The Rapture: Taking it Literally?

The Christian belief in “The Rapture,” made famous by the Left Behind series and various doomsday predictions, comes from two Scriptures in the Bible which speak about the resurrection of the dead.  In neither place is it specifically called “the Rapture” although you can find the Latin word for “rapture” in there if you use the Latin Vulgate Bible.  In fact, the Latin is where we get the term, and the term simply applies to the event described in I Corinthians 15:51-52 and I Thessalonians 4:15-17.   And since saying “The Rapture” is easier than saying “The-Event-Described-In-1st-Corinthians-15-51-52-and-I-Thessalonians-4-15-17”  or T.E.D.I.1.C.1.15.52.A.I.T.4.15.17 for short…

Most of us just say “the Rapture.”

Anyway, the Rapture is basically a simple concept.  In both places, the Bible (Paul was the writer) is talking about what happens to believers in Jesus who are still alive when the resurrection happens.  Obviously, God’s not going to strike them all dead so He could raise them up at that moment.  Instead of that morbid method, the Bible says we will be “caught up” to Jesus in the air (I Thessalonians 4) and changed “in the blink of an eye” into immortality (I Corinthians 15).  Part of the reason Paul wrote about it in I Thessalonians was to give people hope.  It is a rather exciting thought to consider. And assuming you believe in God and Jesus in the first place, it makes sense.  I mean, if Jesus returned and raised the dead into eternity, it’s only natural to ask what would happen to those who are still alive at the time. The Rapture is the answer for that question.

But we still manage to have huge arguments over it.  Those debates are generally over whether to take it seriously in the first place, or if you believe in a resurrection, the argument is over when exactly the Rapture part of it happens.

THE “WHEN” ARGUMENTS

The “Left Behind” books and movies took a very common position on the WHEN part, by saying The Rapture would occur before the beginning of a 7 year period of Tribulation on the earth.  I know, I know… Harold Camping and his band of merry…uh… people… just said there would be a 5 month period of judgments and that’s it.

But contrary to popular assumptions, Harold didn’t take the Bible literally all that much.  He did when it suited him, but Harold Camping’s prediction was his own interpretation, and his own idea of figuring out what he believed was a mathematical formula the Bible was hinting at.  If instead, he had taken Bible prophecy literally, he would have had to stop where Jesus says “no man knows the day or the hour.”  After all, that literally would mean it would be highly unlikely for Harold to know the end was coming on Saturday (the day) at 6pm (the hour).

But as I was saying, the Left Behind books by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins took a position that is probably the dominant one in most churches in the Baptist, Assemblies, and Pentecostal traditions.  Many non-denominational churches are in that boat, too.  That idea is the Rapture will occur about 7 years before the end of the world, and during those 7 years God will unleash judgments on the earth.  A great many Christian authors, teachers and preachers believe this, but there are quite a few who don’t, too.

On the other side are those who believe the Rapture will take place at the end of the world, and that these Scriptures do not represent a initial catching away of Christians, followed by judgments, and then another resurrection or two down the road.   Many churches from the Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, independent Christian, and Church of Christ traditions would take the view that the Rapture is merely part of the greater resurrection that happens when Jesus comes back.

Both sides believe that there will be people who are still alive when the (or “a”) resurrection takes place, and they will be “changed” in the “blink of an eye,” but as you can see, they differ over when exactly this happens.

THE “WHETHER IT HAPPENS AT ALL” ARGUMENTS

There is a third group that doesn’t take it seriously at all.  The Emergent churches are in this category, and guys like Rob Bell who recently decided not to take a literal hell seriously either.   These pastors and churches take the passages about the Rapture in an ENTIRELY symbolic way as they do most prophetic Scriptures.  Kurt Willems article is a good example.  This group preaches the social Gospel, that God has called us, not so much to a heaven out there beyond the universe, but to create a heaven here on earth by helping the poor, ending oppression, taking care of the planet and generally showing the love of Christ.

Kurt says, “Physical / earthly realities such as social injustice, violence, hunger, preventable sickness, and the destruction of nature are invitations to the church of Jesus to get our hands dirty and proclaim that this world matters (even in its broken state)! Christ will complete creation upon his return, uniting heaven and earth for the life of the age to come!

Some of what Kurt said there is good stuff, but to come to the conclusion that Christ “will complete creation upon his return,” or to conclude as he does elsewhere that God will not destroy the planet, REQUIRES that you don’t take the Bible literally in many places.  As expected then, Kurt takes I Thessalonians 4 and says that the last trumpet is an allusion to God when He gave His Law to the Israelites and Moses came down off the mountain with the blast of a trumpet.  The clouds represent “the power and authoritative judgment of God about the rescue of His people” and being caught up to meet Jesus in the air alludes to the people going out to meet the Roman Emperor when he visited a city in order to usher him in.

In other words, everything means something besides what it sounds like it means.

SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER IN THE MIDST OF THE CONFUSION

Ok, so who to believe?  Well, since everyone claims the Bible is on their side -including Harold Camping who missed another prediction- then let’s say a few things to give the Bible some credit and throw some grains of salt on all of our “interpretations” about the Rapture.

Just because there are some symbolic meanings, doesn’t mean it’s not real. 
There is symbolism for the number three.  It’s the number of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Yet I still maintain that Jesus was in the grave for 3 days.  In fact, when Jesus said he would be in the grave for three days, He compared it to Jonah being in the belly of a fish for 3 days.  But Jesus wasn’t merely alluding to Jonah so the disciples would understand that He was going to suffer and be in a “spiritual dark and stinky place”… No, Jesus was talking about actually being dead and buried in the ground.

There is symbolism throughout the Bible.  It’s everywhere.  But if we decided that everywhere we find symbolism, it must not have actually happened, then the entire Bible would have to be discarded as meaning anything real at all. The creation story symbolizes conversion, the flood symbolizes baptism, the call of Abraham symbolizes our present faith, Abraham nearly sacrificing his son Isaac symbolized God the Father sacrificing His Son Jesus, and the ram that Abraham eventually used as a sacrifice also symbolized Jesus and on and on it goes.  Deeper you go, the more that’s there.  It’s amazing how many symbolic things fit together in the Bible like an inter-woven tapestry of incredible depth and meaning.

But the symbolism doesn’t negate the reality.  God is capable of doing something on purpose to symbolize and teach us about something else.  So Moses came down the mountain with a trumpet blast, and God sits enthroned above the clouds, and Emperors occasionally visited cities, but those things do not mean that Jesus won’t descend from Heaven like the angels said He would in Acts 1, and gather us to be with Him, just like He said He would in John 14.

The problem with symbolism is it’s in the eye of the beholder.  If our symbols take the place of the plain sense meaning then we can symbolize and believe an unlimited amount of things.  We can mold our own Bible into whatever image feels right to us.  I would suggest always keeping in mind an old proverb:  “If the plain sense make sense, don’t look for any other sense, lest you wind up with nonsense.”

(I think looking for another sense is fine, but just as long as you don’t discard the plain sense.)

Besides, when you look at the prophecies concerning Jesus’ first coming, you discover some extremely detailed prophecies that were literally fulfilled -where He was born, how many silver pieces He would be betrayed for, how He would die, etc…   Why then assume that the prophecies of His second coming (at least some of them) might not ALSO be fulfilled exactly as they describe?  Like for instance, the resurrection of the dead?

There’s No Where in the Bible Where It Claims the Rapture Occurs 7 Years Ahead of Time
-and just so you know, there’s no place in the Bible where it says it cannot be 7 years ahead of time either.  The Scriptures used to support this idea are not clear, but vague. Not surprisingly, God left the whole timing issue vague. My guess is because He wanted us to be ready every day.  There are Scriptures which are interpreted to mean the Rapture will happen before a 7 year tribulation, but as you can imagine, not everyone agrees with that interpretation anymore than everyone agreed with Harold Camping’s interpretation that the end would come exactly 7000 years after Noah’s Flood. 

For instance, II Thessalonians 2 does mention something “being taken out of the way” which had been “holding back” an anti-christ sort of figure. This is interpreted by some to mean the Church or the Holy Spirit, and “taken out of the way” refers to being raptured from the earth.  But it doesn’t come out and say that (and it certainly COULD have), nor does it say this happens 7 years ahead of time.   There are all sorts of nuances to consider even if you take it very literally. The something “being taken out of the way” could literally mean an angelic being, or some spiritual force. The Bible describes God holding things back in several places in the Bible, including chaining up Satan in Revelation 20. Plus, even if the something IS the church, then what does it mean when it says this anti-christ sort of figure will be “revealed”? Revealed is the English word, but the original Greek word has a bigger meaning. In the Bible that word sometimes refers to something coming into the fullness of power, such as the day when Jesus is “revealed” in Luke 17:30. If that’s what Paul was getting at, then perhaps the anti-christ is “revealed” in the sense of coming into the fullness of his power, 3-4 years into the tribulation? Without getting too deep, the bottom line is the vague Scripture in II Thessalonians 2 is certainly open to interpretation.

