IS THERE A RAPTURE AND IF SO WHEN WILL IT TAKE PLACE
The rapture is basically a belief held by many that either before the tribulation, during the tribulation, or at the very end of the tribulation, the saved believers on the earth who are still alive will be suddenly whisked off the surface of the earth and propelled into the heavens to be with God. Most that believe in the rapture hope for a pre-tribulation rapture and thus they hope to escape the horrors of the tribulation during the end times. They reason that they will not have to suffer during the tribulation if they aren't here.
The tribulation is the final seven years of human history and the tribulation will be a period of horrible and terrible events. Events like no other in the history of the world. (Most of the Book of Revelation talks about this tribulation period). Also at the rapture many believe that those that are dead and who died in Christ will also be raised up and also whisked into the heavens. The point of this paper is to show that the rapture that people refer to is actually the Second coming of Christ and it occurs at the very end of the tribulation period. Thus no one is being whisked away early. If you are alive at the start of the end times or the final days, then you are going to have to suffer through the horrible tribulation. Revelation 7:14: "And I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (In this passage John is speaking about the victorious Christians, who do not compromise their Lord in the persecution that comes upon them and who remain faithful).
"Rapture" comes from a Latin
word that is the equivalent for the Greek word "harpazo"
which is translated, "shall be caught up, to seize, catch
up, carry off by force, snatch out or away.
Now let's see just how this rapture theory is tied in with the second coming.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 it says, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, that you do not sorrow, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him" (emphasis by author).
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven [here's the rapture but it is the Lord coming to get his saved believers on the Last Day] with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up [read rapture] together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall ever be with the Lord" (emphasis by author). According to this text the rapture is Jesus Christ coming down from heaven, after the tribulation is all over, and getting all his saved children both those that are dead and those who are alive.
Since the strength of the event is so well described, the Christians saved at this time - both physically living and those that are dead, will get new resurrection bodies and then be caught up into the clouds to be with Jesus forever. This event is what the Holy Spirit, Paul and many Christians refer to as the "catching away, the seizing or the snatching away" of Christians. This is what the believers in the rapture are referring to when they use the word Rapture. (By the way the word rapture was first used in the 1830's by a woman named Mary Mcdonald.)
WHO IS GOING TO BE RAISED UP AT THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.
You will be amazed at the four times in the gospels that Jesus told us when, and just who is going to be raised up from the dead when Jesus comes back. You have probably read them many times but never really noticed a phrase of three particular words repeated. What's more you may have never really grasped their significance. Here are those 4 passages:
1) "And this is the Father's will
who has sent me, that of all whom He has given me I should lose
none, but should raise him up again at the last day."
(John 6:39) Please ask yourself, are you one that the Father
has given to Jesus? If so, Jesus said He would raise
you up on the last day!
2) "And this is the will of him who sent methat every one who sees the Son and believes on Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day". (John 6:40) Again please ask yourself, are you one that believes in the Son? If so, Jesus said He would give you eternal life and raise you up on the last day!
3) "No man can come to Me, except the Father who has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44) Once more ask yourself, are you one that the Father has drawn to Jesus? If so, Jesus said He would raise you up on the last day!
4) "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:54) And finally ask yourself, are you one that has eaten His flesh and drank His blood and has eternal life? If so, Jesus said He would raise you up on the last day!
Jesus tells us 4 times, "I will raise him up on the last day", but precedes that statement by telling us who he will raise, and most Christians would have to say those 4 preceding descriptions include them! So, Saved Christians would be raised up on the Last Day.
And this Last Day is the very last day of human history!
These passages don't say anything about
anyone being whisked away earlier and it just negates any truth
in some type of rapture before the tribulation or at anytime before
Jesus's Second Coming.
The Last Day is when Jesus comes back at his Second Coming.
The rest of Matthew 24 is Jesus's answer to the disciples question in Matthew 24:3, "When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" The culminating sign or event is the Second Coming of Jesus to planet Earth. The saints in Christ, both alive and dead, at this time will be raised and whisked away to Jesus who is waiting for them in the sky but this is going to happen only on the very Last Day of human civilization.
Let's take a look at another such scripture.
It is John 11:24 where Martha, even with limited teaching from
Jesus, understood the simple truth of when Jesus would "raise
All believers". "Martha says to Him, 'I know that he,
Lazarus, shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
Many Christians have also been taught that Matthew 24 is for the Jew, only after Non-Jew Christians have been "snatched away earlier" to be with the Lord (1 Thes. 4:15-17). However, it can now be seen that all Christians will be raised or changed on the Last Day of the Age, and it can also be seen that Matthew 24 is for all believers and applies to Christians (Jew or Gentile) on Earth during that time. Thus, Matthew 24 is extremely relevant to what is going to happen on the very last day of human history. Let's take a look and see what Jesus has to say to us.
Please open your Bible to Matthew chapter 24 and look at the end time events that Jesus gives and notice that they are basically in chronological order as indicated by a liberal supply of time-order indicators like "then" in verses 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 21, 23, 30, 40, "not yet" in verse 6, "therefore when" in verse 15, and "immediately after" in verse 29. These time-ordering indicators makes it easy to see the chain of events that will happen. They are of the utmost importance in a proper end-time sequence to determine the timing of the the so called rapture. This whole discourse of Jesus in Matthew 24 was preceded by the disciples asking 3 questions in verse 3: When will these things happen? What will be the sign of your coming? What will be the sign of the end of the age? Jesus answers them in verses 4 through 31. Read along in your Bible. Here is the order of events.
1) Verses 4-8:
Jesus says this period is the "beginning of sorrows" (verse 8) before the tribulation of verse 9 for "the end is not yet" (verse 6). It is the time of escalating political unrest, famines, disease, and geological disturbance, with rising deceptive messianic claims.
2) Verses 9-14:
This period is the "sorrows" that Jesus alluded to in verse 8. It is the period of "tribulation" (verse 9), "offenses" growing into "hatred", persecution, and "betrayal" where "lawlessness abounds and love grows cold" making many people ripe for "false prophets that will mislead". Notice the word "then" being used 4 times here ordering the sequence of events. Notice further that Jesus says that this period ends at his coming and that the end won't occur until the gospel has been preached in all the world and that those "who endure to the end will be saved".
Verse 13 is interesting because it tells us that there is no rapture, and that the ones that are alive during this time will have to endure the entire tribulation till the very end in order to be saved. So no one is going to be whisked away in any rapture.
Matthew 24:13, "But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved".
3) Verses 15-28:
This period is the "great tribulation" and starts in verse 15 when Jesus says, "Therefore when [note the time-order indicators] you see the Abomination of Desolation, spoken by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place...". Something absolutely despicable is going to happen in the Jewish Temple that really shocks the Jews. One can only guess what it might be but whatever it is, it is really going to be horrible.
This time will be so bad that Jesus warns them that "when you see the Abomination of Desolation standing in the holy place" of the temple (see also Thes. 2:4), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains". He tells them not even to go back home to get clothes, but to drop everything and head for the hills! He further warns them that those who are pregnant, those who are nursing babies, those who are practicing Jews and are limited by the distance they can travel on the Sabbath, will suffer additional hardships. Also do not forget the increased misery all will have to suffer if this event occurs in the winter time. All this is happening during the tribulation and if there was a pre-tribulation rapture, Jesus would not have to tell them this because they would have been whisked away by now.
Also note that Jesus' statements, "...standing in the holy place...those in Judea...Sabbath..." indicate local events in Jerusalem, Judea and much of Israel . It is not that the rest of the world will be untouched by end time events, it is just that Jesus is relating them to the land of Israel and the Jews who live there because that is where the worst of it will center. The rest of the world will very quickly be engulfed by the fast spreading tribulation with the different trumpets sounding, and the various bowls being poured out, and the numerous seals being opened, and these are going to effect the entire earth. The horrors of the tribulation, and the wrath of God will be spreading over the entire world but for those in Israel, it will be a worse time than for the rest of the world at least at the beginning. That's why Jesus says at this point that it is time to head for the mountains!
4) Verses 29-31:
This period is the "coming of the Son of Man", and you can call this event the rapture if you like but in actuality it is the coming of the Lord. "Immediately after [note the time-order indicator again] the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then [another time-order indicator] the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. "The great trumpet will sound, and he will send out his angels, and they will gather his chosen people from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24: 31) Again this shows that there will be no "early rapture". His entire saved elect will still be waiting to be gathered up.
This period starts "immediately after the tribulation of those days" and concludes with the Resurrection of dead Christians, the changing of both the living Christians and the Christians just brought back to life, to immortality and catching them all away to be with the Lord on the Last Day. Speaking of the events in the last paragraph, Jesus says in Luke 21:28, "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is very near!" Why? Because it's the coming of the Lord , and Jesus is coming to receive us to Himself! Why "look up and lift your heads"? Because He is coming from "up"..."coming in the clouds of glory"...and "we shall be caught up (here is the rapture), ...in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air"!
"Behold, he comes with clouds, and every eye will see him"..... (Rev. 1:7). What a truly glorious moment. When Christ comes, it will be as obvious as lightning starting at one end of the sky and streaking and flashing across to the opposite side. He is going to fill the entire sky the world over. (Matthew 24:27) Every single person who is alive and all those believers who were just resurrected, will look up and know in their very being that this is truly the Son of God.
This will be 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 coming alive! No more words on a page. The Incredible will have taken place..."the Lord, himself, shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead shall rise first. Then, we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air..." The archangel and angels will be involved in this at the Lord's command collecting the saints from the "four corners of the heavens" " together to meet the Lord to be with him forever." It is only at this point that the saved believers in God leave this earth and join our Heavenly Father.
So in conclusion, in answering the question of, What is the Rapture?
The Rapture is the last phase of Jesus Christ's second coming. It occurs on the very last day of human history, and it is that moment when, as the apostle Paul said, "The Lord himself shall descend with a shout....And the dead in Christ will rise first then we, who are alive and remain, will be 'caught up' (raptured) with them to meet the Lord in the air--and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:16-17). It is the same experience he describes in First Corinthians 15:51 as the moment Christians are "changed" from "mortal" to "immortal".
