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n continuing to study the events of the end times, I’ve long observed a rather strange phenomenon, associated with parallel doctrines found in disparate groups. For many years, I had noticed the curious fact that false doctrine is frequently a distorted version of the truth — and this odd manifestation can actually help us to diagnose the errors in Christian doctrine in general, and Bible prophecy in particular.
One of the most obvious examples is found in the Catholic apostasy known as Purgatory, and its relationship to the contemporary system known as the Rapture. Purgatory was developed in the 12th century AD as a theoretical place from which marginal believers may still advance to heaven, given the proper circumstances.
When a Catholic dies, we’re told some go directly to Heaven, others to Hell, and those who weren’t wicked enough for Hell, but not quite righteous enough for Heaven, go to Purgatory, where they are “purged” of their sins.
As my research had already showed a tenuous connection to Roman Catholicism in the development of the pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine just before it emerged in the 19th century, I suspected a Spiritual connection as well. After all, the so called “Rapture” represents those who go directly to Heaven, but those who weren’t quite ready and were supposedly Left Behind can still get to heaven if they perform appropriately during the Tribulation — the latter becoming the evangelical equivalent of Purgatory.
Variations on a theme abound in a multitude of aberrational systems such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are indoctrinated in a “works” oriented salvation, in order to become a part of the 144,000 seen in Revelation. Needless to say, those “good deeds” are cleverly calculated to include cult recruitment on a door-to-door basis in order to enlarge the ranks of victims of this hideous system.
The corporate cult of 7th Day Adventism is similar, as a strict adherence to their version of the true Sabbath is said to separate them from all the “Christian” sun god worshipers who have supposedly received the Mark of the Beast by worshiping God on the wrong day.
Still more cults, such as many of the spin-offs of Herbert W Armstrong’s Church Of God, also teach a parallel to the Rapture Cult’s second chance at salvation fraud. Incredibly, in spite of point blank Scripture to the contrary, some Armstrongists are teaching the wicked dead will be given a 100 year, second lifespan, after they’ve died in their “first” lifetime (and after the Second Coming), in which individuals are given another chance to respond to the righteousness of God!
However, we can easily strip away the seductive idea of a second chance at salvation, because the Word of God plainly declares
“…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” — Hebrews 9:27
To be sure, Christ does tell us He will separate the metaphorical sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares [weeds], and so forth. Furthermore, these images are usually tied to the end of days when the great “harvest” occurs.
For instance, Jesus describes this separation in a rarely cited parable concerning a fishing excursion, and the subsequent separation of the catch:
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.” — Matthew 13:47, 48
In every case, once we see those who are judged to be “goats,” or “tares,” or the “bad” portion of the catch that was deemed to be of no value, we never see the allegorical wicked given another opportunity to move back to the blessing of the LORD. In fact, once the tares are bundled, they are burned, and the bad is always “cast away.” Indeed in multiple examples, the refuse is burned in a “furnace” where we find “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
In addition to this ultimate separation of good and evil, we never see the evil from one period become the good in another. This is, of course, the central thesis of Dispensationalism, the system that generated the faulty pre-tribulation Rapture concept. By placing Christ rejecting Israel into a contrived period they call a “Dispensation,” the rapturists claim the unrepentant Jews will become Christians during the tribulation — a Prophetic Echo of the faulty Catholic concept of Purgatory.
Significantly, in addition to a separation between good and evil, we do see a subtle form of division within the good. The key factor is these differing segments of the saved are not placed in different locales, such as the one group of supposedly good Catholics who go immediately to heaven, while their Purgatory bound friends have an intermediate “purging” process, and then arrive in Heaven at a later period.
This Roman fraud is identical to the pre-tribulational fiction that has the “good” Rapture Cultists immediately transported to heaven, but their “tribulation saint” brethren arrive later, after earning their way into the kingdom through a bloody martyrdom.
In all of these systems, we see the concept of one group who allegedly knows the truth, and a second group who subsequently receives that truth in a separate phase of prophetic fulfillment. The irony is, these patterns have a basis in Scripture, but the churches (and the cults) have manifested a distorted Prophetic Echo of this amazing Spiritual pattern.
The Seed And The Saints
Although it seems like an oversimplification, it’s worth mentioning that Jesus was here at the same time as the Disciples. As Jesus is clearly identified as the “seed” throughout the sacred texts, we see His 12 Apostles are the fruit, or the next generation offspring of His amazing grace.
As Christ progresses in His mission, we see the number of His Disciples was multiplied into 70 followers of Jesus. He sent these 70 out in pairs, and they were clearly vested with Christ’s authority:
“And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” — Luke 10:17
Each step of the way, we have the small Seed (in this example Christ Himself), coexisting with, and leading the larger group. Note how the prophetic pattern always has the smaller group first, then, after the Spiritual reproduction occurs, the larger group is manifested. After Christ has ascended, when we see the Disciples return to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, the text tells us
“And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty….” — Acts 1:15
This is the identical pattern we’ve been examining. In this, we see the core group of the Apostles who were first chosen by the LORD, and then the larger group of Disciples of Jesus. The pattern is completely consistent, for we see these numbers continue to rise exponentially at the Feast of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit falls upon the large crowd in Jerusalem, and the Word of God tells us
”…and the same day were added unto them about three thousand souls.” — Acts 1:41
By the time we arrive at the end of days, we see the same pattern wherein there is a group of 144,000, followed by a great multitude, which no man can number:
“ And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel….After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” — Revelation 7:4, 9
The Echo Is The Error
Because so many doctrinal groups have sought to wrest these verses to make them conform to their particular prophetic error, space does not permit a refutation of each doctrinal apostasy. However, the pattern of the introduction of the Seed followed by the manifestation of the Saints, is thoroughly consistent throughout the Scriptures, so we can easily see the Rapture Cult error has the roles reversed.
In most of the faulty systems, the Spirit of strong delusion seeks to reverse the roles. Thus, in the pre-tribulation Rapture falsehood, every believer in Christ who has ever lived and died is raised in conjunction with the living believers — surely a massive number of people. Then, we’re told, those who were backslidden, or denying Christ are led by the much smaller number of supposed Jews who comprise the 144,00. This is the diametrical opposite of the truth.
We also see the cult systems (including Roman Catholicism and the Rapturists) place the two groups in different places, or eras — in effect, the first big group is in heaven while the smaller trailing group is in the supposed locale of “Purgatory.” We can confirm the fact the Rapture Cult error is broadly derived from this same Prophetic Echo as they also have the larger group in heaven (at the supposed Rapture), while the smaller group of so called “tribulation saints” work their way through the tribulation on Earth — yet another separation from the larger group.
Once more, the reversal of the Seed followed by the Saints goes all the way back to the Purgatorial apostasy where all “good” Catholics go straight to heaven (the Roman equivalent of the Rapture of the majority), followed by those marginal believers who weren’t quite ready who must now work their way through “Purgatory” (read the tribulation).
Before leaving the 144,000, although a superficial reading shows them to be descendants of Israel, we know from the bulk of New Testament doctrine the true believers in Jesus Christ who have obediently removed themselves from the corporate Christian harlot are “the true Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). This also, by the way, eliminates the Jehovah’s Witness twist that has themselves as the 144,00, for they deny the true nature of Jesus Christ as God Almighty.
In conclusion, tracking back through the errors found in the Prophetic Echoes, the Scriptures tell us to anticipate a leadership body, which is designated as the 144,000 (clearly a multiple of the original 12), who will instruct and lead the great multitude through the tribulational cycle.
— James Lloyd
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