Officially retired but now employed as a financial systems & accounting consultant for a large international firm on short term engagements.
What is in a Definition?
Since the word ‘rapture’, purely English word, does not appear in the scriptures; from where does it originate? It comes from the Latin translation for the Greek word - harpazo pronounced - har-pad’-zo - meaning to seize, catch away or up, to pluck, to pull or to take by force. The word rapture is easier to pronounce than the Greek equivalent. Consider a few of the verses in which it is used:
- Matthew 13:18: The seed sown on the wayside - one hears the Word, but the wicked one snatches it away and leaves the one in unbelief;
- John 6:15: Jesus avoided the crowd that wanted to seize to make Him king and all the while having no clue as to who He was. Sounds very familiar of many a pew sitter today.
- John 10:28-29: No one can pluck us from the hand of our Savior.
- Jude 23: We are to bring the Gospel so as to pluck them from destruction.
Now concerning the supernatural events of being ‘caught up’:
- Acts 8:39: Philip was ‘caught away’ after the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch.
- 2 Corinthians 12:2-4: Paul found himself miraculously caught up to the third heaven.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:17: The Bride of Christ, including all who preceded those now alive are now introduced to the glorified Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ … in the clouds.
- Revelation 12:5: Jesus, following His resurrection, in plain sight of many followers was ‘caught up’ unto God and to His throne, where He now resides. Jesus was raptured with witnesses watching Him go. This clearly defines the event in Acts 1:9.
Three biblical principles as to why there is a rapture.
One Must Be Principled When Studying the Word.
The First Principle
Principle 1 - God will NOT judge the living righteous with the wicked.
Four events to establish a principle.
Noah - our current world is approaching the world of Noah’s day: Genesis 6:5 ‘... the wickedness of man … every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.’ But verses 8 to 9 ‘But Noah found grace … and Noah walked with God. We live today with the Hope of Christ within us because one man walked with God and was spared His wrath upon wickedness. We are all descendants of Noah.
Abraham and Lot - the destruction of Lot’s home of Sodom could have been spared if there had only been ten righteous people dwelling within the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah - Genesis 18:32 As in the days of Noah, only one was found righteous and in Lot’s case, he had to be seized by force (Genesis 19:16) by the angels to avoid God’s judgment.
The Plagues of Egypt - the land of Goshen where the Israelites dwelt were spared the terror of the plagues. Exodus 8:22 and 9:26 The final judgment against the first born of Egypt and the Passover are celebrated by all Jews around the world. They were covered by the blood of a lamb as we who are born-again are covered by the blood of the Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ. When the judgment of death overshadowed the nation, God’s people were kept secure as we will be kept secure when the final judgment comes upon the whole earth.
Rahab and Jericho - Joshua 6:22 to 23 - prior to the total destruction of Jericho (verse 21), just as Noah’s and Lot’s families were saved, Rahab and her family were brought safely into the camp of Israel. Rahab’s faith set her apart from the wicked fit for destruction (Hebrews 11:31) and she is found in the eternal Word in Matthew 1:5 in the lineage of Jesus as the great great grandmother of David, the king.
The Second Principle
Principle 2: Enoch and Elijah - the principle of two witnesses.
Enoch - what we do know is that he walked with God and one day he was not; for God took him. The word ‘took’ in Hebrew is - laqach - to carry away, fetch, seize, send for, take away. Enoch did not die; he was here one moment and gone the next. Hebrews 11:5 adds the term that he was translated - Greek - metaschemtizo - to transfigure or transform. He was a normal man one moment and in an instant, he was no longer confined by a physical body’s limitation for he became spiritual in an instant. Twinkling of an eye?
Elijah - most church goers know the story of Elijah’s chariot ride found in 2 Kings 2:11-12. What this highlights is the fact that he was witnessed as he was swept (caught up) off to the heavenlies, much like Jesus was witnessed as He ascended in a cloud in Acts 1. Not in an instant but highly visible to others.
The Biblical Principle of Two Witnesses
- Deuteronomy 17:6; Hebrews 10:28 - a death sentence requires two or three witnesses.
- Deuteronomy 19:15 - without two witnesses, one’s guilt cannot be established.
- Matthew 18:16 - Jesus speaking - a truth is established by two or more witnesses; echoed by Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:1
- Matthew 26:60 - the priests knew they needed two witnesses to convict Jesus and though it took a while, they found two false witnesses.
- 1 Timothy 5:19 - we are not to receive an accusation against an elder unless there be at least two witnesses.
- Revelation 11:3 - God will send the Two Witnesses for 1,260 days, the last half of the seventieth week of Daniel.
The Third Principle
Principle 3 - Revelation Chapters 4 to 19 Center Around Israel, NOT the Church
- Chapter 4 - the 24 Elders who represent the Church which includes both the Old and New Testament saints, the foundation upon whom the Church is built (Ephesians 2:20) are found before the Father’s throne prior to the opening of the Scroll.
- Chapter 5 - again the 24 Elders sang a new song before the Lamb that is worthy to open the Scroll.
- Chapter 6 - the Scroll, the ‘table of contents’ for what is about to take place sees the first six seals opened and read.
- Chapter 7:1 to 8 - the interlude prior to the 7th Seal relates the marking of the 144,000 young Israelite men from 12 literal tribes of Israel. God’s record keeping is perfect.
- Chapter 7:9 to 17 - the results from the 144,000 evangelists is a number that cannot be counted humanly, but God knows the exact number as their names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the world was created.
- Chapter 8:1 to 5 - the breaking of the 7th Seal has roused the anger of God and for the first time there is silence in heaven; no singing, no praising, just dead silence. Judgment is now at hand.
- Chapter 8:6 to 9:21 - the first six trumpet judgments; 1 to 4 are upon the creation; 5 & 6 are upon mankind.
- Chapter 10 to 11:14 - Two Woes have passed and John now has a conversation with a very powerful angel. He receives a prophetic message of several events that shall occur during the days of the 7th trumpet; for these days include the entire last 42 months of the 70th week of Daniel.
- Chapter 11:15 to 19 - the 7th trumpet sounds and heaven knows this marks the end, not of the 42 months but the culmination of all scripture is about to take place; for as Amos 3:7 states: Surely God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.
- Chapter 12 - A history of Israel and its relationship to the Messiah and the promise to be miraculously hidden during this period of great tribulation upon the earth. Ending with a prophecy of Satan’s war with Israel being thwarted and turning his rage upon the seed of Israel, the uncountable number of Chapter 7.
- Chapter 13 - The introduction of Satan’s two puppets, the Antichrist and the False Prophet who will in turn wage an all out war to destroy the seed of Israel.
- Chapter 14:1 to 5 - the 144,000 now reside with the Lamb and will be His personal entourage forever.
- Chapter 14:6 to 20 - angels bring the everlasting Gospel to everyone; the last of God’s warnings as the harvesting angels are at the ready.
- Chapters 15 to 19 - the last days of the last days.
The Church is in heaven and nowhere to be found in the book of Revelation after chapter 5. Also the prophecies of the Old Testament dealing with the last days are centered around the nation Israel