“See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut … (Why?) … I know you have little strength yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name … Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on earth.” (Revelation 3:8-10) John entered through this door and was shown what must take place after the Church age. ‘After this I looked and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here and I will show you what must take place after this. At once I was in the Spirit and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it … Surrounding the throne there were twenty four other thrones and seated on them were twenty four elders’ (Revelation 4: 1-4) (The Greek word Presbyteros translated as ‘elders’ has always been used to address the elders or official leaders of the Jewish community.) Old testament Prophets like Isaiah and Ezekial had seen visions of God seated on his throne (Isaiah 6:1-2, Ezekiel 1:25-28) but they never saw men seated in the presence of God. Who then are these men seated on twenty four thrones and whence did they come from? Are they the saints who were bodily resurrected after the death of Christ and ascended together with him to heaven? ‘The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the Holy city and appeared to many people.’ (Matthew 27:52-53) ‘When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.’ (Psalm 68:18/Ephesians 4:8) Or are they the ‘dead in Christ’ who were the first to rise at Rapture? ‘For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) Why twenty four elders? The priesthood was divided into 24 division ( 1Chronicles 24:1-9) and therefore the 24 elders may represent the entire priesthood of believers.(Exodus 19:6, 1Peter 2:9) Whoever they might be, the truth of the matter is that since these redeemed men are seen in heaven all throughout the time of the fulfillment of the book of Revelation, beginning with Chapter 4, they must have been Raptured prior to it. And they get to witness the glorious event mentioned in Chapter 5, when the Lamb of God is glorified: ‘Then I saw the Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders … Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels … they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” ( Revelation 5:6-12) This would be in fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer : “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began … Father, I want those you have given me to be with me and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you have loved me before creation of the world.” (John 17:5,24) The Church, the Lamb’s bride will be ‘caught up’ to witness him take the scroll from the right hand of Him who is seated on the throne and open its seals.
In the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus said that the door would be closed soon after the wise virgins have entered. ‘At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom … The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came ‘Sir!Sir!’, they said. ‘Open the door for us! But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ (Matthew 25:1-10) Those who debunk pre-tribulation Rapture should answer this question: When do they presume the door to be shut? If it is before tribulation, who then are these virgins who entered before tribulation? If it is after the tribulation, at the second coming of Jesus, what sense does it make to shut the door when infact John wrote: ‘I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True … The armies of heaven were following him riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.’( Revelation 19:11-14) Why go up to heaven in a post-tribulation Rapture when they all are coming down? As mentioned earlier, the purpose of the open door is ‘that you may escape all that is about to happen and that you may stand before the Son of Man’ ( Luke 21:36) Metaphorically, the door stands for Jesus because elsewhere he said : “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture.” ( John 10:9) “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Amen.