The Jabbok River
"Hello there Jacob."
A voice behind you is speaking directly to you in the failing light.

"Why are you addressing me as Jacob?" you reply.
"That is not my name."

"I think it is." the voice replies.
"And soon you may understand why".

"Do you hear the sound of the rippling waters?
Look behind you.
It is the Jabbok River.
And here you are at the crossing.
You can procrastinate no longer.
You have finally come to your time of crisis.
Here you will enter into a new realm.
You will come to understand your true calling and your true destiny.
Your old enemy, Esau, awaits you on the other side.
He is across the river and lurking out there somewhere .
Oh yes. You will be meeting him again after all this time.
There is some unfinished business that you will need to attend to.
And you are going to be called to account."

"What's that got to do with me?" you ask.
"I wasn't involved in those ancient dealings.
God help me! Those things happened 4,000 years ago!"

"Oh but you are involved." the Voice answers.
"And the burden of the family of Abraham is now resting upon you.
Right back at your beginning you cheated him.
You swindled him out of his firstborn right to the blessing and the birthright.
And it seems that things haven't changed very much, Jacob.
You continue in your long history of shady dealings."

You are a bit startled at this.
The rock beneath your feet moves and you lose your footing for a moment.
You take a step backwards.

The Messenger continues.
"This is true isn't it, Jacob?
And now the end of the age is upon you.
You think you are ready to come and cash in on your inheritance.
But something is missing. Isn't it Jacob?
You have been caught short.
Because it seems that you may have forgotten something.
Something very important."

"Forgotten something?" you ask.
"What are you talking about?!
I am saved and 'born again'.
I am personally ready to meet my Maker.
What else is there!"

The Angel fixes you in a steady gaze.
"You have forgotten something, Jacob.
You have overlooked certain weighty and important matters.
Matters that relate to the Eternal Covenant for all your people.
This is the Covenant to which you lay claim.
The wider issues involved here are your crucial responsibility.
You have been charged to keep the Covenant with all diligence and integrity."

"What responsibility? What Covenant?" you ask. "I am not Israel!"
I am part of the Church! We have a special separate deal!"
As far as I am concerned the Covenant is my own personal business with God!
I'm a born again Christian!
The deal I made with God is signed sealed and delivered!
That is all there is to the Covenant as far as I am concerned!
My own personal salvation is all there is to this deal!"

The Angel is coming closer. He raises one eyebrow and asks,
"Are you sure about that Jacob?"

"Of course I'm sure!" you respond.
"Jesus Christ did it all! He did it at the cross!
The contract for my salvation has been finalized!
There is nothing more for me to do!
At the end of my life I just get raptured or resurrected into glory.
That's it! Nothing else is involved for us in the Church.

Now I've heard some say that our witness will be called for at the end.
But I don't buy it! I am not appointed to wrath!
Those last seven years of tribulations are God's wrath.
So I won't be there!"

Now the Angel is at your side and pushing you sideways.
"Is that right, Jacob?
Who then, pray tell, will be there?
Who will be God's representatives on earth as history comes to its conclusion?
Who will be bringing the climactic witness at the end of the age?

The Angel is in your face now.
And His eyes are a blazing fire. You avoid his gaze as you answer.
"The Jews can finish the job!"

You feel the force of the attack and find yourself falling backwards.
With both arms pinned you land on your side.
The Angel is speaking in your ear now.

"So you think then that tribulations to come are God's wrath, do you?
That is a bit of a twist isn't it Jacob?
But then your have been going down some twisted pathways haven't you?
OK let me get this straight.
You say that the tribulation at the end is God's wrath.
You also say that you are not appointed to wrath.
Then you say the tribulation = the wrath of God.
Then you use that shifty and false bit of reasoning to say that you can't be in the tribulation.
But wait. That's not all you are saying.
You also say that the Jews will be there in the tribulation.
Since you identify the tribulation with God's wrath tell me this, Jacob.
Are you saying that the Jews are appointed to wrath?
Is that what you are saying?"

You refuse to answer. You struggle in the grip of the Angel.

"Let me ask you again, Jacob.
Are you saying that the Jews are appointed to wrath?!

You wrench yourself free of the hammerlock and regain your feet.
Then you reply boldly,
"I'll not be seeing any sorrows or trials. (Rev.18:7)
No sir! I have my ticket to heaven. Its right here in my wallet.
And if the tribulation comes I'm outta here!"
If the Jews don't make the train to glory well that's their problem.
But I have my ticket!
That's it for my side of the bargain!
There are no further requirements of me.
The eternal covenant is mine!
I have it in my hands!
It's a done deal!
Do you hear me?"

