Originally posted by duecer
interesting take. I don't however believe in the rapture (the word appears nowhere in any form in the NT).
numerology was important to the jews, 144,000 is significant in it connotates wholeness. I believe this figure to be representative of the whole church, and reject the literal translation of 144,000 people. If we are to take the number strictly litera ral and which parts arn't. I believe the book needs to viewed with an interpretive viewpoint.
Absolutely it needs an interpretive viewpoint. I only barely scratched the surface.
What I would draw attention to is not the number at the moment. But I would highlight the sequence of scenes in chapter 14. I visualize it this way:
Verses 1 - 5 - the Firstfruits
verses 6-7 - the eternal gospel
verse 8 - the announcement of the fall of Babylon
verses - 9 - 12 - the warning to earth dwellers not to worship Antichrist
verses 13 - blessing on martyrs during great tribulation
verses 14 - 16 the Harvest of believers at the end of great tribulation
verse 17-20 the grapes of wrath at in the winepress of God
Now if you notice the sequence. You have something taking place at the beginning of the great tribulation, then you have the things during the great tribulation, then you have the conclusion of it.
In this sequence you have Firstfruits and Harvest. Between these two you have the events of the great tribulation.
God's crop of believers is seen. Those who do not need the great tribulation to ripen, ripen first as Firstfruits. Then comes the heat of the great tribulation. The majority of the rest of the crop ripen under the intense "heat" of this troubled time.
Firstfruits, tribulation, then Harvest. This is the main thing I would like to point out to you. That is chapter 14 in a nutshell.
To further explain Firstfruits, I would have you consider the seven letters to the churches in chapters 2 and 3. Each letter ends with a promise to those who "overcome"
. I'll let you look it up if you're that interested.
The "overcomers" are those who rise to the standard of God's call. They do not exceed the standard. They are not an elite. They are normal. In God's salvation it is normal that we should overcome, that we should be "more than conquerors".
Overcomers do not rise above the standard. Overcomers are simply at the standard. To be defeated in the Christian life is abnormal. It may be prevalent but it is abnormal. It is normal that Christ's grace is sufficient to cause us to be victorious in His salvation.
Do you follow so far?
So, the Firstfruits are not some class of superspiritual elite. They are simply normal overcomers living on the earth at the time just before the commencement of the great tribulation.
But in the history of God's people on earth, the ones rising up to the standard are usually a minority.
I am not getting to involved with rapture here. My point is that Firstfruits and Harvest should mean overcomers who mature early and the majority who mature with the help of the sufferings of the Great Tribulation.
The Firstfruits sing a song which no one else could learn. A song comes out of their experience. Their unique experience leads to their unique song. They have an experience which none of the other saints of God have. What is it ??
I believe it is that they are taken alive to heaven. They walked right out of the world by following the Lamb whereever He goes. This is an experience that millions of believers down through the centries have not had, though there have been many who overcame.
They are a collective Enoch. Now I have said that these Firstfruits are the living overcomers. What about those overcomers who have died before Christ returns? They are depicted in another chapter, chapter 12 as the Manchild.
I have gone over this without my customary references to verses. That's a lot of work.
Let me ask you this. It says "And I heard a voice out of heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; and the voice which I heard was like the sound of singers playing on their harps." (14:2)
Now if you don't believe in rapture (because the word does not appear in the Bible) HOW did this group of people get up there to heaven?