I’ve written this article for anyone who yearns for clarification of God’s word concerning the rapture of the Church. I want to first pray for the Holy Spirit, who reveals all secrets, to open your heart as you read this and provide for you discernment of the truth, not on the authority of my words, but on God’s, who does nothing without telling his servants first. Amen.
The rapture is one of those things that if you like to judge things before you understand them, it’ll fly right over your head. I know this was the case with me for years. The Adventist teachings that I grew up with were strictly against the idea of the rapture and taught more about how to survive God’s wrath rather than how to escape it. But, as I’ve learned in my studies, with the Holy Spirit as my personal guide, God doesn’t want the focus to be about survival, but salvation. In II Thessalonians 1:11, Paul is telling us to pray that we might be accounted worthy to “escape” these things that shall come to pass. Notice that he wasn’t telling us to pray that we might be accounted worthy to “endure” them, but “escape”; this is the key word here. People might argue that the word “rapture” doesn’t appear in the Bible, which isn’t exactly an argument, it’s a fact, the word rapture doesn’t appear in the Bible, not once, not until the Latin vulgate was made in 400 AD. However, the word harpazo does, which means to be “caught up”, or more literally “grabbed by the hair of the head and pulled out of danger’s way”. This is the word used in Thessalonians 4:17 when it says, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord”. Harpazo is also the same word used in Revelation 12:5 to describe Jesus’ ascension to heaven in John’s vision. Many might argue that a rapture cannot happen because it has never happened before, and as Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “there is nothing new under the sun”, but they forget that the prophets Enoch and Elijah were both caught up to heaven before their time, the first among raptured men. I might also ask the skeptics what they thought was going to happen to those who were alive in Christ on the last day. The rapture is a physical and spiritual translation into a higher plain of existence, the heavenly realm, so to speak. If this sounds too fantastical for your comprehension, consider this; if all things are moving and everything is made up of tiny vibrating particles, then the thing that binds us to the earthly realm is simply the frequency at which we vibrate. Angels, on the other hand, exist on a much higher frequency and vibrate at a different rate, thus existing on a different plain of being. Matthew 22:30 says that those raptured “will be like the angels in heaven”. For God, this process will be as simple as the tuning of a guitar, a slight alteration in our DNA. In I Corinthians 15:53, the apostle Paul says, “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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.”
Now, let’s go back to the big debate. I find it interesting that the second coming of Christ seems to continually contradict itself if you do not consider the possibility of the rapture. For instance, in I Thessalonians 4:17, His people go up to meet Him in the air, but in Zechariah 14:4, He comes down to us on the earth and touches down on the mount of Olives. In Luke 12:37 and I Thessalonians 5:4, only Jesus’ own will see Him, but in Revelation 1:7, the whole world will see Him. In John 14:3, Jesus comes for his people, but in Revelation 19:14, He comes with his people. Remember, in Revelation 1:20, the angel reveals to John that the seven lampstands represent the seven churches, the church being the collective of believers in Christ, and in Revelation 4:5, these seven lamps are already blazing in front of the throne of God in heaven before the seals of God’s wrath are opened. What does this all mean? It means that there are two separate events, the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ, which are positioned at the beginning and the end of a seven-year tribulation period. Why? In Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a king who has prepared a wedding banquet for his son. His servants go to fetch all of those who had been invited to the banquet, but they are too lost in their own business to come. So, the king tells the servants to go out to the streets and fetch anyone they could find who would desire to come, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. This parable tells the whole story, that the Jews, the chosen people, did not accept Jesus, their invitation, so God made it so that whosoever did love Jesus, Gentile or Jew, could receive the kingdom of heaven. With this in mind, let’s consider Deuteronomy 6:15, which tells us that the Lord God is “a jealous God”. If we imagine it as God trying to win back His people, witnessing the rapture of believers in Christ would be a perfect way to reverse that jealousy on the Jews and cause them to finally realize and accept their messiah, Jesus, as we know must happen from the passages in Revelation 7. “No one comes to the Father except through me”, Jesus says, laying it out straight in John 14:6. Although Jesus’ disciples did not have a clear understanding of this plan in its fullness, they understood that Jesus’ first return was going to take place before God’s wrath and His final judgment on the world in the chronological order of events. Why else would they be waiting for Jesus’ possible return in their lifetime unless they knew that His coming was the next thing on the agenda? If you don’t believe in the rapture, that Jesus will be making only one final return to judge the world, then there is no sense of imminence. But, I Thessalonians 5:2 says that the Lord’s return will come “like a thief in the night”, also saying in Luke 21:35, “as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth”. If you’ve ever read the book of Revelation, you know that the events to befall