Wednesday’s Word The Rapture
July 27, 2020

End Times Doctrine
The Rapture

The concept of the Rapture has captivated the minds and heart of the church like very few other doctrines have, mainly because we believe we are in the last of the last days, and we don’t see our world lasting much longer.

Further, the Rapture has probably done more for evangelism and discipleship than most anything else. Therefore, seeing that the time is short, we should be getting ourselves ready, and telling others the good news to get them right with God now; rather than get left behind later.

A farmer had an old Grandfather clock that would chime every hour on the hour. Unfortunately, the clock was on it’s last legs, and one night it woke the farmer up, not because of the sound, but because it struck 16 times. The famer told his wife, “Get up, it’s later than it has ever been.”

How true that is in our day. It’s later than it ever has been.

Now, the word “Rapture” doesn’t occur in the English Bible. This is one of the reasons why many say that it’s a recent doctrine and has no place within Biblical teaching. But the word actually comes from the Latin translation known as the “Latin Vulgate” that was written in the early 5th century. The word is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

“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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17 NKJV emphasis mine)

The Latin word for “caught up,” is “rapio.” In the Greek it’s “harpazo,” which means “To steal, carry off, or snatch away by force with no resistance offered.”

If we were to give the word “rapture,” a definition it would be, “The Rapture is where believers in Jesus Christ are removed from this earth in an instance, whether dead or alive, by Jesus Christ before the outpouring of God’s wrath prior to Jesus’s Second Coming.”

We see this event talked about by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church.

“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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53 NKJV)

Paul calls this event a mystery. The word means something that cannot be explained through any rational means, that is, with human intellect. Therefore it can only be understood through God’s revelation too us. The mystery is that not every believer will die, but there will be some that will be alive when it occurs.

Paul also explains that rapture will take place in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. In other words the time it takes to blink. Now, it only takes 1/10th of a second to blink, therefore, in 1/10th of a second every believer, both dead and alive, will be resurrected.

While there are a couple of interesting foreshadows of this event, the one that grabs most people’s attention is that of Enoch.

“And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24 NKJV)

The New Testament commentary on this passage is found in the book of Hebrews says, “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him;’ for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5 NKJV)

Everyone else in the Genesis genealogy died, but not Enoch. Instead he was raptured, that is, he was still alive when God took him to heaven.

The Rapture is actually an event that is agreed upon by most Christian theologians; it’s the timing where disagreement comes in. However, when it does occur, the magnitude will be enormous.

The various views are as follows:
• Pre-Tribulation – The Rapture will occur prior to the Great Tribulation and can happen at any time.
• Pre-Wrath – The Rapture will occur prior to God’s wrath being poured out. This will happen prior to the Trumpet Judgments, because they feel that the seal judgments, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, are humanity’s wrath against itself, and not God’s wrath.
• Mid-Tribulation – The Rapture will happen halfway through the Great Tribulation. This is seen in how the book Revelation separates the Tribulation into two halves.
• Post-Tribulation – The Rapture will happen at the very end of the Tribulation. Here the church is delivered through, and not from, the Tribulation.

Each of these views has some aspect of Scripture backing them. So, it’s not as black and white as some people would want. This leads me to one last Rapture theory.

• Pan-Tribulation – That no matter when Jesus comes back for his church, prior to, in the middle of, or at the end, everything is going to pan out in the end.

But as for the most part, I lean toward the Pre-Tribulation side of the equation, and let me give you some of my reasoning.

1. The church will not experience the wrath of God

Scriptural Support for this is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 where it says, “God did not appoint us to wrath.” Also, in Romans 5:9 where it says we shall be saved from God’s wrath though the blood of Jesus. And then to the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10, Jesus promised that He would keep them from the hour of trial that shall come upon the whole world.

Now, Jesus makes it clear in John 16:33 that we will go through trials and tribulation, but the aim of these is towards the individual and not humanity collectively.

But the wrath of God is different and is used for a different purpose. Divine wrath is seen in the Great Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the ten Plagues of Egypt.

Romans 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”

Further in the above examples of such divine wrath, believers are delivered from God’s wrath, when Noah rode out the waters in the ark, Lot was escorted out of Sodom by angels prior God’s wrath being poured out, and Israel was kept safe from the plagues.

2. The church has to be gone for the Antichrist to be revealed

“And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 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. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 NKJV)

Again Paul is referring to the last days. But before the Antichrist can be revealed, the One who is presently retraining him from coming is removed.

