If viewed from an historical Jewish point of view, the evidence for the Rapture to occur before the Tribulation is overwhelming. Also overwhelming is the venomous response that some people have to the idea of a pre-tribulation Rapture. Between those 2 things, I almost feel intimidated about trying to present it all here in a way that will make sense.
Nevertheless, I will attempt to do so because I believe that it is very important for believers to be ready. Those who have been following my blog know that recently I fasted for 21 days, putting the question to God: “Given that these are the End Times, what should we be doing to be prepared for what comes next?” It was during that fast that I became aware that the Rapture is likely to be “what comes next.”
To begin with, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet about the End Times. Every wacko theory is broadcast on the internet from Obama being the antichrist to the “mark of the beast” being to worship God on the wrong day of the week. Because the things written about the End Times in Daniel and Revelation are so fantastic, many people take them as allegorical. Some of those same people take Noah’s Ark, the Burning Bush, and Jonah in the Fish (see my recent post A Pipsqueak and a Fish Story) as being literal, yet they say that the future things are allegorical. That kind of inconsistency doesn’t even make sense! If any of the Bible is untrue, then all of it comes into doubt—especially given the usual things that have been recorded in the Bible (like fire from Heaven that burns up a soaking-wet offering).
So, future events recorded in the Bible are to be taken every bit as literally as past events. In other words, when the Bible says that we will be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17), that’s exactly what it means.
Some people don’t believe in the Rapture at all, simply because the word rapture isn’t in the Bible. It’s true. The word rapture is not in the English language Bible, but that word came from the Latin Vulgate. In the original Greek Bible, the word is harpadzo (pronounced har-POD-zoh, and written ἁρπάζω), and means to seize, carry off by force; to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly; to snatch out or away. The Latin version translated harpadzo as rapiemur, from the root rapio, meaning to seize, snatch, carry away. So although the word rapture doesn’t appear in the English translation of the Bible, the concept is clearly there, and it seems like it would be perfectly acceptable to translate Paul’s word harpadzo as rapture.
The next problem that people have with the Rapture is that they confuse it with the Second Coming of Jesus. The Rapture and Second Coming are different events. I can understand the confusion, but let’s look carefully at the differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming:
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am,” (John 14:2-3).
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. According to the Lord’s Word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever, (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
Those 3 passages describe the Rapture. The Rapture is all about the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. The words from John: “I go and prepare a place for you, and I will come back and take you to be with me,” are what the bridegroom tells his bride in the Jewish wedding ceremony. Here is a link to an excellent video that shows the Jewish wedding ceremony and explains the connection with the Rapture: The Rapture Revelation. There is a connection, and it’s important because you must remember that Jesus was a Jewish man speaking to Jewish people. So when He these Jewish men: “I go to prepare a place for you,” they understood that He was speaking to them as their Bridegroom speaking to His Bride.
Rapture deniers and others who don’t believe in a Pre-tribulation Rapture say that there won’t be a secret Rapture. It won’t be a secret when it happens. I heard a prophecy that when we are caught up through the devil’s territory (remember, he’s the prince of the power of the air), there will be an EMP effect. Follow the link for that prophecy: EMP Effect at the Rapture.
The following are passages that describe the Second Coming of Jesus:
On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with Him. On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His name the only name, (Zechariah 14:4-9).
Immediately after the distress of those days, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other, (Matthew 24:29-31).
Where the confusion comes is with this trumpet in Matthew and the trumpet mention in both 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians, above. Here’s a link for a video that explains the difference between these 2 trumpets: The “Last Trump” Explained & Revealed.
There is also confusion with the last part of that passage in Matthew, which sounds like the Rapture. However, it can be explained by understanding the Jewish harvest cycles. The harvest isn’t one single event in Israel, but a series of events. First they take a part of the field that has ripened the fastest—usually from the center of the field. That goes to the Temple, and it is called First Fruits. Then is the general harvest, but they leave the corners because of what is written in Leviticus 23:22: “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am the Lord your God,” (AMP, emphasis mine). The very same is repeated in Leviticus 19:9. So they leave the corners until after the poor have had a chance to gather what they need. Then they harvest the 4 corners, and that is the harvest alluded to in Matthew 24:31, the very last part of the harvest: “He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” To see a great illustration of how the Jewish harvest cycle ties in with the Rapture and the final harvest, see Are There Really Over 7 Rapture Scenarios?
Something interesting that most people overlook is the fact that the book of Revelation is chronological. We can know that by the frequent use of the word then in the book of Revelation—54 times in the NIV.
To sum things up, there are some vast differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming, which I’ve put below:
Rapture—Comes suddenly and without warning (Matthew 25:13)
Second Coming—Preceded by many signs, including the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:1-2)
Rapture—Believers will meet Jesus in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
Second Coming—Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives to meet believers on earth (Zechariah 14:4)
Rapture—Mount of Olives remains whole (no change is noted at the Rapture because Jesus will not come all the way down to touch the earth)
Second Coming—Mount of Olives splits when Jesus touches down on it, forming a valley east of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4)
Rapture—Believers get glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:53-54)
Second Coming—Bodies of remaining believers are unchanged (no such change is noted at the Second Coming)
Rapture—Faithful go to Heaven (Revelation 19:6-9)
Second Coming—Believers return from Heaven in glorified bodies, earthly believers (living Tribulation Saints) remain on earth (Revelation 19:14)
Rapture—The world is not yet judged (2 Thessalonians 2:6-12)
Second Coming—The world is judged and righteousness is established (Revelation 19:17-20: 15)
Rapture—The Church is saved from God’s wrath (Isaiah 26:20)
Second Coming—Remaining believers have endured the wrath (Matthew 24:22)
Rapture—Only the saved are involved (Matthew 25)
Second Coming—Everyone is involved (Matthew 24:30)
Rapture—Satan remains free (Revelation 18)
Second Coming—Satan is bound for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3)
Since the Rapture and Second Coming clearly are different events that do not occur at the same time, this would rule out a Post-Tribulation Rapture scenario.
Lately I’ve been waking up with the Rapture on my mind. I believe that it will be soon. And this morning I asked the Lord if He had a Word for me today. I turned to Zephaniah, and here it is, with the section title:
The Day of the Lord Is Near
“Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated His guests,” (Zephaniah 1:7, ESV).
Be silent before the Lord! The Lord has consecrated His guests! Sounds like a wedding to me! God is good!