In this article, I hope to briefly explain why after more than 20 years of study, I remain captivated by the pre-trib rapture doctrine.
My Fascination With The Pre-Trib Rapture
Ever since the early 80s, I’ve maintained a deep fascination with the pre-trib rapture. I don’t recall when I first heard of the rapture, but I do know I instantly realized that this event would someday demand the world’s attention.Modern-day society has witnessed some rather distressing events over the past century. We’ve seen the assassination of world leaders, national and international wars, and disasters of every sort. All of these events have left deep scars on the psyche of humanity. However, I think these events will pale in comparison to the panic that will be caused by the pre-trib Rapture.
The rapture will someday give a new meaning to the word “shock.” For the U.S., the attack on Pearl Harbor and the September 11 terrorist attacks currently rank as the most startling events in our nation’s history. When the rapture takes place, I am convinced it will be 100 times more shocking than Pearl Harbor and September 11 combined.
In the past, no single event has managed to touch each individual on a personal level. For example, very few people in 1941 had even heard about Pearl Harbor, let alone knew someone involved in the incident. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon fall into the same category. Everyone saw the calamity on television, but it’s unlikely that more than 1% of the US population knew any of the victims who worked in the Twin Towers or the Pentagon, or who were aboard the commercial airliners hijacked by the terrorists.
On the other hand, after the Rapture takes place, everyone left behind will know someone who was mysteriously taken away. It could be a neighbor, a distant cousin, or a person’s entire immediate family.
Some prophetic commentators have tried to predict that there will only be a few halfhearted questions like, “Where did everybody go?” Simple logic dictates that the people who find themselves left behind will be absolutely terrified by what has taken place.
I can only guess at the level of interest the press, government, and public will pay to the rapture, but I’m sure it will be immense. As a result of the catching away of the Bride, I believe many individuals will turn to Christ and become numbered with the tribulation saints.
It’s So Near
If it looked like the pre-tribulation rapture was going to transpire 100 years from now, there probably wouldn’t be a pressing need for me to quickly assemble a website devoted to the subject. However, I believe we are getting very near to the end of what is called the Church Age, so I have been rushing to put together a comprehensive site on Bible prophecy.
Because the rapture is an event that will take priority over all other aspects of our life, it is very important for us to be mindful of its nearness. Death is the only other comparison one could use to describe the type of impact the rapture implies.
The rapture has always been an imminent event, but we now have the luxury of being able to look at history and realize there were a number of key end time prophesies that required several years to evolve into where we see them today. Before May 15, 1948, we only had hope that Israel would once again become a nation. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that China gained the ability to field a 200-million-man army. Jan 1, 2002 stands as the date the Revived Roman Empire reestablished the practice of having a common currency.
I keep a close watch on dozens of prophecy-related categories and in the last few years I’ve noticed an exponential increase in the rate of prophetic progression. In many cases, I can clearly see we have already arrived at the point of fulfillment–no waiting or further development is really required. The final implementation of those end time factors is the only thing lacking.
The Great Transformation
When describing the rapture, most prophetic writers like to focus on the negative consequences of the event. Yes, if the driver of a car were to suddenly vanish, the vehicle would spin out of control. The tribulation is said to be a time of unparalleled distress, so I doubt a few traffic accidents will amount to any lasting significance.
As believers, we will have more important things with which to concern ourselves. Our main focus should be on the heavenly realm. Once we get to glory, we will be confronted with a world of absolute splendor.
Jesus said each believer will receive his own heavenly mansion. If we each have a spacious estate waiting for us, I see no reason for a Christian to strive to build an earthly mansion. I find it rather odd that so many well-known preachers spend large sums of money on ritzy housing and fancy cars. If they had a true understanding of eternal value, you would think they would buy modestly so that they could reinvest their financial gains into the spreading of the Gospel.
“But as it is written, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him'” (1 Cor 2:9).
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).
Losing Everything; I Mean Everything
I once took a tour of the United States Air Force’s Strategic Command Post at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The center is charged with tracking the movements of anything that could deploy nuclear weapons: missiles, aircraft, or ships. It’s the first layer of command that would order a nuclear counterattack. The command center would obviously be the prime target of any potential enemy.
While I was in the control room, I asked the sergeant giving us the tour, “What would you folks do if you knew a missile was headed in your direction?” His reply was, “I guess we’d open the snack bar up to all takers.” I was struck by how true it would be in that situation in which money would have no value. A standard 10-megaton nuclear device exploding over the base would leave nothing but a giant hole in the ground.
