Coming For His Church

The next prophetic event in the linear timeline of mankind, is the Rapture of Jesus church. This event, described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4; is the moment when all who love Jesus and wait for Him; will be fully redeemed.

At the Rapture, every person who has placed themselves under the sacrifice that Jesus has made for their sins, will suddenly be removed from the earth. This will allow for the unveiling of the antichrist, who will assume his prophetic position as the leader of the world. He will institute a seven-year peace plan between Israel and the surrounding nations that will guarantee the safety of the Jews in Israel and the rebuilding of the temple on the Temple Mount. In the middle of the seven years of peace, the antichrist, will command the world to worship him as God. This will unleash the twenty-one judgements of God, described by the Book of Revelation; Chapters 6-18. This wrath from the Lord will be directed at the kingdom of the beast and all those who worship him on the earth.

At the end of the seven years, Jesus will return to the earth; at the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem.[1] Waiting at the Valley of Megiddo, north of Jerusalem, satan will be positioned with an army of men from all over the world, ready to fight Jesus and kill Him (See Revelation 16 and 19). The Lord will slay the armies of the beast who are assembled in this valley; by the words of His mouth. The blood of that massacre will be to the depth of a horse’s bridle, for over two hundred miles.

And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for two hundred miles. —Revelation 14:20

At the conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon and the assignment of satan and the antichrist to the Lake of Fire, Jesus will begin His reign of 1,000 years on the earth, as the King of kings.

When Jesus returns to the earth, He is coming with His church that has been in heaven for the past seven years. Just prior to the beginning of the seven year tribulation, according to 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, Jesus will come to the outer atmosphere of the earth and take-suddenly (Rapture), the dead in Christ, and all those who are alive; to meet Jesus in the air.

The first arrival of Jesus on the earth, was for the purpose of salvation; His second appearance is for judgement.

The Rapture, described by Paul

The epistles of 1 and 2 Thessalonians were written to a church that no longer believed that Jesus would return during their lifetime. The dangers associated with this loss of expectation for the Lord’s soon-return are addressed by Paul in his two letters to the church at Thessalonica.

When anyone, who believes in Jesus as their Savior, ceases to live in a constant expectation that He could return at any moment; this lack of vigilance will affect how they live their life. Today, many people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ and allege that they believe the Bible is the word of God—do not affirm the doctrine of the Rapture. Some people claim that the early Christian church did not teach the doctrine of the rapture in the early church, nor can we find the term: “Rapture,” anywhere in the Bible. This assertion is impossible to maintain, in consideration of the text from 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, which vividly describes the removal of Jesus church; written specifically the the Christian church at Thessalonica.

Objection: “The Rapture was not taught in the Christian Church, until 1830.”

The chief objection to the modern teaching of the Rapture, comes from writers who claim that before 1830, the Christian church only believed in a single arrival of Jesus, after the Great Tribulation. As we examine the writings of the early church, we see that this is not true. From the beginning, the coming of Jesus before the Tribulation, was well established in the minds of early believers. It is true that for a long durations of time, the teaching of the Rapture fell into period of disinterest by large numbers of the church. There was a sort of revival of interest in the return of Jesus, beginning in 1820 after Emmanuel Acurzna (Ben Ezra) began to teach this doctrine and others followed; Edward Irving (1816), Margaret MacDonald (1830), and later, John Darby in 1830, who revived the facts of 1 Thessalonians 4 and fact of Paul’s instruction that the church will be “caught up,” or Raptured to meet Jesus in the air.

We must remember that when Daniel was given the incredible prophecy of chapter 9, detailing all the events that would include the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the return of Jesus to the earth, this aging prophet did not understand the prophecies in their entirety.

Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Daniel 12:9

The Lord intended that the church would not understand all of these things, until the time of the end. There are many parts of Daniel’s prophecy that were not fully understood by the church until the last 100 years. Only now, as we are able to see the events that are taking place in the world, do we have the ability to understand what Daniel was writing and how these things fit into the events of the world today. These matters were “sealed up till the time of the end…” We are in the days that Daniel described, so it is not a surprise that the Christian church has only recently understood that Jesus would return twice; once at the Rapture to remove His church, before the seven year Tribulation, and a second time, physically to the earth, with His church, to conquer the antichirst, defeat his armies, and set up His kingdom on the earth for 1,000 years.

