by Ron Graff & Lambert Dolphin
The Next Major Biblical Event in History:
The Rapture of the Church
But we do not want you to be uninformed,
brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve,
as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus
died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who
have fallen asleep 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, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with
the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and
the dead in Christ shall 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. (1Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Meaning of "Rapture"
What follows is a summary discussion of a very important event
in Bible prophecy. The Appendix goes into more detail for the
benefit of the serious student.
"Rapture" comes from the words "caught up"
in I Thessalonians 4:17. In the Greek the word is harpazo
- "to seize upon by force", "to snatch up."
The Latin translators used the word rapturo. Some people
claim that "rapture" is not a Biblical term. This is
untrue, unless they want to say that "God" and "Jesus"
are not Biblical Terms. Almost all words in our English Bible
are translations of Greek or Hebrew expressions, and are, therefore,
not in the Bible in the form we know them. "God" is
a proper and meaningful translation of certain words in the original
languages, and "Jesus" is a good translation for us
of His name (Yeshua, "Joshua," "The Lord
Saves," in Hebrew). In the same way, the English word "rapture"
which means "to be caught up" is an excellent translation
for the Greek harpazo.
Three Events That Happen at The Rapture
The scriptures of First Thessalonians 4 and 5 are familiar
to most Christians as a description of the so-called "rapture
of the church." The rapture can be thought of as a point
in eternity which will protrude into our historical time frame
at some fixed point on God's calendar. However, as we have seen,
God has not given us the date.
Three specific events take place at the time Jesus calls his church
out of the world:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven
(a) with a cry of command,
(b) with the archangel's call,
(c) and with the sound of the trumpet of God.
The "cry of command" from the lips of Jesus is to
awake the dead in Christ and to call them forth from their graves
as God called his friend Lazarus forth (John 11:43).
Only one archangel is called by name in Scripture. He is Michael
whose specific jurisdiction is over the people of Israel. At the
time of the Rapture, the archangel will signal to Israel that
God has returned the focus of his attention at last to the final
redemption of his chosen nation. This event was spoken of by Daniel:
"At that time Michael, the great prince
who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of
distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations
until then. But at that time your people--everyone whose name
is found written in the book--will be delivered." (Daniel 12:1)
The trumpet call, not to be confused with the last of the seven
trumpets in Revelation, is a trumpet call associated with the
Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. It will be used to call the living
saints at the time of the Rapture to be caught up and transformed
together with the just-raised saints of the past. This is described
also in 1 Corinthians 15,
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh
and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable
inherit the imperishable.
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will
all be changed--in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the
last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised
imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must
clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and
the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written
will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your
sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin
is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through
our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because
you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
When an individual dies he or she leaves time and enters eternity.
Some scholars think that all believers travel through eternity
immediately, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,"
to arrive at the Rapture the next instant in his or her personal
experience. If that is the case, all believers arrive in heaven
at the same "time." Thus, "to be absent from the
body is to be at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:8)
We may have difficulty picturing this if we do not realize that
eternity runs according to an entirely different time than the
one-dimensional time frame in which we are constrained to live
while in our mortal bodies.
Other Important Terms
As you probably know, there are many different ways of looking
at Biblical prophecy. Here are a few other terms you will hear
in discussions about the future.
Millennium - 1000 years of history during which Christ
will reign as King of Kings (Rev. 20:2-7).
Premillennialism - The belief that Christ returns visibly
and bodily at the beginning of the thousand-year reign of Christ
on the earth. He will rule the nations from Jerusalem.
Postmillennialism - The belief that Christ will return
at the end of the present age to take over the earth. Meantime,
He is assumed to reign on earth through the church now. Postmillenialists
do not necessarily believe in a literal millennial age. Satan
was defeated at the cross and is now bound, hence the final triumph
of the church in history is assured.
Amillennialism - The belief that there will no literal
1000 year reign of Christ. Thus Revelation 20 is taken symbolically,
not literally, by adherents of this view. Amillennialists generally
believe that Israel has been permanently set aside for all time
and that God's current plan of salvation involves only the church.
The authors' understanding of future things is firmly premillennial.
A literal interpretation of Scripture requires belief in an actual
thousand year period of time during which Christ will reign as
King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The book of Revelation describes
these periods of time clearly: The Church Age (chapters 1-3),
The Tribulation (chapters 4-19), The Millennium (chapter 20),
and then The New Heaven and Earth (chapters 21-22).
Most of the Bible teachers who write and speak about prophecy
are also premillennial. Among them there are various viewpoints
about the timing of The Rapture. Here is a brief summary of these
Pre-Tribulation Rapture - That Christ will rapture
the church before the Tribulation begins
Mid-Tribulation Rapture - That Christ will rapture the
church at the Mid-point of The Tribulation
Post Tribulation Rapture - That Christ will rapture the
church at the end of the Tribulation
Pre-Wrath Rapture - That Christ will rapture the church
just before the Battle of Armageddon
Partial Rapture - That Christ will rapture those who are
ready and leave the rest to go through the Tribulation
Multiple Rapture - That there are more than one raptures,
during which Christ receives those who are ready
"Pan-Trib" Position - No clue about future events,
but think it will "all pan out in the end"
The last term is not really funny. There are too many people
who just claim ignorance of this vital subject. When one pastor
was asked recently what his views of prophecy were, he said, "I
just don't handle it." Can you imagine? A pastor, who has
the responsibility of teaching the whole counsel of God's Word,
refusing to "handle" nearly one third of Scripture?!
Those who are "in Christ"
Returning to the rapture passage in 1 Thessalonians 4, the
last part of verse 16 and first part of verse 17 say,
"...the dead in Christ shall 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 so we
shall ever be with the Lord."
This event is only for those "in Christ." It does
not, therefore, include Old Testament Saints. We will study the
time of their resurrection later. The point here is that all believers
of the church age, and only believers of this age are included--those
who have died "in Christ," and those believers who are
alive at the time. It should be added that the Rapture does include
all Jewish people during this present time who have placed their
faith in Jesus as Messiah. They too are part of the church, though
they have not lost their identity as descendants of Israel.
Why the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation
We believe that, by far, the strongest Biblical evidence is
in favor of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture position. There are many
reasons for this. Here are some of the most obvious ones.
Any-moment expectation (Imminence)
In every age Christians have been expecting the return of Our
Lord. Twice in the last chapter of the Revelation He tells us,
"I am coming quickly." (Revelation 22:7, 12,
Paul referred to this ever-present possibility of Christ's return
as "the blessed hope." (Titus 2:13)
He also taught that His coming will be like a thief in the night.
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren,
you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves
know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a
thief in the night. While they are saying, "Peace and safety!"
then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs
upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake
you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day.
We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep
as others do, but let us be alert and sober. (1Thessalonians 5:1-6)
John also spoke often of Christ's appearing:
Dear friends, now we are children of God,
and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know
that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see
him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself,
just as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)
The pre-Tribulation position is the best from this point of
view. If the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation, we can
truly expect it "any day." If it is delayed to the middle
or end of the Tribulation, we could not honestly have that expectation
Deliverance of the Saints from wrath
Here are some of the passages which indicate that believers
of this Church Age will not be left to suffer the outpouring of
"But keep on the alert at all times,
praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these
things that are about to take place, and to stand before the
Son of Man." (Luke 21:36)
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom
he raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescues us from the coming
wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
For God has not destined us for wrath,
but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (1Thessalonians 5:9)
And if He condemned the cities of Sodom
and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having
made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter;
and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct
of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous
man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented
day after day with their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows
how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous
under punishment for the day of judgment... (2 Peter 2:6-9)
In the message to the Church of Philadelphia (Missions Period),
Because you have kept the word of My perseverance,
I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which
is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell
upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
Please keep in mind that the Bible does not teach that Christians
are delivered from persecution, trials and temptations. In fact,
the opposite is true. In 2 Timothy 3:12 we are told, "Yea,
and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
(KJV) The books of James and 1 Peter were written to encourage
Christians when they are called upon to go through trials. Paul
himself spoke about his "thorn in the flesh" as a trial
allowed by God in order that God's strength could be shown through
him. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Belief in the pre-Tribulation Rapture has nothing to do with a
cowardly desire to escape persecution. Scriptural examples and
history itself teach us that, when called upon to suffer for the
name of Christ, it is actually a privilege to die for Him. In
fact, we are being reminded today that more Christians have been
persecuted and even put to death in our own generation than in
all other periods of church history combined. For two thousand
years God has allowed his people to suffer trials and persecution
and even martyrdom. Why, however, should He ask only the final
generation of the church to endure an unprecedented time of terrible
destruction which is not intended for the church, but as a judgment
of unbelieving world?
The belief that the church will be delivered from the Tribulation
is based in part on the Biblical pattern that when God pours out
His wrath He always gives opportunity for the righteous to escape
it. This was true of Noah and his family, of Sodom and Gomorrah
in the days of Lot, and even of the pagan Ninevites to whom Jonah
The church is the Bride of Christ. God intends that she join her
Bridegroom for a great wedding feast and after that share with
Him in ruling the nations. Allowing His bride to suffer through
the tribulation is inconsistent with the specific purposes for
which He has called out the church from the world, why He has
rescued her "from the coming wrath." (1 Thessalonians
Some recent teaching about the Tribulation tries to make a distinction
between Satan's wrath, which they say characterizes most of the
book of Revelation, and God's wrath which is poured out at the
Battle of Armageddon. From their point of view, the church could
then be subjected to most of the Tribulation, but delivered from
the last part. The problem with this position is that it ascribes
to Satan the powers of nature: weather conditions, earthquakes,
asteroid collisions, and other "terrors in the heavens."
Satan, however, has no power to do anything that has not been
appointed for him by God. This theory also fails to notice that
the church is missing from the Tribulation, as explained toward
the end of this chapter.
Antichrist not revealed until hindering force removed
In 2 Thessalonians we are told that the "man of sin (or
lawlessness)" will not be revealed until "He who now
restrains" is taken out of the way.
Now we request you, brethren, with regard
to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together
to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure
or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as
if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless
the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed,
the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above
every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his
seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling
you these things?
And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who
now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And
then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay
with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance
of His coming; (II Thessalonians 2:1-8)
In John 16:7-8 we are told that it is The Holy Spirit who will
"convict the world concerning sin..." God The Holy Spirit
can never be removed from the earth, but, in the sense that He
is effectively restraining sin through Christians in whom He dwells,
the time will come, once those Christians are gone, that wickedness
will abound. Today Christians are everywhere: in their occupations,
in the market place, in the schools, even in government halls.
But during the Tribulation, true believers will be persecuted
and either killed or driven underground, so that their godly influence
will not be felt in the world. When the church is taken in the
Rapture, the world will be ripe for Antichrist to step forth with
his ungodly plans. True, multitudes of people will turn to Christ
and will become true believers in the tribulation period. They
will also be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but they will not be
permitted to take the place of the missing Christians in society.
They will be outcasts, and therefore the Holy Spirit will not
have the same restraining influence on the world that He now has.
Most, or even all of them, will be quickly put to death by the
man of sin.
The Death of the Believer: Time and Eternity
The Apostle Paul adds further to our understanding of what
happens when an individual Christian dies:
Because we know that the one who raised
the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and
present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit,
so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause
thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do
not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly
we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary
troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs
them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what
is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen
Now we know that if the earthly tent [skenos, the present body
is a temporary tent] we live in is destroyed, we have a building
[oikodome, a permanent house] from God, an eternal house in heaven,
not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed
with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will
not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and
are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be
clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may
be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this
very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing
what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that
as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and
would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home
in the body or away from it. (2 Corinthians
There is no hint here of an intermediate state between dying
and going into the presence of the Lord. Indeed the Apostle tells
us that our resurrection bodies are already prepared for us, they
are waiting for us to "put on" exactly as one would
put on a new set of clothes over the old!
Events between The Rapture and Christ's Return
There are certain future events which evidently will take place
between the Rapture and Christ's glorious return as King of Kings
and Lord of Lords. Two of them are The Bema Seat Judgment, and
The Marriage of the Lamb.
The Bema Seat Judgment
According to 2 Corinthians 5:10, all believers of this age
must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Information about
this event is also found in Romans 14:10; in 1 Corinthians. 3:10-15;
and in 1 Corinthians 4:2-5. This evaluation of every believer
is not for the purpose of dealing with sin --which was fully dealt
with on the cross by the Lord Jesus. Rather it is a reviewing
stand where quality of our Christian performance can be evaluated
and rewarded. The motives of the heart will be made known, and
most importantly, only the works the believer has undertaken by
faith "in the Spirit"--by faith in the indwelling presence
of God, will survive. The "works of the flesh" (our
self-efforts to serve God) will be taken away and only what God
has built into our lives since we came to know Him will go with
us into the next life.
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb - Revelation 19:7-9
During his lifetime on earth, Jesus did not marry. For a man
not to marry was very rare in Israel (then as now). Following
the typology in the story of Abraham's servant going to a far
country to select a bride (Rebekah) for the patriarchs beloved
son Isaac, (Genesis 24) we could say that God the Father dispatched
the Holy Spirit into the world to call out and prepare a people
who would be a suitable bride. The Spirit would also give the
church a suitable wedding dowry that she might be a fitting love-gift
from the Father to His beloved Son, Jesus. All sorts of people
are welcome to be part of Christ's wife, the invitation is open
Jesus replied: "A certain man was
preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time
of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been
invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.'
"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said,
'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please
"Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and
I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.'
"Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.'
"The servant came back and reported this to his master.
Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant,
'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring
in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'
"'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done,
but there is still room.'
"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads
and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will
be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will
get a taste of my banquet.'" (Luke
The church can be thought of as the "Second Eve."
But whereas the original Eve was one woman, the Bride of Christ
consists of millions of men and children! When we are all brought
together as a family following the rapture we shall join with
our Lord is a great marriage feast.
Christ's Bride is in Heaven before He returns in glory to the
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give
the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His
bride has made herself ready." And it was given to her to
clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine
linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he said to me,
"Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage
supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are
true words of God." (Revelation
Our return with Christ
To understand the events which take place after the Rapture,
we need to bear in mind that there is a sequence of events taking
place which occurs "in heaven" and there is a parallel
sequence of events occurring "on earth." In the book
of Revelation note is made of those who "dwell in heaven"
and those who dwell on earth" during the tribulation period.
The former group "dwelling in heaven" is the church.
We who comprise the church will have been given our resurrection
bodies and will walk in the company of the Lamb and His holy angels.
Those who are (during this same time period) dwelling on earth--include
non-believers, but also God's 144,000 Jewish evangelists. (they
are regenerated men but do not yet have resurrection bodies),
and likewise their converts, who are the saints of the Tribulation
period. Many of these saints will become martyrs during the tribulation
period, but they will not be given their resurrection bodies until
the tribulation ends. (Revelation 20:4)
Appendix L helps to understand better
the return of Christ as having two aspects. His silent return
for His church at the Rapture is described by the use of the Greek
word parousia which means "coming alongside and remaining
with" someone. We should think of the Rapture as the first
phase of the second coming of Christ. He will come for His church,
and He will remain with them forever after. But He will also come
to be with the 144,000 and with the Tribulation Saints as well
during the final seven years of world evangelism, and of Israel's
judgment and restoration. After the seven years of the Tribulation
has run its course Jesus will step out of hiding, and appears
in the sky, bringing us with Him. This event, described by the
Greek word epiphaneia, which means "shining forth,"
is the open public unveiling of Jesus--the second coming in power
All this careful reading of scripture this tells us that heaven
is not far away. It is in fact merely another dimension of reality.
Earthly, material realities occupy only a small localized region
of the realm the Bible calls the heavenly places. The material
world is embedded in the spiritual. Therefore Jesus is
never far away from any of us. The old notion that when Jesus
takes us to heaven we are somehow far removed to a golden land
beyond the furthest star is not a Biblical view of heaven at all!
We need to adjust our thinking to the view that Jesus will be
on the earth during the entire tribulation period, invisible,
but probably appearing and disappearing in the same mysterious
manner He did during the 40 days following his resurrection and
His ascension. On earth, but unseen by unbelievers, Jesus will
be the Commander and Chief of the armies of the Lord. He will
also direct the 144,000 and their strategic work. Jesus will apparently
involve Himself personally in the shepherding of His faithful
remnant hidden at Petra during the last half of the Tribulation
period. When Jesus returns, He will come not from "outer
space," but simply step back into our space-time frame once
again, bringing His church with Him.
The title of this book is drawn from the model prayer Jesus gave
His disciples. This prayer assures us that Jesus now rules
the entire universe. All authority has been given to Him. However,
He does not yet reign on the earth. For two thousand years
the saints of God have prayed that He might soon come and reign
on earth as He already does reign in heaven. In Revelation Chapter
4, a great scroll, which we may think of as the title deed to
the earth, is handed to Jesus by His Father. Jesus is called to
begin His long awaited reign on earth. He will accomplish this
in stages, by first coming for His church, and then by strategically
directing and orchestrating all of the events of the end time.
Evidently He will establish a beachhead on the planet, a command
center for those military operations which will culminate in His
final appearance in public as earth's legal King of kings and
Lord of lords. His activities during the Tribulation will not
be detected by unbelievers, though there will be rumors He has
returned. Many events occurring on earth, due to the clandestine
operations of the 144,000, will cause earth's inhabitants to be
For then there will be great distress,
unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-- and never
to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no
one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will
be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here
is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false
Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs
and miracles to deceive even the elect-- if that were possible.
See, I have told you ahead of time.
"So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,'
do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe
it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even
in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever
there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
"Immediately after the distress of those days "'the
sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the
stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be
"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in
the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will
see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power
and great glory. (Matthew 24:21-30)
If we consider all the parallel events the book of Revelation
describes, including the throwing -down of Satan and His hosts
to earth during this last three and a half years, then it makes
sense that our Commander-and-Chief should establish His battle
headquarters for the end time right here on earth. This is where
the final conflict will be fought, including the Seed of the Woman
winning a final victory over the Seed of the Serpent.
But the church is the Body of Christ and the Head can not be separated
from the Body! So we must begin to think of ourselves as present
on earth with Jesus during the Tribulation period. Our resurrection
bodies will make us invulnerable to sin and death. Furthermore,
like our Lord, we will be invisible to the inhabitants of the
When Christ returns, it is with "armies in heaven, clothed
in fine linen, white and clean."
And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a
white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True;
and in righteousness He judges and wages war. And His eyes are
a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has
a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself. And
He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called
The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed
in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.
This is undoubtedly a picture of the His redeemed (Revelation
3:18) with glorified, immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-50),
able to descend from the heavens without the aid of a spacecraft!
We are told in Colossians 3:4, "When Christ, who is our life,
is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
And 1 Thessalonians talks about the "coming of our Lord Jesus
with all His saints."
The book of Revelation tells what we will do, once we have returned
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part
in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no
power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will
reign with Him for a thousand years. (Revelation
The Centrality of Israel and Jewish People During The Tribulation
A great body of converted people from all the nations are mentioned
several times in the book of the Revelation--after the Rapture
of the church. Usually they are called the "Saints."
They are believers in Christ--Jews and Gentiles alike, but they
are not referred to as the church, nor are any of the usual descriptions
of the church attached to them. The apostate church of the period
will be corrupt, and will give its influence to Antichrist (Revelation
18), so these Tribulation Saints will not in any way be associated
with this apostate church, the great harlot of Revelation 17.
The theme of Israel's place during the tribulation period will
be expanded in the third section of the book, but here are some
of the key points which illustrate the centrality of Israel and
Jewish people during this period of time:
It is synonymous with Daniel's 70th Week - Daniel 9:27; Revelation
The 144,000 Sealed from the 12 Tribes of Israel - Revelation
The Two Witnesses - probably Old Testament leaders - Moses
and Elijah (or, as some think, Enoch and Elijah) - Revelation
Flight of Israel - Revelation 12
Treaty with Israel, Defilement of the Temple - Revelation
Dr. Renald Showers explains the significance of viewing the
Tribulation as a period of Israel's history.
"All other views of the Rapture have
the church going through at least part of the 70th week, meaning
that all other views mix God's 70-weeks program for Israel and
Jerusalem together with His program for the church."
Population of The Millennium by mortal believers
The pre-Tribulation Rapture interpretation best explains this
important feature of God's future plan. According to Jesus' teaching
on the Mount of Olives, there will be a judgment of the nations
(Sheep and Goats - Matthew 25:31-46) just before the Millennium,
just prior to the commencement of the thousand-year reign of Christ
(Revelation 20:1-6). This taking of some and leaving of others
is not the Rapture, but it corresponds to the Parable of The Wheat
and The Tares (Matthew 13:24-30). In that parable, the tares are
collected FIRST, and tied into bundles to be burned (later - The
Great White Throne judgment), then the wheat is gathered into
the barn. The wheat represents true believers who have survived
the Tribulation period, and are thus permitted to enter the Millennial
If the Rapture took place at, or near the end of the Tribulation,
all believers would have glorified bodies, and there would be
no righteous mortals left to enter the Millennium!
Differences between The Rapture and The 2nd Coming
We believe that much of the confusion about the Rapture is
caused by a lack of understanding that Christ comes first for
believers, and then comes later in what is properly called the
Second Coming, or His Glorious Return as King of Kings. Here are
some of the differences between these two events.
| The Rapture
|| The 2nd Coming
| Christ comes for His own
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
| Christ return with His own
| Believers taken to Father's
| Believers come to Earth
| Seen only by believers
1 Corinthians 15:52, 19:11-16;
| Every eye will see Him
Revelation 1:7 Matthew 24:30
| No reference to Satan
|| Satan bound
| Earth not judged
|| Earth judged
| A Mystery
1 Corinthians 15:51
| Foretold in Old Testament
Dan. 12:1-3; Zech. 12:10; 14:4
One way to better understand the clear distinction between
The Rapture and the Second Coming in glory can be see by carefully
considering the different Greek words used for these two events.
Absence of the Church
Finally, and probably most significant of all, is this fact:
The Church is Missing From The Tribulation - Revelation
In the first three chapters of Revelation, there are constant
references to the church and to the Seven Churches. However, starting
at chapter 4, verse 1, where John is told to "come up here,"
the church is obviously absent throughout the Tribulation period.
The expression "come up here" does mean leaving the
earth in Revelation 11:12 where the translation of the Two Witnesses
takes place. (We are not suggesting that the Rapture takes place
in chapter 11, only that the same expression, used there, does
mean virtually the same thing for the Two Witnesses that the Rapture
does to the church.)
There are numerous references to believers in these chapters,
but they are not called the church. What might be called the church
on the earth during this time is the apostate shell of nominal
Christianity, which has lost its true believers, and has joined
with other religions of the world to become a "United Religion,"
which, in turn will give its power to Antichrist. This apostate
church is pictured as a prostitute riding the beast in Revelation
Finally, the absence of the church will undoubtedly account for
the lawlessness spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.