You are surprised at how angry you have become.
You slow your breathing down and look around.
The Angel is closing in on you again.
You can sense His presence.
He begins to speak again in the failing light.

"You are truly a heel, Jacob.
You claim all the blessings of the Eternal Covenant.
But you will not realize and attain this great gift you have been given.
Not until you are prepared take your to stand in witness to that covenant.

Here you are, Jacob. You say you are ready to enter into the land of promise.
But are you?
Your brother Esau will be coming to see you soon.
He thinks that you've got a nerve even daring to show up here.
He says you are a trickster and a manipulator.
Well are you?

The time is late. The new millennium dawns.
And here you are.
What are you going to do?
Will you run from God?
Or will you face what you must face?"

"I am here." you say.
"And here I will make my stand."

"Very well" says the Angel.

"Prepare yourself!
Because here at this river, and at this crossing you will struggle with your better Angel.
And you will wrestle all through the night.
This will be your dark night of the soul.
Right here you will face your worst fears.
And yet beyond this river are your greatest glories."

Round # 1

Someone is now closing in on you in the failing light.
A question is shouted at you. And it echoes across the river.

"Why are you here?
Why don't you run off?"

"I won't run off!", you say.

"Very well", says the Angel.
"Be on your guard!
Because this will be an awesome night, Jacob.
It will be a night of wrestling.
The cloud of witnesses in heaven and on earth will see it all unfold.
When the dawn breaks everything will be revealed.
And heaven and earth will know for certain just who you really are."

In the gathering darkness the murmuring river begins to speak,
And the Word of God issues out across the waters.

"......And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands and they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (But rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished). This is the first resurrection."
- Revelation chapter 20:4-5.

The Angel is before you speaking quietly and directly.
"Jacob, there is an important date out there in the not too distant future.
Let us focus on the 'first resurrection'.
The Word of God is telling you of the future resurrection of the righteous saints.
They will come out of their graves at the end of this age."

"Well yes." You reply.
But what has that got to do with me?
I'm booked on the rapture train.
My departure time is imminent.
At any time I could be "outta here".
And the resurrection is a broad and complex subject.
Why it even extends back to the resurrection of Jesus 2,000 years ago."

Your opponent edges closer.
"You are a shifty character, Jacob.
You are the people of God. You are His witnesses.
And you have a date with your God out there in your future.
Why do you insist on avoiding this subject?
The scriptures here are speaking about a future epic event.
It will break into history at a certain moment in time.
The Bible calls it the "first resurrection".
It is a climactic single point in time and holy history.
It is the resurrection of the righteous dead."

You are somewhat taken aback but manage to reply,
"Well the resurrection is a long and complicated business.
There are lots of theological angles on it.
And we mustn't be too dogmatic and draw any conclusions on the resurrection because it is a broad subject.
Jesus was resurrected 2,000 years ago.
So we can stretch this resurrection thing back 2,000 years or so.
We can't get too specific about this future resurrection day. Resurrection is a boad subject.
It is a "theological category".
So let's lump this harvest resurrection in with the firstfruits resurrection of Jesus and ......."

Lunging forward the Angel is suddenly in your face.
"No, Jacob! Do not manipulate and twist God's word!"
You are a shifty character, Jacob!
Do not blend and confuse the dates of the past firstfruit resurrection of Jesus and future harvest resurrection of His saints!"

With that you find your feet swept out from beneath you. Now you are on your back and looking up at the stars.

The Angel is whispering in your ear.

"The firstfruits resurrection of your Saviour and the harvest resurrection of those who are His at His coming are two distinct dates in time. They are two distinct dates in time, Jacob!"

You twist and strain but to no avail.
The Angel pins your arms and presses you into the pebbles as he continues.
"The firstfruits resurrection of Christ, who is the Head of the elect, occurred on a special date in the past. Jesus rose from the dead on the Feast of Firstfruits. It was three days and three nights after His crucifixion. The firstfruits resurrection of your Redeemer occurred on a special date in time nearly two millennia ago. It was on the 17th day of the Nisan moon of that year. That was a special day was it not?"

"Yes it was." you answer.

