Chariots of Fire : A Voluntary Voyage to Heaven? Part 2
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
June 27, 2001

Last Updated :
December 1, 2012

Truth Twisted By Deception, The Price Of Our Faith, God's Ways vs Man's Ways, Be Content With What You Have, Snare Of Worldliness And Materialism, The Rugged Sacrificial Life Of Discipleship, Jesus' Seven Points, Invasion And Destruction Of Jerusalem, Flee To The Mountains - Great Tribulation, 3 1/2 Years From Matthew 24:21 to Luke 17:33, Faith To Die In Order To Live, Tabernacle Of Flesh, Jesus: Bread Of Life And Passover Lamb, Carcase And Eagles, In The Clouds Of Heaven

While I have added a bit of humor to Lot's story, do you better understand the situation now? Can you see what was apparently occurring in the minds of Lot and his family? When they were informed of their original destination, that is, the mountains, they were fearful that they would surely die there. In their state of rebellion and delusion, they were convinced that they were safe in Sodom. They could not even sense the danger that they were in. They were living an easy, comfortable life in what was apparently one of the most beautiful places upon the Earth. In fact, we are told that it was similar to Eden itself! In their twisted way of thinking, Lot's family erroneously thought that they could preserve their lives by remaining there; when the truth of the matter was the exact opposite. It was by seemingly putting their lives in danger, and even risking death, by going to the mountains, that they would in fact save themselves from destruction.

But there was a high price to pay: They had to be willing to forsake their worldly wealth and social status. Even more importantly, they had to be willing to forsake their human way of thinking and understanding things; they had to simply trust in the Lord completely, by obeying His order to flee to the mountains; and that required total faith. Again I am reminded of the following verses:

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Proverbs 14:12, KJV

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9, KJV

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Hebrews 11:6, KJV

After using a lot of persuasion, and "hands-on" tactics --if you will excuse my pun -- the two Angelic Messengers finally helped Lot to muster up enough faith to obey the Lord. While Lot may have gotten the point, his wife apparently did not. She still lacked the faith, and the willingness, to obey the Lord. Thus, going against the Angels' strict orders, in her foolishness, she chose to make a terribly wrong decision; and she looked back. Thousands of years later, the Apostle Paul made a wise observation, which would have suited her well at that moment. He wrote the following:

"For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
1 Timothy 6:7-10, KJV

"And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away."
1 Corinthians 7:31, KJV

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
Philippians 4:11, KJV

"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
Hebrews 13:5, KJV

As I point out in quite a few other articles, such as "Going Down the Highway", "Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God", "Are You Redeeming the Time?" and others, Paul was not alone in warning us to watch out for the physical trappings of the world. Jesus, John and James also offered us the following warnings concerning the dangers of materialism, worldliness, and giving pre-eminence to our physical well-being above our spiritual well-being:

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Matthew 6:19-21, KJV

". . . Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God . . . And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."
Matthew 19:23-24, 29, KJV

". . . Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!"
Mark 10:24b, KJV

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Mark 8:36-37, KJV

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."
Luke 9:23-24, KJV

"So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:33, KJV

"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain."
James 5:1-7, KJV

"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
James 4:4, KJV

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
1 John 2:15-16, KJV

Having now thoroughly explained the sad story of Lot and his family, I think you will better understand what Jesus meant in His Endtime discussion found in the Gospel of Luke, when right after saying "Remember Lot's wife", He added:

"Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it."
Luke 17:33, KJV

While this is obviously not what the Lord had intended for them by any means -- that is, that they would die -- Lot and his family had to be willing to demonstrate such faith in God, that they would even risk dying in the mountains, in order to be saved from His Wrath, which was about to fall upon evil Sodom and Gomorrah. They were being asked to do something which seemed totally contrary to their natural way of thinking. They were being asked to leave apparent safety, and run to what appeared to be certain danger, and possibly even death.

Now, if you are still a little confused about all of this, please don't be. I didn't fully understand what was being said here until the Lord opened my eyes and understanding of the Spirit. In fact, I still haven't explained everything to you yet, because it is quite profound. To continue then, in verse thirty-three which I just quoted above, Jesus is NOT talking about self-sacrifice and a lifelong service to God's Kingdom. Neither is he discussing Discipleship, as we see in the following verses taken from an earlier chapter in the same Gospel:

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."
Luke 9:23-24, KJV

In the above verses, it is very apparent, that Jesus is in fact talking about dying to ourselves, such as I point out in the article "Are You Crucified With Christ?", in order to follow Him. While the words used here are very similar to what we find in Luke 17:33, there is something which makes the meaning of the verses very different; and that is the time frame. The setting for the verses I have just quoted are during Jesus' own lifetime. They are about being one of His followers, such as Peter, James or John. Of course, we can also apply them to people today who wish to follow Christ as well.

