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The Apocalypse

Part 9

Publication #211.09

Dispensationalism And The Rapture


We noticed in our previous article what the abomination of desolation was and especially what it was not. For one, we saw that the abomination is not President Obama even though some believe he is. Hopefully, I made it clear that the abomination of desolation was not in the remotest way speaking of this man or any other individual man. I especially wanted the reader to know that I spoke no ill toward him, that God had ordained him for His special purpose. Moreover, whether that purpose is for good, ill, or nil, how can we take sides and be for or against him? Don’t we know that we are not citizens of this world? And this nation is one of the kingdoms of the world that will become the kingdom of the Lord and of His anointed. Don’t we know that we are foreigners in a strange land, ambassadors of Christ, and when we get uptight and bent out of shape over what we see in the adamic world of darkness and death, our allegiance can be misdirected? We can become as the Jews who were incited by Barabbas, the insurrectionist in the Jewish resistance against the Romans. If we find ourselves vilifying the leader of this nation, then we are vilifying God and declaring that we know better than He does about what is good for the people of this country as well as the world. Such a testimony is openly declaring that we believe we have better judgment than God, the very one who put the man in that office to either frame or de-frame the nation. Many believe His appointment is for framing, for building up; but as I wrote last month, I do not see this is part of God’s curriculum at this time, and the fact is, I would certainly not be disappointed if I am proven wrong. My natural man says, "I hope I am wrong," while my spirit says, "So be it, Father. Thy will be done."

Having said that, let me ask again; Who was it that placed Barack Obama in office? Was this one man alone who was able to mesmerize a large percentage of the world? And he, was indeed, mesmerizing to many, and we have seen it before. We saw it with John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Billy Graham, and such is not necessarily bad. Not by any means. There are certain people who have a god-given charisma about them that causes others to take notice. I believe there was a spirit that overshadowed the multitude when Billy Graham would minister his word of salvation. Thousands, perhaps millions, were mesmerized, and this was good. They were transfixed by the spirit that I believe was more often than not the Spirit of Christ. The same happened with Kennedy, Reagan, and also with Adolf Hitler; but I don’t believe it was Christ’s Spirit working in them. It was a spirit sent by God to serve His purpose at the time; but it was not the anointed Spirit of Jesus Christ. Notwithstanding, some of it was for good and some for evil, and it was all in God’s hands. Do you think not? Consider this:

"I am the LORD, and there is none else. 7I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. 8Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. 9Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! ...Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? 10...Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?

11Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me." Isaiah 45:6-11. [11 This is what the LORD says—the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands? Isaiah 45:11 (NIV).]

You see, it is the LORD who brings both good and evil upon nations for the purpose of bringing them to salvation (talk about tough love, this is it). Therefore, it is no great wonder that so many were mesmerized by Barack Obama whether for good or evil. It was a spiritual phenomena, and God did it. It wasn’t the news media, it wasn’t the voters who were smarter than the opposing team that elected him to the presidency, nor was it the electoral college, and it certainly wasn’t the devil that pulled a fast one and out-witted God’s will and plan. Some, however, believe this to be the case.

Notwithstanding, if we put any faith at all in what Daniel the prophet said, along with the apostle Paul, this cannot be true. They made it clear that it is God who sets men as rulers over nations. You see, "...there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." Romans 13:1. Moreover, He even sends lying spirits into the mouths of prophets and strong delusions to people so they will believe a lie. For instance, when it was time for the reign of king Ahab to end, a lying spirit was sent by the LORD to deceive him. Incidentally, the lying spirit went into the mouth of Micaiah, the true prophet, as well; that is until Ahab commanded him to tell the truth in the name of the LORD:

"So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king. 16And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD? 17And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace. 18And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil? 19And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. 20And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. 21And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. 22And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. 23Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee. 24But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee? 25And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself. 26And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king’s son; 27And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace. 28And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the LORD hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one of you. 29So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramothgilead." 1 Kings 22:15-29. And that is where Ahab was killed. (1 Kings 34-35).

