What is the Rapture?
Most people have heard of the word “rapture” and have a general understanding that it’s a belief Christians hold, being at one point in time, all Christians will be taken off the face of the earth before the “end of the world”. To the skeptic, this is one of many “fairy tales” the bible contains, but to the Christian, it’s our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).
To define it in more concrete terms, the bible teaches that during the end times leading up to Jesus’ 2nd coming, he will return to the earth in the clouds for his church – those who have placed their trust in Jesus’ finished work at the cross. The bible describes this moment as a minuscule amount of time; he disappears as soon as he appears and takes us with him, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed”, (I Corinthians 15:51-52). During this short time frame, those who died believing in Jesus, will be resurrected and given glorified bodies. Afterwards, those of us who are alive will be changed from mortal to immortal, given glorified bodies. We will then meet Jesus in the air and be transported to God’s throne room. This, is the rapture.
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will 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. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)
When is the Rapture?
Something you may not know however is that there are 4 differing views on when the rapture will take place. This timing centers on the tribulation period. The tribulation is a 7 year time frame when Satan will have unrestrained power over the earth and uses this last 7 years to deceive its inhabitants to finally rebel against God. During this time frame is when the Antichrist appears on the world scene, the mark of the beast system rises, and God judges an unrepentant world through 7 seal, 7 trumpet, and 7 bowl judgments. The 4 rapture views are stated below. Going forward, I will be condensing “tribulation” into “trib”.
- The pre-trib rapture occurs before the start of the tribulation in which Christians are taken out of the earth to avoid the horrors of the tribulation period.
- The majority of the church believes in a pre-trib rapture whether you realize it or not
- The pre-trib view is the only one of the 4 that states we will not go through the tribulation
- The mid-trib rapture occurs at the 3.5 year mark of the tribulation. In this view, Christians experience only the first half of the tribulation and are taken out before the 2nd half starts.
- The pre-wrath view is similar to the mid-trib view that Christians go through about half and are then taken out of it. The biggest difference between the 2 is that those who hold on to this view believe we will be taken out of it before God pours his 7 bowl judgments on an unrepentant world. The bowl judgments are noted in the bible as “God’s wrath” hence the name of the view. This is demonstrated in Revelation 15:1, Revelation 15:7, and Revelation 16:1 for example.
- I hold onto the belief that the whole tribulation and all of God’s judgments is his wrath. It’s just that the bowls complete it. I will address this specific viewpoint at a later time
- The post-trib rapture occurs at the end of the 7 year tribulation. It’s the only one that states we will go through the full 7 years of tribulation. Those that hold on to this view commonly use Matthew 24:29-31 as a basis that after the tribulation Jesus will return and gather us to himself. This is debated as many (including myself) believe this passage and the majority of Matthew 24 is for the Jews.
As a side note, there are also those who hold onto the belief of a partial rapture in which only “good” Christians will be raptured while “worldly” Christians are left behind and those who don’t believe in a rapture at all. Neither of which I believe are biblical and for the most part Christians who hold to the 4 main views see these 2 as un-biblical as well. These last 2 views are not my focus but I will touch upon them quickly in future articles.
Personally, I believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. From my personal research, I believe that the bible makes it clear we will be taken out of the world before the tribulation starts. I hold on to a pre-trib rapture because I believe the bible, through many key ideas shows this to be true. Likewise due to these ideas, I believe the other 3 views contradict what the bible says. I understand that many Christians don’t agree with this view and that’s ok. My purpose isn’t to belittle anyone for holding a different view nor do I believe this should divide us as I so often see it does. My goal through this rapture study is to take a comprehensive look at what I believe many of us miss when we talk about the rapture. It goes deeper than we might think and touches a lot of varying subjects. This first article was to define what the various rapture views. From here on, I will be going into the below subjects from a pre-trib rapture point of view to make for what I believe scripture says. My goal is to lay out the evidence and facts and have you – the reader – do your own research and come to your own conclusions. At the end of the day the rapture view we hold isn’t a bearing on our salvation.
Just when you thought the rapture was complicated on its own…below are some of what I believe to be key ideas relating to the rapture. This list is by no means exhaustive and I do plan on adding more to it as I learn:
- The Tribulation: “Jacob’s Trouble”/”Daniel’s 70th week”
- The “Blessed Hope”
- Mystery of the rapture
- The “Great Sign in Heaven”
- Fullness of the Gentiles
- Jewish Marriage Customs
- The 7 Churches and their rewards
- The 24 Elders
- The First Resurrection
- The 3 Harvests
- The Day of the Lord and God’s wrath
- Kept from the hour of trial
- Identity of the “Saints”
- History of the Pre-trib rapture