What subject is more dear to any Christian then the return of Christ, the Gathering Together, called by many the Rapture? Men and women devote their lives to that day, indeed, many saints of old have given their lives for the hope of His return. It is therefore not with lightness that we approach this subject. Nothing has stirred the emotions of countless generations of devoted followers to GOD than has the promised return of HIS Son. It is to that hour which we have all for so long looked and desired. It is to that moment which we with outstretched necks strained to see. This has been the hope of the persecuted Church, the true Church which GOD formed and not man.
And yet His return has been so sorely misunderstood. Much more so than probably any other subject or event of the Bible. Church Tradition has so completely blinded us to the facts despite the clear statements of Scripture. The truth of this subject is of such humongous significance that once realized, the life of the believer is forever changed.
When is the day of His return? What is the hour of His coming? This is the question that often torments, sometimes even haunts us. Even the believers of the first century wondered why He seemed to delay the Day of Judgment. It is commonly taught that the answer can be found in Paul's letter to the Church at Rome.
- ROMANS 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Even though Paul is referring here to the blindness of Israel and not the return of Christ, there is still much speculation that Christ has delayed His return until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. This is the chief reason for Missions, to save all those who are lost so as to speed His return. In support of this assumption, Yeshua's promise is often referred to, that "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations [ethnos]; and then shall the end come" (MATTHEW 24:14). Many of us have therefore supposed that the end is waiting for the gospel to be preached in every nation.
But is that what Yeshua meant? Did He say that every nation on the planet must hear the Gospel before He would return? Many nations which existed in Christ's time no longer exist. In fact, it seems like each year more nations come into being while still others fall away. It makes one wonder just how reasonable it is to assume that Yeshua was meaning that when every country on the globe is preached to, then He shall return.
The Greek word ethnos, which has been translated nation in the King James Version, is properly defined as "a company, troop, swarm, a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus". It could refer to a nation, but not necessarily. When we remember that in this same letter to the Roman believers, Paul had already recognized "that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world" (ROMANS 1:8) we wonder if Yeshua's prophecy recorded in MATTHEW had not already found its fulfillment in the first century. By the end of the book of ACTS, had every ethnos already been preached to? That is a distinct possibility.
Luke likewise recorded an interesting statement by our Lord, which has also been often misunderstood.
- LUKE 17:20-21 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within [among] you.
This poor translation in the King James Version has misled many to think that Yeshua was teaching that GOD's kingdom is within the individual. Howbeit, the text reads that HIS kingdom was among them, among these unbelieving Pharisees, not in them. GOD's kingdom was a present reality right in their very midst, but they couldn't see it, they couldn't realize it. Thus He said that it "cometh not with observation". One can't visibly see the kingdom of GOD, it is an invisible kingdom. Hence, His kingdom may right now, right here be among us also, without us even sensing it.
Can we see His kingdom? Could He return and we not realize it? Could He set up His kingdom and hold court without this present physical world ever knowing it? Can He remove people from this world and place them within His kingdom, His dominion, without others even realizing what was happening? If a loved one dies, do we know where he goes? Whether he stays dead or goes to be with the Lord, can we tell? If those who have died have already gone before GOD's throne and been judged, and have then been sent to heaven or hell, would we know it? Consider our Lord's words here.
- MATTHEW 24:38-42 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Some were to be taken and some were to be left. What we would do well to recognize is that many of those left behind most probably didn't realize what was occurring. These two men were working in the field one day and all of the sudden one of them turned around and his companion was gone. Two women were grinding at the millstone and all of the sudden the one looked up and her helper had vanished.
There was no reason for those left behind to suspect that their associates had been gathered to the Lord into heaven, only that a moment before they were there but now they are gone. Of course the obvious exception to this is if the one left behind had been in attendance at one of Yeshua's teachings. In that case he or she might immediately recall His words and be overwhelmed with the full weight of his own unbelief, realizing that he had been left behind and missed the gathering together.
