[F]. WHAT RAPTURE IS CORRECT?
Terms are thrown around, and arguments take place over exactly when the Rapture will occur in the future. I suppose the four schools of thought are these (The 4 I am covering are the 4 I have encountered):
- Mid-Tribulation Rapture. These adherents believe the Church must endure the first three and a half years of the seven-year Tribulation, which some people like to call “the beginning of sorrows,” and then the Rapture happens before the “heavier judgements” begin. The problem with this view is that Revelation chapter 6 is still the execution of the wrath of God, and that begins the Tribulation.
The opening of the first seal is the start of all that will happen. At that time, the world realizes what is happening, although they must have known from the start that they find themselves in supernatural times – Rev 6:16-17, “and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
We are not destined to wrath; we are delivered from that wrath that is to come, so this view of a mid-tribulation Rapture is absolutely erroneous. It is amazing that any true bible student can hold to such a Christ-dishonoring idea, for it lessens that work of the cross where the Lord took the wrath in our place. There is NO MORE wrath for us. There is no way God will put His children through the wrath against sin when the Saviour bore it for us.
- Rapture immediately preceding the Second Coming. This belief is popular for those who dismiss a separate rapture 7 years before the Second Coming. They claim there is a rapture but that it happens immediately before the Second Coming – rapture followed by Christ’s appearing, almost as if it was one event but in two parts. This view would have the Christians here on earth going right through the Tribulation and enduring the wrath of God, which Jesus took for us on the cross so that we will not endure God’s wrath against sin. This belief of the Rapture is false. In fact, I think it is disgusting.
- No such thing at all as a separate Rapture. This is a common belief among those who do not accept dispensational teaching and/or dismiss the concept of a Tribulation (such as the SDAs, Reformed theology, Replacement Theology). They believe everything continues as it is now until the Second Coming. For them, there is only one coming. Remember, we quoted the Nicaean and Apostles’ Creed earlier – “He shall come to judge the living and the dead.” This is the accepted view of those who follow The Apostles’ Creed rather than the bible. It includes the RC church, the Anglicans, the Reformed churches, the Lutherans, some of the Methodists and Presbyterians, and others.
There is a strong correlation between this belief and covenant theology and replacement theology, horrible systems that dismiss Israel altogether in prophecy and transfer all the Old Testament prophecies for Israel to the church in a spiritual sense. For me personally, this is a dishonoring, objectionable belief. Any system that would write off the Jews is not from God in any shape or form. It is a false doctrine, a doctrine of demons.
- The separate Rapture as the next event in God’s program. This is the biblical position. Christians are looking forward to the blessed hope of the Lord’s return. The Rapture is pre-Tribulation and pre-millennial. The Lord comes to snatch away His Bride before God’s wrath is poured from heaven. It is the only credence that is consistent and harmonious with all of scripture. The departure of the Church must occur before any release of judgment upon the earth. Surely Noah is a pertinent lesson here. He was raised from the earth, the judgment raged below, and when that had finished, he returned to earth. We shall be taken from the earth, the judgment rages below, then we come back with the Lord. We are in the “Ark” when we leave, and we will be with the “Ark” when we return. Christ is the Ark.
[G]. PRE-RAPTURE PROPHECY:
There is no prophecy that has to be fulfilled before the Rapture can happen. Those who want to insert material from Matthew 24 and 25 are wrong when they try to link it with the Rapture because those chapters are set in the Tribulation and the start of the Millennium. I have written about that in earlier Rapture Ready articles (“Matthew 24 and Revelation 6 in Parallel” and “The Rapture – How Soon is Soon”).
I truly hope that people can understand Matthew 24 properly. When you read it, you can see it is addressing Jews, not Gentiles. The Second Coming, which is what Matthew 24 is about, contains all the signs of His coming, the cosmic signs in the heavens. That is the Second Coming, NOT the Rapture, because there are not any heavenly or cosmic signs for the Rapture. As the Lord took Enoch, so the Lord takes the Church; no great physical display like signs in the sun and the moon as it will be for the Second Coming. There are indicators for the Rapture generally, but that is all they are – the “last days” (of the Church age) taught in 1Timothy 3 and the fig tree Israel becoming established, which it is now in its own land.
