2004, ® Writers Guild of America, West 2004
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WHAT is the Rapture?
1. The word "Rapture" is not in the Bible. The word
comes from the fourth century Latin vulgate "rapere"/"raptum"
translation of the Greek word "harpazo"
and has been picked up by many as the best single word to express
the event it describes. Some translators have rendered the word
"caught up" or "snatched." The Lord will return
and all those who have died in Christ (accepted Christ prior to
their death) and those who are alive in Christ (current believers)
will be taken up to meet the Lord in the air in the twinkling
of an eye.
Rapture is not a unique Biblical concept to the End Times. Neither
Enoch nor Elijah died, but underwent something like the Rapture.
The Apostle Paul was also "caught up" (Greek:
"harpazo;" Latin: "raptum") into heaven
while still alive. The same word (Greek: "harpazo;"
Latin: "raptum") was used when Philip was "caught
away" from the eunuch by the Spirit of the Lord. The same
word also described the ascension of Jesus to heaven at the Mount
of Olives, so the same powerful event that transported Jesus will
also transport those of us still alive to be instantly in the
presence of the Lord.
B. WHO participates in it? WHERE is it?
All believing Christians who have accepted Jesus Christ as
the Son of God and their personal Savior are taken bodily from
the earth in one instantaneous act, and it is worldwide.
All others are left behind. There are three primary verses that
teach about the Rapture, when the Lord Himself returns for his
14:1-3 - "I will come back and take you to be with me"
Corinthians 15:42-58 - "We will all be changed (Greek:
- to exchange one thing for another, to transform) in a flash,
in the twinkling of an eye"
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - "caught up"
WHEN is the Rapture? Some very different views of the timing are:
the 7-year Tribulation period begins.
the midpoint of the Tribulation.
the end of the Tribulation, right before the Second Coming of Christ
back to Earth. Believers must suffer the Tribulation as testing,
and will be raptured up to meet Christ in the air and then will
return immediately with Him back to the Earth.
Faithful, devoted believers will be raptured before the Tribulation;
the rest of believers will be left to go through the purging of
the Tribulation. (Most all espousing this view believe they are
in the first group.)
three-fourths (five and a half years) of the way through the Tribulation,
when the full wrath of God begins to be poured out on the Earth.
6. The difference of opinions
in this one area of WHEN? is considerable. Some online Christian discussion
forums have an "Eschatology"
board in which the arguments among reasonable people are intense. Those
differences of opinion tend to be about whether the prophecies in Daniel
and/or Revelation are literal or symbolic; whether the prophecies about
the role of Israel in End Times events have already been fulfilled completely
or not; whether the Temple destroyed in 70 AD was the second of three
Temples or the second of two; and whether the Antichrist has already come
or is yet to be revealed. One cannot hold all or even several of these
views of WHEN? simultaneously. The author has written this play from a
viewpoint of the Rapture occurring Pre-Tribulation, which is a
literal, not symbolic, interpretation of prophecies of End Times events;
that the role of Israel is pivotal to those prophecies; that the Third
Temple will be built; and that the Antichrist is yet to be revealed.
7. One Post-Tribulationist argument is that a Pre-Tribulation Rapture
would be a Second Coming, and the Glorious Appearance a Third Coming.
A counterpoint to support Pre-Tribulation is that the Rapture and the
Second Coming are two very different events. Jesus does not appear on
the earth, and He will be invisible to unbelievers. The Rapture will take
living Christians and resurrected saints from earth to meet Jesus in the
air and be transported to heaven. The Second Coming will be Jesus
and His saints moving from heaven to earth, and He will be visible to
the entire world.
Rapture happens instantaneously. The Second Coming consists of multiple
events over many hours (perhaps several days) - Jesus' Glorious Appearance
in the sky (the
"sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky" -
"every eye will see him"); Jesus' feet striking the
Mount of Olives, the
chaining of Satan, the execution of
judgment upon the Earth and its
destruction by fire and the
New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to be the centerpiece of the
9. The Second Coming must be preceded by a time of horrible conflagration
and war. There are no prophecies left to be fulfilled before the Rapture
D. Is the timing of WHEN the Rapture will happen hidden somewhere
in the Bible?
1. Only God knows, and He has not revealed it to men in any form. There are neither specific dates
nor events that are required for the Rapture to occur. There will be no
signs prior to its happening. To speculate on a date for
the Rapture is a serious error to make; no one knows but the Father. If you
hear someone setting a date for the Rapture, you can know two things
right away: he's wrong and he's not paying attention to
what's written in the Bible. In God’s timetable, “soon” can mean any
time He chooses.
2. The Second Coming is specifically seven years (one "seven")
after the Antichrist signs a covenant with Israel, which is the event
that launches the Tribulation. Midway through, he will drop all pretense
of being a friend to Christ and Israel and begin his murders. Those holding
a Post-Tribulation position
could calculate exactly the time of the Rapture to be seven years
after that covenant; but there are to be no advance indications
of the Rapture.
No one knows the hour when Christ will
return - not the angels in heaven; not even Jesus Himself - only the Father
E. WHY is the Rapture?
1. Suffering is different from God's wrath.
Christians are called upon to endure suffering and hardship as
discipline from God.
2. God's wrath is reserved for unbelievers.
Believers will be spared this
Divine retribution by being "snatched away" from the earth in
Bible promises that God's people are exempt from the coming Tribulation
(“coming wrath,” “hour of trial”).
Are those left behind lost?