Many of us have supposed His kingdom to be a physical kingdom visible to the naked eye, which when He returned all the planet shall behold; but is that necessarily the case? Is it not possible that He could come as a thief in the night and steal away without ever being detected? Of course. In fact, that is exactly what He proclaimed His coming would be like.
- REVELATION 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
The difference between a thief and a robber is that the thief steals from you without you realizing it, like a pickpocket. A robber on the other hand, steals from you by force as would an armed bandit. The thief uses stealth and such is the coming of the Lord. We are all familiar with the idea that He would return as a thief in the night, but we have too often failed to consider what that entails. We have thought that He meant that He would come suddenly, but that would be more like a robber. What He meant is that He would come secretly, like a thief. He was to come and go without even being detected.
- LUKE 12:39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
Once the goodman of the house had realized what had happened, the thief had come and gone. So it would be with Christ's return. Paul likewise explains the Lord's second coming as such.
- 1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-2 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
Where many of us have gone wrong, is that we have thought that when He returns in His kingdom, that then this present world will cease to exist. We have supposed that the new world would follow the old world, when in fact the truth is that one exists within the other. The physical world exists within the spiritual world.
The kingdom of GOD exists right now, right here, only in another dimension so to speak. We were expecting that when He returned His new kingdom would displace this old one and the entire globe would be involved in the upheaval, but it is also possible that He was going to return secretly, like a thief in the night, and set up His court in His kingdom without this world knowing anything about it.
Again, a poor translation in the King James (and most other versions) have contributed to our misunderstanding pertinent verses. One such is in Peter's second epistle.
- 2 PETER 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away [parerchomai, pass by] with a great noise, and the elements [stoicheion] shall melt with fervent heat, the earth [ge, land] also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
When scripture speaks of heaven and earth being shaken, or passing away, or ceasing to exist, it more than not refers to the dominions and kingdoms of heaven and earth passing away. Consider here our Lord's words concerning the stars in the sky.
- MATTHEW 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.
The stars referred to are not the celestial bodies scattered about the universe, for where would they fall, to earth? The stars are the spirits who held some degree of power or dominion. Yeshua specifically revealed the truth of this mystery to John in the book of REVELATION.
- REVELATION 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand....are the angels of the seven churches....
- REVELATION 12:4 And his [the dragon's] tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
The stars which the tail of the dragon cast to earth were spirits, not actual stars. Thus, when our Lord is quoted by Matthew as saying that the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give her light, and the stars will fall from heaven, He is referring to the powers and dominions in heaven (see EPHESIANS 6:12). As such, the new heavens and the new earth are comprised of new powers, new authorities reigning in heaven and upon earth. Thus, what was going to pass away were the old authorities, the old dominions.
- ESV HEBREWS 12:25-26 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. In ages past, HIS voice shook the earth, but now HE has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens."
Shaking the earth and the heavens most likely refer to shaking the powers and dominions of the earth and heavens, not the actual earth and heavens.
Returning to our consideration of 2 PETER 3:10, the Greek word stoicheion, translated there as elements, suggests to our minds the elements from which the Universe was constructed, such as atoms and the like. But it means nothing of the sort. Stoicheion may refer to words or the letters of an alphabet, but more likely Peter is referring to the elaborate system of Astrology in which certain planets, moons and stars are worshipped as deities (see COLOSSIANS 2:8, 20 where stoicheion is twice translated rudiments).
The Greek word ge, translated in 2 PETER 3:10 and elsewhere as earth, doesn't necessarily mean planet earth as such, but merely the land, as the land of Israel. We might do well to remember that the people of the first Century had no concept of earth as a planet. Thus Peter was not predicting that the whole globe was going to be burned up, but rather the land of Israel. Here are some occurrences which demonstrate this fact.
- MATTHEW 2:6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land [ge] of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
- MATTHEW 10:15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land [ge] of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth [ge, the land]: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
- MATTHEW 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth [ge, land] mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
- ACTS 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth [ge, land].
- ACTS 7:3-4 And [GOD] said unto him [Abraham], Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land [ge] which I shall shew thee. Then came he out of the land [ge] of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land [ge], wherein ye now dwell.