[G1]. LET’S GET MATTHEW 24 CORRECT PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!:
Go look at the question the disciples asked Jesus at the start of Matthew 24. Matthew 24:3 [“As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?'”]. Jesus gave no Gentile teaching in His ministry. The disciples asked a 100% Jewish question. His disciples wanted to know the time of His coming. They knew what this coming was. The Old Testament prophets are full of this. It is the coming to the Jews, that which we call the Second Coming.
For those of you who want to misapply this chapter to the Rapture, tell me, “what is the end of the age?” It is not the Rapture. It is the age that was spoken of by the Old Testament prophets, and Jews knew it to be the time when Messiah was coming, and this age would end, and Messiah would set up His kingdom.
Please put Matthew 24 into proper context. You cannot selectively handpick parts of the chapter you like and forget about the rest. What about this? – “when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet…” That is verse 15 from the chapter. You know the desecration of the Temple does not happen until halfway through the Tribulation, so it is already in the Tribulation, which is where Matthew 24 fits. Either all in or all out, NOT one in and the rest out. And in regards to the Rapture, it is all out! None of the Rapture is in Matthew 24.
And don’t tell me the part about Matthew 24:7, “for nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes,” is applying to Rapture signs because it DOES NOT, and in the next verse, Jesus said these were the start of the birth pangs. The birth pains are for Israel in the Tribulation. It is the start of the Tribulation. I think it is just far too convenient to use Matthew 24 for the Rapture and dislodge the discernment the children of God ought to have.
If anyone wants to think differently, write to me to “prove” that any of Matthew 24 is the Rapture. It is Jewish, as is the whole of the book of Matthew if you study it!
[H]. THERE IS ORDER IN THE RAPTURE:
We will look at the two main New Testament passages for the Rapture.
[H1]. THE LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS:
There is a distinct order in the Rapture, and this is obtained mainly from 1Thessalonians 4. Firstly, we look at a passage from 1Corinthians chapter 15. The first half of the chapter argues for a resurrection of the dead, and the surprising thing is this – 1Cor 15:12, “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” What can be more surprising than that?
Some of the members of that church did not believe there was any resurrection, that this life is all we have, and death ends our lives forever. Paul counteracts that and leads into the resurrection for Christians, which is what occupies the verses from 12 to the end of the chapter with the great triumph of Christ’s resurrection, not only leading to our resurrection, but also to the great Rapture where all is finalized for our old earthly existence. In just the last 9 verses of the chapter, Paul declares this mystery unknown to any on earth before that time.
In those 9 verses, he speaks of the perishable (corruptible in the KJV) and the mortal. Perishable (those who have already died and are with the Lord) will put on the “imperishable” (gained through the new bodies in the Rapture); and the mortal (those still living when Jesus comes in the air) will put on “immortality” (the same bodies exactly that the imperishable have). However, here, Paul keeps the same order he develops in 1Thess 4 – the already dead first, and then those who are living. Then he ends with these verses of triumph – 1Cor 15:55-57, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Recently, I read an idea I thought about but have to say it is a wrong idea, very wrong. That notion is that there is nothing of the Rapture in 1Corinthians 15. It is stated not to be a Rapture chapter. This is the first time I had even seen that opinion, so I looked into it. We will look at the relevant verses –
1Corinthians 15:51-53, “51 Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed 52 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. 53 This perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
A verse does not have to mention a snatching away to be a rapture verse. It must be examined in context. The verses above must be in context, as must the passages. The context looks at two groups, those who are sleeping and those who are not sleeping right now. The ones who sleep are the Christians who have died and are now with the Lord in heaven. Those who are not sleeping live on earth and wait for the Lord’s return for His own. Verse 51 confirms that ALL Christians, dead or alive, will be changed. That means both lots participate in that great event.
Verse 52 now explains the time period for that change, and it is the expression, “the twinkling of an eye.” That will be explained shortly. Also, it happens at the last trumpet. Scripture must harmonize, so that trumpet matches 1Thessalonians 4:16 and Revelation 4:1.
The next point is that the order of change is clearly stated. In Corinthians, it is “and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” The dead change first, then the living – all in the twinkling of an eye. As expected, this also corresponds with 1Thessalonians 5:15 (“we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep”) and verse 16 (“and the dead in Christ shall rise first”), followed by those who remain in verse 17.
In verse 15 where perishable becomes imperishable, and mortal becomes immortality, this happens in the air when called to the Lord. Without a shadow of a doubt, Corinthians is a very strong Rapture chapter. Not one of the great Pre-tribulation eschatological scholars has ever doubted it.
END OF PART 3