The leaders of the world’s nations may not have prophets that lie to them; but they have cabinet members and advisors, and lying spirits that can be major influencing factors on the decisions of these powerful heads of state. Make no mistake about it, lying spirits are at work; for we can see the fruits thereof on a daily basis. For instance, the executive orders that are signed, congressional and judicial decisions that are made, the bills and laws that are passed, plus much more, are clearly born of that spirit. If we can see the natural signs of the weather in the skies of politics, economics, and religion, we can assume that there might be a flood of unprecedented hardships and evil to sweep the world. And if this comes to pass, let us remember what king David wrote of such matters: "The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves." Psalm 93:3. However, he also wrote: "The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever." Psalm 29:10.

Therefore, even if a devastating flood of unprecedented proportions comes that would overwhelm the status quo, and threaten that which we have become accustomed to enjoying, what is there to fear? Not only does the LORD sit upon the flood and is in full control of its roaring waves, He brings the flood as He breaks open the dark clouds of heaven to pour His deluge upon earth’s floor. Even so, in the midst of the torrents, we will abide in safety under the shadow of His wings: "How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings." Psalm 36:7. Under the shadow of those wings there is darkness; but there was also darkness in the cave of Adullam that overshadowed David and his men; there is protection therein. Those who flee unto Christ rather than to the world’s resources of mammon (finances), political leaders like Saul, or the leaders of men’s religious systems, they can be assured well being and peace in the midst of the storm. And it is thereunder, brethren, where we will remain until the time of the apocalypse of Jesus Christ! "It is not by might, nor by power, nor by presumption or wishful thinking, but by My Spirit saith the LORD of hosts." Zechariah 4:6. (Italics supplied).


Presumption is to believe something as being true in the absence of proof. The doctrine of Dispensationalism has been promulgated by believing the concept is true, yet without proof, which in turn has been the principal cause of skewing much of Christendom’s thinking. It is said that Dispensationalism is the divine ordering of worldly affairs in specified eras of time. The adherents of Dispensationalism generally strive for a literal interpretation of the Bible rather than seeing that there are spiritual aspects of the scriptures as well.

Frankly, I believe there are dispensations; but I prefer calling them ages or eons wherein God dispenses His sovereign will and rule. You see, the definition of the word is fine. The problem comes in failing to see that there are spiritual meanings to many scriptures, especially in the book of Revelation. There is also a problem in how they use mistranslated scriptures, inject them into certain dispensations/ages, and teach them as being something that they are not. When words are erroneously translated, and the scriptures are deciphered by the natural mind, faulty data is compiled with which to build doctrines void of firm foundations. The rapture is a primary example, and it has been planted deeply into the dispensations of the great tribulation, the pre-tribulation, the mid-tribulation, and the post-tribulation. By doing this, each of the supposed dispensations listed are flawed, especially since the rapture itself is flawed. It can easily be established that this doctrine is believed in the absence of proof and has been built upon by faulty data. Such a house cannot stand in the face of fact. It will surely fall when the tides of truth come rolling in; but those who love the truth and have dug deep and built upon the firm foundation of the Rock will abide and lift their voices in great rejoicing.

Dispensationalism is a term with which many are familiar; but few know its origin or what it entails. Therefore, we will take cursory glance at its origin and structure.

The roots of Dispensationalism can be traced back to the Roman Catholic Church’s Counsel of Trent (1545-1563). One of the main objectives of the Counsel was to counter the influence the Protestant Reformation was having upon their church. The Catholics were abandoning the church by the droves, and it was commonly accepted among Protestants that the Pope was the embodiment of the antichrist. One of the first decrees of the Counsel was to apply an aggressive surge to counter the damage the Reformation had inflicted. The Jesuits were the ones who led this new strategy which helped to reconvert large numbers back to the Catholic church. This was especially effective in Hungary, Poland, and Germany. This method is defined and known as subtle *casuistry (ca·su·ist·ry). Some years later, a Jesuit priest by the name of Francisco Ribera, a doctor of theology, played a major role in this covert scheme. He published a 500 page commentary on the book of Revelation titled, In Sacrum Beati Ioannis Apostoli, & Evangelistiae Apocalypsin Commentarij. It was this book that put everything in the book of Revelation into the far, distant future, thus, Futurism, or Dispensationalism, with the intent of distracting the populace from believing the Pope was the antichrist. [*casuistry: Argumentation that is specious or excessively subtle and intended to be misleading. (]

Ribera taught that the antichrist would persecute and blaspheme the saints of God, rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, deny Jesus Christ, and abolish the Christian religion. He wrote that this man of the future would claim to be God, be received by the Jews, kill the two witnesses of God, and would conquer and rule over the entire world.

