For some reason, the Rapture is a divisive and controversial topic in Christian circles. People seem to have strong feelings about it one way or the other. We’re going to address this topic by saying that we don’t have all the answers, but we will share what we believe to be true. This is NOT a “Thus says the Lord”!
First of all, the Rapture is NOT a Salvation issue. We are saved by Grace through Faith as a Gift from God. If you truly believe that Jesus died for your sins and that He rose on the 3rd day according to the Scriptures, then you are SAVED, your name is written in the Lamb’s book of Life, You will be going to Heaven!
It is true that the English word “Rapture” is not found in the Bible; HOWEVER, the concept is definitely Biblical.
The English word “Rapture” is derived from the Latin word Rapio meaning seize or snatch away in relation to an ecstasy of spirit or the actual removal from one place to another. In other words, it means to be carried away in spirit or in body. The Rapture of the bride of Christ means the carrying away of the bride from earth to heaven. The Greek word from this term “rapture” is derived appears in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, translated “caught up.”
The actual Greek word for “caught up” used in these verses in “Harpazo” which means to snatch or take away. This same word “Harpazo” was actually used in the book of Acts to describe how the Holy Spirit caught up or snatched Phillip (physically) and supernaturally transported him to Caesarea (Acts 8:39). It was also used to describe how Paul was “caught up” into the 3rd Heaven for a vision or experience (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).
As stated above, the Rapture, or “catching away” is not an unprecedented event. We just described two separate “shadows” of the Harpazo or Rapture in the New Testament books of Acts and 2nd Corinthians. Although these were “temporary” events, and different than the end-times Harpazo (or rapture), they were still of a supernatural nature and something pretty difficult for the average Christian to wrap our minds around.
There are also two examples or foreshadows of the Harpazo (catching away) in the Old Testament that point to a future Rapture event. Although these likely did NOT happen in the exact same manner (quick/catching away) as the future Harpazo, both Enoch and Elijah were “taken up” to into the Heavens without seeing death and without returning to earth…yet. One was taken before the flood, the other was taken after the flood. Are they literally in the 3rd Heaven? That we do not know. But they WERE “taken up”! Many believe that they will return as the two witnesses at the end of the age.
Although the Rapture is sometimes depicted like some “fake” Hollywood movie scenario, it IS a Biblical and it WILL happen exactly as YHWH has written in His Word. Of course, for those of us who believe in the Rapture, there’s the question of “how will this happen”? and “when will it happen?” As to the how it will happen….my guess is that it will NOT happen as seen in the movies or as portrayed in the book series “Left behind“. Our Father LOVES to surprise us so just expect the unexpected!
When will it happen? Well, no man knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36), so we can’t really get into specifics. However, general theories about the “when” include pre-Tribulation, post-Tribulation and Pre-wrath. Let’s see what the Lord has to say about this “event” that has yet to happen.
Jesus told His Disciples….
In Luke 21, Jesus had just described a litany of terrifying end-time events to His Disciples, letting them know what would take place at the end of days. Jesus then advised His Disciples (and all who would read later) to watch and pray that they may be FOUND WORTHY to escape ALL these things that are coming upon the earth and stand before the son of Man!
Let’s also look at Jesus’ message to the “Church of Philadelphia” in the book of Revelation. As we stated before, there were 7 literal churches during the days of John the Revelator. There were also 7 Church “ages”, and there are 7 “types” of Churches and individuals in these last days. Jesus told the “Church of Philadelphia” that because they had kept His Word and persevered, that He would be keeping them FROM the “hour” of testing that is going to come upon the whole earth (Tribulation).
There are other verses that also describe the Harpazo or the “catching away”. But before we look at these verses, let’s consider someBiblical patterns of YHWH. Jesus told His Disciples that the coming of the Son of man would be like the days of Noah and the Days of Lot. (Luke 17: 26-30)
In both of those situations, God REMOVED His people BEFORE He poured out His Wrath. In the days of Noah, God had Noah build an ARK to rescue those whom He considered “Righteous”, BEFORE the flood. In the days of Lot, God sent Angels to Lot’s family to tell them to leave the city immediately BEFORE YHWH destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is the pattern of our God, who removes HIS people BEFORE He pours out HIS WRATH!