For Christians, the rapture will bring devastation similar to that wrought by a nuclear war. When the trumpet sounds, all followers of Christ will instantly lose all of their worldly belongings. As a believer, you might have $20 million in the bank, a fancy home, a yacht, or your own prosperous business, but come the rapture, you can wave all that stuff goodbye as you soar skyward.
The Christian community holds wealth that is easily valued in the $1 to $2 trillion-dollar range. Knowing the total funding for global evangelization efforts amounts to a few hundred million dollars each year, our priorities are certainly in need of reevaluation.
I can testify that I have personally put my own money where my mouth is. During the most recent one-year period, I estimate I’ve spent $4,000 on this Rapture Ready site. Because I know the money I allocate to the site is being deposited in my eternal bank account, I view the funds as going to a blind trust fund.
I don’t expect to be around to see Social Security, so it doesn’t trouble me whether or not predictions of its distant future insolvency turn out to be true. Whenever oil prices zoom up, many people worry that we’re going to either run out of gasoline or that it will become prohibitively expensive. At the end of each episode, however, the supply and the price always manage to return to more reasonable levels.
Because we don’t know exactly when Jesus is coming for the Church, I believe it is wise to make long-term plans. The key, I believe, is not to allow ourselves to be distracted by trivial issues. We should concern ourselves mostly with today, and let tomorrow take care of itself.
When the catching up takes place, I expect to be flooded with a number of regrets over things I should have accomplished. It’s the realization that our good deeds are the only possessions we will take with us that motivates me to keep pressing ahead.
“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” (Mat 6:19-20).
The Benefits Of Being Rapture Ready
One of the most obvious benefits of being ready for the rapture is not having to suffer through the tribulation. Here are four passages that indicate that believers will not be left to suffer the outpouring of God’s wrath:
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).
“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth ” (Revelation 3:10).
If you’re included in the rapture, you will be taken to heaven–the place that is a synonym for happiness. The Bible tells us that in heaven there are no health problems, moral failures, economic hardships, or marital difficulties.
The most important benefit of being included in the rapture is the chance to finally meet the Lord of Lords face to face. It’s hard to envision what that experience will be like, but seeing one’;s Creator certainly has to be the ultimate fulfillment of a person’s existence.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim 4:8).
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).
Mockers And Detractors
Whenever an unbeliever sends me an email message that attacks or mocks the pre-trib rapture, I always think of the irony they are imposing upon themselves. Someday, the rapture will take place, and these folks will be dumbfounded.
Even when I get some rather nasty letters that condemn me to the fires of hell or that label me as a raving lunatic, it doesn’t bother me because I know it would be punishment enough for anyone to miss the rapture. I see no need to take the attacks personally. I think after the event, these folks will be blaming me for not trying hard enough to convince them of their folly.
Once the big event takes place, there will be no more arguments over the rapture’s validity. I try to set people up to be reachable after the Church is taken home to glory. Because I believe most of my detractors are still searching for truth, I don’t return fire by saying things like, “Say hello to the Antichrist for me” or, “Save me one of those 100 lb. hailstones in your freezer. When I get back, I’d love to see what one looks like.”
End time scoffers are actually doing me a valuable favor. The Bible says doubters will be one of the signs of the last days. Their strong opposition is what helps drive my fascination with the rapture.
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts. And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Pet 3:3-4).
Get Ready, Jesus Is Coming
You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. In the Book of Luke, Jesus used a weather analogy to highlight how people failed to use simple logic to recognize the time in which they were living.
The folks who lived in the early part of the first century failed to realize that they were about to witness the revelation of the Messiah. Their error resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Today, people are making an even bigger mistake by not comprehending that this is the generation that will see the fulfillment of the end times.
I’ve always found it interesting how the salvation issue, both before and after the rapture, is so well balanced. Before the rapture, people need to use faith to overcome the lack of physical evidence for that event. After the rapture, there will be plenty of physical evidence of the event, but then a person will need faith to overcome the trials of the tribulation.
“And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?” (Luke 12:54-56).
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:34-35).
If you would like to know more about what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, or if you want to know for sure that you belong to Him, you can go to my page, How One Becomes a Follower of Jesus.
— Todd Strandberg