Try to Remember
"Try to Remember" is a classic song from the popular 1960 Broadway musical The Fantasticks, and its dreamy opening line goes:
"Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh so mellow."
Although many people my age consider it an oldie-but-goodie, for me it's more of an "oldie-but-zzzzz." Musical tastes aside, however, this song has been running through my mind on a regular basis over the last few months, and it has to do with the month mentioned in the lyrics.
Once in a while, there is an article I simply have to write. It doesn't happen often, but occasionally there is something going on that cannot wait—I feel such a sense of urgency in getting my thoughts on paper, so to speak, that any other idea I have just has to wait for another day.
This is one of those articles.
If you pay any attention whatsoever to Bible prophecy or things associated with it, you have probably heard chatter about events that are about to occur or trends that are about to come to a head in the near future. Even if you're not a Bible prophecy buff per se, you still may have heard some buzz about a few of the things I'm going to share with you in this article because it has spilled over into the secular world and has a lot of people outside the sphere of the Church buzzing as well.
Oh, and by the "near future," I mean next month.
Tons of articles and YouTube videos have appeared over the last couple of years, and this trend has accelerated dramatically in recent months. In all the years I have been interacting with Bible prophecy, I have never seen anything like this. Although there have been times in the past when certain groups of people within the Church were buzzing about something and there may have been a heightened sense of anticipation in the air for a time, the buzz surrounding September 2015 is unprecedented.
Of course, one can trot out all the usual suspects as far as what some people believe might actually occur: the Rapture, the beginning of the Tribulation, the revealing of the man who will become the Antichrist, the battle of Psalm 83, the battle of Ezekiel 38–39, a killer asteroid that will strike the earth (which NASA is keeping secret), a global economic crash, aliens landing on the White House lawn, and so on and so forth. You name it, and I guarantee you there are some people out there right now who believe it's going to happen in September 2015.
And if there's a cherry on top of this eschatological sundae, it's the fact that there has been a popular teaching making the rounds in Bible prophecy circles for the last few years that the rapture of the Church is prophetically connected with the Feast of Trumpets, one of the seven annual feasts that are celebrated by Jewish people and that in 2015 happens to occur in—you guessed it—September. As a result, multitudes of born-again believers who hold to a pre-tribulation view of the Rapture (and perhaps spend a wee bit too much time on YouTube) are champing at the bit, with the little prophetic hairs on the back of their necks standing straight up.
Now, please don't get me wrong. I'm not poking fun at those who see September as prophetically significant. Not at all. I believe that September 2015 will turn out to be significant in terms of eschatological developments, at least in some way.
As usual, however, there are those—both believers and unbelievers—who have gone over the top with wild-eyed speculation and strained, fanciful connections and as a result have made far too much of it. They'll do it every time. Unfortunately, that leads some people to throw the baby out with the prophetic bathwater, and dismiss the entire thing as hokum. The people who swing to the opposite extreme are those who bury their heads in the sand and chant soothing reassurances that everything's gonna be fine.
But it's like I always say:
No matter how many nuts are in the fruitcake, there's still some cake.
I have two basic goals in this article. First, I want to give you a brief sampling of some of the events that have so many Bible prophecy buffs buzzing. It's not exhaustive, and I am only focusing on events that occur or come to a head specifically in the month of September, although in fact a number of prophetically significant events have already occurred in the run-up to this mother of all months.
Second, I want to share a few thoughts on this issue of the Rapture being connected to the Feast of Trumpets. In my exceedingly humble opinion, the biblical arguments for this scenario that are being heavily hyped by legions of prophecy teachers, many of whom I love and respect, are rather shaky. It's not that I'm out to prove them wrong, because I can't, not really. None of us knows for certain when the Rapture will occur. Nobody. Least of all me.
But there are an awful lot of Bible prophecy folks who are running around working everyone who will listen into a lather because the Rapture's gonna happen this fall on September 14 or 15!!!!! and then slap on the requisite disclaimer that they're not setting dates. But the arguments for pinning it to the Feast of Trumpets are simply not as solid as many seem to believe, and few Christians seem to be willing to dig into it deeply enough to see that.
What's on the menu?
There is such a flurry of significant events in the works that I had to sift through a lot of information to settle on this short list of seven items. And as I said, a number of significant events have already occurred.
