Before I continue on my rebuttal of the “Shock Letter’s” series against the pre-Tribulation rapture, I want to take a few moments to examine the timing of the rapture. By “rapture” I mean the time when Jesus Christ will snatch away His true believers.
There are various explanations as to how Harpazo in the Greek became rapture, the following from Rapture Ready appears to be the best explanation. I have seen this transliterated as “rapereo”, and “raptus”, and “raptureo”. Not being a Latin scholar, and having no interest in Latin, I will leave this up to others to explain;
“The word “rapture” comes from Paul’s “caught up” remark in verse 17. The words “caught up” are translated from the Greek word harpazo, which means “to carry off,” “snatch up,” or “grasp hastily.” The translation from harpazo to “rapture” involved two steps: first, harpazo became the Latin word raptus; second, raptus became the English word “rapture.”” http://www.raptureready.com/rr-pretribulation-rapture.html
While the above article is interesting, he states that “The timing of the rapture is not known.” Now if he means that we cannot know the day nor the hour, then I would have to agree with him, but if he is implying the classical Dispensational teaching, that there are no signs before the rapture then I would have to strongly disagree with him.
We can know which biblical signs will occur shortly before the rapture occurs, and thus we can know when the Rapture is imminent.
The classic rapture passages are from Paul’s epistles to the Corinthians, and the Thessalonians;
51 Behold, I shew 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. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain 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. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. I Thessalonians 4:15-18
These two passages are speaking about the same event; when the believers in Jesus Christ, immediately after the resurrection of the dead saints, are swept up off of the earth to meet the Lord in the air.
Many have associated this trumpet with the last of the seven trumpet judgments of Revelation 8-10. This is not correct. We have no evidence that Paul was referring to those judgments at all, or even knew about them. The book of Revelation was written some thirty years after Paul’s death, and the events thereof were not revealed to anyone, until the Lord revealed them to John.
Paul was an Old Testament scholar, and he was referring to Old Testament trumpets, and events.
Isaiah 26 is the main pre-Tribulation rapture passage in the bible, and it is to this that Paul was referring, specifically verses 19-21;
17 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. 18 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. 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 26:17-21
The End Times are frequently compared to a woman in labour, and it is the same here. Labour pains start as mild pangs, far apart, and then build in intensity and frequency until they are excruciating. (I have been witness to the births of three sons, so I have seen this) This is how the End Times events are playing out.
The first two verses refer to Israel, and to the fact that they have been wasting their time for the past 2,700 years. They have not wrought deliverance upon the earth, and as a result they will be recalled, like a defective product, back to the place of manufacture (Israel), where the factory workers can fix what is wrong. In this case the Worker is the Lord Himself!
Notice in verse 19 that the Lord’s dead men will rise. Isaiah anticipates his own resurrection at this time. Notice also that these people are singing! These are only the saved, there are no lost persons among them. They have nothing to fear, only rejoicing! This is a far different resurrection than the resurrection of the lost.
Immediately after the saved are resurrected, the living saints are called to their “chambers”, and invited to hide there until “the indignation is overpast”.
The indignation is the Great Tribulation period, and we can see this same term used in a passage concerning the Antichrist;
“And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.” Daniel 11:36
So, we see then that the believers are hidden in their “chambers” in Heaven, while the Little Horn, the Antichrist, prospers on the earth. These are not the same body of believers whom the Antichrist “wears out” in Daniel 7:25. Those believers come to faith after the rapture and must wait on the earth for the end of the Tribulation. Millions of them will be martyred, but the few that do make it through will enter into the millennial kingdom in their earthly bodies.
Where are the “chambers” to which the saints are called? Jesus told us;
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. John 14:2
Asaph told us also;
3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. 4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. 5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. Psalm 50:3-5
The saints are gathered unto Him, to where He is; in Heaven! And, the sacrifice whereby they have made a covenant with Him is His own sacrifice on the cross! The “tempestousness’ before Him is a reference to the late-Church-age wars, which we shall examine shortly.
I mentioned that the regathering of Israel is referred to in Isaiah 26: 17-18, in a rather oblique manner. Zephaniah makes a more definite statement about this event;
1 Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; 2 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. 3 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
The “nation not desired” can be none other than Israel. There is no other option. The day of the Lord’s anger is also known as “the time of Jacob’s trouble”(Jeremiah 30:7). The primary focus of this time period is the nation of Israel, although it will affect the entire world, and all its inhabitants.
Notice that this nation will be gathered BEFORE the wrath of the Lord comes upon them. This is important.
Israel has begun to come back to the land, but they have not all come back. The bulk of those who have come back are the Jews, mainly from the southern kingdom of Judah, which also included the tribe of Benjamin, and half of Levi. God has not forgotten the other tribes; He will bring them all back for the Time of Jacob’s trouble.
This is one event that must occur before the Tribulation begins; God would not bring the Tribulation upon part of Israel, and leave the rest untouched, safe in other parts of the world. There are many millions of Israelites living among the Pathan tribes of Afghanistan, and Pakistan. These tribes are Muslims today, but don’t imagine that this would make them exempt from the Tribulation. It is “Jacob’s Trouble” not “Judah’s trouble”. Rather than being a problem, these people are actually a fulfilment of prophecy themselves;
Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour. Jeremiah 16:13
Don’t forget that many Jews today serve the gods of the New Age movement, which also qualifies as serving a god other than the God of the bible. This does not exempt them from the wrath of God, rather it invites it!
Every Hebrew believer in Jesus Christ/Yeshuah ha Maschiah, will be raptured with the Church, so I am not speaking of them when I say that the time of Jacob’s trouble is for Israel.
