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The Rapture

No discussion of the End Times would be complete without some mention of the Rapture. However, it is hard to know where to start because there are so many myths and misconceptions about the Rapture. The worst is that the Rapture will occur before any suffering (i.e., "tribulation") is brought about by Antichrist. Such a belief makes some Christians uninterested in the details of End Times prophecies because they don't expect to be around.

It is time for a fresh perspective about the Rapture.


The Rapture = The Resurrection

Quite simply, the Rapture and the Resurrection are the same miraculous event. For those who are alive at the time, it is the Rapture. For those who are dead at the time, it is the Resurrection. The combined event is best described as "The Rapture/Resurrection." For both living and dead, it shall be the Return of Jesus Christ.


Scriptural Evidence

The fullest description of the Rapture/Resurrection is given by Paul in 1 Thessalonians:

According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

Paul's words are so plain, it is a wonder how the connection with the Resurrection is lost.

In 1st Corinthians 15, Paul spends the entire chapter defending and justifying faith in the resurrection of the dead. By verse 50, Paul reaches the climax to his discussion and goes beyond generalities, provides specifics about the Resurrection:

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will 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 all be changed. For the perishable must cloth itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:50-53)

From this passage, we learn the following about the Resurrection:

  • Affects not only the dead but the living as well
  • The dead shall come back to life with immortal bodies
  • The living shall be given immortal bodies at the same time
  • Occurs when the last trumpet sounds

Now Paul isn't using a metaphor when he mentions "the last trumpet"; he is describing a specific event in the End Times. However, we don't learn about the trumpets until the Book of Revelation.

In Revelation 8, we learn there are seven trumpets. In Revelation 11, the seventh and last is sounded (verse 15). From this key landmark, therefore, we are able to place the Rapture/Resurrection into the sequence of End Times events presented in Revelation.


Aren't there two Resurrections?

People who are desperate for a belief in a pre-tribulation Rapture may say, "But what if we are discussing two separate events: a pre-tribulation Rapture/Resurrection and a second Rapture/Resurrection at the end (or middle) of the tribulation period? Is there anything which rules out two resurrections?"

As a matter of fact, there are two resurrections, as John makes clear in the passage below. However, note that the first doesn't occur until after Antichrist's reign of terror:

And I saw the souls of those who had beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)

This passage gives us the key to understanding the Rapture's timing:

The first Resurrection occurs after Antichrist's bloody reign.

Although there are two resurrections, it is clear there is only one resurrection before the Millenial Kingdom. This resurrection is called the first resurrection and includes believers who have endured persecution at Antichrist's hands. Consequently, any support for a pre-trib Rapture withers away.


"Then what is the point of the Rapture?"

If you have been taught to believe in a pre-tribulation Rapture, you may be inclined to ask, "What is the point of the Rapture if not to rescue Christians from the Antichrist?"

God will indeed use the Rapture/Resurrection to rescue Christians from the Antichrist. Not only will He rescue Christians, He will rescue Israel and the Creation itself. It's just a matter of timing and perspective.

How long did God allow the Israelites to suffer in Egypt before He delivered them? At least 80 years, the time from Moses' birth until the Exodus. Similarly, God will allow Christians to suffer under Antichrist, but only for a limited time. When Antichrist gets totally out of hand, God will cut things short as Jesus indicates in Matthew:

If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)

God will preempt Antichrist's reign and pour out His wrath on Antichrist and his followers. But immediately before those punishments, He will carry out the Rapture/Resurrection to rescue His sanctified ones. This interpretation of the Rapture is called the Pre-wrath Rapture, as first taught by Marvin Rosenthal in his book, The Prewrath Rapture of the Church. (At the same time, Israel will be divinely protected, I suspect, just as they were during the plagues in Ancient Egypt.)

Therefore, we can expect to suffer under Antichrist. But as Paul says:

God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

God will pour out devastating punishments on flesh and blood, but only after He delivers His children supernaturally via the Rapture/Resurrection.


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