God is the God of infinite patience and second chances. One purpose of
the Tribulation is to cause unbelieving people to change their hardened
hearts. The purposes of the Two Witnesses (perhaps Elijah & Enoch),
the sealed 144,000 Jews and the three angels are to evangelize and bring
people to repentance. These Jews will save millions/billions of people
in the Tribulation. The Church is not evangelizing because the Church
has departed the Earth during the Rapture.
points to support a Pre-Tribulation
The 7 lampstands, which Jesus said are the Church in Revelation Chapter 1, have been moved
in Chapter 4:
Moved from earth - Revelation 1:12-14
1:20 To heaven - Revelation
And thus ends reference to the lampstands, because for eternity
thereafter, the Lamb will be our light - Revelation
21:23 & Revelation
2. Location of the Church in Revelation Chapters 4-18
of the chapters that deal with the Tribulation mention the presence of the
Removal of the Restrainer
The age in which we
now live is described as the age of restraint. Something or someone is
holding back the full blast of evil that is to come when the Antichrist is
unleashed. That Someone is the Holy Spirit working through the Church.
When the Church is removed, the Holy Spirit, the Restrainer (He), is removed.
= the raptured Church
In Revelation, there
are twelve references to a group of beings called the "twenty four
elders." The fact that they are mentioned twelve times makes them key
players in Bible prophecy. Some writers have speculated they are the
twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles, representing the Old Testament
and New Testament redeemed. There are clues throughout Revelation that
could lead one to believe that they represent the raptured Church,
particularly that they are elders and that they have crowns.
They are not angels, for angels never grow old and angels do not receive
crowns. They are men redeemed from earth.
The Rapture is
presented in the New Testament as an event that, from man's viewpoint,
could occur at any moment. Believers are to be prepared, to wait and to be looking for it all the
time. Only the Pre-Tribulation
position allows for an imminent, any moment,
sign-less coming of Christ for His own.
of the Rapture is intended to be a comfort and blessing to the Lord's
people. It is our "blessed hope."
The blessed hope of
the Rapture is that Christ will come for the faithful prior to a time
of worldwide devastation. There is no rejoicing if Christians fear and
expect to be fugitives and beheaded or worse at the hands of the Antichrist.
Those fates do await those Tribulation saints who will come to Christ
during the Tribulation, but too late to avoid these seven years.
The deceit of the Antichrist
Antichrist, with Satan's active participation, will deceive an
unbelieving world. Lying and deceit will be his native tongue. Christians would not be fooled by a
counterfeit and the Christian media, or secular media alerted by Christians, would sound the
alarm. But there will be no believers left on Earth and no true Christian
media. The Antichrist will most likely seize all media for his own
propaganda purposes, as all past dictators have, so the fraud will
continue to its full conclusion.
The Rapture will set off alarm bells worldwide, but the worst is yet to
"For the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand -"
worldwide, instantaneous, simultaneous disappearance of two billion
Christians will have a startling effect on those who are their relatives,
friends or acquaintances. Many of those left behind will most likely know
instantly what has happened. Those who actually see someone raptured
before their very eyes will have no doubt whatsoever. Many will come to
Christ immediately as a result. This is the first event, and the one with
the least amount of violence, destruction and death, to shake people out
of their complacency about Jesus. The violence will increase
exponentially, but only after continued rejection of God after each
between Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church and the Second
Coming of Christ
(sometimes referred to as the Glorious Appearance, when He is
coming FOR His Church
1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
Jesus coming WITH His Church
up with Him in the air
1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
feet touch the Earth
taken, unbelievers are left behind
are taken; the righteous Tribulation saints and newly believing
Jews are left behind
To transform saints’ bodies to incorruptible; to present the
Church to Himself and to the Father
1 Corinthians 15:53
To execute judgment on Earth and set up His Kingdom
5. Marriage of Lamb in heaven after the Rapture.
Christ is the groom; the Church is the bride, and believers are
that Church. Following is the important Wedding Supper celebration
(perhaps for the entire 7 years), the one referred to in Jesus'
parable of Luke
14:15-24. Then the Church returns to Earth as the white-robed
armies of Christ. Logic maintains there is no rushed “yo-yo”
up and down Rapture, then immediate return to Earth with Christ,
as a post-Tribulation view maintains.
2 Corinthians 11:2
5. Marriage is followed by war on earth with the armies of
heaven, the saints of the Wedding Supper.
in a moment, too fast for eyes to see
deliberate return with great majesty
Only Christians will see Him – a private event
1 Corinthians 15:52
Every eye will see Him – a public, worldwide event
descends with a loud shout and a trumpet
shout or trumpet mentioned
resurrection takes place
1 Corinthians 15:21
1 Corinthians 15:23
1 Corinthians 15:51-54
happen at any time
1 Thessalonians 5:4-6
date: 7 years after the Antichrist signs a covenant of peace with
Israel; after the Tribulation
(‘sevens’ / ‘weeks’ = 7 year periods, like our decades, came from
keeping the Sabbath of the land every 7th year. Biblical
years are based on 360 days, not our 365 days.)
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
Christ doesn’t need angels to help Him
resurrect His own creation.
He claims the power of resurrection as proof He was and is God in human
1 Thessalonians 4:16
participate in Second Coming
Living believers and the spirits
of those dead in Christ depart with Jesus to receive their
return with Jesus in already resurrected bodies riding on
does not return on a white horse
1 Thessalonians 4:16
returns on a white horse
19:11, 19, 21
the Church only (those in Christ)
1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
now the focus - and believing Tribulation saints
9:24 (the “70 week,” the final 7 years of 490)
(sheep & the goats)
message of hope and comfort
1 Thessalonians 4:17-18
1 Timothy 1:1
message of judgment
one of great joy
one of great mourning