It seems to me that there are a lot of Christians who don’t believe in the Rapture, despite the fact that it appears throughout the New Testament and many times in types and shadows in the Old Testament. The clearest statements about the Rapture are in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and is alluded to several times throughout both letters to the Thessalonians.
Then there are others who believe in the Rapture, but not the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. In fact, they say that we are just looking to escape the Tribulation, which the Bible says is coming upon all the earth. Yes, I admit that I do not want to go through the Tribulation, but there’s a difference between tribulation and Tribulation. Un-capitalized tribulation is something that is inescapable in this life. In most modern translations the word used is trouble. But the seven year Tribulation in which the antichrist rules the world is something that I don’t believe that we must go through. There is an escape clause. Now, if God has provided us an escape clause, why would we not take it?
I think it boils down to being very hard to grasp. The Rapture—a worldwide event in which all Christians are removed from the earth—is really hard to grasp. Although there are a couple of individuals (Enoch and Elijah) who were raptured, global Rapture has never happened before, so it’s really hard to imagine.
But I don’t believe that all Christians worldwide will be taken in the Rapture. In the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) there are five who are wise and five who are foolish. The wise virgins have brought extra oil for their lamps and the foolish have not. Oil represents the anointing—the Holy Spirit. Those without the anointing or those who are not watchful for the sudden return of the Lord will be left. In the parable, all ten are virgins, in other words, all ten are believers. All ten have lamps. And all ten have fallen asleep waiting. But the wise ones, even though asleep, came prepared with oil—the anointing/presence of the Holy Spirit. Again and again Jesus warns us to watch and to look up. Stay connected to the Vine (John 15:1-17) through prayer.
And watching doesn’t mean sitting around twiddling our thumbs until the Rapture. Jesus said, “Occupy till I come,” (Luke 19:13, KJV). In other words, keep at the task that God has given you until He returns to rapture you. The problem for many believers is that they lose their focus while they “occupy,” and the ministry becomes the focus. No, while we stay busy with the task that God has given us, our focus must always be on the Lord, on following His leading, and not on the ministry. I personally have hurt people, precious fellow servants of God, when my focus subtly shifted to my ministry. Thank God we serve a Master who is God of a Second Chance!
Another thing to consider is that Christians who believe in the Rapture as Mid-Trib, Pre-Wrath, and Post-Tribulation are not living with the same kind of expectancy. Instead of looking for Jesus, listening for the Shout and the Trumpet, they are looking for the antichrist and the peace agreement he will confirm. While Bible Prophecy mentions these things, the Bible doesn’t say to look for them. Jesus does say again and again to watch for the Master. This wrong focus means that they will be left behind at the Rapture. But it doesn’t mean that they will lose their salvation—not at all! (I don’t believe that salvation is something you can lose, once you have it. However, I do think it is possible to relinquish your salvation. I don’t know why a person would do that. Were they ever truly born again in the first place? I doubt it. But that’s another discussion for another time.)
The Mid-Trib, Pre-Wrath, and Post-Tribbers all point to us and say that we’re just looking for an escape. Well, why not, when an escape is offered? If you were in a burning house, wouldn’t you look for an escape before the roof collapses? And if a firefighter appeared at your window, would you refuse to leave the house and go with him? Even if we’re wrong about the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, I don’t think God is going to chastise us for looking for Jesus’ Return in obedience to the Scriptures. I don’t imagine that God is going to punish us for encouraging people to live right as though Jesus could return at any time, even if we’re wrong. So, really, either way, Pre-Tribulation belief is not a bad thing.
So by now you might be wondering what is the Rapture lesson of Lot’s wife (Genesis19)? Check this out:
Then He said to His disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will tell you, ‘There He is!’ or ‘Here He is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in His day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”
“Where, Lord?” they asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather,” (Luke 17:22-37, emphasis mine).
I’ve given you that whole passage so that you can see that the context is the Rapture. When Jesus says, “Remember Lot’s wife,” that is in the context of not returning for any of your possessions. I was meditating on this passage today, and I realized that when the Trumpet (Shofar) sounds for the Rapture, we should not worry about our possessions. I believe that the possessions Jesus is referring to is our friends and relatives. Lot’s wife turned to look at Sodom because she had daughters and sons-in-law who had refused to leave town with them. And in the end, the angels had to grab their hands and take them out by force (there’s a picture of the Rapture!). It will be like that for some of us. We will have to focus on where we’re going, and let those who choose to stay behind, stay.
But we have the advantage in that we know ahead of time what will happen. We can warn our “possessions.” If they accept our word, then they will prepare themselves to come with us. If they do not, then it is their choice to stay. God doesn’t violate free will, and neither can we. The best thing that we can do for those who choose to stay behind is to 1) speak the truth in love, 2) demonstrate God’s love by our lives, and 3) pray for them. I see little value in a Lot’s wife sacrifice. But if I, as the Bride of Christ, intercede in Heaven for my loved ones that have chosen to stay behind, then my Bridegroom will do His utmost for them, for my sake.
Not that He wouldn’t help them out and answer our prayers before, but our example to them will be stronger because they will know what has happened when we are raptured away. Plus, they will be immune to the lie of the antichrist: that we were taken away on the mothership back to the home world to be re-educated. The antichrist will blame all the world’s evils (wars, greed, intolerance, etc.) on Christians. They will see right through that hogwash, and will know the truth.
Of course, how they choose to act on that truth is up to them. But then it always was. That’s the downside of free will: that some people will choose to go to hell. They don’t have to. Hell wasn’t made for people. God made hell as a place for the rebellious angels. But people who refuse the free gift of abundant life in Heaven won’t be forced to enter Heaven and to spend eternity in God’s presence. The only other place for them is hell. It’s sad, but true.
But the story of Lot gives us some hope. Lot’s married children chose to stay behind, and his wife turned to look back and was turned into a pillar of salt. But Lot’s two young daughters went with him out of Sodom in that Rapture scenario. I believe that our young children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews will also go with us in the Rapture. God in His mercy will not let our little ones go through the terrible things that will happen on earth.
Does that mean that God will take all the innocent children in the Rapture? No, I don’t think so. People who don’t look to Jesus for salvation, who are in rebellion, those people are putting their own children in harm’s way. But when they die, those innocents will go to Heaven because they hadn’t lived to an age of accountability.
So, remember Lot’s wife! She couldn’t help her lost family members by dying. Keep your focus on Jesus! Be ready for His return—it could literally be any day now! God is good!