I have been studying and teaching Bible doctrine for over 48 years and the shepherding teacher for home based Churches. Sola Scriptura
Why Are There Twentyfour Elders?
First Things First - The 24
There seems to be 3 prevailing views as to their identity:
- All believers throughout the ages; or
- The Church alone.
I hold to the Church alone which includes Abel to the thief upon the cross; ergo, everyone in Paradise. As to being angels; per Revelation 5:11 & 7:11, the elders are not counted among the angels but in fact are surrounded by the angels and as to being believers of all the ages; per Revelation 7:9-10, 13-15 the martyrs are not numbered with the elders. Kind of interesting that the 24 have witnessed the increasing numbers of martyrs from the beginning of the 70th week as recorded in chapter 6:9-11; before the sixth seal is opened the martyrs' number had not yet been fulfilled. The 24 have been in heaven, as we shall see, long before the 70th week begins.
Why 24? In 1 Chronicles 24:1-5, the priesthood of Israel was governed by 24 descendants of Aaron: 16 chosen from the line of Aaron's son Eleazar and 8 from the line of his son Ithamar. These 24 represented the whole of the priesthood. Revelation 1:6 states we are to be priests. Voila, the whole of the priesthood of the Church is represented by the 24 and where the 24 are present, we are close at hand. Matthew 19:28 gives us an idea of who will be seated on twelve of the thrones; the apostles. Whether the twelfth is Mathias or Paul (I vote for Paul) we shall know when we see them.
Note: the last of the ruling descendants of Aaron mentioned in scripture is the father of John the Baptist; Zechariah. Luke 1:5 cross-referenced with first Chronicles 24:10; think of the implications!
We Are Going Home.
The Great Home-Going!
Books have been written on this subject with many a different take on the blessed event. I pray the following summary will be taken as what I have come to believe through my own study and meditation; that the reader will carefully consider their own position on the subject of the rapture of the church.
Some do not believe in a literal 7 year period called the 70th week of Daniel or in the rapture. Other views that hold to a rapture being a literal event are post, mid, pre-wrath, partial and pre-70th week which is my position. As I support my position you will see why I do not hold to the other positions.
Why a rapture?
- Genesis 18:20-26 God will not judge the righteous with the wicked.
- Genesis 19:13-16 He will remove the righteous prior to judgment. Too many of us are entangled with the world and we would dawdle if we were not snatched away.
When? (Relational to the 70th Week)
- 1 Peter 4:17 Judgment begins with the house of God. This alone I believe will take a long period of time. This is not a judgment of heaven or hell but of our faithfulness and our works whether good or bad. I believe every believer will get a private time with our Lord, for He will handle us as His beloved. When finished, we will be dressed in white and ready to be presented to the Father, faultless per Jude 24. This will occur prior to the wedding supper of the Lamb.
- Revelation 19:8 I believe the wedding supper of the Lamb will be held either prior to or simultaneously with the 70th week based upon the picture of a Jewish wedding. The marriage is consummated by the Bride and Groom being alone, getting to intimately know one another for 7 days; then and only then does the wedding supper begin.
- The Church and the lost have one thing in common; both are in the dark concerning the actual date of the event. We are not to be surprised or caught unaware. It shall be as in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:36-42); per the parable of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32-35) or as in Daniel 12:9-10, the increase of evil and the lack of understanding.
- During the 70th week, all will know the day of the coming of our Lord when the Beast sets himself up as god in the Jewish temple - 1260 days and counting.
- Only the redeemed. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 This includes all of the OT believers: Daniel was promised in Daniel 12:13 his portion in the last days. Also Jesus was very busy for three days while in the grave. All those in Paradise now knew whom it was they believed upon, including the 7,000 who had not bowed their knee to Baal (I Kings 19:18).
- All the redeemed. 2 Timothy 2:13 "If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself." Our God's faithfulness does not depend upon our spirituality at any given moment. Sadly but amazingly, at a time when I was as unspiritual as a believer could be; my Lord brought me back to reality by Him using me as an instrument of the saving Gospel as a witness with a wonderful result.
What about the children of the redeemed?
- Sanctified children of the redeemed (1 Corinthians 7:14) who at the time of the rapture have not been morally convicted by creation (Romans 1), conscience (Romans 2) or the Law (Romans 3+). Romans 5:13 "....but sin is not imputed when there is no law." Remember Psalm 103:17; God's righteousness extends to His children's children.
- If we take the examples of the OT such as Noah, Lot and Rahab; could this extend to more children and relatives? I don't know but God knows.
What will happen?
- Christ shall descend with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with the trump of God. I believe that only the redeemed will hear this summons. I wonder if we will hear our new name (Rev. 2:17) called and immediately know it and come hither.
- Per 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 we shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye but it does not say we will just disappear or ascend in the twinkling of an eye. Scripture to support instantaneous disappearance does not exist. Enoch walked with God and he was not; for God took him - Genesis 5:24. Elijah ascension to heaven was witnessed by Elisha and Christ ascension to heaven was witnessed by a crowd. Could it happen in an instance, of course but considering the examples of the Word other amazing possibilities could exist.
- 1 John 3:2 "...when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." Forever to be with our Lord. Let the cleansing of the Bride begin and bring on the wedding supper of the Lamb.
In a Nutshell.
Summary in a Nutshell
- The Bible teaches a literal 7 year, 70th week of Daniel.
- The Word teaches that there are 2 separate returns of Christ, one unseen for His Bride alone and the second to execute judgment upon the wicked in full view of all.
- The rapture is a real supernatural event that will precede the 70th week. Both the "post" and "mid" views will have knowledge of the date. The "pre-wrath" assumes only the final judgments of Revelation 16 are a true judgment from God: I wonder if those who will suffer through the previous 6+ years would consider them to be non-judgmental. Whereas the partial would have to assume that some would consider themselves as perfect before our Lord. I honestly don't know of a time I have ever felt perfect; quite the contrary, I have trouble singing some of our songs in church because they are so self-centered in that we will do this or that. Maybe we should sing; with Your help and strength only can we do this or that. When we sing, does that negate us being held accountable for that which comes out of our mouths? Shouldn't we be careful what we exclaim before man and God at all times?
- Revelation 5 teaches that the Church is in heaven prior to the Scroll being opened and the onset of judgment. The tribulation is not for the Church but for the witness of the redeemed nation of Israel and the judgment of the wicked. The Church is not referred to directly in Revelation as being involved either as a witness or a partaker in judgment other than the 24 elders appearance in the throne room.
- The work of the Gospel during the 70th week is the responsibility of the 144,000 for the first 1260 days, the two prophets for the last 1260 days and the angels of chapter 14 bringing the Gospel just prior to the final wrath of God.
- The fulfillment of the days of the Gentiles is the beginning of God's fulfillment to Israel of His OT promises and covenants.
- The purpose of the rapture is to bring comfort to His Church; the 70th week would bring no one comfort as all non-Jewish believers will be martyred.
- We are not to know the date but as we see the times as in Daniel 12, we must be about our Lord's business and seeking to conduct our personal lives with all holiness and godliness. 2 Peter 3:11 Look at the sad examples of those who have set dates and the misery that it has brought.
The preceding is just the surface of what the word teaches concerning the church and the last days. As Revelation continues to unfold we will discover there are greater depths into which the bible delves concerning this potentially controversial subject. The more we look, the clearer it will become. May god bless.