“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the [blast of the] trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain [on the earth] will simultaneously be caught up (RAPTURED) together with them [the resurrected ones] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord!” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 AMP
In theological terms, the word RAPTURE is defined as: “the experience, anticipated by some fundamentalist Christians, of meeting Christ midway in the air upon his return to earth.”
While the exact word “RAPTURE” does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away, or caught up. The concept of the “caught up” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 tells us that at God’s command, with the voice of an Archangel and the trumpet call of God, believers that have already died (the dead in Christ) will rise from their graves. Then the believers still alive on the earth will be “caught up” in the air with the dead in Christ to meet Jesus in the air. Together we will be taken to be with the Lord. These believers – both the dead and alive are called the Church.
“Now I say this, believers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit nor be part of the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (mortal) inherit the imperishable (immortal). Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden, but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed], in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at [the sound of] the last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [who believed in Christ] will be raised imperishable, and we will be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed]. For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us that is capable of dying] must put on immortality [which is freedom from death].” 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 AMP
It’s during that time that the dead in Christ and those still alive will be transformed from our perishable body (likely to die and decay) to our imperishable body (free from death and destruction). We will transform from our mortal bodies to our immortal resurrection bodies.
You will notice that it says that the believers will be caught up in the air with Jesus. It is important to keep in mind that this is not the second coming of Jesus. That will take place seven years after the disappearance of the Christians (more about that later).
So when will this rapture take place. The list is long with the many that have speculated as to the exact date of the Rapture. Some have even proffered an answer. To their end, Jesus did not return on their predicted date. But as Matthew 24:36-44 tells us, no one knows the day or hour except God Himself.
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master 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. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Matthew 24:36-44
That is why we are commanded to be ready. If we all knew that on a date certain Jesus would be calling His Church home, then what would be the purpose of living a life dedicated to serving Him. We would all just have to be sure that we had repented of our sins the day before and we would be good to go to be raptured. As the scripture says… we will all be going along, doing life. Two working side by side, one taken, one remains. We are admonished to be ready… “for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect”.
So while we don’t know the date, studies of the signs of the end times (eschatology) do reveal what must happen before the coming of Jesus for His Church. Jesus tells us that when “these things” … the events prophesied in the Old and New Testaments have been fulfilled, then Jesus will come for His Church. “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28
There are a lot of folks that don’t believe in the Rapture. It is just a bunch of nonsense, or BS as a family member called it. They truly believe there will be no rapture of the Church; they believe that there is no such thing as the seven years of tribulation, or that Jesus Christ is going to once again set foot on the earth to setup up the Millennial Kingdom. That makes me sad, that person is the embodiment of so many people in this world today. Eat, drink and be merry, because once you’re dead… you’re dead.
So what happens once the believers have been taken home? For the believer, the events are marvelous! “The resurrected Church will stand before the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive rewards for their works that were done as believers out of a love for God and love for their neighbor (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; Philippians 2:1-17). The Church will also attend a marriage supper of the Lamb before returning with Christ at His second coming to rescue Israel at the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:15-16)”
For the non-believers, those who have rejected Jesus Christ, the post-rapture events are beyond imagination. The Rapture of the Church ushers in a seven year period of Tribulation prior to the physical return of Jesus Christ on earth. I should stop here for just a moment with a brief explanation. There are three schools of belief when it comes to the Rapture and coming tribulation. There are those that believe that the Church will be raptured before the tribulation (pre-tribulation), there are those that believe that the Church will be raptured out 3 1/2 years into the tribulation (mid-tribulation) and there are those that believe the Church will be raptured out at the end of the tribulation (post-tribulation). Personally I believe that the Church will be raptured before the tribulation.
What is the tribulation period? According to the Bible, this seven-year period called the Tribulation will be divided into two halves. In the first half, the Antichrist will rise to world prominence. He and his cohort the False Prophet will appear to be great benefactors and protectors and friends of Israel. It is at the beginning of this time that the Antichrist will sign a peace treaty with Israel. However in the middle of that seven-year period, the Antichrist will break the peace covenant with Israel and make war against it. The Antichrist will commit “the abomination of desolation” and set up an image of himself to be worshiped in the Jerusalem temple. The Antichrist will turn against the people of Israel and begin desolating it severely.
This is why Jesus called the second half “the great tribulation,” the likes of which has never been since the beginning of the world or ever will be again. In other words, the second half of these seven years will be the unparalleled time of trouble for the entire world.