And now much of Christendom teaches the same *tenets of faith. Ribera’s book became one of the major instruments that helped to counter the Reformation. This planned deception came to be known as the Catholics’ Counter Reformation. [*A religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof.]

During the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther and the other reformers used a system of prophetic interpretation called the Historicist Method. For the most part, it taught that the beast of Revelation was active in the past, is active in the present, and would be active until Jesus' second coming.

In response to the Historicist method, Francisco Ribera taught that the beast and its mark was neither of these, and it would not be active and fulfilled until the end of the age. This man was a worthy protectorate of the Pope, to say the least.

Ribera was the first to teach that all the events in the book of Revelation were to take place (literally) during the three and a half years reign of the antichrist, which put it a long way off, which would take the eye of scrutiny off the Pope. This ruse did not end with his exhaustive book that helped to garner quite a number of those who had left the Catholic church during the Protestant Reformation.

Another Jesuit priest, Emmanuel Lacunza (1731-1801) took the baton of subtle casuistry and built on what Ribera had taught. He also wrote a book, The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty, but he didn’t use his own name as the author. It would have been unlikely that a Protestant anywhere would have read a book written by a Jesuit Priest. Therefore, by deception he used the name and title, Rabbi Ben Ezra—purportedly a Jew who had accepted Jesus Christ as his Messiah.

Amazingly, as it is today, converted Jews were considered in those days to be Christians who were higher than Gentile Christians, more favored by God, and much wiser than most born again believers. Therefore, Lacunza, no doubt, assumed that his book would be widely received if he was believed to be a converted Rabbi.

His book was first published in Spain in 1811 or 1812, and as hoped, it was eagerly accepted by the Protestants. It was so well received that it made its way to England and became part of the Library of Charles Manners-Sutton, the Archbishop of Canterbury in London, England. What greater endorsement could a "Christian" book receive than one written by a Christian-Rabbi-Jew?

Another stepping stone for Dispensationalism/Futurism was a legendary preacher, Edward Irving. It has been said that he was a very eloquent speaker of his day. He was one of the leaders of the Catholic Apostolic Church of England, and he translated Lacunza's book from Spanish into English, which was around 1827. It seems that in his reading and translating the book, a foundation in his doctrinal belief were laid. Then came a sign from "heaven." A vision that placed the capstone on the ruse:

Margaret MacDonald’s Vision

It was here that Dispensationalism really took form and with sweeping effects. It altered the Protestants view of the truth concerning the end of the age. The doctrine of the rapture took flight due to what happened in Port Glasgow, Scotland in 1830. According to a young Scottish lass by the name of Margaret MacDonald, she had a dream or vision of the coming of the Lord before the great tribulation. Because of Lacunza’s book having influenced several noted Bible teachers of that day, they picked up on the thought of a rapture at the end of the age. However, it was Edward Irving and *John Darby who were responsible for it being popularized in Scotland and England. It is said of Darby that he borrowed from Margaret MacDonald's vision, modified her views, and then taught them under his own name without giving her credit. Notwithstanding, he visited C.I. Scofield several times in the U.S., and his dispensationalism became part of his Scofield Reference Bible. It was the notes in Scofield's Bible that became the major factor for this new teaching which found favor here and abroad.

* [It is reported that Darby taught on the Rapture as early as 1827, so it appears that his source for the doctrine did not come from her, especially since he felt her vision was demonic ( His thoughts, therefore, may have been from Morgan Edwards who wrote about it around 1772 in his essay, Two Academical Exercises on Subjects Bearing the following Titles; Millennium, Last-Novelties.]

