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The Twenty-Four Elders
of Revelation 4
They do not prove a Pre-Tribulation Rapture
By Ken Raggio
Many people believe the "rapture" of the Church is depicted in Revelation 4 because the 24 elders are in heaven.
Therefore, they say, all other prophetic events must come AFTER the rapture - the 7 Seals, 7 Trumpets, Antichrist, False Prophet, Armageddon, etc.
This is an extremely shallow observation. The twenty-four elders are ALREADY in Heaven! And the rapture (at this writing) has not yet taken place!
Therefore, we cannot use this argument to prove that the seven seals, seven trumpets, antichrist, tribulation, et cetera must happen AFTER the rapture simply because they all follow the fourth chapter of Revelation.
Here is the disputed text in point from Revelation 4:
"And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold."
"The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne."
It is NOT necessary for the rapture to have taken place for the 24 elders to be in heaven.
The Bible teaches that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Since Jesus is NOW at the right hand of the throne in heaven (Hebrews 8:1, Revelation 3:21), then for the departed saints to be with Him, they must also NOW be in heaven, dwelling in heavenly bodies, while their physical bodies remain in the grave on earth.
Two chapters later, in Revelation 6:11, we see saints in heaven, under the altar, asking God when their blood is going to be avenged. White robes were given to them and they were told to wait a little while until their brethren should be killed like they were.
Therefore, as of Revelation 6, there are still brethren/saints on the earth. These are saints that have NOT been raptured.
We know that all the ANCIENT saints are in heaven right now waiting for the last generation of Christians to finish their work. They have HEAVENLY bodies and are wearing white robes while their EARTHLY bodies remain in the grave.
In fact, the 24 elders are also in heaven RIGHT NOW, yet the rapture has not yet taken place.
Who are the 24 elders? Some think they are the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. That MAY be true. But there may be a better explanation.
I Chronicles 24 gives the specific NAMES of 24 priests, all descendants of Aaron the High Priest, who were established to govern the House of God in David's time.
King David made all the plans for the Temple that his son, Solomon would build. Along with all the building materials, David furnished the organizational structure according to Moses' teaching.
David called for all the remaining descendants of Aaron the High Priest to come forth and fulfill the role of Chief Priests in the new Temple. Aaron had four sons, but two of them died childless (Nadab and Abihu). Of his two other sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, David found two remaining descendants that could be certified. They were Zadok of Eleazar and Ahimelech of Ithamar.
David found 16 sons of Zadok and 8 sons of Ahimelech - all totaling TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS. These twenty-four elders were raised up to represent the house of Aaron the High Priest as governors of the sanctuary and house of God. Their purpose was to reestablish the ministry of the High Priest.
So when John saw twenty-four elders around the throne in heaven, they may actually be the twenty-four elders of the Temple priesthood established by David.
However, regardless of who they are, they are PRESENTLY sitting around the throne of the Lamb Jesus Christ, and it should be assumed that they are giving their power and glory and honor to the True High Priest, Jesus Christ who sits before them.
How did they get into their places in heaven? They arrived there WITHOUT the rapture having taken place.
When Jesus Christ died at Calvary, the scripture teaches that He led captivity captive. Jesus freed the souls of the Old Testament saints from the grave. He told the thief on the cross, "this day you will be with me in paradise." Since Calvary, all saints go to heaven immediately when they die.
When saints die, their OLD bodies remain in the grave.
I suppose that if we were never intended to come back to earth, we would have no need to have our physical bodies resurrected. But since Jesus is coming BACK to earth for the Battle of Armageddon and the earthly Millennial Kingdom, our physical bodies will be resurrected in THAT DAY. We will unite with Christ for the Battle of Armageddon, and also the marriage supper of the Lamb, followed by a 1000-year rule and reign with Jesus on earth.
Be careful to understand the difference between heavenly bodies and earthly bodies: Every believer has two bodies - a terrestrial (earthly) and a celestial (heavenly).
Paul said in I Corinthians 15: 35-38,
"But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body."
These verses explain that our PRESENT bodies are NOT going to be resurrected. A NEW glorified physical body will be raised up at the first resurrection and rapture. (I Thessalonians 4:16-17, Revelation 20:4-5)
We are not going to heaven with our old body anyway. It will NEVER go there. 1 Corinthians 15:50 says, "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."
Anyone who goes to heaven will have to go in a different body than the one he lived in on earth. Back to I Corinthians 15:42-44:
"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."
A seed goes INTO the ground in one form. It comes OUT of the ground in another form.
This principle is true in water baptism. Water baptism is a burial. Romans 6:4 says, "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
When our OLD BODY is SOWN IN WATER BAPTISM in the name of Jesus, the new heavenly body comes out of the water.
We are "buried with him in BAPTISM, WHEREIN also ye are RISEN with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead," (Colossians 2:12).
I believe our heavenly body is born/created when we are baptized. (Jesus said we must be BORN of the water and of the Spirit. He also said that if we are NOT born of the water and the Spirit, we cannot see the Kingdom of God. See John 3:3-5).
That is the only way we can go to heaven when we die. Our old body will not yet be resurrected from the dead. We must have our NEW heavenly body! Otherwise we would be disembodied spirits and could not wear the white robes of Revelation 6. This may sound like so much gobbledy-gook to you, but it is really a very important concept! If you are never BORN again, you will NOT have a heavenly body!
In the process of the new birth, our immortal souls are "clothed upon" with a heavenly body. "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven."
In the end, at the last trumpet, the physical bodies of all the dead in Christ will rise from the grave, and we which are alive and remain will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord at His coming. The physical body will be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed," (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). If you want to know when the LAST TRUMP is, read my article entitled The Seven Trumpets.
Our heavenly bodies will be reunited with an earthly physical body that was miraculously changed to immortal, and we will then able to attend the Second Coming of Jesus Christ back to earth at the Battle of Armageddon, and spend the subsequent 1,000 years as immortals on earth.
Once we understand these concepts, there is no remaining "proof" that the 24 elders proves the rapture takes place before all the other fulfillments of Revelation 5-21.
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