Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSTAND FIRM: End Time Views - Rapture

STAND FIRM: End Time Views – Rapture

Several weeks ago, I began walking through different views of Bible prophecy. My hope isn’t to give a buffet for us to pick a favorite, but rather to push us to see and examine which one has the most solid Biblical evidence. With every topic, a “

proof text” could be found, but we’re not looking for one verse to serve as a foundation of a view, but rather the whole counsel of God. There should be multiple witnesses for every biblical position we take. I believe we should treat our Bible interpretation like a replay in football. With replays, the ruling on the field stands unless there is enough evidence to overturn that ruling. The “ruling on the field” with Scripture is what it plainly says in context and how it was understood by the original audience.

We have looked at the different views of the nature of Bible prophecy and the Book of Revelation. The views are that it could be futuristic, symbolic, already fulfilled in the first century (preterist view) or already fulfilled at another point in history (historicist view). The next examination of views is within the futuristic approach. They center around the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth found in Revelation 20 (the Millennial Kingdom). The views are that we’re in the kingdom now (postmillennial), there is no literal 1,000-year kingdom (amillennial) or that it will begin when Jesus returns (premillennial).

This final set of views are all found within premillennialism, and they’re views on when the rapture will take place. The rapture is the most well-known event of the last days. It is when Jesus appears in the sky at the end of the age and calls up all the believers who are alive on the earth at that time. It’s the “left behind” event.

The clearest passage on the rapture is found in I Thess. 4:16-17 (NIV): “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Paul writes there in I Thessalonians, that “we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them (the resurrected believers) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” The term rapture comes from the phrase “caught up.”

As you can see, the rapture is just one part of this event. At the time Jesus appears, the last trumpet sounds, the resurrection of those who have already passed and are saved, the rapture of believers who are alive, the gathering unto the Lord and the receiving of our new bodies.

What an awesome event! I believe we sell this event short by just talking about the rapture. Jesus called it the “gathering” in Matt. 24:31. I think it makes a tremendous impact if we use Jesus’ term over simply saying the rapture. The rapture focuses on “just getting out of here” while “gathering” focuses on being gathered to Jesus. Being gathered to Jesus is the ultimate reward, it is the blessed hope.

It’s interesting in the debate of the timing of this rapture, rarely are the other parts of this event tied into the interpretation. They should be. There are four main views of the timing of the rapture:

• Pretribulation Rapture — This view is that believers will be raptured before the final seven years of this age. This is the view found in the Left Behind books. It seems to be the most prevalent across America.

• Mid-tribulation Rapture — This view is that believers are raptured at the midpoint of the final seven years. This is the timing of the abomination of desolation and before the Great Tribulation or Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

• Pre-Wrath Rapture — The actual timing of the rapture in this view varies, ranging from the midpoint up to hours before Jesus’ physical return. Most proponents place it around six years into the final seven. The idea is that there is a time in those final seven years when the tribulation changes from God-allowed-man-caused tribulation to God’s wrath. A reading through the seals, trumpets and bowls seems to indicate there is this change. This view is that believers are removed before God sends His wrath.

• Post-tribulation Rapture — This view is that the rapture happens at the end of final seven years. Depending on when one places their pre-wrath view, it can be nearly synonymous with this view.

Unfortunately, I’m not left with room in my word count (which seems to grow with every article) to dive into the “ruling on the field” for the rapture timing views. I would argue that there’s not been much diving into the biblical support for the rapture timing in preaching over the last several decades. I believe there is much more clarity in the Bible than we give it credit on the subject.

As this view continues to be debated, I do believe it is important to at least consider the preparations for the timing. Most all of us are pretribulation rapturists, but if that’s wrong then that could be detrimental to the faith of believers — leaving us unprepared. I encourage everyone to at least crack the door to the possibility that the rapture may not be before the tribulation or that the tribulation in your nation may be before those seven years. A friend of mine uses the line, “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” That’s likely a good approach in terms of thinking of the rapture.

— Jake is the newest state missionary and would love to share about the work in Northwest Arkansas and encourage your church to stand firm. (standfirmministries.com)