Now of course, this would “beg” the question, okay, I see that God will remove His people BEFORE HIS HOLY Wrath, but what about the time of the Tribulation period, during satan’s wrath? Will Believers in Jesus have to remain during the time of the antichrist’s reign on earth (satan’s wrath)? This would be what some people call “Pre-wrath rapture theory”.
Good question. Pre-Trib, or pre-wrath? Let’s dig for clues in Matthew 24!!
Before Noah and his family entered the Ark, life was pretty much normal (as normal as it could be with Nephilim on the earth). People were doing normal things, like eating, drinking, marrying, and even working (at the field/at the mill)(Matthew 24:40). We are told that the antichrist’s reign is going to be so horrific that if God wouldn’t have shortened the days, NO FLESH would have survived (Matthew 24:22). This doesn’t sound normal to me. Jesus said that His coming would be a surprise. I would think that if the antichrist were rounding up hordes of Christians and Jews to behead them (as he will do), they wouldn’t be eating, drinking, marrying, or working. The Harpazo happens when everything “seems” normal, BEFORE the “FLOOD” comes, before the CRAZINESS begins.
Let’s contrast the Rapture with Jesus’ 2nd coming. At the Harpazo (Rapture), Jesus is going to meet His Saints in the Air. At the 2nd Coming, Jesus brings His Saints to earth with Him when His Feet step on the Mt. of Olives.
Now, let’s take a look at Jesus’ 2nd coming, when He literally sets up His Glorious Millennial kingdom on earth (The day of the Lord). Zechariah paints a pretty good picture of the Lord Jesus’ Christ’s 2nd coming. He’s going to go to battle with those who are destroying Jerusalem (Revelation 11:18). Jesus is going to RESCUE His people, the Jews, from the antichrist and those who want to see them destroyed.
In the Harpazo (Rapture), Jesus’ is going to meet His people “in the air”, but at His 2nd coming, Jesus’ FEET will stand (literally) upon the Mt. of Olives! Life will not be normal when He returns to earth. There will be WAR! There will be chaos and destruction. Jesus says He is going to destroy those who are destroying the earth! Jesus is going to bring His Holy ones (His Bride) with Him when He returns! He’s bringing His Raptured Saints with Him. We do NOT believe that the Saints are going to be raptured to Heaven during the chaos, do a “U turn”, and come immediately back to earth with Jesus at the battle of Armageddon. (Post Trib Rapture scenario).
IMPORTANT BIBLICAL PATTERNS
Again, let’s look at some Biblical patterns to solidfy our opinion that the Rapture is a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. First, let’s again review the ancient Jewish wedding. Jesus’ relationship with His Bride has been modeling the ancient Jewish Wedding since the days when He walked the earth during His 1st coming. We did a more detailed study of this in a previous post that we will attach here.. https://wordpress.com/view/dyingworld.org
Just to BRIEFLY summarize the ancient Jewish wedding customs. The Groom approaches the bride’s father to request her hand in marriage. If the Bride’s father agrees, then the Bride and Groom share a cup (of wine) to confirm the Covenant (the New Covenant/Holy Communion). The Groom pays the “price” for the Bride. Jesus paid a VERY HEAVY PRICE for His “Bride” at the Cross”. The Groom goes away to His Father’s house to build a room for His Bride. Often, it will take 1 to 2 years to build the room (1000-2000 years). Although difficult, the anxious bride waits for her groom! The Groom does not know when he is to go back to get his bride. The Father of the groom is the one in control of the timing. Upon the Father’s command, The Groom returns with a loud “shout” (last Trumpet blast), gets His Bride and takes her back to the Chuppah where they consummate the wedding. They are in the Chuppah for 7 days (Daniel’s 70th week/7 year time period) before they emerge. After 7 “days”, they share the “wedding Feast” with all the invited guests.
