I have been pondering quite a bit lately about the doctrine and event known as the Rapture of the Church of Jesus Christ. There has been much talk and speculation recently that we should be anticipating the Rapture any day as the prophetic signs converge and the world events seem to be aligning with the End of Days. A quick glance at 2 Timothy 3:1-5 confirms that the signs pointing to societal breakdown are accelerating. And with the various nefarious, anti-christ like characters popping on the world scene who would like to dominate and control our every move, it is no wonder that there is much anticipation for a soon Rapture.
The degradation of society around us and the pressure on Christians to conform to unbiblical societal norms is the catalyst for many believers to experience the same anxiety as Lot prior to being delivered by God from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) 2 Peter 2:6-8
Such anxiety is the natural fuel for anticipating Christ’s return and crying out “Come quickly Lord Jesus”.
In Hebrews 10:23-25, it references that believers in Christ would recognize the approaching of the Day which is Biblical lingo for the seven years of the Tribulation (aka Daniel’s 70th week). So, if we as believers are able to discern that the Tribulation is soon at hand, we also should recognize that the Rapture is near since it precedes the start of the Tribulation (Pre-Tribulation view). This would also explain why anticipation is building among believers.
Although we are instructed to watch for the coming of our Lord Jesus, He specifically states that we cannot know the day or the hour of His coming (Matthew 25:13). There have been many willing to predict His return in the past and proved wrong. Social media and such are full of wild theories on this subject which should be avoided. The Scriptures offer the definitive foundational truth for understanding the Rapture within the boundaries of what God wants us to know.
So, below are a few Scriptures to provide a brief overview and introduction to the Rapture. It is far from being comprehensive. I am making the assumption not everyone reading this knows about or understands the Rapture. This is a controversial subject even within Christian circles. I will not use this opportunity to defend the doctrine of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. However, I do believe a literal, honest reading of Scripture makes it obvious the Rapture is an event on God’s prophetic calendar prior to the Tribulation.
Jesus used parables and analogies to communicate truth referencing events and traditions the people of His day recognized. The Jews of the 1st century would have been very familiar with the traditional Jewish betrothal and wedding traditions which Jesus utilized to emphasize His relationship to the Church (i.e. true believers). The predominate symbolism is that of a bride which is analogous to the Church (Revelation ch 18-22). Many other Jewish wedding analogies are woven through Scriptures painting a picture of Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church. A great booklet describing the parallels is “A Christian Love Story” by Zola Levitt.
In John 14:1-6, Jesus tells His disciples that He is going away to prepare a place in His Father’s house for them and that He will return to take them to Himself. This is the same promise the Jewish bridegroom gives his bride in the Jewish betrothal mentioned above. The bridegroom and bride become engaged, the bridegroom leaves for a time to build a room onto his father’s house prior to the wedding. At the end of a period of time, which only the groom’s father knows, the groom comes for his bride to carry her off to the wedding feast.
The Rapture is the fulfillment of the promise Jesus gave His disciples in John 14. It is the unexpected snatching away of the Church of Jesus Christ comprised of His true believers and followers. Jesus will appear in the air as promised (Acts 1:9-11) prior to the Last Days Tribulation to take the Bride to His Father’s house in heaven.
The purpose of the Rapture is to rescue the Church from the wrath and judgement (Revelation 3:10-12) coming during the 7 years of the Tribulation period. This is not the Second Coming of Jesus Christ which occurs at the end of the Tribulation when He returns bodily to judge the nations, vanquish His enemies and set up His kingdom on Earth for 1000 years.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, the Apostle Paul clearly elaborates the how and who of the Rapture. The word used for Rapture is “caught-up” in the New King James text which is the Greek word harpazo that connotes to pluck, snatch, pull or take by force. It is the Latin word raptus where we get the English word rapture. At the event, Jesus Christ descends from heaven with a shout to snatch His Church with the dead in Christ going first then the living believers taking both to the heavenly realm. The shout and the snatching is reminiscent of the Jewish groom announcing he is here to whisk away his bride.
In 1 Corinthians 15:50-53, it specifically outlines what happens to those who are Raptured. In an instant, the human body is changed from the fleshly corruption to spiritual incorruption. The thought is the new spiritual body will be like the resurrected body Jesus had after His resurrection and prior to His ascension (1 John 3:2-3).
All throughout the Bible, God has given us pictures or types of the Rapture whereby He has kept and preserved the righteous believers from judgement and wrath. Specifically, you see Noah and his family who were rescued from the Flood, Lot and his family were first taken out of Sodom and Gomorrah before its destruction, and of course, Enoch and Elijah both who did not see death but were taken bodily to heaven. The Apostle Paul, himself, uses the same word “harpazo” to describe his being taken to heaven for a brief time in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. The idea of God protecting and preserving those who follow Him in truth is not a new or contrived concept.