Notwithstanding, the following is Margaret MacDonald's handwritten account of her 1830 revelation as it appears in Memoirs of James & George MacDonald, of Port-Glasgow (1840) by Robert Norton, pp. 171-176; The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets; In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861) also by Norton, pp. 15-18; and The Incredible Cover Up by Dave MacPherson, (1980):

"It was first the awful state of the land that was pressed upon me. I saw the blindness and infatuation of the people to be very great. I felt the cry of Liberty just to be the hiss of the serpent, to drown them in perdition. I repeated the words, 'Now there is distress of nations, with perplexity, the seas and the waves roaring, men's hearts failing them for fear — now look out for the sign of the Son of man.' Here I was made to stop and cry out, 'O it is not known what the sign of the Son of man is; the people of God think they are waiting, but they know not what it is.' I felt this needed to be revealed, and that there was great darkness and error about it; but suddenly what it was burst upon me with a glorious light. I saw it was the Lord Himself descending from Heaven with a shout, the glorified man, even Jesus; but that all must, as Stephen was, be filled with the Holy Ghost, that they might look up, and see the brightness of the Father's glory. I saw the error to be, that men think that it will be something seen by the natural eye; but 'tis spiritual discernment that is needed, the eye of God in His people. Many passages were revealed, in a light in which I had not before seen them. I repeated, 'Now is the kingdom of Heaven like unto ten virgins, who went forth to meet the Bridegroom, five wise and five foolish; they that were foolish took their lamps, but took no oil with them; but they that were wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.' 'But be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is; and be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.' This was the oil the wise virgins took in their vessels — this is the light to be kept burning — the light of God — that we may discern that which cometh not with observation to the natural eye. Only those who have the light of God within them will see the sign of His appearance. No need to follow them who say, see here, or see there, for His day shall be as the lightning to those in whom the living Christ is. 'Tis Christ in us that will lift us up — He is the light — 'tis only those that are alive in Him that will be caught up to meet Him in the air. I saw that we must be in the Spirit, that we might see spiritual things. John was in the Spirit, when he saw a throne set in Heaven. But I saw that the glory of the ministration of the Spirit had not been known....I said, Now shall the people of God have to do with realities — now shall the glorious mystery of God in our nature be known — now shall it be known what it is for man to be glorified. I felt that the revelation of Jesus Christ had yet to be opened up — it is not knowledge about God that it contains, but it is an entering into God I saw that there was a glorious breaking in of God to be. I felt as Elijah, surrounded with chariots of fire. I saw as it were, the spiritual temple reared, and the Head Stone brought forth with shoutings of grace, grace, unto it. It was a glorious light above the brightness of the sun, that shone round about me. I felt that those who were filled with the Spirit could see spiritual things, and feel walking in the midst of them, while those who had not the Spirit could see nothing *so that two shall be in one bed, the one taken and the other left, because the one has the light of God within while the other cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven. I saw the people of God in an awfully dangerous situation, surrounded by nets and entanglements, about to be tried, and many about to be deceived and fall. Now will THE WICKED be revealed, with all power and signs and lying wonders, so that if it were possible the very elect will be deceived. — This is the fiery trial which is to try us. — It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus; but Oh it will be a fiery trial. Every soul will be shaken to the very centre. The enemy will try to shake every thing we have believed in — but the trial of real faith will be found to honour and praise and glory. Nothing but what is of God will stand. The stony-ground hearers will be made manifest — the love of many will wax cold. I frequently said that night, and often since, now shall the awful sight of a false Christ be seen on this earth, and nothing but the living Christ in us can detect this awful attempt of the enemy to deceive — for it is with all deceivableness of unrighteousness he will work — he will have a counterpart for every part of God's truth, and an imitation for every work of the Spirit. The Spirit must and will be poured out on the church, that she may be purified and filled with God — and just in proportion as the Spirit of God works, so will he — when our Lord anoints men with power, so will he. This is particularly the nature of the trial through which those are to pass who will be counted worthy to stand before the Son of man. There will be outward trials too, but it is principally temptation. It is brought on by the outpouring of the Spirit, and will increase in proportion as the Spirit is poured out. The trial of the Church is from **antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept. I frequently said, Oh be filled with the Spirit — have the light of God in you, that you may detect satan — be full of eyes within — be clay in the hands of the potter — submit to be filled, filled with God. This will build the temple....Jesus wants His bride. His desire is toward us. He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry. Amen and Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus." — End quote.

