The Blessed Hope –A Pre-Tribulation Rapture – the hope of the NT Church
I have noticed that there are some believers out there who are a bit unsure as to their view on the doctrine of the Rapture of the Church, be it due to an uninterest on their part, obvious distractions in the culture, or a lack of exposure to teaching on the part of their church leadership. Either way, I believe that it’s the responsibility of every believer to be a good student of God’s Word, to study to show themselves approved, and to have a working knowledge of how their faith works in light of God’s Word. That being said I should like to unpack the doctrine of the Pre-tribulation Rapture, a view that I ascribe to as truth. As a student of Eschatology and a teacher of the same, I have come to understand that there are about seven different views on the Rapture.
- Pre-tribulation – Jesus comes for His Church prior to the seven-year tribulation.
- Mid-tribulation – Jesus comes for His Church in the middle of the seven-year tribulation.
- Post-tribulation – Jesus comes for His Church at the end of the seven-year tribulation.
- Pre-Wrath – Jesus comes for His Church between the 5th and 6th seal judgments.
- No Rapture – Jesus never raptures His Church, rather, God’s Kingdom manifests on earth.
- Partial Rapture – Jesus comes only for the spiritual Christians, the others are taken midpoint.
- Three Rapture – Jesus comes for His Church in a pre, mid, and post-tribulation Rapture.
While there are arguments for all seven of these rapture theories as they relate to the seven-year tribulation, I find that the various views tend to confuse believers and thus, discourage them in what they believe about the Lord’s return for His Church. A person’s personal view of the Rapture will often reveal their perspective about God and His love for them personally. God loves you and He will not subject you to His wrath. The Rapture is a very brief event, like an elevator that takes you to a certain floor in a building. You don’t think about the elevator ride to your office, shopping venue, or appointment; rather you just take it because the stairs are too difficult. So it is with the Rapture, it’s our elevator ride into Heaven, our blessed hope where we will meet Jesus and all of our brothers and sisters in the Lord. It is there that we will be rewarded for our service to Jesus and where we will celebrate the marriage of the Lamb (Jesus) with His bride, the Church and OT Saints.
The Apostle Paul called this event, the Rapture, our blessed hope.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldy lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the BLESSED HOPE and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” – Titus 2:11-13
Jesus has already come into the world once, as a baby in a manger. He lived a perfect life as a man and died on a cross for the sin of the world. He has already ‘appeared to all men’ and He provided salvation to all who would call upon His holy name for forgiveness of their sin
“For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” – Romans 10:13
If we have accepted Jesus into our heart, than we are called to live ‘soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age,’ our lifetime. It’s not just about our salvation; it’s about living for Jesus with aChrist-like attitudewhere we ‘deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, where we live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.’As we live out our days on earth, we are to be diligent in our service to the Lord while at the same time; we are to be looking forward to the blessed hope, the Rapture of the Church. I am an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, I have studied under some of the best theologians our system has to offer. Four of the fundamental truths (cardinal doctrines) we emphasize in our fellowship are Salvation by grace, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, Divine Healing, and the Rapture of the Church. If you would like to read up on all of the 16 Fundamental truths the Assemblies of God teaches go to ag.org. While I don’t consider myself to be a company man as it were, I do profess a biblically sound faith and have come to love the Lord with my whole heart. Alas, I am a watcher pastor, looking and longing for the Lord’s return, while at the same time, making long-term plans to serve Him.
This blog is all about the pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church, why I believe it, and what that belief says about how I view the Lord. I hope it will encourage you in your faith and love for the Lord.
|The Rapture of the Church is our promise from the Lord that one day He is coming back for His people, His Church, before the tribulation; that terrible time on this earth where God will judge the world. This seven-year tribulation is also known as Daniel’s 70th Week. In this passage in Titus, the Apostle Paul emphasizes two advents of the Lord’s return, the Blessed Hope and the Glorious Appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. In this blog we will focus on the Blessed Hope, that is, pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church. In another blog, we will focus on the Second Coming of Jesus, aka the Glorious Appearing. Remember, these are two separate advents, two separate events. The Rapture of the Church is an event that will occur before the tribulation and the Second Coming of Jesus is an event that will occur at the end of the tribulation. Christians sometimes confuse these two as being the same thing, but they are two different happenings.|
|A brief way to separate the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming is as follows:|
| In the Rapture: In the Second Coming: |
Only the church will see the Lord The whole earth will see the Lord.
