“Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1st Corinthians 15:51-53).
Throughout the New Testament, the word translated as ‘mystery’ comes from the Greek’ musterion,’ which literally means ‘secret’ or ‘hidden thing.’ In our modern English, however, ‘mystery’ is understood in the Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmesian sense of the word.
Paul’s use of the word ‘mystery’ when describing the Rapture in 1 Corinthians 15:53 means a truth that had not yet been revealed.
Paul cannot be referring to the Second Coming of Christ; His return at the end of the Tribulation is one of the oldest prophecies recorded in Scripture.
Daniel 12:1-3 and Zechariah 12:10; 14:4 all mention the 2nd Coming, and Jude quotes Enoch, the “seventh from Adam,” who “prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints” (Jude 1:14).
The Rapture, therefore, is a previously unrevealed secret, a ‘hidden thing’ of God previously unknown to men.
As the end of this present Age approaches, there are many Christians who are beginning to wonder if we might already be in the Tribulation now.
There are lots and lots of folks who think I am ‘way out there’ for adhering to a pre-Tribulationist doctrine. (I know this to be true, also, because I get emails from them every time I comment on the Rapture, saying, “Kinsella, you’re way out there!”)
They’ll go on smugly (and endlessly), playing word games like “the word ‘Rapture’ isn’t even in the Bible” — as if that meant something.
(Try and find the word ‘Bible’ in the Bible. Does its absence from the Scriptures mean there is no Bible?)
Or babble mindlessly about Margaret MacDonald and C.I. Scofield before pronouncing Dispensationalism and a pre-Trib Rapture a modern-day ‘invented’ doctrine.
I say ‘mindlessly’ because they don’t know what they are talking about — they are just quoting somebody else’s research as if it were the Gospel itself.
We have dealt with the Margaret MacDonald argument in previous Omega Letter reports, so we won’t address that particular ‘controversy’ here, other than to note that the Apostle Paul wrote of the Rapture 1,800 years before Margaret MacDonald.
Instead of building the argument based on what the Bible doesn’t say about the Rapture, it is helpful to take a good close look at what it DOES tell us about the Rapture.
First, notice that the Rapture involves the movement of believers from the earth to Heaven:
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
The “dead in Christ” rise first; then those believers who are “alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds.” The operative word here is ‘rise.’
On the other hand, at the Second Coming, the Lord returns WITH His saints:
“To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (1st Thessalonians 3:13).
So the Rapture is not the same event as the Second Coming.
And things that are different are NOT the same. What would be the point of Rapturing the Church then, anyway? The Lord returns to establish His kingdom on earth, so why pull out all the Christians?
Who is He gonna rule?
“And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And He shall set the sheep on His right Hand, but the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:32-33).
If all the believers are raptured at the Second Coming, that would also include the Tribulation saints. Where would the believers in mortal bodies come from if they are raptured at the Second Coming?
Who would be able to enter into Christ’s Kingdom? Enquiring minds want to know.
Then there is Daniel’s 70 weeks. The Church was absent for the first sixty-nine weeks — the countdown was suspended at the Cross so the Church could be born.
Daniel makes it clear that all 70 weeks are determined upon Israel.
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:7-8).
If the Bride is made ready to accompany Christ to the earth at the Second Coming (while part of the Bride is still on earth during the Tribulation), then how does the Bride (the Church) also come with Christ at His Return?
There is the example of Enoch:
“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). Not only does Enoch prefigure the Rapture, note that Enoch’s Rapture was pre-Flood, and not mid-Flood or post-Flood.
The Scriptures are plain, clear and concise on the topic of a pre-Tribulation Rapture — provided one interprets the Bible literally instead of figuratively or symbolically.
While no man knows the day or the hour of the Rapture, the Second Coming can be accurately predicted, since Daniel tells us He returns exactly 1,290 days after the antichrist “opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2nd Thessalonians 2:4).
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days” (Daniel 12:11).
The pre-Tribulation Rapture is often called the “Blessed Hope” by those who look for His return before the Tribulation begins. Those who believe the Church will go through the Tribulation sneeringly call it the ‘Great Escape.’
Don’t let anybody steal away your Blessed Hope:
“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1st Corinthians 15:16-19).
The Rapture happens before the Tribulation, which means that He is coming for us soon! Call it the Blessed Hope or the Great Escape, He IS coming.
And given the current state of global affairs, it can’t be too much longer until we hear that trumpet.
(Written by Jack Kinsella on February 13, 2010)
Originally posted at Omega Letter.com