Jan 09 2007
The Rapture: Where Is It Found And What Are The Dangers?
(Scripture References are from the NIV)
“It won’t be long now.” “We’re all gonna get raptured and have a big party in Heaven while the rest of the world faces the worst turmoil that mankind has ever known.” Sound familiar? I’ve heard it my whole life. The problem is that the word “Rapture” is not found in the Bible and the event never takes place.
What some refer to as the rapture is nothing other than the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation period. It is then and then alone that we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. The Word of God does not even suggest anything else.
This is nothing more than another attempt by “Pie In The Sky” Christianity to avoid the inherent difficulties that can be associated with a lifelong relationship with Jesus Christ.
In case you aren’t aware of the terminology, there are certain mainstream evangelicals that believe that before the tribulation period occurs, as recorded in the book of Revelation, all true believers will be caught up to Heaven to be with Christ. It is at this time, or so they claim, that several things will take place.
In an effort to keep it short here is the quick breakdown.
1) Before the tribulation period begins, or before it gets too difficult, we all fly away to Heaven. This includes those that have died in Christ.
2) We get our glorified bodies and never know pain again.
3) The antichrist comes on the scene down below on Earth and for those that did not accept Christ before, or perhaps backslid, that’s just too bad.
4) We have a Big Cookout, (The Wedding Supper of the Lamb), while the full cup of God’s wrath is being poured out on the inhabitants of the earth.
5) After we have our bellies full and the Lord is through judging the Earth from a distance we all get on white horses and go back to finish things up.
6) Upon arriving back on Earth and defeating the antichrist we have yet another resurrection for those that died for the cause during the tribulation.
Well, what do you think? Does it seem kind of hard to digest? It is for me. That’s because it’s not true. And when you confront those that hold to this belief and ask for scriptural support they will eventually get around to giving you typologies instead of scripture.
The reason for this, as I said before, is because there is no scriptural support. Rather than giving you typologies, I am going to lay out multiple clear passages for us to examine. After looking at the evidence I am fairly certain that you will, at the very least, be able to make an educated decision regarding this issue.
15 I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me.16 I approached one of those standing there and asked him the true meaning of all this. So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things:17 ‘The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth.18 But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever–yes, for ever and ever.’19 Then I wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws–the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left.20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell–the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully.21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them,22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.23 He gave me this explanation: `The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it.24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.26 But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever.27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’28 This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.
(Note: According to verses 21 and 25, how would it be possible for the “other horn,” or antichrist, to wage war against the saints unless we were still here?)
21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again.22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.23 At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `There he is!’ do not believe it.24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible.25 See, I have told you ahead of time.26 “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.27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.29 “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 shaken.’30 “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.31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
(Note: Please know that the elect are God’s people, which means us. And we are not gathered together until after the distress of those days according to verse 29.)
19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now–and never to be equaled again.20 If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.21 At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `Look, there he is!’ do not believe it.22 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible.23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.24 “But in those days, following that distress, “`the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;25 the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’26 “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
(Note: Mathew 24 and Mark 13 are parallel passages in that both writers are giving an account of the same conversation.)
2nd Peter 3:3-18
3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
(Notice here that these verses do not fit into the rapture theory. Since a “catching away” of God’s people, whether it be pre-tribulation or mid-tribulation, would still leave room for the worst of God’s judgment. But notice that Peter draws attention to the day that Jesus returns like a thief to be a day when the heavens will disappear and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. See verses 10 and 12.)
1st Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1st Thessalonians 5:1-3
1 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
(Note: The beginning of 1st Thessalonians 5 is actually a continuation of the preceding chapter. Now look at how verse 2 of chapter 5 compares to Revelation 16:15.)
15 “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
(Now if the “rapture” has already taken place, since we are now nearing the end of the tribulation period, exactly what does the Lord mean when He tells us to stay awake because He will come like a thief?)
2nd Thessalonians 2:1-4
1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers,2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
(Note: The man of lawlessness spoken of here is the same as the “other horn” found in Daniel 7:20. Notice also that the writer states very simply that we will NOT be gathered to the Lord until the rebellion occurs and the antichrist is revealed. He also warns us not to be deceived.)
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: `Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
(Note: Let’s take just a moment here to point out that the Lord returning like a thief and the wedding supper of the Lamb are listed near the end of the tribulation period. It is after the plagues and the judgments, when God is getting ready to return and defeat the antichrist that the Lord saw fit to include the preceding verses. Why? Because it is at the second coming of Christ that we will be gathered together to meet Him in the air. That is when He will return like a thief. That is when we will be resurrected. That is when we will celebrate the wedding supper of the Lamb, for he will receive His bride and we will be with Him forever!)
1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
(Note: Notice here that it is when the Lord returns at His second coming that the scriptures record the “first resurrection.” If there had been a previous catching away of God’s people this event would have to be called something else, perhaps the second or third resurrection, depending upon your viewpoint. The point is that you could not call it the first resurrection.)
In closing: I would like to make mention that this letter is not intended to give an exhaustive portrayal of end-times events. Its intended purpose is to point out one dangerous fallacy which I believe can, and will, cause damage in Christians lives. Aside from the fact that the “rapture” is not scriptural, there are a few inherent dangers associated with this belief.
The primary danger exists in the establishment of a false assumption that the Lord will carry us all away from our troubles before life gets too difficult. Now my question is; what happens in that believer’s life when the bottom falls out of that false safety net? Well, let me share with you my thoughts on this for just a moment.
I know that speaking in generalities can get you hung out to dry in a debate, but I’m going to use one anyway. Throughout my years of serving the Lord I have begun to notice a few things about His people. And that is generally, the people that make it past the first few years with the Lord will tend to stay with Him. After they have been with Him for a while the enemy may very well have to change tactics to draw them away from the Lord. Now this is not to say that we aren’t susceptible to the same temptations as others, it just means that we’ve been with Him longer.
The point is that I have noticed that one of the primary tools that Satan uses to draw these people away from the Lord is bitterness. Long after we have started our walk with Christ and overcome, or successfully dealt with, various temptations the opportunity for bitterness still looms over us. Satan understands this completely, so one of his best recourses can be to delusion God’s people with false beliefs regarding their life in Christ.
Once the enemy has deceived us with a falsehood he now stands poised to strike a fatal blow. When we finally realize that the belief, or beliefs, that we have embraced may not come to pass, such as riches, the career we always wanted, that big house in the country, or escaping tribulation, it can be devastating. And often times, instead of realizing that the enemy has tricked us, we get mad at God.
Alright then, I think we can see where I’m going with this. The whole subject of bitterness can easily turn into another lesson, and probably will. Those of you that are close to me already know that I have struggles with this one as well. Nevertheless, the enemy will continue to sneak it in whenever he can.
So, what if I’m wrong? What if the rapture takes place and we all get to fly away to that big cookout? Well, if it turns out that I am wrong I will apologize to you all at the Wedding Supper. Hopefully, at the very least, some of us won’t be taken by surprise or embitterment when the struggles of life befall us.