The Olivet Discourse – Gathering the Elect

04May11

Matt 24:31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

“Ah…ok…I get it…this must be the Rapture, right?”

I know, there’s a trumpet call and everything. The angels are gathering the elect from all over the world. This one is a no brainer!

Here again the record must skip and repeat, repeat, repeat…

  • This preceded the the time constraint passage and must fit within the “all these thing” that must take place before the end of “this generation”
  • This must be related to the destruction of the Temple, the “coming” (which we have discussed) and the “end of the age”
  • We must always look to Scripture to see if similar language is used elsewhere and how best to interpret this passage

Take note of this interesting passage and use of terms regarding the ministry and accomplishment of Jesus

John 11:51-52 …he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, [52] and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

Note how the prophet states that Jesus will accomplish salvation not only for the nation, but that his actions will “gather together” those who are “scattered abroad.” The language is nearly identical to the Matthew passage and denotes the effectiveness of the Gospel, especially in the times directly following the destruction of Jerusalem. The spread of the Gospel, historically speaking, was quite effective during that time.

But what about the phrases and jargon to closely associated with we think of when we discuss the Rapture of resurrection. The trumpet, angels, gathering, etc. This does say more about our preconceived ideas about the Second Coming than it says about our knowledge of these terms Biblically speaking.

THE TRUMPET

The trumpet sounding is not only to be associated with the Second Coming of Christ. In fact, there are only two indisputable uses of the call of the Trumpet in relation to the resurrection of the elect and the coming of Christ. They are found in 1 Thess 4 and 1 Cor 15. That is out over 125 uses of the term trumpet in the Bible! So, despite the general lack of Biblical use of the trumpet in the Resurrection or Second Coming passages, we have accepted the term so much that our natural inclination is to assume the Second Coming and rapture in this case.

Most often the trumpet call was used to gather the elect together for worship or to hear from God. This is found throughout the experience of the children of israel in the Old testament.

The trumpet was also used to announce the beginning of the Jubilee and the day of atonement. the trumpet had a special place in proclaiming the grace and mercies of God to His people. the trumpet would be used to make sure all who near or far off would hear and perceive the mercy of God.

The trumpet would also be used in the case of judgment or rescue. We see this usage in the 2nd chapter of Joel in which the Day odf the Lord is proclaimed through the blowing of the trumpet. This signaled both destruction to the enemies of God and the rescuing or preserving of the elect of God.

In any case the trumpet was used to “get our attention.” The trumpet meant that God was going to do something and you had best be aware. But what it doesn’t mean necessarily is that the rapture is being signaled. It may as the two verses mentioned above show, but it is not safe to always assume so or ones interpretation may end up misguided.

ANGELS

What may cause the most confusion and why many may assume this passage relates to the rapture or Second Coming is the use of the term angels as the ones doing the gathering. The word used for angel is also the exact same word used elsewhere to describe the “messengers” of God. Those messengers include Pastor10This is he of whom it is written,

Matt 11:10 “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ and Evangelist in the following passages. (John the Baptist)

Mark 1:2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
(John the Baptist)

Luke 7:24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John

Luke 9:52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him.

James 2:25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

In every instance above the same word was used that in Matthew is translated angels. The same word is also used in the first three chapters of revelation to describe the Pastors of each of the Seven Churches. Young’s Literal translation of the Bible choose the term “messenger” simply because it is the most way to interpret the word.

GATHERING THE ELECT

Finally we come to this concept of “gathering” the elect. Like much of what we have discussed this concept is not foreign to the rest of Scripture. Note the following verses and the amazing similarity to the language of the passage in Matthew. Even dealing with the “breadth” of the gather, or in other words, how far the gathering extends geographically.

Deut. 30:3-4 he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. [4] If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you

Isaiah 11:12 He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Note the calls above have nothing to do with a resurrection or rapture. This is the call of God’s people to Him. He does the work of bringing His people together. Which leads us to a needed discussion on the word “gathering.”

As I have noted previously this is not a Greek or Hebrew class and I have limited the amount of original language discussion to a bare minimum. This is one of those times that knowing the Greek work would prove extremely helpful.

The Greek word for “gathering” is “episunagoge.” Episunagoge means to “bring together” and is where we get the word synagogue. This was the meeting together of God’s people. This must be understood as a :bring together” and not a “lifting up.” Like the previously comparable passages in the Old Testament, this is the call of God to His elect to bring them together to Him. This is His effectual calling of those He has chosen.

Simply put, this is the Gospel as work through his “messengers” and the effective outpouring of the Holy Spirit in regenerating His people and saving them! Hearkening back to the prophecy in John this is where Jesus fulfills His plan of gathering together unto Him all those that are His throughout the entire world.

It should also be noted here that many leading Dispensationalist do not agree that this is the rapture. This cannot be the Rapture they argue because it happens too late in the timing. Since Dispensationalism is primarily a Pre-Tribulation view, this event takes place “immediately after the tribulation of those days” and therefor cannot be the rapture.

Leading Dispensationalist like John Walvoord, Thomas Ice and Tim LaHaye believe this is a supernatural act of God of sending His angels throughout the planet and “plucking up” Jews from around the world and bringing them to Israel!

Again the problems with this interpretation are multiple.

  • It ignores the time constraints
  • His elect, Biblically speaking, are simply not just the Jews but all that are His people
  • It does not relate to the purpose and context of the passage, specifically the temple, city and end of that present age.
  • It is such a stretch to make this claim that it almost needs no response

Suffice it to say, that given the restrictions that Jesus Himself placed upon the passage in regards to timing and once we can eliminate our preconceived notions regarding certain terms we will discover the more Biblical approach to this passage.

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