Since 1827 when John Nelson Darby first invented the word ‘rapture’ to depict his dispensational views, many Christian churches have taught and believed it. Darby is credited as being the father of Dispensationalism in Christian church eschatology; eschatology is a term used for the study of end time events. From his Dispensationalist views, he and his successors built upon a new teaching that Darby introduced to Christianity called the ‘secret rapture.’
John Nelson Darby was closely followed by successive generations of secret rapture eschatology Dispensationalist proponents. Most of the earlier supporters of his views came from the various Calvinistic sects of Christendom. John Calvin was a reformer whose extreme and false views about God’s foreknowledge are used as the basis for another wrong doctrine dubbed ‘Calvinism.’ Calvinism teaches that the sovereign will of God always usurps man’s free will; that it is not man who chooses to have faith in God but that God’s sovereignty decided before the beginning of time who would and would not be saved.
Calvinistic Predestination is another term used to describe this insidious and horribly misguided teaching, that in essence holds God responsible for deciding from the beginning those whom He would send arbitrarily to hell, and those whom He would choose to be His saints forever in heaven. I use a different term for Calvinistic Predestination; I refer to this teaching as ‘The Monster God Doctrine’ because it depicts God as a monstrous despot that gives nobody the opportunity to decide.
One of John Darby’s many odd teachings is his portrayal of God’s ‘special covenant for Israel.’ This philosophy is sometimes included as one of a number of teachings that are called ‘Replacement Eschatology’ because it was used to replace long held teachings of old-line mainstream Christian church denominations in the 1800’s. Being deeply influenced by John Calvin’s predestination theology, Darby concocted a view that said God made a ‘Sovereign’ choice of Israel and the Jewish people as His ‘Elect’ and as His special covenant people.
In 1827, John Darby fell and seriously injured himself while riding his horse. During his recovery, he claimed to have received a revelation about Israel and the Jews. While reading the Book of Isaiah, he ‘suddenly realized’ that God had made a special, unique covenant for Israel and that Isaiah’s prophecies were NOT fulfilled when Jesus Christ brought the gospel to His church. I do not agree with Darby or his views, but simply provide the reader with the historical development of his teaching.
Disregarding Jesus of Nazareth as the messianic fulfillment of Isaiah’s Old Testament prophecies, Darby alleged that ALL of the Old Testament’s prophecies were given by God and intended for Israel as His ‘Elect’ chosen people. According to Darby, the “second Coming of Christ” is an event, which occurs simultaneous with Israel’s acceptance of Jesus Christ as the only true “God of the Jewish people.”
Darby incorporated much of his Calvinistic predestination theology when substantiating his misguided notions. Calvinistic Predestination alleges Jehovah is He that ‘wills’—not the Jewish people; therefore, it is He that ‘chose’ Israel as ‘God’s Elect.’ In fact, the very essence of and the foundation for ALL of John Darby’s eschatological interpretations is his allegation that God’s ‘special covenant’ with Israel has never ceased, but that has continued to run parallel to Christ’s new covenant for the church. Darby rigorously defended his opinions and misguided interpretations, even though he was aware that most of the Jews and spiritual leaders of Israel (i.e. the Great Sanhedrin) in the first century had rejected Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah.
Following his accident, Darby spent the next five years developing an elaborate eschatological philosophy and set of instructions. In 1827, during his recovery, Darby wrote his first book and introduced to the Christian church the word ‘secret rapture,’ which he used to describe one of his multi-stage comings of Christ. Darby held strong Trinitarian theological views concerning the nature of God and Jesus Christ. The Trinity dogma depicts Jesus as the ‘second Person of the Divine Godhead’ and asserts that Christ is ‘co-equal, co-eternal, co-omniscient, and co-omnipotent as ‘God’ along with the other two ‘Persons of God.’ Dispensationalist advocates today believe and teach that in order for the Jewish people as ‘God’s Elect in Israel’ to truly be ‘saved’ they must collectively embrace and confess Jesus as their “God.”
Being familiar with the strict monotheism of Judaism brought the realization to Darby that only a circumstance of catastrophic proportions would ever bring the ancient monotheism of Israel to this point of change. This realization undoubtedly fueled Darby’s search in scripture for what he believed would satisfy such a monumental decision. Darby found what he believed was a multi-stage appearance of Christ in the end times. He was the first theologian to create more than one coming of Jesus, which has come to mean the Second Coming of Jesus Christ during the apex of the Battle of Armageddon.
Dispensationalism teaches that in order for the tiny nation of Israel to be saved from total annihilation during the Battle of Armageddon, they must embrace Jesus Christ. Armageddon is depicted as as the mother of all wars—the final war when the attacking military forces of the Antichrist’s one-world government-led armies converge upon Israel. Israel’s acceptance of Jesus as Messiah means they must change their millennium-old monotheism, confess Jesus as God and believe in Him as Yahweh Who Saves.
What could bring all of the world’s armies to bear arms against the tiny nation of Israel? According to prevailing Dispensationalist thought, the Battle of Armageddon is precipitated by the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation is a seven-year period of God’s wrath, which is poured upon the wicked Gentiles (i.e. non-Jewish nations) during this time frame. The Great Tribulation is synonymous with the ‘the fullness of the times of the Gentiles.’ Darby’s use of Calvinistic predestination led to the development of another new doctrine, in which long ago God decided which era of Gentiles would arbitrarily become ‘predestined to wrath’.