Jesus doesn’t set foot on the earth. Jesus sets foot on the Mount of Olives.
We go up to be with Jesus. Jesus comes down to the earth with us.
It will be secret, silent, & instant. It will be revealing, loud, and permanent.
No one will know what has happened. Everyone will know what has happened.
This is for the Christians, the Church. This is for the Jews and Trib-Saints.
The purpose is to evacuate the Church. The purpose is to establish the kingdom.
Jesus said it this way, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I 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.” – John 14:1-3
|In this passage we see the use of the word ‘believe’ (Greek pisteuo) which carries with it the concept of “trusting in” or “committing oneself to” Christ. This is not just lip service; rather, this is a person who has wholeheartedly embraced a personal relationship with Jesus by faith. We also see the used of the word ‘receive’ (Greek para-lambano) which means ‘to receive from another, from beside, or to take from or away’|
Jesus is going to either ‘paralambano’ the believing dead from Paradise or He is going to ‘paralambano’ us who are alive and believe in Jesus right off the face of the earth to Himself. There are two groups of people who will be raptured, the ‘dead in Christ’ and ‘we who are alive and remain.’ The dead in Christ are those saints who have ‘fallen asleep’ (died) and await their resurrection from Paradise in the presence of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul said it this way, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15
Again, the word pisteuo is used again for ‘believe’ and carries with it the concept of “trusting in” or “committing oneself to” Christ. The phrase, “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again” refers to those who have accepted the gospel and believe that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on the third day. They believe, they pisteuo in the Lordship of Jesus Christ! Jesus is not coming back for ‘good’ people who ‘go to a church,’ He’s coming back for His bride, true Christians who have placed their faith and trust in Him; people who pisteuo’ in Christ and have committed themselves to Him in a personal relationship with Him. Being good and going to church are byproducts of a love relationship with Jesus, but those behavioral disciplines can’t save us, only Jesus can do that.
The Apostle Paul goes on to describe the Rapture event in this passage, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The word “rapture” doesn’t appear in the Greek text of the Bible, however, it does appear in the Latin Vulgate, a Latin translation of the Greek NT translated by St. Jerome in 4th century. The phrase ‘caught up’ (Greek: harpaizo) and is translated ‘raptis, rapimure, or raptero’ in Latin, depending on which commentary you are using. This is where we get the word “rapture” from that’s used in modern Eschatology.
|The word harpaizo has four distinct definitions to it:|
|A violent uplifting To claim for oneself eagerly. To snatch away speedily. To rescue from certain calamity or destruction.|
|At the moment the Rapture of the Church occurs, there will be a swift, violent snatching away of the Church from the earth by the Lord to rescue His Church from the coming and certain calamity and destruction of the coming tribulation. How do we know? Because the fruit of the action is contained within the definition of the word ‘harpaizo.’ This word communicates ever so clearly to the believer what it is that Jesus is going to do with His church at the moment He raptures them. Jesus described what the world will look like at the moment of the Rapture:|
|“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 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. 40 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. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” – Matthew 24:36-44|
|The phrase, ‘of that day and hour no one knows…but My Father only’ was an idiom referencing a Jewish wedding. The phrase, ‘up until the day that Noah entered the ark’ emphases the solemn change that occurred on the earth at the moment God closed the door of the ark. Noah’s Ark is an OT type/shadow of Jesus coming in a pre-trib Rapture. Noah and his family were rescued before the flood. Moses said it this way, “Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation. 2 You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; 3 also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth. 4 For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.” 5 And Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded him. 6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters were on the earth. 7 So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth, 9 two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth.” – Genesis 7:1-10 |
The phrase, ‘Come into the ark’ In Genesis 7:1 is akin to ‘Come up here’ in Revelation 4:1. The phrase, ‘after seven more days’ represents a one-week period between the ark door being closed by God and the first drop of rain occurring. This one-week gap was God’s grace being manifested in the OT for those wicked people who heard Noah’s preaching, but wouldn’t repent of their wickedness.The concept of God providing opportunity for individuals locked outside of the Ark to repent of their sin, believe upon God by faith, and make the necessary atoning sacrifices for their sins is evident in this exchange. We don’t know if any of them did, but we do know that they had the opportunity to repent and make atonement for their sins. This all happened a week before the rain began, before God’s pending judgment was manifest in the deluge. This same order expresses a pre-trib Rapture, which is the only view that provides comfort and encouragement to the waiting Christian. The biblical pattern of God removing the righteous prior to a judgment is clear. We see a picture of an obedient Noah doing as the Lord commanded him. We see him leading his family in righteousness and as a result, he and his family were saved from the impending judgment. We are equally challenged to do the same, to love our families, teaching them to obey the Lord, and to lead our families in the same manner and ways of God’s righteousness. Jesus said it; we should also!
John 14:1 – “Let not your heart be troubled.”
1 Thessalonians 4:18 – “Therefore, comfort one another with these words.” Matthew 24:6b – “See that you are not troubled;”
Luke 21:36a – “pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape…”
Jesus promised the Church of Philadelphia: “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” – Revelation 3:10
Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are dedicated to Christ’ addressing seven different churches and types of churches that existed in Asia Minor in John’s day. These church types have existed in the heart of NT believers throughout the NT era. We don’t see these churches (or any Church) mentioned in Revelation after the Rapture account of Revelation 4:1f. Philadelphia was one of the seven churches addressed by Jesus. The church in Philadelphia had characteristics of brotherly love; a church with an ‘open door’ policy, who were evangelistic, missionary-minded, and faithful. They didn’t deny the name of the Lord and they practiced ‘good works.’ I like to think that many of our churches today are ‘Philadelphia type’ churches where the corporate body desires to live out their faith in accordance with the characteristics listed in this verse. However, everyone must determine in their own heart which church type they will embrace. I am a Philadelphia type of believer and I attend and participate in a Philadelphia type church, Crown Pointe Church, Lees Summit, MO. The church I pastored for 22 years in Southern California was also a Philadelphia type church, Gardena Valley Assembly. What type of church does your heart best represent? Do you attend?
The Promise of 1Thessalonians 1:9,10 “…you have turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:9,10
This promise is a clear indicator that Jesus does deliver us from the wrath to come. His promise to intervene before His judgment is clear.
|Before God judged the world with a global flood, He first removed righteous Noah, his family, and the selected animals from pending judgment. We know from the Genesis 5 patriarchal record that God waited until the year that the righteous patriarch Methuselah died before sending the global flood. Before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, He removed Lot and His family from the city. Before the Israelites attacked Jericho, Rahab the harlot and her family were protected by remaining behind the scarlet thread from the offensive strike of the Israeli army. Before God sent the angel of death upon Egypt, he provided protection for the children of Israel through the posted blood of an atoning animal sacrifice on the doorposts and lintel (header) of all Hebrew homes. The Lord will be as consistent with His Church as He has been with His chosen people. God is faithful and He will not leave us on the earth while He judges it. We may experience a little ‘pre-burn,’ but not the main event. |
The Mystery of the Rapture of the Church: ”Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed– 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:51-57
In this passage Paul addresses the issue of corruption and mortality. Here he says that some people will die, but some people will live and never die. He is referencing believing Christians who will be raptured in the last days, our days. John 11 records the story of Jesus returning to Bethany with His disciples to attend a funeral of His friend, Lazarus. Jesus said it this way, “Jesus said to her (Martha), “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25
This passage is a direct reference to the Rapture and how those people living at the moment of the Rapture will bypass death and be translated into heaven with their new glorified body. Jesus also inferred this with the Apostle John, “Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved (John) following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” 23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?” – John 21:20-23
In this passage we see how Christ chose John to be the one that He would translate through time to the moment of the Rapture and then rapture John up into heaven. We read of John’s rapture account in Revelation 4:1f. The phrase, ‘in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye’ references the immediate nature of the Rapture. It will be swift, silent, and instant. There will be no time to change your mind as to whether or not you want to serve Jesus and still make the Rapture. When it happens, it will happen suddenly, instantly, and silently. The phrase, ‘the last trumpet’ references the 100th trumpet blown on Rosh Hashanah, thus the Rosh Hashanah Rapture theory. This theory teaches that the Rapture can only happen on a future Rosh Hashanah. While this conflicts with the doctrine of immanence, meaning that Jesus can return at any time, it does tend to cause believers to walk a little more steady during the Fall feasts of Israel (Leviticus 23). We don’t know which Rosh Hashanah celebration will be host to the 100th trumpet blast or which year, but Paul was referencing the Feast of Trumpets. Regardless if Jesus returns at Rosh Hashanah or another time, we need to be ready.
