By Paul Benson
A New Heavens
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. Isaiah 65:17
The Bible clearly teaches God is going to create new heavens. In light of this have you ever wondered what brings about the end of the current heavens? It is an event we see prophesied throughout the Old and New Testament. There are nearly twenty passages of Scripture which refer to the demise of the heavens / stars which now are. That’s a lot of Scripture devoted to a topic we rarely hear preached on. (Perhaps because it causes conflict with their end-time teachings?)
Surprisingly, according to God’s Word this event must transpire BEFORE what many refer to as ‘the Rapture’ (but the Bible calls the Resurrection of the Dead at the last day). Let’s lay some Scriptural foundation as to the fact this demise of the heavens happens in the events leading up to the Return of Jesus Christ to this planet.
Signs In The Heavens
Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. 16 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake:… Joel 3:13-16
In this passage from Joel the celestial event we are discussing is tied to the ‘harvest’ of mankind, and it says the day of the Lord is now near. Although this passage in Joel is somewhat unclear that what is being referred to is the end of the heavens / stars, when we look to other prophetic passages on this subject we receive more relevant information which can lead us to no other conclusion.
Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. 10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. Isaiah 13:9-10
For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. 3 Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. 4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. Isaiah 34:2-4
I find it remarkable that we notice such similarity between the wording of Isaiah 34 and what we now read in Revelation 6:
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Revelation 6:12-14
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Isaiah 51:6
From these passages above, *and others, it becomes quite clear that the heavens as we know them will cease to exist as a result of the unfolding scenario of Christ’s Return and God’s judgment of sinful mankind. This is a mind boggling concept. But how does this all relate to the timing of the Resurrection of the Dead? Let’s look at some more of these prophetic passages:
This Event In The Heavens Precedes The Resurrection
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. 4 he shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. 5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. 6 And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah. Psalms 50:3-6
These verses state that when the Lord returns it shall be very tempestuous and a fire shall be devouring before Him. This sounds a lot like the words of Paul to the Thessalonians: when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God… (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).
Now notice that at this time Jesus calls to Heaven and earth to gather his Saints unto Him. This is the Catching Away at the Resurrection! The following is another one of the many end-time verses you will never hear a ‘rapture theory’ promoter quoting. How could they; the truths found in passages like this one blow their myth of escapism clean out of the water!
But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? 11 As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: 12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. Job 14:10-12
Kind of sinks ‘the good ship Rapture’ doesn’t it? In this prophetic passage above we are informed that this Resurrection will not happen till the heavens be no more! This does not happen until after the latter part of the Great Tribulation. And if we look at Jesus’ discourse on the end-times in the Gospels we receive the very same order of events:
Stars Fall From Heavens Right After Tribulation
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And 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. Matthew 24:29-31
But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. 26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Mark 13:24-27
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:25-28
The events in the heavens leading up to, and following, the Return of Jesus are so indescribably tremendous and horrifying people will actually be dropping dead from fright seeing these things come to pass! Who knows what will transpire when these words of Isaiah 13:13 are fulfilled: Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.
Will the earth remove out of her normal orbit? That would definitely get the sea and the waves roaring (verse above). Just how great is this God: Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars? (Job 9:6-7) Would it be any harder for Him to remove the stars than it was for Him to speak them into existence? Probably not.
Vanishing Heavens A Lot To Grasp
The reality of the stars no longer being in the sky is not something I can grasp with my finite mind. It is one of those things you have to receive by faith because the Word says it’s so; like the fact our earthly body will be transformed in a heartbeat into a heavenly glorified eternal body which will never get sick, age, or die. I can’t totally grasp that concept either; but if God said it I choose to accept it as a fact.
Although we cannot say for sure just what all will happen in the final days of this world as we know it, we can hang on to what we are unmistakably taught through the Scriptures. And as we have clearly seen here the Resurrection of the Dead and the catching away of the Church can’t happen until after this unspeakable event has transpired in the heavens. Once again we see that the doctrine of a ‘Rapture’ causing the Church to disappear before the time of the Great Tribulation is in such conflict with the truth of God’s Word that it just is NOT a possibility! Let’s get it right! The teaching of a pre-trib rapture is a myth, and nothing more.
There is no place in the Bible where it says the Church will instantly ‘vanish’, only that we shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye. And no where does it say the Church will leave the earth at the Resurrection. We will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air right here on planet Earth at his Return; after the signs in the heavens transpire!
*See also: Joel 2:10-11, Jeremiah 4:27-28, Joel 2:30-31, and 2 Peter 3:5-13