The “Left Behind” series of Christian fiction books and the “Rapture” are both well-known among Americans. Even non-Christians have some idea that Christian Scripture declares that there will be a time when the those who believe in Christ will suddenly be removed from the world. What some may not know is that there are many different opinions about when the Rapture will take place. Several different schools of thoughts exist. These opinions vary depending on one’s view of eschatology (the study of the end of things) and on one’s denominational indoctrination. There is much confusion because of language translation, and human desire. After all, no onewants to suffer.
First: The word “Rapture” –like the word “Calvary” or “Trinity” are not found in the Bible. This does not mean the idea of a rapture is wrong.
We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53
Second: The Rapture is linked in some ways to the Great Tribulation and the AntiChrist. The questions are many. Here are a few definitions you will need to ponder. The Great Tribulation is a time of seven years that is supposed to happen at the end of time. Some believe that it is “The Time of Jacob’s Israel” and only concerns Israel because the Believing Church will not be on earth. These believe the AntiChrist will primarily oppose Jews. Others believe the Great Tribulation affect everyone on the earth and will be aimed at all believers. The basic breakdown is Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, Post-Trib, and Pre-Wrath. This basically means some believe the Rapture will happen before, during, after the Tribulation, or before God’s Wrath but after the Antichrist’s wrath. There is also the question of whether the raptured are removed from earth or “hidden” in some way. There are many permutations of this question.
34“The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. 35You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. 36Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. 37I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!”
Third: Some believe the exact time of Rapture can be guessed at; most Christians believe it cannot be. It depends on whether one believes the Rapture is for the Jewish people or whether/if the Church is up in heaven when the Great Tribulation starts. Much of this is based around the question of God’s willingness to cause suffering for His people (Jews or the Church) in order to purify them. There are questions as to whom Jesus is addressing when He says “chosen ones” or “elect” or whom John the Divine is speaking of when he writes of “the servants” of Our God/Lord. Are the servants of God the Church or the tribes of Israel? Are the servants of God also the Bride of God?
But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. — Rev 11:2
The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. — Rev 12:6
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. — Rev 13:5
…11″From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12″How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days! Daniel 12:11,12
As you can see, in the different translations of Luke 21:36, one translation could mean having strength to endure the suffering while another seems to mean being counted worthy for divine help to be removed from the suffering.
“But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36 NASB
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. Luke 21:36 KJV
You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5
Fourth: There is the question of when Jesus will rule. Will He gather the Church to heaven for the Wedding Feast then return later to earth for the Believing Jews who endure the Time of Jacob’s Trouble? Will He gather the Church and immediately begin reigning on earth ..ushering the 1000 years of peace? (There are also different opinions about the millenium reign of Christ.) Also, to whom are the Spirit and the Bride extending an invitation at the end of the book of The Relevation?
Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven. Mark 13:26-27
17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. Revelation 22:17
Fifth: The important thing is to understand the sign of the times and to live a holy life whatever comes. The Sign of the Times/Last days are days of increased natural and cosmic disasters, increased pestilence, increased knowledge, religion deception, the gospel of God’s kingdom preached throughout the world, Jerusalem surrounded by its enemies, and strange signs in the heavens.
54Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower.’ And you are right. 55When the south wind blows, you say, ‘Today will be a scorcher.’ And it is. 56You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times. Luke 12:54-56
30And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the worldi—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.
32“Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. 33In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. 34I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place. 35Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
36“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
37“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.
40“Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. 41Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.
42“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. 44You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. Matthew 24:30-44
This series on the Rapture and all matters connected with being Left Behind or with the Great Tribulation continues tomorrow.