There are 8 different incidents in the biblical record where people have been ‘raptured’ or ‘translated’ into heaven or from one place to another in bodily form.
Enoch – Genesis 5:24 – “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” Elijah – 2 Kings 2:11b – “suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire…and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
Jesus – Acts 1:9 – “When Jesus had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”
Phillip – Acts 8:39,40 – “…the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more.” (vs.40) “Philip was found at Azotus” (about 20 miles away).
Paul – 2 Corinthians 12:4 – “…he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”
John – Revelation 4:1f – We believe that John was translated through time to the moment of the Rapture and then was caught up into heaven to write about those things he saw. The NT Church – 1 Thessalonians 4:17 – “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds…”
The Two Witnesses – Revelation 11:12 – “And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to heaven in a cloud and their enemies saw them.”
We also see a record of a pre-tribulation Rapture belief in some of the writings of our church fathers. In AD.372, a Syrian Church Father named Ephrem of Nisibis wrote a sermon on the end of the world that was recorded, preserved, and then rediscovered. In his sermon, Ephrem emphasized that the church would not go through the tribulation, just as the Bible states.
An excerpt from that sermon is as follows: “Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms all the world? … All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.” – Pseudo-Ephrem AD. 372
The concept of a pre-tribulation Rapture is not a new doctrine. It was not only supported by scripture, but endorsed by many church patriarchs. The Rapture of the church is an event in prophecy that we can’t determine when it will actually occur. There has been a lot of controversy as to when it will occur within context to the seven-year tribulation, but know this, it will occur.
Jesus said, “…we will know when it (or ‘He’) is near, even at the very doors.” – Matthew 24:33 This is code for, ‘you will know when I am close!’
Luke records a pre-tribulation account of the Rapture and infers the immediate Bema Seat Judgment that will ensue just after we are caught up off the earth.
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 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.” – Luke 21:34-36
The phrase, ‘worthy to escape all these things’ infers a pre-tribulation Rapture, because an escape is implied. To ‘stand before the Son of Man’ is a reference to the Bema Seat Judgment, a judgment that all NT believers will experience. We don’t know how the time and logistics work in heaven regarding this judgment, but we do have an understanding of the order or sequence of each event as being the Rapture, the Bema, and then the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. As believers, we are to be watching and serving, praying and learning during these last days. The worldly people who are weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life will unfortunately experience the Day of the Lord, that is, God’s judgment upon the world. If we are saved, we will be found worthy to escape, worthy to be raptured, sealed unto the day of our redemption. When we are caught up into heaven, we will give an account of our life to the Lord (Bema Seat) and be rewarded accordingly, and we will forever be with the Lord! A lot of people are scared and concerned about all the things that are happening on the earth right now; it’s not business as usual as you might have noticed; yet we are still doing business as best we can, until the Lord returns. We are to tarry, occupy, and work until He returns. We don’t know the day or the hour of the Lord’s return so we must NOT be people who think that we do. We will know, and do know now that the Lord is close, at the very doors, but we don’t know exactly when. I heard my doorbell ring and my dogs barked and ran to it. Those are two tale tell sings that someone is at the door. I think that’s how it will be with Jesus. When His return is at the doors, we will know it, we do know it. Did you hear something!? Those folks who oppose the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine claiming that it’s a relatively recent teaching need only to search the sacred text of scripture to develop a better understanding of what Jesus had to say about the Rapture of the Church, His Church, in the last days of the NT era.
