Lately I keep on coming across website after “Christian” website that questions the pre-Tribulation rapture. It really looks like some people are making a special effort to eliminate this teaching. Rather than refute the rapture with Scripture, however, what usually suffices for debate is to associate the teaching with Jesuits, and Catholics, like Emmanuel Lacunza and Margaret McDonald; Guilt by association.
All this, of course, in spite of the fact that the Roman Catholic church is officially opposed to this teaching. The idea of a future millennial reign of Christ is totally opposed by the idea that the Catholic Church is reigning in Christ’s place today. If the Roman Catholic Church is ruling and reigning on earth today, in Christ’s place, then there would be no need for Him to come and set up an earthly reign, Himself.
For the record, I believe in a Pre-Tribulation rapture because this is what the bible teaches, and it matters not who else believed, or believes this doctrine. If there are, or were, Catholics who believed in a pre-tribulation rapture, it is in spite of the teachings of their Church, not because of them.
Anyway, I read Margaret McDonald’s statement a couple of years ago, and it certainly does not resemble the rapture as taught by Dispensationalists. Even if it did, that would be no different than the demon-possessed slave girl saying that Paul was a servant of God in Acts 16:16-18
16And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
What she said was true, but it didn’t come from God but from a demon, in order to cast doubt on the gospel. Guilt by association. If Paul was associated with a demon-possessed slave girl, it would cast doubt on the gospel. He understood this and so cast out the devil.
In the old days Millennialists, or Chiliasts, were subject to public beatings, imprisonment, and death, so I suppose there has been some progress made in the anti-Millennialist camp. Or, maybe, it just isn’t socially acceptable to do those things today.
I was going through some of the pertinent Scriptures this week and I thought it would be appropriate to go over some of them again.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive andremain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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.18Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
Here we have the most referenced rapture passage in the New Testament. This is very clearly a snatch of believers from off of the face of the earth.
Notice the word “prevent’ in verse 15. This actually means “precede” and means that the saints in Christ who have died will receive their new bodies shortly, or immediately, before the living saints are taken off of the earth.
This passage in 1 Thessalonians is a direct reference to a passage in Isaiah 26. A look at that passage puts the “rapture”, the great snatch of believers, in context;
19 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. 20 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. 21 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 26:19-21
Here Isaiah is speaking, and prophesying of the End Times. In verse 19 he is stating that God’s dead men will be resurrected, and he expects to be raised himself at this time. This is not a general resurrection of all humanity, but only of the saints; they are specifically God’s dead men, or as Paul put it “the dead in Christ”. This is not only Israel, but all of God’s saints, up to that time. They will sing, for this is the resurrection of the saved. The lost will have nothing to sing about at their resurrection!
Notice that immediately after the resurrection of the saints, God calls his living saints to come into their chambers, and to hide there until the “indignation” is over. The indignation is the Great Tribulation period. This is the time that the Lord will bring unimagined horrors upon the earth, as judgments against humanity for their unbelief. This is the same “indignation” mentioned in Daniel 11:36, in relation to the Antichrist’s rule.
The implication of them hiding themselves “as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” is that once the indignation is done, they will come out of hiding, or in fact, return to earth. They will return to earth, at the end of the Tribulation, with Jesus.
As Paul said, “and so shall we ever be with the Lord”; If the Lord is in Heaven, then we will be with Him there, but when He returns to earth, then we will be coming back with Him to rule with Him here! The saints are the “clouds of Heaven” (Matt. 24:30, 26:64, Mark 14:62).
The last verse is a reference to the Lord’s return at the end of the Tribulation period. He will come with righteous anger and will slaughter His enemies. When it says “the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” it is a reference to the final battle, Armageddon, where those who take the mark of the Beast will be slain in public, and left to rot in the open, unburied. They will be eaten by birds and wild animals.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. Revelation 19:17-18
Obviously, the dead of this war, will not be buried, in order for the prophecy of Isaiah 26:21 to be fulfilled.
So, here in Isaiah 26:19-21 we have a brief overview of the End Times events, in chronological sequence. Since it is brief, it cannot go into all of the pertinent details, but there is enough here that we can know that the true believers in Jesus Christ will be taken away from this earth, and will spend the Tribulation period in Heaven with the Lord.