For example, there was the legalization of same-sex marriage (June 26), which many see as the final nail in America's coffin as far as God's hand moving in judgment is concerned. There was the reopening of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, home to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), a relic of the Cold War that was mothballed in 2006 and reopened in April of this year allegedly due to fears of an EMP attack (the reason America isn't mentioned in Bible prophecy, according to some).
But I managed to winnow it down to the following seven things which occur or come to fruition in September and generally have an impact on the advancement of the end-time scenario, and are thus worthy of attention by people with an interest in Bible prophecy.
1. The 70th session of the UN
I'm putting this one at the top of the list because it is arguably the single most significant event of the bunch. On September 15, 2015, the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly will convene in New York City (just one of several key 70s linked to the month of September) and surprise—guess what one of the first things on their agenda is scheduled to be?
Dividing Israel to create a Palestinian state.
France has already announced that it will introduce a resolution to the UN Security Council this September to recognize an independent Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders and establishing Jerusalem as the shared capital of both Israel and Palestine.
Similar resolutions have been introduced before, and the U.S. has vetoed them every single time because in the past we actually supported Israel, at least when it came to major policy issues that affected Israel's security.
That was then. This is now.
So why is this time different? What's different is that President Obama has not-so-subtly signaled his intentions to refrain from vetoing the resolution this time around, especially after the humiliating failure of his bungled covert efforts to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu in Israeli elections this past March. It's an open secret that Obama has been bent on personal revenge ever since, and he sees this as a golden opportunity to stick it to Benjamin Netanyahu and throw him and his pesky little Jewish nation to the dogs.
This is huge because, in a sense, this is IT. The Big Kahuna. This is easily one of the most pivotal events in the entire end-time scenario. The actual implementation of this resolution to divide Israel is without a doubt "The Treaty" spoken of by the prophet Daniel (Dan. 9:27), and it is precisely what will represent the official start of Daniel's 70th Week or the Tribulation. And if the pre-tribulation view of the Rapture is in fact correct—and it's well nigh impossible to literally and consistently interpret Scripture any other way—it is an event the Church will not be here to witness.
Speaking of implementation...there are reports that President Obama has already sent officials to France to assist with the drafting of the resolution, and one of the points of consideration has been whether to set a hard-and-fast deadline for its implementation, or to word the document as a general declaration of intent with no set timetable. If they do set a timetable (and periods of two to three years are in the air), Israel could be subject to UN sanctions for non-compliance, and things could get hairy in a hurry.
2. Pope Francis to address Congress and the UN
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the United States for the first time from September 22–27, and is planning to address both a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C. and the UN General Assembly in New York. It's not completely clear exactly what issues the pope will address, but it is anticipated that he will focus on the environment, human rights, religious unity, and the push for peace in many regions.
He will be the fourth pope to visit the U.S., and his will be only be the fifth papal visit in history (Pope John Paul II came twice, in 1979 and 1995). But no matter what issues the pope actually speaks about, this is big in the sense that Pope Francis is clearly positioning himself as a truly influential world leader in a way we haven't seen in a long time from the papacy.
One reason this has a lot of Bible prophecy experts in a tizzy is because it is believed by many that Pope Francis may eventually play the role of the biblical False Prophet, the leader of a one-world religion who ends up forcing people to worship the Antichrist as God (Rev. 13:11–15). Others see the pope as the Antichrist...or maybe he and President Obama can flip for it.
3. A blueprint for a one-world government
Another key item on the agenda at the United Nations is the Sustainable Development Summit, scheduled for September 25–27 in New York. The purpose of this summit is the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, a list of 17 ambitious goals that include ending poverty and hunger worldwide, promoting and fostering equitable, eco-friendly development in all countries, protecting the environment, etc.
Oh, and Pope Francis is planning to swing by since he's gonna be in town.
These eminently noble aims are nothing less than a blueprint for a new and improved world, a new and improved world that will obviously require a global government to achieve by the target date of 2030.
One thing I noticed about the Sustainable Development Goals is the fact that there are 17 of them. As I keep saying, numbers always mean something in the Bible, and even a seemingly oddball number like 17 is no exception. The coming one-world government and the man who will take its reigns during the Tribulation are represented as a beast who comes out of the sea in Revelation 13:1, a beast that has 10 heads and 7 horns, totaling 17.
Do with that as you please.
4. The final blood moon
On September 28 (the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles), we will see the final of a series of four consecutive total lunar eclipses that fall on Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles in two consecutive years, or what I refer to as a feast-day tetrad. I've written about this feast-day tetrad before, so in case you're a bit fuzzy on this blood moon business, my previous article would be as good a place as any to get up to speed.
