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Ruminations

Rumination #14: Comparing the plagues of the Exodus to the plagues of Revelation is instructive. What is missing from the Exodus account is a "rapture."

The uncanny resemblance of the plagues of Revelation to the plagues of Exodus has received the attention of many Bible students. What of course is missing from Exodus is the so-called "rapture." That should not surprise a real Bible student though. The so-called "rapture" is not found in Revelation either.

The concept of a "rapture" comes primarily from this passage:

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Yeshua died and rose again, even so G-d will bring with Him those who sleep in Yeshua. For this we say to you by the word of the L-rd, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the L-rd will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the L-rd Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of G-d. And the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the L-rd in the air. And thus we shall always be with the L-rd. Therefore comfort one another with these words. But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the L-rd so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety! " then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
1Thessalonians 4:13-5:4

Of course, the mention of a "thief in the night" reminds some of the passage made popular by the Left Behind series from Matthew 24:

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your L-rd is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
Matthew 24:36-43

It all seems pretty obvious to anyone taught in the dispensational method. To them there is a rapture of believers prior to the "Great Tribulation." To them, there has to be.

Beloved, "rapture theology" is an invention of dispensationalism. It isn't in Exodus or Revelation. It isn't in Daniel. It isn't in Matthew 24, or even in 1Thessalonians 4. Oh, to be sure there is a being "caught up" to meet Messiah, but there is no special extraction of believers prior to Israel suffering "Jacob's trouble." This teaching is a necessary teaching of dispensationalism - invented to explain the so-called "Church Age" and why the Prophets speak not of the "Church" but of "Israel." Perhaps you know their logic: "G-d had a people, that was Israel... then He switched to the Church, they were His people... then later, He will take the Church out of this world, and they He will switch back to Israel - they will be His people again."

For those that read Tim LeHaye's pabulum, hopefully you actually read Matthew 24 also and knew that his view of being "left behind" was exactly backward. Beloved, in the days of Noah, and in the prophecy of Yeshua, the righteous were not "raptured" or "taken away" - no, it is the wicked that are taken away. The righteous are the ones "left behind." Don't take my word for it. Read it again:

But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.
Matthew 24:37-41

Remember, in Scripture, the righteous are always left. It is the wicked that are taken away.

We all know the evil that is called "Replacement Theology." Dispensationalism seems much more benign. Certainly, dispensationalists are much more friendlier toward Israel. Regardless, Dispensationalism is incorrect, and you can always identify a dispensationalist by asking them about the "Rapture."

Take heart, beloved. You have been joined to Israel (Romans 11, Ephesians 2-3), there is a time of testing that is coming upon the whole earth. G-d will shelter Israel - not by taking her out of the world, but by preserving her as an eternal testimony to His faithfulness.

Consider this: in Exodus, the first three plagues were shared by all the inhabitants of Egypt, both Israelite and Egyptian. However, the last seven plagues, the Israelites watched on, as only Egyptians experienced the plagues. Interesting. Seven plagues... just like Revelation 15.

Are the righteous "raptured" or "taken away" before the time of testing - no. The Bible teaches that Israel, and those added to her, will be preserved in that day.

Parashat Vaera - 'And I appeared' (Exodus 6:2-9:35)

The title for the this week's Scripture portion comes from the second verse of this Scripture portion.

Vayedaber Elokim el-moshe vayomer elav ani HaShem,
vaera el-Avraham el-yitschak v'el-ya'akov b'E'' Shadai ushemi HaShem lo nodati lahem.

And G-d spoke to Moses and said to him: "I am HaShem. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as G-d Almighty, but by My name HaShem I was not known to them."

This parasha sets in motion the redemption that we will see completed in next week's portion: redeeming Israel from the bondage of Egypt, and making us HaShem's own possession. These chapters of Scripture are extraordinary in what they reveal to us about the G-d we serve. Particularly, these first few verses of this week's reading summarize what G-d's redemptive work always looks like. In this week's portion, the G-d of the Universe reveals Himself to be not only the G-d Who interacts with individuals - but the G-d Who interacts with nations, and peoples.

Up until now, the Torah has told us that G-d appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He appeared as E" Shaddai [G-d, the All sufficient, the Almighty]. He appeared to them as their covenant partner. They were few, and there were many around them who did not know Him. He was a personal G-d. But now, He is revealing Himself by His most holy Name - the four letters which point to His very nature. He is One, and His Name is One. He is self-existent. He always was, and will always be. He is not merely one of many. He is not merely the greatest of all. He is the only One. He is G-d of the Universe, and He is coming to fulfill His promises to the descendants of His covenant partners, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

He is HaShem, and He has come to redeem a nation, a people, for Himself. He appeared.