On the other hand, Luke 17:33 is not talking about being a Disciple of Christ through self-denial two thousand years ago. In fact, neither is the verse talking about living a sacrificial life for the Lord today. So what is it talking about then? Well, before I tell you, let me explain another point which may have some of you rather confused. In the previous verses, we saw how the Lord was using the various examples of lightning, Noah and his family, and Lot and his family, in order to clarify the following points:

1. The sinful condition of the world
2. The business-as-usual attitude of the world
3. The lack of faith and rebellion against God
4. The Lord's unexpected Arrival
5. The swift and unexpected Judgments of God
6. The destruction of the wicked
7. The salvation of God's children from His Wrath

Now, in the case of Noah and Lot, we are told how they were both instructed to take their families and flee, in order to save their lives; Noah, by means of an Ark, and Lot, by fleeing to the mountain. They were very specifically told to save their families, and they were told how to do it. This is very similar to what we find the Lord describing in Luke chapters nineteen and twenty-one, where He discusses the total destruction of Jerusalem and the temple:

"For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation."
Luke 19:43-44, KJV

"As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down . . . And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
Luke 21:6, 20-24, KJV

Similar to the warnings given to Noah and Lot, it can be seen then, that the previous verses are a clear warning to flee the wrath to come. Jesus is plainly saying that if a person, and more specifically, an Israelite, wants to save his life, he had better flee from Jerusalem; he had better get himself to the mountains outside of Jerusalem. To the contrary, in His warning in Luke 17:33, Jesus isn't talking about running to the hills in order to save our lives as Lot and his family did, or even as the Jews were forced to do when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, or even as they will be forced to do once again in coming years when a final invasion of Jerusalem occurs. The Lord is talking about something very different in these verses; and He makes that very clear in the verses that follow these comments.

As I said a moment ago, we need to consider the time factor in order to properly understand Luke 17:33. Please remember that Jesus is talking about Endtime events. He is talking about His Second Coming, and the final Seventh Trumpet when the Mystery of God will be completed. In these verses, the life of Discipleship is past. This is it! This is the Big Day which everyone has been waiting for, for thousands of years! You see, when Jesus tells the Israelites to flee to the mountain, that is at the beginning of the period which many of us refer to as the Great Tribulation. In fact; in describing these very same events in the Gospel of Matthew, the Lord says:

"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
Matthew 24:21, KJV

To clarify this point once again, when the Great Tribulation begins in Jerusalem in the not-too-distant future, the Lord says to flee to the mountains if you want to save your life; but then, in Luke 17:33, where He is also discussing the Endtime, He turns around and says the exact opposite. He says:

"Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it."
Luke 17:33, KJV

So what is going on here? Is Jesus contradicting Himself? Most definitely not! You simply need to understand the time factor. Fleeing to the mountains outside of Jerusalem, in order to save one's life, occurs some three and half years BEFORE Luke 17:33 occurs. Fleeing occurs at the beginning of the Great Tribulation period, while Luke 17:33 occurs at the very end of the Great Tribulation; in fact, on the very night of Christ's Return! There is a three and a half year gap between Matthew 24:21 and Luke 17:33. How else can we explain that Jesus is saying to flee to the mountains if you want to save your life, in one verse, and then He makes a U-turn, and says that if you try to save your life, you will lose it?

The astounding truth, is that what the Lord seems to be saying in Luke 17:33, is that if you try to save your life, by not choosing to go, you will lose your life; but, if you lose your life, that is, if you decide to go when they come for you, if you decide to die, you will preserve your life, and in fact, gain Eternal Life! That is the great decision of faith; that is the great choice that He is talking about here; and that is why right before this, Jesus clearly says "Remember Lot's wife"! Why? Because that woman had a very important decision to make, and she made the wrong choice! Lot's wife tried to hold on to the world instead of letting go of it. She apparently thought that it was crazy to go to the mountains and risk death, when that is the very thing which could have saved her. Like Demas, Lot's wife loved this present world; or in her particular case, the sinful life in Sodom; and how ironic that the spirit of Sodom and Gomorrah is alive and well in the world today!

We often hear it said that the most important decision that a person will ever make in this life, is the decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour; but is that truly the most important decision we will ever make? I am really beginning to wonder. Allow me to explain. While accepting Christ is indeed a very important decision which involves a certain amount of faith, it pales next to the decision we Endtime Christians may have to make on the Day of Christ's Return.

You see, my friend, it is easy to say that we believe in Jesus; it is even relatively easy to live the life of a Christian Disciple; but how many of us will be willing to die the death of a Christian Disciple? It is at that time, that our faith will truly be tested. God will see if we really trust enough in His Word, and particularly in His Promise of Eternal Life, to be willing to lay down our Earthly lives at His Son's Return. He will see if we truly believe in everything we have said and preached during the course of our lives. Do you see my point? We are going to have to have so much faith, that when His Angels come for us, we will be able to say with faith unwavering, "Take me out of this world, Lord; I am ready to go." We are each going to have to have the faith to be willing to die in the flesh, to voluntarily leave our tabernacle of the flesh be- hind, in order that we might graduate to the World of the Spirit.