This fourth lunar eclipse of the tetrad will be the only one visible in Jerusalem, and this whole event has been widely touted as a warning of turbulent times ahead for Israel ever since it was publicized by Pastor Mark Biltz in 2008. Many are viewing it as a harbinger of the revelation of the man Israel will mistakenly embrace as their Messiah (the Antichrist), or of the impending Tribulation.
5. Congress to vote on Iran nuclear deal
The Iran nuclear deal that was finalized in July has been passed to Congress, which has 60 days to review it and vote to either approve or disapprove it. That deadline is September 17, and the entire ordeal is turning into a bitterly divisive partisan free-for-all. It's American politics at its worst, for all the world to see.
The nuclear deal with Iran that was pushed through by the P5+1 nations, with President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry doing most of the pushing, is a toothless charade that will empower and embolden Iran to continue doing what it has been doing for over a decade: marching unabated toward its stated goal of a nuclear arsenal. As crippling economic sanctions blow away like so many dry leaves, billions of dollars will pour into the coffers of the world's leading exporter of state-sponsored terrorism—a fanatical, apocalyptic regime bent on destroying the U.S. and Israel and who got a sweetheart of a deal in return for smoke, mirrors, and pinky-swears. More importantly, it is a complete sellout of Israel, who stands alone in its condemnation of a deal that clearly represents an existential threat to the Jewish nation.
The Iran deal is a key bit of stage-setting for the battle of Ezekiel 38–39, which is an unsuccessful attempt by a coalition of nations led by Russia and Iran (who are getting chummier with each passing day) to wipe out Israel, a major prophetic event that is coming more sharply into focus all the time.
6. The Shemitah
This is something that is deeply rooted in Judaism and it can get a wee bit complicated, but a thumbnail sketch should suffice.
When the Jewish people entered the Promised Land, God commanded them to observe a seven-year agricultural cycle: they were to work their land for six years, and during the seventh year it was to lie fallow and they were to refrain from farming (Lev. 25:3–4). The seventh year of the cycle was the Sabbath year or the Shemitah, and it was basically a year of rest for the land, just as the weekly Sabbath was a day of rest for the people.
After seven of these seven-year cycles, or 49 years, the 50th year was known as the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8–10), and all land was returned to its original owner and debts were canceled. According to many Jewish rabbis, there were a total of 30 of these 50-year jubilee cycles from the first one in the days of Moses until Christ was crucified, and we are about to begin the 40th Year of Jubilee since the Crucifixion.
And you'll never guess when it begins.
We are currently in a Shemitah year: it began on September 25, 2014, and ends on September 13, 2015. The 40th Year of Jubilee since the Crucifixion and the 70th overall officially begins 10 days later, on the Day of Atonement on September 23, 2015. And there's another one of those 70s.
OK, so what? According to most Jewish scholars, the Shemitah (which means "release" in Hebrew), was intended as a time when debts were canceled, slaves were freed, land that had been sold or seized as payment for a debt was returned to the original person or family that owned it, and so on. In other words, God intended it to be a blessing to His people, and if they followed His laws and walked in His statutes, they were blessed indeed.
But if they were rebellious and abandoned the Lord and His ways, and chased after other false gods and "played the harlot" as the Old Testament puts it, God might use the Shemitah as a time of warning of impending judgment unless the people repented and returned to Him.
And this is where it gets interesting.
The last Shemitah ended on September 29, 2008. On that day, Wall Street experienced its largest one-day point drop in history: 777 points.
The Shemitah prior to that ended on September 17, 2001, six days after the World Trade Center bombings in New York City. On that day, Wall Street experienced its second-largest one-day point drop in history: 684 points, a record that was broken seven years later.
It was clear to many Bible-believing Christians in America back in 2001 that God's hedge of protection was being lifted, and that we were being warned of impending judgment. And as the Obama administration slaps itself on the back for making what is an abomination to God the law of the land, and throwing Israel to the dogs while bending over backwards to make a sham of a deal with her (and our) sworn enemies in Iran, it is painfully obvious America has turned a deaf ear to those warnings.
So what does this portend for September 2015? Well, I'd be happy to lend you my crystal ball, but it's in the shop. I will say one thing, though. I would avoid walking on the sidewalks near any major investment firms during the entire month. I wouldn't want to get hit by a falling stock broker.
A caveat: I personally take this Shemitah business with a teeny-tiny grain of salt, because there are other Jewish rabbis around the world who disagree with some of the interpretations upon which it is based.
For example, some Jewish scholars insist the jubilee cycle is 49 years, not 50. They consider the Year of Jubilee as being concurrent with the seventh and final Shemitah of the cycle, rather than adding on a separate 50th year, as do the majority of Jewish scholars. Of course, that throws all this off by some number of years and leaves Gentile Christians sitting in the corner sucking their non-kosher thumbs. I figure if Jewish rabbis who have studied the Torah in the original Hebrew longer than I've been alive can't agree, who am I to...well, you get the picture.
And not to rain on my own parade or anything, but there's also the pesky, inconvenient fact that the Shemitah only pertains to Israel, the only nation on earth that is, ever has been, or ever will be in a covenant relationship with God. America is not Israel, has never been in a covenant relationship with God, and anybody who tries to tell you different is just trying to sell books. So assuming any of this Shemitah business applies to the United States is at best speculative, and at worst just more quasi-biblical apocalyptic $en$ationali$m. (Unless, of course, it's happening because a significant portion of Israel still lives in America. Hmm...)
Just stick this one in your back pocket.
7. The World Council of Churches and Palestine
The World Council of Churches (which I take a certain measure of impish delight in referring to as "Wicca") is sponsoring the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, slated to run from September 20–26, 2015. Here's a blurb from Wicca's...er, I mean the WCC's website:
"The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches invites member churches, faith-based communities, and civil society organizations around the world to join together in 2015 for a week of advocacy and action in support of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel. [...]
"As participants in the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, from 20 to 26 September 2015, churches around the world shall send a clear signal to policy-makers, community groups, and their own parishes about the urgent need for a peace settlement that ends the illegal occupation and secures the legitimate rights and future of both peoples." (emphasis added)
— Quote from the website of
the World Council of Churches
I scarcely feel the need to add any additional comments to this, because it is such a striking example of the words of the prophet Isaiah when he said:
20Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.
Listen up: Anyone who presumes to call God's eternal covenant with His people "illegal occupation" is woefully and willfully ignorant of God's Word and it is questionable whether or not they have any connection whatsoever to the Church—and I mean the group of Holy Spirit-indwelt believers who form the body of Christ, not the satanically deceived posers who populate the ranks of the WCC...er, I mean Wicca.
And last but not least
I couldn't help it...I just had to throw this in as a bonus. Call it the lunatic fringe. Call it comic relief. Call it whatever you please, but I like to think of it as monitoring enemy troop movements.
Apparently, there are some New Age channelers or mystics or prophets or whatever they call themselves (who are deftly being fed information by demonic entities) that say there has been an ongoing acceleration and intensifying of electromagnetic energy from the sun and other cosmic sources, and it is supposed to peak around September 23–24 of this year. This, they claim, will result in a "frequency shift" in consciousness for many people around the world. According to them, all the CMEs (coronal mass ejections) and geomagnetic storms we have been witnessing recently are manifestations of this phenomenon.
Apparently, this will make many people suffer from various types of mental instability for a period of time, with some people reaching the point where they step into another dimension (!), causing them to disappear (and presumably reappear). Then, following a period of great global upheaval and turmoil, mankind will begin to experience major breakthroughs in science, technology, medicine, etc. that will serve to usher in a golden era of human development and global peace.
You don't say. You know, if I didn't know any better, I'd swear they were describing the Tribulation followed by the Millennial Kingdom.
Maybe they are. After all, Satan can read.
Tragically, unless they respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and put their faith in the atonement for their sin that Jesus Christ made freely available to all who repent and believe in faith, these New Agers won't be here to take part in that "New Age" they're so eagerly looking forward to.
The day or the hour of what?
As I said, many Christians with an interest in end-time prophecy have gotten caught up in an extremely popular teaching that posits that the Rapture is tied to the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah). This "Raptashanah" teaching has been around for a few years, but now, with all the hype surrounding September 2015 and Rosh Hashanah coming up on September 14–15, it's tossing an extra bucketful of fuel on the prophetic fire.
I want to be extremely careful here to not be doctrinally dogmatic, or come across as if I were condemning others for believing or promoting a "false doctrine" or something, because that is certainly not my intention. I'm not trying to sound as if I've got it all figured out, because I don't. I've actually heard some fairly compelling arguments in favor of Raptashanah, and it is within the realm of possibility that there is something to it. My purpose is not to categorically state that this teaching is right or wrong.
