I must admit it is still thrilling to read a new book on Bible prophecy and have the opportunity to see the subject through another believers eyes. I believe all of us still see the subject of Bible prophecy with an incomplete understanding. Encouragingly, as we draw closer to the return of Yeshua it is becoming apparent that the veil is slowly lifting. The past couple of years I’ve read quite a few books dealing with the subject of the pre-trip verses the pre-wrath position on the rapture and the 2nd coming. I frankly don’t understand the subject to the degree I would like so I’ve been pursuing the subject with the intent to perform my Berean duty.
Recently, I was introduced to the book Worthy to Escape: Why All Believerse Will Not be Raptured Before the Tribulation. In this well written book the authors Adrian Zenz and Marlon Sias explore the subject of the rapture and its timing relative to the eschatological events described in the Bible. For those who have studied the subject, you know that the pre-trib or the pre-wrath interpretations both have aspects which their adherents have a difficult time explaining. Mr. Zenz and Mr. Sias, in Worthy to Escape make a case for a dual rapture eschatological position which attempts to reconciles the problems found in both of the other positions.
Though I still have not clarified the various positions to my liking this book offered another valuable perspective on the subject which helped explain some of the challenging aspects of subject. Several of the chapters which really stood out to me included:
• We Are the Bride: What it Means to Be Engaged to Jesus
• Chapters 6 & 7 – Pretribulation Versus PreWrath (part I & II)
• The Origin and Rise of the Antichrist
• God’s Wrath and the Fall of Babylon
• The Final Battle and the Entrance Into the Millennial Kingdom
I would be remiss if I did not mention that the book doesn’t just look at the subject of the rapture in a clinical vacuum. The authors do a great job of explaining why the subject is important to our faith and our walk with Christ. Regardless of your view on the rapture this book offers a clear view on why righteous living in these last days is important to God, our fellow believers and ourselves.
In the spirit of a fair review there are a few aspects of the book with which I disagree and/or I thought needed some clarification.
• On the subject of the spirit versus the letter of the law and legalism versus lawlessness I thought the chapter was a bit complicated. The authors did a thorough job of explaining this critical subject for today’s believers but I felt the underlying principle sometimes got lost in the details. If we are to live by the spirit of the law we must be able to explain the subject in terms our children or new believers can easily understand.
To often in today’s culture our Christian testimony is lost because we have no real understanding of how the spirit of the law is the principle upon which the letter was based. The spirit of the law says we are to love YHWH with our heart soul and mind. That principle then undergirds the spirit of the law when dealing with our fellow man who was made in the image of YHWH. If we love YHWH in the spirit of the law then the natural extension of that will reflect our love of our fellow man.
The spirit of the law then illuminates the 10 commandments which are the basis for the letter of the law. If we look at the letter of the law which say “thou shalt not steel” we can see the underlying spirit of the law which says if we really love our brother we cannot steel from him because doing so shows a lack of love for YHWH.
Another more difficult example would be trying to find the spirit of the law in 4th commandment to keep the Sabbath. After 2000 years this topic is still hotly debated amongst believers but far too often it is only looked at in terms of the extremes of legalism and lawlessness. (What we are required to do and what we have the liberty not to do) Frankly, I think if we as believers could see the Sabbath in terms of the royal law then it would go along way to helping us apply the underlying spirit of the law to every aspect of our life.
This discussion often makes me think of one my children (or even myself) when they were still young and innocent. One of the greatest joys was simply going into our parents closet and trying on or fathers shoes. (Or our young daughters trying on her mothers heels). Have we ever really thought about why that was such a memorable experience? Could it be that in our innocence zeal we simply had the desire to be like our parents. It’s sad today that we all, in one respect or another, have lost the innocent zeal to simply walk in our fathers shoes.
• Getting back to a more specific disagreement given in the spirit of respectful disagreement and the spirit of a Berean which the authors encourage their readers to emulate, To the extent the authors rely on a chronological framework based in the prophecy of 70 Weeks in general and the 70th week in particular, I believe it undermines their argument for a two stage rapture. I’ll try to briefly explain:
1. The authors explanation of the prophecy of 70 Weeks is based upon the unproven assumption that Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries of the Persian king Longimanus. The Bible’s chronology simply does not support this. The Bible’s own internal chronology shows that Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes. By connecting the two stage rapture theory to an unprovable assumption regarding Daniel 9 it creates a credibility issue for both theories. In my opinion it would be better to prove the two stage rapture theory independent of the assumed chronological framework built in the prophecy of Daniel 9.
2. A 360 day “year” or as it is sometimes called a “prophetic year” is simply not a biblical reckoning of time. In order for Sir Robert Anderson’s “prophetic year” to be accurate it must be synchronized with the solar year of 365.24 days. Left unsynchronized it makes Anderson’s “prophetic year” a vague or wandering year like the Islamic calendar today. Genesis 1:14 clearly states the Bible’s calendar is both lunar and solar. This is confirmed by the fact that Israel (at the Exodus) was commanded to synchronize their lunar months with the solar agricultural cycle of barley. Although there is historical records of a 360 day lunar year there is no evidence that the solar cycle has ever been 360 days long. This necessitates an intercalation of 5.24 days for the “prophetic year” to be accurate. Historically speaking a 365.24 day solar year is evidence by the cubit, the Sothic cycle, the Great Pyramid of Giza and Stonehendge just to name a few of the more notable places it is found in antiquity going back at least 4500 years.
A Biblical reckoning of time on the other hand is based upon the 29.53 day cycle of the moon and the 365.24 day solar cycle. In practical application this means the biblical year varies between 12 or 13 lunar cycles. Most Biblical years have 354.36 days but every three years or so the Biblical year is 383.89 days long. (A 13th month is added)
It should be noted that the shorter times frames in the book of Daniel and Revelation are expressed in days or months in deference to the biblical definition of time. When accuracy is required it only makes sense for the prophecies to be expressed in days or months because the Biblical “year” varies. So instead of seeing 3.5 “prophetic” years of 30 days each in 42 months (1260 days) we should understand the prophecy as 42 lunar cycles of 29.53 days (1240.26 days). This makes that period of time nearly 20 days shorter than 3.5 “prophetic” years. When the events of Revelation begin to be fulfilled those 20 days will make a big difference to those trying to understand the prophecy.
In a similar manner when we want to related the 1260 days of revelation to the Biblical calendar we should be looking at this time frame not in terms of 365.24 solar years or 360 day “prophetic years” but rather 29.53 days months. In Biblical time this would equate to 42.67 months.
3. Finally, scholars have claimed 4 Persian decrees as possible fulfillments of Daniel 9:25 and the “commandment to restore and build. The word “commandment” of Daniel 9:25 is the Hebrew word dabar and simply means “word” as in the “word of YHWH”. Out of the over 1000 times dabar is used in the Bible the vast majority of the times it references the word of YHWH. In Daniel 9 dabar is used four times. Each of the other three times it refers to the words of the living God of the Bible. In the context of the 2nd temple era the “word to restore and build Jerusalem” most reasonably refers to the word of YHWH to “restore and build” given in Zechariah 1, Haggai 1 and witnessed by Ezra 6.
My disagreements with the authors regarding Daniel 9 notwithstanding, I think this book is a great addition to the subject of understanding the rapture and the second coming. It is also a wonderful resource for why righteous living is a necessity in these last days. I would definitely recommend this book to any Berean who is serious about understanding all aspects of this wonderful subject.
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Author: Adrian Zenz & Marton Sias
Book Title: Worth to Escape: Why All Believers Will Not be Raptured Before the Tribulation
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse