|Welcome friends. Thankyou for visiting this web site. I have always loved to teach the Word. Too many of God's people let their pastor or teacher do all their studying for them. But if the Bible is the Word of God, shouldn't you take a serious look at it yourself? To study and discover things on your own is both faith building and spiritually rewarding. It is exciting to discover the treasures of God's Word. Studying the Bible doesn't have to be a chore, it can be a most thrilling adventure. I hope to stimulate thought by this web site, provoke you to want to dig into the scriptures yourself, and honor the God of Israel, and our Saviour, the Messiah our soon coming King.|
by Alon Ronk
There seems to be alot of interest in our prophetic future as we move closer to the time of it's fulfillment. One of the things that sparks much interest and controversy is the event known as the Rapture. It is often pointed out that the word Rapture is not in the Bible. The word, cat, is not in the Bible either yet we all know there were cats. It may surprise you to know that the word, deity, is also not in the Bible. Though certain words may not be found in scriptures, the teaching of these things certainly are. We turn to 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18. " But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 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 [ prevent, Pre-event or to happen before] them which are asleep. 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: 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words ".
Let us look closely at the words, " Caught up ". These two words are actually translated from one greek word; Harpazo. This word was translated into Latin as the word, Rapturo, which is where we get our word Rapture from. We find the words, " caught up " five times in the New Covenant. One of these occurrences is translated, " caught away " instead of , " caught up " but it's the same greek word, Harpazo, and communicates the same idea.
The first occurence of, " caught up " ( caught away in this verse ) is found in Acts 8:39. " And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing ". After the Spirit had caught away Phillip out of the Eunuch's sight, Phillip was found preaching in Azotus ( Ashdod ). Now let's look at 2 Cor.12:2-4. " I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter ". The event that Paul may be referring to here is the time when he was stoned and left outside of Lystra for dead ( Acts 14:19 ). It is interesting that Paul did not know whether it was in or out of the body. Had he been observing someone else he would have been able to tell. If this is happening to him, however, it would be difficult for him to ascertain. If Paul had been dragged outside the city and left there, it would have only been natural that those who were with him, out of fear, would have waited till the stoners were gone before they went out to him. During this time Paul could very well have been caught up physically and then returned. Paul was not sure his self. But the point I'm making is that he was caught up to heaven.
Our next Scripture reference is found 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 ". It is clear that this refers to the Messiah who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron. He ascended up to God at His ascension. If Messiah's people, the born again believers are to be identified with Him in this verse, it could signify the rapture. But if that's so, wouldn't that place the rapture in the tribulation period? No more than it would place the ascension of the Messiah in the tribulation period. At any rate, so far we have seen three cases of people being " Caught up " and then transported somewhere else; Phillip, Paul, and the Man Child of Rev.12:5.
This brings us back to our opening text, 1 Thess. 4. In this verse too, we see the catching up of, in this case, a group of individuals instead of just one. We see the words, " caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air ". In each case we see someone caught up from the place they were and transported somewhere else without that person physically dying in the process. Also in each case except for Phillip, they were caught up and transported into heaven. Who is the "them" that we are caught up to meet? These are the believers in Messiah who have already gone to be with the Lord. Seeing, then, that the vast majority of believers is already gone at the beginning of the tribulation, why would God allow the small remnant that remains to endure the tribulation alone when the rest of the body of Messiah is already in heaven? But the scriptures teach us that those who are alive and remain, when the time comes, will be caught up in the clouds to join those who have gone on before by means of death and with our Lord and we will all be together as one.
Now let's turn our attention to 1 Corinthians15:51-52. " Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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 ". Paul begins by saying, " I shew you a mystery ". A mystery by it's very nature is mysterious. It is not a concept that is easily grasped.
An example of this is 1 Ti 3:16. " And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory ". That God was manifest in the flesh is a great mystery. Why is it such a great mystery that God was manifested in a body of flesh? Because that event is irreversible. When God manifested Himself in the flesh in the person of Jesus the Messiah, He did so for all eternity. That is a concept that is not easily grasped if at all.