One of the false statements that has been made in recent years, regarding the occurrence of the Rapture, is the assertion that this is a relatively new doctrine in the Christian church, that was not taught by the early church. This, they assert, is evidence that the Rapture is not taught in the Bible and is a later addition that was added by pastors in the 1800’s. The facts of history disagree with this theory. When we examine the writings of the early Christian church, we find that the Rapture, before the Tribulation, was widely taught in the church.

The Shepherd of Hermas (96-150)

Early in the first century, the Christian church was already teaching Paul’s doctrine of a removal of those who believe in Jesus, prior to the start of the Tribulation Period.

“You have escaped from the great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of the days of your life serving the Lord blamelessly.”

Victorinus (270-303 A.D)

In his commentary on the book of Revelation, Victorinus, writes that the members of Jesus church will be removed from the earth, before the Tribulation begins.

“And the heaven withdrew as a scroll that is rolled up.” For the heaven to be rolled away, that is, that the Church shall be taken away. “And every mountain and the islands removed from their places intimate that in the last persecution all men departed from their places; that is, that the good will be removed, seeking to avoid persecution.”

Ephraem The Syrian (306-373 A.D)

Ephraem was an early Poet, Christian writer and Theologian in the Byzantine Eastern Church. Born near Nisbis of Syria, in the Roman Empire, his great love of the scriptures are widely quoted by the publications of Nathaniel Lardner.[2] Ephraem clearly describes the Christians who believe in Jesus, as gathered together with the Lord, before the beginning of the Tribulation Period.

“For all the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the Tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.” [3]

There are many other writings, similar to those above, from early Christian leaders, who also maintain a Removal of those who believe in Jesus; before the beginning of the Tribulation Period:

Papias (60-130)
Clement of Rome (90-100)
Ignatius of Antioch (98-117)
Barnabas (100)
The Didache (100-160)
Justin Martyr (110-165)
The Epistle of Barnabas (117-138)
Irenaeus (120-202)
Tertullian (145-220)
Hippolytus (185-236)
Cyprian (200-250)
Lactantius (260-330)

We must also add to this list, the certainty that Paul was teaching all of the churches in Asia, during the first century, the facts of the Rapture; that it would occur before the time of Tribulation begins. This is clear in the text of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4; supported by dozens of other scriptures from the entire Bible.

Jesus taught the church to maintain the teaching of His soon return

The reason that the church has always maintained this important doctrine, is found in the words of the Lord: Jesus said that a person who has lost their expectation of His soon return will not be ready for Him when He returns:

Blessed is that servant whom his master will find watching for Him when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, “My master is delaying his coming,” and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. —Luke 12:43-46

Jesus said that the result of loosing our anticipation that He could return for us at any moment, will be manifested by a change in our moral behavior. Conversely, If we maintain a vigilant hope that the Lord is coming for us very soon, the manner in which we live—will be drastically impacted.

Notice that Jesus said that this loss of expectation, begins in the heart: “My master is delaying his coming…” The change begins first in the heart and is later manifested in the behavior. Compromise begins by our thought processes long before it is lived out in the actions of our life. This is why it is important to guard our hearts by daily meditation upon the words of the Bible.

A person not living in the daily expectation that Jesus could come at any moment will become preoccupied with his own life and the things that are happening in the world. This mind-set will cause the believer to do things that are contrary to the character of someone who is following Jesus. Finally, this lack of expectation will produce a heart that is unprepared when Jesus does arrive.

The person who lives everyday in eagerness that Jesus could come at any moment will live a life that is constantly seeking to purify itself of things that are contrary to the Lord.

…when Jesus is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. —1 John 3:2-3

Jesus will reward the faithfulness of those watching for His return with great authority and responsibility during His one thousand-year reign on the earth at the end of the seven-year Tribulation.

And he said to him, “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.” —Luke 19:17

If upon His return, the Lord shall find those who claim to believe in Him, in a state of indifference—returning to the world to live as a nonbeliever, He will “cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” (Luke 12:46 above).

How important is it that we continually teach the doctrine of “The Rapture of the Church”? According to Jesus, it is one of the most important doctrines that we MUST continually study, meditate on, and continue to look forward to.

Objection: The word “Rapture” is not in the Bible

One of the points that critics make concerning Jesus return, is their claim that the Rapture is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, by terminology, or example. When I hear someone say this, I am always amazed. I know that they didn’t come to this conclusion by reading and studying the Bible themselves. This opinion came by what they have heard someone else say or teach. If we simply read the Bible, we will come away with the conviction that Jesus will return for His church, at a time—just prior to the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation.

Dead or Alive

The description of this event is found in Paul’s epistle to the church at Thessalonica where he describes the Lord descending from heaven with a shout, to raise to life those who have died believing in Him—as well as those who are alive at this moment—to rise to meet Him in the air.

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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 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. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. —1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

In these 6 verses of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul says:

• He does not want us to misunderstand the doctrine of the Rapture; for this reason, he defines it.
• Paul’s explanation includes a description of what has happened to all those who have died believing in Jesus as their Savior. When Jesus comes, He will be bringing with Him, those who have already died. It is important to notice that those who have died have been with the Lord in heaven, not in purgatory or in soul sleep.
• Jesus will descend from heaven; a shout will be given, similar to the announcement made at the beginning of a traditional Hebrew wedding, signaling the arrival of the Bridegroom.
• First, those who have already died, their new bodies will rise from the grave or wherever they were placed after death. (We know today that a single cell contains all of the genetic DNA code that is necessary to build an entire body.)
• Remember, Jesus said He is bringing “with Him” all those who have already died. This confirms the scripture: “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Apparently, Jesus is bringing with Him all the spirits of those who have died believing in Him and have been with Him in heaven since their death. At the return of Jesus, their spirits will be reunited with their new glorified body. This group will rise first to meet Jesus in the air.
• Then those of us who are alive when Jesus returns will also rise, having received our new bodies as we ascend to meet Him. This will be a body in character with the body that Jesus had after His resurrection. (A complete description of this new body is given in 1 Corinthians 15.)
• It is important to understand that the living Christians will be transported while still alive, unlike the dead in Christ. These living believers are a unique group of people who will never taste death.
• Both groups of believers will “meet Jesus in the air,” in the clouds, above the earth. The Rapture is not the “second coming,” which is commonly spoken of, that will not occur until the end of the seven-year Tribulation.
• At the Rapture, Jesus is coming for His church (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, Jesus is coming with His church (Revelation 19:14).
• The fact that Jesus returns at the end of the seven-year Tribulation with His church is one of the proofs that the Rapture has already taken place before the Tribulation begins.

Then we which are alive and remain (here on the earth) shall be caught up… —1 Thessalonians 4:17

The Greek word for “caught up” is Harpazo.

Harpazo means “to be snatched away or taken away by force.”[4] It is a word in the Greek language that is used to describe a general who takes hostages by force. Harpazo is also used in the New Testament as translated—by force.

When Paul was being questioned by the Sadducees and the Pharisees, the captain of the Roman Guard sent soldiers to rescue him and to take him by force from the mob of people, before they tore Paul to pieces.

Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force (Harpazo) from among them, and bring him into the barracks. —Acts 23:10

When Jesus comes for us at the Rapture, we will be taken away by the force of God’s Spirit, at the call of Jesus.

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up (Harpazo) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. —1 Thessalonians 4:17

When this verse was translated from Greek into Latin, the word that the translators used here for “caught up” was the Latin word “Rapturo,” which is where the English word “Rapture” originated from. This is why we use the word “Rapture” to describe the event of Jesus’ return for His church, as described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

“We’ll be ‘caught up’ (Rapturo) with them (together with our loved ones) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

Once again, this event is not the Second Coming of Jesus that is commonly spoken of. At the Rapture, we meet Jesus in the air, the atmosphere above the earth; not “tera firma,” earth itself.

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. —1 Thessalonians 4:17

Jesus is coming for His church prior to His return at His second coming, when He will be returning with His church.

The American Heritage Dictionary suggests that the word “Rapture” may be defined as the “Transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to Heaven.”[5]

So, when someone tells you that the word “Rapture” is not in the Bible, you now understand that the Latin word Rapturo came from the Greek translation of the New Testament word Harpazo—translated from 1 Thessalonians 4:17, the phrase: “caught up.”

The three views that Christians have concerning the Rapture are:

1. The Rapture will happen BEFORE the 7-year Tribulation.
2. The Rapture will happen IN THE MIDDLE of the 7-year Tribulation.
3. The Rapture will happen AFTER the 7-year Tribulation.

If you simply examine the Bible without any other outside influence, you will come away with only one conclusion: The Rapture must happen before the Tribulation Period begins.

An important fact to remember when studying the Rapture is that the seven-year Tribulation is described by the Bible as—“The Wrath of the Lamb.” This is a period which is unparalleled in the history of the world. God will be pouring out His wrath on the kingdom of the antichrist and all those who worship him. Throughout the Old Testament, on every occasion when God was about to pour out judgment, He always removed His people first.

The Pre-Wrath Rapture is well established in the Old Testament by several examples. The following are a few of the places which prove that God always removes His people before He pours out His wrath:

So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. —Genesis 5:23-24

Enoch was a Gentile who lived before the Flood of Noah, who was “Raptured” to heaven before the Judgment of the Great flood, that killed all but eight people.

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. —Hebrews 11:5

Beginning at Genesis Chapter 6, the Lord determined that He would destroy the world by flood, because the evil of men had reached a level that required judgment.

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. 3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. 5 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. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 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.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. —Genesis 6:1-8

Don’t miss what the Lord is saying here. If we were to apply the text of Genesis 6:1-8 to Jesus’ church and the Tribulation period, we might write these verses as follows:

“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…So the Lord said that I will destroy man whom I have created, but those who have given their lives to Jesus, as His church, found grace in the eyes of the Lord… so He took them out of the earth, before the judgment of the Tribulation Period began…” (RCR)

Finally, after Enoch has been removed from the earth, the judgment of the flood arrives:

For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.” And Noah did according to all that the LORD commanded him. Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters were on the earth. —Genesis 7:4-6

A similar place in the Old Testament where we see that the Lord would not bring His wrath until after His people were removed, is illustrated by the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The principle that is established here is that Abraham is asking the Lord if He would destroy the “righteous” (those who are His) with the “wicked” (those who do not know Him).

Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. 17 And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” 20 And the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21 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.” 22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. 23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 25 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?” 26 So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.” —Genesis 18:16-26

Abraham proclaims: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

In other words, it would be unjust for God to allow His people to go through the same wrath that He is pouring out on the wicked. Why is this true? Because wrath and judgement are not required for those who have come into a covenant relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. This would include those in the Old Testament who were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. The people in the New Testament and everyone who has lived since Jesus arrived—up to the present day—all of us are saved in the same way; by looking to the sacrifice that Jesus has made for our sins.

When we come to God through Jesus Christ, our sins are all removed; and we are seen by Him as righteous. There is no need for further judgment or purification for our sins. At the cross, Jesus took the full wrath of God for us, so that no wrath remains. The Tribulation Period is described as the “Wrath of the Lamb,” as Jesus pours out His fury on those who have rejected Him as their Savior and have instead worshipped the Beast—the antichrist.

Abraham continues his need to understand the judgment of God, by asking just how many would God leave when He is about to pour out His wrath.

Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: 28 Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?” So He said, “If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.” 29 And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose there should be forty found there?” So He said, “I will not do it for the sake of forty.” 30 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?” So He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” 31 And he said, “Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?” So He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.” 32 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.” 33 So the LORD went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place. —Genesis 18:27-33

When the angels arrive at Sodom and Gomorrah, they do not find ten righteous, they find only one righteous—Lot. For the sake of Lot, the Lord spares his family, though they are clearly not committed to the Lord with all of their heart.

Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. 2 And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.” 12 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! 13 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.” 14 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. 17 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.” 21 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. 22 Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. 24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. —Genesis 19:1-24

The angels tell Lot that they are not permitted to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah until they first remove him. The wrath of God never falls as long as those who love the Lord are still present. This is why it is completely inconsistent for the Lord to allow His church to go through the “Wrath of the Lamb,” described by the Book of Revelation Chapter 6-18. During this time, Jesus will be directly executing His judgment on the earth. The church is called “the bride of Christ” (Revelation 21:9); therefore, it would be inconsistent for the Lord to permit His Bride to experience His wrath.

The purpose of all Old Testament narratives are for the purpose of defining principles that are described in the New Testament.

“The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.”

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. —Romans 15:4

The Lord has already established in His word—throughout the body of Old Testament scriptures, that He does not pour out His wrath when His people are present. The exception to this principle is the Jews. Because they have not come into a relationship with God through Jesus as the Messiah, they will go through the Tribulation, being preserved through this time of wrath, by their escape to the wilderness, which will take place during the last three and one-half years of the Great Tribulation.

Then the woman (Israel) fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days (3 ½ years). —Revelation 12:6

There is an exciting verse in the Book of Isaiah that speaks of God “hiding His people in a chamber, for a little moment, until the indignation has past.”

Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. —Isaiah 26:20-21

This verse may have a dual meaning: preserving the Jews through the Tribulation Period, or hiding the Church in heaven while the wrath is being poured out.

Notice that this verse from Isaiah designates a place where God’s people will be hidden, described as “your chambers.”

Jesus said that He went to prepare “a place for us” (chamber?); and when everything is ready, He will come and take us to “our place.”

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. —John 14:2-3

Dead or Alive, Illustrated

There is an interesting parallel between the two events of the Rapture—the dead being raised and the living being caught up and the description of Jesus to Martha concerning her brother Lazarus, that is found in John 11:25-26.

As Jesus describes Lazarus’ resurrection, He speaks of the same two events that Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 concerning the Rapture:

The dead being raised
The living being caught up.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16 “And the dead in Christ will rise first.”) 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. (1 Thessalonians 4:17, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”) —John 11:25-26

A big mistake that occurs over and over is the attempt of many people to set a date for the Rapture of the church. It is apparent that the Lord does not want us to know the precise date of the Rapture, for obvious reasons. If we knew the day that Jesus would return, we would not be living in a constant expectation of His return. Because we do not know the “day or the hour,” we must always be ready. Therefore, we should always be doing those things that will please the Lord, since He could come for us at any time.

But of that day and hour of my return no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. —Mark 13:32

What happens to our body at the Rapture:

How we are translated from mortal human beings into immortal, eternal beings, is described in detail by 1 Corinthians 15. Here, we see the exact process that our bodies will undergo at the moment of the Rapture:

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. —1 Corinthians 15:51-52

The word that the Holy Spirit uses here in 1 Corinthians 15 for changed is “allasso” (al-las-so), which means “totally transformed,” or a metamorphosis. Although your new eternal body will still look like you, it will be nothing like your former earthly body. Your eternal dwelling will be perfect and made up of different elements that will enable you to live in any environment, never become sick, age, or die.

No matter where you are on the earth during the time when Jesus appears—at the “Rapture,” you will be instantaneously transformed from your present body to an eternal body, and meet the Lord in the air. The entire process is said to take place in the twinkling of an eye.[6] Someone with a lot of time on their hands computed that the twinkling of an eye takes 1/100th of a second. Keep in mind that all those who have died before the Rapture will be raised and given their immortal bodies, before the living are translated to meet Jesus in the air. The entire event appears to be very sudden, with no prior warning, and is over in an instant. The world will be left dazed and confused, not knowing what has taken place. Various explanations will be offered from so-called experts around the world. Anything from alien abduction to mass suicide will be offered as possible reasons for the disappearance of perhaps a billion people—at once—all over the earth.

The purpose of the Rapture is to:

End the Time of Grace
Begin the Time of Wrath

End the Time of the Gentiles
Begin the Time of Jacob’s Trouble

End the Harvest of souls to Righteousness
Begin the Harvest of souls to Judgement

The Rapture will signal the beginning of the final seven years of the present earth called The Tribulation Period. The Lord will conclude the gathering of His church and turn His attention once again—back to the nation of Israel, as the Times of the Gentiles comes to an end (Prophecy 301). This will begin the 70th week of Daniel that is described in Daniel Chapter 9, Prophecy 309.

The seven-year tribulation is spoken of in the Old Testament as “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” This will be a period when God will once again deal with the nation of Israel and gather the Jews, who remain on the earth, to a place of safety—where they will be untouchable by the antichrist.

The parallel between the feasts of Israel and the Rapture

Having concluded the harvest period that occurs between the fourth feast of Israel (Pentecost) and beginning of the fifth feast (Trumpets) which takes place at the Rapture, God will gather the rest of the world to judgment for their rejection of Jesus Christ as their Savior.

See: The Seven Feasts.

The time of God’s Grace, where anyone can come and find the forgiveness of their sins through Jesus’ sacrifice, will be at an end. The Lord, having gathered His bride and taken her back to heaven, will begin the outpouring of His wrath, described by chapters 6-18 in the Book of Revelation.

The Rapture in context with the Tribulation period

The first three and one half years of the Tribulation will be a time of peace—over the whole earth. At the midway point, or 3 1/2 years into the reign of the new world ruler—describes as the beast—he will demand that whole world worships him as God. This will begin the final 3 1/2 years called the Great Tribulation—referred to as the abomination of desolation by Jesus and Daniel.[7]

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. —Matthew 24:21

Described by the Book of Revelation as the time of judgement, nearly two-thirds of the population of the earth will die during these final 42 months. There will be three sets of seven judgments called “the wrath of the Lamb.”

…and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” —Revelation 6:16

Revelation Chapter 6:1, seven seals will be opened. Chapter 8:6, seven trumpets blown. Chapter 16:1, seven bowls of wrath are poured out on the earth. The judgments begin at chapter 6 verse 3, and continues through chapter 18. At Revelation Chapter 19, Jesus returns to the earth with His church—to the Mount of Olives. Traveling north to the Valley of Megiddo, the assembled armies of the antichrist will be waiting for the arrival of Jesus. Their purpose is to kill Jesus and His church who are with Him. The Lord will simply speak, and the armies of the beast will die instantly in a blood bath spread over the entire 200 miles of the valley. See: Destroy the antichrist.

The Book of Daniel and the Tribulation period:

The Book of Daniel describes the final prophetic word for these last seven years in vivid detail. The specifics of this prophecy are discussed in Daniel 9: The Key to Prophecy, in this book.

While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. 23 At the beginning of your supplications (Prayers) the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision: 24 Seventy weeks (of Years= 70X7= 490 years) are determined For your people (The Jews) and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. 25 Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command (Command given by Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445 B.C.) To restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks (483 years); The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, (Jesus is crucified) but not for Himself (not for His own sins); And the people (Romans) of the prince who is to come (antichrist) Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary (Titus destroyed the City of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.). The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined (This finished 69 of the 70 weeks, 1 remaining 7-year period of history left to fulfill this prophecy). 27 (Approx. 2,000 years later) Then he (The antichrist) shall confirm a covenant (peace agreement) with many (nations) for one week (7 Years); But in the middle of the week (3 1/2 years) he (antichrist) shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering (Temple must have been built). And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.” —Daniel 9:21-27

The final 7-year period of time required to fulfill this prophecy is called the 70th week of Daniel or the Seven-year Tribulation period.

• The first 3 1/2 years are called The Tribulation.
• The second 3 1/2 years are called The Great Tribulation.
• The first 3 1/2 years begin in Revelation Chapter 6, verses 1 and 2.
• The last 3 1/2 years begin in Revelation Chapter 6 verse 3 and continues through chapter 18.

In this Middle of the seven years, The Abomination that causes Desolation—described in the Book of Daniel 9:27 above and taught by Jesus in Matthew Chapter 24—will take place.

Jesus said that this “abomination” would signal the beginning of the Great Tribulation, in which no flesh would survive unless the Lord had shortened this period to just 3 1/2 years.

Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand) “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. —Matthew 24:15-16

Matthew Chapter 24 is written by Jesus specifically to the Jews and the nation of Israel. Jesus says: “When you see the one who has made possible, your seven-year peace plan, go into the temple and erect a stature of himself and command all the world to worship his image—flee Jerusalem, get out of the city and go to Petra (conjectured) as fast as you can (verse 16).”

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering (episunagoge,) together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day (the day of the Lord, the seven-year Tribulation) will not come unless the falling away (Gr. “Apostasia,” a departure) comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. —2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

The word Apostasia has been translated as departure. Many have taken this to mean a departure from the faith. The meaning of apostasia is simply departure. It can also mean a departure of the saints, as in departure by Rapture. This would fit the context of the verses in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, as the departure by the Saints takes place before the man of sin is revealed; and the seven-year Tribulation begins.

The Abomination which causes desolation that both Daniel and Jesus speak of, is described by 2 Thessalonians 2:4 above. At the midway point or three and one-half years into the seven-year peace plan the antichrist has instituted, he will enter the newly built temple in Jerusalem and “sit in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

From the moment that the abomination of desolation takes place, there will be 3 1/2 years remaining until Jesus returns with His church.

The Tribulation period is called The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, which is a subtle hint that these seven years are directed at Israel. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus’ church is not appointed to experience this Wrath but to obtain Salvation.

For God did not appoint us to wrath, (Wrath—from the Greek, orge, meaning punishment) but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ… —1 Thessalonians 5:9

The faithful church, described in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 3, by Jesus, is promised an escape from this time of trial that will come upon the whole earth.

The Church of Philadelphia, (The faithful church) 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

The Greek word for “will keep” is tereo (tay-reh-‘-o); “to guard from loss or injury.”

This principle could not be any clearer: Jesus informs His church that He is going to keep us from the coming wrath—He will guard us from loss or injury that will certainly come from the Wrath of this great tribulation period.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. —John 16:33

As the church, remaining on the earth—we will have tribulation; meaning, tribulation or trials that originate in this present world. This is, however, not the tribulation that the book of Revelation describes; which originates from Jesus and is directed at the world.

The Tribulation that Jesus speaks of in John 16:33 has, as its source; the World. The Great Tribulation has, as its source; Jesus, who is pouring out His wrath on the world that has rejected Him. One again, it is inconsistent for Jesus to die for the purpose of taking God’s Wrath for us, then allow us to experience His wrath for seven years, during the time when most of the population of the Earth will die.

The Great Tribulation is the Wrath of Jesus, the Lamb

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” —Revelation 6:15-17

During the last three and one-half years of the Great Tribulation, the antichrist will have power to kill anyone who has professed faith in Jesus Christ. The Book of Revelation describes the Saints (Biblical word for all believers) as being overcome or killed. Revelation Chapter 20 describes the method of their death by the antichrist as—beheading.

Revelation 13:7 It was granted to him (antichrist) to make war with the saints (Christians) and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.

The “saints” described in Revelation 13:7, are those who receive Jesus during the seven-year Tribulation, not those who were saved before the Rapture and seven-year Tribulation began. Everyone who waits to receive Jesus during the Tribulation—will be killed by the antichrist.

We see the believers in Jesus who are killed by the antichrist during the seven year Tribulation—resting under the altar in heaven, waiting for the Tribulation to be concluded.

Revelation 20:4 …Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Some today see this method of death by beheading for those who believe in Jesus Christ during the Tribulation period, as a sign that the antichrist may have an Islamic origin. The common method for execution by Muslim extremists today is to behead their captors, by sawing the head off with a knife—during a public execution on television.

The Importance of the Rapture

The reason that a correct understanding of the doctrine of the Rapture is so important is that an incorrect view will lead to a misconception of the grace of God. The Lord has not appointed those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, to experience any of His wrath. All of God’s wrath was poured out on His Son at the Cross. There is no wrath remaining for anyone who has accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins. The entire purpose of the last three and one-half years of the Great Tribulation is to pour out God’s wrath on the world which has rejected Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins. It is not possible that those who Love the Lord, would be present during the time that God is pouring out His wrath on the world.

If we believe that the Tribulation must come before the Rapture of the church, what would we be looking for next? The coming of the antichrist. Instead, the Bible teaches that we should be looking for the “appearing of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Titus 2:13 …looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Rapture is the next event that we are expecting, before the beginning of the Tribulation period.

The greatest hope for the world today is that Jesus would return to the earth and bring His love and righteous government. It is certain that we have reached a place in our history when the climate is right for the Lord’s return. Jesus said, in Luke 17:26, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man.” The days before the Lord destroyed the earth by flood were filled with violence and indifference towards God. Today, we see an exact mirror image of the world that existed in the days of Noah when he entered the Ark, and the world was covered by water. I hope that you are fully prepared for the coming of Jesus, having entered into a personal relationship with Him. Jesus is coming for all those who love Him. I hope that I will see you in heaven, and have the opportunity to worship the Lord together with you.

[1] Revelation, Chapter 19
[2] Nathaniel Lardner, volume 4, 1788
[3] On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World, by Ephraem the Syrian, A.D. 373
[4] New Testament Greek Lexicon, Strong’s Number: 726
[5] The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Retrieved:
[6] 1 Corinthians 15:51
[7] Matthew 24:21, Matthew 24:15, Daniel 12:11