The world is quickly moving towards the period of History for which the Book of Revelation, Daniel, and the prophecies of Jesus in Matthew 24, were written about. The world as we know it will suddenly and violently be changed–in an instant. Isaiah the Hebrew prophet, wrote more than 2,700 years ago, that when these events begin, an event of profound magnitude will signal the beginning of the end. Isaiah used the figurative language of a woman who is in labor to signal the birth pains of earth as she is about to bring forth the final judgments of God.
Isaiah 26:17-20 As a woman with child Is in pain and cries out in her pangs, When she draws near the time of her delivery, So have we been in Your sight, O LORD. We have been with child, we have been in pain; We have, as it were, brought forth wind; We have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth, Nor have the inhabitants of the world fallen. Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past.
The dead shall live and arise, others will be hidden in a secret chamber by God–until the time of His indignation and wrath have been completed. The language of Isaiah is clear: these are the events of the Rapture and the seven year Tribulation period in which two-thirds of the people of earth will perish by 21 judgements of God.
Jesus used the same figurative language of Isaiah in John chapter 16, to inform us of the timing for Isaiah’s prophecy. At the end of the present age, when God has determined to bring His judgement, the time immediately preceding this judgment will signal its commencement by “birth pangs.” Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4, described this beginning of judgment–by the Lord’s removal of His church from the earth, in the event commonly referred to as: The Rapture.
John 16:19-21 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Both Isaiah 26:17-20 and John 16:10-21 speak of a woman who is in labor, in context with the return of the Lord during the last days. As a woman nears the hour of her child’s birth, her contractions grow closer and closer together. Suddenly, the baby is born and a new life has come into the world. In the last days, the labor and distress of the world will grow steadily more severe like the birth pains of a woman ready to give birth until suddenly, Jesus will remove His church from the earth, as described in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4.
… the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, …the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…
This 190th Old Testament Prophecy from Isaiah 26:17-20 describes first, the Messiah’s Rapture of His church; the dead shall live. Second, the condition of the world just before the Rapture; a woman with child in pain, ready to give birth. Then Isaiah speaks an Old Testament allusion to the Rapture: Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past.
My people — those who belong to Jesus.
Your chambers — in heaven, during the Tribulation.
Hide yourself, for a little moment — protected in heaven from the wrath that is taking place on the earth during the seven year Tribulation.
Until the indignation is past — until the Tribulation has concluded.
The word indignation is an Old Testament code word for the seven-year Tribulation period.
Daniel 8:19 And he said, “Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be.”
This period of God’s Indignation (anger or wrath) is spoken of by Jesus in Matthew Chapter 24, Daniel Chapter 9, and the Book of Revelation Chapter 6.
Jesus predicts a future Tribulation period
Matthew 24:21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
First, there will be three and one half years of peace: The Tribulation.
Then, three and one half years of wrath: The Great Tribulation.
The First 3 ½ Years: The Peace Agreement.
Daniel 9:27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; (seven years, Genesis 29:27)
The second 3 ½ years: The Abomination of Desolation.
“But in the middle of the week (3 ½ years) He (the antichrist) shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering (at the new temple). And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”
This abomination will occur when the new world ruler, the antichrist (the beast), will enter the new temple in Jerusalem and sit as God before the whole world.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day (day of the Lord, the Tribulation) will not come unless the falling away (Apostasy and Rapture) comes first, and the man of sin (Antichrist) is revealed, the son of perdition, 4. who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (The abomination)
The second beast, the false prophet, will command the world to worship the first beast.
Revelation 13:11-12 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
The Seven-year Tribulation begins with peace
Revelation 6:1-2 Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” 2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He (the antichrist) who sat on it had a bow (Peace; Genesis 9:13); and a crown (conquer) was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. (He conquers with peace in the beginning, 3 ½ years)
The seven-year Tribulation will begin at a time when the nations that surround Israel, sign a peace agreement with Israel, for seven years. A bold new ruler will emerge on the world scene to unite the world together. Securing a new global government, banking system, and religion, for the first three and one half years, the earth will experience peace. Israel will rebuild their third temple on the Temple Mount and reinstitute the temple sacrifices.
In the middle of the Tribulation, the abomination of desolation occurs as the beast announces to the world that he is God, and the second beast commands the world to worship the first beast, the antichrist, who is now in-dwelt by satan himself.
This abomination will occur at the half-way point of the seven years. From this point onward, until the conclusion of the last half of the seven years, this period is referred to as The Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). During this time, the wrath of the Lamb, (Jesus Christ, Revelation 6:16), is poured out on the kingdom of the beast, and all those who worship him.
Revelation 16:10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom…
The last 3 ½ years: The Great Tribulation
Revelation 6:4 Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.
During the last three and one half years of the Great Tribulation, twenty -one judgments of God: seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls, each increasing in severity, are poured out on the earth. This wrath begins at Revelation 6:4 and continues through Revelation Chapter 18. It is interesting that the church is not seen on the earth during this period of time, as she has already been taken to heaven at the Rapture. The church is seen in Revelation Chapters 4 and 5, singing the song of redemption to the Lord, wearing crowns and worshipping the Lord together in heaven.
Revelation 4:10-11 the twenty-four elders (leaders of the church) fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11.“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”
Revelation 5:8-10 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9. And they (the redeemed) sang a new song (of redemption), saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10. And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”
Only the church of Jesus Christ can sing this song of redemption: Jesus has redeemed us by His blood out of every tribe, tongue and nation of the earth.
