Prophecy notes by Paul Phelps regarding a Remnant Refuge for some last-day believers.
Apostle Paul said that in the last days, we will be caught up to God (1 Thes. 4:13-18). But the Bible also says that we will return to earth with him to assist in ruling the nations in his earthly kingdom (Rev. 2:26).
Presently there is a lot of discussion among Bible students about when the “catching away” of the Saints will be. This subject is complicated by several questions of theology, some of which are hard to resolve; nevertheless God’s promise is true and we can be confident of it. A more useful question for us is: What should we do to prepare for the last-day events that we find ourselves in?
Jesus said the last days will be like the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37), and these days may be starting now because a confirming sign has just happened. A team of explorers from Hong Kong has recently found remains of Noah’s Ark upon Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey, and taken proof photographs and samples. Carbon dating of these samples confirms Bible dating of Noah’s Flood—over four-and-half millennia ago. http://www.noahsarksearch.net/eng/
With this discovery, we are alerted to give serious attention to our Lord’s prophecies about the last days. Luke 21:34-36,
34 Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness
and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.
35 For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.
36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen,
and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
The Bible says clearly that God will protect some of his ‘elect remnant’ through this end-time tribulation. Matthew 24:21-22,
21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—
and never to be equaled again.
22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect
those days will be shortened.
There are clear Scriptures that some true believers will survive through the tribulation into the Kingdom. Zephaniah 2:3,
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands.
Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.
Revelation Twelve shows last-day events in symbol, wherein a “woman” (kingdom gospel, “our Mother,” see Galatians 4:26-27) is pictured on earth as a surviving remnant in a safe place of God’s protection. Satan, the dragon, tries to kill the woman, 16 “But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring —those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
(NOTE: the “desert” of verse 14 should be wilderness, signifying a place of refuge away from population.)
The Revelation plagues taken together will reduce the world population in the tribulation to one third, and Zechariah 13:8-9 confirms this:
8 “In the whole land (earth),” declares the Lord, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish;
yet one-third will be left in it.
9 This third I will bring into (through) the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold.
They will call on my name and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”
Based on this text, a world population of two-billion-plus will survive to the Kingdom at the return of Jesus and there will be a remnant of elect believers among these end-time survivors. This is God’s remnant.
Remnant Refuge 1
Joel’s prophecy will have a final and complete fulfillment in the end-time—leading up to the Lord’s return. Joel 2:28-32,
28 And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.
32 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said,
among the survivors whom the Lord calls.
(NOTE: In prophetic texts, all Israeli names have symbolic meaning for New Covenant spiritual believers.)
As believers in Jesus with New Covenant promises, our deliverance is in the Heavenly Zion (Rev. 14:1-5) and New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1-4), and clearly—some believers are predestined to survive the tribulation. 2 Kings 19:31, and Isaiah 37:32,
For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
The last-day remnant is international, and the appointed places of refuge (of Rev. 12:14) could be many. Jeremiah 23:3-4,
3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them
and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.
4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them,
and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.
(verses 5-6 continue about the return of Jesus as King)
The final ‘catching away’ described in 1 Thes. 4:13-18 involves resurrection because the saints of earlier generations have died. The “first resurrection” happens when Jesus comes back to set up his kingdom. Rev. 20:6,
Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.
The second death has no power over them,
but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
The resurrection of believers is a new body to fit the new world. Both heaven and earth are renewed, and the bodies of us all, both dead and living, will be changed to fit the new world—“we will all be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52,
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—
52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
The nature and glory of new world bodies will be determined by the inheritance appointed to each person. 2 Timothy 2:20-21,
20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay;
some for noble purposes and some for ignoble.
21 If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes,
made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
1 Corinthians 15:38,40,
38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but
the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.
Remnant Refuge 2