While they looked stead≠fastly toward heaven

By David M. McNabb

A certain prac≠tical joke has no doubt been played numerous times on unsuspecting big-city crowds. A couple of people, or a small group, conspires to stare up into the sky at - nothing. Unwit≠tingly, passers≠by find themselves drawn to join them in an attempt to share the viewing experience. Before long, large numbers of people have been duped into futilely gazing at some unknown, and non-existent, point of interest, only to ultimately give up after what may have become min≠utes of valuable time wasted.

Just such a scheme has been perpetrated against the Christian world. In direct contradiction to the admonition of the two witnesses of Acts chapter 1, multiplied millions of believers have been lured by a group of Christian leaders who have enticed them to "keep looking up until..."

And so Christians, have been mesmerized by the prospect that, at any moment, they will be whisked away and Godís prophetic clock (which has virtually stood still since the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d.) will start back up.

Supposing that the Rapture could occur at any moment, we are told that, shortly after it happens, the seven years of tribulation will begin which will culminate - precisely - with our Lordís return. Whereas the Christian faithful have been told, time and again, that they can not know the times and seasons of Godís plan, these would-be prophecy experts purport that, from the moment of the so-called Rapture, people will be able to know with great certainty the time of the second coming of Christ. This is in stark contrast to the words of Paul immediately following what he said in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, ĎPeace and safety;í then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness" (1 Thess. 5:1-5).

It is almost as though our leaders are insisting we fall under the same condemnation of the religious world in Jesusí day, whom He asked, "When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red: And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" (Matt. 16:2-3) Jesus declared that it was for this reason they would face destruction. He said, "The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation" (Luke 19:43-44). God asked a similar question in Job 24:1, "Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?" Why, indeed??

Furthermore, we are supposed to accept that the Book of Revela≠tion, while written for our edifi≠cation, primarily describes events that will occur in our absence.

The time has come for you, dear friends and fellow believers, to hear the admonition: "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?"

While Christians have been standing around looking up, they have been oblivious to very important things happening in the world around them. Convinced that much of latter-day Bible prophecy is to be fulfilled after our departure, they utterly ignore current events foretold in Scripture - passing them off to coincidence: merely prototypical of the "actual fulfillment" which cannot occur until we are gone.

While we gazed into heaven, waiting for the great catching away, the Catholic Church ushered in the Ecumenical Movement in 1962 - marking the start of the Harvest (which is the end of the world, Matt. 13:39) by beginning to gather the tares into bundles.

While we gazed into heaven, convinced that the Beast would arise in Europe after we had been taken, that terrible beast has formed in the entity of the United Nations, having seven heads and ten horns: the Group of Seven major industrial countries, which sets international policy on everything from trade to terrorism, arms control, the environment, and human rights; and the Group of Ten richest non-Communist nations which agreed in 1962 to lend money to the International Monetary Fund. Although the G-7, G-10, IMF, the World Bank, and the U.N. seem to be independent organizations working in cooperation with each other, all representative nations are member-states of the U.N. and ultimately subject to its authority. This is, therefore, where the real power of the U.N. is ... remember the "golden rule:" he who has the gold makes the rules.

The arrival of the Beast with 10 horns is but one of many prophecies, now developing, that were not supposed to occur if we believe the many prophets that have become prominent in our day. As Jesus said, many false prophets would arise and deceive many. Whereas we have yet to see the two great prophets of Revelation emerge with great power, we have seen two mighty false prophets declare with great assurance, in 12 volumes with multiplied millions of copies sold, the course prophecy is to take following the great snatching away.

Meanwhile, we are taught that the two true Witnesses appear on the scene after the Christians are gone. This has created an atmosphere similar to the days before Jesus began His ministry. The religious leaders, while claiming to believe in the Messiah which was to come, had passed a law condemning as a heretic anyone who would dare claim to be him. Jesus, the true Christ, came, violating that law. Likewise, the Two Witnesses, which are two Christian preachers, will show up and begin their ministry, but many Christians will not recognize them. They will be incredulous to the truth, because they have been led to believe a lie: a lie that we will be gone before any trouble comes, and all these things must come to pass after the so-called Rapture.

Truth is, God never changes. He has never whisked his people away to miss any and all trouble. He has never done anything without first revealing it unto His servants the prophets.

Yes, we are going to see a great deliverance by the hand of the Lord. Yes, we are going to be hidden in the palm of His hand, and under the shadow of His wing. Yes, He is going to rise up as a great defense for the faithful among the saints in these last days. But all things must be done according to Scripture - and not just one or two passages, mind you, but in agreement with the entire volume of Godís holy word.

God spoke of the place of the hiding away of His people in time of trouble: the ark in Genesis chapters 6 through 8; Goshen, after the plague of lice, in Exodus 5:20-12:30; the chambers in Isaiah 26:20-21; the wilderness in Revelation chapter 12; to name a few.

The Rapture doctrine contains serious contradictions. In one of the most important Rapture passages, Paul said that "the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thess. 4:16,17). After this, as our teachers proclaim, together with the risen saints, we will wait for seven years until the "second coming," when we will ride triumphantly with our Lord back to earth. Believing the Word of God to be true, how can that be so, when the same Paul said that the dead in Christ would be resurrected "at His coming?" (1 Cor. 15:23). ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is true. Therefore, if 1 Cor. 15:23 is true, then the interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, that the dead are raised and the living changed seven years before His coming, is not. Nevertheless the Scripture, itself, is true, and Paul is indeed declaring the events which will occur when, unto them that look for him, our Lord shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation (Heb. 9:28).

To say that the doctrine of the Rapture is erroneous is not to proclaim that the faithful will find no escape. Truly, God will fulfill that which He said by His servant David, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." Verily, He has a place prepared for His people, and wrath for those who would harm them.

Jeremiah prophesied of our day, saying, "O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit" (Jer. 16:19). The time has come when we must begin to see through the errors that have been passed on to us.

Brethren, the Kingdom of God is at hand! Why are you standing around Ďlooking up until...í? Awake! Shake thyself and wipe the slumber from your eyes, and repent, for unto you who desire the day of the Lord is that day gloominess and thick darkness (Amos 5:18-20). Seek ye the Lord. Seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be you shall be hid in the day of the Lordís anger (Zeph. 2:3).