Friday, June 01, 2012

1 Thes 4:17 Catching up - Do "The Godly" get taken up to heaven sometime significantly before other believers?

I've written in other posts and on my website that my observations of Bible numbers and patterns seem to reveal that the numbers 1-10 represent what I call a "Redemption Pattern" that is found behind every part of the contents of scripture. Once you comprehend the concept of the progressive pattern in the Bible’s numbers and text, it is relatively easy to see it for yourself. I came to perceive this pattern over a period of several years of observing numbers in the text. One place to observe the pattern's symbolism is in the first 10 books of the Bible  (each book having a relationship to the numbers 1 through 10). In overly simplistic terms the interpretation of the pattern can be found in the overview of the contents of the Bible's books of Genesis through Kings and might be seen as 10 steps in the believers time on earth – The steps we take in our being redeemed by God -- every believer needs to somehow proceed to sequentially learn the teaching of each of the pattern's steps….

#1 -- Genesis – Knowing God and how he separates by kind. God, creator of all
#2 -- Exodus -- Jesus, the appointed redeemer in Exodus is an example of Jesus who came to redeem God's people. We must know about God’s Son.
#3 -- Leviticus -- Holy Spirit, the holiness and righteousness of God and about what it takes to live with God in our midst...the law
#4 -- Numbers -- Man's wandering on earth. The "40" years of men wandering learning and suffering until they decide they need to live in God's land
#5 -- Deuteronomy -- Men are wanting to enter the promised land, but God instructs them again of their history and the expectations (rules) God has once we enter. You will be blessed if you follow them and cursed if you don't. We must learn the requirements of God.
#6 -- Joshua -- Represents our recognizing and repenting of our sinfulness and then entering the land. My guess is that this 6th step in our Christian walk represents what some refer to as our “public confession of faith” in Jesus
#7 -- Judges -- The 7th step in our walk is, by a process of repeated trial and error (failing, suffering, repenting), we hopefully one day will become "Godly" believers. We are not considered Godly by simply declaring we believe in God’s redeeming power and our sinfulness.
#8 -- Ruth -- The 8th step in our Christian walk is the day we finally realize God's way is the only way to live and we commit with our heart to faithfully seek to live God's way. Of course, we still sin and fail, but we have sincerely turned our life over to God (Dead in Christ?)
#9 -- 1/2 Samuel -- Represents how the Godly persevere in faith serving God until the return of his Son, Jesus. I suspect Saul and David represent how the Godly can still fail and maybe how some fall away. Patterns seem to reveal that the "catching up" of "the Godly" occurs at the end of this 9th step of our walk.
#10 -- 1/2 Kings -- Represents the last/end things/times. When Jesus does return to judge and to save. Like in Kings where Kingdoms go two separate ways, I suspect some believers will enter heaven prior to this step in the “Redemption Pattern” and some will not.

The Redemption Pattern seems to be teaching us a sequence to the events that result in believers going to heaven. The following verses of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 are commonly referred to by those that teach about the end times catching up of the believers...

1The 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
1The 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Finally, I get to the point of this blog post. The general interpretation I've been taught about when Jesus returns is that the dead will rise to meet Jesus in the clouds a fraction of a second before those believers still alive on earth. I've always thought this a curious interpretation because it seemed an unimportant point for God to make. Why would God need to tell us about this fraction of a second difference? Just today (May 31, 2012) I read this verse and realized it may be referring to a point about the end times that the Redemption Pattern has been suggesting to me for years.... (Please note, I'm not claiming I'm right about this possible interpretation. Instead, I’m just suggesting what I personally observe. The reader can ponder for themselves what they suppose the meaning is).

The 6th step -- When looking at the ten steps of the redemption pattern, it seems that we can be called Christians when we repent of our sin and go where the redeemer has led us...into the promised land (book of Joshua). We "cross over" into a new life. But, there's still steps 7, 8, 9 &10 of the pattern following this 6th step -- what do they represent? Without going into great detail, I can share what I believe to be lots of evidence that, even though we are saved once we cross over into God's land, we are just entering the part of our Christian walk where Jesus teaches us about following and trusting in him. In the 7th step of our Christian walk, like Judges, the 7th book of the Bible, we must repeatedly try, suffer, repent and try again until we finally are prepared to "die to ourselves" and live for Jesus. We don't know how many times we will go through this cycle, but hopefully one day we emerge to see the light.

In the eighth step of the redemption patter, like in the 8th book of Ruth, we decide to go live in God's land his way. I believe this is when we might be referred to as "godly" ("brethern" or other Biblical terms). Once we have made this heartfelt decision (only the Holy Spirit/Jesus knows if this truly happens in us), we are ready to go faithfully serve God until the return of the Lord Jesus. This is the 9th step of the believers walk. Remember, some will never exit the 7th step.

As I've mentioned, the 9th step is where we faithfully serve God, trusting in him for our decisions, waiting and looking forward to the Return of Jesus to take us home. The tenth step is the final judgment and I believe at the end of the 9th step (numbers, 9, 99, 999) is when the catching up occurs.. In Matthew 24:40-41 we see a catching up of believers just before the "Day of the Lord". These verses are the 23,998th and 23,999th verses of the Bible. They are the last two verses before the 24,000th verse (The "Day" of the Lord). I've believed this for several years because the redemption pattern and other evidences force me to consider a separate sequence of events.

The tenth step -- What I observe in Biblical patterns is that God takes "the Godly" to heaven just prior to the Day of the Lord and that's different from what we are often taught. I think "the Godly" are possibly a select group of faithful believers that only the Holy Spirit can identify. Like the 8th chapter of the Bible where only a remnant of eight are saved from the flood (in the ark), it seems only "the Godly"may be taken up in the first "catching up" in the last days.  Some help for seeing the Godly differentiated can be seen in Romans chapter 16 where it seems “the Godly” are greeted with a “holy kiss”.

What I observed today, and why I'm writing this blog post, is that 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 may be confirming this alternate sequence of events   "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. v17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."  If you examine my highlights, you might also observe that the catching up the "dead in Christ" might be a reference to the Godly being taken first -- before the "Day of the Lord". I believe millions of others may also be saved for eternity, but may be caught up later to be with the Lord.

If you look at the strict definition of "Godly" (see the book of Ruth), I would not put myself in that category, but only God and Jesus know for sure. I've resisted sharing this observation about the end times for several years because of the obvious controversy it might create. For some reason, this evening I observed this possible interpretation of 1 Thes 4:17 and find myself writing this post. I'm never sure why I do such things, but I hope God is leading me in what I write. I'm not preaching here or attempting to oppose what is traditionally taught about these verses...but just to share an observation I believe is worth considering.

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