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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, September 22, 2019

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end...” (Daniel 12:4; p. 919 Scofield).

“And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:8, 9; p. 920).

The prophet Daniel did not understand the details of the “time of the end.” We are plainly told, in verse 8, “I heard, but I understood not.” Then God told Daniel, “the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9).

Daniel understood the words of the prophecy. But he did not understand how the end-time events came about. “For the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9). He was given the words by inspiration. But he was not illuminated regarding their meaning. The illumination of the words would not occur “till the time of the end.” As we approach the end of this age, there will be increased insight in prophecy.

I clearly remember the first time I heard about the “rapture.” My teacher told us that the rapture would occur before the seven-year Tribulation period. I asked my teacher where the Bible taught that the rapture would occur before the Tribulation. He could not answer me. Thus, I have for decades questioned the “any-moment” rapture, before the seven-year Tribulation. Then I found out that the pre-tribulation rapture was first popularized by J. N. Darby, and that Darby “got” it from a fifteen-year-old girl named Margaret MacDonald, a charismatic who “dreamed” about it. For some reason J. N. Darby began to proclaim it. Later it was proclaimed by C. I. Scofield in the Scofield Study Bible. That is now the position of the majority of new-evangelicals.

Then Marvin J. Rosenthal wrote a book called The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church (Thomas Nelson, 1990). While I don’t agree with everything Rosenthal wrote, I think he opened the door for a better understanding of when the “rapture” will occur. Get the book and read it carefully before you criticize Rev. Rosenthal’s view. He teaches that the “rapture” will take place near the end of the Tribulation period, shortly before God pours out His wrath in the “Bowl-Judgments” of Revelation, chapter 16. That makes sense to me – far better sense than one based on a teenager’s dream!

Why is this important? I’ll tell you why. If the rapture comes before the seven-year Tribulation, Christians don’t have to do anything. Just go with the crowd for one hour on Sunday morning! You don’t have to win a soul. You don’t have to separate from the ungodly. It tends to produce Antinomianism (click here to read about it).

The title of this message is, “A Missing Piece of Bible Prophecy Illuminated for us Today.” What is that “missing piece?” It is “The Apostasy.” I have been studying Bible prophecy for more than 50 years. It strikes me as odd that such an important subject as “the Apostasy” has been neglected so much in our time. I have on my desk three major books on Bible prophecy – covering all the main points of the subject. They were written by good and godly men, men who can be trusted on this important subject. But not one of them has a section on “the Apostasy.” And “the Apostasy” is a pivotal point for us today.

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Please turn to II Thessalonians 2:3. Here it is in the King James,

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (II Thessalonians 2:3; p. 1272 Scofield).

Here the verse is, as it is translated in the New American Standard Bible,

“Let no one deceive you, for it [the Day of the Lord] will not come until the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction” (II Thessalonians 2:3, NASB).

“The Apostasy” translates “hē apostasia.” It is also translated “falling away” in the King James.

Dr. W. A. Criswell earned a Ph.D. in Greek exegesis from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Criswell always paid very close attention to the Greek words of the New Testament. Dr. Criswell said, “Before the day of the Lord, there will be a marked falling away of professed believers. The use of the article [hē] indicates that Paul has in mind a specific apostasy.” Knowing this, we learn two important things from II Thessalonians 2:3,

1.  Before the Day of the Lord, this apostasy will take place.
2.  Before the Day of the Lord, the Antichrist will be “revealed.”

Both of these things will happen before the Day of the Lord, which is the Tribulation and the time of God’s wrath, at the end of this age. The pre-Tribulation Rapture theory has all the Christians gone already. That is why “the apostasy” is not preached to evangelical Christians today, and that is why there is no section on “the apostasy” in most books on Bible prophecy today!

But if Marvin Rosenthal is right, and he is right, then we are in the beginning of “the Apostasy” right now! How does this affect Christians today? In the “Third World” they are more deeply persecuted than at any time previously. And in the “Western world” we are under great assaults from Satan and his demons. The prophet Daniel was told these things, but he said, “I understood not.” Then God said to Daniel, “The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:8, 9).

John S. Dickerson has written a fairly good book called, The Great Evangelical Recession (Baker Books, 2013). Dickerson quotes Gabe Lyons, who said,

“This moment is unlike any other time in history. Its uniqueness demands an original response. If we fail to offer a different way forward, we [will lose] entire generations to apathy and cynicism...our friends will continue to drift away [to] other forms of worship...less time, but more appealing (The Next Christians, Doubleday, 2010, p. 11; emphasis mine).