Jesus was following the ancient wedding custom. His plan is to take His Bride BEFORE the Tribulation period, to the Chuppah (Heaven), where they will “consummate” their relationship (spiritually) during the final 7 years known as Daniel’s 70th week (some call it the 7 year Tribulation). Once the 7 years are complete, the wedding Feast will commence, where Bride, Groom, and guests are all invited. The Age of Grace began with Pentecost and will end just prior to Daniel’s 70th week, when Jesus turns His Face back to the Jewish people (Jewish people will once again be the focus). The Jewish people have been partially blinded UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles “come in”. (Romans 11:25).
Let’s review another Biblical pattern that points to the pre-Tribulation Rapture. Jesus loved to teach with parables, particularly the Harvest parables. The three main feast days of Israel are each associated with a different harvest. Each crop represents a different group of people.
Rapture: The Barley harvest is an early harvest (firstfruits). Barley grain is a soft seed. In days of old when they wanted to separate the grain from the chaff they would put the barley in a windy place and they would throw the barley into the wind and the wind blew away the chaff. This process is called winnowing. It would easily separate the two and would give them the pure grain. Barley is a metaphor for the Bride who will be Raptured. To crush the Barley would be to destroy it.
The Wheat Harvest ripens at Pentecost, or 50 days after the Passover. (Exodus 34:22) On that day the high priest was to offer to God two loaves (of wheat bread) baked with leaven. To remove the chaff (hard outer shell) from the wheat requires threshing. This is a more severe action, but it does the job. It depicts the fact that the Tribulation Saints and the Jews will be harvested by means of tribulation. The Latin word, tribulum, is a threshing instrument. Many will receive Jesus Christ during the Tribulation; however, doing so will probably cost them their physical lives on earth. But they will inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
The Grape Harvest represents the Fall Holy Days. Finally, to obtain the juice the grapes must be crushed. Grapes do not have chaff, but they do have “flesh” that must be pressed severely in order to obtain the wine. This speaks of God’s Judgment. I would like to believe that there will be those who will give their lives to Jesus Christ during the Grape Harvest.
Of course, I truly believe that Jesus will completely (and pleasantly) surprise us, and that the Harpazo (Rapture) will NOT happen in the way that many people think it will, nor in the way that it is depicted in movies. But I definitely believe in the pre-Tribulation Rapture BECAUSE it is deeply supported by the Word of God! I also want to reassure my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ who do NOT believe in the pre-Tribulation Rapture, that this is NOT a salvation issue!
There is love and concern on both sides, which is really a beautiful thing! Those who believe in the Rapture fear for those who don’t, that because they don’t believe in the Rapture, they will be stuck here during the Tribulation, the worst time on earth…ever! Those who do not believe in the Rapture fear that those who do believe in the Rapture will become so disappointed if there is not rapture, that they will fall away from the faith! See what I mean. Both sides love each other and want the best for each other! That is a good thing! Surely that is pleasing to our LORD JESUS!
We also want to reassure our brothers and sisters in Christ that God does NOT prefer the Saints who will be Raptured over other believers who were not Raptured throughout the ages!!! God grants favor (for His purposes), He does NOT choose favorites! Those who have lived their lives for Jesus, those who have been and continue to be persecuted or even martyr’d NOW for their faith in Jesus, will receive “special crowns” at the Bema Seat Judgment. They will NOT be disappointed. Even in the verses below where Jesus and Peter are discussing one who gets to LIVE and another who will be martyr’d… Jesus made it clear to Peter that as long as we FOLLOW HIM, that is the only thing that matters. We will complete His plan for our lives and hear “Well done, Good and faithful servant”.
John 21:Peter, turning around, *saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 So Peter seeing him *said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” 23 Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”
18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” 19 Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He *said to him, “Follow Me!”
The pre-tribulation rapture is a message of HOPE! Our prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ who do not believe in the pre-Tribulation Rapture, that they will be pleasantly surprised!