In other words, contrary to what some of us have believed for many years, myself included, the coming Rapture may not be an automatic event. Some, if not all of us, have held to the idea that when Jesus returns, we will immediately begin to rise up to meet Him in the air; but what if we have been mistaken? What if, as the previous verses seem to indicate, there is a decision to be made? What if the Lord sends His Angels around, and we are each asked first "Are you ready to go? Are you ready to peel off your vessel of flesh in order that you might live in the Spirit? Are you ready to die?" Why else would Jesus tell us to remember Lot's wife, and immediately follow that comment by telling us that if we seek to save our life, we will lose it, but if we lose our life, we will in fact save it?

Now, if you think that I am crazy, or that I am wrong in my understanding, then consider what the very next thing is that Jesus says in those verses in Luke chapter seventeen, after warning us about Lot's wife, and telling us that we must lose our lives if we wish to save them. He states that that night -- What night? The night of His Return! -- there will be two in the bed, and only one will be taken; there will be two women grinding at the mill, and only one will be taken; there will be two men working in the field, and only one will be taken. Why is this? Could it be that one chose to go, while the other lacked the faith to believe that this was it, that this was The Day? Could it be that one had the faith found in Peter and Paul's words, while the other did not?:

"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: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life."
2 Corinthians 5:1-4, KJV

"Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance."
2 Peter 1:13-15, KJV

Of course, the Disciples still didn't quite understand what Jesus was talking about, so they ask Him, "Where, Lord? Where will they be taken?"; and He answered them in a very cryptic manner by saying:

"Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together."
Luke 17:37, KJV

Let me point out here, that in the Gospel of Matthew, this verse is translated a little differently. It says:

"For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together."
Matthew 24:28, KJV

In the verse from Matthew, the Greek word used is "ptoma", pronounced pto'-mah, which refers to the fallen body of one dead or slain, a corpse, or a carcase. Similarly, in the verse from Luke, the Greek word used is "soma", which also is used to refer to a dead body or corpse.

As I explain in some of my Endtime articles, such as "The Great Tribulation and the Rapture" series, by using "body", or "carcase", I have no doubt that Jesus was referring to Himself as the Sacrificial Lamb of God who, following the evening of the Passover, was crucified upon a Roman Cross, or tree, as the Scriptures tell us, in order to atone for the sins of the world. As we all know, three days later, He was miraculously resurrected from the dead; thus gaining a victory over death, sin and Satan, once and for all. Here are a few more verses for your consideration:

"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth."
Isaiah 53:7, KJV

"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world . . . And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God . . . And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!"
John 1:29, 34, 36, KJV

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
John 2:19, KJV

"The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:"
Acts 8:32, KJV

"And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre."
Acts 13:29, KJV

"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;"
Hebrews 2:14, KJV

"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,"
1 Peter 1:18-20, KJV

"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
1 Peter 2:24, KJV

As can be clearly seen by the previous verses, Jesus became the final slaughtered Passover Lamb; He became the Carcase. Jesus also tells us that He is the Bread of Life who gives us Eternal Life, as we see by these additional verses:

"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
Matthew 26:26-28, KJV

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst . . . I am that bread of life . . . Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."
John 6:35, 48, 53b, KJV

"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
John 10:28, KJV

In a similar manner, just as Jesus represented Himself as a Carcase, we, the resurrected and transformed Saints, are obviously the eagles who will rise up to meet Him in the air at His Coming; exactly as has been prophesied for thou- sands of years; because like eagles, we have symbolically fed upon the Carcase of our slain Saviour. Thus, just as we shall choose to die in Him, we shall also live again through Him, exactly as He has promised us. When His Disciples asked where these people would be taken, Jesus said "Up there; in the clouds of Heaven; that is where you will all meet me! You will all fly up like the eagles!" Please consider the following inspiring verses which clarify these points:

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
Isaiah 40:31, KJV

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, KJV

"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
Matthew 24:30, KJV

"Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."
Matthew 26:64, KJV

"And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."
Mark 13:26, KJV

"And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."
Mark 14:62, KJV

"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
Acts 1:9-11, KJV

"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."
Revelation 1:7, KJV

When this wonderful Endtime event occurs, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, as we have seen by previous verses, it appears that, similar to Lot's wife, we may each have a very important decision to make; in fact, a life and death decision. It seems that there may possibly be a choice involved, and that we may each have to pass one final great test of faith. Perhaps we will have to voluntarily choose death, or transformation if you prefer, over Earthly life, in order to attain Eternal Life. It is for these reasons, that I now wonder if the Rapture will truly be an automatic fly-up-to-the-sky event as many of us have imagined it will be. Yes, it will indeed occur precisely as the Scriptures tell us that it will occur, BUT, will the only flyers be the people who have faith to forsake their Earthly tabernacles and die, in order that they might be transformed and live?

Please go to part three for the conclusion of this series.

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