The lawlessness that will be unleashed on the earth will be unparalleled. Remember, when the Christians were removed, the “Restrainer”, the Holy Spirit, will also be removed. There will be nothing to hold back the complete depravity that will take place. There will be wars and famine and destruction… earthquakes and fires and rivers destroyed… demon like creatures coming up out of the earth stinging anyone and everyone trying to kill, begging for death, but not allowed to die… meteors will fall from the sky, turning all the water vile, bitter and undrinkable…
At approximately the mid-point, if you have so far survived, the Antichrist will demand your loyalty. You will be required to take the Mark of the Beast. This Mark is your only way to survive as you will not be able to hold a job, trade, or buy food or any necessity… all trading will use the Mark. Refuse to take the Mark of the Beast on your hand or your forehead and you will be beheaded. Refuse to bow down and worship the Antichrist, you will be beheaded.
Those now left are followers of the Antichrist, except perhaps a few that have realized the truth and have become believers during this time; though it would be most likely that they would be found out and executed. This is when the Wrath of God is turned up. At this point, all of the waters of the earth are turned to blood and every other creature dies. Giant un-healable sores will appear on all those who rejected Christ. The sores will continue unrelentingly, producing such agony that it is said that men will chew their own tongues for pain and blaspheme God and still refuse to repent. It is during the last half of the Tribulation that Satan himself comes to earth and inhabits the body of the Antichrist. This total devastation and destruction continues on and increases more and more until the end of the seven years.
The end of the seven years of tribulation ushers in the ultimate and final battle between good and evil – The Battle of Armageddon. The destruction of false Babylon and the Antichrists’ New World now occurs just before earth’s final judgment. This is the total collapse the Antichrist’s system… and the showdown between the Antichrist and Jesus.
At this, Jesus Christ returns with His resurrected Church where He once again sets foot on the Mount of Olives. At the final battle, which is no battle at all, Christ binds Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet in the abyss for 1000 years and Jesus Christ will rule His earthly kingdom for this thousand-year period. It is after this battle that all men and women who chose to pledge their allegiance to satan will be held accountable for their sins. At this end, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the unsaved “stand before God at the Great White Throne Judgment and the books documenting their lives are opened along with the Book of Life. Their sins are identified; they will try to plead their case and they are judged as worthy of death. Then the Book of Life is examined for names that would have been given to them the moment of salvation. Since they are not saved, their names are not found in the Book of Life. Therefore, their documented works as unbelievers are used to determine the severity of their eternal punishment (Isaiah 51:6; Matthew 7:15-23; Matthew 10:14-14; Matthew 11:16-24; Luke 19-31; Revelation 14:9-12; Revelation 20:12-13).” Those whose names were not found in the Book of Life are cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity.
My point here is not to scare anyone into believing and becoming a follower of Jesus Christ merely to escape eternal punishment. I write this to give you knowledge; to assist you in making and informed decision and to understand the eternal ramifications of your choices.
Perhaps you are now thinking… Wait… WHAT? My choice? Yes, YOUR CHOICE. To follow or not follow Jesus is your choice. Every adult person must make their own decision. You are not “covered” because your parents were/are Christians. You are not a child of God because you are a good person or that Hey… all roads lead to Heaven. No they do not… but that is a topic for another writing.
While all Christians do not agree on every detail or the chronology of what will occur in the final events of this world’s history. Some of these events and their order of occurrence have simply not been made clear in the Bible. What is important is that all followers of Jesus Christ hold in common that He will ultimately return bodily, visibly, and gloriously to reign and rule with His resurrected and transformed saints forever and ever. The details of this great event will be made known in God’s own time.
So while some Christians disagree about the time of the rapture there are some things that we do agree:
- God is sovereignly in charge of the precise time of the end-time events.
- There will be a rapture
- Christ will come again physically
- The dead will be resurrected
- A future judgment awaits us all
- Believers will spend eternity God
- Biblical prophecy motivates us to holiness in life
So, back to the beginning… The rapture of the church is a glorious event we should all be longing for. We will finally be free from all sin and sickness. We will be in God’s presence forever. The Truth of the Rapture should motivate every one of us. To the believer… live a life completely surrendered, and in service to Jesus Christ. To the non-believer… consider wisely your choice; eternity is a very long time.
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:1-5
If you want to know more about becoming a follower of Jesus, we would encourage you to check out our “Do You Know Jesus” page on our website.
Note: Emphasis, highlighting and formatting features placed on Biblical Scriptures are solely the actions of this writer and are used to set apart the text to the reader.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) are taken from the Amplified Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Unless otherwise noted, scriptural references are from the NIV – New International Version© Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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