It gets to me at times; “Explain rapture, judgement day…”
What is the Rapture?
Many people have no idea what the rapture is, but when this event happens the whole world will be staggered! It will be an event you should not want to miss out on. There will be a point in time, a single moment, when millions of people will suddenly disappear from the face of earth. This instant event is what has become known as the “rapture”. Can you imagine millions disappearing? What would your reaction be? As unbelievable as this sounds there is good reason to believe this will happen and possibly soon. We will describe why this will happen and why you want to be included in this amazing event. If the rapture has happened read – Missed the Rapture – what now?
What does the rapture mean?
This event is actually very easy to define and is clearly documented in the Bible. There are three clear descriptions of the rapture in the New Testament:
For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 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. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)
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 imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)
These passages of scripture really speak for themselves and need little comment. There will come a day when a trumpet will sound and Jesus Christ will return to meet His believers. Both the dead and alive believers will be forcibly snatched from earth to meet the Lord Jesus at some place in the air. Those who are alive at the time will have no choice – it will happen instantaneously. Incidentally, the “twinkling of an eye” is the fastest human involuntary reflex so this describes the speed at which this event will happen. It appears that the rapture of believers will signal the end of the true Church as we know it and usher in the fearful “day of the Lord”.
What is the purpose of the rapture?
We believe the purpose of the rapture is to remove and protect believers from the period of time known by many names in the Bible including: “the day of wrath” (Psalm 110:5, Isaiah 13:9), “the great and terrible day of the Lord” (Joel 2:11,31), “the time of Jacob’s trouble”(Jer 30:7), “the great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21, Revelation 7:14) and others. It could be argued that this unique period of time is described more than any other event in God’s dealing with mankind. No-one in their right mind would want to be in the world during this time – it is a period of unprecedented terror. The book of Revelation (6-19) describes many fearsome plagues and punishments that no-one will be able to escape the effects of. These events include unprecedented natural disasters, cosmic phenomena, poisoning of earths water systems, devastating plagues and many other horrendous events including hundreds of millions and probably billions of human deaths.
We do not believe that any true Christians saved by Christ will suffer this period of time. If you are saved, you are no longer an object of God’s wrath – you are forgiven! This purpose of this period of time is to punish sin and execute the wrath of God – why would a follower of Christ who has had their sins forgiven need to suffer this?
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (Revelation 3:10-11)
These three texts make it clear that if you are saved through Jesus Christ there would be no purpose in you suffering the great tribulation. God will use witnesses during this time, we are told in Revelation that there will be 144,000 Jewish evangelists in an addition to the two witnesses of chapter 11:3-12. The role of the church will be over at this point – indeed, in the book of Revelation, the church is directly referred very clearly in Rev 2-3 and is then absent completely from chapters 4-19. We believe this is because these chapters describe the great tribulation which happens AFTER the rapture of the church.
Will the rapture occur soon?
From a prophetic point of view, we believe the rapture could happen at any moment. Many end-times prophecies are unfolding before our very eyes and the rapture of believers could be the next major event on the horizon. We cannot know when the rapture will occur – we only know that it will occur! There are many descriptions of the signs of the end times that help us recognise that it is close, but we are commanded NOT to attempt to predict the date of the rapture. We are, however, commanded to live our lives as though we expect the rapture to occur at any moment!
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36)
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appearthe second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrew 9:28 emphasis added)
We believe it is clear from even a casual look at world events that it is obvious great times of difficulty and hardship lay ahead as described in the Bible. These signs of the times are to warn us of the imminence of Christ’s return – anyone who is not ready will have no excuse as it has been told to us beforehand. God will rescue His faithful from this unique time of judgment. If all the signs that God warned us of happening immediately prior to the great tribulation are visible for us to see, it means the rapture could happen at moment! Read our Are we in the last days? page for more detail.
Does the word “rapture” appear in the Bible?
The word “rapture” is derived from the Latin word “rapio” which means to forcibly seize and carry away. This word is the Latin translation of the Greek word “harpazo” which appears in the Greek New Testament and means to seize suddenly or snatch. Christians who believe in the rapture are often accused of believing a doctrine that does not appear in the Bible because the word “rapture” is absent. So although the word “rapture” does not appear in our English translation, the Greek equivalent does appear many times in the Greek text (which is the language the earliest manuscripts are written in). Even if it did not appear in the Greek, this still does not prove that the rapture is a “invention” of end-time fanatics as the concept of the rapture is clearly taught as we have already detailed above. Additionally, there are many biblical concepts taught which do not have a specific word mentioned to describe them and this is important to bear in mind.
It is a little mystifying that so many Christians are unaware of this event and others who refuse to acknowledge it will happen. We have heard some Christians say the rapture cannot happen because they cannot imagine so many people disappearing from the world in this way. In our view, if you are a Christian, you believe that Christ rose from the dead and even spoke the world into existence and well as performing an array of other miracles – we cannot imagine that removing faithful believers in an instant of time would present a problem and should be so difficult to believe!
Is there any other support for the rapture in the Bible?
There are many other examples of incidents where God’s people have been “raptured” before a judgment is executed. The flood of Noah is an obvious example where Noah did not experience the flood – he and his family were removed from the effects of the flood before the judgment of the flood took place. Lot was also a character who was removed from the location of the judgment before the punishment took place, so he did not suffer the effects of the judgment. Both Enoch and Elijah were “raptured” from the world and did not experience death. Is seems that God uses this method of removing faithful followers at certain times prior to impending judgment.
How should we respond?
Even if it does not happen soon, followers of Christ should live their lives as though they expect the Lord to return at any moment. Taking the rapture seriously can only galvanise and motivate Christians to share the gospel with the unsaved and act to inspire holy and God-centred life-styles. If you are already a Christian, are you ready for the return of your Lord? Are you living your life for the Lord as though you expect His return at any moment? The rapture is an amazing promise and hope for the Christian.
If you are not already a Christian, are you ready to witness the disappearance of millions of Christians from around the world in an instant? How would you react if this did happen? Surely this event would cause you to recognise the truth of the Bible and that it is trustworthy and then make the costly decision to follow Christ. Our Can you prove the Bible? page explains how you can trust scripture.
The world would become very different overnight so if it happens and you get “left behind”, please be sure to get a Bible to find the truth of salvation in Christ. World leaders would quickly find an “explanation” for the disappearance of the Christians. We believe Satan is fully aware of the coming rapture and that it will cause mass chaos and confusion in the world. He is preparing the world with lying deceptions so that when it happens he can keep the majority of the worlds population from the truth. It is strange when reading Revelation that despite all the upheaval in the world during the great tribulation, many still refuse to recognize the true God as King and foolishly try to hid themselves from the judgments – remember what you read here and do not be deceived with a lie!
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)
God has always had an amazing plan for mankind. God is patient and slow to anger – however, He cannot and should not ignore sin and disobedience otherwise His status as a just judge would be compromised. Mankind deserves the wrath of God for rejection of Him as creator, sustainer and being the supreme Lord over all. Ongoing disobedience and rebellion are going to reach a climax and this will trigger God’s judgment over every creature – the door for salvation and rescue from judgment is open to all through the forgiveness available in the Lord Jesus Christ and your ticket for the rapture is free of charge! See our How to be saved page to secure your place on the ride to meet the King!
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Revelation 22:20-21)