The twenty four elders are the leaders of the redeemed church. Twelve from the Old testament period, and twelve from the New Testament period. The crowns they wear represent the rewards which have been given by Jesus—to all those who He has saved and are now present with Him in heaven.
Paul described the requirements for earning rewards:
First: The foundation for all rewards is salvation in Jesus Christ. No person can earn any reward before they are saved, nor can they earn their salvation by any good work. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done; it is given by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus’ completed work on the cross.
Second: We can build on the foundation of our salvation to earn rewards, depending on the materials we use.
Third: Lasting building materials are gold, silver, precious stones—materials that when tested by fire will endure. These would include things that we do for Jesus’ glory to bring honor to Him and not for recognition for ourselves by others.
Fourth: Perishable building materials are wood, hay, straw—materials that when tested by fire will perish and not last. These are works that we have outwardly done for Jesus; but inwardly in the heart of the person, they were done for selfish fulfillment, or to be acknowledged or rewarded by the compliments of others.
The fire that will test our building materials is the righteous judgment of Jesus as He evaluates every word, thought, attitude, and action of our life. If what we have done during our time here on earth was for Him and to bring Him glory, our building materials will come through the fire and bring us great reward.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
The Judgement of the believer
At the judgment seat of Jesus, He will evaluate our works which we have done after we were saved to determine why we did them. Those works which are found as good, works done for the Lord, will be rewarded. Those works which are found as bad, works done for self, will suffer the loss of reward.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
The judgement seat was called the bema in Greek culture. It was the judge’s stand whereby those who competed in the olympic games received rewards for the race that they competed in. It was a judgment for rewards, not for punishment.
The judgment which each person will receive who has committed their life to Jesus Christ, is not a judgment for their sins. It is important to remember that if you have believed upon Jesus as your Lord and Savior, all of your sins have already been judged by His death on the cross. There is no judgment for sin awaiting the person who is in Christ Jesus. Your judgement before the Lord will be solely to determine your rewards.
Paul spoke of our service to Jesus after we are saved, as like a race.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…
The New Testament describes five different Crowns that will be given by the Lord to all those who served Him in a capacity befitting each of these crowns. These crowns will be the basis of rulership for each believer when Jesus returns from heaven with each of us who have been raptured (Revelation 19). The extent of our authority to rule with Jesus on the earth will be determined by our faithfulness in serving Him before He came for us at the Rapture (Matthew 25:23).
The Imperishable Crown: Given to those who seek to overcome their old sin nature. After we have surrender our life to Jesus as our Lord, we will not be sinless, but we should strive to sin less. Those who seek to master their old nature, which loves to sin, and instead seek to please the Lord in all their words and deeds, will receive this imperishable crown.
1 Corinthians 9:25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
The Crown of Rejoicing: The soul winners crown. Every follower of Jesus who tells other people about what He has done for them and how they were saved, is a soul winner. It is not your responsibility to save anyone, it is your job to tell every person you meet, about Jesus. Those who tell others about the Lord will share this reward with those who lead people to Jesus. We are all co-laborers together. Some people witness of Jesus love, others encourage people to call on the name of the Lord, still others teach prophecy and Bible studies. Finally, there are those who are gifted with the ability to lead a person through the steps of receiving Jesus. All those who have participated in each step of a person’s salvation experience will receive the Crown of Rejoicing.
1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.
The Crown of Life: Given to those who endure trials. If you maintain your trust in the Lord through all of your trials and never turn away from Jesus, at the end of your life—you will receive the Crown of Life.
James 1:2- My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…
Revelation 2:10 4 “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
The Crown of Righteousness: Given to those who are looking for the Rapture. The Lord holds a special place of honor for those who eagerly watch and wait for His return. These people are constantly seeking to purify their life of all the garbage of this world which does not help us to grow in our relationship with the Lord. When Jesus appears again to remove us from this earth, all those who have loved His appearing, will receive this very special crown.
1 John 3:2-3 …when Jesus is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
2 Timothy 4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing…
The Crown of Glory: Given to the faithful pastor/teacher. The Lord has anointed certain men to be the teachers and shepherds of His church. It is the primary job of the pastor to be the Bible teacher of the church. Those men who devote themselves to learning and teaching the great spiritual truths of God’s word—to the members of the church, will receive a special Crown of Glory from Jesus at His return.
1 Peter 5:2-4 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
John describes those in heaven who have received these crowns as their rewards for service to Jesus before the Rapture takes place. They are seen “casting” their crowns before the throne of God and proclaiming that only Jesus is really worthy of glory, honor, and power.
Revelation 4:10-11 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”
If a person who has committed his life to Jesus does not seek to earn these rewards while living his life on the earth, then he will have nothing to cast before Jesus to proclaim His glory. This will be a very sad day indeed for those who did not take this promise of rewards seriously and missed this opportunity to earn these crowns. As they watch those who served Jesus and sought to honor Him by the service of their lives, they will rise to meet the Lord at His throne and receive a crown or crowns from Him.
Those who do not take this opportunity seriously will have nothing to give Jesus as others cast their rewards at His feet. They will, however, not lose their salvation and the opportunity to live in heaven with the Lord forever.
Isaiah’s prophecy of this future Rapture and the seven-year Tribulation period, is an amazing testimony to the certainty that these prophecies from the Old Testament, give us a foundation and starting point for all prophetic doctrine and truth—which is spoken of in the New Testament. The fact that Isaiah describes God’s people being hidden by Him in a secret chamber during the outpouring of the indignation and wrath of God, is a great evidence for the pre-Tribulation Rapture that is taught by the New Testament scriptures.