"Well the coming future harvest resurrection of His Body will be a special day too.
Your Bible tells you that those who are Christ's will be resurrected at His coming. (1Cor.15:23)
This will also occur on a special date in time.
You cannot wriggle out of this one, Jacob.
Your Master said that his future harvest resurrection would be at the end of this age. (Mat.13:39).
This harvest resurrection of "those that are Christ's" (1Cor.15:23) will occur on the Day He returns.
Yes the harvest gathering of the company of Christ, those living and those who were dead, will all arise together at His second coming. (1Thes. 4:17) This will also be a special date on the calendar of earthly time. Here is the Word of God on the order of the first resurrection. Listen carefully, Jacob. Your scriptures are telling you of two separate and special events."

"But each one in his own order,

Christ the firstfruits,

then those that are Christ's at His coming".

You are squirming but the Angel has you in a scissor lock and is speaking in your left ear. "The future harvest resurrection of 'those that are Christ's at His coming' will be a climactic date just as the firstfruits resurrection was. The resurrection will occur on that glorious future day of His second coming! (1Cor.15:23). The firstfruits resurrection of Jesus, the Head, was a special day. The harvest resurrection of His Body will also be a climactic special single future date on the calendar."

Behold He comes, in ONE moment,

Behold He comes, in ONE twinkling of an eye,

Behold He comes, in ONE Last Trumpet.-1Cor.15:52

Round # 2

You are back on your feet and dusting yourself off.
Facing the Angel you protest saying,
"Well there could be another earlier resurrection to match up with our nice early rapture. Couldn't there be an earlier resurrection 7 years before the second coming and 7 years before the 'last day'?".

The Angel has you by both arms. Pulling you down he then catapaults you into the air. You come down with a splash in the river. The Angel has an armlock around your neck. Tightening his grip he says,

"You are a shifty piece of work, Jacob! Listen to your God for a change!

"This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day."
-John 6:39

"And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
-John 6:40

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. -John 6:44

6:54 "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. -John 6:54

"Four times in one chapter Jesus said that He would raise His people up at the last day".

The Angel continues.
"John saw one and only one resurrection of the righteous from out of this age. And this endtime harvest of Rev 20:4-6 is clearly stated to be the first resurrection. There can be no other resurrection before it. None! This is it. As Martha correctly said, this resurrection of the righteous dead comes on the 'last day' of this age. -John 11:24.
Not one minute earlier!"

Round # 3

As you struggle there in the night, the words of Rev.20:4-6 come floating out before you.

20:4 "And I saw thrones, and they sat on them,
and judgment was committed to them.
Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands.
And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

20:5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.
This is the first resurrection.

20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years."

In the darkness you find that the Angel has locked his arms around your chest. It is becoming difficult for you to breathe.
He is speaking to you again. But loudly this time.

"Look Jacob! There are martyrs in the harvest day company of resurrected saints. They include TRIBULATION MARTYRS.

"Wake up, Jacob! You are drifting off!"

Yes, I understand. The timing here is definitely later than you would like".

"I refuse to look at it." you say.

"Still full of guile, aren't you, Jacob", says the Angel.
"Okay, now calm down. Take a deep breath and look. You can't struggle against Me forever. And you cannot resist my Eternal Word!"

Round #4

You hear a quiet voice speaking to you.

"Now let us be reasonable .
Let us handle the word of God honestly and responsibly.
Face the truth here, Jacob!
And answer this question.

When is the harvest day of the FIRST RESURRECTION?"

You answer, "Well if the first resurrection harvest includes tribulation martyrs like we see in Rev. 20 then it stands to reason that the harvest day of the FIRST RESURRECTION must be AFTER the Great Tribulation."

Says the Angel, sighing and releasing his grip a little,
"You are precisely correct.

If martyrs of the Great Tribulation period are in the resurrection company for the departure to glory then it must be a very late departure indeed. You had not seen that before had you? I had to force you to see it. I had to knock you out of your trance. Only then did you see this future harvest resurrection date clearly.
Now take a one minute rest."

Round # 5

Again your Beloved Enemy is facing you out in the darkness.
Now you are right at the edge of the Jabbok River.
You hear His voice in your right ear.

"OK Jacob!
Remember what your dear Apostle Paul said to you in 1Thes. 4:15-17?
He said that,

"the dead in Christ shall rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air".

The scripture of Truth shows that the rapture follows immediately on the heels of the harvest resurrection of the righteous dead.
So the truth is that there is not in fact an isolated rapture as you have been told. This message from God in 1Thessalonians shows an all inclusive Resurrection-Rapture of the quick and the dead. This is just as is stated in your Apostle's Creed.
Christ will indeed "come to judge the quick, (or the living), and the dead". So the endtime harvest resurrection and the rapture are combined.
The two are inseparable."