The jacket cover of Dickerson’s book says,

“The American church is...shrinking. Young Christians are fleeing. Our donations are drying up... The culture of the United States is quickly turning hostile and antagonistic. How can we avoid a devastating collapse?”

While I love the first half of John Dickerson’s book, I disagree with much of the last section, on how to prepare.

To prepare we must realize that we are, right now, in the beginning of “the Apostasy.” If we think we will be raptured before there is more trouble, we will not be prepared for what lies ahead.

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was an evangelical minister who spent 14 years in Communist prisons, tortured for Christ in Romania. His experiences in prison were far beyond any suffering Christians in America have known. Rats ate his feet at night in his cell. He was beaten. Red-hot pokers made horrible gashes all over his neck and body. He was starved almost to the point of death. And these horrors went on for 14 years. This caused Pastor Wurmbrand to develop what he called “sufferology,” the doctrine of suffering. After he came to America (by a miracle) he taught the need to prepare for suffering in many churches – including our own church. Pastor Wurmbrand taught that Christians in America should prepare for suffering. He said, “We have to make the preparation now, before we are imprisoned. In prison you lose everything...nothing of what makes life pleasant remains. Nobody resists who has not renounced the pleasures of life beforehand” (quoted by John Piper in Let the Nations Be Glad, Baker Books, 2020, p. 10).

Dr. Paul Nyquist said, “Get ready. As cultural changes sweep our country, we’ll soon be challenged to live out what the Bible says about...responding to persecution” (J. Paul Nyquist, Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture, Moody Publishers, 2015, p. 14).


Jesus said,

“But as the days of [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that [Noah] entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39; p. 1034).

Many evangelicals think that the days of Noah were a time of great suffering. But there is more. The people in Noah’s day were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark” (Matthew 24:38).

That is exactly what is happening in America and the Western world! In the “Third World” there is much persecution. In places like China there is also real revival. But not in America and the West! Here people are concerned with materialism. They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. These seem to be normal things to do. But there is more. This is the center of their lives – “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” They thought those were the things to live for! The center of their lives was not God! It was the material things of life that were most important to them!


Jesus said,

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:14-19; p. 1334).

This is a picture of the apostate church. It is a church that is lukewarm, “and neither cold nor hot” (Revelation 3:16). It is a church full of unconverted people (Revelation 3:17). It was a church that refused to repent (Revelation 3:19).

We have experienced two major church splits in the last 40 years. Both times it was those who wanted to be “lukewarm” who left us. Both of them became “lukewarm” about soul-winning. Both of them rejected serious Christianity. The thing that drew people away from us, to them, was that we were “too strict” and they would have more “fun” if they left us. But both times they failed to have an “on fire” church. They both found out (too late) that their own people could not be kept in a lukewarm environment. They both failed in the end. Jesus said, “I will spue [vomit] thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). They did not want to separate from the world, so they became infiltrated by the world, the flesh, and the Devil. They did not want to be militant Fundamentalists, so they quickly became lukewarm new-evangelicals! Spiritually they quickly became only half alive – or worse!

Ask yourself. If the people who left with Chan had been in China, would they have stayed in the Underground Church, or would they have gone to the Communist-supported “Three-Self Church”? You know the answer! You already know the answer! They would have literally run to the Communist church. Why? Because they didn’t want real Christianity. Their mouths were hungry for a soft, new-evangelical “church.” And that is what the apostate Chan gave them! A soft, new-evangelical “church.” You know it! You already know it!!! I’m not telling you anything new!!!

I will end this message with a description of apostasy in the new-evangelical churches of our day,

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Timothy 3:1-5; pp. 1280, 1281).

“Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:7; p. 1281).

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12; p. 1281).

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (II Timothy 4:2-5; p. 1281).

“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (II Timothy 4:10; p. 1281).

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17, 18; p. 1210).

My dear brothers and sisters, the great prophet Daniel did not fully understand the things I have preached to you tonight. But thank God that He raised up a missionary named Marvin Rosenthal to speak out and give us “a new understanding of the Rapture. The Tribulation and the Second Coming” of Jesus (jacket cover of The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church, Thomas Nelson, 1990).

Yes, we are now in the beginning stage of the great end-time apostasy. Yes, we will have to go through persecution, like the people in China have, like Richard Wurmbrand did, like people throughout the “Third World” have. But those who love Christ will triumph in the end, for Jesus said,

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:10-13; p. 1334).

Please stand and sing stanzas 1, 2 and 4 of “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?”

Am I a soldier of the cross, A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause, Or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried to the skies On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize, And sailed through bloody seas?

Sure I must fight, if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord;
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word.
    (“Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).