What is the Rapture? Is it Biblical? Is it a heresy started in the 1830’s? Is it something dreamed up by Christian movie makers? Is it unprecedented or has anything like it ever happened before? What can we expect?
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!
1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
It is true that the English word “Rapture” is not found in the Bible; HOWEVER, the concept is definitely Biblical.
Proverbs 25:2: It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
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.”
1st Thessalonians 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 will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
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.
Genesis 5:24: Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
Hebrews 11:5: By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.
2 Kings 2:11: Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more.
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!
Was the “Rapture invented” by John Darby in the 1830’s as some on the internet maintain? No! An examination of early church writings shows that this charge is false. there were some early church fathers who indeed wrote about the Rapture. If the early Church fathers, who directly succeeded the Apostles, wrote about the Rapture in the 2nd – 4th centuries, how can anyone say that the whole idea began with a Pentecostal preacher in the 1830’s? This is a false claim that some internet prophets have come up with in an attempt to discredit the Rapture (Harpazo).
Irenaeus (130 A.D. – 202 AD) was a bishop of the church in Lyons, France. He was an eyewitness to the Apostle John (who wrote the Book of Revelation) and a disciple of Polycarp, the first of the Apostle John’s disciples.
On the subject of the Rapture, in Against Heresies 5.29, he (Irenaeus) wrote:
“Those nations however, who did not of themselves raise up their eyes unto heaven, nor returned thanks to their Maker, nor wished to behold the light of truth, but who were like blind mice concealed in the depths of ignorance, the word justly reckons “as waste water from a sink, and as the turning-weight of a balance — in fact, as nothing;”(1) so far useful and serviceable to the just, as stubble conduces towards the growth of the wheat, and its straw, by means of combustion, serves for working gold.And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, “There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.”(2) For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption.”
Cyprian (200 AD – 258 AD) – Cyprian was Bishop of the church in Carthage. During his short stint as leader of the church, he guided the flock through intense persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire. In 258 AD after spending seven months of confinement to his home by order of Roman authorities, he was beheaded for his faith. Several of his works still exist today. In Treatises of Cyprian he wrote in describing the end times Great Tribulation:
“We who see that terrible things have begun, and know that still more terrible things are imminent, may regard it as the greatest advantage to depart from it as quickly as possible. Do you not give God thanks, do you not congratulate yourself, that by an early departure you are taken away, and delivered from the shipwrecks and disasters that are imminent? Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us hence, and sets us free from the snares of the world and restores us to paradise and the kingdom.”
Ephraim (306 AD – 373 AD) was made a deacon in the church in Syria in 338 and later became the bishop of Nisibis. Although he was made a “saint” in the Roman Catholic Church, he was not involved in Catholicism and did not even live in the Roman Empire until the final years of his life. The book Pseudo Ephraim was one of his still existing works.
In his work, On The Last Times 2, he wrote: “We ought to understand thoroughly therefore, my brothers, what is imminent or overhanging. Already there have been hunger and plagues, violent movements of nations and signs, which have been predicted by the Lord, they have already been fulfilled (consummated), and there is not other which remains, except the advent of the wicked one in the completion of the Roman kingdom.
Or do you not believe unless you see with your eyes? See to it that this sentence be not fulfilled among you of the prophet who declares: “Woe to those who desire to see the day of the Lord!” For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins
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….
Luke 21: 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
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).
Rev.3: 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 on the earth.
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!!
Matthew 24:38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
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.
1 Thessalonians 4:17: Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
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.
Zechariah 14 Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. 3 Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle.
4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. 5 You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!
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.
John 14:2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not soI would have told you. 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.
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.
Revelation 14:18: “Then another angel, who has power to destroy the world with fire, shouted to the angel with the sickle, “Use your sickle now to gather the clusters of grapes from the vines of the earth, for they are fully ripe for judgment.””
Your dead will live;
Their corpses will rise.
You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy,
For your dew is as the dew of the dawn,
And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.
Come, my people, enter into your rooms
And close your doors behind you;
Hide for a little while
Until indignation runs its course.
For behold, the Lord is about to come out from His place
To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
And the earth will reveal her bloodshed
And will no longer cover her slain.
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!
I think we can all agree on one thing…..
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, HALLELUJAH (John 6:68)!
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”.
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!”
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?”
Romans 8:18: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
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!
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!
The Early Church Fathers believed in a pre-Tribulation Rapture.: https://www.pentecostaltheology.com/the-ancient-church-fathers-believed-in-pre-trib-rapture/