You out there! Are you with us?

Good work!

Hold that thought. Remember now.
The Bible here clearly teaches of a combined Resurrection-Rapture at the end of this age.

"The dead in Christ are raised first,
then we who are alive and remain shall be "caught up"/(raptured)...."
- 1Thes.4:16-17.

Round # 6

When is the Resurrection-Rapture, Jacob?

You are struggling with the Truth here. Pushing against the Angel you twist around and try to break free. Now you are protesting with,
"I thought that there was an earlier rapture just for us special church people in the west. We are "Christian" nations under God! We used to be called "Christendom"! We are special! We have our ticket to heaven. Jesus said, "it is finished!" It's a done deal! And we know how to name and claim what we want from God by quoting "the word". And we are not supposed to be subject to any affliction or wrath because we.................."

"Oh you are a grasper and a grabber, just as you were named, Jacob! Why did you think or believe that your afflictions, tribulations which you brought upon yourself, is God's wrath? I am dealing with you here because of God's love! The wrath of God is reserved for His enemies and the enemies of those who are under His covenant.
But you cannot wriggle out of your destiny by twisting God's Word, Jacob. The things that you personally have loosed by covenanting with the fallen powers of this evil world have now come upon you! Did not Moses warn you that in the last days you would enter into this tribulation?! -Deut.4:29-31

OK, now Jacob. I am here to help you. You will indeed come into your destiny.
And you will begin by submitting to the real Word of God.
You will do it right now!
And at this place!"

And with that the Angel pins both your arms to the ground. In the darkness you hear the river gurgling just inches from your ear.
"Answer the question!", He demands.
"Now when is the rapture in relation to the harvest resurrection?"

You remain silent but now the Angel has slipped you into a hammerlock. You have lost your room to maneuver.
He says, "The answer is clearly laid out in 1Thessalonians chapter 4 and verses 15-18. It is right there in your Holy Bible, Jacob!"

"Let me help you here. Your Apostle Paul tells of the "catching up" or "rapture".
The rapture or "catching away" is of the living righteous, the glorification of those future saints who are alive at the time of your Redeemer's second coming. The sequence of events is crystal clear from the verses here.

The scriptures read,

"....we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord
will by no means precede, (or go ahead of), those who are asleep, (the righteous dead).
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,
with the voice of an archangel,
and trumpet of God.
And the dead in Christ will rise first,
THEN we who are alive and remain
shall be caught up with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air,

and thus shall we always be with the Lord".-1Thes 4:15-17 NKJV/GWF Expanded.

"Paul says that the living saints would in no way precede, (in rapture), those saints who had previously died. He said that there would be the resurrection first.............

And then the rapture! Your Apostle Paul says here that he got this information by the very words of the Lord Jesus Himself! If this is so then hadn't you best listen, Jacob?"

Round # 7

Unconvinced and pushing the Angel aside you rise up again to say,
"And where might those words of Jesus be in scripture? There are no such words!"

You find yourself caught in a scissor lock now. You are forced on your back and grimacing in pain. Now you are looking up at the stars and fuming in anger.

The angel speaks in your ear.
"The words of your Lord are in the Olivet Discourse", says the Angel. "Disciples such as you should know this scripture by heart. You should understand what you are being told intimately! Did not the disciples ask Jesus for THE SIGN, of His coming, Jacob? And when it was clearly told you when THE SIGN would come you turned a deaf ear to what you were being told!"

You gasp as the lock holds you face to face with the Angel.
you stagger backwards into the river, landing on your back with a 'splash'.
"Ah, Jacob you shifty trickster!" He says.
"Listen to what your Saviour was telling you!"

In Matt. 24.

29. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.

30. Then THE SIGN of the Son of Man will appear in heaven , and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

31. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His Elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to another."

"Jesus said quite clearly and in unmistakeable terms that it would be

"AFTER the tribulation of those days"

that THE SIGN of the returning Christ would be seen in heaven.

Then, and only then, would He gather his elect. Jesus spoke of one single, glorious, all encompassing harvest! This will include Jew and non-Jew, the living(quick) and the dead. He gathers His elect from the four winds of heaven.

When is this harvest to occur? Your coming Messiah said that He would gather His elect (singular). He clearly and unmistakeably says that this harvest ingathering would be AFTER the Tribulation of those days. -vs.29"

Round # 8

Now the Angel is in your face with another question.
"Can the rapture can occur years before that first resurrection harvest, Jacob?

