[What is the Rapture?] [Key passages] [When will it happen?] [Who will go?]
It describes an event in the future when Jesus Christ will in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor 15:51), change all believers (living and dead) to immortal, giving them a resurrected body, and catching them up to meet the Lord in the air. People say the word 'Rapture' isn't in the Bible, and this is misleading. The term 'Rapture' comes from the Latin word for the event. This term has been coined for the event rather than the actual Greek word in the text. The Greek word is harpazo. It means to snatch or catch away, used of Paul in being caught up to Paradise, 2 Cor. 12:2, 4. The word is used in 1 Thess 4:16-17, and translated 'caught up'. So, regardless of the word we use to describe the event, it most definitely is a Biblical term. (As much as any English term is, since the Bible wasn't written in English)
The controversial issue today is to when the event will take place in relation to the time of the second coming and seven year tribulation. Of course the point is meaningless for those that don't believe in a literal 7 year tribulation, but for those of us that do, it is a very import issue. Evangelicals believe in a literal 7 year tribulation, and a literal return of Jesus Christ. Less agree on a literal 1000 year Millenium after the return of Christ, but our viewpoint in EndTimes.org is that they are both literal, and future events. As will be shown, EndTimes.org teaches a Pretribulation rapture, a literal 7 year tribulation, the return of Jesus Christ, and a literal 1000 year Millennial reign of Christ.
An overview of the different Rapture positions
Certain questions related to the Rapture issue can be asked about the purpose of God during the tribulation and Day of the Lord. The following passages bring out these questions.
|14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
2 "In My Fathers house are many dwelling places; if it
were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and
receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
So what did Jesus mean by this? Was He unconcerned with the timing of this event? Did He get confused about the timing? How could He promise to come again to take certain believers back to a place that He was going to prepare in His fathers house, knowing that the next time He came to earth would be to set up His kingdom on earth? It makes perfect sense in light of a pretrib rapture, when the Lord will come first for His bride, the church, bringing us back to the fathers house.
|4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,
with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in
Christ shall rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together
with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the
Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
5:7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
|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 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.|
|10 Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth. 11 I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.|
|6:1 - 13 Then God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come
before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about
to destroy them with the earth. 14 "Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; ... 17
Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days; and the water increased and lifted up
the ark, so that it rose above the earth.
Interesting that the only other case in man's history when God judged the world was in the flood, and in this case the righteous were removed, and the unbelievers judged. You might even say that Noah and his family met the Lord in the air. (I'm not saying that the experience of Noah foreshadowed the rapture, but just that it is an interesting parallel.) This is not the exact kind of deliverance that adherents to the pretrib rapture are expecting, but it is certainly true that Noah and his family were not left to go through the flood, but were removed from the point of contact.
18:22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord. 23 And Abraham came near and said, "Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 "Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt Thou indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 "Far be it from Thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?"
Wouldn't Abraham make the same argument if left to debate whether or not Christians would go through the tribulation? Certainly if the righteous are to be killed during the tribulation, (Rev. 6:9, 20:4) I think he would voice the same concern. There weren't even ten righteous found there in Sodom, but God did something interesting. He removed the righteous before the judgment.
Note: The teaching about God's dealings with man in the past isn't an absolute proof of how He will act in the future, but it is a valid point for study, and does support the pretrib viewpoint.
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.
He who restrains is the Holy Spirit, since the church is not usually called 'he', nor does the church have the ultimate power outside of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God will stop working in the restraining way that He is now. This doesn't mean that He is no longer on the earth, since He is omnipresent. Just as the Spirit of God worked differently during the OT than He did in the Church age, He will work in a completely different way during the tribulation. Currently, He is restraining Satan from doing whatever He likes. Even the angels currently play a major role in keeping the devil from breaking loose. Look at Daniel 12...
12:1 "Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.
Now the big question. If the restraining power of the Holy Spirit is to be removed, how can the church still be on the earth? The church can not exist without the power of the Holy Spirit, nor does God say that it ever will exist in this way. In this way it could be said that the church also restrains the effects of total satanic control over the world, in that we exercise a godly dominion over the earth, which partially thwarts the enemy, or restrains him. For those that would say that the church will be here during the tribulation, it's interesting to note that we have knowledge of some key events during the tribulation, and would not keep quiet were we to see these things come to pass. This means that there would be a huge religious movement against the Antichrist, and this is not predicted in the Bible. On the contrary, the Bible predicts apostasy.
With the church gone, the restraining influence will be gone. So whether you see it as the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Spirit & church, either way the church must be gone for this prophecy to make sense.
Rapture vs Second Coming
The Rapture as a means of sociological changes in the Endtimes
We don't know when, and we are specifically told not that man can't know the day or hour. People that set dates are not to be believed, since the Bible specifically tells us that no man knows. However, we are not told to live as if we had all kinds of time. On the contrary, we are taught to live as if it would be today. Why? Not only because we acknowledge that we are not part of the darkness, and will escape the judgment, but because it is the way we should live, in obedience and appreciation for what God has done for us. Therefore, it is right to study the subject, and it is right to look at the events around us to see if the signs that Jesus warned of are present. We should not fall into the trap of reading everything into scripture. Far better to try to see if things can possibly NOT fit into our expectation for Endtimes events, or eschatological model. Lots of circumstantial evidence (many coincidences) will rightly lead us to healthy concern that the times may be near. This is what endtimes.org will do as we look at current events. We should have a healthy concern today that the Endtimes are near, and begin to do as Peter said in 2 Pet 3:11
3:11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
All believers during the church age will be part of the resurrection at the rapture. It seems from Daniel that the OT saints (believers) will receive their resurrected bodies at the second coming of Christ, when the purging of Israel is complete. (The tribulation includes the purging of national Israel) This makes sense when the tribulation is seen in context with Daniel 9. The church is not Israel, and God has spelled out a plan for each entity. The church hasn't taken the place of Israel in prophecy. God made specific promises to Israel, and He will keep them. During the tribulation, God will be working once again with Israel.