Christ's Rapture

Bible Study Lesson 8.04

Jesus wants you to live a rich and satisfying life (John 10:10). He wants to rescue you from any and all harm, so much so that someday you'll never have to worry about injuries, illnesses, or even death. It's also possible to escape from the worst of God's wrath. 

You should not fear the future.  

This lesson is encouraging and a hope-builder for you. The topic is meant to relieve your angst about the troubles of the world. You'll be inspired to live strong in Christ after reading this Bible study about the Rapture.  

"Rapture" is a term used to denote a great "snatching away" of all saved people at the time of Christ's Second Coming. 

The rapture has been the subject of many Christian debates over the past 2,000 years. People wrestle with the reality of the rapture and the timing of the rapture. It's not difficult to biblically discern everything God wants us to know about the subject, which is what we'll do in today's lesson. 

Let's get started.

Is the Rapture True?

The biblical logic of the great snatching-away is solid. The rapture smartly fits into God's great plan of redemption and His end times' events. It makes sense. After all, the rapture is nearly the same thing as a resurrection, and Christ himself says he is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). 

The name is for good reason, because God is the only One with an ability to snatch-away a person; or likewise, He's the only one strong enough to keep one from being snatched-away by an imposter, such as Satan or any lesser being (John 10:28-29).

Jesus Christ is the ultimate example to show what will simiarily happen to each believer. He died, was buried, his soul descended to another place, he was raised to life, and then physically ascended to heaven, where He now resides (1 Corinthians 15:20). 

A "snatching-away" of people is indeed similar to a bodily resurrection (John 6:44). Let's look at some instances in the Bible. 

God suddenly snatched-away Enoch one day (Genesis 5:21-24), who was very much alive at the time. Enoch pleased God and he was subsequently spared earthly turmoil and tribulation (Hebrews 11:5-6). 

Enoch earlier wrote about the rapture in his teachings, calling it "the mercy," (Ancient Book of Enoch 1:8; 5:5; 96:2), as does the Bible (Jude 1:14-15; 1:21).  

Jesus also physically raised dead people to illustrate that He can accomplish the feat spiritually (John 11:43-44). For example, he told Lazarus, who was dead for four days, "Lazarus, come out!" and Lazarus immediately revived and walked away from physical death and his tomb. 

The same scenario applies to the rapture. Christ thunders the verbal command, "Come up here!" and each person chosen for eternal life, whether dead or alive, instantly finds himself or herself rescued into Christ's safe and secure presence forever (Revelation 4:1-2). 

The moment after the rapture occurs, all the believers of all time are gathered together in attendance before Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:23).

The unbelievers who've died remain in their state of death, and the living unbelievers are left behind to experience the end of the world as we've all known it for 6,000 years (Matthew 24:40-41). 

The fact of the great snatching-away is undeniable - the argument for the rapture is bullet-proof. 

Let's now look at the reason for the rapture.

Why the Rapture?

Israel is God's original and only elect nation. No other nations, per se, are elect. God attempted using the Hebrew nation to reflect himself and his ways to the individual people of all the other nations of the world. 

Unfortunately, Israel was defiant and sinful. They worshiped false gods and caused havoc in the Middle East. Instead of shining the light to other nations, they partook in darkness with other nations. Instead of bringing glory to YHWH, they brought shame to themselves (Jeremiah 4:22). 

Most importantly, Israel also misunderstood true personal salvation, thinking it was by their works instead of by their faith through God's grace (Romans 9:32; Ephesians 2:8-9).  

Israel's actions angered God and induced his wrath long ago, but it isn't over. Israel still finds itself today paying for its insolent behavior towards YHWH (Romans 9:27). 

The Day of the Lord (Amos 5:18-20), or Time of Jacob's Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), will be the most severe and conclusive wrath upon Israel; and until that terrible time they remain under God's strict discipline (Romans 11:7-11).

God instituted a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:33-34) that started with grafting individual Gentiles into his spiritual family (Romans 11:30-32). This process is accomplished through salvation by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 9:25-26). The new covenant began soon after the death of Christ (Acts 2:32-33). 

The Millennium, where Israel turns back to God and the Messiah, will be the final fulfillment of the new covenant (Romans 11:26-27). 

Israel will always be God's elect, that fact never changes (Romans 11:28-29); however, through this Church Age period we're now living in, Israel is forsaken but not forgotten (Romans 11:1-6).

The Church Age is winding down and will soon come to a close - the time of the Gentiles will reach its conclusion (Romans 11:25; Luke 21:24). 

Israel, the nation, will then meet the incredible, but final, discipline of God - the Time of Jacob's Trouble. This is the seven year Great Tribulation period, where God unloads his terrible wrath upon Israel. They forsook Him and now they'll pay in full (Jeremiah chapter 46). 

In fact, the entire earth will experience the penalty of Israel's sins. The other nations will share in Israel's punishment, because of their sins against Israel (Zechariah 1:15).

Fortunately, the nation of Israel, and its remaining citizens, will turn to its Messiah en masse, and fulfill its original purpose for YHWH during the Millennium (Daniel 12:1-3).  

This is one reason why Christ removes his children from God's wrath - because it's falling upon both Israel and the entire earth. 

The Lord doesn't want his children to be inflicted by his final and awful wrath - they'll escape the worst of it, at least (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). God protects them by means of the rapture event (Revelation 3:10).

So, because God's wrath is meant for Israel and the entire earth, he easily and mercifully rescues his elect children from his final fury.

The rapture perfectly fits into God's end times' plan of salvation (Romans 11:33-36). 

Let's talk about the timing of the rapture now.

When Will the Rapture Occur?

First Thessalonians 4:16-18 is crystal clear about Christ's plan. Those believers who've died will be caught-up, i.e. raptured, by Christ at his Second Coming. So, there'll be more than one type of rapture. 

The dead in Christ will be resurrected and snatched-away first (1 Corinthians 15:50). They'll be made new physically and their bodies will reunite with their souls. 

Next, those who are living at the Second Coming will be snatched-away to meet Christ when he descends from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:51). They'll hear the heavenly trumpet blare, and in the blink of an eye they'll be transformed into their eternal bodies, standing before Jesus Christ and his holy angels (1 Corinthians 15:52).  

All those who believed in God will meet Christ in the clouds somewhere above the Earth.

Back to the trumpet blast... There are seven relevant passages about the Rapture's Trumpet Blast that must be read in succession:

  1. Matthew 24:31, "And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
  2. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, "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 imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality."
  3. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord."
  4. Revelation 4:1-2, "After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, 'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.' At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.”
  5. Revelation 8:1-2,6, "When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them... Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them."
  6. Revelation 10:7, "But that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets."
  7. Revelation 11:15, "Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever."

The final trumpet blast is the best indicator of when the rapture happens in the end times' events. These passages, read in order, lead one to understand that the rapture occurs at the Revelation 11:15 point in the tribulation timeline. 

Some teach that the rapture occurs at the beginning of the Great Tribulation period, but unfortunately, the biblical facts don't seem to fully support that scenario. 

Admittedly, understood is the fact that the Church seems to disappear from the Book of Revelation beginning in chapter four. The "Church" isn't mentioned by name in the chapters where God's fury is poured out (Revelation chapters 6-18). This teaching is definitely something to consider; however, to determine the exact timing of the rapture from this is a bit of a stretch. It's actually a logical fallacy of observational selection, which totally discounts the trumpets' timing. 

One fact that may discount the possibility of a pre-tribulation rapture is the multitudes of martyrs who perish during the Tribulation (e.g. Revelation 6:11; 7:14). Revelation 3:10 refers to the tribulation as a time of testing, so some will pass the test and be martyred, while others fail the test of faith to their demise. It's possible that the tribulation martyrs could be those Gentiles and Jews who've become saved by grace, and subsequently killed for their beliefs, after the initial rapture.

The Bible seems to indicate (Lord, forgive any errors!) that Christians will live (and die) during the heart of the tribulation period, but may escape the WORST of the tribulation (e.g. the bowls and plagues of chapters), and the Grand Finale - the fall of Babylon (Revelation 18:1-24; Luke 21:34-36). 

The Bible is clear that mere humans can't know exactly when the Second Coming or the rapture will occur (Mark 13:31-32; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2); but, we can know the season for it (Luke 21:29-31). Our responsibility is to believe in the resurrection and rapture, and behave as if the Lord is returning any moment.

Grasp This!

Great News! If you're a practicing Christian you don't have to endure the entire Great Tribulation!

At best, you'll escape before God's tribulation fury falls on the earth; and at worst, you'll escape the terrible climax of God's wrath. Rejoice! 

You'll be resurrected and raptured and in Christ's presence, along with all others who love the Lord.

We have a great and mighty Lord who loves to save the souls of those who love Him. Repent and believe in Him today (2 Corinthians 6:2).

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