All I want to do is briefly look at two key points that undergird this teaching and show you from Scripture that they don't necessarily mean what many people think they do, and as a result this teaching may not be as solidly grounded in Scripture as many sincere, well-meaning believers casually and confidently assume it is.
The first point I want to address pertains to the following phrase:
1. No man knows the day or the hour.
Several times in the New Testament, Jesus says something to the effect that no man would know the day or hour of His return. The first point I want to look at has to do with how this "no man knows the day or the hour" idea is being used to forge a link between the Rapture and the Feast of Trumpets. Here's the Raptashanah spin on this:
The Feast of Trumpets is the only Jewish feast that begins on a new moon, and in biblical times the new moon could only be ascertained over a two-day period since witnesses might not be able to distinguish the first faint sliver of moon on the first day. That's why two days were set aside for this feast, which was known as "the day no man knows." Thus, when Jesus said "no man knows the day or the hour," He was dropping a big fat clue that the Rapture would occur on the Feast of Trumpets!
In other words, according to Raptashanah advocates, this phrase is a tip-off. They think that when Jesus said to His Jewish disciples that no man would know the day or the hour of His return, it was the equivalent of saying to Americans "No man knows the day or the hour...HO HO HO," or "No man knows the day or the hour...gobble gobble gobble."
It's a swell theory, but here's what troubles me. Every single time Jesus said that no man would know the day or the hour of His return, a careful examination of the context reveals He's talking about the Second Coming, not the Rapture—and assuming these are the same event or two events that occur at essentially the same time leads to a potpourri of post-trib problems, many of which I have dealt with in other articles.
I am aware of six places where Jesus makes such "no man knows the day or the hour" statements, and five of them are in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:36, 42, 50; 25:13; Mark 13:32), and all five come shortly after a graphic description of the Second Coming—His return to earth to establish the Millennial Kingdom. This is not the Rapture! Only post-tribbers believe that, and they're dead wrong. (Oops, so much for trying not to sound dogmatic.) The sixth is found in Luke 12:46, and is parallel to Matthew 24:50.
Some argue that Jesus must have been talking about the Rapture in these verses because after the Tribulation starts, we'll know the Second Coming will occur exactly 2,520 days later (i.e., seven 360-day prophetic years). So, how can the day and the hour of the Second Coming be unknown? For heaven's sake, we'll be able to circle the date on the calendar.
Not necessarily. That may be the last day of the Tribulation, but all that happens on the last day of the Tribulation is the Tribulation ends.
A careful study of some of the prophecies pertaining to the Second Coming (in both the Old and New Testaments) makes it fairly clear there will an indeterminate gap of time between the last day of the Tribulation and the time Christ actually comes to earth. It may not be very long, but it's clear that Christ doesn't necessarily return precisely on the last day of the Tribulation, which explains why Jesus could make such a statement about His physical return.
The bottom line is that there is no obvious scriptural reason to link this phrase about how "no man knows the day or the hour" to the Rapture, and so it seems highly speculative to me to link the Rapture to the Feast of Trumpets based on this phrase. Now, does that mean we can we know the day or the hour of the Rapture? Absolutely not! I'm just saying that in my biblical opinion, the idea of piggybacking the Rapture to the Feast of Trumpets on the basis of this "no man knows the day or the hour" phrase strikes me as a bit of a stretch.
The second point I want to address is the idea that the next Jewish feast to be prophetically fulfilled is the Feast of Trumpets, since the previous feast, Pentecost or Shavuot, has already been fulfilled. In other words, according to Raptashanah advocates:
2. Pentecost was fulfilled, so the Feast of Trumpets is up next.
A little background is in order, and I'll try to be mercifully concise.
In the book of Leviticus, God ordained seven feasts for Israel to observe and as you study them out, each one explodes with such stunning prophetic symbolism that it becomes obvious that each of them is a dress rehearsal for seven key prophetic events in God's overall plan of redemption:
2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread
3. The Feast of Firstfruits
4. The Feast of Weeks (Shavuot or Pentecost)
5. The Feast of Trumpets
6. The Day of Atonement
7. The Feast of Tabernacles
Books have been written on the details, but there is pretty much universal agreement by Christians who study these things that Jesus personally fulfilled the first three feasts in rapid succession during the First Advent:
1. He fulfilled Passover when He was crucified.
2. He fulfilled Unleavened Bread by being buried in the tomb.
3. He fulfilled Firstfruits when He rose from the grave.
But here is the Raptashanah version of what comes next:
Not only were the first three feasts fulfilled at the First Advent, but the Feast of Pentecost was also fulfilled when the Holy Spirit came to indwell believers on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), 50 days after the Resurrection and 10 days after Jesus ascended back to heaven. So, since the Feast of Pentecost was fulfilled by the conception of the Church, that means the Feast of Trumpets is next. Obviously, the next major prophetic event on the agenda is the Rapture (which is associated with a trumpet), so clearly Jesus will fulfill the Feast of Trumpets by rapturing the Church. Then Jesus fulfills the Day of Atonement at the Second Coming* and the Feast of Tabernacles via the Millennial Kingdom.
*Note: I agree with those who maintain that the Second Coming fulfills the Feast of Trumpets, while the judgments that follow it (Matt. 25) that determine who is granted or denied entrance into the Millennial Kingdom fulfill the Feast of Atonement. Raptashanah advocates are forced to squeeze both the Second Coming and the judgments that follow into the Feast of Atonement, which makes very little sense to me. The problem, of course, is that pinning the Rapture to the Feast of Trumpets effectively leaves them trying to put three pounds of potatoes into a two-pound sack.
Again, it's a swell theory, but they are making one key assumption—an assumption so easy to make they scarcely realize they're making it. In fact, even a lot of Christians who don't hold to the Raptashanah idea make the same assumption. The assumption is that when the Holy Spirit came to indwell believers starting on the day of Pentecost, it represented the complete and final prophetic fulfillment of that feast. Done. Finito. So, they check it off the list and move right on to the next feast.
By the way, Raptashanah advocates make much of the fact that the Rapture is associated with a trumpet (1 Thess. 4:16), and assume this means it must tie in with the Feast of Trumpets. As if that were a dead giveaway. But many Christians who aren't as familiar with the Old Testament as they should be don't realize that the Feast of Pentecost is also associated with a trumpet.
Jews celebrate the Feast of Pentecost as Shavuot, and it commemorates the day Moses received the 10 Commandments from God on Mt. Sinai (Exod. 19). When the trumpet sounded, God came down and Moses (representing Israel) went up to receive the law. In a parallel manner, some believe that at the trumpet mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Jesus will come down and the Church will go up to receive the Spirit. Receive the Spirit in full, that is, because what we received when we were born again was merely a down payment on what we are promised to receive at the Rapture (Eph. 1:13–14).
They also talk up the fact that there is marriage symbolism contained in the Feast of Trumpets, so it must pertain to the Church, the bride of Christ. Well, why shouldn't there be marriage symbolism in the Feast of Trumpets? God the Son may be marrying the Church, but God the Father is married to Israel (Isa. 54:5).
Again, I'm not trying to be dogmatic here—maybe Pentecost really was completely prophetically fulfilled two thousand years ago.
But consider this:
Many Bible teachers believe (and I completely agree) that Jesus Himself will personally fulfill all seven of the Jewish feasts, and that is undeniably true for the first three. Now, for those who feel that the Feast of Pentecost was completely fulfilled two thousand years ago at the conception of the Church, the question becomes:
What exactly did Jesus do on Pentecost that "fulfilled" that feast?
He had just ascended back to heaven only 10 days earlier, where He took His seat at the right hand of the Father. Then, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to indwell believers in power and the Church was officially conceived. But what part did Jesus Himself play in that?
People who claim Pentecost was fulfilled state that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. That's what Jesus did. OK, and here's a verse that supports that:
28When the Counselor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me.
(John 15:28 / emphasis added)
Whom I will send. Jesus is speaking to His disciples at the Last Supper, where He is explaining to them that He is going to leave them soon, but He will not leave them totally on their own. He's going to send the Holy Spirit. Well, that's great, but...oh wait, what's this? That's not what Jesus said just a few minutes earlier in the same discourse:
26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.
(John 14:26 / emphasis added)
Whom the Father will send in my name. Oops...wait a second. I thought Jesus was going to send the Holy Spirit. Well, which is it? Who's going to send the Holy Spirit, anyway...the Father or the Son? What's going on? And just a few minutes before that, Jesus said:
16I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, that he may be with you forever,— 17the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him, neither knows him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you.
(John 14:16–17 / emphasis added)
Or is the Father going to give the Holy Spirit? Is that like "send" or what? What happened to the idea of Jesus personally and directly sending the Holy Spirit, thus personally fulfilling the Feast of Pentecost, just like He did the first three feasts (and will the last three)?
