Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Invitation

Then the LORD said to Noah, "Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen [that] you [are] righteous before Me in this generation.
Genesis 7:1 NKJV

I am often left feeling somewhat embarrassed, if not a little dense, when I study a portion of scripture I have studied before and find there is so much that I missed the first time I read and studied it. Today is a perfect example of that and I want to take a little time and share with you what God showed me about this passage from Genesis, and the account of the flood of Noah.

We talked last week about the Days of Noah, and Jesus' reference to the rapture in the context of it being similar in many ways. As I read the story again God brought to mind something I had not noticed before, which if you think about it, should be very obvious at first glance. What is that? Well, until this last week I have always been under the impression, and some translations of the Bible state, that God told Noah to enter into the Ark. Yet if we look at this verse from Genesis we plainly see that God said “come”.

Now as I thought this through several things became rather logical to me which totally changed how I look at this account. First of all this is obviously an “invitation” and not a “command”. God never forced Noah into the Ark, rather He simply invited him to enter and it was up to Noah and his family to choose to do so. Just as no one is forced to choose to accept the gift of salvation offered by the sacrifice of God's Son for our sins, God never forced Noah and his family to accept the deliverance from the coming judgment God had planned for a sinful world.

Now if you follow that train of thought, the next thing that came to my mind was the invitation itself and the use of the phrase “come into”. Why? Well, think about the last time you used the phrase “come in” to someone else, and then tell me where you were? Inside right? So where was God when He invited Noah to come in? If you think about it that way, it's not only logical, but it makes perfect sense that God was inside the Ark when He made the invitation. I also can't help but wonder what Noah's reaction was when he heard God's voice come out from inside the Ark when he probably thought it was empty!

Lastly I began thinking about the invitation itself; “come”. When Jesus was teaching about the rapture and referenced the days of Noah, I wondered just how many “similarities” there might be? The most obvious to me was the fact that if you adopt the pre-tribulation view of the rapture, the Church will be taken into Heaven before that time of judgment begins. It also follows that Jesus will be giving the invitation to come to join Him in Heaven where He already is, just like God inviting Noah into the Ark.  Jesus also taught that salvation begins with a response to His invitation to accept the sacrifice He made for us by His death and resurrection. Quite often as well, Jesus used the word “come” as His invitation to become believers.

"Come to Me, all [you] who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 NKJV

Then He said to [them] all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Luke 9:23 NKJV

So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
Luke 18:22 NKJV

However, there is one more thing that I found very interesting as I was following the “invitation to come” in the life of Jesus. It is found in this passage in John.

On the last day, that great [day] of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
John 7:37 NKJV

Now by itself, you might see this as just another of Jesus' invitations to come, but the thing that jumped out at me was not the invitation, but the time that it was given. You see, we are told that Jesus gave this particular invitation to come at the last day of the feast. Considering as I do that everything we are told in scripture is there for a reason, it follows that God wants us to know exactly when this invitation was given. So if we look back at the beginning of the chapter we can find which feast was being celebrated when Jesus said these words.

Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.
John 7:2 NKJV

Now let's consider the following points;

Jesus told us that the rapture of the Church would be “like the days of Noah”. In the Days of Noah, God invited Noah and his family to “come in” to the Ark and escape the coming judgment. Jesus invited all to “come to Me” in order to escape God's future judgment on an unbelieving world, which many believe could happen at any moment. God made a point to tell us this occurred on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Last week we discussed the fact that the anniversary of the flood of Noah is less than a month away, and suggested that since God seems to repeat events on the same days that they occurred in the past, it seems possible that the future Tribulation could begin on the same day that God's past judgment of the world in Noah's day began. If so, then it's a given that the rapture of the Church, our “invitation” to come in, would occur before that date. Could the invitation by Jesus on the last day of Tabernacles be a clue as to when the Church might hear the invitation to come to the wedding?  There has been a lot of speculation lately that the rapture of the Church will happen on the last day of Tabernacles, and if you study the subject you would have to agree there are many logical reasons why that might occur.

If so, it might be wise for us to be aware of when the Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated and most of all when it ends. So in case you were wondering, depending on which calendar you wish to use (civil or lunar), this year's Feast of Tabernacles ends today or tomorrow. There has been a lot of very good scholarship done on the Feast of Tabernacles and how it might relate to the rapture of the Church, and I believe much of it is very accurate and worthy of study. Yet even though we as a body are anxious to hear that call, we should never forget that our purpose here is to share the “invitation to come” with those who may not have yet heard.

If you are reading this and have never made the decision to accept Jesus Christ into your heart and accept the free gift of eternal life He has offered you, I urge you to do so right now. You can do that by praying this prayer and accepting the gift of eternal life God has offered you by the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I believe You died for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life to you. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you for saving me. Amen.

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