[*It seems here that either what she saw was inaccurate or she interpreted it wrong; for she made reference to Matthew 24 which is Jesus' prophecy telling of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Moreover, the ones taken were taken in judgment as it was with those by the flood in the days of Noah.] (See The Beginning of The End of All Things, #183 & #184).

[**Our trials come from God, not antichrist, the devil or any other source, even though God may use them as vessels of trial.]

After reading her account of the vision, as well as other letters she had written and what others in her day wrote about her, she no doubt loved God and was very devout. Not only did her interpretation of the vision pose problems, but Irving, Darby, and Scofield compounded it by influencing the churches to believe that which the two Jesuit priests had written for the purpose of protecting the Pope from being labeled the antichrist and to win back those Catholics who had abandoned the ship during the Reformation.

Margaret MacDonald apparently lacked the understanding in what she saw; namely that the soon appearing of the Lord was speaking of His appearing in them at that time, lifting them, and manifesting them in a higher realm spiritually; for the prophecies that came not only to her but to others as well almost always ended with, "Behold He cometh, Jesus cometh" and not He will be coming. This would indicate He was already coming to them at that time (Jesus cometh, i.e., Jesus comes — a present, continuing, indicative action); but they had failed to see the spiritual reality of He that COMES, who was coming to them even then. They were looking for that which was outward rather than inward, and to them, this natural view came to be known as the rapture and was hailed to be the factor marking the end of the age.

It is somewhat ironic that the foundation of the rapture was laid in the cement of Roman Catholicism by a Jesuit priest, Francisco Ribera. His book then influenced another Jesuit priest, Emmanuel Lacunza. Lacunza influenced Irving, Irving influenced Darby, Darby influenced Scofield. Then Scofield and Darby influenced D.L. Moody. And as history has it, Moody influenced the Pentecostal Movement. You see, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world, the Assemblies of God, had no publishing house of their own. Therefore, they bought their Sunday School materials from the Moody Press.

If you want to find the root of most financial, political, and legal corruption, we are told to follow the money trail. It is same with errant doctrine—follow the paper trail to find its origin, which we have done. The paper trail of Dispensationalism, or Futurism, leads back to Ribera, and since the 1830s his method of prophetic interpretation has been finding inroads to the churches, and especially after World War II. Since then many of the Protestant churches have wholeheartedly adopted Dispensationalism as a tenet of faith, and even without any credible foundation with which to stand, it is accepted almost everywhere. We see especially the rapture being propagated not only in Sunday School classes, preached from the pulpits and over the airwaves, it’s all over the world wide web, and books have been printed by the millions as well as movies that dramatize the end-time rapture theory that Irving, MacDonald, Darby, Scofield, and Moody popularized.

In brief, such is the historic paper trail of Dispensationalism and the Rapture, a trail that has led many to spiritual shipwreck upon the rocky shoals of error. It has helped to set the stage for the belief that a world ruler will rise as a superhuman who is ordained of Satan, the Antichrist, the Abomination of Desolation, i.e., the Beast of Revelation 13. Many believe this man to be Barack Obama. If you believe this to be true, please know that there is one thing in particular that must happen. He must be killed by a wound to the head and then raised again to life. Remember? "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast." Revelation 13:3. I do not believe this will happen in the remotest sense; but if you do, watch and see if such a scenario plays out. Of course, if you believe this to be true, you may also believe that you will be "raptured" before it takes place; for this is one view of Dispensationalism!

Rather than looking for and fearfully awaiting the dreadful apocalypse of the "Beastly Antichrist," let us with great anticipation look for the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ, of whom we are paternal members in particular!

To be continued...

Elwin R. Roach

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