Jesus said it this way, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I 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.” – John 14:1-3
The word for ‘receive’ (Greek: para-lambano) speaks of a reception ‘to receive from another, from beside, or to take from or away.’ The idea of Jesus receiving us into His kingdom in the Rapture is clearly promised. The doctrine of the rapture was communicated through the ages from one church father to another and was reemphasized in 1830 by John Darby, a Plymouth Brethren pastor of all people.
We can also take a brief look at what some of the church fathers had to say about the doctrine of the Rapture in relation to the tribulation.
Polycarp – a first century church father and personal friend and disciple of the Apostle John said that the Apostle John told him that all the apostles believed in a pre-tribulation rapture and a millennium.
The Shepherd of Hermas – AD 150 He wrote about a prophetic dream he had and then he interpreted it. “Go therefore and declare to the Elect of the Lord His mighty deeds and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation which is to come. If you therefore prepare yourselves and with your whole heart turn to the Lord in repentance, then shall you be able to escape it, if your heart is pure and blameless.”
Irenaeus of Lyons – AD 175 He wrote ‘Against Heresies’ where he stated that the spiritual gifts would continue to manifest in the Church until ‘that which is perfect’ has come and ‘we see Him face to face.’ In quoting this phrase from 1 Corinthians 13, Irenaeus taught that that the spiritual gifts would continue until the Rapture where the church would be taken out.
Cyprian – AD 250 He was the bishop of Carthage; he told his readers that the coming resurrection was the hope of the Christian. He pointed out that the Rapture ‘snatching us’ should motivate us as we see the last days approaching. “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?”
Victorinus – AD 240 He believed in a pre-tribulation Rapture and he wrote a commentary on the last days. He was commenting on Paul’s statement in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 about the Holy Spirit who ‘restrains until the church is taken out of the way.’ Victorinus said, “the wrath of God (Revelation 15:1) shall be in the last time, when the Church shall have gone out of the midst.”
Pseudo-Ephraim – AD 373 He was a Syrian Church Father who taught about a pre-tribulation Rapture. “Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms all the world?…All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.”
While their are quotes from other church fathers who refute a pre-tribulation rapture, I have posted these pro-pre-tribulation rapture positions to support and reveal that the timing of the Rapture in relation to the seven-year tribulation was an argument even in the early days of the NT Church.
A further look back into the OT reveal a pre-tribulation Rapture being communicated through the prophets.
Isaiah said it this way, “Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. 20 Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. 21 For behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain.” – Isaiah 26:19-21
Isaiah is speaking of a time before the Lord’s indignation (judgment) where His people would be hidden in their bridal chamber. The church is always referred to as the bride of Christ. The Rapture/Resurrection occurs before the judgment of God is poured out on the earth. Notice the sequence of events; first the dead are resurrected, then the Rapture, then God’s judgment. Another passage in Isaiah reveals the removal of the future Church prior to Tribulation. “Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; they will see the land that is very far off. 18 Your heart will meditate on terror: “Where is the scribe? Where is he who weighs? Where is he who counts the towers?” 19 You will not see a fierce people, a people of obscure speech, beyond perception, of a stammering tongue that you cannot understand. 20 Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a quiet home, a tabernacle that will not be taken down; not one of its stakes will ever be removed, nor will any of its cords be broken.” – Isaiah 33:17-20
This prophecy states that those who go into the tribulation will no longer see the church, those who speak in tongues; that is ‘obscure speech and a stammering tongue.’ They are asking, “Where did they go?” They went to a ‘very far off’ land with the King of beauty, a type of Christ. While they are gone the people who remain will be in (meditate) terror. It also references the temple (tabernacle) existing and will never be taken down. At the time Isaiah wrote this, the second temple existed in Jerusalem so the reference for this ‘tabernacle that will not be taken down’ must be the third temple which is yet to be built.
