Destruction is Coming – Shadows of the Rapture
Introduction: One of the most disputed doctrines to be found in the Bible in modern times concerns the rapture of the church. There are those who deny it will even occur.
They take clear and concise passages from the Bible, which simply can’t mean anything else, and they close their eyes to them, run from them, hide from them, pooh pooh them, belittle them when analyzed as they should be, and they laugh at those who believe them just as they’re written.
And then, of course, there are those who believe in the rapture because of these same clear and concise passages, but they dispute over the timing of it. Will the rapture happen before the antichrist is revealed or after?
Will it happen before the tribulation period, in the middle of it, or at the end of it? Will there be a partial rapture? Will there be several raptures? Will this happen or will that happen? People argue, people fight, people cry “heretic” at those who disagree. It’s a mess and it causes many to wring their hands and worry about the issue to the point of exhaustion.
People spend their time reading and quoting the Left Behind series rather than reading and quoting their Bible. Why? Because Left Behind is so much easier to read and someone else’s opinion is a safe refuge from the overwhelming complexity of the Bible.
And of course there are those that take passages entirely out of context, and they apply them to the rapture. I’m sure you’ve heard this one a million times used in conjunction with rapture verses –
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 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, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
This isn’t a rapture verse and it can’t be applied to it. The truth of what is said may apply to the rapture – that we simply won’t know the timing of it, but this is not a rapture verse. Having said that, like most things in the New Testament, there are often pictures of what is coming in the Old. The rapture is such an event, and it’s found in a rather unlikely place. Today we will discover it.
Text Verse: After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1
Yes, there is a Door standing open in heaven and its access is granted through the precious blood of our Lord Jesus and so… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. Who is Righteous Among You?
Last week, we saw the Lord’s intentions head to Sodom because of the outcry against it. After this, we witnessed Abraham’s concern for the righteous within the city and his appeal to the Lord to spare it if just 10 people could be found. Today, we will discover whether that low, low number was actually attainable or not…
1 Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening,…
The two men who were with the Lord and who met and dined with Abraham last week are the two who have now arrived at Sodom. Twice the Hebrew word used to describe these two is malakim or angels.
These two are being sent on a duty as messengers. In other words, it is describing their office, not specifically their nature. Because of this, whether they are actually angels or just divine messengers of some other sort cannot be fully determined.
Its evening time and it’s probably still hot out. When these same two came to meet Abraham, he was sitting by the door of his tent and it said it was “the heat of the day.” The time of year had Abraham sitting by the tent door to catch a passing breeze and the same is probably true with Lot because verse 1 continues with…
1 (con’t) and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.
The gate and walls of ancient Middle Eastern cities were usually built out of stone and the gate normally had an arched entrance with deep recesses on each side. In these recesses, they built seating where people could relax, conduct business, guard if necessary, judge cases, etc.
These recesses would be in the shade and catch any breezes coming through, just as Abraham did at the door of his tent. In Lot’s case, he was probably a judge of Sodom. We’ll get this from what somebody says to him later. On other occasions as we get through the Old Testament, we’ll see that the elders and judges spent their time at the city gates.
Along with being a judge, he was probably also a nice guy who figured that anyone coming to into the city at evening time would need a place to stay. Sitting here like this might have been his daily habit. He could sit and watch the world pass by and wait on strangers while his family was whipping together dinner.
1 (con’t) When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground.
When Abraham fell on his face before the Lord, it was in respect and humility and as a sign of worship. What Lot is doing here is the same, but without the worship. There are plenty of examples of people bowing down in front of others without indicating worship.
Let’s look at one from 1 Samuel, where David meets his best friend in the fields before he flees from King Saul so you can see –
“As soon as the lad had gone, David arose from a place toward the south, fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down three times. And they kissed one another; and they wept together, but David more so. 42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘May the Lord be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’” So he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.”
What Lot is doing by bowing to the two men who show up at the gates of the city is esteeming others better than himself and showing humility, even to strangers. This is exactly the same thing we’re asked to do many times such as in the Philippians 2 –
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
2 And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.”
Lot doesn’t just greet the strangers with humility, but he offered them his home and hospitality as well. He’s demonstrating his own righteousness in the presence of complete strangers. Because of the time of day, these guys wouldn’t have had time to walk to any other city and they wouldn’t be safe sleeping on the open road.
This means that they’d sleep in Sodom. But this would be just as dangerous because the people of the town were especially wicked. To ensure their safety, he offers his home. Something similar happened in Luke 24 when two of the disciples met and talked with Jesus on the road, but didn’t know it was Him –
28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.
It’s generosity like this that the Bible asks from us. It’s tough to do though because the world is so full of wicked people that you never know if you’re inviting in an angel or a mass murderer. However, the Bible asks us to stand firm and even explains why –
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
3 But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
I want to show you another set of verses from 2 Samuel 15 which is similar to this, but then point out the differences too –
After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 2 Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, “What city are you from?” And he would say, “Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.” 3 Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.” 4 Moreover Absalom would say, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.” 5 And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. 6 In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
Lot was genuinely concerned about the people he was inviting to his home. There was no selfish ambition and there was no thought of getting paid for his efforts. He was simply a nice guy taking care of strangers.
On the other hand, Absalom met people at the same location – the city gate, but instead of being a nice guy, he had an agenda. He intended to overthrow his own father and steal the kingdom for himself. In the end, it cost him his life. On the contrary, Lot’s actions will save his life.
When the Lord comes at the rapture, He will save all of the righteous, just like Lot. Those left behind will face terrible times as the world spins into chaos and destruction. People have a choice to make about Jesus and that choice has real consequences. Lot made a feast for his guests and the Lord is preparing a feast for His. The question is, “Will you be joining Him?”
II. In a World of Wickedness
4 Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.”
I thought of the world we live in now when I got to these verses. It’s about bedtime and it says that “both young and old” came together. The sin of Sodom is so great that even those too young or too old to participate still came so they could watch. The people from every part of the city wanted to join this perverted party.
What these people are proposing is an offense of the deepest perversion and disgrace found in humanity. It is the sin for which Sodom is still known. Paul cites this depravity as that which occurs when people have completely suppressed the knowledge of God. There is nothing left but animal sense and yet even animals aren’t so disposed.
And yet… and yet… and yet – it is this perversion which the democrat party of the United States of America has added as coming under the protection of its party platform. The day barak obama was sworn into office – not even five minutes after that act, the homosexual agenda was placed as a priority on the home page of the White House website. I know because I checked personally.
The judgment of America will partially be meted out because of the sins of Sodom. This perversion, along with abortion and a refusal to support the nation of Israel will be judged unless we, as a nation, stem the unholy tide as it rolls across this land. Election year 2012 is as important as at any time in our national history.
It’s true, today, we may not openly gather in the streets to rape every stranger that comes around, but young and old alike – perverts from every dark corner of the cities and towns of the world – can sit at home and peruse any form of filth they want, right over the internet. The porn business in America alone is valued at around 15 billion dollars a year.
Those who sit at their computer or TV and watch porn are no different than those who came to watch in Sodom. Without an audience the actors would be left to their own devices, but the more people who come out to watch, the more depraved will be the actions of those who are involved. How much more so when our president and our congressional leaders march at the front of the parade of perversion?
6 So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, 7 and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly!
Lot, in an act of true bravery, puts himself between the visitors and these perverts. He could probably do this because of what happened in the past when there was a battle between the kings of the east and the king of Sodom. When Sodom was defeated, Lot was taken captive but Abraham rescued him and all the people of Sodom and destroyed the armies of the east.
Because of this, they were probably scared of harming Lot in any way and they also may have felt a debt to him. Had this battle not occurred, there is no way he could have faced the crowd as he did.
The custom of many of the people of the Mid East hasn’t changed for thousands of years. When a person is invited into one’s home, it becomes the highest responsibility to care for them and tend to them. Lot felt this responsibility towards the two men because they had come under his roof and therefore under his protection.
He will do absolutely everything possible to see to their care and safety, even by putting his own life at risk first and even at the expense of his own family as we’ll see in verse 8…
8 See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.”
Lot offers his two virgin daughters in exchange for the two men and to this day he is hated by feminists, chastised by theologians, and thought ill of by Bible readers of all sorts. John Wesley says this – “…of two evils we must chose the less, but of two sins we must chose neither, nor ever do evil that good may come of it.”