Thus, according to MATTHEW 10 quoted above, at Yeshua's return He was not going to send the sword upon the entire globe, but rather upon the ge, the land of Israel. And according to ACTS 1:8 above, those tribes of Israel would mourn, but not all the tribes of the entire planet. Indeed, His apostles were to be witnesses unto the entire land of Israel, not the entire globe. They didn't witness to the people of Australia, or North and South America. But they did witness to all of the land of Israel. Then we have this plain statement of fact by the Lord to His devoted followers.
- MATTHEW 10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
Yeshua's promise to His twelve apostles was that they would not finish witnessing to every city of Israel before He would return. This was their comfort and encouragement, this was their joy. It was not going to be too long of a wait before He would return.
But we have been waiting for nearly two thousand years. Is that what He meant? Did Yeshua mean to comfort His disciples by saying, "When they persecute you flee to another city, for I will return in two thousand years, or more"? I don't think so. Wouldn't that have been to mislead them? Wouldn't that have been to deceive them? No, He was going to return, and soon. Scripture often assures us of this fact.
- MATTHEW 24:1-4 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
- And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world [aion, era]? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you....
- 33-34 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
The warnings that fill up that twenty fourth chapter of MATTHEW were the things that were to transpire before that generation, to whom He was talking, should pass. We have all been taught that He was referring to some later generation off in the distant future, but what comfort or encouragement would that have been to His followers then? Of what matter to them would be all the troubles and destructions He was warning about if they were not to occur for two thousand years? No, unless we have clear cut evidence that He was referring to a distant age we should understand His words as they were said and written.
Also note that the word translated world in the King James Version is from the Greek word aion and doesn't mean world at all. It means eon or era, and Yeshua assured them that the era wherein they were then living was indeed going to end.
What era was going to end? The era when Israel was GOD's chosen people, the era when GOD worked through Israel to minister to the world; that era was going to end. The era when Satan ruled the kingdoms was going to end; his dominion was going to end. Thus we no longer see the devil possessions as we read about in the Gospel accounts. Satan no longer is wracking and ruining men's lives as he did in that era.
Not long after Christ foretold of the coming destruction to the land of Israel, He comforted His disciples with the following promise.
- JOHN 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Clearly He was telling them that as they fulfilled their ministries, He was going to go away and prepare a place for them in His Father's kingdom. But they were not to despair, for He would return and receive them unto Himself. He was thinking soon, not two thousand years down the road.
There is no way His words would have been a comfort to them if they had supposed Him to have meant that He was not returning for thousands of years. And as He always spoke the truth, GOD would not have given Him these words if they were not totally honest. No, He was returning to them soon. Thus we have this same repeated admonition in the book of REVELATION. The book even opens in the very first verse with the following warning.
- REVELATION 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
There is no way to read and understand this verse honestly except that soon, very soon what is revealed within was going to happen. Not in thousands of years, not even in centuries, but soon, very soon. Perhaps that year or the next, but definitely within the lifetime of its readers and hearers.
Not only does the book of REVELATION open with that warning, but it likewise closes with the very same pointed words.
- REVELATION 22:6-7 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book....
- 10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand....
- 12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work....
- 20-21 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus....
We have all failed to understand what is plainly written because we have been reading with the mindset that these present heavens and this earth were going to cease to exist and be replaced by a heavenly paradise. The truth instead, is that Yeshua was indeed going to come very shortly to set up His kingdom, but it was all going to exist, and function, and dispense judgment all the while the present world was still spinning on its axis.
Very little was going to be seen in this physical world that would reveal what was happening in that other dimension. There, Satan was being cast out, and chained, and cast into the lake of fire. But here on the surface everything was pretty much functioning as before. Only in the land of Israel and other isolated Jewish communities was the destruction clearly evident.
