The Bible warns of a coming day when all who are found waiting in faith for Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha'Mashiach in Hebrew), will be removed from the Earth "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" . . .
What is this strange, bizarre, mysterious, Bible prophecy all about?
The Scriptures warn us Jesus-Yeshua, the promised Messiah, will return . . . twice:
First, "as a thief in the night" . . . for those who waited in faith
Second, "every eye shall see" . . . with those who waited in faith
It might help to understand why God feels it will be important to remove this remnant (or 'body') of believers from the Earth in such a decisive and startling way. We find the Rapture is somewhat analogous to a loving Bridegroom yanking His young wife ('betrothed') off the railroad tracks just as the train goes thundering by. Prophet after prophet in the Bible warns us of a very specific period of time referred to by many names, including the "The Day of the Lord's Wrath," "The Time of Israel's (Jacob's) Trouble," "the Great Tribulation," and the "Apocalypse" (which actually refers to the 'Revelation'), when God is going to "pour out" His wrath on a "morally corrupt" and "violent" generation who has turned its back against Him and His Word in arrogance and unbelief. We are also told all those who sincerely believe in Jesus-Yeshua, the promised Messiah, and humbly wait for Him in faith, are not "appointed" to this coming 'Apocalypse' which will one day engulf the whole world . . .
"And to wait for His Son from Heaven,
whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus (Yeshua),
who delivers us FROM the wrath to come."
(1 Thessalonians 1:10)
"For God did NOT appoint us (believing Christians) to wrath,
but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah),
who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep,
we should live together with Him (in Heaven).
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another,
just as you also are doing."
(1 Thessalonians 5:9-11)
The actual word "rapture" is not found in most Bibles. The original Greek word "harpazo" which was translated "caught up" in many English translations could have been, or should have been translated, "to seize, to pluck away, or to take by force." The original Greek word "harpazo" was later translated in the Latin as "raeptius" or in some cases "rapturo". So, the term "rapture" comes from the Latin translation. There are two precedents in the Bible ... Enoch (the 7th from Adam in the book of Genesis) and the prophet Elijah were both taken ('raptured') before they died . . .
The "Rapture of the Church" is controversial. So, before we get started, please remember one important thing. Whether you believe the body of believers will be "snatched away" before the great and awesome Day of the Lord, or in the middle of it, or at the end of it, or if you just don’t know, doesn’t really matter. The only thing that matters is that you don’t get left behind. The door will be shut. This prophecy, or any prophecy, should not be a point of contention between believing Christians. However, it is an interesting prophecy. The belief expressed here is that the Lord will remove all those who sincerely believe in and trust in His Messiah (Jesus-Yeshua) from the Earth before the coming Apocalypse. Many of us also feel the generation which is alive today is the generation of the Rapture, and a worldwide body of faithful believers will be removed suddenly before the person or the identity of the coming Antichrist (a 'counterfeit' messiah) will be, or even can be, revealed. And since many feel this man (the coming Antichrist) is probably alive today, it is worth the time to look at some of the verses found in the Bible which directly, or indirectly refer to this strange, forceful, prophetic event which we simply call '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"
(1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,
with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.
And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
And thus we shall always be with the Lord."
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
"For in the time of trouble ('Jacob's Trouble' ... the coming Apocalypse)
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
in the secret place of His tabernacle he shall hide me;
he shall set me high upon a rock."
"Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment,
until the indignation (the great Tribulation) is past.
For behold, the LORD comes out of His place
to punish the inhabitants of the Earth for their iniquity (the coming Apocalypse);
the Earth will also disclose her blood,
and will no more cover her slain."
(Isaiah 26:20 - 21)
"Seek the LORD, all you meek of the Earth,
Who have upheld His justice.
Seek righteousness, seek humility.
It may be that you will be hidden
in the day of the LORD'S anger."
"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."
"Behold, I come quickly!"
"But of that day and hour no one knows,
no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only."
"Then two men will be in the field:
one will be taken and the other left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill:
one will be taken and the other left."
"Watch therefore, for you do not know
what hour your Lord is coming."
"Therefore you also be ready,
for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren,
you have no need that I should write to you.
For you yourselves know perfectly
that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night."
(1 Thessalonians 5:1-2)
Who will get "Raptured" and who will be left behind?
To simplify things, let’s divide all of the people in the world into four groups:
1. Those who sincerely believe and trust in Jesus-Yeshua, the promised Messiah - All those (both Jew and Gentile) who sincerely believe Jesus willingly and lovingly died on the Cross for all of our sins, and was buried, and then rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15). All those who have accepted Him as their Lord and 'Savior' (who saves us from our sins and from Hell) and now wait in faith.
2. Those who call themselves 'Christians,' but don’t really believe these things and have no real faith in Jesus, God, or the Bible. Those who have never willingly opened the door of their heart to invite Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, into their lives and accept Him as their Lord.
3. "The world." Those who do not believe, and who ridicule, scoff at, or despise those who do. Those who deny Jesus as Lord and willfully reject His loving offer of forgiveness ... and life in Heaven.
4. Israel. Those children of Israel who have not yet accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as their promised Messiah have a clear prophetic destiny. Watch Israel. Israel is God’s timepiece in Bible prophecy and all the prophecies of the coming 'Apocalypse' revolve around the tiny nation of Israel ... the only nation God calls His own.
It appears that only those believers in Group 1 will be "Raptured," and thus safely removed and hidden before the coming Apocalypse. Many churches, pulpits, synagogues, and pews will still be filled. Many people will be left behind. The Bible warns of a coming world leader who will be revealed sometime soon after the Rapture. This coming world leader has been given many names and titles in the Bible, both in the Old and the New Testaments ... one of his 'titles' is the 'Antichrist.' There are some who feel this coming world leader may even powerfully convince those who are left on Earth after the Rapture that this missing segment of global population was kidnapped or removed by a much different kind of alien "force."
When will the Rapture take place?
We do not know, and we are told that no man will ever know the day or the hour. However, there doesn’t appear to be anything left in prophecy that needs to be fulfilled before the Rapture can take place, so, it could easily happen any day . . .
"But of that day and hour NO ONE knows,
not even the angels of Heaven,
but My Father only.
for you know neither the day nor the hour
in which the Son of Man is coming."
The Lord says it could happen at any moment, "in the twinkling of an eye." He says it will happen at a time when the world will least expect it. We are told we should always be prepared by simply believing in Him and waiting for Him in faith. We are also taught we should help prepare others . . .
God also provides prophetic insights into the mood and the attitudes of those who will be found living "in the last days" . . .
"Knowing this first:
that scoffers will come in the last days,
walking according to their own lusts,
and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?
For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue on
as they were from the beginning of creation.’"
(2 Peter 3:3-4)
Yet, God graciously answers those who sincerely ask, "Where IS the promise of His coming?" or, "It’s been 2000 years, why hasn’t He returned yet?"
"The Lord is not slack concerning His Promise, as some count slackness,
but is longsuffering (patient) toward us, (Mankind ... both Jew and Gentile)
not willing that any should perish (in Hell)
but that all should come to repentance."
(2 Peter 3:9)
God is patient. We are told He has waited this long because He loves us and wants us to "repent," which simply means to turn away from sinful activities and turn back to Him and His ways, which are good. He is filled with patience, forgiveness, and mercy. He will protect and shelter all who will draw close to Him before the coming time of trouble. He warns us through prophecy so we will realize how perilously close we are to the end. He wants us to realize how far from Him and from His protection we have wandered, and to run back to Him as we sense the danger we are in.
Also remember, the Bible teaches us that to God "A thousand years is as one day"... (Psalm 90:4 ... 2 Peter 3:8). So, we are just entering into the "third day" since Messiah was sent forth to save sinners ... and God has patiently waited for the good news ("gospel") of His Son's victory over "sin" and "death" to be slowly carried into every nation around the world. And once Mankind has heard ... Mankind (whom He created) will be held responsible for either "embracing" or "rejecting" God's loving Gift of Grace, Forgiveness, and Eternal Life in Heaven through His Son.
After the Rapture . . . the door will then close.
A Warning: The Parable of the Ten Virgins . . .
"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins,
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
Those who were foolish took their lamps,
and took no oil with them,
but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
While the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight a cry was heard,
‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said unto the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are gone out.’
But the wise answered, saying,
‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you;
but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came,
and they that were ready went in with him to the wedding;
and the door was shut.
Afterward the other virgins came also saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.’
But he answered and said, ‘Verily I say to you, I do not know you.’
"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour
in which the Son of man is coming."
Note: Throughout the Bible, certain symbols are used consistently as "idioms" or "types."
As both a parable and a prophecy, consider the following . . .
- The bridegroom in this parable/prophecy represents Jesus (Yeshua), the Messiah
- The 10 virgins represent those who call themselves Christians (believers in the Messiah)
- The oil represents the Holy Spirit. God promises the Holy Spirit to all who sincerely believe
What does "Born again" mean?
Nicodemus, a powerful Jewish religious leader (who we find later did believe and accept Jesus (Yeshua) as the promised Messiah) came secretly to speak with Jesus (Yeshua) one night . . .
"Jesus answered and said to him,
‘Most assuredly, I say to you,
UNLESS one is born again,
he CANNOT see the Kingdom of God.’
Nicodemus said to Him,
‘How can a man be born when he is old?
Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’
Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you,
UNLESS one is born of water AND the Spirit,
he CANNOT enter the Kingdom of God (Heaven).
That which is born of the flesh is flesh,
and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’"
We had no choice concerning our first birth ("of the flesh"), but to be born again of the Spirit and into the Kingdom of Heaven requires a conscious choice and decision on our part. The Bible says if we believe, sincerely and in faith, that Jesus ("the Son of God") lovingly and willingly shed His blood and died on the Cross for us (as God's "sacrificial Lamb" which takes away all our sins "once and for all"), was buried, then rose again the third day (through the awesome power of God), and sincerely (and lovingly) accept Him as our Lord, invite Him into our lives, and turn back to God (and turn away from our sinful ways), then we are "born again" (and are called "a new creation"). This time, we are born of the Spirit and are told we will be "indwelt" by the Holy Spirit (which we can't see but the evidence is reflected in how our lives begin to change). This is God’s Word and His Promise. Then, even while facing the difficult tests and trials we will find in our earthly lives, we can rest knowing our eternal destiny is assured ... and since we now have the hope and promise of eternal life through our "second birth" (in Heaven) we no longer have to fear the "second death" (in Hell).
Please Remember . . .
The Kingdom of Heaven is available to every man, woman, boy, and girl in this world, no matter who they are, where they live, or what they have done. It is freely offered to any and all who will receive it. Simply learn of Jesus (Yeshua), the promised Messiah, invite Him into your life as Lord, believe He died on the Cross for all of your sins and rose from the grave (proving there is a Kingdom of Heaven ... and a Hell). Learn of Him and believe in Him . . . for He was the only one who has ever loved you enough to substitute Himself for you on the Cross. He shed His blood, suffered, and died on the Cross to save you from your sins and from the utter darkness and torment of Hell, if you will accept it, believe it, and trust in it. That is why Jesus is called Savior. He now lovingly and graciously offers you life in Heaven (and we are warned it is a "take it or leave it" proposition.) We have to consciously receive it and accept it in faith. If you sincerely admit you have sinned (which means you will need a Savior to get into Heaven) and ask Jesus to come into your life and honestly try to stop doing (and saying) those things God says are wrong, you will go to Heaven ... and with open arms and tears of joy He will receive all who will come to Him in faith and in love ... It's God's Promise!!!
The only unpardonable sin is to reject God's love and His free offer of life in the Kingdom of Heaven by rejecting Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha'Mashiach in Hebrew) who stepped forth from Eternity ("from of old, from everlasting"... see Micah 5:2) ... not to condemn the sinner, but to save the sinner (from the torment of Hell) and who willingly and lovingly shed His blood on the Cross so we can be washed clean of all our sins. The Bible warns there will be no peace in our lives until we make peace with God through His Son, Jesus (Yeshua), the promised Messiah. The Bible also says there will be no peace in Israel or on Earth until Jesus (Yeshua), the Messiah returns . . .
"For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him
should not perish (in Hell)
but have everlasting life (in Heaven)
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believes in Him is not condemned (to Hell);
but he who does NOT believe IS condemned (to Hell) already"
AFTER the "Rapture" the door of shelter and escape will be closed . . .
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