteous will perish (vanish) and no one will take notice. It is the first rapture. The "Church of Philadelphia, the only church which Christ had no problem with, would not have to suffer the miseries of tribulation, and would become the pillars of heaven, and they would not have to ever leave. The 'righteous' I believe, are the Church of Philadelphia. We are instructed to "pray that we be found worthy to be taken" which I believe refers to all of the above.
I felt that this comment was worthy of a response and have chosen to do so as separate post.

First, I must confess that, while I believe in the Rapture and in the tribulation at the end of the age, I believe that the Rapture will occur at the end of the tribulation and not before; I do not believe in a "pre-trib" rapture. But more on that later.

First, we must understand that there are three different ways, or modes, by which we may interpret scriptures. First, there is the literal and historical interpretation. For example, in this scripture Isaiah describes the events in Israel where the wicked have increased and the people no longer give any attention to righteousness. They are on the brink of becoming a totally godless society, and no one even gives it a thought. Secondly, there can be a proverbial interpretation. This type of interpretation looks for parallels or principles from the literal and historical interpretation that we may take and apply to our lives and our world today. This is what Paul meant when he said, "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." (1 Corinthians 10:11) From this scripture in Isaiah we can begin to see the dangers if we allow our nations to forsake God and instead turn to become increasingly more secular in our society and government. Thirdly is an allegorical interpretation. This interpretation looks for signs and figures in the scripture that refer to some hidden or secret truth. For example when Paul wrote, "Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children." (Galatians 4:25) Allegorical interpretations have, at times in the past, been very popular with certain sects within the christian church.

In responding to this verse in Isaiah and the one in Revelations referring to the church at Philadelphia, the questioner is posing an allegorical interpretation to these verses. Along with the questioner, I too believe that they mean exactly what they say, however, what they are exactly saying is still in question. The problem with an allegorical interpretation is knowing which allegorical interpretation is correct. For example, if agreeing with the questioner that perish could also be translated vanish (although I am not sure the Hebrew supports that), we could just as rightly propose an allegorical interpretation that God will make all Christians invisible. Such an interpretation fits the passage as well as supposing that it is referring to a pre-trib rapture. The other problem with allegorical interpretations is deciding if such an interpretation is called for or not. For example, how do we know the message to the church in Philadelphia is meant to have an allegorical interpretation for us today? We certainly can see a literal historical and even a proverbial interpretation, but did Jesus ever intend us to find an allegorical interpretation in His message to the church at Philadelphia?

That being said, should we expect that these two scriptures may be allegorically apply to a pre-trib rapture? Concerning the scripture in Isaiah, it says that the righteous parish and no man takes it to heart. It is hard to imagine that, with the rapture and the taking of millions if not billions of Christians, the world should not notice nor take it to heart; even if it is only to increase in their anger and rage towards God, for this rapture will not be done in secret, but openly as Paul says, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first." (1 Thessalonians 4:16) Also, concerning the scripture in Revelations, if the qualification for the Philadelphia church to escape the hour of testing was that God had nothing to correct them about, then if this same reasoning is to be applied to the churches that are to escape the tribulation, then which churches are to escape? Since it seems to me that presently there are few if any churches that would have nothing for which Christ could not correct them for. Even if we are to say that the church of Philadelphia is to be allegorically applied to the church universal in the day of the rapture then why should we expect that we are the church of Philadelphia and not one of the other seven churches, say Laodicea, except for our desire to escape tribulation.

In whole, I do not believe in a pre-tribpre-trib rapture.

Thanks again for your comment, David Robison

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  1. Nice reading. And a nice blog template,

    Laws of thinking

  2. Derek Prince

    “If you want to know what I think about the rapture and the tribulation, I’ll tell you. I think there are a whole lot of things we don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows them. I was greatly blessed by what Britain Jones said when he was discussing the first coming of Jesus. And he pointed out three streams of prophecy. [Jesus] was to come out of Bethlehem. He was to come out of Nazareth. And He was to come out of Egypt. And he said, “How could anybody ever have got it right in advance?” And yet all three were fulfilled. And if there had been schools of prophecy in those days we would have three schools: the Nazareth school, the Bethlehem school and the Egypt school. And each one would have tried to prove the others wrong!”