- LUKE 19:41-44 And when he was come near, he beheld the city [Jerusalem], and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
- For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
Secular history has recorded these events precisely as they were predicted by our Lord as happening to Jerusalem around A.D. 70. The Historian Josephus was not a believer, not a Christian, yet his testimony of the times in which he lived, when the Roman armies came and devastated Jerusalem and the land of Israel so fully fulfills the prophecy of Scripture that one is simply awestruck with the similarities.
And immediately after all the prophecies spoken by the Lord and his apostles were fulfilled, when the smoke of the battle was cleared, there is no trace of a Christian church anywhere in the world. The Church of Christ has gone ghostly quiet. It had disappeared beneath the sands of time.
The obvious question that begs to be answered is "Where did everybody go?" Where did Paul go, or Matthew, or Mark, or Luke, or John, or Peter? Where did they all so suddenly disappear to? Timothy, Titus, Barnabus; why do we not find any of their writings after the fall of Jerusalem?
What happened to all of the faithful men Timothy was to commit Paul's teaching to, so that they could go and teach others also? What happened to Carpus or Onesiphorus, "Eubuius, Pudens, Linus, Claudia" and "Artemus, Tychicus, Zenus, Apollos" and Philemon and "Appia or Archippus" and Onesimus or "Ephaphras, Aristarchus, Demus" and Sosthenes or "Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus"? Where did they all go?
Why have we not got one shred of ancient manuscript that contains even a fragment of their writings? We have much written concerning the forty or fifty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, but we have nothing immediately after A.D. 70.
And those believers at Rome, what happened to all of them? What happened to Phebe, Priscilla and Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, Andronicus and Junia, Amplias, Urbane, and Stachys, Apelles, Aristobulus', Herodion, Narcissus, Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, Olympas?
And those with Paul when he dictated the Roman epistle, what became of them? Of Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, Tertius, Gaius, Erastus, and Quartus? Are we to suppose that they all just ceased their Christian activities? Did none of them write an epistle or keep a journal? Did not one of the first century believers deem it important to write about the destruction of their holy Temple and nation which was in precise fulfillment of the Lord's prophecies?
We have evidence of a vibrant world-wide Church before A.D. 70 with many active writers and preachers, but then it all goes deathly silent. Someone once wrote that the first century Church is like a roaring train that disappeared into a tunnel, or a mighty river that vanished beneath the desert sand. There is clear evidence of its existence before A.D. 70 but then all goes silent. The following comment states well the problem concerning this abrupt end of what had been a thriving movement, indeed, a Spreading Flame.
- Among all the documents which comprise the New Testament canon, and indeed among the other extant writings of the sub-apostolic age, there is no description of the terrible events which attended the defeat of Israel's cause against Rome, or of the fortunes of the Palestinian Christians amid the convulsion and overthrow of their nation's life, neither is there any conscious reference to the significance of the catastrophe for Christianity. Indeed, so complete a silence is maintained in these primitive documents that on their testimony alone nothing would be known of the disaster which overwhelmed Israel in A.D. 70.
- The fact of this remarkable silence raises a twofold problem, namely why the Jerusalem Christians themselves left no record of their fortunes or indications of their mental and emotional reaction to such a tremendous experience, and what was the reason which led to the Gentile Christians apparently to allow so epoch-making an event as the destruction of the citadel of Judaism and the disappearance of the Mother Church to pass uncommemorated. We clearly have here a problem which demands a thorough and extensive investigation, for the a priori presumption must be, in the light of our forgoing studies, that here we have to do with a matter which is inextricably bound up with the issues at stake in the crisis of A.D. 55-66 (from pages 167-168, The Fall of Jerusalem, by S. G. F. Brandon).
Are we to suppose that neither Christian nor Jew had anything to say of this most horrific time when their land and holy city were destroyed? The only intelligent explanation that can be put forth to explain this complete vacuum, is that the reason there is no writing or evidence of the activities of the post ACTS Church, is simply because they were all gathered together into His kingdom unto the Day of Judgment. It was indeed the end of the era of which our Lord had foretold.
- MATTHEW 25:31-34 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations [ethnos, multitudes]: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
They were to inherit a kingdom which came not with observation. That King would come as a thief in the night and steal away whom He would. The believers and many unbelievers were to be gathered together for the Day of Judgment.
