There are a number of church denominations that do not teach that there will be a “rapture,” “harpazo,” or “taking up” of all true believers prior to any tribulation period. Some even believe there will be no such event ever, and that the concept only originated in the 1800s by a person – John Nelson Darby. He has been credited with originating the “pretribulation rapture theory.” (Wikipedia – any emphasis mine)
Actually, there are several instances in the Bible where the “taking up” or “removing to avoid wrath” are given. Genesis starts by providing us the event that led to the fall of humans through sin in chapter 3, and then gives details of the first-ever murder with Cain killing his brother Abel in chapter 4.
The first “taking up” is in Genesis 5:22-24; “Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah at 300 years, and had other sons and daughters. [He was faithful to all God’s will.] Thus the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” He was the first human on record that God raptured up to Heaven.
Next, we look at Noah, who, after he was 500 years old, fathered Shem, Ham and Japeth. God saw that the people of the earth were totally evil except for Noah and his family, and in Genesis 6:6, He regretted that He had made man. He decided to destroy all humans with the exception of Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives. He also provided that animals and birds were spared by selecting two of each – male and female.
God had Noah build a large Ark. When Noah was 600 years old (Genesis 7:6), God had him and his family and all the animals and birds enter the Ark to be kept from the wrath that He was about to unleash. God Himself shut the door to the Ark just as the rain began. In Genesis 7:21-23, we read that all forms of life that had the breath of life outside the Ark perished.
Once again, there were a minimum number of people, animals and birds to repopulate the earth. Through Noah’s son Shem’s bloodline, Abram (also known as Abraham) was born. This is the same person God made the covenant with in Genesis 12, that all who blessed Abraham’s offspring would be blessed, and all who cursed them would be cursed. This covenant is still in effect today.
In Exodus, God used Moses to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptians, who had put them into slavery by a ruling Pharaoh that was far removed from the Pharaoh that Joseph served. Through signs and plagues, and finally, after the 10th plague, Pharaoh allowed the Israelites to leave. After they had left and were approaching the Red Sea, Pharaoh had a change of mind and decided to pursue them and kill them all.
Exodus 14 gives the details of God causing the Red Sea to part and allowing all the Israelites to cross to the other side on dry land. Just before this, even though they had witnessed all that the Father had done to gain their freedom, the Israelites began complaining. This continued all through their wanderings in the wilderness. To show that God is always in full control, when the Egyptians followed in their path across the divided sea, God caused the chariots to be slowed down. Then He caused the sea to return to normal, and all the Egyptian army perished.
Some Bible verses that tell us God will keep us from wrath are:
1 Thessalonians 1:10; “And to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
Next, 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10; “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain Salvation through our Lord, Jesus Christ, who died for us [for Me] so that whether we are awake [alive] or asleep [have died], we might live with Him.” Please note, the body is perishable, but our souls – the real us – is immortal.
In Revelation 3:10, Jesus was speaking to the Church in Philadelphia, but this also was meant for us; “Because you have kept My word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial [7-year tribulation] that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on earth.”
Then, Romans 5:9; “Since therefore we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the Wrath of God.”
There is a warning that is for all who refuse to receive and accept the gift of Jesus to be their Savior. Romans 2:5; “But because of your hard and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
There are other instances where God used a “Rapture” for some specific individuals. One was Elijah in 2 Kings 2:1-11, and then, of course, the ascension of our Lord and Savior when He was taken up, back into Heaven in Acts 1:9-11. As with Enoch, these “raptures” were not to save them from imminent wrath.
There are two instances where apostles spoke about being “taken up” into Heaven, but not permanently: Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, and John throughout the Book of Revelation. Whether they had actually been taken up to be given a “preview” of what was to come in the last days or not, both were given “visions” of prophecy that would be fulfilled. They each were on earth when they took their last breath, but their souls were immediately with Jesus. Their bodies will be “raptured” when He returns to call up all true believers.
Paul’s accounts in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 are quite specific to what will take place just before the Tribulation. First, we read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17:
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers/sisters, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope [all unbelievers]. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a cry of command; with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first [their bodies]. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with Him.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-53; “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
All the above will be completed in less than one second, and for this event, only true believers will be taken. This is prior to Jesus physically stepping foot back on earth, at the end of the Wrath, to rule from Jerusalem for 1,000 years. The Wrath will not actually start until we who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit are “out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). All who are left behind will be in for the most miserable days this earth has ever experienced.
To be assured of being with those who are kept from the Tribulation/Wrath, the steps are given in Romans 10:9-13. Please give close attention to verse 13; “All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” We may experience trials and persecution here, but it’s nothing compared to how it will be after we’re gone. God made this specific promise in two other places: Joel 2:32 and Acts 2:21.
Today would not be too early to call on Jesus to be your Savior. Waiting just a bit longer, as Satan would love for you to do, may be the biggest mistake you could ever make. “Jesus is coming soon; morning, or night or noon,” as the Oak Ridge Boys so aptly sang.
Hope to see you there when we rise up to meet our Savior in the air and get our new, forever bodies.