Qualifications for Priesthood
From what we have set forth in this study so far, it should be apparent by now that the evangelical understanding of the term rapture must be modified. The Greek term that Paul uses in 1 Thess. 4:17, translated "caught up" or "caught away" is harpazo. The obvious purpose of the harpazo is "to meet the Lord in the air." Though location does have something to do with it, the emphasis is upon the meeting itself and, of course, the One with whom we are meeting.
The meeting is located "in the air," rather than underground or in heaven. Hence, the dead must be raised to meet Him in the air. Yet we are so used to picturing spiritual events by the carnal mind, reinforced with books and movies about flying off into space, that we tend to forget the real purpose of the harpazo.
In Acts 8:39, 40 we read how Philip experienced the harpazo:
39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched [Greek: harpazo] Philip away; and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus. . .
Philip did not have to leave the earth, but he did have a spiritual experience in which he was able to transcend the body's physical limitations. His name means "lover of horses," which speaks prophetically of the white horse company in Rev. 19:14.
Peter manifested a type of harpazo when he walked on water to meet Jesus and escort Him to the boatload of disciples (Matt. 14:29). In this case, the word itself is not used, but the prophetic story does illustrate the principle. Again, there is no indication that Peter went to heaven, or to the mountain from which Jesus had come. If he had done so, this might have indicated a “rapture” in the sense that the Church teaches. Peter did, however, transcend the physical limitations of the body.
Harpazo is used in Rev. 12:5, where the Manchild was "caught up to God and to His throne." One may argue that this is about location, but it is really about transcending earthly limitations and ascending to the throne. This is applied to Jesus Himself—the original Manchild—but also to His Body, who "rule and reign with Him" (Rev. 20:6).
The ultimate purpose of "meeting" Christ, regardless of location, is to be joined with Him in unity as one Body. It is the meeting between the Head and the Body to create one New Man, a corporate man, in a many-membered Body. Looking at it from a marriage point of view, they shall be "one flesh."
We can also approach this from the angle of the priesthood laws. After all, these who are raised in the first resurrection, along with those overcomers who are alive and remain, will be "priests of God and of Christ" (Rev. 20:6). I have already shown how it takes seven full days to consecrate the priests, and how this covers the seven days of Tabernacles. But there is more. Lev. 21:17-20 says,
17 Speak to Aaron, saying, 'No man of your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect shall approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 . . . a blind man, or a lame man, or he who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb, 19 or a man who has a broken foot or a broken hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or scabs or crushed testicles.
Since Ezekiel makes it clear that the Melchizedek Order ("sons of Zadok") will certainly have the right to minister before God, it is clear that they will not have these defects. This seems self-evident, of course, because that glorified body will not be defective at all. Nor does it mean that those who had such defects in their life time will be disqualified as a priest of the Melchizedek Order. Rather, it indicates that all such defects will be healed.
But more than this, we ought to look also at the corporate level, and not just the individual fulfillment of these requirements. God is putting together a corporate body that will function as a corporate priest. This not only requires each member of the body to be without defect (in that day), but also requires the Head to be attached to the Body.
Without the Head on the Body, this corporate priest would still not qualify to minister to God in the Sanctuary in heaven. This is why the Head must come, and the Body must be caught up to meet Him. It is the point where this corporate Priest becomes qualified to minister on this level of ministry.
One might argue that many individuals throughout history have qualified to rule with Christ, because they have been joined to Christ as their Head. That is certainly true. Each individual is a temple of God in himself. But each individual is also a single "living stone" (1 Peter 2:5) in a corporate temple. This corporate temple is being built with living stones upon the Cornerstone of Christ and the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:19-22).
Insofar as this corporate New Man is pictured as a Priest, of which we are members, it is not qualified to rule until this New Man has a Head attached to the Body. The Head cannot attach to the Body until all the members of that Body have been born and have become joined to the Body. Once every member called to be an overcomer has been joined to that corporate Body, then and only then will the Head meet with the Body to complete the qualification according to the law.
Note the pattern of Solomon's temple. The work of shaping the stones was done off-site (1 Kings 6:7). When all was ready, then all the stones were brought to the site, and they were put together. When all was ready, then the glory of God came down to fill that temple. So it is with us.
The purpose of the Feast of Trumpets is to bring back the dead overcomers, who were the living stones completed in the past. Then comes the Jubilee, where the living overcomers, like Jacob, are given the new name, Israel. Then comes the Feast of Tabernacles, where the living overcomers are brought into immortality, for Christ will not be unequally yoked together, nor will He marry "strange flesh." As long as we are mortal, we cannot be joined by an immortal Head.
Thus, the living overcomers must be "changed in the atoms (atomos) in the twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor. 15:51, 52). But the end is not yet, for it requires seven days of cleansing before they can be presented to the Father.
In the middle of their cleansing time, probably on the fifth day, Christ comes to the disciples in the midst of the feast to join the Head with the Body. The reason He must come prior to the eighth of Tabernacles is to give the New Man a Head. Only then is the Body complete and can be presented faultless to God according to the law of priestly qualifications.
On the eighth day, then, this complete New Man is presented to God in the Sanctuary in heaven, whereupon He emerges from the Sanctuary to manifest His glory to the people on earth, even as was done in Leviticus 9 at the consecration of Aaron and his sons.
This will begin a new administration in the earth (Dan. 7:18), and the Kingdom of God—the Stone Kingdom—will grow until it fills the whole earth (Dan. 2:35). The earth will not be destroyed by this "fire" of the presence of God. The fire is His glory that will destroy all sin and all corruption.
When all form and structure of creation has ended its rebellion and has once again come under the authority of the Creator, then it can be said that all things are put under His feet, and God is all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). Death itself will then be abolished (1 Cor. 15:26), the great Creation Jubilee will be declared, and the divine Plan will be accomplished.