A great many professing Christians are questioning the Rapture of the Church these days, especially the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, taught by dispensationalists. If, however, the Tribulation is about Israel, and her relationship to her God, then the rapture has something to do with Israel, and it must be present in the Old Testament, the part of the bible they will read. Here’s what I wrote in The Spirit of Prophecy regarding the Rapture in the Old Testament;
“During the last seven years of Daniel’s seventy weeks, the Lord will revert to dealing with the nation of Israel as He did in the Old Testament. To do this He must first remove the Church from this planet. This event is known as the Rapture of the Church. This word comes from the Greek “harpazo”, translated into Latin as “rapere” or “raptus” which means to snatch or take by force. This word is translated in English as “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. (Stewart, Study of Harpazo)(PRETRIBULATION RAPTURE, Rapture Ready)
There is another reason that the Lord will remove the Church from the earth. That reason is found in the writings of Moses, of all people!
They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. (Deuteronomy 32:21)
This verse poses a riddle which is answered by the Church. The apostle Paul quotes this verse in Romans 10:19 and identifies the “people who are not a people”, and “a foolish nation” as the Church of Jesus Christ. Christians come from all the tribes of the earth, not from any one people group, so we are a “People that are not a people”. We are considered foolish by the unsaved and especially the Jews because of the large number of denominations who identify themselves as Christian.
Paul does not specifically state how the Lord will make Israel jealous, but He does give clues. A few years ago I was lying in bed one Saturday morning and I was meditating on this verse. I thought to myself “It is nearly two thousand years since the founding of the Church, and Israel is still not jealous.” Now it is true that some Jews see the love of Christians for each other, and also for them, and come to Christ as a result, but the majority of Israel are still far away from God. They are not jealous. As I thought this thought the answer suddenly came to me; “The Rapture”! No I did not hear an audible voice, it was just a thought, but as I investigated, I became convinced that it was a thought given to me by God Himself.
As I meditated I realized we do not get jealous unless we see someone receive a favour that we perceive as unmerited, which we do not receive ourselves. When a parent shows favour to one child and not to another, the second child becomes jealous. To date, Israel has not seen the Christian world receive any great favour from God. When Christians die they immediately go to be with Jesus in Heaven, but this is something Jews do not actually see. To them, Christians live much the same way as Jews. We have to work for a living and we get sick and die in the same way as anyone else.
Israel will become jealous when God Himself shows a great favour to the Church, that He does not show to Israel. When He snatches His bride from off this earth, at a time that He is about to bring unimaginable horrors to those who are left, Israel will be as jealous as a wife who is left at home, to mind the children, while her husband goes out and marries a second woman! What’s more is that the Church does not deserve this favour, and they know it, as does Israel.
Every truly born again, regenerated believer in Christ will be caught up in the rapture including all gentile and Jewish believers. For one moment of one day the world will be full of unsaved people! There will be believers among them, but you can believe in the true God without being saved. Many of those unsaved persons think they have a special place with God. When they realize that they have been left behind they will become jealous. This will not only be the reaction of Israel but, I believe, of nominal Christians around the world. This event will cause these people to search the Scriptures like never before!
Note that in order for this interpretation to be true, the rapture must occur before the Great Tribulation period. Otherwise this jealousy of Israel would occur on Judgment day. God is not interested in making Jews jealous as he tosses them into the Lake of Fire. Everyone in that predicament will be jealous of the saints, not merely the Jews. The jealousy spoken of in Deuteronomy is for a purpose: to bring natural Israel to Christ!
It is true that the Gospel was initially given to Israel, and the apostles were obedient and preached it to Israel and the Gentiles, however, shortly thereafter the Jews dropped the ball, as it were, and it was picked up by the Gentile Church. Since that time the missionary work of the Church has largely been done by Gentile Christians. This is “the times of the Gentiles” that Jesus spoke about in Luke 21:24. Did it end in 1967 when Israel retook Jerusalem? I’m not sure. It may have began ending at that date, but Israel does not yet control the Temple mount. Regardless of the timing, there is definitely a “times of the gentiles” which Paul also spoke about in Romans 9-11. God is going to graft Israel into the tree again during the seven year, Great Tribulation period, shortly after the rapture of the Church.
Meanwhile, the devil is preparing a lie to explain away the rapture. He has been working on this lie for a long time now. After the rapture, the Antichrist, and false prophet, will pick up the lie and run with it! Any one who believes their lie will be lost for all eternity! We’ll examine the lie in the last chapter.
Deuteronomy is not the only place in the Old Testament where the rapture is mentioned. A pre-trib rapture can be seen in Zephaniah chapter 2. Here we see Israel, the “undesired nation”, gathered together and then the Church, “the meek of the earth”, are hidden in Heaven during the day of the Lords anger. Why does he say “may be hid”? Because not all professing Christians will be taken, only those that know the Lord personally, and are faithful to Him. Only those He knows are in view here. Does He know you?
Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD’S anger come upon you. Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger. (Zephaniah 2:1-3)
They will be hid in a totally secure place, God’s Heaven, not somewhere on earth. The bible says in no uncertain terms, that the Antichrist will have power over the saints and will kill them in great numbers. Here we have a promise that these people will be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger. They can’t be the same group of people as the saints who will be beheaded for Jesus. There is a third group who survive the Tribulation and repopulate the earth. We will discuss them later.
