A City Set On a Hill
Surviving the Seventieth Week by Reforming Fundamentalism and Establishing Cities of Refuge
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Summary of the Events of the Seventieth Week
Copyright 2010 by Raul E. Lopez, MD, MDiv

A general summary of this passage is in order before we analyze it in detail and compare it to other passages. In this first stage we should look to see what, exactly, the Lord is teaching in this particular passage, leaving aside, for the moment, pre-conceived theological systems of interpretation and any influence from other passages. This is called the Biblical Theology method.

In this passage the Lord is answering the disciples' question regarding the events which precede and accompany the Lord's second coming. The other part of the question, concerning the destruction of the temple is discussed in another passage, in Luke. The Lord describes three different groups of events, or stages, which are associated with His second coming. Two of the stages precede His coming and the final stage accompanies His coming. The first of these periods He calls the beginning of sorrows. It includes the coming of many false christs, war and warmongering, famines and pestilences. This is followed by a period called the great tribulation, which includes intense persecution, the coming of many false prophets, the desecration of the temple, and great loss of life.

The beginning of sorrows and the great tribulation are followed by the second coming of Jesus Christ Himself and with a set of four events which closely accompany His coming. Those four events which accompany His coming are the appearance of cosmic signs, the appearance of the sign of the Son of Man, the blowing of the trumpet by an angel, and the gathering of the elect. It is not clear in this passage of what the sign of the Son of Man consists, but whatever it is, the inhabitants of the Earth clearly understand that it is associated with the coming of the true Messiah.

As the Lord returns, "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." When I asked my seminary professors to describe in more detail this event called the gathering of the elect, they would say that it referred to the miraculous gathering of the children of Israel from all the lands to which they were scattered. However, this passage does not say that this is talking about the children of Israel, but, rather, the elect. The term elect is used often in the New Testament to refer to the true believers in Christ. For example, Paul writes "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? [It is] God that justifieth" (Romans 8:32-33). Other passages seem to indicate that the children of Israel will be gathered by natural means, not supernaturally. Whatever it is, this gathering of the elect seems to be an event very similar to the gathering in the rapture of the church elect as described by Paul. It is the contention of this book that the gathering of the elect is, indeed, what we call the rapture of the church. The rest of this section presents scriptural evidence to support this statement.

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