Let's take a closer look at exactly what Jesus is saying:
The words translated "send" in the first two verses I mentioned are both forms of the same verb:
1. John 15:28 — pempso (I will send)
2. John 14:26 — pempsei (he will send)
Both are forms of the verb pempo — send; transmit; permit to go; put forth.
In the third verse I mentioned, we have:
3. John 14:16 — dosei (he will give)
This is a form of the verb didomi — grant; give to; allow to have.
My point is that when Jesus says "the Father will send" the Holy Spirit and then says "I will send" the Holy Spirit, using the same word for "send" each time, it makes it a bit hard to argue that Jesus Himself personally sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and in so doing personally fulfilled the Feast of Pentecost.
Now, as you can see from the information above, the Greek verb pempo can have the somewhat more passive meaning of "permit to go," and in a similar manner the verb didomi can also have a passive meaning of "allow to have."
Incidentally, note that pempo is not the only Greek word that gets translated as "send" in the New Testament, and here is one that Jesus might have used if He were going to personally, directly send the Holy Spirit to earth to indwell believers in the manner assumed by Raptashanah advocates:
28They said therefore to him, "What must we do, that we may work the works of God?" 29Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."
(John 6:28–29 / emphasis added)
Here, at an earlier point in time, Jesus is talking about the fact that His Father sent Him into the world on a specific mission—to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Here's the Greek word:
John 6:29 — apesteilen (sent)
This word is a form of the verb apostello (to send forth; to send as a messenger; to commission), and it is where we get the word "apostle," or one sent on a mission by someone. If Jesus were going to personally send the Holy Spirit to fulfill the Feast of Pentecost, it seems to me that this would have been a better choice of words.
But that's not what Jesus said.
In other words, rather than Jesus personally, directly sending the Holy Spirit to earth and personally fulfilling the Feast of Pentecost, the three verses I mentioned could easily be interpreted to mean that shortly after Jesus ascended to heaven, both He and the Father simply "permitted" or "allowed" the Holy Spirit to come to earth to commence His ministry of indwelling believers. That's one reasonable way to make sense of the grammar in these verses and reconcile them.
Now, let me hasten to confirm your suspicions that I am no Greek scholar. I'm just giving you the straightforward definitions of a couple of Greek words. My point is that even a cursory glance at the definitions of the words used here tends to weaken the idea that Jesus personally and directly fulfilled the Feast of Pentecost. Yes, obviously something of profound significance happened on that feast, when the Holy Spirit came and began to indwell believers in power and began building the Church. But that doesn't necessarily mean that feast was completely fulfilled.
But if Jesus hasn't fulfilled Pentecost yet, then what's the deal? Well, all I can do is give you my biblically based opinion.
Does that mean we
should expect the
Rapture in June?!
No. It means we
should expect the
In a nutshell, perhaps the entire Church Age is tied to the fulfillment of the Feast of Pentecost, a fulfillment which began on the day the Holy Spirit launched His ministry of indwelling believers two thousand years ago and which will end at the close of the Church Age when Jesus catches His bride away at the Rapture. And IF it turns out that the Rapture occurs on the Feast of Pentecost, snatching us up to be with Him would certainly qualify as Jesus personally and directly fulfilling that feast.
By the way, unlike just about everything else I've mentioned in this article, the Feast of Pentecost is NOT in September—it falls in May or June. And for reasons I'm not even going to attempt to explain, the Christian celebration of Pentecost and its Jewish counterpart of Shavuot seldom fall on the same dates, and can sometimes come several weeks apart. Case in point: Christians will celebrate the next Pentecost on Sunday, May 15, 2016, while Jews will celebrate the next Shavuot on June 11–13, 2016.
Does that mean we should expect the Rapture in June?!
No. It means we should expect the Rapture today.
And every day.
Pardon my speculation: I feel the need to emphasize one thing here: I'm not trying to "prove" anything to anyone or persuade anyone of anything. I'm not trying to slyly convince people that the Rapture will occur on the Feast of Pentecost, and then insist I'm not setting dates. My intention is merely to explain why I think the biblical case for Raptashanah is not as strong as many seem to think it is. In fact, some Bible teachers I respect seem convinced that the fulfillments of the seven Jewish feasts are only marginally connected to the Church, although I am inclined to believe they contain deep connections to the body of Christ.
Try to remember...