By laying down their lives this way the saints will actually have victory over the Beast! These people will have seen God’s power in rapturing the Church and they will know that He has power to resurrect them as well. Millions of Christians have been called upon to lay down their lives as the supreme act of faith. The saints of the Tribulation will lay down their lives as the greatest act of defiance, and faith, this world will ever know. Jesus will certainly see it and will reward those people in the sight of their enemies!
It will be an act of faith, but these people will also have the “sight” of having been witness to the rapture of the Church. They will have the “sight” of having seen many prophecies come to pass in a way that has not been seen from the resurrection of Christ until now. They will also have the “sight” of seeing the 144,000 Jewish evangelists successfully evade death at the hands of the Antichrist, and they will also have seen the two witnesses in Jerusalem and the miracles they perform. These people will see so many things, that confirm the Bible, that it is amazing that anyone would not come to Jesus Christ in faith.
And he (the Antichrist) shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Daniel 7:25)
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:11)
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (Revelation 13:7)
In Psalm 50 the Lord comes and gathers his saints, the ones who have made a covenant with him by His sacrifice on the cross:
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. (Psalm 50:3-6)
The “fire” that shall devour before Him refers to the Great Tribulation period, generally, and the return of Christ specifically. Notice that there are two simultaneous judgments in view here. There is one in Heaven for the saved, and one on earth, the Tribulation, for the lost. Both of these judgments are different from the Great White Throne judgment, and the lost who die during the Tribulation will ultimately stand for Judgment before the Great White Throne. In the Heavenly judgment it is only His people who are being judged, not the unsaved. He calls them to the heavens first in the rapture. This Judgment is referred to as the “Bema Seat“, and is like the judgment at a sports meet, for which it is named. There will be no condemnation here, only rewards and the loss of rewards. The unsaved dead are in Hell, and the living are on the earth. If He has any words of rebuke for His people it is not the business of the lost!
Later on, after the Millennium, the unsaved dead will be raised and will face the Great White Throne Judgment. At that time the saved will be there as witnesses and will approve of the Judgment handed down from God. What a horrid place to be, to have God condemn you and then all the saints and angels agreeing with the verdict! Then to have an angel pick you up and toss you into the Lake of Fire, like a piece of garbage! This will be the fate of the majority of mankind, who have not received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. I am sure there will be many tears coming from the eyes of the saints, but they will acknowledge that the sentence is just. You have had the same chance as they have. There is no other Saviour! He is your only hope to escape this fate!
Psalm 144:5-8 also speaks of the Lord reaching down from Heaven to rescue His people during a time of earthly upheaval:
Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them. Send thine hand from above; rid me, and deliver me out of great waters, from the hand of strange children; Whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
Isaiah also speaks of the Rapture of the Church, in the clearest picture of the Rapture in the Old Testament. This has been in the Word of God for some 2700 years, why is it that few have seen it until now?
Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD. We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. (Isaiah 26:17 – 21)
Verses 17 and 18 refer to a pregnant woman beginning her labour pains. This is a reference to the wars and commotions that Jesus spoke about as signs of the end. The time leading up to the Great Tribulation is compared to a woman in labour. The pangs are first mild and far apart, but soon come closer and closer and more intense, until the child is born. Jesus referred to this time in Matthew 24:8 “All these are the beginning of sorrows”. Many new translations render this passage “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
Many times in the Bible the period leading up to the Great Tribulation period is compared to labour pains. “And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.” (Isaiah 13:8) The same terminology and context is in view in Jeremiah 13:21, 49:24, Hosea 13:13, Mark 13:8, and John 16:21. As men we often do not think that labour could be that severe, but remember, many women have died in child-birth.
The prophet laments that Israel has not wrought deliverance upon the earth, as indeed they have not. They were commissioned to lead the nations to God but instead they have abandoned Him. They have been wasting their time for the last 2700 years! The implication of verse 18 is that Israel is being recalled, like a defective product, back to the land where their manufacturer will correct their deficiencies.
In verse 19 we see the first resurrection of the saints in the term “Thy dead men shall live”. The unsaved are not resurrected at this time, they are not “His” dead men, but children of the Devil. We see the saints singing, and the prophet himself anticipates being resurrected at this time! This is not a general resurrection which includes the lost, for at their resurrection they will not be singing, but in mourning and fear! We need to base our lives on the knowledge of the resurrection, and not the here-and-now.
In verse 20 we see the Rapture of the Church, occurring immediately after the resurrection of the saints. The chambers spoken of in verse 20 are the “rooms” or “mansions” in Heaven that Jesus spoke about. The comparison here is to the Jewish wedding where the bride is sequestered, with her husband, in her chambers for seven days, and is later presented as his wife. The “Indignation” is the Great Tribulation period, and verse 21 is a brief description of that event. The term “cometh out of His place” is a reference to Hosea 5:15 and 6:1-2 which takes place two “days” after he returned there. Very clearly the contents of this passage are an actual, physical, literal event, coming very soon to a planet near you.”
The foregoing was excerpted from chapter 2 of The Spirit of Prophecy, by Daniel Knezacek (copyright 2011)