Summary: This Doctrine of the End Times looks at the Rapture. It gives a short history, the various views/theories, and understanding of the Pre-Tribulation theory.
End Times Doctrine
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The doctrine of the Rapture has captivated the minds and heart of the church like very few other doctrines have, mainly because we believe we are in the last of the last days, and we don’t see our world lasting much longer.
Further, the Rapture has probably done more for evangelism and discipleship than most anything else. Therefore, seeing that the time is short, we should be getting ourselves ready, and telling others the good news to get them right with God now; rather than get left behind later.
A farmer had an old Grandfather clock that would chime every hour on the hour. Unfortunately, the clock was on it’s last legs, and one night it woke the farmer up, not because of the sound, but because it struck 16 times. The farmer told his wife, “Get up, it’s later than it has ever been.”
How true that is in our day. It’s later than it ever has been.
Now, the word “Rapture” doesn’t occur in the English Bible. The word actually comes from the Latin translation known as the “Latin Vulgate” that was written in the early 5th century, and found in Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica.
“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17 NKJV emphasis mine)
The Latin word for “caught up,” is “rapio.” In the Greek it’s “harpazo,” which means “To steal, carry off, or snatch away by force with no resistance offered.”
“The Rapture” could then be defined as that time where, “Believers in Jesus Christ are removed from this earth in an instance, whether dead or alive, by Jesus Christ before the outpouring of God’s wrath prior to Jesus’s Second Coming.”
We see this event talked about by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church.
“Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53 NKJV)
Paul calls this event a mystery. The word means something that cannot be explained through any rational means, that is, with human intellect. Therefore it can only be understood through God’d revelation too us. The mystery is that not every believer will die, and that there will be some that will be alive when it, the Rapture, occurs.
Paul also explains that the rapture will take place in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. In other words the time it takes to blink. Now, it only takes 1/10th of a second to blink, therefore, in 1/10th of a second every believer, both dead and alive, will be resurrected.
While there are a couple of interesting foreshadows of this event, the one that grabs most people’s attention is that of Enoch.
“And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24 NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews gives us this commentary saying, “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him;’ for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5 NKJV)
Everyone else in the Genesis genealogy died, but not Enoch. Instead he was raptured, that is, he was still alive when God took him to heaven.
The Rapture is actually an event that is agreed upon by most Christian theologians; it’s the timing where disagreement comes in. However, when it does occur, the magnitude will be enormous.
The various views are as follows:
• Pre-Tribulation – The Rapture will occur prior to the Great Tribulation and can happen at any time.
• Pre-Wrath – The Rapture will occur prior to God’s wrath being poured out. This will happen prior to the Trumpet Judgments, because they feel that the seal judgments, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, are humanity’s wrath against itself, and not God’s wrath.
• Mid-Tribulation – The Rapture will happen halfway through the Great Tribulation. This is seen in how the book Revelation separates the Tribulation into two halves using the wording “time, times, and half a time,” or “42 months,” and “1260 days” (Revelation 12:14; 12:6; 11:2)
• Post-Tribulation – The Rapture will happen at the very end of the Tribulation. Here the church is delivered through, and not from, the Tribulation.
Each of these views has some aspect of Scripture backing them. So, it’s not as black and white as some people think. This leads me to one last Rapture theory, the one I like the most is ...