I could give you a laundry list of reasons why connecting the Rapture with the Feast of Pentecost makes far more biblical sense than connecting it with the Feast of Trumpets, but I'm not going do that for the simple reason that I don't want to be accused of the same sort of thing I'm trying to warn people about in regard to connecting the Rapture to the Feast of Trumpets. But, I'd be lying if I told you it didn't make a lot of sense to me.
One reason I am writing this article is because I know for a fact that there are many thousands of believers out there who are so caught up with the idea that the Rapture is set to take place in September 2015 that they are about to apocalypse all over themselves. They are giddy with excitement, and are so preoccupied with the idea that they seem oblivious to the fact that there is an excellent chance it will not happen the way they think.
You know, when I first decided to call my website "A Little Strength," I never consciously thought I would arrive at a moment like this—surrounded by a sea of sincere, well-meaning believers who are totally hyped up for an event that I don't believe is likely to occur according to their expectations.
So, my highest hope and sincerest prayer is that I can help a few people out there find a small measure of the spiritual strength they may need to ease their way over the bump of disappointment they are bound to feel if the Rapture doesn't happen in September (or if September 2015 turns out to be the Christian equivalent of Y2K). In the same vein, I also want to encourage all born-again believers to keep several things in mind:
Try to remember...that the Rapture can occur at any time. It's very easy to believe it may happen on a Jewish feast day, and hey, it might. But I think we have to be careful not to lose our perspective. There's nothing inherently wrong with speculation, as long as we remember that it's just speculation and don't go beyond Scripture and start letting it become a distraction—or an obsession. Could the Rapture happen on Rosh Hashanah? Absolutely. I'd love it if the YouTube gurus were right for a change! Feast of Pentecost? Sure thing. But it could also happen on Mardi Gras, Groundhog Day, or Cinco de Mayo for that matter. That's the whole point: the Bible tells us to live our lives as though it could happen any day.
Try to remember...that Jesus commanded us to occupy till He comes (Luke 19:13). That means do your job:
• Pray (1 Thess. 5:17).
• Read and study the Word (2 Tim. 2:15).
• Walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16).
• Don't let sin rule your life (Rom. 6:12–14).
• Long for His appearing (2 Tim. 4:8).
• Build up the faith of other believers (Rom. 15:2).
• Tell others about the life-changing power of the gospel (1 Pet. 3:15).
And for crying out loud, quit obsessing about the timing of the Rapture.
Try to remember...the exact dates of the Rapture and the Second Coming are not for us to know with precision. I can't say it any more plainly. The Father has His secrets (Deut. 29:29; Acts 1:7), and whatever He ordains for us to not know for certain, we will never know for certain. Deal with it.
Try to remember...that there are many popular YouTube prophecy gurus and prophecy bloggers who coyly draw attention to their pet Rapture dates (typically the Feast of Trumpets), and then duck for cover behind a flimsy little disclaimer that they're "not setting dates." Technically, they're right—they're not setting dates, they're sensationalizing dates, which is even worse! Don't do that, and ignore it when others do.
Try to remember...Scripture-based speculation is one thing, but wildly obsessing over specific dates for the Rapture distracts us from things we should be doing, brings disappointment when the dates pass, puffs up with pride those with oh-so-compelling theories, and dishonors the Lord by making born-again believers look like a bunch of bozos when the dates turn out to be wrong, which they invariably do.
And if one of those dates just happens to be right, it won't matter anyway.
We'll be outta here.
Greg Lauer / August 2015
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1. Deriv. of "Sunset Over Grass Field" © AOosthuizen at Can Stock Photo
2. "Red Bow on Finger" © Nikolai Sorokin at Fotolia.com
3. "September Panic"—derivative work based on 3a–3b:
3a. "Scared Blond Man" © kues1 at Fotolia.com
3b. "Calendar 2015 September" © Tabthipwatthana at Fotolia.com
4. "Flag of the United Nations" courtesy of Open Clip Art by Anonymous
5. "Pope Francis S. Korea 2014" © Korea.net Korean Culture & Info. Ser. (Jeon Han) [CC BY-SA]
6. "Iranian Nuclear Threat" © Tlex at Fotolia.com
7. "Global Economy Recession" © Kenishirotie at Fotolia.com
8. Deriv. of "Dünyanın Manyetik Alanı" © andromeda at Fotolia.com
(All CC-licensed works are via Wikimedia Commons.)
All Scripture is taken from the World English Bible, unless annotated as KJV (King James Version) or AKJV (American King James Version).