this world are ranked as the worst since man has been on earth, as it states in Revelation 16:18. Worldwide earthquakes, locusts awakening from the pits of hell, comets falling from heaven and poisoning all the seas; does this really sound like the Lord’s coming is going to catch the world by surprise as a thief in the night? Luke 17:26-27 and Matthew 24:37 tells us that the coming of the Son of man will be just like in the days of Noah, when people were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” Now, if we look at the book of Revelation, it tells us that a third of the earth will be burned up and a third of mankind will die. Does this really sound like people are going to be eating, drinking and having a merry old time, oblivious to what’s happening? Absolutely not, because like I said, there are two separate events, the first of which will catch everyone by surprise, and it will act as the starting pistol for the punishment of the wicked on earth over the course of 7 years. I think you have to stop for a moment and ask yourself if you really think that God would include His followers and beloved ones in His punishment of the wicked, because remember, that’s the whole purpose of the final seven-year tribulation, the wrath of God against those who rejected Him. The short answer is right here in I Thessalonians 5:9, plain as day, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ”. I Thessalonians 5:4 also says something quite profound, “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief“, explaining how the whole world will be unaware of this day, except for those faithful few who are watching and waiting. This statement right here says that, although we won’t know the exact day or hour, as it says in Matthew 24:36, we will be able to see the signs and know the general time frame. It’s a fact that 30% of the Bible is comprised of prophecy; don’t you think God wanted us to know something? The whole purpose of prophecy is so that we can be sure of the future and know when all these things are about to unfold.
One of the key verses explaining the order of events can be found in II Thessalonians, but to understand this, we must first understand exactly who the Holy Spirit is. The Holy Spirit, or Ruach HaKodesh, was Jesus’ gift to us before He departed from the world, known by many names, such as the “helper”, the “comforter”, and even “the restrainer”. In II Thessalonians 2:7, it states that the antichrist will not be revealed until the Holy Spirit is taken out. It has also been promised in John 14:16 that the Holy Spirit would never leave us, therefore, if the Holy Spirit is “taken out”, that means that the believers in Christ, who the Holy Spirit dwells within, must be taken out also. In verse 3 of the same chapter, it states that the day of Christ, the second-coming, cannot happen until after the antichrist is revealed, contradictory to what we read in verse 7, which states that the Holy Spirit will be taken out before the antichrist is revealed, proving further how the second-coming of Christ is a completely separate event than the rapture. Now, just for a moment, try to imagine what the world would be like minus all true Christians and believers? This is the scariest part of the end times, because once the Holy Spirit is gone, there will be no one to restrain Satan’s full power. This is why in II Thessalonians 2:11 it says, “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.” Only in a situation where all of the people who had the truth about God are missing from the world could a scenario play out where the people remaining on earth become so engulfed in Satan’s lies, further proving that a rapture must take place for this to occur.
As I was counting, I also noticed that the Church is mentioned a total of 18 times in the book of Revelation, right up until the fourth chapter when John is called to “come up hither” and receive the vision, and then the Church is not once mentioned for the rest of the book. The only terms we see now are “saints” and “the elect”, which means that the Church has been redeemed and takes its place in heaven from here on in, as John sees in Revelation 7:9, “I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Many Christians with traditional doctrines carved into their minds interpret the order of events in the book of Revelation in the exact order that it was written, but in the beginning of many of the verses and chapters, you’ll read the words “after this” and “hereafter”, and in Greek, the word for these is meta tauta, which doesn’t imply that this event is taking place after the previous one in time, but rather that it jumps to a different part of the vision as John saw it. From this, we know that the chapters of Revelation are not written in the proper chronological order in the timeline of events. For what reason is it scrambled like this? It’s as the angel says to Daniel the prophet in Daniel 12:4, “shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Many of the things in the Bible were not intended to be known until specifically appointed times in the modern age, and for this reason alone, we must be open to new and greater understandings of the Bible, as it was deliberately written this way for this purpose. Many, even myself, have the tendency to forget from time to time just how truly divine and complex the Bible really is, but as knowledge has been increased through time, so has our understanding of the truths and secrets hidden within. I Corinthians 2 tells us of another name we might give to the Holy Spirit, the revealer, who unveils all of the deep mysteries of God and his plan for us. Hopefully, through this analysis I can draw the conclusion that the rapture is not some strange new modern interpretation of God’s word, but in fact the broader truth about the fate of the Church, which had been engrained deep within the intricacy of the Gospel and hidden in plain sight.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.“