Ask yourself if the rapture can be rightfully plucked out of its post tribulation, time slot and be pulled back and pasted onto the timeline of holy history years before its appointed time at the harvest day of the first resurrection.
Ask yourself why the rapture was ripped out of its resurrection context.
You were called to "rightly divide the Word of Truth". -2Tim.2:15
What scriptureless religious sleight of hand is this that you have done?
And what nefarious purpose did this religious scheming serve?
Can the rapture "jump the gun" prematurely against the clear teaching of the scriptures?
Why have you not placed it faithfully where it belongs, Jacob?
Why is the rapture not following in the train of the First Resurrection harvest as the holy scriptures in 1Thes 4:15-17 clearly stipulates?

And while you are at it ask yourself this question.

Short of twisting the scriptures of Truth into a profane and confusing tangle of disinformation is there any legitimate way at all that the rapture can occur before the Great Tribulation"?

Wrestling with the Angel, you must answer?

"I don't want to discuss this!
My God! I must get out of this somehow!" you say.

The Angel replies,
"You are a crafty trickster, Jacob! You are truly the "heel" your name implies!
How can you even hope to manipulate your way out of this?
The promised land is closeby.
We are at the Jabbok River!
This is where all your foolishness must end!
Do you dare come here unwilling to face yourself and your God?
You know you must stand and deal with Him here."

The dawn is breaking and the first light reveals the broken wrestler still embracing his God and his destiny. Tied down in the hammerlock he is unable to rise.

Face in the pebbles at the river's edge, you finally answer.

And what is your answer?

Paul says (vs.15) he had it on the authority of Jesus own words (Mat.24) that those who were alive at the coming of the Lord would IN NO WAY precede into His presence those righteous who had previously "fallen asleep".
The rapture would NOT come before the harvest resurrection.
By this he meant that the rapture would NOT come before the harvest resurrection. He means that the rapture would NOT precede the harvest resurrection!

Has that religious hypnotic spell, that gnostic fog, and your SELFISM been broken, Jacob?

Your answer to these next two questions will tell who you are.

Round # 9

Answer these two questions.
1. When is the rapture?
2. What is your name?

"Israel" means contender and prince with God?-Gen.32:22-28. Will you wrestle on with your God in all of this, Jacob?
Will you arrive finally at your destination?
And in doing so will you also discover your new identity in the indwelling Prince of Israel?
Or will you leave this River and turn back into the wilderness?
You won't be forced to stay. Will you rise up and leave Him at this river here?
And will you "fall away" when the going gets rough?

How will you answer?

If you do wrestle on with your God and stay on with Him your character will indeed change.
It will be transformed in your tribulations and in that very struggling and wrestling process.
And your name will change as well.
You will become as Nathaniel, an Israelite indeed! One in whom there is no guile. -John 1:47
You will eventually be found resting under the fig tree of sweetness and good fruit. And in the day of Messiah's peace He will smile and greet you with cheer and recognition just as He did Nathaniel.

Turning away from the dust you look up.
"When and how will this change come about?" you ask.

This will happen to all the saints called into God in the coming threshold, the time of "Jacob's Trouble". -Jer.30:7 It will happen in a personal way in the wrestling ground of our own hearts.
Even in history's climax, we shall join with millions of others of the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob from around the world who are now and will in the future go through similar wrestlings.
These are wrestlings of identity and initiation.
In these awesome times the Judeo-Christian family will be transformed into the "Israel indeed" that Jesus recognised in Nathaniel. This will surely happen during our dark night of the soul, that awsome night of passage, at a certain spiritual place,

- at the Jabbok River.

So what will be our attitude to this challenge? Are we Jacob? And if so will we submit to our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel?
Is it not Our God Himself who is wrestling us into our destiny in Him?
And does He not intend these coming trials to perform a work within us for our own good?

Listen? The bell sounds for

Round # 10

Now, dear reader, we come to you.
How will you respond?

Will you stay with Him in all this?

Will you walk on with God and submit yourself to His will come what may?
Will you trust Him to strengthen you to endure these trials to come?
Will you pass through the strait gate to embrace your destiny?-(Mat.7:13)
Will you enter into the Kingdom and the realms of splendour beyond?

May our answer be in word and deed.

And may God help each and every one of us as we journey on.

Grace and patience to all the saints,