Dispensationalism alleges that the ‘fullness of the Gentiles’ occurs as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. The ‘fullness of the Gentiles’ begins immediately after the Christian church is snatched (raptured) into the clouds of the air. Many, if not most, Dispensationalists believe that during the seven years that elapse between the moment of the secret rapture (also known as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture) and the time of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is the same period as the fullness of the Gentiles. This is said to be when ‘Gentiles’ (non-believers) gain full control of the world and when Satan himself possesses a man called Antichrist.
There are many variations of Pre-Tribulation Rapture and secret rapture eschatology. Many say that during the seven years of the fullness of the Gentiles there is no godly representation of people on the earth to hold back the flood of wickedness. Some Dispensationalists teach that ‘he that restrains’ the world’s evil, which is mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, is the raptured church. They say that once the Christian church has been taken off of the earth at the secret rapture, no one remains on earth as a godly force to restrain evil. Again, I do not believe this view, but provide this summary description to help familiarize my readers with the subject matter. Dispensationalism also teaches that the seven year Great Tribulation and fullness of the Gentiles is synonymous with events in the final week of the Seventy weeks of Daniel, an Old Testament prophecy in the Book of Daniel.
Dispensationalist eschatology teaches that by the time of the secret rapture and subsequent Seven Year Great Tribulation, the twelve tribes of Israel, which descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel), have migrated back to Palestine. The final 3 ½ years of this period is the Wrath of God, when plagues such as the world has never seen are poured out upon the Gentile nations. Furious with Israel because the Jewish people have remained unharmed by the plague-judgments from God, the Gentile armies of the Anti-Christ assemble against Israel for the Battle of Armageddon. With no earthly hope remaining, the Jewish people as ‘God’s Elect’ finally embrace Jesus as their ‘God’, resulting in the 2nd Coming of Christ and Israel receiving its promised land inheritance.
Finally, to conclude this brief historical overview of the development of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture eschatology, the Second Coming of Christ is allegedly followed by a one thousand year reign of Jesus Christ upon the earth. Returning with his glorified saints to save Israel during the Battle of Armageddon, Jesus then rewards the saints for their faithfulness during their previous time on earth by assigning them geographic areas or cities to rule and reign over. One obscure verse from the Book of Revelation is used as ‘proof’ of Jesus reigning from the Jewish temple during the millennium, at which time the devil is alleged to be unable to tempt mankind, being bound in chains for the entire 1000-year era. At the end he is released, rebels, gets tossed into the lake of fire, this earth and its heavens are destroyed with intense heat, and God brings a new heavens and new earth.
Most Dispensationalist views also teach that prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Jews in Israel have rebuilt Solomon’s temple in its original location, which is currently occupied by the third holiest site in Islam, ‘the Dome of the Rock.’ For the Jews to tear down this Islamic mosque and attempt to rebuild Solomon’s temple to its original grandeur and majesty would be tantamount to an open declaration of war by Israel on the entire Muslim population of the world (let alone the Middle East). Even the casual observer is aware of the riots and violence that have exploded in the Islamic world when mere words or cartoons have been perceived to be offensive to their religion or prophet. Can any rational person even imagine that Muslims would stand idly by while the nation of Israel—whose very existence in the Middle East they abhor and have vowed to drive out of the land—dismantle their holy site and replace it with a Jewish temple!
Again, as stated throughout this overview, the underlying basis for such strange and misguided eschatology is Calvinism’s predestination. Yet dispensationalist teaching ignores the fact that the Scripture ALWAYS teaches (in both Old and New Testaments), that Yahweh Elohiym (i.e. the personal name of God the Father) does not dwell in temples or building that are built by the hands of men (See Isaiah 66:1-5, Acts 7, & Acts 17).
Dispensationalist eschatology uses the same contradictory reasoning in the defense of its views about Israel and the temple rebuilding as it uses to construct its teaching. This illogical reasoning says in a word, “with God all things are possible.” This is called subjective reasoning and uses something that is true to argue in defense of a premise that is false. In other words, the assumption is that the Jewish temple WILL be rebuilt because God wants it rebuilt.
According to this view, the reason God wants the temple rebuilt in Jerusalem, is in order that Christ might return and establish his global rule from this locale. Supposedly, he will place his throne in the rebuilt temple, and from there, dispense righteousness and justice throughout the world, using Jerusalem as his headquarters. There is no basis in scripture for this, and we can thank John Nelson Darby for leading many of God’s people astray in this regard. I do not think he did so with malevolence when writing his eschatology, but the fact is that sincere motives do not always equal truth in doctrine.
Dispensationalism has evolved to depict Jesus Christ reigning from a stone building, in a manmade throne over Israel and this present terra firma earth for one thousand years. There is absolutely no basis in scripture for the 1000-year millennial rule of Jesus Christ over the earth. In fact, the scripture teaches just the opposite; yet, so many Christians have embraced this teaching without having personally studied the scripture that the devil is going to use it as part of his overall scheme to keep God’s people in the dark.
However, the good news is, God also has His own plan and He is going to kick some serious you know what on the devil, in Jesus’ name! God does have an awesome plan in the Scriptures, and if you have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, you will understand and walk in the light of God’s truth.
God’s prophetic plan for your life is not as complicated as all of the stuff I just explained. The reason Christians don’t understand the Pre-Tribulation Rapture and surrounding events is due to the fact it is so, convoluted, confusing, and oftentimes contradictory. What if I told you that God’s plan in prophecy does not involve ANY of the aforementioned? What if I told you that regardless of your level of education or your knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, you CAN understand prophecy? Would you be interested in finding this simple, yet very applicable plan, which is readily available to every believer?
1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give reasonable justification to anyone who asks you for an explanation of the hope that is within you, but do it considerately and courteously.