The Timing of the Rapture
The subject of the timing of the Rapture of the saints is always guaranteed to ignite a debate. Within Church doctrine, there a four main positions.
1/ No Rapture of the Church
2/ Pre-tribulation Rapture
3/ Mid-tribulation Rapture
4/ Post-tribulation Rapture
Many leaders totally avoid the topic of the Rapture. They don’t believe it is an important enough issue to risk the division that discussion tends to create. However, I beg to differ. I believe that the existence of Israel unmistakably places us in the latter days. If this is indeed the case, a correct understanding of the end-time is essential. The Body of Messiah needs to be prepared for what is about to take place in the World. If the pre and mid-tribulation doctrines prove to be wrong, then many Christians who were expecting to be raptured may find themselves totally unprepared to survive the tribulation. The Lord has called us to be His fellow-workers. Therefore we need to know what lies before us, so that we can invest our lives in the work of the Kingdom. Let us also remember that Jesus rebuked the people of His day for being able to discern the weather from the signs in the sky, but not being able to discern the signs of the times in which they lived. ( Matthew 16:3 )
I want to take a scriptural look at this volatile subject.
1/ No Rapture of the Church
I believe that 1 Thessalonians 4:16 shows the no-rapture option to be unscriptural. Some Bible teachers have quoted 1 Corinthians 15:51 to also support the rapture. However, if we desire to rightly divide the Word of God, this verse on its own does not speak of a rapture. The verse simply states that we will all be changed in a moment of time, even the dead will be brought back to life. Taken in tandem with 1 Thess 4:16, the Corinthians scripture does point to the Rapture, but standing alone it does not.
2/ Timing of the Rapture
That leaves the other three doctrines to discuss. The Bible also teaches that every word should be established by the word of two or three witnesses (Matt 18:16). I am going to give you more than three scriptures that witness to the true timing of the Rapture.
1/ Acts 3:21 “whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. (NKJ)
According to this verse, Jesus is being restrained in Heaven until the prophecies are fulfilled. The prophets spoke of Israel’s scattering and latter day restoration of the nation of Israel and the regathering of the Jewish people to the land of their fore-fathers. (Deut 30:3 / Jer 30:3) Both Hosea (Hos 3:5) and Jeremiah (Jer 30:9) prophecy of the Jewish people serving David their King. King David was long dead when these words were written. It is obvious that this is a prophetic statement referring to Israel serving the Messiah and Acts 3:21 tells us that will have to be fulfilled before Jesus is release from Heaven. Romans 11:26 says that one day all Israel will be saved.
2/ Romans 11:15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (NKJ)
The ultimate “life from the dead” surely must be the resurrection of the dead. This occurs as the last Shofar announces the second coming of the Lord. ( 1 Thess 4:16) and according to Romans 11:15, that event is a result of the natural Jewish branches being grafted back in to the Olive Tree ( Israel )
3/ Matthew 23:39 Jesus said to the Jews in Jerusalem “You won’t see me again until you say Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”
Revelation 1:7 Behold ! He is coming on the clouds and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him.
Taking both of those verses together, we can deduce that if Jesus said that the Jews won’t see Him again until they are ready to welcome Him back, then no-one will see Him until the Jews welcome Him back.
4/ Matthew 24: I agree that some Bible verses can be use to support the pre or mid-tribulation doctrines, but Matthew 24 should put any debate over the timing of the Rapture to rest. The disciples asked Jesus ” What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age ?”
Jesus then systematically answers their question. I believe the only legitimate way to rightly divide this chapter is to read through it in the order that Jesus spoke it out. Lets take an overview of His answer.
v 5 Many will come in my name
v 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars
v 7 For nation will rise up against nation and there will be famines, earthquakes and pestilences in various places
v 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows
v 9 Then they will deliver YOU up to TRIBULATION and KILL you and you will be hated by all nations for my names sake
v 13 But he who endures to the END will be saved
v 15 Therefore when YOU see the abomination of desolation as spoken by the prophet Daniel, standing in the Holy place ( let him who reads understand )
v 21 Then there will be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as has not be seen since the world began
v 22 Unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved, but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened
v 29 Immediately after the tribulation ……………. The powers of the heavens will be shaken
v 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in Heaven, and 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. He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other ( this lines up with 1 Thessalonians 4;16 )
v 36 But of that day and hour, no-one knows
v 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will betaken and the other left. Two women will grinding at the mill; one will be taken and the other left. This surely must be a picture of the rapture and it occurs at the END of the Lord’s narrative, well after the GREAT TRIBULATION of verse 21.
I used to prefer the mid-tribulation position, but on Jesus words alone I was forced to reconsider and I arrived at the only possible Biblically correct position. According to Jesus, the Rapture is immediately after the time He called “the Great Tribulation”. Does you theology agree with Jesus, or do you choose to disagree with Jesus ?
I have two more points that also confirm a post-tribulation Rapture
A good number of today’s Bible teachers see the book of Ruth as a prophetic picture of the end-time Church. Ruth the Gentile clung to Jewish Naomi. Ruth had done what all true Christians have done, whether they realize it on not, in making the God of the Jews, their God. But Ruth had gone even further. She said to Naomi, “Your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God. Where you go I shall go, and where you die I shall die” (Ruth 1:16) This is a picture of total commitment and a picture of the end-time ‘ Ruth ‘ Church standing with the Jewish people in the last days. ‘ Ruth ‘ means friend and Israel needs as many friends as possible in the days of the Great Tribulation. Ultimately, the whole world will come against Jerusalem and Israel in the final days. The non-Bible believing world will never be Israel’s friend – quite the opposite will be seen to be true. Only the true Church of Jesus will stand with Israel in the dark days ahead as both Jews and Christians pass through the days of Jacobs Trouble standing united against the wrath of a Satanically inspired one world government and the false church, both of which are already being formed.
Jesus came the first time for the Jewish people
By His own declaration Jesus came the first time for the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Matt 15:24) and I believe that He will come for the House of Israel when he returns at his 2nd coming.
The only difference is that this time there are millions of ‘ wild branches ‘ that have been grafted into the ‘ Olive Tree ‘ of Romans 11:17 that represents the House of Israel. God only has one house, one people. The Church does not stand separately as many Christians would believe. Paul commands us not to boast against the (natural) branches, but remember that you do not support the root, the root supports you (Romans 11:18). Were it not for the fact that God has grafted the non-Jewish Church into the natural Olive Tree – the Church would simply not exist. Gentile Christians are now ‘ fellow citizens’ of the commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11 – 19)
Jesus is coming back for His bride – Do you really believe that the Bride of the Jewish Messiah will be void of most of the Jewish people?
Paul didn’t believe so. In Rom 11:25, Paul tells us that there is a certain number of Gentiles who are pre-destined for salvation and when that number is complete, then the Lord will supernaturally remove the veil that has blinded the eyes of the Jews and then ALL Israel will be saved (Rom 11:26)
Jesus will not take the bride out until she is complete with Jews and Gentiles. The Jews have been blinded to the truth and have suffered dreadfully for the last 2000 years, so that you dear reader, if you are a Gentile could be grafted in. That is why Paul also says in Romans 15:27 that it is your duty to bless the Jewish people in material ways. You are called to be a ‘ Ruth ‘ in the day that you have come to the Kingdom. Any other opinion, or the desire to escape the time of Jacob’s Trouble, leaving the Jewish people behind to go through it by themselves, is an un-Biblical, selfish attitude, and in the light of the above scriptural evidence, needs to be seriously reconsidered.
And as the last word, Paul’s warning in @ Thessalonians 2 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, . Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? (NKJ)