The End Times Passover: Etymological Challenges to Millenarian Doctrines is the first of two books by Joe Ortiz's on end times events and prophecy. Both books refute the prevalent pre-tribulation rapture scenario, although this book focuses more on the rapture and the New Jerusalem. At just over 500 pages, the topics are covered in much detail. To his credit, Mr. Ortiz quotes long passages of scripture and commentaries, so that readers know that nothing is taken out-of-context.
Who are God's people of promise?
The first chapter checks in at a hefty 95 pages. In it, Mr. Ortiz makes the case for replacement theology, although he does not call it such. Do all the Old Testament prophecies now apply solely to Christians? Although many passages are discussed from the New Testament, Old Testament prophecy is covered superficially. I would find it very difficult to interpret all Old Testament prophecy in terms of the Christian Church, which is why I reject total replacement theology.
Who's taken, who's left
The next chapter is quite interesting in that the origin of the word "rapture" is discussed in detail. In reality, the word rapture (a noun) comes originally from the the Greek verb "harpazo," which means to "snatch" or "catch away." Mr. Ortiz's main point is that the snatching occurs in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17), although the Lord and his chosen ones continue to earth where judgment is carried out. Luke 17:34-35 is often cited as evidence for the rapture. As Mr. Ortiz points out, the "rapture" cited as one of two in a bed being taken and the other left, and two women grinding with one taken and one left, is mostly a result of our poor English translations. In reality, the Greek word translated as "taken" refers to someone being taken by force (as in being seized), and the Greek word translated "left" really mean "left alone," with the additional meaning of being forgiven. In the parable of the wheat and tares from Matthew, the passage indicates that the tares are first bound for burning while the wheat is gathered into His barn. So, the reality is that those who are "taken" are not taken to heaven, but seized for judgment. This is certainly no rapture scenario!
One of the great mysteries of end times prophecy is what (or who) is the restrainer mentioned by Paul in 2 Thessalonians. According to Paul, those of that church knew what was restraining the "man of lawlessness" (the anti-Christ). However, Christians of today have many theories - that the Holy Spirit is restraining or that it was the Roman government or other human governments. The prevalent pre-trib rapture interpretation is that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer, who will be removed from the earth when the Christian Church is raptured. The problem with this interpretation is that there are obvious actions from men of God after the Church has supposedly been raptured. It seems likely that the Holy Spirit is never removed from the earth, since Jesus said that He would be with us "until the end of the age." Mr. Ortiz concludes that the restrainer is God's timing, through the works of Jesus Christ on the cross. This work has restrained Satan from acting until he is released for a short period of time prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Chapter 20 of Revelation seems to indicate that after Jesus returns, He rules on earth for 1,000 years. In reality, the verse is not so specific. The Greek word for thousand is not accompanied by the number one. So, there is no specific 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ. Mr. Ortiz takes an ammillennial position (although he complains about their theology, but does not label his theology as such). In other words, The End Times Passover proposes that the millennial reign of Christ began at Jesus' resurrection, and will continue an indefinite period of time until He returns in judgment. Prior to the second coming of Jesus, Satan will be released for a short period of time, during which the man of lawlessness is revealed and Christians experience increased tribulation. During this period, at least some Christians are protected by God's "end times Passover," during the turbulent period during which God pours out His wrath on unbelievers.
Fate of believers
The End Times Passover proposes that both the body and soul of the believer cease to exist at death, and the spirit (the force that empowers the soul) returns to God. The soul does not exist again until it is resurrected into a new body at the return of Jesus Christ. At this time, the earth is temporarily destroyed and remade in preparation for the bride of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, which is the "promised land." According to this scenario, believers never actually experience heaven, but go through a form of "soul sleep" until they are resurrected to live forever in the new Jerusalem here on earth. This is a major point of error according to my interpretation of end time events. The Bible makes it clear that believers immediately enter into the presence of the Lord at death. Since the Lord is in heaven, this is where we must go. Mr. Ortiz's interpretation fails to take into account that God's heavenly realm is not constrained by time. So, when believers die, there is no waiting period until the events on earth are to be completed. The believer immediately becomes involved in the new creation, is resurrected into his spiritual body and participates in the judgment. Contrary to The End Times Passover scenario, the earth and the entire temporal universe has ceased to exist, being replaced by an entirely new creation that is eternal, and not subject to corruption or decay.
The End Times Passover is an interesting and thought-provoking examination of end times events. Although the interpretations suffer from some biblical contradictions, in general, they are quite solid and worth examining. However, the author seems to have an emotional involvement in the issues, and frequently makes comments and resorts to name calling against those who offer differing interpretations, which tends to detract from the presentation. Despite these drawbacks, the book is worth examining as an alternative to pre-tribulation rapture interpretations.
The End Times Passover by Joe Ortiz
- Book Review: Why Christians Will Suffer "Great Tribulation"
- Book Review: The Origins of Left Behind Eschatology
- Book Review: Left Behind Answered Verse by Verse
- Will Christians Go Through the Great Tribulation?
- Will Christians Suffer the Wrath of God?
- What Will Heaven be Like?
- How the Passover Reveals Jesus Christ
Last Modified May 10, 2007