Thus, all these people were taken away into His kingdom without the world ever realizing it. Hundreds of thousands in Israel had been killed by the Roman armies and their allies. In Jerusalem alone the death toll may have been over a million. Many thousands more were slaughtered by their fellow citizens in what amounted to great massacres in Alexandria (50,000), in Caesarea (20,000), Scythopolis (13,000), Damascus (10,000) and many other ancient cities which housed great numbers of Jews and Christians. The Jewish Historian Josephus thus wrote of the tragedies.
- It was then common to see cities filled with dead bodies, still lying unburied, and those of old men, mixed with infants, all dead, and scattered about together; women also lay amongst them, without any covering for their nakedness: you might then see the whole province full of inexpressible calamities, while the dread of still more barbarous practices which were threatened was every where greater than what had been already perpetrated. (Wars 18:2)
Some of those dead ones along with a few that survived, were then gathered together exactly as Paul foresaw and wrote about in his epistles to the Corinthians (1 CORINTHIANS 15:51-53) and the Thessalonians.
- 1 THESSALONIANS 4:16-17 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
We have all imagined that this Rapture would occur in plain sight for all the world to see, but instead it was done by stealth, without most of the rest of the world ever realizing what was happening. It all came to pass exactly as our Lord also had promised.
- MATTHEW 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
John also, in his visions written down in REVELATION tells of this same gathering together.
- REVELATION 14:14-16 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
- And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth [ge, land] is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth [ge, land]; and the earth [ge, land] was reaped.
Then, some time after this first gathering together there was to be a second harvest. This second one though was a harvest of the wrath of GOD.
- REVELATION 14:17-20 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth [ge, land]; for her grapes are fully ripe.
- And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth [ge, land], and gathered the vine of the earth [ge, land], and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
Again, the poor translation of the Greek word ge as "earth" has led us to think that the whole globe was to be involved in these two gatherings, when in reality it was primarily to be the land of Israel. Thus, these two harvests were not to be upon the entire planet which, had known little or nothing of Yeshua and His ministry; but rather it was to be upon the Land of Israel which had full well known and pretty much rejected their Savior. The first gathering was the believers, for "the harvest of the land was ripe". The second gathering was of unbelievers, for its gathering was "into the great winepress of the wrath of God". Is this not the exact vision John related of here?
- REVELATION 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth [ge, land] shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Those who were involved in Yeshua's torture and beatings were going to see how wrong they had been. Those who had laughed Him to scorn and rejected Him and denied Him were going to see their great error. Many of these same people had just been assembled together into Jerusalem for the feast, and were shut up within the city when the Romans came and destroyed both it and them, in A.D. 70.
Thus, in two giant harvests, the wheat and the chaff are both gathered into his kingdom. "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (MATTHEW 3:12). But it was all accomplished as a thief in the night, without the rest of world ever realizing all that was transpiring right under their noses.
This is precisely why the Church which re-grouped sometime after the destruction of Israel and the gathering together of the saints into heaven, knew so little of the details about the activities of the original believers.
This is why they didn't know the exact day on which Yeshua was crucified, nor the day He arose. This is why they split over arguments about the correct day in which they should observe the Easter celebrations and over who could baptize a new convert. This is why they didn't know how many were crucified with Yeshua. They didn't know that Yeshua was a man, instead of the later doctrine that He was GOD the Son.
They didn't know these things because there was nobody left who had witnessed them. All that these believers had after the Parousia, all that they possessed to steer them away from their pagan philosophies to the truth, was the writings of the first believers. All that they had were the Gospels, ACTS and a few epistles of Paul, and Peter, and John and James and Jude.
And this is all that we have also. But buried within those writings are the details about the activities of the original believers. It has all lain there, quietly waiting to be discovered. Those lovers of truth, who are willing to cast off the mental shackles of Church Tradition, can easily re-discover them and then realize the joy and rejoicing of their heart.
- JEREMIAH 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart....