Summary: #2 in series - Five questions concerning the subject of the Rapture.
“Amazing Prophecies of the End Times”
Lesson # 2
In 1995 the book “Left Behind” by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye appeared; which was a fictional account in which millions of Christians are carried away instantly into heaven. Since that time this series of books has sold millions of copies and has brought end-times prophecy again into the world’s view.
Jeffery MacDonald has offered the opinion that, “Since September 11, Americans have taken a serious interest in biblical predictions for how the world will end. A Time/CNN poll said 59 percent expect the events of Revelation to come true, while more than 33 percent are paying more attention now to possible connections between world events and the end of time.” [G. Jeffrey MacDonald. “Why Pop Theology Should Be Left Behind.” (Plain Truth Magazine. March/April 2003) p. 13]
Tonight I want to examine a series of questions with you concerning the subject of the Rapture.
First, “What Is The Next Event In Biblical Prophecy?”
Perhaps the most basic question on everyone’s mind concerning Biblical Prophecy is, “So, what is the next event in God’s prophetic program?” The next event for the believer is the translation or the rapture of the saints
In John 14:3 where Jesus is seeking to reassure his anxious disciples by promising them, “I go to prepare a place for you” but it was also coupled with a second promise “I will come again and receive you unto myself: that where I am you may be also.”
We need to remember as we discussed in the last lesson, the two phases of the Second Coming. First, his coming “for the saints”, this will be the secret coming in the air for believers – a secret coming that will be a blessing to all those who participate in it, called the “rapture.” Believers are to be caught up together with resurrected saints who had previously died.
The second phase, his coming “with the saints” some years later, in which Jesus will actually step foot on the earth (Zech 14) and set up a political kingdom in Israel.
Although there are no signs given for the Rapture we were given many signs for the Tribulation. We can look to those signs because the rapture will take place before the Tribulation.
We believe that the rapture of the church will precede the seven years of the Tribulation, however, the rapture is not the event that triggers the beginning of the tribulation. That event will be the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and her enemies, brought into being by the AntiChrist (Daniel 9:27).
Secondly, “What Are The Arguments Against Belief In A Rapture?”
First, is the argument that the term “rapture” does not occur in the Bible. That is true. You might be surprised to learn that neither does the term “Trinity” but we do not doubt the existence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. According to Dr. John Walvoord, one of the foremost authorities in the field of Biblical prophecy, the term rapture itself is derived from the Latin Vulgate version of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where the expression ‘caught up’ is translated “rapturo.”
Secondly, is the argument that the doctrine of the “rapture” is a recent addition to Christianity. Some critics of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture say the whole doctrine was brought about by a Plymouth Brethern pastor, named John Nelson Darby, who came up with the pre-Tribulation Rapture “theory.” They contend that then it was men such as C.I. Scofield, author of the Scofield Study Bible that who disseminated it world-wide.
Yet the teaching of this doctrine can be found among the early church fathers as early as 373 in the writing of Ephraem, the Syrian. [Dr. Dale Johnsen. “Why I Expect A Pre-Tribulation Rapture.” www.nwinfo.net/~dmjohnsen/20PreTrib.htm]
Third, “What Are The Major Views Of The Timing Of The Rapture?”
There are at least three different views held as to the timing of the “Rapture’. I not only want to give you a description of each position but I want you to see a timeline of what the end times would look like if this position is held.
• The Pre-Tribulation Position
In support of this teaching the church is spoken of nineteen times in the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation. Then John, the prophet who was given the revelation, hears the words, “Come up hither.” (Rev 4:1). The church is not mentioned again in the Book of Revelation until chapter nineteen when Christ returns with the armies of Heaven to put to an end man’s rebellion at Armageddon. This shows that the church is no where in view during chapters 4-18. [Which describe the cataclysmic destruction on earth in the Tribulation.]
2. The Mid-Tribulation Position. This is also referred to as the Pre-Wrath Position.