Thursday, June 13, 2024
Thursday, June 13, 2024
HomeAll The NewsEnd Time Views: The Rapture (Part 4)

End Time Views: The Rapture (Part 4)

This article wraps up a series on the different end-time views. We started by looking at the nature of prophecy, then the nature of the millennial kingdom. With each of those, I presented the views and then the “ruling on the field.” By ruling on the field, I’m applying a football officiating term to the interpretation of the Bible. In the NFL, officiating calls are reviewed by video, and the call on the field can be overturned if there is clear evidence. In interpreting the Bible, we can look at the view of the original audience as the historical ruling on the field and the plain reading in context as the contextual ruling on the field.

The last view in this series is the timing of the rapture. We recognized that, when it comes to the historical ruling on the field, the predominate view of today (the pre-tribulation rapture view) isn’t the view of the original audience and didn’t become the mainstream view until the mid-1800s. That’s the historical ruling on the field.

In my last article, we began looking at the most important ruling on the field, the contextual ruling. When it comes to the plain reading in context, I’m encouraging you to work through the verses yourself. I hope you will take this article and the one from last week and compare those notes. In last week’s article, I shared the leading passages in support of the predominant view of today. Unfortunately, they don’t provide much in terms of timing. The only timing stated from that list comes from I Thess. 4:16-17, which shows the rapture occurs at the same time as the resurrection.

Please hear me, my goal is not to say that anyone is wrong for accepting a particular view, or even side with a view, but to speak fairly to which view was accepted the most in mainstream Christian history and go to the Scriptures to determine what they say. Toward the rapture, I love to echo the words of my friend, Nelson Walters: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

In this article, I want to provide the passages and their context for you to work through and for you to ask:

• Does this passage explicitly give a timing of the rapture?

• What is the explicit, plain reading of timing given for the rapture?

In case you do not have access to the previous article, here is the list of those verses: Rom. 8:1; Rev. 3:10; Rev. 4:1; I Thess. 4:16-17 and I Thess. 5:1-3. I encourage you to read through these and ask the above questions.

With this second set of Scriptures, let’s start with one from the last article: “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” (I Thess. 4:16-17 NIV). 

Does this passage give an explicit timing of rapture? Yes, it does!

What is this explicit timing? First, there is the last trump and resurrection, then the rapture, followed by the gathering!

Though this next passage doesn’t provide an explicit mention of the rapture timing, it does give a clear timing for the resurrection. Revelation 19 talks about Jesus returning with the “army of Heaven” at Armageddon, then Revelation 20 talks about establishing the Millennial Kingdom on earth. Here’s the passage: “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized… Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. I saw thrones… and I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:1-6).

Does this passage give an explicit timing of rapture?Not the rapture, but it does explicitly tell the timing of the resurrection, and we know from the previous passage that the resurrection precedes the rapture.

What is this explicit timing of the resurrection given in this passage?

This next passage is debated, but I feel is very clear on a ballpark timing of the rapture: “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us — whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter — asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.(II Thess. 2:1-3).

The context is almost comical. The believers in Thessalonica felt they had missed the “gathering together” (which, if you remember, is the resurrection, rapture and gathering to Jesus). For help interpreting the passage, it mentions “the rebellion,” and there is debate on what that means. But it also mentions “the revealing of the man of lawlessness,” which is the revealing of the Antichrist, which Jesus indicates in Matthew 24 to be the abomination of desolation done by the Antichrist.

Does this passage give an explicit timing of rapture? Not the rapture, but the gathering together, which happens at the rapture.

What is this explicit timing of the gathering together given in this passage?

There’s one other passage that sheds clarity on the rapture timing, and that is Jesus’ Olivet Discourse recorded in Matthew 24. There is debate as to whether Jesus was speaking chronologically in it, but there is definitely chronological language throughout it. So, if that is the case, when does He speak of the rapture, resurrection and gathering? Please read Matthew 24, paying close attention to verses 30-31. 

Does this passage give an explicit timing of rapture?Not the rapture, but the gathering together, which happens at the rapture.

What is this explicit timing of the gathering together given in this passage?

Again, the goal of this isn’t to prove a position or point, but to encourage all of us to be “Bereans” and rightly divide the Scriptures. What does our Doctrinal Statement say on the rapture? It actually doesn’t mention the rapture, but it does talk about the return of Jesus being imminent, which Scripture clearly talks about the end or the day of the Lord being imminent like a thief in the night. The question then becomes, does “the end” being imminent mean that “the rapture” is the first event of the end that comes quickly like a flood?

— 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)

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