" We shall all be changed...". Notice "we shall all be changed" is followed by three things: a moment, the twinkling of an eye, and the last trump. Three things and then a resurrection. Also in 1 Thess.4 the same principle, " with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first ". Again, three things: a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God. Then there is a resurrection. Jonah was three days and nights as a sign of Jesus three days and three nights in the heart of the earth; then there is a resurrection. It's interesting how the number three is associated with resurrection.
In the book of Revelation there is an interesting verse in an interesting context. First, however, let's look at Rev.1:19. " Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter ". Here we see Revelation can be divided into three parts: the things which were (past), the things which are (present), and the things which shall be (future).
The division between the things which were and those present, from those of the future (hereafter) is found in Rev.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 shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne ". John heard a voice like a trumpet which called him up to heaven. This is the beginning of the rest of the book which deals with the future tribulation. The event which takes place dividing the present and the future in Rev.4:1, is similar to what we read in 1 Thessalonians 4, i.e. the voice of the archangel and the trump of God and the catching away of believers up to heaven. The pattern we see is that the rapture will preceed the tribulation. We see a similar pattern with Enoch and Noah. Enoch, typifying the body of Messiah, was translated before the flood that he should not see death. Noah, typifying Israel, is preserved through the flood.
Along those lines, it's interesting to note that Enoch was the first translation of a man that he should not see death, Gen.5:24. Elijah is the second 2 Kings 2:11. The body of Messiah,( born again believers ), is evidently the third. Here again, we also have an interesting pattern of three.
The tribulation is called, " The time of Jacob's trouble ". Jeremiah 30:7, " Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it ". As Noah was saved from the great flood so too Israel will be saved from the time of Jacob's trouble. Zechariah prophesied of that time when he wrote, " Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south " . When Israel has it's back to the wall, and the nations are gathered together against Jerusalem in battle, when half the city is taken etc; then shall the Messiah appear to fight against those nations and to destroy them in His wrath and in the end Israel will be saved and restored to her former glory during the days of David and Solomon.
When I use the term, "the church", I mean the body of Messiah not any denomination. A denomination would seek domination but the body of Messiah seeks her Lord and His word above all. I also use church as an identifying label to distinguish it from Israel. In the rapture and the tribulation we find a further important distinction between the church and Israel. Therefore we see that the church has not replaced Israel nor will it ever. As further evidence of the distinction between Israel and the Church, in Daniel 7, set during the tribulation period,the man of sin makes war with those who have become believers during this time. The Bible says, " I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; " - Dan.7:21. But when we compare that with Matthew 16:18, " And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it". So on the one hand the saints are prevailed against, and on the other they are not. Therefore there must also be a distinction between the identities of these two groups as well as a separation in the timing of these two passages. The rapture, according to the scriptures, takes place suddenly. Paul said, " In a moment..." The word, moment, comes from the greek word atomos. It is where we get our english word, atom. It conveys the idea of a irreducible point in time in this verse. It is instantaneous. It is so fast it occurs somewhere between the blinking of an eye. When the eye lids close during a blink, the rapture will have already taken place before the eye lids open again. That is very fast.
But what does the Bible mean by, " the last trump ". Some have suggested that the rapture takes place in the tribulation period at the last of the seven trumpets. So let's go there and see if that's so.
We begin in Revelation 8 and 9. It would be better, due to the length of the passage for you to open your Bible and follow along with me. In fact, you should always do so. In the tribulation there are seven trumpets which sound. These trumpets are a result of the seventh seal which was opened. " And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets;" - Rev.8:1-2. These trumpets were trumpets of judgements. There are several distinct differences between these trumpets and the last trump of the rapture. First, These are trumpets of angels, in the rapture it is the trump of God which sounds. Second, these are trumpets of judgements, the last trump of 1 Cor.15 is not a trumpet of judgement. Third, the last trump of 1 Cor. is connected with a resurrection, the seventh trumpet of Rev.11:15 is not. Fourth, the seventh trumpet sounded and there were great voices [plural not singular] proclaiming that the kingdoms of this world were now subjected to Messiah's eternal rule. At the last trump of 1 Cor.15, there is a catching away of the body of Messiah, not a proclamation of His earthly reign.