The Book of Revelation describes that it is Jesus Himself (The Lamb) that pours out the wrath upon the nations during the Tribulation. And we see in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 that Paul the Apostle clearly states that believers are not appointed unto wrath. So it surely makes sense why the Church is removed from the Earth prior to the Tribulation given she is His bride and not under the judgement of the nations.
Believers in Christ have been anticipating the Rapture for almost 2,000 years. But today there is a heightened sense and anticipation among believers that the Father is about to reveal to the Son it is time to go for His bride. But is the bride ready?
The True Church
So the question now obviously arises, how is the bride or the Church to know if they are ready for the coming of Jesus Christ at the Rapture?
In the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus emphasizes watching in anticipation and preparing for His return. The parable delineates the virgins into two groups; the wise and the foolish. The distinction is the preparation. The wise virgins are attentive to preparing themselves for the arrival of the bridegroom coming with oil for their lamps. While the foolish virgins come unprepared to the place of waiting without the necessity of oil.
Like in 1 Thessalonians 4, a shout announces the coming of the bridegroom. All of the virgins ready themselves but the foolish are left scrambling for a supply of oil. The oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer or in this case the wise virgins in this parable. This is the defining moment for all the virgins. The wise are welcomed by the bridegroom into the wedding feast and the foolish are shut out. Not only is the door to the wedding feast closed but the bridegroom sadly does not acknowledge knowing the foolish virgins.
The Holy Spirit is the line of demarcation for the outcome of the parable as it is for those who are called the true Church of Christ. In Romans chapter 8, The Apostle Paul beautifully explains the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer in Christ. But it is in Romans 8:9b where Paul puts the stake in the ground defining who are the true Church of Christ and who are not.
Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. Romans 8:9b
Jesus had a similar pertinent conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21) explaining that the natural man cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only one who is born-again of the Spirit. Jesus further explains in these verses it is through faith in the the Son (Jesus) that a person is born of the Spirit. This is the common thread that runs through the teaching of the New Testament.
“The person who gives no evidence of the presence, power or fruit of God’s Spirit in his life has no claim to Christ as Savior and Lord. The person who demonstrates no desire for the things of God and has no inclination to avoid sin or passion to please God is not in dwelt by the Holy Spirit and thus does not belong to Christ.” John McArthur – The New Testament Commentary on Romans 1-8
It is the walk of true faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone that authenticates the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. Are you Rapture ready?
Like the foolish virgins in the parable who are refused entry to the wedding feast, there will be a group of people shutout of the Rapture left on Earth to endure the 7 years of Tribulation. Those who remain are what author Pete Garcia refers to as the Remnant.
Initially, there will be many in the remnant who are in shock that they were not taken in the Rapture. Several verses in Gospel of Matthew may offer insight to the plight of these individuals (Matthew 7:13-14 & Matthew 7:21-23). But like the foolish virgins, they will have all the wedding paraphernalia except the one that matters.
The vast majority of the remnant will be dazed trying to understand what happened while looking for answers from civil, academic and spiritual leaders. The mass disappearance of millions of people will most likely trigger chaotic reverberations through governments, financial markets and societies around the world. Many will possibly try to put a spin on the Rapture event to explain it away or exploit it for their own purposes.
After the initial reaction to the Rapture, the stage will be set for the Anti-christ to come on the world scene to usher in the Tribulation, a time unlike any other in human history. Jesus specifically warns that deception will abound during those days (see Matthew 24) being characterized by false prophets, lawlessness and false signs and wonders.
So, discovering and knowing what is true during those days will be challenging. Being equipped with the Biblical truth is vital to providing real answers and hope while navigating the turmoil that will ensue.
Rules for the Remnant
I happened upon a piece written by Pete Garcia that is called the “Rules for the Remnant” which was designed as a primer for all of the remnant left behind after the Rapture. Pete created a timeline of the Tribulation events for the remnant to clarify what to expect and most importantly how to get yourself on the right course for eternity. Here is a link to Rules for the Remnant (article link). I encourage you to read it, share it and even print it out to leave for those left behind after the Rapture. Pete’s site is rev310.net which has timely articles on this subject and more.
We are moving towards the days in history that are the cap stone of God’s plan for mankind on the Earth. The prophetic warning signals are flashing all around us today. I do not have any foreknowledge on when the Rapture will occur. It could be tomorrow or years away.
No matter what side of the Rapture we are on when you read this, before or after, there is hope provided by God through Christ to all who will receive Him. The decision you make about Jesus Christ and His finished work will set your course for eternity and potentially what side of the Rapture you land on. Romans 10:9-11 explains:
......that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:9-11
To those who eagerly wait for Him (Jesus Christ) He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. Hebrews 9:28
M.P. Bramble / firstname.lastname@example.org
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