The prophet Zephaniah also spoke of a future Rapture: “Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, 2 Before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you! 3 Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.” – Zephaniah 2:1-3
This ‘gathering’ is a reference to a future Rapture and it occurs, as ‘it may be that God’s people ‘will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.’ The word ‘before’ is stated three times in this passage emphasizing that this gathering will occur before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon the world.
The Prophet Daniel also spoke of a future Rapture: “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. 4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” – Daniel 12:1-4
The phrase ‘Michael shall stand up’ is in reference to the beginning of the seven-year tribulation. Michael is a warring archangel who battles in the heavenlies during the ‘time of trouble’ which again references the seven-year tribulation; some translations say, ‘a time of distress.’ (NIV) Daniel says, your people (referring to God’s people, His church) ‘shall be delivered’ The KJV says they ‘shall escape’ where other translations read, they ‘shall be rescued.’ This is a picture of a pre-tribulation Rapture and a future resurrection, not necessarily in that order.
Suffice it to say, I do believe in a pre-tribulation Rapture and my relationship with the Lord reflects it. When we fully understand that God has not appointed us to His wrath, we will see Him as a loving Father. This life is a faith walk with Jesus and we take every day He gives us by faith. Through it all, good or bad, God is with us and He is for us. I thank God that He gives me way more good days than bad days. Even in the tough seasons, the Lord has proven Himself faithful time and again. If I can encourage you my brother (sister) in that we are not long for this world, even though we are to live and plan like we are.
As I continue to see the systematic degradation of our nation right before our eyes, it breaks my heart; but then I remember that for God’s Kingdom to come, the kingdoms of this world must fall. It would seem that this is the season for that decline. The birthing process of the Christ’ Millennial Kingdom begins with birth pangs (climate change) that will continue through the seven-year tribulation until the Lord Himself, with His Church, returns to the earth to retake it for His glory. This is the Second Coming of Jesus which I have covered in another blog. That being said, as long as the Church is still on the earth, we can and must make a difference. God has called us to trust in Him as we suffer long though these days, enjoying the sunshine when it comes, and enduring the rain as well.
As we look back over our lives and see God’s faithfulness, we can be encouraged that He who has begun a good work, will be faithful to complete it in the end. In all that you do, do it as unto the Lord, knowing that His return is at the very doors. We must be a people who understand this and live our lives in accordance with God’s plan of redemption for anyone who would still call upon His holy name. I believe in a pre-tribulation Rapture because I believe that God has not appointed me, or any of my brothers and sisters in Jesus, to face His wrath, either in the seven-year tribulation or in Hell. I have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. My heart is ready to punch through the veil and out of this world at sub-atomic speeds and enter into the joy of the Lord that has been prepared for me and all of those who love Christ’ appearing. I encourage you to live ready, plan long, look short, and keep listening to the voice of the Lord for every opportunity to represent Him as a godly witness to anyone who desires what we have, salvation in Christ.
While this is not an exhaustive blog (even though it seems that way) on the pre-tribulation Rapture, it is one that conveys my belief that Jesus is coming soon and we all need to both be ready to go, and ready to stay a little longer should the Lord deem it. While we long to be in God’s presence, we know that as long as we are here in this world, we are not in Heaven with Jesus. Therefore, we must be productive in our witness and service to the Lord so that when He does return for His Church, He will find us working in the part of the vineyard we have been called to serve in. Until that glorious moment, may we all be faithful to the Lord in our spiritual life formation and service. I look forward to seeing you real soon.
Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Southern Missouri. He lives with his wife of 32-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren). Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate. He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry.