The rapture of the church is one of the most controversial elements within the body of Christ. Is it real? When will it happen and why?
On a perfect Spring day, I got dressed to go on my walk with my best friend. Our daily routine was a pleasant ritual and one that I always looked forward to, for the most part. We would meet at Hy-Vee to get a bite to eat, then hit the road where we would basically take a tour of Trenton that would last about an hour and a half, talking about the news of the day, our families, movies, nerd stuff, and the one area that I would feel the least comfortable with, religion. Oh, to be sure, he didn’t press the issue, but we would always come round to it near the end of the walk. Honestly, I can’t say if he would steer the talk in that direction or if it was me, but the result was always the same. It was the final stuff, the “Jesus talks” that seemed to escalate as of late.
I think it was the news. Yeah, it was the news that seemed to increase his Jesus speech.
“Yeah, all the nations are in their right place and war would break out soon. It says so right in Isaiah and Ezekiel”
I tell you, I wish I had never introduced him to Google Alerts and taught him how to set things up to be delivered to his inbox on any subject he wished. He seemed to just absorb it, especially when it concerned Israel and Jerusalem. He seemed to be a growing expert in national affairs and, to be sure, he has been right on how some things were going to happen, but it was when he talked about “being saved” and the whole rapture thing that got me upset.
“You mean, I’m going to be left because I didn’t say some magic words to an old man in the sky? Well, that sounds about like a bible-thumper, always scaring the Hell into people.”, but he really didn’t, he just talked about it. He never brought up the fact about my cheating on my wife, about my posts, about, well, anything, but I hated the whole Jesus thing, and I knew that I would hear it today. Today was May 14th, Israel’s “second birthday” as he would say. I just knew that this day would play into some maniacal Bible prophecy thing and the whole cycle would start again.
I heard him knocking, whistling a hymn as I saw his bright smile through the window of my door. He was always in a chipper mood and I did admire him for that, as well as enjoyed his company, but the news playing across my TV changed all that. I couldn’t believe what I just heard:
“Damascus has been utterly destroyed by Israel! This is a breaking story”
As I opened the door, my chipper friend saw the color leave my face and asked if I was ok.
“No, I’m not. Have you heard the news?” I asked
“Oh yeah, I heard, and I didn’t think it would happen this soon and this quickly,” he uttered
“What do you mean, no wait, don’t tell me, prophecy,..right?”
“Well…yeah, but I can tell you don’t want to hear about it today, so let’s just get something to eat and walk,” he said.
“Yeah, I’m not hungry, but I do need to burn off this energy, so let’s walk.”
I couldn’t believe it, Israel, the “friendly terrorist state” had destroyed Damascus with a nuke. In one night, they killed so many people and no one would ever be able to live there again. My fury began to rise as we made our way on our walking route. Since our starting point was near the end, we made our way to the elementary school by way of the cemetery, then we would loop back around and start at the beginning as I really needed this walk to help me think.
My friend was very quiet during the walk and I welcomed this change. He was always good about sensing when things needed a break, even the Christian stuff. I dogged him about it quite a bit and he took it all in stride, never getting mad and always willing to answer questions. He never agreed with me when it came to matters of our countries social policies, changing laws and he challenged my way of thinking many times, and I’ll have to admit, he had me on the ropes a time or two, but he was never a jerk about it.
We neared the cemetery and were about to round our way toward the school when all of a sudden, my friend just stopped dead in his tracks. He seemed to be startled, which was odd in and of itself as I’ve never seen him jump as he just did.
“Did you hear that!?”, but the question couldn’t be answered through the shaking of the ground.
The earth seemed to be “moving” underneath my feet and I could almost sense a pressure building up. My thoughts were “an earthquake in Missouri?” My eyes looked desperately around for some kind of shelter where we could both go and that was when I saw it and I questioned my sanity…
…the cemetery exploded…
I could see many of the graves open up as the caskets were thrust above the earth. I thought that all those zombie movies were about to come true, but even more strange than exploding coffins were the “people” that came up from them.
I had never seen anyone so beautiful, nor so many beautiful people in one place. All of them looked around for a brief moment, then looked up and smiled. In that flickering instant, they were gone and the earth stopped it’s shaking.
Did I actually see it? Yes, of course, I saw it, but was it just here or was it everywhere?
I got out my phone and checked my networks and they all told the same story. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, they all had the same videos and live feeds of cemeteries across the globe exploding, people running, panicked people crying and so much worse. I looked up from my phone back towards the cemetery, now a pile of dirt and empty coffins and the sweat began to cover my body like a sobering blanket. It was then that I remembered something that my walking buddy had said about this. I turned to ask him about it and my panic was turned up to a new height…
…my friend was gone…
If you were to turn the above story into a made-for-TV movie, the caption at the beginning would read: “based on true events”. The true events being the destruction of Damascus (Isaiah 17:1-14) and the rapture of the church (1 Corinthians 5:15:50-58, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The events, with regard to the Isaiah 17 prophecy may or may not occur before the rapture, as I have created, but it will occur and will most likely be the catalyst for the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecy being fulfilled soon after, but that’s another post.
This post concerns the rapture. Why it will occur, what we will see and why the church will not have to endure the 7-year tribulation.
First, lets set up the foundation of why:
Paul laid the foundation for why we need a new body:
“But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
1 Corinthians 15:35-49 NKJV
There are many who speculate that the body of Christ will be raptured in body, that they will disappear. To be sure, the analogy that Paul makes about Jesus rising from the dead and we being like him, will do the same in the rapture as stated in the 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 passage (…we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus…) Others say that we will be raised in spirit only, which supports the above scripture and that our “natural bodies”, the bodies that we know, will drop dead. I tend towards the latter as was stated in the 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 passage above (“…For this corruptible must put on incorruption…”). To be honest, both could be true as our souls don’t sleep in our bodies, thus the 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 could apply only for the “dead that sleep in Christ” (Christians who have died before the rapture) and the 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (with accompanying 1 Corinthians 15:35-49) could apply towards the living that are in Christ (living Christians at the time of the rapture).
In any event, those that are of the body of Christ will be out of here before things get really bad. The passages that discuss the rapture in the greatest detail are listed below:
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 NKJV
“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.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NKJV
There are other passages that apply to us with regard to being raptured before the tribulation. Those passages are:
“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
Revelation 3:10 NKJV
So, we’re gone and gonna face the white throne judgment, right? WRONG! We have already been found innocent through the blood of Jesus Christ. We WILL go through another type of judgments, a judgment of our deeds on earth to determine our rewards in Heaven if any.
After we are raptured, we will stand before Jesus and either gain or lose rewards
“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
1 Corinthians 3:9-15 NKJV
“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
2 Corinthians 5:9-10 NKJV
But why do we get to go? Aren’t their passages that speak of an “end-of-tribulation rapture” happening or even a mid-tribulation? No, because of those passages (Matthew 24:31, Mark 13:27) refer to the Jews that are left during the tribulation period that will remain until the end. These Jews will come to Jesus, most likely when the antichrist declares himself to be god (2 Thessalonians 2:4) as well as the 144,000 new evangelists (Revelation 7:1-4) preaching the Gospel to the Jews, which will be martyred (Revelation 7:9, 13-14).
To understand why the bride of Christ will be raptured, we have to understand how God works with regard to punishing the wicked while there are righteous people around them. For that, we have to go to the Old Testament and to Noah, Abraham, Lot, and Moses.
Many of us are quite familiar with this passage. Jesus makes use of this passage when he makes an analogy of how the world will be when He comes back. We have to consider how God would let the righteous people suffer the punishment of the wicked when they have walked with the Lord. In Noah’s case, the WHOLE WORLD AND EVERYONE IN IT WERE WICKED, excluding Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives. The answer, build an ark so they (and many animals) would survive.
“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.”
Genesis 6:5-8, 13, 17-18 NKJV
The righteous were saved while judgment was carried out. There is a problem with this as God said he would never again flood the earth to punish (Genesis 9:11), so God will have to use other ways if He want’s to dispense judgment as He cannot go back on His Word.
Abraham and the angels of the Lord:
Once again, we run into a familiar account of judgment that God is about to unleash upon the wicked, but Abraham asks a question:
“Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. And the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” So the LORD went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.”
Genesis 18:16, 20-21, 23, 25, 32-33 NKJV
Abraham knew God’s nature and God didn’t need reminding from Abraham. We see an instance where God basically says, “hey, the bad guys can live if there are good guys in the city.” Why, because God will not have the righteous endure the punishment of the wicked (Revelation 3:10).
Now we see God delaying the destruction just so all the righteous can “get out of Dodge” before the brimstone comes down.
Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed:
“Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city— take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking. When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.” Then Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lords! Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die. See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there ( is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.” And he said to him, “See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.”
Genesis 19:12-25 NKJV
Again, we see the nature of God, that He doesn’t want to see His kids suffer wrath, so God provides a way out in some way, shape or form.
Now, let’s move on to another example, to the 10 plagues of Egypt, and it is here that we will see a merciful God set aside His people (Jews) and not have them suffer through the torments of Egypt. Look carefully at the map below. The land of Goshen was the area that was set aside for the nation of Israel to live (Genesis 45:10).
While many theologians will say that the Israelites suffered through the first three plagues and on the fourth, were “set apart” (Exodus 8:22-23), this simply is not true and is not in keeping with God’s nature as we discussed in the previous passages. If we are to rely on wording only to say that the Israelites were set apart, then we must adhere to that same flawed logic when it comes to the 6th plague, as he did not say “set apart”, not to mention the Locusts. We must also consider that the land affected was Egypt (boarders, territories, etc), which implies ONLY that area (hence the map). The only reason why God told pharao about the Jews not being affected was to bring home the point that Jehova was favoring the righteous over the unrighteous.
Water turning to blood:
“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, over their ponds, and over all their pools of water, that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in buckets of wood and pitchers of stone.’ ” And Moses and Aaron did so, just as the LORD commanded. So he lifted up the rod and struck the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants. And all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. The fish that were in the river died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water of the river. So there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.”
Exodus 7:19-21 NKJV
“And the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs. So the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls. And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants.” ’ ” Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.’ ” So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt.”
Exodus 8:1-7 NKJV
“So the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.’ ” And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.”
Exodus 8:16-17 NKJV
“And the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the land. I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be.” ’ ””
Exodus 8:20-23 NKJV
The death of livestock:
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For if you refuse to let them go, and still hold them, behold, the hand of the LORD will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep—a very severe pestilence. And the LORD will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel.” ’ ””
Exodus 9:1-4 NKJV
“So the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes from a furnace, and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh. And it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt, and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.””
Exodus 9:8-9 NKJV
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me, Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause very heavy hail to rain down, such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now. And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, there was no hail.”
Exodus 9:13, 18, 25-26 NKJV
“Now the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, So Moses and Aaron came in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or else, if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt and rested on all the territory of Egypt. They were very severe; previously there had been no such locusts as they, nor shall there be such after them.”
Exodus 10:1, 3-4, 14 NKJV
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.”
Exodus 10:21-23 NKJV
“Then Moses said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals. Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it before, nor shall be like it again. But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the LORD does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.’”
Exodus 11:4-7 NKJV
When we look at the overwhelming evidence of God’s Nature with regard to how He judges, we see a separation. We see Him having mercy for those that have come to the Cross of Jesus Christ. Because God will judge the whole world during the 7 years of tribulation that will soon occur, the righteous will not have anywhere to go for safety. No ark, no Abraham speaking to the Lord and His angels, no mountain to run off to, and no land separated by a border. We also have to remember that the idea of the rapture is not new and it has happened twice before (Genesis 5:21-24, 2 Kings 2:9-11)
The whole world will be judged, so there’s no where else to go but “up”.