We may ask ourselves then, what is meant by the "last" trump? Does that not suggest that there was at least one other trumpet before this one? Indeed it does. But which trumpet? Was it the last of the seven or was there another trumpet? Since the passage specifically states that the last trump in 1 Corinthians was the "trump of God" we should look for whether there was a previous trumpet of God and indeed there is. These two trumpets of God would be the first and last trump. This is interesting because it reminds us of Yeshua ( Jesus ) being the beginning and the end, the first and the last. For the first trump of God let's turn to Exodus 19:13-19. " There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount. And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives. And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice ". The word for trumpet in this passage is rpwv "Shofar". It is interesting that, not only does this passage refer to the first, and only other, trumpet of God, but it is the first occurrence of the word in the Bible.
There is another interesting thing that I might point out, there are three occurrences of the word Shofar at the giving of the law. Ex.19:16, Ex.19:19, and Ex.20:18. There are also three scriptures in the New Covenant that link a trumpet to a calling up to heaven; 1 Co.15:52, 1 Thes.4:16, and Rev.4:1. By the way, we have already looked at the association of the number three with resurrection and there are three things in Rev.4:1 prior to the call to "come up hither"; a door, a voice, and a trumpet. Though this verse does not specifically speak of a resurrection, it does fit a pattern. In this third occurence it seems to imply the same event as 1 Cor.15 and 1 Thess.4. It is important to be able to see the pattern of things revealed in the scriptures. The word for trumpet in Ex.19:13 is lbwy (Yubel ). It's where the word Jubile comes from.
The second coming of the Messiah takes place in two parts. There is, of course, the rapture which is the first part of His coming. Then there is the revelation when He comes down to make war with the armies of the earth. Even a simple comparison of the discription of the two events plainly show that the rapture and the revelation are not the same event. Read the passages in 1 Cor. 15 and 1 Thess.4 and then compare them with Rev.19. Yeshua may have made a reference to the rapture when He said, " I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? " - John 11:25-26. Let us remember the words, " Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up...". Those who have died are yet alive and those who are alive will not die.
Finally, the rapture is a message of hope and comfort to the people of God. It is something positive to look forward to." Wherefore comfort one another with these words;" - 1 Thess.4:18. The next chapter, 1 Thess.5:1-11, goes on to say, " But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.[now notice this] 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.[here it reverts back to the saved] But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do". Here Paul makes a clear distinction between "Ye", "You", "Yourselves" i.e. "the bretheren, and "They", "Them", who are the children of darkness. There would be a day that would catch them unprepared. But God has not appointed us to wrath. There must be a specific time of wrath being referred to here because the people of God have always been subjected to the wrath. The tribulation period is such a time. Rev.6:16-17 says, " And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? " "The wrath of the Lamb". An interesting expression. Some feel Yeshua is some weak pacifist. Yet He strikes terror into the heart of unbelieving man. "Day of His wrath" makes it a specific time period. We find the words, "The wrath of God" six times in the book of Revelation; the sixth time it's the "wrath of Almighty God". Prior to that, "wrath of God" is only found five times in the entire Bible. And we have not been appointed to that. And the words, " whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves..." connect this verse with the previous chapter, " if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 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. 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: 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words ".
Since the rapture takes place before the tribulation, it will catch many by surprise. In fact, those of us who are raptured will still definitely be surprised by the event. It is my opinion that the rapture will be noticed but not as the rapture. The reason I say this is because there are so many religious but lost people, and their leaders who will make the case, why are we still here? Therefore it may cause confusion but will readily be explained away. But the most important point is this: when it does happen, where will you be?