There is another Scripture in Revelation where John is caught up to heaven where he sees most of the vision of Revelation.  This is often interpreted to symbolize the Rapture.  But again, it doesn’t say that.  Some claim “the Church” is never mentioned in the book of Revelation after chapter 4, but the Church as a WHOLE isn’t mentioned before chapter 4 either.  And besides, if the church has no mention, then who exactly is that in Revelation 12:17?  the Church of Scientology?  I believe the church is the church whether they accept Christ before, during, or after any Tribulation.  Whenever they believe on Jesus and are baptized in His name, when the Holy Spirit indwells them, aren’t they the Church?  And if the Holy Spirit is out of the world, then what of the New Covenant?  Are we back to the Old?  The same one that Hebrews called obsolete?

There are plenty of reasons to question the timing of the Rapture, whether you take the Bible in a plain sense manner, or take it more symbolically.  Personally, I’m all for the 7 year idea.  That would be wonderful and exciting!  But my own view is that the Rapture takes place closer to the end, after the time of persecution spoken of in Revelation 13.

And since the Bible leaves that door open either way, it’s probably good to stay flexible on the timing issue.  After all, sometimes our predictions don’t come true.

The Rapture Isn’t All That Crazy of an Idea Actually
In the Bible, God judged the nation of Egypt with plague after plague while the Israelites were in their midst.  There was no rapture out of Egypt.  But when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, He took Lot and his family out of the city first.  There was a rapture there -so to speak.  Certainly, God can choose to take people out of the way if He wants to, and He is capable of taking His people through a time of tribulation as well.

So maybe there will be a rapture 7 years ahead of time, or 3 years, or 3 minutes… Or maybe it’s just right there at the end?   But however it unfolds, the Rapture is ultimately just the thing that happens to those of us who are still alive when the Lord returns.  Mortal bodies don’t go into eternity Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15.  Immortal bodies do.  We will not all die, but we will all be changed he said.  In I Thessalonians 4, he wrote that Jesus would descend from Heaven (like the angels said He would) with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trumpet call of God and the dead will raise first, and we who are still alive will be caught up to be with Him.

At that moment, no one is going to care who figured it out perfectly. We’ll just be glad to be there.

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11 thoughts on “The Rapture: Taking it Literally?

  1. Brian,
    I certainly respect your opinions and thank you for providing a forum to discuss last days. I appreciate your fair-minded approach.
    I was raised in an a-mill independent Christian church, I then moved on to an a-mill Pentecostal church. I finally ran joyfully to a pre-mill, rapture confessing Baptist church when I realized how small a-mill beliefs made the Lord Jesus and Father God. No amount of Bible study at an a-mill church can help people to understand The Big Picture of God’s plan. So many scriptures and prophecies are never spoken of or addressed. The book of Revelation is virtually ignored. I am sure that God intends for us to understand a book that He calls the “unveiling”. The Lord Jesus Himself says that there is a blessing for those who read or hear and KEEP the PROPHECIES of the book of Revelation and yet the a-mill churches consider this book to be trivial at best and dangerous at worst.
    The scriptures really only make sense when taken as a whole. For example; in Revelation chapter four and on, we see the word “saints” and not the word “church”, because the “saints” includes the believers not only from the church age but also from before and after the church age. I think that the Lord Jesus chooses His words carefully. The Bride of Christ includes believers from all ages, not just the church age.
    The church age began at Pentecost (feast of weeks) and will end with the ascension of the church to Christ (feast of trumpets). Jesus said that He must go to prepare a place for us and that He would return to take us to that place. Isaiah 26:20 and 21 are the Old Testament confirmation of the “rapture” passages in the New Testament that many Christians are familiar with. When the church is removed from the earth at the beginning of the tribulation, the church age is over. God then returns to the business of fulfilling His unconditional promises to Abraham and David. The importance of Daniel’s 70th week cannot be overemphasized. Millions will come to accept Christ as their savior during the tribulation with the 144,000 Jewish servants and the two Jewish witnesses leading the way.
    The 70th week of Daniel is not about the church. I believe that the a-mill approach is church-centric, not Christ-centric. To be sure, salvation has always been and will always be through the Lord Jesus.
    Why am I so dogmatic about this? The a-mill view is the foundation of the lukewarm Laodicean church, a church that Christ will spit out of His mouth. The lukewarm church does not have a clue that they are lukewarm and Jesus tells them to repent. The lukewarm church does not even recognize that it is living in Babylon and that God will throw Babylon down. The lukewarm church has an incorrect worldview, the “emergent” church represents it’s extreme. To be sure, you can also hold the pre-mill, “rapture” view and be lukewarm. This is the challenge for the church at this time. We find that the church in Philadelphia is recognized for being weak, but commended for” keeping” the word of God. This church is promised to be spared the tribulation, because, I believe, they are looking for, and preparing for the reign of Christ to come. We are promised to be made kings and priests and judges, working with Christ, in our resurrected bodies, as He oversees Israel and the nations from Jerusalem below. The New Jerusalem above will be our home.

