Isaiah 57:1-2 says, “The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers That the righteous is taken away from evil. 2 He shall enter into peace; They shall rest in their beds, Each one walking in his uprightness.”
As I read this today, a thought from long ago came to mind. I had been thinking about another verse in the Scriptures at the time. I was pondering Matthew 24:37-39 which says, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Long ago, Noah and his immediate family were the only righteous ones on the earth. Once Methuselah had died, all the righteous had passed away except Noah and his family. I wondered if instead of a pre-tribulation rapture, the righteous would simply perish with the exception of the 144,000 and the two witnesses. Scripture tells us many will be martyred but I suspected that many of the righteous will die in various ways before the tribulation so that they will escape the coming evil. The righteous will essentially rest in peace since they have been walking lawfully. At some point, the 144,000 will be hidden until YHVH’s wrath has past.
Eventually, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 would seem applicable: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
Where will everyone go once they meet the Lord in the air? Not heaven. That’s not exactly Scriptural. It depends on when the resurrection takes place; it depends on whether it is before or after the Battle of Armageddon. It seems to me that if He gathers them before the battle, He will take them to a place of safety until His wrath is past. If He gathers them after the battle, He will take them to Jerusalem where He intends to rule and reign on earth for 1,000 years. If what He does follows the pattern of the Exodus from Egypt, the former should apply.
What about the unrighteous? In Isaiah 57, YHVH turns His attention from the righteous to the unrighteous people who are still supposedly categorized as His people. They are rebellious; they are the sorcerers, adulterers, idolaters, and offspring of transgressions. YHVH could not overlook these things. These people did not fear YHVH most likely because He had not withheld His peace from them. He said He would declare their righteousness and their works. These must not have amounted to anything because He said these would not profit the wicked. YHVH expected the unrighteous to cry out as a result of what He would do to them. He told them, “When you cry out, let your collection of idols [who you trust in] deliver you.”
So that there is no question, YHVH told them that those who trust in Him will possess the land and will inherit His holy mountain.
YHVH then mentions two groups of people:
- Contrite and humble.
Someone who is contrite shows remorse or sorrow for their sins. YHVH will revive the heart of the contrite ones. They were struck for their sin while they were backsliding but they will experience healing and restoration because of their repentance.
The wicked are much different. They will not experience YHVH’s peace.
Take time to examine your life. Are you backsliding? Does YHVH need to deal harshly with you to discipline you in order for you to repent and to bring you back into a right relationship with Him? What would it take to get your attention?
What are you in bondage to? Can you let go of it by yourself or do you need to cry out for deliverance? Do not harden your heart. Allow the Deliverer to deliver you and the Healer to heal you so you can experience His peace.
I think that this is quite likely. The football player Reggie White comes to mind. He spoke out for God, lost his post-football broadcasting career and shortly after God simply took him.
I also think of the son of a family friend. He died at the age of eight after vehemently declaring “I want to go to heaven.” It has always been clear to me that God took him.
It happens, but, as scripture says, it isn’t exactly something that people think or talk much about.