The “meek of the earth” in verse 3 is not only a reference to the believers of Israel, but all true believers, throughout the nations, including Israel. They will be hid in their chambers, in Heaven, during the day of God’s anger.
So, when is Israel to be gathered? Ezekiel tells us when the last ones are to come in. This is important, because it signifies the general time frame of the rapture. They have been coming in, in fits and starts, and the time is coming when they will come in with a flood, after the Psalm 83 war, but the final few individuals will come home in the aftermath of the Gog/Magog war of Ezekiel 38-39.
They will think it is finally safe to go home to Israel. They will believe that this war has been the time of Jacob’s trouble, and since it is over there is no danger. They will be looking for the millennial kingdom of the Messiah, and instead they will find themselves in the midst of the Day of the Lord’s Wrath!
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; Ezekiel 39:25
The Lord having “mercy on the whole house of Israel” does not mean that they will not have any trouble any longer. It means that He will now open their eyes, and they will know that Jesus Christ is the Messiah sent for their deliverance from sin. He will now be “jealous for His holy name” means that he will bring judgment on those who have had their eyes opened, and who still insist on doing things their own way!
This is why He says;
I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased. Zechariah 10:8
Christians often take the word “redeem” to be synonymous with “saved”, but it actually means “bought”. Jesus purchased the people of the earth, when He died on the cross, including Israel. He purchased them from His father, God, not Satan. Satan never owned them, they just aligned themselves with him.
You and I are his blood-bought property. Don’t ever forget it!
This “hiss” is not exactly a friendly hiss. Hisses are never friendly. Here God is calling them through clenched teeth! This hiss is His rescuing them during the Gog and Magog war.
They will take His deliverance to indicate His approval of their Theology, which is a mistake! He is rescuing them because He cares for them, but He is not done with them yet. Their theology still needs to be shaken-up!
So, the Rapture of the believers will occur in the aftermath of the Gog and Magog war, at a time when the world is looking for a Saviour. This war will occur several years after the Psalm 83 war, and many Christians, and Jews, will look to these two wars, and the intervening time, as being the Tribulation period. They will be able to point to people who have filled roles, like the false prophet, and the Antichrist, a covenant with the Arabs, and Armageddon (Gog/Magog) and while it won’t be an exact fit, it will be close.
In fact these two wars are only closing wars of the Church-age, but because of their faulty eschatology, many Christians, Jews, and members of other faiths, will be looking for a Saviour to clean-up the mess, and guarantee their peace and safety. This will be the time when the real Antichrist is set to rise, like the Saviour so many are looking for! Those who have rejected the real Saviour, will fall for this counterfeit!
So, here is the End Times chronology as I have laid out for you above;
1) the Closing days of the Church age including;
a) the Psalm 83 war, where the Arabs surrounding Israel attack and are defeated by Israel’s use of nuclear weapons.
b) A European leader brokers a treaty between Israel and the Arabs, which actually works, and brings peace to the region, for a time. This leader will look much like the Antichrist, but will in fact be a stand-in for the same; a decoy to distract from the real Antichrist who is waiting in the wings.
c) The pope will support this leader and his treaty, and thus will be identified as the false prophet.
e) This peace treaty will require the disarming of the Arabs, and Israel will give up her nuclear weapons, in exchange for a guarantee of security from the Europeans. No doubt many nations will make a show of giving up their nuclear arms, but surprisingly, a few will be forgotten. (Russia has so many that they really don’t know how many they have.)
f) These two leaders will be destroyed by the Russo-Iranian coalition of the Ezekiel 38-39 war, leaving Europe in a leaderless panic, and Israel defenseless. I expect the European leader ,and the pope, will be in Rome when this event occurs, and many Christians will interpret this event as being fulfilment of Revelation 17-18, and the destruction of the Harlot.
g) the Russo-Iranian coalition will be defeated as in Ezekiel 38-39, by an earthquake, and fire and brimstone from the sky. The armies, not having a common language, will turn on each other in panic. When the dust settles, only one in six of those soldiers will return home.
h) With the “judgment of the Harlot” a past event, in the minds of many, there will be nothing in the way of the world’s religions uniting, and selecting Babylon as a headquarters.
2) in the aftermath of the Gog/Magog war, the world will be looking for a Saviour, and he will come, using the treaty from the Psalm 83 war as the basis for a new treaty.
a) Around the time that this new/old treaty is signed, the final remnant of Israel will return, and the rapture of the Church will occur. This is the trumpet that Paul was talking about when he spoke of the last trump;
12 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel. 13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem. Isaiah 27:12-13
Just because people worship the true God, it does not mean they are saved. “Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess” and yet still many shall be thrown into the lake of fire. God still has to do a work in their hearts. This is what the rapture is meant to do to Israel; it is designed to make them jealous. After some 2,000 years, Israel will finally be jealous when they see the believers, including Jewish believers, disappear from among them. Then they will begin looking for Jesus in the Old Testament, and they will find Him!
Here is the return of the last remnants of Israel. The final few who were suspicious that they might get caught in the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, will now believe that they can go back in safety. The Israelites who converted to Islam, and Budhism, and many other religions, will now come back to Judaism.
3) There will be no doubt in anyone’s mind that it was God who had saved Israel from the Russo-Iranian attack. Israel will have control over all the land from the Euphrates to the Nile, and they will be looking forward to a time of peace and prosperity, only now is the time that the Great Tribulation will come upon them. This is why Paul said;
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. I Thessalonians 5:3