  2. I’ve decided to take God “at his Word” and trust Him on the where and when. I’m just going to concentrate on being ready.

    As to the how I will do the rapture?… well, today I went to Google Earth and found my house. Then I practiced meeting Him in the air by going up, up, up, until the entire earth was in my screen. I did it over and over with a big grin on my face as I imagined the trumpet sound and the clouds parting. (I also delighted in the look on some skeptic’s faces as it happened… does that make me bad?)

  3. Mitch that’s a good post, and I appreciate your thoughts brother. I have also noticed how much prophecy is avoided and the book of Revelation shunned by many churches. Just using the term Rapture can get lots of negative reactions sometimes. So as you noticed, I try to boil these things down so that people will consider what the Bible teaches and not be hindered by a negative reaction toward a label, or preconceived notion, or get stuck because of a tradition. Hopefully I can spur study and thoughtfulness. lol

    I would agree that Daniel’s 70th week has a specific meaning and value for the nation of Israel, and I do personally believe that week is yet future. (unless it started already and no one told me…) In the big picture, I see the Bible teaching that a remnant of Israel will be saved by faith in Christ just as we are. Romans 11 suggests a remnant of Israel will someday turn to Christ, Zechariah 12 describes Israel mourning “for the one they have pierced.” (there is Joel and Revelation 12 and others) So in the sense that the “church age” is the body of believers from any nation, tribe or language who put their faith in Christ, I think you could say that a remnant of Israel simply joins with the church, because they join with the same faith in the same Savior. They are grafted back into the same vine. In that sense, the church age doesn’t so much stop, as it is ultimately fulfilled in the nation of Israel.

    Does any of this mean the Gentile church is spared all of the tribulation while God focuses on the Jewish nation and a remnant of Jewish believers? Well it would be nice to get out of here before all that bad stuff happens. Of course, God may be busy working on Israel even while I’m still here. I’m pulling for your interpretation though. 🙂

  4. Nelson! I am so going to do that now! lol

    Studying the Word on these subjects helps me stay ready, keeps me fired up. I think occasionally we have to address it in some detail because there are questions about if the Bible makes sense, questions about the reality of God working in our world, and questions about divisions in the church over these things. In that way, it’s good to study, and understand these passages, allowing them to encourage us. It’s not so good to divide up over them, or make goofy doomsday predictions.

    And it’s way cool to use Google Earth to practice for a rapture. lol

  5. This topic is great. As Jesus commanded His disciples to “keep watch” (in regards to events concerning His return), so I believe that is still for us. At one point Jesus even tells us to (literally) look up, because our redemption is drawing near! MOST EXCITING!

    As far as the church is concerned in relation to being raptured..those alive CANNOT be caught up into the air with out the dead in Christ ALSO being caught up with them. The dead must resurrect and then the dead in Christ and those alive in Christ will be both caught up into the air together to meet Jesus. EXCITING!

    I think a lot of people ignore the timing of the resurrection of the dead. Revelation talks about 2 (and only 2) resurrections. The first resurrection folks are blessed, the second resurrection folks..ehh not so much. Mary knew that her brother Lazerus would be resurrected at the last day. Jesus taught that He would lose none His Father gave Him, but rise them up at the last day. (He actually says that 3 or so times) Those scriptures are located in John (if I can remember right without grabbing my Bible) chapter 6 and chapter 11.

    Another thought concerning the church being raptured out of the way of God’s wrath (which according to this view(s) takes 3.5-7 years) is this: What happens to those who are then converted during the desolation period (or tribulation if you prefer though both are the same)are they immediately taken out of the way of God’s wrath? (since after all, God wouldn’t allow the church experience the wrath). That would mean that there would be multiple raptures (but only for those who are being converted during the period of wrath) That’s a crazy idea that I can’t find in the Bible.

    The argument from silence is a terrible form of interpretation which has to be used in order to claim John represents the church throughout the book of Revelation. God is not mentioned in the book of Ester..so that must mean He comes and goes as He pleases-or any other crazy idea you want to bring up off of that thought.

    Also, to interpret the letters to the seven churches, as anything other than addressed to the seven churches, perhaps as different church ages isn’t good interpretation either. Context is king, and the letters are specifically addressed to those churches.

    In all reality the pre-tribulation rapture theory was not taught until around the 1830’s. It was part of a dream that a 15 year old girl named Margret Macdonald had. It was then popularized by either Scolfield or John Darby. There is a book by Dave McPhearson (spelling?) which talks about this thing. This is the book I thought you needed to read, and so I brought it to you, before I came down here.

    I think if Paul would have been a proponent of the pre-tribulation view he would have stated to the Thessalonians in his second letter that “they need not be worried about the Lord’s return. As it is obvious He has not returned because you and I are still here.” But instead he tells them some events that must first take place.

    The final thing I don’t think people don’t consider is the word ‘meet’ in the 1 thess. text. The Greek word is apantesis. Which is only used two other times in the NT. In the parable of the 10 virgins and near the end of the book of Acts, where Paul is met on his way to Rome, by several brothers. However, he is not just met, but he is then escorted back to Rome. (This is the full meaning of apantesis, to meet and escort back) A straight forward blog article can be found here: http://www.lastday.info/watchv2i96.html

  6. Hey Brian, great article. There is so much symbolism in the Bible but, I believe it is used to give us better understanding of things that will literally occur. I have always been a supporter of a pre-trib and post-trib rapture. The pre-trib, being for the Bride of Christ (the ones who truly love Him and keep His Word) and the post-trib for the remainder of the Body of Christ. The ones who are saved but, are lukewarm and therefore chastised in the tribulation. I believe this is symbolized in Genesis, with Adam and Eve. Adam being the ‘first man’, and Christ being the second Adam. Just as Eve (the bride of Adam) was taken FROM the body of Adam, I believe the Bride of Christ will be taken FROM the Body of Christ in the pre-trib rapture and the remaining Body being taken post-trib. To me it makes sense. The Bible speaks of the Bride and Groom several times, and how many saints will be present. If many saints, who would be part of the Body of Christ are present at the wedding as guests, then who would be the Bride?

    Just a little food for thought. Keep up the good work. I love checking your site every day to see if you have a new posting.

    Ryan

  7. Brian-
    Thank you for your response. As I see it, the problem of the church being present upon the earth during the 70th week is that she would be a distraction from the 144000 Jewish servants who are sealed, and thus protected, in order to witness to the lukewarm church and the unbelieving Gentiles during this time. As Paul states in Romans chapter 11, to paraphrase, when these Jewish remnant gets it they will really get it. The two Jewish witnesses (Elijah and Enoch by my reckoning) must also gain international attention until they are slain at the midpoint of the seven years, resurrected and then taken up to Heaven while the whole world looks on.
    As I see it, the church has a role, and a very special one, in God’s plan for salvation. However, Father God will hand the business of witnessing and discipling back to the biological sons of Abraham, closing out the church age, and we need to respect this.

  8. Yep, I see what you’re saying and you might be right. I love discussing and theorizing on this subject myself and if it’s ok, I’ll indulge a bit. 🙂

    The way I see it right now, is that since those 144,000 are “sealed” to protect them from the destruction that is about to fall (which appears to be the trumpet judgments) then it follows they are doing their thing in the latter part of the 70th week. I say that because for a lot of reasons I personally think the trumpet judgments hit in the middle to latter part of the 70th week, not at the beginning which is the traditional view. Plus the two witnesses do their thing while Jerusalem is being trampled on for 42 months. If that’s the first half, then Israel is protected by God (Rev 12) and being trampled on (Rev 11) at the same time which doesn’t seem to jive much.