Unfortunately, people don’t think things through and they go straight to emotions – “Oh, the poor girls!” The people were going to do harm and violence regardless of what Lot did. One thing is sure, evil was going to ensue. No matter what, he knew this and so he did the most logical thing one could expect – he offered his daughters.
Why was this logical? First, they were already engaged to men of Sodom as we’ll see next week. If they accepted the offer, there would be strife within the crowd, and possibly save the girls.
Second, because they were his daughters, it would hopefully get the crowd to reason through Lot’s offer and feel ashamed at their own actions. There is no proof that he actually would have given his daughters over to them.
Third, the girls were part of Abraham’s extended family and so they would have to reason, before actually doing anything, that the man who destroyed four kings with their armies lived just a couple miles away and would be merciless in his destruction of them.
And finally, these people were perverts – homosexual perverts. An offer of women would be contrary to the very nature of the rule of the mob that he was facing. In all, Lot’s decision is by far the best course of action for the safety of all involved – including his girls.
III. Shadows of the Rapture
9 And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door.
This verse takes us back to verse 1 where Lot was at the city gate. He acted like a judge here because he was a judge at the gate. It is very probable, although not stated, that he was appointed a judge after Abraham defeated the kings of the east. This was an awarded position based on his relationship with his uncle. Whether this is the case or not, he sat in the gates and was noted as an authority.
But the crowd is no longer interested in set authority and has determined to cast it off. And so they do exactly what I said a moment ago, they reject his offer of the women. They are not only perverts, but they have become unreasonably violent by the conduct of their wicked lives.
The translators of the Geneva Bible make this comment about living too close to sin, as Lot is, “Nothing is more dangerous than to live where sin reigns: for it corrupts all.”
This is a lesson Lot learned the hard way…
10 But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.
Lot is brought into complete safety, away from the wickedness of the people, and into the presence of the Lord. We don’t know this yet, but the term used for someone he speaks to later indicates that it is the Lord there with him behind the door. Once Lot is pulled in, the door that was open is now shut.
11 And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.
The type of blindness, or as the Hebrew says it “blindnesses” – is the word basanveriim and is found in only two accounts in the Old Testament. The other time it’s used is in 2 Kings 6:18 –
“So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.” And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.”
The blindness they are experiencing is a peculiar sort that has much less to do with the eyes than it does with the mind. The heads of the people in Sodom, just like those with Elisha in Dothan, were confused and their thinking was clouded. It’s a state of blindness which is more mental and spiritual than physical.
We know this because Elisha led the army of Syria all the way from Dothan to Samaria and they followed him. The people of Sodom grope for the door, even though it’s still there… right there… they can’t find it. In other words, the very thing they’re intent upon finding is the thing they can’t see.
It is as if they see a door and they find thorn bush, and when they see a thorn bush, they think it’s a door.
Have any of you seen how today’s verses picture the coming rapture? Let’s stand back and look at the whole scene as if it were the time before Christ comes and compare what we see with how the Bible describes that glorious day when we are called home.
Here is how Peter describes the wickedness of the world which will receive God’s judgment. In these verses, he tells about the righteousness of Lot. Notice, as I read, the similarity between the state of Sodom and the world which our liberal progressive leaders are rushing us towards –
For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. 2 Peter 2
As you can see, the state that Sodom was in is the state of today’s world. And later in that same epistle Peter says this about the destruction of the people he just described and about the hope of the believer. Remember these concepts are made in comparison to Sodom before and after its destruction –
“10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
In the time of wickedness which preceded destruction, Lot was physically snatched back through the door by the angels and rescued by them from the people’s evil intent. And this is exactly how Paul describes our coming rescue in 1 Thessalonians 4 –
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
The word Paul uses for “caught up” in the passage I just read is harpagesometha (har pah ge sah may tha), or in it’s more recognizable form harpazo. It means to seize or carry off by force, or to snatch away. This is exactly the picture we were given when the angels in the house seized Lot and pulled him behind the door and into the presence of the Lord.