Three interesting points regarding the rapture
1) The first point is in Matthew 24:9, where Jesus tells the apostles that a great tribulation will begin and that the believers in Christ will become objects of hatred and begin to be tortured and killed.
Matthew 24:9-- "Then people will deliver you up to tribulation and they will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name.
Notice that this is happening to believers during the tribulation period, because the end times is what Jesus is referring to. And we find that during this time the believers are being martyred and yet no rapture is taking place to save the souls of these believers, and that is because there is no rapture. The only rapture that is going to take place is when Jesus comes the second time, when the history of earthly man is over, and then and only then will we be whisked away into the clouds to be with God for ever.
Look also at verse 13, because that verse tells us that there is no rapture, and that the ones that are alive during this time will have to endure the entire tribulation till the very end in order to be saved. So no one is going to be whisked away in any rapture.
Matthew 24:13, "But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved".
2) The second point is that in Matthew 24:3, the apostles ask Jesus what will be the sign of his coming back and the signs that the end of this system of things is near. It is very interesting what Jesus says next. He doesn't talk about signs but instead he gives a warning, a warning about false prophets, and only after the warning does Jesus tell the apostles about the various signs. Matthew 24: 4-5 says,
Matthew 24:4-- Jesus answered them, "Beware that no one leads you astray.
Matthew 24:5-- For many will come in my name, saying, "I am the Messiah! and they will lead many astray.
Only then did Jesus tell the apostles about the different signs in verses 6,7,8,9, and 10. But then Jesus is back with his warning against false prophets that are going to come onto the scene during the end times. You see this warning once again in Matthew chapter 24 in verses 11,23,24,26.
Verse 11--And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.
Verse 23--Then if anyone says to you, "Look! Here is the Messiah! or "There he is!-do not believe it.
Verse 24--For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
Verse 26--So, if they say to you, "Look! He is in the wilderness, do not go out. If they say, "Look! He is in the inner rooms, do not believe it.
So Jesus is warning us to be very careful of false prophets, but why now. Why is it so important at this point? And this leads us to where people who believe in the rapture are in error. They look at verses 40 and 41 in chapter 24.
Verse 40--Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.
Verse 41--Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.
Now verses 40 and 41 are the two verses that most say prove that believers will be raptured right off the face of the earth. First of all it says nothing about the men in the field or the women at the mill being believers.
And secondly to truly understand the meaning of verses 40 and 41 you just have to read verses 37-39 and you will see that Jesus is talking about how the people during the flood of Noah were swept away and destroyed and how he is comparing that time with the end times.
Verse 37--For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Verse 38--For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark,
Verse 39--and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Matthew 24:40-41--The foundation for the rapture theory.
Then Jesus talks about the two men who are in the field and one is taken and the other isn't. He isn't talking about a rapture here. The one taken isn't raptured up to God, he is deceived by satan and goes with satan willingly to be lost forever just like those men who were lost in the flood during Noah's time were. Like wise the two women who are grinding at the hand mill, the one taken isn't raptured, she is deceived by satan and she also goes with satan willingly. The two that were taken, were fooled by satan because they failed to stay alert in the Word of God and were lead astray. Verse 40 and 41 can only be interpreted by first reading verse 37 through 39. Verse 39 says that the men of Noah's time took no note until the flood came and then they were swept away and so they were lost. They were deceived, fooled, tricked, and of course lost. And Jesus is simply warning people to watch out in the last days because he knows that many of them are also going to be mislead by satan and wind up lost. And one of the many ways that satan is going to deceive people is by making them believe in the rapture theory. This is the reason why Jesus spends so much time in Chapter 24 talking about false prophets and false teachers such as in verses 4,5,11,23,24,25,26, and why verses 37,38,39 concerning similar times that took place in Noah's days, becomes so extremely important in understanding verses 40, 41, and 42.
And in verse 42 Jesus gives another warning to the people of the end times to please stay alert in the Word of God right up till the time that Jesus comes back so you are not deceived by satan and wind up being eternally lost.
Verse 42-- Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
Then if you go down to verse 43 Jesus is telling us one last time that if we are not going to be on our guard against satan then we are going to be like the householder who fell asleep and allowed his house to be broken into. In other words if we don't keep alert we are going to let satan mislead and trick us and steal our eternal salvation right out from under us.
understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part
of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake
and would not have let his house be broken into".
It is just incredible how much time and effort Jesus took to warn us of being mislead by false teachers. Of their ability to take the truth and twist it and reshape it, so it is no longer the words of God but is now the words of men.
3) The third point is that it's interesting that there is a place in the Bible where God himself tells us that he is against the catching away or the rapturing of souls so that they might be saved from punishment. It is found in Ezekiel 13:20.
Ezekiel 13:20--"Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, Here I am against your cushions, with which you are hunting down the souls as though they were flying things, and I will rip them from off your arms and let go the souls that you are hunting down, souls as though they were flying things".
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