    By the second half, the Gentile church is either out of the way because of the rapture or simply diminished in power. John DOES suddenly see a multitude he cannot count from every nation in heaven in the same part of the vision where he sees the 144,000. It’s possible that great multitude is a result of a rapture. But even if the church is not raptured before then, its power would be greatly diminished as per Revelation 13. So either way, the 144,000 and the two witnesses would be the stars of the show in the second half.

    Of course, figuring this out is just for fun. Whoever gets the most right gets a Mtn. Dew.

  9. [I found this web item, CrazyPastor, and want to share it, for what it’s worth. Thanks for your good blog.]

    PRETRIB RAPTURE – HIDDEN FACTS !

    How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He’s now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. (“The Rapture Question,” by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn’t dare to even list, in its scripture index, the too-hot-to-handle Acts 3:21!) Since Jesus can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends (Acts 2:34,35 echo this), the rapture therefore can’t take place before the end of the trib!
    Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The “rest” for “all them that believe” is tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who’d be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which is Israel’s posttrib resurrection!)
    Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this “rapture” was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” [“gathering”] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!).

  10. Interesting thoughts Ben. Appreciate the discussion. Just for the sake of discussion (In my opinion, only time will tell who figures out the rapture question the best) Some of the responses to the above points would probably go along these lines:

    Acts 3:21 says heaven must receive Jesus “until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets that have been from of old.” (ASV)

    First, the context of those verses doesn’t put any dependence on who is ruling from Jerusalem. Peter’s previous sentences appealed to the Jews to believe in Jesus so God would send Jesus from heaven.

    Act 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord;
    Act 3:20 and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus: (ASV)

    Like Adam and Eve if they had obeyed God, it seems Peter is telling Israel they could have the promises of God if they would just turn to Christ. Instead as history shows, they rejected Jesus and God scattered them over the face of the earth as He promised He would in Deuteronomy.

    The Old Testament spoke of many things regarding the “times of the restoration of all things.” The Old Testament prophets spoke of an anti-christ type of figure, and spoke of Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, and spoke of Christ coming down from heaven to make war against those armies, etc… And yes they spoke of the Messiah reigning from Jerusalem. So I think some people would argue the rapture is an early part of that process, and that it would occur at the beginning of those times. And some may also argue that with the 7-year-ahead-of-time rapture promoted by Wolvoord and others, (not so much me) Jesus doesn’t return to earth per se, but appears in the skies and snatches the church away to heaven to stay with them there until the end of the seven years.

    For myself, I list Acts 3:21 to argue for a literal reign of Christ on earth. Of course, I’m with you that the rapture occurs more toward the end, and not 7 years ahead of time. Nevertheless, I would love to be wrong and get out of here early. lol

    As for the other Scriptures, it could be that those things are that precise in order, but it could also be that Paul was speaking in slightly more general terms. In other words, those things like the end of death, the resurrection, the judgments of God, etc… happen over a short period of time and he was simply referring to them all. Case and point, when Jesus began His ministry, He quoted a Scripture from Isaiah 61 and then sat down and said “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.” (Luke 4:17-21)

    Clearly the Scripture had only started to be fulfilled, and much of what Jesus read was going to happen literally over the next few years. PLUS, Jesus quit reading at a comma, so the next part which dealt with the end of the world… even though it was associated with the first part Jesus read to everyone… was separated from each other by over 2000 years.

    Likewise, if a rapture occurs, and 1007 years later Death itself is destroyed, it could still be all part of the same plan, and same sequence of events. That’d be just a “day” to God I suppose.

    And I’m glad you brought up the last part, which many others have said in the past. The part about the rapture being a new idea. Here’s where I am on that: Whether a pre-trib rapture is novel or not, well… doesn’t necessarily matter. The Jews never saw the church coming, and didn’t recognize the Kingdom of Heaven when it was right in front of them. So if we get a few things wrong, or don’t figure them out for the longest time, well, that’s par for the course for humans. So the argument that we’ve simply come to a better understanding these days as we approach the end, is as valid as anything else probably.

    Still, having said all of this, I do think these things are food for thought and I appreciate your post. It made me think! And probably will give me a few things to think about for awhile to come. In my view, when Jesus returns, whoever figured out the rapture thing the closest gets a diet Dew.

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