If you remember, after Lot was pulled to safety, the door was shut and no one could open it. All outside were excluded from safety. Now listen to how Jesus explains this same concept to the church of Philadelphia and the result of being left out of His safe protection, just as Sodom was –
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
There is an hour of trial coming upon the whole world and the world will be destroyed because of the wickedness of the people, but we are promised safety from this, just as Lot was. Here is how Paul describes it in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 –
You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him
We are not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation through Christ. And in his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul explains the timing of this and what will occur after that moment. Listen carefully and see the amazing parallel to what occurred in Sodom.
Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Lot was pulled through the door to safety and only after that were the people given blindnesses or basanveriim in Hebrew. Remember how I explained it then. This was a mental or spiritual blindness, not a physical one.
This is exactly what Paul says will happen again. The world will be given a “strong delusion” so that they will believe the lie. They will look for the door and they will find a thorn bush. They will see a thorn bush and think it is the door… In reality, they will search for God and find the antichrist. They will see the antichrist and think he is God.
And what is the door that Lot was pulled through? It was the same Door that we will be pulled through. Do you remember today’s text verse? Just prior to the tribulation, in Revelation 4:1 as the church age is ending, John saw a Door opened in heaven.
As he looked a voice called out to him “come up here” and to the presence of the Lord – just as Lot was pulled into the presence of the Lord. What door did he see? In John chapter 10, Jesus Himself explains what the Door in Sodom’s time was and Who the Door in the future is –
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
You see, everything points to Jesus – Old Testament and New. All people are either moving toward the Door or they are alienated from it. There is a spiritual blindness which covers the eyes of the people of the world, but when we call out to Jesus, the blindness is replaced with sight; darkness is replaced with light; condemnation is replaced with salvation; and death is replaced with life.
There is a time of evil coming upon the whole world and when the call is made for the righteous to come home to glory, there will only be suffering and death for those left behind. Isaiah tell us so –
Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. 7 Therefore all hands will be limp, Every man’s heart will melt, 8 And they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; They will be amazed at one another; Their faces will be like flames. 9 Behold, the day of the Lord comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. 11 “I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 12 I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the Lord of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger. 14 It shall be as the hunted gazelle, And as a sheep that no man takes up; Every man will turn to his own people, And everyone will flee to his own land. 15 Everyone who is found will be thrust through, And everyone who is captured will fall by the sword. 16 Their children also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished.
Jesus holds the keys to life and death in His hands. We have a choice to make before that great day of wrath comes and I hope and pray you will make the right one before it arrives. Let me tell you how you can…
Next Week – Genesis 19:12-26 (The Destruction of Sodom – Wake up America)
Safety Behind the Door
Two angels came to Sodom late in the day
And Lot was sitting in the gate of the city
When he saw them he rose to meet them on their way
And bowed himself to the ground not caring if he got gritty
And he said, “My lords please turn into your servant’s place
Spend the night, yes… and wash your feet
Then you may rise early, just offer me this grace
After the night you can again hit the street
And they said, “No, we will spend the night in the open square.”
But Lot insisted strongly, “No, please don’t sleep out there.”
Then he made them a grand old feast
There was lots of food and drink and bread without any yeast
Now before they lay down to catch a little sleep
The perverts of the city, both young and old gathered at the place
Everyone from the town came, every single creep
To commit acts which are a complete disgrace
“Where are the men who came to you tonight?
Bring them out so we can abuse them, don’t put up a fight
But he went out through the door and the door was shut behind
And he begged, “My brethren, don’t so wickedly act.”
I have two virgin daughters if you have the mind
Let me bring them out to you, with them please interact
Do nothing to these men for they are under the shadow of my roof
I am obliged to their safety and my daughters are the proof
And they said, “Stand back.”
You came here acting as a judge
Now it is you we will attack
Against you we now bear our grudge
So they pressed hard against the man Lot
And came near to break down the door
But the men pulled him inside to their safe spot
And closed out the wicked perverts who outside cussed and swore
And they struck the men at the doorway with blindness
Both small and great became weary trying to find the door
But Lot was protected because of his righteous kindness
And he would be safe from them; they would bother him no more
A day is coming for the righteous walking in this wicked world
To be pulled into safety through the glorious Door
When at the rapture God’s beautiful plan is unfurled
We will be in the presence of the Lord from then and forevermore
Yes, it is through Jesus that our future is assured
It is through His shed blood that we are eternally secured
And so we praise You our precious King
And to You alone all our praises we sing
Hallelujah and Amen…