Saturday, June 20, 2020

Is a Rapture (Catching Away) in the Bible?

Is the Rapture in the Bible Meeting

Whether you have heard it referred to it as the “Rapture” or the “Catching away of the Saints,” there is a belief among many Christians that some or all of the children of God will escape the terrible calamities prophesied in the Book of Revelation. We must look to the scriptures to see the truth of this matter.

It is important to remember that we do not have to agree about this topic. We are saved by our relationship with Jesus as Lord, not by what we believe concerning an impending rapture. Consider this food for thought: May the Holy Spirit bring you wisdom about this topic.

As I meditated and sought the Lord before giving this message, this is what happened in the Secret Place:

Instead of dancing with the Lord in the gazebo, Jesus approached me with his hair standing out widely like a lion’s mane with His eyes ablaze. As that comparison entered my mind, I saw a mountain-sized Lion marching across the word giving a tremendous and mighty roar. People began vibrating and black forms shook off of them. Some shook until a bright light shone forth from them, others shook and melted into either a spiritual death or a physical one. The Lord’s voice echoed in my head, “The Lion of Judah is marching across the land, He is roaring and shaking the Earth. Those who cling to Me will shine forth with My light, those who do not will fall away.”

In prior articles we have discussed the fate of six of seven types of churches. God has told us what He expects them to shake free of. There is one type of assembly of believers of which God does approve, let’s look at that now.

Philadelphia Church


And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things said He that is holy, He that is true, He that has the key of David, He that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens… (Revelation 3:7 AKJV)

This church needs to remember that there is a key to entering God’s presence, one that David had. King David was a worshiper. David, Solomon, his son, and Moses were the only ones to write about the Secret Place. David mentions it in three Psalms 7, 18 & 31. When you worship the Lord with abandon, like David did, not caring who sees, only focused on Him, He will use the key to open a door that no man can shut!

I know your [record of] works and what you are doing. See! I have set before you a door wide open which no one is able to shut; I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept My Word and guarded My message and have not renounced or denied My name. (Revelation 3:8 AMPC)

This church has a record for doing works for God which has caused the Lord to open a door to them.  The Greek word tēreō is translated “kept and guarded” but a fuller translation means to “to attend to carefully, take care of.” This assembly is serious about the Word of God! The Greek word dynamis is often translated power or might, but if they were using only a little of God’s  power, why would a door be open? Most words can have multiple meanings. Here dynamis means “power and resources arising from numbers.”

Take note! I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and learn and acknowledge that I have loved you. (Revelation 3:9 AMPC)

In God’s timing, the world will see that the Philadelphia Church knows God and He loves them. The Apostle John who wrote this book uses “Jews” to refer to those who claim to be Abraham’s descendants: this would include Christians as well since we are adopted into the family of God.

 This assembly of believers are “teaching” since others will be forced to come and “learn.” The Lord is causing others to acknowledge that He loves this church: could they be a small group instead of operating in “little” might or power? The path to God is narrow, perhaps that is why the churches that are operating in God’s ways are few in number.

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown. Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:11-13 AKJV)

These are one of two types of churches that do not need to “overcome” any sin, only to hold on to what they have. Those who hang tight will become a “pillar” in God’s temple. A pillar is a strong and mighty part of the support structure. 

Achievement: Works, patient endurance in God’s teachings
Obstacle: Hold on to what they have
Reward: Kept “out of” the hour of trial & a pillar in the temple of God

We skipped one verse, let’s take a look at it now:

Because you have guarded and kept My word of patient endurance [have held fast the lesson of My patience with the expectant endurance that I give you], I also will keep you [safe] from the hour of trial (testing) which is coming on the whole world to try those who dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10 AMPC)

This church has guarded the Word of the Lord with patience: steadfastness, constancy, endurance. The Greek word ek is translated “from” but John uses it to mean “out of” twelve times in his writings. This means that God will keep them out of a time period (hour) which is coming upon the world.

The word peirasmos is translated as trial. A fuller meaning is “a rebellion against God, by which his power and justice are, as it were, put to the proof and challenged to show themselves.” We know that during the Tribulation, the world refused to “repent” or turn from their sin. They are in rebellion against God’s ways. The addition of “upon the earth” makes it clear that this group will not be among those on the earth or it would come upon them as well. What part of the coming trouble will God deliver these churches from?

Before the Seals


After God speaks about what He expects of the churches, He takes John to Heaven by saying, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place in the future.”  Revelation 4:1 AMPC

 The entire chapter describes the throne room of God where He is seated in power. Chapter five begins with the search for He who is worthy of opening a scroll. Jesus comes forward and the

Catching Away of the Saints


Behold, I show 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 AKJV)

Paul is imparting a new message to God’s people. Something is going to happen so suddenly that it will occur in the blink of an eye. What the “last trumpet call” refers to will be discussed in the Timing of the Tribulation. For now, it is enough to know that not all will die, some will be transformed and leave this earth suddenly. The Lord also mentioned this sudden removal of people from the earth:

Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Matthew 24:40-41 AKJV)

This is not metaphorical, it is literally what will happen. Two will be standing side by side and one will disappear and one will be left behind.

Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord! (1 Thessalonians 4:17 AMPC)

This is the “catching away” The English word “rapture” derives from the Latin verb rapere, meaning “to carry off,” or “to catch up.” This is why the event of the sudden departure is referred to as both the “rapture” and the “catching away of the saints.”

Eligibility for the Rapture

But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, “My lord delays his coming;” And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:48-51 AKJV)

This is what the Lord says after “one will go and one will be left.” It has been a long time since the Lord left. Many are not concerned with staying clear of sin and many more have begun conducting God’s business according to the ways of the world (eat and drink with the drunkard). Even though they are “servants” meaning they are doing God’s work, they will not be going in the rapture. This is clearly seen in the descriptions of the churches in Revelation.

Not Eligible


      Ephesus Church: Lost their love for the Lord with decreasing works.
      Pergamum Church: Encouraging tolerance and/or integration of other religions and sexual sin
      Thyatira Church: Tolerating Jezebel and encouraging sin
      Sardis Church: Had no “perfect works” and were dying because of lack of attachment to the Vine.
      Laodicea Church: Lukewarm: just costing along because they have wealth or provision.

The Lord commands all of these churches to repent and turn from these sins in order to be admitted to Heaven. He says nothing about sparing them from what is coming, only a promise to help them through it.

Eligible


      Philadelphia Church: has watched over and guarded the word of God. They  will be removed from a time of trial
      Smyrna Church: imprisoned and killed for their faith. The suffering will only last 10 days,

Only two out of the five types of bodies of believers are promised to be removed from the coming situation. This means that more than half of those who refer to themselves as Christians will not go in the rapture.

Right after Matthew tells us of one who is suddenly taken and one left, then he recounts the parable of the ten virgins:

The fact that ten virgins were waiting on the “groom” makes all ten a part of the bride of Christ: Christians. Five “foolish” virgins ran out of oil and were told to go and “buy” more. Before the foolish were ready, the door was opened and the five who were ready went in, to the Groom. The foolish were left out in the cold where there was “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The word foolish means unconcerned with the ways of the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament). The instructions to the church in revelation often include actions that will take time to fulfil - this is buying the oil or doing what it takes for the anointing to return. Weeping and gnashing of teeth is a time of trouble and pain. This perfectly describes what will happen with many Christians at the time of the rapture. As the Lord finished the parable He adds:

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes. (Matthew 25:13 AKJV)

This shows that the parable was related to His return and the rapture which He was speaking about! It is clear that not all who call upon Jesus as Lord will be removed in the rapture. I hope you will take a close look at the churches in Revelation to make sure you are with the groups that get to go!

Timing of the Rapture

But relative to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and our gathering together to [meet] Him, we beg you, brethren, not to allow your minds to be quickly unsettled or disturbed or kept excited or alarmed, whether it be by some [pretended] revelation of [the] Spirit or by word or by letter [alleged to be] from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has [already] arrived and is here. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 AMPC)

This is Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. The rapture, “our gathering together to meet Him” seems to be a hot topic even back then! It was always “big business” to get people stirred up with fear. We need to look at what the scriptures say about the timing so we don’t let our minds get alarmed, unsettled, disturbed by those stirring up fear.

Most refer to the Tribulation as the seven year period mentioned in Daniel and Revelation 11-13 connected to the breaking of the seals, the trumpets and the vials of wrath. We have discussed the placement of these items within Daniel’s Week, now let’s see if we can narrow down when the rapture will occur in comparison to these events. How much of the Tribulation (trib) period will we miss? A common way to refer to this is:

Pre-Trib: Before the signing of the seven year agreement
Mid-Trib: halfway through that seven year period
Post Trib: after the full seven years

The Word of God can help us narrow this list, but doesn’t provide a precise time for the removal of God’s obedient children.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is god. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 AKJV)

There are two events that must happen before the return of the Lord:

  1. Christians falling away from the faith
the apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come] (2 Thessalonians 2:3 AMPC)
  1. The antichrist declares himself God in the temple of God.

According to Daniel’s Week and the timeline we have established the Antichirst will declare himself god at the Mid-Trib point. This means ALL Christians will be on earth at least until the middle of the tribulation, three and a half years after the seven year peace agreement is signed. Jesus also spoke about His followers being here at that time:

When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains... (Matthew 24:15-16 AKJV)

The Lord begins a very long list of happenings with this statement. This confirms we will see the Antichrist in the temple of God before we leave. If we were going to be raptured out of the earth as soon as the Antichrist appears in the temple, why would we need to understand what is happening and run for our lives?

And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31 AKJV)

Jesus confirms that it will be a single trumpet sound that calls the devoted home. The four winds happen on the Earth, the heavens are all of the universe. How much longer after the middle of the tribulation will we still be here? Paul tells us when we will definitely be gone from the earth:

And [how you] look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from the wrath [bringing punishment] which is coming [upon the impenitent] and draws us to Himself… (1 Thessalonians 1:10 AMPC)

By looking at the churches in Revelation we know that God expects certain behaviors of His church. For the assemblies of believers who hold to His word with patient expectation, there is a reward of being removed from the “trial.” Now we see that it is God’s “wrath” that we will get to miss.

The vials of wrath are poured out after Daniel’s week: the seven year peace agreement. With this information, we can narrow the rapture to somewhere after the middle of the tribulation to right after it ends. What happens during the rapture will help us narrow this down even further:

...for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 AKJV)

Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air... (1 Thessalonians 4:17 AMPC)

The two witnesses are killed after 1,260 days, in the middle of the tribulation. These are Christians who have given their lives doing the job God created them for. They definitely qualify as the dead who will rise to meet the Lord in the air. That means the rapture cannot happen until the two witnesses rise in view of the whole world. We know they rise after the sixth trumpet. This means Christians will be removed somewhere between the sixth trumpet and the wrath of God.


Those Who Miss the Rapture


What will become of us or our loved ones who miss the rapture? Do not fear, there is a second chance! After the trumpets, we are warned not to take the mark and worship the beast. Then:

And I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from now on: Yes, said the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them. (Revelation 14:13 AKJV)

This is right before the vials of wrath are poured out. There seems to be a connection between giving our lives because we are Christians “die in the Lord” and the mark of the beast.

And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4 AMPC)

After the wrath of God, we see more of what happened. People will be beheaded for:

● witnessing of Jesus
● refusing to take the mark of the beast

and

● refusing to worship the beast


There is a special reward for this! You will live and reign with Christ during the 1000 year reign!
If you or your loved one miss the rapture, this is what will get you a place with Christ:

● tell them you are a Christian
● refuse to take the mark and worship the beast
● be beheaded

That is a quick easy death with a BIG reward!
When will the Tribulation begin? Next we will examine the Feast of Israel so that we know when the time is close when our Lord is right at the door!

This is part of a series of articles based on the Book of Revelation. We suggest looking at these in the order they were given because one message builds upon the others:

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