When will the rapture be, can we know the day it will happen? Is it before, during, or after the tribulation? These are some of the questions we will be answering in this article.
First, lets determine if the Bible even teaches that there is going to be a rapture. The word rapture is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. So how do we know that this will happen at all?
Is there going to be a rapture?
The word or phrase rapture is referring to the passage found in 1Thessalonians 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. The phrase "caught up" is what we are referring to when we say the rapture.
The phrase "caught up" is also used in
Revelation 12:5 And she brought forth a man child, who
was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught
up unto God, and to his throne. (6) And the woman fled
into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that
they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore
This is referring to half of the tribulation time.
Do we know the day the rapture will happen?
Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. Anyone who thinks they can predict the rapture is deceived and is a false prophet. The Bible clearly teaches in many places in the New Testament that no one knows the time when the rapture will occur. It will catch everyone by surprise as stated in Luke 12:40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
Is there a contradiction as to when Jesus will return?
When we look into the scriptures to pertaining to the return of Jesus, it seems to show to different pictures. In the following passage we get one picture.
Matthew 24:37-44 But as the days of Noah were, so
shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
(38) For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, (39) And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (40) Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (41) Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (42) Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. (43) But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. (44) Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Here we find that when the Son of man (Jesus) returns the people will be having one big party. They will be drinking eating and having a good time. It looks like no one will be expecting Jesus to return. In the days of Noah the "party" was still going on until the Day Noah entered into the ark. No one had any idea that Jesus would be coming, for no one was ready.
Then reading in Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. and (14) For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Revelation 16:16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
Reading here it does not sound that Jesus' return is unexpected. Everyone will be gathered together at Armageddon to make war with Jesus Himself. They will know that He is coming and are waiting for Him.
This is the exact opposite of what we read in the book of Matthew. These are two different coming of Jesus to this Earth. The first coming is for his saints, for those who have kept the faith. Those who were faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said that he would come again as mentioned in John 14:3 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.
This is again mentioned in more detail in 1Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (51) Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. and in 1Thessalonians 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Here we are told we will meet Him (Jesus) in the air. Jesus will not be returning to Earth but we will meet him in the clouds.
We are also told that our current bodies which are made of flesh and blood can not enter the Kingdom of God. Because of this our bodies will be changed into new bodies like the body that Jesus now has. The phase "caught up together" is what Christians refer to as the rapture.
The Rapture is the first coming of Christ in which his saints will be caught up together to meet Jesus in the clouds. This will happen when the non-saints are not expecting anything to happen. The rapture will happen quickly and will leave the earth in turmoil.
The second coming is when Jesus feet will touch down in Jerusalem as stated in Zechariah 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east,... at the battle of Armageddon to save Israel from the invading armies of the entire world as mentioned before in Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. and (14) For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Revelation 16:16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. This is the seconding coming. Everyone will be expecting his coming for they are gathered together at Armageddon to make war with him. This topic will be covered in more detail at a later time.
When will the rapture occur?
There are many different view points on this subject. There is the pre-trib, post-trib, pre-wrath, mid-trib and the millennial theories.
Pre-trib = The rapture will happen before the Tribulation starts.
Post-trib = The rapture will happen at the end of the Tribulation.
Pre-wrath = The rapture will happen during the Tribulation but before the wrath of God falls on man.
Mid-trib = The rapture will happen after the first part of the Tribulation or after the first 3 1/2 years.
The millennial = Jesus will return only after the world is at peace and then will return to rule the earth.
There are many more theories but this covers the more popular ones.
There are many scriptures which clearly point to a pre-tribulation rapture. Below we will visit a few of these scriptures in order to understand the word of God.
If the church were to go through the Tribulation, it would contradict many verses in the Bible. Most of the saints will be beheaded. The Bible clearly shows, the Antichrist will prevail against the saints. Anyone that claims the church will go through the Tribulation does not appear to understand what the Tribulation will really be like. Very few people will be left alive afterward. If Jesus did not come back exactly when He does, there should no flesh be left alive.
The saints are commanded to watch. They are not commanded to watch for the Tribulation, but for the blessed hope, which is the Rapture. Scriptures proving this have already been covered in the previous text. If the saints were to go through the Tribulation, it would contradict and nullify God’s Word.
Reading in 1Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (18) Wherefore comfort one another with these words. This clearly is speaking of the rapture. If we were watching for the Tribulation period to start, it would not be of any comfort. We would be terrified. This Scripture could not be fulfilled, if the saints were to go into the Tribulation period.
Reading again in Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. In Luke chapter 21, events of the Tribulation are described. Verse 28 shows that when these events begin to happen, after Israel’s rebirth (May 1948), then we know that the tribulation is coming close. We know that the Rapture will take place before the tribulation. So this again tells us that the rapture is not far off.
In the book of Revelation, the church is mentioned many times. However, after Revelation 3:22, the words "church and churches" do not appear again as referring to a church present on the earth. The seven churches previous to chapter four represent "completeness." They are described as candlesticks. In Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. A bit further on in Revelation, the events of the Tribulation begin to unfold, which clearly denote the church is gone.
The seven churches (which represent the entire church age) are covered in Revelation 2 through Revelation 3:22. The very next verses indicate the Rapture. As it is written, Revelation 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. Hereafter, what? What was the Bible just talking about? "the seven churches." After the seven churches comes the Rapture of the church. From this point on, no church is ever mentioned as being present on the earth during the Tribulation. The church can also refer to those who are saved and are part of Jesus Christ church, not to some brick and mortar building.
Reading in Luke 12:43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. During the tribulation time anyone who does not follows the anti-christ will not be able to work or to buy or sell. We are also told in John 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. This night is the tribulation period. This shows that when the rapture takes place the saints will be working watching and waiting as stated above in Luke 12:43. Those who are converted during the tribulation, will not be able to work but instead will be hunted down during the tribulation.
The evangelizing of the earth during the Tribulation is clearly given to the 144,000 male, virgin Jewish saints from the twelve tribes of Israel (Revelation 7 and 14). These come forth during the first part of the Tribulation. They will preach the everlasting Gospel and the Gospel of the kingdom (Revelation 14:6 and Matthew 24:14). It is written, Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. There is no mention of the church evangelizing on the earth at all during the Tribulation. If the church were present, the Scriptures concerning the 144,000 would undoubtedly be incorrect.
Ten times in the book of revelation the word "wrath" is mentioned as pertaining to the Tribulation. It is written,
wrath of the Lamb-Revelation 6:16;
The great day of his wrath is come-Revelation 6:17;
And thy wrath is come-Revelation 11:18;
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God -Revelation 14:10;
Of the wrath of God-Revelation 14:19;
In them is filled up the wrath of God-Revelation 15:1;
Wrath of God-Revelation 15:7;
Pour out the vials of the wrath God upon the earth-Revelation 16:1;
Fierceness of His wrath-Revelation 16:19;
Fierceness and wrath of almighty God-Revelation 19:15.
Now, we read, for God hath not appointed us (the saints) to wrath-1 Thessalonians 5:9. The verse concludes by saying, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. These verses are unmistakably clear. If a person belongs to Jesus, they will not see the wrath of God. Many times in the Scriptures the term, "the wrath of God," is applied to the Tribulation.
It is written, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come (which is the Tribulation)-1 Thessalonians 1:10. What is the "wrath to come?" The Bible has just told us ten times about the wrath of God in the Tribulation. It is also written, therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him-Romans 5:1,9. Further, it is written, and He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him-John 3:36.
The Scriptures are very clear. The Tribulation is a time of God’s wrath. The saints will be delivered from the wrath to come. Even a little child should be able to understand this clearly.
Ten times in the Revelation the word "wrath" is mentioned as pertaining to the Tribulation. It is written,
Wrath of the Lamb...-Revelation 6:16;
The great day of his wrath is come...-Revelation 6:17;
And thy wrath is come...-Revelation 11:18;
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God...-Revelation 14:10;
Of the wrath of God...-Revelation 14:19;
In them is filled up the wrath of God...-Revelation 15:1;
Wrath of God...-Revelation 15:7;
Pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth...-Revelation 16:1;
Fierceness of his wrath...-Revelation 16:19;
Fierceness and wrath of almighty God...-Revelation 19:15.
Now, we read, For God hath not appointed us (the saints) to wrath-1 Thessalonians 5:9. The verse concludes by saying, But to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. These verses are unmistakably clear. If a person belongs to Jesus, they will not see the wrath of God. Many times in the Scriptures the term, "the wrath of God," is applied to the Tribulation.
In Luke 21:8-26, many of the verses are dealing with the Tribulation. Then Jesus gives us a command: Pray always that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things-Luke 21:36. We may ask, "Escape all what things?" The answer is, all those things that have been described, which includes the Tribulation. In other words, the saints are to pray that they are accounted worthy to escape the Tribulation by being raptured.
** Note all references are taken from the King James Version.