Many see this as the Holy Spirit, because only God can restrain lawlessness. But the Holy Spirit is still around during the time of the Great Tribulation leading people to Jesus, those known as the Tribulation saints. So the Holy Spirit isn’t removed.

Who then is the restrainer? Paul describes the restrainer as both a “what,” and a “who.” Notice the wording, “you know what is restraining” and “He who now restrains.”

The “who” is the Holy Spirit, the “what” is the vehicle of grace the Holy Spirit works through, which would be the church.

Further, look at what Jesus said to Peter. “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 NKJV)

Since the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church, and since it says that the Antichrist will make war with the saints and overcome them (Revelation 13:7), then the church must be removed for Satan to bring his man, the Antichrist, on the scene.

3. The church is never mentioned as being in the Great Tribulation.

“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.’” (Revelation 4:1 NKJV)

The question is, “After what things?” The answer is what happened prior in chapters two and three. In these chapters Jesus is addressing the church. So after His dealing with the church, God unleashes the Seal Judgments, which begins with the coming of the Antichrist.

The other interesting thing we see is that the Greek word for the church, “ekklesia” is never mentioned after the third chapter until Jesus’ concluding remark in Revelation 22:16. The next reference of the church is found in chapter 19 as the wife of Jesus at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and then as following Jesus upon His return as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

Those who do come to faith during this time are called “Tribulation Saints,” but not the church.

Further, the Time of Tribulation will be during the last part of God’s prophecy found in Daniel 9:27, where He deals with the nation of Israel, not the church.

4. The language of Jesus

“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:42:44 NKJV)

We also see this same wording about Jesus’s coming as a thief in the night immediately following Paul’s description of the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4.

This is referred to as the “imminent” return of Jesus. Imminent means at any time. Jesus can return at any time. Jesus said that no one knows the day or the hour, only the Heavenly Father (Matthew 24:36, 44). The only instruction Jesus gives concerning this event is to be ready.

5. The marriage covenant

This is significant because Jesus calls Himself the bridegroom and the church the bride (Revelation 19:7-9; Ephesians 5:21-32)

In Jesus’ day there was a Jewish custom concerning marriage. Back then it was more like a legal agreement. The bridegroom would come to the bride’s house and propose marriage, which would include a price to be paid. Afterwards, they would drink a cup of wine and offer a toast to the bride.

The bridegroom would then go back to his father’s house to build a room for himself and the bride. The construction would take some time, and only the father could tell the son when it was ready and when he could go and get his bride.

The bride was obligated to wait and be ready. The custom was for her and her bridesmaids to have oil lamps ready in case he came at night. At this time she was considered to be “set apart,” which is the same word as being holy, and was referred to as being bought with a price.

When the moment arrived, the father sent the son and his friends to go get the bride. This was done in secret, and it was to be a surprise, and the bride would be considered as stolen. However, before he got there he would announce his arrival by blowing a horn.

When they got to the house, the bridegroom would take the bride into the room he built and consummate the marriage, and for the next seven days stay in the father’s house. It was during these seven days that a feast would be held, known as the marriage feast. After the seven days the new couple would then go to their own house.

Maybe as we went through this you saw the gospel story played out in what Jesus did for us, He being the bridegroom and we the bride.

He made a new covenant, a legal binding agreement, one in which He paid for with His life. Further, when he took the cup of the new covenant, that which we know as communion, He gave the toast and sealed the marriage deal.

He then went back to the Father’s house saying He was going to prepare a place for His bride, the church, and only the Father knows when Jesus will be returning. (John 14:2-3; Mark 13:32-33)

Therefore, as the bride of Christ we wait, being always ready. In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus said that five were ready with extra oil for their lamps, but the other five were not and were left behind. And when He comes it will be announced with the sound of the trumpet.

As the bride we are called to be holy, that is, set apart, which is where we get the word “saint.” (1 Peter 1:18-19, 1 Corinthian 6:19-20)

After we go to be with Him, He’ll take us back to the Father’s house, heaven, where for seven years where we will partake of the Marriage supper of the Lamb. After these seven years we’ll come back to earth where we will rule and reign alongside Him (Revelation 19:14).

These are the main reasons why I believe in the pre-tribulation theory. But again, which ever theory, in the end it’s up to God, and if we go through the time of tribulation then God will give us the strength and courage to endure.

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