This appearing is for the purpose of redeeming a people for Himself, but it is also to reveal what His redemption looks like. These next few chapters are historical, and also prophetic. Only the blind can read the book of Revelation and not see the uncanny parallels. This is the way G-d reveals Himself as Savior and Redeemer. Pay close attention, beloved. You are about to witness the greatest struggle between good and evil the world has ever seen. And the contest is not even close. It is over before it even begins. He is HaShem, and He will have His people. No Pharaoh, no king, no man, no Anti-Messiah can resist Him. We have seen this before, and we will see it again. This is what redemption looks like.

Four "I Wills"

In the opening verses of this parasha, we are given a hint at what lies behind the veil. A "glimpse" of Who sits enthroned behind the veil. And He is awesome. He speaks, and His word is established. When He says, "I will" - it is done.

Therefore say to the children of Israel: 'I am HaShem; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I willrescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your G-d. Then you shall know that I am HaShem your G-d who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am HaShem.'"
Exodus 6:6-8

These are the four "I Wills" of the Passover. These are the basis for the four Passover cups that we share in remembrance of our Redeemer. This is what HaShem's redemption always looks like:

He said it. He did it. He said it. It was done. Finished. Nothing could be added.

Beloved, to many this is merely an exciting Bible story. Many have abandoned the Hebrew Scriptures, relegating them to the unused portions of their Bibles. In their Bibles, these pages still stick together, with nothing to teach them. They are quite wrong in that view, and sadly are lacking not only this fundamental perspective of the Almighty, but also in how this fits in His plan of the eternal redemption wrought by the perfect Passover Lamb, Yeshua. Some who refuse to learn from these passages, will be puzzled by the future and final redemption - when Messiah delivers His own from a future "Pharaoh," the Anti-Messiah.

Beloved, let us be different in this regard. Let us remember. These passages are remembered each year as we read parashot Va'era and Bo. They are also remembered each year as we celebrate Pesach [Passover]. We know what HaShem's redemption looks like. We observe how it was perfectly enacted by our Messiah, Yeshua Himself.

In a time long forgotten, men who claimed to know the Master abandoned this revelation of HaShem, this expression of Messiah. They spat upon the very picture that these passages reveal. In so doing, they established man-made traditions and rituals that obscure and even deny what Scripture demands us to know about our G-d. Men replaced Pesach [Passover] with Easter. They exchanged the truth for a lie. By human "church" decree, they erased the truth and connection between this week's Scripture reading with the eternal redemption wrought by Yeshua that dramatic Passover two thousand years ago in Jerusalem, when our Master gave Himself as the Passover Lamb. By human decree, they took the G-d given remembrance of Passover, and exchanged it for a pagan celebration (tied to the solar solstice), with pagan symbols (Easter lilies, bunnies, and Easter eggs), a pagan name (the name of an ancient goddess), and pagan rituals (sunrise services, facing the rising sun). Plainly, as you likely already know: Easter is not Passover - and it is Passover that celebrates not only our freedom from the bondage of Pharaoh, but our bondage to sin.

One must ask, "Why did these Scriptural truths become obscured?" The answer beloved is, because the Enemy does not want us to understand the connection between what occurred in Egypt, with what occurred on Golgotha and an empty tomb. The Enemy does not want us to know the connection with what will occur again at the end of the age. He wants G-d's own people to be oblivious to the fact that HaShem appeared, and said, "I am HaShem. I will..."

These four "I Wills" are remembered by us, each Pesach at the Passover Seder. In them, we remember our Master who showed us what they meant for us eternally. We remember these "I Wills" in Four Cups of wine. It was the Third Cup, the Cup of Redemption that prompted Yeshua to say,

Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you."
Luke 22:20

Just before the Third Cup, Yeshua had shared with them, as we share each year, the "Bread of Affliction" - the unleavened bread of Passover.

And He took bread, gave thanks [ha-motzi, the blessing for bread] and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
Luke 22:19

Paul tells us that we keep Passover as a remembrance of Yeshua and His redemption on our behalf (1Corinthians 5:4; 1Corinthians 11:20-26). He reminded us not only to keep the Feast (of Unleavened Bread, of Passover), but to remember its G-d given symbols in ways that our relationships with each other will be without malice. Remember, the G-d Who redeems does not only redeem an individual, He redeems a people for His own. How much more should we be a people who love one another, seeing as He has redeemed not only us individually (as He is known as E'' Shaddai), but us as a nation and people for His own (He is revealed as HaShem).

As you study this week, remember that this is what HaShem's redemption looks like. Remember the four "I Wills." Remember that if you follow Yeshua:

As you study, watch how HaShem does this. This is what redemption looks like. This is how HaShem appears

Haftarat Vaera  - 'And I appeared' (Ezekiel 28:25-29:21)

There are two ties between this week's Torah reading from Exodus 6:2-9:35 and the haftarah reading from the Prophets. First, most obvious as you read, is the announcement in Ezekiel of the judgment of Egypt at the hands of the Babylonians. Like the judgment of Egypt 1,000 years before, again HaShem tells that He will judge Egypt, this time by the hand of the Babylonians.

The second connection between this week's Torah portion and this week's haftarah from the Prophets is G-d's covenant Name and His promises to Abraham and Jacob. This is how the haftarah begins:

Thus says Ad-nai HaShem: "When I have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and am hallowed in them in the sight of the Gentiles, then they will dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob. And they will dwell safely there, build houses, and plant vineyards; yes, they will dwell securely, when I execute judgments on all those around them who despise them. Then they shall know that I am HaShem their G-d."
Ezekiel 28:25-26

The Hebrew of verse reveals something that English Bible's struggle with. Most English Bibles use, "L-rd G-D." The Hebrew here is "Ad-nai HaShem" (i.e. the Hebrew word for L-rd or Master, and the four letter holy Name of G-d).  Since "Ad-nai" is usually used as a substitute for the holy four letter Name of G-d it would be odd in English to use the phrase, "L-rd L-RD." The fact is, this Name combination is used several times in Scripture. It is used when HaShem made His covenant with Abraham, promising Him a Messianic Redeemer (i.e. a Seed), descendants, and a land (Genesis 15). It is the same Name combination that HaShem uses when He promises David a Messianic King to sit on his throne (2Samuel 7). It is a Name combination that reflects this truth:

G-d has made a covenant with Abraham and with David. His people are forever His. Israel will forever be the beneficiaries of His covenant love. He will defend them because of His holy Name.

And this is the way that our haftarah begins. It is about covenant love. HaShem will gather Israel from all the lands of their dispersion, and will one day draw them to Himself and to the Land that He promised Jacob - the Place of His abode. This, beloved, is a prophecy of the Messianic times.

May it be soon, and in our days.

Prayer Focus for Vaera  -  'Yihi K'vod' [May the Glory]

Part of the preparation prayers in Shacharit [the Morning Prayers] is called "Pesukei D'Zimrah." Pesukei D'Zimrah is made up mostly of Psalms and is pure praise and worship. It places the focus upon HaShem, and strips away all that might constrain us from opening our lips in selfless praise of the Almighty. Yihi K'vod is one of the prayers from the Pesukei D'Zimrah prayers of the Morning Service.

May the Glory of HaShem endure forever, let HaShem rejoice in His works. Blessed be the Name of HaShem from this time and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting, HaShem's Name is praised. High above all nations is HaShem, above the heavens is His glory. 'HaShem' is Your Name forever, 'HaShem' is Your memorial throughout the generations. HaShem has established His throne above the heavens, and His Kingdom reigns over all. The heavens will be glad and the earth will rejoice, they will proclaim among the nations, 'HaShem has reigned!' HaShem reigns, HaShem has reigned, HaShem shall reign for all eternity. HaShem reigns forever and ever, even when the nations will have perished from His earth. HaShem annuls the counsels of nations, He balks the designs of peoples. Many designs are in man's heart, but the counsel of HaShem - only it will prevail. The counsel of HaShem will endure forever, the designs of His earth through the generations. For He spoke and it came to be; He commanded and it stood firm. For HaShem selected Zion, He desired it for His dwelling place. For G-d selected Jacob as His own, Israel for His treasure. For HaShem will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His heritage. He, the Merciful One, is forgiving of iniquity and does not destroy; frequently withdrawing His anger, not arousing His entire rage. HaShem save! May the King answer us on the day we call.

-- ArtScroll translation

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Standing in Prayer with all Israel,

Rick Spurlock
Bereans Online
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B"H